Some people think we are foolish to hold on to the faith we have. Our children sometimes experience times when they are teased or ridiculed for their faith. In this episode of “Books that Spark,” we look at some books that can help our children understand their faith, stand firm in their faith in the face of conflict, and that help them know how to respond to questions about their faith.
Books Discussed in This Episode:
Transcript with Links:
Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids. I’m so glad you joined us today. I want to spend some time as we’re coming up on April 1st and April fool’s day–I want to spend some time talking about some books that can really strengthen our kids’ resilience in their faith. I was thinking about the scriptures from 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. And I’m going to read that to you from the New Living Translation.
It says: “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.’
“So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
“But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
“God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.’”
There’s so much to share about these verses. And then we often see the verse quoted that talks about how it’s foolish not to believe in God–to say there is no God.
The world calls us fools many times and thinks that we are foolish for believing in Jesus, and our children are going to be approached and treated as though they are crazy to believe in Jesus and to follow Him. And so we need to equip our kids to be resilient, to be prepared, to be ready to give an answer when they’re asked questions, but also to immediately respond out of love and concern for the person who may be mocking them or ridiculing them. And I think if we can teach our kids, the first thing we need to do is realize that when a person doesn’t know Jesus, we need to pray for them. And that our response to these attitudes and these attacks on our faith–our first response needs to be prayer and to pray for that person because we care about that person. And we want that person to know Jesus and to understand how much God loves him. And so that’s the first thing we need to teach our kids.
When I think about how we can equip them in this day and age, I read this really one wonderful little book, and it’s called, Oh, the Seeds You Can Sow. And it’s written by Jessica Lisk and illustrated by Gabby Correia. This is such a cute book. It really does outline how with our words and our actions and our prayers, we are planting seeds in people’s lives. And I think it’s a wonderful book to read and maybe give your children a little packet of seeds or to eat an apple together and look at the apple seeds in the apple and maybe plant those and just kind of do it as an object lesson that they can learn from, by looking at the apple. But this story’s very cute about these kids who go to their grandfather’s orchard, and he’s teaching them about seeds. I love the story. It’s really cute. It opens up a lot of opportunity to really discuss our response to the people around us. If someone says something terrible to us, how do we respond? Teaching, you know, the turn-the-other-cheek mentality is not an easy lesson for children to learn, but we need to work on it and try to teach them and hopefully model for them how to turn the other cheek. That’s not always easy for us either. We’re called to that in the Sermon on the Mount. We’re told from the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry that we will face persecution and ridicule and mockery. People will think we’re crazy or foolish or just dumb. So we have to be prepared for those things. And then we have to also help our children understand what we believe and why we believe it and what the Bible says.
And so that’s what we’re doing as we are, you know, taking our children to church or Bible studies together, doing devotionals together. But there are some really good books out there that can help us in that process. And I’ve mentioned some for the parents, such as Mama Bear Apologetics, the books by Natasha Crain, about some important questions we need to discuss with our kids. And she also has the book, Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith. And again, that’s by Natasha Crain. These books are really excellent for us as parents to help know how to equip our kids. In addition, there’s the Apologetics Study Bible for our kids that are a little bit older that gives them lots of answers to questions. The Evidence Bible is also another one. And these have in the study notes, little sections to help us know how to give an answer to people when they ask, but we’re never going to argue people into the kingdom. So we need to also teach our kids that the most important thing we can do for anyone is to not just share the gospel with them, but to pray for them. So when we are attacked as much as is within us to respond with peace and love and a confidence in our faith, and then to just pray for them.
So some books that might be helpful with your children–There’s a couple I want to share. One is The Awesome Book of Bible Answers for Kids by Josh McDowell and Kevin Johnson. This book is geared towards curious kids, it says, and to help them understand about Jesus and God, and to help them answer some of the questions they may have about what we believe, even why we believe it.
I’ve mentioned this other book before, but I’m going to mention it again, The Case for Christ for Kids by Lee Strobel, and there’s others in that series that are also helpful in just outlining what we believe and why we believe it and why it is so reasonable, in reality, to be believing in these things, believing what the Bible says.
Another book is Cold Case Christianity for Kids: Investigate Jesus with a Real Detective written by Jay Warner Wallace and Susie Wallace. And this is a great book for your little bit older kids, eight to 12 years old about Christianity, how we know it’s true, and how to really think logically about what we believe.
