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Believe in Miracles
Gender+
Awe
Journeying With Jonah
You'll Never Be Younger
Eager To Love
Killing Lions
Covenant and Calling
Get Your Hopes Up!
Faith In Politics
Deep Calls To Deep
God In The Whirlwind
Resisting Gossip
Learning To Walk In The Dark
The Dove, The Fig Leaf And The Sword
A Sure Path
The Wisdom House
The Destination is In Sight
Becoming Myself
Every Good Endeavour
Fruitfulness On The Frontline
Encounters With Jesus
The Approval Fix
Risk is Right
Visions In The Night
Sex And Money
Un-conditional
How To Be Wise
Giving Up god ... To Find God
Risk Takers
Strange Gods
Walking the Disciple's Path
Undivided
Billy Fidget's Family Fortunes
Battles Men Face
Pocket Your Dollars
No Matter the Cost
What's Next?
Obsessed
Seeking Justice
Change Your Words Change Your Life
The Art Of Neighboring
The Scandal of Christianity
Why Did Jesus, Moses, The Buddha and Mohammed Cross The Road?
7 Simple Choices for a Better Tomorrow
The Idolatory of God
Red Letter Christianity
Following The Spirit
Go To Grow
Holiness Without The Halo
Emotions
Winning the Food Fight
The Cross and the Switchblade
Battlefield of the Mind
Dreaming of Home
Enough
Ten at Work
There is Still More
The Envy of Eve
Presence Carriers
Recipes for Good Living
Called to Happiness
God’s Church My Place
Living the Questions
Trusting God When Times Are Tough
Jonah
Finding God in Other Christians
Grace


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Lifestyle

Spiritual direction and help with ethical decisions in our everyday living.

Believe in Miracles

- A Spiritual Journey of Positive Change

by Carmel Thomason


This is a lovely 40 day introduction to the spiritual exercise best known as 'quiet time'. Each chapter is a one day session with a reading that reflects on modern life and sets the piece for the 'Todays practice' section that closes each chapter. These involve 3 practices, the first being a 15 minute contemplation/meditation time. Close your eyes, breath deeply and be still in the presence of God...

The second activity is the examen section and so changes each day and is usually related to the contemplation piece that starts the chapter, so we may consider our worries and write them away, we may look at what we can do rather than what we can't and do one small thing , and so they go on..each one gentle and simple but actually quite transformative,

and finally the third practice is to spend 5 minutes at the end of the day thinking about the good things in your day and choosing one to be thankful for.

Excellent beginners guide to quiet time, but also a wonderful tool for anyone that wants to focus on the positive and build that into their lives.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (16/04/16)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: February 2016
ISBN: 978-0-857-46420-0
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Gender+

- - christ cetred sexuality.

by Ennrich Kritzinger


This is the 'True Story of Ennrich Kritzinger' and it is certainly a book that is on one level easy to read (it took me less than 2 hours cover to cover) and yet on another level not at all easy to read, that is because it is a story of abuse, confusion and pain, and that can never be easy to read. It is of course, as most testimony is, a book of changed circumstances though.

Gender+, we find out in the very last chapter, is the name of the ministry and website that Ennrich has set up to help people and churches engage with people over the issue of 'Christ Centred Sexuality', and herein lies the only problem I have with this book – the title is a mismatch to the contents because this is a testimony book that deals with one persons journey with only a passing nod to the wider issue of the title. I would have preferred a bit more about Gender+ be in the book personally given it's title, however as a testimony book it is certainly readable.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (16/04/16)
Jacket
Publisher: Author from CLC Wholesale
Published: February 2016
ISBN: 978-1-910-78622-2
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Awe

- Why It Matters In All We Think, Say And Do

by Paul David Tripp


We don't talk a lot about Awe and we should do, that's the basic premise of this book and the author is spot on about that fact. Awe is that wow factor that we all desire to know and go seeking after, in the words of the author its something we are born to, and often it's a misunderstanding of this fact (and what we should be in awe of) that causes so many problems we encounter, such as War, transgression, materialism and other such things.

In this book Tripp attempts to help us put Awe in its rightful context, namely and especially in the context of God, Awe of the Lord after all is the beginning of wisdom, and he does this in an easy to read style of writing that blends personal stories with biblical insight and theological thought that is very approachable.

 

 

 



Review by Melanie Carroll  (30/01/16)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: October 2015
ISBN: 978-1-783-59377-4
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Journeying With Jonah

- The Struggle To Find Yourself

by Denis McBride


I dont know whether to class this book as a commentary on Jonah or a brilliant Vocations/Life path discernment study... because it works brilliantly as either, and then add in its high design values and the intriguing artwork in it and you have a brilliant gift book suitable for any number of situations and people.

I have been sharing snippets of this book on my social media because it is just so relevant to so many different situations, but in my case it was initially a section in regards to the struggle with the path of our individual vocation or calling which may run counter to our own wants that quickened my attention. McBride just uses the book of Jonah so well to highlight this common problem... and it has certainly also been well recieved by a lot of other people too judging from the likes that and other snippets had.

I really would recommend this as a book to those exploring the path of vocation discernment... but I'd be equally as happy to recommend it as a good, easy to read contextual commentary on the book of Jonah too.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (30/01/16)
Jacket
Publisher: Redemptorist Publications
Published: October 2015
ISBN: 978-0-852-31438-8
Paperback
Price: £9.95

You'll Never Be Younger

- A Good News Spirituality For Those Over 60

by William J O'Malley


Jesuit William J O'Malley is Professor of Religion at Seattle University. He is also an octogenarian so has a vast amount of life-experience behind him. In this book he offers a timeless wisdom which comes from many years of ministry, teaching and pastoral care. As someone who is now a septagenarian I found his insights connected with my own experience in its strengths, weaknesses, aspirations and failures. He brings illustrations and quotes to issues which everyone in older age confronts, but all the time draws the readers towards a deeper faith and a closer walk with Christ. The book is a reminder that Paul's fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5) is still relevant today for good communities and positive living. However old you are, don't give up and settle into some mediocre patter but keepon looking for and doing new things. Death may come to us all in the end, but life is for living in the here and now and (in O'Malley's words) "being comfortable with God."

Review by Graham Wise  (05/10/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: April 2015
ISBN: 978-1-626-98124-9
Paperback
Price: £11.99

Eager To Love

- The Alternative Way Of Francis Of Assisi

by Rochard Rohr


Richard Rohr’s books are always worth reading and in this book, Rohr who is a Franciscan himself, looks at the ‘the alternative way’ of St Francis of Assisi...a way that was in many ways as countercultural then as it is now, a way that is about giving up the things of self so as to be able to go deeper, but this is not about a heaven only theology for the few, but rather was a very much down to earth rooted theology in things possible for anyone.

