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7 Lessons From Heaven

Thank you Roslan & Campion for sending us this book to review!

Mary C. Neal, M.D. drowned in a kayaking accident in 1999. She was unresponsive for a half hour and vividly recalls her loving encounter with Jesus and shares her experiences and advice with her fresh perspective on life, death, and eternity. I have not read her previous New York Times best seller, To Heaven and Back, but I do appreciate the detailed recap of her near death experience.

Dr. Neal is an orthopedic surgeon and I really enjoyed the scientific analysis of her near death experience and how it could not have been her imagination, a seizure, oxygen deprivation, or a DMT trip. Not only are her experiences shared, but there are several other quotes from people who have also had near death experiences or encounters with the heavenly realm.

As a Christian, I appreciated the many Bible references throughout the book and hearing about her judgement or "life in review" process. It’s comforting to know that it’s not as bad as many fear. The main emotion felt in the afterlife is love and even the painful experiences are shown from various perspectives. One of the goals in the "life in review" process is fact finding instead of fault finding.

The first lesson taught in this book is that circumstances make sense from heaven’s lens. God’s grace should be freely given as it is to us. There’s probably a reason that someone may be in a foul mood and it’s best not to judge them unless you know what they’re going through.

I won’t spoil any of the other lessons taught as they should be read first hand. I told my daughter about this book and she started reading it and got to chapter five in her first sitting! In total, there are eighteen chapters in this 274-page book. It sells for less than $11 on Amazon and I highly recommend checking out if you’re curious about the afterlife.


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The Porter’s Gate Volume 1: Work Songs


Thank you Porter’s Gate Worship Project for sending us this digital album to review!

I grew up Roman Catholic and then attended a Baptist church in my teenage years. Both of those churches had traditional hymns with only an organ or piano and vocals. I appreciate a good hymn, but I also love contemporary worship with a wide variety of instruments or even a symphonic band! Seeing a need for worship revival, The Porter’s Gate started a creative movement to compose some new worship songs with the help of first-rate singers, songwriters, and musicians.

The theme for this collaborative effort is vocation and they hope to use music as an opportunity to extend hospitality and build bridges with our neighbors. I think they achieved this goal of creating music that is beautiful, truth-filled, and inspiring in this thirteen-track album.


There’s a lot of variety in each of the songs with some of them having a male lead singer while others feature a female lead singer. Urban Doxology was part of the collaboration project too. The voices are all great and I didn’t hear any sour notes. Some of the songs feature just a piano while others have an entire symphony. There are some somber songs and others are energetic.

Like many worship songs, I have to hear the songs a couple of times to have them resonate with me. Listening to this album multiple times has been a pleasant and uplifting experience. The lyrics are God honoring and the music is catchy. I caught myself tapping my foot while listening.

The debut album is due to release on October 6th, 2017 and I highly recommend checking it out through your favorite music provider. I look forward to more inspiring music from Porter’s Gate Worship Project!

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NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible

NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible
Published by: Zondervan
Price: $24.99

Thank you Zondervan for sending us this Bible to color and review!

Kids and coloring books have gone hand in hand for as long as I can remember. Recently adult coloring books have taken off and not long ago we reviewed Inkspirations: Fruit of the Spirit which has thirty-two Bible verse themed pages to color. The NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible is attractive to both adults and kids who like to color and provides fifty-two verses to color.

My daughter took an interest in this Bible right away and I promised it to her if she colored in one of the verses. She agreed to these terms and has been taking this Bible to church with her since. The coloring pages are noticeably thicker than the Bible pages and this is a good thing. The Bible pages are thin (like most Bibles) and prone to tearing if too much pressure is applied while coloring.

One of the first coloring pages has the verse Joshua 1:9 which says: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid.” That inspiring verse was the one that my daughter colored. The items to color really don’t match the verses too well in my opinion. This one in particular has a sunrise/sunset and flowers all around. The coloring page for Luke 6:27’s “Love your enemies” is filled with donuts and popsicles. I guess you can show love to your rivals by raising their cholesterol and weight. Despite the odd themes, these pages are pretty well detailed and bound to entertain artists for some time.

NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible

As a Bible, this one is easy to read and I like how the words that Jesus spoke are highlighted in red. Another cool feature is the table of weights and measures in the back that translates Biblical terms with modern day equivalents. For example, a cubit is equal to 18 inches.

There is a lot to like about this Bible. The only problem I have with it is the translation used. There has been some controversy regarding the 2011 NIV translation and this Bible does use the gender neutral verses. So if you look at the verse John 15:6 “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers...” The new NIV changes it to, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers...” The classic Proverb 27:17 is changed from “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” to “…so one person sharpens another” .

