2015 Christmas Guide

On Black Friday, the holiday shopping season begins in earnest. I affectionately refer to this time as “The Season of Insanity.” And part of the insanity is caused by the seemingly unending array of choices. Lifeway and Christian Book Distributers alone recommend thousands of items. Don’t even think about amazon. Determining which Christian books and resources are good and which are religious fluff is hard. And who has the hours to do that?

Hi, there! Throughout the course of the year, I read and examine a ton of books and resources for the FBCE kids’ ministry. Below I have listed the best of the best. I hope my reviews make your Christmas a little less insane! And if you know of things that could be added to this list, leave me a comment below!


Christmas 2015 Guide

 

Ideas For Preschoolers


The Big Picture Interactive Bible Stories in Five Minutes.  – $10.74

Gospel ProjectBible Story in five minutes

This is one of my favorite preschool/kids’ Bibles because it doesn’t try to be a traditional kids Bible.  Starting with creation and ending with Jesus’ resurrection the book covers 12 important biblical stories.  By not being exhaustive, the book can recount each Biblical narrative as a story. The beautifully illustrated pages flow from one to the next. And last page always ties the story back to the gospel. And the best part for us with young kids is: the stories only last 5 minutes!

The Bible App For Kids Story Book Bible – $9.57

You VersionBible App Kids BIble

It has finally happened. An App has become a book! The Bible App For Kids Story Book Bible left the digital world earlier this year and is becoming an instant hit. Each of the book’s gospel-centered Bible stories can be read in about 1-2 minutes. But what makes this preschool Bible stand out from all the rest is its free digital content. You can download the “Story Book Bible App” for free and get access to even more Bible stories. You also can go to the bibleappforkids.com website and download coloring sheets, videos, discussions guide, and much, much more. With this one preschool Bible, you can teach your kids the scriptures across all platforms (print, mobile, and PC).  

 

The Big Picture Interactive Bible Stories for Toddlers – $9.99

Gospel Projecttoddler Bible

Divided into two volumes (one is Old Testament stories and one is New Testament stories) these Bibles are perfect for toddlers. Covering twenty Bible stories each, these books deliver gospel centered truth in a board format that your toddler eat on while you read!  

 

The Big Picture Story Bible – $16.98

David Helm with illustrations by Gail SchoonmakerBig Picture Story Bible

“The Big Picture Story Bible” is one of the better preschool Bibles. The pictures are large and simplistic. The stories are short and include some commentary. But for the most part the Bible follows the content of the Scripture closely. Some additions also come with a nice audio recording of the Bible. If you have younger kids on your list, I encourage you to give this Bible a look!

 

Everything a Child Should Know About God – $19.99

Kenneth N. Taylor with illustrations by Jenny BrakeEverything a child should know about God

This is a great little book that covers all the major doctrines and ides of the Bible in one-page devotions. Each devotion is accompanied by a picture and follow questions. The book is perfect for the child with a short attention span. If  you already have a great preschool bible and are looking to add another book to your preschooler’s library check out Everything a Child Should Know About God.

 

Ideas For Kids

The Big Picture Interactive Bible Story Book – $12.22

Gospel ProjectBig Picture Interactive Story Book

Created by the writers of the “Gospel Project,” our church’s Sunday school curriculum, this children’s Bible does an excellent job of presenting the whole counsel of God as seen by the pages devoted to Zephaniah and the Pauline letters. Each story is accompanied by a great illustration, interactive media (the gospel project app for kids), scripture references, an explanation of how the story relates to Christ, and a discussion questions. If your child is only going to have one children’s Bible on his or her self, make it this one!

 

The Biggest Story: How The Snake Crusher Brings Us Back TO The Garden – $12.57

Ken DeYoung with Illustrations by Don ClarkBiggest Story Every Told

The Bible is not just a collection of short stories. It’s one big story with a central theme. DeYoung’s book encourages us to rediscover this truth this Christmas. Seeking to explain the importance of Christ’s arrival, Pastor DeYoung walks he readers through the entirety of the Bible in a playful, elegant, and hopeful manner. With each chapter, DeYoung shows kids that all of the Old and New Testament are about Jesus. He is the Biggest Story! DeYoung designed his book to be read aloud on Christmas morning while the family relaxes by the fireplace. You may not have a fire place, but you will still benefit from adding this book to your Christmas traditions. It’s worth the read.

 

Sticky Situations: 365 Devotions For Kids and Families – $11.71

Betsy Schmittsticky situations

The best thing about this devotion is that makes the scriptures relevant for kids. It shows kids that the Bible has the words of life and the words needed for everyday life. Here’s how the devotion works: Each day begins with story about homework, dirty clothes, or some other sticky situation. Then, the author asks the reader what he or she would do listing several responses both good and bad. Lastly, your kids are encouraged to look up the scripture verse listed at the bottom of the page to discover God’s solution to the situation. To make sure everybody stays on track, an answer key and additional discussion questions are located in the back of the book. This collections of 360 practical devotions is second to none.

