Review: The Lost Baron: A Story of England in the Year 1200

The Lost Baron: A Story of England in the Year 1200
The Lost Baron: A Story of England in the Year 1200 by Allen French

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Great childrens' story.

Set in the time of King John, a fine book that highlights virtues of hard work, initiative and wisdom.

When Lord Eric disappears mysteriously for months and his moody and menacing cousin takes over, young Martin from the village learns some secrets by hard work and keeping his eyes and ears open. He serves the new baron well, but the old one even better. With Eric's wife and daughter locked away in their rooms mostly, Martin finds a way to protect and restore them.

This is not the best written tale, and the plot is fairly obvious. Some might call it twaddle, but I think it's worth the read, especially for a 10-12 year old boy.

The same author wrote "The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow," which I also recommend.

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A Royal Mess

Douglas Wilson

"Businesses have a clear and obvious right to discriminate based on behaviorNo shoes, no shirt, no serviceworks because no shoes and no shirt is a behavior. So is ordering a cake with two grooms on it. So is requiring a black baker to bake a Confederate battle flag cake. So is requiring a graphic designer married to a compulsive gambler to design a billboard for the local casino. So when you, for arbitrary and capricious reasons, define someone’s personal vice as an essential part of their personal identity, and link it with iron bands to their constitutional rights, you are making a royal hash of everything."


No Rough Waters

Revelation 21:1-4
"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

We are headed for a time of no sea, no rough waters, in the new heaven and earth. This might concern you if you like boating or fishing, but the point is, no more chaos and fear. The Spirit will have finished His restoring work. You will sit at rest under your own vine and fig tree, at the Lord’s table to feast.

The Spirit hovers over us, even now. Without His brooding work, we are not united with Christ, we cannot commune with Him. Let us consider the cross and empty tomb, the work of Christ for us, taking away our guilt and disorder and restoring us to life in Himself.



Affection Commanded

Romans 12:10
"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another"

Let us confess our coldness toward others, where God seeks affection.
Let us confess our preferring ourselves selfishly, where God seeks service.

Oh come, let us worship & bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our maker.



Review: Genesis in Space and Time; The Flow of Biblical History

Genesis in Space and Time; The Flow of Biblical History
Genesis in Space and Time; The Flow of Biblical History by Francis August Schaeffer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A study of Genesis 1-11 - not a commentary.

Schaeffer emphasizes the flow of redemptive history at each point, doesn't get bogged down in minor detail, and rejects humanistic science or philosophy that assumes and asserts a closed uniform world system. But neither is he dogmatic about uncertain detail in Scripture as some creation scientists today can be.

An example of this is the geneologies of chapters 5 and 10. They are not given for chronology (counting the years between the flood and Babel, for instance), and shouldn't be used that way, as there are some gaps.

Written in 1972, but this would be my first and highest recommendation to any Christian looking for some supplemental study on the early chapters of Genesis.

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Outlasting the Stars

Psalm 102:24-28
    I said, “O my God,
    Do not take me away in the midst of my days;
    Your years are throughout all generations.
    25      Of old You laid the foundation of the earth,
    And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
    26      They will perish, but You will endure;
    Yes, they will all grow old like a garment;
    Like a cloak You will change them,
    And they will be changed.
    27      But You are the same,
    And Your years will have no end.
    28      The children of Your servants will continue,
    And their descendants will be established before You.”

It is strange to think that we will outlast the heavens we see. By God’s grace this will be so. God will change this old worn out world for a new one. At the great resurrection, we will arise to a new heaven and earth. This table proclaims the Lord’s death. It also proclaims His resurrection. The bread is broken, but it rises. The wine is blood-red, but it gives joy. It is a transformed, new creation. Remember, when you are in Christ, you are a new creation. old things have passed away; all things have become new. This meal shows your union with Christ, so you are a new creation. Rejoice in our great God who creates life and gives favor.



Abhor and Cling

Romans 12:9
"Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good."

These words show us that our affections matter. Loving and abhorring and clinging engage your emotions, or they should. It is easy to act loving and interested outwardly, but to not really care inside. The Greek word hypocrite means actor. It’s easy to put on an act. But we need to ask the Lord to work His grace down beyond our face and our words and our actions, and into our heart and our affections. We don’t just identify and renounce and expose evil. We abhor it and flee from it. We don’t just approve of the good, vote for it, and read about it. We cling to it for life.

Let us confess our apathy to love Jesus Christ and to pursue holiness.




Review: Sermons on Genesis Chapters 1-11

Sermons on Genesis Chapters 1-11
Sermons on Genesis Chapters 1-11 by John Calvin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


850 pages, on 11 chapters of the Bible!

This is an excellent edition gives us a glimpse into Calvin's pulpit ministry. Rather wordy, but his pastor's heart shines through. No academic discourses, these! He was always on the lookout for applying the text to the people, clearly and plainly. I found myself quoting his pithy sayings from the pulpit myself, often.

On Abel's murder: "The blood of Abel accused Cain, but the blood of Jesus Christ excuses us."

From Cain's guilt: "Even if the reprobates lived in palaces and did nothing but take leisurely walks and everyone came to make a big fuss over them and were at their beck and call... they still... have to be scared stiff, their lives are still hanging by a thread, and they feel no certainty or assurance, and they do not know why."

From Cain's departure, we "learn what true repentance is, which is hatred for the sin which is rooted in our hearts."

