Mark's #31 - The Jesus Story Book Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones (2007)

Having read to my daughters,  reviewed, and recommended this book in the past, I will simply paste the introduction here to give you a good sense of the focus of this great resource for parents:

Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn't do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn't mainly about you and what you should be doing. It's about God and what he has done.

Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you'll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren't heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose), they get afraid and run away. At times, they're downright mean.

No, the Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne-everything-to rescues the ones he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this Story is-it's true.

There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling on Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in the puzzle-the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.

JRF's #48 - The King Without a Shadow by R.C. Sproul

Yes, I know this is a children's book. But its by R.C. Sproul so that's got to count for something right?

But seriously, as I am a new proud papa I find myself reading many kids books these days, screening them for my daughter.  I try to use Biblical discernment about what I read for myself, why wouldn't I want to do that with what my daughter will read or have read to her?  So this review represents all the kids books I have read this year.

The King Without a Shadow is a beautifully written and even more beautifully illustrated story about a King who seeks to answer a little boy's question about where shadows come from and how to get rid of them.  His search takes him to the halls of wisdom as well as the cave of a prophet.  It is here in the prophet's cave that he hears of the King Without a Shadow, the one whose Light exposes the shadows of all other souls.

While I definitely recommend this book as a wonderful way to talk with your children about God's holiness, and I look forward to doing so with my daughter, I have two caveats:

1.  The Gospel is skipped over in the story.  The closest thing to the Gospel here is when the King explains to the boy that when he dies and goes to heaven, "then on that day, the day that I see Him, my shadow will leave me forever.  God will take away all evil from my heart...He will make me holy just as He is holy."  That statement seems to make justification from sin something that just automatically happens when we die, not something that is accomplished by the Death of God on the cross and applied to us through faith in Christ alone.  I know the last thing Sproul would want to do is confuse the Gospel but unfortunately here I think a wise and faithful parent needs to expand on what is said in order to make the Gospel clear to a child.

2. This is a much lesser point of concern which I am still working out, and it applies to other Christian Children's classics (think Narnia):  What is the role of using fantasy to teach truths about God to children?  Surely children's fairy tales are great ways to teach morals to kids.  But what is the cost of trying to teach kids about the Living True God who has made a way for salvation from their very real and very present enslavement to using fairy tales?  I grew up loving the adventures of Narnia and thought Aslan was cool, but until I was chased down by the real Lion of Judah, the death and resurection of Aslan only served to help me keep the Gospel in the realm of fairy tale in my mind.  Like I said, I am still working through this question, and I think a lot will depend on who your child is and how old she or he is.

Did I mention the illustrations were beautiful?  Liz Bonham fills each page with color and light in a style that reminded me of one of my favorite childhood books, Dinotopia.


JRF's #18 - Pastor Dad by Mark Driscoll

What does our culture need today?  Here's one answer:

"More than bigger governments, bigger schools, more free school lunches, more child therapists, more child medications, more daycares, more prisons, and more birth control, we need more godly men who raise their sons to be godly men who raise their sons to be godly men who raise their sons to be godly men (Ps. 78:5-8)."

In this short little book, Mark Driscoll uses select passages mostly from the book of Proverbs to call men to pursue the noble ministry of fatherhood.   As I am days away from meeting my first child, I hungrily ate up the practical wisdom distilled here.   Driscoll helped reinforce my conviction that fatherhood is a great honor, joy, and responsibility that has ramifications that go beyond my family and into eternity.

Here are a few nuggets:

"Lazy fathers are disobedient to God but want to have children who are obedient to them."

"Before any father disciplines his children, he is commanded to delight in them" (re:Prov 3:11-12)

"When God shares his name with us, it is a sacred matter that we must take very seriously"

"Any man who allows his daughter to sin and be sinned against in the name of loving her knows little of God's love."

You can download this ebook free here