• For most of my Christian life, I missed out on the best part of the Bible. I don’t mean the best story or the best character. I mean, somewhere along the way, I left out the fourth and final plot move of the Bible. I knew the entire story of the Bible, but I lived… [Continue Reading]

    Plot Move 4 in God’s Story (Don’t miss the best part of the Bible)
  • Looking for a new family devotional to kick off the New Year? Then check out the recently released I Can Learn the Bible: 52 Devotions and Scriptures for Kids by Holly Hawkins Shivers. Published by Tommy Nelson, this weekly devotional will help you hide God’s Word in even the smallest heart in your home. I Can… [Continue Reading]

    A family devotional for the New Year
  • Our church plant is in the thick of unrolling a discipleship strategy for women.  I’m over at Missional Women sharing some of our lessons on what works, what doesn’t, and what we can do without.   And while there is no single formula for leading a discipleship group, we’ve discovered a few elements that can determine how… [Continue Reading]

    6 elements to a successful discipleship group
  • With Black Friday looming, the gift-buying frenzy is upon us! But this Christmas, considering making some of your presents to your children reflect the full meaning of the season. During a time when we celebrate the Word becoming flesh, what better gift can you give your child than the written Word of God? Give your… [Continue Reading]

    Meaningful Christmas gifts: 7 ESV Bibles for Kids

Plot Move 4 in God’s Story (Don’t miss the best part of the Bible)

Seeing the Story of the Scriptures {A Hive Resources Series}

For most of my Christian life, I missed out on the best part of the Bible.

I don’t mean the best story or the best character. I mean, somewhere along the way, I left out the fourth and final plot move of the Bible.

I knew the entire story of the Bible, but I lived like my story stopped at the third plot move – redemption (which is no less awesome, by the way).

But simply covering sin isn’t enough. We need more than just forgiveness. That’s because sin isn’t just the bad things we do; it’s in our nature. Our sinful natures make it impossible to love and trust and “obey right away, all the way, and with a happy heart” even after we’ve been redeemed.

Do not miss out on the best part of the Bible {Hive Resources}Sin corrupted the image of God within us wholesale, so life will never be any sort of Eden until we are completely remade.

In the fourth plot move of the Bible – restoration – the King keeps his promise to fully save us from our sin. One day, the King will return and his entire kingdom – and all his subjects – will be restored.

Here’s why neglecting the fourth plot move of the Bible is a problem: I need more than a pardon for sin, I need an entirely new life. I need a new heart that actually loves. I need a new mind that thinks pure thoughts. I need a new mouth….well, for obvious reasons. And I need a new world that doesn’t suffer or sin along with me.

We need a new everything! And replacing a few parts will only get us so far. The whole world is in need of a complete overhaul.

WHAT ‘RESTORATION’ MEANS FOR MY STORY:

So, what does our restoration look like?

When the King restores us, we will be returned to his presence. If we know Christ, today, we enjoy access to the King through his Spirit. But in the day of our restoration, we will no longer see him “in a mirror dimly,” as Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 13, but “face to face.”

The King, himself, is and will be our greatest blessing and treasure. We will dwell with him in a way that Adam and Eve only tasted in Eden.

In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”(Ps. 16:11).

When the King restores us, we will be returned to his court. Finally, we will be able to fulfill the purpose for which we were created – to serve as representatives of the King without blemish or struggle or strife. He will heal his image in us, restoring us to our place and privileged role in his newly restored kingdom.

This will be possible because we are wearing Christ’s righteous robes instead of our old filthy rags.  This will be possible because the King’s kingdom will be released from all sorrow, shame, regret, and guilt. He is making all things new – even the heavens and the earth (Is. 61; Rev. 21).

In the fourth plot move of the Bible, we are returned both to the King and to his court!

The story of the Bible doesn’t stop when God rescues us from sin. It continues as he restores us to our original position and place with him. So, don’t miss the best part of the Bible. Knowing the full story of the Bible doesn’t just matter for eternity, it impacts the way you live today.

Catch up on the others posts in this series:

Plot move 1 – CREATION – A good King created a good world …

Plot move 2 – FALL – it became corrupted by sin ….

Plot move 3 – REDEMPTION – the King is at work to redeem his kingdom

Plot move 4 – RESTORATION – and restore it through his Son, Jesus Christ.

A family devotional for the New Year

Family devotions for the New Year {Hive Resources}

Looking for a new family devotional to kick off the New Year? Then check out the recently released I Can Learn the Bible: 52 Devotions and Scriptures for Kids by Holly Hawkins Shivers. Published by Tommy Nelson, this weekly devotional will help you hide God’s Word in even the smallest heart in your home.

