A Gospel Prayer based on Ephesians 1:11-14

Dear Lord God, 

You are worthy of all my praise. You have a purpose and a plan for everything, including me. You are always at work to accomplish Your perfect will. I have always been part of the overall purpose You are working out in everything and in everyone. It is Your purpose that will stand. You have always known the plans that You have had for me, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give me a future and a hope. 

You long to lavish me with an undeserved inheritance! You have united me with Christ when I heard the word of truth and believed that Jesus died to pay for my sins and rose for my justification. You have enabled and empowered me to place my hope in Christ alone. In Christ, I have died to sin and I now live to righteousness so that I might bring praise and glory to Your name. 

You have put Your stamp of ownership on me by giving to me the Holy Spirit You promised to all who trust Jesus. The Holy Spirit is a down payment from You – the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that I’ll get everything else You have planned for me. He gave me Your Spirit so I could praise and glorify You.

Now, help me not quench or grieve Your Spirit. It’s not by my might or by my power that I seek to live this day, but by Your Spirit. Teach me to walk in the Spirit so that I will not carry out the desires of my flesh. Fill me with Your Spirit so I can bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in all my relationships. 

And as I live this way, in submission and obedience to Your indwelling Spirit, allow me to bring praise and glory to Your name. 

Amen.

***

This prayer is based on the truths found in Ephesians 1:11-14. Some of the words and phrases are taken directly from the English Standard Version, The Message, the New Life Version, and the New Living Translation.

A Gospel Prayer based on Ephesians 1:3-14

All praise, blessing, and honor belong to You, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are prepared to bless all who come to You through Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. 

But rather than come to You, like a sheep that has gone astray, I have often chosen to go my own way. I have not been holy as You are holy. I am not blameless in Your sight. All of my righteousness is filthy rags.

Yet long before You laid down earth’s foundations, You had me in mind, had settled on me as the focus of Your love, to be made holy and to be seen as without fault through Christ.

In love You predestined me to be adopted to be Your child through Jesus Christ. You took pleasure in doing this, fulfilling Your plan for me, to the praise of Your glorious grace. You have blessed me immeasurably through Your Beloved Son. 

In Christ, I have been redeemed through His shed blood. I have been forgiven of my trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He has lavished upon me. 

Your plan to save me is a display of Your wisdom and understanding. You have made known to me the mystery You took such delight in unfolding. You revealed Your long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in Christ, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

Because I am united with Christ, I have received an inheritance from You, for You chose me in advance, and You made everything work out according to Your plan so that I might live to the praise of Your glory.

And now that I have heard the truth, the Good News, You saved me and enabled me to believe in Christ. You have identified me as Your own by giving me the Holy Spirit, whom You promised long ago. Your Spirit is Your guarantee, the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that I will inherit everything You have planned for me. 

So, today, help me to live a life to the praise of Your glorious grace. Give the a passion to show and share Your gracious gospel to a world so desperately in need of You.

Amen

***

This prayer is based on the truths found in Ephesians 1:3-14. Some of the words and phrases are taken directly from the English Standard Version, The Message, and the New Living Translation.

Be a Daniel 

by Chad Allen, Lead Pastor

Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;  – Daniel 2:20-21

These words were written, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, by a young man who was forcefully removed from his homeland, taken by his captors to a foreign land and then stripped of everything that would tie him to his home, his country, his faith, and his identity as a Jew.  

It was the prophet Daniel who spoke these words around 600 BC as an exile in Babylon,  a powerful, beautiful, pagan, arrogant, polytheistic and wicked city under the reign of an evil king named  Nebuchadnezzar, who just sentenced Daniel and his friends to die (read Daniel 1-2 for more insight).

Daniel was in a culture that was hostile to his faith, under the reign of a cruel and ungodly king. And in this environment, when his very life was threatened, what was his response?  Prayer and trust in God. He did not place his hope in the nation’s leaders, he did not lead an uprise, he didn’t gloat when things went his way, he wasn’t divisive or combative, and he definitely did not attack those who shared his faith in God.  Instead we see him trusting God, leading others to pray and trust God, living faithfully and peaceably in a place he didn’t want to be, ruled by a leader he did not choose to be under.  Daniel is a great example for us, especially in the era we find ourselves in nowadays.

