CrossReaders Book Review: SPRINGTIME IN SAVANNAH by Gail Warner

CrossReaders Book Review: SPRINGTIME IN SAVANNAH by Gail Warner

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Title: SPRINGTIME IN SAVANNAH

Author: Gail Warner

Rating: Five Star

About the Book

It seemed a normal spring morning in Savannah until Jonathan Rayburn heard an angelic voice on Monterey Square. Within moments of setting eyes upon the exceptionally beautiful Keri McGuire, he welcomed her to his beloved city and into his heart. In the days ahead, his faith is severely tested because of one homeless man and a civil lawsuit. Daniel Stanton, a busy attorney in St. Augustine, arrived at Mrs. Quinn’s home, questioning why his father’s client has requested his legal advice. One portrait upstairs caught his attention; one nearly identical portrait in the music room captured his wishful thoughts. Never in his life had he been so disappointed when he actually met the granddaughter from Milwaukee. While Laura Martin challenged his ethics, he prayed to be a man of conviction.

Review

It was a surprise to me that more reviews hadn’t been written on this beautifully composed story about Springtime in Savannah by Gail Warner. Truly, this story does not stand alone – but of several stories skillfully intertwined to keep the reader drawn in. Each story has the possibility of being complete as one – but to include so many well defined characters, each with different personalities and problems, was done with proficient cleverness by Ms. Warner.

The author went deep into research on the history of Savannah, as well as interesting facts that I would never have known without reading this novel. At times, I felt I was reading a travelogue which made the scenery in my mind vivid through the color of illustrious scripting. The story is lengthy – and never boring.

What can I say about this story that wouldn’t add spoilers to future readers? My heart was warmed by the conversions to faith in Jesus. Some of the characters were idiosyncratic and unlikable. I fell in love with those characters that were fun in spite of themselves. My compassion lay with the emotionally and physically abused with admiration for their passion to change their lives through Christ. The love interests were enthralling and romantic. Budding romance was proven unpredictable in the length of time and adversities the couples faced. I sensed this author was emotionally involved with her characters, as I also felt. Her characters and situations were so real that I found myself praying for those in the story that continued to sin and live evilly. It felt silly to pray – Gail had already decided their outcome! Will there be hope for these individuals in Gail’s story? You’ll be amazed as you watch God working in the lives of all under the pen of Gail Warner.

Ms Warner shows herself a person of deep faith in God; in tune with reality of our world today and historically, and that she is intelligent and capable of sculpting words with such an inspiring touch. Gail is an accomplished author that I will follow and look forward to her future publications. Whew, I got through this review without spoilers….so if you want to meet the characters, learn the answers, take a guided tour of Savannah – history included – you’ll need to get you own copy!

[easyazon-link asin=”B007ZBNUZ4″ locale=”us”]Check out Springtime in Savannah on Amazon![/easyazon-link]

This review was submitted by: Barb Shelton – please visit her website at PASSING IT FORWARD

CrossReaders Book Review: THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS JESUS by Aram Haroutunian

CrossReaders Book Review: THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS JESUS by Aram Haroutunian

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Title: THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS JESUS

Author: Aram Haroutunian

Rating: Five Star

About the Book

74 Children’s Sermons for all occasions. Pastors, homeschoolers, parents who often lead family devotions, or other storytellers will find these stories, along with comments about props and how to prepare and present them, to be an invaluable asset in reconnecting with the simplest, most profound truths of Scripture, and then to envision how best to communicate these so even a child can understand them.

FROM THE BOOK
In “The Clockmaker” chapter, Aram describes bringing to the sermon the pieces of a clock in a shoebox, and then shaking it long and hard to see if the clock could put itself together. When it didn’t, he proposed shaking it harder, and longer. But the kids told him the clock needed a person to put it together. “Oh!” he said. “So what you’re telling me is that in order to have a clock, you need a clockmaker, right? Okay, so let me ask you this. How did this beautiful world come into existence? Did it ‘just happen’ by chance?” [No!, they shouted.] “Of course not! Just as a clock tells us that there must have been
a clockmaker, so the world tells us that Someone must have made this – that it couldn’t have just ‘happened by chance.’ Who made the world? That’s right – the answer to every children’s sermon: JESUS!”

ABOUT THE COVER
This is the author with one of his favorite Palm Sunday “props,” “Firecracker,” who carried Aram down the aisle many times, to the delight of children and adults, alike.

