September 2016

4403 comp9.indd“Any way that we can grab on to Scripture will keep our minds in a place to receive the peace of God. Turning things over to God releases us from the strain of trying to control them ourselves.” (154)

Anyone who dreams about having children has dreams about what those children will be like; their personalities, possible careers, looks, and even the people they might marry and kids they might have. Every parent who dreams of what their children might be like does not prepare themselves for the ‘what if’ thoughts; what if they are not like me, what if they don’t get married, what if they don’t get a high paying job, and what if they aren’t born healthy? Even parents who have children through adoption, and know their child will have one or more complications, do not adequately prepare themselves for the what if’s that can come.

And then when they come what do you do? What does a parent do when their dreams for their children are shattered by the unimagined what if’s of reality? Even parents who adopt a child with mild or severe disabilities are met with surprises that were unknown to their caretakers or even hidden by them in an effort to keep them from having less of a chance of being adopted. Where can, better, where should, parents with children who have special needs turn when their dreams melt away to the what if’s they never dreamed of?

Mothers Kimberly M. Drew and Jocelyn Green know firsthand what life is like with children of special needs. Together they have written Refresh: Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs (Kregel, 2016). As if being a parent were not hard enough, raising children with special needs brings with it additional challenges that are often overwhelming, perplexing, exhausting, and a whole other range of emotions.

As a parent who has two children with special needs I, along with my wife, live daily with the unique challenges they bring. There are good days and there are bad days. There are one-step-forward days followed by what can seem like several two-step-backward days. There is mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion, frustration, worry, anger, guilt, and everything else you can imagine running through your mind and bleeding out of you.

But in the midst of all of the unknowns, variables, changes, and disappointments there is the constant reminder that God, like he was with Job, is right there with me in the midst of it all, waiting to speak to me once again through his revealed word, Scripture. This is where Refresh is so powerfully refreshing. Weaving each daily devotional with the testimony of a different parent with a child with special needs, the authors powerfully show how the truths of Scripture truly speak into the hardest, rawest, and darkest parts of our lives while raising children with special needs.

The message of these devotionals are deeply rooted in Scripture with a focus on Christ and the ongoing power and work of the gospel in our lives. There are not pat answers, no dodging the hard realities of this life, and no false promises. The authors, who live these realities themselves, fully acknowledge the hardships this kind of parenting brings. But they equally acknowledge the help, joy, and healing that is found in Christ through knowledge of Scripture.

Refresh is a book every single parent who has a child with special needs should have. If you know someone who has a child with special needs buy them this book. It will walk you through the various stages and seasons of parenting children with special needs and show how God, in Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is there to meet you at your every point of need.

I received this book for free from Kregel for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

message-of-the-twelve-by-fuhr-and-yatesWhile we would not expect those who do not believe in the Bible to affirm its relevance for today, we should not expect Christians to think likewise. However, there are a number of Christians who do not see the relevance of all 66 books of the Bible. One group of books in the Bible to which Christians struggle finding value and relevance is the minor prophets.

Admittedly, the minor prophets do not show up on the top three most loved books of the Bible by Christians nor are many “life verses” chosen from them. But, when readers of these twelve short, yet powerful, books are served by aids to understand them, their timeless relevance shines through.

Professors Richard Alan Fuhr Jr. and Gary E. Yates have given us such a reading aid in their new book The Message of the Twelve: Hearing the Voice of the Minor Prophets (B&H, 2016). This is an accessible guide to understanding the context of the minor prophets, the message of each, and the timeless relevance they have for the Church.

The first four chapters of the book explore some of the fundamental issues readers will need to grasp in order to understand the message of the minor prophets. The first chapter provides a short survey of the historical context in which each book takes place starting with Jeroboam I and the book of Jonah and ending with Malachi who prophesied during the time just before or during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (18).

Chapter two examines the prophetic role of the prophets as foretellers and forth-tellers. While most readers of the prophets are quick to characterize the prophets primary role as foretellers (predictors of the future), the authors rightly point out that much of what is said is characterized rather as forth-telling (proclaiming the Word of God to his people). The third chapter provides a brief sketch of all of the literary genres and rhetorical devices the prophets used in order to communicate their divine message. This is one of those introductory chapters readers might turn to time and time again while reading through the prophets. The fourth chapter argues that the minor prophets are in fact a literary unit more than twelve individual books. This conclusion is borne out by several aspects including their chronology, unified view of the Day of the Lord, repeated call to repentance, covenant focus, and view to a new David.

The bulk of the book is dedicated each of the minor prophets. The chapters begin with an introduction to each book which discusses some of the key themes or aspects as well as the overall structure of the book. The bulk of the chapter is an accessible exposition of the entire book section by section. There are further discussions of the historical situations referred to in the book, discussions of important exegetical issues, and the literary and rhetorical aspects of the passages are explained. The final portion of each chapter challenges the reader with a theological reflection on the message of the book and the practical impact the passage has for today’s readers.

Fuhr and Yates have provided the church a rich, theological focused, text centered, guide to reading the minor prophets that does not sacrifice content in its brevity. The Message of the Twelve is a highly accessible book to guide readers through these old, yet timely books. This will serve as a great guide for personal study as well as those who are teaching or preaching through the minor prophets.

I received this book for free from B&H for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”