Bring Your Bible to School Day Means More Than You Think

by Sally Matheny

Students with Bibles

The effect of supporting “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” is greater than you think.

There are 195 independent countries in the world, plus approximately 60 dependent areas and five disputed territories.

According to Open Doors USA, the following countries are where Christians endure the most severe persecution for their faith:

 1.    North Korea
 2.    Iraq
 3.    Eritrea
 4.    Afghanistan
 5.    Syria
 6.    Pakistan
 7.    Somalia
 8.    Sudan
 9.    Iran
10.  Libya

Bibles in their native languages are banned in many of these countries. Persecution includes oppression, imprisonment, and death. While we sympathize, many of us choose to isolate ourselves from the terrors abroad. Those countries are far away from us.

Guess which country ranked #40 on the list of 195 for persecuting Christians?

Our next-door neighbor, Mexico. That totally surprised me.

We can visit Open Doors USA and Voice of the Martyrs for better understanding and to learn ways to help.

But, what does all that have to do with our country and Bring Your Bible to School Day?


A Little Note For Homeschool Families

A Book Review, a Challenge, & a Giveaway!

by Sally Matheny

Kids' Visual Study Bible
(photo courtesy of Zonderkidz)
The Book

Is there a visual learner in your family--someone who lingers over graphic charts and notices the fine details of an illustration? Some folks just prefer using their eyes more than their ears to learn. I know. I’m one of them.

That’s why I am delighted to review a children’s Bible published by Zonderkidz in 2017. The Kids’ NIV Visual Bible has many features your child will enjoy, whether he’s a visual learner or not. And it’s not just for kids. In fact, I’d say it’s best suited for ages 10-18ish. I’m well over eighteen and I find it captivating.

There are over 700 colorful photos, illustrations, maps and some very cool infographics. Plus, there are helpful notes in the sidebars.

Each book of the Bible is introduced with information about the author, the primary purpose of the book, whom it was written for, the key person of the book, where it took place and some of the key stories in the book.

I like the layout of one, wide column of text per page rather than the typical two-columns. I think kids might find that easier to read. It doesn’t state the size of the font but I’m guessing it’s a 10 point font, maybe an 8.

Located in the back of this nice, hardcover Bible are more helpful resources:

Table of Weights and Measures
Infographic Index
Maps Index
Additional Set of 12 Maps

Often times I like to share the books I’m given to review and offer them as giveaways to my blog readers. However, this book will be a great resource for the class of 5th-7th graders I teach each Sunday so I’m keeping this one.

Kids' Visual Study Bible infographic

But, I do have a challenge for you and I do have something to give away!

The Challenge

Some of you may have heard about “Bring Your Bible to School Day.” The event sponsored by Focus on the Family is on October 5th this year. 

Let's encourage children to carry their Bibles to school that day. Not as a cell phone app, not an e-book, but an actual Bible book as a testimony of their Christian faith. For many students, this will take an enormous amount of courage, so begin talking and praying about it with them now.

For Christian homeschool families, we are blessed beyond measure to speak and teach, using the Bible as our guide throughout our day. We bring our Bibles to school every day! So, I want to ask homeschool students to do something just as courageous as the public school students.

I’ve designated October 4th as “Give a Bible Away Day.” 

Give a Bible Away Day - Oct. 4


How to Talk to Kids about God’s Presence in the Midst of Natural Disasters

by Sally Matheny

Where is God?  (Pixabay photo)
As much as we try to protect them, most children will at some point, hear people talk about catastrophic, natural disasters when they occur. 

Many kids will watch coverage of the events on T.V. or see photos in other media. 

Some kids may worry about their own safety as well as the well-being of others. 

Natural disasters cause people to lose electricity, lose homes, and sometimes suffer the loss of a loved one. It’s normal to hear, “Where is God?”

So how can we, as Christian parents, share with our kids about God’s presence in the midst of natural disasters? Here are a few things to talk about.

The Earth’s Fallen State

In the beginning, everything God created was good. Because humankind chose to sin, the earth became cursed. It’s no longer a perfect place to live. (Genesis 3) Sometimes bad things happen.

God’s Sovereignty

We can find strength and peace in knowing God is in control. Chip Ingram wrote a great article about what God’s sovereignty really means and he backs it up with scripture. You can read that at Christianity.com. Depending on the age of your children, consider reading through the book of Job together.

God is the Creator of all things. In the Bible, we read of His ability to create storms and His power to calm them.

It’s not for us to speculate why God allows natural disasters, or any trial for that matter. Only God knows the reasons.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
As we build a relationship with God through prayer and Bible study, we’ll learn to trust His wisdom, even when we don’t fully understand how He works or why.

God’s Love

Remind children of God’s love. He shows that in many ways. The greatest demonstration of His love will always be that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ to save us from our sins.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Because Jesus loves us so much, he took on a full understanding of suffering when he bore our sins on the cross. He knows our pain and sorrow.

God’s Mercy

Remind kids God has blessed us with great advancements in technology. Meteorologists are able to track storms more now than ever before. Usually, people are warned in plenty of time before severe weather occurs in order to make plans for safety.

Sometimes, natural disasters issue warnings of a different kind. An article, Where is God in Natural Disasters?, by the Billy Graham Association, stated:

        “…disasters are God’s invitation to us to wake up and see what’s important in life—our spiritual condition.”

