The Play-Along Bible by Bob Hartman {GIVEAWAY}

Psalm 78 tells us that we should pass along God’s story to our children. Many parents struggle with that idea. They think they don’t know enough about the Bible. And they are afraid that telling God’s story badly, or in a boring way, might do more harm than good. I have a friend who is a children’s pastor. When she was a teenager and babysat for a Christian family, she was told that she could read the children a fun story, but only if she read them a Bible story, first! I think that sums up the problem.

The Play-Along Bible

In The Play-Along Bible I retell 50 Bible stories in such a way that they actually ARE the fun story. Built into the stories are lots of things for you and your children to do as you read the stories so that you can all have fun together. All you need to do is to read each line, and then invite your child to do the suggested action or repeat the suggested words along with you. It’s that simple. You may need to go first, to give them an idea of how to do it. And it will help if you do that with a big smile on your face and a playful attitude. Because it is The Play-Along Bible, after all! And nearly thirty years of storytelling has convinced me that when we are playing (as opposed to sitting very seriously and still) we are always more open to discovering what is beautiful, good and true.

We are often told, and I think it’s right, that reading to our children, from a very young age, instills a love of words and a love of books. But I think it does more than that. Lap time, bedtime, whenever you take the time to read to your child
ren not only brings them closer to the words, it also brings them closer to you. So it makes sense, that if the words are about God, then it will surely bring them closer to Him, as well. And what could be better? You and your child and your Heavenly Father, all there together, in one place, playing. Playing along with a fun story.


Bob Hartman is a pastor, author, and storyteller with a rich history in publishing and whose books have sold more than 1 million copies. Primarily he’s written children’s books with a strong moral theme or Bible story books. Bob is best known for The Lion Storyteller Bible, which sold more than 200,000 copies, and The Wolf Who Cried Boy, with more than 90,000 copies sold. He is also the author of You Version’s Bible App for Kids, which has been downloaded over 9 million times. Bob is married to Sue, and they have two married children and three grandchildren.

Want to win a copy of The Play-Along Bible? We have five copies to give away this month! Enter to win using the Rafflecopter below.

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Looking at the Beatitudes through the Lens of Parenting

Parenting and the Bible
source: MarcosReis07 via Flickr

John MacArthur wrote, “The Beatitudes demonstrate that the way to heavenly blessedness is antithetical to the worldly path normally followed in pursuit of happiness.”

Parenting isn’t about feeling good all the time.

Make it that, and you’ll have kids who run the house and don’t understand the word no. Some of my best parenting moments are when I feel the worse, I think. Holding a screaming, flailing 5-year-old who is throwing a temper tantrum – when really I just want to shut her in her room and go eat chocolate cake. Taking a deep breath and explaining to my 3-year-old onemoretime that “I need” is not the way we start sentences to ask for things. Not biting back when my 17-month-old decides to gnaw at my shoulder.

Often parenting is going against my human nature and trying to latch on to my Jesus-nature instead, asking for His power to flood me. Because seriously, there is no way I can do this on my own.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus shows us a flip-flop view of His kingdom versus the world’s. He says, “You’re going to mourn. You’re going to be persecuted. You’re going to need to show mercy and peace and gentleness when you don’t want to. But I am going to bless you for it, and it’s how I am going to work through your life.”

How many times as a parent do you feel mournful? Poor in spirit? Persecuted, even, by your children or other parents? Jesus blesses that.

The Beatitudes are everything I want to be as a parent. Gentle. Peaceful. Merciful. Pure in heart. In my study Bible, MacArthur also writes that “gentleness is supreme self-control empowered by the Spirit.”

I’ve seen a graphic around Facebook lately, with a toddler laying on top of his mama on the beach and the words, “You’re never going to be loved like this again.”

Until we see Christ, no one on earth is going to love us with the uninhibited crazy love of a toddler or preschooler. So let’s pour back that love, praying for the Spirit to fill us with mercy, purity of heart, gentleness, and peace, not giving up when we are mournful or feel persecuted or want to hide in our rooms and throw stuff at the wall.

In The Message paraphrase, Matthew 5:3 is, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”

Praise God and Amen!

Originally published on 

Why Making a Mess Can Help Your Whole Family Learn God’s Word (GIVEAWAY)

Kids are the ultimate doers.

