Jun 26, 2007

Guest Review on The Valiant Seven

I have been taking a summer unit on Oregon history. I thought I would read a book on this time period, so I looked on my dusty book shelf and that’s were I laid my eye on The Valiant Seven. The Valiant Seven, written by Netta Sheldon Phelps in 1941, tells the remarkable story of the Sager family traveling by covered wagons on the Oregon Trail from Missouri to Oregon. From what the title describes, there are 7 children in the family, 2 boys and 5 girls.

In their dreadful, long journey the children’s parents die, which leaves them orphans and in the care of a Dutch doctor who is part of their caravan. But not losing hope, each child stands firm and presses on to their destination. With attacks by buffalo, sightings of Indians, and breathtaking moments, this book is not boring in the least. Netta Sheldon Phelps does a fantastic job describing what it was like during that time on the Oregon Trail. I’m from Oregon, so I probably appreciate the book more than others who live out of state.

I learned that nothing can break a real family apart, even when it means losing a family member. These children never lost hope or ever gave up, except for a moment of wishing they would have stayed in Missouri fighting malaria instead of losing their parents on the Oregon Trail.

I would recommend this book for educational and casual reading. The Valiant Seven is definitely a classic. I now know a lot about the Oregon Trail and how much sacrifice it was to take it. When I read this book it made me appreciate my family members more. The chapters are considerably short and easy to read. The book is based on a true story but Phelps adds a little more story line to make it interesting. The Valiant Seven is a must read.

Written by Ben Edmonds from Gresham, Oregon

Jun 18, 2007

The Archives of Anthropos

Good and Evil… Great battles… Epic love stories…
A good fantasy story excites something from within all of us. Fantasy stories are made to be that way. They try to draw you in, make you feel part of it.

I am a big fan of books such as The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. I love the fact that the authors, who were both Christians, instilled Christian morals into the books. Many times I have heard non-christians say how they, “Love Aslan because he is perfect.” I want to shout, “Can’t you see? This isn’t a mythical creature! He exists in real-life!”

I would like to introduce to you, a series of books that may not be widely recognized, but they are still one of the top books on my list. May introduce to you, The Archives of Anthropos…

I was recommended this series of books by my brother and sister. They said it was a great series, and that I would like it. "Yeah right", I thought. They were wrong. I loved it. These were some of the coolest books I had read. I finished the whole series, eight books and all, in three days. Needless to say, I really enjoyed them and ordered my own private collection of them.
Anthropos (like all other magical lands), exists in a different universe. The creatures, are, of course, different from any you might see on earth. Matmon(dwarves), Dragons, Goblins, Talking animals, and Regents roam the wild land.

In the story, there is an all-powerful being, called the Changer, who created this world and all worlds. His enemy, the Abomination, seeks to destroy all influence the Changer might have in the land. On such occasions, the Changer magically pulls people from our own world into Anthropos to assist him in carrying out his plan. I don't wish to ruin the books for you so I won't say anymore. With a cool twist of Chronicles of Narnia, and his own distinct flavor, John White makes the book understandable to young and old alike. I love how clearly White presents the gospel message in the books. One of my favorite parts in the book is when some creatures are asking questions to a man who had seen the Changer:

…"What is he, sire?"
“He is the Unmade Maker, the Beginner without Beginning, the Changer who cannot be changed. What more can I say?”…
“Is he an animal, sire?” Oso asked curiously.
“Animal—no, he is not an animal.”
“A Matmon?” Bjornsluv asked.
“No, not a Matmon either.”
“Is he then a man?” King Bjorn asked.
“Can a man make man? No, the Changer is not a man. He is a maker, the maker of everything that ever was made, a maker made by nobody.”

The quality with which White wrote this series amazes me. He, and his books have not received the attention they so well deserve. Not only does the Changer have a major role in the story, but the Changer’s son, Gaal, dies so that he might have the ultimate victory in the end, a clear depiction of Jesus Christ.

I found these books to be an amazing read. They are sound in doctrine and exciting in content. I give this series five stars!

Buy Archives of Anthropos

Isaac Harris

Jun 9, 2007

Guest Review on The Hiding Place

As part of my history class for school, I read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, along with several other books about World War II. I had heard a lot about this book, but never bothered to pick it up and read it, perhaps subconsciously thinking that it was just another sad story about the atrocities that the Jews suffered during that time. After reading it, however, I noticed that there was something radically different about it in comparison to all the other books I read on the subject of World War II.

