Old but not out!

There can be a tendency for us to write people off when they get past a certain age. This habit can on occasions even surface in churches too. In his book “Old, but not out!” James Taylor looks at what we can discover from the bible about serving God in older age.

The book looks at some inspiration men and women who continued to serve God faithfully and be used by Him in old age. We see the example of Abraham and Sarah, Caleb, Naomi, Simeon and Anna and also the apostle Paul at the end of his life. The author shows us important and valuable lessons that can be learnt from each of these bible characters. This is both an encouragement and inspiration to us that God can still use people whatever their age. Interestingly, the author also includes a chapter on Eli in which we are challenged not to allow our standards to drop in our old age.

I particularly like the way that James Taylor encourages the reader that they can still serve God in their old age. We may have retired but that does not mean the end of any ministry for God. He gives some interesting modern examples of how Christians are doing this. It’s inspiring to read about people in their nineties starting bible study groups!

Sometimes older people can feel that aspects of church services are very different to when they were younger. However, the author reminds us that our security is found in God.

Anyone who reads this book will certainly discover that older people are not “the church of yesterday.” Although this book is only 107 pages long there is a very good depth to it. I would highly recommend this book for readers of all ages!

 

Darwin and God by Nick Spencer

Many books have been written looking at Charles Darwin’s theories and the legacy he left behind. This book though, written by Nick Spencer, is not just another one looking at the debate in Christian circles between evolution and creation, but in it he has set out to actually examine Darwin’s own religious beliefs.

The author traces Darwin’s religious thoughts from various writings he wrote throughout his life including letters, notebooks, manuscripts and also his autobiography. Some of this material expressed views that Darwin carefully kept out of public sight during his life. However thanks to the wonders of modern technology these writings can now be accessed on line.

The book looks at the way in which his religious beliefs changed over the years and examines the sort of Christian faith that he grew up with, one which seemed to often epitomise the era in which Darwin lived. We see how he struggled to reconcile his religious beliefs with the scientific discoveries he made.

Nick Spencer also looks at how the death of Darwin’s favourite daughter Annie had a profound effect on his beliefs too. Darwin like many before him and since struggled to understand the hows and whys of suffering, and the author believes it was this that finally brought about the end of his Christian faith. We then see how in later years he moved to an agnostic position.

One of the characteristics of Darwin which impressed the author was the courteous way in which he dealt with those who disagreed with his views. And the book concludes with him reflecting that this courtesy is often missing from those who engage in fierce debate about evolution and religious beliefs.

For anyone who wishes to look closely at what Darwin did actually believe as opposed to what they think he did or did not believe then this book is a good read and may offer you some surprises.

The Road Home

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is one of my favourite bible passages and I am always keen to read any books that cover this amazing story. The Road Home, by J.John, is a book based on this parable which I read again last weekend.

J.John retells the story through the eyes of a servant who works for the father. He captures the heartache that the father experiences when the younger son leaves and the wonderful joy when he returns. We also see clearly the bitterness and anger of the older son too. The book concludes with the servant himself also discovering the father’s love, which deeply affects him as well.

I think that this is a very clever spin on the parable of the prodigal son. The introduction of the servant and another couple of characters works well. I found the book both moving and encouraging. The author through this story reminds us of the grace and forgiveness and extraordinary love of the father. I also like the fact that he reminds us that there are two sons in this story. There are lessons that can be learned through the rebellious attitude of the older son too.

Although I have read it before it was good to read it again. The book is a short one, only 95 pages and can be read straight through fairly quickly. This book is both encouraging for Christians and also challenging for those yet to experience the wonderful joy of returning to the father.

Proverbs chapters 21 to 31

Last month I took part in 31 Days in May. Everyday throughout the month I read one chapter from the book of Proverbs: chapter 1 on the 1st, chapter 2 on the 2nd, chapter 3 on the 3rd and so on throughout the month.

I decided to write down a couple of sentences each day to help me remember what struck me in each chapter. I thought it might be interesting to share these thoughts and so this week I am posting what I wrote for Proverbs chapters 20 to 31. The thoughts are very brief for each chapter and are about the length of a Twitter posting! However, hopefully they will be a blessing to others.

Chapter 21 – God knows our hearts and motives, however right we may think we are! Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, this will keep you out of trouble. Think before you act.

Chapter 22 – There will be thorns and snares around but the one who guards his soul stays far from them. My speech should be gracious. Pay attention to the words of the wise and apply your heart to their instruction.

Chapter 23 – Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. Give your heart to God. Let our eyes take delight in following God’s ways.

Chapter 24 – God sees our hearts and everything we do. He will repay as our actions deserve. Wisdom is sweet to the soul and provides hope for those that find it.

Chapter 25 – Don’t betray another person’s secrets as it destroys your reputation. It is valuable to listen to valid criticism. Don’t tell lies about others. Self-control is essential.

Chapter 26 – Do not be like the fool who repeats his foolishness.

Chapter 27 – Prudent people sees potential dangers and take precautions, unlike the simple who keep blindly on and suffer the consequences. The heart reflects the real person.

Chapter 28 – Our nation needs wise and knowledgeable leadership. Don’t conceal my sin, confess it and turn from sin and find mercy. Always fear the Lord and don’t harden my heart.

