Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Baton of Faith

Leslie Basham: There are certain principles you want to pass on to your children. Nancy Leigh DeMoss says there’s one powerful way to do it.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The power that stories can have to put those principles into the hearts of children is incalculable. Now, moms you think about the things your children are being exposed to, the things they’re reading at school, the things they’re seeing on television, the things they’re hearing about from their friends. Ask yourself what kind of influence is going into my child’s mind and heart.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, July 10.

Nancy: One of things we try to do through the ministry of Revive Our Hearts is to encourage and inspire and to equip moms to be passing on the truth of God to their children with the goal that their children will pass it on to their children. In fact, I’m thinking of a passage from Psalm 78 that I’ve often quoted on this program, but I think it bears repeating.

The Psalmist says,

Give ear, O My people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done (Psalm 78:1-4).

He goes on to say how God gave a law to His people and He wrote it down. Then He commanded our fathers to teach it to their children that the next generation might known them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children so that they should set their hope in God. That passage goes on (I’m reading from Psalm 78) to talk about the importance of passing on the baton of faith from one generation to the next.

One crucial way that my family did that as the seven children in my family were growing up was through the reading of good books. I’ve found, and my parents believed, that there was so little of lasting value on television that was worth passing on to the next generation that they decided to raise our family, amazingly enough, with no television.

Today that’s probably unthinkable. Actually, I think there were two kids in our school. We were one family and there was one other family who didn’t have a television. We always felt a little down and out about that, but now that I’m a grownup, I realize what a wise decision that was on the part of my parents.

They wanted us reading books of lasting value that would impact the way we think and live. That’s why I was delighted some years ago to discover the ministry of Lamplighters Publishing. The founder of that ministry, the president, Mark Hamby, is here to talk with us on Revive Our Hearts this week about the value of good literature, good books, and why it’s so important to get those into the hands of families.

Mark, thank you so much for the work you’re doing and thank you for being here. Your wife Debbie is along on this trip as well. Thank you for coming to talk with us about Lamplighter Publishing and what you’re trying to do through that outreach.

Mark Hamby: Thank you for inviting me back.

Nancy: I said to you before we started recording here—what’s the word for a person who loves books? I think it’s the word bibliophile. You certainly would qualify. You have produced, along with your wife Debbie and your team, some beautiful books. They are not only lasting stories, but the books themselves are of lasting value.

You have this fabulous catalog. I’m on the mailing list and I hope that many of our listeners will also get on the mailing list. If you’ll go to ReviveOurHearts.com, you’ll find a link that will take you to Lamplighter Publishing. You can see that catalog for yourself.

I leaf through that catalog when it comes in, and being a booklover myself, I hardly know where to begin. I want to point out some of the individual books that you have available and ask you to just give us a thumbnail sketch of some of these terrific resources that are available.

One that we have featured on Revive Our Hearts before, which is one of my very favorite stories, is called Mary Jones and Her Bible. This is a classic book that Lamplighters has republished. Tell us just a little bit about that story for our listeners who may not be familiar with it.

Mark: What I loved about it is it showed me a little girl’s passionate desire to have the Word of God in her life. She starts to sell chicken eggs to raise some money. When she finally has enough money she thinks to buy her first Bible, she literally walks 25 miles barefoot. When she gets there, there’s no Bible to be found. This is in Wales, I think. True story.

Someone hears her testimony of how she saved this money and how she came all this way. This person says, "I know someone that might be able to help you." I believe it’s a pastor who ends up giving her his Bible. So that’s how she gets her first Bible. Do you remember the story?

Nancy: Oh, yes. I loved it as I was reading it. It just gives you the sense of the wonder, the treasure that it is to have our very own Bible when you see what this girl was willing to do to get one for herself.

Mark: There’s a monument to her life even to this very day that’s still over in Wales showing her perseverance in wanting the Word of God in her life. So it’s a great testimony not only for the love for the Word, but in her diligence and her work ethic. That’s what I love about these books because it shows children what people need to do as far as developing a work ethic to obtain the things that are of eternal value.

Nancy: I know our listeners are wanting to instill character qualities in their children. This is something that if parents aren’t intentional about, children are going to learn bad character, which is not so hard to develop in our culture.

You have in this catalog a page of books that would be ideally suited for young girls and then some that are suited for young boys, although they can be read profitably by either. Talk to us about some of the different character qualities that these books accentuate. If people are buying these books, reading these books to their children, what are some of the character qualities that are going to be emphasized?

Mark: For example, in the book called The Little Lamb, there’s a child who is taking care of her sick mother, and she goes out to sell wild strawberries. When she comes home one day, she finds a lost lamb and she brings it home. She is so excited to show her mother, but her mother says, “Child, the lamb is not ours. You need to find its owner.”

