Why teach the Bible to children

The Bible is a very reliable book, teaching not only morals and good ways of living but also showing the way to live this sort of life. As humans we fail and are weak at doing what is right and we readily make many mistakes through life. The Bible has been described as a light for our path and a lamp to our feet (see Psalm 119:105). It is also a very radical book as it centres round Jesus Christ (even in the Old Testament) who asked his followers to take up their cross and follow Him. Nothing less than 100% is asked of us as Christians. It can even be used to speak to the heart of a person as God’s Holy Spirit breathes in and through it to speak to us humans individually. So, the importance of the Bible cannot be ignore or underestimated by children and the adults that teach them.

I strongly believe that many of our children’s mental health issues centre around the fact that they have not got God in their lives or even the teaching about Him. With all the technical development of IT and all its gadgets, this current generation of children especially here in the UK have no clue who God is and what He is about let alone what He has done through history. The Bible clearly states that as we honour Him, He will honour us and as we and the children we know are taught what the Bible says, their self worth and value can be upgraded as God showers His love on them through the words of the Bible, e.g “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3) “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) What a gift from God that is. The Bible can be considered as a love letter from God to us humans and as children grasp this, they can relax in who they are. As they believe that what God says in the Bible is true, then they can come into true balance in every way.

The Bible has been known to change lives radically. The early Christians had their lives turned upside down. Paul hated Christians yet one word from God changed everything for him (see Acts 9) and he became quite the opposite. Men like Isaac Newton, once a slave trader, only had to realise that the Bible was true to be convinced that Jesus holds the key to changed lives. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) – so says the powerful word of God and it happens to all who come to Christ whatever they have done and whatever age they are. As our children study the Bible, they will see and come to realise that in its pages are wonderful ways presented to them of following God and by His word (the Bible) they can do great exploits for Him even as the early Christians experienced. Life is indeed a huge adventure but with God at the helm of a young life with all the energy of youth, much can be done to present God’s love and power to their peers.
The Bible has been described as an anchor that keeps the boat steady especially in times of difficulty and crisis which we all go through. Children, of course, are affected by these things and they need stability and solidness in order to keep sane. The Bible provides this assurance. ‘Read the Bible, pray everyday’ is a song we used to sing even as teenagers. The simplicity of these words can provide what children need in this ever changing world they have come to live in.

Read a Children’s Bible with a child and see the huge impact it can have on their life and to supplement the account of the early chapters of Genesis try ‘The Creation Series’ of Diamond Books that illustrates the grandeur of all that God has made and in essence done for us people and little people.

3 ways that our children can know

I didn’t really hear and know that God wanted me to follow him until I was 17 years of age. I went to church occasionally (Christmas and Easter mainly) and taught regularly in a Sunday School of an Anglican church in Gloucester (UK) but I hadn’t fully heard about the impact Jesus Christ could have in my life. It wasn’t until I went to a camp (run by Inter Varsity Fellowship I think) in Dolgellau in North Wales that I saw the joyful life lived out by youngsters such as myself. I used to read the reading for the day listed in the Gideon New Testament that I owned (given out at school I think) religiously each day but that’s all it was – a religious duty. Then the day came, when the Christian friend who had asked me to this camp talked to me about asking Jesus into my heart and life and she quoted Revelation 3:20 – Jesus speaking, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and sup with him and he with me.” My friend explained that Jesus was knocking on my heart’s door and wanted to come into my life but I had to ask him to do this.

The following morning, in my Gideon New Testament, this verse was included in that day’s reading. So, I simply lay on my bed and said in my heart to God, ‘If you are real, come into my heart.’ I don’t remember saying sorry for the bad things I had done in my life but I know this happened at some stage. Somehow, the wheels were in motion for me to connect with God and I haven’t looked back since. I began to have a growing confidence in what God said in the Bible and Jesus became real in my experience – He really was with me – and I began to realise that I had become a new person, the individual that God always intended me to be. He was beginning to change my life from the inside out!

That happened over 50 years ago. (Yes, I’ve celebrated this jubilee year!) It is still the most important choice and decision I have ever made. However, I still find that children and adults can be religious about their ‘Christian’ faith. and knowing Jesus personally seems to be more alien to them.I find that it is wonderful how God provides the Holy Spirit within us to work out the life He has placed within us and it’s not a religious observance but a living, practical walk of faith being led by him hourly and certainly daily.

