Daily Prayer 2

Daily Prayer 2, written by Nick Fawcett, is a book which provides a resource for anyone seeking a deeper walk with God.

Each day’s devotion follows the same format: read, ponder, ask yourself, pray, remember and close.

The first section, read, consists of the bible reading for the day. Ponder contains some thoughts and reflections from the author on the theme for the day. Then follows ask yourself, which normally has two or three questions for the reader to answer in relation to the theme. Next is the pray section which contains a prayer to help us respond to what we have read so far. Remember is a bible verse and the devotion finishes with close which is the closing prayer.

In addition to providing 365 daily devotions, there is also a supplement section which focuses on certain seasons of the Christian year e.g. Holy Week and Easter, which fall on different dates each year. There is also a devotion written for 29th February too!

I especially like the supplement section of the book, as it means that the reader can use this resource in whatever year they wish and still have relevant seasonal readings too.

One of the most striking features in this book in my opinion is the richness of the pray section. The author has a gift of writing some powerful and meaningful prayers which are very helpful. I find that he seems to be able to “hit the nail on the head” with his prayers.

If you are looking for a devotional book then this is one that I would recommend.

Scandalous

Scandalous is a book written by D.A.Carson that examines five New Testament pieces of scripture to discover what they show us about the death and resurrection of Jesus. The material in the book is taken from five addresses that the author gave at a conference.

The first chapter is entitled “The Ironies of the Cross” and is based on Matthew 27:27-51a. Through this passage we see the irony of what is being played out at the cross. For example: the man who is mocked as King is King. Matthew knows this and in the passage makes it clear to his readers. However, the mockers and the soldiers do not realise this, but the gospel writer knows this, the reader knows this, God knows it and Jesus knows it. He is indeed King of the Jews.

In the second chapter, “The Center of the Whole Bible” the author looks at Romans 3:21-26. He argues that this passage of scripture is not only key to understanding the letter to the Romans but the whole Bible itself. He does this by showing where the passage falls in the book of Romans and what Paul establishes through these verses.

The next chapter is called “The Strange Triumph of a Slaughtered Lamb” and is based on Revelation 12. The author believes that it’s important for us to consider Satan’s rage against the church so we can understand what is happening in Christianity today. He does this by explaining in this chapter: The Occasion for Satanic Rage, The Reasons for Satanic Rage and How Christians Overcome Satanic Rage as outlined in Revelation 12.

In chapter four, “A Miracle Full of Surprises”, we look at the events of John 11:1-53. These verses in John tell the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. D.A. Carson believes that we sometimes miss the element of surprise which is in this text as we have become superficially familiar with the Bible. He then breaks the chapter into four sections each containing surprising elements that we may have previously overlooked when reading this passage.

The final chapter “Doubting the Resurrection of Jesus” examines John 20:24-31 and looks at the apostle Thomas. The author starts the chapter by listing six causes of doubt. However, his argument here is that John is addressing the specific doubt of Thomas and not the universal answer to doubt. He then goes onto discuss: The Cry of a Disappointed Skeptic, The Adoration of an Astonished Skeptic and The Function of a Converted Skeptic.

Including the indexes at the back of the book, which includes a scripture index, the book is reasonably short at 173 pages. However, it is packed full of teaching on the cross and resurrection of Jesus that is clear, enlightening, encouraging and challenging. It is one of those books that should certainly be read more than once. If you are looking to read a book this Easter which reflects on the important events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday then I would recommend this book to you.

Church Online: Websites

Whenever I visit another church I normally look at their website beforehand to find out various things about that church. These include the time of the service, what type of service I will be attending and a general idea of what the church is like.

Therefore, for me it’s important that a church website is accurate and displaying correct information. However, having been a webmaster of a church website, I know that it can be a challenging job and you are dependent upon others passing information onto you to keep the website updated.

I have recently read a book called “Church Online: Websites” by Laura Treneer which I found to be a very useful resource. This book is published by BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship) and is one of four books that form part of their Reach Out Church Communications series.

There are four chapters in Church Online Websites which cover:

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

The author provides some very useful advice which can be used by those looking to transform their websites or perhaps looking to create one for the first time. Anyone who might feel daunted at the prospect of becoming a church webmaster for the first time will find this book very beneficial. Those who are experienced in this area will also gain from reading this book too.

Although “Church Online: Websites“ is only a short book it is packed full of helpful tips, resource links and ideas. I would strongly recommend this book and if you put the ideas it contains into practice your website will be enhanced.

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!