As I have gotten older, I have reflected on my childhood years. One area that I have often thought about is how the Bible was read to me back then. Whenever someone read it, it always seemed dry and flavorless. Like a bowl of oatmeal without any brown sugar in it. It was bland. I was told it was God’s word and was important, but it sure wasn’t exciting to consume.
In grade 12, my youth pastor took us to a youth retreat at what would be my future Bible college. At that time, I had heard all the Bible stories, especially the one the speaker was talking about: David and Goliath.
I mean, it’s a classic story. One I had heard a million times.
But never like that.
He had one side of the crowd be the Philistines and the other side be the Israelites. Then he had them yelling at each other across the auditorium. It was awesome! As I sat in the middle of the crowd of 5000 people, listening to the surround sound of two “armies” screaming at each other, I couldn’t wait to hear what my role was in the story. I wanted to be in it.
That’s when he looked in my direction and said, “And you in the middle? You’re dirt.”
That’s right. My role was to be the valley’s dirt. The soil on which the great story would be told.
Needless to say, I was a little deflated, and yet, captured. He caught me by surprise and had my attention. What he did that day brought the Bible to life for me. I saw the story differently because he made me interact with it in a surprising way. He put me right in it.
Too often in my life, my Bible reading has been dry. It’s like I read the words, but I don’t feel the emotions. I have had many times where I have approached the Bible too much like a textbook and not enough like a letter from a friend.
As parents, we want our kids to know the Bible stories, but not just know them, we want our kids to engage with them. We want them to know that the Bible is not a bland, flavorless book, but rather one filled with life and adventure. We want them to know that it is relevant and speaks to their lives today. We want them to know that it is alive and brings life.
But how do we do that?
Click on the image to get a printable page that your child can color!
I believe there are 3 simple steps we can do to help our kids see the Bible come to life.
1. As you read it, put yourself in the story. Don’t just choose a story to read. Also choose which character you want to be in it as you read it. We all like to be the hero type characters, but maybe you can choose to be the Philistines, or the woman at the well. Maybe you want to be Balaam’s donkey or the animals that enter the ark. The point is to pick a view that you haven’t experienced before. Then you go on to number 2.
2. Draw out the emotions of the story. You need to ask yourselves about what you experienced or felt. What did it feel like to see your giant hero fall to a shepherd boy? What did it feel like to carry all of humanity and all the animals safely during the flood? What did it feel like to have the nails go through you? As you begin to ask these types of questions, you will begin to experience the story in a new way. As you experience the story in a new way, you will begin to learn new lessons you never saw before. This may require you to read the story a few times to get more out of it, but once you do that you move on to number 3.
3. Interact with the story. In Luke 10, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan. It is a beautiful story that is told masterfully. In the end, Jesus does something interesting. He doesn’t just give the lesson of the story, but he asks the expert in the law to give it. He makes the man interact with the story. Once you have chosen a viewpoint and experienced the emotions of the story, you need to ask yourself what you have learned. This will solidify the whole Bible reading experience. And that’s where it not only comes to life, but will begin to change your life.
The Bible is not a flavorless book. It is one filled with stories of real people, real adventures, real lessons, and real emotions. If we don’t see this in our lives now, how will we help our kids see it in their lives?
This week, I am giving all of us a Family Bible Reading Challenge. As a family, choose a Bible story. If you are not sure which one, go to Luke 10 and read the Good Samaritan. Follow the three steps and see what comes out of it. Then, don’t just leave it there, comment below on how it went and let’s see what we can learn from each other.
My heart's desire is to bring God's word to life for children and families. It all started when I was asked to teach the 3 and 4 year old kids in my church, and the first story they gave me to teach was Genesis 22, Abraham offering Isaac on the altar. I couldn't help but wonder how I was going to teach such a big story to little kids. That's when I prayed about and God gave me a picture of a bear cub in the forest, and The Unforgettable Adventures of Junior Bear was born. Of course we didn't start where we are now; it has been a long journey. But along the way, God's word has come to life for our family and for the children we teach. We wanted to share with you the story where it all began. It is a bit different than the original, but as it has grown, it has gotten deeper. We hope you enjoy it, and, more importantly, that it points you to God's word so that it can come to life for you.
