As a parent, you are the most important influence in your child’s faith development – more than friends, social media, or even the youth pastor. Ruth Chou Simons offers practical help for teaching kids God’s Word. And, she describes why you don’t have to be a perfect parent to model Biblical truths at home.
sometimes I go, I said I was gonna start on january one. I was gonna go through the bible in a year and now I’m on day 12 and I’m already behind I guess I’ll just give that up. No start again tomorrow because if the goal is to know christ and to love him more and to align your heart and your life to look more like him, then tomorrow is not too late to begin. Welcome to the focus on the family broadcast, helping families thrive john it’s so easy to lose sight of the big picture as we raise our kids. What are we trying to do parents face? You know, basically constant pressure to get their child involved in sports or church activities, school programs. I mean Gene and I succeeded sometimes with Trent and Troy but other times we just, they weren’t interested. So it didn’t work. If you’re a mom and dad, I’d encourage you to step back and ask yourself what’s my main focus when it comes to parenting and what should my focus be if I don’t know, scripture provides a clear job description for parents. It’s to teach your kids about God and his will for their lives. I mean that’s pretty straightforward. Talking about God’s word might happen in a structured setting, jean loved that the devotions every night at seven and go for 30 minutes and we got five minutes of contemplation and 10 minutes of singing and then 10 minutes of bible reading and then a Q and A time. I mean that was jean and for me it was driving down the road going, man, look at that sunset, look at what God’s painted for us tonight kind of in the moment. And I am looking forward to talking with our guests today about how to encourage you as a parent to build those foundations in your Children. And ruth joe Simmonds is an author, artist and entrepreneur and our conversation today is About a book that Ruth and her husband Troy wrote called Foundations 12 biblical truths to shape a family. And we’ve got copies of that here at the Ministry. Just click the link on your screen or call 800 the letter a. And the word family Ruth. Welcome to focus on the family. Thanks so much for having me. So good to have you. I’m excited because you’re a mom of six boys. You’re an expert, not an expert but I have a lot of experience. Okay. For the listener and the viewer what what are the age ranges for your boys? What? The oldest to the youngest. My oldest is 19 and then it goes to 17, 15, 13, 10 and eight. And I just did that. If troy your husband were here, would he be able to answer so concisely. Well he’d be better. He he knows their birthdays. I have to like look for it on my blog to find what day I blogged about their birth. That’s great. I’m I’m impressed with troy. He’s good. Alright, let’s get into it. Let’s address the listeners who are thinking, you know, teaching the bible isn’t kind of in my wheelhouse, I’m not that kind of extrovert, communicate or whatever it might be and yet, how is this topic relevant for parents who don’t see themselves as the big reader? Yeah, you know, I think parents get overwhelmed easily because we immediately think that we have to create a perfect scenario in order to teach our Children about God. We think about having to put our hymnals out sing amazing grace and everybody has to be well behaved and the number one question I get all the time is well ruth, what do we do if our kids are rolling around on the ground or they start getting in a fight or they start poking each other and they’re not listening and I go, well that’s really kind of real life, right? And so teaching scripture and showing our kids the goodness of God isn’t gonna happen in a vacuum, and I think for so many of us, we thought that if we just take them to sunday school, if we just take them to VBS will accomplish the whole goal and then we can just live our normal lives at home and we’re finding that ultimately it doesn’t work to just let somebody else take over that discipleship factor, we are called his parents to be the number one primary influencer, primary disciple of our Children and so we have to find a way to do that and I do, you know, VBS, our boys went to VBS, but see it as an augmentation of what you’re doing, not the sole source, right and not, and you can’t just be once a week and once a year, it needs to be in our everyday monday and daily lives. Yeah, well, as you’re going to say for the listener, a good thing to remember is don’t outsource the faith training of your Children, you know, you can seek experts, but you’d be the core person and we’re gonna talk about that in a minute. I want to start though with even your faith foundation, the type of home you were raised and because so many of us that weren’t raised in a christian home, you know, we can flounder a little bit, not, not really know what’s the right thing to do, I mean, I didn’t find the Lord until I was 22 or whatever the age might be, What’s your experience growing up or not growing up in a christian