Remote Work The new normal

Many of us have been working from home for the last few months and I expect that some are now considering this as a permanent option. If this is you, then Gren Gale’s latest book: “Remote Work The new normal” will interest you.

The author has worked remotely for several years and has a great deal of experience in this area. Interestingly, he was writing this book at the beginning of 2020 and completed it in the middle of the coronavirus epidemic. Thus making this a very topical book for 2020.

Remote Work The new normal has seven chapters. The first chapter is the introduction and looks at why you might need the book. Chapter two addresses the important issue of whether you can handle working remotely. The author draws out the plus and minus points of remote working and how one might find remote work. In chapter three he looks at how to build successful remote teams, which managers will find helpful. Chapter four is about technology and tools that are important for communication, project management and knowledge bases. One thing that must never be overlooked with remote working is security and this is covered in chapter five. The next chapter is about legal points and the author speaks about publishing a home working policy. The final chapter is the conclusion in which Gren Gale describes briefly some advantages of remote working. Remote Work The new normal is approximately 170 pages and can be read through in under 2 hours.

If you are someone who is interested in working from home then it is important to research the matter thoroughly. Due to his vast experience of remote working, the author will raise issues for you to ponder which you may not have previously considered. Most would agree that it is sensible to take advice from such a person. This book will prove to be a very helpful tool for you to use and I highly recommend it.

The Pure in Heart

The Pure in Heart is a short book which has been taken from a larger book called The Beatitudes that was written by the Puritan preacher Thomas Watson in 1660. This book explores Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

The book is divided into two sections: “Heart Purity” and “Seeing God”.

In the first section Thomas Watson covers: The reasons for purity, why purity must be chiefly in the heart, signs of an impure heart, the signs of a pure heart, arguments or motives to persuade to heart purity and but how shall we attain to heart purity.

In the second section he covers: when we shall all see God, what seeing God shall be like and applications.

The book is just over 60 pages and can be easily read through in one sitting. It is both challenging and encouraging. Although some Puritan writings can be a hard read due to their style, this book is certainly not like that. The language used in this book is very clear, readable and practical. I highly recommend that you either seek out a copy of this book or download one of the free online versions of it. You will not be disappointed!

Am I Missing Something?

It can be very easy, for those of us who have been Christians for a while, to forget what life is like as a new believer. Ruth Roberts in her book “Am I Missing Something?” shares her experiences of life as a new Christian.

The author very honestly describes, her ups and downs as she attempts to make sense of what she believes, how she can share her new faith with others and the various emotions she encounters as she grows in her faith. There are some very interesting conversations that the author has with her best friend, who is not a believer, which are retold in the book.

I think the book raises some interesting issues for those of us who have been believers for a few years and are used to what happens in church circles. Churches can indeed seem strange places for those who are new to them. In fact it can be quite a cultural shock and maybe we do not appreciate this fully. I personally remember when I first encountered “sharing the peace” in an Anglican church, and used to spend the time looking at my feet hoping that part of the service would finish quickly!

The book is only 176 pages and can easily be read straight through at one sitting. I would recommend it as a very good read.

12 Oracles: The Minor Prophets in Verse

Thank you to my wife for the following book review on 12 Oracles: The Minor Prophets in Verse, written by Steve White.

The book, as the author himself states, is a study of the so-called minor prophets in verse form. This is not perhaps an obvious choice of subject or medium but it is maybe all the better for that. This is a fairly short book and you may be surprised by how much you enjoy it and how much insight you gain by looking at the minor prophets through the fresh perspective of verse.

Each oracle begins with a very helpful introduction which sets the scene from the historical standpoint. It is always good to consider the context when reading scripture and the author’s introduction to each oracle helps the reader to do just that.

If you can it is certainly worthwhile reading the oracles one at a time alongside your preferred Bible version. In doing this you will clearly see how the author has taken the central themes of the book and often used quite similar language but then cleverly adapted it to suit the writing style.

This book will be enjoyed by anyone interested in learning more about the minor prophets and the relevance of their message for Christians today. The style of writing gives a fresh perspective to these timely stories in a format that is surprisingly easy to read. For that alone the author should be commended.

12 Oracles is currently only available as an e-book and can be purchased via Amazon.*

*Please note that this is not an affiliate link and I do not receive any payment should you purchase this book.