If you enjoy reading the NIV translation and like coloring, then you’ll want to check out the NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible. The hard cover sells for less than $25 on Amazon and that’s a pretty reasonable price. If you’re in need of coloring pencils, we have a review of those too!



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Mario Jackson
This is really splendid. Thanks a lot for the update here... Read More
Monday, 14 August 2017 09:56
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Days? Or Ages? The Genesis Question: A Layman Looks at Creation's Calendar

Thank you Bohlsen Group for sending us this book to review!

The author Jerry Harmon is not a bible scholar; in fact, he worked in construction until his retirement.  This book is the result of weekly meetings between the author and a couple of his closest friends as they embarked on an in-depth study of the first couple of chapters in Genesis.  Their goal was to determine if Hebrew text could shed some light on the seven literal days or several spans of time/ages debate of the Earth’s creation.  

Surely, God is all powerful and has the ability to age things like wine instantly in John 2:1-11, create life on the spot in John 21:5-11,  or to cause trees to wither on command in Mark 11:12-21.  However, science had disproved statements in the Bible that were taken too literally like the Earth being flat due to verses like Isaiah 11:12 and that the universe was  geocentric as possibly referenced from Genesis 1:16 with the moon being the lesser of two light sources.  Could it be possible that the days of creation are not literal?

All of the common viewpoints are addressed in the second chapter including sudden creation, the gap theory, the day-age theory, the intermittent-day theory, progressive creationism, the literary framework theory, and theistic evolution.  I like how each viewpoint is explained and a list of subscribers to those theories are listed as well.  The rest of the book isn’t as easy to follow, especially when it comes down to breaking down the Hebrew language.  Be sure you are alert and awake when reading this book, or much of it will go over your head.  Some of it still went over my head regardless, but I do recall some good arguments for a possibility of delayed creation.

It is argued that the sun, moon, and planets were created on the first day, but assigned their purpose on the fourth.  The passages in Isaiah 11:6-9  could be referring to Adam being formed as a child rather than an adult.  This theory would make a bit more sense because he would have to have a short attention span to be bored and lonely so fast on his first day of existence.  Also the ability to get to know and name each of the animals is quite a feat as well.

Not surprisingly, the verse Psalms 90:4 is brought up to suggest that each one of God’s days could be like one thousand to us.  In the end, Days or Ages supports the latter.  As to why, I’ll  leave that for you to read and find out in this 203 page book that sells for less than $14 on Amazon.


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Fruit-Full Kids

 

Thank you Fruit-Full Kids for sending us a Golden Rule plate to review!

Fruit-Full Kids began unexpectedly when a mother offered a kindness award for her kids to get along after a day of bickering.  She didn’t expect her offer to make a difference, but God had other plans! When her children behaved the rest of the day, Laurie Canata, gave one of her kids a different plate than the others.  Following that day her kids were excited to see who would get the special plate.   And thus the idea for unique Christian/Bible verse themed plates was born!

At the time of this article there are sixteen different plates to choose from and they sell for $6.95 individually or $19.95 for a set of three.  There are plates for several fruits of the spirit including love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Biblical principles like the Golden Rule (Matt 7:12), being a Fruitful Follower (Mark 12:30), and a Gracious Giver (2 Cor 9:7) are also available in plate-form.  Last but not least are holiday themes plates with Christmas (Luke 2:11 & Luke 2:14), Thanksgiving (Ps 136:1), and birthday (Ps 139:13-14) plates available.  

The dishes themselves are high quality with colorful and attractive artwork on them.  They are made from non-toxic BPA free melamine.  The plates measure nine inches in diameter and are dishwasher safe.  My biggest complaint is that they are not recommended for microwave use.  Given that my kids often need to re-heat leftovers, they don’t get as much use out of these dishes as I would like. However, in the past couple of weeks that we have been using the plate, it has held up fine and the design is not scratching or fading away.     

If you’re looking for a fun way to bless and teach your kids God’s word, then check out the wide variety of plates sold at the Fruit-Full Kids website and several retail locations.  Shipping charges apply on the website and Amazon.com.  These plates make great gifts and bless people in many ways as ten percent of the proceeds goes toward the fruit tree program through Samaritan’s Purse.  

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In-Lawfully Yours

Thank you Cinedigm for sending us a DVD to review!

In-Lawfully Yours is a Christian themed romantic comedy that stars and is produced by Corbin Bernsen.  Not only does it have a unique love story, there’s a positive message about God’s love and redemption.  This is another Christian movie that pleasantly surprised us with some funny moments and a good story.