Our children can only know this great God if they:

1   come to Jesus very simply really. They can understand that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who loves them to bits and will do anything to look after them even laying down his life (which of course he literally did for us all).

2   realise their need to have God in their life. (I, as a teenager, can remember walking home from school pushing my bike with friends and I thought ‘If they really knew me, they wouldn’t like me.’ God was actually showing me then my need to be forgiven.) They can ask God for forgiveness.

3   accept the Bible as God’s handbook for living. It is a unique book, God breathed into men who wrote down God’s thoughts and ideas and recalled the events of history for our learning. ‘The Creation Series’ of Diamond Books provides a Biblical foundation for any child to read and appreciate. The illustrations are fantastic and there’s fun in them, too!

Going with the Flow?

It’s easy to go with the flow. Agree with everybody; don’t cause any conflict; steady the boat; be nice all the time; follow the crowd; watch all the ‘soaps’; and have all the latest technologies. Are we meant to live like this?

Salmon fish don’t – they swim upstream in order to spawn. Flowers don’t as they grow towards the light and don’t flop over with gravity. Eagles do and glide on air currents, although all birds defy gravity, too.

What about us humans. It’s pleasant to be popular and be accepted by society and for many that is their aim. However, Christians have a different perspective as they have the amazing Holy Spirit within them that makes them new creatures (creations) which enable us to overcome obstacles that humanly we couldn’t do. I remember a time when I had to address a huge crowd of intelligent educators bringing to their notice the project God had called me to write. I was literally shaking before I started and then as friends prayed for me (beforehand and during this event) I believe God gave me the supernatural ability to communicate, something alien to my natural personality.

As Christians we are called to be in the world but not of it. When our church was praying about the vote on June 23rd last year concerning the UK staying or coming out of Europe, I came out of the church with this Scripture ringing in my mind, “Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord ” and touch not the unclean thing.” (2 Corinthians 6:17). The UK did come out of Europe as we all know but it appears now that we have to push against the flow of public opinion that seems to waver continually about whether we made the right decision, even as a nation.

In order for us Christians to be effective, I think we need to be bold and express our faith which is not always popular or easy. Two preachers in southern England this past week have been found guilty of causing an offence while preaching from their Bibles. It seems that here in the UK, the Bible isn’t appreciated by many and yet the truths within it are very life changing and enable us to be the right way up instead of being lopsided by the ‘sin’ that so easily besets each of us. However, we are able to overcome the temptations we face only because of God’s enabling and power that God puts into each believer.

Sometimes our children are ostracized for being part of a Christian family. Children can be quite harsh to each other when they see something different happening or when a child goes against the flow because they have different values taught to them by their parents. Sadly, sometimes this is how bullying develops.

Jesus said that we would be persecuted for being Christians but are we Christians going with the flow around us or are we prepared to stand up and be counted for who we are and whose we are? Hopefully, this young generation of children will rise up above the apathy and religiosity of former generations to take hold of the life God gives which is truly amazing and full of the flow of life – life in all it’s fulness and to full potential!

7 ways to Help Struggling Readers

I used to teach struggling readers in small groups in many schools up and down the UK. The one thing I noticed was that every struggling reader responded to PRAISE.It is so easy to say what is not right about their reading but the fact that they are progressing just by being determined to read is a positive step. Ensure that you read with a struggling reader little and often as their confidence often dips while they try to read fluently and accurately. Ensure also that their reading attempts are enjoyable and fun occasions with plenty of laughs!

Another useful strategy is to CATCH THEIR EYE. Face to face contact is so priceless, even cupping their chin (If laws allow of course!) so that you can talk to them intimately. When eyes engage between two people, what is said becomes personal and that is what struggling readers need to know. They need to be aware that the person teaching them cares for them and is right behind them in their efforts to read.Thanking them for reading to you (and saying the specifics of how well they have done) is a polite step of recognition of their efforts.

