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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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The Passion of Augustine

Thank you EG-PR for sending us a press screener of this movie to review!

The Passion of Augustine is a Canadian film that was originally released in 2015. Since this film takes place in Quebec, the native language is French. There is English closed captioning which doesn’t kick in until ten minutes or so into the film. The beginning of the movie starts off in Latin and the nuns are waking the girls up in Latin and attending a church service conducted in Latin. Had I not known that Catholic services used to be conducted in Latin, I would have assumed that the subtitles were misconfigured. Thankfully, we stuck with it and enjoyed the rest of the film that we were able to understand.

The rest of the film is fairly easy to follow if you don't mind subtitles. Later in the movie there is a scene where a student is singing a love song in a foreign language and I wish I knew what the lyrics were. Despite the language barrier the story is worth sticking around for. It’s based in the ‘60s and tells the tale of a struggling convent. Between the Vactican II changes and the state’s push for public schooling, the mother superior, Augustine, is doing what she can to keep the all-girls school running. Unlike the public schools, this convent focuses a lot on music theory and has won a silver medal award at a prestigious piano contest.

With the rising cost of heating oil, and the need for better musical instruments, the mother general is not fond of music and thinks that mother Augustine is too proud of her school and its students. One of the recent transfer students is Augustine’s niece, Alice, who gets into trouble and sometimes it’s not even her fault. Other times it is and Alice and another fellow classmate get in big trouble for sneaking out to a “Love in” dance club.

Mother Augustine is protective of Alice because of mistakes that she has made when she was younger. There is a flashback scene that isn’t very clear of a medical procedure being done to Augustine when she was younger. Given some later conversations in the movie, I believe that it was an abortion.

Because of the religious backdrop, there isn’t much cussing in this film. You do see some kissing, but nothing more. Part of the Vatican II changes included modernizing the church and that involves changing the attire of the nuns. There are scenes of them changing their clothes, but like the rest of the film, it is done in good taste and nothing is seen.

We viewed this movie using Vimeo which usually provides good service, but we ran into several buffering delays and had to set the quality to auto instead of the 720p maximum. Even on auto, it still had buffering issues.

Overall, we enjoyed The Passion of Augustine and recommend checking it out when it goes to video on demand. The DVD is available on Amazon but the $40 asking price is pretty hefty. Hopefully the paid rental service is more reliable than the method we used to watch this film.

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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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God’s Silver Soldiers Comic Issue #1

Thank you Art Greenshaw for sending us an autographed issue to review!

The goal of Truthmonger Comics is to bring the much-needed messages of morality and spirituality into today’s youth through the medium of comic books.  Besides God, they are also inspired by the comic book legend, Stan Lee.  Some of the characters are dedicated to public figures who are living by their Christian values.  For example, the Silver Soldier Cecilia is named after the first lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott.

God has appointed the Silver Soldiers to battle against the superhuman forces of evil in our world.  The soldiers have different backgrounds and are all united for this purpose.  The black Silver Soldier is an American Indian musician whose songs will now uplift instead of tear people down.  The green Silver Soldier is a surgeon with a drug problem.  A prestigious chef is given a second chance at life by becoming the blue Silver Soldier.  The yellow Silver Soldier is a college girl who has chosen to keep her child instead of aborting it.  A greedy financial programmer is picked to be the red Silver Soldier.  Last but not least, is the pink Silver Soldier who is a lying gossiper who has since repented of her sins.  Once assembled, the Silver Soldiers report to Angelica, an angel sent by God to cleanse to world of the evil that is invading it.

Individually the Silver Soldiers have enhanced strength and speed. They are also bestowed with a unique ability to control various elements or animals.  When the Silver Soldiers are together, their strength is increased one hundred fold.  Satan’s demons had better watch out!

This forty-three page comic is broken into two parts with each ending at a cliff-hanger.  The last few pages go back in time and offer a new perspective on Jesus’ childhood.  There are some mature themes including drugs and teen pregnancy.   The spiritual warfare elements need to be taken into consideration as well. The Silver Soldiers must descend to Hell to rescue someone and they have to leave their bodies behind in a safe place.  Also, one of Lucifer’s human servants wears a pentagram belt buckle.  There are several Bible verses used throughout the story as well which is nice to see.  

