Book Review: “Long Story Short” by Marty Machowski

One challenge that all Christian families face is how to lead their children in a regular Bible time.  The responsibility is huge, particularly for the fathers.  One of my favorite parts of the book of Deuteronomy is the instruction in chapter 11, verses 18-21.

“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul… You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way and when you lie down, and when you rise… that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”

While these words were spoken to Israel concerning the law that they were given at Sinai, the principle still applies to us as families.  You need not look much further in Israel’s history to see the consequences of not passing these things down.

The Word of God is incredibly important to the young person.  Consider the following words:

“How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to your word.”  Psalm 119:9

“I have store up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”  Psalm 119:11

“My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.  For they are life to those who find them and healing to all their flesh.  Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  Proverbs 5:20-23

“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”   Proverbs 2:1-5

The task to guide a child’s heart through God’s Word is possibly the highest responsibility that is laid at our feet.  They are children for such a short time, and not a day can be wasted.

You may wholeheartedly agree with the above sentiments, but still find it a struggle to be consistent.  Let me assure you, you are not alone.  I have found that there are times where the intentions are good, but you may lack direction to go in.  Let me suggest the following resource:

Long Store Short: Ten-Minute Devotions by Marty Machowski

Long store short

In this book, Marty Machowski takes you through the Old Testament to show God’s faithfulness to us and pointing your hearts to Christ.  The book is broken down into sections that consist of 5 separate lessons.  Each lesson covers a different section of scripture.  The first two days relate the story they are focusing on, while day three takes the perspective of how it points forward to Christ.  On day four, the kids are directed to ask the parents a question relating to the story, to get their perspective, and on day 5, Machowski points to either the Psalms or a prophet.  (It was always a fun game for the kids to try to guess which one it would be.)

One of the strengths of Machowski’s is to bring each section to a point to convey the Gospel and show how it really does point to Christ.  Rarely, does this feel forced.  If you haven’t already, you too will see how Christ is the destination.  He also does a great job at providing questions for discussion.  These won’t always be necessary, as some passages will produce their own natural conversation, but they can sometimes help you understand the text in a way that will be understandable to a child.

At the beginning of each section, Machowski often provides some sort of activity to capture the attention of your kids, but I rarely used those.  They often took more preparation and called for materials I just didn’t have.  But if you do take the time to look ahead, they can sometimes be of some value.  Either way, I would always recommend looking ahead so that you understand the lesson before you teach it.  The presentation would be lacking if you spend more time struggling to understand it yourself, and then having to explain it to a child.

One of the fun things about this book is that it forces you to slowly go through the Old Testament.  It isn’t a quick scan.  This is a long haul.  You will see continuing themes and patterns.  I was struck with the continual faithfulness of God, despite the frequent unfaithfulness of man.  This isn’t just a study for your children.  You too will grow and be challenged.

For those of you that make it all the way through this book, Marty Machowski has also produced a book called “Old Story New” in which he goes through the New Testament.  We are presently going through this volume and will probably start all over when we are done.

I hope this is helpful for you and that if you are searching for something to give you some framework and direction in your Bible time with your family, that you will find it in these volumes.  The greatest investment you can make is leading your child’s heart to the Word of God and understanding the Gospel.  The stakes are high, and the reward is eternal.

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