Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Book Review: Mighty Acts of God

Mighty Acts of God: A Family Bible Story Book. Starr Meade. 2010. Crossway. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Even though the Bible is made up of sixty-six different books with many different authors, written over a period of centuries, it tells one main story. That story is the story of God planning, creating, redeeming, and perfecting people who would be his own special people. The main character of the Bible story is God. In smaller story after smaller story, he is the one who plans, who promises, who keeps his promises, who saves, who blesses, and who judges. Each story shows us God at work. As we read Bible stories, we always want to ask ourselves: What is God doing in this story? What can I learn about God here?

Mighty Acts of God is a text-heavy, illustration-light, Bible story book appropriate for Christian families to read together--particularly Reformed families. There are forty-one stories from the Old Testament. There are forty-nine stories from the New Testament. Each story is several pages in length. 

Each story is referenced. Families can choose to read the Scripture passage(s) that connect with the story. Each story features one highlighted verse. Often--if not always--this verse complements the earlier Scripture reference but is not from the reference itself. (For example, in the story "Adam and Eve Sin" the Scripture reference is Genesis 2:15-3:19. The highlighted verse is Psalm 95:6, "O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker!") 

Each story concludes with family discussion points and/or activities. These are not light nor fluffy. These are challenging. 

  • To clarify "bearing your own cross," discuss things your own family members might feel like doing sometimes and must say "no" to, even though it is difficult (204)
  • One thing we all resist heartily is the idea that we are sinners, incapable of pleasing God as we are. Children growing up in Christian homes struggle with the universal trait of fallen humans: self-righteousness. Help your children examine their thoughts and attitudes to see that they do sin, even if externally they demonstrate good behavior. (213)
  • Help your children to see that the image of God in man includes the capacity for anger. Discuss what makes the difference between proper anger and sinful anger. (228)

Theology is stressed in each and every story. I like to think of this one as being doctrine-driven story-telling. In some stories this feels more natural--more organic--than others. Reformed families may appreciate this more. The doctrinal statements--the meaty theology--appears in different color text. In the Old Testament section, the doctrines appear in RED. In the New Testament section, the doctrines appear in GREEN.

From "Adam and Eve Sin"
Sin is doing what we ant to do instead of what God wants us to do. (21)
God didn't make the world as it is. Everything he created was good. Sin damaged God's creation and brought in all that is ugly. (22)

From "God Promises a Savior"
Grace is the giving of blessings and good things to people who do not deserve them. (25)

From "God Gives Abraham a Son"
Nothing unexpected can ever come up that would make it impossible for God to keep his promises. We can always trust God to keep his promises because he is absolutely faithful. (37)

From "God Chooses Jacob for Blessing"
God chooses which people will receive his blessings and, when he does so, he always chooses because of his grace alone, and for no other reason. (40)

From "Slave to Ruler in Egypt"
The Bible makes it clear that when people intend evil, as Joseph's brothers did, it is wrong and God will hold them accountable for it. At the same time, though, the Bible tells us that God is always at work in everything that happens to accomplish his purposes. (44)

From "God Gives Moses His Law"
God, in his goodness, has revealed to us what he is like and what he requires. Not only that, but in his wisdom, God had that revelation written down for us in the Scriptures. (55)
All Scripture is inspired by God, or God-breathed. (56)

From "God's People Worship a Golden Calf"
God is holy. That means that he never sins and he hates all sin. A mediator would need to get rid of God's anger at sin. Jesus did that. When he died on the cross, he took all God's anger at his people's sin and was punished for it in their place. (59)
Left to themselves, people do not love God; they hate him. Jesus, the mediator, changes the hearts of his people so they will love God and want to please him. (59)

 From "Jesus Speaks With Nicodemus"
Before anyone can understand the gospel, accept its message, and repent and trust in Christ, that person must be made spiritually alive. We call this regeneration or being born again. (158)

From "Jesus Calls His First Disciples"
Every time the gospel is preached, people hear the call to repent and to believe in Christ. But only some respond. In the hearts of these people, Jesus has given what they need to answer his call. We use the term effectual calling or effective calling for this. It means that Jesus calls a person in such a way that an effect is caused--and the effect is that person believing the gospel. (167)
I enjoyed rereading this one. I did. I'm not sure the narrative quality is amazing or excellent. But the theology is great. There may be other story book bibles with equally great theology that have a better narrative style or approach. But this one is good. 

There is nothing baby-ish about this Bible story book. It is not for the very young. It probably wouldn't be my first choice as a read aloud to toddlers or preschoolers--bedtime or not. But bible story books shouldn't have to be for that age group. They shouldn't be something you grow out of quickly. This one has the potential to grow with your child throughout their elementary years. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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