Book Review: The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide

Longtime and long-distance friends see each other as they attend the funeral of a loved one. Their likely response will share the following sentiment: “Although I wish it were not due to this circumstance, it is great to see you.” Such a statement explains how I feel about Basyle Tchividjian and Shira M Berkovits’ new book The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries. Although I wish we did not need this resource, the reality is child sexual abuse is a problem in our culture and, yes, very much so within the church. Silence on the issue will only empower the problem. Words of truth are good, but they need to be followed up with action. This resource equips church and ministries to do just that and, for that reason, I am glad for it.

Designed as a resource to accompany certification at GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries walk individuals and groups through forming a child protection policy for their church or ministry. In Section 1, the authors lay the foundation by defining abuse (chapter 1), considering the indicators and impact of abuse (chapters 2–3), and taking a closer look at people who sexually abuse children (chapter 4). Section 2 lists protective policies churches must carry out, both formal and informal (chapters 5–7). However, even with protective practices abuse may still occur. Section 3 of the policy addresses that unfortunate truth and equips churches and ministries in responding to policy violations and child abuse (chapters 8–11). Sections 4–5 wrap up the guide by informing groups how they can show support to sexual abuse survivors and encouraging all churches and ministries to live out the policy. Three appendices on forming a committee to form a policy, giving sample forms, and empowering children are included.

The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries by Basyle Tchividjian and Shira M Berkovits is an unfortunate resource our churches and ministries need. This guide trains churches and ministries to protect from, prevent against, and rightly respond to child sexual abuse. The greatest asset this book offers is it empowers churches and ministries to form and customize their own child protection policy so as “to create a culture where children can flourish with healthy intergenerational relationships” (Tchividjian and Berkovits 15). As a pastor over the youth ministry of my church, I strongly encourage intergenerational relationships in the church. I also have a heart for youth to grow in their love for Jesus and for His church. So I understand the importance of what Basyle and Shira have done in writing this guide. In the church, we have a problem. We cannot ignore this problem. It is there. But what we can do is speak up for the most vulnerable and carry out a policy to protect them and care for them in our churches. I plan on encouraging our church to work through this timely guide and I challenge you to encourage your church or ministry to do the same!

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.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy, click here.

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Book Review: This Changes Everything

The Bible study lesson lingered in my mind. The study on Ephesians 4 left me to consider how “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). As a pastor over the youth ministry at the church, my concern was not how to equip Christians generally but how to encourage the application of this Scripture passage into the lives of our church’s teenagers. Mindful of my teenage years, my passion as pastor was and is to equip teenagers to serve the Lord. Moreover, I want them to see the implications of the gospel in every facet of their lives. For this reason, I am grateful for This Changes Everything: How The Gospel Transforms the Teen Years.

A Quick Look at a Gospel-Focused Lens

Written by a teenager for teenagers, author Jaquelle Crowe shares and shows what it looks like for teenagers to live as whole-hearted Jesus-followers. Each chapter of This Changes Everything observes an area of the teenager’s life through the lens of the gospel. The book begins by helping teenagers understand who they are in relation to God and His story (chapters 1–2). With a firm foundation laid, Jaquelle shows how the gospel impacts a teenager’s view of the church, the need for its community, and their view of sin, including the seemingly ordinary sins (chapters 3–4). She also shares the proper motive for and necessary practice of spiritual disciplines in the Christian life (chapter 5) and the role discernment plays in a teenager’s growth (chapter 6). The book closes with stewardship of time (chapter 7) and biblical principles for relationships (chapter 8).

A Gospel Feast for Teenagers

This Changes Everything is a gospel feast for Jesus-following teenagers. Using the author’s analogy of a chicken nugget (Crowe 13), this book is crisp with personal illustrations and historical examples, leading the reader to the meat of gospel-centered content found in every chapter. Miss Crowe lives what she writes. She engages teenagers with her transparency, humbly admitting where she falls short and boldly pointing her peers to Jesus Christ. The diagrams throughout the book provide visuals for teens to apply that particular implication of the gospel into their lives and the discussion questions at the end of each chapter engage teenagers to put their learning into practice. One of the most fruitful aspects of Jaquelle’s writing is her emphasis on intergenerational relationships. Sometimes adults can mark off teenagers in the church and teenagers can neglect interaction with adults in the church. This Changes Everything weds the two groups together, especially in discussing the church in chapter 3 and relationships in chapter 8. Her knowledge of church history is not only impressive but it encourages teenagers to broaden their learning to those who have gone before them in the Christian faith. Simply put, Jaquelle Crowe offers teenagers a theologically rich, immensely practical, and winsomely engaging book to apply the gospel in every area of life.

