Tag: bible study (page 1 of 1)

Draw Near

One of the habits I took up during the pandemic was bullet journaling. This was a weird choice, given the fact that I had so little to put on my schedule at the time that my bullet journal was more of an art project than a planner, but the habit took root and grew. So I was delighted to come across Sophie Killingley’s Draw Near, which is sort of a pre-formatted bullet journal meant to help the reader form and deepen those daily habits of grace: Scripture-reading and prayer.

These habits can be hard to teach to kids. I admit: I’ve held back a little, because I’ve been afraid to make “time with God” another box to check in the morning. My natural bent is toward legalism, so I’ve worried that I’d inadvertently make these disciplines into burdens for my daughters. But when I look back at my own life, I see a clear trend: putting myself in a chair at the table with an open Bible morning after morning? Doing this when times are easy has made it possible for me to keep doing it when times are hard. After years of building this habit, a day that doesn’t begin with the Lord feels off to me, like I rushed out the door without socks.

Draw Near, by Sophie Killingley | Little Book, Big Story

So lately I’ve been looking for resources that will help my daughters build this habit, and I’m trusting the Lord to reach their hearts, whatever my missteps. Now, my daughters are all very different, and what works for one won’t work for all of them. But for my twelve-year-old, this book has been gold: “it makes this fun,” she said, meaning Bible study. She even uses Draw Near to take notes during sermons and to write down brief prayers for each day. (At least, that’s what I assume she’s doing over there with her colored pencils.)

Draw Near, by Sophie Killingley | Little Book, Big Story
Draw Near, by Sophie Killingley | Little Book, Big Story

I’m so grateful for resources like Draw Near that invite us to grow in these habits of grace, that help us cultivate the discipline of regular time with the Lord even as they remind us to wonder at what a gift it is, meeting with him day after day.


Draw Near: Your Creative Spiritual Journal
Sophie Killingley (2022)


Disclosure: I did receive a copy of this book for review, but I was not obligated to review it or compensated for my review in any way. I share this book with you because I love it, not because I was paid to do so.

The Bible Project (Videos)

When our school year (like so many of yours) took a hairpin turn mid-March, I found I missed the little things most—those luxuries we hadn’t realized were luxuries. Watching the students file into morning chapel and sit down right next to each to other. All of us singing together, inhaling and exhaling one another’s saliva droplets, unaware that that was a privilege we could lose.

But just as I’ve loved seeing how God has transformed our losses into unanticipated gifts, I have loved seeing how our school transformed morning chapel into a little “chapel at home.” The at-home version is greatly simplified, yes. But during those last months of school, the girls and I gathered around the table each day, watched a video from The Bible Project, and then read a portion of Scripture together. Chapel wasn’t what it had been, of course, but it became something else for those last few months—a time to gather around the light of Scripture together and to remember who God is.

The Bible Project (Videos) | Little Book, Big Story

You’ve probably already watched a video from The Bible Project. They’ve been around for a while. Co-founders Tim Mackie and Jon Collins use their differing gifts to articulate some of the more abstract ideas in Scripture, both explaining the concept through each video’s narration and illustrating it through the video’s art.

I was most familiar with their videos summarizing specific books of the Bible, but they also make short videos about theological terms or concepts, or about the genres of Scripture—so many things. And the videos explain so clearly what role each book or idea has within the bigger story of the Bible. For all you visual learners (I’m one, too): you’ll love these. And for those of you wondering how much such a resource costs: they’re all free! (But, of course, you could always donate to the Bible Project.)

The Bible Project (Videos) | Little Book, Big Story

So, how could you use these with kids? If your pastor is preaching through a book of the Bible, you could watch the corresponding Bible Project video to give your family a big-picture view of your pastor’s week-by-week preaching. Or you could pick a specific theme, like “The Covenants” or “The Holy Spirit,” and dig into that with your kids. Or you could browse through their library and see what strikes your fancy. I highly recommend the series “How to Read the Bible.” We started watching it during the last weeks of the school year, and our girls loved it so much they insisted we keep watching through the summer.

