Book Review – Martin Luther by Simonetta Carr

51xywxv42ol-_sy416_bo1204203200_Title: Martin Luther
Author: Simonetta Carr
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
Publishing Year: 2016
Pages: 63
My Rating: 5 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book)

Ever since Tony and Tommy came into my life, I am constantly on the hunt for good children’s books.  Not only do I want to instill a love for reading into their lives, but my greatest desire is to create opportunities to enrich their faith.  Martin Luther by Simonetta Carr is just the book to open that door.

As a teacher, I’ve come across quite a bit of children’s biographical material.  Much of it is ok and basic.  They give you the basic story and throw in a few helpful lessons along the way.  But my concern has been that they are moralistic tales that leave one with a heroic appreciation of the achievements of that individual and that’s about it.  I’m glad to say this is not the approach of Simonetta Carr.

Martin Luther is more like a theology book told from a biographical perspective.  As I read this with my oldest son, there were ample opportunities in every chapter to stop and talk about spiritual truth.  The gospel is a clear emphasis all throughout these 63 pages.  I loved exploring this with Tony, that is once he got past the fact we were talking about Protestant Reformer Martin Luther and not civil rights champion Martin Luther King…

While the theology is rich and deep, Carr is does not sacrifice historical accuracy.  The story of Martin Luther is one that captivates me and one I’ve studied quite a bit.  Yet, even I learned a few new things from this children’s book.  I also found her story-telling ability to be fantastic.  She tells a gripping tale that has you wanting to know more and keep on reading.  My son never wanted to put the book down.  I’ve already begun looking into other titles in this series.

The only real complaint I would have is that Carr is a little too historically accurate.  When writing of Luther at Worms, she leaves out his famous words, “Here I stand.”  While I recognize that historians tell us he probably did not say these words, I still like to imagine it.  Oh well…

This is a great book for both children and parents alike.  It’s accurate, reliable and interesting.  This is a great tool not only to introduce your child to Church History but also provides teachable moments to have meaningful conversations about the gospel and theology.  I only read it with my oldest son (9) as I thought it a little advanced for my five year-old.

This would be great to read next Reformation Day in October, but might also make a spectacular Christmas gift next week!  You can purchase the book here.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.


Book Review – Refresh: Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs

51s1knwpjtl-_sx321_bo1204203200_Title: Refresh:  Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs
Author: Kimberly M. Drew and Jocelyn Green
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Publishing Year: 2016
Pages: 280
My Rating: 5 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book)

In recent years, I have been encouraged to see the church growing in its awareness of problems previously swept under the rug or ignored altogether.  Families with special needs children, I believe, have fit into that category.  Growing up with a severely autistic brother made me painfully aware that many within the church have no idea how to encourage these struggling families.  It has never been that no one cared, it’s just that no one knew how to handle it.  It was awkward.  What do you even say?  How could you really help?  It’s been my joy to see that beginning to change.

Refresh:  Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs is a daily devotional that will be a benefit to people you know. I wasn’t sure what to think when I first signed up to review this book.  Sometimes books of this nature can just be corny – filled with happy thoughts twisted away from simplistic understandings of commonly misapplied Scripture.  I am overjoyed to say that is not the case with this book.  The authors use Scripture to encourage the soul, rebuke sin, and point weary parents to the Cross of Jesus – just what a devotional ought to do.  Frequent quotations from authors I trust such Gillian Marchenko and Ellen Stumbo give this book an extra dose of weight and credibility in my mind.

What families with special needs children are going to see as they open this book is much they can identify with.  Page after page will detail stories, events, feelings and admissions that you will shout a hearty “amen” at.  This book is intensely relatable.  At the same time, this book will speak truth to your life, even when you may be tempted to wallow in self-pity.  Yet, they will not leave you down as they encourage you with the Word and the knowledge that others are traveling this road with you.  This book would serve as a good, daily dose of inspiration that will help you through the day.

Yet, this book would also benefit the friends, loved ones and pastors of families with children with special needs.  There’s much that just goes uncommunicated.  That’s by design.  Many parents in this situation find themselves frustrated and even embarrassed.  There’s much they just don’t want to say, but wish you could know.  This book will guide you into a world you never knew existed.  It will give you insight into how to minister and love more effectively.  This book would be well worth the cost just for that alone.

