Book Review: “Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas” by Ace Collins

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If you’ve ever wondered how certain Christmas traditions got started, this might be the book you’ve been looking for.

Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas by Ace Collins is a beautiful little book with classic looking illustrations by Clint Hansen. The book is divided into 26 chapters exploring various Christmas traditions and their historical/cultural backgrounds.

Some of the traditions discussed in the book include:

  • Advent
  • Christmas Trees
  • Gifts
  • Mistletoe
  • Poinsettias
  • Santa Claus
  • Stockings
  • Carols and Caroling

A few of the traditions included are more modern, such as:

  • Birthday Cake for Jesus
  • Movies of Christmas

The introduction of the book, subtitled Before You Wish for an “Old Fashioned” Christmas…., is absolutely fascinating. It is a brief historical look at the origins of Christmas celebrations and how we got to where we are now with our current Western Christmas traditions. I was shocked to find out about the controversy and social upheaval that surrounded the celebrating of Christmas not that long ago, even here in America.

Some of the traditions in the book have concrete historical stories behind them and then others have a few different legends or myths to possibly explain their origins. That said, these stories both fact and myth are really interesting and entertaining.

If you love all things Christmas or you’re simply just a history buff, you will certainly enjoy this book. Great book for your own library or as a Christmas gift for someone else.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Book Review: “You Are” by Emily Assell & Lauren Copple

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As a father of a little girl, I am constantly reminding her of who she is in the eyes of both her earthly and heavenly Father. I think that having a Biblical understanding of how God see’s us is absolutely critical for how we understand ourselves, our neighbor, and our Creator.

You Are: Speaking God’s Word Over Your Children (2018) is written by Emily Assell,  illustrated by Lauren Copple, and is a part of a series called Generation Claimed.

In this children’s board book, each page contains a truth to speak over your child, a passage of scripture, and an illustration of various animals in nature. The writing in this book is simple yet profound and the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.

Some of the truths included in the book are:

  • You are chosen.
  • You are free.
  • You are gifted.
  • You are the light of the whole world.

A book that I needed to read that changed my life in regards to how God see’s me, is the book Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning. It helped to correct so many false ideas I held about myself and God for years. You Are felt like an abbreviated kids version of that book. This would be an outstanding book to start reading to your child as early as possible in their lives so that they will grow up with a healthy Biblical view of themselves.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is in a position of influence over a child, this is a great discipling tool for young children.

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: “One Blood” by John M. Perkins

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I’ll be honest, I feel pretty ridiculous reviewing a book written by John Perkins. It’s written by John Perkins for crying out loud, so yeah, it’s an important book, a timely book, a compassionate book, and one that everyone should read. Done. Go buy the book.

But if you need more…

I’ve had the privilege of getting to meet and hear John Perkins speak in Canandaigua & Rochester New York a number of years ago, and he was: wise, brilliant, funny, loving, thoughtful, caring, and prophetic. His voice is one that our world has desperately needed and his life has had an immeasurable impact on the Church and our country.

One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race (2018) is exactly what the subtitle says it is, John’s final thoughts and encouragement to the Church as he nears the end of his life. His life and work has been about seeing racial reconciliation happen in our country and for the Church to be the leaders in that work. The book is both philosophical/theological & practical including a few spotlights on churches that are tangibly living out this call for racial reconciliation and it has a study guide for both personal and/or group reflection.

In a time and country where racial tensions continue to run high, this book is an important addition to the conversation about reconciliation. This book doesn’t point fingers, but instead it is an impassioned call for the Church in all its colors, to come together to do the hard and holy work of reconciliation (lament, confession, forgiveness, and prayer), so that we can experience healing & wholeness, and see our world come to know Jesus through our unity in Him.

Here are a few standout quotes from the book:

I’ll suggest that issues of justice, diversity, and reconciliation are not extra add-ons that the church can opt out of as a matter of personal preference. They are an essential part of the gospel. (p. 19-20)

…the black church can’t fix this. And the white church can’t fix this. It must be the reconciled Church, black and white Christians together imaging Christ to the world. (p. 33)

Our lack of unity has given the world cause to doubt His power and His existence. (p. 70)

African proverb: When I saw you from afar, I thought you were a monster. When you got closer, I thought you were just an animal. When you got even closer, I saw that you were a human, but when we were face to face I realized that you were my brother. (p. 164)

I am so thankful for the life and work of John Perkins and the impact he has had on my life and my world. What a faithful and loving servant he has been to his brothers & sisters of all races. I highly recommend this important book.

I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: “Ancient-Modern Bible: One Faith. Handed Down. For All the Saints. (NKJV)”

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I was instantly intrigued when I first heard about this Bible being released and my high expectations have been far surpassed.

Ancient-Modern Bible (NKJV) is being released in multiple versions including: hardcover, cloth over board, and leathersoft. The version I have received is the white hardcover with the gold slipcase.

When you see and pick up this Bible, you will instantly notice how beautiful this Bible is in its construction, layout, and fine details.

