Category Archives: Homeschooling
Good morning friends! I’ve got a list of things I need to write on and figured these would be best expressed in some miscellaneous notes.
Resources for children
First off this Monday morning I want to recommend some excellent resources for children. My wife and I made a commitment last year to package our television away. We had grown lazy and began extending our time in front of the tube so we decided to wrap it up and put it out of sight. Now we spend a lot more time together reading, listening to music, and watching DVD movies on our computer (we’re much less prone to laziness with a computer and limited DVDs). Much of what we’ve read, listened to and watched we do not recommend. But here are three resources we’ve tested and found to be excellent.
Reading. Communicating the substitutionary atonement of Christ to appease the wrath of a holy God is a concept parents must work at communicating to little souls. Yet, many resources for children fail to communicate this theme. C.S. Lewis’, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe presents the work of Aslan (Christ) as the appeasement the White Witch (Satan) sounding more like Origen’s “Ransom to Satan Theory” than the Biblical Gospel. I think this shows just how tough it really is to present to children the substitution of Christ as the appeasement of God’s justice (even the literary genius struggles here). This is why Caleb’s Lamb by Helen Santos remains one of our family-favorite books. Santos succeeds at clarifying the atonement for children and keeping it within the context of the holiness of God. In the beginning a young boy rescues a spotless lamb and in the end the spotless lamb rescues the boy. It’s set in the historical time of the Exodus. We reviewed this book in months past but a book I recommend time and time again.
Listening. Our family has enjoyed Hide the Word CDs by Mark Altrogge that take biblical passages and set them to music. We just came across a new series of CDs written with the same purpose called Seeds Family Worship. After listening to two albums (Seeds of Courage and Seeds of Purpose) we are very impressed with the quality of this project. The Seeds series music was recorded with a full band and is of the same musical quality as the best contemporary recordings. It would, however, be nice to hear more songs centered on the Gospel, so I’ll continue highly recommending the Hide the Word series where children are constantly pointed back to the Cross. Nevertheless, I would put the Seeds CDs on a wishlish. You can listen to excerpts and get more information here.
Watching. As much as my children love vegetables, I try to expose them also to biographical videos. The Torchlighters: Heroes of the Faith series does this very well. These are animated movies of about 30 minutes each. They contain very accurate historical details that you may not catch until you compare these movies with books. The William Tyndale Story and the John Bunyan Story are our favorites. Tyndale worked on (and died for) translating the Bible into English. The video portrays his struggles, successes and eventual martyrdom. Because I love Bunyan, The John Bunyan Story was my personal favorite. It revealed a gentle man driven out of a love for souls and firmly committed to preaching the Word of God to that end. My son loved the fight with the dragon in the Pilgrim’s Progress flashback scenes. These are children’s movies with plenty of action but also loaded with historical content and come with study guides for further use in homeschooling or Sunday school classes. In passing, I would recommend two documentary DVDs for adults. First was the interview with Dr. David Daniell titled William Tyndale: Man with a Mission. Daniell is a top Tyndale scholar and filled with interesting historical details of Tyndale’s life. The John Bunyan: The Journey of a Pilgrim DVD was an interesting tour of the life of Bunyan by John Prestell who works at the Bunyan Museum in Bedford, England. My wife and I enjoyed watching the animations with the kids and then the documentaries after the kids were in bed. Date nights the Calvinist way.
Ever headed over to desiringGod.com and found the Piper sermon you were looking for? It’s a breeze because of the diligent work of website manger Joshua Sowin. When he’s not indexing and making accessible the life works of John Piper he directs the Fire and Knowledge blog/website. Today at his site he posted an interview with myself. We talked about life, books and reading. You can read the interview here.
Today over at TakeUpAndRead.com I published John Tweeddale’s review of Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics by Richard Muller. I would recommend you check it out. I asked John to write a review focused on how educated laypersons and pastors could effectively use this excellent work and he did not disappoint! Read the review here. Note that Monergism has dropped the price of this set down to just $79.00!
As many of you know, my favorite author is Octavius Winslow (1808-1878). I like to track when his books are printed. The latest is Our God a study of the communicable attributes of God. Chapters include topics of God’s love, hope, patience, comfort, grace, holiness, peace and light. You can read many of Winslow’s books online for free here but I always recommend the dead tree version as best for posterity and reflection.
Well, I think that’s it for now. Have a great Monday in Christ! Tony
Caleb’s Lamb by Helen Santos
The long-running children’s show Sesame Street once wrote and filmed an entire episode around Big Bird’s search for a real name. Every one else had names (Bert, Ernie, Oscar, etc.). But “Big Bird” is just a description, not a name. The episode never aired because the theme did not make sense to children. Isn’t “Big Bird” his/her/its name? Why search for another name? Doesn’t the old name work just fine?
Communicating to children is no easy task and yet is one of the most critical tasks for Christian parents. And this is because there are no more important (or often more difficult) concepts to explain to children than the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.
Caleb’s Lamb by Helen Santos will help parents succeed in this task.
Set in the Old Testament era of the plagues in Egypt and the Passover, this 93-page chapter book is the story of a young boy named Caleb and his reluctant life as a shepherd. He does not like sheep and hates being a shepherd. The sheep are dumb and high-maintenance, and a burden for the young boy. One day a pregnant sheep wanders into the wilderness and Caleb is sent to find her.
After a dark night alone he finds the ewe dead. But hidden safely in a thatch of thorns he finds a newborn spotless lamb. He takes this weak and famished animal home. From here the book focuses around Caleb’s relationship with his beautiful new lamb.
In the end, word spreads to the shepherds of the coming exodus. God is coming to kill the firstborn male of every house. The race begins for the Jewish people in Egypt to sacrifice a spotless lamb as God’s judgment draws near.
Caleb’s Lamb is very well written. There are multiple themes throughout the book including life in Old Testament times, life as a shepherd, the often-repeated significance of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac, and especially the blood required to atone for sin.
The book was full of plot-line twists and vivid imagery. It will prove an excellent bedtime read for young children and a very helpful homeschool resource for older children. But most importantly, the book is filled with references to the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ in a storyline well-suited for children and useful for Cross-centered parenting.
Topical Index: no
Textual index: no
Reading level: Child. Great reading for younger children and written for an udience of readers in the 9-11 yr. category.
Publisher: Reformation Heritage
Where this book fits into my library:
(1) Children’s books > Fiction > nature of the atonement
(2) History > Life in Old Testament times
(3) Shepherding > The nature of
Book review: Caleb’s Lamb by Helen Santos, 1892777703, 1-892777-70-3