A Book for Teens and to Read with Teens

If you are a teenager who claims to be a Jesus-follower, then you need this book. If you know a teenager, then tell them about this book. If you desire for teenagers to know Jesus, then buy them this book. For parents and youth leaders, consider purchasing a copy for yourself as well and reading through the book together. This Changes Everything by Jaquelle Crowe is a must-read for teenagers and those who care for teenagers.

In March, Jaquelle was kind enough to participate in an interview for us. You can find our interview with her here.

Book Review: God’s Crime Scene for Kids

The thought of excitement came to my mind, followed by feelings of anxiousness. Our church had begun holding Wednesday evening Bible study for the youth and three of the neighbor children came to attend. The background of these neighborhood children lacked attendance in the church and knowledge in the truth of Christianity. Therefore, my response of excitement and anxiousness centered around how I could teach these three neighborhood youth while also training the youth who regularly attend our church. My concerns were answered with J. Warner Wallace’s new book God’s Crime Scene for Kids: Investigate Creation with a Real Detective.

Following up on Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, J. Warner Wallace and Susie Wallace with Rob Suggs invite young readers to rejoin the young cadets in solving a new mystery. Through the case of the shoebox, Detective Alan Jeffries and the cadets assist Jason in discovering the letter in the shoebox and what it reveals about the items in the shoebox. Undertaking the patient work of detectives, the young cadets put their skills into action and look for clues, ask questions, and ultimately find the answer they are looking for. During each step of the process, Detective Jeffries uses the same observations and skills to apply in investigating the universe and creation. The eight clues Detective Jeffries and the young cadets discuss throughout their investigation lead them to the conclusion the universe was created by a single all-powerful Creator, God.

J. Warner Wallace does an excellent job intriguing young readers to join the team in solving both the mystery of the shoebox and, ultimately, the mystery of the creation of the universe. This book is a call to interactive investigation. Detective Wallace equips young people to see the evidence for the Creator and make a case for God as our Creator. He gives the reader CSI Assignments to go and look at what Scripture says, lists detective definitions to explain investigatory skills, and trains the young person with a “tool” for their detective bags. For those who are interested in going beyond the book, a website is available for the child to go through the academy with a parent or leader.

Because of God’s Crime Scene for Kids by J. Warner Wallace, I am no longer anxious on how to approach teaching Bible study to the youth on Wednesday evenings. This book is an instrument to evangelize to youth who do not know the truth of creation or Christianity and is a tool to equip youth who want to share and show the truth of creation and Christianity. If you are a parent or a Bible teacher of youth of ages 8-12, this book is for you and your youth!

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.

Resources for Digging Deeper:

God’s Crime Scene for Kids is the children edition of the book God’s Crime Scene. If you are a parent or youth leader and you purchase a children’s edition, be sure to purchase a copy of this book too.

The learning and fun do not have to stop after your child has read the book. This website is interactive and is meant to implement the tools and skills the children received in the book.

‘God’s Crime Scene for Kids’ Mystery Investigation Kit Giveaway: You Could Win!

Join your children in learning how to determine the most reasonable cause for everything we see in creation with a real-life detective! In God’s Crime Scene for Kids, J. Warner Wallace shows kids ages 8 to 12 what skills are needed to solve Jason’s mystery. Jason uncovers a mystery in his grandmother’s attic. He and his friends, Hannah, Daniel and Jasmine, enlist the help of Detective Jeffries at the Jr. Detective’s Academy. Your kids will look at evidence in the universe that demonstrates God is the creator and ultimately learn how to make their own case for God’s existence.

Help your kids become detectives who investigate creation for signs of God and His creativity by entering to win the Mystery Investigation Kit!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on August 31. The winner will be announced September 1 on the Litfuse blog.

