The Theological Books on our Little Girl’s Shelf

Our daughter is due to arrive this week! Throughout our time preparing for her arrival – decorating the nursery, picking our precious little newborn jammies, and assembling her crib – nothing has given us more joy and vision for raising her than selecting quality books to stock her nursery. 

We have a fairly specific vision for her library (at least, for her Bible-oriented reading. Don’t worry … we still include some Dr. Seuss!). We want all of the books to be theologically-minded and rooted in sound, orthodox theology. And yet … we also want them to be winsome and fun (can’t have this little lady growing up thinking theology is drab!). So here are some of the titles on our little girl’s bookshelf. Grab them for yourself, your little ones, or as a gift!

Big Theology for Little Hearts series. Big Theology for Little Hearts is a board-book series for children ages 1–5 that teaches key Christian truths in simple, easy-to-understand terms. Each book introduces a big idea from the Bible with concise definitions and engaging illustrations to help young minds gain a foundational understanding of God’s Word. As each book’s topic builds on the previous one, children can develop a cohesive framework of theology that includes God, creation, humanity, Jesus, and the gospel—allowing parents to start having crucial conversations with their children as early as possible. There are currently three books in the series: JesusGodand The Gospel

Meeting with Jesus: A Daily Bible Reading Plan for Kids. Following up his popular book Exploring the Bible, a plan for children ages 6–12 to read through the whole Bible, David Murray has written a new reading plan for children that focuses on Jesus Christ. This volume walks kids through the 4 New Testament Gospels over the course of a year. Each of the 52 “meetings with Jesus” teaches a new truth about Jesus through 6 days of Bible reading and includes interactive reflection questions, space for prayer and application, memory verses, and lines for sermon notes. In less than 5 minutes a day, children will get to know Jesus and his offer of abundant life.

Jesus and the Very Big Surprise. This beautifully-illustrated hardback book by well-known singer and TV presenter Randall Goodgame is based on the parable in Luke 12 v 35-38. It teaches children that Jesus will return, and when he does, there will be an amazing party where… SURPRISE!… he will serve his faithful servants! Jesus didn’t tell us when that party will be, but we can make sure that we’re ready for it by loving him and loving his people while we wait.

Love Made. The joy of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—has existed for all eternity. That indescribable joy bubbled over to make creation. God made so many wonderful things, but we are by far His greatest work of art. Share that precious truth with your little one with this unique children’s book celebrating the miracle of God’s creation. Boys and girls will learn about God as the Trinity, the Creator, and about how they are made in His image. Beautifully illustrated and lovingly written, Love Made will become a story time favorite for your child or makes a thoughtful gift to give a parent-to-be. Help your child discover that out of all the amazing things love made, the most amazing of all is them.

The Garden, the Curtain and the CrossThis beautiful hardback Bible storybook for 3-6 year olds takes children on a journey from the Garden of Eden to God’s perfect new creation. It is a gospel presentation that focuses on the significance of the temple curtain. God said “because of your sin you can’t come in”, but the moment the curtain tore in two, everything changed. Children will learn that Jesus breaks down the barrier of sin between us and God so that we can enjoy him for ever. Stunningly illustrated by Catalina Echeverri, author and illustrator of several bestselling children’s books and all the books in the ‘Tales that Tell the Truth’ series from The Good Book Company. Written by Carl Laferton, author of Christmas Uncut and Original Jesus and Editorial Director of The Good Book Company. This beautifully produced and biblically faithful book makes a perfect gift.There is also an accompanying Easter Calendar with family devotions which takes a more in depth look at the passages that underpin the storybook. Also check out our full size images to use in presentations if reading to a large audience, the coloring and activity book and the free word search and coloring sheet that you can download from the bottom of this page.

 Jesus and the Lions’ Den. Helps children to see the gospel heart of the whole Bible as they discover how Daniel points to Jesus. The story of Daniel and the Lions’ Den teaches children many things… It teaches them about praying; it teaches them about Daniel’s faithfulness to God, and God’s faithfulness to Daniel; and it teaches them that God is the real king of everyone everywhere. But if you peel back another layer, you’ll see that like the rest of the Old Testament, it also points to Jesus. This stunningly-illustrated retelling of Daniel and the lions’ den helps children to see Jesus in the story of Daniel. It challenges children to spot the ‘Jesus moments’ by looking out for the hidden lion symbols. It goes on to explain the parallels between Jesus and Daniel, so that children can see the gospel heart of the whole Bible. Great for children aged 3-6.