Upon receiving the news of her father-in-law’s illness, Jesse went to inform her husband, Charlie.   Once she tracked him down, she caught him in the arms of another woman.  Divorce paperwork and the death of his father soon followed.  Charlie’s mother, Naomi, takes the loss pretty hard as she lost her daughter six years prior.  Packing up and moving out of her mostly empty house is not something she’s looking forward to, but her son is pushing her so she can move in with him.  Prepping to leave this small town behind she starts packing her things with Jesse’s help.

Jesse is from New York and is not familiar with how quickly rumors spread around small towns.   Besides the humorous and unwelcome treatment she gets at the only restaurant in town, Jesse is also treated rudely when visiting the local church for the first time in her life.  She has many faith questions and learns the hard way that it’s not proper to interrupt the pastor during his sermon to ask them.  The pastor, Ben, is her widowed ex-brother in-law who still wears his wedding ring. 

At first the relationship between Ben and Jesse is awkward, but it doesn’t take long for them to realize that it has some potential.  However, before things get too serious Charlie comes back into town stating that he wants to fix his marriage.  Is Charlie truly changed, jealous, or is he up to no good?  To find out Charlie’s true intentions and the future of Ben and Jesse’s relationship, I recommend watching In-Lawfully Yours which can be yours for less than $15 on Amazon.


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Peter: The Redemption

Thank you Cinedigm for sending us this DVD to review!

Many of us have lied or made mistakes before.  Fortunately for us, our misdeeds are not recorded in the Bible.  Luke 22:54-62 recounts Peter denying that he knew Jesus three times, just as Jesus predicted.  After Jesus’ resurrection He restores Peter by having Him affirm him three times in John 21:15-19.  The movie Peter: The Redemption depicts Peter living his final months in a Roman jail and refusing to confess to burning down the city under Nero’s rule.  Despite being given several opportunities to recant his faith, Peter holds firm and refuses to deny Jesus any more in his lifetime.  Unfortunately, several other Christians are persecuted and tortured as a result.

There are many bloody and uncomfortable scenes as Christians are seen getting beaten and bloodied.  For this reason, younger children should probably refrain from seeing this film.  Fortunately, the scenes with them being set on fire are not shown, but the screams of torture still hit home.  Many popular actors are in this ninety-minute film including John Rhys-Davies as Peter and Stephen Baldwin as Nero.  

Besides the story of Peter’s strong faith, there is a budding romance between a dedicated Roman soldier named Martinian and a palace servant, Suzanna, who is tending to Peter’s many wounds.  Suzanna is a Christian and is treading on thin ice as Nero detests Christians and enjoys using them as torches to illuminate his garden.  To make matters worse Nero takes a liking to her and his wife is extremely jealous.

I won’t spoil this movie, but unlike many Christian films out there, Peter The Redemption tells a good story about faith, love, forgiveness, and perseverance.   Not all of the believers keep their faith as some of the prisoners recant to regain their freedom.  However, others die for their faith and those strong Christians inspire unlikely individuals to become saved and get baptized in Jesus’ name.   

For less than $10 for the DVD, Peter: The Redemption is worth picking up.  Though there doesn’t seem to be a Blu-ray version available, the visual quality is surprisingly good for a DVD.  My husband and I were pleasantly surprised with the overall quality of this film and highly recommend it to believers and non-believers alike.

 


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Last Days In The Desert

Thank you Broadgreen for sending us this DVD to review!

The fourth chapter in the book of Matthew mentions Jesus going into the wilderness to be tempted and fasting for forty days and nights.  The Bible tells about three of the temptations, but the movie Last Days In The Desert uses some artistic license to add many more.    The beginning of this hour and thirty-eight minute movie is a bit slow starting as it shows the “Holy man” as He’s referred to wandering aimlessly in the desert.  You’ll see Him sleeping and hear Him praying for guidance to His Heavenly Father and even laughing at the wind blowing sticks around.  Later on in the film He laughs at a fart too.

While He’s never called Jesus, Satan who is also played by Ewan McGregor (He's Jesus too) refers to Him as Yeshua.   Satan takes on many forms, but is most often identical in appearance to Jesus.  One of the forms Satan takes on is that of a topless woman whose hair covers the otherwise  would be seen nipples.  

During Jesus’ fasting in the desert He happens upon a nomad family that is struggling emotionally.  Their mother is deathly ill while the adolescent son and father barely communicate and cannot relate to one another.  The father is a skilled carpenter and wishes for his son to live in the desert with him, but the son longs to set his own destiny in Jerusalem.  The mother wishes for him to fulfill his dreams as well, but the family cannot afford an apprenticeship for him.  

