Imparting a classical education at home. Check out the Edwards Academy.

Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wheels of Providence

I've been working my way through Jonathan Edwards's The End for Which God Created the World. It isn't an easy read, but brings to mind the moral of Patricia Polacco's children's book, The Bee Tree. Near the end Grampa tells Mary Ellen the lesson of their beehive hunt:
"There is such sweetness inside of that book too!" he said thoughtfully. "Such things . . . adventure, knowledge and wisdom. But these things do not come easily. You have to pursue them. Just like we ran after the bees to find their tree, so you must also chase these things through the pages of a book!"

This afternoon I tasted this bit of honey from Edwards's exploration of why God created the world:
All the wheels of providence turn for the sake of saving the people of God
That God uses the whole creation, in his government of it, for the good of his people, is most elegantly represented in Deuteronomy 33:26. "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun [Israel], who rideth upon the heaven." The whole universe is a machine or chariot which God hath made for his own use, as is represented in Ezekiel's vision. God's seat is heaven, where he sits and governs, Ezekiel 1:22, 26-28. The inferior part of the creation, this visible universe, subject to such continual changes and revolutions, alterations, and successive events, is represented by the motion of the wheels of the chariot, by the Spirit of him who sits on his throne on the heavens or above the firmament. Moses tells us for whose sake it is that God moves the wheels of this chariot or rides in it, sitting in his heavenly seat, and to what end he is making his progress or goes his appointed journey in it, viz. the salvation of his people.

Here are the relevant passages in ESV:
Deuteronomy 33:26
"There is none like God, O Jeshurun,
who rides through the heavens to your help,
through the skies in his majesty.

Ezekiel 1:15-21
15 Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. 16 As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. And the four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. 17 When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. 18And their rims were tall and awesome, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. 19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. 20 Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 22Over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of an expanse, shining like awe-inspiring crystal, spread out above their heads.

26And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. 27And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. 28Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.

Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

*Quoted from God's Passion for His Glory, John Piper, (Crossway, 1998), which includes the complete text of Jonathan Edwards's The End for Which God Created the World. P. 225-226. This book can be read for free by downloading the pdf file from the Desiring God website.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Weekend Reading Tips

Atheist Christopher Hitchens spent plenty of time with Pastor Douglas Wilson in the filming of their movie Collision, which documented a series of debates the two men held at several universities. Their debates examined the question, "Is Christianity good for the world?" It seems that Mr. Hitchens, who remains an atheist, understands very well, perhaps from debating Wilson, the claims of Jesus and the implications of those claims that cannot be ignored. That is, Christ must be either dismissed as a fraud or worshipped as God, but one cannot accept middle ground with intellectual integrity.

Interviewed recently by Marilyn Sewell, a self-described "liberal Christian," Hitchens explained quite clearly the crux of the matter:
[Sewell] The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make any distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

[Hitchens] I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.

[Sewell] Let me go someplace else. . . [She goes on to discuss the theology of Paul Tillich and ask for Hitchens's reaction, which he gives and then concludes with--]

[Hitchens] If all Christians were like you I wouldn’t have to write the book.

[Sewell] Well, probably not, because I agree with almost everything that you say. But I still consider myself a Christian and a person of faith.

[Hitchens] Do you mind if I ask you a question? Faith in what? Faith in the resurrection?

The full interview is found in the Portland Monthly Magazine. It is worth reading in its entirety.
***

How well do you know your theology? Albert Mohler is discouraged about evangelicals' grasp of the basic truths of Christianity (it seems Hitchens may have a better understanding of the Bible's teaching than many believers). Be sure to read Mohler's latest post about the popularity of The Shack, a novel fraught with bad theology, and what this tells us about evangelical discernment.

***

Have you already seen this article from The Weekly Standard? "Mugged by Ultrasound" shows how many abortion workers have turned pro-life.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Academy Update: Grammar, History, Writing

Hope and Sydney made this poster illustrating the parts of a friendly letter. They had fun writing an imaginary letter to Skye, a character in The Penderwicks. This was a Shurley English level 4 assignment.



