5 out of 5 Stars
Author: Starr Meade
Publisher: P&R Publishing
Buy Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds
Reading Level: Easy
Key Words: Practical, and Gospel Rich
I wasn’t sure what to expect when requesting Meade’s Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds. I had heard a lot of good things about her other books and obviously P&R is solid. Needless to stay I was blown away by this devotional. This is a book I will frequently return to as my children grow up and one I will use with my wife regularly.
First, Meade addresses the refrain that catechizing is hard work.
Does memorizing a catechism require hard work? does discussing it thoroughly take time and discipline? of course. Will working through catechisms always be fun? Will your children—or you for that matter— always feel like doing it? of course not. Olympic athletes don’t always feel like training either. but they know the reward it might bring. even though that reward is perishable and uncertain, the athletes believe it to be of great enough value to make all their sacrifice and training well worth it. of how much more value is it to train our children to stand strong in the face of life’s greatest demands? (9)
As a new-comer to catechisms, I frequently struggle with consistently teaching my children. My parents were converts from Roman Catholicism and were skeptical of the word “catechism.” We had family devotions growing up, but not a methodical and consistently biblical rich one. Catechism like the Heidelberg (HC) provide this. If the prize is knowing Christ, the toil of catechizing is worth the effort.
I also see this book helping two kinds of people. First, for people who have interacted those in reformed churches who seem smug, who seem like they have all the answers, and who seem dry--this book will show that it’s a result of their sinful heart and not a result of the catechisms used. You can’t read through the HC and meditate on the biblical rich devotionals Starr writes missing that these catechisms are alive and practical and tethered to Scripture.
Second, for people like myself who didn’t grow up in reformed churches and are not familiar with the HC, Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds will remove some of its mystique and our fear. I know I look at the Westminster Shorter Catechism and the HC and feel overwhelmed. That’s a lot of questions and answers. Could you really learn all of those? And would it really be beneficial? Starr demonstrates just how beneficial they can be. Someone who breathes the gospel air of the catechisms will learn to live and die well in Christ. That’s something many recent devotionals and Sunday school materials are missing. They talk a lot about living, but little of how to die well. That’s something you are confronted with in question one of the Heidelberg Catechism.
The beauty too of the HC is that immediately it knocks you off balance. Anyone approaching these catechisms with a bent towards fear of failure and fear of acceptance by God is immediately assured:
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven;
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because i belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
There’s no anxiety learning and studying these catechism because we “belong--body and soul, in life and death--” to Jesus Christ. We do not learn because we need God’s acceptance. We study because he’s transformed us and makes us willing and ready to live for him. Amen.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds free from P&R Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”