The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Title: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Pages: 317
Recommended Ages: 12 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★★

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All hail, Holmes!

The Stories.

A Scandal in Bohemia. The King of Bohemia has come to Holmes in great distress. Unless Holmes is able to recover a compromising portrait from one, Irene Adler, not only will the King’s marriage be jeopardized, but all of Europe will suffer from the repercussions. Will Mr. Holmes take the case?

The Red-Headed League. Mr. Jabez Wilson is in some distress. He was accepted into the League of Red-Headed men and appointed a job in the club – with a tidy remuneration – only to receive word this morning that the club has been dissolved without a trace. What is this league all about, anyway?

A Case of Identity. Miss Mary Sutherland is entirely confused. Against her domineering step-father’s will she has become engaged to marry a Mr. Hosmer Angel. But on the morning on which they were to be married, Mr. Angel disappeared and has not been seen since. Where can he have got to?

The Boscombe Valley Mystery. A man, Charles McCarthy, has been found lying in a pool of his own blood. The obvious suspect – indeed the man the police have arrested – is McCarthy’s own son, James, who was engaged in a savage argument just minutes before McCarthy was killed. But Miss Turner, who has known James since he was a boy, is convinced that he could never commit murder. So Holmes is called in to sift the clues, to weigh the facts, to name the murderer…

The Five Orange Pips. John Openshaw is scared. Scared out of his wits. And the horror of it is, he doesn’t know exactly what he scared of. All he knows is that it exacts death – mysterious death – of its victims. See, his uncle died shortly after receiving an envelope containing five orange pips. The experience was repeated with his father. And now, he has received five orange pips of his own…

The Man With the Twisted Lip. Several days ago, Neville St Clair disappeared. His wife is frantic to find him and is certain that she saw him in the upper story of a shady business. But when she entered there, fully expecting to see him and demand an explanation from him, he wasn’t there. Instead, an old, decrepit beggar greeted her. Has St Clair been murdered? Or is he still alive?

The Blue Carbuncle. ‘Tis Christmas – the season of happiness and goodwill. But it’s also the season of mystery and robbery. For a shabby hat and goose have thrust upon Mr. Holmes – complimentary of a squirmish in which the owner of both took to his heels – and a priceless blue carbuncle has been stole from the Hotel Cosmopolitan. Will Holmes be able to draw any connection between the two?

The Speckled Band. Two years ago, Julia Stoner stumbled out of her bedroom and collapsed upon the floor writhing in pain. The only words she managed to utter before dying were these – “the speckled band!” All of her doors and windows had been locked from the inside at the time that she was seized, and the only clue to her mysterious death was her previous mention her hearing whistles in the night. Imagine then, her twin sister, Helen’s, horror when, after being moved to Julia’s now vacant room so that repairs may be done in her own room, she hears whistles in the night. What does it mean, Mr. Holmes?

The Engineer’s Thumb. It is not often that Watson is able to bring an interesting case to Holmes’ attention. But in this instance, the case is not only interesting, it is unforgettable! It involves a mysterious mansion, a gang of very clever forgers, and an engineer with a missing thumb…

The Noble Bachelor. Holmes never bothers to read the society papers. But this case comes straight out of society gossip. It seems that Lord Robert St. Simon has been deserted – jilted – by his wife just hours after their wedding ceremony was completed. She has completely disappeared! Can Mr. Holmes track her down?

The Beryl Coronet. Mr. Alexander Holder of the banking firm, Holder & Stevenson, is distraught. He was entrusted by an illustrious client with the invaluable beryl coronet as security for a loan. But several of the gems have been stolen from the coronet while in Mr. Holder’s possession – and the only suspect is his own son!

The Copper Beeches. A young lady, Miss Violet Hunter, wants to consult Mr. Holmes on a very important matter. She wants to know if she should accept a position as governess at the Copper Beeches. Although Holmes is initially disdainful – considering such a problem to be below him – he changes his mind when he hears what is troubling her. It seems that amongst her employer’s requirements are that she would cut her beautiful hair quite short and occasionally wear a dress of electric blue. Holmes foresees danger in Miss Hunter’s future!

Discussion.

I love Holmes. I love his world. I love his art. I love his cold calculation, his indefatigable spirit, and his mysterious languid spells. I love his sometimes snobbish but ever companionable relationship with Watson. And, of course, I love 221b Baker Street.

