Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Review of Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade

I was first introduced to Star Meade by a pastor who was encouraging me to engage my family in some strange activity called “family worship”. Apparently, some families would sit together nightly, or multiple times a week, and pray together, sing together, read scripture together and even study something called a “catechism” together. Huh?!? Seemed weird to me, but I became convinced that there could be something to what he was saying. So I picked up a copy of Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade and we began to blaze our path down the Family Worship trail. It turned out that, while a great resource, my boys were just a bit too young for Training Hearts, Teaching Minds. We settled on the modified catechism for the kids and used a great story Bible (The Jesus Storybook Bible) to begin our journey.

That was a couple of years ago and I was incredibly excited when I found out that Starr Meade would be releasing another book along the same lines, but this time utilizing the Heidelberg Catechism. I cannot overstate how much I love the Heidelberg Catechism. If I had to pick one book outside of Scripture to have as my only book, I would pick the Heidelberg Catechism without hesitation. (I might pick Ursinus’ Commentary on the Heidelberg, since it includes the Heidelberg…but that is probably cheating.)
Since my kids are older and we have a more established, if still sporadic, family worship schedule, I decided that we would give this new book from Meade a try for family worship.(A decision to own a copy was never made…making a decision seems to imply the possibility of an alternate outcome, and there was never a chance that we wouldn’t possess a copy of this book!)

My family loves it. My children enjoy the short devotions with the questions and are in love with catechism-based learning. My wife loves it. As do I. Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds has become a staple in our family worship routine and I cannot thank Starr Meade enough for putting together some great, clear, Biblical devotions to accompany The Heidelberg Catechism, already itself a gift to the Church. This book should be read and enjoyed by families all over the world.

And it is not just for parents and children. The devotions are not prepared simply for a 6 year old to grasp it all. This is not lowest common denominator writing. New believer and seasoned believers, 6 year olds and 96 year olds, kids, teens, adults…everyone can enjoy and benefit from this book. Case in point, it was my mom’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. What did we give her? Without hesitation I said, “I want to give her a copy of Comforting Hearts.” Why? Because it is a great book that really makes accessible to everyone a catechism that many are unfamiliar with or who may simply be turned off or confused by the term “catechism”.(“Heidelberg” as well, for that matter)

Two concerns to consider. The Scriptures in the devotions are very short. If using this for personal devotions, or family devotions even, I would consider supplementing with some of the Scripture proofs from the catechism. Those are not included in the book, and I am not sure why. It seems like it would be beneficial, and I would have enjoyed the convenience of having those in Comforting Hearts, especially for those I give the book to who may not have the ability or desire to seek out the Scripture proofs outside of the book on their own. And I do wish that this book would be made available as an ebook. I would love to have it on my phone or tablet to take with me everywhere I go.

*Nevermind...I do not know if it was recently published or not, but there is an ebook version available!!  Even more reason to get this book!

Get this book. Get some extra ones to bless others with. You will not be disappointed. At all!!