 Goodbye to GoodbyesTeach young children that Jesus came to end goodbyes. Jesus knew how scary it is when someone gets really sick. He knew how sad it is when someone dies. Jesus cried when his friend, Lazarus, died. But he did something at his friend’s tomb that changed everything. He showed that he came to give his friends life after death.  In this vivid, moving and exciting retelling of the story of Lazarus, Lauren Chandler helps children understand that Jesus came to say goodbye to goodbyes—for ever. The author, Lauren Chandler, used the story of Lazarus to help her own children in the wake of her husband’s (Matt Chandler) brain tumor. Whether children are coming to terms with the illness or death of a loved one, or simply fearful of when that day might come, this book reassures them with the amazing truth that Jesus came to give his friends life after death.

 God’s Very Good Idea. God’s very good idea is to have lots of different people enjoying loving him and loving each other. This stunningly illustrated journey from the garden of Eden to God’s heavenly throne room shows how despite our sinfulness, everyone can be a part of God’s very good idea through the saving work of Christ. This book celebrates diversity and will help children see how people from all ethnic and social backgrounds are valuable to God and how Jesus came to rescue all kinds of people. It will also excite them about being part of church – God’s delightfully different family.

The Friend Who ForgivesDo you ever talk before you think? Mess up? Let others down?  That’s what Peter did, again and again and again, and it led him to abandoning his best friend, Jesus. Peter loved Jesus. He felt terrible when he pretended not to know him. He thought all was lost when Jesus died. But after Jesus rose from the dead, he went and found Peter and forgave him. He explained that his death took the punishment for all of Peter’s mistakes and that his resurrection showed that the penalty was lifted. Peter spent the rest of his life telling people that if they put their trust in Jesus, they could be forgiven too—again and again and again. Children know all about failing, but they don’t always experience true forgiveness. This book points them to Jesus, the friend who will forgive them again and again and again.

The Storm that StoppedDramatic retelling of Jesus calming the storm that will teach children about who Jesus really is and how they can really trust him. This beautiful hardback storybook is based on the account of Jesus calming the storm from Mark chapter 4. Stunningly illustrated by Catalina Echeverri, author and illustrator of several bestselling children’s books and all the storybooks in the ‘Tales That Tell The Truth’ series from The Good Book Company.Written by Alison Mitchell, author of The Christmas PromiseThe One O’Clock Miracle and several of our children’s tracts. This book is perfect for children aged 3-6 years old and makes a beautiful gift.

The Baby Believer Series. My internet friend, Danielle, has authored several simple board books that are perfect for the youngest readers. I’m confident that they will be some of our first reads with our little lady! They include Holy WeekLet there be LightFrom Eden to BethlehemPsalms of Praise, and (her newest addition) Jesus Heals. We have them all and they’re great for ages 6months to 3 years old. 

 The Jesus Storybook Bible tells that Story beneath all the stories in the Bible. From Noah to Moses to the great King David, every story points to a Child. The one upon whom everything would depend… There are lots of stories in the Bible. But all the stories are telling one big story. The story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. The Jesus Storybook Bible invites children to discover for themselves the one who is at the center of God’s great rescue story — and at the center of their story, too. Because the Bible isn’t a book of rules. Or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a story.  And at the center of that story is a baby. And every single story in the Bible whispers his name.

The Biggest Story ABCFrom Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden to Zion and the new creation world, the Bible is telling one big story—the story of God’s promise to deliver his people. Kevin DeYoung, best-selling author of The Biggest Story, has written a new board book to help kids ages 1 to 3 to make connections from Genesis to Revelation and from A to Z. Each page introduces a new letter of the alphabet with engaging and whimsical illustrations from award-winning artist Don Clark, retelling the biblical narrative in one continuous story. This board book is a fun way for parents to introduce their small children to the big story of the Bible.