I Can Learn the Bible

Here’s what’s inside:

– a short and relatable devotion based on 52 Scripture verses

– explanations and illustrations of each verse that children can understand

– helpful discussion questions for parents to use in prompting their children to apply the passage to their lives

A new devotional to help your kids memorize and apply God's Word {Hive Resources}

There are a number of things I enjoyed about this book, like the fill-in-the-blank statements sprinkled throughout the text that help prompt discussion.

The author also offers a sample daily schedule of simple activities for parents to help their children memorize the weekly passage. A far cry from the moralistic lessons typically found in children’s religious material, I particularly appreciated how the author embedded a biblical worldview into each devotional.

Instilling a biblical worldview in your kids {Hive Resources}

Ultimately, I love the author’s encouragement to parents feeling the pressure to raise godly children. In her introduction, she writes:

“…we can educate our children with a biblical worldview, we can enroll them in church activities and teach them principles to the best of our abilities, and we can pray for them, discipline them, and love them well. But there is nothing like the Word of God being planted in their hearts, taking root, and producing genuine spiritual growth. Ultimately, the spiritual well-being of our children rests in the hands of God – He will form and strengthen them through His Word and His Spirit.”

52 Scriptures every kid should know {Hive Resources}

Overall, this is a wonderful devotional for families just starting to carve out time together in God’s Word, as well as for families with children ages 5-12. My only criticism is the illustrations are not available as Scripture cards or printable 8×10’s for framing. Now THAT would be fun!

Thanks to Tommy Nelson for providing a copy for review. You can purchase I Can Learn the Bible at the link. And psst, the kindle version is only $1.99 right now!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, click here.

6 elements to a successful discipleship group

Ministry Monday Women's Ministry {Hive Resources}

Our church plant is in the thick of unrolling a discipleship strategy for women.  I’m over at Missional Women sharing some of our lessons on what works, what doesn’t, and what we can do without.  

And while there is no single formula for leading a discipleship group, we’ve discovered a few elements that can determine how successful a group can be.

6 elements to a successful discipleship group {Melissa Deming for Missional Women}

Recently, I invited myself to a friend’s discipleship group comprised of three younger women, and I observed several things “worked” for them. Not all these elements have to happen at each group meeting, but when they do appear, they ensure women are edified and equipped to make more disciples.

Here are 6 elements that make for a successful discipleship group. Click to find out what they are!  

New resources for women's ministry leaders {Hive Resources}

Before you go, check out this MUST-FOLLOW Pinterest Board featuring tips, strategies and ideas for Women’s Ministry! Enjoy!

Follow Gina Duke / Churchtown Ministries’s board Must-Follow Women’s Ministry Leaders on Pinterest.

Meaningful Christmas gifts: 7 ESV Bibles for Kids

Making Christmas Meaningful {A Christmas Series at Hive Resources}

With Black Friday looming, the gift-buying frenzy is upon us! But this Christmas, considering making some of your presents to your children reflect the full meaning of the season.

During a time when we celebrate the Word becoming flesh, what better gift can you give your child than the written Word of God?

Give your child the World this Christmas - here are 7 ESV Bibles for beginning readers through teens {Hive Resources}

Give your child a Bible this Christmas, especially if they are just beginning to read or they are transitioning into a new stage of life.

Here are 7 ESV Bibles from Crossway for pre-readers through teens. Any one of these Bibles would make a meaningful Christmas gift.

Kid’s Compact Bible

ESV KIDS compact Bible {Hive Resources}

Recommended ages: 7-12

Price point: $18-32

Features: full ESV text, glossary, maps, OT & NT timeline art, dictionary, words of Christ in red.

The ESV Kid’s Compact Bible works for both boys and girls. Its slim body is easy enough for little hands to carry and slip into a backpack.

This is a no-frills Bible. There are very few textual notes and added information in the body of text, but it does include a helpful index for subjects like “God’s Word for Me When…” and “God’s Word for Me About…”

The Kid’s Compact Bible comes in a variety of colored leathers with embossed designs like owls, swords and shields. My six-year-olds loved the swords!

Overall, the size and simplicity of this Bible would make it an excellent first Bible for readers as they learn to discover and navigate God’s Word by looking up verses – even if the text is a little small!

 

ESV Seek and Find Bible

ESV Seek and Find Bible {Hive Resources}Recommended ages: 5-9

Price point: $20-28 (hard and soft cover)

Features: full ESV text, 130 full-color illustrations with accompanying Bible story summaries, short book introductions, over 50 character profiles, fun and colorful facts highlighted throughout the text.

The ESV Seek and Find Bible was my son’s (Jonah) favorite because he loved the illustrations and colorful graphics. Because he’s just beginning to read, the illustrated Bible objects, structures, and places really captured his imagination.