While this series is both engaging and God honoring, I recommend parents give it a good read before their children do.  My oldest daughter read and enjoyed this first issue and we’re both looking forward to many, many more.  The suggested retail price is $4.99 unless you’d rather get the jumbo collector’s edition for $24.99.


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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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C.S. Lewis The Most Reluctant Convert

Thank you Allied Integrated Marketing for providing us with two tickets to the show!

C.S. Lewis is a well-known author who has penned many great Christian themed works including The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and plenty more that I have yet to read!  Though he grew up in a Christian household, he did renounce his faith and defended atheism for a while.  The play C.S. Lewis The Most Reluctant Convert is based off of his letters and autobiography, Surprised by Joy.  Max McLean’s performance and retelling of C.S. Lewis’ early life is absolutely brilliant and worth seeing if there’s a performance near you!

The play has a slideshow in the background that would animate and bring forward portraits of people in C.S. Lewis’s life as they were mentioned.  Unfortunately for us, there was a technical malfunction that caused an unplanned intermission and the play was resumed with a still image for the remainder of the performance.  Some of the people talked about were C.S. Lewis’ father, his mentor William T. Kirkpatrick, and his theist friends (Owen Bartfield, J. R. R. Tolkien, Hugo Dyson) that made him question his materialist views.

It was fun seeing C.S. Lewis’ transforming views going from believing that there was no God behind the universe, and if there was it would be an evil God, to acknowledging that the hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men.  Of course C.S. Lewis didn’t dive fully into Christianity, he took many baby steps and slowly gave God the reverence and respect that He deserves.  At first he would only refer to God as “Spirit” stating that He had to earn his title of God.  His prayer life had to grow as well as he first thought prayer was the equivalent of sending letters to a nonexistent address.  

Since this play ends at C.S Lewis’ conversion it begs the question of the possibility of a sequel.  I personally would look forward to it or any other productions from Fellowship For Performing Arts.

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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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PrayerBowls

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Thank you PrayerBowls for sending us one to review!

PrayerBowls is a husband and wife team that offers two different styles for bowls designed to receive prayer requests.  We were sent the Angie set, which is named after a woman that prayed daily for the founder during a serious illness and her many surgeries.  Angie used a bowl to place her written prayer requests and this idea inspired Karen to design some PrayerBowls for family and friends. They were well received and PrayerBowls was born.    

The Angie bowl is white and has a light teal edge with a cross in the center of it.  A Swarovski Crystal adorns the center of the cross. Inscribed on the edge is Philippians 4:6 which states: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.”   The Celeste set is white with gold trim and it has five Swarovski Crystals on its cross and the verse Romans 12:12 which reads “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfast in prayer.”  

 

prayerbowl

Each set comes with one pack of 25 prayer cards.  Some of the cards have lines to fill out while others have fill in the blanks like “Protect __ from harm” or “Lord, I lift up __” or “Please bring comfort to __”.  While any piece of paper will do the trick, replacement card packs are $3 on the website and are best ordered in bulk or with the PrayerBowls since there is a $5 flat rate shipping price on any item.  Both PrayerBowl styles sell for $52 apiece and a dollar from each sale goes to the Mary Lee’s House Charity which aids children who are abused.

PrayerBowls can make wonderful gifts and can be an excellent tool for strengthening your prayer life.  There’s even an AppStore version if you prefer to digitize your prayers.  Our family has been blessed with our new PrayerBowl and my son alone has put about ten prayer requests into it. One of his cards thanked God for the PrayerBowl and cards.   If you have children or foresee a lot of prayer requests, it’s probably not a bad idea to order an extra set or two of prayer cards.  Many retailers sell PrayerBowls and their website will help you locate the nearest store that carries them for you.

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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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Beyond the Comfort Zone: The War That Never Ends

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

The author Frank Wilkins was an agnostic that was seeking factual evidence that God exists.  There have been many documented miracles in recent history and numerous “coincidences” that have impacted our world’s development in a huge way.  Did you know that a mysterious fog settled in the Battle of Long Island that let George Washington evacuate his 9,000 men without being detected and with no loss of life?  Without this “providential fog” as history books describe it, America’s history could have been altered severely.  

Another interesting historical figure is Joan of Arc, an insignificant peasant girl that was guided by visions and helped Charles VII recover France from English rule.  Her leadership and military victories as a mere teenager are unheard of and leave little explanation other than divine appointment. As a side note, the game Jeanne d’Arc covers much of the same events!  

