I love a well-written and illustrated children’s Bible, but there’s something about reading to your children (even the very young) straight out of the Bible itself. In Isaiah 55: 11 God states, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” It’s amazing what my children will get out of stories that I think are over their heads. My almost 3-year-old commented tonight, “God can see in our bellies” after reading Genesis 25: 19-23, which depicts Rebecca feeling her babies wrestle inside her womb and she prays to God asking what is happening. God tells her she is having twins (and that the older would serve the younger). My son’s statement was simple (and cute), but he was catching onto the fact that God sees all. Marty Machowski’s books, Long Story Short and Old Story New, lead us in reading through Genesis to Revelation (though I noticed he skips Leviticus), one passage at a time. He includes statements and questions to help guide parents in helping our children understand the truths contained in the story and how each story connects to the gospel. It focuses on a major story each week with five short readings and lessons each. One day each week is devoted to connecting the Old Testament story to Jesus and helps children to see how it points forward to the Messiah.
We get out the Bible and Long Story Short after dinner, but this curriculum would work wonderfully around the breakfast table or on the couch before bed. I usually read the scripture passage, but as our boys get older we will probably have them share that job. My husband leads the “study,” which I think is important for our boys to see their father taking the lead teaching God’s Word. But this is just how we do it and it can be used in many ways—even for small groups of children the same age. For the very young, the questions need to be reworded or they need to be prompted in answering. For teens who know the Bible well, the questions might be too rudimentary and will need to be expanded. These two volumes will help you work through the Bible in about three years, but we are definitely more on the seven-year plan. Life intervenes and we get off course reading the Bible regularly, but we always return and Long Story Short helps us to have a plan and stick to it. So don’t feel bad if you’re in a boat like ours, but finding this curriculum has helped us read God’s Word more frequently, regularly, and meaningfully.
What do you and your family do to study God’s Word together? Any helpful hints or other useful curriculums?