Satan offers a wager to Jesus to fix this family and even tells Him of their future had Jesus not crossed paths with them.  I found it odd that Satan could see the future, but Jesus couldn’t in this film.  Jesus was able to foresee many events including His own death (Matt 26:2), betrayal (Matt 26:21), resurrection (Matt 16:21), coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), and even the destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 19:43-44).  Even though Jesus is perceived as weak (despite eating) and doubting of His abilities, there is a decent story about humanity, family, and relationships in this film.  Just don’t expect much Biblical content because much of it goes against God’s word.   

 


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Patterns of Evidence: Exodus

Thank you Patterns of Evidence for sending us this book to review!

In 2015 my husband and I were blown away by Timothy Mahoney’s documentary searching for archaeological evidence of the Biblical Exodus.  Many Egyptologists disregard the Biblical account of the exodus due to lack of evidence in the New Era Kingdom of Ramesses II.   In this 392-page book, Timothy describes his twelve-year long journey to figure out if the events in Exodus really happened or not.  His methodology is logical, scientific, controversial, and the results very convincing.  I highly recommend reading this book and/or at the very least watching or renting the film!

Timothy focuses on six events that took place in the Exodus.  The arrival of the Israelites, their multiplication, slavery, judgement of the Egyptians, their leaving (Exodus), and their conquest of Canaan.  While there is plenty of evidence of these events all taking place in the Middle Kingdom time period, archaeologists disregard it all because it’s not in the New Era Kingdom.

The origin of the New Era Kingdom is explained and picked apart for its many inconsistencies.   Throughout this book you’ll read several interviews between Timothy and renowned Egyptologists and archaeologists.  David Rohl, who agrees with this new timeline, isn’t even a Christian.  Many of the other interviewees are not onboard with altering the current Egyptian timeline.  It’s easier to throw the Biblical evidence under the bus than to change and re-write history books.

There is plenty of evidence of Joseph residing in Egypt.  He has a canal, Bahr Yusef (waterway of Joseph), named after him!  Many assume that the seven-year famine that Joseph interpreted from Pharaoh’s dream was a drought.  Planting crops is equally difficult if areas are flooded and that could have been the source of food shortages as well.  An archaeological dig site has uncovered a city named Avaris and there is evidence that a high ranking Semitic ruler lived there.  On this property with twelve columns resides an empty tomb has a statue of a man with a Semitic hair style, skin color, and a colorful robe.  Since the bones are missing as the Bible declares, there is a good chance that this could have been Joseph’s residence. 

This is just one fascinating finding out of many.  Accompanying all of them are full colored pictures, graphs, and proposed timelines.  In addition to the twelve chapters are additional interviews and other arguments for the number of Israelites, how long they were enslaved and details about their conquest.  There are several pages of end notes that state the Biblical and other book sources referenced throughout the book.

If you’re interested in reading more about archaeological evidence for the Biblical Exodus, this book can be purchased on Amazon for $30 in hard cover format or $15 digitally.  (Amazon Affiliate Link)

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Touched by an Angel: The Complete Series

Thank you BH Impact for sending us this DVD set to review!

Touched by an Angel began in 1994 and was almost cancelled after its first season. However, it was brought back for eight more seasons after the fans of the show wrote enough letters to change CBS’ mind.  During season’s three through six, Touched by an Angel was one of CBS’ highest rated series.  While it was nominated several times for the Golden Globe Awards it never won them.  It did however win multiple Outstanding Drama Series awards, and rightfully so!

The series begins with a couple of angels named Tess and Monica.  Tess is Monica’s supervisor and Monica is a newly promoted “case worker” who lends a helping hand to people in dire situations.  The show doesn’t pull any punches with the topics it discusses.  There are shows about alcoholism, drug addiction, AIDS, cancer, teen pregnancy, racism, homosexuality, and that’s just within the first couple of seasons!  While many of the shows are kid safe, some of them have serious themes and minor language that may not be suitable for young children.   I am happy to report that intimate relationships are eluded to and not explicitly shown.

I also like how this show displays God's love and even though we may be going through tough times, God never abandons us.  It also makes it clear that tough times are not necessarily a punishment and our mistakes still have consequences despite repenting and being forgiven for them.  The angels are not depicted as being perfect either; both Tess and Monica let their pride and emotions get to them and they get set back on track and confess their sins and make amends.  Andrew (from season two on), the angel of death, often appears in the show as well.  His appearance doesn't always mean that someone is going to die, but it's usually the case.  

Throughout the nine seasons and fifty-nine DVDs in this set there are numerous guest appearances from many popular celebrities including Bill Cosby, Celine Dion, Montel Williams, Randy Travis, and Wynonna Judd.  I also like how the show’s finale has guest characters from the first season reprising their roles and bringing closure to this inspiring series.   