And then there’s another book that might just be helpful when your children are dealing with these kinds of issues called What God’s Word Says about Bullying: The Bible Promise Book for Kids by Janice Thompson. And this is a little book. It’s not a very big book, and it helps children just to process the bullying thing, process the promises of God’s word, and to apply those promises to their lives. It’s just an encouraging book and helps deal with the emotions that happen as a result of bullying. So it covers 23 topics, including anger, compassion, forgiveness, friends, the golden rule. There are also some other books about the golden rule that are really good, but I really recommend this one. And the first book I mentioned about planting seeds, they both deal with the golden rule. The Berensteins have a couple books about the golden rule that are really good if you want to just focus on that.
One other book I really love–this whole series is such a good series of books–and this book is called The God Contest: The True Story of Elijah, Jesus, and the Greatest Victory. And it’s from Tales that Tell the Truth. I’ve shared others from this series on my podcast before, but I think this is the first time I’ve shared this book. This one is written by Carl Laverton, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri–just a great series of stories. I love the way they retell the stories from the Bible. They really bring out the important lesson from the story. This one is written for ages three to six. It is so good for even a little bit older children, but this talks about Elijah standing up in the face of threat on his life from Jezebel and Ahab. The other prophets of Baal who are trying to show that they are serving the true god, and that Elijah is foolish for serving God. It’s calling the people of Israel back to Yahweh, back to following God. They’ve drifted away because of the persecution. The, you know, the prophets of God have been hiding because their lives are in danger. It’s just a really terrible time in their history. And he stands on the mountain at Mount Carmel and stands in the face of paganism, in the face of threats and ridicule and persecution to stand up and let God show Himself to the people. And it calls the people of Israel back to following God. It’s such an amazing and wonderful story. And then the next part of the book deals with Jesus and another mountain: Mount Calvary and where the tomb was that there was another battle going on, and Jesus was victorious. It’s just a great book to read with your children for many reasons. But I think if we’re talking about facing opposition and standing up for our faith in a culture that does not respect our faith, that this is a good one to share with our kids and to talk about, and even to go beyond this part of the story and talking about how Elijah was discouraged; he was depressed. He was worn out. And that we need to also take care of ourselves, find times to rest and find times for God, to just minister to our hearts when we’re discouraged and to acknowledge that it isn’t always going to be easy, that there may be times that it’s very painful when people are rude to us or mean to us. Hopefully we aren’t having to talk about much more than that. Although that may happen someday. For now, though, we’re mostly talking about people who are just rude, who tease us about our faith, or maybe get to the point of yelling or shouting. But I think it’s so important for us to prepare our kids–not scare them, not get them too worried about it, but definitely to be prepared to have these conversations with our kids because they are going to face it. I mean, we did. When we were in school, I had a friend when I was in, oh, starting in fourth grade, I had people picking on me for my faith, and it has continued on into the workplace and on into everyday life. If you live out your faith, if you stand for Jesus, you’re going to have opposition. And so I think it’s better to prepare our kids ahead of time so that they can know the first response is to pray for that person and to pray for God to help us know how to respond. If we are going to say anything, that He will help us know just what to say and how to say it. So as we go into April Fool’s Day and the 1st of April, I think it’s a good thing to think about–what is foolishness truly and what it’s like to be considered foolish and called foolish by those around us and how we as believers in Christ are to respond. The Bible tells us they will know us by our love.
I want to read the devotional from Charles Stanley’s Every Day with Jesus for Kids. This is from the July 18th devotional, but it’s based on this Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:18. “The teaching about the cross seems foolish to those who are lost, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” He says, “God’s word has a power no other book has, because it contains the living words of God himself. They are living words because they actively work in your life. For example, when you’re hurting, perhaps you read Psalm 23 and remember God watches over you. Or when you’re lonely, you remember Jesus is always with you, (Matthew 28:20). But God word doesn’t just work to help you. It also works to teach others about Him as you live it out. For example, when you’re kind to an enemy as Matthew 5:44 teaches, you tell others about God’s kindness. When you forgive as Colossians 3:13 says, you teach about how God forgives and when you help those who can’t help themselves, James 1 27, you show how much God loves and cares. So yes, read God’s word, but do more than that. Live it out because that’s when you really tell people about Him, Jesus, please help me live out Your word. Use my life to tell others about you. Amen.” And it says, “Today with Jesus: let how you live tell others about Him.”
As parents. We’ve got to be an example for our kids and let our lives, tell our kids about Him. And I pray for all of us that we can truly live out our faith in a genuine, vulnerable, transparent way so that our kids can truly understand how real and how wonderful God is and how He truly is always with us, filling us with peace and joy and helping us to bear the fruit of the spirit in our lives.
Thank you for joining us for “Books that Spark,” a podcast, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, question 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. Remember to like, follow, and share this podcast so that others can find out about it. And if you have any questions or comments, please feel comment on the blog post at my website. I would love to hear from you, and I answer every comment and every question.
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 discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.
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 “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.