Beginners Gospel Story BibleThe Beginners Gospel Story Bible is a gospel-centered, Bible storybook for toddlers and preschoolers with fifty-two Bible stories retold in a simple and compelling way. Author Jared Kennedy traces through the stories of the Old and New Testament how God keeps his promises in surprising ways better than anyone could have ever thought or imagined! Each story highlights for young children Gods story of redemption through Jesus and the unexpected ways that God’s grace and mercy are revealed throughout the Bible. Children will hear the good news of God’s love for them clearly expressed in ways that will speak to their young hearts. Each story ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to further reinforce the story. Brightly colored illustrations highlight each story and add fun teaching elements of counting, opposites, patterns, and object recognition to keep the youngest child’s attention.

 The Biggest StoryThe Bible is full of exciting stories that fill children with awe and wonder. But kids need to know how all those classic stories connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s glorious plan to redeem his rebellious people. In The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung—a best-selling author and father of six—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth. With powerful illustrations by award-winning artist Don Clark, this imaginative retelling of the Bible’s core message—how the Snake Crusher brings us back to the garden—will draw children into the biblical story, teaching them that God’s promises are even bigger and better than we think.

Christ at the Center FAQ

The Christ at the Center cards launch today! I’m so excited to share this newest resource with you!

It’s a project that has been on my heart and in my prayers for the last two years, and I’m thrilled to be able to finally share it with you. For the last 18 months, I have been working with New Testament and Old Testament scholars (from former seminary classmates to former professors) to hone the content for these cards, and with early elementary educators to make that content accessible for kids.

One of the burdens I have as a theologian, parent, and church planter is for our circles of believers to see Christ as the center of the Word of God. He is the One who holds the entirety of the Scriptures together, the thread that is woven from beginning to end, and the fulfillment of every word of God. It’s Christ that brings the Word to life, both in Old Testament Expectation and in New Testament fulfillment. Which is why I have labored over these cards (in the community of those much brighter than myself) to help little ones understand the central role that Christ plays in every book of the Bible.
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Christ at the Center is a set of 70+ cards that walk kids through each book of the Bible, summarizing its content, showing where it falls in the big story of the Bible, and (most poignantly) showing how each book points to Christ. It is my deep desire that these cards will help kids (and parents!) discover the Savior who is on every page of Scripture — from Genesis to Revelation. Plus, they teach kids all about things like biblical genre, authorship, original context, and MORE! They come in this beautiful and sturdy box that I just can’t get enough of. And they’re here just in time for the holidays!

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about these cards. Have another? Ask in the comments!

What is the target age range for these cards?

These cards were written with kids ages 4 to 12 in mind, but they can definitely be used well into the teenage years.

What is the best way to use these cards?

I wrote a whole blog post about this very thing! You can check it out here!

How much do they cost?

They’re $36/set and you should keep your eyes peeled for a launch day promo code! 🙂

How long do they take to ship?

Orders generally ship within 2 to 4 business days after the order is successfully placed, but I’m often able to ship them out sooner. Shipping generally takes three to five days within the US.

Do you ship internationally?

I do ship to Canada, the UK, Australia, and the Philippines currently. International shipping in expensive and I’m working to find a more affordable solution than the USPS. I’m also hoping to expand our international shipping further in the future!

Will these cards be available as a digital download?

Due to copyright protection, none of the Tiny Theologians products that are available in print will ever be available digitally.

What is your return policy?

Unused cards are eligible for return if they arrive back to me in the same condition in which they were shipped. Shipping is non-refundable.

Using Christ at the Center in Your Home

The Christ at the Center cards launch TOMORROW, and I can’t wait to start shipping these sweet cards out to you to use with your kiddos in your homes!

Many of you have asked the best way to use these cards, and the possibilities are endless! But here is a list of some of my favorite ways to use them with different ages groups:

Bible Overview

The simplest way to use these cards is to read through one every day as a family. You can add them to your morning basket routine, breakfast table time, or bedtime ritual. By reading through one card a day, your little ones will gain a great overview of the big story of the Bible in just about two months!

