In Volume 11 of his series Buck Denver Asks … What’s in the Bible?, VeggieTales® creator Phil Vischer teaches kids and families about the Holy Spirit. Spreading the Good News! (The Book of Acts) introduces the Holy Spirit during a scene about Pentecost, but it’s not the first time families who have been watching Vischer’s What’s in the Bible? have met the Holy Spirit.
“The key is that the Holy Spirit shouldn’t come up for the first time when you get to the book of Acts,” Vischer said of the tricky topic of the Holy Spirit, which can be a challenge to explain to kids – and adults!
In earlier What’s in the Bible? DVDs, he says, “The Holy Spirit shows up throughout the Old Testament, filling different people with power at different times.”
For example, in Israel Gets A King (1 & 2 Samuel), when the prophet Samuel anoints the boy David to be king, the Holy Spirit comes upon him. At that point, Vischer explains the concept of the trinity – how God is three-in-one, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“We explain the trinity. You don’t wait until Pentecost to explain the concept of the trinity,” he said.
So long before families watching through What’s in the Bible? hear about the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they know who he is and about the power of the spirit.
“They know that the Spirit of God comes upon different people at different times and fills them with power to do amazing things,” Vischer said. The difference between the Holy Spirit of the Old Testament, who came upon certain people at certain times, and the Holy Spirit of the New Testament is the that the Holy Spirit is available for everyone! So when families learn about Pentecost, they understand that the same Spirit that came on David when he was anointed king is also available to them when they follow Jesus.
The most important event of the Church Calendar is Easter Sunday. On this day Christians celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Not only has Christ paid for our sins on the cross, but He has triumphed over death! Jesus’ resurrection seals our hope for eternal life with God. “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
The Resurrection gives us hope, that although there is still sin and death in the world, we will be resurrected like Christ and have eternal life with God. This hope is expressed through the following words: “‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” Sin and death still exist, but they have lost their power because of Christ’s resurrection.
Christians celebrate Easter Sunday in numerous ways. Many celebrations begin at sunrise, ushering in a service of light that represents the hope of Christ’s resurrection. Some churches use this day to baptize or renew the baptism of their congregants. Many Christians celebrate communion, giving thanks to Jesus for giving the sacrifice of His body. Most all services emphasize light and rejoicing, which stands in stark contrast to the previous dark and solemn days leading up to Easter. Some churches refrain from saying “Alleluia” during the season of Lent, and so on Easter they can finally exclaim, “Alleluia. Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia.”
Easter services may revisit stories of Scripture that show the many ways that God has been pursuing His people across time. This is a reminder that Christ has fulfilled the laws of the Old Testament by establishing his New Covenant through the Resurrection. The Passover lambs of the Old Testament only spared firstborn sons from death on one night. Christ the Passover Lamb saves us from sin and death for eternity! “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:56).
As your family reaches the great celebration of Easter, talk about the meaning behind different images or stories you may encounter during your Easter Service. The empty tomb celebrates Jesus’ victory over sin and death, which we share in through Him! The church filled with light and music reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world because of the promise He brings through His Resurrection. The image of the lamb signifies that Jesus is the Passover Lamb, whose sacrifice paid for our sins and secured eternal life with Him.
Easter can be a confusing holiday – stores are filled with chocolate eggs and stuffed bunnies, while churches teach about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Are the two connected? Not really. But even within the Christian celebration of Easter, there can be confusion, especially when explaining Easter to children. Different Christian traditions emphasize different parts of Holy Week – there are Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday services. How do all of those events come together to tell one story – the Holy Week? And even more, how do all of the stories of the Old Testament lead us to the Cross on Good Friday?
Let Phil Vischer, Buck Denver and Friends explain the real meaning of Easter in a video that kids will love and understand.
To fully grasp the meaning of Easter, it is helpful to know the meaning and origin of the events leading up to the Resurrection–Holy Week. Try reading our blog series all about Holy Week: “Holy Week History.” Learn the answers to the questions:
What is Palm Sunday?
In the last installment of our Easter video series, What’s in the Bible? creator Phil Vischer explains how he shares the Gospel with kids in Buck Denver Asks … What’s in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News [Matthew, Mark, Luke & John].
After he finishes the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Vischer takes a few minutes to talk to kids about what those events mean for our lives. Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God – and we are all invited to be a part of it. But, as Vischer explains in the video, that conversation is tricky to have from a screen.
“I am very uncomfortable with cartoon characters or puppets or even electronic media trying to bring kids all the way to the point of salvation,” Vischer said.
Vischer explains that that role should be passed to a parent, Sunday School teacher or pastor – and he passes kids on to them at the end of the DVD.
