Friday, March 13, 2009

Calvin for Children

John Calvin, Simonetta Carr
Christian Biographies for Young Readers (Series)
(Reformation Heritage Books, 2008), hb., 63 pp.
Ages 5+

In this 500th year since Calvin’s birth many books about his life are being released. I have already commented on Doug Bond’s forthcoming book on Calvin.

This book is the first in a new series which looks promising. It provides a nice overview of Calvin’s life and work for a younger audience. With nice illustrations, it covers the key points while also making comments on Calvin’s impact and connecting him with the broader historical and Reformation context.

This is a good resource.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bud & Me- Amazing True Story

Bud & Me : The True Adventures of the Abernathy Boys, Alta Abernathy
(Dove Creek Press, 1998), hb., 162 pp.
Ages 4+

This is a truly amazing book! It relates one of those stories which make me think, “Why have I never heard of this before?” For sheer remarkableness and fun it deserves a wide circulation.

The author, Alta Abernathy, is the wife of Temple Abernathy who is the “Me” of the book’s title. Mrs. Abernathy has put in print the story as told by her husband, and we are deeply in her debt for doing so. The story then comes from the first person perspective of ‘Temp’ Abernathy as he describes the incredible but true adventures that he and his brother ‘Bud’ (Louis) had. The touching dedication of the book captures well the spirit of the book. Mrs. Abernathy writes:

In memory of my loving husband,
Temple, and his brother, Louis, who had
more excitement and adventure in
the short span of four years than most
little boys have during a lifetime.

The book tells the story of 5 main journey/adventures of these two boys. On their first journey, in 1909, when the boys were five and nine years old, the boys rode horseback, alone, from their home in Frederick, OK to Santa Fe and back- a trip of over 1000 miles! The next year, again alone, they rode horseback from their home in OK to New York City! Then, having met up with their father in New York and seen Teddy Roosevelt, they drove a car (a new thing at the time, and before laws about age limits for driving) from NY back to OK. The following year, the boys (now ages 7 & 11) were challenged to make the trip from NY to San Francisco on horseback in 60 days. A prize of $10,000 was offered if they were successful. The boys and their father were drawn by the challenge, but quickly stated they would not ride on Sunday. So, the days would have to be calculated without including Sundays. Also, the boys were not allowed to eat or sleep under a roof on the journey! In the end it took them 62 days! Not a bad “failure.”

This amazing story just left us shaking our heads repeatedly. The matter-of-factness of the boys reporting, their clear faith and their grit were impressive. When 5 year old Temp asked his 9 year old brother, on the first trip, if they would encounter any scorpions, Bud just replied, “Keep your boots on.” Nine year old Temp carried the rifle on their trip and used it well when they were surrounded by coyotes one night. The boys slept through snow storms, forded rivers, encountered bandits (ones who had recently been in a gunfight with their father who was a marshall), lost their horses in a desert, and had many other adventures. The inclusion of a number of photos helps you really grasp that these were little boys doing all these things.

One might wonder what sort of parents allowed such things. Their mother had died, and their father was famous for catching wolves bare-handed- which led to him becoming a friend of Teddy Roosevelt. When they planned their first journey (completely on their own initiative, setting up late studying their father’s maps), they simply saw themselves as following their father’s example. Wow! Oh, to be such an example of boldness and daring.

Reading this book was a real treat. We all enjoyed it, and I think it challenged my boys to take initiative. It challenged me all the more to be sure to encourage my boys to be bold. There is a right level of protection, but if it is overplayed it can be emasculating. The balance can be difficult, but I want to affirm my boys’ attempts in this direction. It was also good to see the clear faith of these boys along the way. There was no concerted effort to share the gospel in the book, but it became clear that faith in Christ was simply part of the way of life of this family as they took their New Testament with them and interacted with others along the way.

Read this book and be amazed, encouraged and challenged.


Family Psalm Singing

It may seem that I have gone “Psalm-crazy” from my recent posts, and that assessment would not be altogether inaccurate. Over the years as I have discovered how generations of Christians were nurtured on the Psalms and have seen various historical examples of the faith that blossomed from such nurturing, I have longed for this for myself and my children. Oh, to be like those who, having grown up singing the Psalms, know all 150 Psalms by heart! If I did not know of real examples of this I might doubt the possibility.

This, then, is not merely an academic or abstract issue for me. My wife and I took a Trinity Psalter a couple of weeks ago and worked through it looking for Psalms set to tunes we know (a key point of this Psalter is to provide familiar hymn tunes for Psalm settings). In the process we came across Psalm 128 in a version adapted from the Scottish Psalter.

Blessed the man that fears Jehovah
And that walketh in His ways.
Thou shalt eat of thy hands’ labor;
And be prospered all thy days.
Like a vine with fruit abounding
In thy house thy wife is found
And like olive plants, thy children
Compassing thy table ’round

Lo, on him that fears Jehovah
Shall this blessedness attend
For Jehovah, out of Zion,
Shall to thee His blessings send
Thou shalt see Jerus’lem prosper
All thy days ’til life shall cease
Thou shalt see thy children’s children
Unto Isr-a-el be peace.

When I sang these words with my wife, it hit me that this is particularly suited to the family setting. So, for the last two weeks my family has sung this Psalm to the tune of “Come Thou Fount” at meal times. It has been a wonderful experience, and my children have about memorized this Psalm just from our singing. And we all have enjoyed it.

I commend it to you.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Doug Bond on the Psalms

Regular readers of this site will know that Douglas Bond is one of my family’s favorite authors. We were blessed with the opportunity of having Doug in our house for a few days last week. Doug was here to speak in chapel as part of Union’s Psalms Project. You can read some about his address and get a link to the audio at my other blog.

One of my boys commented, “Daddy, all of Mr. Bond’s books have to do with the Psalms.” He is right! In the Crown & Covenant series as well as the Faith and Freedom series the main characters sing the Psalms and demonstrate that their speech and lifestyles are molded by the Psalms. The Mr. Pipes series is devoted to introducing readers to the singing of the Psalms and hymnody shaped by the Psalms.

I commend to you these books, Bond’s address, and the Psalms!

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