Saturday, December 20, 2008

Book Review: The Word of Promise Next Generation New Testament

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been listening to this audio New Testament—on my computer, in my truck, even through my TV. It’s the entire New Testament on three MP3 disks, read by celebrity teens and young adults, for teens and pre-teens. I have mixed-thoughts on this product, but overall, I think it’s a great idea! I’ve enjoyed the experience.

There were two things I struggled with, but they aren’t necessarily cons. First of all, hearing children’s voices in place of adults seemed odd to me. I expect someone middle-aged to sound middle-aged. I got used to this over time, though. In fact, as I read my Bible for morning devotions, I began to "think" Paul’s voice in my head reading the words to me instead of my own. Since this product is intended for a younger audience anyway, they may enjoy hearing familiar celebrity voices reading God’s Word, just as we enjoy hearing familiar voices in animated movies.

I also struggled with the version of the Bible that was used: the International Children’s Bible. This version uses simpler words to help children understand, yet sometimes (not too often, though) the word choice isn’t quite accurate—it seems oversimplified so that true meaning is lost.

On the more positive side, Max and Jenna Lucado’s introductions to each book were superb—both well-written and well-read. They provided the history and setting for each book that truly set the stage for each reading. I also appreciated the music and sound effects. It was fun to hear Paul’s pen scratch on the paper as he read his letters aloud and the chains rattling and guards talking to remind us he was in prison. The music was pleasant and added variety of sound in the background, but didn’t overpower the words.

I don’t usually care for audio books; I prefer seeing the words. But hearing God’s Word read aloud was a very good thing. I was blessed. And providing it in MP3 format so kids can listen to a chapter or two at a time through their headsets attached to their player of choice even while they are doing other things is a great idea. If you have teens or pre-teens who are interested in hearing more of God’s Word, this product is worth your consideration.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Book Review: Through the Storm

Talk about learning to be content:

My heart has gone out to this mother for some time. I had heard that she’s a Christian and suspected that things hadn’t gone the way she’d hoped for her daughters. The media has been much too harsh with this family. When I learned of this book, I decided that if Lynne Spears wanted to have her say, I was willing to listen—with a compassionate, fellow mother’s heart.

This isn’t a story about Britney or Jamie Lynn. It’s Lynne’s story, including a testimony to God’s love and providence. It’s presented matter-of-factly: "This happened and this happened and this is what I was thinking or feeling at the time." Lynne’s words are carefully thought out and presented with the love she obviously feels toward her family.

The book makes you think. Life is messy. We make choices to the best of our ability. But we can’t see very far down the road or even around the corner. We also have to live with the consequences of other people’s choices, wise or not, and with other inevitable trials of life: illness, accidents, death. Through it all, whatever happens, our fault or not, God is there. He carries us “through the storm.” He helps us clean up the mess.

I especially appreciated the final chapter, “A Mother’s Heart.” What a loving testimony from a mother who is praying for her children, cheering them on, and growing ever closer to her Lord as she trusts Him with them through the craziness of each day. The epilogue, a tribute to Lynne’s sister, is incredibly moving, too.