The Bible Project (Videos) | Little Book, Big Story

One note, though: I do encourage you to pre-watch these videos before sharing them with sensitive or young children. I haven’t seen anything in them that is inappropriate for adults, or even older children, but the Bible can be gruesome and disturbing at times, and in the interest of staying faithful to the text, the Bible Project doesn’t shy away from that. Your kid may not be ready for some of the videos quite yet.

But hey, even if that is the case, you can still enjoy them! And I really think you will.

The Bible Project (Videos) | Little Book, Big Story

The Bible Project (Video Resource)

Best News Ever

In 100 short readings, Best News Ever guides young readers through the book of Mark. This Bible study for kids features the elements I look for in studies for adults: it spends more time in Scripture itself than in extra teaching or discussion questions; it looks at Scripture in context; it looks at all of the passage, even the hard parts; and it doesn’t rush to the question “But what does this mean to me?

Best News Ever, by Chris Morphew | Little Book, Big Story

Best News Ever is written for kids aged 9-12, but I could see a number of ways you could use it: as a family devotional, as a youth group study, or as a personal devotional for kids. I could even see reading it as a new believer, because Chris Morphew does a great job of linking the book of Mark to the rest of Scripture in a way I love now and would have loved as a new and slightly-bewildered-by-the-Bible Christian. Morphew’s tone throughout is friendly and honest, and he knows when to stand back and let Scripture speak and when to gently clarify a confusing passage.

Best News Ever, by Chris Morphew | Little Book, Big Story

Best News Ever provides helpful guidance and structure for readers, but its role is supportive: Scripture takes the lead here, and the devotions don’t steal the show.


Best News Ever
Chris Morphew (2019)


Disclosure: I did receive a copy of this book for review, but I was not obligated to review this book or compensated for my review in any way. I share this book with you because I love it, not because I was paid to do so.

Exploring the Bible

Within one week of starting this reading plan with the girls, I wanted to review it for you. “Look!” I wanted to cry. “We found it! The One!” Our relationship with family devotionals has been tumultuous, and after my recent revelation that we had only made it four days into our last attempt, I had the sort of clarity one has when, while trying to eat raw onions on a sandwich, one realizes that one is an adult who neither likes nor has to eat raw onions.

Family devotionals aren’t working for us, I realized. And they don’t have to. We want to study God’s Word with our daughters; we want them to love it, to see the beauty and the bottomlessness of it, and we want to them to love the One who wrote it. We need to find another way, I prayed. What does this look like for us?

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids, by David Murray (review) | Little Book, Big Story

And then, behold! I ordered Exploring the Bible as a Christmas gift for Lydia, thinking it would be nice for her. But when I received it and flipped through its pages and began to see what it was about, I paused. I considered. I ordered two more copies. Lydia, Sarah, and I started working through it together and discussing it as part of our morning routine (while Phoebe colored Slugs & Bugs coloring pages and pondered the meaning of “atonement”).

A week later, Mitch asked me to get him a copy, too, and now we’re all studying through the Bible together, and it is glorious. I was ready to review it right then but I refrained, thinking it would be better if we were farther in, had given it time to stick, and could be sure that Exploring the Bible was as awesome months later as it was at the start.

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids, by David Murray (review) | Little Book, Big Story

Months later: it is still awesome.

Here is what Exploring the Bible is:

It is a reading plan for kids. In one year, it takes readers through the entire story of the Bible by hopscotching from key passage to key passage. The point is not to read the entire Bible in a year, but to follow God’s Big Story through it in a series of short but central passages.

Here is how it works:

David Murray arranged the readings in a series of week-long expeditions: one week we spend with Noah, reviewing the big picture of his story within the context of the rest of Scripture, then the next week we spend with Abraham. Murray helps us find a focus for the week but is otherwise pretty hands-off. No guided discussions here, no personal application. I’m glad for that.

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids, by David Murray (review) | Little Book, Big Story

Here is how it works for us:

Each day, our reading is about five verses long. Lydia, Mitch, and I do ours independently in the morning; Sarah does hers during our discussion. Later in the morning, the girls and I read the passage, then I ask one of the girls to narrate it back to me. Together we answer the one simple question in the workbook, and then we either stop there or we let discussion blossom however it likes. I love the questions in this book, because they point us back to the text: Murray doesn’t ask us to extrapolate on the text or draw out morals, but asks us instead to look back at a key verse and see what really happened.