For our Tapestry of Grace history and Bible studies, Lane, Hope, and Sydney worked together to fill out this chart of Israel's and Judah's kings. The orange strips have the names of prophets in their approximate time of ministry. I marked out the skeleton of this chart with the dates and the kids filled in the names.



Hope is shown here reading a draft of her newspaper article. All three school kids are working on a nine-week newspaper writing project (we use TOG's writing program). Notice Hope's pretty new glasses!



Remember our Truth Treasure Hunters group? Because of my early-pregnancy woes, we didn't do much at all with our TTH friends last semester, but this semester we are working on a Greek play for our Unit 3 celebration. We'll be presenting Euripedes's The Trojan Women, adapted for our group of seven kids.

Greek Mythology Fun

My kids loved reading about the Trojan War and Greek mythology last semester, so when Lane spotted Mount Olympus Basketball at the library yesterday, he was very excited. This children's book, with cartoony illustrations, claims on the inside front flap: "Kevin O'Malley's Mount Olympus Basketball makes learning about Greek myths more exciting than March Madness." Actually, this book is not useful at all for learning about Greek mythology. That would just be confusing. Unless you already know the legends and myths that surround the Greek gods and mortals, all the punch lines will be lost on you. But for Lane, every joke in this book about a basketball game between the gods and mortals hit home.

Playing for the "Gods,"
Goddess of war.
A behemoth of the battle field.
Straight from Zeus's head.
It's. . . ATHENA!
And for the "Mortals,"
He's clever.
He's crafty.
He's just AAAA-MAZING!
It's . . . THESEUS!
And in the play-by-play of the game the announcer says,
The Gods [team] are just taking the game away from the Mortals.
Zeus pulls Hades out and brings in the mighty Atlas.
He's just standing there holding the ball. It looks like the Gods are going to let the clock run down to halftime.
***

In our Tapestry of Grace Year One studies, we are now learning about the Babylonian Empire, Jerusalem's fall, the Babylonian captivity, the prophet Daniel, and the city of Babylon (Ishtar Gate, Hanging Gardens, etc.). We studied early Greek history last semester and covered the Trojan War and Greek mythology during that study. We are about to re-visit the Greeks, this time later in history as we cover the Greek and Persian war, Greek theater, science, and philosophy achievements.

(Book cover image from Amazon.com)

Descriptive Writing

"The suburb of Saffron Park lay on the sunset side of London, as red and ragged as a cloud of sunset."

So begins G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday. This book, first published in 1908, is one of Chesterton's fiction mysteries and my first encounter with Chesterton's fiction. You may remember my attempt to blog about Chesterton's Orthodoxy, an effort that began with a bang and ended with...no real explanation! I think I made it half-way through. Orthodoxy is a book that you should read, that is certain.

I love the opening sentence and want to keep it in mind when teaching descriptive writing. ("Sunset side" is so much more interesting than simply saying "west.")

Monday, January 25, 2010

Now That He's Four...

Toby broke the 8th commandment today at the grocery. As we walked away from the checkout I noticed him holding his coat tightly shut and trailing along behind us. "What's going on?" I asked. He hugged his coat tighter. Prying open his arms I found him hiding two multi-packs of gum inside.

I tried to have him apologize to the clerk and hand over the gum, but he was too humiliated and crying too hard to say anything. I had to carry him over to the clerk and thrust his hand (gripping the gum) over to the clerk. He screamed and twisted, not wanting to face her. We caused a big scene. After returning the gum we walked over to the side for a little talk about stealing, then walked out. Toby was completely mortified, hanging his head, crying as we went out to the car.

A very nice gentleman smiled at me near the door and said, "You handled that very well." His words were so encouraging at that moment!

Tobias is Four!


We've had a marvelous, full weekend.

Toby turned four.

Mr. Edwards and I took an overnight trip to the Kansas City area and saw some dear friends, the Buller family. For Mr. Edwards and me, it was a nice time to get away together. We loved our time on the road, reading Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) notes and passages together, visiting in a quiet car without kids, and driving around a different city. The Bullers were wonderful hosts, even though our evening was somewhat consumed with trouble-shooting a problem with our Suburban's tail lights, which inexplicably went out on the journey there. (Mr. Edwards solved the problem and God was so good to us--it turned out to be an easy fix!) On Saturday, Pam B. took me to the Christian bookstore I've heard so much about (Mardel) and I splurged and bought some books: Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer, Basic Christianity by John Stott, and Selected Sermons by Charles Spurgeon.

