Run to Glory – the story of Eric Liddell

Run to Glory by Ellen Caughey tells the fascinating life story of Eric Liddell, Olympic gold medallist in the 400 metres at the 1924 Paris Olympics. This feat was of course immortalised in the award winning film “Chariots of Fire”.

The book however paints a much broader picture of Eric Liddell, the athlete and evangelist. It describes how Eric turned his back on athletics to respond to God’s call. The book details some of the trials and triumphs of working as an evangelist amongst the poor rural communities in China. In this setting “Uncle Eric” as he is known is recognised as much for his work amongst the local children as for his prowess on the athletic track.

Eric Liddell can truly be said to have “ran the race that was set before him” but, in doing so, he turned his back on the fame and adulation that he had known as an athlete. This short book is certainly worth reading and raises the perennial question of what might we be prepared to “give up” in order to respond obediently to God’s call on our life?

Church Online: Social Media

People have different attitudes towards social media. Some love it, whilst others hate it. There are those who feel indifferent towards it and others who are baffled to understand its popularity. However you might feel about social media we cannot fail to notice the influence it has on people, both good and bad.

Therefore, the church cannot ignore social media, as that is where many people spend a lot of their time.  Instead the church must learn to engage with it. For some though that is a scary thought and they do not know where or how to begin. If that describes you then the book “Church Online: Social Media” by Laura Treneer may be a useful resource.

This book is published by BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship) and is one of four books that form part of the Reach Out Church Communications series.

There are four chapters in Church Online Social Media which cover:

  • Why it matters
  • What to consider first
  • Essential next steps
  • Toolkit

The author raises some important questions in her book that churches need to ask themselves when they are looking to start a new social media venture. These questions include:

  • What is our current reality?
  • What is the core message that we are communicating?
  • Who is our focus – Who is this really for?

For those who are totally new to social media there is a very useful section in the Essential next steps chapter about choosing your tools. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn are all included in this section with a brief description on each which covers:

  • That’s the one where – this is a brief description of each one.
  • Seems to be particularly popular with – this describes the demographic group that use each one mostly
  • Churches could use it for – provides ideas of how churches use each one.
  • And if you want to go further – sets some ideas and projects that your church could do with each one.

The author also provides some good tips on planning your social media year, finding the right team in your church to engage in social media and ideas for posts.

Whether you are completely new to social media or a seasoned user, you will find this book an excellent resource. Although it is only a small book, less than 100 pages long, it is packed with so much useful information. It’s certainly one that can be read a number of times and I would strongly recommend it.

In closing I want to quote from page 66 of the book which says “We don’t do it for the likes. We do it for the love of God.” Something for all Christians to ponder who engage in social media.

Martin Luther King

When the name Martin Luther King is mentioned I guess most people think of the civil rights campaigns he led, his famous speeches and his assassination in Memphis.

However what was he really like? What and who influenced him theologically and politically? Why did he choose to use non-violent tactics instead of a violent approach that some other groups did at the time? Was he a good leader and what is the everlasting legacy that he has left America?

Godfrey Hodgson in his biography of Martin Luther King explores these questions and more as he traces the preacher’s life. The book is only 231 pages long but is an excellent introduction to Martin Luther King’s life. The author met King a number of times and so has firsthand experience of the actual person. Like all good biographies Hodgson presents an honest account of his subject’s life and does not ignore his shortcomings and mistakes.

This book reminds us of the full horrors of life in the South with the segregation and hatred that the white population had for their black counterparts being clearly illustrated. No-one matter how many films I have seen about this era e.g. Mississippi Burning and A Time to Kill, I still find it difficult to comprehend the hatred and prejudices that existed in the South.

There are also some interesting comments in the book relating to the Kennedy brothers which has portrayed them in a new light for me.

The author shows some of the disagreements in policy there were between the various civil rights groups as not all of them agreed with the nonviolent philosophy of Martin Luther King. In fact there were various jealousies between the groups. However whatever one thinks of the tactics that King used, no-one can deny that he was a very brave man who courageously fought against the inequalities the black community faced.

In the last chapter Hodgson analyses whether King’s dream of equality has been achieved and again is honest in his findings.

This is the first book I have read on Martin Luther King and I would recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about this brave man’s life. The depth is good but it’s not too deep as to leave the reader confused with unnecessary detail.

What Would Jesus Post?

What would Jesus Post? This is the question that David Robertson addresses in his book that endeavours to outline a biblical approach to online interaction.

The book contains 18 chapters which cover a range of topics including: Pray before posting, A covenant with the eyes, Stewards of a digital tongue, Always in the presence of God, Wisdom and discernment, A digital sabbath, Dealing with digital gossip and Engaging with community.

