Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts

07 February 2014

House2House magazine

House2House magazine has interesting articles for people who follow Jesus. There's a lot of good material here, so visit the site, take a look, and decide for yourself. If you like what you see you can sign up for delivery by email. Prepare to be encouraged and challenged!

House2House Magazine
House2House Magazine
House2House Magazine is a great resource for anyone committed to life in Christ and especially (but not exclusively) for those interested in smaller forms of church gathering.

Meetings at home, in places like pubs and coffee shops, organic expressions of church, missional movements, small groups and cell groups - all of these and more will find much of interest and value in the online magazine.

House2House publishes frequent new articles on a range of church topics [Tweet it!] including hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit, growing in the journey with Jesus, encouraging one another, giving, stories from the lives of real people, spiritual gifts, reaching local people and much, much more.

History - Let me tell you a bit about the origins and history of the magazine. Some years ago, Tony and Felicity Dale launched a printed magazine of the same name. It ran for a while and was distributed world-wide in a variety of ways.

Paper publishing is in decline due to the convenience and efficiency of the internet and the web in particular. House2House eventually decided to cease publication, and a recent effort to relaunch it as a crowd-funded venture failed.

Now, however, it's available once more as an online magazine. It's free for anyone to read, is funded through donation by those who are led to do so, and is regularly updated.

Don't miss out on this great resource. Read the articles, sign up to receive new material by email, and discover what others are thinking and doing.

And if you feel brave, enjoy writing and have something to say, create an article of your own and submit it to the editors.


Questions:
  • Have you come across House2House Magazine before?
  • Do you find stories about church life interesting? Are they helpful? Do they encourage you? 
  • Would you consider writing an article and submitting it?

See also:


13 February 2013

Cross Roads

William P Young's latest book is good, very good. 'Cross Roads' follows the events in... Hmm. I'm not going to tell you any more; that might spoil the story. Once again the author manages to write something that reveals the heart of a loving and purposeful Creator.

'Cross Roads' by William Paul YoungI've just finished reading Paul Young's latest book, 'Cross Roads'.

I read his first book, 'The Shack', before it was published in the UK (I had to order copies direct from North America). Donna and I thought it was such a wonderful book that we wanted to give copies away and bought considerable numbers for exactly that purpose.

I must say that 'Cross Roads' did not disappoint, in some ways I think it's even better than 'The Shack'. Words like awesome don't even come close. Paul Young's latest book is almost literally a gentle and profound stroll arm in arm with the Most High, yet at the same time an emotion-yanking roller coaster ride with the characters it portrays.

How he writes like this is an utter mystery, but like all such mysteries the roots go deep into relationship and love. This book is another gift, from Papa to Paul, from Paul to Papa, and from them both to every reader with a heart to feel truth and see life and love in action.

I hope many, many people will read the book, I shall give some copies away for sure - as Papa leads. Meanwhile, here's a taster from the beginning of the book. At least you can decide if you like the writing style.

Some extracts

Some years in Portland, Oregon, winter is a bully, spitting sleet and spewing snow in fits and starts as it violently wrestles days from spring, claiming some archaic right to remain king of the seasons - ultimately the vain attempt of another pretender. This year was not like that. Winter simply bowed out like a broken woman, leaving head down in tattered garments of dirty whites and browns with barely a whimper or promise of return. The difference between her presence and absence was scarcely discernible.

Anthony Spencer didn't care either way. Winter was a nuisance and spring not much better. Given the power he would remove both from the calendar along with the wet and rainy part of autumn. A five-month year would be just about right, certainly preferable to lingering periods of uncertainty. Every cusp of spring he wondered why he stayed in the Northwest, but each year found him again asking the same question.

And here are some brief quotes from other parts of the book; these little nuggets impressed me.

  • Pain, loss, and finally abandonment are each a hard taskmaster, but combined they become a desolation almost unbearable.
  • ...hell is believing and living in the real when it is not the truth.
  • Let me see if I can answer the question you meant and not just the one you asked.
  • You are asking me something where the knowing is in the experiencing.
  • Ah, there's the real miracle ... Somehow the pain, the losses, the hurt, the bad, God is able to transform these into something they could have never been, icons and monuments of grace and love.
  • There has to be a tearing down for the real and right and good and true to be built. There has to be a judgement and a dismantling. It is not only important, it is essential.
  • ...boundaries mark the most beautiful of places, between the ocean and the shore, between the mountains and the plains, where the canyon meets the river.


