Come, Ye Children, A Bible Storybook for Young Children
by Gertrude Hoeksema
Reformed Free Publishing Assoc.
Reviewed by Jeff Steenholdt
“Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord” are words that establish the tone of this Bible storybook, titled after this verse from Psalm 34:11.
I had the pleasure of working directly with the author, Mrs. Gertrude Hoeksema, as I created illustrations for each of her 198 scriptural narratives in this book. A Christian elementary school teacher for many years, Mrs. Hoeksema especially enjoyed teaching the younger children at the first grade level. It would not be uncommon to see her down on the floor, communicating directly with a young student if some closer attention was needed. With this level of communication, she could easily connect with the understanding level of these younger minds and also capture their attention. It was only natural for her to apply her talents to writing a Bible storybook. The book begins with the creation account and follows through to the end of Paul’s life. The focus and central content of these stories is the fear of the Lord. Each story is scripturally sound and written from a Reformed perspective, with the covenant theme woven throughout. An illustration has been carefully created and placed properly in each story. The overall layout of the book has an open feel, with generous use of white space, so the stories won’t feel overwhelming.
To help young minds to remember the heart of the story and know it is special to them, a “Remember” has been added at the end of each chapter. This is the key to the spiritual application of the story that little ones can carry away in their hearts. Something that I always appreciated about these “Remembers” is that, even in early Old Testament accounts, the author thoughtfully applies the meaning and good news of the coming Savior. This is like a glint of light shining back into the darkness from the glow of the New Testament horizon ahead.
Come, Ye Children has been one of the top ten sellers for the Reformed Free Publishing Association ever since was first published in 1984.
To purchase this book, call 616-457-5970 or visit www.rfpa.org
Training Hearts, Teaching Minds
by Starr Mead
Phillipsburg, New Jersey, P&R Publications, 1977
Reviewed by Rev W. Oord
Starr Mead introduces her book by lamenting the fact that so few people have a true understanding of the basic teachings of the church. She proposes a solution by writing that “the purpose of this book is to provide a tool for Christian parents and churches who take seriously this task of imparting doctrinal instruction to their children.”
Indeed, if you are trying to teach your young children some of the basics of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Training Hearts, Teaching Minds is the book for you to use for devotions. Mead offers a brief meditation on each question of the catechism for an entire week (Monday through Saturday). Each day focuses upon a different phrase of each question and answer. It offers in simple language a deeper understanding of what the catechism teaches. The daily meditations are short enough to allow time for family discussion afterwards.
A brief Scripture passage is include each day to illustrate how the catechism is not a document thought up by men, but one rooted in the very Word of God. This book would also be beneficial for anyone unfamiliar with the WSC.
Morning and Evening
By Charles Spurgeon
Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2000
Reviewed by Rev W. Oord
If you have never read Charles Spurgeon (and shame on you if you haven’t), this is a wonderful way to get a taste of his writing. Charles Spurgeon was one of the greatest preachers of the nineteenth century, serving as pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, which seated over six thousand people.
Morning and Evening has two brief meditations for each day: one to begin the day, the other to finish the day. Spurgeon garners the topics for each meditation from passages throughout the Scriptures, using every book of the Bible to teach truths that fit every generation.
Hendrickson Publishers have updated the meditations, changing Thee and Thou to You and Your and using the NIV making it easier for younger readers to enjoy. This devotional book would make a great gift for young teens and elderly alike.
Day by Day With John Calvin: Selected Readings for Daily Reflection
by Mark Fackler
Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.
Reviewed by Dave Vander Meer
Day By Day is a daily devotional that gives you some of John Calvin’s insights on certain Bible texts.
Each day brings a different passage and a new writing on that text by Calvin. While these writings are short—one page in length—they are both practical and powerful. It is amazing how much Calvin could say in a short amount of space, but also amazing is the depth of what is being taught in that space. It is a wonderful combination of doctrine with life applications.
Four of the 365 titles in the devotional are: Perfectly Saved, Learning in Humility, Faith Undefeated by Fear, and Pardon in Prayer. There is a special section on the Ten Commandments. The book also includes an index of Scripture passages in the back that could be helpful when studying Scripture to get a quick explanation from Calvin’s teachings on that text.
In this devotional we are reminded of the great heritage of our faith that should not be forgotten. If you have not read much of Calvin’s works, or it has been a long time since you have read any of his writings, then this book would afford you a good place in which to get acquainted or reacquainted with Calvin. You will be encouraged in this devotional to dig deeper into the thoughts and teachings of the man who so influenced Protestant Christianity.
The Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life
by John Calvin
Reviewed by Dave Vander Meer
The Golden Booklet is one of my favorite books. My first boss gave me a copy as a gift when I was sixteen years old. I still have it twenty-five years later.
The Golden Booklet is part of John Calvin’s Institutes. It originally was written as separate book but was later added to book three of the Institutes. The focus of this book is on Christian living in a world that is hostile to Christ and the gospel message. The five chapters of the booklet center on: 1. Humble Obedience, 2. Self-Denial, 3. Patience in Crossbearing, 4. Hopefulness for the next World, and 5. Right use of the Present Life.
In an age where “easy” Christianity abounds, Calvin reminds us of the struggle true Christianity really is. Calvin causes the reader to think about what it means to be a Christian. He tells us what Christ did for us and asks how we will respond. The reader should walk away from this book soul searching his commitment to the Lord. Calvin reminds us that we are just pilgrims passing through, and gives us hope of what is to come.
I use this booklet in my 7th/8th grade classroom. I make a few comments along the way to make sure the students understand every point, but otherwise it is very readable. This booklet would be good not only for family devotions at home, but also for a personal refresher of what the Christian life should look like.
Parsons, Burk, editor
Published monthly by Ligonier Ministries
Perhaps the best devotional a person could read is not a book but a magazine. Table Talk is a monthly magazine published by Ligonier Ministries and R. C. Sproul. Each month, Table Talk challenges the reader on a particular subject while taking the reader through a specific part of Scripture. The November issue, for example, focused on Darwinism and led the reader through 2 Timothy 1; the December issue continues the study of 2 Timothy while it considers the topic “The Already and the Not Yet.”
The meditations (Monday through Friday) are followed by a challenge entitled Coram Deo (living before the face of God), in which the reader is called to live the Christian life in a very specific way. Instead of meditations on Saturday and Sunday, the magazine offers inspiring articles written by a variety of well-known Reformed thinkers.
To subscribe, call 1-800-435-4343 or visit their website at www.ligonier.org