We hurried back to Wichita on Saturday afternoon to pick up our kids and get ready for Toby's birthday party the next day. We were expecting both sets of grandparents, Aunt Leida and Uncle Doug, and Aunt Jen and the cousins. That would be nine adults and seven kids. I made two birthday cakes and browned five pounds of meat for Sunday's chili lunch while the rest of the family did housework. Sunday morning, before church, we got up and made the big batch of chili (ten cans of tomatoes, ten cans of beans) and two pans of cornbread.

I'm probably not the best hostess, but I sure love it when my house is full of family and friends! We spent the afternoon eating chili and birthday cake, and watching our four-year-old open gifts. We relaxed together, my mother-in-law, aunt, and I talking about baby names, while some of the men watched football. Just as our last birthday-party guests left at 5:30 or so, the Byall family came over for our weekly Sunday evening gathering. We re-heated the leftover chili and this time served nine kids and five adults. Over cake and coffee, some of us played "Settlers of Catan" on a card table in the living room, keeping a close eye on the football game.

We were up (too) late for a school night, but what a wonderful Sabbath day with family and friends! (I think we ran the dishwasher four or five times!)

Do I have pictures of all of us eating together, ten around the table upstairs, six downstairs? No. Do I have pictures of the stacks of dirty dishes that resulted from great food and fellowship? No. Other than the birthday cake and the birthday gifts, we mostly forgot about the camera. Memories will have to suffice and I'm hoping they never fade!

* * *

I'm reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book I began on Friday. Glancing it over before reading, I didn't expect to enjoy it. The format of the book (a collection of letters from various characters) struck me as distracting. It appeared to be an easy read without much substance. It was with a sense of obligation that I read the first half of the book. I had checked it out from the library, so I would read it and gratefully check it off my reading list. However, I was surprised to find that halfway through the book it took a very touching turn. I'm nearly finished with it and now feel glad to have read it.

It is probably the influence of reading Guernsey Literary... that has me in a mood for a diary-dump blog post, similar to a letter! Sorry about that. I hope my readers had a marvelous weekend and saw, as we did, the hand of God working in their lives!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lane's Museum

Lane opened a museum in his room yesterday. It is called the "Museum of Nashanal: Pearl and Steering Room." He has not had -tion words on his spelling lists yet, as you can imagine. I can't account for the "Pearl and Steering Room," except to say that he had a great time drawing a compass underneath the sign.

I get a kick out of this "exhibit," above. Notice the "meedorse" (meteors) in several sizes, "little," "porshall" (partial), "meedeme" (medium), and "big."

He has outfitted his museum with an army exhibit, a car exhibit, a rock exhibit, an airplane exhibit, and (since it was already done for school) a Trojan war display. His sisters contributed their Civil War newspaper (a school project from two years ago that is well-remembered!).



Monday, January 18, 2010

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., I suggest you take a moment and watch his historic speech, or at least read the text. You can do both here.

Last year around this time, I posted a fascinating excerpt from King's "Pilgrimage to Nonviolence" article about the depravity of man and how King's understanding of this truth shaped his views about theological liberalism.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Anticipation

I am really getting excited about our new baby coming. The first year is so precious for me...

Toby in the sling.


Mr. Edwards and Toby, smiling at each other in the mirror.

Lane was a pre-digital camera baby and since our scanner is broken I have to settle for this Easter photo that I had already scanned.

When Sydney and Hope were six months old we went to Florida and visited my parents, who lived there at the time.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Children Desiring God

I've offered a critique of KIDMO (see below). What curriculum do I feel gets it right? Children Desiring God. For the best understanding of this curriculum, I must direct you to their philosophy and distinctives page. Be sure to also see their affirmation of faith and their mission and vision statements.