It was so good getting back into the Holmes canon. I’ve watched so many adaptions of his character in the past few years that I’d somehow lost sight of the real Holmes. Because every adaption only presents a facet of the true Holmes – the full complexity of his character somehow eludes the screen.

This particular collection of short stories – one of five – is, I think, the happiest of them all. It occurs before Conan Doyle kills Holmes, and presumably while he still likes him. Holmes isn’t quite as light-hearted as he was in A Study in Scarlet, but neither is he so brooding as in the later stories (His Last Bow, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes). And the stories themselves are fine.

I don’t mean fine as in ‘okay’. I mean fine as one means ‘fine china’. These stories are finely crafted and populated with believable characters. One thing that I love about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes canon is that it proves that a mystery need not be based around a murder to be intensely fascinating. Of the twelve mysteries contained in The Adventures, only three deal directly with murder.

In fact, the whole book is remarkably clean. Really the only story of the lot which parents need be concerned with is the first, which concerns the indiscretions of a king. But even here, the word mistress is used only once – the relationship is referred to as an ‘entanglement’, not an affair. It is, considering the topic itself, clean.

Various forms of God’s name are used a total of eighteen times, most in serious situations which could be considered forms of prayer.

Conclusion. Excellent! Buy it – read it.

Livingstone Mouse

Title: Livingstone Mouse
Author: Pamela Duncan Edwards
Illustrator: Henry Cole
Pages: 32
Reading Level: Read-Aloud
Star Rating: ★★★★★

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When Livingstone the Mouse’s mother informs him that it is time for him to establish his own nest, Livingstone decides that he wants to build his nest in the greatest place in the world. His mother tells him that she has heard that China is a nice place, so Livingstone instantly sets off to discover China. But will he ever fulfill his quest?

Discussion.

This book is just darling. Livingstone, the exploring mouse, dashes around with a snazzy adventurous looking hat made out of a leaf and tries to find China. Each time he thinks he’s finally discovered it, some other creature informs him that he hasn’t found China – all he’s found is a desk, a tennis shoe, and or picnic basket. Finally, as he grows weary of his travels, he finds an old china teapot. When he asks a passing owl what it is, he hears the welcome reply, “An old piece of China.” Livingstone joyfully establishes his home.

Conclusion. Sweet.

 

Seashore Life

Title: Seashore Life
Author: Jenna Kinghorn
Pages: 80
Recommended Ages: 7 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★★

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Seashore Life provides brief descriptions of thirty-five different fishes, sea plants, birds, and crustaceans. Its format follows a set format – first the main text, where basic facts are mentioned. Second, a box called ‘Field Notes’ where an interesting fact is related about the species. Third, a ‘Where to Find’ box where the usual location of the specimen is shown on a map. Fourth is a box titled “What to look for”, wherein is briefly listed the species’ size, color, and behavior. Fifth is an illustration and photograph of each species.

Here are a few of the interesting facts mentioned.

  • An octopus can change colors to blend into its surrounding.
  • A scallop pushes itself through the water by quickly clapping its two shells together.
  • When an oyster is a few weeks old, it anchors itself to a rock or another oyster’s shell. It never moves again.
  • Horseshoe crabs have no teeth, but grind up shelled animals and worms with special plates at the base of their legs as the walk along.
  • The pistol shrimp stuns small fish that it eats by making a loud, popping noise with its oversized claw.
  • When a crab grows too big for its shell, the shell splits and the crab climbs out of it. The crab then grows a new shell.
  • Some starfish have up to thirty arms!

Cautions.

An illustration is given on pg. 56 of two seahorses entwined with one another – the description mentions that this is how they mate.

On pg. 58, it is stated that “the female sea horse lays her eggs in a pouch on the male’s belly”.

An entirely simple definition of the verb ‘mate’ is included in the glossary.

Conclusion. An excellent (though, of course non-comprehensive) pocket guide to sea creatures.

Race Against Time

Title: Race Against Time
Author: Paul May
Illustrator: Peter Dennis
Pages: 64
Recommended Ages: 8 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★★

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Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise have just launched into outer space in Apollo 13, a space rocket. If all goes as planned, they will be touching down on the moon in just three days. Jim can almost feel the surface of the moon beneath his feet.

