Wednesday, November 14, 2018

God Made Me and You - A Book Review

God Made Me and You: Celebrating God's Design for Ethnic Diversity

This beautifully illustrated children’s book invites kids to explore God’s design for ethnic diversity and challenges readers—both parents and children—to learn and live out counter-cultural, biblical views, fostering a lifelong celebration of diversity for the glory of God. Designed for four- to eleven-year-olds, God Made Me and You by Shai Linne is the second book in the God Made Me series, starting with God Made All of Me by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb.


My preschoolers and I enjoyed God Made Me and You. The combination of colorful illustrations and lyrical rhyme make this book a lot of fun. Shai Linne communicates that His readers are image bearers who exist for God's glory, love, praise, etc. God Made Me and You primarily focuses on externals (tall/short, hair/eye color, disabilities, etc.) and would serve as a good starting point for further conversation(s) highlighting what it means to be made in the image of God. Most of all, I appreciate that this book follows the redemptive story line (creation, fall, redemption, consummation) and has a clear Gospel message. God Made Me and You is a useful picture book to help preschoolers appreciate the diversity of God's design in creation.

*Many thanks to New Growth Press for sending me a complimentary copy of this book! This is my honest opinion.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

All That's Good - Book Review

Hannah Anderson (3 Book Steal)
"How can we, imperfect as we are, develop an instinct for recognizing and embracing the good? How does discernment equip us to navigate a broken, complicated world with confidence and joy?" (13) These are the central questions that Hannah Anderson attempts to answer in her latest book, All That's Good. Her goal is not simply to tell her readers what to think but to shape how they think, and she desires to "lead you away from our common disposition to fear-based thinking toward a place of hope and abundance" (14).

Skillfully weaving stories and teaching together, Hannah Anderson's writing is a delight to relish! Rather than focusing on the evil from which we ought to abstain, Anderson directs us to focus our gaze on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable as defined by Scripture, not as an end in itself but as a means to a greater end, namely, seeing and savoring Jesus Christ.These chapters are not intended to be exhaustive but contain thought-provoking insights which challenge the reader to think deeply about these adjectives.

Perhaps the section that ministered to me the most in this season of life was the last chapter in which Hannah was honest and transparent about how the gift of discernment is "dangerous" (see The Gospel Coalition article by this title for further explanation of this) and can lead the one who has it to feel incredibly lonely at times. She notes that, sometimes, the gift of discernment can feel more like a burden than a gift. Hannah Anderson writes:

Hannah Anderson
"If your experience is anything like mine, you will quite possibly feel alone in this. Instead of relishing being the 'prophetic' voice, you'll agonize over it. If you truly have the gift of discernment, you'll also know the weight of what you are about to say. But because you see good and evil more clearly, you'll also see more clearly what's at risk, and like Jeremiah, even if you try to keep quiet, you'll find the weight of God's message stronger still...(209).
I know there have been times when I have sinned by silence and other times I have spoken in arrogance. I also know there are times when I have frustrated people by simply being a dissenting voice. I know some would prefer I be the proverbial meek and quiet female tasked with maintaining social norms. And if I'm honest, I'd prefer that too. As I've confessed to Nathan [hubby] on more than one occasion, 'I'd be anyone else if I could.' But at the end of the day, none of us can tell God that He has made a mistake in forming and gifting us the way He has" (pg. 182).

She goes on to write about the natural longing for communion and belonging that we have but how brokenness creeps in, even in the life of the church. But she doesn't leave her readers in that hopeless state but shows how Christ also suffered and how coming to the Lord's Table forces us " reckon with the fact that nothing else is good enough to draw us together. In coming together, we defy the brokenness and proclaim a greater, shared good" (pg. 184).

All That's Good is not a "x"-steps-to-decision-making book. At times, the content will likely complicate your decision making process(es), but it will make you think about how you can glorify God as you seek to embrace the good of His creation. Like Hannah Anderson's previous books, Made for More and Humble Roots, All That's Good offers much food for thought and is a joy to read.

Many thanks to Moody Publishers and Hannah Anderson for providing me with a complimentary copy of All That's Good. These are my honest thoughts!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Book Review: Good News for Little Hearts

I remember the first time the fine pastors at Living Faith Church introduced me to the world of biblical counseling. I was hooked! I longed for someone to make these ideas more accessible to a wider audience, especially my children. I've never been particularly good at writing fiction, but I knew that there was a gem of an idea there. Finally, a like minded sister has watered that idea seed and allowed it to grow and blossom.

At present, there are three volumes in the "Good News for  Little Hearts" series which seeks to help kids and parents face anxiety, failure, and anger in a God-honoring way. While these animal stories don't quite have the enduring charm of classics such as the Beatrix Potter books, Little Bear, or Frog and Toad and some conversations between characters seemed to come off a little unnatural (and maybe even a little "preachy") at times, my little ones enjoyed them nonetheless. The volumes are sturdy and full of creative, vibrantly colored illustrations. Each book concludes with Tips for further helping your child and four "Back Pocket Bible Verses" in the New Living Translation that you can cut out and give to your child.

Zoe's Hiding Place: When You Are Anxious begins in a mouse house and contains some of my favorite illustrations. The mouse house contains all kinds of treasures lending itself well to an "I Spy" game. Unfortunately, content-wise, it was my least favorite. It reminded me of the type of moralistic Christian books with which I grew up. While Jesus was mentioned by name, the Gospel wasn't clearly proclaimed. This book makes it seem as if God is with everyone for good all of the time and doesn't make any distinction between those who are His people and those who are not. However, that being said, the book does lend itself well to a Gospel presentation. You'll just want to continue the story by explaining to your kids that the reason why a holy God never leaves or forsakes His children in spite of their sin is because Jesus was forsaken in place of all who would believe and bore the penalty for their sins when He died on the cross and that Jesus didn't remain forsaken but was raised from the dead on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God the Father making intercession for us and that He sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within all who trust in Him. All in all, Zoe's Hiding Place is an okay title but not my favorite of the bundle.

Buster's Ears Trip Him Up: When You Fail has the clearest Gospel message of the three books, and both it and Jax's Tail Twitches: When You Are Angry mention the need for Jesus' forgiveness. I love that these books clearly point our kids to Christ! As far as articulating biblical counseling material, Jax's Tail Twitches seems to have the most content as it models the proper way to handle conflict: going to God in prayer, taking the log out of one's own eye first, asking forgiveness, and being reconciled. Parents will want to make sure to avail themselves of the parent tips at the end for the clearest Gospel presentation in this work. Buster's Ears Trip Him Up came in close but, in addition to confessing sin to God, parents will likely want to  follow the example and parent tips in Jax's Tail Twitches and encourage kids to apologize and reconcile with those who have been hurt by their prideful boasting.

All in all, these titles are useful picture books that will serve adults as they seek to minister to children in their lives and help them to better image and glorify their Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Many thanks to New Growth Press for sending me complimentary copies! I was not obligated to write a positive review. These words are my honest opinion!