First Things First

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 is probably one of the most quoted Scripture references when speaking of home education:

“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 sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

I thought of this verse many, many times as we home educated our four sons, who are now 25, 27, 30 and 32. I often pondered how teaching my sons as I sit, walk, lie down and rise would look like. Did this mean having regular family worship times? Did it mean memorizing Scripture and plastering our walls with Scripture?

In looking back, these are all worthwhile activities, and this kind of thinking is correct. But I always seemed to miss the order in which the Lord has orchestrated His Word. There is a reason verse 5 precedes verses 6 and 7.

Deuteronomy 6:5 says,“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Before I can expect to teach my children the words of God, I must be in a heart relationship with God myself.

So for the past year and a half I have been asking God to help me to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I didn’t know how He would answer this prayer, but since it is clearly according to His will, I knew He would answer my request.

I kind of expected that I would experience some sort of quickening and I would find my affections being drawn heavenward. But the opposite happened. Instead of my feelings towards God changing, I have been increasingly aware of His affection for me.

Through a series of experiences and Scriptures, over the past several months, God has been teaching, showing and conveying to my heart how much He cares for me. Through these providences He has been communicating to me how much he loves and even likes me.

As I pondered this, I realized this is consistent with how our heavenly Father operates. We read in 1 John 4:19 that “we love because he first loved us.” As I have been shown how much God loves me, I am finding that I love God more than ever. My new-found appreciation for my Savior is in direct proportion to the revelation of His love for me.

Once again God has taken the initiative and made me know that I am His and He is mine. The most powerful Scripture the Lord has quickened to me in recent months has been John 15:9: “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved You. Abide in My love.” To think that Jesus loves me as much as His Father loves Him. This truth is difficult to absorb, but it is the Word of God.

I see with new eyes that the best thing I can do for my family is fall in love with God and His Word continually. A heart relationship with my heavenly Father is what prepares and equips me to teach my children. In fact as I love God and His Word, discipleship will flow from my heart to the heart of my family.

This summer a friend sent me an e-mail describing what God has been teaching him and his wife about home-based discipleship. With his permission I am sharing a few paragraphs with you:

“We are in a time of real soul-searching and transition of heart and mind from external-based, legalistic forms of ‘family discipleship’ to which we’d been exposed and thought Well, that’s how the so-called experts seem to be doing it. Our new goal is heart-based, humility-powered ‘just loving each other.’ “‘Just loving each other’ doesn’t sound nearly as noble and high-minded as ‘family discipleship,’ but honestly it’s what we need to do. We are desperate to see something of Jesus in our home these days.”

Home education is not a formula but a relationship. This relationship begins with our hearts as parents turning toward God and then toward home. May God save us from the external forms and appearances of homeschooling and do a deep work in our hearts that will birth relationships with God and each other that will last for eternity.

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Steve Demme and his wife Sandra have been married for 33 years. They have been blessed with four sons: Isaac, 33; Ethan, 31; Joseph, 28; and Johnny, 25. With God’s help, they have all been home educated.

Steve is the author and founder of Math-U-See. He has served in full or part time pastoral ministry for many years after graduating from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served on the boards of Joni and Friends, Christian Freedom International, and Lifework Forum.

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One Comment

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    June 5, 2015

    So very true! When our hearts are trying to do anything other than enjoying the relationship with Him while serving Him, the pressure seeps right onto the kiddos. Even after graduation, the life lessons continue.