Book Review: Cold-Case Christianity for Kids

cold_case_xnity_4_kidsAs a young adult, I can be discouraged. My heart has been grieved to see people my age walk away from the faith after growing up in the church. They held to what their parents did and never examined the faith for themselves. As a youth pastor, though, I am encouraged. Not only do I have the opportunity to assist parents in discipling their children, I can also equip the youth to examine the faith for themselves. One avenue for this is to give kids good Christian books to read targeted at their age group. There may not be any better resource for kids to investigate the faith for themselves than J. Warner Wallace and his wife’s new book Cold-Case Christianity for Kids: Investigate Jesus with a Real Detective.

Warner Wallace draws on his experience as a real-life cold-case detective and he and his wife bring their passion of training young people in the church to produce this work that is engaging and edifying. Cold-Case Christianity for Kids is engaging because it is written in a narrative style and context kids can relate to and understand. Likewise, the resource is edifying, using the tools of investigating and examining to equip children to see there is a God who has created the world and that Jesus Christ has indeed risen from the dead. Each chapter expands kid’s vocabulary by giving “Detective Definitions” on terms children may not be familiar with. The “CSI Assignments” in each chapter weave in biblical content in the child’s learning. Toward the end of each chapter, kids will be equipped with a tool for their detective bag.

This book trains kids to think like cold-case detectives (Wallace and Wallace 16). In other words, the kids are taught how to think, not what to think (Wallace and Wallace 15). One of the issues, I believe, some young adults who have left the church have had is they were taught what to think but not how to think. I am grateful, then, to endorse and recommend such a resource that will encourage kids, between 8 and 12 years old especially,to examine Christianity and the Bible, to see they are true, and to see Jesus is worthy of our worship!

Purchase a copy here or enter below to possibly win a free copy of the book!

J. Warner Wallace and Susie Wallace’s ‘Cold-Case Christianity for Kids’ Blog Tour and Giveaway

At the crucial age between 8 and 12, many kids begin to wonder if Christianity and the Bible are true. Help your kids become truth-seeking detectives with the help of J. Warner and Susie Wallace’s Cold-Case Christianity for Kids. Detective Wallace gets kids excited about testing witnesses, examining the evidence, and investigating the case for Christianity. The book includes author illustrations and links to a website where kids can download activities, fill in case notes, and earn a certificate of merit.

Encourage your kids to investigate the case for Christianity by entering to win a faith examination kit and a copy of J. Warner and Susie’s new book.


One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on November 4. The winner will be announced November 7 on the Litfuse blog.



I received a complimentary copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.


Cold-Case Christianity for Kids is the children’s edition of the book Cold-Case Christianity. As youth go through their edition of the book, parents would do well to buy this book to read alongside of them.

The learning and fun do not have to stop after your child has read the book. This website is interactive and is meant to complement what children about in the book.

Book Review: The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life

dynamic_heart_in_daily_lifeI am not a huge fan of books turned into movies. However, there are exceptions. When a movie is able to bring a character to life from a book I am more inclined to watch. Characters have to be more than one-dimensional. The same can be said in describing a biblical view of the heart. Many use the term heart, even within Christian circles, in a one-dimensional manner. They may inquire the confusing question, “Have you asked Jesus into your heart?” They may speak of the heart as the inner person. Yet, while the biblical view of the heart speaks of the inner person, to stop there in the description is to miss the complex nature of the heart. What we need is a multidimensional understanding of the heart. Pastor and Professor Jeremy Pierre gives us such a gift in his new book, The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience.

Written from a pastoral heart, Pierre sets out “to equip counselors, pastors, caretakers, or anyone else interested in helping people with a framework to understand human experience theologically—that is, as God designed it” (Pierre 9). The book is divided into three sections. Section 1 (chapters 1–5) covers how the heart dynamically responds, providing a three-dimensional biblical framework of the dynamic heart, the cognitive, affective, and volitional components . Section 2 (chapters 6–9) moves into examining what the heart dynamically responding to, observing the areas of God, self, others, and circumstances. Section 3 (chapters 10–13) brings the first two sections together to lay out a methodology for counseling, involving reading, reflecting, relating, and renewing.

This work by Dr. Jeremy Pierre fulfills its goal “to give a theological vision of how faith in Christ restores the dynamic human heart and a practical vision of how to help people join in on the process” (Pierre 5). The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life weaves biblical content into practical living contexts. Pierre equips counselors, pastors, and caretakers by clearly explaining the points he makes, by taking seriously the complexity of the subject, and by teaching a comprehensive understanding of the heart. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for any Christian who desires to be equipped in caring and counseling by grasping the complexities of the dynamic heart.

