Bible Verses to Teach Your Children

Fellow parents, if you haven’t made a practice of this already, it may be a good time to start encouraging your children to memorize Bible verses. Our twin daughters are now three and a half so I started to compile a short list of Bible verses they could memorize. Of course, the possibilities are endless when it comes to Scripture memorization, but here are a few verses that came to mind.


1. “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11


2. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother….that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Ephesians 6:1-3


3. “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20


4. “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” Proverbs 1:8 (see also Proverbs 4:23 and 23:22)


5. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (Maybe this one would be good for the teen years)


6. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17


7. “Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6


8. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9


Perhaps you could memorize some of these verses along with your kids. It certainly won’t hurt if you don’t already know them by heart. But always remember the responsibility that God has entrusted to you to train up your children in the ways of the Lord. “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).


More than anything as parents, we want to instill in our kids a love of Scripture and a desire to know Him through His Word. Of course, there is a Holy Spirit component, which we must not forget, but there is also need for parents to be intentional about exposing their children to the Scriptures. If you think of it, pray for Steph and I because this is as much for us as for anyone. And if you would like us to pray for you, be sure and drop me a note. I would love to pray for you in this regard.

The Pastor and Study

In three separate spots around my office, I have Nehemiah 6:3 posted: “And I sent messengers to them, saying, I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” Why post such a verse, you ask? Well, it is a reminder to me that the work I do as a pastor, primarily prayer and the Word (Acts 6:4), is a great work not to be neglected. That doesn’t mean I neglect other things like spending time with people, but it is a reminder of my primary calling as a pastor.


I have another verse posted, 2 Timothy 2:15, right next to the Nehemiah verse. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” As a pastor, I will be the first to admit that teaching and preaching God’s word is hard work. Without putting forth the needed time and effort, I will soon find myself “handling the word of truth” in a careless manner and in way that is not edifying to my hearers. This verse reminds me that I am accountable to God and have a responsibility to teach sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).


I have yet to post this one in my office, but another verse that serves as a helpful reminder is Ezra 7:10. “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” Ezra is a model for pastors in that he first set his heart to study, then to do it (apply what he learned to his own life), and finally to teach it (to the people under his charge). As Alistair Begg and Derek Prime put it, “The key to success in study is that we always study with a view to our own obedience first. A trap that Satan regularly tries to set is for us so to concentrate upon others’ obedience to God that we neglect our own obedience. Whatever we study in the Scriptures – even though we inevitably have our preaching to others in view – we must first relate to ourselves, and practice. Then we may teach other what we ourselves are striving to obey.” (On Being a Pastor – p. 103)


The pastor who has not done his homework, so to speak, will starve the sheep and disqualify himself from leadership. The faithful pastor, on the other hand, is a reservoir of truth, constantly feeding those who hunger and thirst for the manna of God’s Word. If you are a pastor, I trust you see the importance of diligent and prayerful study in ministry. As pastors and local church leaders, we have been entrusted with the gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:4) and this is a high calling indeed. One day we will give an account to God as to how we fed and nourished God’s flock under our care (Hebrews 13:17). God help us to be faithful in this charge.

The Minister as a Shining Light

Jonathan Edwards:

A minister is set to be a light to men’s souls, by teaching, or doctrine. And if he be a shining light in this respect, the light of his doctrine must be bright and full; it must be pure without mixtures of darkness; and therefore he must be sound in the faith, not one that is of a reprobate mind; in doctrine he must show uncorruptness; otherwise his light will be darkness. He must not lead his people into errors, but teach them the truth only, guiding their feet into the way of peace, and leading them in the right ways of the Lord.

He must be one that is able to teach, not one that is raw, ignorant or unlearned, and but little versed in the things that he is to teach others; not a novice, or one that is unskillful in the word of righteousness; he must be one that is well studied in divinity, well acquainted with the written Word of God, mighty in the Scriptures, and able to instruct and convince gainsayers.

And in order to be a “shining light,” he must be one that really knows what religion is, one that is truly acquainted with that Savior and way of salvation, that he is to teach to others, that he may “speak the things that he knows, and testify the things that he has seen” [John 3:11], and not be a blind leader of the blind. He must be one that is acquainted with experimental religion, and not ignorant of the inward operations of the Spirit of God, nor of Satan’s devices; able to guide souls under their particular difficulties. Thus he must be a scribe well instructed in things that pertain to the kingdom of God; one that “brings forth out of his treasures things new and old” [Matthew 13:52].