It is here that we can really see why Francis is one of the Christian church's most popular saints, that we see past the twee statues and images, and into the real game changer play of Francis and Clare - their practice and belief that Jesus is here and that it is in our actions, sacrifices and communities that we truly come to know him and serve him, and most importantly it is something possible for every one.

This really is a book well worth reading and engaging with.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (11/08/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: 13 August 2015
ISBN: 978-1-473-60403-2
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Killing Lions

- A Guide Through The Trials Young Men Face

by John & Sam Eldredge


This is a paternal conversation, captured in the answering of questions and principles about love, money, work, God, and life. There is the raw acknowledgement that there's not instant formation in life, just by osmosis. Life is not neat or easy.

Killing Lions is an exploration, by father and son, of the questions young men face coming into manhood-questions that continue to haunt many otherwise, if not addressed. The concept is that there are a few lions to kill before he will know he has become a man and that God can entrust him with dreams coming true. John Eldredge engages with his son, Sam, for a give-and-take examination of what it takes to become a man, using "the journey is the destination, warrior and conqueror" language. There is insight, content, prayerfulness and adventure throughout this short book.

The areas of the book that covered self-control and doubt were strongest, with the collision of worlds and the winning character of God in us, at the heart of it all. Its got a fatherly weave and tone in the wisdom, substance and detail of what's offered. Its wide ranging and insightful with lots of the content in this rites of passage style work. However, it is a book clearly written by Americans, to those living in a north-American context, and whether that will fully translate to the european experience is a question that remains to be seen.



Review by Johnny Douglas  (10/07/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Thomas Nelson From TMD or Joining the Dots
Published: September 2014
ISBN: 978-1-400-20670-4
Hardback
Price: £11.99

Covenant and Calling

- Towards A Theology Of Same-Sex Relationships

by Robert Song


This is an intelligent, articulate and well considered addition to the discussion of Same-Sex relationships and marriage. It pulls together the discussions and works of others to try to present a unified point for a covenant theology of relationships that would include Same-Sex relationships.

This book is well written and the style is very easy to read, and it is not confrontational in tone. But then it is a book that does not take sides, but that rather elucidates the larger discussion in depth and considered details, opening a discussion for a theology that could, perhaps, encapsulate all covenant relationships regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

This book is a must read for those wanting more than just the usual arguments, for those wanting to get to the root of the theology that is being discussed, and that just want to have a better understanding of the discussion at that level.


Review by Melanie Carroll  (27/04/15)
Jacket
Publisher: SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 07 October 2014
ISBN: 978-0-334-05188-6
Paperback
Price: £16.99

Get Your Hopes Up!

- Expect Something Good To Happen To You Every Day

by Joyce Meyer


In Meyer's inimitable style of humour and insight this book looks at how we can become more positive people by keeping our hopes up... and of course, also more focused on God! 

Despite everything that is going on in your life, Meyer contends, you can choose to be positive, you can choose to see the good, you can keep your hope up and focus on the good, and in so doing you will see good things happen to you. God will provide if you focus on him and see the good he has already graced you with, that's not to say bad things don’t, and won't, happen... but it is to say that if you focus on hope, if you hold fast to faith and see the better that is there, then you can get through them. Hope is what gets you through. So don't settle for the negative when you can have the positive instead.

This is an easy to read book that any fan of Meyer will appreciate, and indeed many going through negative situations may also gain some small help from the book too. A larger format paperback it does have a good size comfort print that makes it easier to read, although not to carry around in a bag or pocket.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (27/04/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: 09 April 2015
ISBN: 978-1-473-61258-7
Paperback
Price: £13.99

Faith In Politics

- Rediscovering The Christian Roots Of Our Political Values

by Richard Harries


In 2004 a public attitudes survey suggested that 31% of British people believed that all or most MPs told the truth. In 2012 that had fallen to 20%. Now in 2015 there is clearly an unprecedented cynicism about politics resulting in low turn-outs at elections and a general mistrust of politicians of all parties.

In this book Richard Harries argues the case for a recovery of confidence in our political values—in particular the rule of law, democracy and human rights. He argues that all these and others are deeply grounded in a Christian understanding of what it means to be a human being in society.

Harries believes there are four factors of paramount importance for 21st century British society: the low esteem in which politicians are held; that our political system should be defended and made to work; a belief in the fundamental values of our democracy; and that the market and social liberalism have been damaging to our way of life.

In six well-argued chapters Harries examines the basis on which the Church claims to speak in and to the political arena, the moral and theological basis of law, democracy as a bedrock of a just society, the worth of the individual, that the Christian faith offers a foundation for human rights and, lastly, discusses issues of identity and the connection between identity and religion.

This is a revised edition of a book first published in 2010 and a timely voice in the run-up to a general election.

 



Review by Graham Wise  (11/03/15)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: 26 November 2014
ISBN: 978-0-232-53181-7
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Deep Calls To Deep

- Spiritual Formation In The Hard Places Of Life

by Tony Horsfall


Another well thought out and insightful book from Tony Horsfall that blends consideration of the Psalms with stories from ordinary people that have been dealing with difficult situations and times in their lives that highlight the deeper reality of the psalms that reflect the deeper hardships, turmoils and woes of life. In turn he then reflects this outward to show how these things and dark times can be used to deepen our walk with God.

Given the inclusion of the Group Study material this book moves from just the realm of a good read for individuals to a book that serves a deeper purpose, one that can be used as a small group resource on the psalms of lamentation ... or as a resource maybe for a discipleship or healing group.

With well thought out biblical consideration on the psalms that ties in to the deeper personal realities of pain, loss, illness, depression and more this book really is a book that helps draws out the intent of God to walk with us, and how we can use these times to deepen our relationship with Him.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (05/03/15)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: February 2015
ISBN: 978-1-841-01731-0
Paperback
Price: £7.99

God In The Whirlwind

- How The Holy-Love Of God Reorients Our World

by David F Wells


Some books are simply difficult to read because the language employed makes assumptions about the theological predispositions of the reader. These become obstacles for the sincere reader that need to be traversed if the heart of the book is to be reached. This is one such book and sadly I have found the obstacles insurmountable.

This is a book that is first and foremost for American evangelicals; it speaks out of their context and seeks to explore some (mis) understandings about the nature of God, or in the language of the book ‘God’s character’. Not coming from either America or evangelicalism, I fail to connect readily with the issues that occupy Wells.

At the centre of his thesis is the concept of God’s ‘holy-love’ – the relationship between holiness and love – and through this Wells seeks to offer an answer to sometimes shallow evangelical approaches to the nature of God. Here Wells could draw more on catholic spiritual traditions than he does, for whilst all traditions have their faults and limitations, it is surely in the arena of the relationship between holiness and service that Catholicism can claim a considerable reputation.

