2 fantastic ideas families can use for advent

jesus storybook bible

Two of the greatest times we have to communicate the power of the gospel in the lives our kids are weeks leading up to Christmas and Easter. Unfortunately both are hijacked by commercialism and fairy tales. I am not a hater of the Easter bunny and the Elf on the shelf, but I do get frustrated by parents who put so much effort into those things they fail to make the most of a prime opportunity to help your kids understand what the gospel is all about.

Here are a couple of very easy ways for you to put some creative energy behind helping your kids have fun, create memories and understand the gospel.

3 relationships every Leader needs: A Savior


Three relationships every Leader needs:

  • A Savior
  • A Friend
  • A Coach


Two of the biggest mistakes I made as a leader was becoming a professional leader and become a professional Christian. As I talk with leaders from around the country I realize that I am not alone. The demands of ministry create opportunities all the time for Pastors and leaders to become professional leaders and professional Christians.

How I stopped being a professional christian and leader is by coming to understand the gospel. I thought the gospel was only for really bad people that needed good news. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The gospel is that but it is so much more. I love how John Piper puts it

“the gospel is not just something that begins the Christian life but empowers it, shapes it and sustains it.”

What an IRS Audit and Christmas Traditions have in common.

wise men

There are few things in life that dial the whole family in like an IRS audit. I have never been through one personally but I was through one as a child. I still remember the auditors name appropriately enough was Mrs. Castro. My parents were being audited but the whole family felt the impact. My parents were on edge we had to be extra quiet. We had to stay out of the kitchen but peer through the windows of the kitchen as Mrs. Castro disassembled seven years of our families lives. For a few days in the summer of 1990 our family’s life stood still. This IRS audit affected all of us.

Christmas time more than any other time of year does something magical. It does what family ministry leaders dream of all year long. It does the very thing that IRS audit did for my home growing up. It gets every member of the house on the same page. It consumes every member of the house. Three year old kids know it’s Christmas fathers who are work-a-holics are talking to their kids about santa and his elves, cutting down trees and putting up lights.

Here is where I think the church needs to be more proactive at Christmas. I think families are looking for things to create memories with their kids. I think parents this time of year more than any other time of year are looking to pass on traditions they grew up with as well as instill new traditions for their kids. As a way of helping parents who might be reading this or ministry leaders, I thought I would share some things our family does to help reinforce the powerful message of the incarnation of Christ.

Advent calendar – we allow our kids to open a door a day – They love this and it helps build that anticipation towards Christmas. I find it helps them focus on the coming of Christ.

Traveling wise men – This is a new tradition for us. We borrowed the idea from Sally Lloyd-Jones. We let each child take turns moving the wisemen and their camel around our house. They move them to a different location each day until christmas. With each child who moves them I talk for a few minutes about what Christmas is all about. I try to help them connect their anticipation to bring the wisemen to the manger on Christmas with the anticipation so many had for the Messiah. A month feels very long for the kids but they love moving the wisemen all over the house.

Cutting a tree – We still cut down a tree this tradition is just really fun. We listen to christmas music and often get hot chocolate.

Decorating cookies – I did this as a child it was much more fun as a child than it is as an adult. I am not sure we will do this again this year it was a bit stressful but the kids seemed to really like it.

Reading the Christmas story from the Jesus Storybook Bible – We read the Christmas stories from the Jesus Storybook Bible the few days leading up to christmas as a way to remind ourselves that Christmas is not about gift getting but in the gift that was given to us from God in Christ.

Practicing Thankfulness – On Christmas eve (yes that’s right Christmas eve) before we open our gifts we do a couple of things I love.
1. I read the story of Christs birth from luke out of the ESV
2. We each take turns saying one thing we are grateful to Jesus for.
3. Lastly we start with one family member and everyone says 1 thing they love about that person we do this till every family member has been praised then we pray thank Jesus and open presents.

Christmas can be leveraged for so many reasons and so many things. I always want to do what I can to leverage Christmas to reinforce to our kids the two things that are most valuable to our family, Jesus and each other. I would love to hear what traditions you have for Christmas. There are very few times you will the attention of whole families at a time, unless you are an IRS auditor, so lets use the this season to reinforce the things that are most valuable to us.

Merry Christmas.

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.

Helping kids love the bible: Stay one bible ahead


One of the keys to helping kids love their bible – stay one bible ahead of them.

I have this theory (I have lots of little theories) Kids don’t love their Bibles because we keep them in a Bible that is to young for them for to long. Why do we do this?

  • We attach sentiment to the Bible they currently have
  • We want to keep them babies forever
  • We don’t know what Bibles are out there

One of the best kids Bibles ever written is the Jesus Storybook Bible. I gave it to my oldest son around a year and half ago. We have read each story at least 3 or four times each I started noticing something in the fall. He was becoming more interested in Harry Potter and Lego’s than he was in the Bible. I knew it was time for a change. I started looking for a new Bible.

My son was asking about Harry Potter I told him that I don’t really like witches. To which he said why? I told him I don’t like them because they try to do things without God’s help. We all do that sometimes witches do it more often. I then told him there are witches in the Bible, he didn’t believe me, I told him there are dragons, and stories of people getting killed with swords while on the toilet. He didn’t believe me because non of those stories where in his kids bible. I then knew getting a new Bible need to happen soon I searched and I found the perfect Bible for my boy it’s called “The Action Bible.” The Action Bible is basically a revamp of The Picture Bible. It is done in cartoon style so kids can see the story unfold. It is the perfect transition Bible to one full of words.

I wrapped up my son’s new Bible I was a bit nervous. He unwrapped it and didn’t react to much I explained that this Bible had more stories than his last one. There were witches, battles, and dragons. His eyes were huge. I started reading him the story of the witch of Endor, The dragon in Revelation, the story of Jesus casting demons into the pigs, and the valley of the dry bones (did I mention my oldest is a boy). When we were in the middle of the second story he looked up at me and said “Dad, I love my Bible.” It was right then and there my newest theory was formed. This Bible is a bit older for my son but it’s perfect. I think the reason many kids don’t love their Bible is their parents don’t stay one bible ahead. I have seen 6th graders come to Uptown with precious moment Bibles and likewise have seen some 2nd graders with Ryre study Bibles.

Am I sad my oldest has outgrown the Jesus Storybook Bible, Yes. Am I glad he loves his Bible? You betcha.

Here is my stay one Bible ahead plan for my kids.

Board book Bible
Beginners Bible
Jesus Story Book Bible
The Action Bible
The Day by Day Bible
The Edge Study Bible –

Student’s Life Application Study Bible NLT –
ESV Study bible –

What theories do you have about helping your kids love the Bible?
Here is another post I did about Bibles for kids