They come home from school with a backback full of papers they’ve colored, figures they’ve drawn, and crafts they’ve made. Before their bags have even had time to make an impression on the couch, they’ve raced to the backyard or to the park with their friends where hours pass as they build castles out of sand, rainforests out of monkey bars, and as-yet-unseen worlds seen only with the eyes of their imagination.

When we grow up, it’s easy to look back at all of this activity and dismiss it as childish play – fun, certainly, but not educational. By middle school, we come to believe that real learning comes from sticking our nose into a book until knowledge mysteriously transfers from the ink-splattered pages into the recesses of our brain. The problem is that this simply isn’t true.

Don’t misunderstand: book-learning is good and necessary for a well-rounded education. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise to Christians that learning through doing is equally as important for adults as it is for kids. After all, Jesus taught with hands-on lessons and illustrations.

Of course, the gospels tell us that Jesus was a stand-out student of the Hebrew Scriptures, and He would frequently quote or paraphrase those Scriptures to His followers in order to reinforce or remind them of what God has said. But just as often, Jesus chose to teach those around Him by doing.

He walked on the water. He broke bread and fish into thousands of pieces. He raised Lazarus from the dead. He cleared the temple. He died and rose again.

Even when Jesus taught with His words, He often used parables, metaphors, and illustrations instead of simple statements of fact. He created mental playgrounds for His followers where they could feel the surroundings and circumstances of the characters. They could feel the outrage of the older, faithful brother when their father welcomed his repentant brother home and celebrated with a feast.

It will always be important to read Scripture. But as Jesus demonstrated by His own teachings, it is equally important for kids and adults alike to do Scripture.

Hands On Bible

That’s what makes the Hands-On Bible so special. The Hands-On Bible uses this same type of experience-based learning to communicate God’s Word in an active, understandable way.

With hundreds of fun, memorable activities, the Hands-On Bible is packed with activities and experiences that invite kids (and maybe even their parents!) to crawl inside the Scriptures and do God’s Word! There are over 102 Hands-On Bible Experiences, 52 Key Verse Activities, and 16 Bible Bonanza Experiences that serve as jumping off points to learning God’s Word by doing.

Whether you use it for family devotions or for your kids not-so-quiet time, the Hands-On Bible is the only children’s Bible that teaches and reinforces the lessons of the Bible in the same way Jesus taught – by seeing, experiencing, and doing. As James says, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says” (James 1:22 NLT).

Want to win a copy of the Hands-On Bible? We have five to give away! Just use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

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Horses and the Bible

horsey art


“Some trust in chariots. Some trust in horses. But we trust in the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7, NIrV

Each week this summer, I am hoping to do a themed week with my kids. This week our theme was HORSEYS, at my 2-year-old’s request. As I outlined on my personal blog, we did lots of crafts, read books, and danced to music all about horseys.

But I also wanted to touch on where horses are in the Bible. I wasn’t sure how much I would find – aren’t there mostly donkeys in the Bible? And are donkeys horses? – but there are a few good instances!

  • Pharaoh’s army chased the Israelites on horses when they left Egypt (we had a good coloring page of this in our Gigantic Coloring Book of Bible Stories – love that thing!)
  • When Elijah is lifted to heaven in a whirlwind, there is a chariot of fire and horses of fire (2 Kings 2:11).
  • King Solomon had 12,000 horses. Can we even imagine that many horses? (1 Kings 4:26)
  • In the Book of Esther, Mordecai rose a horse through Susa when he was honored by the king.
  • And of course, and most exciting, when Jesus rides victorious He’ll be riding a white horse! (Revelation 19:11)

Any of these biblical stories could be told and made into a craft to go along with a horsey-themed week at your house. And Psalm 20:7 makes an awesome memory verse for the week.

Stay tuned for more in this series as the summer goes on!

Real Men Aren’t Afraid to Carry Bibles by G.G. Mathis

This post is part of our monthly series encouraging leaders and parents of preteens. You’ll find more information and a great curriculum at the FLYTE blog

source: giratikanon

Kelton’s parents gave him a Bible for his eleventh birthday, four months ago. He’s never taken it out of the box.

Jaden brings his Bible to church, slams it on the table, and sits the rest of the hour with his arms crossed.

Barrett, certain he won’t need it at home, leaves his Bible at church on Sundays.