Questions:

  • Did you read 'The Shack'? It's not too late!
  • Which of the quotes above do you like most? Consider leaving a comment to explain why.
  • The book portrays the Mighty One as loving and understanding yet insisting on truth. Do you see him in that way?
  • If you have read 'Cross Roads' maybe you could tell us how you feel about it.

See also:

29 October 2012

Biblos

< Bible Gateway | Index | Online Bible Tools >

Bible Hub is a complex tool with extensive facilities for Bible research including dictionaries, commentaries, interlinears, concordances, versions in original and modern languages, word studies, parsing information and more.

The Bible Hub home page
The Bible Hub web-based Bible tool manages to do a very great deal. The only problem with this breadth of coverage is that it can be tricky to find your way around. But most users will find just a few features that they use regularly and will soon become familiar with those. In other words, don't be put off by the complexity of this tool but focus on learning the parts you need.

Home page - Here's some of the stuff you can find right away on the home page.

  1. Along the top, a row of national flags allow you to choose a language other than English.
  2. Below the flags are drop boxes for Bible book, chapter and verse, Bible chapter outlines, and to select a translation or commentary or original language version or a whole host of other things. The chapter outline autoupdates as you change the book or chapter, a nice feature.
  3. Next is a search box with options for topical, library, Strong's number and multilingual search.
  4. Below that comes a toolbar with 23 icons for all manner of options including advanced search, reading plans, devotions, biblical weights and measures, apocryphal books and more.
  5. And then there are two more toolbars and a set of tabs.
  6. Finally, a set of 28 large icons provides further ways into the data.
Below all of this the home page continues with masses of additional material. There's just about everything you might need for a detailed study of any verse, word, idea or theme in the Bible.

Let's try it out - Starting from the home page I've just used the drop boxes in row 2 to select John 14:1. I immediately see multiple English translations of the verse in the main column with cross references to the right. Further down are concordance links for the key words in the verse and extracts from several commentaries and word studies.

Part of John 14 in an interlinear display
Next I click the Greek icon in row 4 and right away I see a page of Greek interlinear. Bible Hub has unhelpfully forgotten I was in John 14 and shows me the interlinear for Matthew 1. Hmm.

Back to the drop boxes in row 1 and I'm soon back in John, but that was not as smooth as it might have been.

But the interlinear is well done (click the image for a larger view). There are five lines. First come the Strong's numbers with transliterated Greek words below and the original Greek in line three. The Strong's numbers and the transliterated Greek are clickable and bring up definitions, concordance entries and more. The original Greek is not clickable, sadly, neither is the English equivalent in line four. Line five offers useful parsing information (part of speech, case, tense etc).

Serious research - Bible Hub is a good place to do serious bible study for free and online. It contains everything you need in one place, but there are several ways into most of the information and this results in a cluttered and confusing interface.

For looking up a word or two in Strong's, studying a few verses in depth, or translating short passages from Greek or Hebrew it's probably all you need. Bible Hub can even meet some unusual requirements, for example it can display the Old Testament in Septuagint Greek and the New Testament in modern Hebrew or even in Aramaic.

Reading online - I can't recommend Bible Hub for Bible reading online. Bible Gateway is a much easier and cleaner way to do this in a wide range of languages and versions. But in a web browser with BibleHub open in one tab or window and Bible Gateway in another it's quite possible to use the two together to look up details and definitions while reading.

< Bible Gateway | Index | Online Bible Tools >

25 October 2012

Bible Gateway

< No earlier items | Index | Bible Hub >

The Bible Gateway is a simple but impressive collection of online Bibles in many languages. If you want to read and search the Bible on your laptop, tablet or phone, it may be all you need. It's free, fast, and effective and comes with helpful extras like reading plans and devotionals.

The Bible Gateway website
Today we're going to take a look at The Bible Gateway. The main purpose of this free website is to provide online Bibles - and there are a lot of them. At the time of writing, there are thirty-four English translations as well as many more in a wide range of other languages. Take a look at the full list.

A clickable list of Bible books is available for each version, as an example, here's the list for the Knox Bible. But the normal way into the Bible Gateway is through its search facility.

