Ministry Resources Posts

10 New Books to Order for Your Children’s Ministry

Every children’s ministry benefits from creative, easy-to-understand Bible stories. These titles are perfect for Sunday school classrooms or Christian preschools! Check out other Kids titles on Tyndale.com.

The Beautiful Garden of Eden  by Gary Bower
The Faith that God Built series by Gary Bower uses the same whimsical style of storytelling as The House that Jack Built, using rhyme to introduce preschoolers through second graders to favorite Bible stories. The Beautiful Garden of Eden tells the story of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, allowing sin to ruin what was perfect and beautiful.
 

Where Does Love Hide? by Mary Manz Simon
In Where Does Love Hide? children are reminded that they not only receive love but have the opportunity to share love. Looking under the fun, lift-a-flap feature, children will see examples of everyday love opportunities. Each page includes a memory verse and an example of a way to share God’s love.

 

 

There is always another side to a story! Bestselling children’s author Dandi Daley Mackall presents three classic Bible stories in two-sided flip books designed to tell the same story twice from two different, biblical points of view. Utilizing humor, adorable illustrations, and an innovative format, these books provide readers with the added bonus of two books in one.

 

I Can Be Kind by Amie Carlson

Scripture teaches us to love our neighbors by treating them with kindness and respect. One aspect of kindness includes manners. I Can Be Kind is a great resource for parents, grandparents, and Sunday school teachers as they seek to develop these behaviors in their children.

Sit for a Bit Series by Kathryn O’Brien: Give Thanks, I Can, and Be Still
This series will turn Bible memorization from a duty to a delight for children with Kathryn O’Brien’s unique teaching strategy. Each book builds a meaningful connection between God’s Word and a child’s life experiences, laying a foundation for a love and comprehension of Scripture.

 

The Play-Along Bible by Bob Hartman
The Play-Along Bible inspires children’s imaginations while growing their understanding of and love for God’s Word. Through simple hand motions, facial expressions, verbal exclamations, and funny noises, kids can participate and respond to God’s amazing story.
 

 

Just Like Jesus Bible Storybook by Stephen Elkins
Just Like Jesus Bible Storybook is a collection of stories that will inspire kids to take on the character of Jesus. Each lesson features a “Jesus in the Bible” story that shows Jesus’ character and how He acted in particular situations and ends with a short prayer through which children can ask God to help them develop the character of Jesus.
 

 

PackagingYour Magnificent Chooser by John Ortberg

We all have choices to make every day, even the youngest children. John Ortberg addresses the ability to choose in a whimsical way by inviting children to use their “magnificent chooser” that God gave them to make right choices daily.
 

 

PackagingThe Story Travelers Bible by Tracey Madder
The Story Travelers Bible teaches kids that the Bible is more than just a bunch of tales told by parents and Sunday school teachers, but the Bible documents God’s work in and for His people from the beginning of time.

 

 

 

Happy Day Book Series

Explore the world of Happy Days Books – filled with fun-to-read stories that teach Christian values.

 

 

 

 

 

Limping Along: What Happens When We Allow Things to Entangle Us by Francine Rivers

Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

So a friend called from Hawaii and told me about an injured seagull she saw on the beach.
The poor bird couldn’t walk at all but flutter-hopped in its quest for food.

On closer examination, my friend saw that fishing line entangled the bird’s legs, hobbling it.

She approached slowly, extending her hand in the hope she could remove the line and do something about the bird’s wounds. Frightened, the gull flew off, legs still hobbled and infected.

Sometimes we are like that poor seagull.

We become entangled in bad habits or addictions, in destructive relationships or all manner of fears.

We peck away at our daily tasks, trying to forget the pain. All the while the infection of sin is growing and going deeper until it threatens to destroy us.

The seagull flew away from my friend, who wanted to untangle the fishing line and wash the wounds.

We too often turn away from those who want to help us—and even from God, who is the only One who really can get rid of our sin.

Sometimes we turn away out of fear, other times out of shame.

More often, we turn our backs because of our pride.

We don’t want others to see us at our ugly worst, so we limp along, pretending we’re just fine.

The pain of removing what holds us captive can be frightening. 

Yet if we lay aside all those things that encumber our walk with God, if we strip off the sin that slows us down, as Hebrews 12:1 says, then we find the freedom and healing that come from being reconciled to God.

We no longer have to hobble about in isolation, like the injured seagull, but we can live in communion with God the way we were created to.

