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

December 2019Three great Children's books just in time for Christmas
Hanukkah is Great
For Messianic Jews, Hanukkah is a time of jubilation, fun, and meaningful traditions. In the new book, Hanukkah is Great, Betty and David Weinberger take readers on a journey celebrating their Jewish heritage. The story follows two young friends, Clara and Claire. Throughout the narrative, the girls are taught the traditions of Hanukkah through stories, songs, recipes, and more.

The beautifully illustrated story includes artwork by Christine McParland. This book is an intentional teaching tool for families to learn about Judaism and to compare and contrast it with the Christian faith. Available at online and retail stores.

A Star Filled Night
Inspired by the Gospel of Luke, A Star Filled Night by Vonda Blackbourn tells the story of Jesus’s birth from the shepherds’ perspective. Written with children in mind, this illustrated book is best suited for those who prefer short and sweet stories. Accurately portraying the Savior’s birth, it will encourage exploration of events that were a part of the story of that star filled night. Available at online and retail stores.

’Twas the Night Before Christ’s Birth
“’Twas the night before Christ’s birth and heaven was all astir. The angels were in a holy uproar.” Author Marcia Cole creates a new Christmas tale in her children’s book ’Twas the Night Before Christ’s Birth.

Instead of looking into the stable, she imagines what the angels experienced before Jesus left heaven as a babe. Filled with gorgeous images of the heavenly realm, Cole presents an interesting perspective, leaving the reader to imagine and reflect on the details of the night before His birth.

It’s a short book, perfect for reading with younger children and sparking conversation about the birth of Christ. Available at online and retail stores.

Hannah Harrison

Freedom Realized
After breaking free from the bondage of homosexuality, Steven Black uses his story to encourage others to do the same. In Freedom Realized, Black debunks myths of “gay Christianity” and teaches how to help the struggling find Jesus.

“Though many people claim they are born gay, it is childhood influences and not genetics that incline one to homosexuality,” Black wrote. Looking into the root causes of gender identity, Black instructs the church on how to minister to the hurting.

With the use of gut-wrenching testimonies from individuals, pastors, and those engaged in this battle, Black encourages readers to recognize what all people need – wholeness in Christ. Written as a resource for anyone trying to understand where true freedom comes from, the book is available online and at retail bookstores.

Hannah Harrison

Debt Free Degree
More than 44 million Americans have taken out student loans, resulting in a total student loan debt of roughly $1.5 trillion. To challenge this norm and reveal a way for parents to send a child through college without becoming one of those statistics, Anthony ONeal has written Debt Free Degree.

“No one tells parents that it’s actually possible to pay cash for college,” writes ONeal. “Your child can get a debt-free degree. That’s why I wrote this book.”

ONeal writes about the problems facing students as they approach college decisions. With a foreword by financial expert Dave Ramsey, this book serves as a guide for parents and students alike who wish to avoid the weight of student loans. ONeal suggests a year-by-year guide through four years of high school, with detailed advice for preparing for college.

He also gives strategies for taking the ACT/SAT, which classes to take in high school, and many other tactics that will best prepare a student for the college world. Available at online and retail stores.

Mason Beasler

Jesus, Day by Day
Inspired by her desire to understand God’s love “Bible-wide,” Sharon Kaselonis wrote Jesus, Day by Day. The 365-day devotional examines the Bible and ties each page to God’s love, mercy, and grace. An encouraging, challenging resource for believers, Kaselonis helps readers strengthen their faith and understanding of the Word of God. The devotional is perfect for personal quiet time, Bible study, or small groups. Available at online and retail bookstores.

Hannah Harrison

Called to Care
In a world full of vulnerable children, someone has to be willing to stand up. In Called to Care, Bill Blacquiere and Kris Faasse look at the reality of answering the call of adoption and foster care. Blacquiere and Faasse believe God’s people are called to care for His children, and it’s time for them to step up and do so. After examining decades of data, they challenge readers to look inward at their call to adoption. The book is filled with testimonials from prior adoptees and families, the truth about adoption, and spiritual application. An encouraging resource, it is great for anyone looking into adoption, foster care, or searching how to help the most vulnerable. Available at online retailers.

