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.

Keep It Growing, Part B: Five Tips For Effective Family Worship

Keep It Growing: Part B 

SalvationSeries_KeepingItGrowing_6partBLast week, we discussed the necessity, importance, and purpose of family worship. We meet to worship as families because Christ has commissioned spouses and parents to evangelize and disciple their families. In an effort to help us all start or continue our family worship times, I’ve listed several principles and resources that I and many others have found helpful over the years.

5 Ways Tips For Making Family Worship Work

  1. Pick a resource that brings the gospel to your heart. For discipleship to be effective you have to teach others to follow you as you follow Christ. You begin by applying the truths to your heart before you you make it to the kitchen table. If you are not regularly learning from the devotional or being encouraged by it, find another resource.
  2. Be excited, enthusiastic, and intentional. If you think family worship is a labor of boredom, your kids will as well. Have an infectious love for God’s Word. If you struggling with your attitude before family worship, spend some time in prayer thanking God for his salvation and your family.
  3. Set realistic goals. If your goal is to have five family worship sessions every day,SalvationSeries_BaptismClassforParents6 you will probably fail. I would encourage you to try to have a family devotion at least once a week. I do understand that blended families and other situations can make even once a week undoable. Set realistic goal, but don’t let sports or worldly pleasures crowd family worship out of your schedule. Pick a reasonable goal and stick to it.
  4. Keep it simple. All a good family worship times needs is teaching, prayer, and singing. If you have little children, you be could wrapping things up with an off key rendition of Jesus Loves Me about 5 minutes after you start.
  5. Be flexible. If you are planning on talking about love from 1 Corinthians 13 and your children want to discuss the question of “Why do bad things happen to good people,” go with it. Encourage your children’s interest in the Bible. Model for them a dependence upon scripture.

Family Worship Resources

Below, I’ve put together a list of resources that I and other families have found  helpful.  Many of these resources our available in my office if you would like to borrow one. If you know of resources not listed here, please tell share them with us in the comment section.

  • Beside The Still Waters:Taken from the Sermons of Charles Spurgeon this is a short and encouraging devotional that parents and older children would appreciate.
  • The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook: Each Bible story is accompanied BIg Picture Interactive Story Book Bibleby references, a Christ connection and a question. The book also goes along nicely with the Gospel Project Sunday school curriculum, helping families and churches to work together. It a great resource for families with younger to middle school aged children.
  • Big Truths For Young Hearts: Dr. Bruce Ware has created a systematic theologybig-truths-for-young-hearts1 for kids. Using stories and conversations from his daughters’ childhoods, Dr. Ware has made deep Biblical truths understandable. Broken down into bit size sections, each chapter contains several memory verses and questions that will help you develop your family worship time. It would be a great resource for families with children of all ages.
  • Bible Book Study: Take a book of the Bible and go through it a section/paragraph at a time. If you want to go more in-depth in your book study checkout either the NIV Application Commentary or the Read/Mark/Learn series. Both are easy reads. This is a good tool for families with children of all ages.
  • Long Story Short or Old Story Long: These books are specifically designed with Long story shortfamilies in mind. Working through the Old and New Testaments respectively, each book is arranged in weekly sections that provide resources for five days of devotions. Each day consists of a passage of scripture, a brief commentary, discussion questions, and prayer points. It’s a great resource for families with younger to middle school aged children.
  • Proverbs: There are 31 chapters in Proverbs making it an easy family devotion tool. Simply take the chapter or a few verses from the chapter that corresponds to the date on the calendar. Great tool for families with children of all ages.
  • Psalms: There are 150 Psalms. You can make your family the devotion the Psalm of the day. After you work through Psalms 1-30, add another 30 and start the next month at Psalm 31. When you get to a month that has 31 days read all of Psalm 119.  Great tool for families with children of all ages.
  • Sermon/Sunday School Devotions: Simply note the passage of this week’s sermon or Sunday school lesson. Take your family back through the passage, asking questions that relate specifically to their lives. At First Baptist Church, we also post a family devotional on our children’s ministry Facebook page that contains scripture references, discussions and questions that go along with your child’s Sunday school lesson. Great tool for families with children of all ages.
  •  Catechism For Young Children: This is a series of 69 short question and answer chatechism for kidssequences designed to help children understand the basic doctrines of faith. After going over the scriptural references that support the question, complete your devotion by having your family memorize one question per meeting. It is a great resource for families with younger children.
  • Thoughts To Make My Heart Sing: A colorful book with short one page devotionals. Sally Loyd Jones does an excellent job of introducing important truths in an engaging fashion. It is a great resource for families with younger children.
  • The Witkowski Plan: My wife and I Memorize Scripture together, working through a book of the Bible one verse at a time. After we discuss the word, we pray out loud together. On busy nights when we get home late, we make the Psalm of the day our devotion. Great tool for families with older children.