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Archive for February, 2010

I’ve never been a big fan of Bible storybooks. This is partly because I didn’t think about them, partly because they were wholly unattractive, partly because they were so insipid and watery.

With five little ones, I have been looking around and have found a third one I can wholly recommend.  Mighty Acts of God: A Family Bible Storybook by Starr Meade is a great pick. I’ve been test-running it on a classroom of 1st graders and I enjoy using it and it is well-received.

Meade says in the introduction that, “the reason for telling stories of God’s mighty acts is to make known the wonder of God’s great character.” I believe that is well accomplished here and sufficient attention is given throughout each lesson to pulling the theme into every story.

The format of the book is 90 individual lessons working chronologically through the Bible, almost evenly divided between the Old and New Testaments. Each lesson is three pages long, has one large picture and one small picture. Each lesson has a couple of discussion questions and a complementary verse.

The pictures are adequate, but not very compelling. It’s a great hardcover, easy to hold and sturdy.

The content is decidedly Godward, as each lesson is not primarily about the characters in the story, but about the God over the story. I love how even the subtitle of each chapter draws the reader back in to remind us how the lesson relates to God and what He is accomplishing through the story. There is good continuity, good sense, good flow. It teaches big, important lessons in a very good way.

I think that sometimes when you’re a careful parent, choosing carefully what to put in front of your children, a book like this may end up feeling regular and almost common. But it’s not. In the big scope of things, it’s a rarity today for a book to be so comprehensive, useful and important. In the small scope of things, Crossway has put out another gem of a children’s book to complement the wonderful Big Picture Story Bible [which we are re-reading at home right now and is officially for ages 4-8 but I think as young as 2 is great] and The Jesus Storybook Bible [for ages 4-8 officially, but through seminarian as far as I care].

This book officially releases in two days on February 28th from Crossway.

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Lots of crazies going on at the Rubix Cube championships…

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Oh, Canada!

I have a dozen family members, or so, who live in Canada and have been there (or through there, making it sort of a land bridge from MI to NY) almost a dozen times. I’m not a pooh-pooher, but I have allowed my provincial snobbery to overtake my spirit at times. This is a stunning and inspirational tribute, or marker, for us to enjoy and be helped by…eh?

…oh, and they have an amazing anthem:

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Vittles

The Joke Men

A good article extolling loving your wife by giving yourself up for her. “He exalts her by helping her–which includes increasing his field of competence…”

HT: Sean Dennis

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Naps Help You Learn

I would like them to have mentioned the 22 minute version of a nap, not the 90 minute version. My conscience isn’t clear enough to take a 90 minute siesta…on most days.

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On Guns

“The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjected peoples to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the underdog is a sine qua non ["something essential" lit. "without which not"] for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or police.” Adolf Hitler, Edict of March 18, 1938

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J.A. Henckel’s Twin Grip Colored Paring Knives

These are fantastic knives. Be sure when buying Henckel you only buy the Twin (two guys) series. They are a much-higher grade.

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I write kids’ books because I can tell the Truth, and the Truth is that The Real is throbbingly fantastic. Ask the nearest grasshopper or rodent or turtle. Ask the nearest star (but show some respect and don’t look directly at her—she’s powerful enough to peal your nose and blind your eyes). I want to paint a picture of this world that is accurate (if impressionistic), and I don’t want a single young reader to grow up and look back on me as the peddler of sweet youthful falsehoods. I want them to get a world vision that can grow and mature and age with them until, like all exoskeletons, it must be cast aside—not as false, but as a shallow introduction to things even deeper and stranger and more wonderful (and involving more dragonflies).

Nate Wilson teaches me to love reality…and to see it more clearly. I’ve said this before here. This is a portion of a great article you should read…now. Children’s Books, Truth and Adultish Readers

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Vittles

Beneath the Sun

Choking realities in the scope of God’s cosmos. Danielle writes of a baby’s struggles, hopes and then…

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A Place to Call Home

A tour of Al Mohler’s amazing, personal library.

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First & 20

I think it’s interesting to see what other people put on the home page of their iPhone. Some good ideas.

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Some of my favorite books come off P&R Publishing’s presses. I had good hopes for this one, but it didn’t fit the bill.

Small Things, Big Things: Inspiring Stories of Everyday Grace by Michael A. Milton was released in November. I love the premise. I love the idea of finding God in all the details and parts of life. I want to see how I am just a small part of a much bigger story.

I did myself a disservice by flying blindly. I hadn’t heard of Milton previously and should have gotten to know him better before I read this book. The book has a lot of biographical tidbits in it, and they were slightly difficult to piece together at the same time as I was trying to hear the 52 lessons he was teaching. Milton wrote this book over an extended period as letters/essay to his Chattanooga congregation. The writing was very pastoral. I think understanding him better, becoming more familiar with him, would have helped. Even watching these videos first would have helped.

His writing kept reminding me of Max Lucado’s for some reason, though they didn’t pull me in as far as Lucado used to (it’s been a dozen years since I’ve read him). His home-spun, salt-of-the-earth, devotional illustrations were often quite enjoyable. And I’m sure this genre will fit the bill for a good number of people.

The book itself is beautiful. It’s a great cover, a wonderful size that feels right in the hand, bright paper; it smells great [I hate having to mention how much I like the odor of books]. But the content didn’t stir me like I was hoping. I look forward to hearing though how it will be a help to others.

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The Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom in Disney World has done a top to bottom redo with the installation of President Obama. It looks great.