Purchase the book for yourself here.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.

Gospel Points – The State of the Church in Light of the Election


It is the day after the election and many of us were hoping to see an end to all the bickering and fighting brought about by this campaign season. Yet, even among Christians we still see a people divided. On this edition of Gospel Points I chat with my own pastor Joshua Pegram (Morning Star Church in Rockford) about how God’s people are to be unified even as we may be divided along political party lines. Listen in as we discuss such topics as where to draw the line in regards to political involvement and how the church moves forward in light of last night’s election results.

Listen to the streaming audio on podomatic or download the mp3.

Other listening options:

Sound Cloud
RSS Feed


My Endorsements on the Illinois Ballot

US Senate – Republican Mark Kirk is pro-choice who could be, at best, labeled a moderate.  I cannot endorse him.  He is going to lose any way.  He sealed his fate by mocking the family of his opponent in their debate.  On the other hand, Tammy Duckworth seems to be your average liberal who supports abortion on demand and federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  Nothing there for me to endorse.  That leaves me with Libertarian candidate Kent McMillen.  I have my reservations here, but he is pro-second amendment and will vote to shrink the size of government.  My major reservation is his view on abortion.  When I asked him about this he replied, “I believe in a woman’s right to choose, but I am not in favor of federal funding for abortion. I would not vote to fund organizations such as Planned Parenthood. I would like abortions to be safe, rare and privately funded and if a woman was considering the procedure, it would be my hope that she has a supporting network of family, friends, her doctor and her clergy (if applicable).”  So, while I cannot approve of his pro-choice stance, his view is better than the other candidates.  I will be voting for him, but not endorsing him.

Comptroller  – Leslie Munger seems to be the right way to go in this race.  She vows not to pay legislators until we have a budget.  It’s been way too long, perhaps this might nudge them in the right direction.  She also wants to reign in reckless spending and cut waste.  However, some people I respect suggest the Libertarian candidate Claire Bell would be well qualified for the job.  I think I’ll stick with the major party in this one.

General Assembly

68th District – John Cabello.  He’s a former police officer, pro-life and generally conservative.  He’s the clear choice in this race.  My only hesitation is that he is an early supporter of Donald Trump.

69th District – Joe Sosnowski.  He’s a pro-family conservative whose voice is needed in the midst of Springfield corruption.  He also has connections with Rockford Christian School.


County Chairman – I am supporting Frank Haney.  Of all the races on my ballot, he’s the clearest choice for me.  Mr. Haney is a conservative who will bring integrity back to the chairmanship.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him on several different occasions.  He’s great guy who has strong family values and a faith that grounds him.  I really like him and can’t wait to cast my vote for him on Tuesday.

Coroner – I’ll be voting for Bill Hintz.  He’s had experience in this job and seems like he would be competent.  I like that he’s made himself available on social media, something other local candidates ought to be doing.  He writes, “My commitment to our communities is to continue to practice and promote dignified care to those who have passed on, and provide support to those families and friends who are left behind.  I truly believe that we are the last voice for those who have left us. It is my mission to work very diligently to continue to provide the answers needed to support the healing process for families and friends of loved ones that we have lost.  I truly enjoy my position as Chief Deputy Coroner. I am proud of the work that I have done to serve our communities.  During the past 18 years in the Coroner’s Office, I have embraced the challenges of the investigative piece of my responsibilities.”

Judicial Retention – I will most likely be voting to retain all three judges up for retention.  I’m doing this because I honestly do not know much about any of the judges.  My decision is based solely on this website –

Constitutional Amendment

“The proposed amendment adds a new section to the Revenue Article of the Illinois Constitution. The proposed amendment provides that no moneys derived from taxes, fees, excises, or license taxes, relating to registration, titles, operation, or use of vehicles or public highways, roads, streets, bridges, mass transit, intercity passenger rail, ports, or airports, or motor fuels, including bond proceeds, shall be expended for other than costs of administering laws related to vehicles and transportation, costs for construction, reconstruction, maintenance, repair, and betterment of public highways, roads, streets, bridges, mass transit, intercity passenger rail, ports, airports, or other forms of transportation, and other statutory highway purposes, including the State or local share to match federal aid highway funds. You are asked to decide whether the proposed amendment should become part of the Illinois Constitution.”

