Stories, when told well, are captivating. Perhaps the best stories are the ones that are true. Fiction is fun but fact is compelling. I think that’s why I love archaeology. The thought of digging in the earth in search of another piece of the grand story excites me. Just this week a text was found near the valley of Elah where David killed Goliath. Written on pottery, approximately 3000 years old, a list of slaves, judges, and kings, corresponding with and supporting the truth of God’s Word. What’s even more amazing: this inscription is 1000 years older than the famous Dead Sea Scrolls. Incidentally archaeology consistently proves the accuracy of God’s story, the Bible. What a find…what a story.
You don’t have to dig deep to find a good story. In fact, you don’t have to dig in the earth at all. You simply must look within. Angie and I find true stories from our lives are wonderfully interesting to our kids. “What was it like when you were in fourth grade Dad.” “Was mom as pretty as she is now when you met her in 10th grade?” “Did Papa ever spank your bottom Daddy?” And the search for stories goes on and on.
The natural desire to hear our stories presents us as parents with the magnificent chance to tell our kids the truth about ourselves and about God’s loving pursuit of us. In fact your story might be an important catalyst in the salvation process of your child. Tell them your story…and His.
Do you know His?
Once upon a time (not that long ago) in a perfect place called Eden, God walked with Man and Woman, His masterpieces, in a garden just as I walk with my wife along the beach. It was a great relationship filled with mutual love. One day the man and the woman were offered a different object of their affection. Instead of choosing to love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, they chose something else. Something forbidden that would damage their relationship with God. The evil one cackled to himself as the man and woman took the forbidden fruit, the new object of their affection. Instantly everything changed. Instead of longing to walk with God they hid from Him. God knew everything and suddenly the world became like we know it. Full of sin, disease, sickness, and imperfection. Death entered the world and life was redefined.
God was not surprised but His heart was broken. His own creation chose to worship sin and self instead of Him. He made a way to be with people even though they were no longer pure. He dwelled with them for a while in a tent. He required animals to die for the sins of the people. Priests had to sacrifice these animals in just the right way or God would not accept the sacrifice and forgive the people. Soon God moved into the House built for Him by a very wise king. The people were comforted by God’s presence in the temple, but they could not get too close or they would simply die. Every year each family would sacrifice animals to receive God’s forgiveness. Every year the High Priest sacrificed a spotless lamb without blemish for the sins of the people. Blood ran from God’s House into the valley so that the people could be right with God. Yet, they had no access. They could not look at His face.
The Father became weary of the distance between He and His creation caused by sin. As foreseen by the prophets hundreds of years before, God sent a part of Himself, His own Son, to the world. He was born in Bethlehem to a virgin mother and a common stone mason. He was given the name Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. He grew in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with the people. He never sinned. He never chose to love anything more than God the Father. He became a great Rabbi. So great that He amazed everyone with His interpretation of God’s Word and with miracles…but more so by His love.
One day, near his 33rd birthday, Jesus and His followers went to Jerusalem, to God’s House, to participate in the celebration and the sacrifices. Animals were being killed every day at 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. As the blood literally dripped out of the city, the smell of burning flesh and stagnant blood reminded the people of their own sin and their need for forgiveness.
A group of people hated Jesus because He threatened their way of life. They arrested Him and accused Him of blasphemy or defaming the Name of God. They accused Him of being a terrorist. They beat Him and put Him on trial. He was not found guilty. There was no evidence against Him. In a violent act of rage, they killed Him anyway. At 9:00 a.m they nailed Him to a cross. At 3:00 p.m the same day Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” meaning the debt has been paid in full. Then He died. There was a violent earthquake and the door way to God’s room at the House was ripped down. The very presence of God disappeared. They put Jesus in a borrowed tomb. Satan and the people who hated Jesus smirked, convinced of their victory.
Three days later, as foretold by the prophets, Jesus rose again from the dead in the ultimate act of victory. Jesus crushed the tragedy of sin. If a man or a woman so chooses, Jesus has all authority to pardon their sin. Once again man and woman can look into the face of God. God no longer lives in a tent or a house. He now lives in perfect community with His masterpiece. He lives inside the hearts of those who turn from their sin and turn toward Jesus, the perfect lamb. The last lamb. The only sacrificial lamb perfectly forgiving men and women of their sin forever. He is Immanuel. God with us! (Genesis-Revelation)
A couple thousand years later, I heard the story. I realized that I had sin in my life and that I deserved to die and be separated from God. But Jesus, my rescuer and redeemer, paid the price for my sin and came into my life. He changed me. I did not become perfect, I became clean and free, forgiven in the eyes of God. I could see the face of God again. I was given the privilege and access of a son. I can walk with Him in conversation just like I walk along the beach with my wife. You see in my life the story that begins in Eden culminates in my changed life. My little girls love that story. They think its the best one. Tell your story… and His.