From Genesis 5 we learn to "not become entangled in the abominations which sourround us on all sides."

On God remembering Noah: "we imagine that God is asleep.... it is not enought to trust in God for just a single minute. We must persist, and our faith must not grow weary. That, in short, is how we must put this passage into practice."

Calvin repeats that last sentence often, or a variant of it. He wraps up a section saying, "That's the main thing."

Calvin preached every weekday, many weeks, and these are dated in the book: "Thursday, 14 December 1559." It's fun to see him start a sermon by saying, Yesterday we saw that...

THere is a lot to weed through, here, but there are gems that show the world hasn't really changed all that much since Calvin's time, and the pastoral application is as relevant today as it was then.

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Review: Genesis: Creation and Fall

Genesis: Creation and Fall
Genesis: Creation and Fall by James Montgomery Boice

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent series of sermons. Though Boice is a bit too accommodating to modern science and soft on the old earth position for my taste, his expositions are always clear and helpful.

One of the best features is how he links the more obscure and ignored passages with the major themes of Scripture. Lamech and Noah drunk in his tent, and Nimrod all connect to God's purposes.

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Review: The Beginnings

The Beginnings
The Beginnings by Ray C. Stedman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Decent but dated popular commentary on Genesis 4-11. Stedman has an evangelical perspective, and his exegesis is usually sound. The application is sometimes too cold war related, and lacks enough emphasis on the church and redemptive history, though that isn’t totally absent. His reading of Ham is pretty good for 1978. Though some of his language would be considered politically incorrect today, I didn’t see anything racially offensive.

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Review: Taran Wanderer

Taran Wanderer
Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I read the first three of this series out loud to the kids, but quit half way through this one - a rarity. It was that... blah. We finished it separately, but the younger ones lost interest.

Not bad, just boring. The older kids finished it, and I'm looking forward to the last of the series, which is a Newberry Award winner.

Taran sets off to discover who he is. He learns several trades. The values of initiative and strength to serve others comes through strongly. Also, being able to take hard knocks and keep going.

His conclusion of his search for himself was very disappointing. Maybe stretching the actual discovery to the next book, but there was more plot needed here, then!

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Liberty to Serve

Leviticus 25:8-10
"And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. 10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family."

Matthew 20.28
"the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Jesus used His freedom to serve us, and what service it was! He gave His life a ransom for many.  Ransom means freedom from bondage and servitude. Whatever debt and slavery you found yourself in, the Jubilee reset it all. Land restored, debts forgiven, freedom regained.  The Passover meal was founded as Israel left the bondage of Egypt. They walked through the blood-marked door to a new life of liberty, guided by the law at Sinai, with God’s house in their midst.  

This new Passover meal was founded as Jesus proclaimed and bought liberty for all His people captives to sin. We walk through the bloody veil of His body, in repentance and conversion, baptism and bread and wine. But now we don’t just walk out of a house of bondage. God’s house isn’t just near ours. We walk freely into the house of God. Jesus is the door and the cornerstone. We are adopted children. He takes us to our place at the table. Your place to serve.



Use Your Gifts

Romans 12:6-8
"Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness."

We have received spiritual gifts by God’s grace. This means you are better at some things than other people are. We tend to notice and think it is our own hard work or insight. We enjoy comparing and finding ourselves better. But we forget it is according to the grace given us. You don’t have any gift or ability because you’ve earned it or deserved it. Husbands, mothers, elders or congressmen are not worthy of their callings. Who is sufficient for such things, Paul asks? By the grace of God we are what we are.

So, first we should confess pride about the gifts we have or think we have. And second, we should confess not using our gifts. Out of humility, let us use our gifts and serve the body.

3 or 4 of the gifts mentioned here use words to help others, so I’d like to remind you of the next head of household training, this Thursday night at our house, where you will be equipped to give and seek counsel from others.

Until then, let us confess our lack of reliance on God’s grace, and the small effort we put into showing mercy, leading, giving to, and teaching others.

Oh come, let us worship & bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our maker.




Notice Each Other

1 Corinthians 11:33-34
"Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment."

The problem in 1 Corinthians 11 that calls for self-examination is not that the Corinthains don’t know enough to take the supper yet. It isn’t that Paul is unsure if they really know the Lord. The problem is that they are not pursuing holiness together. They were pursuing their desires, ignoring each other, while physically in the same room. They had to learn to wait for each other, and adjust their actions based on the group. They had to act not out of their hunger, but in a way that would convey the love of Christ to others.

We proclaim the Lord’s death as we do this together.



Members of one another

Romans 12:4-5
"For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another."

We have gathered together and begun to praise God as one body, as these remind us. Here are some thgings to remember as we proceed.

1. You are not complete on your own. You are a member of a body bigger than your individual self. One thing to confess is a fierce, over-independence of self, afraid to rely on others.

2. Each member is not the same as the others. You contribute something unique, but we tend to force others to be like ourselves. Where have you done this to others in your life?

3. We are members of Christ. Are we going to join ourselves with sin when we are already joined with Christ? What you do with your time and body isn’t all up to you.

4. We are members of one another. Our union together is more than having a common savior, all believing the same thing. We are being put together into one building, one body. The ear has to pay attention to the eye and the foot. If we each just do our own thing, then we won’t do our own thing well. Instead of taking our cues from each other, we usually follow our own desires.