Biblical Context

As you read through other biblical stories and resources, it could be helpful to pull out the correlating card and help your kids understand the context of that specific story. For example, if you read the wonderful book Love Made by my friend Quina Aragon, you’ll be talking all about the creation story. What a great way to give your kids the biblical context for that story by pulling out the genesis card from your Christ at the Center deck!

Books of the Bible Memorization

As your kids get older, they’ll be able to memorize the books of the Bible in order. There are a lot of songs that can help with this process, by the way! Check out YouTube for some fun ideas. The Christ as the Center cards can be a great way to test memorization. Shuffle them up and challenge your kids to put them back in order!

Genre Matching

Each card has an icon that marks the biblical genre of that book. At the back of the deck there are cards that explain what a genre is and explain how to identify and interpret each genre. You can create a matching game by pulling out the poetry genre card and challenging your kids to find all the books of poetry in the Old Testament. What a fun way to introduce something as complex as genre to young kids!

These are just a few of my ideas on how to use these cards, but I want to hear from you! What are you favorite ways to use these cards? Or, what are some of the ways you’re most excited to use them? Let me know in the comments!

Introducing Christ at the Center

I’m so excited to share with you the newest discipleship tools for kids coming from the Tiny Theologians line! It’s a project that has been on my heart and in my prayers for the last two years, and I’m thrilled to be able to finally share it with you. For the last 18 months, I have been working with New Testament and Old Testament scholars (from former seminary classmates to former professors) to hone the content for these cards, and with early elementary educators to make that content accessible for kids.

One of the burdens I have as a theologian, parent, and church planter is for our circles of believers to see Christ as the center of the Word of God. He is the One who holds the entirety of the Scriptures together, the thread that is woven from beginning to end, and the fulfillment of every word of God. It’s Christ that brings the Word to life, both in Old Testament Expectation and in New Testament fulfillment. Which is why I have labored over these cards (in the community of those much brighter than myself) to help little ones understand the central role that Christ plays in every book of the Bible.
⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Christ at the Center is a set of 70+ cards that walk kids through each book of the Bible, summarizing its content, showing where it falls in the big story of the Bible, and (most poignantly) showing how each book points to Christ. It is my deep desire that these cards will help kids (and parents!) discover the Savior who is on every page of Scripture — from Genesis to Revelation. Plus, they teach kids all about things like biblical genre, authorship, original context, and MORE! They come in this beautiful and sturdy box that I just can’t get enough of. They’ll be here just in time for Christmas shopping. Set your alarms for November 15 and join me in celebrating Christ at the center of the Word!


From where Does my Help Come?

I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come? 

Psalm 121:1

There are several theories as to why the Psalmist would lift his eyes to the hills at the beginning of this prayer. The hills are high, drawing his gaze heavenward. The hills are beautiful, reminding him of the glory of God and his creative power. The hills represent God’s provision and faithfulness in bringing the Israelites to the promised land. The hills around Jerusalem provide fortification, helping the psalmist feel secure in the defensibility and preservation of the holy city. 

But the theory I find most compelling is… the hills are the “high places” where pagan altars were built and idols were worshiped. 

What? 

Let me rewind a bit. Psalm 121 is one in a set of prayers known as the Song of Ascents (Psalm 120-134). Scholars believe these psalms were sung by pilgrims making their way into Jerusalem for the high holy feasts. The journey into the city was steep, rocky, hot, slow-going, and often dangerous – not an easy trek for people who lacked an REI or even just sturdy hiking boots. 

It would be tempting to wonder if the pilgrimage was worth it; tempting to look to something else, something nearer, for their comfort and provision; tempting to worship something a bit more convenient. How very tempting then to lift their eyes to the false gods in the hills and wonder, “From where does my help come?”

Idol worship is as much a temptation for the modern Christian as it was for the ancient Israelite. We may not have pagan altars in the hills, but we certainly have them in our hearts. If you want to know what the idols are in your own life, all you need to do is complete this sentence:

I lift my eyes to the ______. 

Husband’s return from work?

More money?

Clean house?

Kid-free beach trip? 

Glass of wine? 

Netflix?

Eight hours of sleep every night?  