HAVE PLENTY OF LIGHT and FRESH AIR in a room where struggling readers are working/reading. They need to be able to see charts and reading books clearly and be able to relax in a bright and pleasant atmosphere with beautiful decor around them if at all possible. Even being outside near a lovely flowering/smelling plant may just help them to relax and enjoy their reading attempts and experience..

GIVE THEM LOTS OF WATER TO DRINK and ENCOURAGE THE EATING OF SUPERFOODS  e.g sunflower seeds, nuts, fruit of any kind, beetroot and broccolli – to mention a few. These are all good brain foods – (as long as it doesn’t mean trips to the loo become necessary or an excuse to not have a go at reading in a given day).

ENTHUSE ABOUT READING. Have magazines and comics and lovely bright interesting books at hand to show them the wonders of a whole new world of learning that reading produces for them. Provide simple reading books which have the content that appeals to a particular child. Give gifts of small books when they have reached a certain target – I used to give my struggling children simple Bible based books and then when they became fluent at reading ( with a reading age of 9+ – when they could if they wished read the ‘Daily Mirror’ newspaper) I would give them a gospel from the Good News Bible for them to attempt and enjoy and copy the lined pictures! I remember hearing a testimony of Don Double who became an evangelist. He was an illiterate farmhand when he became a Christian and then God taught him how to read by picking up the Bible.

DOUBLE CHECK THAT HEARING AND SIGHT ARE INTACT and PUPILS GETTING AT LEAST 8 HOURS SLEEP A NIGHT. Glasses may need to be cleaned or changed and hearing aids may need updating. Maybe new bedtime habits need to be developed. Also, talking face to face helps with communication.

Above all, PRAY for your struggling readers. God is for us and wants the best for us and can enable struggling readers to succeed. Nothing is impossible with God (see Luke 1 and 2 in the Bible) and, as He made and knows our struggling readers, He is well able to teach us the best teaching methods to use to help them on their journey to succeed in this wonderful adventure of reading.

 

It’s Time – for What?

Just as we hustle and bustle to get our last minute shopping done before Christmas, have you ever thought my time might be up! I eagerly have all sorts of ideas of how to have Christmas and bless the people I love but sometimes I literally run out of time. Sometimes, of course, something unforeseen happens to one of the family and we are so shocked.

I remember the night before my wedding, I was busy sewing up some trousers that my dear husband to be, Mike (sadly not with us now) had requested of me to do for him some days before. Had I made time for doing this well before that evening when I really did need to get my beauty sleep? Of course no! Time was running out so I just had to stay up and do this even with friends arriving and staying in my flat. Trivial maybe but we each have time.

We hear each Christmas, at Advent and beyond, that Jesus came into our world over two thousand years ago but he is also returning at some point in history. As time goes on, we can forget about this important occasion that is coming up.

However, time is running out for us humans to get our lives in order before our Maker. It all depends on the choices we make concerning Jesus as to where our ultimate destiny will be. The babe of Bethlehem might seem a lovely story but it has huge significance in that Father God sent Jesus to the Earth on a rescue mission to deal once and for all with the sin problem that each of us humans face. Because God is holy, He can’t handle a speck of sin in His presence so it has to go and the only way this can be eradicated is to simply come to Jesus (who died on a cross, taking upon himself the sins of the whole world) in repentance and receive His forgiveness. Then we are right with God – not because of who we are or what we have done or even us trying to be religious. God loves each one of us so incredibly much.

Let’s not allow the rush of Christmas to divert us from the real meaning of Jesus’ first coming to serve as a reminder of His second coming – we don’t know when. Lets’ explain to our children this truth so that the fear of God can come upon us all as we worship and adore the baby who is the King. What a Saviour!

7 ways to squeeze time!

I don’t know about you but I find there don’t seem to be enough hours in a day. Yet, we all have the same number of hours to play with. How can we manage our time better? Realising that time doesn’t belong to us is a start even if this idea seems to contradict what has just been said. If we consider that time is a gift from God then we can connect with our Maker and find out how to use his present well. Starting with the owner’s manual helps. The Bible has a lot to say about time – “My times are in his hand” is a good starter.

Here are the mains to choose from – (a full meal will include all of them!):

1      Pray about each day – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own  understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.”(Proverbs 3:5-6) God can give us perspective about the coming day and the hours that are in it.

