Whenever I read the book of Exodus, I can’t help but picture a scene like this:
God and Jesus are hanging out in heaven, watching Moses step up and challenge Pharaoh. Moses thunders, “Let my people go! Or else…”
God rubs his chin and asks Jesus, “Or else what? Hmmm. How can I save My people AND tell a story that gets the attention of nine-year-old boys from every culture and generation, forever and ever, amen?”
Jesus leans in with a grin: “Three words, Dad: PLAGUE OF FROGS.”
Images courtesy of Pixabay.
The Bible is amazingly boy-friendly, if you know where to look. Its pages are packed with stories of flawed superheroes like Samson, exciting warriors like David, noble men like Joseph, and epic tales of battle, bravery, and adventure. By book two (Exodus), we’ve got gag-worthy plagues of frogs and bugs and blood. (And yes, I realize that not all boys love sword fights and bugs and such, but…humor me. I’m writing in broad strokes here, based on the boys in my life. And while we’re at it, yes, lots of girls will love these stories too—I sure did (I still do!). So there you have my politically correct disclaimer, ha!)
(And hey, if you have daughters, check out 13 Scriptures to Read with Your Daughter.)
But first, we can’t talk about teaching boys to love the Bible without recommending The Action Bible. And by recommending, I mean BUY IT TODAY, IT’S THAT AMAZING! (No, I’m not getting paid to say that.) The Action Bible is comic-book-meets-graphic-novel-meets-Bible-superheroes-with-huge-muscles. My kids ADORE this Bible—my older kids have both devoured it cover to cover.
I could list scores of exciting stories here, but for now, let’s start with five, all from the Old Testament. (Heads up: All of these stories have some violence in them, so you’ll have to decide what is appropriate for your child.)
Here are five Bible stories boys love, with some simple questions for discussion and application:
1. Moses and the plagues (Exodus 7–12)
These five chapters cover the plagues, but the chapters leading up to the plagues make for thrilling reading, too, and chapters 13 and 14 will get you to the mind-blowing Red Sea crossing. For younger kids, think through how you want to handle the plague of the firstborn—it’s heavy, and may be hard for sensitive kids to handle.
Questions for discussion: Why was Pharaoh so stubborn? What do these plagues show us about the patience of God and the power of God? Do you think it was scary for Moses to stand up to Pharaoh? Does God notice when his people go through hard times and ask him for help? (Take a quick peek at Exodus 3:7.) Do you think God notices when you go through hard times and need his help?
2. Aaron and Hur (Exodus 17:8-15)
When we were little, my parents did a fun devotional where we acted out this story. My brothers held up my hands (oldest kid perk—I got to be Moses!), while my parents pretended to battle each other (hilarious).
Questions: Why do you think God wanted the battle to be won like this, with Moses’ hands held high? (Hint: Do you think he wanted the Israelites to realize that they always needed to rely on Him to help them win their battles?) What can we learn about teamwork from Aaron and Hur? Even though Joshua was the one leading the army, would he have been able to win the battle without help from friends like Moses, Aaron, and Hur? How can you be a better team player at school, at home, or in sports?
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3. Elijah and the Fire from Heaven (1 Kings 18:16–46)
If you are unfamiliar with this passage, I recommend reading 1 Kings 17–19 to give yourself the story’s context, and also James 5:13–18, which illuminates an important lesson. This will prepare you to answer any questions your child may have. This Bible story is wild, with some intense moments and bloodshed (for younger kids, you could stop the story at verse 39). But there’s lots of high-energy drama, and even some humor.
Questions: What did Elijah mean when he said “How long will you waver between two opinions?” Have you ever been tempted to do what everyone else was doing, instead of following God’s way? Why did Elijah get the sacrifice all wet? What do you see about how powerful God is in this story? How many times did Elijah have to pray before God made it rain? What do you need to keep praying about in your life? (Read James 5:13–18 if you want to talk more about the power of prayer in this story.)
4. Gideon (Judges 6–7)
My son and I just read this story—he’s working on developing courage, and not worrying so much about what his friends think of him. He loved seeing how Gideon’s faith and courage grew over time.
Questions: Was Gideon brave when God first called him? How did God respond when Gideon had doubts and needed encouragement? Have you ever had doubts or questions about God? (If so, what are they?) Why do you think God kept making Gideon’s army smaller and smaller? How do you think Gideon felt when his army shrank from thousands down to 300? How do you think Gideon felt when God told him his battle plan? Who wins battles—people or God? Do you need God’s help to win any “battles” in your life right now?
5. David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17)
Of course, no list of Bible stories boys love would be complete without David and Goliath!
Questions: Why were all the Israelites so afraid of Goliath? What would have happened if Goliath had won this battle? Why was David so brave? How did David prepare for this battle back when he was just a shepherd boy, hanging out with sheep? How can faith in God give us courage? Are you facing any situations right now where you need God’s help to stand up for what’s right, or to be brave? (For another boy-friendly devotional that uses David’s story, see How We Helped Our Son Overcome a Gaming Obsession.)
I hope these stories help you teach your kids to love the Bible, and give them ideas for how to apply it to their daily life! If you try these discussions out with your family, let me know how it goes! I love hearing from you.