It is so tempting, and so easy, to look to something nearer, temporary, convenient, and false to act as a band-aid to our daily stressors and challenges. Luckily, the Psalmist gives us the antidote to this poisonous thinking. He asks and answers, “From where does my help come?” 

My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth.

In just two verses, the psalmist manages to move us from temptation and doubt to right relationship with the Lord – affirming God’s personal care (“myhelp”) and God’s omnipotence. When the circumstances of our journeys overwhelm us and the thought of quitting God’s call for something easier appeals to us, we must remember that our identity is first and foremost dependent on God. We have nothing and are nothing except that the creator of all things created and loved us.

 Skipping to the final two verses: 

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore. 

(Psalm 121:7-8)

After opening with the emotionally driven temptation to seek out false gods, the Psalmist closes with a statement of fact: our God is utterly reliable. He is one who keeps you. He keeps you in your moments of doubt. He keeps you even when you lose your temper with your children. He keeps you when you learn your husband is staying late at the office and you need to cancel plans with friends and put your kids to bed alone. Again. He keeps you when your car fails and your basement leaks and your computer refuses to turn on. He keeps you even in moments when you lift your eyes to the hills (or the ice cream, or the shopping, or the…) and wonder from where your help comes.  

In our daily lives, it is inevitable that we will look to something other than God and wonder if that thing will bring the satisfaction and the rest we desire. But as St. Augustine (a man who self-admittedly knew quite a lot about idolatry) famously prayed in his Confessions,“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” In moments of temptation, follow the wise example of the Psalmist and reorient yourself to the Lord – affirming who He is and who you are because of Him. You are one who is kept by the creator of the universe. 

No hills necessary.

Danielle Hitchen is the founder of Catechesis Books and the author of the Baby Believer board books – a set of concept books designed to introduce very young children to the core tenets of the Christian faith. She desires to create beautiful books to help parents have better faith conversations with their children.

Her professional background includes communications consulting, radio production, event planning, and non-profit and church administration. Danielle is a graduate of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University where she earned her B.A. in Humanities. She resides in northern Virginia with her husband and two (soon to be three!) children. You can find learn more about her books at www.babybeliever.com and follower her on Instagram and Facebook @catechesisbooks. 

Is My Child Ready to Study the Bible + Where Do We Start?

Have you ever wondered: Is my child ready to study the Bible?

My oldest son, Noah, was almost two, and we were watching one of the Mickey Mouse Christmas movies, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas. In one of the scenes, Mickey gets angry with Pluto and leaves the house in a huff, and Pluto, sad he had disappointed his pal, hops on a train and runs away. 

I look over at my sweet Noah, and his eyes are filled with tears, which begin rolling down his cheeks, sharply followed by a wailing, “Nooooooooooooooo!”

Up until that moment, I’m not sure I realized that Noah was actually following the plot line of the movie. At 21 months old, he was capable to comprehend what was happening in the story. I’m not sure exactly when the change occurred, but he had moved beyond just liking the songs and the moving colors on the television. 

And that was when it hit me: If my child can comprehend a cartoon, he can comprehend the Bible. 

After all, the Bible, in the simplest explanation, is the written record of God’s story. Scripture is the greatest story ever told.

So if you are seeing the signs that your child’s mind can comprehend story, don’t settle for just filling their minds with cartoons. Begin filling their minds with God’s truth. 

Here are a few things that I’ve enjoyed using with my kids:

Don’t wait until they’re ready to get started.

As newborns, I would read a short devotional to my children at night. But here’s the secret between you and me: it wasn’t for them. 

It was for me. 

As a mom of a newborn, when rest was in shorter supply, which also means a lower level of brain functioning, there were times when I would get more from a children’s Bible story or devotion than my own quiet time. 

Why? Because it was simple. And it was often the simple truth of the gospel that my heart needed. 

A few I recommend: The Jesus Storybook BibleHis Little Princess (for girls) by Sheri Rose Shepherd, and His Mighty Warrior(for boys), also by Sheri Rose Shepherd. 

At the toddler stage, interaction plays a large role in comprehension. 

