August 16, 2013

Help Your Child Read with Discernment

I'm reading through the Harry Potter series (amazon affiliate link) with my son. The books are good, but have some iffy content. I thought about writing here about how to help kids read with discernment, but just today I came across this excellent post by Christina Fox at the gospel coalition.

She recommends that parents consider
  • the worldview that the author of the book promotes
  • what kind of character traits the book promotes and what kind of consequences follow good and bad actions
  • whether the book is good literature or not. She says that good books "enrich children's vocabulary, enlighten their imagination, increase their knowledge, and encourage their desire to read." 
And finally she recommends the practice of reading together with your child.

Read the full article.

July 5, 2013

The New NIV Bible Bugs Me

This year, I am reading through the New Testament in a few different translations. Now I am in the NIV, and because I'm traveling, I didn't bring my paper 1984 NIV with me. I'm reading the new (2010) NIV online at Bible Gateway.

I had heard that there were certain liberties taken to make the new NIV gender neutral and that some scholars and pastors didn't like what some of those changes implied theologically. I haven't been bothered by the theology so far, but to me the changes destroy readability. Here's one example from this morning's reading (Matthew 15).

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
 What are the antecedents to the two "thems?" Plural pronouns, plural antecedents, right? But then verses 18 and 20 would read like this:

 18 "But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile the things that come out of a person's mouth.

20 "These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile the unwashed hands.”

Thankfully there's the ESV, which I'll stick with at least until the NIV comes up with a more elegant way to be gender neutral.

June 22, 2013

Home School, Private School, Public School

As we shift back toward homeschooling, I found the following series of articles very interesting. Three moms share why they send their kids to public schools, send their kids to private schools, and keep their kids at home for school, respectively.

Perspectives on Our Children's Education: Going Public

Perspectives on Our Children's Education: A Private Enterprise

Perspectives on Our Children's Education: Homeward Bound

June 13, 2013

"Grit" Trumps IQ in Predicting Student Success

I see this in school and life all the time. It is those with grit who succeed. Check out Angela Lee Duckworth's paper, "Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents" pdf or if you prefer video to dry, academic papers, watch her TED talk.

June 11, 2013

Gaining Ground: Adventure Farming

It has been a while since I read a 300+ page book in less than 24 hours, but that's what I did this weekend. Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers' Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm hooked me in and I can't really figure out why. I live in a big city, am not that into organic or slow food, and the closest thing I do to farming is remind the kids to water the houseplants once a week or so.

But Forrest Pritchard's book about taking over the family farm and getting back to the rhythms of soil, water, grass and food struck a chord. It was an adventure book and a meditation. It made me want to raise fresh, delicious food, or at least buy from a local farmer. Know any in Tokyo?

June 4, 2013

On Excuses

"As soon as a man begins to make excuse, the time has come when he might be doing that from which he excuses himself." -George MacDonald

from C. S. Lewis's George MacDonald: An Anthology 365 Readings

May 23, 2013

The Internet and Education

There's a really good discussion happening between Doug Wilson and Levi Heiple about technology and education. Both men believe strongly in the benefits of Christian education. They have a lot of common ground, but are a ways apart in a few areas, especially in how much to embrace and depend on technology in education--flipped classrooms, blended learning, and the like.

Check out what they've written so far:

Wilson: Chasing the laser pointer dot

Heiple: The internet and education: clarifying the issues

Wilson: Not all cake

Heiple: Delicately disrupting school

There will probably be some more back-and-forth. I don't know if I'll get around to updating this post with the links, but you can figure it out.

April 1, 2013

New Music - Andrew Peterson

Well, it's new music for me anyway. One of the blogs I read featured this song on youtube by Andrew Peterson. Go ahead and play it while you read the rest of this blog post (or just play it and skip the rest of the post).

When I first heard this song back in January, I was waiting for the results from some scary medical tests. The song moved me in a way that music rarely does. It was exactly the message I would want to leave with my kids if something happened to me. (The medical thing ended up being nothing to worry about.)

So I bought the album that the song came from, Light for the Lost Boy. It's one of my favorite albums now. I guess the concept of the album, songs from a father to his kids, really resonates with me right now. "Come Back Soon," "Rest Easy," and "Don't You Want To Thank Someone?" are among my other favorite tracks. Andrew Peterson is part of a community of Christian artistic types called The Rabbit Room. It's worth checking out. They just might be this generation's Rich Mullins and Ragamuffins. Here's one more song that I love, "Hosanna."

ANDREW PETERSON - Hosanna Live from Far Country Media on Vimeo.

March 24, 2013


A former Jesuit seminarian, later a finance guy, recommends the practice of examen. This is a habit I want to develop. It looks like it would prevent how-in-the-world-did-my-day-get-so-out-of-control syndrome.

The English word examine roughly conveys the concept: to examine your day and take stock. With apologies to my spiritual father Ignatius, I often refer to it more colloquially as a "mental pit stop." I recommend two of them daily — one at midday, for example, and one at the end of the day — completely dedicating at least five minutes to each one. (Sorry, multi-taskers — listening to sports radio, texting, or listening to cell phone messages would not qualify for completely dedicated.)
During those few minutes, do three things. First, remind yourself why you are grateful as a human being. Second, lift your horizon for a moment. Call to mind some crucial personal objective, or your deepest sense of purpose, or the values you stand for. Third, mentally review the last few hours and extract some insight that might help in the next few hours. If you were agitated, what was going on inside you? If you were distracted and unproductive, why? Those who are spiritually inclined might also reflect on how God (or a higher power) was present in the people and challenges you encountered over the last few hours.
 Read the rest.

January 3, 2013

Belief and Obedience

So obvious, but so easy to neglect.

The message of the Cross contains two elements: (1) Promises and declarations to be believed, and (2) commandments to be obeyed. Obviously faith is necessary to the first and obedience to the second. The only thing we can do with a promise or a statement of fact is to believe it; it is physically impossible to obey it, for it is not addressed to the will, but to the understanding. It is equally impossible to believe a command; it is not addressed to our understanding, but to our will. True, we may have faith in its justice; we may have confidence that it is a good and right command, but that is not enough. Until we have either obeyed or refused to obey we have not done anything about it yet. To strain to exercise faith toward that which is addressed to our obedience is to get ourselves tangled in a maze of impossibilities."  -A. W. Tozer, Paths To Power, Chapter 3.
6005X: Paths To Power Paths To Power

By A.W. Tozer / Wingspread Publishers

January 2, 2013

Balancing Ministry (or Work) and Family

We know that God won't call us to keep one command in a way that would cause us to break another. So if, over the long haul, our family suffers neglect because of our ministry, it is because we are doing things in ministry that we should not be doing because we wrongly assessed that we can handle more than we are able to handle. -Paul Tripp