And in order to his being a “shining light,” his doctrine must be full, he must not only be able to teach, but apt to teach, ready to instruct the ignorant, and them that are out of the way, and diligent in teaching, in public and private; and careful and faithful to declare the whole counsel of God, and not to keep back anything that may be profitable to his hearers. Also his being a “shining light” implies that his instructions are clear and plain, accommodated to the capacity of his hearers, and tending to convey light to their understandings.

Adapted from an ordination sermon Edwards preached on August 30, 1744. The sermon is called The True Excellency of a Minister of the Gospel.

Give Me Five! – Rules for Teachers

  1. Eyes on the Speaker.
  2. Mouth Quiet.
  3. Be Still.
  4. Hands Free – put things down or away.
  5. Listen.

One of our elders, Jim Wells, passed these simple yet powerful rules on to me. When students follow these rules, you will have an environment that is very conducive to learning. When they don’t, the classroom will be chaos and learning will be difficult. Of course these rules are more applicable to those who teach children, but any teacher can benefit from them. Whether you are a Sunday School teacher, a Bible Study teacher, a Small Group leader, or something else, work hard to ensure that you create a good environment for learning.

These principles also got me thinking about our relationship with the Lord. If we, as Christians, are not able to be quiet, to be still, and to rid ourselves of distractions, we will have a hard time listening to God. Let me encourage you in the direction of finding space in the midst of your busy schedule for “quiet time” with the Lord. A time where you can feast on His Word, mediate, pray, and listen to what God has to say to you. Obviously, this is a discipline that should be constant, and not just once a day, but I think it starts with having a scheduled time set aside each day to meet with the Lord.

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he (Jesus) departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:35

Teaching and Modeling in Ministry

In 2 Timothy 3:10-11, the apostle Paul reminds Timothy, “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, and suffering that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra – which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.” Having spent much time with Paul, Timothy knew he was the real deal.  Time and time again, the Lord rescued and sustained Paul and no doubt Timothy as well. For years, Timothy watched as Paul modeled a life of faith and the power of God over every obstacle.

The point I want to make is that effective teachers will “practice what they preach” and inspire students through their life and example. Good teaching can only go so far. However, good teaching coupled with a godly example will be much more effective. In 1 Corinthians 4:16-17, Paul writes, “I urge you then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.” Paul knew that sending Timothy was the same as going himself. Having observed Paul over and over, Timothy was essentially a duplicate of his mentor. He knew the man. He knew his ways. He knew His Lord. We might say that teaching and modeling go hand in hand. Paul writes later on in 1 Corinthians, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). The only reason Paul could say with credibility “imitate me” is because he was following Christ. If a Christian leader or teacher is not following Christ, how can he expect that of his students?

Paul’s instructions for Titus were much the same. “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8). Paul makes sure to mention the core pastoral component of teaching, but it is stated in tandem with being “a model of good works.” The teacher’s credibility to teach and lead always correlates to his life and example. Paul lived and modeled a gospel-centered life and expected Titus and Timothy to do the same. If you are a pastor or a Christian leader, let’s remember that God expects the same of us today.

“The preacher’s sharpest and strongest preaching should be to himself. His most difficult, delicate, laborious, and thorough work must be with himself. The training of the twelve was the great, difficult, and enduring work of Christ. Preachers are not sermon-makers but men-makers, and saint-makers. Only he who has made himself a man and a saint is well trained for this business. God does not need great talents, great learning, or great preachers, but great men in holiness, great in faith, great in love, great in fidelity, great for God. He needs men who are always preaching holy sermons in the pulpit, and living holy lives out of it. These can mold a great generation for God.” E.M. Bounds

Twitter, Social Media, and True Influence

I have always been a late adaptor when it comes to technology and social media. For example, I waited several years before joining Facebook. When I finally joined back in 2009, one of my college friends joked, “Welcome to 2006, Dan!” Well, after several years of holding out, I finally decided to give another social media sensation a try – Twitter. Someone invited me to join so I thought why not give it a try? Long story short, I closed my Twitter account after only 1 week and 6 “tweets”.

I was surprised by all the random people who signed up to follow my account. Why did these people want to follow me? As I looked into their accounts, I noticed that many of them were following thousands of other people. Sure, they had thousands of followers themselves, but I found it curious that they were following so many people on Twitter. Obviously, they weren’t truly “following” them, which means it was more about self-promotion than anything. “I’ll sign up to follow you, and then you sign up to follow me, ok?” That’s the kind of game they were playing.

To be sure, not everyone on Twitter is like this. I’m sure that some people use Twitter for noble purposes. It certainly doesn’t encourage sustained critical thought (a maximum of 140 characters per tweet), but for some, it is a useful tool for sharing information and I am not necessarily suggesting you close your Twitter account. However, as the digital age continues to transform our society and particularly, how we communicate, there are few things we need to keep in mind as Christians.

