Archive for the ‘Marriage, Family and Children’ Category

Family Worship: A Reviving Experience

October 30, 2009

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One of the most encouraging signs in the modern church is the reviving of the practice of Family Worship. The Puritans were known for the diligent practice of morning and evening times together in the Word of God and prayer. After falling upon hard times for generations, there has been a growing army of those determined to begin this practice again. The reprinting of the book Thoughts on Family Worship by J.W. Alexander and booklets by Jerry Marcellino, Joel Beeke and others have helped give aid and direction to this renewed practice.

Two years ago I was approached by Ray Rhodes of Nourished in the Word ministry from Dawsonville, Georgia with an idea about beginning a series of books to help families as they gather together during certain seasons of the year. Ray’s enthusiasm and devotion won me over to his idea and we soon produced Family Worship for the Christmas Season. This book received such reviews as the following:

“It is rare to find solid Family Worship resources in our day, let alone one for the advent season. Ray Rhodes has provided an outstanding tool for busy fathers during this opportune time of year. May God powerfully use it in the godly instruction of our families and for the generations to come!” – Pastor Jerry Marcellino

“The Christmas season is a great time for daily family worship. If you’ve never enjoyed family worship on a consistent basis, there’s no better time to start. Whether your family already enjoys the biblical and historic Christian practice of family worship or you’re just beginning, consider using Ray Rhodes’ engaging Family Worship for the Christmas Season this December.” – Dr. Donald S. Whitney

Last year Ray worked diligently again and produced Family Worship for the Reformation Season which led people for 31 days into the riches of church history, with special focus on the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Once again the response was encouraging:

“Imagine, leading your family in daily worship in the home, reading the Scriptures, singing and praying, but simultaneously introducing them to the history, leading figures and theology of the great sixteenth-century Reformation – all this in a fresh and interesting way, in just about a quarter of an hour each day. ‘That would be great,’ you say, ‘but it would take me hours and days to put that together. I could never do it.’ Well, Ray Rhodes has done it for you in Family Worship for the Reformation Season. Use this book with joy. It will inspire, inform and instruct you and your family. The studies are simple but meaty. The Scriptures passages are helpfully chosen. And most of the lessons can be completed in fifteen minutes. Employ and be edified!” – Dr. Ligon Duncan

This year Ray turned his attention to the Thanksgiving Season and he hit home once again. His words are informative and his counsel is simple as he leads families to remember the goodness of the Lord throughout history, including their own. Yet again the commendations flowed in.

“What a complete joy it is to offer my blessing and recommendation of Ray Rhodes’, newest book, Family Worship for the Thanksgiving Season. Ray has given us a doxological feast of 31 creative lessons which offer the fruit of both an informed mind and enflamed heart. The beauty of Ray’s writing may only be surpassed by the beauty of his family–the precious community in which our brother has invested so much of his heart and cultivated his tremendous love for the gospel and God’s people. Not only your Thanksgiving season, but your entire year will be enriched by highly accessible and Biblically faithful reflections.” Pastor Scotty Smith

Solid Ground Christian Books has expanded our vision to include new books from living authors who stand upon the firm foundation of sound doctrine. We are honored to be able to introduce men like Ray Rhodes to the Christian community throughout the US and around the world. We are convinced that the world has no hope without the reformation of the Church, and the Church has no hope without the reformation of the family. There is an expression in Latin: Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda, which means “The Church reformed and always reforming.” It is part of our purpose to seek to assist the Church of Jesus Christ throughout the world to fulfill its mission in the world. Family Worship is one neglected instrument toward the fulfillment of that task. Let us press on to know the Lord and to make Him known in our households and to the ends of the earth. Soli Deo Gloria!