Book Review: Seeking Jesus

The cry of many parents’ hearts ring, “I just want my children to be happy.” Sadly, this statement is made sometimes when the child has gone wayward in their walk of life. The child has decided happiness is found in seeking to be sovereign, not in surrendering your will to another. But, just as the Luke 15 parable reveals, such a life leaves one empty. The way to find joy in this life and in the next is not by seeking to be sovereign but by surrendering your life, seeking the One who is sovereign. This new book by Jason Homan and Claudine Broussard aims to do just that.

In Seeking Jesus, co-authors Jason Homan and Claudine Broussard take the first three chapters to lay the foundation. In chapter 1, they take us through the testimony of Scripture to show God first sought us. As those sought and saved, we now ought to prepare our hearts to seek Him (chapters 2–3). When we have prepared our hearts to seek Christ, we will put into practice the disciplines of Bible Study (chapter 5), Scripture memory (chapter 6), and meditation (chapter 7). Seeking Jesus this way changes us both outside and inside (chapters 8–9). It is an everyday pursuit (chapter 10), looking to Him for guidance (chapter 11) while persevering through it all (chapter 12). The result of seeking Jesus is not a surrender of drudgery, but of joy (chapter 13).

Seeking Jesus: Stepping into a Life of Bold Surrender, Freedom, and Deep Joy is a Scripture-saturated resource bound to set your heart on seeking Jesus for joy in life. It is worth noting, for people like me who may use a different translation, the authors of the book use the King James Version when they cite Scripture passages. Nevertheless, the earlier chapters seem to be the strongest in the book and provide readers with a proper biblical view of the gospel. Homan and Broussard connect the truth God has sought us with the hunger we have in seeking joy, which is found only in Christ. They show us the proper response to Jesus Christ is repentance of sin and faith in Him and His work (see chapters 1–2).

This book does not come without critique, however. One seems pertinent. Throughout the book, various elements are introduced. Many chapters feature “Seeking Him” in the title, but chapters 8 and 9 depart from the pattern and could somewhat feel out of place. In chapters 2, 4, and 10 we get to read “From Claudine”, which involves a story from the life of Claudine Broussard in relation to the subject of the chapter. In chapters 3 and 4, the chapter ends with “Baby Steps”, encouraging the reader to put into practice what they’ve read. A more consistent structure would have benefited the authors’ audience, particularly sharing the “From Claudine” sections with greater regularity for a picture of what seeking Jesus looks like in everyday life.

With commendations put forth and critiques put aside, Seeking Jesus by Jason Homan and Claudine Broussard will stir one’s affections for seeking Jesus through the Word that reveals Him.

I received a digital copy of this book for free in exchange 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.

Book Review: God’s Smuggler, Young Reader’s Edition

I am grateful for the ministry of Open Doors. I am thankful for the resources they provide about the persecuted church and for the persecuted church around the world. However, even though I have been familiar with the ministry for a time, I was foreign to the story behind its founder, a man known as Brother Andrew. God’s Smuggler, Young Reader’s Edition changed that for me.

Written with John and Elizabeth Sherrill, Brother Andrew, whose real name is Andrew van der Bijl, aims to reach the young person with his story. The book takes the reader on a journey from Andrew’s call to ministry through his time in ministry distributing Bibles behind the Iron Curtain during the time of the Cold War, a time faced with persecution against Christians and the Word of God. The book’s style is captivating and leaves the reader wanting to find out what happens next in the missionary life of Andrew.

The purpose of God’s Smuggler, Young Reader’s Edition is not merely meant to give a record of Open Doors founder. It is meant to make a present-day impact upon the reader. Particularly for the young person, the book causes them to not take the Bible for granted but to see owning a copy of the Word of God as the treasure it is. Stories in the book recount and reveal the power of prayer and serve as a testimony to young people of the power of God. The book ends with Andrew and his wife, Corry, saying, “Together, the two of us. Twelve of us. Thousands of us. None of us knows where the road will lead. We only know it is the most exciting journey of them all” (Sherrill 216). In essence, they invite others to join this journey of sharing Christ with all and sharing with other Christians in their suffering and persecution.

I recommend God’s Smuggler, Young Reader’s Edition by Brother Andrew with John and Elizabeth Sherrill to parents and their youth alike. I encourage this book to parents who desire their children to see the treasure the Bible truly is, and for youth to see the commitment of their Christian faith, as Brother Andrew has modeled, even in the midst of persecution and suffering. Join the journey!