The younger children may not be ready to hear that life is short. But, as your children mature, they’ll soon realize that death doesn’t solely wait for the old and decrepit. We must be ready for our appointed time because we do not know when that will be.

“Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12.

Time is fleeting. We must share the good news of Jesus Christ with others so they can live a life of hope and be ready for eternity as well.

God Wants to Use Us

Look for the helpers.
(Pixabay photos)
Fred Rogers of MISTER ROGERS NEIGHBORHOOD shared about when he was a child and encountered scary news. He said his mother would tell him to look on the sidelines. She said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Pointing out the helpers may help calm a worried child. Remind him that God is compassionate. God wants to use people to minister to the needs of others.

Parents can guide the worried child from feeling helpless to being helpful. 

Families can minister to those who are picking up the pieces after a natural disaster.

Ways We Can Help

Donate money to trustworthy organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse or the Baptists on Mission.

Look for local organizations offering ministry opportunities that even young children can help with.

Many collect first aid and hygiene kits. Children can help collect items for the kits. They can draw cards and write encouraging Bible verses to go inside the kits and even help deliver them to the organization.

Help your child coordinate a canned food drive in the neighborhood or hold a diaper shower at your church. Perhaps your child may select gently used toys or clothes for a child in need.

If a natural disaster is close to home, perhaps consider offering childcare one evening a week for a family trying to get their lives back in order. Or get your teens involved by helping serve hot meals for folks staying in shelters. Maybe God is leading you to offer a temporary living space for someone.

Look for ways to share the love and hope of Jesus.

Offer Assurance

When disasters strike, make every attempt to prevent media updates from overburdening our children.

When our children seem worried, we should ask them what they know about the situation. Listen to their concerns. Sometimes, all it takes is clarifying something they misunderstood. Other times, a deeper discussion is necessary. It’s okay to say you don’t know all the answers!

We must assure our children we’ll do everything in our power to protect them.
We can comfort our children with the knowledge of God’s love and wisdom. Pray with them about the situation.

Most importantly, as Christian parents, we need to act and talk as if we believe God is in control. Our examples of trust are powerful and they will speak louder than any roar of nature. 


Talking About Life and Death

     by Sally Matheny
Talking About Life and Death

     We were seventeen years old and looking forward to graduation when it happened.

     Our friendship began only a year and a half earlier. Jan's family had recently moved to North Carolina from Ohio. The school year had already begun. She was the new kid without friends. And she had cancer.

     Our Junior Civinettes club went to her house to welcome her to the neighborhood and introduce ourselves as her new friends. We were nervous about going because we had never met anyone our age with cancer. I knew my boyfriend’s mother had survived Hodgkin’s.  That’s what Jan had so I figured she'd be a survivor, too.

     Jan and I became good friends. We hung out at school and visited each other’s homes. We never talked about cancer or life or death. We didn’t talk about it when her sandy blonde hair began to fall out. She only asked if I’d help her brush off the loose hairs from her sweater.  I did and assured her she looked fine.

     We didn’t talk about life and death when she came to school one day wearing a wig and people began to whisper. And stare. I just walked alongside her.  

     We didn’t talk about life and death when she grew weaker. She only asked if I’d help carry her books.  I did, and when I couldn’t, I enlisted others to help.  Jan had many friends. She always smiled and made conversation easy for those who dared to come close to her. A teen with cancer is a difficult thing to understand. I tried not to think about it. Jan was fun to be with and I knew she would get well.

A teen with cancer is a difficult thing to understand.

     So, we didn't talk about life and death. Not when we had to stop and let her rest a lot when we played tennis, not when she missed school, not when I drove her to chemotherapy, not when she had to have a hysterectomy.

     I thought life and death were the things people talked about when they got old.

     Except Jan didn't grow old.

     She died.

     Then, I panicked. Because Jan and I had not talked about the deeper truths of life. As nice as she was, I didn’t know if my dear friend believed in Jesus Christ. And then, it was too late.

     Sure, I had considered talking to Jan before. But, I was afraid if I talked about such things, she would think I assumed she was going to die. We were a few short months away from graduation and Jan was as excited about it as I was. Despite her illness, she had worked hard and was slated to graduate with honors. She didn't talk about future plans for college, or work, and I didn't ask about them, or where she'd spend her eternity.

     My heart grieved the loss of my friend and ached because I had failed her. The burden became too great. Before the funeral, I talked to Jan’s mom. She assured me Jan was a Christian.

     Relief came, but not peace. I had failed my friend. I could have been more encouraging to her during her difficult journey. We could have talked about the hope we shared in Jesus Christ. Why had I not prayed with her instead of just for her? 

     I was given a bittersweet gift my senior year in high school—a glimpse of how quickly things pass— opportunities, friends, life. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. No one.

Life is fleeting.

     Granted I was just seventeen. Perhaps I was too hard on myself. But I sure wish I'd been braver and talked about important, life-changing things.

     It's not always easy, but it's vital we talk about the reality of death and the hope of eternal life.

Please share ways you've initiated a conversation with someone about their eternity.

What are some ways we can encourage our teens to courageously make the most of every opportunity?