The same truth we know for ourselves starts young. The more senses and learning styles you can cross, the more likely your child is not to just to hear the story, but to retain the story.

In addition to the tools at Tiny Theologians (the ABC cards and the Lord’s Prayer Interactive cards are our faves!),we also love My First Hands-On Bible. Throughout the short stories, there are prompts in the margins for kids to act things out, repeat a phrase, etc.  Especially if you have active kids, these little cues for interaction reallyhelp them engage with the story. 

When they reach reading age, use God’s Word to guide them in spiritual truth with reading benefits. 

Last summer, I did my first full-fledged Bible study with my son, Noah (from the above story – who is now eight!) We studied the book of Proverbs together. It prompted many great discussions, even throughout his school year, as he encountered different situations with friends, academic challenges and teamwork in athletics.

As young as first grade, he is seeing the wisdom in following God’s ways – because he heard the truth in God’s Word first, and then he experienced many of the things God either warns about or encourages us to pursue.

Of course, there were words I needed to help him read, and there were some topics we agreed to dig into more when he’s older, but essentially, Proverbs is a book that reminds us we have a choice to make:

Are we going to live like the wise man, or are we going to live like the fool?

Proverbs reminds us of what the wise man lives like and the rewards that follow wisdom. At the same time, Proverbs also warns us about how the fool chooses to live and the consequences of foolishness.

It’s incredible to me how much those words have weight with him now. If I tell him he’s being wise, he beams. And if I ever have to whisper that he’s headed toward foolishness, he also knows the seriousness of adjusting his behavior. 

To be clear – reading Proverbs together does not create perfect children. But it did have an effect on him, and he was able to comprehend more of it than I expected.

Bottom line: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

And because we know that’s true, it’s always a good idea for including God’s Word as the foundation of our parenting, and it’s never too early.

You got this, mama – because He’s got you.


The following article was written by Michelle Myers of She Works His Way. You can read more from her on her blog or follow her on Instagram!

Teaching Biblical Languages to Kids

The biblical languages are often full of mystery for us. We hear them referenced in the pulpit or spot them in a commentary, but for many Christians they leave us feeling intimidated, confused, or anxious about the English translation in our hands.

As a Bible-school and seminary grad myself, I learned to love studying the biblical languages, Greek and Hebrew. I ate up the Greek vocabulary words and trudged through the Hebrew parsing. And while there are a lot of reasons for adults to study the biblical languages, there are also good reasons for little ones to learn and love them.

The Soundness of Scripture

The Word of God holds up under great scrutiny. There have been centuries of scholars who have looked deeply into the soundness of the 66 conical books, and the Word of God have proven itself time and time again. By teaching kids that the Word of God was written in languages other than English, we give them a glimpse into the background of the Bible, opening up conversations about the way the Word was originally penned and compiled. Don’t let college professors be the first to tell them about the way the Word was held together, but take the opportunity to teach them God’s Word and about God’s Word now.

The Meta-narrative of the Bible

The Bible teaches one great big story from beginning to end. By showing kids how one word is used throughout Scripture, we give them a theme to trace throughout that great story. For example, when we look at the Greek word “logos,” meaning “word,” we see the ways God spoke to His people through prophets and visions in the Old Testament, and then how Christ comes bursting onto the scene in the opening lines of the New Testament. Jesus isn’t just a messenger from God, but The Word, the very essential message of God for God’s people. With one little word study (no pun intended) you can help your little ones trace one teaching throughout the meta-narrative of Scripture.

A Love for the Deep Things of God

God has called us to love Him with all our hearts and our minds. By studying the original languages — and the memorization that necessarily goes along with that — it reminds us and them to dive deeply into the Word. As we help them do the hard work of study, we form in them a diligence in studying God’s Word, help them cultivate a love for God’s Word, wet their appetite for deep Bible study.

We’ve created a resource to help you do just this. Big Words of the Bible help you teach your little ones 20 key Greek and Hebrew vocabulary words. Each card shows your kiddos where the word is used in the Bible, what it means, and what it teaches them about God’s unchanging character (plus, they have some pretty cute illustrations to help them remember each word). You can easily add them to your Morning Basket or add them to your homeschool curriculum!

