Tag: theology (page 1 of 5)

A Visual Theology Guide to the Bible

Just as I don’t know what I think until I write it down or say it out loud, I often don’t truly grasp an idea until I see it spread out in front of me. And so I love resources, like Tim Challies’s A Visual Theology Guide to the Bible, that deepen our family’s understanding of Scripture by allowing us to explore the themes and structure of Scripture in a visual way.

This book is meant as an introduction to the big picture of the Bible—how all 66 books fit together, for example, or how the Old Testament relates with the new, and so much more. The book isn’t all graphics, but it does contain a lot of graphics, and each one explores some aspect of Scripture in a way that helps readers envision key elements of our faith. Some, like the intricate image interweaving Old Testament prophecies with the stories of Jesus fulfilling each one, are so beautiful they elicit a sense of awe. Others are clean and simple, and illustrate the truths of the faith with the foam skimmed off so we can see into its depths more clearly.

Though this book isn’t specifically intended for families, my teen daughters read and enjoyed it, and I could see it serving as a great devotional resource for families with older children (or homeschooling families! This would be a great spine for a Bible curriculum). Or read A Visual Theology Guide to the Bible for yourself and allow it to deepen your own understanding of the Bible’s beauty, complexity, and simplicity.


A Visual Theology Guide to the Bible: Seeing and Knowing God’s Word
Tim Challies; Josh Byers (2019)

Theology is Awesome (Videos)

Our theology influences every part of our lives, and yet so many theology resources are fairly abstract—they’re hard to decipher, and tough for kids to decode. We adults can leap a little more nimbly from one abstract concept to another, so applying theology—what we believe about God—to a dicey situation at work may come more easily to us. It isn’t easy, of course, but we’ve had more practice. Our brains can handle a little abstract thinking.

But when our kids are campaigning for a last-minute drink of water before bed, or testing for a yellow belt, or squabbling with each other—what does theology have to say to that? The other day my daughter was wrestling with some unsavory feelings toward her sister, and I found myself rambling about, you know, God’s love and maybe the cross? And my words shot past her like so many misaimed arrows.

In that moment, she needed me to be concrete. She needed to hear examples she recognized, from the world she sees around her. My fluffy abstract nouns like “love” and “forgiveness” gave her nothing to hold onto and turn over in her hands. She needed me to sit down next to her and point to something she could study and say, “There. It looks like that.”

Theology is Awesome (Videos) | Little Book, Big Story

The videos produced by Theology is Awesome do exactly that: Kate and Brannon take tricky concepts and big questions and explain them in a way that gives viewers something to see and something to take with them. They frame some of the big questions we all ask about God and the world, from “Does theology matter?” to “Why is theology so boring?”, in creative ways that make even the most abstract-thinking of us take notice. They bring energy (and such a sense of humor!) to subjects that could have been flat and colorless. You’ll finish each video wishing you knew them personally (which—full disclosure—we do! They’re good friends of ours, and, yes, they really are that delightful).

So, where should you start watching? They have some delightful introductory videos, but I recommend jumping into the deep end with “How to Teach Theology to Kids.” It’ll make you laugh, and it’ll prepare you to pause mid-soup-stir to answer your child’s question about Pharaoh’s hard heart (yikes).


Theology is Awesome (video resource)
YouTube | Facebook

Also worth visiting: the Ellises’s business Credibility. They’re legit!

The Gospel in Color

We had talked to our daughters off and on about racism—here and there as we came across it in books, mostly—but we could discuss it only to a certain depth, being white parents in a predominantly white city. But as the national discussion about race and racism grew louder and more urgent this spring, I was confronted by how little I actually understood about the issue. My own little lessons about it began to seem too shallow, too theoretical.

And so I was grateful for this book, The Gospel in Color. Racism is not theoretical to authors Curtis A. Woods and Jarvis J. Williams, but neither is the gospel: at the heart of this book, it shines bright, a clear reminder that things are not what they are meant to be, but that God is working out his plan of salvation for all races and all peoples.

The Gospel in Color, by Curtis A. Wood & Jarvis Williams | Little Book, Big Story

The Gospel in Color comes in two editions—one for parents, and one for kids. Both are beautifully illustrated by Rommel Ruiz (Golly’s Folly; Why Do We Say Goodnight?), and full of biblical, practical wisdom. The parent edition contains more in-depth information; the kids’ edition is written directly to younger readers.

The Gospel in Color, by Curtis A. Wood & Jarvis Williams | Little Book, Big Story

In both books, the authors share ways that their families have personally experienced racism, as well as some of the history of thought that has led to the idea that one race is somehow superior to others. But Woods and Williams handle this graciously: they don’t villainize anyone, and they don’t gloss over any hard truths either. Instead, they hold the gospel up to the issue of racism and allow it to reveal racism for the sin it is while simultaneously reminding us that grace is available to us for all sin, and that God is always at work, restoring our world.

The Gospel in Color, by Curtis A. Wood & Jarvis Williams | Little Book, Big Story

I know that there are a lot of perspectives on race, even within the church. I know that there will likely be things in this book that may not sit well with all readers. But I know, too, that the gospel is the one thing that unifies all Christians—it is the grace of God that unites us into a family and holds us together—and it is that gospel that Woods and Williams proclaim. Grace for all. Freedom for all in Christ.

After this, I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9–10)


The Gospel in Color: A Theology of Racial Reconciliation for Families
Curtis A. Woods, Jarvis J. Williams; Rommel Ruiz (2018)

What’s in the Bible? (Videos)

Vischer

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.

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

The Boy & the Ocean

Here is my thesis for this post: The Boy and the Ocean is beautiful. I loved it. The writing is rhythmic, the illustrations uncommonly gorgeous, the story endearing, and the whole thing describes the love of God in a way that appeals to my daughters—and to me.

The Boy and the Ocean follows an unnamed boy as he vacations near the sea with his parents. The story appears in three parts, as he explores the ocean, the mountains, and then studies the night sky with his parents, and reflects on how the ocean, mountains, and sky, like God’s love, are endless and unchanging.

This book is a little like Does God Know How to Tie Shoes?, a little like Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God, the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” And the illustrations are . . . oh, how to describe them? Like the sort of thing I think about before falling asleep—but that doesn’t exactly help you, does it? Suffice it to say, they are stunning, absolutely stunning:

The Boy and the Ocean | Little Book, Big Story

The color blue that T. Lively Fluharty uses throughout the book is one of my very favorites (a small detail, but one worth noting).

The Boy and the Ocean | Little Book, Big Story

The Boy and the Ocean was well received by both our six-year-old and our (newly) four-year-old—it was her birthday gift, and it is a story that draws our eyes up past the beautiful illustrations, the lovely writing, to the maker of oceans and mountains and authors and artists.


The Boy and the Ocean
Max Lucado, T. Lively Fluharty (2013)