Despite the low picture quality of the first couple of seasons, the stories are timeless.  Widescreen format is not available until the final season!  The musical talents of Della Reese (Tess) and other guests is a pleasure to listen to and the writing is excellent.  Some of the episodes will bring tears to your eyes so keep some Kleenex handy!

The complete series retails for $145 but is available for less than $90 on Amazon.  That’s a great price for over one hundred and sixty-five hours of inspiring entertainment.


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Glimmer Girls: A Dolphin Wish

Thank you Zonderkids for sending us this book to review!

This book is the second book in the Glimmer Girls series, and in it Maddie, Mia, and Lulu are swept away to San Diego for another one of their mom’s concerts. You will also find out the dad’s name - Jack.  To relax the family goes to Captain Swashbuckler’s Adventure Park, an amusement park with an ocean theme. On their first day there, the Glimmers visit the dolphins. On her way back from the bathroom, Mia overhears a conversation that revolves around the topic of illegal animal releases!

The mystery begins when the family is seeing seals and Lulu finds a slip of paper - a possible clue!  The girls think people might get suspicious if they talked about the criminal as a criminal, so they agreed on the code name Dr. Dolittle.  The girls needed to get the feeding schedule of the animals, for it was crucial to the solving of this mystery. Lulu’s slip of paper just happened to be the feeding schedule. 

When they were visiting the  seals, Lulu found a boy with a sketchbook. She asked what he was drawing, and the boy acted all secretive. He could be a possible suspect! The girls were also doing a treasure hunt throughout the park. Mia had one clue the others didn’t – the golden key. She told them about it on the last day as they were preparing to leave the park. The rest of the story you’ll have to read the book to find out.

The drawings in this book are in the same style as in the last one- cartoony and monochrome. They are typically at the beginning of chapters, and sometimes at exciting parts in this 208 page book. It was a really good story and I highly recommend it. 

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Dynamic Studies in Hebrews

Thank you Bohlsen Group for sending us this book to review!

The book of Hebrews is not one of the easier books in the Bible to read.  Fred A. Schreeren, who wrote Dynamic Studies in Hebrews, goes over each and every verse in this thirteen-chapter epistle.  The Bible study is broken down into twenty sessions that are designed for weekly Bible studies.  Even though snacks are usually a given at a Bible study, I thought it was amusing that this study says to “assign refreshments for next week.”  

Most of the sessions are around ten pages in length and involve referencing and comparing verses from both the New and Old Testament to those in Hebrews.  Some of the sessions recommend assigning someone to read and summarize other books (God’s Appointed Times, Christ in the Passover) for the next session.

I like how each study gives you a warm up question that will set the tone for the current study.  I have to admit that I changed my point of view from the start to the end of the study on at least one occasion.  One question that I changed my mind on was: How do you normally respond to someone who gets in trouble?  While my initial answer was “Not much pity if they deserved it”, after reading and studying on how much Christ suffered on our account, I was convicted about how I’m lacking in the compassion department.  

There are some great Old Testament comparisons to Jesus being the high priest of the New Testament to the Old Testament’s Melchizedeck.  This Bible Study also goes over the necessity of the new covenant.  The author also makes the case that Paul is the author of Hebrews since he was longing to see Timothy, references believers in Italy, and last but not least, it has his signature ending: “Grace be with you all. Amen.”

For anyone who is looking for an in depth look into Hebrews that is easy to understand, I highly recommend checking out Dynamic Studies in Hebrews which sells for $23.95 on paperback or $3.99 digitally.


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God’s Club

Thank you Cinedigm for sending us this movie to review!

Does a Bible Club belong in a public school?  That’s the premise of the movie God’s Club.  Christine Evans was getting pushback from launching God’s Club at the Echo Grove high school in Vermont.  This small community has a number of outspoken (and often jerkish) atheist families who are trying to stop the club from launching.   Her husband reluctantly supports her efforts, but doesn’t get too involved until she dies suddenly. 

Michael Evans (Stephen Baldwin) takes his wife’s death pretty badly and holes himself up in his house for twelve weeks (often wearing the same shirt).  His nearly angelic teenage daughter tried to get him out of the house without much success.  One of his colleagues (Corbin Bernsen) pays him a friendly visit and reminds him that he could lose his job altogether if he doesn’t return to work soon.  To inspire him, he suggests that Michael launches the Bible club in his wife’s honor. And he does so, not anticipating the uphill battles ahead.

At first the Bible club has a few members and a couple of them joined up just to heckle the teacher.  Other students are positively impacted by the gospel and it stirs up trouble with their non-believing parents.  One of the parents is a lawyer (Lorenzo Lamas) and is looking for any creative way to shut down the club for good.  Some of the students resort to vandalism to let God’s Club know that they are not welcome as well.