Despite the limitations personally experienced in addressing this volume, Wells is to be commended for seeking to contribute to an area of evangelical thought that is clearly under-resourced. Others amongst his community of readers will find it invaluable. The book is accompanied by ample references and indexes.

Review by David Ford  (28/03/15)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 978-1-783-59033-9
Paperback
Price: £14.99

Resisting Gossip

- Winning The War Of The Wagging Tongue

by Matthew C Mitchell


Gossip is hardly a new phenomenon, but in the wake of the ‘communication revolution’ it has never been so easy or so seductive, promoted by the media as a normal, and indeed healthy, pastime though they roundly condemn the ‘Twitter Trolls’ who are the logical end-result.

Few Christians would deny the inherent destructiveness of gossip, yet it infests many congregations and Matthew Mitchel undertakes in this book to identify the danger signs and provide tools both for dealing with it in our everyday lives and changing the culture within our churches.

I was surprised to find out how much the Bible has to say on the matter and how much practical advice it offers. The author puts this into its modern context and gives anonymised examples, along with Group Discussion Questions and an extra chapter especially for church leaders. I found it very balanced and readable, not ‘preachy’ in any way; direct and to-the-point, and without any spurious quick fixes. Mathew admits that he has yet to find a one-size-fits-all approach; “…life is messier than that,” he says, “and God’s wisdom is better than that too.” Recommended.    



Review by Diane Morrison  (02/02/15)
Jacket
Publisher: CLC Wholesale
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-1-619-58076-3
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Learning To Walk In The Dark



by Barbara Brown Taylor


'learning to walk in the dark' is a finely written, insightful and beautiful contemplation and study on what it means to fear... the dark. It's also a beautifully considered look at working past this fear, or if not working past it, to at least come to understand it a little and see in that dark, that fear, the light that glimmers through it.
Of course The Dark we are talking about here is not just a real fear of the dark of night, or caves or other such real experiences  although She uses these very real fears and experiences as fine examplars of the much deeper dark of our fears in general.
It is without a doubt a finely written book that is easy to read and deals superbly with the trials and fears of life, and the ability to move through them and come out safely into the light at the end of them.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (16/12/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: May 2014
ISBN: 978-1-848-25615-6
Paperback
Price: £14.99

The Dove, The Fig Leaf And The Sword

- why Christianity Changes Its Mind About War


In support of his argument that the Church has changed its view of war over the centuries, Alan Billings divides Church history into three major periods and discusses the differences between them, as regards the Church’s broad moral stance on war.

For its first 300 years or so, “the Church was without question a dove and its members practised the way of non-violence,” though without being ‘pacifist’, in an absolute sense.

Billings does recognise a “more extensive repertoire”. Over the following centuries, the doctrine of a just war emerged, enabling the Church to move reluctantly from pacifism to a “qualified acceptance of coercion”. Augustine, Ambrose and Thomas Aquinas feature at some length in this section.

Crusades, holy wars and persecution of Jews and ‘heretics’ were exempted from classification as ‘just wars’. Some Christians are quoted as opponents of Just War, among them Erasmus and Machiavelli. Those who view pacifism as the only legitimate Christian attitude will see the Just War as simply a “fig leaf disguising Christianity’s abject capitulation to power”.

In the third period, that between the Reformation and the World Wars of the 20th century, the sword comes to represent the Church’s attitude to war. Violence would be embraced if the cause were righteous. “The traditions of both pacifism and just war were eclipsed in Christian thinking.”

Billings’ eighth chapter—“Christian Responses to the First World War”—makes very interesting reading when so many events have been held to mark the centenary of 1914. Billings comments, “On both sides we find an almost unqualified identification of God’s interest with the national interest."

But now since 1945 something remarkable has happened “A dove-ish spirit descended on the modern Church!” Alan Billings devotes the last chapter of this most stimulating book—and a brief  ‘Afterword’—to the Church’s recovery of just war principles, expanded by measures to ensure security after war.

Such jus post bellum—Latin for "Justice after war"—measures include ensuring a swift return to normal life, and the deterring of acts of retaliation and revenge.

This book covers a vast amount of ground, delving into the distant past, but also focusing on matters that are right up to date. If you have any interest in the ethics and conduct of war, whether it’s just in the realm of theory or has practical consequences, I think you will enjoy reading it, as I did.



Review by Barry Vendy  (21/11/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: May 2014
ISBN: 978-0-281-07224-8
Paperback
Price: £12.99

A Sure Path

- Discovering The Certainty Of Christ In An Uncertain World

by Susan Sutton


Reading this book by Susan Sutton is like sitting for a heart to heart conversation with an old friend. In her introduction she shares how two images have shaped her life of faith: life as a pilgrimage and faith as a walk with God. Our years on earth are like a journey and each chapter that follows is a reflection on different aspects of the journey. 

Susan uses a wide range of illustrations from her own life as well as testimonies from her friends.She draws, too, on the Bible and Christian authors.

Towards the end of each chapter are some Scripture passages and questions for reflection.

This book would be an excellent resource to use at the beginning of each day in a devotional hour with God. Wherever you are on your journey with God you will find this conversation with Susan an encouragement to keep pressing on.



Review by Jackie Rowe  (15/10/14)
Jacket
Publisher: CLC Wholesale
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-619-58068-8
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Wisdom House

- You Don't Always Have To Learn The Hard Way

by Rob Parsons


What a wonderful book! Amusing, insightful and above all an absolute pleasure to read.

This book is something that everyone over the age of 15 should make time to read.

The wisdom it shares is something that we all will or have experienced at some point in our lives. The questions it raises we have all asked at some point, and if we haven’t then we will.

Yet here is a little book of huge wisdom that is told with humour and insightfully shares the reality of life. Why it isn’t fair, why it doesn’t always go to plan, what forgiveness means and many other daily struggles.

As a counsellor I can honestly say I will be sharing this book with clients and passing on some of the words of wisdom I have found within its covers.



Review by Allison Carroll  (25/10/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: January 0014
ISBN: 978-1-444-74566-5
Hardback
Price: £12.99

The Destination is In Sight



by Patrick Coughlin


Patrick Coghlan's book endeavours to portray a Christianity that connects with everyday life. He does this through a study of a selection of John's New Testament writings beginning with the 'I am' sayings of Jesus, moving on to the Johannine Letters and the seven churches in Revelation, with a final section selected from Revelation.

Subtitled, "The challenge of the Kingdom according to John's writings" the book focuses on the meaning and nature of the Kingdom of God and how that understanding should shape Christian life.

The book is neither commentary nor theological treatise on the, texts but nevertheless provides a user-friendly resource encouraging reflection on the relevance of a New Testament understanding of the Kingdom of God for 21st century Christian life and witness.



