Jesus Calms the Storm

My favorite artist is Rembrandt because of his story, his use of biblical imagery, and the fact he places himself in the paintings he paints. This is what good art does it envelopes you; it swallows you and emerges you into its story. My favorite painting of his is the Return of the Prodigal Son. It’s been the background on my iPhone for four or five years now. I put it on my phone because I wanted to be daily reminded that I am prone to wander like the son, that I growing up in the church and never leaving home left home on my heart, and lastly, I’m called to be the father who loves both those who have wandered far from home and those who have wandered while never leaving home. The gospel points out my sin points me to Christ, and redirects me to run toward sinners.

The Return Of The Prodigal Son

I recently replaced it for the time being with Christ calms the storm. A painting that depicts arguably the best depiction of God’s trust in His Father and our trust in ourselves in all of scripture.

The biblical scene pitches nature against human frailty – both physical and spiritual. The panic-stricken disciples struggle against a sudden storm, and fight to regain control of their fishing boat as a huge wave crashes over its bow, ripping the sail and drawing the craft perilously close to the rocks in the left foreground. One of the disciples succumbs to the sea’s violence by vomiting over the side. Amidst this chaos, only Christ, at the right, remains calm, like the eye of the storm. Awakened by the disciples’ desperate pleas for help, he rebukes them: “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” and then rises to calm the fury of wind and waves. Nature’s upheaval is both cause and metaphor for the terror that grips the disciples, magnifying the emotional turbulence and thus the image’s dramatic impact.

Michael Zell
Jesus Calms The Sea of Galilee

There are many ironic elements of this masterpiece. The first is the fact it was stolen in 1990 from the Isabella Gardener Museum in Boston. Most experts believe it to be the work of organized crime to be used as ransom to free jailed crime bosses. The irony is that since it was taken, there has been wave after wave of stolen peace in our lives and in our countries collective experience. I do not believe that the theft precipitated our lack of collective peace. It is only a cultural artifact that points to our loss of peace by righting our ship on our terms.

In each of the disciples, you see their reactions to the storm. Some fight with the rigging, some puke over the edge, some run to wake the sleeping Christ. The funny thing is as I study the painting, Rembrandt’s only seascape, I find myself in each of the sailors. I often try to fix things myself; other times, I feel overwhelmed with anxious thoughts, and I’m the guy hanging over the edge of the boat. This picture on my lock screen, and one day a reproduction on my wall, reminds me to run to Jesus.

Another interesting aspect of this iconic work is how, in the middle of the darkness, the face of Christ is lit not from the sun hitting it but from the interior light of God. A light that came to subdue the works of the devil, as John tells us in John 1:4-5 In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Perhaps the most haunting part of Christ In The Storm On The Sea Of Galilee is Rembrandt himself. Rembrandt was famous for his self-portraits and for placing himself in his paintings in the middle of the action. It was as if he was preaching to us through the canvas. The most famous example of this is during the same year he painted the Sea of Galilee; he painted The Raising of the Cross where Christ was crucified, and his cross was being raised by several men most of them you could not see their faces because of shadows. Rembrandt’s face was bathed in light, telling all who looked upon it that He Rembrandt Van Rijn was the chief of all sinners.

In The Sea of Galilee, Rembrandt is staring out of the painting at you and me and looking at us in such a way as to invite us into the scene. He is saying when the waves come, where do you run. Could you walk through life with a trust that is otherworldly? I think Rembrandt was staring at himself, reminding himself to trust God in the middle of his storms and his storms were many.

Trying to summarize the many misfortunes of Rembrandt’s life can be overwhelming. They are not unlike those of the prodigal son. After having lost his son Rumbartus in 1635, his first daughter Cornelia in 1638, and his second daughter Cornelia in 1640, Rembrandt’s wife Saskia, whom he deeply loved and admired, dies in 1642. Rembrandt is left behind with his nine-month-old son, Titus. After Saskia’s death, Rembrandt’s life continues to be marked with countless pains and problems.

Henri Nouwen

He is looking at us. But his use of light is pointing us to Christ. Rembrandt was not a preacher, but he did preach with his paint, and he did proclaim with his brushes. His legacy is one of someone who, in the middle of the storm after losing three children, pointed us to Christ. He still does. In the middle of 2020 and the sorrows, we have faced and will face, know that Christ your Redeemer is asleep but not inattentive. He reminds us that our Father is mighty and will not perish.

