Best Bible for Preschoolers!

I’ve written a few posts about what bible to buy for your kids. Here are a few of those posts.

Helping kids love the bible: Stay one bible ahead

Resources to help your kids love the bible.

As a kids pastor my favorite bible has to be the Jesus Storybook Bible. I love because of the vocabulary it gives parents and kids to understand and explain the Gospel. The only problem for us with our youngest kids it didn’t hold their attention because they are to young for the stories. So knowing that our youngest love lift the flap books my wife has been on a quest because it so important to us as a family for our kids to love the bible. We know that for kids to love the bible you have to find one that fits their context.

By accident my wife found a lift the flap book in one of our kids church classrooms. We borrowed it to read to our youngest she loved it! As I was reading it I got this weird feeling. I started thinking that the writer had to have lifted language from Sally Lloyd-Jones. I have read The Jesus Storybook Bible so many times I knew that the writer of this lift the flap bible had stolen stuff from Sally. So I searched the back of the book to see who the culprit was. You will never guess who the famous lifter of Sally’s work was. It was Sally herself. I loved the Lift the Flap book because it reminded me so much of the Jesus Storybook Bible. I was thrilled to find out that Sally had written a Lift the Flap book for little kids that has the same heart and same language but are written in smaller chunks with flaps to lift.

If you love Jesus Storybook Bible and have kids under the age of 3 you MUST buy “Lift the flap Bible” it is magnificent my kids love it your kids will love it.

Treasuring Christ

This weekend at church my pastor spoke on Love out of 1 Corinthians 13. It was a powerful message talking about what love should look like. As as I sat there listening I began to think as a Child, Husband, father, leader do I treasure Christ? In all that we do as followers of Christ I think this is a question we do not ask enough.

As I sat at my seat listening to my pastor preach I started to think that I treasure lots of things about Christ and I treasure the possibility of what Christ can bring to my life but do I truly treasure Christ. The answer I came to was no. If Christ could do nothing for me would I do anything for him. If I am honest I’m not sure I would. The thing that scared me more than anything was that as much as I have read studied and come to a greater understanding of the Gospel than I have in my entire life I realize that I have yet to scratch the surface of my deep seated idolatry. I realized that my heart creates idols faster than I can chuck them out of the widow of my life.

When you truly treasure Christ you see the beauty in pain, you see the joy in suffering, you understand the bliss that comes from doing what is right and being misunderstood. When you treasure Christ your identity can never be lost because Christ emptied himself and come to earth, you can never be poor because of the richness of knowing him.

At the end of my pastor’s message he showed a powerful video about a couple that married even though one of them was involved in a car accident that affected his ability to function and do many things by himself. At their wedding they read the following quote from John Piper.

Marriage is not mainly about prospering economically; it is mainly about displaying the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his  church. Knowing Christ is more important than making a living. Treasuring Christ is more important than bearing children.

If we make secondary things primary, they cease to be secondary and become idolatrous. They have their place. But they are not first, and they are not guaranteed. Life is precarious, and even if it is long by human standards, it is short. “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring”
(Prov. 27:1).

It may have many bright days, or it may be covered with clouds. If we make secondary things primary, we will be embittered at the sorrows we must face. But if we set our face to make of marriage mainly what God designed it to be, no sorrows and no calamities can stand in our way. Every one of them will be, not an obstacle to success, but a way to succeed. The beauty of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church shines brightest when nothing but Christ can sustain it.

When he said treasuring Christ is more important than bearing children it hit me. I began to cry because my greatest treasure here on earth is my family. What I failed to understand is that my primary purpose as a parent is not to raise great kids but to raise kids to glorify a great God. That only can happen in home in which the parents leading that home truly treasure Christ. I have come to realize that much of what I do as a parent is out of fear of what my kids might become rather than in faith and gratefulness for what he has already done. When we dedicate our kids to the Lord it’s a religious ceremony not an act of faith. I never want my role as a husband, father and pastor to ever keep me from truly knowing Christ.

When we treasure Christ we obey and submit our lives to him. The beauty of a life that treasures Christ is found when nothing but Christ can sustain it.

Here is the video we showed this weekend.