Review by Graham Wise  (22/09/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Gardners Books
Published: March 2014
ISBN: 978-0-957-49626-2
Paperback
Price: £6.99

Becoming Myself

- Embracing Gods Dream Of You

by Stasi Eldredge


Stasi Elredge’s gentle voice in this book leads you onto a path of self discovery, as she recounts her own life and battles she guides the reader to ask not only who they are but who they are in God and faith.

She seeks to challenge many long held beliefs—both secular and non secular—from misogyny to mothers and how they effect women and their perception of who they are.

She looks at the many influences on women in scripture and society and asks the reader to honestly and gently challenge their own history, thoughts and beliefs. It's written in a way that isn’t overpowering or dogmatic and is in short bite sizes that allows the reader time to reflect or continue as they need.

This is a book filled with hope, love and beauty.  It’s a book to inspire and lead and well worth reading if you are or have ever felt lost and well worth reading even if you have gone through your own journey of discovery into who you really are as it will challenge you to think deeper and continue to understand yourself better.



Review by Allison Carroll  (11/09/14)
Jacket
Publisher: David C Cook / Kingsway
Published: September 2014
ISBN: 978-1-434-70841-0
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Every Good Endeavour

- Connecting Your Work To God's Plan For The World

by Timothy Keller


Christian scripture gives us hope for all of life. For all of our lives including our workplaces, despite frustration, they are to be places of formative spiritual hope in the face of pursuing vocation in this world. So here Keller considers the nature of work, how sin messes up work, and how the gospel of Jesus Christ relates to work. Everyone has the experience of imagining accomplishing things but being incapable of producing them. Without God, all our best will never measure up, but with God our work can be part of bringing about the future healed world.

While others have written more scholarly defences of the theology of vocation, Every Good Endeavour is the most accessible book integrating a distinctively Christian perspective to our daily work. Moreover, Keller winsomely speaks to non-Christians who are trying to make sense of the frustrations and pleasures of their working lives.

Keller begins with God’s plan for our work: The idea that work preceded the Fall, that work gives dignity to humankind, and that work allows us to cultivate the created order such that others are served. Keller also relates our vocation to the gospel doctrine of justification by faith alone.

We labour in the certain hope of redemption, and of a new heavens and new earth. Keller goes on to address how to biblically steward the responsibility, authority, and power that might come from a job well done. It’s what follows next that I think is most potent, as Keller deals with how our work lives reveal our most deeply held and pervasive idols, as different cultures have different idols.

There is a powerful revelation that the Christian worldview helps us make sense of our work. As Keller writes: “Properly understood, the doctrine of sin means that believers are never as good as our true worldview should make us. Similarly, the doctrine of grace means that unbelievers are never as messed up as their false worldview should make them.”

The gospel gives those who believe a ‘new-compass’ for work: we work unto the Lord, but for the good of others. This empowers us to be change-agents in our spheres, for the sake of others. We’ll have a winsome, peaceful attitude as we go about our work because we no longer ‘need’ the work to give us meaning and worth.

This is classic Keller. It’s some of his best, if not strongest work: powerfully translating a reformed and biblical worldview to communicate winsomely. Here are some of my highlights:-

“The doctrine of common grace brings a great deal of freedom to our work.Christians often feel false guilt for not creating an explicitly Christian product or service in their work. Non-Christians can be genuine co-workers, because they are pursuing God-honouring work.”

“Two things we want so desperately, glory and relationship, can co-exist only in God.”

“Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavours, even the best, will come to naught. Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a true reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavour, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.”

Every Good Endeavour is an excellent read for anyone seeking a better understanding of how their faith can be, and should be, integrated with their work. It’s whole-life-discipleship at it’s clearest. Great insight, theological engagement and practical application all-together. 



Review by Johnny Douglas  (27/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: July 2014
ISBN: 978-1-444-70260-6
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Fruitfulness On The Frontline

- Making A Difference Where You Are

by Mark Greene


Mark Green is Director of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, the aim of which is "envisioning and equipping Christians to make difference in God's world." 98% of Christians spend 95% of their waking time in non-church-related activities.
In this very readable and heart-warming book, Mark Greene shows us how God can work effectively through Christians in their ordinary, everyday situations.
He writes about making a difference where you are, suggesting simple, natural ways in which Christians can influence communities, work-places and leisure opportunities. It is full of true stories about real people set free to live for God where they are.
If you read this book you will be encouraged about what it means to live more like Jesus in everyday situations-"on the frontline."
Mark Greene's approach to Christian living is refreshing, accessible and practical. Here is a book to spark imagination and celebrate where and what we are as we engage with God in his mission to the world.

Review by Graham Wise  (07/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: March 2014
ISBN: 978-1-783-59125-1
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Encounters With Jesus

- Unexpected Answers To Life's Biggest Questions

by Timothy Keller


 

One of the joys of reviewing books is that from to time an absolute cracker crosses your desk and catches you completely unawares. Encounters with Jesus is one such book. This is an absolute delight to read—engaging, imaginative and genuinely original.

Essentially, Encounters with Jesus offers the reader ten bible studies on physical encounters Jesus had as reported in the gospel of John. 

Whereas some biblical scholars would analyse these encounters from a doctrinal or historical or cultural or linguistic perspective, Timothy Keller focuses instead of what Jesus is teaching us about the really big questions of life—why are we here? What is the world for? What’s wrong with it? what can we do about it? 

His approach is rooted in an approach to scripture focused on ‘listening to the text’, which for me means lectio divina. What happens to our understanding of scripture when we allow ourselves to dwell in it?

Encounters with Jesus is based on two distinct lecture series that the author undertook on both sides of the Atlantic—although this is not too apparent to the reader. The first five encounters are therefore focused on individual encounters and the second five on pivotal events in Jesus’ life. 

One little niggle is that the biblical references for the ten encounters are not listed on the contents page under the chapter headings—that would be a huge gain for preachers like me! I will pencil them in.

Nonetheless, together these 10 encounters make for absolutely compelling reading. Enjoy! 

 



Review by David Ford  (05/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: November 2013
ISBN: 978-1-444-75413-1
Hardback
Price: £14.99

The Approval Fix

- How To Break Free From People-Pleasing

by Joyce Meyer


I like Joyce Meyer's style, it's to the point but with a veneer of self-deprecating humour. It works because even though what she says might have a slight sting to it, you come out feeling better for it anyway. This book on people-pleasing is no different. It's short, easy to read but nonetheless packs a punch ... gently.

We all do it, we all people-please to some degree and, as she points out, that's not really a problem. What is a problem is when we begin to tie ourselves up in knots because we think we are only good enough if we are pleasing others, if we are doing things for others, or if we are doing it for the 'glory' it brings us.

When we start doing things for the sole reason of the Approval of others then we likely aren't doing them for the right reasons, and we certainly aren't keeping our eyes focused on the one who we should be trying to live our lives for. Approval seeking is an addiction and like all addictions we need to see it for what it is and work through the steps to give it up.