With so much stacked against them, Michael and his daughter press on with the club realizing that their lives, jobs, and reputations are on the line.  But their faith is strong and unwavering as Psalm 62 proclaims.  Other verses quoted include Mark 11:25 and Romans 8:28.

While a bit corny and stereotypical at times, there were some enjoyable moments in God’s Club.  I’m in no rush to see it again nor am I eager to loan it out to fellow believers telling them that it’s a “must see.”  Overall it’s a decent film. However, I certainly won’t be handing it out to non-believers because of how they are portrayed in it.


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Glimmer Girls: London Art Chase

Thank you Zonderkids for sending us this book to review!

Glimmer Girls: London Art Chase is written by Natalie Grant who many know as a four-time Grammy nominated singer.  She is now using her creative talents toward writing books that pre-teen girls will like.  As an 11-year old, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In London Art Chase, twins Maddie, Mia, and their little sister Lulu are going to London for their mom's concert tour. They have a nanny named Miss Julia who takes are of them while their parents are gone. Their mom is named Gloria Glimmer, and she is a famous Christian pop star.

While their family is packing to go to London for Gloria's concert tour, the sisters decide to hold a fashion show, as many young girls enjoy playing dress up.   Once packed, the family heads to the airport and flies off to London.  Unfortunately, Lulu's suitcase with her toys didn't make it there.  While Lulu hoped to investigate the matter, they were re-united with it after a few days.   Later in the book the whole family will embark on a case regarding a stolen painting.

In London the family gets to stay in a really nice hotel and visit the National Gallery during their free time.  They also got to visit Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London, where they were awestruck by the jewels that belonged to many princes and princesses over the centuries. On their trip the family also learned that their great-great-great-great-great grandfather founded the London police force and was knighted as a result.  Besides learning about their lineage, the girls also learned a thing or two about  solving mysteries. I won't spoil them, so you'll have to read the book to find out more!

I enjoyed this 205 page book so much I finished it in a day! It is kid-safe with no foul language and a few references to God and the Bible. It has some black and white illustrations as well. Most of them are at the beginning of the chapter, but there are some that are at exciting parts in the story. I would highly recommend this book and it sells for less than $8 on Amazon. 


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Noah’s Ark (2015)

Thank you Cinedigm for sending us this DVD to review!

Our family has watched many faith-based movies and most of them show the biblical figures as upright, holy, and serious.  While those films don’t stray from the Bible and teach valuable lessons, they are often hard to relate to in modern times.  Noah’s Ark (which originally aired on BBC television) changes that formula by telling a well-known story with a modern twist and personable characters.  Although Noah was close to 600 years old (Gen 7:6), he is shown as being a fit man who joins his sons (Ham, Shem, Japeth) in diving, swimming, rough housing and some joking around.  

Besides the added dialog, there are some new characters brought into the story including an adopted son named Kenan.  Ham, Shem, and Japeth are all married though having grandkids is a little challenging for them since everyone is all living and sleeping in close proximity.  Some of the couples are discussing the lack of privacy and the need to move out to start their own families.  Kenan is nearly eighteen and falls in love with a non-believing girl in the nearby town.  He sneaks out to go partying with her almost every night.

The townspeople are shown as evil with implied pedophilia and valuing science over an all-powerful and loving God.  Some of the arguments made by the townspeople are the same as those used by modern day skeptics.  Instead of being told directly by God (Gen 6:13), an angelic messenger is sent to Noah to build an ark for the upcoming flood.

I love how this film depicts his family’s (realistic) reactions to such a bold mission.  Having not seen rainfall in over a year, the family is doubtful to say the least.  Noah keeps his faith and embarks on building the ark on his own.  His family slowly comes around, but when Noah tries to warn the townspeople, they nearly kill him.  Some do come around and join him on the ark before the storm comes. A couple of Bible discrepancies include Genesis 7:7 stating that it was only Noah’s family onboard, and God shut the ark’s door (Gen 7:16) instead of Noah.

The actual flood and gathering of the animals takes a backseat to the storytelling and portrayal of Noah’s family.  Despite some artistic license taken with this Biblical event, my family enjoyed watching this movie.   This 92 minute film has a faith friendly 12+ rating and I think that's fair given some of the bedroom discussions.  I wasn't familiar with any of the British actors, but they all did a fine job.  I highly recommend the 2015 Noah's Ark movie if you’re looking for a different spin on this great story of faith.


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Lyfe’s Journey

Thank you Falco Ink for sending us this DVD to review!

