Archives For Parenting

There are a lot of children’s Bibles out there. As parents of two girls, 3.5 and 1.5 years old, my wife and I have been trying out a number of these Bibles, plus a handful of devotional books. So for this month’s book recommendation, I’m going to give our take on some of the children’s Bibles we’ve tried out. Each of the following descriptions was written by my wife, Laura.

Keep in mind that I’m only sharing my opinion based on what my wife and I have experienced with reading these books to our 3.5 year-old daughter, Abigail. Every kid is different, so you might hate something that we liked, or vice versa. I should also mention that I’m not making any effort to be comprehensive here. These are just some of the books we’ve tried out. If you have thoughts on any of these books, or if you’d like to recommend a different book, leave a comment.

 

Beginner's Bible The Beginner’s Bible: Timeless Children’s Stories by Zonderkidz

This Bible features short 2-6 page Bible stories with cute illustrations on each page. The stories are well written and make the Bible stories easy for kids to understand. This children’s Bible also contains a lot of stories (it’s over 500 pages long), many of which are left out of other children’s Bibles.

 

Read and Rhyme Storybook BibleMy Read and Rhyme Bible Storybook by Crystal Bowman & Cindy Kenney

Crystal Bowman is one of my favorite Christian children’s book authors. She writes stories that are full of rhyme and rhythm, which (like Dr. Seuss) are always fun to read and hold the attention of a little one. My Read and Rhyme Bible Storybook brings Bowman’s flair for rhyming storytelling to Bible stories. Each story is followed by sections called “I Can Read These Words,” which gives a few words your child can recognize in the story; “I Can Find the Words That Rhyme,” which gives a list of rhyming words in the story; “I Can Answer These Questions,” which asks a few comprehension questions about the Bible story; and “I Can Do These Activities,” which gives activities that you can do with your child that tie into the Bible story. This Bible is probably best for an older 3 year-old to a 7 year-old.

 

Jesus Storybook BibleThe Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

This Bible comes highly recommended by those that I know. The pictures are very well done, and the stories are descriptive. This Bible also ties the stories together and shows how Jesus’ name is “whispered” throughout the Bible. I haven’t yet used this Bible with Abigail because I feel it’s a bit over her head at this point, but I plan to use it in the next year or so.

 

big-picture-story-bibleThe Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm

This Bible also comes highly recommended by those that I know. We began reading it with Abigail, she loved the creation and Garden of Eden story, but as soon as we got to Cain and Abel, it was a little over her head. We will pull it out again in a year or so.

 

Beginner's Bible DevotionalThe Beginner’s Bible Book of Devotions: My Time with God by Zonderkidz

This is a little devotional book with the same cute illustrations used in The Beginner’s Bible. This little book has a short story or scenario that leads directly into a two-page Bible story that relates to the main idea of the story. This is then followed by a suggested activity (a song, craft, prayer, etc.). Each devotion closes with a short memory verse.

 

Crystal Bowman BookCrystal Bowman Holiday Rhyming Books

Crystal Bowman, whose My Read and Rhyme Bible Storybook I mentioned above, also has many books that go along with the holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Easter). These books find a way to tie in the message that God loves children and cares for them. They are big board books that come in all shapes and sizes. We love them and I have purchased just about every holiday-themed book she has written.

 

Big Thoughts for Little PeopleBig Thoughts for Little People: ABC’s to Help You Grow Giant Steps for Little People: The Sermon on the Mount and the Ten Commandments by Kenneth N. Taylor

I remember sitting with my mom when I was Abigail’s age as she read me these devotional books. Abigail loves these books—they’re perfect for her age right now (3.5 years-old). Each two-page spread presents a Christian virtue beginning with a letter of the alphabet. Kids are encouraged to find the lesson being modeled (or violated) in the illustrations, which are laid out to tell the story. Each lesson also includes application questions, along with a prayer and a short memory verse.  There is a little prayer to pray and a memory verse. As a bonus, each illustration has hidden ladybugs that our daughter loves to find.

My ABC Bible VerseMy ABC Bible Verse: Hiding God’s Word in Little Hearts by Susan Hunt

This devotional book uses a Bible verses for each letter of the alphabet and applies it to everyday real-life situations through a little story. A little paragraph helps explain what the verse means or “big” words found in the verse that little ones may not understand. Each story also includes a “Let’s Talk” section with questions and a “Let’s Pray” section. I started this with Abigail, but some of the terms/ideas were a bit over her head. I will bring it out again around age four.