The author also talks about a personal encounter with demonic possession and how he has found faith in God through Catholicism.  While many Catholics may appreciate the accounts of apparitions describing themselves as the “perpetual virgin” or the “lady of the rosary”, other Christian denominations will disagree with those titles.  I was also turned off by the author’s recommendation to pray daily to St. Michael the Archangel.  1 Timothy 2:5 states that we have one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus. 

More recent miracles mentioned in the book include the visions and predictions given by the "virgin Mary" to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal.  The apparition predicted and described World War 1,2 and that two out of the three children would not live long lives while the third died in 2005.   All three of the children were given a glimpse of hell and their whole town got to witness and document the sun dancing in the sky on October 13, 1917.  While these events are well documented, these visions could very well be demons rather than Mary.  After all, Satan can appear as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14).

While I was fascinated by the historical accounts of God’s providence on various civilizations, I don’t share the author's religious views.  Because of the dark spiritual revelations and mild language, I don’t recommend this book for young believers or young children.  If you do find this book interesting the paperback sells for $20 and the digital version goes for $4 on Amazon. 

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H.O.P.E.

Thank you Romans 12LLC for sending us a sling backpack!

Romans 12:12 says "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer"

That's an awesome verse worth  memorizing and living by.  Romans 12 LLC aims to uplift and remind Christians to Hang On Pray Everyday® with useful products and attire.    On their website HopeinaBox.com you can purchase t-shirts, hats, backpacks, mugs, greeting cards, and blankets.  The prices are very reasonable too.  You can purchase a bookmark for 99 cents and red t-shirts are on sale for $4.99.  There are various styles of baseball caps  from $15 to $26.  

It's safe to say that they have something for everyone available on their website.  The sling backpack I was sent seems to be of good quality.  Apparently it's kid approved as my daughter has claimed the backpack as her own.  There are various H.O.P.E. in a box bundles available that range from $20 to $50.  The shipping rates are from USPS and go up if you need it sent priority or express.  

If you're looking for uplifting attire and iPad covers check out HopeinaBox.com.  Not only will the items remind you to pray daily, they also support other hope giving ministries.  In the spirit of spreading H.O.P.E. to others, 25% of all profits go to life, marriage, and family affirming ministries.

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The Daniel Plan

Thank you Affirm films for sending us the Daniel Plan In Action DVD set!

While I haven't done any serious dieting, I have tried to stay active and pay attention to what I eat.  After watching the movie Fed Up, our family has cut back on our sugar intake.  The Daniel Plan has five foundations that have a good chance of transforming your body for the better if they are in place.  These include:

  • Faith - Relying on God's power
  • Food - Eating natural food in proper proportions
  • Fitness - Regular workouts  
  • Focus - Don't give up!
  • Friends - You have a better chance of success if you have accountability partners 

Pastor Rick Warren is one of the founders of The Daniel Plan and is featured on the first DVD with his sermon of The Five Habits of Healthy People.  He goes more in depth of the five foundations and uses Bible verses like Philippians 4:13, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Romans 12:2, Ecclesiastes 4:9, and Ephesians 4:22 to back up their diet program.  While I am all for taking care of my body/temple as 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with pastor Rick Warren that it is not a sin if you don't exercise.  Is it a good idea to exercise?  Yes, and the ones on the second disc are pretty good.  

There are four exercise routines and they focus on cardio, abs, upper, and lower body.  Each session is thirty five minutes long and you're bound to break a sweat.  There are lower and higher impact workouts to follow if you need less or more of a challenge.  I must say that after completing these workouts I was feeling muscles I have long forgotten about.  You'll want to have a set of light weights handy for two of the sessions. if you don't have a set of weights available you can use a couple of cans of soup as a light weight replacement.  

I enjoyed the upbeat and remixed praise songs in the background.  If you like them there is a soundtrack CD available for $9.99,  or you can buy the deluxe DVD plan that comes with it and a third workout DVD.  (I was sent the two DVD version so I cannot comment on the third disc or soundtrack).

The instructors were engaging and valued our time together without wasting much of it talking.  Although I'm Christian I'm not used to hearing "Christianese" while working out.  When I'm doing stretches I don't think of them as reaching out to God. Sure it's uplifting, but non-Christians may get weirded out  by these workouts.  It seemed cheesy to me; can't imagine what non-believers would think.  Jumping Jacks for Jesus anyone?