“What I do is walk kids right up to that point,” he said. “I think that’s the appropriate place to stop, and for a real person to take over.”
If a child comes to you and asks how they can be saved, some great ideas for explaining salvation to kids can be found here.
Other stories and blog posts in this Easter series:
In part 4 of our Easter video series, we asked What’s in the Bible? creator Phil Vischer how he shows Jesus’ death on the cross in Buck Denver Asks … What’s in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News [Matthew, Mark, Luke & John]. His new children’s DVD about the Gospels teaches the story of Jesus and concludes with Christ’s death and resurrection, which can be difficult subjects to visualize for children. Here, Phil explains his strategy for showing kids Jesus’ death on the cross:
“Quite often in kids videos and even in some children’s Bibles, we kind of skip that,” Vischer said of the image of Christ on the cross. What happened to Jesus on the cross was not pretty – he was flogged repeatedly prior to the crucifixion, which was a brutal form of Roman terror normally reserved for criminals. And yet, the brutality of what Jesus faced not only physically (at the hands of the Romans), but spiritually (taking on God’s wrath for all mankind) is the most critical part of the story, and must be explained to children.
“We’ve been very careful not to make it gruesome in any way,” Vischer said of his depiction of Jesus, which shows a bruised and sad Jesus hanging on the cross. Kids understand bruises – they mean that Jesus is hurting.
“It’s clear that he’s hurting, and I think it’s important that it’s clear that he’s hurting,” Vischer said. The goal is not to minimize the impact of the event, but still make it understandable for children. As he has done throughout the What’s in the Bible? series, Vischer aims to communicate the true meaning behind the events of Bibles, and to take kids deeper than just stories but to really transform the way they live their lives.
“We’re not really interested in ‘actually look like,’” Vischer said of the crucifixion, “but we want the meaning of the events.”
One thing Vischer mentions is the depiction of sin throughout the What’s in the Bible? series. From the first DVD, sin has been shown visually – little black circle-creatures, with big teeth that latch on to humans when they sin. Vischer explains that from the beginning, he knew that he would use that image at Jesus’ crucifixion, and in the DVD he covers the cross with those little black creatures – showing how Jesus took all of sin to the cross.
“We visualize what God saw when Jesus bore the sin of the world,” Vischer said.
Vischer wants kids to feel something when they watch that part of the DVD(Easter Video Series: How do you teach the Bible story of Jesus to kids?), and hopes that the space he creates for them to do so will lead them to understand what Jesus’ death means and why it matters.
“I think it’s really going to be effective in connecting kids to the emotion of what God did because he loved us so much, and how it completely changes our lives,” he said.
Other stories and blog posts in this Easter series:
What is Easter all about? Easter can be a confusing holiday – stores are filled with chocolate eggs and stuffed bunnies, while churches teach about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Are the two connected? Not really. But even within the Christian celebration of Easter, there can be confusion, especially when explaining Easter to children. Different Christian traditions emphasize different parts of Holy Week – there are Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday services. How do all of those events come together to tell one story – the Holy Week? And even more, how do all of the stories of the Old Testament lead us to the Cross on Good Friday?
VeggieTales® and What’s in the Bible? creator Phil Vischer – along with Buck Denver & Friends! – explains:
First, Jesus and his disciples went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, a Jewish holiday. Passover originated during the time of Israelite slavery in Egypt. God brought plagues to the Egyptians because they would not let the Israelites go free. The final plague was the death of all of the firstborn sons – but God warned the Israelites, and told them to sacrifice a lamb and put its blood on their doorways on that night. When the angel of death came to Egypt, the Israelites were saved. Understanding Passover leads us into a deeper understanding of Easter week, and the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross – he was the Passover lamb for all of us, saving us from death because of our sin.
When Jesus and his disciples entered Jerusalem, Jesus rode a donkey. Many people lined the roads and waved palm branches at him, saying “Hosanna!”. Today we remember this as Palm Sunday, and many churches celebrate it with special services.
Jesus and his disciples had a Passover meal together, and at this meal Jesus initiated the practice of communion. Today we call that meal the Last Supper, and some churches celebrate it with special services called Maundy Thursday. Other churches serve communion on Easter Sunday. Communion also reminds us of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, and we eat bread in remembrance of Christ’s broken body and drink wine in remembrance of the blood he shed for us.
After a trip to the garden of Gesthemane to pray for strength, Jesus was arrested when his disciple Judas betrayed him. He was put on trial, and sentenced to die for blasphemy – claiming to be equal to God. Jesus was killed on a cross, and when he died the whole sky went black and the temple curtain was ripped in two. Today, we remember Christ’s death on Good Friday.
But Christ didn’t stay dead, and as Phil explains in the video above, that is the real meaning of Easter.