I received this book for free from New Growth Press via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

Don’t Be Deceived (1 John 2:18-27)

2016-week-43As a pastor, one of the matters which grieves me is to see someone who has professed Christ only to later leave the faith. I remember in particular one young man I had the opportunity in discipling. When he first professed his faith he was excited to learn more about God’s Word. After a time, though, he stopped attending church and he ignored my e-mails and text messages. I am sure I am not the only one who has been through this sad occurrence. The question springs from it, “What happened to them?” Some may say the person lost their salvation. Others would state the person was never saved to begin with. While books have been written on this subject, it is important for us to hear what the testimony of Scripture says. Throughout 1 John, the point is to assure those who are in Christ that they are indeed Christians. We should not be surprised, then, John does bring up this particular issue in the discussion. What is his reply? “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (2:19). As one who is writing between the first and second comings of Christ, John is declaring those who leave the faith ultimately were never a part of the faith. They were false believers, not truly for God but against Him. Backing up to verse 18, that is why John declares, “as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come”. Often times, the term antichrist is rightly limited to one particular person, the man of lawlessness (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3). The Apostle John broadens the definition a few verses later: “This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son” (2:22b). In other words, anyone who is against God the Father and Jesus Christ is an antichrist. It is true there is the Antichrist. These antichrists, in a sense, are a forerunner to the one Antichrist. These antichrists are deceivers around the church community. They are masked as if they are in the body of Christ. Scripture reveals the only ones truly in the body of Christ are those anointed by God in a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (2:20). John writes to reassure these Christians of the truth. People who have repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus Christ are those who know truth and the one who is Truth (John 14:6). Those who reject Christ are those buying into a lie. Simply put, the most important question to ask is “Who is Jesus?” If someone tries to say they believe in God the Father but not in Jesus Christ, they are lost and they are against the God of the Bible. Our God is a triune God. Those who are saved by God are those who trust in the God who has revealed Himself in Scripture. He has given us promises that find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. When we place our faith in Christ, we are found to abide in Him. The result is we receive the promise of God, eternal life (2:25). So, as those who are anointed by God, who know the truth, and who abide in Christ, we must be aware of those who are trying to deceive. We need to be on guard against those who claim to be a part of Christianity while they are against the essentials of the faith. Do not be deceived! Be the one who abides in Christ by knowing His Word!

Reflection Questions:

  • How does 1 John 2:19 and 22 help you understand the doctrine of salvation? How does it contribute to your assurance of salvation?
  • Why is “Who is Jesus” the most important question you can ask of your life?
  • How do we evaluate what is true and know when there is deception?

Growing in Maturity (1 John 2:12-17)

2016-week-42If you have seen commercials for Cheez-Its, you are likely to be familiar with the tagline for the product: “we take time for our cheese to mature”. While the advertisements can be comical at times, it does lend to the reality of maturity. Maturity does take time. As we continue our study in 1 John, we see to be a Christian means we are growing in our walk with Christ. In the passage before us we see this in the terms the Apostle John uses. In verses 12 through 14 he uses the terms “little children”, “young men”, and “fathers”. It seems clear from the letter and from the context John uses these terms to describe spiritual maturity rather than chronological age. Earlier John referred to his recipients as “my little children” and reminding them of their advocate Jesus Christ (2:1). It is on the basis of Jesus Christ he says what he does now, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake” (2:12). One of the basic truths for Christians is to realize we are forgiven of our sins because of the life and work of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we are forgiven of our sins for the glory of Christ. We are assured we are forgiven because we know the Father (2:13c). Even as we mature in the faith, we are reminded our salvation rests not on ourselves but on Christ. We have eternal life because we know Him who is eternal (2:13a, 14a). In the maturing process, however, we must be aware of the fight we will face. If we desire to grow in our walk with Christ by living in the light and loving, then we can expect to face opposition. As those who are the “young men” in the faith, John writes for the purpose they “have overcome the evil one” (2:13b). He elaborates more a verse later on how they have overcome their spiritual opponent, “because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you” (2:14b). Christians who are able to overcome the evil one are those who are strong and they are strong because the word of God abides in them. The strength they have is the strength of God. The process of spiritual maturity is not understood in terms of one’s own will-power. Rather, the process of spiritual maturity is characterized by the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the work of God through the Holy Spirit, we would hate what God loves and we would love what God hates. That is why, as Christians, we are told, “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (2:15a). What does John mean here by the world? He goes on to show, “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life” (2:16). Desiring the things of this world over desiring God is sin and is not contributing to our spiritual growth. Desiring to have what is not yours and lusting upon what you cannot have and what you demand is to pursue the things of this world. To find your satisfaction in possessions and to live a life of self-centeredness is to live a life contrary to the Word of God. The purpose of life is not the pride of life but to make much of the name of Christ. Those who know Jesus Christ are those who are forgiven, who fight their sin by abiding in God, and who do not love the world. To love the world and the things of the world is to not abide in the Word. To say it bluntly, if we love the world, we do not have the love of the Father. If we do not have the love of the Father, then we will be facing His wrath for eternity and will be eternally separated from Him. The things of this world are temporary and not worth our love. Only the will of God remains and abides (2:17). If you do not know Christ, confess your rebellion against God and your love for the world and find forgiveness in Jesus Christ today. If you do know Christ, abide in the word of God to continue to grow in spiritual maturity.