2     Plan carefully considering just in case this is your last day on earth and also for the long term remembering that “we make our plans but God has the last word”(Proverbs 16:1 – Good News Bible)

3     Have regular times to relax,  e.g. going for a walk; pottering in the garden; phoning a friend. The writer of Ecclesiastes speaks about getting into balance and enjoying the life we’ve been given realising that it’s not all about work. As we allow for these times of refreshment, we’re able to work more efficiently when we get back to it.

4    Laugh – the Bible tells us this is like medicine (see Proverbs 17:22). Who wants chemicals in us anyway? I try to have a laugh every day at something and sometimes at myself!

5    Do similar things at the same time e.g. make several phone calls all at once; reply to those emails in one go (Ephesians 5:16)

6.    Pace yourself, remembering just to stop at times and find and see the beauty of what is around you “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth (Ecclesiates 12:1) and of course this applies to us older ones who can still feel young inside!

7    Keep alert (see Psalm 91) – and keep the brain functioning well with having plenty of water in one’s diet and doing the odd crossword/sudoku (tucked into a few minutes)

Diamond Books has been developed in this way. Where there seems to be no time, God makes a way through the ordinary things of life and makes the time. May we each keep in balance as we seek to redeem the time – as Jesus is coming back! Lets keep our priorities in focus throughout each day!

PS The dessert is having the satisfaction and peace that what has been done in a given day is what my Maker wanted!

 

Books about Jesus that Children can Read Themselves!

Have you ever thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if there were books about Jesus that young children could read themselves?”

Over the years one or two authors and publishers have filled this gap with the occasional book but next year something really exciting is happening! UK-based Diamond Books, pioneered by teacher, Carole Leah, is launching a whole series of books about Jesus that can be read by young children themselves. The books are being published by Westbow Press and should be available Easter 2017.

‘The Jesus Series’ consists of 16 books I am The Lightv2for 4-5 year olds to read themselves.
Books 1-8 focus on what Jesus said about himself, shown in John’s gospel.
Books 8-16 tell what Jesus came to do, based on Isaiah 61:1-2 and Luke 4:16-21.

The titles of the 16 books in the Jesus Series are:

  • The Light
  • The Door
  • The Shepherd
  • The Way
  • The Truth
  • The Life
  • The Vine
  • The Bread
  • God Sent Jesus
  • A Blind Man
  • A Deaf Man
  • A Sad Woman
  • A Sick Woman
  • A Lonely Man
  • Two Women
  • Dead and Alive

The vocabulary of the Jesus series books has been carefully chosen for early readers Todd has a lightand all 16 books are beautifully illustrated by talented Philippino illustrator Floyd Yamyamin. The books include realistic illustrations based on the Biblical accounts and there are also several modern-day characters appearing in all the books with whom the readers can relate.

To keep up with all the latest developments, visit the Diamond Books Website: www.diamondbooks.org.uk

Why Pray?

It is often said that prayer changes things. I would like to amend this statement by saying that I think that God changes things and people as we humans pray! God invites us to pray and He provides the answers. He wants to reveal Himself as we pray. As God invites us to pray about anything and everything, so to pray for things, people, situations or problems (as examples) is well within the scope of God to answer those requests.

I have found in my experience that the more I learn to abide (resting and relaxing in who God is) the more able I am to tap into what God wants and can pray accordingly. I can pray for anything but sometimes my prayers go amiss because I’m praying from a selfish or wrong motive. However, God is so big that he can, not only meet my need,  but also can give what I want as well. God seems to delight in blessing His children in all sorts of ways.

We are called to be like children in their utter simplicity, just taking God at His word. A child can trust their parents (usually) to hear what they say and to perform their simple request/requests if deemed the right time or something that will bless the child. Likewise, our heavenly Father longs to give us so much beyond what we could ever ask or think (see the end verses of Ephesians 3) so to ask him for things is part of His plan for us humans. He can cause us to wait for His answers which develops our character and faith so that God is glorified. He wants our lives to be a reflection of His.

