Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Review: Smack-Dab in the Middle of God’s Love

Authors Brennan Manning and John Blase welcome children to learn what it’s like to be  Smack-Dab in the Middle of God’s Love. This is a gentle story of a couple “smack-dab in the middle of their years”. Willie Juan and Ana have no children of their own, but all the children in town gravitate toward them because of their easy nature, their open hearts, and Ana’s honey-wonderful sopapillas.

One evening Willie Juan asks the children, “Little friends, someday, when you are in heaven, what do you think Abba will ask you?”  (Willie Juan uses the familiar Hebrew, Abba, just as Jesus did)  From this question comes a discussion about what it means to be smack-dab in the middle of God’s love.

This is a lovely book.  Nicole Tadgell’s illustrations are vibrant and lively with bold yellows and pinks and a rainbow of skin colors. The characters' faces are kindly and the book gently addresses some childhood fears when confronted with a God who is both overwhelmingly big and intimately loving.

Despite it’s good qualities, this book did not bear up to a 2nd reading in my household.  It’s a wonderful book for grownups to read, but not very exciting for kids drawn to more action based books.  It is quite wordy and repetitive in a way that repeats the message rather than repeats a refrain, as do many books for young children.  It wasn’t always very clear what the story was about from page to page.  My own children respected this book, but did not enjoy it. Your mileage may vary.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Book Review: Managing God's Money by Randy Alcorn

Does God care how we spend money? How can we apply Biblical teaching to our current financial situation?

Randy Alcorn’s latest book, Managing God’s Money: A Biblical Guide, is a fairly comprehensive overview of Biblical teaching on stewardship.  Alcorn’s book is not a “how-to” guide to financial planning. Rather, the first half focuses on developing a scriptural attitude toward money, while the second half provides general guidance on making decisions about handling money in light of the Bible’s teaching.

Alcorn allocates chapters to getting out of debt, teaching children to be good stewards of money and the difference between “grace giving” and tithing. A substantial portion of his book addresses materialism and how it’s gotten Western society into the financial mess we find ourselves in today.

The question and answer format of each chapter made the text easy to follow and the table of contents is handy for browsing through topics of interest.  Alcorn’s style is friendly, yet direct and uncompromising, as a good advisor should be. It’s filled with Scripture references and would make an excellent small group or family study. 

Recommended for pastors, newlyweds, parents, college students and recent graduates,  and those looking to understand the Biblical worldview on handling money.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complementary copy of this book.