Hannah Harrison

Well with My Soul
Barbour Publishing’s biographical series Heroes of the Faith presents an in-depth glimpse into the lives of more than 40 famous Christian men and women. The series also contains several collections of shorter stories of faith.

In one of those collections, Well with My Soul: Four Dramatic Stories of Great Hymn Writers, author Rachael Phillips details the amazing, often heart-wrenching stories behind some of Christianity’s most beloved hymns. And though the names and stories of Horatio Spafford (“It is Well With My Soul”), Philip P. Bliss (“Wonderful Words of Life”), William Cowper (“There is a Fountain Filled With Blood”), and Frances Havergal (“Take My Life and Let it Be”) may not be familiar to readers, the anointed words of the hymns they wrote still minister to countless people around the world.

Available online and at retail stores.

Joy Lucius

Darwin’s Doubt
Darwinian evolution is a well-established fact wholly embraced by the entire scientific community – right? At least that is what we have been led to believe. However, if you read Dr. Stephen Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt, you will find a myriad of holes in the Darwinian theory of evolution. You will also see that, since Darwin first wrote On the Origin of Species, there has been a consistent voice of incredulity about the theory among scientists.

On the surface, Darwin’s Doubt is about the explosion of animal life during the Cambrian period of earth’s history. Darwin himself knew there were no fossils that would explain the Cambrian animal explosion. He just assumed they hadn’t been found yet. With each ensuing year, those fossils remain unfound, and the entirety of his theory is further undermined. This is where Meyer’s book provides a tremendous service in documenting the desperation of the scientific community to affirm evolution despite its obvious and glaring flaws.

Darwin’s Doubt is really a history of willful blindness adopted by science known as “methodological naturalism” wherein all features of the natural world are to be explained only by material causes. It is eye-opening in revealing both the fatal flaws inherent in Darwinian evolution (and neo-Darwinism) and in the scientific community’s intransigent determination not to follow the physical evidence where it leads – to intelligent design.

Ray Rooney, editor The Stand

Laugh and Learn Study Bible for Kids
Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales, has recently completed the Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids. This study Bible will guide young readers through Scripture, helping them tackle tough questions such as “What is the Trinity?” and “What is sin?”

When teaching the stories of the Bible to children, “We go in one of two directions,” Vischer said. The first is “when they’re eight or nine years old, [we] hand them a full-text Bible and say ‘Now you’re ready. Good luck!’ And if they do sit down and try to read it, they die in the desert of Leviticus.”

“If that fails,” he said, “we just take the shortest, cutest little Bible stories and present those to kids without any sequence. So it feels like we’re either throwing kids into the deep end or we’re putting them in a kiddie pool that’s so shallow they can’t learn to swim.”

The Laugh and Learn Study Bible for Kids finds common ground between the two “by helping kids see the big picture,” said Vischer. Each story takes five minutes to read and incorporates a group connection to encourage family Bible study. Available at online and retail stores.

Mason Beasler

A Foto Sisters Christmas
While Christmas is the unrivaled celebration of the first coming of Jesus, Christians recognize the strong pull of our consumer culture to draw attention away from the One we intend to honor.

A great help in staying connected to the real reason for the season is to include classic carols and Christmas songs as an important part of family festivities.

If your tastes run to the classical, cinematic, or sacred, A Foto Sisters Christmas offers a selection of lush arrangements, performed to perfection, that promise to beautifully adorn your celebration of Christ’s incarnation.

The trio of classically trained and remarkably gifted sisters describe themselves as a “string and vocal trio.” Working with veteran arranger and orchestrator Phillip Keveren and other Nashville pros, the album includes 10 songs and is available on CD or as a download at

Rusty Benson