The Story of King Jesus – Book Review

The Story of King Jesus by Ben Irwin

When I got my copy of this book I couldn’t help but ask myself, if the world needed another kids Bible story book. The answer is YES. I don’t think we can ever have too many too many tools to help parents and those who work with children share the gospel. So, what did I think of THIS one?

Appearance: Ok, normally appearance would factor into my review of a book, but when it comes to a children’s book the illustrations are at least as important as the words that are written. After all, it’s the pictures that are going to grab the child’s interest long before the words do. The illustrations in this book are done by Nick Lee. The style is different from just about any other children’s book I have seen. But, they are still good. Bright colors and somewhat whimsical art make the book interesting and fun.

Content: This is a Bible story book, so the content is the most important factor. In this case the content is solid. There are a couple of things that I’m not sure I completely agree with from a theology or doctrine stand point, but they are very minor and not enough to stop be from endorsing this book, or reading it with my 6 year old daughter or the kids in my church.

Basically this book starts with creation and goes through the Old Testament, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. They then bring us back to today and the current condition of our world. Finally, we end up at the return of Christ and the 1000 year rule on earth.

I think this book does a good job of giving a much abbreviated overview of the history and future of the Bible. As expected in a children’s book or any book intended to be short there are many stories that re simply left out and the ones that are included are mostly just brushed over. This is neither surprising nor is it a problem.

My Impression: Overall I think this is a book that I will enjoy reading to/with my daughter and with the preschoolers in my church. If there is one complaint I could make it would be that the gospel is not quite clear enough. For someone who is comfortable sharing the gospel with children this will be a great tool, but for a parent or even a children’s worker who is not very comfortable doing so, the book might not be that helpful. The book does a great job of telling the story, but connecting the story of the gospel to the individual child is left up to the reader.

This one shortcoming is not even close to enough to make me not recommend this book for anyone that has small children or works with them. I have enjoyed it and I’m sure you will too.


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Roadmap Genesis – Review

Roadmap Genesis

 

A young Hollywood film maker known for psychological thrillers experiences a great deal of success and thinks little of the work he does other than the money it makes for him and the enjoyment it brings him. This all changes when he finds himself married with small children. As he looks at his children and looks at the declining care for others in our society he wonders if HE might have played some part in that. He doesn’t goes so far as to think that his movies CAUSED this decline, but he found himself asking, “do the movies I make ADD anything to society.” In a moment of self-evaluation and honesty he had to admit that his work did not help society. This is what spawned the journey that brought us to the film, Roadmap Genesis.

 

Film Maker Nolan Lebovitz started on a journey for more than just a career entertaining people. As he looked at a decline in the way that people treated other and how people treated each other he began to search for answers. He studied books on philosophy, ethics, and many other topics but landed on the Bible as the source for the answers he was seeking. This is where Roadmap Genesis opens.

 

As Nolan studies and talks to many experts in theology and religion as well as many “man on the street” interviews the book of Genesis is opened and we see that in it is the origins of all of us. In it is the origins of our relationship with God. In it is the origin of our morality. As Christians it is the origin of all that we believe. Yet, so many people around us know very little knowledge of it or even care about it or believe it.

 

So, what?

 

As a Christian and a ministry leader I think that this film is something that everyone should watch. Admittedly I’m a nerd. As such I really like documentaries. This is a documentary, therefore, I’m apt to enjoy it because I like stuff like this, but there’s more than that. This film will give you a fresh view of Genesis and will make you rethink some of what you are doing, or not doing. This film will leave you with a desire to go and reread Genesis, or to read it for the first time.

 

If this Genesis is the foundation, the origin, the beginning of all that we, as Christians believe, then we MUST know this book.

 

Check out this great film HERE.


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Book Review: Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley

As a parent and children’s minister I am constantly looking for new resources for my children, both in my home and in my church. Today I want to look at a great new Bible Story book for preschoolers.

Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley.

The first potential question that comes to mind in regards to this book is, “do we really need another Bible stories book?” This is somewhat of a valid question. After all there are already many great Bible story books on the market. However, I think with each generation there needs to be free influx of great resources. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with the resources already out there, but it is always nice to have fresh, creative ways of teaching the next generation about Jesus.

What this book is NOT. As with all Bible story books, this is not a theology lesson for preschoolers. This book does not appear to be designed to teach Biblical values. But, at the end of the day, when dealing with Preschoolers are we really looking to teach them theology? I don’t think so. Certainly we want to begin to teach them the foundations of our faith. We need to begin to teach them Biblical values on a level that is appropriate and that they can understand. In general, we are not trying to teach them any deep theology. That doesn’t come till first grade. (LOL)

What this book IS. This book is a fun way to build familiarity with Biblical events in young children. The art work is done in a somewhat whimsical style that I can appreciate and I think kids will love. The stories are told in “rhythmical rhymes” as proclaimed on the cover of the book. These rhymes have an almost Seussical feel to them. But, despite the whimsical style of the art work and the writing I think they manage to do it without any disrespect to the original texts. While this book is not a collection of Sunday School lessons. I do think that with just a little work one could use these stories as a jumping off point to teaching older preschoolers the Biblical values and principles that are represented in these Bible Passages

What I like about this book. As I have said before I like the art work and the poetic telling of the stories. The almost Seuss like rhymes are fun and, I think, will be something kids will enjoy. Almost makes me wish I could play a lute. I could see me as a traveling bard going about the country side, stopping in small villages and towns and sharing these magical tales through song… Ok, maybe that is a stretch. But, the rhythm and rhyme of these stories do almost lend themselves to being sung as much as spoken.