“The people around Jesus just saw a man dying on a cross. But that’s not what God saw,” Phil Vischer says in the Easter video. “God saw something very different happening … He saw the stain of our sin appearing on Jesus.”
When explaining Easter to children (or anyone), the emphasis must be more than just on the facts of the story. Easter means not only did Jesus die, but why he died – to pay for the sin that had plagued the world since Adam and Eve, and for the sin that continues to plague the world today. Easter also means that Jesus conquered death, and in doing so saved all of us from the eternal punishment of sin. As 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 puts it – “Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?”
The power and mystery of Easter is embodied in the resurrection of the Christ, and the promised resurrection of all who believe in Him.
“Jesus proved that he had authority over death itself! That the power of sin and death was broken! That the kingdom of God was real, and that we can all be a part of it!” Vischer says in the video – and that’s the real meaning of Easter.
Other stories and blog posts in this Easter series:
In parts 1 and 2 of our Easter video series, we asked What’s in the Bible? creator Phil Vischer why it matters that Jesus is the “good news”, and why he spent so much time discussing what happened between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In his new DVD, Buck Denver Asks … What’s in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News [Matthew, Mark, Luke & John]. Today, Phil explains how difficult it was to teach the story of Jesus and shares some of the things he learned. Watch below:
“After 9 DVDs, and 3 years of production we finally got to the point of telling the story of Jesus – which was not as easy as I thought it was going to be,” Vischer said about his new DVD on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. “It’s easy to tell the facts – Jesus lived, he did this, he went here, he went here, he said this, and then he died, and then he rose again.”
“What’s much harder is not to just give kids the facts,” he said, “but to give them the space to have an emotional response to the facts.”
Creating that space for an emotional response was hard in the context of a DVD, Vischer shared. Children’s entertainment has become faster and faster in recent years, because it has been shown through research that kids can keep up and learn facts at a fast speed. However, Vischer says, the part of the brain that processes feelings cannot be trained to go faster.
“If everything is whiz-bang, fast, fun – kids can learn the Bible in their heads, but they can’t connect it to their hearts,” Vischer said.
So in What’s in the Bible? Volume 10, Vischer tells the facts about Jesus – he lived, he said this and that, and went here and there, and then he died. Then Vischer creates a lengthy, quiet moment – where the characters on screen realize what it means that Jesus died for them. As the characters quietly respond, the audience is invited to do the same.
Vischer shares that the first time he showed Volume 10 to friends and family, many were in tears during those quiet moments – which is not an easy thing to accomplish in a DVD with puppets.
Read the first post in this Easter Video series: Part 1: Easter Video Series – What happened between the old testament and the new testament
In Part I of our mini Easter video series, we asked What’s in the Bible creator Phil Vischer why he spent so much time in his new DVD talking about what happened between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The latest installment “Buck Denver Asks … What’s in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News! [Matthew, Mark, Luke & John]” was released on February 26, 2013. Watch his answer below:
“Some people might be surprised by how much time we take to talk about what happened between the Old Testament and the New Testament,” Vischer said about his new DVD about the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. After 9 previous volumes in the What’s in the Bible? series – all covering the Old Testament – Vischer started his 10th with a review of what happened in Genesis-Malachi.
“It is really important to connect the Testaments,” he said. You can’t fully understand the beauty of the Gospel story – of Christ’s death on the cross in the place of his people – without understanding the history of those people. Stretching all the way back to Genesis, Vischer shows children the path that humanity chose – a path of brokenness and sin – and how God had faithfully worked through the whole Old Testament to restore His perfect kingdom.
God promised a messiah to the people very early on in the Bible; and yet, even after the last writings of the Old Testament, the Israelites had to wait 400 years for Jesus to be born.
In the DVD, Vischer explains the “fullness of time” when one of the characters, Ian, expresses dismay that the Israelites waited 400 years. The fullness of time means that God waited until all the pieces had fallen into place for his story to work out perfectly. Only he knows why he acts when he acts, but there were a number of things that worked out in the years before Jesus’ birth that made the timing perfect. Alexander the Great had united the Roman world and it was in a time of peace (Pax Romana). There was a common language – Greek. And the Romans loved to build roads, so both the necessary common language and infrastructure for travel were in place for a message of God’s good news to spread quickly!
“It’s important how much the world changed between the end of the writing of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament,” Vischer said.
And as Vischer starts to tell the story of Jesus in Volume 10, a perfect stage has been set.
Pick up What’s in the Bible? Volume 10 today to learn more about God’s perfect timing and his great rescue plan.
Read the second post in this Easter Video series: Part 2: Easter Video Series: How do you teach the Bible story of Jesus to kids?