Scripture Biography For The Young and Not So Young

October 16, 2009


Last time I spoke about Thomas H. Gallaudet, the father of deaf

educationScripture Biography for Young (5 Vol. Set) by Thomas H. Gallaudet in America. This morning I would like to speak to you about an outstanding series he wrote over the last 15 years of his life entitled Scripture Biography for the Young. Beginning with Adam he writes to the young about the leading characters of Holy Scripture in a way that is informative, entertaining and challenging all at the same time. I am now approaching 60 years of age and I have found myself moved to tears on many occasions as I have read his words. He never leaves the reader as a mere spectator of history, but always seeks to address us in light of the example he has set before us. I will give a couple brief examples to whet your appetite. By the way, the first five volumes will be available in the first week of November.


EXAMPLE ONE – Joseph’s Brothers Comforting Their Father After Selling Joseph

“Jacob’s sons, trying to comfort him for the loss of Joseph, whom they themselves had sold into bondage, and sent far away from his affectionate father! They pretending to mingle their sorrow with his, when they were secretly rejoicing at the event which occasioned it! They endeavoring to allay his grief, when the deception which they had practiced was the reason why that grief was so excessive! They calling upon him to dry up his tears, when they had it in their power, by simply telling him that Joseph was yet alive, to furnish a consolation which would have turned those tears of sadness into tears of joy!


What base deceivers! What wicked hypocrites! What ungrateful and cruel children! How is their guilt increasing; and how great must be the displeasure of God against them! You see in all this your own danger, if you go on indulging sinful thoughts and feelings, and committing sinful actions. Stop and think of this danger. Think especially of one striking thing which marked the progress of Joseph’s brethren in guilt. I mean their resort to deception and falsehood.


Remember that those who are guilty of wicked conduct, wish and strive to conceal it. Have you not always found it to be so, when you have said or done anything which you knew to be wrong? But those who wish to conceal their evil conduct are strongly tempted to do this by some kind of artifice, or even by a downright falsehood.


You know it is a common saying, that those who steal, will also lie. It is true—and it is equally true, that those who commit wickedness, of whatever kind, will practice deception, and tell a falsehood rather than be detected. How mean and cowardly, as well as sinful, it is, to be a liar! “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but they that deal truly are his delight. Liars shall have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.”


Fear then to sin. Fear all wicked thoughts, and feelings, and conduct. For these will lead you to deceive, and if, in your opinion, there is great danger of detection—to lie. There is no security against this, but in loving and obeying God. Have you a heart thus disposed to love and obey him? If you have not—think of the sons of Jacob. Think of their very wicked conduct toward their brother and father. It all proceeded from their evil hearts.”

EXAMPLE TWO – Joseph’s Gracious Treatment of His Brothers

“What an interesting and affecting scene! God has given it to you, my young friends, in the Bible, for your instruction. And you can, indeed, derive a great deal of instruction from it. Mark the conduct of Joseph in it; for it deserves your imitation.

There stood his brethren before him, who had done him so many injuries; and they knew, at last, that in the mighty governor of Egypt they beheld their brother whom they had hated so bitterly, and treated so cruelly. How their guilt must have risen up before them in all its enormity! How mean and degraded they must have felt in his presence! How justly they must have thought they deserved his severest rebuke! They probably were expecting it, as the least punishment, even if he did not inflict any other, which was due to their wickedness!


But what amazement must have filled their breasts, to see, that instead of all this, their injured brother was about to treat them with the greatest kindness. He does not reproach them at all. He even tries to turn their thoughts from the recollection of their own guilt, to the merciful providence of God, who had over-ruled it for his good, and for that of themselves, and their father, and their whole family.


Perhaps, in this respect, Joseph may have been too lenient. But he knew there would be another, and probably a better season, for them to think over all that had happened. He wished to show them how freely and fully he forgave them. And, if anything could lead them to the deepest repentance for their past guilt, it was surely such generous and noble conduct on the part of a brother whom they had so grossly injured.