My Big Book of 5 Minute DevotionsMy Big Book of 5-minute Devotions: Celebrating God’s World by Pamela Kennedy

This book is perfect for children who are animal lovers. Every two-page spread tells about a different animal and its amazing trait. These easy to understand facts are immediately connected with the everyday lives of children. Comprehension questions and a key Bible verse help focus the child on the story and what God thinks about it. These devotions are perfect for 3-5 year olds.

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If there’s another children’s Bible or devotional book you’d like to recommend, or if you’d like to add a note about any of the books mentioned here, leave a comment below.

Elf - He's Not the Real Santa

From the 2003 New Line Cinema film Elf.

Leading up to Halloween, we posted a series that represented the views of a few of our faculty members on whether or not Christians should participate in Trick-or-Treating. It was a great experience for us, and we got a good response from our readers.

So we’re going to try it again. This time we’ll take on the question of whether or not Christians should tell their kids that Santa Claus is real. In today’s post, our president, Joshua Walker, explains why he was careful to tell his children that Santa is not real. In tomorrow’s post, our librarian, Yvonne Wilber, will explain why she encouraged her kids to indulge in the magic of the Santa myth.

Many of you will have made up your minds on this long ago. But maybe some of you could use some help in thinking it through from a couple of angles. And all of us should be able to benefit from seeing godly Christians disagree in a loving, intelligent, and Christ-centered way.

Enjoy!

Mark Beuving

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Joshua Walker’s post:

 

Spoiler Alert: If you believe in Santa, don’t keep reading.

Let’s be honest—being a parent is one of the most difficult and significant roles that we could ever take on. And we tend to do it with almost a complete lack of intentional training. As I tried to find my way as a young parent, I decided on a couple of things, one of the most important being that I was going to strive to be brutally honest with my kids. God defines Himself by truth. I decided that I wanted my relationship with my kids to be defined by truth. I have endeavored to have a very transparent life and explain the way the world really is to them to the best of my ability and to the extent their minds could understand it.

That doesn’t mean I tell my kids everything about everything. There are times I tell them “that’s not appropriate for you at this age,” and then often later have a conversation that begins with, “remember those things I told you weren’t appropriate at your age? Well, now you’re old enough…” I think there is a value in their innocence and naiveté.  They don’t have to grow up too quickly.

Elf - You Sit on a Throne of LiesIt was on this basis that my wife and I decided what to do regarding Santa Claus (and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy for that matter). We decided that we’d be honest with them, so we explained the history of St. Nicholas, how he was a real person, and how there was a tradition that had developed of wicked parents horribly deceiving their children with regard to this person still being alive (ok, we didn’t really say “wicked” or “deceiving” but I thought emotionally charged language might help my case (I’m kidding, we honestly don’t believe it’s evil to let your kids believe in Santa)). We also went on to explain that it was important for them to not go on a crusade to tell other children the truth about Santa Claus.

As I considered the possibility of teaching them to “believe in” Santa Claus, it always bothered me deeply. First, isn’t it weird that we use the phrase “believe in” to describe people’s “faith” in Santa or not? If we’re going to model faith, one of the first ways we do it shouldn’t be in something that turns out to be a myth! Second, it seemed to me that telling them something that everyone knew was untrue and that they would eventually learn was untrue would undermine much of what I was trying to accomplish as a parent. If I had worked hard to convince them of something that was untrue, then what other more important things that I had taught them would they question?

My kids are 8 and 10, so the jury’s still out on what this has produced in their lives. As far as I can tell, my kids haven’t been deeply harmed by not believing in Santa Claus. They aren’t “weird” kids who don’t understand how to interact with “normal” kids. In fact, I think they’re quite culturally aware of things like this because we’ve had to teach them how to interact with people who believe lots of different things in an understanding and loving way.

As a side note, my kids still get money from the “Tooth Fairy.” They walk up to me with their tooth and say “Hey tooth fairy, can I give you my tooth?” and I pull out my wallet and give them a dollar for it. Then we laugh about it. Welcome to our world…

“Where did you go?”
“To look ahead,” said Gandalf.
“And what brought you back…?”
The wizard responded: “Looking behind.”

