Crump on Cultural Renewal

“Cultural renewal for the Christian is our interpreting culture through a biblical lens and, through those interpretations, forming a worldview that we then allow to shape everything we do—art, media, leadership, law, music, management, even the mundane—and through these means promote and produce human flourishing and creational order that is a foreshadowing of the world to come.”

Léonce Crump in Renovate

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Piper on the Aim of the Cross

“The ultimate aim of the cross—the death of Jesus—is not the forgiveness
of sins, nor the justification of the ungodly, nor the removal of God’s wrath, nor deliverance from hell, as infinitely precious as those are. They are all
means to the ultimate end. Peter tells us the ultimate end: He ‘suffered … that he might bring us to God.’ The presence of God. The sight of God. The knowledge
of God. The enjoyment of God. Christ died to bring us here, though none of us do now, or ever will, deserve to be here.”

John Piper in Money, Sex, and Power

Book Review: Parenting

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In Parenting, Paul Tripp encourages parents to embrace the high calling of being the primary instrument God uses to influence and guide children in their journey to find Him. Unlike typical parenting books, Tripp offers very few tactile suggestions on how to handle misbehaviour or set down rules in the home. Instead, the author wants readers to rethink their approach in parenting and how crucial this role is in shaping their next generation. The book is comprised of fourteen principles that serve to show how parenting is not so much what we can do by our own power but what God chooses to do through us. In these fourteen chapters, the author discusses how the role of parenting is to help children realize that they are desperately lost and need to find grace and redemption through Christ. As redeemed sinners, we are powerless to change anyone including ourselves let alone young sinners who do not yet see their need for Jesus. However, we find grace, hope, and strength in the person and work of Jesus who has conquered everything including the sinful hearts of both parents and children. Thus, parents are not to find security in saying the right words or dispensing the exact amount of necessary discipline but to put their faith in Christ alone who has commissioned parents to be the most influential tool to bring young hearts to Him. For sure, we need to speak life-giving words and practice appropriate discipline but parents are just as in need of grace and mercy from God as their children. Contrary to always being ready with the right parenting response, decision, or words, parents should expect to have tense, awkward parenting moments where they have no idea how to proclaim Christ to their children. In these scenarios, we can find comfort in knowing that God is with us and we can rely on His limitless strength to sustain and use us to reveal Him to our children one small step at a time.

I would gladly recommend this book to parents in all stages of child rearing. For exasperated parents looking for easy and simple solutions to solve their parenting troubles, I am afraid this book may not come across as particularly helpful. I admit that when I started reading, I was somewhat expecting this book to be a handy guidebook to curb misbehaviour and establish discipline in the home. However, Tripp offers much more than parenting tips by showing that the root of child-rearing problems lies not in using the right methods but in addressing the sinful heart that refuses to yield to any authority but its own. Parents need to stand firmly on the promises found in Scripture and the faithfulness of God to direct their children in seeing the glory and wisdom of God as being the supreme good that their hearts should yearn for. When children begin to seek Christ and His righteousness, they can then obey God and their parents with submissive, humble hearts.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.

Book Review: God’s Little Lambs Bible Stories

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In God’s Little Lambs Bible Stories, Julie Stiegemeyer (author) and Qin Leng (illustrator) collaborate to create a colourful children’s storybook Bible with thirty five stories covering both the Old and New Testaments. Readers may not necessarily agree with all the stories chosen such as the healing of the crippled man and the apostle Paul being shipwrecked on his missionary journey in Acts. However, I would say that the author’s selection is fairly intentional in highlighting critical covenant narratives such as Adam, Noah, Moses, David, and Jesus. Introducing covenant theology to children at a young age allows them to begin grasping the Bible’s storyline and develop a framework for further deepening their understanding of the Bible. Each story is concise yet detailed and attempts to retain the wording of adult Bibles so adults will need to be prepared to explain the meaning of more challenging narratives such as the Last Supper and Jesus’ crucifixion. As for the pictures, each page is filled with bright and eye-catching illustrations with careful attention to details. Each story occupies around four pages and will always end with a short sentence to apply the lesson learned through the story. For the most part, the applications are appropriate and may be helpful to parents looking for a quick reference in teaching their children during nighttime devotions. However, I would encourage parents to keep working with their kids to dig deeper in God’s Word to understand the original meaning and wider applications of each story. It is critical to teach our children as they grow up to plumb the depths of Scripture instead of simply stopping with a moral lesson. However, I do appreciate the author’s motivation to provide an accessible storybook Bible to help whet the appetites of children for God’s Word.

