I love reading from Bible storybooks to our kids, especially from The Jesus Storybook Bible.
Jago’s illustrations are colorful and poignant and Sally Lloyd-Jones’ writing makes me cry almost every single time I read it. Then the kids look at me like I’ve lost my mind. (I’m sorry – is that not a good plug for the book??)
Anyway, as much as I love these and other Bible storybooks, I really wanted, and thought it was important, that my children hear the actual words of the Bible. Here’s what I’m doing.
1. Short verses or stories they can understand
Some of the Bible can be a little hard to understand at ages 5, 3 and 2. You’ll notice Sally left Leviticus and Numbers out of the storybook… Same reasoning. So I thought I’d start with short verses from Proverbs.
–> A Proverb for each day of the month
Have you ever noticed there are 31 chapters in Proverbs? One for every day of the month. I don’t know if that was intentional, but it’s handy. At breakfast – when they’re all sitting down, I try to read the kids a few verses from whatever chapter in Proverbs that corresponds to the day of the month. And I pick out something that is particularly relevant (in my mind) to them… For instance:
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. (Proverbs 1:8)
Ahem. (That’s me clearing my throat…)
My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:1-6)
Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways. (Proverbs 2:12-15) (importance of choosing friends wisely)
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity. (Proverbs 3:1-2)
I hope and seriously pray they GET these things.
The first few chapters in Proverbs talk a lot about wisdom. So now, whenever I say “We’re going to read from the Bible now,” Tayzey says “WI-DOM!” Ha!
2. Say it in their words
Today, I decided instead of Proverbs to read to them from my own morning reading… Right now I’m using the Abiding Love study from the Hello Mornings Challenge. One of the passages for the day was 1 John 1: 8-10 (but I only got through 8 and 9 with the kids before I lost them…)
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
My translation to them was:
“If we say we don’t have any sin in us we are lying to ourselves and there is not truth in our hearts. If we tell Jesus we are sorry (that word confess means to agree with God) for our sins (the bad things we do) he is faithful and just and will forgive us and make us clean from our sins.”
3. Repeat (like 10,000 times)
I had to repeat it 3 times, asking them to look at my eyes, hold still, listen, what did I say?, what does that mean? I make sure they’re listening, and sometimes I change the words to explain more.
4. Ask them to say part of it back to you
Me: “So, if we tell Jesus we are sorry for our sins, what will he do?”
Levi: “Um, I don’t know…”
Repeat it, ask them to look at me, listen etc…
Me: “Ok, so if we tell Jesus we are sorry for our sins, what will he do?”
Morgan: “He will FORGIVE us!”
Me: “Yes! And what else?”
Morgan: “Clean out our sin!”
Me: “YES! Levi, what did I say? What will Jesus do if we confess our sins?”
Levi: “……Get some wine.”
Well yes, I could see how some of our sins (especially the repetitive ones) could definitely drive one to drink…
I mean – NO. Totally not appropriate.
5. Try again another time
There are times when it’s quickly going downhill. Sometimes I have to remind them that we are talking about God’s Word and to be respectful… Sometimes they’re just too squirmy and giggly and we have to move on and try later or tomorrow. But the point is to try, to teach God’s Word and to pray that is takes hold in their hearts.
How do you teach your children about Jesus and the words of the Bible?
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(P.S. the arrow mini notecard above is from my very favorite Jones Design Company. She does such lovely work!)