~The Hobbit

 

It was only for a moment, but for me its memory will last. Having just finished grading some exams, I was bored. In search for a cure, I decided to check out the blogosphere to see what sacred evangelical cow Sprinkle had decided to slay this week.

Hobbit 2About this time, Cheetoh, my redheaded nine-year-old son, bounced up the stairs to say he was going to bed early so that he could read The Hobbit. By “read”, he really meant “struggle with” since much of the vocabulary therein confusticates him. In fact, he has been inching through There and Back Again for a while now.

To be honest, I usually would have been so self-absorbed that I would’ve quickly kissed him and dismissed him in order to get back to the blogs. But God interrupted. I sensed the Spirit leading me to read some of the book with him.

To my shame, my son seemed surprised by the offer. So as not to give me a chance to change my mind, he popped the book in my lap and plopped down by my feet. I flipped to the bookmarked page and began to read. It was the part of the story where Bilbo realizes that he had slept through breakfast and that the dwarves had left him behind.

As I continued to read, something happened. One by one my other children came up, and (as if enchanted) they settled down to listen. As Bilbo’s living room had been full of unexpected dwarfs, now my bedroom became filled with my five little hobbits and their dog.

All of the sudden a snapshot of the event came to my mind, and then this thought crossed it. “More than anything else, these seemingly mundane moments are the glorious highlights divinely ordained for my life.”

Hobbit 1For just a moment, it seemed that time had suspended. And I didn’t want to stop reading. I was afraid that once I shut the book time would run full tilt. Soon my little princess will be grown and gone. I desperately wanted to keep turning those paperback pages for I knew that after I stopped, perilous adventures would soon be knocking on my boys’ doors to take their smelly, hairy feet far away from my Shire.

As I look ahead it scares me: I know their roads will be littered with trials and scattered with trolls. Without me, my children will have to face slippery Smeagals and deadly Smaugs. But I pray that no matter how far ahead God calls them to go, when they look behind, their memories will bring them back to family moments like these—and they will give them strength.

What Are Kids For?

Chris Hay —  October 2, 2012 — Leave a comment

Those of us who are parents know, or at least should know, that our children are not our own. We are given stewardship of them for 18 years or so, and it is our job to train them to be functioning adults and followers of Jesus. From the earliest age, we read them Bible stories, teach them to pray, tell them about Jesus, and we pray like crazy that they will accept His free gift of salvation as their own.

It was our goal as parents that our kids grow up to passionately love and follow Jesus. We recognized that our kids were not really our kids; they were God’s choice servants that we were entrusted to equip for Kingdom service. In fact, we would tell them on occasion that perhaps God might call them to martyrdom, that in His infinite and good plan, they might be the ones chosen to die for the name of Christ. Nothing would tear our hearts out more than to see our kids die, but nothing would thrill us more than to know they died for the name of Jesus. Our parenting was truly a version of the motto of Eternity Bible College – training people to live and die well.

Taylor in ThailandThese thoughts are on my mind today because in just a few hours, we will drive my 22-year-old son to LAX where he will take a one-way flight to Melbourne, Australia. He has no return ticket. None of us are calling this a “trip.” We are using language like “moving to Australia.” Not sure when we will see him again. He may end up using Australia as a jumping off point to do ministry in Thailand, or any of a number of scenarios. We will shed tears. We will miss him. But this is exactly what we raised and trained our kids to do: follow their God wherever He may lead, even if it means hardship and loneliness for us.

Many of you reading this blog today are parents. You love your kids like crazy. You can’t imagine your kids leaving you, or not having them live close by. But they are God’s kids, not yours, and He may have plans for them that take them far away. Let them go. Do not hang on to them and squelch their place in the Kingdom just so you have the pleasure of keeping them close. I have seen many parents do that, and it is so wrong in so many ways. Be a good steward of those precious lives, and teach them to live and die well, for the glory of God, and for the advancement of the Kingdom.

Last Sunday, I had the precious opportunity to baptize my 9 and 7 year old daughters, Kaylea and Aubrey. It was quite the emotional Sunday. I’ve never baptized anyone before, so it was a joy to have my own two daughters be my first ones. I’d like to share a bit about my journey toward baptizing my kids so that it may be an encouragement and challenge for any parents out there who are wrestling with the question of when to baptize your kids.