I received this book for free from Chosen Books 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.

Book Review: Reformation Women

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Any discussion on the Reformation will likely bring up names like Martin Luther and John Calvin. And rightfully so. These men had a great impact on church history. Yet, what lacks in most discussions on the Reformation is a recognition of the women who lived then and made an impact during their lifetime. Some may fear to uphold women’s contributions during the Reformation might blur the complementarian view given in Scripture, that is men and women are equal in dignity and worth but they are distinct in roles, men entrusted with the responsibility of servant leadership and women given the call to help and submit. However, I find those fears unwarranted. As men and women’s distinct roles are meant to complement one another, I believe men and women’s contributions in the Reformation complemented each other as well. Rebecca VanDoodewaard believes this to be the case too, as evidenced by her new release Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity’s Rebirth. In this updated text of James I. Good’s Famous Women of the Reformed Church, VanDoodewaard introduces us to fairly unknown women of the Reformed faith who committed their lives to the cause of the Reformation.

In this revised and expanded work, VanDooewaard sketches twelve biographies of these Reformation women. Each of the women in the book come from different backgrounds but a mutual love for God and His Word, a care for people, particularly the hurting, Protestant refugees, and children are found in each. These women were hospitable, opening their homes to many. They also faced many hardships, whether they feared for their husbands during a dangerous time of ministry or struggled with the pain of losing children to death. Above all, these two women, while not well-known, knew the cost the Reformation brought with it against the Roman Catholic church. These Reformation women stood firm in their commitment to Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. They held to the truth we are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, and the Scriptures alone, as the Word of God, are our ultimate authority.

The stories of such women are, as the author says, “an essential element in church history” (ix). While all made unique contributions, the women are an example of faithfulness to the Lord, His Word, and His church. Reformation Women by Rebecca VanDooewaard will introduce you to women of the Word who fought for the truth of the Word and can give us the courage to fight for that same truth today!

I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books 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.

Book Review: Pray About Everything

Earlier this year the church where I serve as associate pastor began holding monthly prayer services. Each time I have participated, I have been blessed. The unfortunate reality is many do not get to experience this blessing because a concentrated time of corporate prayer is all too rare. Sure, Christians emphasize the priority of personal prayer, as they should. Most books on prayer reflect this importance. What lacks is an intentionality on corporate and congregational prayer. That is why I am thankful for my senior pastor’s initiative to begin a prayer service, and it is why I am excited to share with you Pray About Everything: Cultivating God-Dependency by Paul Tautges. This book teaches all Christians how to pray biblically and equips Christian leaders on how to lead their congregations in prayer.

The book is divided up into three parts. In part 1, Paul Tautges lays the foundation for cultivating God-dependency by pointing the reader to how God uses prayer in the life of His people (chapter 1) and by showing the reader how to pray according to the will of God as revealed in Word of God (chapter 2). In part 2, he builds on the foundation, equipping the reader, particularly with Christian leaders and pastors in mind. He devotes seven chapters to seven potential prayer meeting messages. The message themes include: praying in Jesus’ name (John 14:13-14), praying for unbelievers (John 16:8-11), praying for governmental leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4), praying with a forgiving heart (Matthew 6:12-15), calling for your elders (James 5:13-18), how husbands get their prayers answered (1 Peter 3:7), and when the Holy Spirit prays (Romans 8:26-27). The last third of the book continues to equip the Christian leader on how to encourage prayer among the congregation and equip them for their own times of prayer.

Pray About Everything is a go-to resource for pastors and Christians who desire to pray biblically according to the will of God and to pray corporately with the people of God. While I wish Pastor Tautges would have devoted a chapter to praying for workers, based on Matthew 9:35-38, I am aware there is only so much space one has in a book. Yet, with a title like Pray About Everything a chapter on praying for workers would have fit nicely alongside the chapter on praying for unbelievers (chapter 4). Minor critique aside, what may be the most valuable section of the book for the Christian seeking to improve their prayer life is the appendices. The appendices can nicely be implemented into the life of the Christian and into the life of a church. Not too many books encourage both but this one does. I gladly recommend Paul Tautge’s Pray About Everything: Cultivating God-Dependency to every church member and church leader who desires to be a contributing part of a praying church.

I received this book for free from Shepherd 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.