But all does not go as planned. On the second day of their mission, a deep thud reverberates through the spaceship, followed by an awful shudder. The instruments say that half of their power is gone, several of the fuel cells are empty, and that there is no oxygen in tank two. Are the instruments malfunctioning, or are these really the stats? And which would be better…?

As malfunctions and complications escalate, the Apollo 13 crew is faced with dilemmas never before faced by man.

Conclusion. An excellent introduction to the famous Apollo 13 flight.

Meet Benjamin Franklin

Title: Meet Benjamin Franklin
Author: Maggi Scarf
Pages: 64
Recommended Ages: 7-10
Star Rating: ★★★★★

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A solid, sober, biography of Benjamin Franklin for younger readers, Meet Benjamin Franklin presents the basic facts of Franklin’s life along with a few funny stories about him. The illustrations are realistic and expand the texts’ effectiveness.

Cautions.

Keep in mind that Franklin had rocky relationships with his parents and older brother.

One page declares that people in England “began to think of him [Franklin] as a kind of magician.” [pg. 51] Franklin exploits their credulity by playing a “magic” trick on them – they fall for it – but he winds up explaining the trick to them.

Conclusion. Great introductory biography.

Why Pro-Life?

Title: Why Pro-Life?
Author: Randy Alcorn
Pages: 136
Star Rating: ★★★★★

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Every issue has its ‘one-liners’ that cause your heart to stop, mind to race, and basically make you feel inadequate and unintelligent. Until three seconds go past and you suddenly remember the answer that you memorized several years ago. From ‘we’re under grace, not law’ to ‘but God would never make anybody love Him!’ these cliché phrases can be super hard to answer, because they’re packed with misconceptions – and the teeniest bit of truth.

The abortion issue is no exception to this rule – ‘I can do whatever I want with my body’, ‘Wouldn’t it be better if every child was a wanted child?’ ‘They’re not really humans’, and gobs of other such phrases are used as firecrackers against the pro-life position; they spark and sputter like the real thing, but they haven’t got the explosion to back it up.

In Why Pro-Life? Randy Alcorn does a superb job setting forth the pro-life position and answering these pro-abortion diatribes. Why Pro-Life? is divided into five sections – The Basics, The Child, The Woman, Other Important Issues, and Spiritual Perspectives and Opportunities.

The Basics. Abortion is America’s most frequently performed surgery on women.” [pg. 15] The practice of abortion is anything but new; records show abortions being practiced by women in the earliest Egyptian and Chinese civilization. But it is only since the 20th century that abortion has become a culturally acceptable, widespread, and practiced by Christians (43% of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 27 percent identify themselves as Catholic [pg. 17]). It is time for Christians to return to Biblical thinking on this issue and to fight against the murder of babies now legally practiced in America. But often abortionists argue that abortion isn’t murder because the ‘fetus’ isn’t a real baby.

So, the first question is this – Is the fetus a human?

The Child.

The irony is that ‘fetus’ is simply the Latin word for ‘child’ or ‘offspring’. So, although the word helps to remove the emotional aspect from the discussion, it means the exact same thing – baby.

Mr. Alcorn begins this section by citing and quoting several of the highest medical authorities who asserted that life does indeed begin at conception. He even quotes the owner of Oregon’s largest abortion clinic as saying, “Of course human life begins at conception”. So, if life has begun, what makes it morally right to take that life? Its lack of development? If that were the case, then we would be justified in killing 10 year olds because they are ‘less developed’ – not as strong mentally or physically – as 30 year olds. As Mr. Alcorn says,

“At conception the unborn doesn’t appear human to us who are used to judging humanity by appearance. Nevertheless, in the objective scientific sense he is every bit as human as any older child or adult. He looks like a human being ought to at his stage of development.” [pg. 28]

If a person is less of a person because he lacks certain organs or appendages, then what do we say about tetraplegics whose limbs cannot function or soldiers whose legs have been amputated? Does anybody really believe that a person who’s 4’9” is less human than someone who is 6’6” simply because there’s less of him? Does anyone think that if you’ve had your tonsils removed or heart replaced that you’re ‘not really human’? The amount of matter or development present does not define a human being.

Another reason that is often pointed to is the baby’s entire dependency upon its mother, its inability to survive without its mother. But if this is what defines human life, then postnatal babies are no more human than prenatal ‘fetuses’; they are still entirely dependent upon others to take care of them and would die if neglected. Also, any person with a debilitating disease – paralysis, Alzheimer’s, etc. – would be considered ‘not really human’.

