A Book Review from Books At a Glance
By Kristin Stiles
Every year as my children were growing up, I’d look for new and creative ways of preparing their young hearts and minds for the Christmas season. It was so easy for all of us to get caught up in the materialism of Christmas. We had to be intentional about keeping Jesus at the center. Barbara Reaoch’s new book, A Jesus Christmas, is a resource to help families do exactly that.
For each day of December leading up to Christmas there is a family devotional. Each day begins with a section called “Explore” in which a short passage of scripture is read followed by two questions that are specifically geared toward understanding the content of the verses. These help the children to interact with the text and to demonstrate that they comprehend the main ideas. I like that the verses are not printed in the book. The family has to open up their Bibles to read them. This is a very important practice for children to participate in. It will give them opportunities to find verses themselves and to get the idea that these words are separate and special compared to whatever is in the devotional.
The following section is titled “Explain” and it contains three to four paragraphs that the parents can read to the children. Something very unique about this section is that for each day in delving into the text, the author adds how Satan lies to us about that particular topic. Some examples of these lies are: “God won’t really punish anyone”; “Do great things for God and he will love you”; and “The story of Jesus is just make-believe.” Well done! These are such great springboards for discussion with children to counteract what society would tell them. Then this section concludes with a simple one-sentence truth that is really the point of the daily devotional. Examples of these are: “Jesus rescues us from God’s punishment for sin”; “We are alive to bring praise to Jesus”, and “Anyone who turns from sin and trusts in Jesus is God’s child.” Again, well done! If I were doing this devotional with my children, I would write these on 3×5 cards and review them throughout the month. They are just fantastic!
Section 3 is “Engage.” It consists of 2 questions for younger children and two questions for older children. These questions are geared toward helping the children apply the truths to their own lives and also to spark deeper discussion. I appreciate that the author considered the age differences in families and tailored her questions to different levels of understanding.
Finally, each daily devotional ends with a short prayer in the “Enter In” section and then there is a page for family journaling. Suggestions are given as to what to draw and/or write in this section, or the family is encouraged to put whatever is meaningful to them here. I could see this page being copied for each child to draw/write whatever s/he desires in response to the devotional for that day.
Overall, this is just a wonderful family devotional for the Christmas season. The content is excellent and the structure of the lessons is brilliant. I would highly recommend this resource to families who want to really put Jesus foremost in their holiday preparations and celebrations.
Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.