Saturday, April 30, 2016

Guys Slimline Holy Bible - New Living Translation (book review)

The new Guys Slimline Holy Bible by Tyndale House Publishers is a very attractive Bible. The cover is a blue and black chevron design made of an imitation leather type fabric. The pages are edged in silver foil and the font size is small but easy to read. The New Living Translation provides the context of the Bible in an easy to understand translation without losing any of the meaning from the original Greek and Hebrew languages. The Bible includes a  concordance and dictionary that will assist children in locating passages related to various topics. The Bible also includes 8 pages of full color maps, a ribbon marker, and a page in the front for special presentation. This Bible is very well made and would make a very nice gift to a young teenage boy.

As I thumbed through the Bible, I began to read selected passages. I compared the translation to the same passage in my Amplified Bible and my New King James Bible to make sure the texts provided the same information. I was pleasantly surprised to find the New Living Translation gave a very clear and precise version of each passage. One of my grandsons is almost nine years old and he would be able to understand this Bible very easily. The wording is contemporary but not too advanced for a pre-teen or a teen to understand and relate to with ease.

I'd like to give a small snippet of the prologue from the book of Job (verses 1-3) to help you understand how easy the text is to read:

"There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless- a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. H also had many servants. he was, in fact, te richest person in that entire area." 

Wasn't that clear and extremely precise? This Bible would be great not only for teenage boys but also for anyone looking for an easy to read and understand translation of the Bible. I would not hesitate for one minute to give this Bible as a gift to any of my grandsons.

I would like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for giving me the opportunity to preview this copy of the Guys Slimline Holy Bible in exchange for my honest review of their product. If you're looking for a great gift Bible, you can purchase this one here.

© bonnie annis all rights reserved

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The God Who Heals - a book review

The God Who Heals is a beautiful little devotional filled with sixty encouraging truths from the Bible. Each devotional, written by either Johann Christoph Blumhardt or Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, begins by focusing on a single verse of Scripture. After the Scripture verse is given, the author expounds by using real life examples of how to walk through trials and suffering. 

When I received this book from Plough Publishing, I was anxious to get started reading it. You see, I've been going through severe trials in my life. In 2014, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My suffering has been more intense than I ever imagined it could be and without my faith, I never would have been able to get through the day to day challenges with which I was presented. I was able to find comfort in the words of the book, The God Who Heals and I use it as a daily devotional as I read my Bible. 

The book is packed with powerful truths. For example, in the devotional entry called Renewal, Day by Day, we are reminded not to lose heart though we are wasting away outwardly yet inwardly, we're being renewed day by day. The authors tell us "We should rejoice whenever someone gets well, especially after we have prayed for him. But our joy should not be because the person got well. There are many who must suffer sickness until the end of their lives, so why not this one? Rather, we should rejoice because we see that the Savior has done something for a particular person, that this person's heart has changed and is awakened with new longing....Whenever we are attacked by sickness, our first prayers should not be, Lord, heal me, I want to be healed, but Lord, Jesus bring about whatever is according to your will. I will accept quietly in faith whatever you decide just as it comes." What a powerful way to look at trials and suffering! I was pleasantly surprised to find the authors have a very deep faith. It is evident in their writings. This book would be extremely comforting to those experiencing any type of illness or trial in their lives. 

This little book would make a great gift. I would highly recommend it to anyone questioning why God has allowed sickness, pain, trial, or hurt into their lives. Many hard questions are answered through the Blumhardt's devotional writings. The truths included within The God Who Heals will minister God's peace, love, comfort to all who read it. 

I would like to thank Plough Publishing for giving me an opportunity to review this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

New Africa Study Bible project launched today!

I'm so excited to share news with you about the New Africa Study Bible! Oasis International's visionary project to bring a Bible that is relevant and easy to understand to the African people. For the past six years, this project has grown from a vision to a reality as 350 writers and editors from over 40 African countries have worked diligently to compile God's Word into a one of a kind Bible developed for Africans by Africans. The president of Oasis International, Dr. Matthew Elliott, says "With the ASB, we're bringing the power of Scripture to Africa in a new and culturally relevant way." He also says, "This is an unprecedented project that will impact the global church."