“What did God say to Abraham?”

“How does Moses describe God?”

“Where was the sacrifice to be placed?”

They direct us back to the text itself, not to our own thoughts on it, and I love that. Our own thoughts bubble up naturally as we discuss the passage, but I am glad the questions anchor our discussion in what Scripture really said, not just in how we respond to it.

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids, by David Murray (review) | Little Book, Big Story

So, most days offer those simple questions with the readings. Sometimes, there is a “Snapshot Verse” that Murray encourages us to copy out in the book and to memorize. The Sunday readings contain one of my favorite features: rather than doing an individual reading, we do what Murray calls “Exploring with Others.” First, we pause for a moment and look back on what we read that week; we answer a simple question about it. Then we have space for sermon notes that we all four work on during our pastor’s sermon. (This has been both enlightening and highly entertaining.)

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids, by David Murray (review) | Little Book, Big Story

Also: Scotty Reifsnyder’s illustrations have this great retro feel that has spurred interesting discussion as well. And the book itself—both its design and its actual composition—is a pleasure to use. It feels so nice to hold it and turn the pages.

In Conclusion

Taking a year to trace the big story of Scripture through Old Testament and New has already begun to bear fruit in us as well as in the girls. We can pick out the main themes of each book more clearly; we have already spotted connections from one story to the next that we might have missed if we’d spent weeks on each story rather than days.

Do our kids still fidget and complain when it’s time to read Scripture? Yes. But Exploring the Bible is like a set of training wheels for the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Scripture reading, and watching our girls gain their balance and become more confident as they read the Bible has been delightful. I am already a little sad that Exploring the Bible won’t go on forever, but I am also excited to see what we learn from this experience and how that shapes our future family reading.


Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids
David Murray; Scotty Reifsnyder (2017)

Long Story Short

Our family started reading this book when our oldest two daughters were small. We loved everything about it: the short Bible studies, the chronological walk through Scripture, the way each story points to Jesus.

What we didn’t love was trying to discuss these stories with a four year old while trying to intercept the two-year-old’s plate before it hit the floor. After a few months of failing to convince reality to conform to our vision of happy dinnertime devotions, we shelved Long Story Short and went back to reading The Jesus Storybook Bible at bedtime, when everyone was pajamaed and cuddled up with a quieting cup of milk.

Long Story Short, by Marty Machowski | Little Book, Big Story

But this year, I came across Long Story Short while gathering books for our home school year and decided to give it another try. We still have a two year old (just a different one), but we also have an eight year old and a six year old, so I tucked this book into our reading basket in the hope that maybe, just maybe, we might be ready for it.

The first few weeks of the school year were studded with tantrums and protests about reading the Bible, yes, but also about wearing shoes, eating snacks and everything else under the sun (I don’t know what the first few weeks of school are like at your house, but at our house, they are rough).

Long Story Short, by Marty Machowski | Little Book, Big Story

Eventually we settled into a routine. And Long Story Short has been a beautiful part of that routine: the way our older girls see the world has already made from some rich and rewarding discussion, and because we read on the living room floor now, where puzzles and blocks occupy the toddler, it’s actually gone pretty smoothly so far.

Long Story Short is meant to be read five days a week, for about ten minutes a day. Each week has a focus passage, but on any given day, Machowski may send us off into other corners of Scripture to read passages that point the week’s story back to Jesus.

Long Story Short, by Marty Machowski | Little Book, Big Story

The book takes us through Scripture chronologically, but it also treats the Bible as a whole, with themes that spread across books and bring Jesus back to the forefront of the story again and again. Reading Scripture this way makes it hard to believe that God’s Word exists to comfort or serve us; it reminds us rather that the Bible exists to help us know the One who is our comfort and strength.

When the toddler melts down and another child goes limp at the mere thought of doing schoolwork and the teapot is empty, I’m so glad that Scripture isn’t full of beautiful but empty verses that remind me to buck up and do better. I’m thankful, rather, that they tell me that I am not enough—but that the one who is enough has adopted us as his children. That is news worth sharing with my daughters.


Long Story Short
Marty Machowski (2010)