The Ancient-Modern Bible is filled with some of the most unique and creative features I have ever seen in a Bible:

  • Commentary throughout the Bible from an incredibly diverse group of theologians and thinkers, including: C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, Frederick Buchner, Eugene Peterson, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, A.W. Tozer, Augustine, Dallas Willard, John Wesley, Tertullian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Scot McKnight, Brennan Manning, Henri Nouwen, Gregory of Nyssa, and many others.
  • Supplemental articles on various theological subjects by authors including: Timothy Keller and N.T. Wright.
  • The Apostles Creed, The Nicene Creed, The Chalcedonian Definition of the Faith, and The Athanasian Creed.
  • Readings for Advent, Lent, and Easter.
  • Full color images and descriptions of sacred art throughout Church history.

Other excellent features of this Bible include:

  • A two page introduction to each book of the Bible.
  • Wide margins for note taking.
  • Biographies of notable Church leaders throughout history.

I love everything about this edition of the Bible with my only fear being that the pages might be too thin for taking notes. While I haven’t yet attempted to write on one of the pages, it looks like bleed through might be an issue for the paper used in this Bible.

I highly recommend the Ancient-Modern Bible (NKJV) and consider it to be the most creative, artistic, well constructed, and theologically diverse (in commentary) Bible that I have ever seen before. Definitely worth checking out.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Book Review: “The Cow Said Neigh!” by Rory Feek and Illustrated by Bruno Robert

The Cow Said Neigh! A Farm Story (2018) is a children’s board book written by New York Times bestselling author Rory Feek and is illustrated by Bruno Robert.

This is a story about a farm full of animals who all want to be like a different animal on the farm. Each animal sees what another animal is doing and says what they’d do if they were that animal and then they make the noise of the animal they are wishing they were like. The book goes from animal to animal across the farm until the farmer himself joins in and says “Moooooo!”

The book is fun to read with your child as you get to do all the animal sounds together and laugh at the animals making the “wrong” sounds. The illustrations by Bruno Robert are excellent and they held my daughters attention and imagination.

My only criticism of the book is that there is no “moral of the story” or truth to discuss with your child at the end. I was fully expecting the book to land in a place where we affirm how each animal is different and that they don’t have to be like another animal, but the book doesn’t go anywhere. Maybe it was the authors intent to just make a light fun read (which it is), or maybe it is the adult who is responsible to create the moral of the story, but I felt like an opportunity was lost.

Overall I would recommend this book. It’s a beautiful children’s book and a fun read that will certainly elicit laughs from younger children as you recreate all the sounds of the animals on the farm.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Book Review: The Daily Question for You and Your Child

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The Daily Question For You And Your Child is put out by Waterbrook Publishing and is a great keepsake for parents.

Each page has the date and a question at the top and then there are three spaces beneath each question to record your child’s answers to the same question for three separate years. This makes the book a special tool to record the personality and creativity of your child over a three year segment of their life.

Here are some examples of the questions found in the book:

  • What was the best part of your day today?
  • Who is your closest friend?
  • Who is your hero?
  • What is the most important thing in your life?
  • When did you last have to be brave?
  • What is your favorite thing in God’s creation?

I have found that the questions typically spur on a longer conversation with my child which has been a lot of fun. Some of her answers have been hilarious, others have been really profound, and all of them have given me a closer look at who she is and who she is becoming.

I would highly recommend this book to families as a heirloom or as a gift to give a young family. I am looking forward to seeing how my daughter changes and grows over these next three years and all the conversations we will have to record these developments. An additional feature of the book is a place to insert a family photo on the cover.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: “Stones of Remembrance” by Daniel G. Amen, MD

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Stones of Remembrance: Healing Scriptures for Your Mind, Body, and Soul (2017) is written by Daniel G. Amen, MD and serves as a practical spiritual follow up to his book Memory Rescue.

The main premise of the book is that as we increasingly put the Bible to memory, it will bring us closer to God, lead us into a healthy spiritual life, and instruct us on how to communicate with both God and others.

The book is organized into three sections: The Twelve Spiritual Disciplines for Improving Your Memory (including: rest, exercise, meditation, prayer, and socialization), The Twelve Verses to Remember When… (including: anxious, grateful, depressed, lonely, tired), and The Twelve Verses Every Christian Should Know.

I thought that the introduction of the book was very strong as it reminds us of the gift of memory and how it is able to shape our present moment and the future. Another strength of the introduction is when the author briefly highlights how God instructed His people in the Old Testament to remember through the building of monuments and how Jesus instructs His disciples in the New Testament to remember through participating in the Eucharist.

Each of the three sections is divided into subsections, some of which begin with a one paragraph explanation of the theme and then numerous scriptures are listed to coincide with the theme, others don’t have a paragraph explaining the theme and just list passages of scripture. The scriptures selected for each of these subsections were excellent. Reading through each of these passages of scripture to review this book was incredibly powerful. Numerous times I ended up forgetting about the book review and simply reflected on some of the scripture and my relationship with God.

My only complaint is that throughout the book there are statements made regarding how the human brain functions and some of these “facts” are really incredible, but there are no footnotes for supporting these claims or for further reading. I am not calling into question any of the statements made by Amen, I just think the lack of footnotes was a missed opportunity for the book to carry some additional weight and to demonstrate how science and faith are not in competition but rather compliment one another.

Overall I think this book would serve as a good devotional type resource for someone looking for a quick word of encouragement and a list of suggested scriptures to commit to memory for every day life experiences.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.