Monday, January 23, 2012

Book Review: The Family Illustrated Bible

The Family Illustrated Bible was previously published under the name The Children's Bible.  It is a beautiful-looking hardcover book, but the first thing I noticed upon opening the cover was that it was originally published by DK Publishing, a secular publishing company.  I'm not sure why New Leaf Publishing, a Christian publishing company, took over the publishing of this book.  Don't get me wrong: We enjoy many DK books.  However, considering this is a collection of stories from the Bible, I feel that many of the stories have taken liberties in the re-telling and interpretation of said stories.   For example, there was a statement made even in the story of Adam and Eve that alluded to God being "worried" about Adam being alone; perhaps a better choice of words was in order (here and in other places).

When the Bible is dissected into stories, such as this book, it takes away from the uniform theme of God's sovereignty and Christ's love for us as woven through the Bible.  In reading the Old Testament stories, there is emphasis put on the covenants made with/through various people but the reason for these covenants is lacking.  It would be wonderful to see how God's plan of salvation was in place long before Jesus came to Earth as the God-man; how He was pictured in so many of the Old Testament events, individuals, and covenants.  As written, each story begins and ends in just that story; they aren't aiming to connect the promised Messiah and Saviour to a future event. 

At the beginning of both the Old and New Testament, there are historical points of interest with illustrations.  There are also similar brief sections within each division that draw your attention to events, people, architecture, archaeology, and the culture of the time.  Some points are more relative than others.  For example, I'm not sure why it is important to have a relief picturing four naked men, entitled "Naked exercise".  This particular tidbit of information explains that a Jewish high priest (under the reproach of many other Jews), admired Greek culture; in so doing, he built a gymnasium where Greek men could exercise naked.  I'm wondering if New Leaf missed the boat on this one.  I don't feel that this is appropriate in a family illustrated Bible

There are some interesting facts, such as discovering that Babylon's Ishtar Gate was found in ruin and rebuilt in Berlin, Germany.  Out of curiousity, I searched Google for a date and found that it was finished in the 1930's.  Hitler came into power in 1933.  Interesting to note that this gate represents "all wicked states opposed to God" to the Jews. Overall, most of the "extra" information in this book was highly informative to placing Biblical events in context with their geographical and cultural locations.

I will complete my review with a sigh, inaudible as it may be.  If you are familiar with DK books, you will understand how this book is written.  Some of the descriptions in the historical/cultural sections are written from the perspective of people who possibly have a school degree in "religion", not necessarily a personal relationship with Jesus.  I would encourage the new Christian publisher to comb through this book before reprinting.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book Review: (AB4T) Answers Book For Teens ~ Bodie Hodge,Tommy Mitchell, Ken Ham

Geared toward teens, the Answers Book For Teens is an excellent resource for any searching soul; one seeking out God and the other looking for Biblical answers to defend our faith.

At only 95 pages, this is an easy one-day read; a wealth of Biblically based wisdom.  I felt it was very well put together and the 15 questions are applicable to the questions many people have today.  Bible references are included in every answer and give the reader confidence to boldly stand on the Scriptures in defense of the authority and complete accuracy of God's Word.

Questions raised include the following topics (my paraphrasing):  Believing in the Bible vs Evolution, Pain/Suffering/Natural Disasters, Age of the Earth, Evidence of Creationists vs Evolutionists, Knowing if God Exists, Punishment Since Adam's Sin, Reason for Noah's Flood, Population of the World From Two People, Are There Different Races, What the Bible Has to Say About Sex, Homosexuality, Are God and the Bible Illegal in School, The Only Way to God, Dinosaurs/Dragons, and Why God Would Want to Save Me Regardless of What I've Done.

In a world where so many people believe that "sin" for one person may be perfectly fine for another, this is the type of book that exposes the lies Satan tries to instill in our hearts.  If anyone hears something often enough, they are bound to start believing it if they don't have the Ultimate Truth to stand on.  Bodie Hodge, Tommy Mitchell, and Ken Ham have put their life's passion into this book, reaching out to this promising generation.  Our teenagers today are the next generation of law makers, parents, educators, missionaries, government, business owners, workers, caretakers, social agenda promoters, and those who will choose to share God's plan of Salvation with others...or not.

