As a parent, my desire is to have my kids grow to love Jesus with all their hearts.
That’s a good desire. At least I think so.
There is just one little problem with that: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and they have me as their dad.
That may be my heart’s desire, but I am not exactly the perfect role model for that.
The truth is, if I want my kids to love Jesus with all their hearts, I need to show them what that looks like to the best of my ability.
Of course we know this. After all, this is the first chapter in the parenting handbook we get as soon as our little buns come out of the ovens.
But let’s be honest about this. It’s hard. Very hard.
Because we are human and we sin. And our sin runs deep.
And that’s where loving Jesus comes in.
Because He made a way for us to love Him despite our sin.
By dying on the cross, Jesus did what we couldn’t do: He opened the relationship between us.
In other words, He loved us before we loved Him (I John 4:19).
And how did He demonstrate His love for us?
He died for us (Rom 5:8).
Now, this all seems to be pretty logical, but I think it gets even deeper for us.
Not only did Jesus die for us and make a way for the relationship to happen, He also did what every Christian parent is supposed to do: He modeled this relationship for us.
“How?” you might ask.
He did it in 3 ways.
1. He loved God when everyone was around.
During His public ministry, Jesus was constantly surrounded by people.
And how did He respond?
By always showing the love of God and pointing those people to Him.
So what about us? Who are we when we are surrounded by people? Do others know Who we love?
The truth is that our kids are watching us in public. Who do they see when we are at the mall, a restaurant, or church?
2. He loved God when only a few were around.
Jesus didn’t do His ministry alone. He had 12 disciples, whom He chose, who followed Him almost everywhere He went.
And what did they see? The same Jesus the public saw, only a deeper side to Him.
Jesus was the same with the guys as He was with the public. He was consistent.
Sure, most of us don’t have an entourage of 12 people going where we go when we go.
But maybe we have 1, or 2, 4.
Our kids are the few that are around us a lot of the time.
Do they see the same person they see in public?
The truth is that our kids will see a side of us that few others will see. Make sure you are consistent.
3. He loved God when no one was around.
This is probably the most important one.
The Gospel writers tell of many times where Jesus was alone.
And what did He do in those times?
He prayed. (Luke 5:16)
The single biggest way to build a love for Jesus is to love Him when no one is around.
So what about us?
This is not to put guilt on anyone. Jesus is full of forgiveness.
But, are we even trying? If we want to love Jesus in public, we need to love Him in private first.
Our kids are watching us, and they want to know if we love Jesus.
Loving Jesus isn’t always easy.
If it was easy to do, He wouldn’t have come to die on a cross to make a way for us to do it.
But loving Jesus ourselves is the best way to model for our kids what it looks like to have a relationship with Him.
If the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I want to do my best to make sure my tree is rooted in Him.
Then the fruit will be good, too.
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Understanding the Bible is hard for adults, never mind for children.
All too often, we ignore certain Bible stories ourselves because they make us feel uncomfortable.
As Christian parents, we have a job to do; a calling that God has placed on each of us: To bring our little ones to Him. But how do we do that if we don’t spend time in His word first? How can we expect them to grab onto the Bible if we don’t digest ourselves?
At The Unforgettable Adventures of Junior Bear, we want to equip you as parents to do what God has called you to do. But it starts with you. We want to encourage you in your faith journey so that you can raise your kids to know God and His word.
We encourage you to sit in the Bible for yourselves.
The story of Junior Bear and Eunice Robinson is actually not for the kiddos. It's a story that tells why we write Junior Bear stories. It’s for you as the adult. Feel free to read it to them if you would like, but as you do, we hope that you are encouraged by it.
So, after all of that, can I tell you a Junior Bear story?
Junior Bear and Eunice Robinson
Junior Bear woke up to the sound of the rain falling outside. This made him smile because rain meant puddles. And he loved puddles.
As he was getting ready to go outside, he heard his father’s voice.
“Good morning, Junior,” Mr. Bear said as he came into the room and sat on the bed. “I have an idea.”
“Morning, Dad,” Junior replied. “What is it?”
“Well, I was wondering if you wanted to go outside with me. There is someone I would like you to meet.”
“That sounds great to me,” Junior said. “But do you think I could jump in the puddles?”
Mr. Bear laughed. “Yes Junior, you can jump in the puddles.”
Once outside, they saw that the rain had stopped. Junior found the biggest puddle he could see and jumped right in. After a bit of splashing, he noticed there were worms in the water. As he looked closer, he heard a chirping noise coming closer.
“Hello, Eunice,” Mr. Bear said as he walked up.
Junior looked up and noticed a robin landing beside the puddle.
“Hello, Mr. Bear,” the robin called back. “It is so good to see you.”
“It is always good to see you,” Mr. Bear responded. “I want you to meet my son, Junior Bear. Junior Bear, this is Mrs. Robinson.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Robinson,” Junior said.
“And you too, Junior Bear,” Mrs. Robinson replied.
“Has your egg hatched yet?” Mr. Bear asked with curiosity.
“Oh yes. Two days ago. One little mouth to feed,” she answered, smiling as she looked up to her nest.
Junior’s eyes followed her gaze to the tree nearby. He noticed the nest resting safely on a branch and saw one little beak sticking up just above it.
“I named him Timothy,” Mrs. Robinson said with pride in her voice.
“I like that name,” Junior said.
“Well, I would love to stay and visit,” Mrs. Robinson said, “but it’s feeding time.”
Junior watched her as she poked her beak into the puddle, grabbed a worm, and swallowed it down. He was very thankful that he did not have to eat worms.
After eating the worm, Mrs. Robinson flew off to the nest. That’s when Junior really got grossed out.
He watched as Mrs. Robinson seemed to be choking, but was actually coughing up the worm she just ate. Then, she leaned over and let it fall into Timothy’s open beak.
“Eww,” Junior said as his nose squished into his face. “That’s gross.”
“That’s what she needs to do to feed her baby,” Mr. Bear replied.
“Why can’t Timothy just eat the worm himself?” Junior asked.
“Because it is too big for him, it is difficult for him to digest. He is not ready to handle it yet. She needs to break it into smaller pieces and digest it first, and then she can help him digest it, too.”
“Where did Mrs. Robinson learn to do that?” Junior had all kinds of questions.
“I have known Eunice her whole life,” Mr. Bear answered. “When she was a baby bird, Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, fed her the same way. They know that their little ones need help to digest what they take in. It may look weird to us, but it’s the parents’ job to take care of the little ones. They eat it first, then feed it to the birdies in the nest.”
“Will she always have to feed him this way?”
“Not at all. Soon Timothy will be strong enough to eat bigger pieces, and eventually, he will find his own food,” Mr. Bear answered.
As he listened to his dad, Junior watched Mrs. Robinson. He began to see how what she was doing was a good thing. She was feeding her son only what she had eaten and digested first.
“I think I understand what you are telling me, Dad,” Junior said, still watching his new friend.
“What’s that?” Mr. Bear asked.
“It’s like how you teach me. You know so much more than I do because you have kind of eaten it first. Then, because you understand what I need, you feed it to me in a way that I can understand it.”
Giving his dad a big bear hug, Junior looked up at him.
“How about you and I go find something to eat?” Mr. Bear asked as he held is son.
“No thanks, Dad,” Junior replied. “After seeing that, I may not be hungry for a while.”
Laughing, the two of them turned and walked back home together, but Junior would never forget the lesson he learned from Mrs. Robinson’s love for her son.
Copyright Brad Klassen September 30, 2018
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.
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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!