When we trust fully in God to help us and refuse to let our pride turn us away from His forgiveness, then He will renew our strength, giving us joy and energy for the tasks ahead.

We will run and not grow weary; we will soar high on wings like eagles.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,

Threaten the soul with infinite loss;

Grace that is greater—yes, grace untold—

Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within,

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin!

“Grace Greater Than Our Sin”

Forgiveness is always free. But that doesn’t mean that confession is always easy. Sometimes it is hard. Incredibly hard. It is painful to admit our sins and entrust ourselves to God’s care.” Erwin Lutzer

How do you react when you’re struggling and someone tries to help you?

When you’re tangled up in sin, how do you respond to God?

Why do you think we often turn away from Him?

How do we benefit by letting God and others help us?

What sins, bad habits, or poor choices might be entangling you and keeping you from living with freedom. What could you do this week to throw those off?

It’s a reality—that Jesus is the One who gives us strength. And it can be a heartache—that too often we let ourselves become constrained by sin. That is what can trip us up, distracts us, and keeps us from living well.

When we’re stuck in sin—we don’t have to get stuck in the trap of turning away from Him.

What can turn everything around in the midst of everything—is turning to Him.

You can feel at the edges of things—God reaching out to heal us.

*****

Learn more about Earth Psalms by Francine Rivers at Tyndale.com. This devotional was originally posted on A Holy Experience.

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Superhero Status: Living Fearlessly in 2017

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One might think if you get the external clutter all fixed in your life, or most of it fixed, then you can live this simplified life and it’s all good.

Actually, what clutters up your internal world can really mess with your life, gang. I bear witness, myself.

One peace buster is fear. Fear can break a cycle of peace very rapidly in your life…. Sometimes you have to work a little bit to understand fear’s origin.

Where did it come from, this fear, that’s making peace so difficult to maintain?

We have to try to get to the origin, the roots of our fears, so we can deal with them.

I love the passage from the apostle Paul, 2 Timothy 1:7. It says, I’ve not appointed you to live life with a spirit of timidity. I don’t want you afraid of your shadow all life long. He said, I’ve given you a spirit of confidence, a sound mind, a disciplined thinking pattern.

When I feel fear going my way, I start going through a series of promises in God’s word. Promises like:

God is for me, and not against me.

If God is for me, who can be against me.

And I kind of work up enough courage from the teachings in the Word of God – and the Holy Spirit reinforcing them in my mind – where I can say, “Ok, I’m going to face that fear head on.”

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I’m going to do so, not because I think I can just overpower it on my own strength. But I’m going to do so because I’m a treasured child of the Most High God. I’m someone that God loves and wants to accompany in this difficult situation.

I don’t know a better way to handle fear than to face it head on. You can try to dance around it but sooner or later, you just have to look it straight in the eye and deal with it.

This excerpt is from an interview with pastor Bill Hybels on the secrets for living life with more energy, focus, and peace. Bill is the author of Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul.

Did Jesus Have Bad Habits?

man-reading-bible

This excerpt is from The Bad Habits of Jesus by Leonard Sweet. 

Jesus had a bad habit of hanging out with children and even putting children first. “The children get fed first,” Jesus insisted. “Let the little children come,” Jesus said.

Kids in Jesus’ day were to be seen and not heard. Small children (under age five) were associated with death. All children were associated with dirt, noise, and annoying habits. It went without saying that they shouldn’t bother the rabbi.

Even Jesus’ disciples thought he wouldn’t want to be interrupted by rambunctious children. Sound familiar? Many of our churches today banish children to distant parts of the building during worship, then bemoan their absence from church when these same kids reach adulthood. Instead of Jesus’ “Let the children come unto me,” the church says, “Let us babysit your kids while we dazzle you adults in worship.”

Jesus’ idea of children and childhood was radically different from what was normal in his day. Jesus taught a faith that you might call adultproof. Today we childproof our medicine and our faith, making them as hard for children to get into as possible. In contrast, Jesus made faith child friendly and adult averse, meaning Jesus did everything he could to protect children’s faith from adults and to help even the most adultish among us become more childlike so as to get into the Kingdom without messing it up.

Truth is truth whether spoken by a child or a king. There is no halfway Holy Spirit. The question for Jesus was not “How old are you?” but “Do you have ears that hear?” One of the most aberrant features of the gospel story is the tender spot displayed by the wifeless and childless Jesus for children—so tender as to be a hair trigger for Jesus’ anger. Any belittling of children prompted an instant emotional storm in Jesus’ psyche.