Searching - The homepage has a search box under the site banner. The search box is accompanied by a drop down list of versions. Simply type a search term, choose a version, and press 'Enter' or click the search button. You can skip the version choice if the default is OK (and you can change the preferred default version in the system's settings).

What can you put in the search box? You can type a topical query such as 'love' or 'one another' (put exact phrases in double quotes) and then press 'Enter' or pick from a list of suggestions.

Or you can enter a chapter such as '1 Cor 13' or '1 Corinthians 13' to read it in its entirety. The display provides links to move backwards and forwards a chapter at a time.

Alternatively you can enter a specific passage, for example 'John 14:3-8' or even 'Matt 14:20-15:3'.

Other features - The Bible Gateway doesn't offer Bible study tools. It is intended primarily as a resource for Bible reading and text retrieval.

To this end it offers audio versions, commentaries, reading plans, dictionaries and versions of the site for use on mobile phones.

There is also a Bible Gateway app and various other tools, check the list in the left-hand panel.

Conclusion - If you want to read the Bible online, check out unusual versions, or search for a particular passage, Bible Gateway might be all you need. It's simple to use, quick to load, flexible, and only a web browser away. There nothing to install and nothing to pay, just load the website and begin reading and searching.

< No earlier items | IndexBible Hub >

21 October 2012

Online Bible tools

< Bible Hub | Index | No later items >

There are many ways to read and study the Bible. Since the invention of printing this has included paper versions of the Bible as well as commentaries and tools of all kinds. Today we can also use software for Bible reading and study, both locally installed and online.

The Malmesbury Bible
Frank Viola has been writing brief reviews of Bible software, but has decided not to include web-based Bible tools because 'people can test out the free online programs on their own'. (See the comments to his post on WORDsearch.)

Even though the websites are indeed readily available, I think it's worth commenting on them. This will help anyone considering using tools of this kind.

Local or cloud? - First, let's just consider the main differences between local software that you install on your own computer, and tools provided remotely through a web interface.


  • Web-based tools are often free to use. Installed software is sometimes free, but must often be paid for.
  • Installation takes time and uses disk space (sometimes in large amounts). Web tools need no installation.
  • Web tools are available wherever you can access a browser - at home, on your phone, at work, in the local library, at a friend's house, etc.
  • Web tools are updated remotely, there's no need to upgrade the software locally (often at additional cost).
  • The software runs on powerful servers, not on your own local computer. For this reason a smartphone can work just as fast as a desktop workstation.
Searching the Bible for a phrase might take your phone a long time, but the request is sent to the server where the search is done on powerful hardware; only the result needs to be sent back to the phone.

Because of this and for other reasons there's a growing trend for data and applications to be stored and managed in 'the cloud'. This phrase encompasses the remote servers that store user data as well as the software.

Today, many people are running remote web versions of email, office applications, managed photographic storage and display, mapping tools, display of documents and much, much more. Bible software has also made the leap to the cloud for the same reasons.

Reviewing Bible tools - In the next post we'll take a look at 'Bible Gateway', a site that offers many online versions of the Bible along with simple search and some other facilities. Then we'll look at more in further posts.

As a help, here are links to Frank Viola's reviews. I'll move the list to a post of its own later, and update it with my own and other reviews as we go along.

For more background also check another article from Frank, 'Bible Software Programs'.

Do you have a favourite online Bible study tool? If so, send me a comment about it and I'll try to include it in this series.

< Bible Hub | Index | No later items >

02 October 2012

Doggerland

The book 'Britain Begins' tells the story of the landscape and people who lived in these islands from the end of the last great ice-age (when they were still part of mainland Europe) right up to the end of the Saxon period. It's a great read.

Part of north-west Europe 10 000 years agoI'm currently working my way through 'Britain Begins', Barry Cunliffe's latest book. Sir Barry Cunliffe is a well-regarded archaeologist working at Oxford University. In fact he's Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology at the University's Institute of Archaeology.

In the book he traces the origins of human occupation in what is now the British Isles, though at the time of the early settlements some 10 000 years ago, most the North Sea was an extension of the North European Plain and Britain was part of the European continent.

Part of an illustration from the book (right) shows some of the Atlantic coastline of Europe around 30 000 years ago, along with the ice sheets in grey and today's coastlines in orange. (Doggerland in my title refers to the central part of what is now the North Sea. It was an area of rolling hills and river valleys.)