How have you felt toward those who have injured you; and how have you treated them? No one, I presume, has ever done you an injury anything like that which the brethren of Joseph inflicted upon him. He felt no revenge, no desire to injure those who had injured him. On the contrary, he wished to return them all the good in his power, for the evil which he had received from them. See, too, the kind and affectionate, the noble and generous manner in which he showed these feelings. There was no allusion to their cruel and wicked treatment of him; no exulting because he had them in his power; no boasting of his being willing to forgive them; not even a rebuke or a reproach, or a word said to make them feel their littleness and their meanness.


Have you felt so, and acted so, toward those who have injured you? Do you not think that the conduct of Joseph is worthy of your highest effort to imitate it? It is, indeed, so. If you have not felt and acted at all as he did, toward those who have injured you, then you are like his wicked brethren; and the evil passion of revenge still finds a place within your breasts. You have need, then, of sincere repentance before God on this account. And this should show you the exceeding sinfulness of your heart. For you have not the spirit of Joseph. You have not the spirit of Christ.


Christ forgave his enemies, even those wicked and cruel men who nailed him to the cross! He prayed for them in his dying moments, that God also would forgive them. And he has told us that if we do not forgive our enemies, those who have injured us in any way whatever, and pray for them, and return good for evil, God will not forgive us, but banish us, forever, from his presence.


Think of all this. And seriously ask yourselves the question, if these things are so, whether you must not become very different from what you are; whether you must not have your inmost soul renewed and made holy by the Spirit of God, before you can hope to enjoy his presence and favor in heaven?”


Gallaudet will lead you and your family constantly from the Old Testament narrative to the person and work of Jesus Christ. We are honored to bring these volumes back into print for the first time in more than 125 years. Soon the wait will be over and we will be able to feed our souls on the rich meat of God’s holy word, as we are fed by The Father of Deaf Education in America.

“The Father of Deaf Education in America”

October 6, 2009

ThomasHopkinsGallaudetpicThomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851) was a renowned American pioneer in the education of the deaf. He helped found and was for many years the principal of the first institution for the education of the deaf in North America. When opened in 1817, it was called the “American Asylum for Deaf-Mutes” in Connecticut, but it is now known as the American School for the Deaf.

After graduating from Yale College in 1805, Gallaudet studied theology at Andover. His interests soon turned to the education of the deaf, and he visited Europe, studying in England and France, where he learned the sign method of communication from Abbé Roch-Ambroise Sicard, head of the French Royal Institute for the Deaf. On Gallaudet’s return to the United States in 1816, he and Laurent Clerc established the American Asylum for Deaf-mutes at Hartford, Conn., in support of which the U.S. Congress made a land grant. For more than 50 years this school was the main training centre for instructors of the deaf.

Gallaudet retired from the school in 1830, later receiving an appointment to the first professorship in the United States for the philosophy of education at New York University (1832–33). In his Plan of a Seminary for the Education of Instructers of Youth (1825), he proposed special schools for the professional training of teachers.

In the kind providence of God I was directed to a book Gallaudet wrote for children entitled The Child’s Book on the Fall, which opened a whole new world for me. From the moment I read the first story I was hooked, and I realized that the man who wrote this book had a special gift for communicating spiritual truth in simple language. This was confirmed when I read that story to my two oldest grandchildren a few years ago. They loved it instantly, and asked me to read it again and again.

This led me to search for everything I could find by Gallaudet which enabled us to produce The Child’s Book on Repentance, The Youth’s Book on Natural Theology, The Child’s Book on the Sabbath (written by his closest friend, Horace Hooker) and The Child’s Book on the Soul. A very precious providence went along with the last of these named.

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Gallaudet wrote The Child’s Book on the Soul in two parts and I found it difficult to get both parts in a clean usable form. Thus we began the long process of retyping the entire work. When I came to the last chapter of the second part I was left dissatisfied. The book left the reader in a position of knowing the value of their soul, but without the clear remedy found in the Gospel. It seemed that Gallaudet hoped the child would be directed to one of his other books to find that answer. In my mind, the book was incomplete, so I determined to try to write a last chapter that would present the Gospel in a way that would fit the framework of the book.

