2014 Christmas Gift Guide

2014 Christmas Gift GuideAs a children’s & preschool pastor, questions about children’s Bibles and other kids resources start to pop up around me like Christmas trees in living room windows. In an attempt to answer a few questions and to save parents, grandparents, and the occasional aunt from having to sift through endless internet reviews, I offer you a few recommendations for the following resources: preschool & children’s Bibles, parenting & family books and kid’s books, as well as Bible buying guidelines for older children! If you have other suggestions please leave comments below!  

Preschool Bibles

big picture board bookThe Big Picture Interactive Bible Stories for Toddlers

Gospel Project

Divided into two volumes (From the Old Testament & From the New Testament) 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!

website ready books the big picture story bibleThe Big Picture Story Bible

David Helm with illustrations by Gail Schoonmaker

“The Big Picture Story Bible” is the best children’s Bible designed for preschoolers and younger children. The pictures are large and simplistic. The stories are short but have a high fidelity to the content of the Scripture. If you have an infant or early preschooler on your list, I encourage you to give this Bible a look!

Children’s Bibles & Devotionals 


website ready book the big picture interactive storybook bibleThe Big Picture Interactive Bible Story Book

Gospel Project

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, 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!

website ready book the gospel story bibleThe Gospel Story Bible

Marty Machowski

The author has done a wonderful job of representing the entirety of scripture in his children’s Bible. Beginning in Genesis, Machowshki covers every major Bible story. Each lesson is accompanied by Scripture references and discussion questions. The biggest benefit of this Bible is that is can be used with Marty’s two family discipleship books, “Long Story Short” and “Old Story New,” creating a great family worship and/or Sunday school curriculum for children of all ages! If you have room for another children’s Bible, get this one!

thoughts to make your heart singThoughts to Make Your Heart Sing 

Sally Lloyd-Jones & Jago

This beautifully illustrated book is a great devotional for kids of all ages. It’s pictures are beautiful enough to capture a baby’s attention, and the content consistently points to the beauty of Christ in a creative but truthful manner. This devotional makes a great addition to every kid’s bookshelf.  


For Parents:


big-truths-for-young-hearts1Big Truths For Young Hearts

Bruce A. Ware

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. It’s one of my favorite books to handout.

beside still watersBeside Still Waters

C.H. Spurgeon

Though I am not generally a fan of devotionals, I picked up this one at the recommendation of Dr. Stuart Scott. And this book has quickly become my favorite devotional. Complied from the expositional writings of the famous preacher, C.H. Spurgeon by Roy H. Clarke, this devotional is stock full of timely encouragement taking straight from the scriptures. This is a great resources for tired parents and everyone else.

books website ready treasuring ChristTreasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full

Gloria Furman

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! 

books website ready shepherding a childs heartShepherding A Child’s Heart

Tedd Tripp

Tedd Tripp shows parents how to discipline for the purpose of discipleship. He gives parents the scriptural foundation and the practical methods for addressing a child’s sinful heart. Tedd Tripp’s book is a great resource for parents both new and old.

books website ready show them JesusShow Them Jesus

Jack Klumpenhower

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 challenges and reenergizes our hearts to reach the next generation for Christ.

what is the meaning of sex

What is the Meaning of Sex?

Denny Burk

Use wisdom when giving this book as a gift. But don’t be scared by the title.  If you are looking for a book that discusses marriage, homosexuality, and birth control all in one place, this is your book. By sticking his nose deep into scripture Denny Burk helps Christians to think through many popular misconceptions about sex and tastefully helps believers grasp God’s plan for our lives!   

For Kids:

the-chronicles-of-narnia-focus-on-the-family-radio-theatre-463x400Focus on the Family Radio Theatre Drama

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!

poison cupThe Prince’s Poison Cup

R.C. Sproul

Beautifully illustrated as R.C. Sproul’s other children’s books (The Priest With Dirty Clothes, The Donkey Who Carried a King, The Barber 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.

princes and the kissPrincess and the Kiss

Jennie Bishop

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!

