23 Popular Christian Children’s Books + 15% Off Heart and Soul Coupon

UntitledOh, my idealistic new mama self. I have to chuckle at the remembrance. Drew, about 5 months old at the time, would doze off in his swing before bed. Meanwhile, I read him Bible stories. Sure, they were from a children’s book, but he didn’t even sit still for that particular book until he was at least in kindergarten.

I don’t know what I was trying to accomplish but I truly thought on some subconscious level he would tuck those stories deep into the recesses of the brain, and someday they would miraculously come to life, a product of a devoted mom after God’s own heart.

Ahem.

We have such high ambitions as brand new moms, don’t we? But when we get a few years under our belts we laugh at those days; however, the desire to raise our children to love and follow God doesn’t change. It just changes shape.

Drew is 8 now and Alyssa is 4, and since I began staying home I have tried to place a greater emphasis on books. We read all sorts of books, but I’d also like to be sure a good portion of those are faith-themed books. This has become especially important as Drew is growing older and is searching for how to reconcile the truth of Scripture with his everyday life.

A couple of weeks ago I asked my Facebook friends for recommendations on children’s books, both for young children like Alyssa and all the way up to preteen. I received so many great suggestions and many of those suggestions were given by my friend Pam, the owner of Heart and Soul Christian Book Store here in Russellville. I also found several other ideas thanks to the library of First Baptist Church in Russellville, a sister church.

Below is a list I compiled based on those recommendations.  For my local readers, Heart and Soul has many of these options in stock and at the bottom of this page, be sure and print the 15% off coupon.

Preschool to Early Elementary:
Berenstain Bears by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain
Good Night Warrior by Sheila Walsh
Will, God’s Mighty Warrior by Sheila Walsh
Gigi, God’s Little Princess by Sheila Walsh
The Princess Parables series by Jeanna Young and Jacqueline Johnson
The Grandma’s Attic series by Arleta Richardson and Patrice Barton
The Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop and Susan Henson
The Squire and the Scroll by Jennie Bishop and Karen Rhodes
Just Like Jesus Said series by Melody Carlson
Hermie and Wormie series by Max Lucado
The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago
Tale of the Poisonous Yuck Bugs by Aaron Reynolds and Pete Whitehead
The Nineteenth of Maquerk by Aaron Reynolds and Pete Whithead
Veggie Tales Values to Grow By series
Veggie Town Values series

Early Elementary to Middle School:
The Amarias Adventures series by Amy Lynn Green
Hunter Brown series by Christopher Miller
Imagination Station series by Paul McCusker and Marianne Hering (Drew loves this series – it’s similar to Magic Treehouse)
Christian Heroes Series by Janete Benge and Geoff Benge (I cannot wait to get my hands on some of these!)
The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
Faithgirlz!/Girls of 622 Harbor View by Melody Carlson
Adventures in Odyssey series by Paul McCusker

I hope this list gets you started like it did me! If you have any others to recommend, please list them in the comments! And again, for my local readers, be sure to print out the coupon below and head to Heart and Soul! I’ve known Pam for over 15 years and I know she’ll help you locate exactly what fits you and your family.

Heart & Soul coupon

(click coupon to open in your web browser and print)

Coming next week!!
Glory in the Garden: 31 Days of Devotionals
FREE e-version for e-mail subscribers!

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Click the link above to receive Glory in the Garden for free when it is released in late November!
*The paperback version will also be available – a great Christmas gift!*

*I have received no compensation for my recommendation of Heart and Soul Christian Book Store.

 

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Two Simple Questions to Take You Deeper in Your Bible Reading (and a peek into my quiet time today)

 

wpid-20140910_142426.jpgPeople are craving the Word like never before. I’m certain of it. You can see it by the sheer number of Bible studies offered everywhere you turn. Just in my limited view I’ve seen offerings just this past week of studying Genesis, Exodus, Nehemiah, Esther, Psalms, and more. (I’m seeing an Old Testament trend this fall?)

I’m also hearing this craving through longings expressed by others. Tidy espresso-for-the-soul devotionals aren’t cutting it anymore. Predictable generic studies are met with yawns. People want MORE. Not more to scratch their itching ears, but rather MORE to draw them into that relationship with God that their soul so desperately desires. They recognize the longing; they thirst for life-giving water that only the Holy Spirit inspired Word of God can offer.

I’m one of those people. Always have been. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it as long as I have to. Nothing compares to a fresh touch from God through the Word that no one else gave you except Him. Nothing.

One of my main purposes for writing and blogging is to help others find their stride in the Word. I want to help those who long for more than an cookie-cutter devotional but aren’t sure how to go deeper without a study aid.

So today, I’m going to give you a peek into the new study I’m beginning myself for the fall since fall seems to be a season of new beginnings.

