Big Truths for Young Hearts

January 20, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Posted in Books and Movies, It's All About God, Theology | Leave a comment

          Big Truths for Young Hearts is a great family devotional book by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Bruce Ware.  My family is reading this book, about two or three evenings each week, and we are almost half way through.  It is a presentation of basic Christian doctrine for young people – probably aimed toward young teens.  My daughter is 13, and this is perfect for her level.  It also would be great for older teens and adults who have little Bible or theology background.  So far I am very impressed.

          On the positive side, Ware begins his presentation with the greatness of God.  In fact, the book’s subtitle is “Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God.”  One of the first chapters has the title “God is God Apart from Us,” which teaches the transcendence of God without using big theological words.  “God is the one who gives to all of creation what it needs, while nothing in all of creation can give to God anything that he supposedly lacks.” (p.25)  Many in our world have a limited and faulty understanding of God because they start with themselves and their needs, rather than with God and his sufficiency.   The world of their understanding is then human-centered, rather than God centered.  God is nothing more than a big vending machine that meets our needs or a super large human with problems of his own.  Ware avoids this difficulty from the beginning.  Our young people today need his presentation of God.

          Also on the positive side, the chapters are all short (2-3 pages) and can be read in only a few minutes.  Most have led to some good discussion in our reading times.  Each chapter includes some discussion questions and a memory verse.  Occasionally the questions are forced regurgitation of the material, but usually they are well done.  Though we are not memorizing the verse, we are reading it together out loud a couple of times.

          On the negative side, the book is divided into 10 sections, and each section has 6 chapters.  The section on the doctrine of the Trinity was forced into this format, and thus was way too long and redundant.  I wonder how many other sections are also forced into this format with redundancy or, in some cases, deletion of good material.  So far I haven’t sensed that in any other section.  The unfortunate part is that the Trinity section is the second in the book, where it rightfully belongs, but the boring repetition lost my daughter’s interest for a while.  We persevered and are now all enjoying it, but I’m afraid some will get only that far and quit.  They will miss a treasure.

          One of the best chapters we’ve read so far is the “The Punishment for Our Sin.”  Professor Ware does a great job connecting the size of our guilt with the presentation of the just punishment we are due and the greatness of what Jesus did.  This is so misunderstood.  We live in a society that holds a sin-light philosophy – we don’t recognize the seriousness of sin.  A God who punishes sin is seen as cruel or inhumane (he is, in truest sense!).  But Ware turns that argument around, so one can understand the greatness of His grace.  Here’s a part of one of his great paragraphs, one that we had to stop and discuss in our family:

          We need to know just how terrible our punishment is so we can marvel and wonder at our Savior, Jesus, who took our punishment upon himself when he died on the cross.  If our punishment is a small thing, then when we learn that Jesus took our punishment upon himself, we think little of this.  But when we see our punishment as the great and weighty and horrible thing that it is, then it becomes a wonder and a marvel to us that Jesus took that punishment upon himself for us.” (p.99)

          If you have preteens or teenagers, get this book for family devotions.  It will be well worth the cost, even before you’re half way done.

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