Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review: The Big Picture Story Bible

The Big Picture Story Bible. David R. Helm. 2004/2010. Crossway Publishers. 456 pages.

The Bible is God's story, and it begins with these big words: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Do you know how God created everything? Simply by speaking words. Imagine, making the world with words! Strong words. Powerful words. With words God created everything! He made the stars, the sun, and the moon. He made the animals, the fish, the trees, and flowers too. Everything! And then after all these things, God created... People!

Can you see Adam and Eve? God put his people in the Garden of Eden. They were made in the image of God. They were to be the rulers of God's place.
Adam and Eve were very special to God. Did you know that you are also very special to God? You are special because you are made in his image too! Being created in the image of God must have made Adam and Eve very, very happy. God was happy too. He was pleased with his world and his people because he saw that they were very good. Nothing was wrong. Nothing was bad. Nobody disobeyed God. In the very beginning, everything and everyone knew how good God was. God gave Adam and Eve good words to obey. He told them not to eat from a special tree. You see, God was teaching Adam and Eve that he was their king, that people were to obey God's word. God also said that if Adam and Eve disobeyed his word, they would surely die. So God's people, Adam and Eve, lived in God's place, the Garden of Eden. And they ruled God's world by obeying his good word. Do you know what happened next?

I loved this one. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one! It was MUCH bigger than I was expecting! You might think a book with four-hundred pages would be text-heavy. That even if the book was written with young children in mind, that the text would overwhelm the book. But that isn't the case at all. It's filled with illustrations by Gail Schoonmaker. And the illustrations are great--very bold, vibrant. But not in an overwhelming way. Not in a glittery way. They worked really well! The little details were great!

The text is simple and direct--without much fuss and nonsense--yet it is profound too. (I liked how the narrator speaks directly to readers. Asking them to participate in the story. I thought that was a great touch.) I liked the stories Helm included. I liked how the stories were presented. How they all tied together. I also liked the balance between text and illustration.

I think this would be a great book for parents and grandparents to share with the children in their lives. I think this book would make a great read-aloud. And if your child is already reading, perhaps, you can take turns reading to one another. I think there's enough in the stories to lead to  good discussion!

There is a definite theme to this bible storybook collection. Dare I say it? It's evangelical! I remember Mike Abendroth of Bethlehem Bible Church preaching a sermon called "The Gospel in Twelve Words." (The LINK is to an mp3 of the sermon.) These are twelve key words--organized under four questions--that can "help" you spread the gospel.
Who is God? Creator. Judge. Savior.
Who is Man? Fallen. Sinful. Foolish.
What Did Jesus Do? Redeemed. Reconciled. Resurrected.
What Did Jesus Command? Believe. Repent. Follow. 
Reading The Big Picture Story Bible, I was reminded of this sermon, of this outline. For in this book, we see a clear presentation of man and God. Of man's need for a Savior. Of God's loving care and provision. Of the BIG PICTURE of the Bible. So the stories are presented as being part of one BIG story. Everything is connected. Yet it isn't forced.

I would recommend this one to children. But I would also recommend it to adults. It's a clear overview of the entire Bible practically--and it can be read in one sitting. The language is clear, concise. If you're not sure what the "big picture" of the Bible is--how these 66 books act as one big story--then this is the book for you.

There are eleven stories from the Old Testament: "The Very Good Beginning," "A Very Sad Day," "Life Outside the Garden," "God's Big Promise," "God's People Grow," "God's People Become Great," "God's Great Sign," "Going Into God's Place," "God's Blessings Grow," "Another Very Sad Day," and "God's Promise Remains."

There are fifteen stories from the New Testament: "Many Silent Years," "God's Promised One is Born," "God's Promised One is Announced," "God's New People Are Called," "Jesus Restores God's Place," "Jesus Reveals God's Kingdom," "A Blind Man Sees," "A Dead Man is Raised to Life," "Jesus Wears God's Kingly Crown," "Jesus' Followers Are in the Dark," "A Brand-New Day," "God's Promise is Explained," "God's New Kingdom Spreads," "Letters to Live By," and "The Very Good Ending."

The newest publication of The Big Picture Story Bible includes an audio book version of this one read by the author. (It's a little over 90 minutes in length.)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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