Repetition Aids Learning and Creates Lifelong Memories
Make the Real Stories as Interesting as the Fantasy
These two principles will help you a lot as you tell Bible stories to children. Relax. You have 18-20 years to lead your children to God; you don’t have to know every story in the Bible today–much less figure out how to make it as compelling as Mickey Mouse.
Repetition means you can harp on one story, adding details, twists and turns, using visuals you find in the world and in your own home. It is amazing how much punch I’ve gotten out of that little story of David’s army crawling thorough the drain pipes to take over Jerusalem (see 1/11/10 blog). We’ve seen drains, sewage and water caps everywhere. I couldn’t believe the number in a strip mall right in the desert in Arizona. Look around you and use what you can. I’ll bet there are some near your Target.
The two year olds can recite: “Who took over Jerusalem and made it into a city of God?” “King David did.” “What did his men say when they came up out of the drain?” “Surprise!” You can imagine how much fun Benjamin (3/1/2) had with the ensuing sword fight using the foam swords I found at the Dollar Store.
Why would anyone care that they know these cute details about David? That brings us to a third principle:
Never Tell A Bible Story in Isolation Without Tying It to the Bible’s Main Themes and Jesus, the Savior.
David’s life is all about his personal relationship with the Promised Savior. In addition, read the songs he wrote to see how he was used as a Prophet telling us some details about Jesus’ life and death to come. (See Psalm 22.) David’s heart for justice and protection of his people as their King pictures for us Jesus’ heart to shepherd His people. He was the great warrior-King as well. In these ways, he is a “type” of Christ, a picture helping us focus on our Savior.
Amidst the foam sword fight, remind your pre-schooler of King David fighting for His people just like God defends and fights for His people today. Jesus is our Savior; He can fight even better than King David, and stands at the right hand of God pleading for us, protecting us; His Spirit never leaves His people without help, protection, provision. David used clever tactics to get control of the site he intended to make a city of God. A city where worship was central, where His laws were obeyed, where relationship with Him was personnel and hopeful. Jesus is even a better King than David was. His Kingdom is forever. You could read them Psalm 60 or 56.
The Bible is a wonderful book—filled with many books and thousands of stories of people who loved or rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. It is one book, united by one major theme of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. Children need to know about this hope and promise and invitation.
Story Telling Principles:
Interesting and Fun
Connected to the Bible’s Themes
Applying Paul’s Letter February 25, 2010
Applications always come down to this: What will you suggest to your children and grandchildren about ——-? What will you model before them?
Paul has been arrested in Rome. This letter to the Philippians is written to a group of believers in Christ who are organized into a local church, with leaders called overseers and deacons. Paul has been their consultant and associate for 29 years. He visited them at least three times, living in their homes, staying for months perhaps with Lydia’s family or the jailer’s family. This church has sent him money and supported him in his attempt to plant Christian churches in what is today Turkey and Greece. They sent one of their members to help him as soon as they heard about his Roman imprisonment. It has been a close and continuing relationship centered on spreading the good news that Jesus atoned for our sins by his death and rose again to demonstrate His deity and power. Paul writes of his thankfulness, joy, hope, and expectations for them. He loves these Greeks and tells them so (Philippians 1:1-11).
These people lived in the same city and organized themselves under two tiers of leaders to accomplish specific goals like worship and evangelism. This fact is the reason Christians have historically had local congregations. Many have questioned the validity of that today because of our internet, facebook, telephone, transportation etc. Why have a local church? Why not just get together on the internet? Why get together at all?
Whatever you decide in this controversy, just remember you must apply the word of God with rationality. You can’t just toss out this historical fact of this particular church’s existence and organizational structure and the relationships that resulted. Paul’s approval of their organization is a factor to consider as well. Nor can we forget about the years of experience of other Christians from Roman times until now who followed this example, organized themselves under leaders, and worked together for mutual encouragement and the salvation of others. Paul also speaks of their unity around what they believe and their acting in loving ways with each other (2:2). It seems a little unreasonable to toss out the local church organization and relationships, and just go with individuals or small groups, using modern technology and doing what you want without any accountability to anyone else. Guarding the truth becomes an issue when there are no specific guardians to hold others accountable.
John and I drive 25 miles or so to associate with a church whose beliefs and practice are things we believe and can live out in a similar manner. It’s not as “local” as we would like. It is harder to help one another, go to funerals, baby showers, reach out to those living near the church facility, serve on committees etc. Our emphasis has been on unity of doctrine, the two tier organizational structure, and being able to work together for the gospel. The local part has been stretched.
Are you trying to figure this out for yourself? Are you actively participating with a group to tell others about Christ Jesus and worship together, and try to live out the Christian life together? If not, what is your thinking about Corinthians, Galatians, Colossans, Thessalonians, Romans? They were all groups, organized under leaders for the purpose of worship, spreading the gospel and teaching the Bible. Are you involved in a structured group doing that?
This is the kind of hard thinking we have to do if we ask our three questions:
What does this passage in the Bible say? What does it mean? How do I apply it?