The above verses speak to God’s sovereignty and power. He is in charge of all seasons, and He installs and uninstalls leaders. If the people of God truly believe God and His Word, then our behavior, words and attitudes will demonstrate that belief.

What should be true of believers in Christ is that we are not shaken when things don’t go the way we want. Our world is not turned upside down, our joy is not stolen, our hope and trust in God is not diminished , and our mission to live for Christ, share the Gospel and love others well, is not aborted when we find ourselves in a season of hardship or disappointment.

Simply said, if you find yourself living in a Babylon, then be a Daniel.   If you think you are under the reign of a  Nebuchadnezzar, then be a Daniel. 

Our hope and trust are in the Lord not in a person, policies, or a political party. As I have said before, our hope and trust are not in the one sitting in the oval office, but in the One who sits upon the throne of heaven.

So let’s live like it. 

Chad Allen

Lead Pastor Cuyahoga Valley Church

Vaccines and the Christian Worldview

by Chad Allen, Lead Pastor

With the COVID vaccines beginning to roll out, there are both questions and concerns that have been emerging among the body of Christ. Like masks, there are a variety of different views that people are expressing.  Ultimately our stance as a church is that people will make decisions based on personal convictions since the Bible is silent on vaccines.

The way we interact with others on this topic is another opportunity for us to show Christian maturity and charity in how we express our personal opinions, especially when we disagree.  We have a range of people in our church from those who can’t wait to get the vaccine to those who are convinced it may be the mark of the beast written of in Revelation.

I recommend this article and podcast from Albert Mohler. As a historian, analyst, and theologian, he masterfully lays out thoughtful points from a Christian worldview on the the topic of vaccines.  

I hope this helps as you navigate your personal choices and interact with others on the topic.  Feel free to pass on as well!

Praying for New Life in Christ

by Rick Duncan, CVC Founding Pastor

This prayer may be particularly helpful in those seasons when one is being assaulted with death, suffering, or affliction. It’s a Scripture-led prayer for someone who longs for more New Life in Christ.

***

O God, You are my life. You have breathed into me the breath of life, and I have become a living being (Genesis 2:7). My very existence and my being flow from You. In You I live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28). But I have more than just physical life. Father, You have made me spiritually and eternally alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Dear Father, I give my life to You to be filled with Your life. As much as is possible in this fallen world, I return to You — body, soul, and spirit; heart, mind, and will. As best I can, I return to You as the Source of Life. May I be one with You even as Jesus was one with You (John 10:30, 17:21). Let Your life flow through me throughout this day.

You, Jesus, came that I might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). You are the Vine and I am a true branch of Yours (John 15:5). I admit that am merely a frail branch. But You have made it possible for me to have full union with You, the True Vine. So, I now have You, Jesus, and that means that I have Your life (1 John 5:12). Yes, Christ Jesus, You indeed are now my life (Colossians 3:4).

O Holy Spirit, let the rivers of living water flow through my heart, soul, mind, and strength (John 7:38). You are the God who gives life to the dead (Romans 4:17). And if You, the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in me, then He who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to my mortal body through His Spirit, who lives in me (Romans 8:11). I believe that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

Christ in me is my hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). May the triumphant life Jesus be evident in my life. Help me reign in life through the life of Christ in me. For if, when I was Your enemy, I was reconciled to You through the death of Your Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall I be saved through His life (Romans 5:10)? So, I consecrate my life fully to the Lord Jesus Christ, to be a vessel of His triumphant life. O God, fill me with the resurrection power of Jesus Christ in my body, soul, and spirit.

Lord, I now claim the resurrection triumph of Jesus Christ and the power of His empty tomb against all forms of death and destruction that have come against me. Jesus, through Your great work, help me to cut off every attempt of my enemies to steal, kill, or destroy the abundant life. As death has no mastery over Jesus now (Romans 6:9), may death have no mastery over me for I am united with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17).