Investing Motherhood for Eternity

We’ve all heard the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). A master gives three servants various sums of money (“talents”) and goes on a journey. When the master returns, he demands an accounting of his resources. Two servants have invested and doubled the original sum. One has buried it and returned the original amount. The two are richly rewarded. The one is chastised for being slothful and cast “into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:30, English Standard Version)

That can’t be good. 

I’ve often felt haunted by this parable. It fills me with a deep sense of foreboding – fear that I’m not doing enough, not giving enough money, not investing enough time in being the best mom or wife or friend or parishioner or neighbor, not evangelizing enough, not reading enough books, not pouring enough of myself out (and out and out). How can I possibly say I’m truly invested if I don’t yet feel like a sucked dry juice box? Only then can I say I’ve really tried! 

The weight of responsibility and the pressure to make something of my life can often feel like too much to bear. It doesn’t help that this passage is often preached with a bit of fire and brimstone, a reminder to redeem the time! You only live once! Carpe diem! (Translated to mom speak… “Your children won’t be small forever so enjoy every minute of the little years!” Yeah. That one haunts me too.) I know theoretically and theologically why it’s wrong to feel this way. But my heart still fears. My heart would break to hear my Lord tell me I’ve been wicked and slothful. I long to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

The good news is, most of us aren’t the servant who was given five talents or even two. Most of us were just given the one.  In an objective evaluation of our lives, we will find we’ve been gifted with a pretty basic set of responsibilities – spouses, children, extended families, neighbors, jobs, homes, cars. Most of us will not be billionaire philanthropists. Most of us will not have spiritual charge over hundreds, thousands, or millions of people. Most of us will not be CEOs of large companies. 

So, let that take a little pressure off. 

We know from this parable not to bury our one talent. The question is, what do we do with it? How do we know we’re doing enough? There are three principles which guide the answer to that question – gratitude, stewardship, and rest. 

The first posture of any receiver is gratitude for what they’ve been given. From that gratitude will flow a desire to steward your gifts well. To steward something is to provide responsible management for the “talents” God has entrusted to your care. We don’t know much about the first two servants, but we do know they received their “talents” and responsibly invested them. Investing is done with the hope of benefiting all parties since you give to one who needs and receive more in return than you initially started with. By contrast, the third servant receives his “talent” with fear and buries it – benefiting no one, least of all himself. 

As you consider how to steward your gifts, remember God offers you abundant grace in addition to the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t bury your God-given gifts out of fear – hoarding and shielding them – but rather approach them with gratitude, willing to share them, cultivate them, accept God’s mercy in giving them to you and extend those mercies to others. This can be as simple as being actively present with your children or volunteering your time for a Sunday service a couple times a year. God is not the hard master of the parable, but a loving father who sees and aids your efforts to love Him well by caring for His gifts.  

Finally, remember that one of the most valuable gifts God calls you to steward is yourself, and you were created to need rest. Rest is a key part of Biblical stewardship as established in first chapters of Genesis. God does not ask us to work seven days a week, but commands us to set aside a day of rest and calls this day “holy” (Genesis 2:3, ESV).

If your strivings are exhausting and motivated by fear of failing God, it’s probable that you’re burying yourself rather than investing yourself. 

Remind yourself that God desires to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” as much as you long to hear it. So as you work to be a faithful steward, obeying your master’s commands (including resting in Him), take comfort that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, ESV).

If you suffer from chronic doing and/or fear of not doing enough, here are a couple of ways to practice faithfulness instead of fear:

  1. Mediate on and then rewrite Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 about specific seasons of your life. Remember that God does not call us to do all things in all seasons. 
  2. Make a list of your gifts – many of them will be quite “ordinary” (but no less precious!). These include your families, your friends, your home, your neighborhood, your opportunities. Pray over these gifts and how to care for them. Also be sure to read the Babylon Bee’s Father of 3 Wonders When He’ll Get Chance to Influence Others for Christ. 
  3. In the moments you fear you’re not doing enough or not getting it right, remember that Satan guilts in generalities while the Holy Spirit convicts in specifics. In these moments, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal if there are specific failings and to protect you from the attacks of the enemy. 
  4. Ask God to make you aware of the small ways he calls you to faithfulness in your daily life – perhaps pausing to ask a neighbor how she’s doing, putting down your phone to enjoy play-dough with your toddler, or inviting a friend over for coffee.