Another argument is that the fetus is a part of the woman’s body, so she should be able to do whatever she wants with it. But just because one object is contained by another doesn’t mean that they are the same. A car is parked in a garage, but no one claims that the car IS the garage. Babies aren’t just a part of their mother – they have their own genetic structure, and often have a different blood type. Think of how absurd it is to claim that the baby is just a part of the mother; that would mean that the mother has two brains, two hearts, four legs, and so on. And that when expecting a male child she is both male and female!

The Woman.

Abortionists have declared that it is only when women have the right to kill their babies that they can “participate fully in the social and political life of society” [Kate Michelman, quoted in The New York Times] But this position is really an insult to women because it claims that only when a woman fights her natural biological processes (that of pregnancy) is she a full citizen. Is encouraging women to kill their children really the best way to train them for societal interaction? If a baby can be killed because it is unwanted, how does this train women to think about co-workers, waiters, or any other person who gets in the way?

Also in this line of thought is that women should have ‘the right to choose’.  Those who are pro-life are called ‘anti-choice’ because they believe that women should not legally allowed to abort their children. But pro-life supporters are not anti-choice. They believe that women should be able to choose what they eat, what they wear, what movies they watch, who they marry, etc. We just don’t believe that they should have the right to commit murder any more than a man has the right to commit murder. See, it’s really quite silly to defend abortion on the ground that women should make choices. Just because a choice can be made (to rape, burglarize, etc.) does not make it a moral or lawful choice.

Abortion was finally legalized because people felt that it was cruel to make a rape victim bear the child of her assaulter. But in reality, abortion accomplishes the same thing that rape does – a stronger person forcing its will upon a weaker person and devastating (or destroying) its life. Far from remedying the situation, it compounds it; the child is forced to suffer for the sins of its father. Two wrongs do not make a right. Murdering an innocent does not punish the evil-doer.

And even the idea that abortions are most used in cases of rape is incorrect. Statistics show that only one percent of all abortions are due to rape or incest. The vast, overwhelming majority result from voluntary decisions made by consenting adults.

Other Important Issues.

What abortion has done is dealt a sickening blow to our perspective of children as a blessing. Pro-abortionists have polemicized that abortion will bring forth a better world for children because ‘every child is a wanted child’. Therefore each of these ‘wanted’ children will be treated with more love and kindness because it was specifically chosen to live. But the opposite is true. Abortion has taught our culture to hate children because it has removed the specialty of each life. Instead of viewing babies as precious gifts, we view them as optional inconveniences. This translates beyond the womb; now children are treated less as humans, and more as toys, pets, or pests – things that are petted and kicked alternately and sometimes downright abused.

We have been taught that people’s futures should be evaluated by their ‘quality of life’; that if their life will be hard or be tainted by mental or physical underdevelopment, then they should not be forced to live it. But who are we to judge whether another’s life is worth living? And why not give them the chance to decide for themselves? Once we allow the worth of a human being to be subject to the judgment of another human being, we’ve lost any objective standard. My life may be less ‘enjoyable’ or ‘valuable’ than the man down the streets, but it is at least my [God’s really, I know] life. A mother deciding that her baby’s life is not worth living is one step away from doctors and politicians deciding which of their citizens’ lives are worth living. ‘Quality of life’ can be no consideration; the question is, is it a human life? If so, then it is for God to kill or let live.

Spiritual Perspectives and Opportunities.

Abortion is a terrible sin – it is the murder of another human being who is crafted after the image of God. But, like other sins, it does not place the sinner irrevocably outside of Christ’s redemption. Christ can save the baby-murderer as assuredly as he can save the thief or adult-murderer – but this cannot be used as an excuse to continue in the sin. Repentance must be made.

Many of the women who get abortions aren’t hardened criminals who are deliberately shaking their fist in God’s face. In fact many of them are misled, misinformed or desperate; they should be treated firmly, but with tenderness and love. They should be shown the great anger and love of God through our interaction with them.

One of the ways that we can best show God’s love is by adopting the children who have not been aborted. Many women have reported that if they had known how to put their child up for adoption, they would’ve done so eagerly. We must do our best to make this option available to them.

