Tag: phil vischer

What’s in the Bible? (Videos) | JellyTelly

Vischer

The weather isn’t cool, but it will be soon. And when it is, we plan to watch this series for the third (or possibly fourth?) time. This post originally appeared on this blog in October 2014, and we still love this show as much as we did then.

We have discovered some new favorites on JellyTelly since I first shared this post (The Nature of God, Stevie’s Trek to the Holy Land, Friends & Heroes—to name a few), but What’s in the Bible? remains one of our family’s All-Time Favorite Shows. I hope you love it, too!


Way back in this blog’s beginning posts, I wrote a bit about What’s in the Bible? I told you that it was awesome and that you should watch it, but that was over a year ago and now it’s a cozy sort of season when movies and fleece blankets are in high demand, so I thought I’d give the series its very own post—even though it’s not a book, but a show about the book.

What’s in the Bible? is a series of 26 episodes that works its way through the entire Bible, but probably not in the way you’re thinking. Yes, it tells the creation story and shares a stellar retelling of the Book of Ruth, but the overall focus of the series is less on the celebrated stories of the Bible and more on the great, overarching story of the Bible. What is actually in the Bible? Why does it matter to us? What’s in the Bible? strives to answer those questions with creativity and sincerity (a great combination when dealing with anyone, little or big). The mind behind it all belongs to Phil Vischer, of JellyTelly (and formerly of VeggieTales). He briefly explains the vision of What’s in the Bible? here:

As you may remember from my post about his book, Sidney and Norman, I think very, very highly of Mr. Vischer. He appears on the show as a sort of anchor for an eclectic cast of puppets (which features, among other things, a Sunday school teacher, a news anchor, and a pirate), where he doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, but speaks to kids as though they can and should understand what the Bible says about tricky topics like sin, salvation, and theological doctrine. Take the show’s explanation of the Trinity, for example:

 

Our daughters love these videos. My husband and I love them, too, and through the show’s vivid illustrations we have both learned a lot about key aspects of the Bible. The episodes that touched on Paul’s back story or the silence between the Testaments switched lights on for both of us, and now our daughters tend to do things like, oh, list the books of the Bible in order just for fun. The show is full of catchy songs (a song about the Pentateuch—sung on a riverboat!) and great topical segments (A Pirate’s Guide to Church History!) that go far beyond the traditional fare of Christian children’s programming.

Take this song about the book of Judges (yes, Judges):

Oh, okay, and our favorite song about Leviticus (yes, Leviticus):

 Now, where you can you find this excellent series? If you live in our area, you can request copies of the DVDs at the public library, but by far the easiest way to watch them is to subscribe to JellyTelly. The monthly fee is cheap and grants you access to all 26 episodes of What’s in the Bible? as well as a variety of other shows and games that our family has yet to explore. (Do I sound like an infomerical? Don’t worry, this is not a sponsored post—none of my posts are—so it’s simply my enthusiasm for this show that you hear taking on a cheesy radio-announcer persona.)

JellyTelly’s mission is “be a tool to help raise the next generation of Christians so they know what they believe and know how to live it and to help launch the next generation of Christian storytellers.” I love that vision and see it succeeding marvelously through What’s in the Bible? 


What’s in the Bible? (DVD series)
Jelly Telly

5 Great Books on Theology for Kids

One of the great things about reading robust theological books to my kids is that I get to learn theology along with them. Concepts that seem vast and incomprehensible transform, in the hands of the right author, into something simple, accessible, and yet still mysterious when I read them in a picture book for my daughters.

The Trinity, the theology of the Church, who Jesus is and what he came to do—these are topics that learned theologians spend volumes on, and yet a skillful children’s author can distill them down to their essence in a way that swells this tired mother’s heart to worship even as I rush through the readings and send my kids off to bed. The very best authors distill them but don’t scrub them too clean: they leave the hard questions in, don’t over-handle the mysteries, and avoid the pitfall of making theology “cute.”