Although the ice retreated almost completely from Britain by 15 000 years ago, sea levels remained low for some time and migrating hunter-gatherer communities would have been able to live in the new landscapes right across areas that are now the English Channel and the North Sea.

What a fascinating insight into a time before history began. Although we don't know the details of life in those days, Cunliffe is able to draw a lively picture in a general way. He writes of the separation of Ireland...

The return to temperate conditions beginning around 9600 BC set in train the processes that created the British Isles familiar to us today. The first stage was the separation of Ireland from the mainland. This occurred around 9000 BC as the deep river valley, scoured out by the flow of meltwater from the Scottish ice-cap, was progressively flooded by the rising sea until the last land bridge between the north of Ireland and the Inner Hebrides was broken through. The deeper waters of St George's Channel and the North Channel, now below 50 fathoms, mark the course of this original valley.

It's a great book and I highly recommend it. Cunliffe condenses a great deal of scientific and archaeological data into a cohesive description of Britain from the final stages of the ice-age to the time of the Norman Conquest and the end of Saxon rule. The book is accessible to the interested layman (like me!) but will also find a special place on library shelves in schools and universities.

If you're interested in the history of these islands - buy a copy!

19 March 2012

Viral Jesus - REVIEW

'Viral Jesus' is an excellent new book by Ross Rohde.  It's well worth reading, be prepared for a challenging and absorbing romp through church history and more - much more.

Viral JesusIf you have no idea what a 'viral Jesus movement' is it will be a voyage of discovery. If you're already familiar with such movements your thinking will be expanded by the many examples from real life and you'll be encouraged as Ross shares his heart.

The book has three major themes
  • Defining and describing the concept of a viral Jesus movement
  • Examining the early church (an example of such a movement) and considering how and why it faltered and eventually withered
  • Advice and encouragement on viral discipleship, church planting and evangelism
Those three themes do not capture everything in the book, but they do give a sense of the framework Ross uses. And it was a good choice, allowing him to lay everything out in a logical way.

Lying deep beneath these themes and the many great stories are two important factors that crop up again and again. One of these is the idea that our thinking in Western culture is based on a Greek philosophy far different than the Eastern view of the world so familiar to Jesus and his disciples.

The second is the important principle that we are called to follow Jesus in practical ways - to do what we see him do and to say what we hear him say, no more, no less.

Here's a short extract as a taster...
[T]he way to live consistently in a deep, obedient, abiding relationship with Christ our Lord has to be learned. For that we need each other in community. We also need the guidance of more mature believers. These believers don't decide for us what we are to learn; they help guide us to the lordship and direction of Jesus himself. They push us toward Jesus; they don't step between Jesus and us. To do so would be to play the role of priest. We are all priests in that we have a direct connection with God. Yet we have only one High Priest, and his name is Jesus. Viral discipleship will lead us into an ever-maturing and obedient relationship with Jesus himself. That will end up having a profound impact on our lives and the world around us.
Read Ross Rohde's blog for more about Ross and some of the ideas behind the book. There's also a link for buying the book online.

20 February 2012

Review Award - Chris Duffet

< Living to please God | Index | No later items >

Our second 'Review Award' goes to Chris Duffett. He richly deserves it for his lively, fun and very different blog called 'be the light'. A very special blog from a very special guy - both focussed on sharing Jesus.

be the lightChris lives within a few miles of me in the East of England. We've met several times but not as often as I'd like. His blog is called 'be the light'.

The first time I went to visit him he was baking bread and we shared some straight from the oven with butter, cold meat and salad. Scrumptious!

Chris is a baptist, meets with a local church in Bedfordshire, and is very active in sharing the good news about Jesus in some unusual ways. Visit the blog and you'll see exactly what I mean.

Why I like the blog - I have to say right away that the thing I most like is the sheer, abundant, happy life and energy of this site. And that is a good description of Chris himself. He describes some of his city centre adventures with us - always fun, always unexpected, always exciting. And he meets people everywhere he goes, making no distinction on grounds of appearance but blessing everyone in some very inventive ways.