 

The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever Knew – $26.99

Marty Machowskithe ology

If you are looking for a colorful book that explains theology to grade schoolers and middle schoolers without babying them, you need to grab a copy of The Ology. The book explores the subject of God, scripture, humanity, salvation, the church, and many other topics. Each section contains colorful illustrations, well written explanations of big theological truths, and tons of scripture references. You can use the book either as a family devotional or hand it off to your middle schooler and let him or her start learning the scriptures anew!

 

Heaven For Kids – $9.17

Randy Alcornheaven for kids

Have your kids ever asked you about heaven? You probably heard the questions: “Will it be boring, will our pets be there, how do we get there, etc.?” If they have, grab them a copy of Heaven for Kids. Based on Randy Alcorn bestselling book, Heaven, Heaven for Kids provides thoughtful answers to the above questions and many more. Each chapter is filled with stories, analogies, and scriptural explanations that bring the reality of heaven into full view. Get a copy for your kids and help them start thinking about eternity! 

 

Ideas For Parents

Big Truths For Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God – $11.55

Bruce A. Warebig truths for young hearts

Written by a seminary professor for his two little girls, the book breaks down the deepest doctrines of faith into bites that children can easily digest. This child styled systematic theology book will be an encouragement to parents and children alike as they seek to understand humanity, God, and the Bible. If you want to get one book this year that increases your understanding of God, this is it. By far, this is one of my favorite books to handout to parents.  

 

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations For Busy Moms – $9.88

Gloria Furmantreasuing Christ

This book is short enough for a busy mom to handle and provides sound gospel-centered truth on the realities of motherhood.  Motherhood is a hard but important job, and Gloria encourages the worn out women of God who are called to the task! The gospel provides everything a mom needs to relieve stress and overcome misguided expectations. Ladies this is perhaps one of the best books available for moms! 

 

Shepherding A Child’s Heart – $12.56

Tedd Trippsheparding a childs heart

Tedd Tripp shows parents how to discipline for the purpose of discipleship. He gives parents the scriptural foundation and the practical methods for addressing the issues that often define the parent-child relationship. But instead of focus on outward changing, Tripp goes deeper and looks at the heart. He shows parents how to reach their little sinners with the gospel. Tedd Tripp’s book is a both a practical and biblical resource for parents.

 

Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids – $15.54

Jack Klumpenhowershow them Jesus

This book is written by a lifelong Sunday school teacher for Sunday school teachers and for anyone working with kids either at home or at church. This book is full of practical wisdom concerning how to teach the gospel to children in way that is both Biblical and relational. Jack’s focus on the gospel will challenge and re-energizes our hearts to reach the next generation for Christ.  

 

Is God Ant-Gay? -$7.99

Sam AllberryIs God anti Gay

Homosexuality is daily becoming more applauded in our society. As Christians, we need to know how to address the issue in a loving, compassionate, and truthful manner. Is God anti-gay? gives us the biblical knowledge to do just that. The short 84-page book helps us answers several of our culture’s questions about homosexuality such as, “Jesus never mentions homosexuality, so how can it be wrong?” And, Allberry goes beyond addressing the sins. He shows his readers how to extend grace to the sinner. Grab a copy today!

For Fun

apples to apples bibleApples to Apples (Bible Addition) – $21.89

If you want a fun, family friendly game that is sure to create some laughter grab a copy of Apples to Apples! You deal every player a hand of cards and then turn over a green card such as “heavenly.” Each player submits their card that best represents the card played, such as “Ruth; Camels, Samson.” The players then vote to decided who’s card best represent the word players. It’s time to grab some apples.   

 

catch phraseCatch Phrase- $21.99

Set the timer, pick a category, and go! You then try describe the catch-phrase on the screen without using any of the words in the phrase. If “Christmas” were the word you were trying to say, you would say something like, “We celebrate it every December 21.” But don’t take too long as times money. And if the devise in your hands when the timer goes off, you lose. The game is one of my family’s favorites. I hope your family will love it too!

 

51zhk2pdjWLFocus on the Family Radio Theatre Drama – $9.99 – $27.99

If you spend large amounts of time in your car, are fond of road trips, or have middle school children who refuse to read, you should give Focus on the Family Radio Theatre a listen. It brings classic works such as “ The Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Hiding Place,” and “Ann of Green Gables” (just to name a few) to life with fantastic performance by a host of professional actors and actresses!