Top 10 Books of 2020

In 2020 I read many books by people who have different views than I have, I read several books on CRT and Liberation Theology as well as some written by Progressive Theologians. I found it interesting to see the world as they see it. I also found it strengthen my resolve to fight for clarity in my thoughts and charity in my interactions with those with whom I disagree. As a result, my reading list was a bit more eclectic than most years. As I look forward to 2021 I do so with a mixture of excitement and sadness as I will be finishing my Seminary degrees. I don’t know if I disliked a book that was assigned to me and will miss the rigor of reading with a deadline. I am excited however to read what I want when I want. I plan on rereading some of my favorite books I read in obtaining my degree as well as much more fiction and hope to write a devotional for pre-teens before the year is out. That being said here are my top ten books for 2020.


The Trellis and the Vine
This book has been on my reading list for a while but had not had the time to get to it. It was required for school so I read it in November. Such a timely book for any pastor to read. If ever we needed the message and strategy of connection over programs it’s now. It ends with an eerie question of what we would do if we had to lead through a pandemic.

Imagine this… As we write, the first worrying signs of a swine-flu pandemic are making headlines around the world. Imagine that the pandemic swept through your part of the world and that all public assemblies of more than three people were banned by the government for reasons of public health and safety. And let’s say that due to some catastrophic combination of local circumstances, this ban had to remain in place for 18 months. How would your congregation of 120 members continue to function—with no regular church gatherings of any kind, and no home groups (except for groups of three)? If you were the pastor, what would you do?

ColinMarshall & Tony Payne


If that quote doesn’t make you want to read this book nothing will.


Live not by lies
Such a timely book. In a world where we are constantly bombarded by what Rod calls “soft totalitarianism” Live Not By Lies teaches American Christians a method for resistance:
    SEE: Acknowledge the reality of the situation.
    JUDGE: Assess reality in the light of what we as Christians know to be true.
    ACT: Take action to protect truth.
The most powerful weapon we have against the secularism of our age is seeing the truth and speaking the truth. Every Christian should read this book.


Atomic Habits
I haven’t read a ton of leadership books over the past few years but this one was recommended by everyone. I read it and was suprised by the simplicity and practical application of what Clear argues for. Also he likes baseball.


Christ Centered Preaching
I have read several books on expository preaching this one is one of the best in terms of explaining the importance of expository sermons as well as the practical examples that walk you through the process of doing so. I read this for a class Dr. Chapell taught at my Seminary. He is an equally gifted communicator and writer.


On Reading Well
One of my Master’s Degrees is in Christian and Classical Thought. My professors reinforced to us over and over again the importance of reading the great conversation in light of the Gospel because every little story we write points to the great story written for us. Dr. Prior highlights a classical work and the corresponding virtue it exemplifies. The result of her work is a more thoughtful reading of books, many of which were written by Christians, that was written with the desire to empower and inform a more virtuous public. Dr. Prior’s explanation of Flannery O’Connor was particularly helpful to me personally as I have read most of O’Connor’s work and missed most of the beauty within them because I was so taken back by the violence and tragedy I missed the redemptive nature of her stories.


Valley of Vision
I have used Valley of Vision to aid my daily times of prayer devotional for a couple of years. Going through this book slowly to meditate and processes its content fully. I found so many of these prayers directing my thoughts and strengthening my faith like few books I have ever read.

‘When used slowly, for meditation and prayer, these pages have often been used by God’s Spirit to kindle my dry heart.’ ——MARK DEVER

I can’t agree with Mark more. I encourage you to add this to your personal time of devotion. There is something so helpful and challenging about reading the prayers of others.


Scripture as Communication
Such a fantastic book. Dr. Brown addresses both of the extremes of Biblical interpretation. In our modern culture, the Bible is looked at as a set of rules to live by or stories to inspire. A prominent pastor in a recent book said that the Old Testament is for inspiration. Brown’s argument that the Bible is communication changes how we read, interpret, and interact with scripture. It is a much-needed vantage point in the present hermetical landscape of the evangelical church.



Deep Work
This is the second book by Newport I’ve read. He is very clear and extremely practical. I have been putting his simple yet profound ideas to the test and have experienced excellent results. We as a society are more distracted than ever we must fight for focus. I used to brag about how many things we can do at once. No longer. I join Newport in striving to do one thing at a time really really well.


