Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Big Truths for Young Hearts

It isn’t easy to teach young children about the depth and scope of Christian faith.  Too often they fall in love with the stories and blindly play follow the leader with their parent’s faith.  They understand only enough to be dangerous, or easily fooled.  Then adulthood arrives and questions surface.  Finding understanding of their own can be very challenging.  I believe that’s why there is a notable lack of young adult’s from our congregations,leaving a gaping hole in our churches.  If true, biblical, understanding could be achieved and experienced first hand in childhood I think our churches would be fuller and more dynamic.  Our world could be better evangelized if we took the time to equip our children with knowledge when they are young.
Big Truths for Young Hearts doesn’t talk baby talk or diminish a child’s ability to understand weighty biblical concepts.  Yet, it isn’t too heavy for them to grasp.  I think what makes this book work so well is that it is written in brief chapters that respect the attention spans of children.  Each chapter also contains questions for review and discussion.
Concepts like the revelation of God, the Trinity, Creation, the ramifications of sin, the nature of Jesus, and the path to Salvation (etc.) might seem tricky to explain to a child.  Maybe that’s why we simplify for their young hearts and turn theology into entertainment.
Reading this book really showed me that God is exciting enough for kids to want to understand.  He doesn’t need my crazy or flashy attempts at making Him better understood.  God’s word was written with all age levels and people in mind and it draws men, women and children alike to the undeniable truth of God.   
Big Truths for Young Hearts is written for children 6-14.  We followed the recommended instructions and read a chapter each night before bed.  I was surprised when my 4-year-old joined in to answer review questions right along with the others.
The author of Big Truths for Young Hearts, Bruce A. Ware, has credentials that point to his education and biblical knowledge.  He is the professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He’s authored other books as well.  However, most impressive of his credentials is what his children write in the foreword.  When children can acknowledge their parents as Godly leaders and Christian examples that shaped them into lifelong followers, I think that’s enough to impress me.
I appreciated the honesty of his daughters when they wrote:
” . . .we’re so glad that you’re learning truths about God! It doesn’t always seem fun to have to sit and listen to your parents. But this subject is actually more exciting than anything else you could think of. . .”
It’s not easy for them or for us.  Committing to scheduled family devotions can always create challenges when we have antsy little ones who might prefer to do something else.  However, the value is eternal with eternal rewards.
To parents they wrote:
” . . .it may sound cliché, but we followed our father’s teaching in part because he practiced what he preached. ”
My opinion:
1.Pick up a copy of Big Truths for Young Hearts.  You can buy a copy at www.crossway.org/blog.
2. Make a routine of reading a chapter each night with your children. 
3.  Did they listen to you as you read?  If so, you might think that the biggest challenge is over. Think again.
4. The hardest part: Follow the author’s awesome example and Live what you teach.  Apply what you’re teaching them to your own life.  Be the example for them to follow.
Happy Reading!

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of Crossway, December 2009 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Learn & Master Guitar

The Student Edition of Learn & Master Guitar includes 20 sessions of instruction. You will receive a sturdy box that closes magnetically and contains all that you need, except the guitar. Inside you will find a 107-page Lesson Book containing tablature and session assignments and a Teacher Guide including weekly practice logs and tips for evaluating skill. Also included are 10 Session DVDs, 10 Bonus Workshop DVDs for extended practice, 5 Jam Along CDs for even more practice, 2 Teacher Resource CDs, and a downloadable resource book with overviews, worksheets, and bonus songs. Again, you will need to purchase your own guitar for this course, but there are packages available at the company's website that include the above-mentioned items along with a Greg Bennett guitar at a pretty fair price. They even take monthly payments

The lessons will take about 35 minutes each day. You will begin by watching a 20-minute session and follow up with a 15-minute workshop. Of course, you need to practice daily to improve. The teacher materials are good for tracking practice and ensuring the accountability to stick with it. Workshop sessions include a little pep talk with the instructor, who does a pretty good job at tackling the feelings of a beginner and providing encouragement to keep practicing. 

I was excited to review this product, and I've used it right along with my daughter. I've always wanted to learn guitar, and my daughter shares my ambition. Honestly, she's doing better in the course right now and can already play a few chords clearly. We've enjoyed learning together. We laughed our heads off after our first session workshop when the instructor literally quoted all our whiny complaints about our aching fingers and slow learning. I think the course is perfectly suited to homeschooling, and I am benefiting from the learn-at-your-own-pace approach. It's okay to practice the same session again and again until you get it. Just keep practicing! 

I already owned a guitar, and my daughter had a child's practice guitar. Her guitar has proven to be a bit of a pain. The strings seem to loosen easily, and we have to retune it often. The sound quality just isn't that great. So I would encourage you to take the instrument purchase as seriously as the lessons. 

The only disadvantage I see with Learn & Master Guitar is that I don't have a real fear of letting down the instructor. Fear of disappointing a physical person can be a good motivation to practice. Using the Learn & Master Guitar method requires your dedication. If you don't want to learn, you simply won't. It's very important to set up a special practice time in your schedule and purpose not to miss it for anything. 

Learn & Master Guitar is a good product. It's a fun way to learn guitar, and I would recommend it to others. If I were purchasing Learn & Master Guitar personally, I would look into the package that includes the guitar. I think it's a well-priced deal. 

Go to www.learnandmaster.com to learn more.

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2009 

God's Mighty Hand: Providential Occurrences in World History

God's Mighty Hand: Providential Occurrences in World History is a compilation of meaningful stories that depict God's goodness, provision, and protection toward His people. The Mp3 CD contains 12 hours and 45 minutes of audio stories that beautifully remind listeners of God's faithfulness. Listeners will learn how God worked in the lives of historic people like St. Patrick, Charlemagne, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill, Corrie ten Boon, and many more. 

Because it is an Mp3 CD, you cannot play God's Mighty Hand on a standard CD player. Instead, listen to it on your computer CD or DVD player. We played it on the DVD player without any problem. This audio recording can be used many ways. At my house the kids listened to a story each day and marked a summary of the information into our family timeline project book. You might choose to play one of the stories as a devotional or as a bedtime story. You could use it as a supplemental tool for teaching history or religion. 

God's Mighty Hand: Providential Occurrences in World History is a powerful CD that inspired my children and stirred my heart. The stories are filled with Christian encouragement and historically rich information. My family was blessed to listen to such faith-building stories. The real-life encounters with the miraculous amazed us. I'm still feeling stirred by the story of King Clovis and the prayers of his wife. Wow! You'll be in awe of what God can do when we call on Him. 

Early on I wished that the CD were formatted differently. I thought it would be good for the kids to listen to in the car, but my car CD player is not Mp3 compatible. After listening to the CD, I am glad that it wasn't as portable as I had initially hoped. It's good to be still and give it your full attention, chew on it, meditate on what God did and can do still in the lives of those who love and follow Him. I think the depth of the content would have been harder to grasp on a car ride. That's how my only negative turned out to be another positive. 

I highly recommend God's Mighty Hand: Providential Occurrences in World History to all Christian families. Priced as low as $25, it's a wonderful investment for your family. Every Christian homeschool should have a copy. 

You can purchase yours at www.jimhodgesaudiobooks.com

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2009