Nancy Ganz is author of the Herein is Love commentary series, a Bible commentary set for children. They are written following the model given to God’s people in Deuteronomy 6—that is, these books talk to children about God and his word. The writing is from the heart to the heart. In other words, the books are written from the heart of a mother and teacher passionately committed to teach the glory of God to her children. Then, the writing is directed to the hearts of children so that the things of God will be deeply impressed upon them. We believe this series to be unique. The material in these commentaries is thoroughly biblical, and it is presented in a warm, richly flowing narrative. Parents, teachers and children will gain fresh insights into the biblical texts, insights that will impact everyday life. If you have ever wondered how to make the Bible come alive to your children (and to yourself), Herein is Love will do just that.
We are grateful that Nancy has done this interview. We are trusting God that your appreciation for this series will be deepened and that God will use this interaction for his glory and your good. This interview will come in several posts, concluding this Saturday. I believe you will find her answers to provide an intimate and encouraging look at what makes Herein is Love so special.
This interview was first published in 2010.
Nancy Ganz: I wrote this book to teach children about the Love of God. When I was a child I learned about the God of wrath in the Old Testament. When I came of age I was confirmed in the church, even while I rejected this God in my heart–but at the right time, on the day appointed for me by God, at the age of twenty- one, the Lord brought me to Himself and I embraced this God with faith. I placed my trust in Him to forgive my sins and rescue me from death. He was not a God of wrath, but a God of Love and Grace. It has grieved me that my heavenly Father should be so maligned, especially in the eyes of little children. God’s great Love pours forth from the very beginning of the Bible, from the opening words in Genesis, to the closing words in Revelation. God’s great Salvation is proclaimed throughout the Scriptures–and that is how my heart was turned to Him, by seeing this salvation unveiled in the Old Testament. I discovered that the Bible was not a collection of unrelated short stories, and it was seeing this unity of the Scriptures that brought me to faith. I came to a saving knowledge of Christ through the Gospel of Moses and the last shreds of unbelief were ripped from my eyes by the proclamation of John the Baptist. He was the voice calling out in the wilderness who finally reached my heart:
“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
I beheld Jesus, because I understood for the first time about the Lamb of God in the writings of Moses. This Messiah had been announced from the beginning. I had not understood what manner of Man He was, because I had not been taught all that had been written beforehand concerning Him. Jesus said, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken… And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25, 27). How foolish we are not to teach our children about Christ the way He taught about Himself! How foolish we are not to begin where He began, with the writings of Moses! It is the Old Testament writings about which this is written: “From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching” (II Timothy 3:15, 16). I believe that knowing the Old Testament from their earliest days will make our children wise for salvation through Jesus Christ. Our children must see the Love of God from the beginning; they must see God’s plan of Salvation unfolding from the beginning, if they are going to place their trust in Him. “Herein is Love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (I John 4:10). The work of God’s Son was proclaimed to us from the very beginning.
Jay: Nancy, as a follow up – tell us when you actually decided to write these commentaries.
Nancy: I decided to write this book when I was sitting in the National Arts Centre Theatre in the capital of Canada. The National Ballet Company of Canada was performing The Nutcracker and I was thinking, “The world takes a silly little story like this and tells it to the children so beautifully and meaningfully that they remember it for the rest of their lives. The church takes the most beautiful and meaningful story ever told–the salvation of God’s people–and somehow turns the most exciting events and amazing facts in all human history into unimaginably boring lessons. How is this possible?” It was that thought in that moment which motivated me to write this book in this way.
Jay: That is a powerful motivation! What was the specific reason for beginning to write?
Nancy: There was also a very practical reason for this book. I needed Bible lessons for teaching. In 1980 my husband, Dr. Richard L. Ganz, was called to plant a church in Ottawa, Canada. I found myself responsible for the Sabbath School of that new work. What materials were available for teaching children the Scriptures? I was disheartened by what I found. Most Sunday School material was so uninteresting and so uninspiring that I could barely read through the lessons myself. The great theme of Scripture–God saving a people for Himself–was somehow lost in these lessons, and what emerged was the repetitive message: “Be good. Do this. Don’t do that.” Of course children must be taught right from wrong, but without faith, works are dead–and they cannot bring a child to life. “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith… not by works” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). All the accounts in the Scriptures, all the stories of the Bible, are there to strengthen our Faith in God. “These are written that you might Believe” (John 20:31). Every lesson should encourage the children to believe–to believe in God’s Word, to believe in God’s Love. I became aware that in most Sunday School lessons the focus was wrong. These lessons focused on what we should do, instead of focusing on what God had done. Their emphasis was upon our works, rather than upon God’s Grace. What does the Bible say about teaching our children? “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done… He established the Law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children… Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds, but would keep His commands” (Psalm 78:4, 5,7). Works follow faith. Keeping His commands follows putting their trust in God. And how do they come to put their trust in God? It is by us telling them “the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.”
O Lord, my God, how many are the wonders Thou has done!
How many are the gracious thoughts, which Thou to us has shown!
No one can sort and set them out. None can compare to Thee!
If I would tell and speak of them, they could not numbered be.
I never have within my heart concealed Thy Righteousness.
I Thy Salvation have declared and shown Thy Faithfulness.
Thy Mercy great, Thy steadfast Love, I ever have revealed,
And from the congregation great Thy Truth have not concealed.
(Psalm 40:5, 10, The Book of Psalms for Singing, 40C)
In this book, in these lessons, I have humbly endeavoured to begin this task, the task of telling the children of God’s wonders, the task of declaring to them God’s righteousness, Salvation and faithfulness, the task of revealing to them God’s Truth, His great Mercy and His steadfast Love.