Another thing I love (and it has a lot to do with that inventiveness) is that he makes people think, he gets in 'under the radar' and touches hearts and minds. It doesn't work with everyone of course, but Chris doesn't give up or bear grudges or get disappointed. He just keeps on keeping on with a smile and a warm heart.

Selected quote
I have a passion to enable Christians to let all kinds of people connect with the good news of Jesus through creative initiatives such as ‘Get in the picture.’
Conclusion - We tend to be fairly inactive in sharing the good news with local people. There are probably many reasons for this, and one of them is lack of ideas. Most of us understand at a very intuitive level that handing out tracts or stopping busy people on the street is unlikely to be effective. But we don't know what else to try.

We need something more arresting than a tract. Instead of stopping busy people we need them to choose to stop because they are puzzled or intrigued or amused. Chris's website 'be the light' is crammed full of ideas. What's more, they are all ideas that have been tested on the street.

Chris's approach is not the only one open to us. But it is a useful component in our tool-kit. Don't forget the other tools including prayer, a compassionate heart, the day-to-day guidance of the Spirit, and the headship of Jesus. But armed with these (as Chris clearly is), any one of his ideas is likely to be fruitful.

Read through some of the many examples in the 'Stories' section of Chris's website. Here are a few of my personal favourites

See also: An earlier review of Chris's blog

< Living to please God | Index | No later items >

13 February 2012

Review Award - Rhoda

< No earlier items | Index | Be the light >

It's time for the first 'Review Award' which goes to Rhoda's delightfully titled 'Living to Please God'. Why does she get the first of these? Because she sparked the idea recently so she deserves it!

Living to Please GodRhoda lives in Wales and has a blog called 'Living to Please God'.

Her husband is an American missionary leading a local church; they have a young family that Rhoda is home-schooling. That must be quite a challenge! She somehow finds time to write about many things including church, family, blogging, holiness and more - but all of them are rooted and centred on Christ.

Why I like the blog - That consistent Christ focus is one of the reasons I like Rhoda's writing. Another is her propensity for kindness and gentleness with her readers, even when writing on difficult or challenging topics, although she doesn't shy away from dealing with those issues. For a good example of this look at 'The dangers of questioning the Bible'.

What else? Ah well, the banner image is just wonderful. It shows a serene lake surrounded by mountains, possibly somewhere in Snowdonia which just happens to be one of my favourite parts of the British Isles. Am I allowed to like a blog for its banner? Of course!

And last, but by no means least, I have yet to see an article on Rhoda's blog that is not interesting and engaging. This blog is simply written, straightforward, and packed with good things.

Selected quote
This blog is here to share what God is teaching me about living for Him, in the hope that it will help and encourage others.
This simple statement sums it up, really. This is what 'Living to please God' is all about, and it's what Rhoda herself is all about. If we can't engage in ordinary, messy life and take Jesus there with us, we have failed to follow him as we should.

Conclusion - Jesus didn't call us to fine theological discourse or endless argument over small details, he left those things to the scribes and pharisees. Instead he healed the sick,  threw out demons, and made life better for ordinary people. He even provided wine for a wedding when it ran short. He covers our poor planning and our lack of resources in all that we do. He is - basically - a hero in every possible way.

If he's our hero what else should we do but learn to live for him, hoping to help and encourage others? If that is your goal you will find abundant hints and help in Rhoda's blog.

< No earlier items | Index | Be the light >

12 February 2012

The AAJ Review Award - INDEX

(See indexes on other topics)

Awarding a review and a badge to other bloggers seems like a good idea. It will be fun to do and will help link blogs together. Hopefully this and other schemes will encourage a developing sense of community.

The 'Review Award' is a new idea, sparked by a comment on one of my recent posts. It was really encouraging to receive an award, in fact it made me grin from ear to ear! And that's good; we should encourage one another.


Hopefully, review awards will help other bloggers by encouraging them, drawing new visitors to take a look, and strengthening the blogging community in general.

I like the idea of providing a badge and I'll start with the simple design displayed here - we'll see how it goes.

You can view recent awards, or pick from the list below (most recent awards are at the top).

2012


10 November 2010

REVIEW - The Jesus Virus

The Jesus Virus is a blog by Ross Rohde about planting small, organic churches. I've just read his latest post 'Another Story from the Harvest' and once again I really like what I read. I'm recommending this post and indeed the entire blog because it's full of life and energy and it reports real events as they happen. I think anyone who follows Jesus will find Ross's posts encouraging and enlightening.

