emmaloui.se

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

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

Posted on

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!

Review: Michael Mayne – A Year Lost and Found

Posted on

Michael Mayne - A Year Lost and FoundSometimes, a book comes into your life at just the right time, and this was so perfectly timed it’s untrue.

I only picked it up by a random choice when I was browsing the religion section at the library. It stuck out to me for some reason so I checked it out. And it turned out to be completely perfect for what is going on in my life right now.

Michael Mayne was a priest struck down with a seemingly mysterious illness. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong and he spent most of his days in bed, unable to summon the energy to move. Eventually, after being shunted from doctor to doctor for test after test, the doctors told him it was probably some kind of post-viral syndrome, which could clear up in days, or it could take up to a year.

This is quite similar to my dad. He’s been spending the majority of his time in bed since last August, when he suddenly lost all energy and found it extremely comfortable to sit up for any long period of time. He’s not asleep when he’s in bed, just completely lethargic – like the author. And the doctors have diagnosed ‘extreme jet lag’, one of the things that was suggested to Michael.

The first half of the book took you through Michael’s year of illness, the highs (not many) and the lows (a lot). The second half of the book is the Michael talking about how he relates this to his experience of God, and how he doesn’t lay the blame for his illness, how suffering has a higher purpose. The book was a great (and very personal) story about illness and hope, perfectly timed to give me the hope I needed.

My favourite quote from this book was:

“Nowhere is Jesus more powerful than in his passive suffering on the Cross. Nowhere does he show more clearly the truth of the passive, suffering God whose hands are tied by love.”

4/5

Review: C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity

Posted on

cs-lewis-mere-christianityLike I said in my last post, I didn’t really know what to expect with this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. I’d only ever heard of the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis, so I didn’t know he’d written anything more ‘serious’, but this was definitely a lot different to Narnia.

Lewis was asked by the BBC during World War Two to give a series of lectures about Christianity and this book is a collection of the lectures. There is a foreword by Lewis where he lets us know that he has re-worded the lectures to make them easier to read (instead of easy to listen to), changing a few words here and there.

The book in the first part spends a lot of time arguing the case for Christianity and why there must be a God. If you had any doubts before reading it, he does a very good job of persuading you. I think this book is based a lot on his conversion to Christianity after spending much of his life as an atheist, so it has a lot of personal feeling in it, but still very carefully structured and well thought out.

He then goes on to talk about Christian virtues and behaviours. First of all the four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. After talking about these, he then moves onto the three theological virtues: hope, faith, and charity.

One of the most memorable parts of the book for me was this one:

“That is why the Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God if there is one; or – if they think there is not – at least they hope to deserve approval from good men. But the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it.”

Apart from the fact that this verse really got stuck in my head, I love the way that Lewis used the metaphor of the greenhouse to sum up exactly what he meant. He does this a lot throughout the book to make his points clearer or easier to understand, which I can imagine was helpful when listening to the BBC broadcasts. It’s similar to what Jesus did when he told his parables, to make sure that everyone can understand what is being said.

I’m extremely glad that I picked up this book after reading so many recommendations about it, and I would highly recommend it to everyone. It definitely makes you think a lot about your actions and the things you have been doing in your life. If you’re one of the blogs that recommended the book – thank you!

5-5

Now Reading: C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity

Posted on

cs-lewis-mere-christianityUntil recently, I wasn’t aware that C.S. Lewis had written anything but children’s books, having only ever read the Chronicles of Narnia books when I was younger. But while I’ve been browsing blogs on WordPress I’ve seen this book mentioned quite a lot, so I decided to buy it while I was a Waterstones with Vicky today, along with Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom and Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho.

The book is a series of lectures that Lewis was asked to give by the BBC during the second world war. The lectures apparently ‘brought comfort to millions in times of war and uncertainty’ and ‘remind us of the truly important things in life’.

I’m not sure yet what to expect, but I’m looking forward to seeing Lewis as more than just the creator of a magical world like Narnia.

Good Friday

Posted on

I can’t quite believe that it’s Easter already, this year has gone by so quickly. I have managed to stick to giving up chocolate for Lent though, even if it did mean that I couldn’t eat the gorgeous smelling dinner that my sister cooked earlier this week (who puts chocolate with Turkey?!). I’ve also mostly managed to stick to the two books that I started reading for Lent. I’m not at the end of them yet, but I’m just going to carry on reading until I’ve finished.

As it’s Good Friday, I wanted to share my favourite Good Friday Bible verses with you:

My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. —Matthew 26:39

My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done. —Matthew 26:42

This verse comes from just before Jesus is arrested, when he goes to Gethsemane to pray. He knows what is going to happen and why, and he is willing to do it to save the rest of us. It’s something that I need to learn, sometimes God wants you to do something and you just need to realise that if it’s God’s will, there’s a reason for it and you just need to get on with it and stop fighting against it.

As it’s Good Friday, I’ll probably watch The Passion of the Christ tonight. I first watched it a few years ago with my parents and we had to stop half way through as we were all so upset by it. I’ve watched it every year since, and it’s always a struggle to get to the end. Seeing everything so brutally on screen just hits home how big the sacrifice was. But it’s not something that should be avoided, in fact, I should make more of an effort to remember it all year round.

 One last thing, seeing as though it’s Good Friday, I’ll share a bit of my good news. My Dad and I have been on a new plan to eat healthily and go to the gym more often, and since Christmas I’ve lost 39 pounds and my Dad has lost 30 pounds. There’s still a long way to go, but I’m very pleased with myself for keeping up with it. Let’s just hope we can avoid too much chocolate after Sunday!!

Review: Rob Lacey – The Liberator

Posted on

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

Lent Reading: Rick Warren – The Purpose Driven Life & John Piper – The Passion of Jesus Christ

Posted on

For lent this year (as well as giving up chocolate again), I’ve decided to re-read two books that I’ve read and loved in the past.

rick-warren-the-purpose-driven-life-e1330255287342The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.

This book is handily split into 40 sections/days (although I’ve started a bit late so I’ll have to double up for a while, or finish a bit late). I’ve read it in the past, the first time was when I was part of the youth group at City Church Leeds, and it’s basically 40 days to reconnect with God and rediscover why he put us all here, what your life is about. Some people might think it all sounds a bit airy-fairy, but it was great the last time I read it, and it’s about time I read it again – maybe I shouldn’t leave it so long next time!

john-piper-the-passion-of-jesus-christ-e1330255531856The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper.

I bought and started reading this last Easter, but I never got to the end, so this year I’m determined that I will. This one is in 50 sections, so I’ll have to read more than one a day, but I remember loving what I read before. The subtitle of this book is ‘Fifty reasons why Jesus came to die’, although it makes it clear that it’s not fifty causes, but fifty purposes – fifty reasons why Christ suffered and died for us – perfect for reading during Lent.