I've started a new blog that more closely aligns with one of my main hobbies, so it should continue to be updated much more regularly than this one.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Posted by Jeff at 5:39 PM
Monday, November 15, 2010
I know I sound like an old codger when I say this, but it's amazing to me what you can find on the Internet these days. I've been working on genealogical research off and on for the last three years, mainly using Ancestry.com.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Today Dr. Mohler pointed out on his blog that a major reason many guys don't like reading is that they don't have reading material that captures their interest and fires their imaginations. He recommended a list of books that sound fascinating, but are definitely for older teenagers and adults.
When I was a boy I had no such dislike of reading. I read just about everything I could get my hands on. Visiting the library was a several-times-a-week occurrence. When I was disobedient and in need of correction, my parents found that one of the most effective punishments was not to let me read anything for a period of time.
I thought I'd list a few of the books that I loved when I was a kid, in case you know a boy who is always in search of new reading material. Most of these will be appropriate for kids who have graduated from Dr. Seuss but aren't yet ready to tackle unabridged, adult-oriented novels.
The Hardy Boys, by F.W. Dixon. The classic boys' mystery series, and I read them all. The woman who evaluated my homeschooling work told me one year that I needed to read fewer Hardy Boys and branch out into other material.
Tom Swift, by Victor Appleton. Original science-fiction for boys, these books have been around since 1910. I read the atomic-age books (the New Tom Swift, Jr. Adventures series) that were written in the '50s and '60s.
The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander. Alexander draws on Welsh folklore to tell a fantastic store of Taran, a boy who doesn't know he's a king.
The Dark is Rising sequence, by Susan Cooper. Cooper's stories incorporate Welsh and English mythology, including Arthurian legends, and revolve around five kids who are caught up in a climactic struggle between good and evil
Grimm's Fairy Tales. The original stories are nothing like their Disneyfied modern incarnations, and will appeal to boys' love of monsters, witches, gore, and adventure.
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I can still remember discovering The Hobbit on the shelves at the library for the first time. Probably the best fantasy stories ever written.
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. These really need no introduction, given their current publicity with the movies.
The Borrowers (and sequels), by Mary Norton. A Carnegie Medal-winning story about little people who live in the walls and borrow things from big people.
Doctor Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting. The 1967 film adaptation with Rex Harrison is a classic; the books are even better.
The Redwall series, by Brian Jacques. A fantasy series about talking animals. I only became aware of these books as a teenager, but I read a bunch of them and thoroughly enjoyed them. Jacques has a gift for adventurous plots.
The American Girl books, by various authors. Yes, that's right. I secretly read every single one of my sisters' AG books, and was fascinated by them. It has taken me a decade to find the courage to admit it, though. :-)
Perhaps a better series of historical novels, for boys who can't bring themselves to read American Girl books, are the books written by G.A. Henty in the late 19th century. Each focuses on a boy who lives through an important historical time or event. They've recently been republished by Dover. I only read a couple, but they're great.
I should also mention that I was introduced to many of the great classics by Moby Books' "Illustrated Classic Editions." They're abridged, illustrated versions of classic novels that are perfect for younger readers. Some of the ones I loved include:
A Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne
The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells
Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne
The Three Musketeers, by Alexander Dumas
The Man in the Iron Mask, by Alexander Dumas
The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe
The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, by Mark Twain
Ben-Hur, by Lew Wallace
Captains Courageous, by Rudyard Kipling
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
Monday, February 11, 2008
In my reading for my class on Personal Spiritual Disciplines recently, I came across an interesting and sobering anecdote about the Puritans in J.I. Packer's A Quest for Godliness. Making a point about the Puritans' ministry being focused on spiritual revival, Packer contrasts the ministries of Richard Greenham and Richard Baxter, two English Puritans who ministered about 70 years apart.
Greenham, a pastoral pioneer, was incumbent [pastor] of Dry Drayton, seven miles from Cabridge, from 1570 to 1590. He worked extremely hard. He rose daily at four and each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday preached a sermon at daybreak, to catch his flock before they dispersed into the fields; then on Sunday he preached twice, and in addition catechised the children of the parish each Sunday evening and Thursday morning. Mornings he studied, afternoons he visited the sick or walked out into the fields 'to confer with his Neighbours while they were at Plough.'
...Yet, for all his godliness, insight, evangelical message and hard work, his ministry was virtually fruitless. Others outside his parish were blessed through him, but not his own people. 'Greenham had pastures green, but flocks full lean' was a little rhyme that went round among the godly. 'I perceive noe good wrought by my ministry on any but one family' was what, according to Holland, he said to his successor. In rural England in Greenham's day, there was much fallow ground to be broken up; it was a time for sowing, but the reaping time was still in the future.
Contrast this with Richard Baxter:
Finally, we glance at Richard Baxter, who ministered at Kidderminster from 1641 to 1660, with a five-year break during the Civil War. Kidderminster was a town of some 2,000 adults, and most of them, it seems, were converted under his ministry. He found them, he tells us, 'an ignorant, rude and revelling people, for the most part...they had hardly ever had any lively serious preaching among them.' But his ministry was wonderfully blessed.The Congregation was usually full, so that we were fain to build five Galleries [balconies] after my coming thither...In a word, when I came thither first, there was about one Family in a Street that worshipped God and called on His Name, and when I came away there were some streets where there was not past one Family in the side of a Street that did not so; and that did not by professing serious Godliness, give us hopes of their sincerity.
These two Puritan pastors both worked remarkably hard, laboring for decades harder than most pastors do today. Both were extremely godly men. Yet, for whatever reason, Baxter's ministry was blessed by God in ways that Greenham's was not. Yet Greenham's faithfulness has borne fruit for over four hundred years in the lives of those who have read his works and looked to his example, fruit that he never saw in his lifetime. No doubt Greenham was extremely discouraged at times, yet he persevered. And the seeds that he and his contemporaries sowed helped to enable Baxter's generation to see such fruit from gospel ministry in England.
Most pastors today will probably have ministries that resemble Greenham's more than Baxter's. But they need to remember that they will be judged according to their faithfulness, and not necessarily by their fruitfulness.