This fifth historical fiction book in the "Lineage of Grace" series by Francine Rivers is published by Tyndale House Publishers.
Unafraid Mary is written for adults but is sometimes studied by kids ages 16 years and up.
From her birth in a peasant family to her death as the revered mother of Christ, Mary experiences both joy and heartache as she obeys God's call to care for His Son. Mary faces the shame of an unexpected pregnancy, endures the ridicule of those who reject Jesus' message, and struggles to accept God's plan for her Son's death. But she continues to believe God's promises about her Son. Mary must demonstrate true obedience toward God by choosing to place her own faith in the Son she reared.
While the book's details are fictional, many of the events from Mary's life are based closely on biblical accounts. God is seen as a strong, all-knowing Father, and Jesus is portrayed as the Messiah who brings salvation to those who believe. Jesus claims that each person must choose whether to believe in His message, and even Jesus' siblings struggle to trust Him. As Mary obeys God, she battles negative thoughts, and she meets several dark, unnamed characters, who represent spiritual warfare. Even when God's methods make little sense, His plan triumphs over evil.
The authority of God is a central theme. When an angel of God delivers messages to Mary and Joseph, each responds with awe and obedience. Mary willingly accepts God's call on her life to be the mother of Jesus, and she continually honors her husband's decisions and leadership. Similarly, Joseph emphasizes that his wife and Son are not his own. They belong to God. Jesus submits to both His earthly parents and His heavenly Father, but He also serves as a strong authority for His followers.
Several Jewish customs and traditions are explained. The story implies that some Jews choose to believe in Jesus as Messiah, while some do not.
The word harlot appears one time, describing the reaction of the general public to Mary's out-of-wedlock pregnancy. During Jesus' death, He is mocked, beaten and nailed to a cross.
When Mary becomes pregnant, many townspeople assume she and Joseph committed an indiscretion, though no specific details are given. The birth of Jesus is depicted realistically as a painful process for Mary, accompanied by water and blood.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.
This contemporary Christian book in the "The Powerlink Chronicles" series is written by Josh McDowell and Chuck Klein and is published by Word Publishing.
Under Siege is written for kids, ages 13 to 17. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Will, a high school computer geek, always attended church, but now he makes a commitment to his Christian faith. He joins other kids at his church and launches a group called the Liberation Commandos, a strike force for God at the local high school. Their purpose is to free students from Satan's grip. Will feels awkward at his lack of physical abilities and is attracted to his childhood friend Amber. Amber experiments with guys, drinking and other at-risk behaviors. Will's best friend, prankster Jason, leads the group in brainstorming inventive ways to witness, such as shopping mall opportunities, pizza parties and sleepover. Will prays for Tony, a wild teen and Amber's former boyfriend, and eventually leads him in a prayer of salvation. The novel consists of the story plus a subplot of demons working against the teens' efforts. The inside story, from the authors, provides information and spiritual guidance for teens on the book's topics.
Kids struggle with their faith. The inside story uses Scriptures and mini-sermons from Josh McDowell to present God's truth. Spiritual topics include how to witness to others, the work of the Holy Spirit, listening to God, your place in God's plans, prayer and discipleship. Tony admits that he has lived a self-directed life and has made wrong choices (drinking and sex).
Will's parents never married, and his dad deserted the family. His mother is too busy at work to spend time with him. The youth leaders are the main authority figures as they guide kids with Scriptures, discuss problems and remain available to their needs.
The teens confront other beliefs in their interactions with students. These include secularism and believing in a self-directed life. Tony asks questions to find the difference between his uncle's New Age beliefs and Christianity.
Joy admits to being slapped and hit as a child, as well as being sexually abused. She describes confronting her adoptive parents, who refused to admit that they did anything wrong. Joy commits to praying for and forgiving them.
Will wants Amber to be his girlfriend and struggles against lustful thoughts. Will's feelings matured from a crush to a deep caring for Amber. He wants to follow God's plan of marriage before sex, although he realizes that even in a simple hug he feels a physical desire for Amber. Amber admits that she wants Will as a boyfriend, and the two commit their relationship to God in a prayer. Amber kisses Will on the cheek. Will helps his friend Jason, who struggles with watching pornographic movies. Will overcomes his struggle against a lustful dream. There are early scenes that reveal Tony wrapping himself around Amber and kissing her, as well as another teen couple engaging in long kisses while drunk.