A couple of years ago my friend Andrew Pray, myself, and our wives were online looking at ‘Awkward Family Photos‘. I told him I felt like I had one that qualified. When I showed him this photo he laughed as hard as I ever saw him laugh…and it went on for a while. I promised him that one day around the start of the Christmas Season that I would either submit this to the Awkward Family Photo web site, or just post it myself.
On this day, his birthday, and in the hopes of making others smile and laugh as hard as Andrew did, I submit to you ‘Christmas Eve 2008’. What can I say? We have a Disney Side! For the record, my wife looks amazing, my boys are handsome rascals, but I look like a Christmas Creeper. Celebrating the life of my friend, who is gone far too soon, with a wink and a smile.
After reading through a Bible geared at preschool readers three times it was time to move my elementary boy up a notch. Two or three years ago now, I found this little gem. It is called, “My First Message”. If you have ever read The Message, by Eugene Peterson you know it is incredibly insightful and can help illuminate your understanding of the scriptures with up to date language. The author himself tackled this version for kids. It is recommended for ages 6-8 and it is right on.
Why the kids like it?
One word, Manty. I had no idea that there was a subliminal grasshopper hidden through the pages of scripture until I picked up this book. This little character shows up hidden in the illustrations, and help the kids stay in tune. They love looking for Manty.
Why the parents like it?
This book challenges you to take these few moments and do four things: The first is Read. Got that one. The second is Think. Throughout the pages of My First Message there are simple definitions and key questions that surround key terms. Stopping to ask my boys these question really help them remember and seal the story in their hearts, rather than just quickly reading and slamming the book shut. That happens every once in a while, but that is only when Dad is in too big a hurry.
The third is Pray. At the end of every story there is a short challenge to pray to help apply what you have learned. It helps bring concepts like forgiveness and faith and self-control and love (and whatever else), and make them practical for this age group.
The last is Live. This is often a craft or family activity that you can do to help you further apply and remember the story that you have read. We don’t really do this at bedtime, but these make for great rainy day or family day activities. My kids have made the garden tomb out of play dough and imagined it empty, things like that. We don’t have any of the disciples action figures (I’m sure they exist somewhere) so often Peter, James, and John, show a strong resemblance to Obi-wan, Anakin, and even Yoda. That’s how we roll.
Whether or not you pick up the same books we have is irrelevant. My hope is that each of us trying to raise kids with a Christian world view will take a little intentional time every day to grow them in faith. A little time every day can compound into a lifetime of knowledge and application.
In an ongoing, never ending attempt to be a good Dad I look for tools to help me lay a foundation and equip my boys. I thought I would share a couple of great, basic tools that have helped us in the early years when it comes to laying a scriptural foundation. We try and seize little teaching moments whenever we can, and are trying to build good habits.
When Will was three, almost four, I decided he needed to start to learn scripture cover to cover. I know that may seem a little extreme, but culture naturally teaches a worldview different from how the scripture teaches us to live. I think it is important to get started early. So how do you read
the Bible to a preschool boy? I wanted to give my boys a good overview, but didn’t know where to start. I’ve never taught preschool, and I’d never been a Daddy. I needed something to help me teach my first born spawn some basic stories that he will pull truth from the rest of his life. I walked through book stores, searched websites, and actually came upon this little gem in a Barnes and Noble.
It’s from American Bible Society and was exactly what I needed to get me started in training up a child. It’s called the Read and Learn Bible. It contains 102 stories from both the Old and New Testament. Each story is 2-3 pages in very large font with some great illustrations for that age group.
Many nights this is what we do right before bed. It normally takes less than five minutes to read, which is perfect for little attention spans. It seems like the more consistent we are, the more they retain. I read through this a couple of times with Will until we moved him to the next level. Now, I get to read it to my little man Wesley. He’s about to finish it for the first time, and then we will start it again. You can go here to purchase it.
I hope to share a few more of these, including what I do with my oldest boy, and stuff I’ll attempt in the future. I hope these little thoughts equip some Dad out there to take just a little time every day to add value, and be the one who points your child to faith.