A Bible for a Child – Deuteronomy 11:18-19

Simon’s eyes lit up when he saw me at our regular table at Max Porter’s this week. He’s my five-year-old grand nephew, and he knows his auntie often brings interesting things to share at our weekly lunches.

This time I brought the new children’s NASB Adventure Bible.

Since I volunteered to be on the Bible Gateway blogger list as a #BibleGatewayPartner , I was offered a free copy to review. I accepted knowing Simon would probably agree to help me.

It turns out I was right

He was delighted to get his hands on it. A very discerning lad, he immediately asked, “where’s the table of contents?” This wasn’t at all what I expected his first question to be. I helped him find it and explained the meaning of chapter and verse numbers (until he was done listening to explanations).

We discovered a page that lists stories about children in the Bible. He skimmed and recognized quite a few of them, like the story of David and the giant.

He soon figured out how to locate the Genesis account of Cain and Abel, put his finger on the chapter number, and started reading it to me. Again this boy surprised me. I hadn’t expected one so young to be able to read the New American Standard Bible version.

You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul . . . You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 ESV

Simon laughed when he read the interpretation of the second commandment – that we must not worship anyone or anything but God, not a sports hero and not a skateboard. That was on the The Ten Commandments for Kids page.

Sharing this Bible with Simon reminded me of the great blessing my Bible has been throughout my life. I received my first Bible at the age of nine, and its words are seeds that took root early and continue to comfort, instruct, and encourage me.

Thank you, Bible Gateway, for this opportunity to share my love of the Scriptures with one of my favorite little boys.

-Kathy Sheldon Davis

When You See Troubling Times Ahead, Try This – Philippians 4:5-9

In a previous post I mentioned how singing brings me comfort when I feel my life is spinning out of control. There’s another option, since singing isn’t always appreciated by those nearby. Maybe it will help you like it helps me in times like these.

Imagine you’re on a roller coaster.

Heavy chains rattle as the car drags its anxious passengers to the peak. Pausing at the top, you fight the urge to look down. A child whimpers a few rows back. You know what’s coming . . .

Then you’re descending, more like falling, down the track, and there’s nothing you can do but to hang on.

You’re sure to hear shrieks, maybe even cries, like I did at the Lagoon amusement park near Salt Lake City. But my reaction was unique, according to my older cousin. He said I laughed through the whole ride.

Like I said in my story in Jesus Talked to Me Today, I started believing Jesus was my best friend when I was very young. I don’t believe I was thinking about his presence during the ride, though. I honestly don’t know where my giddiness came from that day.

I’m also at a loss about how God wants me to “love my neighbor as myself” in some situations, but these verses offer clear direction about things I do understand.

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:5-9 ESV

What I hear is that I need to

  1. Allow people to see what’s reasonable in me.
  2. Instead of giving way to anxiety, I should pray, make requests, and thank God in everything.
  3. Keep my thoughts on what’s true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy, and not on things that are not of God, like those which are divisive, ugly, or degrading.
  4. Practice what I have learned, received, heard and seen in the life and writings of the apostle Paul.

Then the God of peace will be with me, guarding my heart and my mind in Jesus. Isn’t his peace something we so desperately need these days?

When we manage our thinking like the scriptures suggest, the roller coaster of life can still plunge, jerk, and throw us side to side in the seat, but it will be less likely that we’ll be the ones screaming during the ride.

Kathy Sheldon Davis

Comfort for When Life is Out of Control – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I went through a season of depression when I felt frightfully out of control. I didn’t like being forced to admit such vulnerability, but life became so dark that no amount of positive self talk, counseling, Bible study, declarations of faith, or prayer could keep me steady.

What can we do when important aspects of our lives are out of our control?

Nothing helped. At times I was so distraught I thought I might drive my husband and family away. After all, who would like to come home to an angry, tearful, accusing spouse?

The slippery slope

What scared me most was realizing I might be fine for weeks, my normal, contented heart trusting in God and serving others, but then the clouds would gather, blocking rational thinking and making my foundation slippery.

Was I on the path to becoming the crazy woman people talk about, living alone in a shack somewhere?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV

One day I prayed, Lord, you are my rock, but sometimes I’m powerless to hang on. I’m convinced I’ll be swept away if you don’t have a firm grip on me. Please fix whatever is broken, but if it is not your will to do this then show me how to honor you in these hard places. I know your grace is sufficient for me. Help me to rest in you.

That is the comfort I can share with you. No tips or formulas, only the gritty honesty that agrees that sometimes we can’t help ourselves – that God is there, and he remains faithful no matter what state we’re in.

Sing what you believe

I found my son, a kindergartner, on the front steps singing a song to God. He was a kid who loved being with people, but when he found himself without playmates that day, he sat and created a song to express his sadness and lift his soul.

My prayers are sometimes songs as well, made up as I go. Singing my thoughts helps me to be more honest with myself and more real with God.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
Psalm 98:1 ESV

It’s good to sing what is true, to our God who hears us. I continually find new references in the scriptures that tell us to sing to him. I’m happy, and honored, to comply.

In my case, being honest about my hopelessness led me to a better way to manage life, and now my song is much more joyful.

If any of this sounds similar to your story, or you are interested in a discussion about mental health, suffering and following Jesus, I suggest you listen to my friend and former pastor, Wesley Towne. He left the Oregon church he founded (Ekklesia Eugene) due to his wife’s health concerns, and he is an excellent resource on this topic.

Blessings on your hope-filled journey!