REdefining Maturity (Part 2)

This is an article I did for K! magazine a few years ago. K! is a great magazine Ryan Frank and his team do an outstanding job of finding new voices. I also am a huge fan of the layout of the magazine love the artwork. If you are not getting K! magazine and are involved in ministering to kids you need to subscribe now. Here is the link to part 1.

Here’s a few things you can do to ensure that you are maturing in your faith:

Read Your Bible

It’s not a textbook for ministry, but a guidebook for your personal life. It’s huge. Something that I find intimidating, if not down right frightening, is the fact that you reproduce who you are. I want to make sure I can say to those I am leading, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” We live in an amazing time in history, and yet we face some very unique and serious challenges.

One of the challenges we need to overcome is how to produce young people who are passionate about the Bible. There are a million things vying for our attention; we are bombarded by information. Our kids have more options today than we ever had growing up.  That is why we need to be more intentional than ever about reading our bibles.

One of the best ways to get our kids reading their Bibles is to read our Bibles. I think the more we model this to our kids, the more we are going to be able to give them a biblical answer when they need one. The more we read our bibles, the more we are going to shape their world view.  As a result, they will see the value of God’s word in their daily lives. I think we do our kids a huge disservice by treating the Bible as a textbook only to be studied or a storybook to entertain. I think we need to model the Bible to our kids as a handbook for life. If we don’t read it, they won’t read it.

Listen to Podcasts

I am not in the auditorium sitting and listening to the pastor’s sermon very often and when I am, I struggle with my ability to focus on what is being said because my thoughts so often drift to my kids and volunteers. One of the things I have found over the years to help me is to listen to messages during the week when I am able to listen without interruption. I try to get podcasts from my church and from many different leaders from around the country. I have to admit I am like a 13 year old girl buying concert tickets to Hannah Montana, when I am downloading Andy Stanley’s leadership podcast. If you are in ministry and don’t listen to Andy’s podcast – shame on you! I have also been listening to massive amounts of Tim Keller. Love Tim and Andy. Either way, find some podcasts of leaders you like and leaders who stretch you, and you will grow.

Practice Transparent Faith

This could be a whole article in itself, but I think another sign of maturity is transparency. Accountability has been a buzz word for years, and I believe it is very important, but I think as a leader of kids in today’s culture you need to practice, model and teach transparent faith. I grew up in church, and I honestly can’t ever remember any of my pastors talking about a personal struggle, a failure or misstep they had made. Do I think we as leaders should talk openly about everything we are dealing with? No. I do think that creating a healthy church environment starts by doing what James tells us to do: confess our sins to each other that we may be healed.

I often tell kids that there are times when I don’t feel like coming to church. Why do I say this? Because it’s the truth, and the more I can model transparent faith, the greater chance we will have of creating a community that also values it. I believe that people who are far from God can identify more with our transparency than they can with our super-spirituality.

Leverage collaborative connections

The last thing that I believe we need as leaders is other leaders that are fighting along side us. I remember as a young guy starting out in kids’ ministry and not knowing what the heck I was doing.  I would have done anything to have 10 minutes with someone like Jim Wideman or Craig Juntila or anyone for that matter who had been doing kids’ ministry longer than me. When I was starting out, I was not connected to any other kids’ pastors, and I made some bonehead mistakes simply because I didn’t know better. I also did some things well but could have done better had there been other voices speaking into my life.

Fast forward to today, and I can tell you I have met more awesome kids’ leaders in the past year than in all my years of ministry combined. There are so many phenomenal tools like Twitter, and to help you connect, learn, and grow. Hard to believe that 12 years ago I would’ve had to spend $2,000 to attend a conference to wait in line for the slim chance of asking Brother Jim one question. Today I can sit on my couch, unshowered, eating cheetos while watching the Yankees slaughter the Red Sox , and Tweet my question to Jim (@jimwideman by the way).  I get my response before the baseball game is over. Or I can think of a joke that would make @funnymandan laugh all the way in Australia. That, my friends, is amazing.

If you are not leveraging the power of collaboration, you need to start for your sake, for your kids’ sake and for the kingdom’s sake.