I’m going to be studying the Psalms. I’ve avoided these beloved chapters for multiple reasons. For one, I can slip into fruitless study in the Psalms quickly if I just read them for my morning pick-me-up and not really let them into my heart. But I felt God drawing me to them.

What I have decided to do is read a psalm per day (depending on its length) and journal two points:

  • What does this chapter tell me about God?
  • What does this chapter tell me about myself?

I may also include a prayer based on what I learn. I don’t always journal in my quiet time, but I felt this would be a built-in accountability to thoroughly study each chapter and meditate on it. I’ll share my first day with you:

9-10-14

Psalm 1

What does this chapter tell me about God?

  • He knows the ways of the righteous.

What does this chapter tell me about me?

  • The instruction of the Lord will be my delight. I am to meditate on it. In doing so, I will be nourished, bear fruit, and prosper.
  • I am not to seek counsel or be influenced by the wicked, sinners, and scoffers. I should be able to discern these people like the contrast between a tree by a stream and chaff that blows in the wind.

Prayer: Thank you that you know my ways. May I always meditate on your instruction so it will guide me. Help me discern the counsel of the godly and trust your work in me as I immerse myself in the waters of your truth.

Are you currently in a Bible study plan? If not, join me in the Psalms! I don’t have any plans to blog regularly about it yet since this is going to be my time with God initially, but you never know!

My purpose for this post is to share two simple questions to take you deeper into any passage you’re studying:

  • What does this chapter tell me about God?
  • What does this chapter tell me about myself?

 

Hopefully those two simple questions will get you to a great start in meditating on the Word like never before.

You also might like:
5 Books of the Bible to Begin your Scripture-Reading Routine
Bored with Bible Reading? One Thing You might be Neglecting

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Bored with Bible Reading? The One Thing You Might Be Neglecting

6 Easy StepsHow many times have you opened your Bible and hoped for a new thought, new revelation, or something you could apply today?  And how many times have you finished no more enlightened than before you started?

It’s extremely frustrating. I can’t count the number of times this has happened to me and frankly still does.  But one simple practice made those days much less common.  This one concept, this one word, has transformed my Bible reading.

The word why. 

Becoming inquisitive in your study of Scripture is key to further understanding.  How do you do this?

  1. Read slowly.  Don’t be in a rush to get through a passage or a chapter.  If you’re in a rush to cross “Read the Bible” off your to-do list, you won’t catch these “why” opportunities.
  2. Don’t skip over parts that don’t make sense at first.  There is no way any of us will understand everything in the Bible, but some things will become more clear if we’re alert and…
  3. Pause over the parts that don’t make sense or seem out of the ordinary.  Take mental note when you read something you don’t understand or when something is different than what you’ve seen in prior reading.
  4. Ask, “Why?”  This should be a key prayer.  You’re not questioning God; you’re inquiring of him. You’re showing him you seek a deeper understanding of the text.  Many times by meditating over this question in prayer, the answer will become clear to you, but other times you may be prompted to…
  5. Do simple research.  There has never been a better time to study the Bible than in the 21st century!  So many answers to our questions are one Google search away!  I’m going to give you an example of this below, but I’ll also be sharing my favorite tools in future posts.
  6. Journal your discovery.  If you find an answer to your “why” either by prayer or doing more research – both of which can be primary methods of the Holy Spirit to speak truth to your heart – it’s notable!  Make notes of how this may apply to your life.  Even if you’re not the journaling type, just a few sentences will do.

Of course, not every “why” question will be answered.  Just today I read a passage that completely perplexed me. I followed all of the steps above and am no closer to an answer.  And that’s ok. Maybe I’ll get deeper insight through a sermon, a conversation, or a book someday. I need to trust that God will reveal what I need at the right time.  But many times we miss this revelation by simply neglecting to ask “why.”

Need an example?  Follow my journey as I read a passage in Mark last week:

  1. I read Mark 8:22-26 where Jesus healed the blind man at Bethsaida.
  2. I didn’t skip over these few verses to get to the next ones where Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ.
  3. I paused over verses 23 and 26, where Jesus not only made a point to both take the blind man out of the village of Bethsaida before he healed him, but he also commanded him not to enter Bethsaida after he healed him.  I knew this wasn’t customary based on some of his other healings I had read previously in my reading of Mark.
  4. I asked, “Why was Jesus so intent about keeping this man away from the village of Bethsaida? What were characteristics of this village?”
  5. I did some simple research on Bethsaida at the time.  I enlisted the help of Google by searching, “New Testament Scriptures in Bethsaida.”  Interestingly enough, Wikipedia pointed me to the following Scriptures where Jesus spoke, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matthew 11:21 and Luke 10:13)  I also found in my Google search that the Feeding of the 5,000 likely took place on the Plain of Bethsaida.  (source) So from two simple sites I learned that Bethsaida had seen many mighty works of God, including the Feeding of the 5,000, and still refused to repent of their sin.
  6. I journaled my discovery.  I discovered that Jesus wanted this man away from those who refused to repent.  Perhaps he didn’t want this man with newfound faith and purpose in life to be influenced by those who lacked faith, didn’t repent, and subsequently rejected Christ.  How did this apply to me?  Again, I knew from prior reading that this way of doing things wasn’t customary of Jesus and his healings.  Just three chapters prior, Jesus told the man he healed from demon-possession to go back to his village (Mark 5:1-20).  By seeing these different ways of handling situations, I saw that Jesus handled every person and situation individually according to their needs.  And in the case of this man, he sought to protect him from faithless influence.  My takeaway: I need to be vigilant with those under my care (my children particularly but also young believers in my influence) and perhaps take steps to shield them from faithless influences, particularly until they’ve had a chance to mature.

