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The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. - Jane Austen

Jonathan Falwell – 1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ

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I’m in two minds on this book. On one hand, I feel like when I was reading it, I did find myself nodding in agreement with things that were said. But on the other hand, I started reading this book in July last year and have only just finished it. Usually if I really get into a book, I read it pretty quickly, especially one like this that wasn’t very long.

The book professes to take us on a journey through the roughly 1000 days of Christ’s ministry on earth, from his baptism in the River Jordan, through to his death and resurrection.

And I guess it did what it said , my only complaint would be that we spent less time actually ‘in the Bible’ and studying the readings than we did reading anecdotes that didn’t to me always seem related to the part of the Bible we were talking about.

The book assured us that we would ‘study’ and ‘look closer’, but I felt like we were barely scratching the surface. I expected a more in depth study on some of the subtleties that we may not notice on first (or second or third) read, but I just didn’t get that.

If you’re looking to learn about Christ’s ministry on earth, I’d say you would probably be better off reading it directly from the gospels than hoping you would get much more insight here.

Paul Williams & Barry Cooper – If You Could Ask God One Question

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I’ve had this book on my Amazon wishlist for ages, and my lovely sister bought it for me for Christmas. It’s something that I’ve been asked a few times this year on the various courses I’ve done at Church – If you could ask God one question, what would it be? I always struggle with this to find a question that doesn’t sound stupid, but a lot of the questions I think of are included in this book.

The questions include things like ‘If you are there, why don’t you just prove it?’ and ‘What about people who believe in other religions?’.

The book is intended to be read as a book, not just to skip to your particular question and then leave it, as some answers refer to previous questions in order to be answered fully.

All the questions were answered with a strong grounding in the Bible, with references provided for all the points that the authors made, which I loved as it felt like they’d properly researched the book and weren’t just making it up as they went along, which is always a worry when buying a book like this from authors you’ve never heard of.

I did feel like some of the questions weren’t answered fully; if I was coming to this as a brand new Christian, or even someone with no faith at all, I might have felt a little disappointed by a couple of the answers. But most questions were answered very sufficiently, and I did find myself nodding my head and saying ‘ahhhhh yes’ at certain points.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who has questions about their faith that they haven’t been able to find the answer to, as this could definitely help. You can pick up a copy very cheaply on Amazon – just check out the links at the right!

Raechel Myers & Amanda Bible Williams – She Reads Truth

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The anticipation for this book was immense. I heard about the book when it was first announced on the She Reads Truth website, I eventually got around to pre-ordering it a month before it came out, but Amazon made me wait until an entire month after the release date before I actually got my hands on it! I don’t know why it took so long, but when it arrived I was dying to read it!!

And like the She Reads Truth reading plans I’ve been following for the past year, it did not disappoint. The subtitle for the book is ‘Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That’s Passing Away‘, and (as I interpreted it), it was all about making sure that you anchor your life on the things that matter (i.e. God), and not on the things that are unimportant; all those things we make such a fuss about, but that in the end, we can’t take with us.

Threaded through the book are very personal narratives from the two authors. In the book, they’ve laid themselves completely bare, and it made me feel totally connected to them in a way I haven’t in a book for a long time.

In thinking about what quotes I wanted to pull in here from the book, I was left with way too many to list all my favourites. But what I will leave you with is my absolute favourite quote, which I read on the bus on the way home from work. It spoke to me so deeply, and I read it over and over again on that journey thinking that the book was speaking directly to my heart.

“In God’s Word I’m reminded that I don’t secure my standing before him by any guarantees I make, or even those I manage to keep. I am secure because He holds me in the safety of His covenant, the same covenant he has kept for generations past and will keep for generations to come.

The promises I make to God don’t impress him. They don’t score bonus points in some heavenly account. Ultimately only one promise is necessary, only one guarantee is required: The promise he’s made to me. And that promise has already been kept, sealed, for eternity. I can rest in it. I can stop making my own.”

Every Christian woman should read this book. It was the best read I’ve had in ages, and spoke so many truths to my heart about His Truth.

Steve Ross – Marked

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I recently went on our Church Parish Weekend, and had the pleasure of helping out with one of the youth groups for the weekend. One of the resources given to each of the children during the weekend was a copy of Marked by Steve Ross. It’s a graphic novel representation of the Gospel of Mark, something I would never have even though of reading.

But like some of the kids, I went back to my hotel room the first night we’d been given it and read the whole thing in one go, I think I stayed up past 1am just so I could finish it. I was completely gripped by the style of the presentation and the unusual take on some of the familiar stories.

It’s amazing how you can think of something in a brand new light when someone presents it to you in a way you’ve never seen before, and this novel achieved that many times, so many ‘a-ha! moments’.

