December 4, 2004
Perfect Christmas Gift: A Bible for Children
What is the perfect Christmas gift for
a child aged 6-10? It is not a doll or a video game, though they have
their place. Neither communicate a thing about Jesus, whose
birthday is being celebrated.
I suggest you consider giving Max Lucado's Hermie &
Friends Bible, a new edition of
the International Children's Bible (ICB). Max Lucado, one of America's
most prolific writers for adults and children, begins this Bible with a
"Dear Friend" Introduction:
"You've just opened the most important book you'll ever
read. It's the greatest adventure book of all time. In this book you'll read
stories of kings and queens. You'll
find tales of faraway lands. You'll encounter good guys, bad guys, people in
children, brothers sisters.
"But here's the best news. In this book you'll meet God
who made you. The God who
loves you so much that he sent his own Son to earth, just so you could live
with him in heaven, one day. When God sent Jesus, he gave you and me a
forever friend. What a
"Your friend, Max Lucado.
"P.S. I've invited my friend, "Hermie" (a little green
caterpillar) to add some special
thoughts for you."
Lucado's introduction to Luke's Gospel sounds like
what a father might say to his child: "Can you imagine Luke in the home of
the mother of Jesus? "Mary, tell me what
happened when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Start from the beginning."
The International Children's Bible (ICB) is the first
Bible written for children, requiring
only a third grade reading level. It is a thought-for-thought translation of
the ancient text, rather than a word-for-word translation which I find adds
For example, here is how the ICB version quotes the
angel Gabriel speaking to Zechariah, giving him the good news that though he
and his wife are elderly, they will have
a son named John who "will help many people of Israel return to the Lord
their God. He
himself will go before the Lord. John will be powerful in spirit like
Elijah. He will make peace between fathers and their children. He will
bring back those who are not obeying God back to the right way of thinking.
He will make people ready for the coming of the Lord."
Compare that with the more familiar words of the New
International Version (NIV):"Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And
he will go before the Lord, in the spirit of Elijah, to turn the hearts of
the fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the
righteous - to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
One long sentence is broken up into four short clear
sentences. A word like "righteous" is explained. The confusing phrase
"turning the hearts of fathers to their children," becomes "He will make
peace between fathers and their children."
Compare the NIV's opening words of Mary's Magnificat:
"My soul glorifies the Lord/and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the
humble state of his
ICB: "My soul praises the Lord; my heart is happy
because God is my Savior./ I am not important, but God has shown/ his care
for me, his servant girl."
A little picture box of Hermie comments on the night an
angel announced the birth of
Jesus to shepherds: "An ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary
shepherds. And if it weren't for a God who likes to put a little extra on
top of the ordinary, that might have gone unnoticed.
"But God dances even in the common moments. And that
night he really danced.
"The black sky lit up with the glory of God. The night
was ordinary no more. "The angel came in the night because that is when the
lights are best seen, and that is when they are most needed. God comes into
our common lives for the same reason. His most powerful tools are the
Next to Luke 5:16 about Jesus slipping away "to be
alone so that he could pray," Hermie asks, "How long has it been since you
got alone with God and listened to his
voice? ...Let me ask you a simple question. If Jesus, the Son of God, the
perfect Savior of our lives, thought it important to get alone and pray,
wouldn't you be wise to do the same?"
There is no better Christmas gift for a child.
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