Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. [Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (MSG)]
Perhaps you’ve come upon the charming viral video of Tanner Hemness, a delightful four-year-old boy from Tyler, Texas, who has a unique twist to reciting the ABCs—each letter is followed by a Bible verse beginning with that letter. The youth minister at his church challenged members to learn Bible verses as a family for every letter of the alphabet. Tanner’s dad wasn’t sure his then three-and a half year old could do it; nevertheless, they gave it a try. Every week they worked on another letter and verse. Seven months later, Tanner was able to recite his ABCs in Bible verses. I had enough trouble convincing my children that they couldn’t use “Jesus wept” as their personal Bible verse at their confirmations and here’s a four-year-old who knows twenty-six somewhat lengthy Bible verses! Rather than “Jesus wept,” for the letter J, the youngster learned, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Hebrews 13:8]
Although there were many positive responses to seeing this sweet little boy happily reciting God’s word, there was also criticism. Among other things, his father was accused of brainwashing, psychological indoctrination and child abuse. Oddly, if he’d spent seven months teaching his son how to swing a bat or pitch a fast ball, those same people probably would have applauded his dedication to the boy. This father did exactly what Scripture told him to do: teach his child. The Israelites were told to tie God’s word on their hands, wear them on their foreheads, and post them on the doorpost, so writing a different Bible verse on a chalkboard each week doesn’t sound extreme at all! It speaks of love — a father’s love for his children — the same sort of love that gave us Jesus. It’s never too early to teach someone about our glorious God. Sadly, if we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to!
The Bible is the basis for our belief – all of our doctrines and practices are guided by God’s word. Unfortunately, many of us are at a loss when it comes to knowing what the Bible actually says. That four-year old boy is further ahead than many adults I know. Of course, Tanner’s dad knows that his work is not done. He understands that many of those verses don’t have the same meaning to a child that they do to an adult. Knowing his work is not done, he and his wife will continue sharing God’s word, and the meaning of those verses, with their son. “Now the hard part,” added Tanner’s father, “being the kind of dad who helps him live these words.” He’s made a great start!
Thank you, God, not just for our dads but for all of the men in our lives who took the time to share your message and teach us your word. Thank you for the men who have shown, not just to their children and their children’s children but to all who know them, what it means to live in God’s light. Fill them with your Holy Spirit so they may continue in your good works.
Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best. [Bob Talbert]