 

The Prince’s Poison Cup – $15.35

R.C. Sproulprince and the posion cup

Beautifully illustrated as R.C. Sproul’s other children’s books (The Priest With Dirty Clothes, The Donkey Who Carried a King, The Baber Who Wanted to Pray, etc.) this book tells the story of Christ’s death through a medieval parable. The beautiful story is laced with the power of the gospel and makes a great addition to every child’s bookshelf.

 

Princess and the Kiss: A Story of God’s Gift of Purity – $10.62

Jennie Bishopprincess and the kiss

Beautifully illustrated, the book presents the splendor of chastity in a fun, thoughtful manner that can be enjoyed by young girls and appreciated by those leaving the ranks of elementary school!

Mom, are Christians Nazis?


hitler leaving churchSeemingly ever since President George W. Bush took office back in 2001, the word Nazi became disturbingly cool. Most every political and social group bantered around the term with ferocity. They had good reason. If you can convince people that your opponent’s position is nothing more than a dirty, old member of the Nazi platform, you can quickly take the moral high ground. From there, you can begin convincing people that your position is right. Who wants to side with Hitler?

Not too surprisingly, many supporters of homosexual marriage have begun to claim that conservative Christians are nothing more than modern day Nazis. Viewing the church to be a place of religious indoctrination and societal intolerance, many in the LGBT community think a direct link exists between Hitler and conservative pulpits. Hitler murder millions of people in the name of Christ. The church today alienates and maligns thousands of innocent people by holding to the values of 1950 Christendom. The homosexual community want Christians to abandon the irrational hate of the 20th Century and embrace the love of God.

So are those trying to redefine marriage correct? Are conservative, Bible believing Christians nothing more than modern day Nazis? Let’s take a look.

Nazi View of the Bible

In one sense, Hitler did make use of the church. Unlike the American church, the German protestant church was funded by German tax dollars. Being a pragmatic man, Hitler used all government
agencies including the German church to advance Nazism. But before Christianity could become a truly useful member of the Naziparty, Hitler had to divorce it from the Bible. He had to remake the religion into an agency the promoted the German Volk instead of Jesus.  

Viewing the Bible to be overtly Jewish and an excessively feminine work, Hitler encouraged the church to abandon the traditional, literal view of the Bible. His Nazi theologians claimed that:

The Devil values the printed page and stretches it out to demand signatures, while God reaches out his hand. Whereas the Jews were the first to write out their faith, Jesus never did so.

The Nazi knew that the written words of the scripturehitler and cardinal hurt their cause and had to be jettisoned. In place of the Bible, the Nazis worshiped the intentions of Jesus and the state. “Down with Paul and the Old Testament,” they chanted. (Evidently, Jesus was Jew hating Aryan.) Driven by nationalistic furor, the Nazis began chopping apart the Bible. They removed all references to sin, the supernatural, and Judaism. (Yes, the Nazi Bible was a pretty small book.) Such things were deemed to be Jewish perversions and unloving doctrines weakness. Hitler and his followers wanted
a nationalistic Christianity free from the dogma and the doctrine of the biblical text.

At the end of the day, Hitler vehemently opposed biblical, conservative Christianity. (He also had little patience for the Nazi church, deeming it unwieldy and petty.)  As early as 1933, the Nazi party began prohibiting soldiers and statesmen from being involved in church life. By 1939, the superintendent of military chaplains boasted that, “no one understood” confessional Christianity “anymore.” Historic Christianity opposed Hitler’s murderous policies of Nazi superiority. And despite his early propaganda speeches, the dictator knew it.  He wanted to rid Germany of the faith. Historian Doris L. Bergen noted that, “hard-core Nazi leaders…as well as Adolf Hitler himself, considered Nazism and Christianity irreconcilable antagonists.” Nazis were not yesterday’s fundamentalist.

The Conservative Christian View


Unlike the Nazis, conservative Christians champion the Bible’s teachings. Many today think the Bible an irrelevant and an antiquated printed page. But conservative Christians view the Bible to be the living word of God. They cling to passages such as II Timothy 3:16 which states:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

Today’s fundamentalist believe that the Bible directly conveys God’s message to humanity.  They are driven by the conviction that Scripture is God’s word and must be obeyed.this is the enemy

Conservative Christians condemn homosexuality not because they hate “brown” people and minorities as the Nazi did. They condemn homosexuality and all sex outside of biblical marriage because such actions as pastor Sam Allberry writes, “Contradict sound doctrine and the gospel.”  Unlike the Nazis, conservative Christians stand with the printed page of God’s word. Though unpopular, they cling to the Jesus of the Bible.  As the Apostle Peter says in John 6:38, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

The Homosexual View


Biblically, the term “homosexual Christian” is an oxymoron. One cannot affirm Christ and value things that Jesus hates. To arrive at the point where homosexuality is an acceptable Christian behavior, one has to reject biblical authority. And this is precisely the tact of homosexual theologians. Timothy Johnson wrote:

I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By doing so, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality

Just like the Nazi church and countless theological liberals before them, homosexuals have abandon the printed page. They look to the human experience for meaning and truth. And, they have no other choice. Commenting on the above quote, David Platt wrote:

If someone wants to advocate for homosexual activity, he or she must maintain that the Bible is irrelevant to modern humanity, inconsistent with our experience, and thus insufficient as a source of truth and guidance for our lives.

