Sally Lloyd-Jones

As we prepare for another Thanksgiving in the US, Charles Morris is returning to two conversations he had with two special people who have done tremendous work in helping children learn about Jesus: Sally Lloyd-Jones, bestselling author of the Jesus Storybook Bible, and Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales, the What’s in the Bible? DVD series, and the new Laugh and Grow Study Bible.

In this episode that originally aired in 2020, Sally and Phil talk about the history of Thanksgiving and what it means to them. Rather than celebrating the gift of food and excess, they challenge us to draw our attention to something greater … the gift of knowing Jesus.

Though these interviews were recorded well before entering a pandemic, the message of giving thanks to the Lord in good times and bad is especially poignant as travel and safety restrictions hinder the opportunity for families to get together this year.

Going Deeper

  • To watch Phil Vischer sing an impromptu ukulele Christmas song to Charles, click here.
  • You can also read the transcription of his interview here.
  • To watch Charles and Sally Lloyd-Jones walk around New York City, telling the story behind The Jesus Storybook Bible, click here.

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When we celebrate Christmas, we usually concentrate on a very specific moment in time when a young married couple traveled to Bethlehem and delivered a child in a manger. But Christmas didn’t start there. We can trace the promises and events of our Savior’s arrival all the way back to the beginning of time.

On today’s episode of the Great Stories podcast, Charles Morris returns to a Christmas special from 2017 where he traced the line from Christmas to the very beginning in Genesis with special guests Lee Strobel (The Case for Christ), Sally Lloyd-Jones (The Jesus Storybook Bible), Randall Goodgame (Sing the Bible), and Senate Chaplain Barry Black (Nothing to Fear).

Going Deeper

You can also find the podcast on …

If you liked what you heard, please write a review and help new listeners discover the show!

Sign up for the Great Stories Podcast newsletter to get a weekly update on new episodes each Wednesday. 

Fifteen years ago, Sally Lloyd-Jones was tasked to write a children’s Bible that was all about Jesus. What later became The Jesus Storybook Bible would go on to sell more than 3 million copies, making it the most popular kids Bible on the market today. But the most amazing part of this story isn’t about book sales, but the lives of both children and adults who have discovered for themselves that God’s love for them is a “never stopping, never giving up, always and forever love.”

At the time of this publication’s tenth anniversary, Charles Morris caught up with Sally in New York City so that she could tell how the Lord led her to craft this book, and how He continues to use it to bless millions of hearts around the world today.

Going Deeper

The Jesus Storybook Bible

“Every Story Whispers His Name”

The Jesus Storybook Bible, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago, is celebrating its tenth birthday with this beautiful clothbound gift edition.

A Bible like no other, this now modern classic invites children to join in the greatest of all adventures, to discover the Great Story that’s all about Jesus—and to make that story their own.

Sally Lloyd-Jones, born in England and raised in Africa, is author of The Jesus Storybook Bible (a Moonbeam Award Gold Medal Winner), Just Because You’re Mine, and Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing. She now lives in New York. 

Almost overnight, my eight-year-old niece went from being a vivacious little girl who sang her way through life—as if she were singing the soundtrack of her own life the movie—and became a frightened, withdrawn child who spoke so softly you could barely hear her. It was as if she were literally losing her voice, losing herself. And then we found out she was being bullied at school.

Later, she told me that she thought if she tried not to be her, she wouldn’t get in trouble.

It broke my heart, and I wished she had a book to read before school to hear what God says about her, not what those bullies were saying about her. So I thought I better write one—it’s called Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, and it became a book of hope for children.

Children look to us for everything. But in all that we’ve given children, have we forgotten to give them hope? Have we left them in despair, looking at what they should do but don’t? Looking at who they should be but aren’t?

How do we give hope to children?

When we take the focus off them and put it back on God where it belongs.

When we tell them truths like:

God holds the oceans in the palm of his hand. If he can hold the oceans, he can hold you. (p. 106)

If God cares for the tiniest sparrow – how much more must he care for you, his child? (p. 152)

If Jesus can calm a storm on a lake, he can calm the storm in your heart. (p. 181)

God sees not just who you are – but who he is going to make you. (p. 145)

Faith isn’t just you holding on to God. It’s God holding on to you. (p. 127)

We give hope to children when we tell them what matters most.

They don’t need to be told to try harder, believe more, do it better. That just leaves them in despair. The moral code always leaves us in despair. We can never live up to it.

No. We don’t need a moral code.

We need a Rescuer.

