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

July 2019 – Summer of 1969
Written by two Mississippi authors, Juanita G. Floyd and Sara W. Berry, Summer of 1969: The Story of Cozett Juanita Gambrel is a poignant, rhyming children’s book detailing Floyd’s childhood experiences during America’s turbulent public school integration era. Beautifully illustrated by fellow Mississippian Tracy Applewhite, Summer of 1969 is filled with colorful and historically accurate images.

The true heroine of the story, Floyd’s mother, spends the entire summer preparing Juanita to face her first day in a newly integrated school. Before the summer is over, Juanita’s self-worth and confidence are lovingly etched in stone by her mother’s foresight and wisdom. And just as her mother promises, Juanita discovers that her new schoolmates are all special, no matter their race. Available at online booksellers.

Joy Lucius

I Give Up
In I Give Up: The Secret Joy of a Surrendered Life, singer and songwriter Laura Story lays out the essential practice of surrendering everything to God. Through examples from her own life and stories from Scripture, she shows how letting go of pride and clinging to the love of Christ hold the believer up in the midst of trial.

As a wife of a special needs husband and a mother of four, she tells of how in dark times, God was faithful in every circumstance. “God’s love is not like ours,” she writes. “It’s stronger. Better. More Reliable.”

Surrender is not just a choice, but rather a way of life that brings one closer to God and cultivates compassion and love for others. Story shows how true surrender requires a strength that comes from Christ alone. Available July 30 at online and retail bookstores.

Canada Burns

Ever Ancient, Ever New
In his book, Ever Ancient, Ever New, author and teacher Winfield Bevins examines the growing movement among younger Christians to seek out and adopt a more historic, creedal, and liturgical approach to worship in church.

He writes: “Young adults sense intuitively that today’s churches have lost a vision for aesthetic beauty that encourages us to experience the mystery and transcendence of God. And they have grown tired of shallow, alternative approaches to the historic liturgical practices of past centuries. … They are harboring a longing for a church that transcends any single culture, not an approach that simply accommodates the surrounding culture.”

Ever Ancient, Ever New is filled with examples of how liturgy appeals to the younger generation and the joy and happiness they find in a more historical expression of Christian faith.

Jordan Chamblee, engagemagazine.net

Day by Day in Ephesians
Author Don E. Atkinson offers a collection of daily devotions that will immerse the reader in the book of Ephesians for three months. It is an unhurried and effective way to undertake an in-depth look at one of Paul’s short epistles. Each daily entry includes a focus Scripture, an explanation and commentary on the passage, and a thought that encourages the reader to grasp and apply biblical truths rooted in the day’s Scripture passage.

Occasionally, a day’s entry ends with a few lines that invite the Bible student to record new insights, challenges, or decisions. Atkinson is founder of Day by Day in The Word, an evangelical, non-denominational ministry. Learn more at daybydayintheword.org.

Randall Murphree

What If It’s True?
Fans of novelist Charles Martin need to know something before opening his latest title, What If It’s True? It’s not a novel. Not by a long shot. The subtitle hints at what to expect: A storyteller’s Journey with Jesus. Martin is widely noted as one of today’s premiere storytellers based on his 12 novels, including Send Down the Rain and Wrapped in Rain.

The new book is a cohesive merger of his masterful wordcrafting with scriptural narratives. Martin gives stunning insights that reflect his own study of the context of biblical times. That merger is powerful. Gripping. Disquieting.

For example, picture the reality of Mark 5 that describes the woman with an “issue of blood” who came to Jesus for healing. Martin describes in raw, bloody detail what Mark left to the imagination.

Martin says the point is “to have [the reader] fully experience Jesus.” Available at online and retail booksellers.

Randall Murphree

24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life
“Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.” In 24/6 author Matthew Sleeth, M.D., points out, “It’s the only commandment that begins with the word remember – almost as if God knew we would forget.”

Sure enough, we did. How often do you hear the expression “24/7,” as if pursuing action day and night validates your existence? If you’re not doing that seven days a week, there’s something wrong with you.

“Wrong!” Declares Sleeth, who wholly subscribes to the biblical principle of resting one day a week.

“We need rest from being hurt,” he writes, “rest from our heavy labors, and rest from our fast-paced world. We need rest from the speed of change, rest from our jobs, and rest from information overload.”

This little book is needed to challenge today’s too-busy lifestyles. Available at online and retail booksellers.

Randall Murphree

Why Are You Barefoot?
Child slavery is an adult issue, but it can evoke compassion and passion from young children if it’s handled well. Dr. Jeff Brodsky handles it superbly in Why Are You Barefoot? It is a child-friendly book for use by parents and teachers to help children understand how a mother in a third-world country might be deceived into selling one of her children.

Beautiful, whimsical illustrations by Ellie Sullivan soften the harsh context as Brodsky’s book illustrates the issue for elementary school audiences. He recruits a few students and teachers to join him on stage and acts out a story in which a single mother of six is tricked into selling her oldest daughter.

Because his target audience is young children, Brodsky does not make a connection to sex trafficking, where these children almost always end up.

Brodsky is founder of JOY International (joy.org), a non-profit to help rescue and restore children from slavery and trafficking. He is of Jewish heritage but found faith in Jesus as Messiah. However, JOY does not focus on Christian faith in order to keep doors open to raise awareness and support in the secular arena. Available at online booksellers.

Randall Murphree

The Book of Signs
In The Book of Signs, author and pastor Dr. David Jeremiah gives a comprehensive look at the signs of the end times as laid out in Scripture. Instead of following a chronological format, Jeremiah talks about the signs categorically – international, cultural, heavenly, tribulation, and end signs.

The Book of Signs is an insightful take on events that will lead up to the battle of Armageddon and the second coming of Christ. He emphasizes the importance of end times prophecy and the urgency of sharing the gospel before it is too late. The Book of Signs will help both biblical scholars and laypersons better understand biblical prophecies. Available at online and retail bookstores.

Canada Burns

Kudos and cautions from Movieguide.com
UglyDolls, an animated musical comedy about a little pink doll, has a positive message and is family friendly. It’s appropriate for and can be enjoyed by all ages. (5/4/19)

The Brockmire comedy television series, airing on IFC, includes lewd humor and says “horrific” things about Jesus, once calling Him the “mayor of Auschwitz.” (4/26/19)

Penguins, a “delightful” documentary, has a positive family theme running through the film. One minor caution: light use of natural predatory violence among animals. (4/17/19)

Missing Link, an animated 1800s comic adventure of an explorer searching for Bigfoot, has pros and cons. It teaches some strong moral values but also promotes humanist evolution. (4/10/19)