In addition to being a resource for your teenager, this is a great conversation starter.  Read the book first (you'll enjoy it too), then give it to your teen to read.  Talk to them about it, question them about it and about their thoughts on each subject, read God's Word together, and spend time in prayer together.  If this is something new for you, use this as a beginning to keep communication open.  If your child is in a public high school, they are being taught evolution and secular humanism (there is no God, only natural/material things; nothing supernatural).  If you are a homeschooling family, don't become lax in your dedication to teach them how to defend their faith.  AB4T is a resource you won't want to miss out on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review: This Thing of Ours ~ Cammy Franzese

This Thing of Ours - How Faith Saved My Mafia Marriage is possibly the least likely book to draw my attention.  While I savour reading, I know very little about the mob and had never heard of Michael Franzese.  Coming to this book without a desire to read all the ins-and-outs of the mob from the wife's perspective is possibly why I ended up enjoying it.  Some reviewers have been disappointed but it seems that some of them were looking for more of the secrecy and thrill of living a hunted existence.

It's hard to comprehend that Cammy dated and married such a powerfully-connected and extremely wealthy man without taking a step back to examine where all the power and money came from.  However, she was young, had come from a home where her father was lacking in many areas, and I'm sure all the glamour of the lifestyle she found herself in easily swept her along. 

Cammy is continually reminding her readers that our choices shape what our lives become.  That's the primary reason she stayed with her husband through his two 4-year prison stints.  Sadly, her commitment to marriage isn't the norm in society today but what a breath of fresh air to read a story where a woman remained committed to her marriage when she could have walked out on Michael.

I was also encouraged by the words of wisdom Cammy shared about her mother's commitment to the Lord and how she exemplified that in her life and marriage.  If you are struggling in your marriage and wonder what your purpose is, I recommend this book.  It isn't a this-is-what-you-do manual, but it is a resource; two women who stayed with their husbands when the world told them they should leave.

Apparently, Michael Franzese was saved prior to his second incarceration but that wasn't made clear until later in Cammy's book.  It can only add to Cammy's book to read Michael's history; I plan to look into his books soon too.

Book Review: A is for Adam ~ Ken & Mally Ham

For a year now, our recently-turned 5-years-old's  favourite bedtime book has been A is for Adam.  We've owned the previous edition of this book for several years and were excited to receive a copy of this new edition to review.  It arrived just in time for Christmas!

First reactions were bittersweet.  We knew from the cover that the illustrations would be different but my daughter (the 5-year-old) was more disappointed than I anticipated.  She was the one of our four children who had favourite illustrations from the original book.  However, after reading the book with her, we are happy to report that the text remains the same and she now requests to be read to from both books!

Ken and Mally Ham bring the message of the gospel to children through this beginning-in-Genesis account.  It's important for people to understand why Jesus had to die on the cross and that begins in Genesis, when He created man in His own image.  A is for Adam takes you through the "7 C's of History", chronologically beginning with Adam having been just created.  It's written in appealing language for children and it is through the reading of A is for Adam that our daughter wanted to find out if her name was written in the Lamb's Book of Life.  Is there any greater joy for a parent than to hear your child's desire and prayer to trust Jesus as their Saviour?

There are a few differences to note between the previous and new editions of A is for Adam.  As far as the illustrations go, I can't say that I prefer one set of cartoons over the other.  However, the new edition is updated and has more traditional vs silly illustrative art.  The previous edition was a hard cover book and the new edition is a table top flip-over book.  Due to the flip-over style, it is a wonderful asset for taking this book beyond the rhyming story.  The previous edition had extra content at the end of the book, but this flip-over book has a lot of discussion points and activities printed on the opposing side of the page facing the parent/teacher.  Similar to the previous edition, there is a good amount of detailed discussion, overview, and review at the end of this book.

For those of you who have the previous edition, you'll be happy to know that you can now download the colouring pages for this book to print/colour.  Although, if you have a child like mine, you'll still be photocopying the colouring pages out of the original book; particularly the "V" page from Noah's flood.  What can I say; they love that page!