A problem arose when I realized that two pages were missing from the middle of the original volume, so I had to go online and search for another old copy of the work that would have those two pages. The only copy I could find was a revised edition written about ten years after the original. When that revised edition arrived I was delighted to discover that Gallaudet himself had written an additional chapter to the book that presented the Gospel in a beautiful and powerful way. I was immediately struck with the kindness of the Lord to have those two pages missing from the book, which forced me to search for another copy to complete the project. And then upon receiving the revised edition to see that Gallaudet had been led to see the very thing I had seen: The Gospel Was Missing! I do not know how he came to write that chapter. Perhaps he had been told by others that it was needed, or perhaps he had seen it himself. But for me it came as an answer to prayer, and now it has gone throughout the world once again leading children and adults to learn the lesson contained in our Lord’s words, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul?”

“That Man Taught Me How to Teach Children”

August 28, 2009

In our last blog I shared the story of my discovery of Richard Newton, the man Spurgeon called “The prince of preachers to children.” This time I’d like to share about the other man William Blaikie mentioned in his chapter on ministry to children: John Todd. 


John Todd (1800-1873) was born and raised in Vermont and his life was filled with early tragedy. His father was killed in an accident when John was quite young and his mother was so deeply affected by his death that she suffered a severe nervous breakdown from which she never recovered. John said that his mother had only a few lucid moments the rest of her life, so he grew up without mother or father to care for him. But the Lord became his father and mother and nurtured him for Himself.


Todd came to Christ by grace and sensed a call to the ministry. After receiving training at Yale College and Andover Theological Seminary he was called to his first church in Northampton, MA where he was privileged to pastor Edwards Memorial Church, named in honor of Jonathan Edwards, one of Todd’s heroes. 


In addition to serving as a pastor in several places, Todd also wrote books that had a profound influence all over the world. In the Preface to one of his books he wrote a brief note to his son in which he explained the reason he wrote books, despite the amount of time it took him. He explained that every penny made from these books was sent to care for his aged mother who stood in need of around the clock attendance. He told his young son that this was a way he sought to honor his mother in her time of deep need.


One day I was reading a chapter in Richard Newton’s book “Bible Warnings” when I came across another blessed providence of God. Newton paused in the middle of his sermon to tell a story to the children about how he came to be able to teach children. He said that he had been asked if he would be willing to serve as a Sunday School Superintendent while he was in college. He said he had no idea what he was doing, but he said yes. What he did not know was that one of the responsibilities he would have was to bring an address every Sunday afternoon to the whole Sunday School. He had no experience. He was but 19 years old, and he did not know where to begin. As God would have it he came across a book of sermons to children just published by John Todd which changed his life. That book, which we have published as “Feed My Lambs,” became his tutor those years, and Newton declared that day, “That man taught me how to teach children.” 


Todd taught Newton and Blaikie later acknowledged that these two men were the most gifted in America at speaking to children, and we have been privileged to bring their books back before our needy world in these dark, yet promising days. To God Alone be The Glory!

“The Prince of Preachers to Children”

August 27, 2009

A few years ago I was reading a chapter in William Blaikie’s book “For the Work of the Ministry” when I came across his comments about ministry to children and the peculiar gifts of two men in America: John Todd and Richard Newton. I knew who Todd was for I had already published his book titled “Feed My Lambs,” but I had no clue about Richard Newton. Immediately I began to search for information about him.


I learned that he was a minister who served in the Episcopal Church primarily in Philadelphia, and he had written more than two dozen books, primarily consisting of sermons to children. I then went to a used and antiquarian book site and found that many of these books were available from the mid-late 1800’s, so I ordered some to see for myself.


I will never forget the day I went to my mail box and found a few packages containing some buried treasure. The first box I opened was volume one of Newton’s series entitled “The Life of Jesus Christ for the Young.” I unpacked the book and began to flip through it and noticed a large photo of Newton with a facsimile of his distinguished signature underneath. I then saw that above the photo of Newton were the following words: “Dr. Newton is the prince of preachers to children.” C.H. Spurgeon. I was stunned. I had no idea that Spurgeon had such a high opinion of this man. Now I knew that I had rediscovered something special.