I will be voting yes on this amendment.  It makes sense to me and will ensure budgeted money will be used on budgeted items.  It will promote responsible spending in other areas as it takes away the temptation to use these funds as a piggy bank.


There are other races on the ballot other than the ones mentioned here, such as county board seats and forest preserve director.  However, I found little to no information on these races.  In the age of the internet, there is no excuse for this.  If you are not willing to at least throw together a free blog or Facebook group, you are not worthy of my support or attention.

My Endorsements on the Wisconsin Ballot


US Senate – this one is easy, I whole-heartedly support Phillip Anderson of the Libertarian Party.  Wisconsin didn’t like Russ Feingold so they voted him out and voted on Ron Johnson.  Now, Wisconsin voters don’t like Ron Johnson and are considering Russ Feingold – the very man they voted out six years ago.  They say the definition of insanity is…  Instead of the same old choices, Wisconsin has a better option – Phillip Anderson.  Phil is a man of faith who recognizes life in the womb and vows to defend it.   This is something you won’t hear out of Ron Johnson.  He wants to uphold the Constitution return Washington back to its Constitutional role and size. He will vote to keep us out of war and defend our right to liberty against government intervention.  He is definingly the way to go in this race.

Listen to my interview with Phillip Anderson here.

US Congress


First District – this is also an easy one, re-elect Paul Ryan.  Since gaining the Speakership, Paul Ryan has brought some sanity back to the Republican Party.  Whoever is elected on Tuesday, Paul Ryan will be needed to oppose the tyranny that is most certain to threaten our Republic.  He is our first line of defense.  If the GOP is ever going to gain back some of its credibility, Speaker Ryan will be the key.  His better path forward is a common-sense strategy that will get our country back on track.  He’s the brightest man out there in Washington and, in my opinion, ought to be in the White House.  And, he’s got a 100% pro-life voting record and speaks passionately about the subject.


Second District – Peter Theron is the way to go here.  Peter is a friend and just the type of person you want representing you.  He’s not given to extremes and has the temperament that most of the GOP is lacking these days.  He’s pro-life and pro-business.

State Assembly

[Picture not available because stupid Windows 10 hijacked my computer to run updates]

31st District – Amy Loudenback.  I’ve always liked Amy and she’s more than earned my respect.  She’s a person of principle and is willing to stand up for conservative values.  Yet, she also is a reasonable person willing to hear people out.  She’s pro-life and a champion for school choice.


45th District – Mark Spreitzer is not someone I could endorse in any way as we sharply disagree on just about every important issue.  But, since he is unopposed in this election, there are few good things I could say about the man.  Rep. Spreitzer is a genuinely nice person who I have had several very nice encounters with.  He’s been a great guest in my classroom and is willing to listen to those he disagrees with (even people like me).  On a personal level, I like the guy.


Question: Shall the County of Rock, adopt the following resolution?

Resolved, that “We the People” of the County of Rock, Wisconsin, seek to reclaim democracy from the expansion of corporate personhood rights and the corrupting influence of unregulated political contributions and spending. We stand with communities across the country to support passage of an amendment to the United States Constitution stating:

  1. Only human beings are endowed with constitutional rights – not corporations, unions, nonprofits or other artificial entities, and
  2. Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting speech.

I would be voting no on this question.  While in general I like the idea of getting money out of politics I don’t think it would be very practical.  Removing money from politics (by public funding for example) would give an incredible advantage to the incumbent.  I also cannot conceive how money does not constitute speech.  Limiting the amount of money I can give to a candidate is limiting my support for him.

Instead of this, I would much rather make all contributions to political campaigns completely transparent.  Let’s publish the names of all donors along with amount they are contributing.  That way everything Is above board and we know who is pulling the strings and who is beholden to others.  That makes more sense to me than limiting liberty.


My Endorsements for President 2016

Yes, you read that right, I am making presidential endorsements, not merely an endorsement.  I will explain.