5 Great Books on Theology for Kids | Little Book, Big Story

We’ve accumulated a library of books like this, but I thought I’d share a few of my very favorites, the ones that have helped form my own understanding of God and that press me into the works of those learned theologians because I want to know more. But they don’t leave my daughters behind: they whet all of our appetites for more of God, for a better understanding of what he’s done.

3 IN 1, by Joanna Marxhausen

3 in 1: A Picture of God, by Joanna Marxhausen | Little Book, Big Story

This simply illustrated book captures the wonder of the Trinity while explaining it clearly and concisely. Not only that, but it delves into the Gospel as well, giving a picture of the different roles God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit play in our salvation. That is a lot to tackle in a picture book, but Joanna Marxhausen does it gracefully. (Read the full review.)

THE BOY AND THE OCEANby Max Lucado

The Boy and the Ocean, by Max Lucado | Little Book, Big Story

A young boy and his parents discuss the attributes of God while pondering the world around them. This is a beautiful, meditative look at what creation can tell us about God, and the illustrations are some of my favorites in any book anywhere. (Read the full review.)

THE OLOGY, by Marty Machowski

A systematic theology for children? Yes, please! Introducing The Ology, by Marty Machowski | Little Book, Big Story

We recently finished reading The Ology with our girls, and I cannot say enough about how much I love it. Marty Machowski’s systematic theology for children is deep, rich, nourishing—a true feast for readers big and small. He takes immense concepts—the holiness of God, the theology of the end times—and pares them down to the essentials, pulling in metaphors that clicked for our children and for us.

Machowski illuminated verses that I had fought with for years in such a way that I had absolute peace with them when we finished his three-paragraph interpretation, and our daughters asked excellent questions as we read. I’m looking forward to rereading this one again and again as our family grows. (Read the full review.)

WHAT IS THE CHURCH?by Mandy Groce and Bill Bell

What is the Church? | Little Book, Big Story

This is a simple book written in rhyme, but it encourages young readers to see the church not as a building but as a collection of people—not a where, but a who. I loved sharing this little book with my daughters and talking about why we go to church and why our involvement in it doesn’t end begin and end on Sunday mornings. (Read the full review.)

See also: What is the Gospel?, by Mandy Groce

DOES GOD KNOW HOW TO TIE SHOES?by Nancy White Carlstrom

Does God Know How to Tie Shoes? | Little Book, Big Story

This book walks through a young girl’s questions about God in a way that many young readers will connect with. She wants to know the sort of things most four year olds want to know: Does God have to clean his room? Is God sad when he doesn’t get mail? Her parents answer thoughtfully from the Psalms and create a dialogue both charming and deep. (Read the full review.)

Plus:

WHAT’S IN THE BIBLE?

What's in the Bible? DVD series | Little Book, Big Story

Okay, this isn’t technically a book. But the DVD series What’s in the Bible? has been one of our favorite ways of introducing our children to the whole of Scripture, and my husband and I have learned a lot about the Bible while watching it with our kids (in fact, he quoted it to me the other day in conversation). Created by Phil Vischer, one of the original minds behind VeggieTales, What’s in the Bible? brings a creative eye and childlike joy to this study of what is, in fact, in the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation. (For more on where to watch it, read the full review.)

QUESTIONS WITH ANSWERSby Songs for Saplings

Questions With Answers, by Dana Dirksen: music and theology for families | Little Book, Big Story

This isn’t a book either. But songwriter Dana Dirksen adapted the Westminster Shorter Catechism and put it to music so that kids can take theology to heart while stuck in a car seat or having a really great dance party. These CDs are among our very favorites. You can download them all for free or very cheap here. (Read the full review.)

See also: Songs for Saplings’ Family Journal

47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea | Phil Vischer

Phoebe pulled this book off the shelf the other day and slammed it down in my lap. Then she climbed up on the couch beside me, folded her hands, and waited. That girl knows how to get things done.

