Book Review: Excused Absence

Book Review: Excused Absence By Doug Wilson

My son and his family live in a conservative suburb of Milwaukee County. The public schools have a decent reputation for a good education and the buildings are top-of-line facilities. What could go wrong?

My son and daughter-in-law decided to try the local school for their oldest son. He spent two years in the local elementary school-kindergarten and 1st grade.

While he was in kindergarten one of the other elementary schools in the suburb caused a bit of a stir by announcing they wanted to have the kids who attend there to dress up as the opposite gender. In other words, cross dress for a day.

When challenged as to the agenda behind the idea, the administration replied that it was for the purpose of “school spirit.” What cross-dressing has to do with school spirit is beyond me, but it is an interesting choice of words to describe the event.

I think Doug Wilson, a man who can turn a phrase pretty well, might say something like this about “school spirit.”

There is indeed a school spirit that has authority in the government schools and it is the spirit that hates God or treats God as irrelevant: I drew this imaginary quote from what Wilson actually says in Chapter 8, With All Your Mind in Excused Absence:

“Christian Education is mandatory if we walk in obedience to the greatest commandment. “Jesus said unto to him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37, KJV). We cannot dismiss the imperative  given to us in this text.

Wilson goes on to write; “Our children come into this world not knowing how to do anything with their minds, and God places on them the mandate of loving Him with all their minds. How and when are they going to learn this lesson?”

Wilson continues: “The world is a fallen and sinful place, so this task is daunting. How can our children learn to love God if men and women who do not love God teach them? Will our children learn to love God with their minds if the people responsible for training their minds have no idea what this passage means? And even if some teachers at the government schools happen to be Christians, how will our children learn to love God with all their minds when those teachers who do love God are prohibited from teaching them anything about Him when school is in session?”

The obvious answer to Wilson’s questions are our kids will not learn anything about loving God with all their minds if they are cooped up in a government school for six-seven hours a day, five days a week for months at a time.

What will inform their minds is the spirit of the age that we could call the  “school spirit” the administrator of the school spoke of.  By placing our children under that spirit’s authority for that amount of time we should not be surprised that when they get older they reject God or ignore Him. This is why Wilson makes it matter of obedience to pull children out of the government schools and move them to home schooling or a good Christian school.

My one and only quibble with Wilson is that you cannot find a direct command in Scripture that demands that Christian children not attend a government school-a fact that some, if not many might use to justify using the government schools. The argument would go something like this; that which is not prohibited, is permitted.

The argument is valid in the sense no direct command exists and Wilson has to use inferences from both Testaments to make his point. The fact that he does it very well has convinced me that my quibbling is just that-quibbling that misses the much larger and critical point.

All people are worshippers whether they understand that or not. We will either worship the true God in heaven or will worship something else entirely. Romans 1:18-32 is crystal clear on that truth.

By turning over our children to a government school that is openly or covertly hostile to the worship of the true God we open our children’s minds to the worship of multiple false gods that rule the spirit of this age.

I believe that this is Wilson’s main point as he supports his argument and reinforces the idea that it’s a bad plan to have younger children under the kind of influence that rejects the God of the Bible.

Some might read this brief review of the book and immediately jump to the exceptions such as, what is a single mom who works supposed to do with her young children? It’s not right to put her under an implied command that she cannot possibly fulfill.

Fair enough and Wilson does deal with questions like that toward the end of the book. Most the answers revolve around what it means to function within a covenant community. I suggest reading the book to explore those answers more.

I did not need convincing as to the validity of Wilson’s arguments and I’m happy to say that my three grand children will not be part of the government schools while they are young and extremely vulnerable to the “school spirit” that rules the roost in the government schools.

So, what does Wilson’s book have to do with biblical counseling?

Over the years as a counselor I’ve had to counsel a number of male teens while my female associate counseled young teen women.

The commonality in counseling both genders might be boiled down to Proverbs 1:7:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

By turning over our children to the government school system we place them under a system that does not fear the Lord and thus receive the wisdom the fear produces. Instead, we give our children every opportunity to be educated as fools who will despise wisdom (personification of God) and hate His instruction.

My counseling of teens has taught me that much parenting hangs on Proverbs 1:7. If the government schools are involved, it will be far more likely the teen will adopt a worldview that ignores God entirely or treats Him are irrelevant.

My counsel to parents is simple; why run that risk if you have a choice? Instead, carefully consider the arguments Wilson makes in Excused Absence.

The Heart of Domestic Abuse {Book Review}

The Heart of Domestic Abuse by Chris Moles

I first heard Chris Moles speak on domestic abuse in Lafayette, IN at Faith Baptist Church during a training conference for the ACBC (Association of Christian Biblical Counselors) an organization, which I’m a certified member.

His opening remarks regarding the presence (or even prevalence) of domestic abuse among professing evangelicals took me back to a time early in my ministry when I suggested to my Sr. Pastor that something seemed amiss in a particular family. He replied that I would not want to know half of what went on in the church.

Chris’ comments about domestic abuse in the church line up with what that pastor said. Domestic abuse is not something most pastors want to deal with or even think they are qualified to deal with even if they wanted to.

