Thursday, June 26, 2014

Children's Bible Review: Deep Blue Kid's Bible

I love my Bible.  I take it with me everywhere I go.  Since I'm a children's pastor one of my goals is to transfer my love for the Bible to the kids around me.  As I'm about to hit my three year mark I've learned a lot about kids and about kid's Bibles.  Believe it or not, not all kid's Bibles are created equally.  This post will review the Deep Blue Kid's Bible.

INTENDED AGE RANGE:  The Deep Blue Kid's Bible is intended for kids in the 7-12 year old range.  However, as parents, you should definitely consider your child's individuality when choosing a Bible.  Some 6yr olds are reading on a higher level than some 9yr olds.

TRANSLATION:  The Deep Blue Kid's Bible is in the CEB (Common English Bible) translation.  "What difference does translation even make," you might ask.  It makes a BIG difference in your child's ability to relate and interact with the Word of God.  Most parents purchase a translation that they use or are most familiar with...mainly the NIV.  The NIV is a sturdy translation and you, as the parent, might think it's the best translation out there.  However, I feel it's important to remember that you're purchasing for your child and not for you.
So what's the difference?  Here's three different translation comparisons from the book of Isaiah.

       THE ESV:  "The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation" Isaiah 59:15b-16

       THE NIV:  "The LORD looked and was displeased that there no justice.  He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him and his own righteousness sustained him." Isaiah 59:15b-16

        THE CEB:  The LORD looked and was upset at the absence of justice.  Seeing that there was no one, and astonished that no one would intervene, God's arm brought victory, upheld by righteousness."  Isaiah 59:15b-16

Which one sounds easier to read at age 7?  Definitely the third one!  The Prophets are one of the hardest sections of the Bible to read with kids.  Most adults don't understand prophecy!  But still, we can't ignore it just because children are young.  Therefore, we have to give them building blocks to grow.  The CEB version can be a building block for kids.

IN TEXT NOTES:  The Deep Blue Bible offers a host of notes throughout the text of the Bible.  The Bible is ocean themed so all in-text notes are ocean themed as well.  There are four categories:  Sailboat (notes that point out positive traits we can have in our lives), Umbrella (notes that offer help for difficult times), Lighthouse (notes that discuss the basics of following God for life) and Life Preserver (notes that answer tough questions and hard-to-understand sections of the Bible.

Not only that but other in-text features include "did you know?" that offer Bible trivia, Bible customs and practices; devotionals called God's Thoughts/My Thoughts; memory verses called Navigation points that point out key verses; and my personal favorite entitled "Bet you can!" which are reading challenges throughout the Bible such as the one in Joshua 4 "I bet you can read this section in 5 minutes. Ready? Set? GO!"

At the beginning of each book, there is an introduction page.  This page offers a brief overview of the book itself including people you'll meet and special memory verses but a favorite feature is the "places you'll go" sidebar which lists the cities mentioned in the text with their modern-day equivalent beside them in parenthesis.  Would a 9 year old know where the ancient city of Persia was?  No way. But they can look at a map and find Iran!

EXTRA RESOURCES:  Called "Exploration Tools" the Deep Blue Kids Bible also features a full dictionary (not just a concordance) of Biblical words like "abba", "anoint" "covenant" "pharisees", etc.  and 8 full-color maps from the National Geographic Society.

The Deep Blue Kids Bible has a variety of hard covers and leather covers.  It's also available for iPad.  You can purchase it and download more resources from their website:

Disclaimer:  I was in no way compensated by CEB or Deep Blue Kid's Bibles for this review.  I purchased my copy of the Deep Blue Kid's Bible for church use and reviewing purposes.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Trip to the Abortion Clinic

This morning I went to an abortion clinic. I grew up believing that I’d never be in a situation that would force me to visit this type of clinic.  So, a few months ago, when a wonderful friend of mine invited me to go with her once a month to pray for the women visiting the clinic I didn’t have a strong desire to go with her.  In fact, I turned her down for several months.  Don’t get me wrong I am pro-life.  I believe that children are a gift from God. I believe they are human beings from the moment they are conceived, no matter how they are conceived.  But like most human beings, I’m terribly selfish.  I had a million excuses of why I couldn’t go with my friend; it was too early (and I needed my sleep!); it’s too cold (I despise winter!); my friend was already going there and doing it (what did they need me for?); etc. etc. 

However, my excuses stopped when God gently reminded me that I am the children’s pastor.  If I am not the largest advocate for children in my circle of influence then who would be? If I say that I love children (and believe me, I do!) then how could I not get involved with the ministry trying to prevent the loss of children?  I agreed with the Lord’s gentle reminder and told my friend I’d be coming along this month. 

I know well the arguments for pro-choice; if a family isn’t financially able to bear the burden they shouldn’t; if a woman was raped why would she want a reminder of that every day?; if the baby is going to grow up un-cared for or physically/mentally handicapped why not spare it that pain?.  Rather than giving facts and figures as answers to these arguments, I’d rather just answer with this: there is hope.  A stream of women drove past me today while I stood on the corner praying and weeping.  I couldn’t help wonder what each lady’s circumstances were.  There were some driven by their father or their mother. Some were driven by their husband or boyfriend. And some simply drove in by themselves.   While we watched each woman enter the clinic, we didn’t shout condemnation or judgment but only, “You have a choice. We’d love to talk with you. We love you no matter what.”  Most ignored us; some became irate.  Out of the twenty women who walked in, we only witnessed one couple who changed their minds.  We celebrated with them. 

 You might be like me. You might believe that abortion is wrong. You might believe that anything with a beating heart is a live-being whether they happen to live inside a womb made just for them or outside the womb in a house.  You might believe that something should be done.  You might believe that the laws should be changed.  You might believe that if there were just somebody to intercept these women and tell them that there is hope, tell them they are loved, tell them that you will help them through a difficult season; that then the act of abortion may well be legal, but they just won’t be necessary anymore.  But like me, you might not have done anything about it, putting it off onto the actions of others. 

Why do I tell you all of this? Because children, born and un-born, matter!   Because after putting faces to the endless statistics I’ve read over the years, my perspective has changed.  Because I sat by for way too long with personal excuses for not getting involved and with judgment for those who thought their only choice was to visit an abortion clinic.  As Christians, we have to stand in the gap! We have to make ourselves available to those who are contemplating abortion or are post-abortion with a message of love and hope.  I’ve heard from many that the condemnation, shame, and guilt of post-abortion is what is hardest to live with.  Congress will never make the laws necessary to make this nation one that is Christian, especially on their own. It is up to us as individuals and as churches to step in where Congress and democracy fall short.  
Here are a few ideas for how to get involved wherever you are:

·         Get a group of friends together and go to your local abortion clinic to reach out to the women there peacefully and to pray.  Make sure to check your state’s laws about boundary lines and remember always preach hope in Jesus rather than hate.
·         Volunteer your time or donate your money to a pro-choice clinic. Women who are debating whether or not to have an abortion need warm, friendly people to sit and talk with.
·         If you’re blessed financially, consider donating to those who help counsel women on their choices regarding pregnancy and life. 
o   Go big with donations of diapers and general starter-baby supplies that most first time moms don’t have (cream, clothes, formula, bottles, etc)
·         If you have a friend who has had an abortion, talk with them and let them know that you love them. Most women hide this part of their lives, and the pain kills them inside almost daily.
·         Write to your congressmen and women.  Don’t wait for congress to change the laws to fit your religious beliefs. They won’t do it on their own. We do have a voice and we must unite! This is more important than getting Phil Robertson back on to his TV show!  

·         Comment and add your own ideas! The unborn children of the world thank you.