Sunday, March 15, 2015

Review of Christian Movie: The Good Book & a Giveaway

by Sally Matheny

Christian Film:
The Good Book
Usually, I only write book reviews. But when I was contacted about reviewing a silent, one-hour long, evangelistic movie, I was intrigued enough to say yes.

How does one write a review of The Good Book, which contains no dialogue?

First, allow me to tell you what it’s not. It’s not, thank goodness, based on the books written by Peter Gomes or Anthony Grayling, both who wrote material contrary to God’s Holy Word and slapped the words, the good book in their titles.

Produced and written by Fred and Sharon Wilharm, this award-winning movie, The Good Book, “received the Dove Foundation’s highest award of five doves.” I’m one of those people who greatly considers the dove seals when selecting movies.

The Good Book begins with a young boy’s tragic experience of a house fire. He eventually ends up at a homeless camp and that’s where the “main character,” a small, New Testament Bible, is introduced.

The boy’s story ends but the journey of the little, red Bible continues. Fourteen people come in contact with the Bible. Some reject it; others allow God to speak to them through it. As their lives transform, some write their names inside the cover of the Bible, before passing it along to others.

Believers and non-believers will find someone to identify with in the movie. But like the real world, everything isn’t all neat and tidy. There are plenty of surprises in the film. The characters you think will cling to God’s Word don’t always do so. When you’re thinking here comes trouble, they’re actually blessings.

The story moves at an attention-grabbing pace and just as you’re wondering whose life will be changed next, BAM, you’re hit with a powerful, gut-wrenching ending. But just as God always does, he takes what we view as an ending, and begins anew. The movie ends with a vision of hope.

This is a film that leaves a lasting impression…something you’re pondering over for days. Hopefully, it points you to the only truly good book, God’s Holy Word, 
and changes your life forever.   

The Good Book  

It amazes me how the Wilharms, actors, and cast produced such a huge message without saying a word. And did it with excellence.

I highly recommend this movie for ages 12 and up. You can find it at Lifeway, Family Christian, and other locations. Check out the GoodBookMovie website to watch movie trailers and read more about it.

Here's your chance to win a free copy of the DVD! For each person who leaves a comment on the blog, we will write their names down and put them in the honest hat. (Trust me, it’s an honest hat.) We’ll shake them up and randomly draw a name and announce the winner Saturday, March 21. 

Inside the cover of the DVD, I've placed a note card. I'm hoping people will write their first name on it before passing the movie along to others. Just like the little Bible in the film, let's see where God takes this movie.

*Congratulations to the winner: Madonna!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sweet Sandpaper Dreams: Dealing with Chronic Pain

by Sally Matheny

Small, green squares of sandpaper were taped in various places around our house. Three days passed before my husband finally said, “Okay, what's up with all the sandpaper squares?”

Reluctantly, I shared how the sandpaper squares were little reminders for me of a dream I had. 
Most of the time I don’t sleep well enough to dream at all. However, one night I dreamed I was riding an old, school activity bus. Laughter and chatter ping-ponged through the bus. We were an excited bunch.

Eventually, the bus bumped onto an unpaved route through an open field. The rough terrain jostled us about and I remember mentioning several times about it causing pain to my neck.
After bounding down through the field awhile, we finally arrived at a vast, old barn. The bus windows were down and festive music swirled through the air. The bus pulled alongside the barn and parked.  

Through the barn's large open window, I could see a lively party taking place. Smiles, laughter, and music filled the room. Excitement bubbled forth from the bus passengers as they prepared to exit.

The bus driver asked if I would please stay seated until everyone disembarked. I wondered why he would ask such a thing but I obliged, thinking perhaps he had a question or something.
After everyone left, the bus driver handed me a piece of brown sandpaper. Fingering its roughness, I said, “I don’t understand. What’s this for?”
He kindly explained that I would have to stay on the bus and watch from the window.

“Because every time you say something about your pain, it is slightly abrasive, like this sandpaper.”

I did not ask for further explanation. I knew exactly what he meant. 
In reality, I diligently try not to whine about my chronic neck pain. but try to report it in a matter-of-fact way. However, no matter how one says it, if one says it too often, it becomes irritatingly abrasive.
Point taken.
In my dream, I held the sandpaper in my lap. I remember feeling sad and left out. There was no anger, just remorse as I watched the people having fun inside. 

Then I woke up.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, I pondered it all for a moment. Immediately, I began a search for sandpaper. All I could find was the green kind. That was okay; perhaps it would hark a little louder. I wanted reminders everywhere!