I hope these thoughts help you as you read Philippians. What will you suggest to your children and grandchildren about their involvement in a local church? What are you modeling before them right now? Do you need to make any changes in that?
(Roger Ellsworth’s book Opening Up Phlippians (Day One Publishers, 2004) is a great resource. He has been preaching now for 60 years. He has written more than 30 books.)
Real Stories February 3, 2010
Children love fantasy. And it is hard even for those in early elementary grades to distinguish the difference between Mickey Mouse and Paul of Taurus. So in Bible lessons, tell them “this is REAL.”
Here is the story (for adults too)
Jesus died and rose up into heaven right in front of a lot of people. T hen, fifteen or so years later, Paul, a missionary, went to a country that was not his own. He could speak their language, Greek. Some exciting things happened in this town of Philippi, in Macedonia.
Paul and some friends (Luke, Silas, Timothy) went to Philippi after dreaming a man called to them, asking for help. God used this way of telling Paul to go to Europe instead of to Asia. World history would have been a lot different if they had gone to Asia as planned. Sometimes God changes our plans.
Paul and his friends met some women down by the river, praying. One lady, Lydia, was a wealthy business woman in town to make some money. She was so happy to hear that there was a way for her to be saved from her sin. She and her family all believed what Paul taught about Jesus being the One who died so they could know God and be close to Him.
A young slave girl was controlled by an evil spirit. Paul said to the demon, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to come out of her!” And it did. But now the girl couldn’t tell the future anymore, so her owners dragged Paul and Silas to the judge. They were mad and lied, saying Paul and Silas were teaching others to disobey the law. The lie spread around town until a mob formed and began beating Paul and Silas right there in front of the judge. The judge threw them in prison to keep them safe from the mob. They were chained way deep inside the prison. Paul and Silas sang and prayed together.
It gets even more exciting. An earthquake struck. Their chains fell off. The prison doors opened. But, neither Paul or any of the other prisoners left. I guess they were asking Paul questions or something. The jailer was really scared because he knew the Roman Judge would have his neck for this big escape. They told him to calm down, and then told him all about Jesus’ life, death, and going into heaven. All to pay the price for this jailer’s sins. He cleaned up their wounds (remember, they had been beaten by the mob) and then asked to be baptized as a sign of his sins being washed away. Everyone in his family believed also. Just like Lydia’s .
Now these two families and some other people became the church in Philippi. They stayed friends with Paul and helped him plant churches in Greece and helped the Jewish Christians during a bad time. Paul would visit them 2 more times, and then write them a letter from prison in Rome. They helped bring the gospel to Europe. Later, Europeans would sail across the Atlantic, bringing the good news of Christ to America.
This is a wonderful story about how God showed Paul where to go, then helped him with an earthquake, and saved two families and a slave girl and helped a new church get started which then would help send the gospel along into the Roman Empire and Western Europe. We never know what God will do! (See Acts 16 for details)
Always Apply the story:
Do you go to church? Do you have more than two families there? Do you believe Jesus died for your sins? Are you sorry for your sins? Do you ever tell others about Jesus? Have you ever been in an earthquake? Isn’t it wonderful to know God saves people–some rich like Lydia, some slaves like this girl, some working folks like this prison guard? It doesn’t matter what our family is like, He can save anyone!
Reading Philippians February 1, 2010
I hope you will join me in reading Philippians during these wintery days.
Bible Input is one of the spiritual disciplines. Just making yourself do it. Self-discipline in a spiritual arena. Self-discipline fights self-indulgence, one of the empty pursuits to which we are all prone. And it is something we must insist upon our children developing–discipline for the sake of godliness.
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. ” (Philippians 1:1-5)
From Self-Discipline To Joy
Every time Paul thinks about these people– remembering what happened, how they met, how the whole city got into an uproar over their work together, how he had to flee for his life, then come back later to teach and preach and strengthen them in the Christian faith and way of living–he is flooded with joy. He is so glad they met. He is so happy these Greeks have joined with him– a strictly raised Jewish boy from a “Turkish-Syrian” city–to plant churches.
Remembering all this then causes him to pray. He thanks God for the way they have worked together with him all these years to tell others the wonderful news about the Lord Jesus Christ. He wants them to experience again the unmerited favor of God and the peace that brings. He wants them to remember their work together for Christ Jesus’s Kingdom and to keep on, keeping on.
Take a few moments today and remember who you have partnered with to tell others how they may trust in Jesus for right-standing with God. See if you don’t remember them with affection and joy and thankfulness. Why not pray for them today–that they will continue to serve the Lord Jesus Christ whatever their circumstances and will discipline themselves to keep on chasing after knowing God and becoming more like Him? Maybe you should contact them someway.
There are many I remember with thankfulness and affection. Some I’m able to see and be with, but many are miles away or already in heaven. But, I’ll never forget Mr. Whitt and Ernie Reisinger who kindly and gently welcomed me as a Christian, then helped me along the way. I’m sure it took self-discipline on their parts to take time out of busy South Florida ministries to visit a young girl and listen to a young mother’s problems. We shared the grace and peace that comes from believing.
I hope you will be filled with joy in remembering those with whom you have worked and prayed.