Friday, November 2, 2012

Family Bible Study List

Over the years, we've found that good Bible storybooks and family devotional material is difficult to find. Some books aren't faithful to the text of Scripture, some are dry, sterile and devoid of heart, and some are so juvenile that they present the Bible's stories with the seriousness of a comic strip. We wanted books that would help us teach our kids the many stories of the Bible, open up opportunities for family discussion and, preferably, provide clear application to our lives. So after a lot of trial and error, here's a list of our family's recommendations.

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones – This book, easily my favorite Bible storybook, is fabulously illustrated and a great read for all ages. The author skillfully shows how the Bible's stories are not disjointed, moral lessons, but rather how they are all oriented around God's "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love." The illustrations are suitable for kids, but not silly or disrespectful. It's a Bible storybook that we will read over and over again in our family.

For reviews on other Bible storybooks, head on over to Redeemed Reader here. Redeemed Reader also has a review of Sally Lloyd-Jones latest release, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, here, which I've not yet read but have heard good things about it.

Long Story Short: Ten-minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God by Marty Machowski – If you want something a little more substantive than a Bible storybook, this book is a must. It is highly recommended by many and with good reason. It is not a picture book – it is a devotional book designed to be used 5 days a week. Each lesson contains a Scripture reading, a brief explanation of the passage, a few questions to encourage discussion, and finally, suggestions for prayer. For our family, in which ages range from early elementary to high school, this book has been ideal. There is substance for all ages, and each lesson points the reader to Christ.

Long Story Short covers the Old Testament in 78 weeks, and the recently released Old Story New covers the New Testament in 78 weeks. If a family stayed on schedule, they would cover the entire Bible in three years.

Or, if your family would prefer an illustrated book, there is a Bible storybook also by Marty Machowski that covers the same 156 lessons called The Gospel Story Bible. As with the devotional books, the goal of the author is to "connect events in the story to God's larger redemptive plan." The entire program is designed as a companion to a church Sunday school curriculum package, but these three books are great for family use whether your church uses the bigger package or not. Learn more about the whole program at their website here.

Herein Is Love, Vol. 1: Genesis by Nancy Ganz – Nancy Ganz has written a great, readable series that focuses on the deep love of God. The Bible is a love story – God loving His people – and she shows how that theme is present in the Old Testament.

This is not a picture book. It is subtitled "A Commentary for Children," and that's a fair description. Each chapter is a healthy read, so it would be a better choice for families whose children are used to sitting and listening. It has substance for a wide variety of ages, however, so that makes it great for reading with the whole family. It can even be used for a Sunday school or home school curriculum because there is a Teacher's Guide in the back with ideas for visual aids, memory work, crafts, songs, field trips, etc. To date, the series contains four volumes – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, but I was told Deuteronomy was in the works. Let's hope so! UPDATE: Deuteronomy is now available!

For something a little different, try The Answers Book for Kids series by Ken Ham. There are four volumes in the series and each is structured in question and answer format. The questions are genuine, serious questions such as "Why do people believe different things, Why doesn't God keep me from being sick, Why aren't there fossils of humans from Noah's flood, and Where did the Bible come from?" Each answer honestly addresses the question from the Bible while teaching the sufficiency of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:3-4) and training kids to develop a Biblical worldview.

I'm sure there are more good materials out there that we haven't discovered, but these are just the ones our family has used and been happy with. Hopefully, our finds will help some other folks.

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