I am in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30) and Christ is in me (Colossians 1:27). In the name of Jesus, I claim authority over all forms of bondage and death that may arise against me. Jesus has triumphed over all my enemies (Colossians 2:13-15). Therefore, I claim the shed blood and the resurrection power of Christ against my enemies and against their devices in the mighty name of Jesus Christ and to His everlasting glory.

I have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life. I present my life to You, Jesus, to be filled with Your life. I choose to live in Your strength, Lord, and by Your mighty life.

Amen.

***

This prayer has been inspired and influenced by The “Life” Prayer found at the Wild at Heart ministry. Many of the words in this prayer have been taken directly from the website.

December 2020

Dear CVC Family,

We have some important updates for you as we begin the month of December.  Please read the info below!  

VIRTUAL ADVENT TREE

We still have plenty of giving opportunities available for CVC Families and CVC Missions.  Please note: we’re asking that you turn in the CVC Family gift cards by this Sunday, December 6.  Gift cards can be dropped in the offering boxes throughout the church.  Don’t forget to write your name and the gift code on the envelope! 

We will continue collecting donations for CVC Missions through December 31.  Check out http://www.cvconline.org/advent to find the list of giving opportunities.  Need help?  Feel free to call our front desk at 440.746.0404. 

CVC KIDS AND CVC YOUTH MINISTRY UPDATES

I’m sure you know that COVID cases have continued to increase across Northeast Ohio.  Several of our staff members have dealt with COVID in their homes and some of our volunteers have begun to deal with it as well.  Due to the ongoing concern for everyone’s safety, we are temporarily changing our CVC Kids and CVC Youth offerings. 

CVC Kids is encouraging families to worship together for this month.  We will not be offering Sunday School classes or childcare in December.  We will instead be providing online opportunities for CVC Kids like the Advent Challenge!  Find out more about it at www.cvconline.org/cvckids.  

CVC Youth will offer Collide one final time this Sunday, December 6, and then Collide will not meet for the remainder of December.  Impact LifeGroups will not meet for the remainder of December either.  For more information about the online opportunities that will be available, head to http://www.cvcyouth.org.

FACEBOOK LIVE PANEL: PARENTING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC

Join us on our CVC Facebook page this Sunday night at 6:30 PM as we host a panel called “Parenting through the Pandemic.”  Josh Stone, Denise Petek, and Joe Valenti will share their hearts on this topic and also take questions.  I hope you’ll take advantage of this unique opportunity!

CHRISTMAS SERIES BEGINS DECEMBER 6

Usually when we hear the phrase, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” it brings to mind nostalgic imagery of spending time with those we love.  Twinkling lights, cozy fireplaces, hot chocolate, and Christmas movies might be among those memories for you. 

Well, with the year we have all had in 2020 and specifically the impact of the Coronavirus, many of us have experienced loss and limitations to some degree.  There’s no doubt that some of our Christmas traditions have a “COVID shadow” hanging over them this year.  But the good news is that you can still experience a meaningful Christmas no matter what limitations you are navigating.  You can even tap into a deeper meaning of what it means to be “Home for Christmas.” 

Christmas is a time when we celebrate the arrival of our Savior–the birth of the King of Kings.  He was born to make His home in our hearts.  The next few weeks we are embracing the fact that while we will be home for Christmas whether we want to be or not, we can focus our attention on the light, life, and love that Jesus has brought us and that now live at home within us.  

CHRISTMAS EVE ONLINE!

Christmas Eve is one of our most-attended services throughout the year.  We decided that the best way to accommodate as many people as possible is to bring everyone together online!  In other words, there will be no in-person services on Christmas Eve.  Instead, we’re inviting all of you to join us online or on our CVC Facebook page at 4:00 PM on Christmas Eve.  The service will be available to watch on demand any time after 4:00 PM if you’re unable to join us at that time. 

We’re also encouraging you to invite your family and friends to watch with us!  Here’s a short video from Pastor Chad that you can forward to those you’d like to invite to join you: https://vimeo.com/487299135/aeafe0fba5

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 27

We’re going to keep services online only for Sunday, December 27.  We’ll be hosting a panel of pastors and other leaders who will be sharing about the power of preaching the Gospel to yourself.  Join us online at 9:30 or 11:00 AM on our website or our CVC Facebook page.  No in-person services will take place that day.  

