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

December 2012 – It’s still true: It’s not about you
What on Earth Am I Here For? is Zondervan’s expanded edition of pastor Rick Warren’s best-selling The Purpose Driven Life, published in 2002. This 10-year anniversary edition adds two chapters written with a new generation of young adults in mind. But don’t worry; the book still begins with that challenging truth: “It’s not about you.”

Originally comprised of 40 daily readings, the book was conceived as a guide for a reader to use on a personal spiritual journey. However, it quickly found use as a guide for group studies, Sunday school classes and whole churches. The two new chapters are titled “The Envy Trap” and “The People-Pleaser Trap.”

Warren believes these traps plague today’s young adults just as much as they have plagued mankind through history. In addition, QR codes and web links support each chapter with a video introduction and a 30-minute audio message by Warren.

In 1980, Warren and his wife Kay founded Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. After the startling success of The Purpose Driven Life, he paid back his salary to the church for all of the previous 22 years, and he no longer receives any compensation for his role as pastor.

With more than 32 million copies sold in 50 languages, The Purpose Driven Life is the best-selling non-fiction hardback in publishing history. What on Earth Am I Here For? will surely propel it to even higher numbers.
Review by Randall Murphree

The Bridge
Karen Kingsbury’s new novel, The Bridge, is a story that pivots around a bookstore called The Bridge in Nashville, Tennessee. The store suffers complete devastation in the Tennessee hundred-year flood. Owners Charlie and Donna Barton, having lived lives of solid faith, are now faced with total loss and hopelessness. In the midst of their despair, Charlie ends up in a coma after a terrible car accident.

Kingsbury told AFA Journal that she began writing at age 5 when she stapled blank pages together and wrote short stories and poems in a “book” she titled The Horse. As an adult, she first wrote true crime books, but 15 years ago her passion led her to begin writing inspirational novels.

She weaves critical and emotional issues into her story lines. One stunning earlier example is her novel Like Dandelion Dust, which reveals the conflict and turmoil of a custody battle between two couples after a fraudulent adoption. Adoption is close to the author’s heart because she and her husband Don have six children, three of whom are adopted.

In The Bridge, Mollie Evans and Ryan Kelly, former customers of the bookstore, are close friends, each facing personal loss. After college, they go their separate ways. However, they find themselves independently yearning for the relationship that was once theirs. When they hear of the Bartons’ flood loss, they join forces with other former customers to reach out and help restore The Bridge and its ministry to people looking for a second chance.

The Bridge is an uplifting story of how God takes us through trials in order to perfect us and draw us closer to Himself. Released in October, the book is available at most booksellers.
Review by Debbie Fischer

New from PureFlix Entertainment, The Mark is the story of Chad Turner, a former soldier turned private security guard who is injected with a special chip during a gunfight. This biometric microchip is implanted in his arm, making him a target for some very powerful mercenaries.

On a flight to Bangkok to demonstrate the chip, Turner is chaperoned by Dan Cooper, head of Avanti Corporation, which made the chip. But on the flight, mercenaries hijack the plane and attempt to take Turner hostage. After a mid-air battle that leaves several people dead, including the pilot, the passengers are all terrified. But the fear is only beginning, as the rapture takes place.

While many aspects of the film are commendable, some shortcomings are difficult to overlook. The pace of the movie becomes slow and the drama seems forced. Parents need to be aware that there are a few death scenes and gun violence throughout. There is drinking, though the drinks are never identified, and there is no offensive language.
Review by Teddy James

The Encounter: Paradise Lost CAUTION
When a retiring drug smuggler, his drug-addicted wife and violent bodyguard decide to take over a seemingly empty resort in Thailand, a visitor makes his way into the resort and reveals that he knows each of their dark secrets. This strange man knows things they have refused to tell even themselves. This man is Jesus.

In The Encounter: Paradise Lost, Jesus shares His love with those who had given up on ever finding peace. He also clearly presents the gospel, informing all those around Him that they cannot be good enough, and they cannot just give up a bad life. They must repent and follow Him. Some choose to pick up their cross. Others choose to let theirs lie.

The Encounter: Paradise Lost is the sequel to The Encounter (See AFA Journal 5/11.) and follows the same story structure. The story is strong, and parents should be aware that divorce, death, suicide and drugs are discussed. In a flashback, one character walks into the room where his sister died of a heroin overdose. There are fight scenes and some gun violence. But all the while, the movie never loses its focus of each character making a choice to embrace Jesus Christ or outright reject Him.
Review by Teddy James

Hymns for the Christian Life 
Rarely does the best of a popular musical genre – like the songs of Keith and Kristyn Getty – garner wide public acceptance. Perhaps such success has come to the Gettys because their compositions, which include In Christ Alone, The Power of the Cross and By Faith, share a sublime transcendence with the great hymns of the Christian faith. Hymns for the Christian Life, their new 12-set collection, attains that lofty standard.

Lyrically and melodically, the songs on Hymns for the Christian Life are so complete that they satisfy with or without the project’s imaginative arrangements and world-class musicians. That’s good news for churches searching for newer music that overflows with expressions of the glory of the gospel. 

Adding strong doses of American folk and bluegrass to their Irish music roots, Hymns for the Christian Life presents the Gettys’ music in a more dynamic instrumental setting than earlier albums. Listeners will find no filler here. 

Among highlights is The Perfect Wisdom of Our God: “O grant me wisdom from above / To pray for peace and cling to love / And teach me humbly to receive / The sun and rain of Your sovereignty. / Each strand of sorrow has a place / Within this tapestry of grace; / So through the trials I choose to say: / ‘Your perfect will in your perfect way.’”

Hymns for the Christian Lifeis available on CD or downloadable Mp3s.
Review by Rusty Benson