So she goes and finds the owner—now we’re dealing with honesty. The owner ends up giving her the lamb as a gift. The mother and daughter are very delighted about it, but every day the mother gets a little bit more ill. The lady who buys the strawberries is this rich woman. She asks the child about her mother every day, but the child won’t tell her anything about her mother.

She’s very meek and private, and she doesn’t want to put anybody out. That’s why she doesn’t tell her about it. But the rich woman follows her home and finds her mother very ill. This woman, just out of her love for this woman, gets her own private doctor and brings him there. Over a series of weeks the woman is restored to health.

So the mother and daughter give this rich woman the lamb with an embroidered collar with her initials on it as a gift. Well, to make a long story short, the lamb ends up leading them to someone who had been missing for 17 years. When I read the ending of the story and the faith that these people had, but I don’t want to tell you the whole story, but this woman had lost her son as an infant. 

Nancy: We should have one of those spoiler warnings. The end of the story--we are giving it away. If you don't want to hear the end of the story, turn off your radio right now.

Mark: There was a war, and they were fleeing across the Rhine River, I believe it was, and she dropped her son in the river and apparently he drowned. But the child had washed up, and a soldier had taken him. The soldier ends up bringing him a hundred miles away and drops him off at this pastor’s home, and he raises this child.

The child’s 18 years old. The old pastor who’s in his 80s gives him this leather wristband that was on his wrist. It was the same initials that the woman had embroidered on the lamb’s collar. So now this child goes out, 18 years old, looking for his family after 18 years. That’s all he has is the initials, and he sees this lamb as he’s going through the mountains. So that’s one of the character traits.

Another book is Helen’s Temper.

Nancy: Okay, I don’t think any of our listeners have children who struggle with temper, so probably nobody would be interested in that one.

Mark: Well, there are two girls. One is a very pristine, wonderful girl. She memorizes the Bible, gets all the Bible character awards, does everything right. Her parents love her. She gets all the rewards. Then her little sister puts her foot in her mouth. She just seems to always be bent on mischief.

One day there’s this little girl—she’s hunchbacked; she’s got frizzy, knotty hair; she’s dirty. Without the child knowing it, the two girls (I believe the girl that does everything right is named Helen, I think her little sister's name is Margaret) as they’re walking home one day, Helen notices this dirty, little girl that everyone makes fun of is wearing her clothes. Her mother had given all of their old clothes away to the poor. So this little child is wearing her clothes, and all of Helen’s friends make fun of her.

Well, Helen’s secret sin is pride. Helen gets this little girl by herself and pushes her down on the ground without anyone seeing it. The little girl strikes her head, and Helen leaves. Well, that night the police find this little girl after she’s been reported missing. Her parents are very poor; her father’s sick. Her mother’s been working extra jobs to maintain the family.

The police end up going from house to house, and when they get to Helen’s house, they ask if anyone knows where this little girl lives. Helen’s there, and Helen says we don’t even know who she is. But Helen’s sister says, "Yes, we know who that is." But Helen now is hiding her sin, so one sin leads to another. That’s what I love about this particular story. It helps children who look good on the outside start realizing that when we start covering our sins, they just keep adding up.

So to make a long story short, Helen’s grandfather comes, and he notices a difference in Helen’s behavior. There’s big talk about someone who’s done harm to this child, and they want to find out who it is. So Helen’s grandfather goes and visits the little girl. She had been in a coma for almost a week. He talks to the girl, but she won’t tell him who did it because Helen’s younger sister has been going over there and taking care of her and teaching her about Jesus.

Even though this little girl has her problems and is always in a lot of mischief in her life, she really loves the Lord. She’s always confessing her sin, always doing the wrong thing, but telling the Lord how sorry she is. So she’s learning the very valuable lesson: If we confess our sins, He’s faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9). So the difference between Helen and her little sister is that Helen never does anything wrong and her little sister always does something wrong. But she is always telling God she’s sorry.

So finally, the grandfather comes back to the little girl who's been hurt and says, "You must, child, tell me who did this to you because I think it’s my granddaughter. This may be the one thing that will help her from ending up in hell if you tell me the truth so that I can help her." So she tells him and cries, "Please don’t punish her. She didn’t mean it."

So the grandfather says, "I’d like you to talk to Helen." He brings Helen there and the little girl in the privacy of just the two of them forgives Helen and leads Helen to the Lord right there. Helen’s whole life changes as a result.

So there’s a great story dealing with pride, dealing with anger and what it can do. The little girl ends up dying, so Helen learns a great lesson from this even though she was forgiven.