The Jesus VirusIn 'Another Story from the Harvest', Ross explains how things don't always go the way we expect. It's clear that we need to be wary of pattern and methods - certainly in the sense that they may sometimes go against the things that Jesus really wants to do in a situation.

Ross provides a recent example of this. Best to go and read it for yourself!

Ross's blog is not like anything else I've come across. It's very matter of fact, thought provoking, and full of stories about real people. There are so many sites out there that are essentially teaching a doctrine or a method or inviting us to join them in what they are doing.

But this site draws readers into the excitement about what Jesus is doing, and then encourages them to taste and see for themselves. Ross knows that for the church to grow, Jesus must do the building as he promised he would. That means I (and you) must get out of his way. I can add nothing to the work he is doing. If I won't do what he tells me I will not become part of his work. If I do what I judge to be good in my own eyes I will probably hinder his work by acting against him.

02 November 2010

REVIEW - Chris Duffett's Blog

I've just been put in touch with a guy called Chris Duffett. He, his wife, and their three children live in a village not far from St Neots, we plan to meet up for lunch later this month. I've just taken a look at his blog - perhaps you should too!

Chris Duffett's BlogChris is a man with a passion for reaching others. He wants them to hear the good news about Jesus. Not only that, he also has a passion for helping other followers of Jesus do the same. This is very healthy!

Chris founded The Light Project and was its director for eight years. His blog is refreshing and is packed with encouraging and challenging stories.

Here's an example, Chris felt he was supposed to find and pray for someone with lower back pain. He stood at a car wash looking out for this person...

Then I saw a young man, cool skater rags and plenty of piercings. I felt that he was the guy I should pray for.

A few minutes later I approached him and explained that I had felt God say that I should walk to the car wash and pray for someone with lower back pain. I asked if he was ok, and to be honest because of his age and ‘coolness’ I expected him to say yep, all was AOK.

Yet he looked stunned and said that this was ‘remarkable’ as he had been to the chiropractor for lower back pain. I asked if I could pray for his back and he said ‘yes please,’ but later as he was late for college. Non the less Phil and I said a very quick ‘non eye closing- get on your knees kind’ of prayer and asked Jesus to heal him.

The guy looked kind of shocked and I reassured him that God knew about him and his discomfort.

What do you think of my story? Coincidence or God?

Coincidence? I don't think so! The blog is fun to read but will also stop you in your tracks sometimes with an unexpected challenge or revelation.

But why take my word for any of this? Click the links and take a gander yourself. I may post again after meeting Chris and spending some time with him.

02 October 2010

REVIEW - Have you had enough?

It's a great question. What is enough? There are some other great questions too - Why do so many people always want more? - Does it matter? - What can we do about it? - What can I do about it?



Take a look at this excellent and challenging video. Then visit Conspiracy of Freedom, the people behind it. There are more great ideas, suggestions on how to take this forward (perhaps with a group of friends), and more videos on related topics.

(Thanks to Peter Farmer for drawing my attention to this material.)

15 September 2010

REVIEW - The Grace Outpouring

A lady came into Cornerstone in St Neots and asked for a copy of 'The Grace Outpouring' by Roy Godwin and Dave Roberts. She had heard about it somewhere and felt she needed to read it. James was serving at the book counter and checked the catalogue to see if we had it. We did. We hunted the shelves and failed to find it, but we said we'd continue looking for it and the customer agreed to come back later to collect it.

The Grace Outpouring
After she had left we found it almost immediately!

James went off for lunch and left me in charge. The shop was quiet so I picked up 'The Grace Outpouring' and flicked through some of the pages. One or two passages leapt off the page and I was close to tears as I read how a young American woman had come to faith simply through reading some Bible verses and praying to a Jesus that she did not initially know.

It quickly became clear that the book was full of stories like this and I ordered a copy for myself. I've just finished it and already intend to pass it on to a friend tomorrow evening.

Roy and Daphne Godwin are directors at Ffald-y-Brenin (Welsh for 'the King's sheepfold'), a retreat centre/house of prayer and more that is being used by the King himself to bless local people, the whole region of south-west Wales, and much further afield internationally too.