The Promise - By Brad Klassen
Junior Bear was excited when he woke up. It was his birthday. He had been waiting for a long time for today because it was the day he would get his promised birthday gift from his dad: a wooden dump truck. He had asked for it almost a month ago and his dad promised that he would make him one; and his dad never breaks his promises.
Junior jumped out of bed, quickly got ready and headed out of his room to find his dad.
“Good morning Birthday Bear,” Mr. Bear said cheerily as Junior stepped into the kitchen.
“Thanks, Dad,” Junior said, smiling as he sat at the table.
He could smell what his dad was making for breakfast: pancakes with fresh berries from the forest, all covered in homemade maple syrup. It was Junior’s favorite.
After breakfast, Mr. Bear reached under the table.
“Happy birthday, Junior,” he said handing him a present.
Junior could hardly contain his excitement as he took it, even though he knew what it was.
He ripped off the wrapping paper, opened the box, and looked inside.
His eyes grew big as he pulled out the most beautiful dump truck he had ever seen.
“Thanks, Dad!” he exclaimed, not even taking his eyes off his new gift. “It’s perfect.”
“You’re welcome,” Mr. Bear replied as he smiled proudly at his son.
Before he ran off to play with his gift, Junior gave his dad a bear hug.
For the next few days, all Junior did was play with his dump truck. All his other toys seemed boring now. Every time he played with it, it was like he had new joy in his heart. The best part was that he had asked for it, his dad had promised it, and now here it was. His dad was so good.
One day, a while later, as Junior was playing with his truck, Mr. Bear came by.
“Junior, I have an idea,” he said.
“What’s that, Dad?”
“How about you and I take a walk into the forest and go camping together? I know of the perfect spot. And yes, I want you to bring your dump truck.”
“That sounds great,” Junior said.
Early the next morning, Junior woke up and got ready to go. When he looked outside, he noticed that everything was wet and figured it had rained in the night, but he really wanted to go, so he grabbed his truck and the two headed out together.
Walking in the forest with his dad was Junior’s favourite thing to do. He would listen to his dad tell stories and teach him things about the forest.
As they were talking, Junior had a thought.
“Dad,” he said. “I noticed that when we packed we brought our food and our flint to make a spark, but we didn’t bring any fire starter. Since everything is wet, what are we going to use?”
“Something will be provided,” Mr. Bear replied.
After hiking for a while, Junior could see the spot where they were headed to. It was a beautiful hill, with lots of space.
Mr. Bear chose a great place to set up camp.
“Let’s go find some rocks to make a fire pit area and start a fire,” Mr. Bear suggested. “It’s getting a little chilly out here.”
Working together they found some rocks and placed them in a circle.
As Junior was about to put some sticks in the middle of the pit, he heard his father’s voice.
“Junior Bear, I need you to do something.”
Junior looked up to his dad.
“I need you to use your dump truck as the fire starter.”
Junior’s eyes grew big again, but not with excitement.
“What do you mean I need to use my dump truck?” he asked in shock.
“The forest is wet we have no dry kindling,” Mr. Bear said. “Your dump truck is the driest wood we have.”
Junior couldn’t believe what his dad was asking of him. This was his dump truck. The one gift he had asked for. The one gift his dad had promised him. The one gift his dad had given him.
His thoughts raced. He didn’t know what to think.
But then a new thought came to him. He thought of his dad and how he had always been good, he had never lied, he always kept his promises, and he could always be trusted.
Junior was nervous. He was even scared.
He took a hold of his gift and laid it in the middle of the stones.
With shaky paws, and a trusting heart, Junior grabbed the flint.