I would recommend this book to children between the ages of four to six as the stories are relatively long and the words may be hard to understand. By this age, many of these stories may be familiar to children as taught in Sunday School or bedside devotions. God’s Little Lambs Bible Stories deepens the impression of these narratives through vivid illustrations and lengthier text that helps children gain a greater knowledge of God’s Word and the Bible’s grand storyline. Most importantly, the focus is squarely on Christ as the New Testament portion consists of sixteen stories on Jesus and encourages little ones to take on the task of spreading the good news of the gospel in the last two stories on the apostles. In summary, this book may not be a typical children’s Bible but would be a great tool to transition kids to begin reading God’s Word for themselves.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a book review.

Book Review: Things I Wish I’d Known before We Became Parents

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In Things I Wish I’d Known before We Became Parents, Gary Chapman and Shannon Warden use their professional and personal experience to examine the many aspects of parenting that parents-to-be should consider. The main thesis is that in addition to the joys and thrills of parenting, there are also a number of issues that couples should work through together before their little ones come along so that informed choices can be made ahead of time. Although the book is fairly short, the material covers a handful of imminent issues that needs to be addressed early on ranging from physical needs (e.g. potty training) to emotional and social development. With their extensive experience and knowledge in clinical psychology, the authors provide a succinct collection of tips that may prove helpful to young parents. For example, Chapman’s five languages of apology can be a useful method to encourage children and parents to express forgiveness and work towards reconciliation. Moreover, the authors divulge the parenting struggles with their own children highlighting what has or has not worked in their homes. At the end of each chapter, there are extensive discussion questions for couples to reflect on the material and work on together.

One point that I suggest for Christian readers is to complement this book with another parenting book that focuses on the theology of parenting. Besides learning about techniques and methods, parents need to formulate a theological framework which informs their decisions and actions as primary influencers of their children especially at an early age. This is not to say that I do not appreciate the advice that the authors provide as I do find many of the ideas fairly intriguing. However, how we implement these parenting guidelines is not merely a matter of preference but is firmly based on our theological convictions. Without a parenting approach that is grounded in the gospel, we are relegated to behaviour modification that does not ultimately meet the greatest need of our children which is their need for a Saviour.

I recommend this book to all parents-to-be and even to parents with children already as the material is applicable to children of all ages. Naturally, the topics skew towards the early childhood years as the intended audience are those looking for guidance before children arrive. As a whole, the suggestions are pragmatic so readers will find the suggestions to be useful to their everyday parenting tasks. The authors emphasize that the stress of parenting can be alleviated with proper planning, patience, and perseverance. Also, Chapman and Warden remind parents that the years of rearing young children will pass by quickly so we should savour the precious experiences and memories that we create and share with our children every day.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Moody Press in exchange for a book review.

Book Review: Parenting by God’s Promises

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In Parenting by God’s Promises, Joel Beeke focuses on the essentials in raising children to walk in the ways of the Lord. The books is split into four parts with the first two being  theological foundations of parenting and the latter two consisting of practical advice on parenting children and teenagers. As Beeke upholds the paedobaptist position, the first part argues that children of believing parents should be viewed as being part of the covenant people of God. Nevertheless, the author helpfully reminds readers that regardless of one’s theological convictions, we can all agree that the core purpose of parenting is to raise children who will follow Christ faithfully all the days of their lives. The second part talks about the three roles that parents take on as prophet, priest, and king. As prophets, parents need to teach God’s Word to their children and train them to live godly lives. As priests, we are to intercede for them through our own prayers and praying with our children thereby placing them in God’s powerful hands. As kings, we exercise authority in the home to steer children back to God’s precepts when they go astray and establish rules according to Scripture with God-given wisdom. The last two parts consist of pragmatic advice that Beeke provides through his pastoral and personal experience along with examples from our spiritual forebears with an emphasis on the Puritan approach to household management. As a whole, this book is concise yet encompassing as the author avoids going into unnecessary detail but offers suggestions on issues as specific as helping children graduating from high school pick an appropriate college and career.

I recommend this book to Christian parents at all stages in parenting. I appreciate how Beeke encourages us that even if we have failed in our attempts to be a godly parent, there is always hope because our children belong to God. The author extends hope to parents and grandparents who have missed past opportunities to influence their children in their formative years to take hold of what precious time is remaining to become a spiritual mentor and friend to their adult children. We are reminded that instead of merely relying on parenting methods, our primary responsibility is to bring our children to Christ and plead for His mercy to guide and empower them every day. We only have a short timeframe to teach, counsel, and guide our children to walk in God’s ways thus we need to seize every moment to show them the glory of Christ and to urge them to cling on to Jesus.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Reformation Trust in exchange for a book review.