I hope this example helped to shed some light on how simply asking “Why” can transform your Bible study.   How many of us would delight if our children came to us asking why we do the things we do in a way that is genuinely seeking wisdom?  In the same way, God delights in his children seeking to know him better.  Developing an inquisitive mind in your Bible study is a great place to start.

Did you enjoy this post? I’d love to hear from you!  You might also like 5 Books of the Bible to Begin Your Scripture Reading Routine.

5 Books of the Bible to Begin Your Scripture-Reading Routine

readBible

The most common comment I hear when a person wants to read the Bible consistently is, “Where do I start?”  Most believers desire to dig into the word of God, but finding a beginning point can be overwhelming. Do you start in Genesis and read straight through? Do you start in the New Testament? In Paul’s letters?   Should you use a devotional?

While devotionals have their place (I’m in the process of writing one that I hope you’ll read!), I always advocate reading the pure, unfiltered word of God.  I know, I know, it doesn’t sound near as appealing as something a little more readable and seemingly life applicable.  But reading the word of God without any other voices in the mix, just between you and God alone, is indescribable.

Still not sure where to start?  Below are five places I personally recommend in beginning a consistent Bible-reading routine. Be sure to check back as I post more tips in digging into the word.

1. The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John):  These are books chronicling the life of Jesus from four different perspectives.  All Scripture points to Jesus, from beginning to end (John 5:39).  Since we as Christians are followers of Christ, what better place can we start than reading about the life of the one we are to imitate?  Another reason I believe it is critical to begin at the Gospels is this:  I’ve noticed a trend across the web where writers quote Jesus to make their point.  This can be deceiving, however, if the trend is to pick the more palatable teachings of Jesus without recognizing the hard teachings.  It’s imperative for Christians to know our Savior and know him well – all aspects of him that are revealed to us.  I’ve personally made a commitment to read the Gospels continually, at least a small section per day, no matter what other portion of Scripture I may be studying.

2. Acts: The early church is fascinating.  In the book of Acts, we get to see exactly what early Christians did to reach others with the good news of Jesus.  Many of these had walked with Jesus himself.  We also see how many gave their lives for the sake of sharing the truth of Jesus to others. We see the interaction with Paul – who formerly persecuted the early Christians – and the early church.  We see how they engaged with the pagan culture around them.  We see how they dealt with conflict.

3. Genesis: Every word of Scripture rests on the first verse of Genesis.  God is creator.  If God is creator than we are his creation and subject to his authority, whether we voluntarily submit to him or not.  In the New Testament, we see Jesus as a personal Savior, and as such, the tendency can be to make him in our minds smaller than he is.  By balancing New Testament readings with those in the Old Testament, such as Genesis, we see that Jesus is the Son of God – a God much bigger than we can comprehend.  Reading about this God who holds the nations in his hands helps us to see the grand scheme of things, and more importantly, how we’re not the center of it.  He is.

4. 1 and 2 Samuel: First and Second Samuel chronicle the life of King David, whose calling began when he was a humble shepherd boy.  We all know the big stories of David like David and Goliath and David and Bathsheba.  But there is much more to be learned about this Man After God’s Own Heart, whose throne was a placeholder for Jesus the Messiah, whose kingdom will never end.  My favorite way to read the life of David is to read it in a chronological Bible, where his writings in the Psalms are placed in the likely order in which they were written, side by side with the events that inspired the writing.

5. James:  James is my favorite “utility” book.  If you want to get into immediate life lessons, this is the book to begin with.  All five chapters are filled with meaty verses. In fact, I recommend you only read a few verses at a time to fully digest the richness this book provides.

It was definitely hard to narrow down my picks for books to begin reading in the Bible, but hopefully these will provide a good start.  There is no better time to begin like the present!  In future posts, I will provide more Bible study tips that I’ve learned through the years.

What about you?  What book(s) would you recommend to a believer just beginning a regular Bible reading routine?