Several questions came up in my own thinking about whether I should baptize my children at a fairly young age. I talked to several people, blogged about it, and searched the Scriptures to figure out when I should baptize my kids and on what basis. So here’s what I’ve learned.

First, the Bible says that people should be baptized based on a confession and not based on evidence of genuine faith. The Bible is clear: faithfulness and obedience are the evidences of faith (James 2:14-26), and yet the Bible doesn’t say that one should withhold baptism until you know for sure that your kid is saved. A confession, and not fruit, is the only condition for baptism (Acts 8:36-38). And my kids have made such a confession for quite some time now. So if you were to ask me, “how do you know that they are genuinely saved,” I would say “I don’t, but that’s quite irrelevant for their baptism.” Biblically speaking, you baptize someone who confesses Christ as Lord and Savoir; you don’t need to wait until they have obeyed Jesus for a period of time.

Second, how do I know that they have genuine faith? After all, they are just kids. Yes, it is true that they have “faith like a child,” but what does the Bible say about a child’s faith? It elevates it! The Bible doesn’t downplay or disregard a child’s faith; rather, it uses it as a standard to measure adult faith (Matt. 18:1-4). As far as I can see, whenever a child’s faith is mentioned in the Bible, it’s elevated not relegated. So I don’t think that my children’s “child-like faith” would be looked down upon by Jesus and considered insufficient for baptism.

Third, what if they end up falling away? I would have baptized an unbeliever! Perhaps, but the Bible never warns against baptizing someone prematurely for fear that they might end up falling away at some point in the future. It only says that those who confess Christ as Lord and Savior should be baptized. Time will tell if they have been genuinely redeemed, but such time is not a precondition for baptism.

Fourth, while we often shy away from baptizing people too quickly, we often don’t consider the disastrous sin of withholding baptism—the first major act of obedience—from a genuine believer. Think about this one. What if I, as a Christian parent, have been withholding my daughters, who as far as I can tell are genuine believers, from offering up to Jesus, their confessed King, the most basic act of obedience: baptism? You wouldn’t prevent a confessing believer from sharing the gospel with others, or from giving money to church, or from reading the Bible, praying, or singing. So why would is it okay to withhold baptism—the most basic act of obedience—from a confessing believer? It’s not okay. Some would consider it immoral.

Fifth, what about your daughters getting baptized just to please you, rather than the Lord? This one is a tough one and I need to discuss it in a bit more detail.

On the one hand, I wouldn’t want my daughter to get baptized just because she wants to please me, rather than Christ. I want her to worship Jesus and not me, and I sincerely hope she decided to be baptized because of Jesus. However, I’m quite comfortable with the distinctions being blurred a bit. Here’s what I mean.

I teach my daughters to do all sorts of things that are considered “acts of obedience” to Christ. I tell them to pray, and they pray. We sing worship songs together, and they sing. I have them memorize Scripture (actually, their mom is their memorization guru), and they do so. I teach them (or tell them) to share, and they share. I regulate what they watch, who they hang out with, and what sorts of language they should use, and they do so. We read the Bible together, and they listen. I even have them save up money to give to the poor, and they give. The point being: I am hugely influential in many aspects of their obedience to Jesus. Why would I not influence them towards baptism: the first, most basic, aspect of obedience toward Christ?

Were my two daughters baptized last Sunday because I had an influence in their decision? Well ya, of course they were. Were they only baptized because they wanted to please me and not Jesus? No, I certainly hope not. But I think that my influence in their life, and their love for Jesus toward baptism, cannot be firmly separated, just like their obedience to Jesus in all sorts of other areas—sharing, giving, praying, loving, reading, singing—can’t, and shouldn’t, be separated from my influence as a Christian parent. It’s dangerously individualistic to think that you should have no influence over whether or not your child should be baptized. God ordained the family unit to have a positive influence over your children’s moral decisions (Deut. 6:7-9)—and baptism is a moral decision.

So after a 4 month period of praying, talking, and reading together, they both came to me and wanted to be baptized. They said they love Jesus, and they both articulated a good understanding of what baptism is (and what it’s not). So in obedience to the New Testament call to be baptized, I joyfully baptized my two precious daughters on September 16th, 2012: Kaylea and Aubrey Sprinkle.