Wednesday, 11 October 2017 16:17

Books to Read

Written by  Tim Challies
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Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids  by David Murray

A key component of every parent’s task is helping our children form good habits. A key component of every Christian parent’s task is helping our children form the good habit of personal devotions.


Many years ago my friend David Murray began releasing devotional guides for children. These were no fancier than plain Microsoft Word documents meant to be printed at home. For each day of the week there was a small passage to read, a brief question to answer, and, eventually, an area to jot down a couple of prayer requests. I immediately saw the promise in these guides, printed them off, popped them into binders, and gave them to my children. They were just perfect for ages 6-12 until they were ready to move on to more advanced resources.


Those rough devotional guides have now given way to Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. Published by Crossway and illustrated by Scotty Reifsnyder, it maintains the flavor of the original guides, but has been improved exponentially. It now takes the shape of a guide to exploring the big story of the Bible. Murray says it “will act as your leader, map, and compass to the Bible. It won’t take you to every part of the Bible, but it will take you to the main peaks and give you an all-round view of its beautiful landscape. At times we’ll slow down and look at some parts more closely. Other times, we’ll speed up in order to get to the next major mountain peak in the Bible’s story. By the end of a year, you’ll have learned skills to help you explore the Bible on your own with safety and success.”


Each week is set up like a little expedition into a new part of the Bible. There are prayer points for each day, a memory verse to serve as a kind of snapshot of the expedition, and a daily log to write out a verse or answer a question.


David asked if I would provide an endorsement for the back of the book, and here is what I wrote: “There is so much I could say to commend Exploring the Bible, but any praise would pale in comparison to this, the ultimate parental endorsement: I gave all three of my children Exploring the Bible as their very first experience of personal devotions. All three used it, all three enjoyed it, and all three benefited tremendously from using it. I wholeheartedly recommend it for your children, too.”



 Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage by Jim Newheiser


While we are well-served with books on marriage, we are not nearly so well-served with books on divorce and remarriage. And while we may wish we had no need for such works, the sad fact is they are necessary.


New to the market is Jim Newheiser’s Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Critical Questions and Answers. This book adopts a Q&A format to answer a host of important questions spanning dating and engagement to separation, divorce, and remarriage. It is all built upon the premise that God “has revealed in his infallible, timeless, and all-sufficient Word the nature of marriage, the obligations of marriage, who may be married, and when divorce and remarriage are permissible.”


Of course, there is little controversy among orthodox Christians about marriage. We all agree it is an institution designed by God for the benefit of humanity. We agree that it is defined something like this: “A lifelong covenant of companionship between a man and a woman that has been established under God and before the community.” Where there is much less unanimity is in the area of divorce and remarriage. While what Newheiser says about dating, courtship, and marriage are helpful, what he says about divorce and remarriage make his book a uniquely helpful and important contribution.


Among Christians there are essentially two positions on divorce and remarriage. The majority view is that the Bible allows for divorce and remarriage under a limited set of circumstances; the minority or permanence view insists that a Christian may never initiate divorce and may never remarry so long as their spouse is alive.


Newheiser takes and defends the majority view, but he first insists that divorce is never desirable and, at least among Christians, never inevitable. While he insists that divorce is always unfortunate and contrary to God’s design for marriage, he also insists the Bible allows for it in cases of adultery or abandonment. By my assessment he defends the position well through his careful interaction with the relevant biblical texts.


As I read this book, I was especially struck by the centrality of the local church in God’s plan for the world, for it plays a key role in both the forming and the dissolving of marriages. I can’t help but wonder how much the prevalence of divorce among professed Christians simply proves that the church has abdicated some of her key responsibilities.


Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage is a strong book and one that will prove valuable to pastors, counselors, and church members.





Last modified on Friday, 13 October 2017 08:37
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