2 thoughts on “Tell them your story… and His.”
I love the idea of telling your kids stories. Just this morning I was on the bed with one of my kids doing a morning devotional “Leading Little Ones to God.” I love this devotional. It is simple but teaches both my 6 year old and me so much. It was talking about sin and how we all sin. It spoke about the verse where Paul talks about our struggle with sin–we don’t want to sin but we do, etc. As we talked, I was reminded of my own quiet time, where I had read about Paul writing Romans and all of his amazing trips all over the Roman world. I told my son what I had read and then added, “and even Paul sinned.” There is one sin that my son has really been working on and he suddenly recognized how he had improved. We talked about how Jesus helps us to grow and prayed together praising the Lord for my son’s growth in that sin area. We also asked for help in other areas. This is one of my favorite times with my children.
Before we even had children, I found an awesome book called “No Ordinary Home.” The author encouraged me to have those “God Moments” that Brian talks about. When we put them to bed, to linger and talk, and how, so many times, they open up. To plant a garden and talk about seeds and fruit in our hearts and how God grows them into big strong trees (my favorite verse-Psalm 1). To decorate our Christmas tree and our house with things representing God. To take walks, pointing out God’s creation and His handiwork. These are just a few examples of a few things that we have tried. The author tells a story of hanging 3 keys in a doorway and not telling her children what they were for. When they couldn’t take it anymore, she and her husband shared 3 “key” things that the Lord had taught them in their lives…I love that one! When the kids were little bitty, I was encouraged through that book and through my own time in God’s Word to just talk about Jesus in the things we were doing/the dailies(Deuteronomy 6 living).
Now that they are older (5,6,8), I am being challenged by another book called “Teach Them Diligently” by Louie Priolo to speak His Word to them as I sit, walk and lie as well. We have built in what I call “disciplines” or intentional teaching time. My husband reads the Bible every night. When they were little he read from a picture Bible and now we have graduated to one called “The Story Bible” by Vos. My 5 year old is still a little wiggly but we encourage him to sit and listen with his heart. This is my husband’s time to teach. My favorite time to teach/disciple is in the morning…at breakfast we memorize Scripture and after breakfast, they sit on their beds and read their Bible (quiet time with God). I go in and pray with each of them and may do a devotional with one of them. This, for me, is a time to teach them how to have relationship with Jesus…that they can talk to Him daily, read His Word, I try to connect things from church, my time with God, their life with the Scripture. We try, try, try to have a Family Night each week(though it is not as consistent)…to just make God’s Word come alive and have fun with it…we like to do some type of object lesson, pray and then have dessert together. One night we built a Lincoln Log house and talked about what a family needs to get along and stay together…for each corner, we named something important like loving each other or forgiving each other or speaking kindly. Then, we took one corner then the next and saw what happened to our house when we didn’t do those things. They really look forward to a special time (and the dessert!)
As I have been reading some of the other entries, I have thought…the sitting, walking, lying times are essential but so are the intentional teaching times, discipling and pouring truth in, to be used later. Both require that we be in close relationship with our Lord.
Yes, these times with the kids are like snowflakes…gentle and sweet but they are also like the blizzard Matt talked about…very intense, with lots of intentional work to be done!
Stories are such a great way to teach. I guess that is why Jesus taught by telling stories. My kids love to hear stories. They love for my wife and I to read stories, they listen to stories on CD, and they constantly want me to make up stories. I started a couple years ago making up stories about a cat named Whiskers that has some extremely fanciful excursions in his life. My purpose was to use them to reflect scriptural truths by how Whiskers handles the things that happened to him. Why, the other day Whiskers got knocked on the head and went a little loony. He joined the circus and while riding a unicycle got a little too close to a lion that swallowed him whole. He eventually came to his senses and escaped, and was reminded to, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8) We cannot get in the truck without them asking me to tell a Whisker’s story. But I agree with Brian that those true stories can be the most impactful. Often times at bed the kids ask me to tell them about when I was a little boy. The especially like the stories of when I got in trouble and got my bottom spanked. But it is a great opportunity to remind them that though I once was lost that now I’m found. Because of Christ great mercy we can be forgiven. And I remember what Jesus said in Matthew 11:11, “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” I am surely least in the kingdom of heaven, yet through Christ He sees something great.
Thanks, Brian for that powerful synopsis of God’s perfect plan.