But here’s what I loved.

Each illustration is paired with a story, key memory verse, additional readings, and reflection questions giving parents lots of tools at their fingertips to help their child understand and apply God’s Word.

It is ideal as a first “study” Bible and very usable for homeschool, family Bible study, or fun interactive activities involving Scripture.

 

ESV Holy Bible for Kids

Holy Bible for Kids {Hive Resources}

Recommended ages: 9-12

Price point: $13-15

Features: full ESV text, 24 pages of special content, illustrations of major scenes in the redemptive story, and maps.

If you’re looking for an illustrated Bible without all the bells and whistles of other Bibles (and within a great price point), then the ESV Holy Bible for Kids might be your best bet.

Some of the full-page pictures are the same as those found in the Seek and Find Bible, and it has a clean double-column design.

Overall, I think the cover artwork might appeal to a younger age range than the publisher’s recommendation (ages 9-12).

But out of the seven Bibles reviewed in this post, my 6-yr-old son (Zach) picked this Bible as his favorite. The lack of extra notes or artwork in the body of the text made it easy to find a verse or passage. My only complaint is that the text is a bit small.

ESV Grow! Bible

Grow ESV Bible {Hive Resources}

Recommended ages: 8-12

Price point: $20-30

Features: full ESV text, key comprehension questions, application sections, charts, maps, short book introductions, and articles on Christian doctrine.

Out of all the seven Bibles in this post, the ESV Grow! Bible was my favorite because of its rich content and emphasis on understanding and applying God’s Word.

Almost every page contains a “W” question (who, what, when, where, why) helping children frame the central theme of a passage or story as well as understand the significance of God’s Word for daily life.

Also included are 45 “Cross Connections” to help children connect-the-dots between Christ and the rest of Scripture.

The Grow! Bible also contains 90 “4U” sections geared toward textual application as well as helpful articles on Christian doctrine and practice. Subjects include: the sacraments, What is the Apostle’s Creed, and The Whole Bible is Really About Jesus.

It also breaks the Old and New Testaments by division (Law, History, Wisdom, Gospels, etc) and outlines each genre in simple terms. (Can you tell I really like this one?)

Because the publisher recommends the ESV Grow! Bible as a second step after the Seek and Find Bible, we will definitely be hanging onto this Bible as the twins grow in their reading comprehension skills.

God Guy Bible

God Girl & God Guy Bible {Hive Resources}Recommended ages: teen boys

Price point: $13-32 (hard and softcover)

Features: full ESV text, character profiles, “Quick Relief” indexes and glossary, devotions written by longtime student ministers Michael and Hayley DiMarco, in-depth book introductions, and must-know terms and verses for each book of the Bible.

At heart, the God Guy Bible is a devotional Bible, but it’s a Bible geared toward teens who desire to know and apply God’s Word for themselves.

Per the publisher description, the God Guy Bible points “guys to the Bible as the foundation for all of life, fostering a love for God’s Word and a desire to know him better.”

The “Know This” devotionals and “Ask Yourself” sections highlight passages and themes and how to apply them to daily living. Plus, daily reading plans encourage the reader to engage their Bible daily.

God Girl Bible

God Girl & God Guy Bible 2 {Hive Resources}Recommended ages: teen girls

Price point: $29-50 (Hard and soft covers)

Features: The features for the God Girl Bible are essentially the same as the God Guy Bible. They include: full ESV text, character profiles, “Quick Relief” indexes and glossary, 200 devotions written by author Hayley DiMarco, in-depth book introductions, and must-know terms and verses for each book of the Bible.

What separates the God Girl and God Guy Bibles? In the God Girl Bible, there are 26 full-page profiles of women in the Bible called “God Girl Stories.”

Additionally, the God Girl Bible has a uniquely feminine design to appeal to its target readership.

Both the God Guy and God Girl Bibles would make a worthy gift for challenging for any teen or tween to start 2015 off in Christ.

ESV Bibles for Kids - reviews {Hive Resources}

If I had to pick a favorite for my boys (age 6), I’d pick the Seek and Find Bible and ESV Grow! Bible simply because they pack the most bang for buck, offer the most tools for study, and are geared toward helping children become self-sufficient students of God’s Word. 

Despite being really heavy, these are Bibles that I know the twins will grow into for years to come.

Special thanks to Crossway Bibles for sending me these Bibles to review for you! And a big thank you to Zach and Jonah, who were so excited about their very own Bibles that they even agreed to help me review them!

Finding the right ESV Bible for your child {Hive Resources}

May 2015 be a year you grow in your knowledge of our beloved Savior!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, click here.

