QUICK REVIEW: CHANGING LANES

ChangingLanesLogoPreroll_0There is a real shortage of really good Christian books written specifically for teenagers.  As someone who has a teenage daughter and does youth ministry, if a new book comes out for them, I’m keen to read it.

A recent release is a short book by Jonny Pearse called Changing Lanes.

Using the imagery of Jesus’ description of two roads, one that’s wide and leads to destruction, and one that’s narrow and leads to God and eternal life, the question this book asks its teenage readers is “Which of the two roads am I on?” with the hope that those on the wide road will change lanes!

To help them do that, the seven chapters of the book take the teenager on a journey of discovery to find out the truth about religion, evidence, sin, hell, Jesus, forgiveness and Christianity.

I really like this book.

Each chapter is short, clear, uncompromising (especially the chapters on sin and hell), and accessible for teenagers, especially those who are currently on the wide road.  There is also a seven week evangelistic DVD course which can be done in a youth group setting or individually online HERE.

I’m looking forward to running this course with the youth group I help to lead and to give out copies of the book at the end.  Why not do the same?

Changing Lanes is available to buy HERE.

QUICK REVIEW: JESUS ON EVERY PAGE

JesusOnEveryPageEvery now and then you read a book that makes you go “Wow!”  David Murray’s Jesus on Every Page is a book that would fit into this category.  I was looking forward to reading it, and having read it, it does not disappoint.

It is a book of two halves.  The first half tells David’s own ‘Road to Emmaus’ story of how he came to discover that the Old Testament was all about Christ.  This part of the book really draws you in with a mix of personal narrative and clear Bible teaching.

The second half of the book provides 10 ways of finding Jesus in the Old Testament: Christ’s Planet, People, Presence, Precepts, Past, Prophets, Pictures, Promises, Proverbs and Poets.  Time and time again these chapters made me say to myself “Why didn’t I see that before?”

Each chapter of this book was a delight to read, however the one that really blew me away, was Christ’s Planet, where Murray shows how we can discover Jesus in creation, giving 11 ways (yes, eleven ways!) we see Christ in Genesis 1 and 2.  If the rest of the book weren’t so good, I’d say it’s worth buying just for the chapter, but actually it’s worth buying for every chapter.

I really cannot recommend this book highly enough. Both for pastors to help them preach Christ from Old Testament passages, and also for the whole congregation to help them to know Christ better from these 39 books of the Bible.

Jesus on Every Page is available to buy HERE.  If you buy it before the end of August you can get $100 of Old Testament resources to download for free.

QUICK REVIEW: THE SECRET THOUGHTS OF AN UNLIKELY CONVERT

SecretThoughtsEvery time someone puts their trust in Jesus, it is a miracle of grace.  From the child who grows up always believing in Jesus, to the person who seems furthest away from Christ, there is much rejoicing in heaven every time a sinner repents, and every conversion story is one worth hearing.

But stories like that of Rosaria Butterfield need to be told and heard widely, to remind Christians afresh of the power of the gospel to save, and this is why ‘The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert’ is such a great book, because it does just that.

Rosaria was a radical, lesbian, feminist professor who specialised in Queer Theory (a postmodern form of gay and lesbian studies).  That was until God used the loving witness of pastor Ken Smith and his wife Floy, who befriended her, and shared the gospel with her over a number of years, to bring her to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus, and her whole life was transformed.  Today she is a homeschooling, pastor’s wife and mother of four adopted children who is part of a local church that sings unaccompanied psalms.

This book tells the story of how that happened.

You might not agree with everything she says (particularly about homeschooling and unaccompanied psalm singing), but you will be amazed and at times moved, as she tells the story of what God has done in her life.

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert is available to buy HERE.

QUICK REVIEW: IS GOD ANTI-GAY?

Is-God-Anti-GaySam Allberry has already written a couple of cracking books on the implications of the resurrection and the Trinity so expectations were high as I picked up his latest Is God anti-gay? to read.

It doesn’t disappoint.

It’s short, easy to read, clear, honest, biblical, practical, uncompromising, sensitive with nice touches of humour.

In the opening couple of chapters, Sam deals with what the Bible teaches about homosexuality in the wider context of marriage.  Working briefly through all the relevant passages on homosexuality he shows that the consistent teaching of the Bible is clear: “God forbids homosexual activity” in fact “God is opposed to all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage.”