The first part of the book introduces the ten Booms. They are a closely-knit family. Corrie and Betsie still live at home with their father, while their siblings Willem and Nollie have families of their own. The ten Booms watch in horror at the rising power of Germany and the persecution of the Jews there. Eventually Holland, their home country, is invaded. Jews start showing up on the doorstep of the ten Boom’s watch shop to seek protection, and so the ten Booms get involved in the underground. For a while, they contribute greatly to the cause of protecting the Jews. But then they are betrayed.

The second part of the book tells of Corrie’s experiences in the German concentration camps. She and Betsie have the support of each other, but they must primarily rely on God to carry them through. Corrie relates with saddening clarity the humiliation and trials they must endure. Yet while they have an abundance of hardships, they also experience many instances of God’s blessing. In one incident, Corrie receives a bottle of vitamins. Although she feels like hoarding them exclusively for Betsie, instead, she shares them with the inmates around her. Like the woman in the Bible whose oil jar had no end, Corrie’s vitamin bottle never runs out. That is, until she receives another bottle. Then she can’t get one more drop from the old bottle. God miraculously provided.

So what was the difference between The Hiding Place and all the other books I had read? The answer is that it was the only book that mentioned the possibility of actually forgiving the very people who had perpetrated the brutal imprisonment and death of so many innocent people. While many of the other books I read detailed the self-sacrifice of the people who had helped to hide the Jews during that time, no other book even hinted that the Germans were in need of forgiveness. The prevailing attitude seemed to be that the Nazis deserved to be hated. And perhaps that is what they deserved. But the Christ-like love of the ten Boom family was so great, that they showed mercy even to the ones who had caused them so much suffering.
If that had been all, I may have walked away from the book inspired by Corrie ten Boom’s example, but thinking, “That’s just because she has some sort of special superiority that I don’t. I could never do that.” That isn’t the case. Corrie ten Boom makes it perfectly clear that she is no superwoman. At the beginning of the book she gives this rather unromantic description of herself: “forty-five years old, unmarried, waistline long since vanished.” Not exactly a picture of a heroine. Throughout the book, she is very open about the emotions she experiences—fear, temporary hate for her captors, and discontentedness with her circumstances. It is only because she clings to God that she is able to ultimately have the attitudes that she does. And because she is not perfect, her example challenges me.

Because of the subject matter of this book, I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. Readers younger than thirteen should probably have one of their parents evaluate the book to see if it is appropriate for them to read. But I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that everyone should read this sometime in his or her life. It really is a powerful, life-changing book.

Written by Joanna DiFonzo from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Jun 4, 2007

Humility: True Greatness ~ C.J. Mahaney

Our culture and media constantly present to us a distorted view of what greatness looks like. They exalt the proud, and are quick to praise those who praise themselves. But God has a different idea of what greatness truly means. He says that he both hates and is opposed to pride, but gives grace to those who clothe themselves with humility (James 4:6, Prov. 6:16-17).

In Humility: True Greatness, C.J. Mahaney gives us a helpful reminder on this important subject and provides us with effective strategies for weakening the pride and strengthening the humility in our hearts daily. This book transformed the way I think about this these two opposites in my life and gave me a fresh perspective on what Jesus taught and exemplified about true greatness. Following are the three most prominent things I learned from this book.

Firstly, I learned that pride is deeply rooted in our hearts and it’s very deceptive in the way it molds our thinking with its lies. C.J. Mahaney points out that when we demonstrate pride in our hearts and actions what we’re really doing is contending with God for supremacy. Pride is always established in a desire for self-glorification. And when we desire self-glorification instead of God-glorification, we are competing for equality with our Creator.

Secondly, I learned about the wonderful blessings of humility and what God promises for the lowly in heart. In Isaiah 66:2 God states “…this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” From this verse we can conclude that God’s eyes are specifically drawn to those who are humble! He also promises that He will bestow His merciful grace on them. It’s amazing to think the humble attract God’s gaze and receive His grace in a unique and special way.

Thirdly, I learned that no sanctification happens without the power of the cross of Christ. We as humans can never seek true greatness apart from our Savior’s sacrifice. He is source of the grace that we so desperately need in order to serve others efficiently. Mahaney says that without Christ “You would be self-sufficient, seeking to cultivate self-confidence for the purpose of self-glorification.” Needless to say we are hopeless apart from God’s mercy, but because He was willing to give Himself up we are free to follow His example of genuine humility.

I would highly recommend this book and the suggestions its author gives to help you cultivate true greatness in your heart. It’s been a helpful guide to me in my pursuit of this important quality, and I’m sure it will be the same to you.

Samuel Taylor

Buy Humility: True Greatness