Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why You Should All Buy This Children's Book

Ryan gave me The Jesus Storybook Bible as a gift on our honeymoon, and we immediately loved it. The illustrations are striking, even humorous, Jesus isn't a pale blonde, and it covered the WHOLE Bible, even less-storified things like Psalm 23 and Isaiah. But as I've used it for teaching this past year, I have realized the huge capacity for worship-building held within its cardboard covers. The thing is chock full of GOSPEL! As I assemble and outline the curriculum for our preschool next year, I've been researching a lot of books and Bible story books we may use. An interview with Sally Lloyd-Jones (the book's author) that I just read just left me speechless. And I don't just say that because I'm the only one home! I just wanted to stop and think and praise the Lord when I read it.

And call all the parents of young children I know. We tend to slap morals helter-skelter onto our kids, taking truisms and do-isms out of every Bible story. But that's totally NOT the point of the Scriptures, Old Testament or New. If you want that, get Aesop's Fables. If you want a how-to- formula, get a home-improvement book or a Geometry textbook. Not the Bible.

"When I first saw that everything in the Old Testament, is pointing to a child—the one who is coming—it blew me away. Suddenly, here was a way to read the Bible without it leaving you condemned (I’ll never keep all the rules all the time) or in despair (how can I ever be as brave as Daniel? or David?).
I found it so moving when I started to discover how the Old Testament is basically one long record of failure—the failure of God’s people time and time again to live rightly, to rescue themselves—and that the stories in the Old Testament are all getting us ready for the One who is coming. They are all signposts to the True Hero, the True King, the True Prince, the True Servant, the greater David, the greater Daniel. The Rescuer.

As a child, I thought the Bible was packed with rules you had to keep (or God wouldn’t love you) and heroes setting examples you had to follow (or God wouldn’t love you). I thought, in short, that the Bible was all about me and what I should (or shouldn’t) be doing. Until I read a Story.

It’s the Story running like a golden stream underneath all the other stories in the Bible: the story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. Suddenly, I realized the Bible wasn’t about me and what I should be doing at all. It was about God and what he had done. And it changed everything.

So, throughout the mapping out of the book and writing the stories, I was resolute in my determination to avoid even a whiff of moralizing in terms of applying the stories. The absolute last thing I ever wanted to ask a child was: “And what can we learn from David about how God wants us to behave?” The story isn’t there to be an example for us to follow. If that were the point, Jesus would never needed to have come. We could have saved ourselves. The story is there because it’s true and because it’s telling the bigger story—of the greater David who is coming. To do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves, to fight the battle we could never fight. To be the Hero we all need. To be our Rescuer.

I wanted children to know this Story—and to meet this wonderful Hero in the pages of this book. Because rules don’t change you. But a story can." [I would clarify: a PERSON, The Person-- God-with-us-Himself-- can]

Now, please don't think that I abhor application in sermons, or that I'm determined to never point a child to the Law or examples in the Scriptures. I distincly remember the facial expression of one struggling five-year-old as I told him, on no uncertain terms "Sin is crouching at your door, just like it did at Cain's, and it wants to have you! But you must master it." 1 Corinthians 10 leaves us quite "in the loop" as to what moralizing purposes the stories of the Bible hold (and aren't you glad He gave us stories instead of dry rules and pithy sayings!?):
"[After outlining Israel's history, we learn] these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:6-13)
That passage says Old Testament stories are both examples to us-- warnings, illustrations, encouragements, reminders that all has already been done before-- AND that they were pointing to something else; the end of the eons, the fullfillment of time. So... go read this "children's" book, and never look at the old "heros" like you did before! :)


GloryandGrace said...

I just bought three of these for three of my dearest friends back home! I was tempted to buy one for myself, but for now I was more eager to give one to them :)

And BTW...you got me all eager about this email that I never received ;)

Sally Lloyd-Jones said...

Hi Christina

I'm the author of The Jesus Storybook Bible and I came across your blog via a google alert thing and thought I'd stop by and say Hi.

Thank you very much for your review--I'm so glad you're enjoying the book. It's God's Wonderful Story--and i'm so honored and humbled to have a small part in retelling it for children.

You have a very cool husband to give you this book as a gift on your honey moon BTW. you are both kindred spirits I can tell.

Anyway, my best to you both and praise God for His Grace because where would we be without it?


PS you may be interested to know about some cool resources on my site connected with the book, including audio of me reading the stories, (done for a radio program) and downloadable stories, interviews and reviews--as well as other new children's books

AE said...

i've been listening to Mrs. Lloyd-Jones readings of 7 stories... they are great!!!!... I wrote her to see if she had thought of getting it translated into spanish. Who knows. Somebody has to put a bug in there ears for Latin America. :)

thanks Christina Maria!

Rachael said...

So cool to have the author comment. The book looks great and I am definitely getting a copy. What cute honey moon gift.

We have had a success with a children's Bible book ourselves and were looking for more. Ours is a book called "This Bible Talks!" by Pamela Fischer. Narrated by Michael David McGuire. Website: http://www.thisbibletalks.com Just thought I would mention it.

Thank you again for the information on the book. It looks like what I was looking for. God Bless!

Eowyn's Heir said...

wow- I'm honored to have the author herself post a comment! Thanks, Sally! :)

And Jennifer...don't worry- your email IS coming. Even this year!

Eowyn's Heir said...

...and for all who are wondering, my husband IS very cool :)

I LOVE the Handbag book, and know which four year old I want to buy it for...just itching for Jenna's next birthday! Wait, I can't wait that long... make that Christmas. Can we give presents for Thanksgiving?

Jameson said...

I got it today! 45% off at that! In the SBTS bookstore right now! Thanks for the review, it made picking out one children's "bible" out of the many easy... I am confident in your advice.
Leslie Blair