This month, Ministry to Parents starts a new series called “How to Have Spiritual Conversations with your Kids.” We often hear from parents about how they are intimidated or afraid to talk to their kids about the Bible. If this is you, you are normal! So, for this reason, we kick off our series with:
3 Simple Ways To Understand the Bible
A Sunday morning rolls around and the preacher, priest, or pastor teaches on a few verses while families listen. During worship, online or in-person, parents gather with their kids holding the Bible in their hands or on an app. A Monday morning rolls around and mom or dad pick up their Bible or open their app, and then, for a brief moment, no smaller than a click on the clock, they hesitate.
Doubt creeps in.
They wonder, now alone, if they will understand it…without the preacher, priest, or pastor.
Five-syllable words, like sanctification, can intimidate the best of parents (And let’s not forget the seriously large amount of poetry in the Old Testament.).
Parents hear sermons and converse in small groups, but when the time comes to live the truth principle, they are at a loss for its’ true meaning. Couple this moment with a barrage of Bible questions by their teenager or child, and parents grow overwhelmed, insecure, vulnerable, and afraid. (Ever had a child ask about Noah’s Ark? Anyone?!?)
Where conversations like education or finances may come easy, conversations about the Bible create moments of awkwardness. If this scenario sounds too familiar to you as a parent, know you are not alone.
In response to this specific fear, here are 3 action steps that are simple, easy-to-use resources to help you grow in an understanding of the Bible.
The over-arching theme of the Bible is a Love Story about how God chases after humanity to win their love after evil ushered in doubt and uncertainty.
The Jesus Storybook Bible is one resource that offers a simple, yet profound way to read about this epic love story. Each and every paraphrased story, from the Old Testament to New, brings the readers’ attention back to Jesus, the point of the Love Story.
Although this book was written for children, I know numerous adults who keep this resource for themselves as a part of their daily reflection. To view or purchase this book, click HERE.
Parent Action Step
Spend some time reading each story slowly and methodically. In order to put yourself into the story, ask questions like: How would I react if that were me? How would I think? Feel?
Look for opportune moments to share about these stories with your teenagers or children. Tell them what it means to you. Share as-you-go.
Some parents feel they are ill-equipped to share the Bible with their kids, and the “Setting” is the challenging part. For instance, they can grasp the over-arching theme of love, but when they break it down into the details, the Bible gets grainy. Middle Eastern Culture?!? Jewish what?!?
Consequently, grasping the details around individual Bible stories and their correct context can feel as elusive as capturing a unicorn kitty.
When it comes to a simple resource for the Bible background, I found one online (FREE!) tool that provides concise information, in a creative way, on any book of the Bible. Called The Bible Project, this organization is where visual storytelling meets Scripture.
The Bible Project is a valuable asset for anyone, especially parents. It offers free and brief videos on themes, sections of Scripture, and books of the Bible. In less than 35-seconds, here is a video overview.
After reviewing video after video, I thought to myself… these videos are basically commentaries summed up in minutes. Genius. I LOVE THIS RESOURCE!!!
This tool is FABULOUS, especially for families who want the 10,000-foot view. Context and Setting all wrapped up in one.
Parent Action Step
Peruse the videos and find a subject or book that makes you go hmmm. Watch the video and learn about the setting and context. With this in mind, also listen with your heart.
The third way parents can understand the Bible is through Study, which takes you just a little bit deeper than Story and Setting. With these tools, you can take your time and work at your own pace.
Here are a few basic, easy-to-use links to get started.
- Download the (FREE!) app, YouVersion, which offers different Old and New Testament translations. As you run across a verse, look it up in the various translations to get a full understanding of the original writing and spend time meditating on them.
- If a word stands out to you, take the next step, and learn about its’ definition from a lexicon. To visit a (FREE!) lexicon online, click HERE. (What is a lexicon? A fancy name for a dictionary.)
- Verses are not to be read in a vacuum, so include the verses before and after the chosen verse in your reading.
- Below is a Bible Translation Scale that explains “how” each translation works.
Parent Action Step
First, look up a verse or use the “Verse of the Day” on YouVersion and spend time reading the different translations. Second, read the verses before and after. Third, look up a word or two within the verse via the lexicon. Although you may feel awkward, the more you do this practice, the more comfortable you grow.
Most importantly, the Bible is a part of how God, Jesus, and Spirit speak to us today, not the whole. Because they are Alive and Active supernatural beings in a real relationship today, they still speak and are not limited to paper and ink.
These Words…these powerful words…woo us into a personalized Love Story. They…reunite marriages and break addictions…deliver clarity to the confused and wisdom to the fool…heal wounds in hearts that barely beat.
How do I know?
I know, for this is what they did for me.
I am a walking, living, breathing example of how this Book is more than printed paper and black ink.
Therefore, I invite you to practice these three simple ways to understand the Bible in hopes that you, too, can experience the gentle, magnificent, powerful, and healing love of God.
Elisabeth Lee is the Content Director for Ministry to Parents and has more than twenty-five years of ministry experience. She holds an MDiv in Theology and is an author, speaker, and creative. She enjoys SEC football, espresso, artisan papers, and the outdoors. Her heart is her husband, Jeremy, two sons, and a bearded dragon. They live outside Nashville, TN.
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Printable Family Devotions That Inspire Spiritual Conversations