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

December 2018 – Who Sang the First Song?
Since Ellie Holcomb and her husband Drew are both singers and songwriters, it is no wonder their four-year-old daughter asked, “Who sang the first song?” That innocent question led Holcomb on a journey of discovery that inspired a children’s book, Who Sang the First Song? In a few pages and brief text, this book celebrates the marvelous beauty of nature and teaches children to worship the Creator rather than His creation.

A companion CD, Sing: Creation Songs, is filled with the joy of the Lord. Adults and kids alike will quickly find themselves singing along to the simple but power-packed lyrics that remind them to stop and notice God’s handiwork evidenced in the world around them. Find both the book and CD at online booksellers, or go to ellieholcomb.com to learn more.

Joy Lucius

undefinedThe Case of the Mysterious Bubbles
This children’s book by A. Canfield is one parents will want to read aloud to young children and encourage beginning readers to read it again for themselves. The Case of the Mysterious Bubbles focuses on Pearl and Irving, two children who are invited to join the Do Right Detective Agency.

Both of them are excited about the honor, but they get into trouble on their first assignment – they don’t follow the instructions of the boss. They soon find themselves in great danger, and the boss has to come to their rescue.

Lesson learned: Obedience is doing what I am told to do, when I am told to do it, with a right heart attitude. Published by and available at lifeaction.org.

Randall Murphree

undefinedSpecial God
Searching for a resource to help her explain to her adopted daughter exactly who God is, Julie Melilli found nothing suitable for her child who had physical differences, developmental challenges, and a unique background. Even well-written, scripturally-based books used typical family-centered artwork and figurative language for which many children have no frame of reference.

So Melilli wrote Special God to provide special needs children a way to learn about God in a format they could understand and enjoy. With colorful graphics, clear vocabulary, and concrete language, Special God explains the plan of salvation from start to finish. It is also a book for all ages and would be a great addition to church discipleship classes for new Christians. Available at online booksellers.

Joy Lucius

undefinedThe Aloha Christmas
Beverly Henderson has crafted a Christmas book that is sure to delight children and parents alike. Filled with the beauty and culture of Hawaii, The Aloha Christmas is an allegorical tale about the goodness of God.

The two main “characters,” Frazier and Sugar, are unique personified evergreen trees from different places. They both end up chopped down as Christmas trees on a ship bound for Hawaii. The sharp contrast in how the two trees face that journey – one positive and one negative – is linked to faith-filled lessons. The Aloha Christmas only references Jesus once as the source of all goodness and love. However, the story ends with Sugar and Frazier understanding that, because of the Babe in the manger, God’s love and goodness are unending. Available at online booksellers.

Joy Lucius

undefinedIn photo right, Chaplain Darren Turner (Justin Bruening) shares words of encouragement with his troops before heading out on patrol in Indivisible. (Photo courtesy of © 2018 Provident Films LLC and The WTA Group, LLC. All rights reserved.)

Christian film depicts hope for military families
Indivisible is a gripping story depicting how love, family, and duty combine in the lives of those who serve in the U.S. military.

When Army Chaplain Darren Turner learns he is being deployed to the war in Iraq, it’s emotional for the family, but they’re strong, and Darren is excited to have opportunity to make a difference in the lives of soldiers.

Indivisible follows Turner and three other soldiers stationed in Iraq. It portrays Turner ministering and baptizing soldiers. He is persistent, committed to preach the gospel to his fellow soldiers even in the face of rejection and anger.

The film also reveals the strains of maintaining his relationship with his wife Heather, and how their marriage is affected throughout his deployment and reentry into civilian life. Turner comes back from war different than when he left, and both Darren and Heather soon learn they will have to fight to reestablish and restore their marriage. The film also explores what it’s like for military personnel to experience symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Even in its intensity, Indivisible is a positive and encouraging movie, showing that through prayer and faith, anything is possible if God is behind it.

Parents should be cautioned that the film contains brief war footage, including explosions and gunfights and the body of a young girl who had been killed during the fighting.

Mason Beasler

undefinedJesus Source Book
Can you identify the three men named James who were connected to Jesus during the time He walked on earth? Why did Jesus curse the barren fig tree? What happened on Mount Tabor? What’s the difference in the emphasis between the Parable of the Minas and the Parable
of the Talents?

To increase one’s knowledge of the people, places, events, and teachings of the central figure in the Scripture, Jesus Source Book from Our Daily Bread Ministries would be a valuable addition to any Christian’s Bible reference library.

Written by George W. Knight, author of several reference titles, Jesus Source Book offers almost 300 clear, concise articles as well as lists and charts. The book runs 200 pages and is arranged A to Z.

Jesus Source Book is available at christianbook.com as well as many other online and local booksellers.

Rusty Benson

undefinedBirds of Pray
The National Football League has well earned criticism for its disrespect for the nation, the military, the U.S. flag, and millions of football fans. Yet, there are some bright spots in the background.

Author Rob Maaddi reveals one of those bright spots in his new title Birds of Pray, the story of the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2017 season and their 2018 Super Bowl win.

Eagles chaplain Ted Winsley looked back to the 2016 season as a time when a core group of believers began to take their faith seriously. He made this observation: “It was really when it clicked for them that football is … a platform, and it’s our responsibility to use it for His glory.”

Maaddi says the oneness of that Christian core is what fueled the team spirit and led to the Eagles’ banner season. Available at retail and online booksellers.

Randall Murphree

undefinedJacob’s Bell
Founded in 1865, the Salvation Army ministers to 25 million people annually with food, clothing, shelter, and various personal services. In an annual Christmas kettle drive, volunteer bell ringers stand at busy street corners and businesses, collecting donations for the army.

John Snyder chronicles an imaginary tale of one such Salvation Army bell ringer in Jacob’s Bell: A Christmas Story. Set in 1944, Snyder’s story depicts tragedy, loss, and prideful sin. Readers discover how far a successful man can fall without Christ guiding his life.

Readers should be aware that alcoholism, a few foul words, and other harsh realities of homelessness make Jacob’s Bell a truthful story best monitored by adults.

But the story’s clear themes are forgiveness and redemption. Through a Salvation Army Christmas miracle, Jacob’s Bell demonstrates that Christ’s love can redeem and restore anyone. Available at online and retail booksellers.

Joy Lucius

undefinedSouthern Gospel voices offer seasonal favorites, songs of faith
CHRISTMAS DREAMING – Four beloved Christmas carols and six seasonal favorites fill the air and the heart via the timeless voice of Ivan Parker, one of Southern Gospel’s most highly regarded names. Parker’s vocals are complemented by big band horns, jazz piano, and luxuriant orchestra settings.

“My Grown Up Christmas List” contrasts the memory of a childhood visit on Santa’s knee with his list today for a world in need: “…no more lives torn apart/that wars would never start… ” and “… that right would always win, and love would never end. …”

Parker said, “It’s so fitting for the times we live in now. With much confusion and division in the world, it was important for me to have a song about love, peace, and the restoration of joy.” Available at online and retail stores.

undefinedCOUNTRY FAITH – Calling all Southern Gospel fans. Think legends: The Cathedrals singing “Step Into the Water,” the Florida Boys singing “When He Was on the Cross,” The Happy Goodmans singing “The Lighthouse,” and the Nelons singing “Oh, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” They’re all on a debut compilation from the Country Faith music line.

Add a few more favorite artists– Michael English (“I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy”), Karen Peck and New River (“Pray Now”), and the Crabb Family (“Through the Fire”), and that’s about half of the collection. The exciting and inspiring project is available at digital retailers as well as select stores across the country. Learn more at countryfaith.com or turningpointpr.com

Randall Murphree