I also like the fact that at the beginning of each story they list the Bible passage that the story is found in. This allows for anyone reading the book to easily find the original Scripture and use that to learn or teach from. This is very helpful as many may not readily know where to find these passages.

What I don’t like about this book. Really there is not much I don’t like about it. I tend to shy away from referring to the historical events of the Bible as “stories”. I think that the over use of this word in children’s ministry has led some kids to doubt that these events even happened. BUT, we’re talking about preschoolers here. I think that use of a book like this can be great for preschoolers so long as we do what we can to help them understand as they get a little older that these things ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

My recommendation. Buy the book. Use it with your own kids. Use it with the preschoolers at church. Use it in the community at a community story time. However you decide to use this book I do think that will make a valuable addition to anyones library.


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Book Review: Taking the Plunge

I just finished reading Taking the Plunge by Chris Gabbard.  This book is designed to help kids understand salvation and baptism. This is what I thought:

The good:

  • Design:  I love the art work. The style is very kid friendly and attractive.
  • Information: The information if accurate and complete. Most of what I cover when I counsel a kid about salvation and baptism is in this book.
  • Age Appropriate: The examples used in this book are great for elementary aged kids.
  • BARF. This is the acronym that the author uses to describe salvation. I had never heard this one before, but I can see this one being popular with kids.
    • B: Believe in Jesus
    • A: Accept Jesus
    • R: Repent of your sins
    • F: Follow Jesus

The bad:

  • I really have nothing negative to say about this book.
  • Some people might have issue with the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart”. There is a lot of talk about this being confusing to younger children who are very concrete in their thinking. Well, I grew up in the church and, at that time, this was the popular phrase. This did not stop me from trusting Christ when I was 9 years old and it had no negative impact on my life as a Christian since. I agree that there may be better ways to say this, but this is not a deal breaker. I will still use this book.

Over all I think this is a great resource for helping kids to understand salvation and baptism. With younger kids, kindergarten through 2nd grade, it will probably require an adult working with them to really get the value out of this book. Older kids, 3rd-5th grade, could work through the book themselves. However, even with the older kids I think it would be best to have someone available to answer any questions that might come up.

I see our church using this book in a couple of ways.

  1. Baptism Class: This would be a class led by me or one of our leaders. We would take the kids through some of the concepts in the book giving them time to do some of the activities. This also gives us the chance to answer questions in real time. In fact I can see this becoming a pre-requisite to baptism in our children’s ministry.
  2. Equipping Parents: I REALLY like this book as a tool for equipping parents. If a child in our ministry has parents that are Christians, then I see them working through this book with their child before they are baptized. I think this book could be a great tool for equipping parents to talk about salvation with their kids.

If you are looking for a book to help with teaching kids about salvation and baptism, or if you are looking for a tool to equip parents to talk with their kids about this stuff, then do yourself a favor and order a copy of this book. Check them out at www.thebaptismbook.com.

They also have a book for after a child had been baptized and a pre-baptism book for youth.  Stay tuned for reviews on these two books.


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Too Ordinary to Lead

There’s a common lie that the enemy tells us. It goes something like this, “You can’t do what God is calling you to, because your to ordinary.” or “You don’t have what it takes to do what God is calling you to.” or maybe “Your not good enough to do this.” It comes in different flavors, but the basic message is the same, your to ordinary to lead.

Could it be true? I mean look around at some of the great leaders of the church today. Look at Billy Graham, he’s a great man indeed. I would venture to say that he has done more to advance the gospel than any other single person in the past 100 years. If that’s what it takes to be a leader in the church, then I don’t have it. I’m no Billy Graham.

Billy Graham is an ordinary person. Mr. Graham has done some amazing things. I’m not sure that the full impact of his ministry will really be known until we get to heaven. His ministry will continue long after he has gone to be with the Lord. But, he started out as just another lost soul, just like me and you. Billy Graham is an ordinary person.

Peter and John were ordinary people. You don’t have to read very far into the book of Acts to know that Peter did some extraordinary things. Still, Acts 4:13 tells us, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” How could anyone call Peter an ordinary man? When we look at Peter we look at who he BECAME. We look at the things that did LATER. Peter indeed did extraordinary things. Indeed he became and extraordinary person. BUT, he started out quite ordinary, just like you and me.

God USES ordinary people. The Bible is filled with stories of ordinary people that God used to do extraordinary things. God used a shepherd boy to kill a giant when the entire army of Israel was to scare to do anything (1). God later chose this same ordinary shepherd to be king, overlooking his extraordinary brothers in the process (2). God used a man hiding from his enemies in a wine press, along with 300 soldiers to free Israel (3).

God CHOOSES ordinary people. In each of the cases that I have mentioned above God CHOSE to use these ordinary people. God did not settle for these ordinary people because he couldn’t find any extraordinary people. No, he WANTED to use ordinary people. The enemy would have us believe that God can’t use us. Or that he doesn’t want to use us. He would have us believe that we are too ordinary to do great things for God. This is a lie aimed at keeping you from being all that God wants you to be. Being ordinary doesn’t keep you from doing great things for God. Rather I would say that being ordinary is exactly what you need to be in order to be used by God. Ordinary people + an EXTRAORDINARY God = extraordinary things. You don’t have to be extraordinary to be used by God. He has enough extraordinary for all of us.

Footnotes:
1.) Samuel 17
2.) Samuel 16
3.) Judges 6


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