Then, having laid the foundations with what the Bible teaches, he helpfully moves onto to look at some practical issues such as, how a Christian is to respond if they experience same-sex attraction, how a church should respond if a gay couple starts attending, what a church can do to support Christians facing this issue, and how Christians and churches can be effective witnesses to the world in this area.

And in answer to the question in the title – No!

This book is a great resource for the whole church giving clarity to one of the big issues of the day in a refreshingly positive way.

Is God anti-gay? is available to buy HERE.

Quick Review: The Story of Creation Bath Book

Until recently the only bath book Harry had was Squishy and Squirty, which tells the story of Squirty crab’s search for Squishy fish who is hiding in the rock pool.  Now he has one that tells him the story of creation as he splashes around.

This new bath book from 10ofthose uses colourful and eye-catching pictures from ‘The Beginner’s Bible’ to teach under 5s about the different things that God has made.

The other night as Harry was reading it in the bath I asked him what he thought of it.  His reply: “It’s brilliant, I love it, I wish I could have another one!”

The Story of Creation Bath Book is available to buy HERE.

Quick Review: Exodus Activities

Are you a Sunday School teacher looking for worksheets for the children to do or a prize to give away?

Are you a parent looking for activities for your children to do at home based on Bible stories?

You need to check out the new puzzle and colouring books for children from 10ofthose.com.  So far in the series are activity books based on Easter and Exodus.

In Exodus Activities there are 18 different sheets ranging from mazes to word searches, dot to dot’s to spot the difference and all of them are brilliantly illustrated by Martin Young (from www.biblecartoons.co.uk).

Exodus Activities is available to buy HERE.

Book Highlights: The Good God

Here are some highlights from The Good God by Mike Reeves.

“Because the triune God has revealed himself, we can understand the Trinity.”

“The Trinity is a God we can know, and forever grow to know better.”

“Instead of starting from scratch and seeing that the triune God is a radically different sort of being from any other candidate for God, we try to stuff Father, Son and Spirit into how we have always thought of God.  We feel like we’re trying to squeeze two extra persons into our understanding of God.”

“Before he ever created, before he ever ruled the world, before anything else, this God was a Father loving his Son.”

“The Spirit stirs up the delight of the Father in the Son and the delight of the Son in the Father, inflaming their love and so binding them together in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.”

“Being triune, God is a sharing God, a God who loves to include.”

“Basic call to believe in the Son of God is an invitation to a Trinitarian faith.”

“When you start with the Jesus of the Bible it is a triune God that you get.”

“Since the Father has eternally loved his Son, it is entirely characteristic of him to turn and create others that he might also love them.”

“That the Father has always enjoyed loving another, and so the act of creation by which he creates others to love seems utterly appropriate for him.”

“The Son is the image of God, showing us what his Father is like.  As he gloriously goes, shines and radiates out from his Father, he shows us that the Father is essentially outgoing.  It is unsurprising that such a God should create.”

“The contrast between the devil and the triune God could hardly be starker – the first is empty, hungry, grasping, envious – the second is super abundant, generous, radiant, self-giving.”

“By graciously giving his creatures the room to exist, the triune God allows them the freedom to turn away without himself being the author of evil.”

“Through the sending of the Son for our salvation we see more clearly than ever how generous and self-giving the love of the triune God is.”

“The Father so loves that he desires to catch us up into that loving fellowship he enjoys with the Son.  And that means I can know God as he truly is: as Father.”

“The Spirit gives us his very self, that we might know and enjoy him and so enjoy his fellowship with the Father and the Son.”

“Through the Spirit the Father allows us to share in the enjoyment of what most delights him – his Son.”

“The Spirit’s first work is to set our desires in order, to open our eyes and give us the Father’s own relish for the Son and the Son’s own enjoyment of the Father.”

“If I don’t enjoy Christ, I won’t speak of him.”

“In my own experience, talking with non-Christian students, again and again I find that when they describe the God they don’t believe in, he sounds more like Satan than the loving Father of Jesus Christ: greedy, selfish, trigger-happy and entirely devoid of love.  And if God is not Father, Son and Spirit, aren’t they right?

Love for the Lord, love for neighbour – that is the heart of holiness and how the triune God’s people get to be like him.”

“The Father loves his Son, and so hates sin, which ultimately is rejection of the Son; he loves his children, and so hates their being oppressed, he loves his world, and so hates all evil in it.  Thus in his love he mots out sin in his people, even disciplining them that they might be freed from their captivity to it.  In his love he is patient with us.  And in his love he promises finally to destroy all evil as light destroys darkness.”

