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Category Archives: Christian life and the Church

91 – Helen Roseveare

Eleven years ago I met Helen Roseveare for the first time. She had not long celebrated her eightieth birthday. I’d read her books and knew her story and somehow or other I had been invited to stay. It was great to actually meet one of my heroines. She was not only encouraging, she was challenging. It was an environment – all be it just for a weekend – where i felt safe to be honest with her and Pat, her friend, about the challenges and struggles of my own little life. Even though she had been through so much herself (if you don’t know what I mean then read her books) my problems didn’t feel too insignificant to share. And the words she gave me before I left on the flight from Belfast to Inverness were straight forward – just telling me to keep on going. And I’m thankful to her and to God that I have through His strength.

After that she came over to my congregation to do a conference. It was at this conference that she gave, as part of her message, four little words that I believe are the backbone to her life and reinforced, for me, the message of her books, the message she gave me before I left Belfast and the message her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, gives all believers.

“Jesus is Worth it”.

Towards the end of that conference I had the pleasure of taking her and Pat for a tour of the Black Isle – a Scottish peninsula near Inverness. What took place at lunch that day is one of several distinct ‘Helen and Pat’ memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life. If you’ve not met either of them – let me describe these two women of God…

They’re smart. Neither of them are short in the intelligence stakes. They both graduated in medicine at a time when to be a female graduate in any discipline like this was rare.

They’re cosmopolitan. Both women have travelled extensively – and they travelled before the easy days of online booking and satnav.

But if you, a stranger, were to sit down at a table next to them you wouldn’t look twice. You would presume – like the people sitting next to us probably did – that they were just two little old ladies. But that’s one point where the church and the world differs – God’s kingdom never puts the word ‘just’ before any category of person – particularly little old ladies.

Our neighbouring diners were given a visual and audible lesson in this when after lunch Pat and Helen’s conversation started as follows:

“I don’t think we’ll ever be able to get back to Afghanistan but it is a beautiful country, and the Lord is at work there…” – or words to that effect.

As my chin dropped I could see the looks on the people at the table beside us as they turned and stared. Two women they had just spent the last hour ignoring were talking about a trip they had made to what was now one of the most notoriously violent countries in the world.

Helen and Pat started reminiscing about people who had lived and worked in that region and about the brief time they had spent in a nation that was now in the thick of a conflict that threw up words like Taliban and Terrorist.

I drove them back to my parent’s house and before too long they were on their way back to Belfast discussing no doubt their plans for the development of the girls clubs they were involved in and the future fundraising for their local church.

So don’t make assumptions about little old ladies… especially when you hear the word church and missionary in the same sentence … they may very well have been where we will never go, have done what we wouldn’t dream of, and have given up what we just aren’t willing to.

 

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Countdown to Christmas 11, 12, 13

The three books in this post all have a link to the Christmas season… one is more obvious than the other two.

The Christmas Story by Carine Mackenzie

The subtitle to this is The Bible Version. Simply because we need to be clear that the story we quite often see portrayed in nativity plays and on Christmas cards isn’t the story we read in the Bible. When we read the scripture the shepherds and the wise men are not in the same part of the story. And there is a lot more to Jesus’ birth than simply the little town of Bethlehem. If you want your children to see that the birth of Jesus is important but that the child in the manger becomes the saviour on the cross then this is the book for you.

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1673/-/sr_1

And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas, at least in the U.K., without a Narnia blockbuster on the T.V.  Clive Staples Lewis has worked his way into the festive season like Carols at Candlelight or a giant tub of office chocolates (I’m still hoping we’ll get one of those this year.)

So in honour of one of the 20th centuries greatest story-tellers we have two books that introduce different ages to his life and christian testimony.

The Little Lights Series has a title: Can You Imagine? http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1590/-/sr_2

and the Trailblazer series for 9-14 year olds has: The Story Teller

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/744/-/sr_3

 

My Twelve Books of Christmas #9 & 10

A huge part of my life this last twelve to eighteen months has been the Book of Acts.