The Africa Study Bible is designed to grow the faith of African church members and teach them to evangelize the people around them. It will also help them gain a clear biblical worldview of their society. The Africa Study Bible is being printed in the New Living Translation, which will provide the African people with an easy and concise understanding of Scripture in today's language. There will be 2,400 features in the Bible which include application notes, stories, proverbs, touch-points, notes that explain basic theology and major themes found in the God's Word. Oasis International plans to release the first copies of the Africa Study Bible in English but also will provide translations in French and Portuguese soon thereafter. A full featured app is currently being developed for the study Bible.

The editorial for this new Bible is nearly complete and Oasis, along with partners, is inviting fellow Christians to join in and help them get the ASB into the hands of the African people. A Kickstarter campaign has been launched today. Their goal is to raise one million dollars in the hopes of being able to print the first 100,000 copies. The fundraising program will run from April 18, 2016 through June 16, 2016. If you'd like to participate in the fundraising, click here. As a thank you for your generous donation, you'll have the opportunity to receive various incentives ranging from beautiful one of a kind artwork prints to limited edition Italian leather copies of the ASB. There will also be some all expense paid trips including a real African safari! (You can watch the Kickstarter video here.)

Dr. Elliot says, "Our goal is to have the first run of the ASB available in Africa by the end of 2016. We already know of more than 100 million people in denominations and movements in Africa whose leaders want to use the ASB for discipleship so there is a lot of anticipation throughout the continent."

It's exciting to see such a global effort come to fruition. Oasis International has partnered with Tyndale House Publishers to create this unique study Bible along with other well known participants such as Campus Crusade for Christ, Willow Creek and Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, Moody Broadcasting.

Dr. Elliott says, "We've seen the hand of God in amazing ways throughout the development of this project." Dr. John Jusu, the supervising editor of the ASB, says,"The content of the ASB is bubbling up from the cultures of Africa. The biblical truth is percolating through our own cultures and stories to create a rich and textured tapestry that Africans can claim as their own."

Won't you join this exciting project to help fulfill the Great Commission? In Matthew 28:16-20 God gave us this mandate to go into the world and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. He commanded us to make disciples of all nations and told us to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But the Bible also tells us how can they believe if they have not heard? How can they hear if no one tells them? The new Africa Study Bible will speak to Africans in language they can clearly understand and it will provide the means for these spiritually hungry people to be fed with the gospel. Let's do our part to help spread God's Word by getting behind this project and helping raise the funds to exceed the current goal of one million dollars. Won't you join me? I hope you will!!! Please share this blog post and help get the information out about this new Bible. Remember to tell your friends about the great prizes that will be offered as they donate and thanks in advance for your help!

"Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20

"But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15

© bonnie annis

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Case Away Cancer - a book review

What would you do if your two year old son was diagnosed with cancer? How would you react if you were told it was not only cancer, but brain cancer? I imagine you'd react with a heart filled with terror and a million questions. That's exactly what happened to Bob and Ellie Ewoldt when they found out their youngest child, Chase, was facing the biggest battle of his little life.

When I received a complimentary copy of Chase Away Cancer, from Tyndale House Publishing, I was excited to read the book. After having been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, I thought the book would hold valuable information for me on how to deal with my own fight against the dreaded "Big C". But while this book was about a child's struggle with cancer, it was also the story of his parents' great faith in God.

The story opens as Ellie Ewoldt discovers she's pregnant with her fourth child. As she and her husband ponder over baby names, they come up with the name Chase "because it mirrored our prayer that this son would run hard after God," Ellie says in her book. It was important to the Ewoldts that their children grow up to love the Lord and as they carefully selected their new baby's name, they offered up a prayer for wisdom and strength.

Chase was born a normal little boy. As he grew, he was filled with energy. He was strong and determined from the very beginning. One day, his mother noticed something was wrong when Chase couldn't remember the name of a snack he wanted. His father thought it wasn't a big deal, just a fluke, kids forget things...but his mother had the intuition that something wasn't right, so she called the pediatrician and set up an appointment. At first, the doctor thought it was a stomach virus. Xrays were done and they thought perhaps Chase was just constipated. Then Chase began drooling and vomiting. His speech was suffering. At the advice of their regular pediatrician, the Ewoldts agreed to have Chase monitored for brain seizures. Before the test could be performed, Chase had a seizure at home. His frightened parents called 911 and their son was quickly whisked off to the hospital where a myriad of tests were performed. A CT scan revealed a large mass inside Chase's head and in an instant, their whole world changed.

