I love the United States, but one of the things I have come to notice through spending time in other countries is we are obsessed with extra-large everything. Nothing is exempt from our obsession, from sodas to cars to the homes we live in, we are hypnotized by truth we hear seemly all around us Bigger is always better. But is it really?
A while back I wrote a blog post on why you need to make sure your kids have the right Bible. One of the key points in helping your kids love the bible is finding the right bible to transition your kids from a picture/story Bible to a full-text bible. This transition is so important as it is the time when kids typically start to read their Bibles on their own. There are several questions that you should consider in selecting a bible for your 7-10-year-old.
1. Are the illustrations age appropriate?
2. Does it have helps to help kids go deeper?
3. Is the translation readable?
I think the ICB passes each of these tests really well. In particular, the translation of the ICB is very accessible without losing or muddying the original meaning. If kids can’t read their bible because they don’t understand it they will most likely not develop the habit. They also highlight a couple hundred texts that they feel are essential for kids to know. I was given the hardback version of the bible for review but I also downloaded the Kindle version on my iPhone on my own. Many times reference bibles are difficult to navigate in the kindle app the ICB was very simple. There were highlighted words that you could touch that would bring you to more information about them yet returning back to the text was intuitive and easy definitely something to consider if you are looking for a bible on the go, the kindle option is great. If you are looking for more info check out Tommy Neilson’s blog.
If you have kids between 8-12 years old, you definitely want to check this out
The older I get the more I realize that true effectiveness isn’t measured in days and weeks but in decades and centuries. One of the men that exemplifies that is Bishop J.C. Ryle. If you have never read anything by him I encourage you to do so. His reach into our times is still felt and still needed 200 years after his death. The Bishop says it much better than I could he says “We live in an age when there is a false glare on the things of time and a great mist over the things of eternity.” Preach Bishop. 200 years to the day of his death and he is still preaching with his life and words.
Some of my favorite quotes from J.C. Ryle
“My chief desire in all my writings, is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and make Him beautiful and glorious in the eyes of people; and to promote the increase of repentance, faith, and holiness upon earth.”
― J.C. Ryle
“The love of the bible will show itself in a believer’s readiness to bear evil as well as to do good. It will make him patient under provocation, forgiving when injured, meek when unjustly attacked, quiet when slandered. It will make him hear much, put up with much and look over much, submit often and deny himself often, all for the sake of peace.”
― J.C. Ryle,
“It costs something to be a true Christian. Let that never be forgotten. To be a mere nominal Christian, and go to church, is cheap and easy work. But to hear Christ’s voice, follow Christ, believe in Christ, and confess Christ, requires much self-denial. It will cost us our sins, our self-righteousness, our ease, and our worldliness. All must be given up. We must fight an enemy who comes against us with thousands of followers. We must build a tower in troubled times. Our Lord Jesus Christ would have us thoroughly understand this. He bids us “count the cost.” – J.C. Ryle
“Happiness does not depend on outward circumstances, but on the state of the heart.”
― J.C. Ryle,
“Be very sure of this,-people never reject the Bible because they cannot understand it. They understand it only too well; they understand that it condemns their own behavior; they understand that it witnesses against their own sins, and summons them to judgment.”
― J.C. Ryle
“I entreat my readers, besides the Bible and the Articles, to read history.”
― J.C. Ryle,
“Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who as a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and broad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.”
― J.C. Ryle
“Myriads of professing Christians nowadays seem utterly unable to distinguish things that differ. Like people afflicted with colour-blindness, they are incapable of discerning what is true and what is false, what is sound and what is unsound. If a preacher of religion is only clever and eloquent and earnest, they appear to think he is all right, however strange and heterogeneous his sermons may be. They are destitute of spiritual sense, apparently, and cannot detect error. Popery or Protestantism, an atonement or no atonement, a personal Holy Ghost or no Holy Ghost, future punishment or no future punishment, ‘high church’ or ‘low church’ or ‘broad church,’ Trinitarianism, Arianism, or Unitarianism—nothing comes amiss to them; they can swallow it all, even if they cannot digest it! Carried away by a fancied liberality and charity, they seem to think everybody is right and nobody is wrong, every clergyman is sound and none are unsound, everybody is going to be saved and nobody going to be lost. Their religion is made of negatives, and the only positive thing about them is that they dislike distinctness and think all extreme and decided and positive views are very naughty and very wrong!”
― J.C. Ryle
“Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of peace.”
― J.C. Ryle
“(1.) Preach Christ crucified, and dwell chiefly on the blessings resulting from his righteousness, atonement, and intercession. (2.) Avoid all needless controversies in the pulpit; except it be when your subject necessarily requires it, or when the truths of God are likely to suffer by your silence. (3.) When you ascend the pulpit, leave your learning behind you: endeavour to preach more to the hearts of your people than to their heads. (4.) Do not affect much oratory. Seek rather to profit than to be admired.”
― J.C. Ryle
(Most quotes taken from Good Reads)
One of the greatest lies we believe is that something we own, can gain or obtain will make us happy. We confuse the gifts with the giver of the gifts. This starts early for us. We chase after many things, often good things. But we often do it in a way that can lead us from Christ rather than to Christ. Someone once said that we don’t know that Christ is all we need until Christ is all we have. The sufficiency of Christ is the understanding of the reality that all things come from Christ that he is our single pursuit in life. That every good and perfect thing come from him. That we can rejoice in times good and times bad because we have our prize already we have Jesus. That He gives us what we need when we need it not what we want when we want it. Our kids need to know this.
Our kids need to know that Christianity is the only religion that gives material things their proper place. We can enjoy them as gifts from a God who is a good father and loves us with an unending love. We don’t think things are evil, although they can be. The best way for us as parents and family ministers to convey this to our kids is to remind them over and over that Christ is enough that His sacrifice for us was enough. We have to point our kids to the sufficiency of Christ because it is the truth that will hold them when life fails them.
The Songs of Jesus (New York City: Viking, 2015)
Finding a good devotional is never easy. For me, the most consistent I have been with a devotional is Keller’s The Songs of Jesus. I find it insightful and personally challenging most days. The quick insights into the psalms and the personal prayers from Dr. Keller are both inspiring and convicting. His devotion from May 5th was helpful particularly since we are in the midst of another election cycle.
59 Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
protect me from those who rise up against me;
2 deliver me from those who work evil,
and save me from bloodthirsty men.
3 For behold, they lie in wait for my life;
fierce men stir up strife against me.
For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord,
4 for no fault of mine, they run and make ready.
Awake, come to meet me, and see!
5 You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel.
Rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Selah
6 Each evening they come back,
howling like dogs
and prowling about the city.
7 There they are, bellowing with their mouths
with swords in their lips—
for “Who,” they think,“will hear us?”
Today’s media make it easier than ever to “spew…words…sharp as swords” (verse 7). Unlike in writing letters, we dash emails and text messages off without weighing them. Unlike in face-to-face confrontation, we blurt things out without fear of seeing the hurt or anger in the other person’s face. Because of anonymity, we think no one can identify us. Words are thus more weaponized now than in David’s day. But every word – even an offhanded careless one (Matthew 12:36) – is an indicator of what is in the heart (Matthew 12:34) and will be judged by God. More often than ever we are saying, “I didn’t really mean what I said.” But you did. Watch and control words to know and shape your heart (James 3:1-12).
Lord, save me from the sins of my tongue and the flaw of character that fuel them. Make my words honest (by taking away my fear), few (by taking away my self-importance), wise (by taking away my thoughtlessness), and kind (by taking away my indifference and irritability). Amen.