Monday, July 25, 2016

Minecrafters Bible (NIrV): Book Review

My 9 and 11-year-old boys were really excited to get a copy of the Minecrafters Bible so they've helped me with this review.  The Minecrafters Bible consists of the full text of the NIrV translation and illustrations based on the Minecraft game. The NIrV is a "reader's version" of the NIV text that's geared toward a 3rd grade reading level.  That doesn't mean you only find words and stories appropriate for a 8-9 year old, it means that they should be able to easily read most of the words and only need help with a few.

The pictures are not all truly Minecraft accurate as there are some rounded edges and features that you don't find in the game.  (My guys gave a pass to this bit of artistic license.)

The guys like it for various reasons:
  • It gives you ideas for things to build in Minecraft. ("Time to play shepherd.  Build a big animal pen, then go find a bunch of sheep and put them in your pen.")
  • It's not like some of their other kid's Bibles that only have selected stories.  You get the whole Bible.
  • The illustrations are like a study Bible, but with something to build to go with the verses.
They set it aside for awhile and I thought that it had lost its luster, but my Middle Schooler has decided that he wants to take it with him to church camp as his Bible.  Pretty cool.

Mom's take on it:
  • It's a timely tie-in to an activity that a lot of kids are interested in.  Even if your kid doesn't play Minecraft, they can use this Bible. The Minecraft building ideas are a small part of the added content.  Most of text on the picture pages involves reading a selected passage and then thinking or talking about it. In this way it's no different than many of the themed Bibles aimed at adults.
  • At 8.5"x5.5"x1.5"--It's a kid's sized Bible that they can comfortably carry around.
  • It's a good transition from a "kiddie" Bible that's heavily illustrated to a more difficult adult translation.
This might not satisfy older, more die-hard Minecraft fans, but it's great for the younger kids.

NIrV Minecrafters Bible

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Book Review: How to Live in Fear

Gotta love a book with such an attention getting title:  "How to Live in Fear: Mastering the Art of Freaking Out".  Pastor Lance Hahn has done something that the church needs more of...acknowledged that people in the pews and the pulpit suffer from mental illness and that it's an illness, just like cancer and heart disease, and not a character flaw.

Far too often the church treats mental illness as a lack of faith.  Christians are told to pray more, have more faith, or just get over it.  When that doesn't work, believers either drift away from the church in shame or live a sort of dual, fake life of smiling exterior and hurting interior.

I love Hahn's transparency as he shares his own story, even when it's personally embarrassing.  He also doesn't shy away from talking about medication, therapy, and admitting that he has a disease that has to be managed. By the time he gets to scripture and theology, he's established credibility with the reader.

Hahn, unlike some other authors, makes no guarantees that reading this book will make your anxiety and fear go away.  He does offer hope and encouragement as he discusses the symptoms of anxiety, possible treatments, and management tips that help him battle anxiety triggers.

If you suffer from anxiety, this book is for you.  If you know and love someone who suffers from anxiety, this book is for you.

So glad that Pastor Hahn took this courageous step and wrote what, in my opinion, is one of the best books on anxiety out there written from a Christian worldview.  His witness as an anxiety sufferer is powerful stuff.  Here's hoping more Christians will discuss mental illness with more compassion and candor.

How to Live in Fear: Mastering the Art of Freaking Out
Lance Hahn
W Publishing (Thomas Nelson), 2016

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Book Review: Parables by John MacArthur

Parables appear to be simple stories, simple enough to be the subject of children's church and Bible school lessons, but there are always new insights gained by understanding more about the cultural background and context. And deeper understanding is what I want as a grown-up student.  MacArthur has a reputation for excellent Biblical commentary so I jumped at the opportunity to review his new book.

MacArthur begins with a lengthy introduction that skewers the study of parables as mere stories--open to individual interpretation.  He argues, convincingly, that there is an intended truth in each parable and we're wise to reach for it.

Each chapter examines a different parable such as the sower and the seed, the treasure in the field, the Good Samaritan, the landowner paying his hired laborers, and so on.  MacArthur teaches the parable in context so that readers can grasp the purpose and principles taught.  He digs into rabbinical sources, Hebrew words, and Greek text. Combine this with MacArthur's years of experience with Biblical study and the result is a book that informs as well as inspires.

I'm intrigued by MacArthur's thesis that Jesus began teaching in parables in order to bring plain truth to those who were open to hearing the Gospel, while concealing the underlying meaning from those who rejected the truth.  Jesus use of parables increased after certain Pharisees began to plot against him.  If this is so, then Christians should take care to examine Jesus parables more carefully and not just think of them as simply stories.

This is definitely one of those books that bears rereading with pen and highlighter in hand.  Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in a deeper understanding of the New Testament.

Parables: The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told
John MacArthur
Nelson Books, 2015

I received a free copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

God Bless Our Fall (Book Review)

God Bless Our Fall is part of the "God Bless" series from Tommy Nelson.  Author Hannah C. Hall has different animal families enjoy various autumn activities: hayrides, pumpkin carving, making and eating fall foods.  Each page spread contains a rhyming verse and Steve Whitlow's illustrations are soft and colorful.  (Look for a squirrel in each picture!)

My family loves this book.  It has a sweet voice that honors God, mothers, fathers, and all the joys of the season.  It's an enjoyable book to read aloud because of it's bouncy rhyming pattern.

This is a great cuddle up and read book and would also make a wonderful read aloud for a preschool classroom.

God Bless Our Fall
Hannah C. Hall / Steve Whitlow
Tommy Nelson, 2015

I received a free copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers in return for an honest review.