Episode 83: Helping Our Children Understand Grace and Mercy

In this episode we look at some wonderful books and other resources for helping children understand grace and mercy and our need for it. 

Books Discussed in this Episode:

Transcript with Links:

Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids. Today I’m very excited to share with you some wonderful books about mercy and grace. I’ve wanted this year to take in each month the topic of certain character traits or important theological points that we need to teach our children. And it is so important for our children to understand, at least as much as they’re able to at their age, mercy and grace. Without mercy and grace, we really have no hope, and they will never understand the wonderful gift God is offering us. And according to the Bible, mercy is not receiving what we do deserve. And grace is receiving favor that we don’t deserve. So God shows us mercy in that he doesn’t punish us with the death we do deserve. He offers us grace and favor and forgiveness to have a life with Him, a relationship with Him. So I found some really good books that helped drive these thoughts home and helped make them as concrete as possible for our kids.

The first book I want to talk about is called Sidney and Norman: A Tale of Two Pigs by Phil Vischer. He’s the one who started Veggie Tales. He has written this really wonderful little story that is similar to the story of the two men praying in the Bible where the one is very full of pride and thanking God that he is not like this sinner over here who is just so terrible. And then the sinner who is bowing before God, cannot even look up from the ground he’s so broken for his sin. It’s kind of along those lines of these two pigs, Sydney and Norman. And it’s just really a wonderful story and illustrates very well what God thinks and how He deals with His people. And in the book, God calls the two pigs to come and meet with Him because He has an important message for each of them. So this is a great book to read with your kids about grace and mercy.

Another really beautiful book–it’s from the Tales that Tell the Truth series of picture books. And this one is The Friend Who Forgives by Dan Dewitt and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri. This book is just wonderful. Most of the books in this series I’ve read and really appreciate them. They really do clearly explain the truths of the Bible, the stories in the Bible, in ways that young children can understand. This book is really interesting how they focus on Peter and how he’s always sticking his foot in his mouth. He’s always blurting things before he thinks and saying things he shouldn’t say and being inappropriate at times. Then it deals with how he denies Christ three times and then how Jesus forgives him and gives him the opportunity to say that he loves Him three times. It doesn’t deal with every little detail. It doesn’t deal with all kinds of, you know, the significance of him saying, “Do you love me?” and meaning agape love and Peter answering “I, phileo–brotherly love–you.” Of course it doesn’t get into all those kinds of things. It just tells the story with the point of Jesus’ forgiveness and Peter needing that forgiveness and becoming truly a fisher of men, especially after Jesus’ resurrection. So it’s a wonderful book. The illustrations–they’re great. They’re very cute, fun illustrations. I think this book is just really well-written and worth getting.

Now, this is a really unique book. The next one I want to share with you. It’s a chapter book. It’s meant to be shared, read aloud, as a family with your children. It’s called Blotch: A Tale of Forgiveness and Grace, and it’s by Andy Addis and illustrated by Tatio Viana. It’s wonderful. It makes sin and forgiveness and the need for forgiveness and God’s grace and faith and all of those concepts. It makes them as concrete as possible. I really, really love this book. And I think it would be a wonderful book to read with your whole family. He has discussion questions at the end of the book for you to use with your children. And he even offers pointers on how to talk to our children about salvation and God’s grace and His mercy and the need we have for a Savior. These are so important for us to share with our children, and they do give sample prayer of what you could pray with your child, if they are ready to become believers in Jesus. So it’s just very nicely written. He tries to cover all the points of what you need to discuss with your children, what you need to help them understand, making sure that they’re ready and that they understand and not pushing them beyond what they’re ready to do. So I really appreciate that about this book.

And then another book–and I’ve shared some of these books in this series before, and we’ve had some guests who also shared them as you know. I really like Lee Strobel, and Jesse Florea is one of the editors at Focus on the Family, and he has helped write this with Lee Strobel to make it a book for children. So this is The Case for Grace for Kids. And of course it’s from The Case For series for kids. Lee Strobel and Jesse Florea, try to make grace an understandable concept for children. It’s talking about forgiveness. It talks about God’s care for us, His strengthening of us, how to also forgive others, and to share the message of grace with our friends. It not only helps a child understand grace and God’s love and forgiveness, but it also helps children know how to then share their faith with other people. So it’s just a wonderful book geared toward children. It starts with the scripture 2 Corinthians 5:17. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone. The new is here.” And then in the introduction, it says, “Maybe you’ve heard grace defined by the popular acrostic: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. To put it even more simply: grace is the favor shown by God to sinners. Grace gives to us the ability to have a relationship with God, brings us into his family, and provides the power to become more like Jesus. As easy as it may be to define the word grace, it can take a lifetime to fully understand it at its core. It is an unconditional gift of God’s love that we can never earn and don’t deserve. Definitions are important, but this is not a textbook on grace. Instead, it is a collection of true stories that show the power of God to change human lives. God’s grace can turn a reckless rebel into a selfless servant of God, a regular 13-year-old into a life-saving hero, an abandoned orphan into one of God’s precious children, and a mass murderer into a forgiven and powerful church planter. This book talks about a very personal journey for me to solve the riddle of grace. Along the way I found evidence I couldn’t ignore of God’s grace working in the lives of kids and adults all over the world.” So that’s the beginning of the book where they are talking about what this book covers, and it’s got cute illustration and clear explanations. I think it’s a wonderful tool we can use with our children.