David Lyfe had a good life, a nice house, a great job, a pretty wife and daughter, and a baby on the way.  He was a wonderful dad and a loving husband.  Things couldn’t get much better until he found out that his company was merging with another bank.  He detested having to fly out to California to lay off the people he personally hand-picked for that location.  To make matters worse, once that was handled, he was given the same lay-off spiel by his boss! To cope with the news David decided to drown away his sorrows at the hotel bar.

It’s there that he meets a lonely housewife named Amy and they share stories about each other’s life and spouses.  David is happy in his marriage, but Amy is not since her husband doesn’t pay much attention to her and her desire to have kids.  I’d like to say that they parted ways but instead David makes a mistake that will cost him his family, house, and job opportunities.  

When David hits rock bottom, he meets up with a pastor and starts to stay at their homeless shelter.  The pastor’s daughter took an interest in David since she sensed her deceased mother’s “presence” around him and knew that he deserved a second chance.  Can David repent of his sins and regain his wife’s trust and earn her forgiveness?  You’ll have to watch this eighty-two-minute film that has earned Dove awards for yourself.  It’s recommended for audiences that are twelve and older and I agree with that rating.    Although intimacy is not shown, it is implied and there are alcohol references.

Overall I found the movie enjoyable, but predictable.  The acting is decent and the main character is a good guy who makes one mistake and pays dearly for it.  The wife is rightfully hurt and her mother (who was cheated on numerous times) is pushing for her to divorce him.  As a Christian I like the message of redemption, but I’m not so fond of the spiritual sensing that the pastor’s daughter had with the local homeless residents. 


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Full of Grace

Thank you BH Impact for sending us this DVD to review!

Most Christians agree that Mary played a crucial role in bringing our savior into this world in His human form.  His conception was divine since Mary was not yet married and a virgin.  When she was visited by an angel, she accepted God’s will without thinking about the social stigma that would be placed on her or the emotional suffering that was to come.  She is truly a role model of humble submission. 

With that said, there are arguments in Christian circles that some denominations put too much emphasis on Mary believing that she can mediate between Jesus and mankind, that she too was sinless, and remained a virgin after marriage.  The Bible clearly states that Jesus is our mediator (1 Tim 2:5), all have sinned (Rom 3:23, Luke 2:24), and that Jesus had earthly siblings (Matt 12:47).  

The movie Full of Grace does not show any of her offspring caring for her towards the end of her life.  Instead, a (presumably fictional) woman named Zara is shown tending to her.   Sensing that her time on earth is dwindling, Mary sends word to Peter that she would like to speak with him one more time.

Meanwhile, Peter is being pressured by members of the early church seeking permission to interpret scriptures to teach the spiritually hungry new believers.  With issues like denying the trinity, not believing that Jesus was fully man as well as God, and believers picking and choosing Christ’s teachings, the early church is already harvesting seeds of discord.  Peter doesn’t want to spread false doctrine and is not sure how to proceed, so he welcomes the diversion of tending to Mary before giving the church elders a decision.  

Mary and Peter talk about their time together with Jesus and Mary implores him to go back to the beginning to understand the end.  Peter is soon accompanied by Simon and John who question him on Paul’s ministry and his rejecting the Old Testament ways.  Many good topics like law versus tradition, and limitless grace are discussed.  While this movie is slow-paced, it’s interesting to see how the early church struggled with its rapid growth and human failings.  

On her deathbed Mary shares with Jesus’ disciples and friends her earthly memories and wisdom.  She refers to the people there as her children and reminds them that she will always be with them.  Before passing, she has communion with them and has oil placed on her head. Her body is shown being carried away and buried instead of ascending to heaven like some denominations believe. 

Even though I didn’t recognize any of the actors, they played their roles well.  The background music and singing set the tone and the scenery was authentic, beautiful, and gloomy when it needed to be.  It lacks some of the triple A movie special effects, but the message of the movie is made clear without the need for unnecessary fanfare.     

I won’t spoil what Peter learned in case you wish to see this one hour and twenty-three minute film.  My mom, step-dad and I found it somewhat interesting while my husband managed to fall asleep.    If you want to see a movie portraying the possible struggles of the early church, than look no further than Full of Grace.  Just make sure you're well rested beforehand. 


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War Room

Thank you Sony Pictures for sending us this DVD to review!

The Kendrick brothers have been upping the ante with each film they have released.  I have enjoyed their previous entries including Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous.  While I have heard good things about War Room, I wasn’t familiar with the movie’s premise.  I assumed it took place in strategy room during a major war.  While I wasn’t completely off-base, this movie wasn’t what I anticipated at all and it exceeded my expectations.  I think it’s safe to say that the movies from the Kendrick brothers get better with each release.  

