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April 4, 2007
Column #1,336
Advance for April 7, 2007
The Perfect Easter Gift

Easter is not usually a time to give gifts but a time to enjoy an inspirational service and  have relatives over for a joyous dinner.

However, this Easter I have a gift to give our grandchildren, Jack, 6, and his sister, Olivia, 3.  She's a bit young, but I plan to give them a favorite book, Max Lucado's "Hermie & Friends Bible." It is the International Children's Bible (ICB), the first translation written in third grade English so that a child can understand it.

It is the best volume to introduce a child to the immense story of God sending his son, Jesus, to die for us and how to apply the truths of his word to his or her daily life. 

Each book of the Bible opens with a brief letter from Max, a prolific Christian author. He is a wise father who knows how to put the child into the story. About Luke, Max asks, "Can you imagine Luke in the home of the mother of Jesus? `Mary, tell me what happened when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Start at the beginning.'"

It features Hermie, a cartoon caterpillar who asks questions we all have asked, "Why does God sometimes make us wait for an answer to prayer? Why does the sick person you prayed for not get better as you pray? I don't know. I only know God's timing is always right. I can only say he will do what is best...Though you hear no answer, God is speaking. With God there are no accidents. Trust him."

How would you explain sin to a child? Or what does Jesus means when he says, "If you continue to obey my teaching, you are truly my followers. Then you will know the truth and the truth will make you free...I tell you the truth. Everyone who lives in sin is a slave to sin."

First, note that this ICB translation uses the simpler word "follower" for "disciple."

Second, Hermie, speaks in a little green box, "Think of it this way. Sin put you in prison. Sin locked you behind the bars of guilt and shame and fear. Then Jesus came and paid your bail. He served your time. He took care of the penalty and set you free."

Another feature of the Bible is that key verses are written in green.  Why?  They are worth memorizing, to put God's truth inside your child's mind.

Max puts it more simply, "God's word is full of wisdom that can help you handle any situation. All you need to do is learn it...The more you know, and the more you `hide it in your heart' the better prepared you'll be for life." 

Here are two green verses from Proverbs with chapter and verse, so you can compare its simplicity with your Bible.

"Pride will destroy a person. A proud attitude will lead to ruin." (16:18)

"A friend loves you all the time. A brother is always there to help you." (17:17)

How would you describe guilt or suffering to a child?  Or heaven?  These are profound topics that require a more extended explanation.  So Hermie has a series of "Color Prayer Pages."

To explain heaven, Hermie tells the story of a 1989 earthquake that killed 30,000 people in Armenia. A father raced to a school to save his son, but found only a pile of stones. "Then he remembered a promise he had made to his child, `No matter what happens, I'll always be there for you."

He began pulling back the stones.  Other parents arrived, screaming, "It's too late. They're dead. You can't help."

But the father refused to give up.  For eight hours, then 16 and 32 hours, he searched for his son. "His hands were bloody, raw and he was exhausted, but he refused to quit. Finally, after 38 hours, he pulled back a big rock and heard his son's voice. He called his son's name, "Arman, Arman."

The boy answered him, "Dad, it's me!" Then he added these priceless words, "I told the other kids not to worry. I told them if you were alive, you would save me. And when you saved me, they'd be saved too. Because you promised, "No matter what, I'll always be there for you."

"Jesus made an amazing promise, "I will come back. Then I will take you to be with me." (John 14:3).  The rocks will tumble in on our lives. However, there is no need to fear.  "Because of his resurrection from the dead, death is no longer the end for us. It is the beginning. And someday, Jesus will come back for us!"


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