Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Corrie Ten Boom's Prison Letters

by Corrie Ten Boom
90 pages / 1975

This is a collection of the correspondence between Corrie Ten Boom and her family while she and her sister Betsie were being held in prison by the Nazis during World War II.
            If you haven’t already her remarkable wartime biography The Hiding Place, then you must read that first. It recounts how her family hid Jews, not because they were brave or courageous, but simply because they were obedient to what they knew God was calling them to do. We see how God sustained them. It is a book of doubts being answered, and God being found sufficient even in the most trying of circumstances.

            If you loved The Hiding Place (and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t, which must be why both I and my brother have reviewed it!) then this collection of letters will act as a moving appendix to that remarkable book. It is the same story, but told a very different way, one letter at a time. However, because no correspondence was allowed in the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, where Corrie and Betsie were sent last, the book ends abruptly. So, this will be a wonderful supplement to The Hiding Place, but it is not one to read simply on its own.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Pierced by the Word

by John Piper
144 pages / 2003

I know my brother likes at least one "chapter" from this book, since it was included on pages 36-37 of the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of Reformed Perspective magazine. As editor, he knew a really good thing when he saw it.

Why is this book really good? Because it so well works out, in bite-size pieces (literally for me - I've been reading one each day while eating breakfast) what it means to live for the glory of God, what it means to be pierced by the Word.

Reformed Christians can have just as much trouble with this as other Christians – trying to be good for the following wrong reasons: to gain God's favor, out of a sense of mere duty, out of habit or social pressure. Good preachers keep reminding us that we love because He loved us first, and that believers delight to do God's law.

John Piper's meditations get the same earnest urgency on paper that preachers do off the pulpit. On topics as varied as "How to Drink Orange Juice to the Glory of God" and the gritty but necessary "It Is Never Right to Be Angry with God," Piper shows life in Christ as a great and growing adventure.

A couple cautions: Some of the glimpses into Piper's own personal or family devotional practices are worthy of consideration, but not necessarily of strict imitation. As well, these meditations in particular are not quite what I was expecting when I started the book. Don't assume that these can take the place of  Bible reading in your devotional time with the Lord. (Piper would probably agree!)

Aside from that warning, this is a book worth reading on your own, and worth passing on to anyone who's struggling to get beyond a vague sense that "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." This book will help us see that while we aren't perfect, we should desperately yearn to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect - to His glory. If you long to be pierced by the Word in that way, you can find it at or

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Thunderstorm in Church

by Louise A. Vernon
1974 / 132 pages

It isn't easy being the son of a giant.

In Louise Vernon's short children's novel, we get to hear Luther's story told from the perspective of his young son Hans, who is worried that he won't measure up to his father.

Though I'm a bit outside the intended demographic, I found it a very fun read, and I think that's because, with one of his offspring acting as the narrator, this is a really unique look at Luther. Hans reveals to us a father who is both funny and furious - a man of quick temper who also laughs a lot. Having Hans narrate also allows Luther to teach us, as he instructs his son, some of the truths that he uncovered about God's grace – that we don't have to buy the forgiveness that God freely offers.

Reviewers have faulted the book for being too dialogue-driven, and there is a lot of talking. But Vernon inserts a few actions scenes as well, when the town's bullies want to teach the son of the famous Doctor Luther a lesson or two.

If your child is a reader, this is a book that could be read just for enjoyment. As an educational tool, the age-level this is aimed at – as young as Grade 3 – may have to be alerted that this is a fictionalized biography, and that this means only the general facts are true, but many of the details are just a matter of imagination.

Overall, Thunderstorm in Church is a wonderful book that could make for a nice night time read with your kids.

You can pick it up at here, and here. And be sure to check out our review of Louise A. Vernon book on Tyndale, The Bible Smuggler.