CBP: What age groups do you think will benefit the most by reading The Gospel Story Bible?
Marty: The Gospel Story Bible was written for parents to read to their children. Children as young as two-years-old will enjoy listing to the stories and children as old as 5th grade still enjoy hearing a story read to them. Rather than produce an early reader Bible that children can learn to read through, we wanted to preserve the more sophisticated details in the stories. As a result, older children can benefit from The Gospel Story Bible too!
The last paragraph of each story is a short commentary on the story, helping the reader connect the story to Godís larger plan of redemption. So, even teens can learn a basic biblical theology by reading through The Gospel Story Bible.
CBP: How can parents, teachers and pastors utilize these stories to transform the hearts of their children?
Marty: The Gospel Story Bible works in conjunction with the Gospel Story Curriculum and the companion devotional, Long Story Short. Pastors can equip every childrenís ministry classroom with a copy of The Gospel Story Bible and encourage their parents to use it to follow up on the Gospel Story Curriculum at home during the week.
Parents whose children may be too young to use the Long Story Short devotional program can follow up with their younger children by using The Gospel Story Bible. Both these resources stand alone. So that even if your church is not currently using the Gospel Story Curriculum, you can still use The Gospel Story Bible and Long Story Short for your family devotions.
CBP: How can readers learn to recognize Jesus as the hero of their own personal stories, no matter how mundane or ordinary?
Marty: Everyone, both young and old, needs the salvation that only Jesus can provide. We are all lost in our sin like the Israelites. We all need a Savior. Reading through The Gospel Story Bible helps you to recognize and understand how the Gospel is interwoven through the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Knowing the scope of Godís plan of redemption helps you see how your life connects to that plan as well.
CBP: In what ways does the Old Testament point forward to Godís story of salvation through Jesus Christ?
Marty: Every Old Testament Story is pointing forward to Godís plan of redemption in some way. From God sacrificing an animal to make clothes to cover Adam and Eve, through the last prophecy of a coming redeemer, each story points us to Jesus.
Too often these same Bible stories are moralized. So many children grew up thinking the story of David and Goliath, for example, is in the Bible to help us conquer the giants in our own lives. But really that is not why God put that story in the Bible. David steps in as a deliverer when all of Israel sinfully refused to do what God called them to do, fight the Philistines.
David accepts Goliathís challenge and so becomes Israelís representative head to fight Goliath. If David wins, all of Israel wins, and the Philistines become their slaves. In that role David is a picture of Jesus who came as our representative head to deliver us from our enemies, sin and death. Jesus came in the family line of David and Jesus came as a king in the royal line of King David. The story of David and Goliath is meant to point us to Godís future plan to send a Davidic King to deliver us from our great enemies.
Every lamb sacrificed points us to Jesus, the Lamb of God, who died on the cross for our sins. Every deliverer points us to Jesus our Savior. Every undeserved blessing toward Israel points to the grace of God in bringing us a salvation we donít deserve.
CBP: What plans are in the works for developing The Gospel Story Bible into a Sunday school curriculum?
Marty: The Gospel Story Old Testament Curriculum will be out January 2012 and every one of the 78 lessons match the 78 stories in the first half of The Gospel Story Bible. In addition, Long Story Short, the companion family devotional, provides five days of devotions for each lesson in the curriculum and story in The Gospel Story Bible.
The program is designed to help churches and parents partner in passing on the gospel to the next generation. Families review the lessons taught on Sunday. And, since each child learns the same story on any given Sunday, they are all prepared to participate when mom or dad cover the same material at home in greater depth.
CBP: How important are the colorful illustrations in drawing children to read the stories?
Marty: Ann Macha has done a fabulous job in concert with the art direction of the New Growth Press team. The Gospel Story Bible has the most colorful illustrations I have ever seen in any childrenís book period! Children are drawn to the illustrations. Parents reading The Gospel Story Bible to their children can expect children to stay focused on the page because the illustrations draw their eye.
In addition to the illustrations each story has a ďLetís talk about itĒ section which gives parents three questions they can ask their children for every story. These questions turn the Gospel Story Bible into a family devotional tool.