The original ending of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” satirized not the vanity of the high and mighty for keeping a fiction going but mocked the groupthink of the crowd that ended up attacking the child who told the truth—“But he has no robes on at all!”—with sticks and canes. In a world where the emperors of religion and state wear no clothes, and their ministers and minions keep up the pretense, Jesus gave us the child-in-the-crowd’s cry of “He’s wearing nothing.” But Jesus went beyond the warning cry and gave us new clothes to wear. He was a master tailor who modeled the “seamless” clothing of righteousness he customized for real-world, rubber-hits-the-road ministry and mission.

If you want to make Jesus angry, then hamper or hinder or mock a child. For Jesus, the sight of children inspired protective impulses. For everyone else, children were as much symbols of death as of life. When a child is born today, we immediately feel a collective responsibility. But in Jesus’ day, you didn’t get too attached to a newborn infant because of the likelihood that they would be ripped from your heart. Almost one out of three children died before their first birthday in the first century. But rather than “fragility motivates distance,” for Jesus, fragility obliged responsibility.

In fact, fragility in whatever form elicited in Jesus a sense of responsibility. When Jesus picked up one child and put the child into his lap, he showed his disciples what life and faith in God was truly about, a faith that doesn’t look to death but that revels in life. And he showed them that to be responsible in God’s sight is to care for the fragile, to care for the children. For within a fragile body is often revealed a bulwark of faith. Jesus touched fragile people, dead people, and “walking dead” people, whether children or adults. But the innocent souls of children, he seemed to say, were closest to the angels, closest to the Kingdom of God.

We know that children made up approximately one third of the population in Jesus’ day. And it’s likely, given the ease with which Jesus pulled a child to his lap from the crowd, that many children came to hear him along with their parents and other adults. And while the adults may have struggled with some of Jesus’ stories, it’s likely their young charges knew exactly what he meant. They may be fragile, but they are astute. And Jesus’ message of God’s love and grace, a God who loved them, must have been honey to their hearing.

When the Twelve debate who is the greatest, Jesus does an intervention. But note to what he takes exception. It is not their aspirations to greatness. He doesn’t rebuke them for wanting to be great, to be the best. Rather, he rebukes them for their identification of what is the best and the greatest. That’s when he takes a little child in his arms and says that this is the “greatest” in the Kingdom. If you aspire to be the best, to true greatness, then make yourself small, little, of no consequence, humble.

Jesus was formed with a womb sound track of humility. The lullaby Mary sang to Jesus while she was pregnant was a praise song, “The Magnificat”: “My soul magnifies the Lord . . . He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.” In the Greek world, humility was not a virtue but a weakness, even a despised quality of life. The noun humility does not occur in Greek or Roman writers before the Christian era. The adjective humble is common but almost always means mean-spirited, low, groveling, or poor.

Humility, what the ancient world deemed a bone of contention, was a point of connection for Jesus with others. Can you imagine how hard it must have been for Jesus and then Paul to convince people that humility was a positive virtue for a person who was free in Christ? That’s why Jesus used a child—not a scholar, soldier, priest, or prophet—to showcase what it meant to be a great follower who returns over and over again to the initial call “Come, follow me!”

The humility of a child for Jesus is not putting yourself down. Humility is accepting the great gifts and talents God has given you but receiving them as gifts. These are gifts to be cultivated and invested, not ignored or hoarded. To reject or neglect the gift is to reject or neglect the Giver. We slide into hell on our butts. We soar into heaven on our tiptoes.

This bad habit of Jesus makes us more adult in our theology and more childlike (not childish) in our faith. After all, Jesus said, “There will be no grownups in heaven.” Or more precisely, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus’ bad habit of paying attention to children needs to be our bad habit too. Children must be at the heart of the church if it’s to be a Jesus church. And the child must always be in our hearts if we are to be true Jesus followers.

 

bad-habits The Bad Habits of Jesus

Did Jesus have bad habits? In our culture, we have a tendency to describe Jesus in ways that soften his revolutionary edge. Len Sweet uncovers and presents to us the offensive and scandalous Jesus described in the Bible. Popular author and speaker Len Sweet examines the words and actions of Jesus and places them in context. We need to understand who Jesus really is if we are to follow him wholeheartedly. That is why it is so crucial to see the “rebellious rabbi” for who he is and not for who we may imagine him to be.

The Bad Habits of Jesus will help you see the untamed Jesus, who isn’t sanitized for our culture. That Jesus just might transform how you live out your life.