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Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.
May 01, 2010
A few days ago I received in the mail a copy of Amazing Dad by Stephanie Byrd. This is a self-published book and by far the exception among the self-published books I receive—it is really and truly good. Byrd has combed through the letters of the great statesman William Wilberforce, the letters to his children, and has found there the principles that dominated and set the course for his life. These letters are sweetly pastoral as a father encourages, exhorts and teaches his children. Here is just one example, an excerpt of a letter in which Wilberforce is encouraging his son through a time of depression.
I am concerned to learn from a confidential letter which has just reached us that you are at present in a nervous, uncomfortable state of spirits. Now my dear, my very dear boy, my advice to you in these circumstances both as a father and a friend is best conveyed in the letter of a Heavenly Father who with unutterable condescension and love has assured us that He loves us better than we are beloved by our own earthly father, in proportion to the superior benevolence of His nature; ask and ye shall receive, ask whatever you need, pardon of sin, wisdom, strength, peace, love, heavenly mindedness. Whatever you desire or need. You may say that these promises are addressed to God’s children. But remember, He receives all as His children who come to Him with penitent hearts, imploring His pardoning mercies and His sanctifying grace. I do not wonder that you are afraid of taking to yourself these gracious declarations — you only thereby show that your feelings correspond with those of the Christians as described by St. Paul, who in obedience to his precept are working out their salvation with fear and trembling. What follows in that passage shows the apostle did not mean, however, that this fear was to be of a desponding, still less of a despairing character. They were to bear in mind that God worked in them out of His divine beneficence. Be of good courage, my dear boy, you are assured by our blessed Savior, Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out. You wrong Him, however, by allowing a doubt of His gracious dispositions towards you to harbor in your mind. So cast yourself on the mercy of God through the atoning blood and prevailing intercession of your Savior and asking also wisdom to guide and strength to support you. … I am much better pleased than if you were careless about your soul.
The book alternates between such letters and Byrd’s biographical explanations. It makes the book a very interesting look at Wilberforce both through the words of a biographer and through his very own words, sent to his most intimate correspondents. There are letters themed around Education and Career, Christian Friendship, Financial Matters, Benevolence, Family Blessings, Spiritual Growth and, of course, Real Christianity.
Amazing Dad is a good book and one I commend to you. Actually, I commend it as well to publishers—this is a good book and one worthy of wider distribution.