As Tim Keller points out in the foreword to Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, there are very few devotional materials designed to be read by children. Sally Lloyd-Jones, author of the excellent The Jesus Storybook Bible, has teamed up with artist Jago once more to create a devotional for kids that is visually engaging and spiritually uplifting.
This isn't a catechism, or a manual of doctrine for the kiddos. Each 2-page devotional passage contains an earth-shatteringly awesome illustration and brief text. Don't read them all at once! These are intended to be read and digested one at a time, short daily selections to get young people thinking about God.
Not just thinking about Him, but getting to know Him. The purpose of Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing is to help kids move beyond mere knowledge of God, and help them experience His love, mercy, goodness, and glory. There is theology, but it's there to anchor the more devotional aspects of personal faith.
Most of the entries are excellent, focusing on God's love, the sufficiency of Christ, our need for God's Law to point out our sin and lead us to godliness, etc. There are a few problematic ones, however; Lloyd-Jones has a subtle habit of applying some Bible passages to individuals when they clearly apply to the whole people of God.
The most obvious instance of this comes near the beginning. Under the heading "In All the Earth!" Lloyd-Jones includes this statement: "Do you know what God says is the best, most magnificent, incredible thing he has ever made? You." She then cites Exodus 19:5, which reads, "Now therefore, if you [national Israel] will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine." Not only does that passage not say what she says it does, it refers not to individuals but to the Israelites, and it is conditional.
Fortunately, these moments are rare (no more than four or five). Overall, the devotions are excellent, and all the full-color illustrations are fantastic. We'd probably recommend reading this together with your pre- and early-elementary children, and discussing each devotion so you can run damage control where necessary.
At the same time, these are meant to be enjoyed. Don't try to over-intellectualize the content, but do compare everything to God's Word and orthodox doctrine. We can do nothing better for our children than to raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and this book can help in that endeavour by imparting a sense of joy, thanksgiving, and comfort to our little ones.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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