The Ewoldts began to question why their little one was having to go through this terrible ordeal. For a fleeting moment, Mrs. Ewoldt even wondered if Chase's tumor was somehow a punishment for past mistakes she'd made in her life, but a friend of the family quickly reminded her that Chase's ordeal was "part of a sovereign, gracious plan that far exceeds what we know and understand at this time." I loved a quote Mrs. Ewoldt shared just after having had this thought. She says, speaking about Jesus, "His love takes us down paths we would never dream of entering by our own volition as part of His sovereign plan for our lives." Only a person of deep faith could take that perspective during a family trauma!

I enjoyed reading this book because throughout the drama of an unexpected medical crisis, Ellie Ewoldt never lost hope in Christ. She clung tightly to her faith and allowed God to use the experience to draw her nearer to Himself. The book was a fast read because it was a true life drama and was written so the reader would be immediately engulfed in the story. Ms. Ewoldt's words were descriptive and clear giving great detail into their day to day journey into the world of brain cancer. She shared both the good and the not so good times as she and her family endured months and months of tests, treatments, surgeries, and illness. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about real life events or anyone searching for evidence of how to rely on personal faith in the face of unexpected illness.

© bonnie annis all rights reserved

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Atonement by Beverly Lewis - a book review

This was the first Beverly Lewis book I've ever read and I was pleasantly surprised! I've always heard about her beautiful Amish based fiction books but I've never taken time to read one. Something about the name of the book made me want to pick it up and dig right in and I'm so glad I did!

Beverly Lewis has such a beautiful, descriptive way with her words. As I began the book, one of the quotations Ms. Lewis used right before the Prologue grabbed my attention. It said, "Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark." The quotation was by George Iles and I knew Ms. Lewis must have chosen that very quote to make a huge statement about the characters in her book.

The story revolves around Lucy Flaud, a very devout, hardworking young Amish woman. Lucy spends her days devoted to service in an effort to atone for sins from her past. Throughout the story, Ms. Lewis creates situations that lead Lucy into letting down her guard and opening up her heart to receive love once again. Hurt deeply in the past, Lucy finally begins to understand God's love and forgiveness and begins to move forward with her life.

Beverly Lewis indoctrinates the reader quickly into the world of the Amish. I found the inclusion of some of the Dutch phrases in dialogue between characters interesting and it helped provide a better understanding of the Amish culture. When Ms. Lewis brings the Englischer into the story, I was able to see and understand the hesitancy of the Amish people to accept outsiders. Ms. Lewis clearly has done extensive research in the Amish world to be able to write her stories with such proficiency and expertise.

I'm not a big fan of fictional love stories whether they be Christian or otherwise, but I wanted to read this book because of Ms. Lewis' fine reputation as a Christian author and to learn about the Amish people. I was happy to find the story was filled with love and acceptance, forgiveness and hope.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading Christian fiction and to those who might enjoy learning about other cultures. This was a beautiful story told through the eyes of a hurting young woman in need of understanding and love. Ms. Lewis managed to provide a sweet ending that addressed both of those needs for the main character.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

They Say We Are Infidels by Mindy Belz - a book review

I enjoy reviewing books based on today's hot topics but at the same time infusing a strong Christian faith throughout the story line. When I received They Say We Are Infidels by Mindy Belz through Tyndale House Publishing, I had mixed feelings about reading it. While curious about the stories I knew would be included in the book, I didn't know if I really wanted to put detailed stories with specific names into my mind. It was somehow easier to listen to news reports and focus on the tragedies and events they published without knowing all the details...without grasping the fact that these were real people with real families, hopes and dreams. I'm not a big watcher of world news but any time anything involves ISIS, I can't help but find myself paying attention. ISIS has gained media attention because of the horrible atrocities they've inflicted on Christians and even their name causes fear to rise in hearts whether they are Christian or non-Christian.

Mindy Belz, in her book, reports on true life events but her perspective is not from the outside looking in, she's on the inside. She talks to those who've experienced ISIS face to face. She makes a point to listen and gather information but also to allow herself to become part of the victim's lives. She travels through ISIS territory with the help of insiders. She understands the danger and respects the culture. She knows this is real.

In the book, Ms. Belz tells the story of a young mother who was in labor with her first child as ISIS began to attack. At the hospital, her doctor was afraid to wait for her to deliver naturally and ordered a Cesarean section. This mother was Christian. This baby was going to be born to Christian parents. As soon as the baby was born, barely four hours after his mother had been through a C-section, they were sent on their way to join other families trying to escape the terror on foot. Similar stories of faith are given throughout the book by Mindy Belz as she shares real life events and real life stories of Christians living in Iraq, Kurdistan, and other predominately Muslim areas.