home Yeah, you know, my parents and I, we all came to genuine faith about the same time as I was entering high school and so interestingly, my parents were baby christians, they were young in the faith, they were learning all the things about what the gospel is, how to, you know what church is supposed to be like, how it is to study the scriptures and so they were trying to train us up in the same at the same time that they were learning those things and so my parents did the best they knew how, but I think they leaned towards thinking that there was a way to um read something in a and assumed that that was discipleship in itself and it sometimes got a little legalistic jim, I mean honestly it wasn’t their intention, but it kind of became a sense of, well, you know, if you had a bad day, it might be because you didn’t have your quiet time. And so that the idea of spending time with the Lord as a family or individually kind of became formulaic or ritualistic rather than relational. And I think that’s where as an adult now, I feel really called to and burdened to help inspire parents to seek that relational aspect when we’re parenting and discipline our kids rather than fall back on thinking it has to be perfect or we have to do it in this exact time slot every single day. And I want to dig into this a little bit because what you’re touching on is so critically important and we’ve done broadcasts with parents who had blown it. Um, I’m thinking of the Pepin’s and you know, some great programs and if you as a listener, you haven’t heard that one, that’s a good one, that was the daughter who at 17 was pregnant and you know what that did to the family and the solutions that God provided for that family and it’s a beautiful in story, but in that context, it’s this idea of really training to behavioral outcomes rather than the heart outcomes. And that’s hard because I think we as believers, you know, especially for the parents, we know that living these things in a structured way, these spiritual truths in a structured way produce good behavior. I mean it makes you a good citizen, all these wonderful things. But when you’re parenting, you’ve got to allow your kids to stumble. I mean it’s just part of letting them grow, we grow in the valleys, not in the mountaintops and you know, I so appreciate what you’re saying there. Well, I think we forget that the, the example that the apostle paul says when he writes each of these pistols is that he literally says, let me remind the reader who God is, who we are in christ and then the actions that put on and put off come later sometimes by chapter four. And sometimes as parents, we go straight to the put on, put off like don’t lie, you know, do these things don’t do these things and which are all good things, but we don’t lay a solid foundation of faith as we’re asking for them to consider living a life that’s worthy of um, the gospel, but we, we go straight to this is what it should look like rather than this is who God is and why we can build our lives on his foundation. I think at the core ruth, it’s teaching your Children how to choose to do the right thing. Doing the right thing without that choice being made does not prepare them for adulthood. They need to be taught how to choose and why to choose to do the right thing, not simply choosing the right thing, correct. Um let’s move into the 12 truths that that you picked out in your book. Let’s grab a few that we want to talk about. Just list them for us and then we’ll get into some questions. Well, the best way to tell you about how this book came to be is that a couple of years ago you could walk into hobby lobby and see these like our family rules. I don’t know if you remember that, but you walk in so they’re really cute right? Most of the time it’s like farmhouse theme and it’s usually like um in this house we say please, we take off our shoes, we don’t leave, you know, well you know, stuff and stuff like that. And I said to Troy one day I said you know, do you want to buy one of those or what are our quote family rules? And he said, you know, babe, I really feel like I would love for our kids to be able to look up and see a list of things that we aspire to that are biblically based, not just like in this house. These are the things that we say we’re about. But what does God say? We must be about? And so I said, well then why don’t you write those for us? And so these 12 are not exhaustive. They’re not the only 12 things that we aspire to, but they’re 12 beginnings there and starts at the very beginning, love loving God with all our hearts and then ultimately hating sin, especially your own. Because when you when you start at the very basis of why you need jesus, then you can start moving on to all the other things that we see and hope to build our families upon. Yeah, it’s so good. And I love the fact that you said, why don’t you write them honey? Well, well he did. And so then that actually became Prince that we made for our home and then for our customers and Graceless as well. But that’s how it turned into the book where we said, okay, now that we wrote these, let’s flush this out. As in terms of how we talk about these 12 