This quite short and easy to read book could be a good step on that path, and is certainly a good addition to the shelf of any Joyce Meyer fan ... even if you don't think you have an approval addiction.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (06/06/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: June 2014
ISBN: 978-1-444-78565-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Risk is Right

- Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste it

by John Pipier


A choice lies before you: Either waste your life or live with risk. Either sit on the sidelines or get in the game. After all, life was no cakewalk for Jesus, and he didn't promise it would be any easier for his followers. We shouldn't be surprised by resistance and persecution. Yet most of us play it safe. We pursue comfort. We spend ourselves to get more stuff. And we prefer to be entertained.

We are all tempted by the idea of security, the possibility of a cozy Christianity with no hell at the end. But what kind of life is that really? It's a far cry from adventurous and abundant, from truly rich and really full, and it's certainly not the heights and the depths Jesus calls us to.

Discover in these pages a foundation for fearlessness. Hear God's promise to go with you into the unknown. And let Risk Is Right help you see the joys of a faith-filled and seriously rewarding life of Jesus-dependent abandon!



Review by x  (07/05/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Crossway from Eden
Published: January 2013
ISBN: 978-1-433-53534-5
Paperback

Visions In The Night

- Hearing God In Your Dreams

by Russ Parker


Russ Parker—the Director of the Acorn Christian Healing Foundation—wants us to recognise the importance of our dreams, because God may use them as ‘the doorway through which he invites us to know ourselves and also to hear his visionary challenges to our lives'. 

In this reissue of a book first published in 2002, he urges us to ‘listen out for the voice of God speaking to us through visions of the night.'

Parker devotes a chapter each to 15 significant dream experiences from the Bible. These range from Jacob's dream at Bethel through to Paul's vision of a man from Macedonia.

All the chapters contain the background to the dream plus a section headed ‘Making it Personal', which indicates what we can learn from that particular dream. I find that everything Russ Parker writes is extremely constructive and helpful, and this is no exception. You might enjoy
reading Healing Dreams too.



Review by Barry Vendy  (13/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: July 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-07083-1
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Sex And Money

- Empty Pleasures, Satisfying Grace

by Paul David Tripp


This is a book about idolatry. It happens to be a book about sex and money, probably the two greatest idols of our western culture in this generation. Yet it could equally be about alcohol or gaming, investing in your home or addictive gym membership.

At the core of Paul Tripp's argument is that the pursuit of pleasure cannot replace our yearning for God. As the author says: "Don't make the mistake of seeking horizontally what you can find only vertically".

Following an honest assessment of the mess we're in, Tripp embarks on a detailed exploration of our obsession with sex and money. Written in a way that will be, for some, too contemporary in style and directness. Tripp identifies our obsession with self as in direct contradiction with scripture and a clear obstacle in our relationship with God.

Change is possible of course, fuelled by God's inextinguishable grace. Ultimately this is a hopeful book; so much has gone wrong, yet it can still all come right again.

What this book needs is a complementary course that can equip church leaders to use Tripp's material as a basis for group work. I can even see it as the basis for marriage preparation or, taking a different approach, in school.

Yes it's tough stuff and Tripp has no problem with difficult questions. But you only have to go out on a weekend evening—or get honest answers from teenagers as to how they spend their time online—to see the need to address the issues he raises.



Review by David Ford  (10/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: April 2013
ISBN: 978-1-844-74842-6
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Un-conditional

- Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays Vs Christians Debate

by Justin Lee


Un-Conditional is a beautiful and honourable book with an honesty and gentle insight at its heart and a passion for compassion and understanding shining through.

This is not a book of argument or rhetoric, but a book of apologia that works more for the lack of such heated argument. It moves one and tries to open the discussion up to the human realiaties and suffering.

It invites us to understand and consider the reality away from the academic, the reality of the persons dealing with the issues—the gay person yes, but also their family, their friends, their church. Tt asks us to look at this issue with the eyes of the gospel, with the eyes of Jesus—you know that man that did not judge the adulteress but instead had compassion for her.

Perhaps one of the most important bits of the book is the discussion around the realisation that the word "gay" has connotations that are at odds sometimes between those using it.

For some gay immediately means sex, for some not. Sadly, for all the discussion becomes bogged down at this point, until we work past the word and instead see and deal with the person, each of whom is an individual and not a "type".

Of all the books I have read on this subject, I think I would say that this is truly the most pastoral of them all and there is a real need and place for this book within our churches and within the hands of our congregations, and for those who are Gay and Christian.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (29/01/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 978-1-444-74542-9
Paperback
Price: £8.99

How To Be Wise

- Growing In Discernment And Love

by Rod Garner


If you want a 'how to' book, which describes how to get wisdom in ten clear steps, this is not for you!It is not easy reading, but neither is it academic or abstruse.

Rod Garner's aim is to help the reader attain wisdom through growing in discernment and love. He begins with a chapter answering the question 'What is wisdom?' but even here there are no easy answers—he wants us to wrestle with its meaning until we find it for ourselves.

In the rest of the book, the author looks at the Bible (ranging through Ecclesiastes, John Chapter 1, and the writings of Paul), music, the emotions and silence.

I felt the pivotal chapter—and one of the most challenging—was 'Wisdom and the ethics of reading'. He defines serious reading as "the business of paying proper attention as we turn the page, follow the lines of text and make ourselves ready for the warmth, recognition and enlightenment that a particular assembly of words can sometimes evoke."

He points out that we live in a culture where our concentration span is diminishing and we are distracted by social media and the lure of the internet. Even devoted readers can find their concentration drifting sooner or later. To master a text at a deeper level, where wisdom is found, requires time, silence and perhaps even solitude.

This is a fascinating book, packed with personal illustrations, a wide range of quotations from people of faith and no-faith, and topical references. A worthwhile read.



Review by Jackie Rowe  (27/12/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: August 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-06893-7
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Giving Up god ... To Find God

- Breaking Free Of Idolatry

by Kerry Walters


The creation of idols seem to be an inescapable part of the life of faith. This is a powerful and authentic exploration of 'designer gods' from the keyboard of Kerry Walters.
 
"Giving Up god... to Find God" is a short and insightful book that examines errors we make when we think about God, and how these things obstruct our depth of life with God. This is full of technical research, robust thought and dashes of inspiration. 

The book would be an ideal choice for church and study group use, as each chapter deals with a different, clearly-defined misconception of God. The book would also interest 'Introduction to Religion' college classes and individual spiritual seekers struggling to understand God.

Walters summarizes well some of the major errors in thinking about God in various categories. The book is written with clarity and good spirit as world views are engaged with objectively and their vulnerabilities laid bare. I wanted more around the Meister Eckhart take on things, more in the conclusion and more insight as to why, "taking leave of God for the sake of God is the greatest ask of renunciation that someone can make."
 