We’re planning to resume in-person services on Sunday, January 3.  We hope you’ll join us for a special time of prayer and worship at all of our regular service times. 

SUNDAY WORSHIP SERVICE OPTIONS

We are continuing to hold indoor worship services on Sunday mornings at 8, 9:30, & 11 AM and 6:30 PM with the exception of Christmas Eve and December 27).  We need you to register because space is limited and we want to keep a safe number of people in the building during each service time.  We also want to leave some room for new guests. 

You can register on our Regathering page and on our CVC app under “Sign Up.”  Registration closes at midnight on Saturday.  If you need help registering, feel free to call our front desk at 440.746.0404.   

You can also join us online at 9:30 AM and 11 AM on our website, on our CVC Facebook page, or using the Boxcast app on your smart TV.    

SAFETY PROCEDURES FOR INDOOR SERVICES

We are continuing to work hard to make sure CVC is a safe and clean environment.  

  • Sanitizing-We are sanitizing the facility between each service, so there might be a little wait before you can enter the worship center. Thanks for your patience while this is occurring.
  • Spacing-Please make sure to maintain the 6’ distancing at all times, and please keep 3 empty seats between your household and the people sitting next to you.
  • Masks-We are still requiring masks for anyone age 3 and up at all times while inside the building.  The mask should not be removed and should cover both your nose and mouth at all times.  We’re counting on you to do your part because we care for one another.

STAY CONNECTED WITH US!

Please let us know if you need help staying connected with us.  We’re here for you!  You can email us at connect@cvconline.org or call our office at 440.746.0404.  

Live New,
The CVC Team

Preparing for Advent

by Lead Pastor Chad Allen

With 2020 being such a challenging year, many of us know it’s going to be an uphill battle to try and be in the “Christmas spirit” and to feel emotionally engaged with the birth of Christ. Here’s my encouragement to you: Go on the offensive and be proactive by getting an Advent devotional or guide to begin after Thanksgiving.  You may have one already, or you can pick from among the many good ones out there.  

I just ordered this one (see below) for my family because it sounds like it will be a fitting guide for this year.  This is just one more way we can try to abide in Christ during a difficult year, and assertively pursue Joy as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!

The Christmas We Didn’t Expect

Lord’s Supper | Tuesday, November 24

Please mark your calendar for Tuesday, November 24 at 7 PM.  We will take the Lord’s Supper together (virtually) from home.  We’ll be live streaming this time of worship on our website and our CVC Facebook page

If you would like to pick up Communion elements from CVC, we’re happy to provide those to you!  You can stop by between the hours of 9 AM – 4 PM, Monday through Friday, or pick them up on Sunday while you’re here.  If you’re not comfortable coming inside the building, you can call our front desk at 440.746.0404 and we’ll bring them out to your car. 

We hope you’ll join us for this special time of worship and remembrance as we head into the holiday season. 

Live New,
The CVC Team

Five Steps toward Linking Generations

by Rick Duncan, CVC Founding Pastor

In Titus 2, we see the truth that God wants one generation to impact the next. That often does not happen in the local church. Why? What are the obstacles?

Sometimes, it’s the older generations who  believe the younger generations don’t want their influence. Other times, it’s the younger generations who feel like the older generations don’t have the interest, the energy, or the time to invest in them.

It’s been our observation at CVC that neither of these obstacles are true. 

By and large, younger generations actually do want to be influenced by older people who are not only experienced but encouraging. And older people do indeed want to pass along to others the life lessons that have been learned.

Linking generations doesn’t have to be programmatic or complicated. It can be organic. 

Below is a simple plan to help you connect with someone for the purpose of personal and spiritual growth that is Christ-honoring and kingdom-building.