First, be careful not to let the technology rule you. Social media can be a great time waster. I remember reading a blog post by a Christian leader announcing that he had just reached 20000 tweets. It doesn’t take long to produce a tweet (or Facebook post), but I can’t help but think this guy wasted a lot of time on his way to 20,000 tweets. Although you might think the world needs to know what you had for lunch, the truth is, no one really cares, regardless of how many followers or friends you have. Be careful not to let social media (or anything) take you away from what is most important.

Second, measuring one’s influence by the number of Twitter followers, or Facebook friends, or blog hits-per-day is not a good measuring stick. Stats and numbers can be very seductive and we must not fall into the trap of equating them with influence. Most of the time, we never really know how God used a particular post. There are times where people comment and join the conversation, but most of the time, the best thing we can do is surrender our work over to God and say – use this (whatever it may be).

Third, our influence is often best realized in one to one relationships. For example, two people studying the Word of God together can be flat out powerful (check out Acts 8:30-35)! In the Gospels, we see how Jesus modeled this with the disciples. If anyone ever had the ability to draw a crowd, it was Jesus. On occasion Jesus did preach to the masses, but his main focus was investing in the Twelve, and to a lesser extent, the 72 (Luke 10:1). For Christian leaders today, there is the temptation to focus more your social media network than on discipling a few people in your church. As you crunch the numbers, there is a very simple reason we are inclined to think this way. I can reach hundreds with a blog post (for some of you thousands), while I can only reach 2 or 3 or 4 in one-to-one discipleship. So which is a better stewardship of my time? Well actually, unless you are John Piper or Albert Mohler, the best use of your time will be in one-to-one discipling and in focusing on your weekly preaching and teaching responsibilities. As the maxim goes, we have to have a big enough vision to think small.

Fourth, find time to get away from the computer and social media and all the distractions the world offers. As a late adaptor, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that I don’t yet have a mobile device like an iphone or an android. I just have a plain old cell phone and it serves me well. However, I still struggle to pull myself away from the computer at times. If you have a curious mind, the internet can be a serious distraction and it can have the effect of tuning out the voice of Jesus in your life. Don’t rely upon the internet or social media for your information feed. Instead, develop a rich devotional life with daily time for just you and God, without the distractions of the outside world.

Fifth, if you are going to tell the world something via social media, blogging, or some other form of media, make sure it is something worth saying. There is a lot of information floating around in cyberspace and if you are going to add to it, make sure it’s edifying. Every once in a while, our church has a testimony time and sometimes I encourage our people to follow the ABC’s of sharing. It should be Audible, Brief, and Christ-centered. I think this fits for our discussion here. No point in wasting your time or someone else’s either. And if it’s not Christ-centered, then it’s really not that important.

I quit “tweeting”, but I haven’t given up on blogging (obviously), Facebook (at least yet), or of utilizing of our modern communication mediums. If you are a pastor, my advice is to focus on the things that Pastors have always focused on – prayer, the Word, and on training up the next generation of leaders (2 Timothy 2:2). By all means, use modern technology to accomplish that, just make sure you are not “used” by the technology.

A Warning For Teachers

James 3:1 tells us, Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” Teaching in the church is not open to the masses. Only those who have a clear calling from God should venture down this path. James’ reasoning is simple – one day when we stand before God to give an account, we will be judged with greater strictness. As Jesus explained, “to whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). As the pastor of a local church, I have the great privilege of teaching the Word of God to men and women every week in a number of different settings. I love doing this and it is a great honor to do so, but I am also aware that one day God will hold me accountable in this regard. Paul told Timothy, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). This is in line with the Old Testament prophet of God. The prophet was required to declare the very words of God to the people. And while the response was out of his control, he could deliver himself by faithfully acting as God’s mouthpiece (check out Ezekiel 2-3 for more on this). In the same way, the pastor must watch his life and teaching, not just for the sake of his hearers, but also for the sake of himself, knowing that one day he will give an account before God.

A few thoughts to ponder for pastors and teachers:

  1. Have I invested the time and preparation needed for the material I will teach (whether it be sermon, Sunday school, Bible study, etc.) this week?
  2. I am confident that what I will teach is doctrinally sound and will be edifying for my listeners? “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).
  3. Have I coated everything that surrounds my teaching ministry in prayer (preparation, my listener’s, me, presentation)?
  4. Am I expecting the Holy Spirit to work in powerful ways through the teaching of God’s word?