Monday, August 27, 2012

Raising Good Children in a Decadent Culture

Here is my Motherhood Manifesto in which I declare my intentions to raise children who transcend the popular culture. Parents, decide now to empower your children by recognizing your power to prepare them to build a better world.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Finding Strength in Weakness

InSignificant tells the story of Chris Travis' two years of teaching at the worst middle school in New York City.  This pastor became a math teacher in order to serve those in the inner city.  Though he thought he was ready, he learned just how unready he was—and how sufficient God is.  This quote is one of my favorites:
 "Some days I could go into that awful school and deal with the stress for the sake of the kids.  Some days I couldn't.  On those days, I did it for Jesus." (p. 58)

As we realize our weakness and become more dependent on God, He does significant things through us.  Any moment, any small task, can matter for eternity.  To become significant, we must give up everything—comfort, pride, independence—for the sake of the One.

Travis refers to The Lord's Prayer, in which Jesus teaches us to pray "us, your, our, we…" instead of "me, my, mine."  Chris also points to the parable of the talents and gives examples of the ways God used some of his interests and skills in ways he never would have imagined.  Even a card trick, rusty karate skills and a knack for cartooning were used by God to bless his students, some of whom blessed him in return.

I received a free review copy of this book from Bethany House publishers.  It would make a great gift for teachers and student-teachers.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Teaching Kids the Skills Needed for Independent Living


Cleaning House is more than just another book about organizing your home.  It is really a book about empowering your children to become competent in important life skills.  A hundred years ago, a typical teen could run a farm or a household.  Now too often we find them clueless about simple things such as savings accounts and laundry.

As a somewhat "free-range" parent, I enjoyed this book.  I see helicopter parents all around me—doing their kid's projects, dousing everything with hand sanitizer, paying their teen's speeding tickets, etc.  I, too, am sometimes guilty of picking up after kids who could pick up after themselves. Wyma's book comes along and brightens my day with her candid accounts of teaching her children to cook, clean bathrooms, get a real job, and throw a party.  She inspires us to give kids the gift of competency.

Well done, Kay Wills Wyma.  The entitlement mentality ends here and now—in our own homes!  I thank Waterbrook Multnomah for sending me a free review copy of this book.

You can read the first chapter here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reading: Essential to a Constitutional Republic

The decline of serious reading is associated with the loss of freedom in America.  People don't understand the gift they were given when the founders created a new form of government--the constitutional republic.  Ann Coulter has addressed the problem of Republicans who don't read.  I am sure there are plenty of nonreaders among Democrats as well.  My educated guess would be that Libertarians probably read the most (just quiz them on the Constitution, Federalist Papers, or anything related to freedom and you'll be impressed!) and the non-affiliated read the least (that's why they think  "all parties are the same.")

I'm afraid Ann is right about nonreaders.  That's why nobody knows the historical record of Marxism, appeasement, disarmament, and religious intolerance.  That's why people think the government can fix everything and take care of them.  That's why they don't even know what's in the Constitution that was written to protect them FROM the government.  Most of them no longer even understand that they NEED protection from the government.  That's how freedom dies--through ignorance and laziness.

If you are reading this, I'm hoping that makes you a serious reader.  May I suggest the following:

Modern Times by Paul Johnson for a bloody history of the twentieth century.  Give a copy of this book to your Marxist acquaintances and defy them to defend the historical record of their deadly philosophy!

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt is economics for the math-anxious.  Understand the concepts without doing regression analysis.

The Antitrust Paradox by Robert Bork is an excellent, detailed study of just one of the failures of progressivism--a perfect example of good intentions that have bad consequences.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Review: Abducted by Janice Cantore


This story combines action and suspense with just a hint of romance.  A kidnapped baby, a possible marriage reconciliation, a runaway teen and a problem roommate are just a few of the elements in this novel.  Janice Cantore weaves faith in and out of the plot in a natural, unforced way.  Both the Christian and non-Christian characters have struggles and misunderstandings that eventually get resolved.

The law enforcement situations are believable (Cantore was a cop) and the novel is well written to sustain suspense.  You won't want to put down the book until all the plot twists are untwisted.  Nothing will happen quite the way you expect—just like real life!

This would make a good addition to the fiction collection in your church library.  Be sure to get book #1, Accused, and look for book #3 in 2013.  Look for this book at Amazon.com or you rlocal Christian bookstore.

I received a free review copy of Abducted from Tyndale House Publishers in return for my review.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Greater by Steven Furtick

On sale September 4, 2012:

Are you feeling stuck in mediocrity?  Do you want to do great things?  Steven Furtick urges us to focus not on great, but on greater.  Beyond good enough and beyond human definitions of greatness is God's plan to do things in our lives that are greater than anything we could do without Him.

Using the life of Elisha as the pattern and example, this book leads the reader to dream big dreams and start with small steps. Like Elisha burning his plow before he followed Elijah, we need to get rid of things that tie us to our lesser life in order to follow God's call.  Furtick gives examples of people who gave up things that seemed great in order to pursue a greater calling.  He also shows that things we might not consider great may be part of our becoming greater in God.

Read an excerpt from Greater.

My favorite chapter is entitled "Digging Ditches."  In II Kings chapter 3, we find an army dying of thirst and two kings turning to Elisha for help.  The message from God is to "make this valley full of ditches."  God could have sent rain immediately, dropped water bottles from heaven, or created a reservoir out of nothing, but he tells them to dig ditches.  Do they really believe He will send water?  Fortunately for Israel, they trust the message and dig ditches all night long.  God then fills them with water.If you are waiting for something greater, ask yourself if you need to be digging a ditch.

The chapter "A Little Oil" is likewise a life changer.  When a prophet's widow is facing creditors who will take her sons as slaves, Elisha asks her "What do you have in your house?"  Instead of saying "nothing" she remembers there is a little oil.  In a variation of the ditch story, she is directed to borrow jars, which God fills with oil.  Are we moping around waiting for God to move when we should be out borrowing jars for him to fill?  Are we using what He has already given us?

Greater is a book for individual edification or for class study.  Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. I would recommend this for youth as well as adults.

I received an advance reading copy of this book from Multnomah Books in return for my honest review.