For Terry Ball, the scriptures have become "great old friends."
The dean of religious education at Brigham Young University also has a few suggestions for introducing those friends to our children.
Ball spoke to students at an Orem Institute of Religion devotional Friday on internalizing the scriptures. He referenced Deuteronomy chapter 6, which states: "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (verses 6-7).
"The scriptures ought to influence everything we do with our own hands," Ball said. "They should influence everything we see.
"That's the goal, to get the scriptures into our hearts and to those of our children."
Ball gave four suggestions for making the scriptures a fixture in the hearts of children.
1. Use the scriptures to validate life's successes: Ball told the story of a former seminary student whose scriptures sat unopened and untouched on his desk throughout each class. When he questioned the student as to why he wouldn't open the books, Ball was told that the student's parents would use the scriptures to discipline him, which created a negative perception of the books.
"If that's the only way we use the scriptures, we overlook one of their most important values," Ball said.
Ball encouraged using the stories of the scriptures as a source of encouragement and praise for when children make correct choices. Validate their actions by drawing parallels with scriptural figures such as Ruth, he suggested.
2. Memorize the scriptures: Ball began teaching this point by reciting the opening lines to a scripture and then asking students to continue the passage. The congregation successfully picked up on each reference, until Ball drew laughter by saying "And it came to pass ... "
Memorizing scriptural passages can help children recall valuable counsel at key times in their lives, Ball suggested.
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if your child were raised with those scriptures and they came to their minds and hearts when they need them?" he said.
3. Create "sermons in a sentence": The words, images, phrases and stories found in the scriptures can have special application in our lives when taught and emphasized correctly, Ball suggested. He called these "sermons in a sentence." Ball said there are several words and phrases from the scriptures such as "feeding on ashes," a reference to a scripture in Isaiah about unfulfilling pursuits that he can say in the presence of his children that have immediate and meaningful influence.
"I hope that you know the scriptures so well that there are phrases or stories that become pat of your children," he said.
4. Find heroes in the scriptures: Ball said that instead of modern celebrities, children should be encouraged to follow the examples of heroes in the scriptures. Ball asked how fulfilling it would be if a daughter aspired to marry someone like King Hezekiah in the Old Testament instead of a popular actor or musician.
Such guidelines can give the scriptures a more significant place in an individual's life."The words will enter into your heart and become part of who you are," Ball said.