When I go to churches and speak to children, I ask them two questions: First, “How many people here sometimes think you have to be good for God to love you?” They tentatively raise their hands. I raise my hand along with them. Second, “How many people here sometimes think that if you aren’t good, God will stop loving you?” They look around and again raise their hands.

These are children in Sunday schools who know the Bible, and yet they have somehow missed the most important thing of all.

They have missed what the Bible is all about.

They are children like I once was. I thought God couldn’t love me because I wasn’t doing it right.

How do we help? What can we do? Teach children that the Bible is not about them.

The Bible isn’t about them and what they should be doing. It’s about God and what He has done. It’s not a book of rules telling you how to behave so that God will love you. It’s not a book of heroes giving you people to copy so that God will love you.

The Bible is most of all a story—the story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. And in spite of everything, no matter what, whatever it cost Him—God won’t ever stop loving his children… with a wonderful, Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always, and Forever Love.

Are we telling children the Story—or teaching them a lesson?

My niece didn’t need another lesson.

What she needed to know was that she is loved—with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always, and Forever Love.

What she needed was to be invited into the Story. What she needed was to meet the Hero and become part of His magnificent Story.

Because the rules don’t change you. But the Story—God’s Story—can.

How do we instill a love for God in children?

Simply by telling them the Story—the Story of how God loves His children and comes to rescue them. By telling it well. Telling it faithfully. Telling it simply. Telling it without dumbing it down. Telling it without explaining it to death. Telling it without drilling it down into a moral lesson.

Stories don’t tell the truth confrontationally. They don’t coerce you. They don’t argue with you to believe them. They just are.

The power of the story isn’t in summing it up, drilling it down, or reducing it to an abstract idea. The power of the story isn’t in the lesson.

The power of the story IS the story.

When God sent the prophet Nathan to King David (2 Sam. 12:1-4), Nathan didn’t confront David with a sermon about his sin but told him a story. David didn’t see it coming. The story got by his defenses.

That’s the thing about a story—it doesn’t come at you directly and raise a wall of defense. It comes around the side and captures your heart.

Santa pictures, stockings, wish lists, and a morning full of gifts. How do you keep Jesus at the center of Christmas for you and your children when everything around you beckons with glitter and flash to get you to want more, spend more, do more?

Wise parents have many strategies: pastor John Piper’s wife Noël created the Noël Calendar for her kids, an advent calendar that tells the Christmas story step by step each day. Wise children also have strategies: One of author Ann Voskamp’s sons asked her what gifts Jesus gets on Christmas one year so the family started a tradition of picking out gifts for Jesus, such as seeds for orphans or mosquito nets for those in malarial countries.

All of the best strategies center around the main one that God has given us to learn and remember who he is and what he has done: storytelling. In his Word, God has told us the most amazing story of his son, coming to earth as a baby, to be a savior for sinners like us, who can’t stop doing bad things—and who can’t even do the good things that we want to do. It sounds absurd, but that’s precisely what makes it so wonderful.

Because he was born in a manger, grew up, became a man, died, and then went to heaven, we can be forgiven for the bad things we do and given the strength to do good things for God’s glory. And we can also follow him to heaven one day. But it all started with a newborn in a manger.

Since Christmas is centered around a child, sometimes it is best to see Christmas like a child to appreciate the mystery and wonder anew. Children’s author Sally LloydJones writes in her new book of stories for children, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing:

The God who flung planets into space and kept them whirling around and around. The God who made the universe with just a word. The one who could do anything at all was making himself small and coming down as a baby. Wait, God was sending a baby to rescue the world?

“But it’s too wonderful”, Mary said, and felt her heart beating hard. “How can it be true?”
“Is anything too wonderful for God,” Gabriel asked?

So Mary trusted God with more than her eyes could see and she believed. I am God’s servant she said, whatever God says, I will do.

By seeing the Christmas story in a fresh way, we can then go back to the Word and see it anew as well, as a story that God wrote for us:

But the angel said to them: Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10-12)

Who did Jesus come for, when he came to lie in a manger? He came for you.

Lindsey M. Roberts spent years writing exclusively for secular journalism, including such outlets as The Washington Post, Architect, and Gray magazine, before she first tried to write about Jesus. She’s thrilled to explore in words how everything from cleaning the kitchen three times a day to delighting in the maritime history of Nantucket is an opportunity to meet and glorify God. Lindsey lives with her husband, a pastor and U.S. Army Reserve chaplain, and two children in Wisconsin.