On the evening of April 6, 2015, I started into the book of Acts with my boys, aged 8 and 6 at the time.
Something seemed familiar to one of them -- I think something about the name "Theophilus." 8-year-old: "Wait. What book is this?"
Me: "What book is it? You tell me."
Me: "No. It's not Luke. Let me read the first part of this book again, then I'll read the first part of Luke. Tell me what you think."
So I did....
Acts 1:1-5:"In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: 'Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'"
Luke 1:1-4: "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught."
8-year-old again: "Wait a minute! We just finished John, so we must be reading Acts. Acts must have been written by Luke!"
Me: "Yes! That's it! Luke wrote both books. Luke is like Part I, and Acts is like Part II."
My 6-year-old, who up until that point had been listening quietly: "OH....I GET IT!!"
That, my friends, is how the pieces come together.
Happily, that was just the beginning for the evening. We went on to read the first three chapters of Acts, and each was a thrill to my little students. The youngest kept careful count of the way the Early Church grew, from 120 to 3,000 to 5,000.
The oldest was keeping careful tabs on those numbered among the earliest Church -- all the disciples, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus' brothers. They thought it was pretty cool that Mary was baptized in the Holy Spirit, too. Then, of course, they mused at how Peter preached to a skeptical/hostile crowd after the lame man was healed...and what happened to Peter after that (hint: it involved a night in jail). Yet, Peter and the other believers called upon the Lord, and God responded by filling more of them with the Holy Spirit.
Oldest child: "Hmmm....seems like God wasn't going to let the leaders keep them quiet. He just gave them MORE power!"
Me: "Yep. And he'll do the same for you. The more the world tells you to be quiet about the Lord, the more power He'll give you to spread His good news."
Both boys hushed in awe. "Wow...."
This was 6 years ago. Their love for the Bible has only grown more, and now they read it on their own every day. They’ve read it over and over and over; we’ve lost count of how many times. We also see the Lord emboldening them in His Truth, and it’s a beautiful thing.
You know, before we moved to our little town, there were quite a few voices in our lives who were very noisy about communicating that they absolutely did not believe children were capable of understanding much from the scriptures. One was particularly pernicious in his opposition (a modern day Sanballat the Horonite, if you ask me! See Nehemiah 2, 4, and 6). These so-called “Christian teachers" warned us that kids — any kids, including our own, and especially those we minister to — would be harmed by trying to teach them even whole Bible stories in one sitting. It would be too much for them, they said. It would overwhelm them, and push them away from the Lord.
The Apostle Paul gave the young Timothy this charge:
"Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction." (2 Timothy 4:2)
..."the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
"[God's] word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." (Psalm 119:105)
Not wanting anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9), God has made His Word plain, simple enough for even children to learn and rich enough that the mature would never grow tired of exploring its depths.
It had already been my goal to teach my kids the scriptures and to do well to teach the Word to everyone to whom we minister, young and old. My experiences with those naysayers only caused me to dig in my heels even more and make it my mission — daily — to do whatever I could to bring the Bible before others and give them opportunity to fall in love with it too.
I have now watched countless individuals blossom with passion into increasing maturity as we’ve studied the Bible together. I’ve seen people of all ages grow deeper in their love for the Lord and more confident as they walk in His ways which are revealed in scripture. I’ve seen the Holy Spirit embolden individuals along the lines of what my kids were seeing in Acts that evening 6 years ago. Even — and dare I say ‘especially’ — young people have taken some pretty powerful stands for Truth in the face of adversity. And I rejoice with those who come to me and say, “Kimberlee, guess what! I just finished reading the Bible through for the first time! I didn’t think I could do it, but I did, and now I’m back at it. I’m going to do it again!”
As for myself, I’m now back in school, a seminary student working toward earning a Master of Divinity degree and learning more about how to feed this voracious appetite of mine for the Word of God.
If it is an obsession, it is a marvelous one, for it has only wrought much good.
I am grateful for those contrarians. They didn’t squelch my flame. The Holy Spirit used them to light a fire under me that has spread.
To God be the glory!