Along with the DVD came a forty day calendar with a recommended workout schedule and a downloadable Daniel Plan recipe sampler.    I tried a few of the recipes and was pleasantly surprised by their quality.  Then again they do have an award winning team who created this diet plan.

Many well-known doctors have lent their expertise in developing the meal plans and exercise routines.  Dr. Mehmet Oz is probably the most well known out of the three; I have seen Dr. Mark Hyman in the Fed Up movie, and lastly Dr. Daniel Amen has contributed with his brain science expertise.  

Overall this is a nice DVD set with the recipes and workout routines that focus on key parts of your body.  The price is a reasonable $20 at http://www.danielplan.com or close to that amount on Amazon.


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Rethinking Christmas

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Eli
That was a good video, thanks for sharing.
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 20:33
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I Love Books Like Your Love Games

I Love Books Like Your Love Games

You like games and I don't want to take you away from that — But I like books like you like games! I didn't always like books. I used to hate them. I hated following thoughts. I hated assigned pages of reading. I even hated the smell of libraries ... but then I started reading.

Good ideas are contagious. In a great sense, that is why I started Brave Reviews. When you come across a good idea, it can transform your life and the lives of your neighbors as well as cities and so on. Books are real life stories and ideas that have been poured out onto pages so they can be shared with others. We need to hear new ideas so to grow, so to transform (check outColossians 1:10).

Brave Reviews exists as a trustworthy corner of the web where people can find unbiased reviews of contemporary books and software. I do not believe in a “bad book.” Like some video games that get a bad name, we (as believers) have got to engage and understand our culture. Why do we get to know our culture, whether it is books, music, video games? Because it is our role to help God redeem our cities. To redeem our families.

If you ever need a break from you games and you want to pick up a book and give it a read, visit Brave Reviews to get insight on what's hot. 

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NIV Live - A Bible Experience

Thank you NIV 2011 Bible Properties LLC for sending us a review sample!

NIV Live - A Bible Experience is a cinematic performance of the Bible that brings Genesis through Revelation to life.  It's more than someone reading the text here; the Bible is being acted out and even sung in some cases.  This rendition features Oscar winning actors, background music and sound effects to make it an immersive experience.   My kids, who normally ask to play music instead of talk radio while driving, did not mind listening to the book of Acts.  They enjoyed hearing the story of Paul being shipwrecked while trying to seek an audience with Caesar.  There was the sound of ocean waves, seagulls in the air,  the ship's crew in the background along with the narrator and Paul, Felix, and Agrippa being voiced by different voice actors.    The audio quality is really good and has 3D theatrical sound. It includes deep bass that you can hear through a subwoofer.

The gospels are all extremely well done and the voices for the apostles, God, Jesus, Roman soldiers, and Pharisees are all top notch.   I enjoyed listening to Isaiah, Proverbs, and Psalms as well.  Some of the Old Testament sections like Jesus' lineage and the temple specifications are still a little yawn worthy, but are well voice acted regardless.  :)  

There are three ways to enjoy this audio Bible experience.  For $19.99 you can gain access to the app on a single (Apple, Android, or Amazon) device.  This includes both text and audio versions.  You can create custom playlists and synchronize them.  The app is really easy to use and sounded great on my Samsung Galaxy S4.  

For $49.99 you can have up to six devices using the mobile app.  You'll also have access to the online web Bible and mp3 downloads.  Make sure you download and backup the mp3's right away since you only gain access to them for thirty days after registration.  

The ultimate package is $124.99 and includes everything from the $49.99 tier and adds seventy-nine CD's and a bonus DVD.  The CD's and DVD are enclosed in a high quality carrying case.  The DVD shows behind the scenes footage and has some trailers and samples.  The CD's are not in chronological order, but are labeled clearly and numbered accordingly.

There has been some controversy regarding the most recent NIV translation and this audio 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 don't like the scriptural changes, there are other audio bibles out there.  Faith Comes by Hearing offers multiple translations for free.  If these kind of changes don't bother you, then I recommend checking out the NIV Live - A Bible Experience.  Their prices are comparable to other Audio Bibles available  and the six device limit is pretty generous.  Just make sure you download and back up the mp3's since the access is limited to only thirty days.  If you want to check out an audio sample, go here.

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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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