But then something happened that sent chills down my spine. I had also received that day a small pamphlet I had ordered by Charles Bridges (also from the 1800’s) which was entitled “An Address to Young Persons upon Confirmation.” When I opened it I noticed the following inscription:


Joannna M. Hogan

from her friend & pastor

Richard Newton

February 21st 1855


And there I saw the exact same signature I had just seen in a facsimile form in the book mentioned above. I could not believe my eyes. What a profound providence!


Since that unusual day I have gathered up all I can find by Dr. Newton and have published a full dozen of his titles to children. These have now gone all over the world and have begun to touch the hearts of young and old alike. These are not just books of sermons to children; they speak to any and every age, for they speak of Christ and His glorious Gospel. 

“Mothers of the Wise and Good”

August 19, 2009

It was nearly a year ago that I had my last conversation with my mother before the Lord called her home. Although she was 87 years old and I had enjoyed her for 57 years there will be an empty spot in my heart until the day we are reunited with our Lord in glory. It seems fitting that the very first book that was published at Solid Ground was the book “Mothers of the Wise and Good” by Jabez Burns.


   The word mother is a special word regardless of the language as it  expresses in one word all that is packed inside our hearts as we think  of the one who carried us, delivered us, nurtured us, and one day  tearfully “let us go.” The book by Jabez Burns contains dozens and  dozens of brief articles describing the life-long influence of mothers  upon those who rose up to become people of influence in later life.


 In this book one will meet the mothers of men like Augustine, Alfred  the Great, Isaac Newton, Philip Henry,  Jonathan Edwards, John &  Charles Wesley, Philip Doddridge, John Newton, George Washington,  Richard Cecil, Timothy Dwight, and dozens of others.  Women will find this volume to be a source of great encouragement as they face the trials and challenges of motherhood.  Men will find this book to be a challenge to them as they seek to become men of whom their mother will be proud.


Elisabeth Elliot called this book, “a fascinating catalogue of mothers of the wise and good.” And Susan Hunt said, “I have looked for a book like this for many years. Every mother, grandmother, and spiritual mother will find great help and hope in this book.”


Having sold out the many thousands of copies of the first edition, we have produced a brand new updated edition with larger print. It is a wonderful gift to give a new mother.

“This book is going to change my Life.”

August 18, 2009

It was nearly twenty years ago that my wife came into my office and said those words. The book she was talking about was Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss which had been given to her as a gift from a woman in a sister church in New Jersey. She went on to describe for me how the leading character in the book, named Katie, was just like her.  


Less than two years later we had produced a brand new edition of Stepping Heavenward which brought this buried gem back into the hearts and homes of women all over the world. Elizabeth Prentiss (1818-1878) was the youngest daughter of Edward Payson, best known as ‘Praying Payson of Portland.’ Although she was just eight years old when her father died, Elizabeth said that she learned more about prayer from her father than from any book or any person the rest of her life.


Stepping Heavenward was first published in 1869 and it was an instant best seller in America, and was soon being translated into dozens of languages all over the world. Wherever the book went the response was exactly the same: “This woman knows my heart.” The charm of the book is found in the honesty and reality of the leading characters. The essence of the book might be summed up in the words of a hymn that was written by Mrs. Prentiss:


“More love O Christ, to Thee,

More love to Thee.

Hear now the prayer I make,

On bended knee.

This is my earnest plea,

More love O Christ to Thee,

More love to Thee, more love to Thee.”


My wife and I had the privilege of visiting the town in Vermont where Mrs. Prentiss spent her last years, and where she was buried. My wife stood in front of her grave and tears came to her eyes, because she knew that she owed a great deal to Mrs. Prentiss. You see, those words she spoke to me that night so many years ago have come true. That book has changed her life, and her children and grandchildren are reaping the fruit from that God-wrought transformation.