Some Christians have argued that it is wrong for us to focus on the abortion issue, that instead we should preach only Christ and ‘win people to Him’. But this view mistakes the nature of the Great Commission. By preaching Christ, we do not merely preach His name; we preach what His name represents, what it stands for, how He defined it. This means we preach orthodoxy and orthopraxy – we preach what men must believe and how that belief should affect his actions. We preach what God requires of man, part of which is to

Rescue those being led away to death.” [Proverbs 24:11]

And

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” [Psalms 82:3]

It is precisely because we believe in the Great Commission that we must take seriously the sin of abortion.

Conclusion. Why Pro-Life? is a slim book, but it’s worth its weight in gold for those seeking to prep themselves on the abortion controversy. While far from exhaustive, it is a thoroughly helpful and practical read. Purchase your own copy here.

I Love You Series

Title: I Love You Series
Author: Jillian Harker
Illustrator: Daniel Howarth
Pages: 25 pages each
Recommended Ages: Read Aloud
Star Rating: ★★★★★

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My word. My heart has just been stolen. Stolen by a little bear named… Little Bear. Stolen by this delightful set of picture books by Jillian Harker and Kristina Stephenson.

In I Love You, Daddy, Daddy Bear invites Little Bear along for a day of exploration and adventure. Although Little Bear doubts his own ability to do hard things, Daddy Bear gently demonstrates the skill and then encourages Little Bear to try them himself.

In I Love You, Mommy, Little Bear is certain that he knows how to cross a stream and climb a tree. But after falling into one and out of the other, he realizes that it isn’t so easy as he thought and welcomes instruction on these and other things from his mother.

In I Love You, Grandpa, Little Bear enjoys showing Grandpa Bear how well he can catch a fish and dig a den. But he is awed to discover that wise Grandpa Bear has found even cleverer ways to do these things!

In I Love You, Grandma, Little Bear is curious. Why does he have such a long nose? Why does he have such sharp claws? And how does Grandma know the answers to all of his questions?

The I Love You series breathes affection and discipleship. In every book, one of Little Bear’s forbears walks along side him, tenderly teaching him how to accomplish tasks wisely and answering all of his questions. Little Bear drinks in their instruction and responds with gratitude, telling them how much he loves them and how wise they are. I was delighted to see such solid relationships represented in a picture book series.

Conclusion. Any adjective I could use – darling, precious, adorable – is an understatement. If your children like picture books, then BUY THESE FOR THEM BOOKS! Full recommendation.

Meet George Washington

Title: Meet George Washington
Author: Joan Heilbroner
Pages: 66
Reading Level: 8 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★★

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This will be a tiny review because I do not have the time to provide a thorough biography of George Washington. Meet George Washington seemed to me to be entirely accurate in its details and portrayed George Washington in a favourable, though not adoring manner. It provided information from Washington’s boyhood to his death in 1799, and even addresses the popular cherry tree myth.

Conclusion. Perfectly suited for its age group.

Christian Beliefs

Title: Christian Beliefs
Author: Wayne A. Grudem
Pages: 159
Star Rating: ★★★★★

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As I was perusing the shelves of a not-so-local Goodwill last October, I came across this book on one of the shelves. It only cost $ .39 and I already knew of Wayne Grudem in association with his hefty Systematic Theology, so I bought it.  I’m very glad that I did. Christian Beliefs presents ‘twenty basics every Christian should know’.

Christian Beliefs.

The twenty beliefs. These are my own paraphrases and only borrow concepts from Mr. Grudem.

# 1.  What is the Bible? The Bible is the holy, inspired, and inerrant Word of God revealed to Moses, the prophets, and the apostles and recorded for our use. As God’s Word, we believe it to be absolute in its authority – it has the last word on any issue that it speaks to. We also believe in its clarity – God has spoken that we may better know Him, and thus, while not an exhaustive revelation of God’s character, is an entirely truthful and understandable one. We believe in the necessity of Scripture – that without it, it would be impossible to know God in a saving relationship or to know what to believe about reality. And last, we believe in the sufficiency of Scripture – that the Scriptures are fully able to equip us to every good work and are, of themselves, the only rule of life.