Five Steps toward Linking Generations

  1. Begin praying passionately that God would put someone from another generation on your heart.
  2. Choose a book of the Bible. Choose a Christian book that you’ve been wanting to read (or that you’ve already read that has impacted your life in a deep way).
  3. Approach the person from that other generation over coffee, via phone call/email/text. Tell them that you think it could be God who has giving you an interest in them. Ask them if they would like to meet with you every week (or every other week) for about an hour to discuss a chapter in a book. Let them know that once you finish the book, you both can evaluate whether or not you want to tackle another one together.
  4. Use the 10 questions below in order to have a conversation about the content of the book. Remember that you’re going to function more like the “guide on the side“ then the “sage on the stage.“ In other words, you don’t have to be the expert in the room. You just need to have spiritual conversations using solid questions. No doubt the Spirit will guide your  conversation so that transformation will take place in both of your lives.
  5. Pray for the person that you are seeking to help grow.

CVC Kids Recommends!

Our CVC Kids team put together a list of resources for parenting and teaching your children to know and love God. Enjoy!

Spiritual Parenting

CVCKids highly recommends this wonderful resource.  Michelle Anthony encourages parents to be the primary spiritual leaders of their children by creating ten environments in their homes.  These environments are meant to maximize spiritual growth and allow for God to do the work of reaching their children by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Michelle Anthony’s writing style is very relatable and mixes practical tips, biblical truths, and strong narratives of personal, real-life examples.  Her writing is both encouraging and convicting, leading parents to better align their child-rearing ideas with those found in the Bible.

by Michelle Anthony

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden

This gem of a book takes you from Genesis to Revelation in ten, short chapters with vibrant, modern illustrations.  It is a joy to read aloud because the words flow off the tongue and aren’t cumbersome or laborious.  Best of all, children will walk away seeing the Bible as one, wonderful story of God and His creation and plan for humanity, rather than a bunch of unrelated little stories.  God is the hero in this book, as He should be, and over-arching biblical themes are written in a way for adults and children, alike, to absorb.  Bonus: For your littlest family members, there is an alphabet board book called The Biggest Story ABC, based on illustrations and ideas taken from the ten-chapter book.

By: Kevin DeYoung, Illustrated By: Don Clark

Long Story Short

Long Story Short was an ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist for good reason.  Designed to be used ten minutes a day, five days per week, this fantastic devotional takes your family through the Old Testament, while always pointing forward to God’s grace through Jesus Christ.  The gospel message is deeply ingrained in each day’s focus.  CVCKids loves how Machowski leads you straight into scripture, covering important things that can get skipped over in storybooks.  There are also nicely done summaries of the scripture reading, meaningful questions, suggested activities, and prayer prompts.

by Marty Machowski

Another high point is that this devotional can be used with a wide range of ages, so your entire family can be involved. We couldn’t agree more with a review by Justin Taylor, managing editor of the ESV Study Bible. He says, Long Story Short is the best material for family devotions I’ve ever seen.  If you’re looking for something careful, creative, and Christ-centered without being corny, confusing, or condescending look no further.” Albert Mohler, Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, comments, “I have never seen a devotional book that is so well suited to family devotions and to children, even as it is faithful in relating biblical truth.”  Bonus: Machowski has also written a New Testament devotion in the same manner, called Old Story New.

Tales That Tell The Truth: The Garden, The Curtain, and The Cross

“Tales That Tell the Truth” is a series of picture books that tell Bible stories in engaging ways for children. The stories are easy to follow, and the illustrations beautifully convey the emotions and circumstances surrounding the chosen passage. Every story always goes a bit farther that strictly recounting the events. Instead, the stories open our eyes to an important meaning that lies just under the surface, touching on themes such as Jesus’ authority, God’s plan for salvation, trusting the Lord, and hope after death, to name a few. These titles release every few months, with varying authors but always the same illustrator, so keep your eyes opened for new additions to the series.

By: Carl Laferton, Illustrated by: Catalina Echeverri

There are also fun workbooks that you can purchase to go along with the Bible stories. Our giveaway from this series is The Garden, The Curtain, and The Cross, which begins in the Garden of Eden and travels all the way to Jesus’ death and resurrection, and then beyond to heaven. It’s a fabulous presentation of the gospel message, which we encourage you to consider adding to your home library. Other titles in the series include, The Christmas Promise, The One O’ Clock Miracle, The Storm That Stopped, God’s Very Good Idea, The Friend Who Forgives, Goodbye To Goodbyes, Jesus and the Lions’ Den, and Jesus and the Very Big Surprise.

Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions For Gentle Biblical Responses

This is a great book for any parent who has lost their temper or found that the conversation in their home isn’t what they hope for it to be. Lia and Speake remind us of God’s wonderful truths, giving convicting reasons why we should choose gentle responses. This book gets to the heart of the matter and to the results of the biblical responses. The format is great because it is 31 short chapters, which you could read through each month as a devotion. What an encouragement to start the day with a reminder of God’s heart and where He wants your heart to be as a parent!

By: Amber Lia and Wendy Speake

Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God and Science

If you have a child who is curious about and interested in nature, science, and the way things work, this devotion book is for you! Brightly illustrated and filled with so many interesting and cool facts about the world God created, each of the 100 devotions includes a scripture passage, short prayer, and highlights something wonderful about God.

By: Louie Giglio, Illustrated by: Nicola Anderson

Seeds Family Worship Music

http://www.seedsfamilyworship.com

We know that music is very subjective and can even be divisive. These songs, however, are scripture…word-for-word. So, if you listen consistently, your family will be memorizing Bible verses before you know it. That’s worth it to us! Not only that, but there are some really great tunes on these albums and the arrangements, with authentic instruments and a strong adult lead, interspersed with children’s voices, don’t make you feel as though you are listening to the Disney channel or a kids-only station. I have often listened to the music without my children with me just because I like it! Seeds Family Worship sells their music digitally or in CD form, so it fits any lifestyle.

I Can Read! Companion Books to the Beginner’s Bible

We know there are a lot of beginning readers out there. We have just the thing for you! The Beginner’s Bible, which is our recommended storybook Bible for preschoolers and early elementary-aged children, has companion I Can Read books that correspond to the stories from the Beginner’s Bible. The I Can Read books are a little longer with more pictures and more pages, but the vocabulary and sentence structure is intended to be used in those early stages of learning to read. Now your schoolwork can also be a Bible lesson! We can’t think of a better way for the beginning readers in your home to practice their reading.

By: Zondervan, Illustrated By: Kelly Pulley

Parenting Through the Phases

The new school year is beginning, and you have planned out school lunches and school supplies, bought new clothing and bookbags, taken pictures and filled out forms. Have you, however, considered how you will parent your child in this new phase of his or her life? Parenting Through the Phases may be just what you need to start that process. Rather than giving you all the answers of everything you need to do for your child, it has an interesting format that is part guide, part journal. It asks questions, gives ideas, and highlights important areas to consider in your child’s life, and then gives you space to pray and plan and write down your thoughts, so that you will be an intentional parent this year, getting ready for things before they come rather than dealing with everything moment by moment as it gets thrown at you.

By: Kristen Ivy and Reggie Joiner

Each phase guide informs you of how many more weeks you have left with your child until he or she is officially considered an adult, an overview of what’s changing about your child over the next fifty-two weeks, six things your child needs most, and four conversations to have in this phase. There is a different parenting guide for every year from newborn to twelfth grade, eighteen in total. You can buy a copy at orange.com or christianbook.com.

The World Jesus Knew: A Curious Kid’s Guide to Life in the First Century

In a stack of new-to-us Christian resources to explore, my two boys instantly selected this book. They couldn’t stop looking through it and asked for it again and again. That’s the kind of book I want in my home…a book that will be used and read and examined and loved…a book that will give insight to my children to help them understand the Bible more. The World Jesus Knew gives children a detailed look into what life was like in the Middle East when Jesus walked the earth. It is beautifully illustrated and very informative, covering topics such as the structure of society, vegetation and agriculture, transportation, the Roman army, fishing on the Sea of Galilee, the life of a woman, the Jewish calendar, death and burial, and much more! If you are interested in getting a copy for your home, both amazon.com and christianbook.com carry it.