These are just some of the ways I stay fresh and try to model maturity to my kids and kids’ leaders. You’re leading the next generation of leaders and world changers. Don’t treat your spiritual life like the house plants in my living room.  Begin the self-feeding revolution. You’re on the frontline of instilling values and spiritual formation in our churches. Feed yourself, and model for the kids and families in your church what it means to mature in Christ. Go ahead, grow!

REdefining Maturity (Part 1)

This is an article I did for K! magazine a few years ago. K! is a great magazine Ryan Frank and his team do an outstanding job of finding new voices. I also am a huge fan of the layout of the magazine love the artwork. If you are not getting K! magazine and are involved in ministering to kids you need to subscribe now.

Keeping your faith fresh.

I’m no green thumb but my wife by her own admission is even worse. Over the past ten years of married life she has successfully killed every houseplant we’ve brought into our home. She over waters, under waters, gives them her leftover espresso, she don’t give the plant enough sunlight, she give them too many nutrients, or generally just neglects the potted shrine in the corner of our living room. In our time-pressed (and often forgetful) 21st century context she (and I) often just forget to care for our little green friends. The result: they just don’t grow. At best they’re a weak, anemic sick thing that hides behind the couch; at worst they’re dead, but remain there as part of the living room environment.

In my interactions with kids’ pastors, workers and volunteers over the past ten years, I’ve noticed at times a striking parallel between the plant life in my home and ministry. It’s all too often true that in the midst of our time-pressed, budget-strapped, need-more-volunteers culture we sacrifice, even neglect, the very thing that fuels our ministry. I’d even go as far as to say that beyond all our creative programing, it is this one thing that is absolutely vital in the transformation of our kids.  Simply put, it is our spiritual growth – our intimacy with Christ – that truly impacts our kids.  Whether it be in our homes or ministries, kids will engage first with our passions long before they are impacted by our principles, programs or our creativity. A healthy, vibrant, growing relationship with Jesus is the greatest gift we can give our kids, and yet so often it’s the thing we forsake.

As I’ve delved through what it means to mature spiritually, it struck me that perhaps we’ve been honing in on the wrong target in our westernized version of Christianity. For too long we’ve defined spiritual maturity as being about all the spiritual stuff we know. Quite frankly, when I read the Bible and see how Jesus lives it out with his disciples, life as Jesus intended seems much more about what we’re becoming and then acting upon what we know. Is it possible that our erroneous definition of spiritual maturity has led to a kind of shallow, self-focused Christianity that’s always looking to be fed more stuff and find the perfect church or ministries for our families? What if spiritual maturity was about living out, in real and dynamic ways, what we read about in Scripture? Imagine what we might become.

I find the author of Hebrew’s reference to maturing Christians in chapter 5 in which he pointed to the fact that in the context of their everyday lives they were practicing the truths of Scripture. They weren’t being fed bottled milk; they had learned what it meant to feed themselves, and then live out that truth. Perhaps this is the greatest gift we can give the kids under our care and ministry – a real life example that growing in Christ, indeed our spiritual formation, isn’t a plate full of facts and knowledge but a dynamic relationship with Jesus that transforms and finds expression in the relationships and world around us.

If I was to define maturity in just a few words that would fundamentally change the face of Children’s ministry and the church as a whole, it would be the ability to feed yourself. That’s it. No big words just feed yourself.  Being able to fill your own spiritual tank is a great example of intangible leadership.

Being a self-feeder is a must for any growing healthy Christian.  It is even more essential for those involved in leading kids. We are often in that position of giving out and pouring into kids and families. Without learning this principle we will dry up and burn out. It’s imperative that we not neglect our own spiritual growth. So what does it look like “to fill your own tank”?

This Ends in 22 Hours

This Ends in 22 Hours

If you’re looking for some great worship videos for your Children’s or Preteen Ministry, I really hope you can snag this super deal from Yancy. It ends Thursday at noon (like in a few hours). It’s $97 for $1,682 worth of her Children’s Ministry Worship resources. If you don’t know Yancy, she’s awesome. Her videos typically sell for $10-12 a piece, so this is a pretty sweet deal.

Visit to check it out. Hope this helps stretch your budget a lot further.

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