The pain is more noticeable at night, so one square went beside my bed and another near the bathroom sink. Now, As I brush my teeth, I rub my finger across its scratchy surface.
My family knows nights are worse. I don’t have to tell them that. They see me retrieve ice packs, Tylenol, and such. They are kind and understanding. Continual updates are unnecessary.

The refrigerator was next. After a long day, the neck may be sore but a meal needs to be prepared. A stroke or two over the green sandpaper and soon the food is ready and we’re giving God thanks.

Another sandpaper square is inside my purse. Often, when I reach for my cell phone or keys, my knuckle scrapes across it. Not verbally, but mentally, I say “ouch.” Exactly, I think with a smile.
After telling my sweet husband about my dream, he tried to assure me that I was being too hard on myself. He said I did not complain too much—that it was all my own subconscious worries about complaining.
Nonetheless, the sandpaper dream made an impact and my life has changed.
Don’t get me wrong. Our days do not float smoothly by on cotton candy clouds. Some days are great. Others are chaotic. Life is real at our house. Problems and pain come and go.
However, I have witnessed the effects of ceasing the repetitive pain updates. 

I feel better!
Life is a little sweeter. 

And next time...I'm getting off the bus!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Children’s Book Review of "A Father’s Love" & Book Giveaway

    by Sally Matheny

A Father's Love
     It's time for a book review and giveaway! Be sure to read below how to enter for the drawing.

      I’m so glad Zonderkidz is publishing I Can Read! books like A Father’s Love, part of the NIV Adventure Bible series. 

A Father’s Love is a level 2 book, which means it is a high interest story for developing readers.

     The full-page, colorful illustrations are beautiful. Most of the thirty-two pages contain thirty words or less. Sentences are broken up into about ten words per line. The print is large and easy to read.

     Of course, this is the familiar story Jesus told about a father and his sons. One son leaves his father and squanders his inheritance until he is eating with pigs. He decides to go home and ask for his father’s forgiveness. If you haven’t heard the story, I’ll not tell you the ending, but I will tell you that not everyone is happy to see the prodigal son.


     This is a great story to share with youngsters. Most first – third grade students will find the text within their reading range.

     A Father’s Love  will open up discussions on responsibility, forgiveness, jealousy, and acceptance.
     I highly recommend this well-written and beautifully illustrated book.

     In fact, I plan to give a copy of this book away this week. Everyone who leaves a comment below will have their name placed in a drawing for the book. We’ll announce the winner at 3:00 p.m. (EST)  March 7, 2015.

[Congratulations to book winner, Jennifer R.! I'll contact you concerning a mailing address.]

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. 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

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bibles Removed From N.C. Baptist Church

by Sally Matheny

Bibles Removed From N.C. Church
The event didn’t make the headlines, but it happened in a North Carolina Baptist church on a chilly, Sunday morning in February 2015.

The black Bibles, normally nestled between every two hymnals in each pew, weren’t missed until the morning worship music had already begun. A few people never noticed, but several of the congregation grew concerned. One of the deacons, shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders, discreetly whispered the discovery to the pastor. The pastor nodded in response to the deacon as the praise band continued their music.

When the music ended, the pastor returned to the pulpit and announced for the children to come for the children’s message.

The pastor was my husband. The church was my place of worship.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Remembering Today’s Persecuted Christians

by Sally Matheny

The Story of St. Valentine
by Voice of the Martyrs/Cheryl Odden

Hidden under layers of commercialism, it’s difficult to find the origins of Valentine’s Day. 

One of my favorite children’s books on the topic is The Story of Saint Valentine, by The Voice of the Martyrs and Cheryl Odden. It’s a beautifully illustrated book about faith, love, and courage. 

It’s the story of one Christian’s brave perseverance in standing for truth no matter what the cost.

I think Valentine’s Day is a great day for remembering today’s persecuted Christians. Many think of Christian persecution in faraway countries.
One need only look 1,518 miles. The Voice of the Martyrs gives eye-opening information about the developments in Cuba.

Despite improvements, the Cuban government still arrests, mistreats, marginalizes and openly opposes Christians. Christians are often prevented from working in certain jobs. Though there have been fewer arrests, both church leaders and evangelists have been detained for periods, have had personal items confiscated, property destroyed, and some have endured beatings.”

VOM also states that rules established in 2014 now limit churches to one back account and increases the power of the government to freeze those if they desire.

The government knows the best place to implement and gain support for their policies—with the country’s youngest citizens.

“Some children are required to renounce Christ and embrace communism in school, and Christian young people are often not allowed to graduate from high school or enter a university.”