War Room begins with Clara Williams by her husband’s grave forty years after his passing.  He was a decorated war strategist and was very good at his position.  She realizes that war is a part of life, especially when it comes to spiritual warfare.  Clara is a devout Christian and spends much of her day in her bedroom closet praying for her family and friends.  While her closet is lacking clothes, its walls are covered in Bible verses and prayer requests.  At first glance it does look like an old fashioned war room.    

When it comes time for Clara to put her house up for sale she meets Elizabeth Jordan (played by Priscilla Shirer), a real estate agent whose marriage is falling apart. Their biggest issue is that they are putting their careers over the needs of each other and their daughter, Danielle.  Their romance is gone and Danielle is growing more distant and feels neglected each day.  

Clara pushes Elizabeth beyond her comfort zone and insists that she puts God at the throne of her heart and to start letting God fight her battles for her.  While her marriage currently seems hopeless, nothing is impossible for God!  It’s not an easy change for Elizabeth, but she perseveres even when things continue to crumble.  

Without spoiling the story, I will say that there are many emotional moments and a few humorous scenes as well.  I watched this film with my life group and kids.  It’s family friendly and the women in the room immediately recognized Beth Moore’s cameo in the film.  I recommend this movie for anyone whose prayer life can use a booster shot.


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The Letters

Thank you MPRM for sending us a screener of this film!

Many people are familiar with the humanitarian work that Mother Theresa has done in India.  She tried to deflect all of the recognition to God and said that she was merely a “pencil in God’s hand.”  In fact, she nearly declined accepting her 1979 Nobel Peace prize in person, but was later convinced to go to spread awareness of the poverty situation in India.  All of her tireless and mostly thankless work took a toll on her spiritual life and she confessed to feeling alone and isolated from God in various letters between her and her spiritual mentor, Archbishop Ferdinand Perier.

The film, The Letters opens up with a miraculous healing being accredited to a picture of Mother Theresa healing a tumor from a woman in India in 1998, a year after Mother Theresa’s death.  A priest is sent to investigate this miracle, one of the two required for sainthood in the Catholic church.  While investigating her life, the priest talks to Archbishop Ferdinand Perier and is given access to the letters which Mother Theresa wished to have destroyed. 

Because the letters still existed, the Vatican priest was able to gain insight from her selfless life and devotion to the poor.  While Mother Theresa began as a teacher in the Loreta Convent in India, she longed to help the destitute that were outside of the convent walls.  There was civil unrest when India became its own nation in 1947 and streets were unsafe for the students and nuns in the convent.  On a sabbatical, Mother Theresa received a calling from God to devote her life and to serve the destitute.  The Mother General at the convent doubted her calling, but the Vatican approved it and the eventual founding of the Missionaries of Charity which began with a dozen nuns and is now four-thousand strong. Despite the decline of many Christian organizations and churches, this ministry for the poor is growing.

God was and clearly is still blessing her ministry despite her struggles and doubt at time.  The Letters does a nice job depicting her feelings, struggles, and strong belief in prayer.  In the end, the priest believed that she indeed was eligible for sainthood and I believe that many, myself included, can learn a lot from her humility and trusting in God.  The Letters will be coming to the USA on December 4th, 2015.  It’s rated PG and is a good movie to watch with the whole family.

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The Gospel of John

Thank you Rogers and Cowen for sending us this DVD to review!

I have read and listened to the Bible in different formats and in a few translations.  I have also seen many film adaptions of Biblical stories and the life, death, and resurrections of Jesus.  Many of these films and story books leave out verses and some context from the scriptures.  The Gospel of John doesn’t have that issue as this is a word-for word movie adaptation of the entire book of John.  It has support for many different languages and translations.  I found it humorous that the KJV version is in stereo while the NIV translation is in 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio.  I guess those still stuck on the old fashioned KJV don’t have modern stereo equipment?      

The Bible translation is spoken over the Aramaic dialogue of the actors.  I didn’t recognize any of the actors in this film or even Jesus at first.  He didn’t look like typical painting portrayals of being Caucasian with brown hair.  In this movie he was more Semitic with black hair and a beard with a touch of gray in it.    

While my kids watched this 161-minute movie with us, it did lose the attention of my youngest a couple of hours into it.  Thankfully the whipping and crucifixion scenes were not as graphic as depicted in The Passion.  The message was very clear and touching to the point of putting a lump in my throat a couple of times.  

Overall the production quality was impressive and this film is well done.  It’s an interesting alternative to your daily Bible reading routine.  The price is very reasonable at less than $10 on Amazon.  It’s definitely worth picking up this family friendly and Biblically accurate representation of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.


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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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