In contrast to a curriculum like KIDMO, which lacks a comprehensive scope and sequence, Children Desiring God's curriculum provides an intentional plan for your church to teach children from birth to seventh grade. It builds layer-upon-layer, precept-upon-precept. It is grounded in strong theology. Check out the scope and sequence for K-sixth grade here. They explain their scope and sequence as follows:
Man is not the key player in history; God is the engineer of all life, and His purposes are fulfilled throughout history. These 40-week studies purposefully present God as the main character in each lesson, rather than dwelling on man and man’s needs. Therefore, each lesson focuses on the magnificent character of the One who can satisfy all our longings. Showing children the greatness of God gives them a basis to respond to Him. This material presents a great God who is worthy to be admired and imitated.
For a fuller analysis of different methods of teaching children spiritual truths, see my "Faith of a Child, a book review" post, which reviews the book Perspectives on Children's Spiritual Formation. My KIDMO critique is here.

Please note: I am not a paid endorser for Children Desiring God. While I am privileged to teach CDG's third grade "In the Beginning...Jesus" curriculum at my local church, I do not benefit from recommending them.

KIDMO Critique

Recently I've been asked about my objections to KIDMO, a church children's curriculum that I've criticized before in my book review of Perspectives on Children's Spiritual Formation. KIDMO is a media-driven, DVD-based children's curriculum that offers churches a complete-in-the-box curriculum centered on DVD instruction with high-energy media (songs, video, competitive quizzing). The program also includes lesson plans for a small-group time that follows the large-group instruction time.

More details about KIDMO can be found on their website here. What follows are some of my objections to their company philosophy statement, mission statement and scope and sequence.

Regarding the Philosophy Statement
From the Kidmo_Philosophy.pdf (see KIDMO's download page):
"KIDMO initiates personal, social and cultural transformation by connecting kids with a biblical worldview. In order for transformation to be realized, kids must be needed, valued and engaged in mentoring relationships. What's more, their church experience must be relevant to their daily lives. Kids have energy, availability and enthusiasm to accomplish great things. By teaching kids to develop a biblical worldview, we can impact their everyday choices and actions. We can ignite an awakening that will impact generations to come."

"We believe kids are world changers and their spiritual foundation is set before the age of 12. By fostering a biblical worldview within them, we are initiating global transformation for years to come."
The aim of KIDMO's stated philosophy is to develop a "biblical worldview." What is a biblical worldview, anyway? It is perceiving how Scripture influences how you should interpret what is happening in the world around you. Scriptural principles help us to recognize truth and falsehoods in everything we hear. This seems a worthy goal. Why shouldn't this be a philosophy worth embracing?

1. It ignores the Gospel. The philosophy states that "in order for transformation to realized, kids must be needed, valued and engaged in mentoring relationships," but this is a false statement. Where does transformation come from? From Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches us that the gospel is this: "Christ died for our sins..." (I Corinthians 15:3) and it is this Gospel that is of "first importance" (I Cor. 15:3). It is "the Gospel...by which you are being saved" (I Cor. 15:2). The Gospel message is not that we are needed and valued as individuals! It is that we are sinners in desperate need of a Savior who can reconcile us to God. In preparing their hearts for receiving the Gospel we need to introduce children to the One Holy God and let them see, like Isaiah (in Isaiah 6) that they are unholy and unpleasing to God. Authors Sally Michael, Jill Nelson, and Bud Burk put it this way: "We need to impress children over and over again with the holiness of God and the perfect obedience that God demands, and confront children with their inability to meet the law's demands--they need to see that their state is hopeless." (Michael, Nelson, and Burk, Helping Children to Understand the Gospel, Children Desiring God, 2009)

2. It ignores the Holy Spirit's role in revealing truth. The KIDMO philosophy aims to equip children with the tools of a biblical worldview and turn them out as transformed children able to make good choices and change the world. Is this what Jesus teaches about understanding the Kingdom of God? He tells us that "Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God" (John 8:4). And about the Holy Spirit Jesus says, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (John 17:8-9, 13-14).

3. It ignores the fact that a biblical worldview cannot be imparted to someone who is not already a believer in Christ. KIDMO mistakenly asserts that connecting kids to a biblical worldview will accomplish "personal, social, and cultural transformation." This is contrary to what the Bible teaches, but is especially misleading because having a biblical worldview, and learning to think biblically, is a very important goal. It cannot, however, be accomplished apart from the Holy Spirit's power. As I said in point 2, Jesus is very clear that the things of the Kingdom cannot be understood by non-believers. Paul writes, "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe" (I Cor. 1:21). "He [God] is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (I Cor 1:30).