Sharing His Light with the Lighten Up Challenge

Making Christmas Meaningful {A Christmas Series at Hive Resources}

Today, I’m launching a new series – Making Christmas Meaningful – to give you some new and fun ideas for sharing Christ’s love this holiday season. As the celebration of Christ’s birth, Christmas is already full of meaning.

But sometimes we have a tendency to dim the light and love of this special time of year as we cast the spotlight on lesser realities  – presents, parties, and more. This year, take some time to be intentional to enjoy and share the true meaning of Christmas. Make it meaningful.

The Lighten Up Challenge

Take the Lighten Up Challenge this Christmas {Hive Resources}

Last month, I had the honor of meeting Rachel Lovingood, women’s ministry speaker and the author of numerous resources to train women in evangelism and discipleship. I fell in love with her great sense of humor and passion to see women mobilized to share the gospel.

Rachel Lovingood, author of the Lighten Up Christmas Challenge {Hive Resources}

Rachel’s resource, Lighten Up: Reclaiming the Holidays, is a 25-day challenge to talk about Jesus to those around you – all in a flipbook format you can put by your kitchen sink, bathroom vanity, or even your mantle.

Each day includes a key Scripture verse centered around the “He is the light” theme, a short devotional thought, and a daily challenge to share a specific message with a friend.

Challenges include:

–reminding friends of their value in Christ

–sharing Jesus with specific people in your sphere of influence

–confessing sin to a friend you’ve wronged

–inviting your neighbor to take a walk with you

–serving the unloved

–speaking kindness

–ideas for blessing others

–seeking opportunities to live as His light

Share Christ with someone for 25 days this Christmas {Hive Resources}

Also included in each day is a note of accountability with a place to write in the name of the person you shared Christ’s love with that day. Do this challenge by yourself, but for even more accountability, try it with a friend or your ladies small group. You can check in with each other on your social media and post instagram pics of Christmas lights (with your favorite verse) to encourage each other along the way.

Throughout the flipbook, Rachel shares helpful hints for telling others about Christ, tips for sharing your personal story, and even fun holiday recipes to help you savor the Joy of Christ this Christmas.

Make Christmas Meaningful - a tool for women's evangelism {Hive Resources}

Want to challenge yourself to share the light of Christ this Christmas? Order a copy of the “Lighten Up Challenge” Flipbook at Rachel’s site. Just look for the Paypal button in the left column! Or you can email her directly at rachel@rachellovingood.com.

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. 4:5-6

Miss a Meal for global missions

Ministry Monday Women's Ministry {Hive Resources}

Today, I’m missing a meal…on purpose.

I’m joining the International Mission Board’s “Miss A Meal” campaign to help spread the gospel to all nations. So, instead of that PB&J I usually eat for Monday lunch, I’m leaving my plate empty and donating 10 bucks to #ForTheMission.

Miss A Meal #forthemission - donate to global missions {Hive Resources}Here’s how it works:

The Miss A Meal campaign is: “a simple and practical way for individuals and families to join the yearly Christmas offering IMB receives primarily through local churches—100% supports missionaries and their work in spreading the gospel around the world, particularly among unreached peoples.”

Want to join in? Miss your next meal and donate what you would have spent for food at imb.org/meal or by texting 4mission to 80888.  Then post a picture of you & and your empty plate with #ForTheMission to help spread the word. Find out more about text messaging rates here.

Miss a meal for global missions {Hive Resources}

Want to enlist others? Here are some more ways you can help get the good news across the oceans.

Enlist your small group to take the Miss a Meal challenge. Instead of offering refreshments at your next gathering, power up your laptop and let people donate on site.

Utilize the Miss a Meal campaign as a family missions moment. Pull out a globe or use this fantastic map online to introduce your kids to God’s heart for the nations. Ask your kids if they would be willing to forgo lunch (or a snack if your children are younger). If your children are too young to skip a meal, you can still donate as a family.

Make family meal prep missional. Let your children earn money this week preparing dinner, setting the table, or washing dishes.  Help them donate the funds they’ve earned during your “Missional Meal Week” to #ForTheMission. Then take them out for ice cream to celebrate their involvement and heart for missions.

Get your women’s ministries involved by issuing a church-wide challenge. The Miss a Meal campaign is an easy global mission project that encourages missional living and missions awareness with absolutely ZERO set up! As the leader, set a goal for the total number of meals missed and a projected completion date. Issue the challenge and see how many donations you can collect! Be sure to retweet and share your church members’ photos on your church’s social media sites to snowball your efforts.

Ready? Set! Go Miss a Meal!

But be sure to come back, because starting this week I’ll be serving up some fresh ideas to help you make Christmas meaningful for your whole family!

Making Christmas Meaningful {A Christmas Series at Hive Resources}