# 2.  What Is God Like? The Westminster standards have so famously posited that “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, and truth.” This statement reminds us first that God exists. He is a reality – nay, He is reality. As for what He is like, we turn to His Word and see that he is a loving, just, all-powerful, holy, merciful, jealous, truthful, vengeance-wreaking, unchanging, eternal, perfect, wise Spirit. Here we do not see a complete picture of God’s character, but we do see a true one. It is of the utmost importance that we take each of these characteristics which God has revealed to us and minimize none of them in our understanding of Him. While some of these may seem contradictory, they are, in fact, the real character of God.

#3. What Is the Trinity? Although the word ‘trinity’ is never used in the Scriptures, the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught. The Trinity is what is also known as the Godhead – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, all three one God. While each of these three have distinct identities and functions, they are, as taught by Scripture, equally one.

# 4. What Is Creation? Creation is all that God has called into existence with His Almighty word. It is the Earth, the heavens, and all that is in them. The purpose of Creation is to give glory to God for His handiwork. While God reigns over His Creation and is present in it, He is also distinct from it. The wonders of Creation should always be used as a reason to glorify God the more, not to worship the Creation itself, for it is God alone who is deserving of worship.

# 5. What Is Prayer? Prayer is communication with God. Through prayer we are able to express our needs to God and to deepen our relationship with Him. And while we believe in the effectiveness of prayer – God always fulfills our needs exactly as he sees fit and thus answers them – we do not believe that prayer ‘makes’ God do anything. More often, prayer is the tool that God uses to change our hearts’ desires rather than something we use to fulfill our own wishes.

# 6. What Are Angels, Satan, and Demons? Angels, Satan, and Demons are all spiritual beings who have been created a little higher than man by God. Angels are the servants of God who often aid in executing his decrees and who are without sin. Demons are angels who have sinned and who are eternally damned. Satan is the leader of these demons and he, along with the demons, seeks to tempt and deceive those on Earth. However, he has no power to tempt us except when God grants it to him.

# 7. What Is Man? Man is the sole creature which, created in the image of God, is able to be saved by Christ’s atonement. He, like the rest of Creation, was created to bring glory to His Creator and to rule over the rest of the Creation as God’s ambassadors.

# 8. What Is Sin? Sin is that which transgresses the Holy character of God. God’s character has been revealed to us in His Word, and thus, sin is whatever opposes the principles of Scripture in word, act, or attitude. Because sin is the transgression of God’s holiness, God burns with wrath towards it. We are all sinners, and therefore , God’s wrath also burns against us.

# 9. Who Is Christ? Christ is our Redeemer – he is the Son of God and the Son of Man. He is fully divine and fully human. He was begotten, not created, and was sent from heaven to live a sinless life and to die as an atonement for the sins of His people. He has risen from the dead and sits now at the right hand of the Father.

# 10. What Is the Atonement? It is impossible that we, in our original sinful state, would be able to stand clear of blame before God. It is necessary that our sins be atoned for with our own eternal death. But God in His loving kindness, rather than suffering us to all die, sent His Son to live a perfect and sinless life which was deserving of no punishment. He then took upon himself the sins of His people and died that the penalty would be removed from His people.

# 11. What Is the Resurrection? We are told in Scripture that death is the last enemy who will be defeated. Christ’s Resurrection – his rising from the dead to live eternally as King – is proof of this. Christ’s Resurrection gives us hope that one day we too will be resurrected with perfect, sinless bodies, to live forever.

# 12. What Is Election? Election is God’s choosing, before the foundation of the world, who would be saved by the atoning work of His Son, Christ. The choosing was done entirely by God’s free will and was not conditional on any foreseeable choices that the elect would make. The doctrine of Election, because it ensures that some will certainly be saved, should encourage Christians to even greater works of prayer and evangelism.

# 13. What Does It Mean to Become a Christian? It means to be washed and cleansed in the blood of Jesus Christ. It means to believe that Jesus Christ has indeed saved you from your sins and His wrath. It means to turn from and repudiate your sins, repenting of them, and, through God’s power, resisting temptation to sin. It means to be wholly identified by Christ.

# 14. What Are Justification and Adoption? When a person has been regenerated (Christ’s blood has been applied to his life) he is then declared righteous by God for the sake of Christ’s blood. Because Christ, through His death, has born the responsibility of His people’s sins, those people can no longer be viewed as ‘guilty’ or worthy of punishment before God. This is Justification. By justifying us, God makes us His own children. We are now co-heirs with Christ and may call God our Father. This is Adoption.