4. It is centered on kids, a concept that (ironically) is not consistent with a biblical worldview. The philosophy statement reveals that KIDMO is centered on kids, not on God. An effective, Biblical children's curriculum should direct the eyes, hearts, and minds of children to God. It should be centered on what God has accomplished through His plan of redemption. When KIDMO says, "Kids have energy, availability, and enthusiasm to accomplish great things," it suggests that KIDMO fails to see that nothing great or good can be accomplished apart from God. KIDMO, in selling their product, is bent on convincing the potential buyer that they value children, but it would be better to demonstrate a passion for God's glory and an understanding that children desperately need Jesus.

5. It assumes that knowledge alone can "impact everyday choices and actions." What is the goal of KIDMO's teaching? That children would make good choices and change the world. What is the proper goal of spiritual teaching? That children would know God.*

KIDMO aims to teach children to make proper (good) moral choices. At its core, this aim promises to affect change on the behavior of children. While godly parenting must discipline and correct behavior, the aim of spiritual training in a church setting should not be to simply teach morality. The Bible is not a moral textbook. It presents the standard of God's morality to convict us of our sin that we might turn to Christ. The Bible teaches that we cannot be moral creatures (Rom 3:23) apart from the righteousness of God given to us--credited to us--through faith in Christ's work on the cross. Instead, morality should be taught to children in this context: the unsaved child must see God's standard and their own inability to meet it so that they see their need for Christ and come to repentance. It is important that children learn God's commands to prepare their hearts for salvation. The saved child must see that in the power of the Holy Spirit he can begin to be sanctified and become more like Jesus. We don't just want well behaved children who make good choices, we want saved children who are becoming like Jesus.

6. It assumes that church is not relevant to a child's daily life unless media-driven, energetic methods are employed. KIDMO gets this wrong. The assumption of KIDMO that previous methods of "doing" church or Sunday School are irrelevant to modern children is intimidating, but ultimately false. In fact, the philosophy document goes on to say, "Inevitably, classrooms are filled with well-intentioned volunteers that struggle to breathe life into even the most trusted curriculum resources." And, "Kids are so entrenched in today's technological culture, they instantly identify with video communication." This is a myth and lacks confidence in the power of God's Word. The Bible teaches us that there is nothing new under the sun. The problems that today's children face are not too great for the Gospel. When kids are struggling to make sense of the godless teaching they hear in public school five days a week, watching a high-energy video that claims to give a Biblical worldview is bringing a wet noodle to a sword fight. Kids have big troubles--parents who fight, fathers who are missing, bullies who hurt, television that desensitizes them to sin, and a culture that pretends God doesn't exist. They need adult believers who are willing to study their Scriptures, prepare a lesson, listen to questions, and demonstrate by example the power of the Gospel. Eye-catching programming is available at every turn. Where can kids find real answers to their suffering?

*KIDMO's K5 Call to Action does list "Know God" as the "K" in KIDMO. The other letters include "Integrate a Biblical Worldview," "Discover Truth," "Make Christ Known," and "Offer Themselves in Service." This call to action sounds much better than the philosophy and mission of the company as stated on their website. It is difficult to discern from their scope and sequence if the K5 Call to Action is carried out in the lessons.

The KIDMO document "Our Mission" includes the following statement of belief:
What We Believe
We Believe Kids are World Changers!
We believe Jesus, God's only Son, is the ultimate world changer bringing forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a purpose for living to all who believe and trust in Him.
We believe the Bible is the true and inspired word of God.
We believe kids have an amazing ability to understand Biblical truth and apply it to their lives.
We believe God uses kids to reach their sphere of influence."
The same document includes a "Koncept KIDMO":
"KIDMO is not about information, but transformation.
Not just biblical stories, but a biblical worldview.
We strive to teach God's truth in ways that impact a child's choices and actions. Creativity and imagination are precious resources for penetrating their language and culture. Kids must be needed, valued, and connected. Their church experience must be relevant to their daily lives. Kids have time, availability, and enthusiasm to accomplish great things for His Kingdom. A kid's day-to-day existence is not side tracked by many of the complications that distract their adult counterparts. By teaching them to develop a biblical worldview, we can ignite an awakening that will impact generations to come. For the same reason that Jesus gave his attention to kids, we believe kids grow best when nurtured by loving mentors and teachers."

