Your word I have treasured in my heart
Kyra loves to curl up with her favorite snacks and lose herself in the pages of A Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Every day Nicki sits down with her kids and reads There’s a Wocket in my Pocket by Dr. Seuss. Peanut Butter & Cupake is another favorite. Her kids love the main character, Peanut Butter, whose arms are made of paper clips.
She doesn’t need to convince them to read it. The kids try to convince her to read it to them…over and over again.
How can you encourage your kids to treasure God’s Word the same way?
With a little coaching, you can set your kids up for success as they read the Bible. It’ll take some up front work. BUT you can do it and there’s no one better to do it. The rewards will be totally worth it.
5 things you can do to help kids read the Bible–and love it!
(Examples from the story of Jonah)
Know the backdrop
On occasion, I feel bad for Jonah. No he shouldn’t have disobeyed, but seriously, consider what was happening. The Assyrian empire dominated the world. They were THE enemy of the day. God was sending Jonah to Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, and heart of enemy territory. Of course Jonah didn’t want to go!
Knowing the context adds tension to the story and makes it way more interesting.
I mean, how would you feel if God told you to preach the gospel in today’s political hotspot? Ninevah was dangerous!
So whether you’re reading a parable or a chapter from Matthew, help your kids discover the backdrop. Recreate in your living room the scene of the Philistines on one side of a valley and the Israelites on the other. Draw a 9-1/2 foot mark on your wall to show them how tall Goliath was. Explain how the Pharisees were jealous and always out to get Jesus. Ask questions, like why did David write Psalm 51? Even a little context helps.
How do you find out the backdrop? Do a quick Google search on key words, like “Pharisees” or “Philistine”, to fill in some interesting information. Most adult study Bibles have a short page that gives context before each book of the Bible.
Discover the Person
For nine months I lived four hours away from my fiancée. He wrote one letter a week and I treasured every one. Why? Because I was in love with my man! Every sentence gave me a glimpse into the person I’d marry.
Ultimately reading the Bible is about discovering who God is. The real reason to crack open Scripture is discovering this powerful, mysterious, and amazing person.
Let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me.
Jeremiah 9:24, italics added
God wants your kids to know him better. That’s the whole point!
After you read or your child reads a psalm, a proverb, one of the parables, an account from 1 or 2 Kings or a chapter from Matthew, have them ask…
What does this tell me about who God is?
Savor the whole story
Unfortunately many people read God’s Word the way they would never read any other book. No one opens a mystery or a novel, reads a single page or chapter, then closes the book, finished.
If your kids are going to really “get” the Bible, they have to know the whole story. That might mean reading more than a single verse or a cluster of verses.
In Jonah, God can come across pretty mean. He demands Jonah preach against Nineveh. He sends a nasty storm. He lets Jonah sit three days in the belly of a smelly fish. Why? Because so much was at risk!
Give your kids the BIG story of the Bible: God loves the world, but people broke his heart with their sin. God planned to restore that closeness again through Christ and bring the entire world under Him. Then help them discover the SMALL story inside the big story: God loved the people of Nineveh and wanted them to turn to him.
Find the clues
One summer I asked my son what book of the Bible he wanted us to read through. His answer? Leviticus.
I groaned. Of all the books why that one? I wondered. Try wading through all those laws and temple requirements and your eyes will glaze over—unless you spot the clues.
Three big clues to what’s really going on: 1. repetition 2. words in the beginning 3. words at the end.
In Leviticus it’s the constant repetition of the word “holy.” God is holy. He wants his people to be different–holy–like he is.
In Jonah, the big clue is “words at the end.”
Most Bible story books finish with…”And Jonah went to Nineveh” or “The people of Nineveh turned to God.” But after that Jonah complains to God: Why did I come all the way to Nineveh just to have you change your mind and NOT destroy the Nineveh? “I knew that you were a gracious and compassionate God” (4:2).
God answers, “Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh?” (4:11).
All these clues lead to one big conclusion–the main point. And that leads to the last tip…
Zero in on the main point
True or false: The main lesson of the book of Jonah is obey God.
Most Bible story books would have you believe that answer is “true.” Of course Jonah should have and we should obey God. But that’s not the main point.
If your kids…
know the backdrop,
savor the whole story,
Find the clues,
And discover who God is,
Jonah will become more than a moral lesson on how they should obey. Instead they’ll see this fantastic God who so passionately loves–not just his people but the whole world–that he goes out of his way to send a very stubborn someone, Jonah, to turn them back to him. THAT’S the main point!
With a little practice, a little coaching, and a little encouragement from you, your kids will discover how amazing the Bible is.
Open up your kids’ eyes to all the awesome-ness inside God’s Word! It’s worth it.
2020 © Carol Garborg