Reflection Questions:

  • As a Christian, how has God grown you in the last year? How have you abided in His Word?
  • Which of these three do you struggle with most: the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, or the pride of life? How can you fight against this struggle?
  • How do you respond to the fact spiritual maturity is a process that happens over a lifetime for the Christian?

Book Review: A Bird, A Girl, and A Rescue

A book described as a novel “unconventional magical-realism-for-young-adult” (Myhre 132) is not a work I would typically think I could really get into. Most of the books I read are non-fiction and I tend to be picky with the fictional books I take time out to read. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself lost in J.A. Myhre’s A Bird, A Girl, and a Rescue. Myhre puts forth a captivating story-line within an African cultural setting containing biblical imagery and themes.a-bird-a-girl-a-rescue

The captivating story-line features 11-year old Kiisa as its main character. Having been sent to a boarding school by her family, her father tells her she has been made “for such a time as this”. As the narrative moves along, one can see Kiisa’s role is being in the right place at the right time (Myhre 94). Although she quickly becomes an opponent to one of the older girls, Masasi, when she sees Masisi captured by African rebels, Kiisa goes on the search to find her and rescue her. She is accompanied with Nijili, a talking wagtail her father had given her. They meet other animals along the way. To resist being a spoiler, it should suffice to say Kiisa accomplishes her mission.

A Bird, A Girl, and a Rescue highlights an African cultural setting. While the story is fictional, the events speak to “the real-life suffering of the families of the students of Kichwamba Technical College, where in 1998 real rebels locked young people in their dorms and set them on fire, killing 80 and abducting 100” (Myhre 131). A number of cultural terms are used throughout the novel which is why a glossary is found on pages 128-130. Tied in with cultural nuances is biblical imagery, most notably the reference “people of the wounded heel” (Myhre 39).

As much as can be said about the content of the novel, the cause is even greater: “Half of the author proceeds from this book will go directly into a fund that enables orphans to receive an excellent education” (Myhre 132). In sum, A Bird, A Girl, and A Rescue is a book for young people full of biblical imagery that is culturally-informing.

I received this book for free from New Growth Press via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

The Light of Love (1 John 2:7-11)

2016-week-41Have you even seen a young child seeking to imitate their mother or father? They do their best to follow in their footsteps. It is truly one of the sweetest sights to see. For Christians, such a sight should not only cause us to smile but a child following their parent should give us a picture of who we are as Christians. In 1 John 2:6 we are told we can be sure we know Christ if we walk in the same way in which He walked. In other words, as Christians we follow in the footsteps of Christ. As those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the evidence we have done so is we follow the example of Christ.

How do we model a Christlike life? While there are many facets of following Christ, the Apostle John directs our attention toward the supreme way of walking like Jesus walked: love. John says this command to love is both an old commandment and a new commandment (2:7-8). In one sense, the command to love is old because we see from the first section of the Old Testament we are called to love (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18). Indeed, this love is “from the beginning”. What makes this love new is its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. God’s command to love is seen in a new light. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives love a deeper and fuller sense of what love looks like. Love deals with sin and darkness. The command to love comes from the Word of God and is revealed in the Son of God. We ought to respond to this love by repenting of loving other things more than God and by trusting in Jesus Christ, our loving Savior and Lord. When we respond in this way, we are enabled to love others.