Just as Pascal said, "There is nothing so abominable in God's eyes as idolatry, whereby men render to the creature honor which is due only to the Creator." This is top-class stuff. 



Review by Johnny Douglas  (07/12/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-1-626-98042-6
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Risk Takers

- The Life God Intends For You

by Malcolm Duncan


This is a pacey, engaging and thoroughly challenging book from the equally pacey, engaging and thoroughly challenging Malcolm Duncan. This is a great gift for the resourcing and renewal of the local church.

The memorable line from this title that best captures sums it up for me is this:- "The unpredictable Spirit invites us to an adventure of faith." This is what we can so easily stray from. This Holy Spirit adventure is what is detailed in a brilliant and compelling way. 

The concepts, scripture, stories and inspiration are well constructed, using eight well themed big-ideas that will encourage us to more accurately live an Acts-style faith. This is a robust sweep of risks in which we need to repeatedly engage with so that we might be renewed and rooted, just as God has always intended for us.

Risks are invited and fears are detailed with parity and wisdom. Obedience, faith and depth are encouraged, and I found this an even better read on the second visit. Safety never should trump obedience to God. And here's the fuel for that kind of living.

Classic fire for the belly, prompts for action, and encouragement for your spirit. It's a helpful resource for the hungry or plain-stuck Christian!  

 



Review by Johnny Douglas  (07/12/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: October 2013
ISBN: 978-0-857-21006-7
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Strange Gods

- Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life

by Elizabeth Scalia


Strange Gods is an excellent book that looks at the various "gods" we worship, be they time, money, sex or one of my personal favourites the "idea". Scalia is a well respected blogger known as The Anchoress at a site called Patheos.com and the easy style of blog follows through here in this book, a personal tone that has a semi-contemplative air to it making it easy to read and digest. Yet for all that easy style there is much content here and some real insights and questions of note. The sections in this book really do dig at how we come to make idols of meaningless things and how it happens almost without our notice, and more importantly how often these things arise not from our badness, not from meaning to sin, but rather sometimes from our meaning to do good... It's a brilliant book that should appeal to many and is certainly worth reading and could even make a great basis for a series of group studies or talks.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (04/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Ave Maria Press from Alban Bks
Published: May 2013
ISBN: 978-1-594-71342-2
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Walking the Disciple's Path

- Eight Steps That Will Change Your Life and the World

by Linda Perrone Rooney


This book uses the work Catholic a lot in its introduction but this book is not just for Catholics and that's one of the things the author, an experienced spiritual director, is trying to get over to us - the fact that spirituality is open to all. The disciple's path was walked by ordinary fishermen and people of very ordinary faith, and that faith and path is still open to us all.
This book is a guide on that path and along the journey of discipleship and spirituality. It walks us step by step with those early disciples, using beautiful imagery and insight and giving suggested activities that draw us deeper into the journey we are walking that they too walked. So we look at letting go of that which holds us back, at finding compassion, learning to understand prayer, seeing beyond the obvious, being generous, healing others and ourselves, and in the end trusting God and being more like Jesus. It is a beautiful book designed to be used alone, and I think it would make a perfect retreat guide, and it would also make a wonderful group activity book if you didn't want to walk the disciples path alone...

Review by Melanie Carroll  (11/06/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Ave Maria Press from Alban Bks
Published: May 2013
ISBN: 978-1-594-71368-2
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Undivided

- Closing the faith-life gap

by Graham Hooper


This book would have been well served with a cover that reflected the tube signs saying 'mind the gap', because in many ways that's what this book is about - minding the gap between what we say and what we do; what we profess to believe and what we really believe or want to believe. It's an excellent book filled with real thought, contemplation and great reflection questions throughout about the disconnect between the life we live and the belief we hold. It covers a number of places where we find this gap and using both Biblical reflection and real life assessment helps to uncover the gap and work on stepping over it safely. For me part three dealt wonderfully with work, success, and making a difference using insight from and into Nehemiah and Proverbs.

An easy to read and well grounded book that looks honestly at a topic most of us probably try to shy away from.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (21/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: 19 April 2013
ISBN: 978-1-844-74624-8
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Billy Fidget's Family Fortunes

- The continuing adventures of Billy Fidget

by Nick Battle and Eric Delve


The adventures, actually common to many of us, are explored with honesty and humour through the imaginary correspondence between God and Billy Fidget (plus a few others), which we first met memorably in The Billy Fidget Letters. The issues include grief and loss, healing (and its absence), the challenge of reconciliation, the upsets and unpredictability of family life, and the sheer determination of love, God's above all. So suspend disbelief, enjoy an entertaining and imaginative read, and see how your own experiences take on fresh meaning in the light of God's fatherly love for you.

Review by Barry Vendy  (03/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: February 2013
ISBN: 978-1-444-70362-7
Hardback
Price: £14.99

Battles Men Face

- Strategies to Win the War Within

by Gregory L Jantz; Ann McMurray


Internal male wars are plenty. OK that is if we're honest. Gregory Jantz tracks many of the thematic struggles present in a man's life. Most men are too embroiled in the battle to be able to take the objective look that Dr Jantz offers.

The chapter on emotional withdrawal is particularly strong. The questions in this chapter are top class and rummage meaningfully with the purpose and pain of cave dwelling!

The chapters though warmly written, and solid in their content, lack challenge and feel tame. It is good Christian ethos self-help but it stops short in its courage to speak to the systemic identity and woundedness of the male soul.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (25/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Revell imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: December 2012
ISBN: 978-0-800-71969-2
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Pocket Your Dollars



by Carrie Rocha


Vision and focus lie at the heart of a life well spent. This is a pacey, culturally American, resource guide to living wisely and well within our means. At the heart of this new title from Carrie Rocha is the foundational matter of attitude.

There are challenging and needed alignments invited here of the reader. There is theory but lots of practice including the truth of many times when things didn't quite work out. There's layers of usefulness and many great ideas that people can do. The content and communication translate very well.

My hinge moment with this book was the attitude "if I only had more money". Rocha debunks the future notion of lottery or free-flowing monies in our bank accounts, rooting it all in attitude.

At the heart is the thesis that you can do all the right things, but if your underlying thinking is wrong, you won't do the right things for long. Attitude is key: the struggles, explanations and solutions offered are full of life.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (19/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: 28 February 2013
ISBN: 978-0-764-21087-7
Paperback
Price: £8.99

No Matter the Cost

- Igniting a Life of Strength and Honor

by Vance Brown


Discouraged, exhausted and doubting?! Then if you're a man this new book is particularly for you in its journey into God's grace, strength and forgiveness. The call of Jesus is always "come follow me!" Vance Brown engages in a robust dialogue with Thoreau's analysis of a generation of men, living in "quiet desperation". Brown curates wisdom, stories and scripture in a patchwork that is both compelling and challenging the depth and fruit of our faith.