That’s why I’m blogging about two books in this one post here… my Bible Study has been working through the books of Acts with the help of these two titles in the Geared for Growth series.

The Early Church: A Study in Acts 1-12

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1492/-/d_series

Worldwide Evangelistation: A Study in Acts 13-28

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/826/-

What can I say about these books…. they’ve been a fairly new discovery for our Bible study group though my mum and dad have been singing their praises for years. So listen to your parents!

The good thing about the whole Geared for Growth series is that they are books that are great for new believers and for mature believers. The questions can be simple and straight forward but also draw out in depth discussions. They can encourage you to get into the meat of a topic. These books not only get you reading the passage of scripture, but point you to other parts of the bible that are relevant. The questions often bring in your life experiences, and when you have a varied study group like we do that means input from different professions, ages, backgrounds… the new Christian and the older Christian learning from each other. And these study books really facilitate that.

These books on Acts have been exciting because Acts is exciting. Every chapter either has a journey or a riot or a dramatic escape! It’s non stop! And there are so many practical challenges that we need to engage with as the church today.

The Early Church has a lot to teach us, and these books are a great tool for that.

The additional feature that this study series has that others don’t is how it is designed in such a way that you can use it as a personal devotional book throughout the week.

My Twelve Books of Christmas #8

bible.jpg

One of the things I love about writing for children is how it takes me on a journey of learning for myself. When I wrote the book: The Bible is God’s Word – The Evidence http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1725/-/sr_1 – it introduced me to a set of books on the authority of scripture. I was reading a genre, I suppose you would call it, of Christian books that I hadn’t really explored before. And it has been of huge benefit to me.

I want to introduce you today to one of the key books that I read during my research, it’s not difficult, it’s not long but it may be one of those titles that have just missed your radar as it has been in print for a while. So I’m taking the opportunity of giving it a big thumbs up.

It’s a good starter title for someone who wants to get into apologetics. Spurgeon did say that we don’t need to worry about the Bible – it’s like a lion – just let it out and it will look after itself. But as believers we need to have information to help us engage with unbelievers about the truth of God’s Word. This book by Colin Peckham does just that.

The Authority of the Bible

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/24/-/sr_1

If you have friends who insist that science has proved the Bible to be wrong a book like this is just what you need to read.

Just an idea: If you want to give different members of your family the gift of a book how about giving them a book on the theme of the Bible appropriate for their age range/level.

Could be interesting to have everyone round the dinner table talking about the Bible?

The Bible’s Big Story: http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1592/-/sr_14

The Bible is God’s Word: http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1725/-/sr_1

The Authority of the Bible: http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/24/-/sr_1

Confident: How we can trust the Bible: http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1724/-/sr_8

My Twelve Books of Christmas #7

everything.jpg

I’ve posted a couple of times about this on face book. The Title has come out at just the right time for me as my pastor is working through the book of Ecclesiastes in our church services. He confessed to how Ecclesiastes had been one of those books he had been anxious about preaching through, but that he thought that pastors should tackle those books of the bible they weren’t so confident about.

I’ve been enjoying his preaching and I’ve enjoyed this book. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the subtitle – The Gospel in Ecclesiastes. I do believe that Jesus Christ can be seen in all the scripture but I have to admit I stopped and looked twice at this subtitle. I suppose it’s not a new concept to me… but it was still something of a surprise.

