Perhaps coffee mugs for an engagement. A platter for a wedding. A photo frame for a 21st. A bunny rug for a new baby.
We’ve found that in ministry to young adults, there are many of these events. All are joyful times to praise God for his goodness, but they also do tend to require a present!
We have the same present for everyone – books. A different book for each occasion, but always one that will encourage people to keep living for Jesus, striving to serve him and resting under the shelter of God’s grace.
DeYoung has produced some excellent Christian books for adults in the last few years. He has a gift for thinking clearly, writing logically and bringing God’s word to bear as we live in the world. I personally appreciated his insights in Crazy Busy, and there are a few others of his on my ‘to read’ list.
His gift of communication also extends to children. The Biggest Story ABC is an A-Z board book covering the overarching, chronological story of the bible. He starts with creation and ends with Zion, covering sin, exodus, judges, kings, rebellion, prophets, exile and the coming of Jesus as the fulfilment of everything.
I loved the way the alphabet was weaved through it. Too often alphabet-based books force the structure to fit within the confines of the letter order. In this book, the sentence just had to include the letter. This enabled the logical flow of the bible to be told much more clearly, without it becoming too ‘cute’, or as more often happens, slightly inaccurate or grating.
The switch between the Old and New Testament was very skilled:
Even God’s Prophets were ignored.
Until, finally, God seemed to be Quiet for hundreds of years.
But God hadn’t left; he was just getting things Ready…
For his own Son to come and save his people from their sins.
The illustrations (by Don Clark) are very effective - clear, simple, vivid with colour and not too babyish. As such, the book could appeal for quite a few years. Even my children quite liked it (though they are well out of the intended age range!) I had a couple of minor quibbles, listed below, which a parent (or whoever is reading aloud) could easily explain or add in on the way through:
There were a few jumps of logic. There is a reference to ‘God’s people’ then later to the ‘Israelites’, without the link specifically made that they are one and the same. Similarly, Jesus is not called by name for a few pages, but God’s Son, so when his name is revealed in “Jesus Wins”, it could be a bit unclear. We are told we have Victory over sin and the devil. Absolutely true, but the devil has not been mentioned before now, only sin, so it jumps out a bit.
The transition between M and N wasn’t clear:
“They needed a Messiah to make things right.
But God’s people were Naughty almost all the time.”
Logically better would have been “Because God’s people were naughty all the time”. And, maybe this is just my issue, but we actively avoid the word ‘naughty’, preferring terms that echo biblical concepts, such as disobedient or unkind.
There is little mention of life between Jesus’ resurrection and Zion at the end, just a hint that the Holy Spirit is with us (“He is our eXample” with a picture of the Spirit as a dove) and that he is the Yes to all God’s promises. It would’ve been preferable to have more description of what life with Jesus looks like for a child now, including living for him and being part of the church. (Perhaps rather than E, F, G, H & I all taken up with the plagues and exodus!)
While I took the time to record these, overall they are minor.
However, I think there is one major thing missing. There’s no mention of God’s love for us and for his people. It’s a very factual account. I think that’s why on first reading it really appealed to me – it was accurate. But there’s very little emotion behind it. No wonder, no awe, no thankfulness at what God has done.
It’s still a great book, a good resource and a lovely way to teach very small children the overarching message of the bible and what God has done for us in Jesus. So, give it as a present and have it in your own home. But, let’s make sure we’re also reading stories that help kids realise how much God loves them and cares for them, and that inspire awe and thankfulness at the same time.
Wendy & her husband (with their three lovely teen/tweens) are in full-time ministry in Adelaide, involved with university students, and marriage and parenting ministries. Wendy reviews books and blogs at musingsinadelaide.blogspot.com.au.