“Read books.” Good advice!
I want to talk for a few minutes about reading the Good Book, the Bible. I also want to share some of the ways Mrs. Shipley and I try to help our children take an active and intentional interest in reading the Bible.
I feel it is important to disclose this first: the God of the Bible doesn’t grade people on how many completed Bible reading plans they turn in. The Christian God, as revealed through His Son Jesus in passages like Matthew 7:21-23, is more interested in questions like: Do you know Me through My word? Do I know you?
That disclosure aside, I know if I don’t have some type of plan, my reading, along with the reading I do with my kids, does not get done with any kind of healthy consistency. Many of us can eat well and exercise for a brief period, but consistency is key. That’s usually the devil of the matter.
So, on the one hand, I need a firm plan and accountability over the long term. But my attitude in the moment, during the actual time when I am reading the Bible, and the types of resources I spend time and money on, is what I’ve found helps my kids move beyond task accomplishment and toward a healthy habit that, we pray, brings them into a healthy understanding and relationship with God.
Here is where we started:
1. Little Bibles with Emphasis on Big Stories.
I’m a serious, contemplative type. So creating a joyful experience is a challenge for me. But I did manage to get out of my own way using this Bible.
The stories are short, almost lyrical. The pictures are memorable. I’d read a few lines and let our 2-year-old daughter shout the finishing words she came to know so well.
The story she always asked for was Solomon. “I want Solomon!” Yikes. She’s not even a teenager and already got an eye for the smart, attractive type.
2. Selected Readings.
I started this Bible sooner than I should’ve. Probably more of a late elementary, early middle school resource. But it helped us stay in the habit of daily-or-something-close-to-daily reading.
I’m always amazed at how much reading consistently helps one to see the connections Scripture is always making within itself. It is almost as if Scripture is having a conversation within itself that we can listen in on and learn from.
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3. The Action Bible.
We read through this Bible last year. It was a product of Mrs. Shipley’s commitment to gifting our children a spiritual resource every Christmas. The authors communicate the heart & soul of the passages they selected.
The illustrations are not cutesy, neither are they grotesquely graphic. I admire the art and respect their translation of the Bible stories.
4. Using the Bible to Learn Where Stuff is in the Bible.
This is a combination of resources. A spiritual resource Mrs. Shipley gifted to each of our children one year was a Bible. Later, I found these great bookmarks that provide a verse per day for fifty-two weeks.
We’ll read through a handful of verses in a night several nights per week. They’re picking up some of the content of the verses, but mostly learning their way around the various caverns and nooks of the Bible.
Reading. Morality. Faith. Commitment. Relationship. Prayer.
Handing these habits, traits, and values down is inexact. So, I pray for wisdom and energy to pass along a reverence for authority and sacred words. We’d love to hear of your successes, failures, and habits in this area.
I remember the comment of one of my professors. When asked if the Bible is in his top ten book list, he gives the contrarian answer that the Bible’s not even in the same universe as other books. But ”it is the Divinely Inspired Word of God that enables us to read the Great Books without losing our minds and souls to a potential intellectual habit of relativism." I think he’s right. There’s all the words we write and then there is what God has written once for all. Many of the former are worth a read; all of the latter deserve an honest and continual reading.
So, read books and read the Bible. So much to read, so little time.
God Bless and Happy Christmas shopping for that special spiritual resource this year!