47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea, by Phil Vischer | Little Book, Big Story

And so we read 47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea. I had almost forgotten about this book, purchased when our seven year old was Phoebe’s size and read many, many times since then. Reading it to Phoebe reminded me of why I love Phil Vischer: though it doesn’t have the theological depth of Sidney and Norman or What’s in the Bible?, this book is hilarious, fun to read, and held together by a message that my daughters need to hear every so often: things work better when we work together.

47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea, by Phil Vischer | Little Book, Big Story

Jared Chapman’s illustrations make the whole thing feel like an old cartoon—Rocky & Bullwinkle, perhaps?—and add to the slapstick feel of the book’s comedy. And rediscovering this story reminds me that it’s good for a home library to have a wide range of books: sometimes, you need a long, thought-provoking story. And sometimes you need to read about forty-seven beavers at sea—with a shark.


47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea
Phil Vischer, Jared Chapman (2012)

Sidney and Norman | Phil Vischer

It’s summer vacation! I’m taking the last month of the summer off, so I’m going to pull out a few posts from this blog’s early days, gussy them up, and share them with you (think of them as “summer reruns”). I hope you find some new titles among our old favorites! May your final weeks of summer be sprinkled with impromptu picnics, fresh tomatoes, and a healthy dose of Vitamin D.

Today’s post originally appeared on April 19, 2013.


Are you familiar with Phil Vischer? In the unlikely event that you’re not (as one of the original creators of VeggieTales, his work is hard to miss), I’d like to take a moment to explain to you why I hold him in such high regard.

In a time when many Christian artists simply knock off secular stuff and fill it with Christianese, Phil Vischer provides—through JellyTelly, What’s in the Bible?, and his children’s books—something new, wildly creative, and smart.

Have you seen What’s in the Bible? No? Go watch an episode now. I’ll wait.

You’ll notice that the writers of What’s in the Bible? don’t talk down to kids, but work steadily through the entire Bible, as though they think the Bible is something that kids can and should know from start to finish. They do not shy away from tricky questions like, “Why did  the Israelites have to kill everyone in Canaan?” but instead answer them with honesty, delicacy, and humor (where appropriate, of course), an approach which appeals to children, yes, but also to adults. My husband and I simply love watching this show with our daughters. (We cannot say the same of Dora the Explorer.)

So, Phil Vischer tackles projects that are high-quality, ambitious and uniquely Christian. In doing so, he connects with kids in a gracious, respectful way. Which brings me, at last, to Sidney & Norman.

Sidney and Norman | Little Book, Big Story

Sidney and Norman were two pigs, but they didn’t “oink or eat slop—no, this isn’t that kind of story. They wore suit coats and went to work.” So begins the tale of two pigs who live next door to each other, but who live very different lives. Norman is organized, punctual, and well-dressed, an award-winning sort of pig. Sidney, on the other hand, just cannot seem to get his act together, no matter how hard he tries, and he suspects that all the world—Norman included—must look down on him for his rumpled tie and clumsy manner.

But when both pigs are summoned for a meeting with God (at 77 Elm Street), they find that God views them both through a very different lens.

Sidney and Norman delivers a profound message, one that lies at the heart of gospel, and one that all of us—Sidneys and Normans alike—need to be reminded of often: God doesn’t love us because we are good. He loves us because we are his.

Expect interesting conversations to flow from a reading of this book. Expect to read it again and again. And expect to find yourself looking around for another book by Phil Vischer.

One last thing

If you’d like to learn more about Mr. Vischer, I recommend his autobiography, Me, Myself & Bob. I like to know a bit about the authors behind my favorite books, especially when I’m reading them to my children, and hearing Vischer’s story really changed my perception of VeggieTales, as well as Vischer himself. (And it introduced me to JellyTelly, which was, in the end, a very good thing.)


Sidney and Norman
Phil Vischer, Justin Gerard (2012)