Wednesday, August 27, 2008

If you like a sterilized, flanel-graph version of the Bible for your kids this is not for you

A month or so ago I ordered The Good and Evil book by Michael Pearl. I was looking for a Bible story book I could read to my boys that wasn't just a bunch of nice moral tales with sterilized images of the characters thrown in. For the most part, that has been what I've found.
I don't want my kids to think of the stories in the Bible as Veggie Tales or Boz the Bear (not that I have anything against those characters in themselves- we own both- just not what I want for a Bible teaching source). So when I found this comic-book style Bible story book by Michael Pearl with AMAZING, did I say AMAZING, illustrations by Danny Bulanadi and Clint Cearley I thought, "Now this is it!"

And I wasn't disappointed in the least when I got it in the mail. I did have issue with a few of the interpretations Michael Pearl wrote for what some of the characters said, but it's a minor issue for me. At least now I have a resource that really depicts the truth- which is stranger and much more entertaining than fiction- without candy coating or trying to make it all nice and tidy.
It's been hard for me actually, reading some of these stories to my boys, but it's made me realize as I talk to them, that our God is an awesome God, one that does not fit in a nice tidy box or soft cuddly stuffed animal. He is fierce and all-powerful and that's what makes His humility and gentleness, mercy and love so inviting. The full picture of God's judgment on sin and plan for redemption is presented in this book with truly spectacular images to go along with it.

You know, our kids watch and are exposed to all kinds of violence and stories of bad stuff that happens out there in the world, and then we teach them these Veggie-tale style Bible stories and somehow in their brains it just doesn't jive. The Bible seems inapplicable when we sterilize it. But when we let it say what it says, the God who stepped down into our mess to take on Himself the judgement we deserve becomes the God our kids can trust in.

My boys and are just going straight through the book with a 4 or 5 page reading every morning. I have them (they are ages 3 1/2 and 5 by the way) listen to the story from the book, then I take a key scripture (10 verses or less) that the story is derived from and read it to them while they look at the pictures in the book. I have them draw what they heard or saw in one of the pictures in a special book I set aside just for this time, and then I have them tell me what they drew or wrote. This time usually generates all kinds of questions only kids ask, questions that make you pray hard and fast and make you get real with your kids.

The other day for instance we read the story about Abraham and Isaac going up to mount Moriah to offer Isaac. My boys' eyes were as big as dollars and of course the question came, "God wanted Abraham to kill his son mom!?" Usually I'd try to avoid this kind of story, cause even as an adult it's hard to understand, but because I truly believe God wants us to impress His word on our kids' hearts and not try to make it pretty, I told them the story. So when my 5 year old asked this question I prayed and was able to relay the heart of God to my son out of my own life of knowing Him. I told him that God never wanted Abraham to kill his son, but He wanted to show Abraham and Isaac that God would die for us to save us. I really saw God's plan coming together for how He wants us to teach our kids His word in those moments.
I thought of how the Israelite kids would watch their parents obediently kill a lamb and spread it's blood on the door of their houses before they left Egypt and how in obedience to God's word they would, for generations, watch their parents kill lambs in various sacrifices and offerings to God. I thought about how graphic and bloody that is. I wouldn't want my kids to watch a lamb get slaughtered. But that violent image made a permanent impression on them so that when the Lamb of God came, those who would believe, would remember and know that the Son of God is the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. If their parents had sheltered them from such images and only told their children nice things about manna falling from the sky and such there would have been no recognition of the plan of God to have His own Son be slaughtered for the salvation of their souls.

I want my kids to remember and know that our God is Almighty, Holy and Just, and He is also, Merciful, Gracious and Kind. I want them to remember the God of old who required the death of lambs, who one day sent His own Son to become the Lamb, so that when they see their own sinfulness and need, they'll run to God with a righteous fear of Him, knowing He has every reason to condemn them, but believing that for all time He's desired to take their punishment on Himself that they might be saved.

So, all that said, if you're looking for an EXCELLENT Bible story book that brings across the real message of God to your kids in an unforgettable way, I would definitely recommend Good and Evil by Michael Pearl.

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