THE DONKEY WHO CARRIED A KING – R.C. Sproul (2012)

The Donkey Who Carried a King by R.C. Sproul is a short children’s book loaded with great art and a brief story that helps illustrate some important theological principles.  Sproul tells the story of a donkey who carried Jesus (which points to the Triumphal Entry).  The donkey, who struggles with his lot in life, saw Jesus carry one of the beams of the cross and witnessed the persecution he endured.  Ultimately, the story drives home the message of substitutionary atonement and sacrificial love. Several questions are included at the end of the book; questions that are designed to help parents guide their children down the right theological path – a path that leads to eternal life.

R.C. has done it again.  In a few short pages, he has captured some crucial theological realities – pictures included!  Children can thank one of the most important theologians of our generation.  “Thanks Dr. Sproul for bringing the cookies to the bottom shelf!”

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PERIL AND PEACE: Chronicles of the Ancient Church (Mindy and Brandon Withrow) – 2007

Mindy and Brandon Withrow came up with a great idea a few years ago – Write a series of books for children that chronicle the history of the church in readable prose that will actually prompt folks to read church history.  Their idea is paying off because people are reading these books.  And the audience is not limited to children.  Adults are devouring these books and delighting in church history!

The first volume, Peril and Peace: Chronicles of the Ancient Church introduces readers to the first six hundred years of church history.  A helpful timeline is presented at the outset to provide the overall historical context.

Each chapter begins with a short explanation of the subject at hand.  The authors proceed to write what one might call “historical fiction.”  A better description might be “church history with a sanctified imagination” to borrow a phrase from one of my Seminary professors.

Volume 1 presents key figures of the first six hundred years of church history, including the Apostle Paul, Polycarp, Justin, Athanasius, Augustine, Chrysostom and others.

Three cheers for the Withrows.   Their book is readable, enjoyable, accurate, and should prompt readers of all ages to dive in and discover the roots of historic Christianity.

THE BARBER WHO WANTED TO PRAY – R.C. Sproul (2011)

R.C. Sproul has a way of “bringing the cookies” to a level that anyone can reach.  Once again, he has accomplished this feat in his newest children’s book, The Barber Who Wanted to Pray.

Sproul retells the historical account of Martin Luther’s trip to the barber shop.  This was no ordinary visit. Luther was a wanted man.  Nailing the 95 theses on the castle door at Wittenberg became more than public dispute.  These nails sealed Luther’s fate – at least in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church.

The barber who held a sharpened razor to Luther’s neck knew that in one movement, Luther would be a dead man.  The barber could retire in the lap of luxury.  But instead of cashing in his chips, the barber asked Luther a penetrating question: “Dr. Luther, can you teach me to pray?”  The German Reformer was astonished and impressed with this request.  He asked for some time to frame a response.  Within days, he was back with an answer – an answer that the people of God can all benefit from.

Luther’s response to his barber was a simple approach to prayer – all based on the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Apostles’ Creed.  He would eventually compile his answer into a valuable little book, entitled The Way to Pray. The essence of his method is to pray line by line, reflecting on the truth contained in the Ten Commandments, Lord’s Prayer, and Apostles’ Creed.

On this Reformation Sunday, let us remember the accomplishments of Luther and the Protestant Reformers.  But more importantly, let us marvel at the beauty of the gospel and the precious truth of justification by faith alone!

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1, ESV).

Semper Reformanda!

THE PRIEST WITH DIRTY CLOTHES – R.C. Sproul (2011)

On Sunday morning, I was  preparing for worship.  My ten year old son came bolting onto the platform.  He had important news to share – news that probably had something to do with a new video game or Lego set.  Nathan said with a smile on his face, “R.C. Sproul’s new book is out!”

We purchased the book and by 2:00 p.m. he had completed R.C.’s newest treasure.  My son says, “Dad, you’ve gotta read this book.  It’s really cool.” Who can argue with an eager ten-year old who is excited about a new book by R.C. Sproul?

The Priest With Dirty Clothes is story based on Zechariah 3:1-5.  The story illustrates the theological realities that emerge,  including justification by faith alone and imputation.  At the end of the day, Sproul intends to communicate rich biblical truth that make up the gospel message.  The story-telling vehicle is a creative way to drive these important truths into the hearts and minds of children.

Sproul’s book is beautifully illustrated and is appropriate for young children and pre-teens.  But the message Sproul communicates is for everyone – namely, sinners need a new set of clothes; they need a new heart.  And Christ, our great high priest is the only One qualified to grant what we need most.