in our own homes Detroit. Find that scripture talks about cleanliness being next to Godliness. You know, we’re still looking for that one. Yeah, I want to find that one. He didn’t put that as one of the top 12. You know, that’s crazy. In fact ruth, you have a great story about losing your temper. And this is a good example of how to be open and honest in front of your kids and you lost your temper. So I’m gonna out you a little bit here, but you wrote it in the book? What happened? Well, well, which time? This is that one where it became an opportunity to share some truth with your kids as well as you can imagine being a mama of six and having everything from college bound kids too. Children learning how to actually like put away their laundry and making sure they, they clean the bathroom when it’s their turn. You know, we have all the whole the whole range. I often find myself impatient because I struggle with feeling like I want things done my way. And most of the time there are things like who’s cleaning out the fridge? Why didn’t you guys do this? Even though we’ve already talked about it 10 times. You know, the things where I expect some level of perfection and I can think of so many times and I think what I explained in the book was that so many times when I lose my temper, it is a display of how I’ve put something else, my comfort, my expectation or my desire for perfection above my love for God. It’s most of the time it’s a display of my worship of self, my worship of my own comfort and my making an idol of what I want this house to be about. And usually that it starts with the word word, you know, perfect something. You know, there’s always some idea of perfection in my mind and I want everybody to know when they’ve didn’t meet the expectation to get me to that point. You know, that really struck me because I maybe it’s just that I haven’t read that in such a succinct fashion when something gets you when you get angry about something, Is it an idol? That’s a great question to ask yourself at any age. And I think that one of the best ways to do that self assessment is to say, am I willing to sin to get what I want or is not getting what I want, causing me to sin. And so when I think about that in terms of being a mama, it’s okay to want the dish is done. It’s okay to want everybody to pick up after the game that they played. But the way I communicate that will reveal whether I think that getting my way is more important than honoring the Lord. This is focused on the family with jim daly and our guest today is ruth joe simmons. Uh, she and her husband Troy wrote a book called foundations 12 biblical truths to shape a family. This is great stuff and as you can tell, it’s applicable to pretty much every person that follows christ. We all have moments where we have to stop and think And we want to live better. This book will help you do that in your parenting journey especially. And we’ve got copies of it, click the link on your screen or call 800 the letter a and the word family ruth. There’s a time your husband Troy was struggling to read the bible and you know that that is the pace of life sometimes. And he shared this experience with your kids just being a mom observing that example. What took place and how was it a positive thing to say to your kids? And I’m not really reading the word right now. Well between the two of us, Troy honestly has a better, um consistent and disciplined routine, but we all right. All of us going through seasons where we’re not getting a whole lot out of it or we’re thinking, wow, why did I not see the fruit of that time today? And so I love that he often shares with the boys that it’s a matter of um walking consistently in the relationship with the Lord, even when that day you don’t necessarily feel up for it or you don’t feel like it’s some big dramatic experience. And so he’s modeled for them. Hey, first thing in the morning when I wake up and there’s no magic to first thing in the morning. And he often says, hey, if it doesn’t happen first thing in the morning. Let’s find some time later, but he is always the first one up now and he’s modeling for them what it is to feast on God’s word and the aroma of that and just the fragrance of seeing their dad kind of like really enjoy it has really wooed them. That’s good. I like that, feasting on the word, I like that. That’s a, that’s a good metaphor for what we should all be doing. It’s so difficult to teach your kids if you’re having a hard time, like you said, getting into that reading and that discipline yourself, what advice would you have for the parents who do struggle with that consistent time? What, you know, I think the obvious answer is just do it. But you know, again, that doesn’t always get someone motivated to go. So what, what can they do to recognize the importance of doing it? Well, I will just tell you what I preach to myself because I, it’s a perennial struggle in my own life to remember that I need to be fed. So something’s some practical things that have really helped me is, um, sometimes I mix it up by going on a walk and listening to audio bible or um, listening as I walk. I think that makes a big difference. I