Therefore, Chris’ book is a needed resource to the church so that awareness is raised about this devastating sin. Chris does more than raise awareness; he provides the biblical tools to deal with abuse.

The book’s content is as follows:

Chapter 1: The Heart of the Matter
Chapter 2: Behaving Badly
Chapter 3: Motives Matter
Chapter 4: Self-worship, Pride, and the Heart of Abuse
Chapter 5: Beliefs
Chapter 6: Power Plays

The first six chapters set the profile of the domestic abuser. The next five chapters serve as a blueprint on how to counsel an abuser. A case study is part of each chapter as Chris gives a real life example of both the profile of an abuser as well as the heart change that is necessary to stop the violence and convert a man to loving his wife as Christ loves the church.

Chapter 7: Good News for a Troubling Subject
Chapter 8: Hope for the Violent Man
Chapter 9: The Mind of Christ: An Alternative to a Violent Heart
Chapter 10: Wanting Something More
Chapter 11: A Call to Authenticity

Five helpful appendixes follow:

  1. Select Scripture References that Speak to Abuse
  2. Behavior Inventory
  3. Advocate Questionnaire
  4. Church Discipline and Abuse
  5. Teen Dating Violence

Chris’ methodology is familiar to any biblical counselor as he stresses the importance of heart change rather than behavioral modification. The book is rich in Scripture-based diagrams, explanations and the use of specific passages.

Chris is a pastor in West Virginia but also works as a certified batterer intervention group facilitator, contributor and instructor with state agencies and local criminal corrections.

I am sure that Chris’ book will be popular in any church that practices biblical counseling and where the pastor(s) are not afraid to counsel their own people.

Chris Moles Website

Discipleship Counseling Book Review

Stop Your Complaining-From Grumbling to Gratitude
By: Ronnie Martin
CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA 19034

8 Chapters, 126 pages

411GDlVMsYL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_I purchased this book on the recommendation of Tim Challies on his website as one of the books I wanted to read while recovering from knee replacement surgery. I didn’t think I needed it mind you. I simply thought it would be an interesting read on a discipleship\counseling topic from an author I never heard of. The subject matter is complaining or grumbling and I had thought I do a pretty good job of tapping down that tendency.

After my surgery just as I was starting to read the book I was limping around with a moderate amount of pain when I stubbed my toe on the non-surgical leg. My wife was not home and after a rather normal “that really hurts” yelp I said out loud, “seriously.” No big deal you say? Well, who was I talking to since I was the only one home? The fact is whether or not I was conscience of it at the moment my comment was directed at God.

I was born with genetically bad feet and have struggled with them since the 3rd grade. Over the years, the foot problems has led to knee problems and knee replacements. I’ve had eight surgeries with one to go to try and eliminate the pain  in the feet and knees I’ve had over the years. Ask anyone who has dealt with chronic pain and they will tell you how it wears on you as you just get tired of it-period.

My “seriously” comment was I grumbling to our sovereign God for allowing me to stub my toe on top of a painful knee replacement. I was saying how could you let this happen knowing what I just went through. That’s me on the pity-pot I’m afraid. It was a big deal and I’m ashamed to admit that I privately complain or grumble far more than I’ve ever realized. [Read more…]

Read to Your Children


How many books have you read to your children in the last month?  I hope the answer is at least 30, for that is only one a day.  I mean to your children who can’t read or are only beginning to read.  For you older children, how many times are you having them read to you?  Something so simple and yet so huge is too often missed by parents, especially fathers.

I have said it many times but it bears repeating.  Read to your children.  And read good books, fun books and exciting books.  As they learn to read give them books to read.  Turn them loose on the public library until they come home with a stack of books up to their chin.  You will not regret it.

I write this as an introduction to some really good books to own.  Books on the Christian faith for younger children.  A book for children who have come to profess faith in Christ.  An graphic novel type of bible to help even the stubbornest child read. And to introduce you to a great author who writes allegorical books that teens and old, old people will love.

Look over this list, then go buy at least one of them.  But also, if you have come across a really sound book for children post it in the comments.

i believe in jesusHere is a little book to read over and over to your little ones to speak to them of the gospel.




the biggest storyThis is a great book to read with your children.  It takes them from the first garden to the final, eternal garden, a motif often missed in the bible.  It is gospel-saturated and worth your time.




These next few are by R C Sproul and all are worthy of your attention.  A couple of them I have had played in church as Dr. Sproul read his own book.

poison cupindexthe king without a shadowthe lightlingsa donkey and a king










action bibleHere is a great bible to have in your home.  It is a graphic novel and yet it is done well and faithful to the Scripture.  We have it in the church’s resource center if you want to check it out.




I cannot tell a lie.  I am a huge fan of N D Wilson.  This guy can write.  The problem I have is that when the next book comes out I buy it, read it in a night and then wait impatiently for him to crank out another one.  This first link is to where all his books are listed.

But, there are two series that any teen to old person would enjoy that I particularly recommend. They are very subtle allegories like the Narnia tales.  But even more subtle.






Here are two books that every dad with small children should own.  Cuddle up with your little one and let them hear your voice tell them wonderful stories.  They need it.

fathers and daugthersfathers and sons





indexHere is a book that both parent and child will enjoy.  Much doctrine written in such a helpful manner.