"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." - VoltairE

3 of my favourite reads this year

August 30, 2019


For those who do still like to get their information from books, here are my favourite three Christian reads so far this year:

  1. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount by John Stott
    I read this in conjunction with working through the corresponding Lifebuilder Bible Study (also by Stott). Like all Bible Speaks Today commentaries, it combines helpful cultural context and background with a systematic exegesis and application of the text. This is one of the most significant passages of Scripture which outlines a blueprint for Christian living and Stott is equally inspiring and challenging in his treatment of it. One to work through slowly and prayerfully. As Stott's rallying cry proclaims, “Only when the Christian community lives by Christ's manifesto will the world be attracted and God be glorified. So when Jesus calls us to himself, it is to this that he calls us. For he is the Lord of the counter-culture." (P.222)

  2. Sympathy for Jonah by David Benjamin Blower
    This is a rare gem: a short but profoundly wise book about an oft-misunderstood prophet. Jonah’s story is one which we’re simultaneously over-familiar with and yet not well-versed in at all. As the subtitle makes clear, Jonah’s is a tale of “Humiliation, terror and the politics of enemy-love”. In a world of Brexit, Trump, Boris, greed and political instability, Blower’s prophetic voice is sorely needed and all Christians will benefit from reading this stand-out reflection on one of the most intriguing and complex Old Testament characters.

  3. Joseph by John Lennox
    I always get excited when a new Lennox book hits the shops, having read everything he’s written. Although I wasn’t as blown-away by this as I was by his weightier account of the book of Daniel in Against the Flow, I still found this exploration of Joseph’s life exciting and inspiring. He places the story firmly in the broader context of the book of Genesis before tracing the story of Joseph, his father and brothers. The book is particularly strong on drawing out wider biblical themes from the narrative and showing how God’s interaction with Joseph and his family points forward to ultimate redemption in Jesus (the Seed Project - Gen 3: 15). There’s some particularly powerful teaching about forgiveness as well as God’s guidance and providence, and there are some interesting insights about the cultural context. Lennox is also careful to make applications of the text to our own cultural situation so that this isn’t just interesting information, but can help us in our own discipleship.

 

Scripture engagement: Mark's gospel

August 22, 2019
Over the summer, I studied a module on 'Scripture Engagement' for my Master's course. It's all about how to connect people with the Bible so that they can understand it and experience its truth for themselves. One of the fascinating aspects is how to engage non-literate communities with the Scriptures. It's easy to assume that this isn't really an issue in the UK, where the literacy rate is 99% (Knoema, 2014). However, the reality is more complicated, with 16.4% of adults in the UK having ver...
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6 of the best daily prayer apps

August 3, 2019
I have recently been helped in the discipline of daily prayer by a number of apps, so I wanted to share 6 of the best free ones. The selection represents a number of different Christian faith traditions, so I hope that there is something for everyone.



(1) Pray As You Go (Free)


This is my favourite daily prayer app. Each day there is an audio reflection of about 12 minutes which includes music, Scripture reading, questions for reflection and quiet time for yo...

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Picture this thought - Candle [Simplicity]

June 29, 2019
A short reflection on simplicity in our materialistic and consumeristic culture. How can we focus on what really matters instead of ploughing our energy into working for things which won't last?

Jesus said "Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." (Luke 12: 15) and "Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Matt 19: 21)



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A few faith-based funnies

June 13, 2019


A minister decided to visit his church members one Saturday. At one particular house it was clear that someone was home, but nobody came to the door. The minister knocked several times and finally took out his card and wrote on the back: 

Revelation 3:20 - "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him and he with me." 

The next day the same card showed up in the collection plate. Below the minister’s message was another s...

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9 inspirational women from the New Testament

June 6, 2019
I love the fact that the New Testament records a range of women of different ages and backgrounds using their skills and gifts for God's Kingdom. We see rich and poor, educated and uneducated, single and married, leaders, charity workers, intellectuals, risk-takers, business women and craftswomen all being used by God in powerful ways. It truly is astonishing when you think about the cultural context of the New Testament - in the Jewish world, Greek culture and the Roman empire - that women h...
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Picture This Thought - Metro train [Busyness]

June 6, 2019
A 3-min reflection on the fast pace of modern life, our idolatry of productivity and where our sense of worth comes from. 



You can read more in my post Life in the Fast Lane.
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Picture This Thought - All sorts [The body of Christ]

June 4, 2019
A 3-minute reflection on the community of the church as the Body of Christ, valuing everyone and loving our enemies.

You may also enjoy my blog post - The Strange Little Band of the Gospel.

For more about the politics of enemy love, I recommend 'Sympathy For Jonah' by David Benjamin Blower.



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9 Christian women you should know

May 17, 2019
  1. Susan B. Anthony (1820 - 1906)
    Born into a Quaker family with a long history of anti-slave activism, Susan B. Anthony developed an early sense of fairness and justice. She dedicated her life to women’s suffrage after joining the women’s rights movements in 1852. She campaigned for the abolition of slavery, the right for women to own their own property, to keep their earnings, as well as their right to attend higher learning institutions.


  2. Sojourner Truth (Unknown - 1883)
    She was born a sla...

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Picture This Thought - Meal [Food]

April 17, 2019
We live in a world of fast food, drive throughs, TV dinners, working lunches and meals in a shake. But what if eating is meant to be a much more spiritual experience?

In this short reflection, I consider the importance of mealtimes in the early church, in Jewish history and in our own lives as we build community. We can learn some profound truths about God through our relationship with food if we're willing to stop and think.


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