Because I Love You by Max Lucado–Book Review

When Jesus taught people, he often used parables, or stories to reveal important truths. He used images and situation that would be familiar to his listeners — things like sheep and shepherds, for example. In this short book for children, Max Lucado uses the same technique.

Because I Love You

A kind man named Shaddai loves the children who live in his village. He knows each one intimately and enjoys being with them, singing and telling them stories. He wants to keep them nearby and protect them and so he builds a wall that will keep them safe from the dangers in the surrounding forest. Naturally, there is one very curious little boy who finds a hole in the wall and ventures outside even after Shaddai’s warning, that he will get lost and have trouble finding his way back. This is indeed what happens. When Shaddai hears Paladin’s cries for help, he leaves his work to go and search for him.

The book simply tells the story of Shaddai and Paladin but it could be used by parents or teachers to explain God’s love in a way youngsters will relate to and understand. It provides a jumping off point for a discussion of why we should obey God’s rules, and how He still loves us and seeks us out to save us even when we fail to listen to Him. The illustrations by Mitchell Heinze are realistic and attractive. It would be best suited to young elementary age children, and is definitely a book to read out loud and discuss. Children won’t get the deeper meaning without assistance.

VERDICT: 5 STARS

For more books for children see:

The Great Farmapalooza by Jill Roman Lord — Book Review

What’s So Wonderful About Webster? by Stephen and Alex Kendrick–Book Review

Flashlight Night by Elisabeth Hasselbeck–Book Review

False Piety #2

“Two men went up into the temple to pray;  one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee standing by himself prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’  But the tax collector standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other.”  Luke 18:10-14

The Pharisee is this parable is an example of what the Via de Cristo talk Piety talk calls “Mechanical Mike.”  He prayed, tithed and fasted because he was a Pharisee and that’s what Pharisees do.  It was part of his routine. Not only that, it made him feel superior to others, those who did not have the same training and habits.  Many “Christians” feel the same way.  They go to church every week because their parents did, their spouse wants them to, it’s good for the kids, it’s a way to make business contacts, they get to associate with nice people.  It’s just what they’ve always done. They think that being part of a Christian congregation and doing all the right “religious” things makes them an exemplary example, a pillar of the community.  In reality, they don’t have a real relationship with God and are without a clue about how to get one.

The tax collector wasn’t doing the right things, but he had the right attitude.  He recognized his sin and God’s gracious mercy. His focus was on God, not his own works.  This is a starting point for authentic piety.

It’s easy to fall into the “routine” if you’ve been a Christian for many years, we all do it.  We sing and recite the creeds, we say certain prayers by rote, we set aside our weekly offering — we may even feel pretty righteous about doing this.  The problem is, we’ve forgotten about the God we’re supposedly worshipping with our actions.

How can we avoid this sort of false piety?  One way is to periodically do an examination of conscience.  This can serve to remind us of how sinful we really are. Realizing how much we need Christ will quickly direct our attention to Him (there’s nothing like desperation to focus us).  Christian friends can help, too.  How are others praying?  Studying?  Serving?  Maybe we need to break our routine and try something new.  Christian friends inspire and admonish us.

Don’t get stuck in a rut.  Stay alert.  Pay attention.  Be truly pious.

 

The High Cost of Unforgiveness

Well, I have to admit it, I was reading the “Ask Amy” column in the paper the other day.  Not very edifying material, but I guess we all do it from time to time.  Here is an excerpt:

My husband and I are prosperous senior citizens.  We are friends with another couple, also seniors and also prosperous.  We four often socialize together.  He no longer drives and my husband ..always offers our car and becomes the driver.

Here is the problem.  This other couple seems reluctant to share in the parking fees and my husband ..is forever.. footing the entire bill.

…We can well afford the loss, but it is the principal of the thing.

This lady who calls herself “upset” admits that the situation is causing her to quarrel with her husband (who would rather just pay) and endangering her friendship with people she describes as “wonderful.”  I wonder why she is willing to pay such a high price for being unforgiving and protecting her “principles” when forgiving would cost her so little.  You might look at this story as a modern day example of the parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Matthew 18:21-35 (I’ll let you read that for yourself).  It is Jesus’s response to this question:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.(Matt. 18:21-22)

                                                                                                                                                                           The parable is the story of a servant who is forgiven a huge debt by his master.  He then refuses to forgive a fellow servant of an insignificant amount.  His master is angry and throws him into prison.

The point?  God sent Jesus as a sacrifice so that we could be forgiven and released from the burden of sin we could never pay on our own.  Shouldn’t we forgive our fellow sinners?  As often as they need it?  Unforgiveness separates us from God… are you really willing to pay that cost?