Nancy: What I love about these stories is they’re dealing with issues of the heart.

Mark: Absolutely.

Nancy: Which I know is what the moms who listen to this program want to do with their children. They want to deal with issues of the heart. I’m looking, Mark, in your catalog here, these stories that are best for young girls. They talk about overcoming covetousness, jealousy, disobedience, showing love, mercy and sacrifice, anger, selfishness, forgiveness, friendship, selflessness, honesty, loyalty, experiencing joyful deliverance.

What mom doesn’t want those things for her daughter? What mom doesn’t want these qualities for her son that are featured in these “Best for Young Boys” books? Being truthful and trustworthy, demonstrating honesty, integrity, loyalty, courage and perseverance. Here’s one, The Giant Killer, and the theme of that book is triumphing over pride, laziness, selfishness, anger and untruth.

The power that stories can have to put those principles into the hearts of children is incalculable. Now moms, you think about the things your children are being exposed to, the things they’re reading at school, the things they’re seeing on television, the things they’re hearing about from their friends, and ask yourself what kind of influence is going into my child’s mind and heart.

As an influence, are they stories that are creating a hunger and a thirst in your sons’ and daughters’ hearts for righteousness and for God, or are they teaching them the world’s way of thinking? Scripture says that if we will meditate on the Word and ways of God day and night, we will be blessed. We will be stable.

I know that’s what our listeners want for their children and their grandchildren. I think some of the best reading can be done by grandmoms who take their grandchildren—little ones, even older ones—and read to them. There’s a couple on our staff at Revive Our Hearts whose youngest child is now in high school, and they have four daughters who are college age and older. They have been reading aloud to their children every night for years.

Martin was telling me the other day that they've probably read two or three hundred books aloud to our children over the years. Now their youngest is a son who’s in early high school. He says he knows he’s supposed to be embarrassed that his parents are still reading to him at night, but he loves it. He still wants them to read. They’ve gone through so many really worthy stories over the years that have shaped and are molding their children’s lives.

Mark: Nancy, you mentioned the word blessed in Psalm 1, and I just learned this last year that word in the Hebrew means "happy." It also means "confinement." Here is a principle. Psalm 1 starts with the word blessed. Psalm 2 ends with the word blessed in the last sentence. What God has done here, Psalm 1 is about the Word and meditating upon it day and night and everything you do will prosper. Psalm 2, if you look at it closely, is about the Son, the Son of God.

Nancy: Yes.

Mark: Honor the Son. I think what God has done here is He’s framed these two Psalms with blessed on both ends—happy and confined. If we confine ourselves to God’s Word and God’s Son . . .

Nancy: The Living Word and the written Word.

Mark: . . . we’ll be happy.

Nancy: Yes, and that’s what brings blessing. This thing of having the truth of Christ connect to the hearts of your children, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not one incident. It’s not just taking them to church. It’s not just putting them in the youth group. It’s that line on line, precept upon precept, salting the oats, creating hunger and thirst in their hearts after the Lord.

Mark: Yes. Amen.

Nancy: One of the things I love, Mark, in this Lamplighters Publishing catalog is that you have some of these books categorized by specific character traits. So you can look through this and look at sibling rivalry. Again, I’m sure no families here that are listening to Revive Our Hearts could have that experience, but here are four books listed that have stories that deal with that issue.

Here’s another one that maybe a few parents struggle with in their children: laziness and procrastination. You've got a list of eight or ten books here, stories that you've republished, reprinted in beautiful first-editions on dealing with laziness and procrastination and others on dealing with fear and anxiety.

Maybe your child struggles with nightmares, with bad dreams. How can you get that child to think God’s way? Well, there are some stories—The Rescue of Jessica’s Mother, The Hidden Hand, Jessica’s First Prayer, The Open Door, Nobody Loves Me. These are stories that have been published by Lamplighters that will be an inroad into your children’s hearts.

Now, Mark, we’ve got single moms who are working hard all day long and time is at a premium. Some moms are just going to be saying, "How in the world am I going to find time to read to my children or to get them to read books? My child doesn’t even like to read. My child doesn’t like books. Is there any way I can really get my children interested in this kind of literature? How are we going to make this a priority in our lives?"

I know you’ve talked to a lot of families who maybe weren’t readers but are becoming readers as a result of having these great stories available. Help us know that this really is a possibility.

Mark: I’ve had hundreds of letters from moms that have written to me saying that storytime has been the most important time of their family, of their daytime. Children can’t wait. “Please, one more chapter, please!” We get that almost every day. We get letters like that.

I think what this does is it puts children in order because they’re wanting something so badly. They want the next part of the story because you're on the edge of your seat. I won’t print anything that does not make me want to read one more chapter. I can’t put it down.