Chapter 29 – It’s foolish to speak without thinking. Don’t just accept criticism but heed it too. Fearing people traps us.

Chapter 30 – Never slander a work colleague to my employer. God is a shield to those who come to Him for protection.

Chapter 31 – Speak up for the poor and helpless and see that they get justice. A wife of noble character greatly enriches her husband’s life.

 

Thank God it’s Monday by Mark Greene

This is a well written and easy to read book for anyone struggling with what it means to be a Christian in today’s workplace. Greene believes that it is God’s will for Christians to work, although he makes no distinction between those in paid employment, such as the CEO of a large multi-national organization or the stay at home mum. He states that, whatever we do, we should seek first to honour God rather than our earthly bosses. Indeed he even suggests that, as all authority comes from God, our earthly bosses have been empowered by God to transform us and make us more Christ-like – a real challenge if you struggle to get on with your immediate supervisor!

Greene asks why there is generally so little preaching and teaching on workplace evangelism (although this may be due in some instances to the make-up of a congregation if it comprises mainly retired Christians or folk who may have little hope of gaining paid employment in particularly deprived areas). He reminds us that the success of any outreach is winning people for God not increasing individual congregations. Greene also addresses some of moral dilemmas particular to the workplace with practical examples dealing with such things as using office equipment and being asked to lie by your superiors.

Even since the first publication of this book the working environment has changed significantly with a long hour’s culture now almost the norm in many jobs. The author looks at this issue and the impact that it has on our lives. The book avoids offering any easy solutions but does challenge our attitudes to work, and those we work with, and warns against compartmentalising our lives.

I particularly like the fact that he is not afraid to share examples of when he has made mistakes and I am sure many of us can identify with him in this respect. This is certainly a book that I would recommend.

Proverbs chapters 11 to 20

Last month I took part in 31 Days in May. Everyday throughout the month I read one chapter from the book of Proverbs: chapter 1 on the 1st, chapter 2 on the 2nd, chapter 3 on the 3rd and so on throughout the month.

I decided to write down a couple of sentences each day to help me remember what struck me in each chapter. I thought it might be interesting to share these thoughts and so this week I am posting what I wrote for Proverbs chapters 11 to 20. The thoughts are very brief for each chapter and are about the length of a Twitter posting! However, hopefully they will be a blessing to others.

Chapter 11 – There is a stark contrast between the life of the godly and the wicked. The generous will prosper and those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Chapter 12 – It’s important to always be open to correction. Wise words bring healing, therefore use words carefully.

Chapter 13 – A wise person heeds instruction. It’s foolishness to ignore them. Watch your words as speaking rashly can ruin everything.

Chapter 14 – Fear of the Lord is shown by the way we live. If we live rightly we fear God, if we choose the wrong way we despise Him. A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil.

Chapter 15 – Godly people think carefully before speaking. Listen to constructive criticism and accept discipline. If I reject discipline I will harm myself.

Chapter 16 – We can have ideas and made our plans but God determines the steps. The Lord examines our motives. Fearing the Lord helps us to avoid evil. We need more biblical fear of the Lord in our lives.

Chapter 17 – Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom. It’s wise to be careful of our words which will mean keeping quiet on occasions where we might wish to speak.

Chapter 18 – A fool only wants to air their own opinions. Their mouth gets them into trouble. They spout off before listening to the facts to their own shame. The Lord is a stronghold for the righteous / godly. Money does not provide this security.

Chapter 19 – I can make many plans but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. Always listen to advice and instruction. If I stop listening to them I am turning my back on knowledge.

Chapter 20 – Only fools insist on quarrelling. We are known by our actions. God knows every hidden motive.

 

Do not Worry

A few days ago I came home from work and I was very worried about some upcoming deadlines for two tasks that I needed to complete at work. I found myself in panic mode about the situation facing me and not really sure what to do about it.

Whilst running my eyes over my bookshelf I saw the devotional book “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers and decided to read the reading for the day. The piece was called “Careful Unbelief” and really spoke to me in the midst of my worrying. In fact it was so helpful that I stopped thinking about the work situation and experienced a real peace about it.

I thought it might be useful to post the article below so that it might help others who may be worried or anxious about a situation at the moment.

do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. (Matthew 6:25)

Jesus summed up commonsense carefulness in the life of a disciple as unbelief. If we have received the Spirit of God, He will squeeze right through our lives, as if to ask, “Now where do I come into this relationship, this vacation you have planned, or these new books you want to read?” And He always presses the point until we learn to make Him our first consideration. Whenever we put other things first, there is confusion.

…do not worry about your life….” Don’t take the pressure of your provision upon yourself. It is not only wrong to worry, it is unbelief; worrying means we do not believe that God can look after the practical details of our lives, and it is never anything but those details that worry us. Have you ever noticed what Jesus said would choke the Word He puts in us? Is it the devil? No— “the cares of this world” (Matthew 13:22). It is always our little worries. We say, “I will not trust when I cannot see”— and that is where unbelief begins. The only cure for unbelief is obedience to the Spirit.

The greatest word of Jesus to His disciples is abandon.