And then of course, I have to share Grace for the Moment: 365 Devotions for Kids by Max Lucado. I have shared some of these devotionals with you before. And of course, I’m going to share one again today, as we finish up our episode, and this is from the March 11th devotional, and it’s called “His Mercy” Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and loving to each other, forgive each other, just as God forgave you in Christ.”

“When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He knew the future of those feet. Not one of them would spend the next day following Him or defending Him. Those feet would run for cover at the first flash of a Roman sword. Only one pair of feet wouldn’t run away from him in the garden. Judas wouldn’t even make it that far. So why did He do it? Why did Jesus stoop to wash the disciples’ feet? The answer is in one word, mercy. God knew what those men were about to do. And He wanted to give them something to remember. He wanted them to remember that He had washed their feet. He wanted them to know that those feet were still clean and that He had forgiven their sin before they even did it. He gave them mercy before they even asked for it. That mercy is there for you too. When you choose to believe in Jesus and to obey Him, his mercy will make you clean. Growing in grace: Mercy is when you deserve to be punished, but you are forgiven. Instead, Jesus gives you mercy for your mistakes. He asks you to do the same for others. Is there someone who has hurt or disappointed you? Ask God to help you show mercy.”

And I want to share one last book with you for you as a parent. And this is a book from Inspire Christian Writers Inspire Grace. This was published in 2019, and I do have some items in here published that I wrote as well, but it’s just a wonderful collection, an anthology, of different writings about grace. And some of them are short stories. Some are poems, some are devotionals, but it’s an eclectic group of writers who have come together and have produced this anthology of different writings that deal with the different nuances of grace. It is available on Amazon. And I think it would be a great book for any of you parents to enjoy reading. And some of the stories are also good that you could share with your children.

Also, I have found two or three websites that just have some wonderful tools for explaining grace and mercy to young children. So I will put those links in the show notes. Some of them have object lessons for sharing grace and helping your children understand grace and mercy. So one of them is “Mercy and Grace: What Kids Need to Know.” It’s the discipleblog.com. And then one is “What Is Grace: 13 Activities and Games for Teaching Grace to Kids” from HomeschoolSuperFreak. And then we have “Teaching Kids about Grace,” “Grace through the Prodigal Son: Character Development,” “The Key to Grace,” also character development from the Meaningful Mama website. And so I’ll definitely share some of these with you. They are just wonderful tools.

Thank you for joining us for “Books that Spark,” a podcast, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions as we disciple our children and help them follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you would like to join my mailing list, you can find me at TerrieHellardBrown.com. When you sign up, you receive several freebies. And I haven’t mentioned those for a few weeks, but you get access to a phoneme book that I created that has coloring pages about different Bible stories. You also get a list of over 100 books to start your child’s library. These books have all been vetted by me. There’s board books and picture books that are just wonderful books for teaching your children about God, faith, and just some great books. Some are not Christian, some are Christian, but there’s over a hundred listed on this list that you can download for free. I have some other table talk activities for sparking conversations with your children at the dinner table. Lots of fun, little things for you to download that are only available to those who sign up on my mailing list. And when you’re on my mailing list, you get notified when I post a blog post or a new episode on the podcast, and you get my monthly newsletter. So sign up at TerrieHellardBrown.com. I would love to hear from you. You can also comment there on the blog posts and on these episodes. If you have enjoyed this episode, please download it. Every time you download, it helps to boost my numbers so that people can find this podcast on the different websites where it’s posted. I really appreciate your support, and thank you for listening.

Your Host:

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts are published each Thursday and discuss living as a disciple of Christ while discipling our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ.

For more information, visit her website at terriehellardbrown.com

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Growing older is inevitable; growing up is optional” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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