One of the biggest turning points in my Christian life happened when I learned how to read the Bible. I was about 15 or 16. Up until that point, my devotional life had consisted of opening up my Bible to a random page and reading until I felt like I’d been inspired or learnt something. Or if I needed some particular issue sorted I’d open up my Gideons Bible to the bit at the back with the verses for specific situations. I always loved reading those ‘greatest hits’ verses of the Bible. It was like getting a muffin and just picking all the chocolate chips and eating them. Who needs the muffin when you can just enjoy the chocolate?
But then I read a book on prayer and the author was describing what his morning devotional time was like. The author said that he would read through one book of the Bible at a time. Each day he would read a small amount, reflect on it, and then spend some time in prayer. The next day he’d read a little more, reflect on it, then spend time in prayer. He would do this every day until he had finished that book of the Bible, then he’d move onto the next book. MIND BLOWN! It had never occurred to me to treat the Bible like a collection of books, rather than just a collection of wise sayings and random stories. I started following the author’s example and suddenly the Bible came alive! Books made sense from beginning to end. Over the next few years, I read the whole Bible and was excited to discover that the Bible itself had one big story that it was telling from beginning to end. Instead of just eating the chocolate chips, it was like the time when I discovered you could microwave a chocolate chip muffin and those hot, melted pockets of chocolate worked in perfect harmony with the muffin. They were better together!
I’m saying all this because in youth ministry I have found that helping young people get excited about the Bible is one of the hardest but most important jobs to help establish young people in lifelong, growing, robust faith. Anything that can help them discover what I discovered about the Bible when I was a teenager is pure gold – which is why I’m so excited about my mate Chris Morphew’s new book Best News Ever.
Best News Ever is a book of 100 daily reflections working through the book of Mark from beginning to end. It’s designed to help late primary and early high schoolers read and understand the book of Mark. Unlike the normal devotionals that we often give young people that have a bunch of inspiring prooftexts or an author’s selection of Bible passages to give encouragement in whatever theme the devotion is covering, Best News Ever divides Mark’s gospel into 100 easily manageable chunks and offers a short reflection on each passage. Each reflection helps the reader grasp the teaching of the passage and places it in the context of the story of Mark and the big picture of the Bible. Each day also gives the reader a question or two to consider and apply, followed by a short prayer. This is a book that treats its readers like capable young theologians, able to understand difficult concepts and big themes and then apply them to their lives. Even after having spent years studying the book of Mark, I found myself getting surprised and excited as Chris shows how Mark has brilliantly put the story of Jesus together.
Chris sent me the first forty days of the book to read last year. I loved it and couldn’t wait to get the final sixty days, even though I was pretty sure I knew what happened at the end. I got the full book when it came out last month, and read them over the last few weeks – I wasn’t disappointed. This book is great! And I’m not just saying that – I’ve ordered a bunch to give to the younger kids in my youth group when we get back in the new year.
Best News Ever won’t just teach young readers what’s in Mark, it’ll teach them how to read Mark and the Bible in general. This could be the book to set them up as lifelong readers of the Bible, which is exactly what we want for them. To use my mediocre metaphor one last time: it’ll show them they can enjoy the whole muffin, not just the chocolate chips.
Best News Ever can be bought from all the good booksellers. For a sample and lots of store links head to: http://chrismorphew.com/best-news-ever