Homosexual theologians want a positive, sexualized Christianity free from the dogma and doctrine of the biblical text.

Are We Nazis?

The answer is “No.” Conservative Christianity has always affirmed scripture and has been at odds with Hitler. Take a closer look at the likes of nazi PostDietrich Bonhoeffer and the other members of the Confessing Church and the contrast will become even clearer.

However, I do not believe that homosexual theologians are Nazis. They are not advocating for the death of millions of Jews. The homosexual agenda is not the Nazi agenda. In short, we can safely conclude that neither conservative Christians nor homosexuals represent the rebirth of Nazism.

But homosexual theologians do share an intellectual pragmatism with the Nazi party. Both groups attempted to escape the authority of the written text of scripture. As Dr. Albert Mohler wrote a few months ago:

Once biblical inerrancy is abandoned, there is no brake on theological and moral revisionism. The Bible’s authority becomes relative, and there is no anchor to hold the church to the words of Scripture and 2,000 years of Christian witness. 

The results of the Nazi and the homosexual theological experiments have been very different. One encouraged a culture to embrace Aryanism and the Holocaust. The other is leading the west to redefine sex. But, they share a methodology. They both believe the Christian faith can and should be unanchored from the Bible and made into something new.

The quotes are true. Hitler did embrace a form of Christianity. But the similarities between the Christianity of Hitler and the Christianity of modern day conservatives begins and ends with the word, “Christian.” Hitler championed a Christianity divorced from scripture, while conservatives champion the written word. So the answer to the questions is a resounding, “No, we are not Nazis.”

What Our VBS Says About Homosexual Marriage

gay marriage blogFriday (June 26) was a huge day for us! The Supreme Court made self-actualization the highest law of the land, and FBCE wrapped up Vacation Bible School. I know, typically those two things would be non-sequiturs. But this week our VBS curriculum had a lot to say about homosexual marriage. (No, our theme was not sexual ethics. We used Lifeway’s Journey off the Map) All week, students at FBCE studied the Life of Daniel and his friends. And we saw how Daniel lived faithfully for God in a pagan, unbiblical society. Instead of being crushed by the Persian and Babylonian cultures, Daniel exceled in godliness and became a political guru.

And while I am not excited about the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize homosexual marriage, I am also not afraid of the court’s actions. Christians can live for God in a hostile world. We can thrive in the midst of pagan humanism and persecution. God is faithful and cares for his people all over the world. He supported and sustained Daniel. He supported Paul and Peter in Rome. He has and will always care for his people! We don’t need to panic. We need to trust God today.

Day3And there is a good chance things will get worse. We may soon face laws restricting our faith just like Daniel did. It’s quite possible WordPress, Twitter, and others will begin banning anti-gay speech. Here’s why:

The recent ruling has given the homosexual community most everything they want.  And they truly think that the ability to freely marry will make them happy. But lighting up the White House with rainbow colors won’t fulfill them. No amount of sexual expression can bring us lasting joy. Only Christ satisfies our souls. As the days plod along, society will once again feel angst. And I fear homosexuals will blame “bigoted” Christians for their troubled consciences.  If everyone accepted homosexuals, they wouldn’t feel bad. Or so they think. Thus, homosexuals will begin looking for ways to eliminate all negative comments about their sexuality. Even today, newspapers have begun banning anti-gay letters from the editorial pages. Soon they will want to monitor our homes and churches.

Again, we don’t need to panic. But we need to understand where America stands. And then, we should strive to be like modern day Daniel’s by doing the following.  First, we help our kids understand the Biblical view of marriage, by modeling it and talking about it. Second, we can remember that being a Christian equals enmity with the world. We fight against the sins of pornography, greed and selfishness that infect our hearts. And lastly, we demonstrate the love of Christ by caring for all our neighbors (regardless of their sexual expression). Are you ready to live in a post-Christian world?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2

Here are some other great resources discussing homosexual marriage:

Everything Has Changed and Nothing Has Changed – The Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage

The Only Decision That Matters

Parenting in A Gay Marriage World. What Should Christians Do?

Is God Anti Gay?