Jeremiah: Speaking for God in a time of crisis

I was looking through my book collection recently and came across a book called: Jeremiah: Speaking for God in a time of crisis. After reading it I decided to write a book review on it. Unfortunately though following an unsuccessful internet search for it I believe that the book may no longer be in print. Still I hope this review inspires to you to seek it out maybe in a secondhand bookshop?

It can be difficult for new Christians to know where to start with reading the bible when they come to faith. Normally we encourage them to firstly read one of the gospels and then work their way through the rest of the New Testament. The book: Jeremiah: Speaking for God in a time of crisis, written by David Day, is part of a series of bible biographies that seek to introduce readers to the richness of the Old Testament. The series wants us to learn the unchanging truths of God which still apply today just as much as when they were first written.

This book has 10 chapters, each of which covers a separate theme, as we are taken on a journey through the life of Jeremiah. In addition to covering the major events in the life of the prophet, the author looks at the lessons we can learn from him and their relevance for today. He makes us consider the words that Jeremiah spoke to God’s people, and the reader feels the challenge of these words directly to them too as they engage with this book. Although the book only has 127 pages it provides the reader with an excellent and rich introduction into the life of Jeremiah.

David Day shows us that humanly speaking Jeremiah did not have a successful ministry. He preached God’s message of repentance to his countrymen and his words were not heeded. The prophet suffered persecution for faithfully speaking God’s word. But despite that he was faithful to God.

I found the book a very enjoyable read which helped increased my understanding of where Jeremiah fits into the timescale of the bible. In addition to this it was also challenging too. Whilst the book is aimed towards younger Christians I believe that it would benefit all believers no matter how long they had been walking with God. Therefore I would have no hesitation in recommending this book to all provided you can track it down!

The 100 Minute Bible

The 100 Minute Bible, which retails at little more than the cost of a sandwich is, I think, a real gem! In summary, it gives an overview of the main events and characters in the Bible. The author, Michael Hinton, has divided the book into 50 brief chapters, 17 from the Old Testament and the remainder taken from the New Testament.

Most chapters include direct quotes from the Bible with well known passages, such as the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23, being reprinted in full. Before reading The 100 Minute Bible I had my doubts about this mini version and whether it would work, but I have to say I am impressed. Obviously constraints of time and space mean much is left out but what the publisher has chosen to include provides an excellent overview of the Bible and, quite rightly concentrates on Jesus’ life and his impact on ordinary people then, now and for all time to come.

I would certainly recommend this book to Christians and non-Christians alike. Indeed if any of your non-Christian family or friends have ever expressed an interest in reading the Bible but have not got the time, I suggest they read this instead. In no way could it ever take the place of the Bible, the inspired word of God, and all that represents but it is an excellent place for them to start and hopefully they will be encouraged to go on and study a good version of the Bible for themselves.

The Road to Transylvania

Thank you to my wife for the following book review on The Road to Transylvania, which was written by Phil Slade.

I had the privilege of hearing Phil speak at my church recently. Afterwards I was able to purchase a copy of this book which I finished reading later that same afternoon. You may deduce it is an easy book to read, but it is nonetheless very challenging.

The book tells of the family’s adventures as they respond to God’s call to go and “be family” in Romania. As you might imagine, this caused some concern amongst their family and friends, particularly as their children were at that time at quite a critical point in their education.

I was struck by the fact that in so many ways they would appear to be a very ordinary family. It is heart-warming to read how they prayed together and decided as a family that they would go to Romania only if they all felt called to do so.

Despite some initial setbacks the family remained determined to obey God’s call to serve in Romania. It is humbling to read how the family were obedient to God’s call and were prepared, at not insignificant cost to themselves, to go and simply be ‘family’ in Romania. Indeed for many of the young people they meet in Romania, this will have been the only time in their lives that they had a chance to experience what it really means to be part of a family, to be accepted for who you are as a person created in the image of God, valuable and precious in his sight.

This is an honest and moving account of the family’s time in Romania and the struggles they face, particularly on their return to the UK. We also get to hear from Phil’s wife, Elaine, and their daughters, as well as some close family friends, which gives balance to the narrative.

I urge you to seek this book out and to be encouraged by the effect that responding to God’s call will have on your life and on those you come into contact with. It is entirely possible that you are exactly where God wants you to be and doing precisely what He requires of you right now, but always remember “I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper!”. Listen to what God may be asking you to do and make sure you don’t miss out on his perfect plan for your life. Thank you to the Slade family for their example of what it means to be open to God’s will and to step out in faith.