By: Marc Olson, Illustrated By: Jemima Maybank

The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: An Interactive Family Celebration of Advent

When December rolls around, it is always my goal to make the story of Jesus’ birth the most amazing, celebrated, and wonderful part of the Christmas season.  How is a parent to do that with all the competing, worldly “Christmas magic” that is constantly pulling at our children’s attention?  This resource is one way to bring the beauty and excitement of the arrival of the Messiah to your home.  Ann Voskamp’s book opens to reveal a three-dimensional tree.  There are twenty-five little doors to open that have pretty, Jesse tree ornaments hidden inside.  Hang an ornament on the tree each day and read the brief, yet heart-felt devotion that goes along with it.  The book will take you all the way back to the Garden of Eden and travel through important Bible stories that tie into Jesus’ genealogy and eventually end with His birth. 

By: Ann Voskamp

*Please note that Ann Voskamp has also written another family Jesse tree devotional called Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas that I do not recommend as heartily.  The readings were a bit too long and wordy for my children to enjoy.  The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: An Interactive Family Celebration of Advent is the one to buy, in my opinion, because it had much more manageable readings with the addition of the tree and ornaments.    

Homefront Magazine

HomeFront magazine is a bi-monthly digital publication that is free to download and read.  New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado produces the magazine which is based on the ten spiritual environments discussed in another of our recommended resources, Spiritual Parenting, by Dr. Michelle Anthony.  Because the Holy Spirit is the one who draws people to God, Dr. Anthony encourages parents to create environments, like identity and storytelling and course correction, that “put God on display” in any and every situation for your children to experience Him. The magazine is chock full of articles on a variety of subjects including prayer, tough topics, pop culture items that your child might interact with, grandparenting, and seasonal ideas, to name just a few. It has beautiful photography, memory verses with pretty graphics, interviews with families, prayers and blessings, and even recipes to encourage hospitality and family togetherness.  Give this free resource a try at homefrontmag.com. We’re sure there will be something in there for everyone!

Editor in Chief: Holly Newman

The Big God Story

If you’d like a picture book that tells the story of the Bible in one sitting for young children to absorb and understand, this book is for you.  Dr. Anthony begins at the beginning, continues with the wonderful story of God’s love and faithfulness to His people, highlights the sending of a redeemer through God’s Son Jesus, and ends with an invitation that welcomes children to be part of the story that God is writing, the story in which He is the hero. There is even a place where children are intended to write their names into the book on the very last page. It is important for children to see the Bible as a cohesive book that is connected and is telling one big story, the story of God, the story of life itself.

By: Dr. Michelle Anthony, Illustrated By: Cory Godbey

Christian Heroes: Then and Now

The Benges are a husband and wife writing team, one a former elementary teacher and the other holding a degree in history. They have written a 49-book series of child-friendly biographies chronicling the lives of Christians who have lived for the glory of God and made a difference in the world. These true stories are exciting, compelling, and inspiring. They are great for reading aloud together as a family, capturing the attention of children and adults alike. Some of the names you may come across are Lillian Thrasher, C.S. Lewis, George Muller, Hudson Taylor, and Amy Carmichael, among many others.

By: Janet and Geoff Benge

*Note that the first chapter always takes place at an exciting, pivotal moment in the person’s life. Then, the second chapter goes back in time and tells the biography chronologically. I am not of fan of the way this is set up, so if reading aloud to your family, I recommend reading the first chapter to yourself, and then including it in the correct spot chronologically rather than reading it aloud at the very beginning of the book.

The Tech-Wise Family

The Tech-Wise Family is a fascinating and inspiring read that centers around putting technology in its proper place.  The “easy everywhere” aspect of technology is taking something important away from us as human beings.  We need to see technology with a biblical perspective and set boundaries in our families so that precious things are not lost.  Although author Andy Crouch does not condemn technology as a whole, he does give ten tech-wise commitments that encourage parents to foster wisdom and courage in their home, examine what true work and rest look like, and create environments that promote creativity over consumerism, among other topics.  So, if you’ve been wondering how technology is leaving its mark on you and your children and what to do about it, then I recommend reading this book.

By: Andy Crouch