VeggieTales and Buck Denver Asks What’s in the Bible? creator Phil Vischer will appear on two national radio shows this week to talk about how to talk to your kids about Christmas and discuss his Christmas DVD Why Do We Call It Christmas?.
Christmas today is full of tricky bits – from Santa Claus to stockings to cutting down trees! Vischer will explain how these traditions – and more – can point us back to Christ, the real reason we celebrate at Christmas.
Listen to Phil Vischer on Family Life Radio and the Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast this week:
Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast with John Fuller
Talking to Your Kids About Christmas with Phil Vischer
Click Here to Listen Live
Family Life Daily Broadcast with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine
All Things Christmas with Phil Vischer Part 1
Click Here to Listen
Family Life Daily Broadcast with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine
All Things Christmas with Phil Vischer Part 2
Click Here to Listen
Last week, Phil Vischer was a guest on the Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast with Jim Daly, Dr. Juli Slattery and John Fuller. Phil discussed how to teach kids about Easter, as well as talked about What’s in the Bible? and parenting through the different stages of a child’s life.
You can listen to the full broadcast here.
Here are some of our favorite moments from the broadcast:
“You had a debt you couldn’t pay and Jesus paid it for you. And that’s what we’re celebrating. So, you focus on the celebration. To move away from the secular view of Easter, I think one important point is to celebrate the whole week. Celebrate Holy Week.”
“Easter is the Super Bowl of Christian holidays, not Christmas. So, I think the first step is to put Christmas back in its place and say, “Hey, Jesus was born. Isn’t that wonderful? What does that point us towards?” It points towards Easter. Now you’re thinking of Easter all through the year.”
“That’s one of the things I don’t like about in when we turn holidays into huge productions, is that it implies that all of this meaning is confined to a certain day of the year and we’re not living in it. You know, we need to be steeped in Easter. We’re in the soup of Easter, you know.”
“We don’t go to Easter to learn about Jesus. We go to Easter to celebrate what we know already. “
Jim Daly: When you look at it for your own kids, I mean, when you look at age 5, what do you really want them to understand? At age 10, what should they be grasping?
Phil Vischer: At 5, I think Resurrection Eggs are actually a really good tool, because you take something they enjoy, coloring eggs and the notion of eggs and bring the story of Jesus out of it. There are also tools like The Jesus Storybook Bible, which is a version of the Bible that points to how Jesus is the subtext behind every story. It’s an amazing little Bible storybook that’s become very popular. Those are the things you start with kids when they’re 5, tools that use things they like–picture books, eggs–to bring the story of Jesus out in a very kid-friendly way.
When you’re 10, you’re ready to look at images of the cross. So, you can actually start to feed ‘em. As you get into grade school, as you get towards 10, we need to think, okay, why isn’t the world the way you would like it to be? Why isn’t school the way you would like it to be? Why are you having conflicts with your friends? Why does nothing seem to work the way you would like it to work? Let’s talk about sin. And sin is something that is in all of us and ruins our relationships and makes everything harder and we can’t be with God, because He’s holy and we’re not. He’s perfect and we’re not. He’s got a standard that’s way up here and no matter what kind of gym shoes we have on, we can’t jump that high. We can’t meet God where He is. And that’s where you’re telling the Gospel. That’s where you’re presenting the Gospel. So, for an 8-, 9-, 10-year-old, which is why with What’s in the Bible?, which is geared for that age kids, we’re really hitting the Gospel.
Did you listen to the broadcast? What were some of your favorite moments?
Phil Vischer speaks with INCM Executive Director Michael Chanley at the opening session of CPC 2012.
The What’s in the Bible? team had the privilege to travel south to Orlando for a few days last week to hang out with about 1500 amazing children’s pastors at CPC 2012 (Children’s Pastors Conference). What a joy it was to spend time with so many energetic, creative and passionate children’s ministry leaders! Phil spoke at the opening ceremony about the importance of Biblical education for the next generation – and he definitely made an impact, because there was a 2-hour wait in line to meet him afterward! We got to hear so many stories from children’s pastors who are utilizing the What’s in the Bible? Church Edition in their ministries … and I can’t count the number of times we were asked, “when is the next one coming out?” (March, for those of you wondering!)
We spent a lot of time listening to and brainstorming with people who are really on the front lines of children’s ministry. We came away with LOTS of ideas, many of which we are looking to implement over the next few months. If you’re a children’s ministry leader or volunteer and you couldn’t make it to CPC or didn’t get a chance to talk to us, we’d love to hear from you too! What are things we can be doing to better serve you? What are some critical needs in the world of children’s ministry resources? Our ears are open! Share some of your thoughts in the comments section.