Preparing The Way

Christmas can be a very busy time of the year as we prepare for the big day. There is the card writing, present buying, food purchasing and so much more that we can easily forget what we are actually celebrating! To that end I would like to recommend a book by Derek Tidball called “Preparing The Way” which is part of the Cover to Cover bible study books published by CWR.

The book covers the 31 days of Advent and is suitable for both group or personal use. It is split into five sections:

• Week One: The Saviour Promised Long (1 December to 7 December)
• Week Two: Hope of the World (8 December to 14 December)
• Week Three: Tell Out, My Soul, the Greatness of the Lord! (15 December to 21 December)
• Week Four: Christians Awake! Salute the Happy Morn (22 December to 28 December)
• Week Five: O Come, O Come, Immanuel (29 December to 31 December).

Each day has a bible reading which is followed by some thoughts from the author on that particular passage. It then closes with a section entitled “To consider or discuss” which encourages and challenges us to respond to what we have just read.

At the end of each weekly section there are four further questions for the reader to reflect upon as they review the past week’s readings. There are also some ideas for prayer.

If you find that the Christmas preparation is taking your eyes off the real reason for the season then this book would serve as a very helpful reminder of what we are really celebrating.

 

Leviticus-Deuteronomy (Bible Study Commentary)

There are some books of the Bible that most Christians would agree are not easy to read and understand. One of the most obvious ones that springs to mind is the book of Leviticus. However, although Leviticus might appear a difficult read, it’s included in our Bible. Therefore we should not ignore it but instead seek to read it and hear what God is saying to us through this part of scripture.

To that end I would like to recommend a book called Leviticus-Deuteronomy (Bible Study Commentary) by Martin Goldsmith. Unlike many Bible commentaries this one does not look at the text verse by verse, but looks at larger portions (normally a chapter at a time). There then follows some thoughts on the passage which are no more than one page of A5 long. Some of these also contain a closing thought, question, challenge or meditation for the reader to ponder. The section on Leviticus contains an interesting table on the various feasts featured in the book.

Although I am mainly focusing on the benefits of this book for studying the book of Leviticus, the sections on Numbers and Deuteronomy are equally good. This part also contains some maps which will help the reader to place the various towns, cities and regions mentioned in these books.

Throughout the book there are also questions for further study and discussion based on chapters already read. This enables the reader to study these three books in greater depth. Additionally this section could also be used by a house group to form the basis of a weekly study.

I have used this book to study Leviticus and found it really useful, helpful and insightful. If you have attempted to read Leviticus before and really struggled or just given up, then why not purchase a copy of this book and give it another go. You will not be disappointed!

 

So a Comedian Walks Into a Church

If you were to hear the words: “So a Comedian Walks Into a Church” it’s likely you would think that this is the first line of a joke. However, on this occasion that is not the case. Instead, it’s a title of a book written by Paul Kerensa, who is a stand-up comedian and also a Christian. The book is the story of his travels around the country in his job as a comedian and the churches he visits each Sunday whilst away from home.

In his writings the author shows us the reality of the comedy circuit. This regularly involves long trips to venues to perform in front of audiences which can be very small in number. Indeed there are times when the comedy event is cancelled and no-one remembers to tell the performer that! We see the frustration of these wasted journeys and how it creates the worry of whether he will be paid for the wasted trip. This is not the stardom of selling out the O2 for a week or appearing on Live at the Apollo. However, it is the reality of life for many comedians.

After performing on a Saturday night Paul Kerensa endeavours to find a local church to attend the next day. He describes his experiences of attending many different denominations with varying styles of worship including: Church of Scotland, United Reform Church, a Church in Wales (where the service was conducted in Welsh), Salvation Army, Baptist, Charismatic, Cafe Church, Pentecostal, Methodist and Quakers. That’s quite a variety!

The book concludes with a chapter examining the wondrous cross selection of UK Christianity that the author has encountered on his travels. Although the book was written in 2013 it’s probably fair to say that most of his findings are still reasonable valid today.

This is an enjoyable book which is quite funny in places. It helps us to see the reality of life for a comedian and the fact that it is not an easy life. I also suspect that there are few Christians who have attended such varying styles of worship as the author and therefore it’s interesting to read his observations of them.