Hang around preteen boys at church, and you’ll discover that these behaviors, though undesirable, are not uncommon.  You have a unique opportunity to help boys (and girls) recognize the value of God’s Word. Here’s how:

Use navigational aids. Remember that some of your preteens are new to church, and a thick book arranged in neither alphabetical nor numerical order is hard to navigate. Assure boys, “It’s always OK to use the table of contents!” Frequently and briefly review the significance of chapter and verse numbers.

Use Bibles every session. Technology makes it possible for teachers to flash verses on a screen, use search engines to find them, or spit out a printout of a Bible passage. Don’t forget to encourage preteens to experience the Bible the traditional way—hands-on and minds on! (You can add technological techniques as kids improve in Bible-handling expertise.)

Use affirmation. Privately recognize boys who bring their own Bibles to church. Encourage them to show you what Bible translation they are using, as well as the maps, dictionaries, or other study helps it contains. As time and conversation permit, explain which study helps are your favorites and why.

Use natural preteen curiosity. How do you get boys to use their Bibles in between Sundays? Trick them, of course! Bait boys with bits and bites of Bible stories about heroes, battles, spies, and God’s supernatural power. Tell enough of the story to pique their interest, then tell boys where they can read the rest.

Use your Bible! Let boys see you carrying, reading, and respecting your Bible. Tell them about meaningful passages you read and how they helped you make it through a tough week. Keep up the habit of marking and memorizing Scriptures and sharing them with preteens when you teach.

What suggestions do you have for making preteens excited about the Bible?  

G.G. Mathis teaches preteens at Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin, Missouri.

June ParentLife Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to Jeff D., Jonathan G., Crystal, Mary K., Janet B., Peter, Leslie B., Anthony P., and Brenda S. — the winners of our June giveaway!


IllStudyBibleforKids2.jpgEach of these readers won a copy of the new Illustrated Study Bible for Kids by Holman Bible Publishers. Thank you Holman for donating the extra copies to give away!


Keep checking our blog for our July giveaway … coming soon!

June ParentLife Giveaway

Is your child ready for a study Bible of his very own? Check out the new Illustrated Study Bible for Kids by Holman Bible Publishers.



Now available in pink and brown simulated leather editions, the popular Illustrated Study Bible for Kids offers a fresh and exciting approach to Bible reading among children. It features the complete text of the popular Holman Christian Standard Bible translation plus dozens of full-color illustrations, maps, and reconstructions. Also included are easy-to-read study helps like The Ten Commandments for Kids, How to Have a Quiet Time, Test Your Bible Knowledge, and a Bible Dictionary for Kids.

ParentLife has two Illustrated Study Bible for Kids (one in pink and one in brown) to give away during the month of June. Everyone* who posts a comment on our blog in June will automatically be entered to win!

*LifeWay employees are not eligible for this giveaway. Multiple comments do not increase chances of winning.

 What features do you look for in a Bible for your child? What is most important to you?


Where Do You Go for Parenting Advice?


Have you seen the latest research on parenting? A study released by LifeWay Research, the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources, conducted a survey of 1,200 parents with children under age 18. The study reveals that most parents are consistently looking for guidance to help them be better parents. But where do they look to better themselves? Research shows that parents primarily depend upon their own experience to guide them in their decisions as a parent. Only about 14 percent of parents look to the Bible as a source of parenting advice. Even Christian parents look to the Bible at a low rate.

But parents do express the need for help. Ninety-two percent of parents say they need encouragement in parenting. These numbers show the great need for parents to have support, understanding, and mentoring in the task of parenting. But many times parents are too busy, stressed, or even embarrassed at their failures to seek help. So the question is: How can we make time in our schedules to form relationships with other parents where we are vulnerable, willing to listen, and use our weaknesses to help others?

I was challenged this weekend on our Sunday School class retreat to do just this — to see my story with its successes and failures as a gift from God. As parents, this is so important as we face the uncertainties and questions that come with parenting our kids. I want to challenge you to do the same and to be willing to impact other parents in your life — to be an encourager, to be available to follow God’s plan for your life, and to be real with your challenges as parents.

ParentLife is so grateful to be a small part of your parenting journey. When we developed our slogan — Encouraging and Equipping Parents — we recognized how important these tasks are in helping parents carry our their sacred calling as parents. We hope this blog and each issue of ParentLife will encourage and equip you to be a better parent.

Do you agree that parents need more encouragement? Where do you find encouragement as a parent? Let us know how we can better partner with you in your parenting journey.