Our older college-aged kids tell us now that this commitment to get them up every morning to read the Bible together made a huge impression on them. It told them what Dad and Mom considered important—the beginning of knowledge, so to speak. And it started their day, before their minds had been cluttered with trivia, by focusing on God’s reality.

During our morning devotions, we go around the circle and each take turns reading a couple of stanzas or sections, usually from the New International Version. We, Kelli and David, listen for key concepts that tie in with things our kids are currently dealing with, events in the news and real situations that people face. The Psalms in particular keep driving home the point that God is bigger than our issues. He’s bigger than the public school. He’s bigger than the worst thing going on this week. Consider this soaring passage (which we get to read every twenty-third day of the month):

The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?
(Ps. 113:4-6).

Irrelevant to school life, you say? Think again. This passage implants in a young person’s mind who the ultimate authority really is. It establishes the true “chain of command” in this world. It also declares that the God of heavens is watching what goes on here below. He’s paying attention.

We talk about these truths as we read God’s Word. And it doesn’t end there. After the Psalms, we hit Proverbs.

The book of Proverbs deals with intensely practical matters, from money to laziness to sex to overeating to mouthiness. We try not to assume the role of the Holy Spirit, by pressing these instructions on our kids; instead, we read the Scripture verses and let God make them relevant. It takes the focus off Dad and Mom so that our kids receive what is being read as God’s wisdom, not ours. If they drop a comment along the lines of “That’s not realistic” or “I don’t like what that says,” we can say, “Well, when you get to heaven, you can take that up with God!”

Every month when we get to the twenty-eighth day, Mom takes the lead for Psalm 136, her favorite. It’s written in the form of a chant:

Kelli: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
The rest of us: His love endures forever.
Kelli: Give thanks to the God of gods.
The rest of us: His love endures forever.
Kelli: To the One who remembered us in our low estate
The rest of us: His love endures forever.
Kelli: And freed us from our enemies
The rest of us: His love endures forever (vv. 1-2, 23-24, emphasis added).

When we finish the psalm, we keep the chant going with our own current reasons to praise God:

Our basketball team was awesome last night—
His love endures forever.
We get to go to the beach this Saturday—
His love endures forever.

This practice supplies yet another building block in the biblical foundation we are erecting in our children’s minds: an understanding that God is the Source of all good things in our lives.

There’s even a creative way to deal with Psalm 119, the longest “chapter” in the Bible. What we do is save that one for the months that have a thirty-first day. Having finished the rest of the book on the thirtieth, we then give this final day of the month to reading Psalm 119 (along with Proverbs 31). Otherwise, we skip it.

But we certainly don’t want to miss the gems of this particular section, such as:

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you. . . .
Open my eyes that I may see
Wonderful things in your law.
I am a stranger on earth;
do not hide your commands from me
(Ps. 119:9-11,18-19).

Our morning Bible reading is different from a “Bible study,” in which participants dissect a short passage of Scripture and explore its subtle meanings. We simply keep reading—and keep coming back next month and the next month and the month after that. The curious thing is, while the text remains constant, our life circumstances keep changing. Parents and kids keep growing up, with new experiences and fresh understanding. What Proverbs says about “discretion” means one thing to an 8-year-old (and perhaps has to be explained by a parent), while it strikes a 12-year-old differently. And once a kid hits 16, it has a wider meaning.