Jonathan Falwell – 1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ

1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ

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.

My Rating: 2/5
Year Published: 2012
Number of Pages: 228
Format: Hardback
Date Read: 12th July 2016 – 11th January 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 4
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Raechel Myers & Amanda Bible Williams – She Reads Truth

She Reads Truth

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.

My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 2016
Number of Pages: 200
Format: Hardback
Date Read: 12th November 2016 – 16th November 2016
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.45
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Steve Ross – Marked

Marked

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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My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 2005
Number of Pages: 180
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 8th July 2016 – 9th July 2016
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.47
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Review: A. J. Jacobs – The Year of Living Biblically

20140531-220146-79306212.jpgI decided to read this book as a bit of an impulse. When I joined the library, I was looking around to see what kind of books they had, and I took a look at their religious section. This one kind of jumped out at me, it looked like an interesting concept: a guy decides that he’s going to spend an entire year living to the rules in the Bible. I couldn’t help but pick it up and see what it was all about!

Obviously some rules are easier to keep than others: Thou shall not kill for one. But things like not cutting your beard, not sitting in a seat after a woman has done so during her ‘unclean’ time of the month and not wearing clothes of mixed fibres are slightly more difficult to stick to.

As expected, I found the book to be quite funny, but mainly I found it very insightful. During his quest, he decides to talk to as many people as he can, from the neighbourhood Rabbi to the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the extremely evangelical Christian groups of Southern America, it was very interesting to see the many different ways that the Bible can be interpreted, and how people use the same verse to justify wildly different behaviour.

I loved the way that the author fully immersed himself in the journey, tackling the harder parts as well as the easier ones. Starting the year as an agnostic, non-practicing Jew, the culture difference is immediately apparent, especially since he’s having to drag his wife and young son along on the journey with him, and there are many times when you can sense that his wife is shaking her head and wondering what is the point.

By the end of the book, he is changed in ways that he might not have expected, and I think I was too. It’s quite easy to just disregard some of the rules in the Bible as being not applicable to this day and age, and to believe the hype that the Bible forbids homosexuality and other behaviour that is completely normal nowadays, but as A.J. finds out, verses of the Bible can be interpreted in different ways, and a lot of verses are almost certainly not supposed to be followed word-for-word.

I absolutely loved the book, although I found the ending slightly disappointing. We spend nine months of the year on the Old Testament and only three months on the New Testament. Granted, the Old Testament does contain more of the ‘rules’ and guides for life, but I felt that the New Testament section of the book was a little rushed and more like it was tacked on the end. I would have liked this part to be a little more fleshed out, but I can understand that as he was brought up in a Jewish family, the New Testament would not have been as comfortable to follow.

I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone, Christian or not. It’s an eye-opener, and you might just find yourself learning something and becoming more tolerant of other people.

5/5

 

Review: Rob Lacey – The Liberator

rob-lacey-the-liberator-e1330254420433As I have already read this book a few times, I knew it was going to be great, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Every time I read it I get something different out of it, and this time I finished the book feeling more connected than I have in a long time.

If you don’t know, The Liberator is a re-telling of the life of Jesus, but the language in the book is brought completely up to date, Lacey was definitely not afraid to change it up a little. It make the book very easy to read (once you get used to the new language he has used – e.g. Prophets are called God’s Couriers, and the temple is referred to as Religious HQ). Here’s an example from the book, from Matthew 5:17-18:

It’s time to rumble the rumours: I’m not here to bulldoze through Moses’ Big Ten Rules. I’m not here to do a character assassination job on God’s Couriers. I’m not here to finish off the Instruction Manual. No, I’m here to complete it. Straight up, on the level, nothing’s getting deleted from Moses’ Contract – not the smallest dot from your paper print-out, not the tiniest pixel, not the faintest watermark – zip. Not till every ending, from main theme to smallest subplot, gets wrapped up and filed under ‘C’ for ‘Complete’.

Compare this to the NIV, and you can see the difference:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Throughout the book are little fictional pieces, for example articles from a newspaper called ‘The Jews News’, and interviews with people from the time. It’s all very fun, and does help you see deeper into the story – a very clever idea.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, Lacey was battling cancer when he wrote this book, and he passed away shortly after it was published. It’s a shame, as he was truly talented and had a natural gift for communication and explanation.

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to get into the Bible or find out more about the life of Jesus, or to anyone who has read the Bible many times and wants a refreshing take. If you’ve read this book and liked it, I would also highly recommend The Word on the Street – another book by Lacey in very much the same style, only this time he takes on the whole Bible – a very worthwhile read!

5-5

Proverbs 4:18

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I read this verse this morning and I loved it. Then I remembered I had the perfect picture to go with it, taken on Marsden Moor earlier this year.

My YouVersion Reading Plan

I started a plan to read the whole Bible in 6 months on 6th June. It’s coming up to 6th December now, and I’m sorry to say I am nowhere near finished. I’ve found it quite hard at times to get into a routine for reading regularly, so I am only 43% through the plan. However, I’m not too disheartened, as the Own it 365 reading plan was supposed to be a 1 year reading plan, so I knew I was being quite ambitious. I’m still hopeful that I’ll be able to get back on track and finish the plan before 6th June next year.

When I first started the plan, I tried reading it on a night before I went to bed, but I often found myself too tired, so I was turning pages but not paying much attention to the words. I then started reading on my lunch break at work, but there were too many distractions in the office to concentrate fully. I’ve started reading now while I’m eating my breakfast, and I’m finding that it’s working really well.

img_3432-copyI love all the features that YouVersion offers. I’ve downloaded the free app to my iPhone and iPad, and these are synced automatically every time I read something. I can also catch up on my PC if I need to. I love being able to create bookmarks so easily (similar to the hundreds of sticky notes I’ve got in my Bible).

As much as I love the app, I do prefer reading my Bible, so often I’ll keep the reading plan open on my iPhone and use it to find where I should be reading in my Bible.

If you want to find out more about YouVersion, click the link below. Why not try the Countdown to Christmas reading plan to get you started?

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