FROM THE AUTHOR
A New Covenant approach to life will be descriptive of Jesus rather than prescriptive. It is to embrace the incredible mystery and paradox of the Gospel (“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” Luke 9:24).

Ironically, children are more able to grasp these concepts than are we adults. And yet, I have observed that of all places where the spirit of the New Covenant is violated most frequently, it is in children’s curricula and children’s sermons. “Do good things to others, and good things will happen to you.” “Live in a godly way, and things will turn out great for you.” We set our children up for disappointment by instilling in them (albeit unintentionally) a belief in a “push-button God.” And we’re as surprised as they are when their alleged faith crashes upon the rocks of harsh reality once they leave home.

We think we need to explain to them every mystery and paradox of God – that this will adequately equip their minds. But all the while – just like us – they’re longing to be captivated in their hearts by something bigger. They want to encounter Someone who can’t be reduced to a set of principles, Someone who promises to fulfill their young hearts’ desire for adventure and wonder.

Review

Aram Haroutunian’s creativity and compassion for expressing the Persons of the Trinity to children is like none I have heard or read. His orations are disguised by humor, masquerade, dialogue and broad imagination. The author believes the children’s sermon serves an important social, emotional, and theological purpose in the worship service.

Pastor Haroutunian explained that in his church community they often joke that the answer to every children’s sermon question is Jesus, thus the title of this book. In my opinion, this author/pastor must be quite a hoot to be around. “Hoot” being a term understood by children. Dialogue with children can be quite risky, with children’s unpredictable responses, “which I find to be the best part of doing children’s sermons!” quoting the pastor. He has shared some actual responses of children to his questions during the children’s sermon. “Their responses are often surprising, refreshing, profound, hilarious, innocent, challenging, and even piercing.” Personally, I enjoyed many laughs while reading Aram Haroutunian’s chapters. He owns a great sense of humor and often directs fun at himself to make a point. This book could be a great advantage to Sunday school teachers and story tellers in general.

Each chapter or sermon is created through several basic premises keeping in mind the subject and scripture of the main worship sermon; the first being the BIG IDEA or the subject matter of the lesson. CORRESPONDING SCRIPTURES are provided, to highlight the biblical concepts that the sermon is intending to convey. An OVERVIEW is offered, to develop and illustrate the New Covenant idea or thinking behind the children’s sermon. This can assist in developing a “way of thinking” about the implications of the New Covenant. A list of MATERIALS IS GIVEN (INCLUDING OBJECTS OR PROPS.) Of course these can be adapted for different settings and for when certain resources (such as audio-visual equipment) is not available. The ACTUAL SERMON is then written out. Included in some of the sermons are actual responses by children. These illustrate the importance of structuring the sermon in such a way as to elicit responses and dialogue from the kids – which, of course, brings joy to the sermon when preached. A CLOSING PRAYER is offered, which serves important purposes. The obvious importance is to offer the entire sermon to God, so that the Holy Spirit might seal the truths discussed in the minds and hearts of both the children and the adults. Yet the closing prayer also serves to recap or summarize the Big Idea, and can help pull it all together particularly for the adults, who will remain in the service.

Pastor Haroutunian describes some of the antics he has courageously performed like riding a donkey…or attempting to ride a donkey into the Palm Sunday service. You might not believe what you are reading about the nervy feats he accomplished delivering the children’s moment. Wild and weird to say the least! One of my big questions was where he found some of the objects used, and how many trips he made from his vehicle to the altar with his various questionable props. This gentleman has gone to faith-full lengths to bring out the answer “Jesus” to his questions. I intended to tell you my favorite sermons in the book, and decided to leave it to you to get this helpful novel and pick your favorites. Frequently I have done the children’s moments during worship. I am so grateful to Pastor Aram’s sharing his perfect ideas of teaching “Jesus” to children – as well as to adults. He is gracious and sensitive toward the teachings of Christ and I personally plan to pass on his children’s sermons to our children in worship.

[easyazon-link asin=”B008733WX4″ locale=”us”]Check out The Answer is Always “Jesus” on Amazon![/easyazon-link]

This review was submitted by: Barbara Shelton – please visit her website at BLESSED BY GRACE http://barbjan10.wordpress.com/ and PASSING IT FORWARD http://barbjan10-barbjansblogblogspot.blogspot.com/