Friday, April 20, 2007

Heaven, I Can't Wait...

A few weeks ago, I was asked by Tyndale House Publishers to review a couple of books by Randy Alcorn. The author of over 20 books, including the bestseller Heaven, Alcorn is the founder of Eternal Perspectives Ministry (EPM). His newest creations, which were sent to me, are Wait Until Then and Heaven For Kids.

I don't know about you, but I think these books couldn't come at a better time. I'm sure that unless you're like me and you rarely turn your tv on, you've had to do some explaining to your kids - death, hope, sadness, heaven. We, who have shielded our kids from the Virginia Tech scenario because kids don't need to know everything and should feel safe in this world, had to explain why Chris on American Idol sent his heart out to those in Virginia and what it meant when Simon said, "You have our deepest sympathies." Heaven looks a lot more mysterious when you are trying to put it in words.

That's where these books could come into play.

Wait Until Then is a story of promise and hope, seen throught the relationship between Nathan and his grandfather and their shared love of baseball. Created to be used to help children understand heaven, following Jesus and seeing our loved ones again, Alcorn weaves a story which included celebrating the joy of living, relishing the quest for understanding God's ways and keeping hope when someone in Christ is gone.

The story is simple enough for a child, yet it is packed with nuggets information that could aid them when they lose a loved one. The book is beautifully illustrated by Doron Ben-Ami, an artist who brought the pages to life. I sat looking at the artwork as much as I did thinking about the story.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants to help a child understand the hope of heaven or if someone wants to remind a sad one what and who they can look forward to seeing as members of the body of Christ when they pass from this world too.

Heaven For Kids is a treasure! It is a book all about heaven, written just for kids. It carries a Q&A format, with the questions in bold and the answer follows. The answers are well-written, yet fun. Alcorn wrote the book for kids to understand some things about heaven, so he made it easy to want to read it. While weaving scriptures into his answers (where we have definite answers), he includes other comparisons to tickle the imagination. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, The Wizard of Oz, The Lord of the Rings - these are just a few of the things that Alcorn uses to capture their imaginations while answering the questions according to scriptures.

My only criticism about this book is at the end. Alcorn does an excellent job explaining Jesus and the importance of knowing him as our Savior in order to have a home in heaven. He details that anyone may know Jesus and become part of his family by confessing that Jesus is Lord and believing in Jesus with our hearts. But in my studies, he missed another important step: all throughout the New Testement from Acts on (and in the gospels too), the scriptures quote the need for baptism. Time and time again it is mentioned, encouraged, performed. I cannot discount its importance in the life of a Christian. However, as a parent giving this book to my child, it is my role to instruct and to educate my children with the Bible. That being my only constructive criticism, it is not reason enough to withhold this good source from them.

There you go. And these weren't even on my Spring Reading Thing 2007 list... Not bad, not bad at all. (I still get to count them, right?)

And as a reminder, today at noon (eastern time), there will be a moment of silence held for those who died last Monday at Virginia Tech. VT requests that you hold each of these families and those left behind up in prayer for comfort and strength.

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