Each chapter introduces the theme and encourages the reader to engage with biblical themes which arise from this area. There are questions throughout each chapter which give an opportunity to look at how we might respond to the subject matter under discussion.

One of the key bible verses that the author feels is very important throughout the book is Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

The chapters are short with most of them no longer than 8 or 9 pages. However, there is so much to ponder and consider in each one. This is a book that is best read one chapter at a time rather straight through from cover to cover. Due to the many different areas being addressed it will also serve well as a reference book that the reader can return to.

I would highly recommend What would Jesus Post? Many of us spend a great deal of our time on the internet and this book will serve as a valuable resource to challenge, encourage and inspire us to post in a way that honours God. It is a welcome addition to my bookshelf!

God’s Priorities by J. John

God’s Priorities is a book written by J. John on the Lord’s Prayer. The full title of the book, which gives an indication of its theme is: “God’s Priorities – Living Life from the Lord’s Prayer.” Many of us know the Lord’s Prayer off by heart however J. John in this book sets out to challenge us to live this famous prayer.

In each chapter the book addresses a phrase of the Lord’s Prayer in both the old traditional wording (the King James version) and a modern translation of it (the New Living Translation).

However, before he moves into the subject matter, in the first chapter of the book “The Preliminaries of Prayer”, the author outlines who he believes can say the prayer. J. John states that the prayer can only be said by those who are members of God’s family. He then outlines the gospel message and how we can become a member of God’s family.

There then follows seven chapters which are called: Privilege, Praise, Purpose, Provision, Pardon, Protection and Perspective. At the end of each chapter there are questions for the reader to ponder.

God’s Priorities is a very practical book which will challenge the reader as they read each chapter. J. John will encourage you to see if you need to be involved in the answer to your prayers. For example: if you are praying for God’s name to be honoured then how can you honour God’s name in your life, work, home and community!

It will help us to get our priorities in the right order when we pray. Many of us I guess start off our daily prayers concentrating on our own needs and wants. This book as you might imagine will help the reader to change that habit.

In my church we pray the Lord’s Prayer each week in our service and it can be easy to repeat it parrot fashion without thinking about what we are saying. Therefore, for me it was good to read this book and to be challenged and inspired by the Lord’s Prayer.

a Christmas Carol Special Edition

Stephen Skelton’s book “a Christmas Carol Special Edition” is an interesting version of the famous Charles Dickens book. In addition to including the complete text of Christmas Carol, the author provides interesting insights into the biblical illusions and Christian themes that are found in the classic novel.

At the end of each chapter or rather “stave” as Dickens called them, there are discussion questions for the reader to ponder. These cover the following themes: Selfishness, Regret, Repentance, Salvation and Rebirth.

Each discussion section contains four types of questions under the headings: Telling the Story, Telling Your Story, Telling the Story of Christmas and Living the Story. There are then some bible verses provided for further study. The questions are designed for all ages but the author does suggest the first two types are more appropriate for younger readers.

Christmas Carol is a book that many people have enjoyed over the years and will no doubt continue to do in the future. I think this edition would be good to be used for an Advent study group. There are many Christian themes that run through this classic tale which are worthy of further study and discussion. It would also make a good book to study by yourself too.

the Hiding Place

I recently read Corrie ten Boom’s book “the Hiding Place.” I have seen the film a couple of times and although I was given the book several years ago for some reason I had not previously read it.

Most of us know about Corrie and her family due to their brave and heroic acts during the war. The book however also provides details of the life of Corrie and her family prior to the war. Like all of us Corrie had her ups and downs as she grew up. She learnt to trust God during this time and submit to the divine leading.

Despite the risks involved, following the outbreak of the war, the ten Boom family risked their lives in helping others. Although it was very dangerous they offered shelter to persecuted Jews in their watchmaker’s shop.

They were though eventually caught and following arrest interrogated by the Nazi’s. Corrie’s father was offered the chance of being released but told his captors if they released him he would continue to help the Jews. An act of bravery that eventually lead to his death in captivity.

Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Despite the truly awful and horrific conditions they experienced in the camp the sisters still reached out to show the love of God to others. This is especially remarkable when you also consider that Betsie’s health was deteriorating. Those of you who are familiar with the Hiding Place will know that Betsie died whilst in Ravensbruck.

The book finishes with a truly remarkable encounter between Corrie and a former SS man from the Ravensbruck concentration camp at a meeting in Munich following the end of the war. Corrie had just finished speaking at a church meeting when the former SS man approached her and wanted to shake hands with her. Despite the immense internal struggle within her Corrie agreed asking Jesus to help her to forgive him. She then describes how the love of God overwhelmed her as she did this.

I would highly recommend “the Hiding Place”. It is a very inspiring book!