Persuasion
Persuasion is a story of love and loss and patient endurance. In her excellent summary of the book which was my inspiration to read it in full Karen Swallow Prior says “The essence of patience is the willingness to endure suffering.” Patience is a lost virtue in our instant secular culture. We put it off till later so we can have it now. The result of this type of living is moral and spiritual bankruptcy. The story was a story of love that lost because of obedience to authority and refined and rekindled because of divine providence. It was my first Jane Austen novel and definitely not my last.

Patience is a virtue, not in overlooking wrong, but in refusing to do wrong in overcoming wrong.

Karen Swallow Prior



Black Rednecks & White Liberals
This year I read several books on race I found Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers and if you avoid the liberation theology at the end Cone’s work on lynching. The least helpful was White Fragility. Over the course of the past several months, I saw this title encouraged by several pastors. Pastor, please don’t do that. Out of all those titles, the reason I chose Thomas Sowell is that he addresses the topic of race in a way that is straightforward and hopeful. To say that being white makes you a racist and there is nothing you can do about it is not the answer to the real problem of racism. Sowell is thoughtful, hopeful, and clear. He is also African American as opposed to DiAngelo who is white. No matter where you fall on the political landscape it is helpful to understand issues of race and how to work toward speaking against real racism in our world today. I believe that Sowell’s work is a great asset in understanding the history of race and helpful solutions for today.

Here are the other books I read this year.

  1. Growth Groups by Colin Marshall
  2. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  3. Missions by Andy Johnson
  4. Canoeing The Mountains by Tod Bolsinger
  5. The Science of Missions by J.H. Bavanick
  6. White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
  7. Center Church by Tim Keller
  8. Letters to a Young Pastor by Eugene Peterson
  9. I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown
  10. Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcey
  11. The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone
  12. Suffering and Joy by Henri Nouwen
  13. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
  14. Leadership for the Time of a Pandemic by Tod Bolsinger
  15. Confronting Old Testament Controversies by Tremper Longman
  16. Slaves, Women & Homosexuals by William Webb
  17. The Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett
  18. The Bible Tells Me So…. by Peter Enns
  19. Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill
  20. George MacDonald by C.S. Lewis
  21. Evolution and the Fall by James K.A. Smith
  22. In the Year of Our Lord 1943 by Alan Jacobs
  23. Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell
  24. American Sherlock by Kate Winkler Dawson
  25. Resilient by Valerie Bell and Matt Markins
  26. Christ-Centered Sermons by Bryan Chapell
  27. A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell
  28. Uncommon Ground by Timothy Keller
  29. Practice Resurrection by Eugene Peterson
  30. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
  31. Reading the Bible With Heart and Mind by Tremper Longman
  32. Lethal Agent by Vince Flynn
  33. The Green Ember by S.D. Smith
  34. A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible by Robert Stein
  35. Hermeneutics by Henry Virkler
  36. Color of Compromise by Jamar Tisby
  37. Exegetical Fallacies by D.A. Carson
  38. The Joy of Fearing God by Jerry Bridges
  39. A Theory of Everything by Alister McGrath
  40. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
  41. Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson
  42. Red War by Vince Flynn

Why Our Kids Ministries Should be More Like Mr. Rogers and Less Like Disney.

One of the pressures that kids pastors face from parents, leaders, or themselves, and sometimes it’s all three, is to be like Disney. I have often looked at how Disney engages kids as inspiration in engaging the kids I lead. I have had people suggest kindly to me that we take a look at how Disney does things. I even went to Disney and have sent staff members to Disney for inspiration for ministry. The older I get and the longer I do kids ministry, the more I realize that Walt’s idea of child formation was wrong, and Mr. Rogers was right. (Editorial note I am not a Disney hater, I have taken the required pilgrimage to Orlando with my family.)

When you look at the aesthetics of the two kingdoms they both built, they reflect how each saw the world. Walt’s world was a perfect version of what our world should look like. His world is shiny songs playing everywhere. Every restaurant serves chicken strips and hotdogs. Never any dust, never chipped paint. Excellence and creativity abound. Fred’s world was simple, even plain. His puppets showed wear, and his set grew old along with Fred. Two worlds trying to reach the same kids. 

The two kingdoms they built were the result of two visions of the world. Walt created a world that was an escape from the real world. Fred lived in a neighborhood and showed kids how to navigate through the real world. 

Walt built a fantasy world. Fred lived in a neighborhood.