Why Everything Matters: The Gospel in Ecclesiastes

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1762/-/sr_1

Though I’m blogging about this title I haven’t yet finished it, I’ve been keeping it for Sunday reading. But I’ll whet your appetite for it by giving you a couple of the paragraphs that have jumped out at me:

Almost every verse in Ecclesiastes shows us how much we need a Savior to make all things new. When John Wesley preached his way through this great book of the Bible, he described in his journal what it was like to begin his sermon series. ‘Began expounding the Book of Ecclesiastes,’ he wrote. ‘Never before had I so clear a sight either of its meaning or beauties. Neither did I imagine, that the several parts of it were in so exquisite a manner connected together, all tending to prove the grand truth, that there is no happiness out of God.’20

Remember this whenever you get frustrated, sad, angry, or disappointed with everything in life that is getting broken, falling apart, and going wrong. Remember this when you feel overwhelmed and are tempted to wonder why you should even bother—with your work, with a relationship, with your faith. You were made for a new and better world. The very fact that you are weary of this life is pointing you to Jesus as the only One who can satisfy your soul.

 

We should not leave Ecclesiastes 1 without remembering that Jesus entered into all the vanity and vexation of life under the sun to show us the wise way to live. If we follow Jesus and His wisdom, we will not try to bend what is crooked back to our own purpose, but humbly submit to the way God wants things to be, just as Jesus did when He went to the crooked cross and died for our sins (see 1 Pet. 2:21-24).

If we follow the wisdom of Jesus Christ, eventually life will add up … it may not seem to add up on this side of eternity. But leave the final calculations to Jesus, and He will make sure that all the books balance in the end, including our personal account, which He has reconciled with His own blood.

Our present vexation will not last forever, including all our struggles to understand the meaning of life. Soon, our sorrows will be over. We will be with Jesus forever, and find the answers to all our questions in Him.

You can definitely see the Gospel in this book!

 

My Twelve Books of Christmas #6

living.jpg

For the sixth book in this series I swithered about putting in one of our new titles that has had a lot of publicity and then decided against it. Just a few moments ago I decided instead to go with an old favourite.

Effective Christian Living by Jack Selfridge

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/219/-/sr_c_1_i

I have a soft spot for this book because I think it is well written, with great teaching – something that has got real meat to its message but is easy to digest. If you get my drift.

And Jack Selfridge was my very first author. As a newbie out of a Vocational Course in Publishing at Napier University, I was allowed to cut my teeth on his biography – Jack of All Trades, Mastered by One. http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1755/-/sr_c_1_i

But Effective Christian Living is a book that points us towards the fact that as Christians our lives should bear fruit. There are twenty four short chapters to encourage us towards spiritual growth, with challenging questions at the end of each study.

Looking again at this lovely little title I can’t help but be struck by how ideal it is for the run up to Christmas. We’re into December now – its definitely the advent season. I’ll think I’ll pull down my old copy of this, and read it again. It will be a bit like revisiting an old friend in more ways than one.

My Twelve Books of Christmas #5

strength

Moving on from the books that dominated my summer, this following book has dominated my autumnal weeks as it sparked a rather long trip to the United States in order that I could attend its book launch at Southwestern Seminary in October.

God is My Strength: Fifty Biblical Responses to Issues Facing Women Today

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1759/-/sr_1

As well as being a book that I’ve enjoyed reading, in its manuscript form, I loved working on the editorial – simply because 1. Pat Ennis is every editor’s dream writer! So great to work with, helpful, relaxed, and 2. This book is just chock full of scripture, and with Pat’s experience as a Christian woman this book is full of practical and spiritual wisdom.

Throughout the book Pat shares God’s Word and God’s Wisdom on the issues that impact all of our lives – issues such as Friendship, God, Myself, My Home and My World.

By the end of the book you find that you’ve opened up your mind to thinking about what God’s will is for your role models, evangelism, money, the holiday season, hospitality, worry, loneliness, and many other topics.

This is a great book for women – that even my Dad enjoyed reading! Again it’s one of those titles you can read from cover to cover or dip in and out of. So you can treat it like your Christmas dinner and read it all at once, or it can be like picking at the leftovers on boxing day when you make multiple visits to the fridge for bits of this and that. 🙂

There are several endorsements for this book one of which is here:

God Is My Strength is about living wisely in His power instead of your own. If that’s your heart’s desire, you’ll find this book to be a dear and constant companion.

Steve and Becky Miller, Christian Authors