My first endorsement will be for independent candidate Evan McMullin, but only if you live or vote in the state of Utah.  According to the latest polls, McMullin (who is only on the ballot in 11 states) actually has a shot at the state’s 6 electoral votes.  This would be huge.  In the best-case scenario, McMullin keeps both Trump and Clinton from getting 270 electoral votes in a close outcome, thus throwing the election to the House of Representatives.  There in the House, McMullin could be seen as the moderate choice between the other two disliked candidates.  Of course, this would take a miracle, but the Cubs did win the World Series this year…  A more likely scenario is that McMullin becomes the first third party/independent candidate to receive an actual electoral vote since 1968.  A win in Utah would send a huge message that we dislike both candidates and want something better.  A vote for Trump or Clinton would not send a message at all.

However, that endorsement only applies if you live in Utah.  I, in Illinois, will not be voting for Evan McMullin.  While he is pro-life, I don’t consider him to be consistently pro-life.  He’s a war-hawk neo-con.  I don’t want to be the world’s policeman and am tired of sending our troops to places like Iraq and Syria with no end in sight and no clear mission.  Innocents killed by drones is not what I consider to be pro-life.

I make this endorsement for McMullin because I consider him a better choice than Trump or Clinton and would really love to see an independent candidate accomplish something.

Instead, I will be voting for Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle.  While he is not my ideal candidate, I consider him the lesser of seven evils.  I’ll explain:

I cannot in any good conscience vote for Donald Trump.  I’m tempted to vote for the man only because I do see the Supreme Court as important and I desperately want to see the end of Obamacare.  Yet, I am not willing to sell out my soul for either one.  Trump is a vulgar demigod who preys on women, demeans anyone opposed to him and has promised to leave abortion laws untouched.  He has flip-flopped on every major issue.  You cannot trust this man at all.  No one knows what he really believes.  Even when it comes to the Supreme Court, he released a respectable list of potential appointees but then said he doesn’t feel confined to that list.  In fact, he even suggested his pro-choice sister would make a great justice (though said he would not nominate her because she is his sister).  You cannot trust the man.  He even flip-flopped on Mexico paying for the infamous wall he wants to build on the border.  A vote for Donald Trump sends the message to the Republican Party, we are your lemmings.  We promise to vote for whatever candidate you nominate, no matter how bad he is.  I’m not willing to do that.  Also, let’s get this straight – only names appear on the ballot, not platforms or worldviews or anything.  When you pull the level for Donald Trump you pull the lever for that man, not that party.  There is nothing on the ballot that allows you to vote against someone.  Your vote sends the message that you support Donald Trump and all that he is.

Hillary Clinton is also not an option for me.  Like McMullin, she tends to be quite hawkish when it comes to sending our troops into foreign conflicts.  Even more concerning for me is her extreme views on abortion.  She wants to do away with the Hyde Amendment thus opening the door to tax-payer funded abortion.  She adores Planned Parenthood and has opposes even the most common sense regulations to abortion and abortion clinics.  She supports even the most abominable and cringe-worthy forms of abortion – partial birth and late term abortions.  It makes me absolutely sick and outraged.  I could never even think of throwing my support behind such a person.  Not to mention those e-mails…

Green Party candidate Jill Stein is so far left that she is not even on my radar, though I am intrigued with her ideas about eliminating student loan debt.

America’s Party candidate is very interesting.  Tom Hoefling is a passionate pro-life advocate.  His passion is contagious.  I wish he had won the Constitution Party nomination.  He would have been a better candidate than Darrell Castle.  I think the only thing he and I disagree on is immigration.  I’m for amnesty and he is not.  But, even with that, it’s hard not to vote for him.  Yet, I don’t believe the America’s Party practice of not accepting any donations is not practical or realistic and will inhibit them from ever becoming a major factor.

You can listen to my interview with Tom here –  part one    part two

Governor Garry Johnson

Governor Garry Johnson

Finally, there is Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.  I want to vote for him, I really do.  I’ve met him on a number of different occasions and find him to be a great guy.  He is very personable and genuinely wants to reduce the size and scope of the federal government.  He actually wants to promote freedom and liberty.  Of all the third-party options, this ticket has the most credibility and governing experience.  I lived in Massachusetts while Bill Weld was governor.  I liked the guy and so did many others.  However, both Johnson and Weld are pro-choice and I simply cannot ignore that.  I’m also quite upset that Johnson has simply blown his chance.  He’s received more attention than any other third-party candidate since Ross Perot but instead of capitalizing on it, he blew it.  While on nation-wide television, the guy didn’t know about the crisis in Aleppo and couldn’t even name one foreign leader.  What the heck!

