Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Book Review: Big Beliefs

Big Beliefs: Small Devotionals Introducing Your Family to Big Truths. David R. Helm. 2016. P&R. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Big Beliefs is a family devotional structured around the Westminster Confession of Faith. There are thirty-three lessons in Big Beliefs, or, thirty-three weeks of devotions. Each lesson is divided into three devotionals. Each devotional begins with a bible reference. This is probably the most important part of the devotion: the reading of the Bible itself. This should not be seen as skippable. Next there is the devotional itself. This is usually just two or three paragraphs long. It's short and story-based. Each daily devotion ends with a question or two for parents and children to discuss.

PART One: God's Word (1 lesson, 3 devotions)
PART Two: God (4 lessons, 12 devotions)
PART Three: The Fall, Sin, and Mankind (3 lessons, 9 devotions)
PART Four: Salvation (7 lessons, 21 devotions)
PART Five: The Christian Life (9 lessons, 27 devotions)
PART Six: The Church (7 lessons, 21 devotions)
PART Seven: The Last Things (2 lessons, 6 devotions)

The first devotion is called "The Record of Revelation."
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:1-4
Main point: "The Bible is the only way we can learn about God, ourselves, and God's plan of salvation." 

The second devotion is called "The Guide to Salvation."
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19)
Main point: "The Bible is the book that teaches us about God's plan of salvation."

The third devotion is called "Listening to the Word of God." 
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:1-9)
Main point: "If you want to know who God is, who we are, and how we come to know God, then pay close attention to the Bible."

The intended audience for the devotionals is ages seven through twelve. (This isn't a book children read on their own, but, instead a book parents read aloud to their children.)

I definitely think it's great for parents to have family devotions with their children, and to be purposeful in teaching their children theology--showing the next generation that Christianity is a living faith based on the Word of God. I think the length of each devotion is manageable. I also like that some review is built into this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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