Posts Tagged ‘book review’

I’m a bit of a fits and starts reader when it comes to ‘proper’ books. My mother says I have ‘narrative hunger’, which means I will read a crisp packet just to keep words flowing through my head. These days the internet seems to fill that gap, and my reading of books has dropped off. But this summer I really enjoyed getting back to real reading and I’m hoping to continue this pattern as the holidays become a dim memory.

The Lord must have known my need to read, and not just read escapist fiction, and so somehow I have ended up convening a small study group of women from our church, two of whom were confirmed just the other weekend. Looking around for a confirmation gift for them, I came across a fairly new book by Australian evangelist John Chapman.

‘Chappo’ is a wonderfully engaging and straightforward communicator and I’ve loved listening to him (sermon tapes on holiness and evangelism) and reading his books (especially ‘Know and Tell the Gospel’) over the years. The book I chose for our friends – and then this little group – is called ‘A Foot in Two Worlds’. Its subtitle is ‘The Joy and Struggle of the Normal Christian Life’.

I’m now two chapters in, and I thought I’d try and summarise my reading on the blog, so I can be really clear when I lead our discussion tonight. The book very helpfully comes with a discussion guide at the back, which is a great boon for my fuzzy head.

The book has only seven chapters, and with the first and last chapters being introduction and summary. This means we should be able to finish it over five sessions, which I think is a manageable course length.

Chapter 1: Christianity is not for wimps

Chappo begins with the joys of the Christian life, reminding us that when we become Christians, God forgets our past, giving us continuous forgiveness and sending the Holy Spirit to live with us.

But he also gives us the full picture:

Right from the beginning, I also found living as a Christian much more difficult than I had imagined… Some days I felt overwhelmed. It seemed an endless grind…

He describes us as ‘people with a foot in two worlds’:

We have one foot firmly planted in this world and, at the same time, one foot planted in the world to come, where everything is perfect.

Chapter 2: This Present World

In his second chapter, Chappo helps us to think about the fallen world we live in, remembering how it is good but fallen, firstly with a brief sweep through Genesis 1-3. He also has a good section on the devil, giving some nicely alliterating points about the Father of Lies:

  1. He deludes us
  2. He discourages us
  3. He denounces us
  4. He diverts us
  5. His demise is sure

So he summarises

This…world. While it is good, it isn’t good enough. I am meant to be dissatisfied. Thankfully that isn’t all there is.

I am very much looking forward to discussing this with our little group. Chappo doesn’t shy away from the difficulties of the Christian life, but nor does he ignore its joys. There’s lots to talk about here.

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Big Picture Story Bible

Great for Under 5s

An age ago, I thought I’d start reviewing kids’ bibles. We must have about twenty in the house and most of them have been test driven on three children, so we’ve had a good overview. And since it’s be the sort of time of year when you might be thinking of gift shopping, I thought I’d share a few of our favourites. Different ages and personalities prefer different books and there’s also the aspect of trying to ensure that our kids don’t just hear Christian platitudes even at a young age.

We are not very routine people here in our Vicarage. So our bible time routine with the kids varies with the weather and has changed as the kids have grown and grumped and had fads. We do try to have a bible time with each of them every night. This is not always possible. For instance, if the Vicar’s Wife is on the phone to her sister and the Vicar is buying tickets for the Eurotunnel trip to France next summer and somehow the Queen is still in front of the fire reading stories with Happy at an hour way past her bedtime, she might go to bed with just a quick prayer. That was last night anyway.

But in the grand scheme of things, our routine is story-bible-pray-bed. With teeth and toilet somewhere in the equation. If you change the bible (or the study notes for the older kids) it does seem if there is some variety though. And our children seem to like that, especially the older two. The Engineer is more of a stick-to-what-you-know sort.

His favourite bible for a good few months was The Big Picture Story Bible. Big and with bold colourful pictures, it does what it says on the cover. But more than that, it points to Jesus, and the big picture of God’s work in the whole of the bible, all the way through. The strapline on the back of the book is

The Bible is a big book, about a big God, who keeps a big promise!

Inside, succinct text sits with the double page pictures, telling the story of how God’s people blew hot and cold in their relationship with him throughout the Old Testament. It speaks about the promise of God’s forever king, as the story points forward to Christ.

As well as familiar New Testament stories of Jesus healing and teaching, the cross and resurrection are movingly told and Acts, the epistles and Revelation are all summarised, pointing to the time when:

God’s forever people will one day live in God’s forever place under God’s forever rule.

It’s a great book – highly recommended for preschool children and also those still in the infants who’ve not yet had a bible overview. A 5-7 year old who is beginning to read could help a grown up tell the stories.

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