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The Godly Home was written by Richard Baxter in 1673 as a sort of “sum of practical theology…directing Christians how to use their knowledge and faith.” This updated and edited version by Randall J. Pederson is a sort of summary of just one of the many facets of that original work: Christian economics (family duties). It was released by Crossway on 1/31/10.

Even though the book has been updated and edited, maybe significantly in parts, the weight and flow and vocabulary is decidedly in the Puritan style. It is weighty language taking on weighty matters. It takes good and steady practice in concentration and patience to read the Puritans. The book is presented by chapters dealing with instructions for marriage, family worship, motives, duties of the different parts of the families.

Chapters 4-5 were the primary selling points to my betterment. “Motives to Persuade Men to the Holy Government of Their Families” and “Motives for a Holy and Careful Education of the Children” were chock full of solid gold. They were words of poignant, classic, timeless clarity that should ring in the ears of the men of the church, warning them for example that, “It is more comfortable to have no children than to beget and breed children for the Devil.”

“[Children] have an everlasting happiness to attain, and it is that for which you must bring them up.  They have an endless misery to escape, and it is that which you must diligently teach them. If you do not teach them to escape the flames of hell, what thanks do they owe you for teaching them to speak and do? If you do not teach them the way to heaven and how they may make sure of their salvation, what thanks do they owe you for teaching them how to get their living a little while in a miserable world? If you do not teach them to know God and how to serve him and be saved, you teach them nothing, or worse than nothing.”

I commend almost the whole of the book to you. Baxter’s name and works have stood the test of time because of his careful, meticulous attention to the details and spirit of Scripture. This portion of his ultimate work will give you richness abounding. God will give you grace and diligence to receive it well, for His sake.

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Today is his 201st birthday. Read his official White House biography

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Great video that is a new take on this famous and pristine quote by Lewis. Far too easily pleased

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The most well-worn, worn-out Bible I own was a gift to me by my church when I graduated from high school. Though I used other Bibles that were easier to carry (pocket-size), or had more notes, or had room to write notes, this Bible was my standard-bearer. What I loved the most about it was the headers. It wasn’t a reference Bible. It didn’t have expansive notes, but the outlines and headers that broke the Scriptures into artificial parts, and the introductions to each book were wonderful. I really, really liked how they helped me to stay with the flow. They helped as I was teaching and offering feedback, too. I didn’t know (or really care) then that they were Nelson notes. I realized it a few years ago when going through another book that had the same outline of Scripture all through-out it.

Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts was first published in 1993. The third edition was released two weeks ago.

It is a beautiful book. It is full-color and includes a good number of photographs of the historic sites. The array of maps, charts, diagrams, and comprehensive outlines is dizzying. It is really hard to describe how broad the scope of the content of this book is. This is a great asset for all levels of spiritual training, even a great springboard for the highly-advanced scholars.

Maps and Charts is immensely informative and should be included within arm-reach of every Christian student. The only complaints I have are minimal. I do wish this were available in hardcover; and also,the content associated with the wisdom/poetry books is not nearly as expansive as the other books, though the outlines are thorough.

But those complaints are minimal because of so many other compensating factors. Other great features of the book are:

  • All the maps and charts are reproducible for use in groups and teaching settings.
  • All the maps and charts are can be freely downloaded from the Thomas Nelson site (with book purchase) for viewing and use in group and teaching settings.

I’m so pleased to be able to recommend this resource, especially at such a low cost. It was a benefit to me to review it, and I made a good number of notes of things that I wish to go back and dig into more deeply.

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Fiery European Festivals

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Sex Education

That point is well made in the previous post about Corrie ten Boom. Let it reign in your thinking that many of your burdens are too heavy for your children.

As a related aside, let me state that I think that the topic of sex information, which was too much for Corrie ten Boom to bear in the early part of the last century, is not too much for our 10-12 year olds to bear. In his popular book for Christian men, Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family, Steve Farrar suggests that overt sex education should begin at home at about age 7. Seven! That seems very early, but in this culture it isn’t–no matter how sheltered many of us think our homes may be.

A good number of my friends with young children read this blog, and I’m not suggesting the whole scope and all the details and a wall of charts on the topic need to be laid out for our children, but some details need to be given, and the information needs to be presented from your vantage point, before it’s exposed grossly from someone else’s vantage point. In this polluted culture, Christian parents must proactively build a biblical, beautiful framework in our kids of sex, just as we strive to do for math, music and history.

Proverbs is a father’s letter of wisdom to his son. It can make a great springboard because it says so much about the topic. Also, Farrar’s book offers very, very helpful advice about speaking to your children about sex, and I strongly recommend it if you think you don’t know where to begin.

Perhaps we should discuss this more.

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In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells of an event that took place when she was 10 or 12 years old as she traveled with her father on a train from Amsterdam to Haarlem. She had stumbled upon a poem that had the words “sex sin” among its lines:

And so, seated next to Father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sex sin?”

He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but, to my surprise, he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor. “Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he asked.

I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

“It’s too heavy,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

And I was satisfied. More than satisfied—wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions; for now, I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.

(Italics mine)

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Rikki-tikki-tavi

We listened to Rikki-tikki-tavi in the van on the way home from Michigan. It’s only about 40 minutes and is available online to read or hear for free by easy searching. Some of the simplest, funnest words ever to come from a British pen:

It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a mongoose, because he is eaten up from nose to tail with curiosity. The motto of all the mongoose family is ‘Run and find out.’

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