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April-May 2022

Everyday Discipleship


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FIRST GLIMPSE: Straight to the Source


“What is circumcision?”

The innocent question dropped like a bomb in our quiet living room. My wife cut her eyes toward me with a raised eyebrow: “I’ll let you handle this one.”

It was one of hundreds of tough questions that came up during a two-plus year journey through the Bible with our daughter. We began reading aloud together to help Victoria establish a lifelong habit of daily time in the Word. It was the natural “next step” after reading to her as a baby and toddler, sounding out syllables with her through several children’s Bibles, and then encouraging her to read through an illustrated Bible on her own.

Starting in Genesis not long after her eleventh birthday, we chose to read from an adult Bible rather than another children’s version. If she could handle junior high literature from authors Lowry, Lewis, and Tolkien, we knew she was ready to tackle the most important Book of all.

To our surprise—although I am not sure why we were surprised—reading the Bible aloud soon became one of our most valuable parenting and discipleship tools. Not only did we reinforce the importance of spiritual discipline, but…those questions! Chapter by chapter, night after night, readings introduced the deeper matters of life naturally, triggering tough conversations easy to overlook or avoid due to awkwardness or embarrassment. From sexuality, marriage, and gender roles to finances, race, civic responsibility, assurance of salvation, and much more, no subject was off-limits, and the questions kept coming.

Over time, we realized reading through the Bible aloud addressed many of the issues crucial for adulthood. More importantly, we taught our daughter to find the answers to her questions in one trusted source—the Word of God.

Don’t get me wrong. Reading through the Bible together wasn’t always easy. Some days it wasn’t fun. But it was always worth it. Along the way, we learned some simple lessons to help us finish what we started.

  • Be realistic. Originally, we planned to read through the Bible in a year. It took 30 months. And that was okay. We missed some days, got sidetracked a few times, but kept plugging away. Amble along at your own pace, understanding some chapters and books will be more challenging than others. Make pronouncing ten-syllable biblical names a game. Intersperse tough passages with easier reading sections.

  • Take time for discussion. Reading is important. Meditation and comprehension are equally as important. Questions and conversations about Scripture allow its rich truths to sink in and shape character. If a question derails the rest of the day’s reading, it’s okay. God’s Word is eternal. It will be there the next night.

  • Don’t dodge the tough questions. If you don’t answer them, Google or friends might. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” This will help your child learn spiritual growth is a lifelong process.

  • Don’t stop for the “terrible teens.” When adolescence stretches the lines of communication thin, take refuge in the Word of God. Make it a safe place where your family comes together to talk about anything. Try not to be offended when questions suddenly have an edge to them. Understand God’s Word may be cutting deep into the heart of a young person struggling to establish lifelong convictions and standards.

Are you ready to make a memorable trip through God’s Word? Be prepared. The journey may result in your own spiritual growth as much as the kids.

About the Columnist: Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine.


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists