Dinner Table Devotions: 365 opportunities to grow closer to God as a family
Summary: Devotions are a critical part of a Christian's daily life, and to find a book that will effectively draw our eyes heavenward is no easy matter. How do you find a devotional that can engage all the members of the family without sacrificing depth for the spiritual growth of the older children and yet making the gospel clear enough that even the youngest can understand? Is it possible to avoid all those little eyes glazing over as soon as the Bible gets pulled out after dinner? Nancy Guthrie has done an excellent job with this 365 day devotional. Along with a short meditation on the day's topic, applicable scripture passages are written in their entirety along the margin of each page. On the bottom are 3 extremely practical discussion starter questions that range from a simple answer to more thought provoking discussions.
Personal Thoughts: My family has been reading this devotional for a while now. Our 5 year old lovingly nicknamed it 'The Banana Book' based on its front cover. But joking aside, this devotional has been a real blessing to our home. Our kids range in age from 5-13, and since using this devotional, all of them are engaged and participate in the discussions around the table. As a family, we are learning that sanctification comes in small steps. We each have opportunity to apply Christ's claim on our lives in very specific ways, whether in kindergarten or in band class or on the soccer field. The fact is, Christ's call comes to each of us individually and we must respond. I thank Nancy Guthrie for making that clear in these meditations.
"Imagine if a baby just stayed a baby-never growing up or getting bigger. Something would be terribly wrong with a baby who didn't grow. And something would be wrong with a Christian who never grew either-a Christian who stayed a baby in faith. As we grow in years, we want to grow in how we talk to, listen to, and trust God.
How do we grow in faith? It starts with how we "eat" spiritually......."
In what way(s) have you been growing in the past year?
What kind of spiritual food helps your faith grow?
Looking back, can you pinpoint ways your faith has grown from what it used to be?
--excerpt from the Dinner Table Devotions for February 23 entitled, Still Growing. pg. 54
Treasures of the Snow
Patricia St. John
Summary: Here is a beautiful story about a little motherless boy, raised by his older sister and father high in the Alps of Switzerland. Little Dani has a terrible accident that leaves him crippled--t'was caused by the mischievous, lazy, neighbour boy whom nobody really likes. Will Dani ever walk again? Can Annette forgive Lucien? How can Lucien show the proper amount of contriteness as proof of his guilt? The characters in this book seem to come alive on the pages as they grapple with those rich themes of forgiveness, kindness, guilt, shame and long suffering.
Personal Thoughts: There is a beautiful rhythm to the words in this story. You can see the tale unfolding before your eyes as you read, and my children were thoroughly gripped by the story. The author deals with the characters fairly, exposing the good and evil in the hearts of both the guilty and the wronged. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Ink on his Fingers
Summary: It is the mid 1400's. Written copies of the Scriptures are scarce and incredibly valuable. In this setting we meet 12 year old Hans who decides to apprentice as a scribe. In an interesting turn of events, he lands in workshop of the debt laden Johann Guttenberg. But there are secrets within this shop. A special work is underway. As Hans learns his new craft he also grows in the knowledge of a God who protects both His people and His word.
Personal Thoughts: This book was a huge hit when I read it to my children. There is a good amount of suspense and adventure held within its pages. Reading it has brought a great appreciation for the written Word along with the realization that many risks, dangers and misunderstandings occurred in the printing of the Bible. The kids learned a lot about life in the 1400's. They learned about the art of printing. It's a great read!
Matthew Muddles Through
Matthew Makes Strides
Summary: Matthew is just a regular kid with plenty of worries. He's got an older brother who picks on him and a younger brother who's just plain annoying. His dad's a preacher which earns him the dreaded title of 'Preacher's Kid' on the playground, and his mom always seems to be sick. On top of that, here's a giant neighborhood dog that seems out to get him. No life isn't easy for Matthew, but then he finds out that the coveted Cadet Camporee campout will occur this year...and he's old enough to go! But will his parents be able to find the money to send him to camp?
In this second book in the series Matthew grows in courage and confidence. Sometimes that entails meeting the new girl in town who always seems moody, or becoming a hometown hero, braving severe weather, or being that brother who really tries to get along with his siblings. Of course, Camporee is coming closer and there's so much to do. Add an exciting cub car race and a church proposal that could drastically change life for the Vos's , and you've got a great story full of adventures once again.
Personal Thoughts: This author understands kids and the way they think and reason through issues. This book talks to kids at their level. It's a story about daily life with all its ups and downs, struggles and joys, lessons and growth--from a kid's perspective. It's funny, it's realistic, it's suspenseful. I have to say, I loved it and so did my kids. We had great discussions after reading a chapter or two in the evenings. Even doubts about faith are tackled in a loving and understanding way. It's refreshing to read a book like this. My kids and I can't wait for the next book in this series.
The Chieftain's Son
In the Valley of Death
Journey to Manhood
Summary: Wambu is a young aborigine boy living deep in the jungles of New Guinea. Once a strong tribe of headhunters, Wambu's tribe now lives off the land--much to the disgust of the tribe's witchdoctor. One day Wanbu and his father find a young girl named Sirja in the jungle who has escaped from a band of cannibals. Sirja comes to live with the family and tells Wambu about the Lord Jesus--much to the rage of the tribe's witch doctor. The witch doctor goads the tribe to perform another head hunt upon the much stronger village of Kitoe and Wambu's tribe is decimated. Wambu, along with Sirja and many of the other children of his village, are taken prisoner.
It doesn't take long for Wanbu to escape from Kitoe. His goal is to get to the white man who surely will help him to free Sirja and the other children. Hunted by foes, tormented by superstitions and plagued with malaria Wambu makes a desperate effort to reach the white man.
Safe at the mission station, Wambu begins to learn more about the Lord Jesus. But the power of witchcraft will not quickly release its hold on the boy and an intense struggle for Wambu's soul ensues. Finally a small well-armed police squad makes a lightning dash to Kitoe, with Wambu as guide.
Personal Thoughts: I read this book to my boys when they were about 7-8 years old. They LOVED it! They got a good understanding of the sorry plight of those who are haunted by witchcraft and evil spirits. Some parents who have more sensitive children may want to pre-read this book as there are some violent scenes. The author does not mince words when explaining the worship of spirits. It's a realistic book and the brightness of the Lord Jesus shines all the brighter in contrast to such evil. Another predominant theme in this book is that the power of Christ is far, far greater than that of any evil spirit or of any witchdoctor or superstitious belief.
Missionary Stories with the Millers
Mildred A. Martin
Summary: 28 great stories about men and women who heard God's call to be a missionary in lands both near and far. These stories are full of adventure. They will bring joy, they will bring sorrow. Read about a fierce tribe in the jungle who revel in killing. Meet a young girl in India who works in a pagan temple. Discover how a bundle of flowers was instrumental in bringing Bibles into a communist country. Read about a women who led 100 children to safety during a terrible war. Learn the names of men and women who died giving testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, bringing light to places of terrible darkness.
Personal Thoughts: I've read this book to my kids several times. It's important for them to connect with other Christians around he world and to become acquainted with the dangerous situations in which they live. Children need to learn how to pray for missionaries and that can only come when they know those stories. My kids do enjoy these stories. This book prompted them to ask for more in-depth missionary stories and as a result we read a lot of biographies about other missionaries. I highly recommend this book.
How God Used A Thunderstorm
Joel Beeke & Diana Kleyn
How God Stopped the Pirates
Joel Beeke & Diana Kleyn
How God Used A Snowdrift
Joel Beeke & Diana Kleyn
How God Used A Drought and an Umbrella
Joel Beeke & Diane Kleyn
How God Sent A Dog to Save a Family
Joel Beeke & Diana Kleyn
Summary: Every child loves a good story. Every godly parent loves to impart godly wisdom to their covenant children. This set of books does just that. These are delightful stories for children to get their minds thinking about the Lord and the great works that He has done. They are a great reminder that God controls everything and cares for His people. They teach godly values and highlight the importance of seeking the Lord and living a godly life in every circumstance in life.
Personal Thoughts: My kids loved these books. There was enough adventure to keep the boys spellbound and there were enough sweet moments that brought smiles to my girls' faces. These books would be great to use as a devotional for young children or for a story before bed. When my kids got old enough they were grabbing these books and reading it for themselves. I highly recommend this set.
Into Their Hands at any Cost
Summary: Bibles. They were not always so accessible to Christians in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. In fact, they were forbidden. But the churches in the West became aware of the plight of their brothers and sisters in the East. Bibles got printed and brought to closed borders. From there a chain of willing hands did the dangerous work. This book follows the trail of these Bibles.
Personal Thoughts: Unbelievable. Follow the Bibles--printed both in the Romanian and Russian language--as they make their way through a strict border crossing into Romania. Pass through several harrowing checkpoints and experience the intense grief and punishment when the Word gets discovered by the ungodly authorities. Meet a man in a wheelchair who passes the forbidden Scriptures along onto a bee truck. Discover how the Bibles find their way to a construction site on the Romanian-Ukranian border where they are lovingly placed into sacks of cement by the crane operator, to be picked up by another man on a motorcycle who drops them off in a tool shed just a few miles into the Ukraine. From there the Bibles get hidden in cans of paint, baked inside loaves of bread, and finally placed in waiting hands--faces often streaked with tears and receiving such a treasure. This book really binds Christians around the world. It is a practical example of how Christians have borne one another's burdens.
Excerpt: " The oldest man in the group walked over to the map and pointed to Ireland. He took his finger and traced their path. They had travelled across the Irish Sea to England, across the English channel to France, through France to Germany, south through Austria, then into Hungary, and finally across the border to Romania.
He looked at them and smiled. He could see the tiredness and the strain in their faces. Bowing his head, Gabriel let the tears flow down his face. His heart was deeply moved by these brothers who had journeyed all this way to deliver the Bibles for their brethren in the Soviet Union." --pg. 80,81
Thrilling Escapes by Night
Summary: It's 1524 and William Tyndale is determined to translate the Scriptures into the working man's language--English. Armed with his manuscripts and his Hebrew and Latin grammar, Tyndale is constantly on the run from John Cochlaeus, Deacon of the Catholic church and well known heretic hunter, who is determined to stop Tyndale's work. Along the way meet a pirate lord who pillages ships, a brave forest ranger who knows the woods well, a printer who is willing to risk imprisonment as he brings Tyndale's Bible to print, and many more heroic men and women who count their life as nothing in exchange for the living word of God.
Personal Thoughts: Well, this certainly is an exciting read! I've always thought that Tyndale gets so little recognition in Christian circles. Much of his translation work has been used in the printing of the King James Version of the Bible. One caution while reading this book: while based on real events and people, I would say the book is mainly fictious writing. As far as I could find, Cochlaeus was indeed the man who pursued Tyndale doggedly. I know that Tyndale came through many dangers and encountered many thrilling escapes. And I know that he did indeed settle in the city of Worms. After reading this book I encourage you to learn more of Tyndale.
Quote: "Dear Lord, did I not solemnly vow, long years ago, that if my life were long enough, I would cause the boy who driveth the plow to know the Scriptures?"
The words came more earnestly.
"Oh God, the task set for me is great. The burden is almost too heavy for me! And I am compassed about with dangers. I tremble lest something should come to bring ruin to my endeavors. Yet, Lord, it is not the thought of threatening death that troubles me. My fear is lest my enemies should compass my destruction before I have done my work and placed the Word of God within the reach of people at home. Spare me until I have fulfilled my task, and then I will say, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace."
Jonathan Goforth: An Open Door in China
Janet & Geoff Benge
Summary: China was always his first love. Jonathan Goforth made this clear to his wife before he married her and he lived this principle all his life at great physical cost. He lost 5 of his 11 children to disease or accident. He suffered greatly during the Boxer Rebellion when the Chinese rose up against all foreigners in their land. He lost all privacy in his home as more than 5000 visitors a month visited him in his own home. He battled disease, disaster, danger and death. But this man was such an enormous blessing to the Chinese people. He loved thier souls so much and he let absolutely nothing become a hindrance to their salvation.
Personal Thoughts: This is an action-packed book. My kids LOVED it so much! I loved reading it to them. When I think of what this man endured to bring out the gospel to a perishing nation it puts me to shame. This is probably one of my family's favorite reads. I strongly encourage you to pick it up.