The KIDMO statement of belief includes five points, three of which have to do with their beliefs about children, two are about God. In their second point (second!) they confess that Jesus is the ultimate world changer, and list some tenets of Christian belief. (Notice that kids are capital-W, capital-C World Changers, but Jesus is the lower-case "ultimate world changer.")Later in the document under "The Local Church" they explain their recognition of the diversity of churches and doctrinal beliefs. Naturally, KIDMO is a company that must reach as many customers as possible and holding firm to a specific theology limits their customer base. It surprises me somewhat they they are unwilling to even embrace the central tenets of evangelical Christianity, but in spite of their belief that "kids have an amazing ability to understand Biblical truth," their own documentation seems to obscure what exactly that truth is. I also object to the weight given to emphasizing their belief about kids, taking up three of five belief statements points. Where are the traditional declarations of doctrine that church elders and staff need to evaluate the theology of a curriculum? KIDMO does not list basic Christian doctrines of the depravity of man, the Trinity, the virgin birth, and the doctrine of salvation. We are left to wonder what they teach about baptism, the Holy Spirit, salvation by grace, repentance, and other critical doctrinal issues.

KIDMO says, "Not just biblical stories, but a biblical worldview." Do they not see that biblical stories are never "just" stories, but are given to us so that we can understand better God's redemption? Every "story" in Scripture points to Christ. I'm guessing KIDMO is reacting to the idea that kids have been taught empty Bible stories that lack impact, and they hope to be deeper and more transformative than your past experience. I want a children's curriculum that does not apologize for Bible stories but unwraps the message of Christ that is proclaimed in each one.

As an aside, I find the statement "A kid's day-to-day existence is not side tracked by many of the complications that distract their adult counterparts," odd. This is contrary to my experience. Kids are bombarded daily with false-teaching from friends, neighbors, school teachers, and television, side-tracking them from the truth of Christ. They lead complicated lives, many in broken families. They need a Good Shepherd, not an entertainment program.

The Scope and Sequence
The KIDMO scope and sequence (accessed 1/11/10) as found on the company's download page shows 32 thematic lessons, with five episodes each. Four more seasonally-themed lessons (Christmas and Easter) are offered with few episodes. It is not clear to me if the company intends for these to be given in a particular order or not. It is difficult to judge what the lessons might contain (although one sample lesson plan is available).

What do I recommend? Children Desiring God. I've explained why in this post entitled "Children Desiring God."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thinking in the New Year


"...the strong timber of the tree of evangelicalism has historically been the great doctrines of the Bible--God's glorious perfections, man's fallen nature, the wonders of redemptive history, the magnificent work of redemption in Christ, the saving and sanctifying work of grace in the soul, the great mission of the church in conflict with the world and the flesh and the devil, and the greatness of our hope of everlasting joy at God's right hand. These things once defined us and were the strong fiber and timber beneath the fragile leaves and fruit of our religious experiences. But this is the case less and less. And that is why the waving leaves of success and the sweet fruit of prosperity are not as auspicious to David Wells* and Os Guinness* as they are to many. It is a hollow triumph, and the tree is getting weaker and weaker while the branches are waving in the sun." (John Piper, God's Passion for His Glory, 1998, p. 78)

"In one generation the evangelical movement has experienced a sea of change: It has moved from being, in large part, confessionally defined to being a fraternity of institutions to being virtually a coalition of causes to being a movement in plain disarray. Worst of all, there is neither an agreed defining character of 'evangelical' around which reformation and regrouping can occur nor any evident leadership willing or able to assert it...The truth is, for those who think, the present state of American evangelicalism is appalling. As a spiritually and theologically defined community of faith, evangelicalism is weak or next to nonexistent; as a subculture, it is stronger but often embarrassing and downright offensive" (Os Guinness, Fit Bodies Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don't Think and What to Do About It, 1994, p. 15; as quoted by John Piper in God's Passion for His Glory, p. 78)

