"Just ONE MORE chapter, Mom....PLLLLEAAAASSSSEEE!!!"
This became a regular plea during the 4 days (yes 4 days) it took to read J. Warner Wallace and Susie Wallace's new book, God's Crime Scene For Kids with my 8-year-old daughter, Dyllan. It took only 4 days because she could. Not. Get. Enough. She fell in love with Jason, Hannah, Daniel, Jasmine, and Detective Jeffries—and loved the challenge of solving the mystery of what they found in Grandma Miri's attic. She excitedly applied the skills she learned from that investigation to the investigation of the origin of the universe.
The Old Testament is brutal at times. It records instances of violence, cannibalism, treason, betrayal, and murder....just to name a few. So is God ok with all of this? For example, does the Bible implicitly approve of human sacrifice because of the story of Jephthah?
It's important to note: The Bible does not condone everything it records.
Repeat that. Memorize it. Tattoo it on your face if you have to, but never forget that some books of the Bible are historical in nature—and they don't make moral commentary on every historical event they report about. This will solve at least half of the problems you may encounter with the more "troubling" stories in the Old Testament. (Let's not forget that the Old Testament is largely about a very rebellious people who disobeyed God at every turn. There is bound to be some unpleasantness.)
Confession: I read a lot.
I read books I agree with.... books I don't agree with....books that are a bit over my head....books on subjects I'm interested in....books on subjects I'm not particularly interested in....and books that are just mindlessly entertaining. I read books about philosophy, science (remember those books that are a bit over my head?) and history. I devour theology like it's the latest teen fiction craze to take over Barnes and Noble.
But one of my favorite things to do just before I go to bed is read the Church Fathers. Oh, how I love the Fathers. Whenever I read something a bit "heady" or confusing, I head over to consult with Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Justin, Irenaeus, and Augustine. These guys were dead serious about Jesus and were not messing around when it came to their faith. They were flawed like the rest of us and were certainly fallible—but they help us understand Christianity as it was expressed in their times and cultures.
One of the most common objections skeptics raise to the deity of Christ is the idea that Jesus never actually claimed to be God. Sure the church ended up worshiping Him as such, but this was a later development that was projected onto Jesus but wasn't something He intended to claim for Himself....or so the argument goes.
If you are expecting to find a Bible verse in which Jesus stands on the Mount of Olives and proclaims in English, and every other known language, "I am God!" You won't find it. He actually did one better....but we'll save that for the end.