You can listen to my interview with him here.

Darrell Castle

Darrell Castle

So, that leaves me with Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle.  As I mentioned before, he’s not my ideal candidate.  He’s not inspiring and lacks a passion that a man running for the oval office ought to have.  I disagree with his views on the United Nations (I believe we ought to stay in) and he seems to be, in general, to the right of me on most issues.  The biggest issue I have is that he’s not on the ballot in my state.  However, he is a decent, honorable man who would do well if he won the job.  He’s staunchly pro-life and actually wants to govern by the Constitution.  Unlike the others running, he served in combat as a Marine in Vietnam, yet wants to keep us out of foreign wars.  Castle would balance the budget and bring sanity back to Washington.  Sounds great to me!

Listen to my interview with Darrell Castle here –  part 1     part 2

My final endorsement is simply this – vote your conscience.  In this election, I do not feel the moral authority to claim that you ought to vote for anyone.  Instead, I’ve shared with you my thoughts. These are just that – my thoughts.  I claim no moral authority and recognize that my thoughts are binding on no one.  In reality, there is no ideal candidate, or even one I feel like I can completely back warts and all.  You need to do what you feel is right.  This also includes your right NOT to vote.  But, if you choose not to vote, please remember there are some important down ticket races worthy of your consideration.  I’ve been very vocal in my opposition to Donald Trump, but in the last month I’ve stepped away from that.  Instead, I’m choosing to respect your beliefs and your conscience on this one.  You do what you think is right.

On Wednesday, November 9th, I’m hoping you and I can come back together after this divisive election and pray together for our next command-in-chief.  We’ll all breathe a sigh of relief when this one is over.

Gospel Points – Phillip Anderson for US Senate

This week on the Gospel Points podcast we focus yet again on the 2016 election. While many are focused on the top of the ticket, there are many down ticket races worthy of our attention. In Wisconsin, Republican Ron Johnson is trying to protect his US Senate seat from the man he defeated to get his job, Russ Feingold. However, these not the only two men on the ballot. Also hoping to capture this seat is Phillip Anderson of the Libertarian Party. Phillip is our guest on this last episode before the election and the candidate who has earned my endorsement in this race. Philip is a dedicated Christian with a master’s degree in applied theology. Listen in as we chat about his solid pro-life credentials, the role people of faith play within the Libertarian Party, gay marriage and the dangers of evangelicals seeking only to use political means to advance their agenda.

Listen to the streaming audio on podomatic or download the mp3.

Other listening options:

Sound Cloud
RSS Feed

Related Links:

Anderson for US Senate

This and That – 10-22-16

Should Christians Feel Guilty All the Time? – Christians tend to motivate each other by guilt rather than grace. Instead of urging our fellow believers to be who they are in Christ, we command them to do more for Christ (see Rom. 6:5-14). So we see Christlikeness as something we are royally screwing up, when we really should see it as something we already possess but need to grow into. – Kevin DeYoung

20 Hungry Mongrels – We have gotten down to this atrocious choice because we have been following the “lesser of two evils” strategy for more than a generation. But when we see how the road we are on is taking us very bad places, our response ought to be to turn around. If we are under judgment, then the need of the hour is repentance. That means doing something different. Repentance is inconsistent with doing the same thing over again, only this time at the lowest levels ever. – Douglas Wilson

Gospel Points – The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates, Part 1


This week on Gospel Points we will be talking about civil disobedience.  When is it ok to disobey the civil authority God has placed in your life?  Our guest is Pastor Matt Trewella of Mercy Seat Christian Church in Milwaukee.  He is also the founder of Missionaries to the Pre-Born and the author of the book, the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates, the book at the center of our discussion.

Listen to the streaming audio on podomatic or download the mp3.

Other listening options:

Sound Cloud
RSS Feed

Related Links:

The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates website