Answering Theological Questions for Children

February 14, 2011

A new book review from my wife Tracy.

God Gave Us So Much (Waterbrook Press, 2010).

This delightful treasury includes three books in one collection. Here, Mama, Papa, Little Cub, and the Twins explore God’s world, love, and heaven. Complex subjects are handled in a format even the youngest child can understand.

In God Gave Us the World, Little Cub and her family visit a museum that features an exhibit on bears around the world. Little Cub learns that while her family lives in the North Pole where it is cold and snowy, other bears live in other climates all over the world. While exploring black bears, panda bears, sloth bears, and grizzly bears, Little Cub and Mama discuss how each species is different. Little Cub learns that other bears eat things and live in places that are completely different from her way of life. Even so, they are all bears and all were made by God. Every bear has a special home and the variety of bears reflects God’s creativity. From the concept of a big, creative, sovereign God, the author helps children understand that the world reflects God’s glory and we are put here to worship and serve him in the special home he gave us. In addition, we are to take care of God’s special world. Little Cub falls asleep at the end of the day happy to be a bear and glad that God has given her a special place in his world.

This story will help children understand their place in the world and why God made the world. It also helps them gain an appreciation for the diversity of God’s creation and their responsibility to take care of it, while avoiding being politically correct. After all, proper stewardship of the earth comes from a proper understanding of the God who made this special planet.

In God Gave us Love, Little Cub is frustrated because the otters are ruining her fishing day by scaring away the fish. Grampa helps her understand that God wants us to show his love to everyone. Little Cub understands that God made us to love others, but she realizes there are different kinds of love such as the love between her parents and love between friends and family and love for God. Little Cub also realizes that while she loves her twin brother and sister, sometimes she thinks they are as pesky as the otters. Grandpa explains that we don’t always feel like loving others, but choosing to love them is the right thing to do. The story then turns to God’s love for us as Little Cub wrestles with questions such as can I do anything that will make God not love me, and how do I know God loves me?

This reassuring book will help young children understand that they are responsible to show love to others even when they don’t feel like it. They will also learn that they can never do anything that will separate them from God’s love. In the end, no one loves us as much as God loves us.

In God Gave Us Heaven, Little Cub learns that heaven is God’s home. She learns that older people die and go to heaven, but sometimes younger people die too. Even though bad things happen here on earth, nothing bad ever happens in heaven. Even though Little Cub is having a good time on her fishing trip with Papa, she learns that heaven will be even better than her best times on earth. She will not need her stuff in heaven, besides, Papa reminds her that our best stuff on earth are family, friends, and faith. Little Cub wonders if she will see her family in heaven. Papa tells her that all our loved ones will be there. When Little Cub asks how to get to heaven, Papa explains that God’s Son, Jesus, came to be our bridge and provide us way to heaven.

This book helps answer many of a child’s most commonly asked questions about heaven. It would be especially comforting for a child who has lost a loved one, or who is asking questions about dying and what comes after death. If there is a weakness in the book’s explanation, it may be that the author does not state clearly that only God’s children go to heaven. This may be a point parents would want to clarify with their child depending on their child’s level of understanding.

All three of these books offer clear, comforting answers to a child’s questions. The subjects are treated seriously, yet in an age-appropriate way. The beautiful illustrations are a pleasure to look at, and the ending page of each book sums up the message of the story beautifully making a child feel safe and secure in her world.

This book was provided free of charge to me by Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of review.

Crossway Give-away Reviews – 6 Months In

September 27, 2010

I’ve given away a number of Crossway books so far here on the blog. I want to post some brief thoughts on the books given away during the first six months.

January – Adrian Warnock, Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything

I reviewed this book more in depth here but I just wanted to share some key thoughts. The resurrection does change everything. We tend to focus a lot more on the crucifixion and all that happened there and tend not to think through all the implications for the Christian life in the resurrection. Adrian Warnock helpfully plumbs the Scriptures and its teaching on the resurrection and all that it means for the life of the Christian. For the Christian, it should mean great joy. Go ahead, meditate on the resurrection for awhile. You’ll be glad you did! It is the basis upon which you have new life in Christ!

February – D. A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus

This helpful little book from a master scholar-theologian with a pastor’s heart is just what the church needs today. So many of our issues that we focus upon are secondary if not tertiary in nature. All too often we forget to focus on the primary things. And nothing is more primary than the death and resurrection of Jesus. Our whole faith resides in it. And the real scandalous nature of it all is so profound that what it means for the life of the believer is just as profound. God became man to die for you and rose again to give you new life. Is there any better news than that?

March – Mark Driscoll and Gary Breshears, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe

You’ve got to give the big guy from Seattle some credit. He gets people to read books on important subjects that would never have read them on their own. The unlikely combination of Driscoll and Breshears though helpfully guides people into reading and understanding theology. Theology was never meant to be solely the realm of scholars but of the people in the pew as well. Driscoll’s popular style buttressed by Breshears’ acumen are a helpful combination. Driscoll sometimes paints things a little too “vividly” should we say, but overall, it is a helpful volume.

April – Paul David Tripp, What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage

The one reality is, marriage isn’t easy. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Paul Tripp though does an excellent job of presenting the potential issues and redemptive solutions for marriage. Anything by Tripp and his fellow CCEF fellows should be ready by all, especially those in the ministry. The key help in this volume is that Tripp acknowledges from the outset that marriages that do not completely rest on Christ are doomed to fail. Two sinners joined together are bound to create problems! The solutions for a transformed marriage as resting in the redemptive work of Christ is refreshing.

May – Tullian Tchividjian, Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels

Taking the book of Jonah as the basis for this work (the substance of preaching through Jonah), Tchividian does a masterful job of showing the great grace that is available through Jesus Christ for the rebellious. All of us, like Jonah, rebel and run from the master. Grace is available to us and to others from Him who is always gracious. Be challenged and encouraged through this good word!

June – Grant Horner, Meaning at the Movies: Becoming a Discerning Reviewer

Come on admit it. You watch movies like the rest of us. The problem is, most of us watch them without a thought in our heads. Or we expect someone else to spoon feed us what we should see or what we shouldn’t see. The biggest problem with our churches today is people don’t know how to discern and frankly, pastors are helping the problem by not teaching them! Instead of a list of dos and don’ts, lets actually learn how to discern right from wrong. Horner does that with movies. Not satisfied in glib “yes or no’s” he teaches us the principles of discernment so we will have the tools to know what to put before our eyes, and what not to!