Just as he was about to make a spark, Mr. Bear called out.
“Don’t do it,” Mr. Bear said.
Junior sat on the ground beside the stones and took a deep breath as tears ran down his cheeks.
“Don’t do it,” Mr. Bear said again.
“Why did you ask me to do that?” Junior asked, still shaking a bit.
“I wanted to know something,” Mr. Bear said. “I wanted to know that you trusted me more than you loved your gift. Now I know you do.”
Junior climbed into his dad’s lap.
“And I always will,” he said as his dad wrapped his arms around him.
“Junior Bear,” Mr. Bear whispered. “Because you have done this and not withheld your favourite gift, I have something for you.”
Junior looked to see where his dad was pointing. Wiping the tears from his eyes he noticed something underneath a nearby brush. As he looked closer he saw it was a dump truck, but it was bigger than his other one. Much bigger.
Junior ran over and pulled it out.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“This is the dump truck I always promised you,” Mr. Bear replied. “I’ve always had this one in mind as my promise to you.”
“How did it get here?”
“My son,” Mr. Bear said quietly. “I had this trip planned before you even asked for a truck."
Junior couldn’t believe it. His dad’s promise was so much bigger than he could have imagined.
Giving his dad a bear hug, he knew that his dad was always good and could always be trusted.
As they sat together, the two were so close that Junior could hear his father’s heartbeat, and he knew that he was loved.
Copyright Brad Klassen September 8, 2018
Thank you for reading The Promise. If you enjoyed the story, please leave a comment below. Sign up for our email list to find our more about when our first illustrated book, The Greatest Gift, will be available for purchase, and receive a free copy of our encouragement to parents, 17 Ways to Grow Your Child's Love for Jesus.
Why Telling Our Story to Our Kids Has Impact
Do you remember looking at a photo album? I mean before technology changed everything.
I may be aging myself a bit, but remember scanning through old photo albums.
I remember seeing pictures of a trip to British Columbia when I was just a baby.
I remember seeing pictures of school classmates.
I remember seeing pictures of my baseball team.
What’s interesting about a photo album is not just the stories it tells, but it makes you wonder about the stories it doesn’t tell. What is in the gaps between the pictures?
I sometimes think about the Bible in this way.
One such area that intrigues me is the gap between Genesis 3 and Genesis 4. In chapter 3, Adam and Eve sin and are removed from the Garden of Eden. Then the Bible makes a large jump in time and we find the story of Cain and Able. But what happened in between?
Two things that for sure happened were that Adam and Eve learned to live off the land and began to have kids. Now, since Netflix didn’t exist at the time, as the kids got older, I bet there were a lot of story times with Mom and Dad.
“Tell us about the Garden.”
“What were the animals like?”
“Why did you eat the fruit?”
Can you imagine having to be the parents that get to tell the kiddos that you were the ones who started all the bad stuff in the world? How hard would that be?
I wonder how Adam and Eve would have responded.
“The Garden we perfect.”
“The animals were all so gentle.”
“I didn’t think one fruit could do so much damage.”
I bet they had quite the conversations around the camp fire.
But why even have the conversations in the first place? Because the heart of a parent is to see their kids not make the same mistakes they did. Am I right?
Stories are powerful. Our stories are powerful.
Our kids are trying to find their way in this crazy world, and whose stories will impact them the most? Ours.
This does not mean that our kids won’t make the same mistakes, or even worse ones, as us. Genesis 4 is evidence of that.
But, it does mean that we as parents need to be strong enough to share our stories with our kids.
Our lessons learned.
AND the mistakes we made along the way.
By sharing our stories with our kids, they discover that they are not the only ones going through whatever it is they are in.
And we discover that our past can build into their futures.
So what about you? What story from your life will you share with your kids this week?
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Brad in 2 Sentences:
I love to write and teach people of all ages about Jesus. If I can tell a story and tell you about Jesus at the same time, even better!