For parents looking to help the Bible make sense and make a difference in their youth’s lives…this blog post if just for you! Children’s Ministry Director Josh Cooley, author of Heroes of the Bible Devotional, paints a realistic picture of what many church teens and tweens experience and how to help them. Read more about Josh at joshuacooleyauthor.com.
Church kids hear a lot of Bible stories. Before you can open your hymnal to “Come Thou Fount,” they can tell you who killed Goliath, who survived the lion’s den and who broke two sacred stone tablets. But by themselves, cool stories from antiquity only take you so far.
I know. I was one of those kids. My dad was an ordained minister. My parents took us to church three times a week. I attended Christian school my whole life. If Jeopardy! would’ve had a “Youth Bible Trivia Edition” in the ’80s, I would’ve crushed …
Alex Trebek: This ancient Mesopotamian nearly bankrupted Social Security all by himself.
10-year-old me: Who is Methuselah?
But quiz show aptitude can’t produce inner change. I rebelled during my middle school and early high school years, and it was only God’s Spirit stirring within me around age 16 that prompted spiritual conversion. The gospel seeds that had been planted early on finally sprouted and broke through the surface of my sinful heart.
Now I’m married with four kids. They’re smart and eager to learn, sponging up whatever they hear in church, Christian school and our family devotions. I’m praying that God will graciously lead them from biblical knowledge to saving faith, too.
That’s why I wrote Heroes of the Bible Devotional. It’s for kids like mine, kids like yours and kids like I used to be. Children—even those who seem to know all the Sunday school answers—need to hear God’s truth. They need to understand that the Bible is more than just a collection of interesting bedtime stories or moralistic Aesop’s fables. Scripture is the Creator’s inspired, inerrant revelation to sinful humanity. By telling hundreds of smaller stories that span thousands of years, the Bible is telling one big story of God’s redemptive plan through Christ.
Because Jesus is the crux of Scripture, he’s the star of Heroes, too. Many devotions feature a “Gospel Connection” to help readers see that everything in the Old and New Testament points to God’s Son. When Abel offered the best of his flock to God in Genesis 4, we see the first allusion to Jesus as the sacrificial lamb. When Moses lifted up the bronze serpent to save dying Israelites in Numbers 21, we see shades of Calvary (John 3:14-15). When we read about Jonah surviving his three-night stay in Hotel Fish Guts, we see a picture of Christ’s glorious resurrection (Matt. 12:40).
That’s why I’m really excited about this devotional. Heroes was written to help kids make those connections. Yes, there are plenty of lessons on obeying your parents, putting others first and showing humility. But more than anything, I wanted to give families a tool to help children understand the life-changing truths of the gospel. Think of Heroes as a way to feed your kids tasty, bite-sized theological nuggets. They’ll learn about things like holiness, repentance, redemption and propitiation—all in age-appropriate ways.
As for the book’s heroes theme, I chose it simply because kids love good stories, and the Bible is brimming with incredible accounts of fascinating people. I wanted to cover all the well-known heroes, such as Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, etc. But I also wanted to explore some of the Bible’s more obscure characters, too, such as Abel, Joash and the young Jewish slave girl who helped Naaman.
Studying these great heroes of the faith quickly reveals that they often weren’t very heroic. They were deeply flawed human beings, just like us. This is important for children to understand because the same God who transformed ordinary people thousands of years ago can do the same with today’s youth.
After all, the Bible ultimately isn’t about the Noahs, Gideons, Marys and Peters of the world. It’s about the mercy, grace and love God has offered us through Jesus. Perhaps John the Baptist said it best. In John 3:30, some of John’s disciples were concerned—maybe even a little jealous—that many of the people who had once followed him were now flocking to Jesus. John, however, was overjoyed. “He must become greater,” John said of the Savior. “I must become less.”
My desire for Heroes of the Bible Devotional is that the name of Jesus becomes greater among the next generation. I hope you check it out.
Now, does anybody have Alex Trebek’s contact info?