Book Highlights: Managing God’s Money

Here are some highlights from Managing God’s Money by Randy Alcorn.

“Jesus made a direct connection between our present handling of earthly wealth and his future decision to entrust to our care another kind of wealth.”

“Jesus judged the reality of Zacchaeus’ salvation by his willingness – his cheerful eagerness – to part with his money for God’s glory and the good of others.”

“A distraught man frantically rode his horse up to John Wesley, shouting, “Mr Wesley, Mr Wesley, something terrible has happened!  Your house has burned to the ground.”  Weighing the news for a moment, Wesley replied, “No.  The Lord’s house burned to the ground.  That means one less responsibility for me.”

“Good stewards always act in the owner’s best interests – consulting and listening carefully to the owner in order to understand and implement his investment priorities.”

“Every time we give to world missions, famine relief, prison ministry, Bible translation – whenever we invest our time and prayers, we can dream about the day we’ll meet and enjoy the hospitality of new friends and family, precious people in heaven.”

“Every item I add to my possessions is one more thing to think about, talk about, clean, repair, display, rearrange, and replace when it goes bad.”

“We store up treasures in heaven by holding loosely, sharing freely, and giving away earthly treasures for God’s kingdom purposes.”

“You can’t take it with you – but you can send it on ahead.”

“Whatever treasure we store up in heaven will be waiting for us when we arrive.”

“There are many good things God wants us to do with money that don’t involve giving it away.”

“Tithing is clear and consistent and it can easily be taught, including to children.”

“If Western Christians gave 10 percent… the goal of world evangelism and feeding the hungry would be within reach.”

“Why does God give some of his children more than they need, and others less than they need, so that he may use his children to help one another.”

Book Highlights: Generous Justice

Here are some highlights from Generous Justice by Tim Keller.

“A true experience of the grace of Jesus Christ inevitably motivates a man or woman to seek justice in the world.”

“When the Spirit enables us to understand what Christ has done for us, the result is a life poured out in deeds of justice and compassion for the poor.”

“God’s concern for the poor is so strong that he gave Israel a host of laws that, if practiced, would have virtually eliminated any permanent underclass.”

“If Israel as a society had kept God’s laws perfectly with all their hearts, there would have been no permanent long-term poverty.”

“Genuine disciples of Christ will create a new community that does not exclude the poor, the members of other races, or the powerless, and does deal with their needs sacrificially and practically.”

“What if your only hope was to get ministry from someone who not only did not owe you any help – but who actually owed you the opposite?  What if your only hope was to get free grace from someone who had every justification, based on your relationship to him, to trample you?”

“Jesus came into our dangerous world, he came down our road.  He came to us and saved us, not merely at the risk of his life, as in the case of the Samaritan, but at the cost of his life.”

“Before you can give this neighbour-love you need to receive it.  Only if you see that you have been saved graciously by someone who owes you the opposite will you go out into the world looking to help absolutely anyone in need.”

“There is an inequitable distribution of both goods and opportunities in this world.  Therefore, if you have been assigned the goods of this world by God and you don’t share them with others, it isn’t just stinginess, it is injustice.”

“When Christians who understand the gospel see a poor person, they realise they are looking into a mirror.” 

“As soon as you get involved in the lives of people – in evangelism as well as spiritual nurture – you will come upon people with practical needs.”

“Evangelism more important not because spiritual more important than physical but eternal more important than temporal.”

“The church should help believers shape every area of their lives with the gospel.  But that doesn’t mean that the church as an institution is itself to do everything it equips its members to do.”

“The institutional church’s mission is to evangelise and nurture believers in Christian community.  As it does this work, it produces people who engage in art, science, education, journalism, filmmaking, business in distinctive ways as believers in Christ.  The church, in this view, produces individuals who change society, but the local congregation should not itself engage in these enterprises.”

“Churches under their leaders should definitely carry out ministries of relief and some development among their own members and in their neighbourhoods and cities, as the natural and crucial way to show the world God’s character and to love the people that they are evangelising and discipling.”

“The God of the Bible says, as it were, “I am the poor on your step.  Your attitude toward them reveals what your true attitude is toward me.”  A life poured out in doing justice for the poor is the inevitable sign of any real, true gospel faith.”