 

 

Danielle Hitchen is the founder of Catechesis Books and the author of the Baby Believer board books – a set of concept books designed to introduce very young children to the core tenets of the Christian faith. She desires to create beautiful books to help parents have better faith conversations with their children.

Her professional background includes communications consulting, radio production, event planning, and non-profit and church administration. Danielle is a graduate of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University where she earned her B.A. in Humanities. She resides in northern Virginia with her husband and two (soon to be three!) children. You can find learn more about her books at www.babybeliever.com and follower her on Instagram and Facebook @catechesisbooks. 

My Kids Teach Me that Worship Isn’t About Me | by Courtney Reissig

For as long as I’ve been a believer, I have prided myself in the fact that I don’t view the corporate gathering of God’s people as an entertainment service. In college, when many made the distinction between preaching and “worship” (the singing), I stood firm that it was God’s word preached that was the focal point of the worship gathering. We worship through singing. We worship through prayer. We worship through liturgy. We worship through the preached word. I simply didn’t think I had a problem with thinking church was about my preferences—about me.

Until a couple of months ago.

The twins turned five in February, and as a result aged out of the childcare at our church. We were excited to have them join us in the service. They were excited. They were ready. We all were ready.

But as the weeks have gone on, I’ve noticed something simmering in my own heart. I may have never verbalized that I thought the worship gathering was all about me, but having my five year old boys sit with me every Sunday has made me realize that I thought it was more about me than I had the humility to admit.

Now I can’t close my eyes when I sing, because I’m keeping one eye on a kid, making sure he is also engaged in what is happening (and mostly making sure he doesn’t try to run off or distract other people). Now I can’t take notes as easily, because I’m helping one of the twins get an activity out of his bag. Now I can’t prepare my heart for the Lord’s Supper because I’m answering questions about why I take the bread and they don’t get to. For my entire adult life I’ve been able to focus on the Sunday morning service, now my focus is divided.

This isn’t a commentary on keeping kids in the service. I’ve been greatly served by the childcare these last five years. In many ways, it’s been a lifeline for me to be able to sit and take in God’s word with God’s people in the midst of exhausting little kid years. I think it’s too complex to make it a rule, and I simply don’t see it in scripture as mandated. But it is a conviction to my own heart that while I may have thought I was above the whole “church is an emotional experience thing”, having my kids sitting next to me every Sunday now has shown me that I viewed the Sunday morning gathering as more about me than I wanted to admit.

Our worship of God is never in isolation. As the Psalms (and all of scripture) show us, our deliverance, our worship, our proclamations about the Lord are always so others may hear and say: “God is great.” It’s always so a “people yet to be born may praise the Lord” (Ps. 22:31, 102:18). Our modern conveniences (like childcare, comfortable chairs, air conditioning, etc.) can make us forget that this is always what it’s been about. We worship corporately for the body. We get fed by the word, for sure, but we also are taking in the word with other believers (and those who have yet to call him Lord).

The childcare that I’ve had during the service these last five years has been a gift. I’m glad I had it. I’m glad the twins had time with their friends and had age-appropriate lessons. But I’m also learning to be thankful for the time in the service with them, interrupted as it is. When I hear them singing, it’s a reminder to pray to ask God to make the words they are singing true in their own lives. When they ask questions, it forces me to articulate what I believe to them. And it models worship to them. It’s a reminder that worship isn’t about me. It’s about the body, one I pray they will join themselves to one day.

 

This is a guest post from Courtney Reissig.

Courtney is a wife, mother, writer, and speaker. Born in California, raised in Texas, all with a couple stints in Michigan before finally graduating from Northwestern College (MN). After doing some graduate study at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, she met her husband Daniel and fell in love. They now make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are the parents of four boys; Luke and Zach (who are twins), Seth, and Ben. They are also members of Midtown Baptist Church, where her husband serves as an elder.

You can read more from her on her blog, or follow her on Twitter