Roy and his co-author Dave Roberts describe how Ffald-y-Brenin came into existence, how Roy and Daphne became involved, how the place has been used by the King of Kings to touch individual lives and the entire area in extraordinary ways, and how you might expect to see similar things happen where you live too.

It doesn't require skill or knowledge, great wealth or influential friends. All it takes is a willingness to be used by Jesus, an open and humble heart, and the courage to surrender what you thought you wanted from life in exchange for what Jesus wants for you.

Basically, it's about obedience. That means listening carefully to Jesus, hearing what he says, seeing what he does, and following him wherever he leads. These are the same things we have been learning over the past few years, and we too have seen extraordinary things happen as a result. It's not what we do that counts, it's what Jesus will do in us and through us.

I heartily recommend this little book, 185 pages containing a great story told well. Like all good, true stories this one is full of illumination; I guarantee that it will delight, challenge, encourage, and excite.

Obtaining a copy - Order it in paperback or as an audio book from Cornerstone in St Neots if you live locally, or direct from Ffald-y-Brenin. It's also available from Amazon and other online sources.

See also:

31 August 2010

REVIEW - The End of Religion

This is not a full review of Bruxy Cavey's amazing book, 'The End of Religion'. It's just a few comments and a brief extract. But I feel strongly prompted to write these words so if you are prompted to read them - here they are...

The End of ReligionI forget where I bought the book, but I was intrigued by both the title and by the author's unusual name, so after an engaging and encouraging dip into the pages I went ahead and bought it. That was probably a year or two ago.

I really enjoyed this book - I mean really enjoyed it. For me there was refreshment on every page, I knew right away that the author sees Jesus much as I do. Bruxy Cavey understands that Jesus came to release us, not to bind us up with a thousand more dos and don'ts.

Recently I decided to give the book to a visiting friend. It encapsulates what he thinks too and if it refreshed me I think it will also refresh him.

Here's a little extract to whet your appetite for more. It comes from the introduction which is entitled 'The Holy Hand Grenade'.
I am convinced that the Bible holds clues to a way out of our slavish addiction to religious systems, while it simultaneously invites us into a direct connection with the Divine.

But isn't the Bible a book full of rules, regulations, rituals, and routines - the very stuff of religion? True, the many texts of the Bible, especially those of the Old Testament (that part written before Jesus), do contain laws and rituals, systems and institutions. But these religious ideas are not its starting point or its ending point.

The Bible begins by painting a picture of the ideal world - a world without religion, a garden where God and people live in naked intimacy. This was God's original intention for humankind. In the Bible it is only after people turn away from his ideal of mutual trust and intimacy that God gives them rules and routines, traditions and teachings - but this is not the end of the story.

The rules and rituals of the Bible are like a map that leads to a great treasure, though they are not the treasure itself. I think this is what the revered Jewish poet and philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel is driving at when he says, 'Religion as an institution, the Temple as an ultimate end, or, in other words, religion for religion's sake, is idolatry.'

Religious people often tend to confuse the treasure map for the treasure.

If you want to buy the book you can get it from Amazon. But if you live anywhere near St Neots in Cambridgeshire I urge you to visit Cornerstone, have a coffee and a delicious bite to eat, and pick it up or order it while you're there.

22 August 2010

REVIEW - Release International

Jesus' followers are being persecuted in many countries around the world. I have seen a number of websites providing information and comment, but one of the best must surely be Release International.

Release International's logoWhy is this a good website? It is balanced, focussed on reporting the unexaggerated truth, and provides useful ideas for action (prayer, petitions etc). Unlike some sites, Release International doesn't publish reader's comments which on other sites are are sometimes rude, inflammatory, or unreasonable

The organisation was set up by Richard Wurmbrand who himself suffered persecution in Communist Romania in the 1950s and 60s. He wrote many books and clearly understood the need for an international organisation to support the oppressed and persecuted.

For examples of the articles available, take a look at the current news page.

11 April 2010

REVIEW - Brain McLaren interviewed on Nomad

I've just listened to the latest Nomad Podcast, an interview with Brian McLaren. The Nomad logo

Like most of the podcasts, this one is an open and friendly discussion. Brian McLaren is a sometimes controversial figure and the Nomad podcaster (Nick) wisely presents difficult questions without becoming personally involved. Phrases like 'some people say xyz' are widely employed and enable hard questions to be addressed without arousing defensive resonses. This is one of the things I like best about these podcasts.

Brain McLaren is often seen as an important figure in the emerging church. He was pastor of a small church for 24 years and during that time heard many questions that needed to be grappled with. Some of them came from non-Christians. For example, 'Does God sanction violence and the destruction of innocent men, women and children?', 'Is the Bible about spiritual rescue or is it about social action?'

McLaren suspects these questions have not been widely tackled because they're sometimes seen as encouraging doubt instead of faith. Religious leaders are often busy and don't have time to deal with questions, and also most denominations have a list of required beliefs and questioning those may be unwelcome.

Some people have become unhappy with internal denominational debates and are finding they can learn things from others with different views. This seems to be a beneficial development. Some people want to deal with the practicalities of church but not get involved with theology. Others want to delve deeply into theology. Yet others wish to be involved in both, to bridge the differences. McLaren sees himself as part of this third group.

He suggests that Jesus' message about the Kingdom is not just about how to get into heaven, but has a great deal to do with Father's will being done on earth as it already is in heaven. Mission is not just evangelism, it involves reaching out in terms of helping the poor, being peacemakers, and so on.

Ultimately, Brian McLaren's desire was to become more Christ-like, and to follow the Master wherever he might lead.

In the discussion at the end of the podcast, the team look at some of the ideas presented in McLaren's latest book. For example, they talk about the difficulties that arise when we view the Bible as recording progress in man's understanding of the Almighty. This may be a way of dealing with some of the difficulties we have about wrath and anger in his character. Is he really like that or is it just how people at that time perceived him? On the one hand we may struggle with such a view of Yahweh's nature, but on the other we want to accept the Bible fully - even the passages we find hard to understand. We can't dodge issues like these. We must think them through and make choices or find a way of integrating both aspects.

The interview with Brian McLaren, the Nomad discussion that follows, and the comments on McLaren's book are all worth hearing and helped me understand some aspects of the emergent church more clearly. It's thought-provoking and challenging stuff, and these are issues we should all have an working knowledge of. Listen to the podcast and decide for yourself.

09 March 2010

REVIEW - Web places to visit

This morning I'm sharing some websites that I've used in the last few days, The Nomad Podcastsites that have been heart-warming, eye-opening, or mind-blowing.

  • First off is the Nomad Podcast, a place with good blog posts and... some excellent podcasts. Here's one that I particularly recommend, Andy Hawthorne from Manchester taking about community, church, and mission.

    Jim, Sean and I listened to part of it last night. It's both challenging and helpful. I'd encourage everyone to listen to these podcasts. I've only heard a few so far, but they were all very good. Amazing what a small group of energetic people can achieve. If they can do this, why not us? Pray for direct guidance from Father in your own life as an individual or as a church, how will he choose to use you?

  • The latest e-letter from House2House is good (as always) and includes some links that are well worth following. Take a look at them. If your church is not already on the House2House directory I suggest you add it as soon as you can.

  • First Fruit Inc is one of the links provided by H2H - and it's a good one. You might find their page on Global Trends interesting, informative, and challenging. Collecting this data has been hard work. Are there ways you can use it to inform and benefit the life of your own church and mission?

  • Measure by Measure is another good site, in particular this article on moving to organic church. Do his points make sense to you? If so how? If not - why not?

  • Stories from the Revolution continues to inspire us with some great stories from people around the globe. Hear first hand from people and groups using CO2 and finding that it is deepening relationships, helping people hear from the Lord for themselves, and prompting mission in a variety of ways. These stories might help you to focus more on the most important aspects of hearing from the Almighty and from one another.

  • And finally, Bill Heroman's NT/History Blog in which he carefully considers the timings of events in the New Testament and how they relate together. Slowly, Bill is building a timeline of events, and in the process he asks (and attempts to answer) many interesting questions. Here's a good introductory article he wrote about himself and what he is doing.
Does anyone have thoughts on what Bill writes? If so he'd love to hear from you.

Copyright

Creative Commons Licence

© 2002-2014, Chris J Jefferies

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. A link to the relevant article on this site is sufficient attribution. If you print the material please include the URL. Thanks! Click through photos for larger versions. Images from Wikimedia Commons will then display the original copyright information.
Real Time Web Analytics