The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray and we have what we know as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ as a basis for prayer, given by Jesus as a means for us to learn. As we pray, we become dependent upon God so that we can rely on Him in any circumstance or happening. Psalm 91 is about what happens when we abide in God – there are lots of promises one of them being “He (i.e. any of us) will call upon me (God) and I (God) will answer him…” (verse 15). God is literally a prayer away from any one of us.

To teach children to pray is a wonderful thing. Then children can call on God anytime when they need help, especially at those times when perhaps they are not with their parents or maybe afraid or when at school needing some reassurance/assistance..Prayer is like breathing – we can’t do without it and the great God who answers through Jesus Christ.

7 Ways to Help our Children to love God

In this season of Ramadan when many families are seeking Allah in a challenging way especially during our long daylight hours here in the UK, how do the children view God at this time and how can they learn to love God?

Christians differ from Muslims in that we focus on the mediator between God and man, the Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ. Without Him and having faith in Him it is impossible to please God (see Hebrews 11:6) so as the Church of England denomination advocates in their early writings, we exist to love God and enjoy Him forever.

Children have a natural way of engaging with God. When they see a butterfly or a rainbow, for example, there is a ‘wow’ element in their response. The creation around them is screaming at them that there is a wonderful Creator behind all that they can see, touch, smell, hear and taste who is humorous, too – just look at a giraffe!.

So how can we adults help our children to love God:

1 Encourage in children a grateful attitude to all that is around them especially of God’s creation.

2 Specifically help children to give God thanks to things that happen to them in their daily activities.

Teach them to pray asking for what they need (and want) and seeing how God answers their simple  requests

Buy and read from a children’s Bible – there are plenty on the market and so colourful and relevant. As children get older, then of course, they can read it for themselves. The Good News Bible, in particular, can be read by 9+ year old children.

Learn the 10 commandments with your children and explain that these really make two big commandments that Jesus himself mentioned (see Matthew 22:37) – i.e.love God and love others.

Sing songs about the greatness of God. There are many that can be accessed on the internet.

Giving children the opportunity to be born again (see John 3) so that they can start a journey with God that will lead them to connect with God, through Jesus Christ, not only here on earth but beyond this life.

If other materials are needed to fan the flame of love that children can have for God, we would recommend ‘The Creation Series’ which can be read to 3-4 year olds but can be read by most other children, too. The visual impact of this series of books will really bless your children with little things to find in the illustrations and general knowledge features.

May you have fun as you and your children love God together!

 

Standing

Sometimes, we are pushed to the limit and then God steps in. We, as Christians, are called to stand, even when the opposition and circumstances seem severe. I like to plan ahead and see what can be done in a given situation but God requires me to stand so that I can learn to trust God in it.

I seem to lurch from one crisis to another but in them, even though they are uncomfortable, there are plenty of things to learn.

This week our church is involved in a week of prayer and various prayer initiatives have taken place which has been so helpful. One of them was a 24/7 prayer day when we could sign up for 1 hour slots throughout the day/night to spend with our God. It has been an awesome time and in it, I can see God urging me (and us) to keep humbling ourselves before Him as the truth is, said Jesus, “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Just seeing a physical cross and having the opportunity to kneel before it is amazing in itself. It puts me in my place.

However, as we abide in God (John 15 again) we are still encouraged to stand as we are in a warfare with spiritual forces of darkness and we don’t need to battle, as Jesus has already done this and won when He died on a cross over two thousand years ago. Ephesians 6 gives us the equipment to put on in order to stand our ground and then as we are mindful of these things and apply them when necessary, then can stand against any opposition that comes.

In Messy Church one week, we made a soldier with all the weapons that we can use in our Christian life. It was so graphic to me that it is hanging up in one of our bedrooms! Children need to be aware that we do have an unseen enemy that causes the awful things that happen in our world. They need to know that having Jesus in their lives provides a security and protection for them. We hear a lot about the mental health of children these days. I am convinced that as we show our children the love of God and the provision he has made to be able to make a stand for right living and true words, then our children will grow up as healthy adults in every way.

‘The Creation Series’ seeks to set in place the foundations for a child’s life so that they can be aware of the God who made and loves them. Then, when they need to be standing up for truth and honesty, they can know that God is with them to give them the way through anything.