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"Grace? Listen to Jesus restore the humiliated Simon Peter at the shore of Galilee.

"Stories! How they lodge in the deepest parts of a person's soul like haunting tunes that will not go away. How inter-generational they are: fascinating to the inquiring child, assuring to the adolescent, a source of wisdom and grit for the adult who finds him- or herself in a daily battle for spiritual direction."

Then my speech to the publishers reached its crescendo.

"The most influential book in all of my life? It has to be that collection of Bible stories Elsie Egermeier compiled in 1922 and that I discovered when I was exiled to my room for misbehaving in 1944. That book had a greater impact—proportionally!—upon the course of my life than anything else I have ever read. It caused me to define reality according to biblical specifications."

In all my years as a preacher, I have rarely ever constructed a sermon that did not reach back into one of the great scriptural stories for its foundation. As a father, I tried to make sure that our children were well-acquainted with the principles of life as illustrated in the Bible's heroes. In all my years as a Christ-following man, I have tied my personal perception of faith in God to those events where he is described as being utterly faithful and redemptive.

Elsie Egermeier gets a lot of credit for this.

I have written about this because I can't help but worry that a new generation of boys and girls are growing up with only a scant awareness of those same stories that I once pressed into my mind and heart as a five-year-old.

Bottom line: our faith in the God of Jesus Christ is built on the stories. Read them. Tell team. Learn from them.

PS: Thankfully, Elsie Egermeier's Bible Story book remains in print. Talk to the people at Warner Press in Anderson, Indiana, or search Amazon.com.

Oh, by the way: no one asked me to write this.

Gordon MacDonald is editor at large of Leadership Journal and chancellor of Denver Seminary.

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Gordon MacDonald is chancellor of Denver Seminary and editor-at-large for Leadership Journal. He is author of numerous books, including Going Deep: Becoming A Person of Influence.

Posted: November 5, 2012

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Displaying 3–6 of 6 comments

John C. Douglas (New Zealand)

November 07, 2012  12:49pm

Reading this article is Far out! I went to a church family camp when I was 12 years old (came from a non-Christian home and gave my life to Christ @ age 9, some 60 years ago last New Zealand Labour-Day weekend"), and was looking at the temporary book-selling table set up to encouraging campers to buy and read Christian literature I "found" Elsie's E's book . . . the man looking after the sales said "you should buy that it will help you read the Bible, if you pay half, I'll cover the rest – I bought it!! It became my companion as a child, adolescent, first reference as a Sunday School teacher and volunteer children's worker, youth leader, young church elder preparing to preach, beginning pastor, and Christian educator - still tell students "get an illustrated Children's Bible story book and read the text there first - for the story/narrative get an Egermeier's or Uncle Arthur's." Still in my library, still lives "on and off the shelf", still my "first call in narrative hermeneutics”.

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Gregg Andrew Bisset

November 06, 2012  3:17pm

I to was blessed to have a Children bible full of pictures and stories and a mum who read them to me. A Christian Primary school where I was fascinated with the large prints like Jesus carrying a lamb. Devotions after dinner of "Little visits from God" which my four children now want to read to their children my grand children. Let every young parent read and recognize this both the time spent in relationship with the child and they eternal impact this has.

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Matt Tague

November 06, 2012  1:14pm

This is a great article. I have written a blog post on some of the better Bible Storybooks available today. You can read it here: http://pastormatttague.com/2012/07/18/the-big-blog-of-bible-storybooks/

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November 06, 2012  1:07pm

Wow, That choice surprises only a little. It is one of my treasured books from childhood.

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