"Don't bemoan the condition of evangelicalism because it is hollow and therefore weakening--as if the real goal is lasting prominence rather than temporary prominence. Instead, bemoan the condition of evangelicalism because it contradicts the truth of God and belittles His worth." (John Piper, God's Passion for His Glory, p. 78-79)
*Wells is the author of Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision, 1998. Guinness of Fit Bodies Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don't Think and What to Do About It

These quotations date from 1994 and 1998, and one hopes that over a decade later the situation has improved. I see signs of it nationally as well as locally and I think that the advent of podcasting, theological blogs, and maybe even social networking have helped both lay people and pastors to be challenged to love doctrine and stand on the foundation of Scripture as they have had access to preaching and teaching from some of our age's most faithful pastors and teachers. What do you think?

I'm reading God's Passion for His Glory as a part of my recent efforts to read Jonathan Edwards's writings. I stumbled through Edwards's Freedom of the Will as best as possible on my own. In preparation for reading The End For Which God Created the World, a book of Edwards's that is included in full in Piper's God's Passion..., I am reading God's Passion for His Glory. This book is meant to assist modern evangelical's in tackling Edwards's book, which is a difficult read but worth the effort.

Image of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) from Wikipedia, public domain.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Morning Mercies

I stumbled into my closet this morning and scowled. The weather forecast for the day was bitter and my attitude was nearly as cold. "I miss my clothes!" I grumbled, maybe even out loud.

My maternity clothes hung there, looking nice but not very warm. My warm sweatshirts and sweaters were folded neatly in the drawer, now too small for me. Even my bulky college sweatshirt clings in an unsightly way.

I glanced over to my husband's side of the closet. His sweatshirts were in the laundry waiting to be washed. Wallowing in self-pity about the weather and my belly that looks like it is seven months pregnant when it really is just five months pregnant, I put on some mismatched layers. "At least I don't have anywhere to go today." I gathered up the laundry and started a load before sitting down for my morning devotions.

After a look at the Bible reading plan, I turned to Matthew 6.
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"

My own bad attitude stung. To think of my grousing about clothing as I stood in a closet full of clothes that I just didn't like all that well.

With the words of Psalm 6, I began to pray,
"O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger...Be gracious to me..."


God lifted me from my pettiness and filled me with JOY, melting my cold heart with the fire of repentance and forgiveness. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for new mercies, for daily bread, for living water, and grace.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christmas and New Year's Day Gallery

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)

Notice the light-saber hanging from Toby's mismatched pajama pants as he dutifully holds up his rodeo videos for the camera. Toby and Lane both found light-sabers in their stockings.

Sydney and Hope pose in their new jammies on Christmas morning.


Lane unwraps a gift from us and is thrilled with what he finds.

Our special Christmas breakfast of sausage-egg casserole and cinnamon rolls.


On the day after Christmas, I played Settlers of Catan with Hope, Sydney, and Lane. Toby woke up sick on the 26th, but was better by the next day.

On New Year's Day, we had a board game party with my sister and her kids, Howard's parents, and my friend A. and her kids. (My sister's husband and my friend A.'s husband are both soldiers deployed right now.) Sydney, on the left, and Hope, on the right, make chocolate chip cookies with their cousin Haley.


My sister plays a game with Haley.

Haley and Hope play Set.

My sister teaches Haley, Hope, and our friend Josiah to play Trash, a fun and easy card game.


Lane, on the right, plays Set with his cousin Nathan (center) and his friend Jotham.

I play Uno with Toby. He matched a few colors and numbers before losing interest.


Mr. Edwards, Toby, and Mr. Edwards. My father-in-law, son, and husband watch the Sugar Bowl.

We all had so much fun on New Year's Day. After our last guests left at nearly ten o'clock we sent our four to bed tired and happy. As I cleared up the kitchen and Howard watched the rest of the football game, I received a Skype call from my dear friend Sharon. I had so much fun talking with her, hearing her voice, and seeing her in action.

Happy New Year!
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