Because we see how God has loved us, we extend love to other people. Unfortunately, there are a good number of people who have no problem saying, “I love God!” The problem they face is with other sinners. A heart-breaking example of this is the comment, “I love God but I cannot stand other Christians!” They neglect commitment to the local church for this reason. What does John have to say about this? He has some piercing words. “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness” (2:9). The marker of love for the Christ begins with the love of God which ignites love for God and extends to love for others. Those who have been changed by God’s love will be those who love Him and the people He has made in His image. A sign you are abiding in Christ is your love for people, even those who are hard to love. To disregard this matter is to disprove yourself as a Christian. To live an unloving lifestyle toward people is to show you are not truly in Christ. As John has already discussed in 1 John 1:5-10, right belief should lead to right living. The one who has right belief without right living is one who is walking in darkness. We are saved by the grace of God alone in Christ alone. We cannot work for our salvation. However, the works we do and the love we display as Christians, are evidence we have been truly saved by God. To affirm head knowledge without heart and hands impact is to deceive oneself. To believe in Christ is to follow Christ. Do not be deceived while living in the darkness. Let God shine the light of love on you so that you can shine the light of love on others. The result will be praise to God for the saving person and work of Jesus Christ.

Reflection Questions:

  • How does the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ bring greater depth to the command to love?
  • What does this passage show about the importance of the local church in the Christian life?
  • How can you show your love to others this week as an overflow of your love for God in Christ?

Abiding in the Advocate (1 John 2:1-6)

2016-week-40As a youth leader in the church, I try to make it a priority to train the next generation in understanding and applying the Word of God. At the same time, I recognize the importance of being involved in the lives of the youth. One of my favorite activities to partake in with the youth is sports. Almost every month I find myself playing a game of two-hand-touch football. Two of the youth I disciple are brothers. It should come as no surprise, then, when a questionable play has occurred, both brothers share their side of the story. Yet, rarely does it match. Thankfully, every so often someone is watching this game take place and they chime in on what actually happened. They advocate for one side or the other. While a game of football with the youth is nothing serious, the point it brings up is.

Last week we learned as Christians we live in the light when we confess our sins, not by denying our sins. This is important because the Apostle John continues in the letter, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin” (2:1a). John is proclaiming these Christians can become sinless this side of heaven. Rather, as will be seen, he is showing them the word God has spoken has exposed their sinful hearts and guides them into truth. He is telling these believers the Word guides them to live a life of obedience to the Lord. Nevertheless, no Christian can obey the Lord perfectly. Thus, John points his people to the One who has perfectly obeyed, Jesus Christ. He says, “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (2:1b). We cannot obtain salvation by trying our best not to sin. A perfect and holy God requires pure holiness. We have rebelled against God and have chosen the path of lawlessness. As a result, we deserve the wrath and just anger of God. Lest we foolishly think we can make things right ourselves we find out as sinners, we cannot merit salvation. There is no amount of good works which will make us right with God. In and of ourselves, we are without hope.

The hope we cannot find in ourselves is found in Christ. Because we have disobeyed God, we are at enmity with Him. We cannot approach Him ourselves. We need a pure atoning sacrifice. We need someone who will be our advocate, standing in our defense. God Himself provided such an advocate in the person of Jesus Christ. His life was a righteous life. He never sinned. His death was a propitiating death, meaning it turned aside the wrath of God from us as Christ absorbed the wrath of God on the cross. By the way of analogy, as a sponge soaks in water, Christ soaked in the wrath of God that we may be saved by His grace and be made right with Him. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Good News that saves. What we deserved for our sins was God’s wrath; what we received by the blood of Jesus is God’s grace. This Good News is not limited to one ethnicity or to one section of the world but to all in the world who would repent of their sins and believe in Christ for salvation (2:2).

The proper response to this Good News is to ask yourself the question: Do I know Jesus Christ? To know Jesus Christ is to abide in Him as your Advocate. You do not come before God based on your righteousness but based on Christ’s righteousness. The evidence you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ is you desire to obey His Word (2:3-4). A Christian is one whose lifestyle is in conformity to the Word of God. The one who lives in obedience to the Word of God is one who points to the love of God (2:5). The evidence someone has trusted in Christ for salvation is they walk in the way in which Jesus walked (2:6). They abide in the advocate.

Reflection Questions:

  • How does understanding Jesus’ life as righteous and His death as propitiatory contribute to Jesus’ role as our advocate?
  •  Does your manner of life reveal rebellion against God’s Word or conformity to God’s Word? What does this say about your relationship with God?