Tips For Buying Your Child’s First Bible:

  1.  Avoid paraphrases. Several would-be Bibles, such as, the “Living Bible” and the “Message” take several interpretive liberties when translating Scripture. Though more grown up in nature, these Bibles are similar to children’s Bibles. They typically capture the idea of the passage or story, but bear little resemblance to the original text.
  2. Find an accurately translated Bible. For example, the “King James” Bible, the “New King James Bible, the “English Standard Version” of the Bible, the “New American Standard” Bible, and the “Holman Standard” Bible were all translated in such a way that the English words you find on their pages parallel the text of the original languages of the Bible.
  3. Give your child a readable Bible. If your child does not enjoy Shakespearean plays or cannot read old English, please do not give your kid a Bible with thee’s and thou’s. Hand your child the Bible that you consider to be the easiest to understand. Personally, I like the “New King James” (NKJV) and the “English Standard Version” (ESV) the best. However as Bibles aimed at children go, I think the new Holman Standard Big Picture Interactive Bible has perhaps the best and most helpful notes for kids.  
  4. Do not fret about the frills. The Bibles listed above have been published with notes for kids, teens, babies, soldiers, and for every other type of person. Although the notes and packaging are nice, the Bible’s ability to transform lies in the content of the Word not its appearance. If you choose a themed Bible, look over the notes to make sure you agree with them.

Dealing With Disobedience: How Discipline Gets Kids To Jesus

             Dealing With Disobedience “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

As an unregenerate kid with a reputation for fighting, I thought the best use of an oxymoron was my parents’ comment that they disciplined me out of “love.” Before I would head off to serve my next sentence, I nodded in disbelieving agreement to my parents’ statement. But I didn’t particularly find long timeouts, T.V. restrictions, or summer school to be all that loving. I much preferred ice cream, video games, and full summer baseball schedule.

All About Love

The Shema, or Deuteronomy 6:4-9, is perhaps one of the most well-known parenting passages in the Bible, popping up in almost every Christian book on parenting. And as you read the passage, you notice that it is all about love. Moses commands his listeners sitting the banks of the Jordan to love the Lord, their God. Moses states that one the truest expressions of a person’s love for God is to tell their offspring about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It would appear that on face value this passage is all about the positives. Love God and things will go well for you! The sentiment of “All I need is love” appears to be the key to Biblical parenting. Perhaps, my parents would have been better served to combat my sin with a trip to Baskin Robins centered on a brief talk about how much God loves me.

And it’s true; we and (our children) should find God attractive because he is a loving and good God whose character is where, “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet” (Ps 85:10a). Indeed those who dwell with the Lord are never disappointed and have everything they need. But for our children to appreciate the goodness of God, they must first understand how bad their sin is. If they have done nothing wrong, they don’t need a savior or to exclusively follow God.

Why Talk About Sin

Though all about the positives, Moses does reminds his listeners of their need for God. Before he tells them to love the Lord their God in chapter 6, he spends large portions of the first five chapters reminding the nation of Israel of its depravity, of God’s law, and of God’s judgment upon those who break his law. In Deuteronomy 1:26-32, Moses tells the people not to follow in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents. This older generation saw the fortified cities and the giants dotting the Promise Land and immediately doubted the integrity of God’s promises. They did not believe the word of the Lord. And God punished them with death. Some died when they attempted to fulfill God’s promises by launching an unauthorized attack into the Promise Land. The others died a slow death wandering around the wilderness (2:16). All those who disbelieved God died. And Moses warns that in the future, all those who try live without God, “will be utterly destroyed” (4:26b).

From Sin to Love

Friends, we and our families are just like the people of Israel. We need to be reminded of our sin and of our need to constantly trust Christ. When my parents disciplined me, it was an act of faithfulness. They helped me understand as Matt Chandler helpfully notes, “The bad news of the gospel still applies to everyone” (p. 25).The hours spent in summer school or in timeouts reinforced the truth that my life was separated from God. And, the constant drum of punishments also helped me to see that I could never be good on my own. I tried, I tried every so hard to be good. But like the Israelites, I always failed. As the apostle Paul says in I Timothy the law was given, “for the lawless and disobedient” so that they would believe (1:8-11).

The cure for kids who feel burdened by sin is not to ignore the topic (they feel the burden anyway, even if they aren’t talking about it) but to administer large doses of the good news so that their trust in Jesus grows (Klumpenhower, 2014, p. 39).

My parents’ discipline of me was not an oxymoron. They truly did love me! As Tedd Tripp writes,

The rod is an act of faithfulness toward a child. Recognizing that in discipline there is hope, and refusing to be a willing party to his child’s death, the parent undertakes this task (p. 105).

My parents punished my little unsaved soul because they hoped God would use the reality of the law to draw me to Christ. Let’s point our children to the love Christ by showing them they need a Redeemer.

Works Cited

Chandler, M., & Snetzer, M. (2014). Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change. Nashville: B&H Publishing .

Klumpenhower, J. (2014). Show Them Jesus: Teaching The Gospel to Kids. Greensboro: New Growth Press.

Tripp, T. (2005). Shepherding A Child’s Heart. Wapwallopen : Shepard Press .