Reviews: family entertainment, documentaries, resources, books, music
AFA Staff
AFA Staff
AFA Journal staff reviews movies, books and other resources

August 2003 – What we’re reading
If longer days and a more relaxed schedule encourage you to do some summer reading, consider these book recommendations from Journal staffers

Stories Behind the Hymns That Inspire America
By Ace Collins • available at
Being a journalist and a history buff, I like to know the "why" behind people, places, events and things. Writer Ace Collins provides a collection of tales in Stories Behind the Hymns That Inspire America that will satisfy anyone with an interest in music and history.

Stories Behind the Hymns (Zondervan Press, 208 pages) takes readers through the creation of such standards as It Is Well With My Soul, The Star Spangled Banner, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Amazing Grace, Jesus Loves Me,  and the contemporary God Bless the U.S.A. Collins’ skillful storytelling is exemplified throughout the book, as I found I was able to picture in my mind each song’s story unfolding. The stories are very detailed and vivid, but not at the expense of dragging on. Collins has produced a marvelous piece of work here.

Stories Behind the Hymns would make an inexpensive yet valuable gift for anyone. It will give music and history buffs alike a greater appreciation for how some of today’s most cherished songs were conceived.
Jason Collum, staff writer

The Many Loves of Parenting
By Thomas and Nanette Kinkade • available at
In 20 years at AFA, I’ve read a lot of the experts on parenting. The Many Loves of Parenting (Multnomah, 2003) stands out. It is free from psychological jargon and endless hard-to-understand passages.

The Kinkades articulate nine principles gleaned through their desire for a Biblical family foundation. They frequently inject personal experiences in rearing four daughters, the oldest a teenager. "Our girls understand that our home is different," writes Thomas. "Nanette and I don't believe in passive parenting."

He emphasizes that relationships grow in little daily happenings – a walk around the block, a drive to the grocery store. God may use those events to plant another truth in a child’s life. "Weeks, months, years ... later," he writes, "one of the children will say, “I remember the day when ....’ How do these wondrous encounters happen? I can tell you this, it won’t happen while you’re sitting around the tube watching The Simpsons."

The Kinkades don’t have commercial TV, magazines or newspapers in their home. "...Thom and I have decided to limit access to media coming through our doors," writes Nanette.

"[Parenting] really isn’t rocket science," he says. "It’s just a willingness to spend time with your children ... to invest your life in them."
Randall Murphree, editor

Earth Restored
By John Barber • available at
Earth Restored (Christian Focus Publications, 255 pages) is not about environmentalism, although the book does address the issue. Rather, it unpacks a Biblical theology of Christian activism. 

Author John Barber contends that the lack of a Biblical framework has led to errors in the Christian social activist movement such as calls to abandon attempts to reclaim the culture, and an overdependence on concepts such as family values and America’s Christian heritage. Barber’s "new Christian activism" builds solidly on the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, always mindful of the twin mandates of Scripture: the Cultural Mandate (Gen. 1:28) and the Great Commission (Matt.5:13-16).

Barber offers both praise and criticism of the Christian activist movement in America. However, as author George Grant writes on his back cover endorsement, the book avoids "the rancor we’ve come to associate with partisan screeds in the contemporary culture wars." 

Full of Scriptural references and insights, as well as personal illustrations, Earth Restored is grounded in Biblical precepts and centered on the gospel.

Because knowing the mind of God on any issue is never easy, Earth Restored requires an investment of time and mental energy. However, for believers concerned for a Biblical view of Christians and culture, it’s essential reading.
Rusty Benson, associate editor

When His Secret Sin Breaks Your Heart
By Kathy Gallagher • available at
Salvation in Full Color
By Richard Owen Roberts • available at
A book that has stirred my compassion is When His Secret Sin Breaks Your Heart, by Kathy Gallagher of Pure Life Ministries. Kathy and her husband, Steve, started PureLife after Steve was delivered from the bondage of sexual addiction. Kathy’s book is a collection of beautiful letters she wrote in response to suffering women who have asked for her help in dealing with their husbands’ addiction. Covering subjects from "I’m losing my mind!" to "How should I pray for my husband?" this book provides excellent helps for the growing number of women living this secret tragedy.

On a more personal note, I am reading Salvation in Full Color, a collection of 20 powerful sermons. Most were written by preachers who lived during America’s Great Awakening, a time of intense revival from 1735 to 1745. Richard Owen Roberts, the book’s editor, has included a biographical sketch of each sermon author. Featured are men such as George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards, and subjects ranging from "The Character of God" to "The Final Warning."

In my own life, God is using this book as a complement to the teachings of our pastor who, by God’s grace, continually focuses our church’s thoughts on God’s holiness, and the gravity of our sin. Joseph Bellamy’s sermon hammers home the fact that sin is against God, His nature, law, authority and honor. 

One of the things that stands out in every sermon in the book is the humility of the man who wrote it. As a result, I have come to see in a greater light the need to truly humble myself before God.
Pat Centner, staff writer