I’ve had moms and dads write to me saying that it’s the most important time of their day, whether it be early morning or late at night. What is happening is that the children and the parents are not just reading the story, but they’re discussing it. They’re saying:

  • What would we do if this were to happen to us?
  • Would we be able to trust God?

So it’s creating not just a story time. It’s creating a family time of really preparing for the future. What would happen to us if God allowed us to go through this particular circumstance?

I think what’s happening is that parents are seeing the value that I’m preparing my child for the days to come when they’re older and they have their own families. What will God allow them to go through, and will I be preparing them for their future so that they will be able to trust in the living God and have the hope that God does all things well?

Nancy: In the process, these parents are actually developing a relationship with their children. This is heart-to-heart time that is probably creating greater closeness between those parents and their children.

Mark: Here’s a mom. She writes to me and she says,

In January I ordered 16 books to increase our Lamplighter library. Within a week, I read six books.

Now, that’s a lot of books in one week.

Nancy: That’s called an avid reader.

Mark: Yes. But that’s what happens when you read stories like this. They’re not just your normal stories. They’re stories that have you on the edge of your seat. Then she said,

The next week I read another six. The impact these books had on my life was astounding. I felt myself draw closer to our almighty God and experienced His love and grace through these powerful stories. My character became more Christ-like through the inspiration of the characters.

They have inspired me to be a more devoted Christ-follower, more appreciative to my husband and increased desire to meet his needs, more sensitive, compassionate, and loving toward my children. Thank you for making these books available to us and countless others in the world.

So here’s a mom that is, as you said, how do I find time? This mom now has found time to really be the mom to her children and wife to her husband, and it was a story that did that to her.

Nancy: I’d like to say that it’s worth saying no to some other activities in order to get time to read to and with your children. That may mean turning off the television. What a novel idea and what a wonderful idea if you’re going to be implanting seeds of purity and faith and hope in the lives of your children. It may mean they’re involved in fewer extra-curricular activities. But ask yourself with the few years God’s given us with these children, what are the things we want to make sure have been put into their hearts?

The wonderful thing about these stories is you’re not lecturing to your children. You’re not giving them a list of 18 things they’re supposed to change in their life. You’re drawing them into the truth by means of these stories.

Mark: Absolutely. A very wise man told me one time, "You don’t want to turn the TV off, you don’t want to get rid of the TV unless you’ve got something better to substitute it." What these stories have done is they have given moms and dads a substitute of something that’s far greater than what TV has to offer.

You’ve heard the expression when someone’s gone to see the movie and they say, “But you’ve got to read the book.” That’s what this is like. This is like night and day. When you go and read one of these stories, you’d never want to see it on film because the book is so much greater. Your imagination just runs away with you and you’re actually there. You’re experiencing the life and death situation. You’re experiencing the situation when God redeems you when there is no hope, but the God of hope comes and redeems you.

Nancy: That message of redemption is what we must believe ourselves and pass on to our children. I want to thank you, Mark, and Debbie, your wife, and Jennifer, your daughter, who is the graphic designer.

Let me say there are some wonderful books for younger children that you have produced. One of these you and Debbie actually wrote, a book called Trusty, but then other stories—The Beggar’s Blessing, Teddy’s Button, Hedge of Thorns—that are not only wonderful stories for young children, but they’re beautifully illustrated. I mean they’re just books that your children will love to hold in their hands. Before they can even read for themselves, you can be reading these stories to them. The pictures tell the story as well as the words.

Thank you so much for taking the time to find these books, to resurrect them. Some of these are stories that have kind of been moth-balled for years. I so appreciate the work that you and Debbie and your family have done to get these books, these stories out, to get them published, to put them in beautiful, classic editions and to make them available to the body of Christ because you are helping us pass the story of redemption on to the next generation. That’s what it’s all about.

Leslie: There is power in great stories that point us to the ultimate story of the gospel.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Mark Hamby on discovering and republishing important stories for a new generation of readers.

We're featuring one of the books from Mark Hamby and Lamplighter Publishing. It's called The Basket of Flowers. This book showed Mark Hamby what it means to be a father and what it means to be a child of God. You'll get a lot of meaning and enjoyment from this story of a father teaching his daughter by using flowers as examples.

We'd like to send you The Basket of Flowers when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Today's the final day we'll be making this offer, so call us at 1-800-569-5959, or make your donation and get your copy at ReviveOurHearts.com

Maybe your experience of family devotions is like this: You're trying to read the Bible, and it seems like your kids are just not listening. It may be that more is sinking in than you realize. Get some encouragement as Bruce and Jodi Ware join Nancy Leigh DeMoss starting Monday on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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