I’d recommend this to any young teenagers (our group was 9-14 years old), and also to older teens and adults who just want a different take on the gospel to refresh their minds. It was great later in the weekend as we read through the NIV version of the gospel to see the kids relating it back to the images they’d seen in the novel and the way they lit up. Simply brilliant.

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Confirmation and First Communion

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Today was my confirmation at Church. Since coming back into my faith last year and starting attending Pudsey Parish Church, I’ve done lots of things that have made my life so much better, I’ve started going to a weekly Cell group, I’ve been through the Alpha Course, and I’ve met loads of wonderful people.

So at the end of the Alpha Course when the Vicar said he’d be running weekly sessions at the Vicarage to prepare for Confirmation, I knew this was the right time. Since the beginning of January, I’ve been going to these classes with a small group of people, and tonight the Bishop of Richmond, Paul Slater, came to conduct the service, which started with our confirmation and then we all took Communion together, which was absolutely great.

I can still say that my decision to go to see Archbishop Sentamu at the Civic Hall last year was one of the best I’ve made, my life is so much better now!

In all things, PRAY!

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Our Church service on Sunday was about how we shouldn’t just turn to God as a last resort, he should be our first port of call. And not just when we’re in trouble or need help, but when things are going good and we’re happy too. So rather than saying ‘God, I’ve tried everything else and I really need your help’, we should be saying ‘God, thank you for the things that are going well right now’.

So it was quite good timing to see this in my instagram feed today, perfectly aligned with the message of the sermon.

(You can click through the image to see it on Instagram)

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The Creed

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When I previously went to a Methodist Church, the services never followed a particular plan, and we never really did prayers or recited text as a whole church, except for the Lord’s Prayer.

But since going to Pudsey Parish, it’s been quite different. One of the things that is said nearly every week is the Nicene Creed. I’d never even heard it two months ago, but I love the practice of saying it, and I’m looking forward to the day when I can say it without the paper in front of me.

We believe in One God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is,
seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
Amen.

I’ve also been listening to a lot more Christian music while I’m at work, which I find very uplifting. It keeps me happy while I’m working and keeps part of my thoughts on God even when I’m concentrating on other things. One song I’ve heard that I find myself singing all the time; when I wake up, when I’m in the shower, just anywhere, is This I Believe (The Creed), by Hillsong Worship. It’s based on the Nicene Creed, and when you listen to it, you just can’t help but sing along, it’s a powerful song:

“I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus”

Walking through the Old Testament

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At the weekend, I went to an event at Pudsey Parish Church called Walk Through The Bible. This particular one was the Old Testament version, but they also run a New Testament version too.

Ever since I started going back to Church last month, I’ve been feeling so much happier in myself. Apart from being in contact with God again and feeling my spirit renewed, I’ve met so many wonderfully friendly people – not a service goes by where I don’t meet someone knew, it’s been absolutely fantastic. I’ve joined a Cell group which meets on a Tuesday night for 2 hours for prayers, Bible study and discussion, and we even had the Vicar round for a cuppa last night for an introductory chat.

But coming back to Church, I realised how much I don’t know about the Bible, and how much has been forgotten during my time away, so when I heard about Walk Through the Bible, it sounded perfect. I couldn’t manage to persuade anyone to come along with me, so it was a bit daunting going along. I’m generally a very solitary person and not good at talking to new people, so it was a bit scary walking into a room full of people I didn’t know, but I was feeling at ease very quickly thanks to the wonderful people I mentioned earlier.

After a cup of tea, it was time for the event to start, and within the first few minutes it became clear that the day was going to involve a lot of actions; pointing and making shapes with our hands. That’s usually not my kind of thing, I always feel really self conscious doing them, but I quickly realised that the actions were vital to remembering my way through so much.

By the end of the day, we had a string of 77 actions taking us all the way from Creation to Christ. It was amazing how you could remember them all, I’d never have remembered without them!!

The instructor who was leading our course was fantastic. Totally charismatic and full of jokes and stories to make the day fun. I had initially thought that 8 hours of bible study would be draining, but apart from a slight post-lunch too-much-tea induced lag, the day flew by.

The event was so popular (I think there were about 40 people there) that the Vicar has asked them to come back and do the New Testament version too. I’ll be first on the list to sign up for it when it does, it was the best thing I’ve done in ages!! If there’s one in your area, I’d highly recommend it, so much fun!!

Perfect way to start the day!

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Started my day with a walk around Yeadon Tarn, with a stop half way around for a rest to enjoy the view and read. Perfect way to thank God for the beauty of nature and that we get to enjoy it so freely.

Verse of the day:

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 5:13, KJV)

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