I enjoyed the way Ms. Belz used such description in her writing that I felt like I was right there with her. I could almost feel the Iraqi heat and desert sands blowing against my face. I could envision the women in their dark Burkas and the feeling of danger always present.

Mindy Belz weaves the history of the Jewish people in with her story of the Muslim peoples and I found that to be very interesting. Instead of making her book all about Iraq and ISIS, she made sure to include Scripture from the Bible and discuss Jewish tradition and heritage.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to understand more about the Middle East and the plight of the Christians there. I would also recommend it to those wishing to gain more insight and understanding of how the ISIS system works. By understanding more about the inner workings of ISIS, Ms. Belz helps remove some of the terror we associate with the ISIS rebels.

I would like to thank Tyndale House Publishing for providing me with a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Captive - a movie review

Recently, I had the opportunity to review the movie Captive. I was given a complimentary copy by FishFlix Christian movies in exchange for an honest review of their film. I was excited to review this movie because it was based on the true story of Ashley Smith, a struggling drug addict, and a recently captured criminal, Brian Nichols. While living in Atlanta, I remember watching the exciting news reports when this incident actually happened in 2005. I was curious to see whether the movie followed the true story closely or if it veered off for movie theatrics. After watching it, I was happy to find that for the most part, the movie did a good job of keeping facts accurate and true.

The main characters of the movie are complete strangers but through dramatic events, their paths cross. Mr. Nichols is about to face the judge to be tried for recent crimes when he makes a choice that will take him on a difficult path for his life. In a rash decision, Brian Nichols assaults his jailer, steals her gun and uses it to kill the judge presiding over his case. Immediately thereafter, he manages to escape and in an attempt to get away, manages to steal several cars, assault and kill other victims. As he uses one of his victims cars to flee, he accosts Ashley Smith outside of her apartment unit. He holds her hostage and while inside her apartment, we begin to watch their characters unfold. The movie portrays Ashley as a single mother of a young daughter. Ashley is doing her best to overcome drug addiction while a family member has custody of her child. Brian is portrayed as angry and determined. An unlikely friendship develops between them as Ashley does her best to keep Brian calm and to find common ground between them. Ashley decides, if she is going to survive the ordeal, she needs to discover Brian's Achilles tendon and she finds that quickly as she asks if he has any children. Brian reveals that he has a newborn son and doesn't even know his name. Ashley capitalizes on his emotions by asking questions about his child and as she talks about her own. The movie has periods of ups and downs between Ashley and Brian. While she does her best to befriend him to protect herself, she is very aware that he is her captor. Brian has many mood swings and Ashley is careful not to upset him. She does everything she can to make him comfortable in her home, including cooking him breakfast.

During the time of her captivity, Ashley reads aloud from the book, The Purpose Driven Life, by Pastor Rick Warren. Although the movie indicates the book is about God, very little is quoted from the book and I was disappointed in that. I felt the movie could have used more material from the book to emphasize the faith aspect of Ashley's recovery. 

The movie contains some violence and brief above the waist male nudity. The violence includes aggressive behavior, blood, and shooting. Guns and ammunition are displayed in the movie. Parents also need to be aware the movie shows Ashley and Brian actually using the methamphetamine, Ice, and the paraphernalia necessary to use it. 

The movie was a little slow at times but overall, used real life events to show how God, even in the midst of trial, worked on the hearts of those involved to bring about good. It was interesting to see how the movie producers were able to set up realistic scenes and reenact the crimes committed. The movie was well done. The actors and actresses played their parts to the best of their ability and did a great job portraying the real life characters. 

I would recommend this movie for adults and mature teens. I would not recommend it for children because of the violence and drug use. I think this movie is well rated at PG-13.  The movie was entertaining and well thought out. I would have liked to have seen more Scripture used and more faith based conversation between the characters. 

If you choose to watch this movie, remember it is based on actual life events and therefore, there are not the usual dramatic sequences most secular movies of this type present. Secular movies of this type would have over dramatized the material used when Ashley was taken hostage and would probably have included some sexual content. This movie does not do that nor does it allude to any sexual encounters. 

Once again, I would like to thank FishFlix for allowing me the opportunity to review this movie in exchange for my personal review. I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to my readers. 

© bonnie annis all rights reserved