think sometimes it really just helps to remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect, right? I think especially as a mom, sometimes I go, I said, I was going to start on january one, I was going to go through the bible in a year and now I’m on day 12 and I’m already behind. I guess I’ll just give that up. No start again tomorrow because if the goal is to know christ and to love him more and to align your heart and your life to look more like him, then tomorrow is not too late to begin. But when the goal is to feel good about your christian walk and to think yourself a good believer and to prove that you can check things off the list then yeah, you’re gonna be really discouraged to start again. So I think it really helps to do that self assessment and say what is my motivation Because if it’s jesus and knowing him more then I will begin again tomorrow. Even if it’s five minutes we’re surrounded by um demands and Children. But take a moment even if it means you open up this book or your bible and just say, hey guys, I’m gonna just listen to the word for five minutes here. Yeah. And that’s such, you know, good admonishment. It always is buttressed by a good story. So I think you and Troy, you were sleep deprived. The kids were young. You were dying on the vine. A lot of moms are leaning then right now right there, that’s where I’m at and Troy suggested something to you that really meant something. So you’re, you’re referring to the time where um we had a child who just didn’t sleep and you know, people can write and tell me all the things about what he might have needed during that time. But we tried everything and he he was about four and he just woke up seven or eight times a night. And you know, you get to that point where months in and you start feeling like I just I just can’t function. And so all I wanted to do in the morning was, well I can’t get up, I have to sleep until as late as possible because I’m miserable. And so one morning he, you know, after a season of feeling like he was running on empty, he just got up and he said um and I go, what are you doing? He goes, I gotta get up and read my bible and I go, how can you afford to lose any sleep and get up and do this? And it was I can’t afford not to. That was his answer. And his answer ultimately was to remind me that there are times and it doesn’t mean that there’s some formula for you have to get up even when you’re tired, but that there is a need that’s far beyond sleep and um food and shelter. It’s really of the soul that we must commune with God when we are Children of God, we have to. And so, you know when you’ve been running on empty and dried up after a season with one of the themes that I’m hearing, you talk about, especially I wanna again direct this towards the moms, but this affects dads too. The balance between feeling guilty and feeling motivated and I, you know, diets don’t work when it’s guilt driven, you know that you give up, you have the doughnut shouldn’t have done that now more guilt, you know? So when you apply that to spiritual disciplines, I mean when the when that person is motivated as you’re describing, like Troy saying man, I need to read the word more than I need sleep, that’s pretty profound. But that person that’s maybe their whole christian life has been built on guilt, not on love and respect for the Lord and the right thing to do, but not through guilt through relationship. Just describe that for me how to move someone from the guilt environment to the man, I just need it. Well I lived most of my life um operating out of fear of not having approval. Um not pleasing the Lord thinking if I had my quiet time, he’d be pleased with me and if I didn’t then oh my goodness, maybe he doesn’t even want to hear from me because in my mind I thought he was the kind of heavenly father that would be sitting there cross arm going, well you’re having a bad day because I told you you should be in um you know, so you should be in the psalms by now at in your bible reading, you know, like tap, tap, tap, what? Why are you so behind in my mind, that’s the narrative I had of a holy father in heaven. And so to move, to answer your question, jim like to move our hearts from the place where we are striving for God’s grace, striving for approval, fear of not having blessing in favor to move from that place to striving as in working hard and um and pursuing with great intent striving in grace, The difference there is, you cannot give away or operate out of what you don’t have. And so we have to taste and see that the Lord is good first and foremost. So for the listener out there who goes well, I don’t really know why I would want to open my bible. I feel real dried up in my soul and I feel exhausted and I just feel like it would be checking off the list, I would say, you know what the psalmist felt that way at times to start there, find out what is so great and what is so satisfying to the writers of the word? Like why did they know that God was faithful and good? I hope this is like a reminder for the listener, but when you look at the story of redemption from beginning to end, it’s God, continually putting on display, he’s doing what we