Friday, May 1, 2015

PBT Question # 3 to ask about any secular picture book:

Does the book remind you of scripture?                                                                               
 (a Story, a Character, or a Verse)

Often times answering this question takes some thought. However, as you read a picture book, a connection with a Bible story, character, or verse may jump out at you. That’s fun to discover! When there are no obvious links but I’m still hoping for a biblical connection for a picture book I love, I rely on a Bible concordance or a list on a website.

The Open Bible website offers a search engine for key words. Here’s the link: This site allows you to search by a biblical name, a religious theme, or a phrase in a Bible verse. This site also offers nice lists of the most popular Bible stories for children, but don’t use this link only when you are doing children’s programming. Adults will respond to those same stories. Here’s that link:

Make sure you are not just thinking about the major characters/stories of the Bible. Those characters/stories are often well-known. Your audience deserves new material! Consider some of the lesser known stories such as those in the Acts of the Apostles or those referenced in Paul’s letters. Don't forget the parables that Jesus told. 

Also, don't forget the stories of women and girls in the Bible! Rich faith development involves girls learning about female biblical role-models and boys hearing the important roles that women had in our Holy Scriptures. There are many women’s stories in the Bible that offer meaningful lessons and conversations. Sadly, females are often unnamed so finding their story is harder.

Here are 4 women in the Bible that you may not have considered for a lesson, 2 from each testament:

Name or Description                                                          Bible Reference
Rahab                                                                                    Joshua 2
The Widow of Zarephath                                                  1 Kings 17:7-24
The Bent-over Woman aka The Crippled Woman       Luke 13:11
Dorcas/Tabitha                                                                   Acts 9:36

I’ve included here, a peek at 1 of the amazing illustrations in The Quiltmaker’s Gift (Day 14 on May 3, 2014). This story directly relates to the valuable but rarely-mentioned story of Dorcas (scripture reference listed above). 
Another problem occurs when a key figure is labeled negatively. We tend to shy away from those stories, especially when teaching children. I suggest that those labels don’t have to be used. For example, you don’t have to call Rahab a prostitute. Focus on how she was a crucial figure who helped the Israelites. The Eunuch in Acts 8 can be referred to as a man from Ethiopia. His story is so powerful! The woman caught in adultery in John 8 can be described as a “woman who got into trouble.”

In contrast, don’t shy away from age-appropriate negative attributes. These descriptions make characters more human. They are easier to relate to, more believable, and more relevant. God’s great mercy is all the more powerful when complicated characters are changed for the better. 

Apart from stories, children and adults can learn a great deal from key phrases in Bible verses. I like to have children repeat a simple phrase throughout a lesson so that it lingers in their minds afterwards. Adults can benefit from this method too. For instance, in a lesson using a picture book about rocks. Talk about how God is like a rock, and have your audience say intermittently this phrase from Psalm 71:3: “Be to me a rock of refuge.” You'll likely have to define refuge. 

Sometimes you have to allow a picture book to soak into you for a while and let God do the work. Then a Bible connection pops into your mind when you aren’t even thinking about it. Just set the book aside, say a little prayer for guidance, and give God some time to help you see the connections.

Perhaps PBT question # 4 is where you will find the most potential for a picture book. I’ll expand on that question in a few days.
                                        May your Biblical knowledge grow, Hanna

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