There is nothing wrong with fantasy. Kids need fairy stories. Tolkien and Lewis were both shaped by fairy stories. They have different takes as to the ontological value of stories. Tolkien believed that fairy stories were reflective of God in that they were an example of sub-creation. Lewis thought that you could smuggle truth in fairy stories and steal past the watchful dragons that would not give faith a hearing. In this debate, I side more with Lewis. Fairy tales are more valuable in helping us escape this world, not for the escape alone but to show us what is broken and how to fix our world. Fairy stores should not be only an escape but should contain truth that entertains our minds but be filled with truth that changes our hearts. 

Walt’s world, on the whole, is an escape from reality, sustained by entertainment. You enter the park, and you enter the world as it should be – no trash on the ground, no gum on the sidewalk, and no tears in any eye. It’s perfect. It plays to our right desire for a better world. It reminds us in miniature form that our world, the real world is a shadow, and our heart longs for a perfect world free of sin and pain. 

Fred’s world had fantasy elements in it. But Fred never lied. He said we are going to the land of makebelieve. His fiction was grounded in reality and founded in faith. Fred lived in a neighborhood like you and me. His set was old, his puppets were tired, but he connected with kids in a way few others have. Mr. Rogers had friends come by who struggled with difficult issues like divorce, physical disability, and even race. He didn’t create an alternate universe by which he could escape reality. He lived in a house and told kids when makebelieve was happening. He used fairy stories to smuggle truth.  

Walt Entertained Kids. Fred Empowered Kids.

Walt’s world is all about connecting kids to fun to entertain them. This is a trap I fell into early in my years of children’s ministry. For years I would ask kids if they had fun at the end of the service. I wanted the church to be an escape for kids from the difficulties of home and school. The problem with entertaining kids is you have to out create yourself every week. Kids go to Disney once to a few times a year max. They come to church once to a few times a month. Entertainment may bring them, but we don’t have the budget, creativity, and time to create programs for kids that rival or compete with Disney’s magic. 

What Fred did was different. He didn’t distract kids from the pain and questions that were making them sad or scared. He looked in the camera and spoke from his heart to theirs. He did this because he remembered what it was like to be a child once. He wasn’t trying to force kids to grow up and act older than who they were. He was interested in helping kids understand that we grow, learn, and love in families, communities, and neighborhoods. It isn’t castles and clouds that make us forget our problems for a day. It’s the embodiment of being in a particular time and a particular place. 

Kids don’t need to be entertained as much as they need to be loved and listened to. Anyone can put on a video and walk away. Anyone can create an event that is non stop excitement, and I think the church has gotten really good at production values and excellence. What we need to get better at is remembering that we were kids once. At telling kids the truth. At listening to kids and looking at them in the face when they are speaking to us. Kids like Disney, but they live in neighborhoods. 

Walt was more concerned about your experience. Fred was more concerned with who you are becoming. 

Walt was concerned with how his park made you feel. There is close attention to sights, sounds, and smells. Fred was more concerned with who you are becoming. In his now-famous interview with Mr. Rogers in Esquire Magazine, Tom Junod said of Fred that “There was an energy to him, however, a fearlessness, an unashamed insistence on intimacy.” This is the problem with entertainment; it leads to a consumer-driven faith where we show up and get our money’s worth. The production values are high, and we expect nothing less—excellence matters. God is a God of creativity and excellence we tell our selves. Yet when God sent his son into the world, he did so in such an ordinary way. He sent him in a way that most people missed Him because they were looking for a conquering King, not a helpless baby. 

Fred’s idea was different. He was not driven by flash but by substance. He was not about entertainment. He was about incarnation. He showed us that loving your neighbor well matters. We must be more obsessed with who our kids are becoming, not just how we can get more kids coming. Who our kids are becoming will force us to lead different to love different to focus on things that don’t just take their mind off their pain. But instead, point them to the one who can destroy their pain with the power of his love. 

Mr. Rogers was not against big things; he just knew that they came from small beginnings. “He wanted to tell children that what starts out little can sometimes become big, and so that could devote themselves to little dreams without feeling bad about them.” Mr. Rogers reminds us as kids ministry workers as parents of kids that presence trumps production value. To show up. Listen. Insist on intimacy. Tell your kids the truth; they like to be told. Remember that you were a kid once. Most of all, remember that God was a kid once.

Arrogance is Not Equal to Murder

I have nothing but love and respect for Dr. Piper. His books and preaching have challenged me for years and still do. I appreciate his willingness to address difficult issues of the day. One of the sad realities of our day is how we have lost the art of disagreement. I have seen on social media people blasting Piper and saying they won’t read his books because of his most recent article.

My disagreement with Piper in regards to his piece on the upcoming election is substantial but not final. We must not judge a person by what they tweet alone. We must not form opinions of them by a single blog post. My disagreement with Piper is based on what he wrote in this most recent blog post but it in no way changes how I feel about him. As a culture in general and within the church in particular, we need to learn how to respond when we disagree. Cancel culture is not Kingdom culture. 

Where we agree.

Dr. Piper and I agree that the national coarseness of our dialogue is sinful and deepening. The things that are said in political ads, political debate, and Twitter have consequences. As a culture, we have shifted from a post-modern you have your truth I have mine to fundamentalism that says I am right and you are wrong. I have seen families no longer speak to each other because of who they will vote for or what policies they defend. I have seen friendships end because of the perception of disagreement without even a conversation. Donald Trump has done much to hasten the coarseness of our political discourse and create fractions.

Secondly, I know that Dr. Piper believes in the sanctity of life and the created order that informs our biological gender and our social roles in light of that biological difference. Finally, Piper believes that man is made in the image of God. This is crucial because it is the framework the supports how we live and interact in a sin-filled world.  

Where we disagree 

Coarseness, fractions, and vulgarity are not only a Trump problem. They are a political problem. More broadly, they are a sin-filled human heart problem. 

Piper states,

“In fact, I think it is a drastic mistake to think that the deadly influences of a leader come only through his policies and not also through his person. “Flagrant boastfulness, vulgarity, and factiousness are not only self-incriminating; they are nation-corrupting.”

This statement seems to assume that one leader is virtuous, and one is corrupt, or one is less corrupt. In the first debate, Trump consistently interrupted, name called, and demeaned Biden. Biden likewise called the President a clown, scoffed, interrupted (less so), and disrespected the governing authority. Both have been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior. Given the fact that both leaders have exhibited behavior that is fractious, vulgar, and boastful, what is left is their policies. 

Policies matter. 

Our job as Christian voters is not to try to create a political kingdom in some theocratic sense. After all, our citizenship is in heaven. Our job here on earth is to demonstrate God’s kingdom and promote good and limit harm. There can be disagreement on policies. The idea by one political party that those who vote for the other candidate are no longer Christians is foolish. As Christians, the challenge for us is not to blindly follow one party to the point we conflate politics and faith. What politicians say they are going to do matters, and what the policies they actually enact matters more. 

My good friend Scott Klusendorf explains the importance of policies perfectly. 

“It’s July of 1860. You’re a Christian slave buried deep in the bowels of a ship destined for Savannah where, if you survive the journey, you’ll be auctioned to the highest bidder. The presidential election is coming up. What do you pray your fellow Christians will do on election day?

Option #1: Vote for the candidate and party that promotes slavery wholesale because slavery isn’t the only issue and the candidate and his party are good on other topics that matter.

Option #2: Vote for the candidate and party that will limit the evil of slavery even though the candidate himself is rude and arrogant.

Option #3: Refuse to support either candidate, especially the arrogant one, because the character of the candidate matters as much or more than his policies.”

Trump is not Herod. 

In his polemic against Trump Piper seems to equate Trump with Herod “They (sins of pride) destroy persons (Acts 12:20–23)” To be clear, I don’t believe Trump to be a Christian. He may be, but I have not seen evidence that is convincing to me. This being said, Trump is also no Herod. Trump has consistently called for prayer, protected unborn lives, has actively fought to protect those persecuted for their faith in other countries as well as protect the religious liberty of all faiths here in the US. Even if you think these things are contrived, no Herod would do these things. He may be arrogant, but he is not evil and depraved, as was Harrod. 

I actually think a closer example of Herod’s arrogance and evil in New York State’s Governor Cuomo. After the first abatement of the COVID-19 disease, Governor Cuomo said, “The number (covid cases) is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that. Fate did not do that. Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that.” When Cuomo says, “We” did this, it seems like political speech to say “I” did this. This is arrogance, the same man exulting God-hating arrogance that marked Herod’s life. Cuomo’s belief that babies can and should be allowed to be aborted after 24 weeks, what science has told us is the age of viability even if the mother’s life is not threatened, is also a very Herod move. If we want to start calling National political figures, Herod lets start with Cuomo. 

Arrogance is not worse than murder.

Towards the end of his, article Piper says the following. 

“I think it is baffling and presumptuous to assume that pro-abortion policies kill more people than a culture-saturating, pro-self pride.”

This seems to place arrogance not only on par with murder but above it. I could not disagree more with this statement from a philosophical or theology standpoint. 

Theologically 

Natural law and God’s law both explicitly prohibit the taking of innocent life. The same is not true for arrogance. In Exodus, God says in no uncertain terms, “Thou Shall not Kill” While this does mean more than physical death as Jesus explains in the sermon on the mount, it never means less than killing. There is no explicit prohibition on the same level as this for arrogance. Is arrogance a sin? Yes. Will the unrepentant, arrogant fractious man go to hell? (Galatians 5:19-21) Yes. Is arrogance one of the ten commandments? No, it isn’t. This is no small matter. The ten commandments are foundational to law by which any nation Christian or not being able to function.

The ten commandments were not alone in its condemnation of murder; most Ancient Near East codes of law condemned murder as well. After the fall, the first sin that is punished is fratricide, not excessive sinful boasting. The evangelical lie that our culture loves most is that all sins are the same. This is a lie of damning proportions. All sins are the same in that the smallest lie to a planned genocide both separate you from a Holy God. All sins are not the same in how they affect us and those around us. I would much rather you be an arrogant jerk in the most sinful way possible than that you kill me. Murder is worse than arrogance. 

Philosophically 

It seems in John Piper’s reasoning that pride leads to murder, and the case for that can be made, but here is where I would differ from Piper philosophically. I believe that pride, fractions, arrogance are all the byproduct of murder rather than its source. In Romans 1, we see that the actions of sin that Paul addresses are the evidence of God’s judgment more than its cause. He gave them over to their own sinful desires is not an act of divine capitulation but an act of divine judgment.

In Dante’s Inferno, it is violence that leads you deeper into rings of hell the include fractions, hypocrisy and deception, all of which issue from a hardened heart created by a culture of murder that is pervasive in America today. The prohibition against murder was for the preservation of God’s image in humanity and the protection of the heart and affections of humanity. God knew that when you murder, you destroy two lives. One life is ended; the other is hardened and numbed by an act that was never supposed to be. So we then protect ourselves from exposure through arrogance and pride. What has led to our national discourse’s coarsening is not pride but the pride resulting from the hardness of a collective culture that sees murder as a right to be protected and celebrated. 

Finally, I join my brother in Christ, Dr. Piper and say this we are exiles we are aliens and that both “abortion and arrogance can be forgiven because of Christ (Ephesians 1:7). ” And I invite you to become an exile — “to a kingdom that will never be shaken, not even when America is a footnote in the archives of the new creation.”

The Impact a Bible Can Have

It has been almost two decades since my grandfather died. He was elderly, but his death was sudden. I remember getting the call and, somewhat stunned disbelief made the journey back to the family farm for his funeral. Many emotions accompanied that trip, but of all the things that stood out to me, what I remember most was his Bible. I remember wandering through his house, looking at all the things that reminded me of the summers I spent there as a child. I knew that his passing would change our family in ways I would miss. 

I remember sitting in his favorite chair, and right next to it was his Bible, whose leather cover looked much like the worn leather of old farmer hands. I picked up his Bible. Inside was his daily devotional that he had read neatly tucked into the book of the Bible that his devotional directed him to read that particular day. As I look back on almost twenty years of missing him, what I remember most was the Bible he read and the way he would fold his hands and belt out “How Great Thou Art.” 

The reality is that one day I won’t be here anymore. I will be absent in body but present with Christ. How do I want to be remembered by my grandkids? What do I want them to think of when they think of me? I hope that my life will be small, and He to whom I point will be large. A few years ago, my Grandfather’s Bible inspired me to leave my kids each a Bible of their own filled with notes and thoughts I had based on the passage I read each day. I do this for three years for each of them and will give it to them when they graduate from High School. I usually read in front of them as they eat breakfast. I want them to see me read the Bible and then one day read what I was saying to them all those years ago. I pray it will be a reminder of the supremacy of Scripture above all else. 

So far, I have partnered with several publishers, most recently working with PersonalizedBibles.com. They have a large selection of high-quality Bibles that you can add the name of your child or favorite passage of Scripture to the front. These Bibles would be great for graduations, baptisms, or the traditional first Bible. 

Personalized Bibles gave me a leather journaling Bible that I will be journaling in for my oldest daughter. The leather is beautiful, and the craftsmanship is excellent. Her name is engraved beautifully on the front. I would highly recommend you take a look at the Bibles they offer.

Christmas is coming up, and there is no greater gift you can give your kids than a Bible. Make sure you buy the right Bible for your child’s age. One mistake many parents make is buying a Bible that is too young for their child.