Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ishtar's Odyssey by Arnold Ytreeide

A new Advent family devotional from the author of Jotham's Journey! Fourth in a set of Advent adventure books for families, Ishtar's Odyssey follows the ten-year-old son of a Persian wise man as their caravan follows a star across the desert. Ishtar would just as soon stay in the comfort of the palace, but slowly he learns that there's much to see, do, and learn in this world that can't be experienced in school. He eventually meets Jotham, Bartholomew, and Tabitha as he follows his father and uncles in their search for a newborn king. 

Arnold Ytreeide's family advent devotionals have become a much-loved Christmas tradition, enjoyed by multiple generations. With over 100,000 in print they include Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, and Tabitha's Travels. 

My review:
  This is the third book Arnold Ytreeide has written, but is the first one I have read and reviewed. Although the book is geared for kids, I enjoyed reading through the story and seeing the suggestions how to observe Advent while using the book.

 The book is set up with weekly readings, telling when to light the Advent candles. It starts out with a description of the Magi, Advent customs, and suggestion of foods to eat while going through the book.

  The story itself centers on Ishtar, son of one of the Maji. It starts with the discovery of a new star, and follows the journey of the Maji along with Ishtar from Persia to Bethlehem. The author takes some license with the story, adding to the little we know about the Maji and their journey to make an exciting and interesting read to celebrate Advent with. I highly recommend it.

About the author:

Arnold Ytreeide is a former youth pastor, police officer and television producer who now spends his days writing books and teaching film at a Christian university. He grew up in the Seattle area, and now resides near Boise, Idaho. He loves travel, scuba diving, filmmaking, and reading. Arnold is married to Elsie, and has two grown and married children and four granddaughters.

With a degree in theology and a lifetime of searching out the truths in God's Word, he wrote the story of Jotham's Journey for his own children when they were young.

When asked about his philosophy/theology of life, Arnold responded: "I believe absolutely in the self-giving love of a creator God as the foundation of the universe, and in the unselfish example of Jesus Christ His Son as the model and goal for our own lives. I believe we could enjoy the benefits of Heaven on earth today if only we could grasp the depth and sufficiency of God's love, and reflect this selfless love in our attitudes and actions towards others. I stand with Martin Luther's 'Justification by Faith,' and with John Wesley when he writes that Love is, '...the attribute that sheds an amiable glory on all (God's) other perfections.'"

Arnold takes this distinct and simple theology and transforms it into wonderfully readable and compelling stories. As with so many of his writings and productions, he talks plainly to every-day folk using the medium of story, and in so doing touches both our minds and our hearts.

Besides degrees in Criminal Justice and Theology, Arnold has an M.A. in Communication and a Ph.D. in Media Communication, as well as certificates in Film Producing and Film Directing.  His experience and education allow him to teach everything from law to screenwriting to cinematography and directing.

On his work and accomplishments Arnold writes, "I am a sinner, first and foremost, which makes God's grace and forgiveness the first and foremost accomplishment of my life, an accomplishment which I do not deserve, and has nothing to do with my own talent or skills.  In my life I have hurt many, the regret of which fuels my ever-growing desire to be more like Christ.  In my life I have received blessing upon blessing, and if any of that can be called an accomplishment, it is the accomplishment of God's spirit within me.  I am truly nothing, without Him."

Check out the author's website here.

Ishtar's Odyssey is available from Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.