# 15. What Are Sanctification and Perseverance? Sanctification is the process in which God removes sin from our lives, for while formally declared righteous, Christians will continue to struggle and sin in this life. God sanctifies us by using every circumstance as a way to grow us spiritually, either by encouraging us, or by sending us to Him for His help. As we are sanctified, we become more Christ-like in our conduct and motives. Perseverance is the doctrine that if a man has been formally regenerated and justified by Christ’s blood, then he will never become ‘un’-regenerated or ‘un’-justified; he will persevere and be preserved by God until he dies.

# 16. What Is Death? Death is the result of sin. It is the completion of a person’s life on earth and the beginning of his eternal life. Christians, though redeemed from sin, still undergo death. But they have the hope of a resurrection in which they shall rise incorruptible, for death is the last enemy that will be defeated.

# 17. What Is the Church? The church of God is Christ’s people. There are two things that we refer to as the church, the first being the elect bride of Christ. The other is the visible representation of those whom God has elected – church congregations. These two largely overlap – those who are saved of Christ are typically to be found in churches. Because the church is the bride of Christ, it should be lovingly treated and prayed for by those of us who comprise it.

# 18. What Will Happen When Christ Returns? Mr. Grudem here presents the three main views that theologians take on eschatology. I thought that he was very fair in his synopses, but I do not hold to the same view of eschatology that he holds to. I do not want to present my view for fear of misrepresenting Christian Beliefs, but I certainly don’t want to put forward a view I disagree with… Oh dear.

# 19. What Is the Final Judgment? The final judgment is the last day, on which Christ judges the living and the dead. On this day, He will send each to his just rewards – those who have been bought with His blood to eternal joy, and those who are unregenerate to eternal torment.

# 20. What Is Heaven? Heaven is where God’s blessing and glory is most fully evident. There, no sorrow or pain will be experienced for all is joy and peace there. There, man’s fellowship with God will be finally and fully restored. There we will worship God as He ought to be worshipped.

Discussion.

Christian Beliefs is, in essence, a condensation of a condensation of Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology at an impressive 1,290 pages is much too large for many people to feel comfortable reading. So, Mr. Grudem and his son, Elliot condensed it into a 528 page book called Bible Doctrine. That in turn was shorted into the 159 page Christian Beliefs which contains the ‘twenty basics every Christian should know’.

Christian Beliefs because of its nature, reads more like a creed or confession with brief explanation than it does a systematic theology. It is very terse – every word has a purpose. While it is not exhaustive in its presentation, it is comprehensive and provides a solid Scriptural case for each belief.

I was greatly encouraged by Christian Beliefs. It was more of a refresher than an introduction for me, but it was helpful for me to have my Christian beliefs presented in such an orderly fashion. Of course, there were some points of doctrine which remained untouched (the sacraments being the most notable one to my mind) and there were others on which I disagreed slightly. These disagreements occurred mainly in Questions 17 and 18. However, I found that Mr. Grudem presented his case very charitably (saying things like “out of these views, Scripture seems to support Position A the most” instead of “those idiots just don’t know what they’re talking about”.) And, after all, I would not want Mr. Grudem to compromise on what he believes just for the sake of pleasing a few men. So, all in all, I was very pleased with this work, regardless of my differences.

Conclusion. An excellent work on Christian Doctrine. Christian Beliefs will introduce or reestablish you in the doctrines of the Christian faith and will leave your appetite whetted for further study.

Prayer for a Child

Title: Prayer for a Child
Author: Rachel Field
Illustrator: Elizabeth Orton Jones
Pages: 29
Recommended Ages: 4-7
Star Rating: ★★★★★

Hi there! As of October 2013, I have upgraded to a new site – The Blithering Bookster – where I have posted all of my old reviews and continue to post new ones. Hoist yourself over to join the fun!

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What a darling book! Written in 1941, Prayer for a Child is exactly what it says it is – the bedtime requests of a little girl as she prepares to nod off to sleep.

Her prayers are wholly orthodox – bless my family, bless my friends, bless my toys, etc. – and show a healthy appreciation of what God has already given her as well as a desire for the welfare of others. The accompanying illustrations are delightful and show her interacting with the things that she is praying for.

An entirely deserving winner of The Caldecott Medal, Prayer for a Child was a joy to read and will exhort your children to be more caring and thankful. Purchase your copy here.