There are insights galore with some of my favourites being the humility equation, the call to weep and the invitation to battle and dance!

I'm always keen on a gutsy, gospel, Christ-loving book that messages passion, hope and tenderness. This is all this and more. Here are many short, pithy, action-orientated chapters mean that this message is really powerfully. Top class stuff!

Review by Johnny Douglas  (26/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Bethany House imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-764-20999-4
Paperback
Price: £7.99

What's Next?

- Navigating Transitions to Make the Rest of Your Life Count

by H Norman Wright


For life is not a progression of fixed points. In fact, stable times actually are the exception; transition is the norm!

Life, according to renowned Christian counsellor H Norman Wright, is a series of transitions. "Yet no matter what we feel in a given moment or during a given season, our identity and purpose at any age comes through relationship -- not specifically with a friend or mentor or parent or spouse or anyone here, but directly with Jesus Christ."

Wright offers twenty-four possible losses or events that you might not expect even though some are definitely inevitable. Throughout his book, Wright offers practical advice on how to navigate the second half of life successfully. To help us take the meaning and usefulness of this deeper, Wright sprinkles questions and exercises throughout the book and adds a study guide at the end to facilitate discussion. Transitions are challenging. Life's chapters are much like being in the middle of a novel. Each chapter seeks to engage with differing themes that require engagement and thought, rather than passivity and just letting life happen.

Dry, effective, mixing information and inspiration.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (18/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Bethany House imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: February 2012
ISBN: 978-0-764-20963-5
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Obsessed

- Breaking free from the things that consume you

by Hayley DiMarco


Obsessed is a wonderfully designed book with its lovely bare branch cover design that is followed throughout the book on every single purple edged page – and the print is in purple too, then the lovely double page word art quotes throughout. A beautiful book that in its attention to detail in some way leans a little towards the title and content subject matter.

It's intentionally aimed at a young female audience (15-30 age range probably) and never more obviously (if the design of the book doesn't give it away) than in the section on 'relief'' with it's talk of monthly cramps.

Obsession - something many of us I think are familiar with, whether it be with Facebook, fashion, how we look… there are many types and most of them we need to let go of, put down and instead learn to lean more on God, make God our focus of obsession and in turn learn to be at ease and peace. That's the intent of this book and it uses a mix of Biblical teaching and modern subject matter to relay these thoughts in a style that has a feel of flowing meditation or contemplation to it, helped in part by the word art liberally scattered throughout, thus making it an easy to read book on a theme many young women are challenged by.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (29/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Revell imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: 30 October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-800-73306-3
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Seeking Justice

- The Radical Compassion of Jesus

by Keith Hebden


Seeking Justice - The Radical Compassion of Jesus is an absolutely fantastic book that really digs at what it means to be compassionate, to make the right choices, to act as Jesus would have, and above all to truly act. It is part activist manual and part leader's guide and above all it is truly insightful, compassionate and intriguing. Is there guilt to be found in a book about radical compassion – you bet there is! Lots actually as you realise how little we act with compassion for our neighbours, for strangers, for our communities and most of all for ourselves. This book is a call to action, indeed as the preface states it is "a lab book for your experiments in social transformation" and as such at the end of each chapter you will find sections with suggestions for 'Building Compassionate Communities', 'For Small Groups' and 'Further Reading'. I'd really suggest that you take up some of these options, indeed after reading the book I'm unsure how you couldn't want to because this book is filled with honest passion and enthusiasm that lights the way for others. It's an intelligent and articulate book that crosses denominational boundaries and really looks at how we can act in our communities and lives as truly compassionate beings and bringers of God's grace to others. A beautiful book and one that should be read by anyone that wants a better community and to be more like Jesus in their life.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (21/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Circle Books imprint of John Hunt Publisjing Ltd
Published: January 2013
ISBN: 978-1-780-99688-2
Paperback
Price: £11.99

Change Your Words Change Your Life

- Understanding the power of every word you speak

by Joyce Meyer


Another of Joyce Meyer's thoughtful, accessible and thoroughly Biblical expositions, this time on the subject of the words we choose to speak and the power they have to influence our own lives and the lives of others.
She freely admits that this is an area in which she herself has had many struggles and she shares her triumphs and disasters and the lessons she has learnt along the way. Using a series of Bible passages that many people usually gloss over, she demonstrates the many warnings God has given us about careless talk and its inward and outward consequences. Words are like seeds – good seed gives a good harvest and bad seed a bad harvest. As always there is no quick-fix; just solid encouragement to align ourselves with God's will for us and wait in faith for the results. "Every day when we leave our homes we are going into a society that is drowning in tragedy. God has given us... words and if we use them properly they can be life changing."

Highly recommended.

Review by Diane Morrison  (14/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: 13 September 2012
ISBN: 978-1-444-74520-7
Paperback
Price: £12.99

The Art Of Neighboring

- Small Steps to Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door

by Dave Runyon and Jayshree Pathak


What a lovely, fresh, easy to understand book on stepping outside your comfort zone (for most these days anyway) and becoming the friendly, hospitable and caring folk we are meant to be, actually practicing it in the real and not just giving voice to it and only including as 'neighbours' those that we worship with or have something in common with. Full of practical, sane and Biblically rooted practice this book helps encourage us to move outside our front doors, our church doors and not just for a few hours of good works but for a daily living practice of building up real communities - communities in which we live, work and engage. Communities in which the stranger is our neighbour, but our neighbour is not a stranger. This book is a wonderful tool and though quite American it can nevertheless be used as a good starting point for encouraging and guiding us as both individuals and as part of a group into really going out into our neighbourhoods, really acting as the good neighbour… really embodying the heart of Christ and living the great commandment. There's a really good study guide at the back too that you can use alone but would be so much better if used in community.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (18/12/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group (BPG)
Published: 19 October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-01459-8
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Scandal of Christianity



by R T Kendall


R T Kendall has been a best selling author for a lot of years now, and there is a good reason for that - he's not afraid to put forward difficult subjects and express his opinion on them.
This book looking at The Scandal of Christianity is certainly a case in point. So what is the scandal?
In many ways it's a multi-faceted one. We find first that it's a scandal that Christianity has become so much the unfavoured child and the message so sidelined and ridiculed and secondly it's a scandal that so few Christians are really willing to stand up against this besmirching and really take a stand, and of course there is also the attached scandal that some Christians are contributing to this impression others have by their actions that seem so at odds with the real message of Christ and Christianity. Do I agree with all Kendall said in this book, no, but what I do agree with is that it is an issue we really need to grapple with and address and not brush under the carpet. So in that respect this is a much needed book that should certainly be looked at, read and considered - indeed it could even be done as a group church activity.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (28/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-340-96416-3
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Why Did Jesus, Moses, The Buddha and Mohammed Cross The Road?