cannot. I mean when he walked through the broken bodies of the animals with the covenant with Abraham saying, I’m gonna put you to sleep and I’m gonna fulfill the covenant by myself and do that. That’s um, you know, in the old testament, but ultimately to jesus, christ, dying on the cross. Yes, but we did not do that. And so I think when we feel the struggle of like, I can’t handle my life, I can’t do my christian walk well enough. I’m gonna ruin my kids when you feel those things and that narrative kind of crowding into your head. You gotta start with the reality that God’s callings are his enabling is when you are his child, he will give you exactly what you need for the very things he calls you too. And it’s always been about him holding all things together. As we read in colossians, it’s always been about him doing the impossible right. It’s always been Ephesians three about him doing more than we can ask or imagine to say yes to like reach out and like reach across this, your earbuds and to say if you are weary, this is worth pursuing because he’s pursuing you. Describe that worship, the reading of the word in your home, what have you and Troy found that really has worked with your six boys, you know, as a regular rhythm to doing, you know, reading and worship and spending time together spiritually. Well, they all put on ties and we get our hymnals out and they said, you know, and they play the piano. No, it never looks like that. It looks like sometimes like what you described earlier jim that sometimes it’s in the car when we’re driving from one place to another and we say, um, hey, nobody’s on their headphones. Right? Let’s, let’s have a conversation, Let’s talk about the word. Now. Sometimes it looks like us finishing up dinner and me saying, hey, I made, um, a little dessert or extra something for us to nibble on. Let’s just hang around for a while while, um, reads from the word and talks about what he got out of it today. Um, whether you’re using a devotional, like the one I’ve written here because the goal with writing foundations was to help you get the conversation started. It’s for parents who go, I don’t really know what to say or what to read or how to even pass on something that I’m not sure I’m getting much out of. And so we’ve started that conversation to help you lay down that that groundwork, that true foundation of faith with your kids to get that conversation going. But if you are in the word yourself and you want to share, just say, guys, I read out of Philippians today. I want to tell you what I read, let’s talk about it. And so it can be as simple as that. And I think one of the things that really helped me as a mama who struggles with perfection is to remember that just because it didn’t go really well yesterday doesn’t mean we can’t try it again today just because we don’t do it exactly from 6 to 6 30 every night doesn’t mean we failed. And I think Troy has done a really good job of reminding me because in our instagram double world, um I, I like instagram, I work on instagram, I’m on instagram, but sometimes we think we peer into another person’s life and we think their family looks perfect. They’re all sitting quietly. Nobody in their family is det radio silent when you ask them who is jesus, you know, you know, you’re like, they’re all doing so well. No, just remember that. It’s not perfect for anyone and that even if you have a child who’s throwing a fit in the middle of your quote family devotion time, that might be the very topic that God wants you to address that. This has been really good ruth. I hope the listeners, the viewers have caught this, this is so critical in your parenting journey to develop the heart. You know, somebody ken Williams who’s been on the broadcast said you’re trying to launch adults, not Children and that’s a great statement, you know spiritually emotionally the whole bit, you’re not trying to launch Children, you’re trying to launch an adult and these are great insights on how to do that ruth, thank you for being with us. Thanks for having me so appreciate it. And uh boy, if you need this kind of help, uh this is a resource that you need to get. And I’d like to encourage you to, You know, help us in ministry make a gift of any amount and we’ll send you a copy of ruth’s book, foundations 12 biblical truths to shape a family. You don’t get a better proposition than that. So you’re getting really a twofer right? You’re helping minister to other parents and you’re getting a resource that will really help you in your own parenting journey. So do that make a gift today. And we’ll send you the book is our way of saying thank you donate today. Ask for your book and check out the livid challenge which is a series of prompts and reminders for you. You put those two work, they come into your inbox and you can employ these daily kind of conversations that ruth has been talking about Our number is 800 the letter a and the word family and all the details about these resources are right there on your screen. Just click the link on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for focus on the family. I’m john fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in christ