Monday, July 30, 2007

Patrick Henry on the Value of Reading

Patrick Henry one of the truly great men involved in the founding of the US and arguably the greatest orator of his day gave this encouragement regarding reading:

“Cultivate your mind by the perusal of those books which instruct while they amuse. History, geography, poetry, moral essays, biography, travels, sermons, and other well-written religious productions will not fail to enlarge your understanding, to render you a more agreeable companion, and to exalt your virtue.”

Both the source and the content of this exhortation commend it to us and to our children.

Quoted in Give Me Liberty: The Uncompromising Statesmanship of Patrick Henry, by David Vaughan, p. 140.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tell Me About Heaven

Tell Me About Heaven, by Randy Alcorn
Illustrated by Ron DiCianni
(Crossway, 2007), hb., 64 pp.
Ages 5 and up

This is a great book about heaven. It is well written, nicely illustrated and theologically sound. Alcorn really does a good job in demonstrating the ‘tangibleness’ of heaven. Too often people think of heaven as something ethereal, with clouds and disembodied spirits. This is not what the Bible teaches us. We await new bodies on a new earth. Alcorn does a great job of showing this corporeal, physical element of heaven. This of course leads to speculative questions (like “Will there be animals?”, “What about my pets?, etc.). Some may be dismissive about such questions, but these are the questions that come up. If you are going to write for children you ought to address questions they ask, so this is well done. Alcorn is clear about areas where the Bible does not give a specific answer and then is willing to venture his best guess.

The way the story is told is well done also. A young boy, Jake, is making his regular 2 week summer visit to his grandparents in Oregon. However, this year he is a bit apprehensive since his grandmother had died in the last year and he does not know what it will be like. However, his grandfather is a godly man who knows his Bible well, and they have numerous conversations over the two weeks as they enjoy the wonderful scenes of Oregon, eat together and gaze at the stars. So the discussions about heaven are not abstract but arise naturally within the believable relationship between a grandfather and grandson. This led to good discussions with my boys. Along the way the point is clearly made that only those who repent and believe go to heaven. Thus, this is a good evangelistic tool as well.

Lastly, there is another side benefit to this book. It provides a nice picture of a grandfather who is intentional about being involved in his grandson’s life enjoying life with him and teaching him about God along the way. Such examples are always a good challenge to me as I seek to be intentional in parenting.

This is a great book and we warmly recommend it.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Quotes from Hints for Parents

Here are just a few more quotes from the great little book Hints for Parents. From these you can see the theological awareness and pastoral earnestness of the book.

“To the religious character of our children, everything else ought to be made subservient. Our high privilege is to ‘bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.’ Whatever others may say or do, Christian parents should choose for their children that ‘good part which shall not be taken from them.’ To them, everything else should be like dust.” 27

“Now, you must recognize a mournful fact: Your child is depraved. You will fail utterly to educate him if you don’t recognize this sad reality.” 35

“What a man ought to know, he ought to begin to know very early. The great moral principles, which enlighten his adult conscience and character, ought to penetrate and work on his dark mind in childhood.” 35

“Depraved humans have sacrificed their children to false gods, burning them on the white hot hands of Moloch. Would you do ten thousand times worse by neglecting the heart of your child?” 57

“[quote from Tedd Tripp] Nothing will provide your children with an understanding of the power of the gospel like your love and dependence on God.” 57


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Great Little Book for Parents!

Hints for Parents, by Gardiner Spring
With Gospel Encouragements by Tedd Tripp
(Shepherd Press, 2004), hb., 80 pp.

This is a great little book for all parents. Spring was a 19th century Presbyterian pastor who was highly regarded. His comments to parents have been edited (language updated) and Tedd Tripp has inserted comments and encouragements along the way. Much can and needs to be said about parenting, but this little book distills much of the pure gold about the general goals and procedures of raising children to know and love God. A brief piece by Archibald Alexander on teaching children using catechisms is also appended. I would encourage all parents to get this book.

Here are a few quotes to catch the flavor of the book:
“Many a child has been lost to himself, to his family, to the world, and to God, because he had little else to do but indulge himself.” 15

“If a child cannot be temperate, there is little hope that he will be holy or respectable as an adult.” 17

“A child’s mind is the door to his heart, and our children must think, feel, and consider clearly, before they will repent, pray, and love.” 17

“[quote from Tedd Tripp] Do whatever you must to give yourself to relationships that make home and family attractive to your children.’” 19

“This means that parents may need to deny themselves some creature comforts. Is this unthinkable in our current affluence? If by a few sacrifices you could purchase for your children the habit of loving their home, is any price too high? Those families are best educated, and exhibit the most moral feeling, which are most tenderly attached to home. Soon enough, our children will be extending their borders beyond it.” 19-20
I’ll post a few more quotes in another post.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Washington's First MIssion

Duel in the Wilderness , Karin Clafford Farley
(The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1995), pb., 215 pp.
Ages 10+

This book chronicles George Washington’s expedition into the Ohio country as an emissary of the Governor of Virginia and the King of England to deliver a message to the French who were pushing into territory claimed by the British. This is a true story (obviously filled in in places) of the event which made Washington a known and respected name at age 20. Thus, it has real potential for excitement and adventure but fails significantly. We persevered through this one, and would not commend it to you. There are too many other books on Washington to get bogged down in this one.

What did we not like about it? First, it was simply dull. There is too much psychologizing about Washington’s thoughts rather than telling the story. Also the author has the odd, irritating practice of referring to Washington as ‘George’ whereas she refers to others by their last name. To us that came across as disrespectful. The author seems to be intent on showing the youth and lack of maturity of Washington, at least until the end of the story. Lastly, I was surprised to find multiple instances of profanity in this ‘children’s book’ which we purchased because it was recommended by Veritas Press!

You can find the actual text of Washington’s journal from this trip and a summary of the story here. This will serve you better without having to buy a book.