- Christian Identity In A Multi-Faith World

by Brian D McLaren


This book is an incredible look at how we need to change to maintain our Christian integrity, but more than that it's about how that change probably isn't what people expect it to be. It's not about becoming more entrenched, dogmatic or fundamental in our faith and approach to others, but how instead we should change to be more receptive, open and giving (I hesitate to use the word tolerant for reasons you will discover in the book), accepting others just as they are and just as Christ actually did. Only then can we truly engage with people of other faiths or none and truly hold onto our own Christian integrity. We are encouraged by McLaren to exercise real compassion and understanding, the same sort of compassion and understanding Christ taught us through parables and examples (think the Good Samaritan, think Christ and the Samaritan woman etc.). We are asked to convert (if we really have to!) not through words or warnings, but instead through actions of openness, love and receptivity – to exercise the one command of loving others as Christ loved us. It's a radical teaching, one we should give serious consideration to.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (22/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-444-70367-2
Paperback
Price: £12.99

7 Simple Choices for a Better Tomorrow



by Bob Merritt


Bob Merritt, the senior pastor of a mega church in Minnesota, has based this book on the supposition that in order to live a fulfilling life of faith we need to learn certain disciplines. He defines a discipline as 'a behaviour, a way of living that you build into your life so that it becomes a way of life.' After the opening chapters, filled with honest testimony from his own life journey, he devotes a chapter each to seven 'choices' which he believes are foundational, and which will affect the rest of our lives. The first four choices are: 'Give it one more day (don't quit), Manage your loads (do a few things well), Give yourself time (be prepared) and Find your rhythm (increase your consistency). Each time we make one of those choices, we are building discipline into our lives. What impressed me most about this book was Bob's honest sharing about his own life and relationships - sometimes humorous and often deeply moving.

Visit the author's website:bobmerritt.net/

Review by Jackie Rowe  (17/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: 24 August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-01462-8
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Idolatory of God

- Breaking the Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction

by Peter Rollins


This is likely to be a serious ouch book for many and I'm not counting myself out of that number because it helped me spot things I hadn't realised I'd picked up and internalised within my Christian walk. That said therefore I really consider this book to be a timely and much needed antidote to the feel good Christianity we often encounter with televangelists and the prosperity culture that seems to be pervading some elements in the church – even ones we wouldn't always expect it of.

Rollins clearly and intelligently lays out the problems and shows that what we have with 'feel good' church is not what we are supposed to be focusing on and building our lives of faith on – as much because it's a false idea that won't see us through the rigours of life as that it's just not what the gospel of Christ is actually about.

I really recommend this book, despite the ouch factor, because even if at the end of it you don't want to accept what he's saying, you will have come across some great Biblical and theological insights that can't help but grow your faith and bring you closer to an understanding of where faith and culture divide and where they merge… even if maybe they sometimes shouldn't. Oh and just one other thing to say about the book – what a great cover!

Review by Melanie Carroll  (17/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-444-70373-3
Paperback
Price: £13.99

Red Letter Christianity

- Living The Words Of Jesus No Matter The Cost

by Shane Claibourne & Tony Campolo


The title refers to the fact that some of the early counter-cultural evangelicals such as Tony Campolo, one of the authors of this book, called themselves ‘red letter Christians’ based on the words of Christ being printed in red in many bibles, thus highlighting the radical words and actions of Christ that they were founding their lives and faith on.
This book is a discussion between one of these founding red letter Christians and one of the leading names in the new breed of red letter Christians - Shane Claibourne.
As Campolo says in the introduction, though the theology they share is fundamentally the same, the way in which the newer generation and the older generation do it is really quite different and this book is a way of looking at these differences, of weighing and considering them and seeing where they differ, how they differ and why they differ.
It addresses, in the form of a discussion between the two, issues divided under three 'red letter' headings, namely Theology, Living and World. In theology we hear them talk about issues such as history, community, liturgy, Islam, economics etc. In living they address pro-life, environmentalism, homosexuality, immigration and giving amongst others, and finally in World they look at politics, national debt, middle east, mission and resurrection to name a few.
Through the discussions you get a real feel for the authors, their personalities, outlooks and opinions. It’s a very clever move to have two different fonts so that you know easily who's speaking and in a way you can more easily hear their 'voice' and keep track of where you are in the discussion between the two.
It is a fantastic book to read as it covers a plethora of subjects, but not only that it is almost like a first primer of red letter Christianity - what it is and how you do it, what underpins it and what structures and insights it has to give. Not a catechism but nonetheless a strong guide to understanding how to go about 'living the words of Jesus no matter the cost' from the viewpoint of two articulate and respected proponents of the movement.
It would be great to use this in a group setting, using each chapter as an opening for discussion and debate - I think they would be incredibly lively group sessions indeed!

Related website:www.redletterchristians.org

Review by Melanie Carroll  (29/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: September 2012
ISBN: 978-1-444-74538-2
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Following The Spirit

- Seeing Christian Faith Through Community Eyes

by Philip Bradshaw


One of the exciting features of the modern church is the emergence of new monastic communities. This makes it an appropriate moment to reflect on the experience of those who’ve trod this path before. Following the Spirit tells the story of the development of one such community - the Community of Celebration - from its origins in Houston Texas in the 1960s and its emergence a decade later in the UK. Bradshaw’s account is a fascinating journey – both individual and corporate – and offers us fresh insights into many of the challenges that face unorthodox Christian communities today.
Following the Spirit is divided into three parts. In the first half of the book the author and community member, the Anglican priest Philip Bradshaw, tells the story of the community’s development through the lens of his (and his family’s) own experience. Bradshaw shares with us the challenges, beauties, risks and excitement of community life against the backdrop of the growth of the charismatic movement of the 60s and 70s. The second half of the book consists of a series of reflections on the nature of community life as experienced by Bradshaw – worship, faith, prayer, politics, church and many other subjects – and this is followed by a relatively short Trinitarian theological reflection.
As someone who tried living in community for three years in the early 1980s (and largely failed!) I found this book a riveting read. Bradshaw describes very movingly – and sometimes amusingly - the challenge of trying to reconcile the practice of the early church with Church (Anglican) assumptions about lifestyle norms and especially family life. Living in community is not easy, yet uniquely rewarding.
Anyone who has lived in community will enjoy this book; anyone considering doing so should read this first!

Review by David Ford  (22/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: O Books imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-846-94294-5
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Go To Grow

- Why Every Believer Would Benefit from Participating on a Short Term Mission

by David McDougall


David McDougall is vicar of St Saviour’s Church, Sunbury-on-Thames.
A bit of a personal one here as, although having been to India seven years ago speaking at churches and pastors’ conferences, it was only this year that I widened things to spend almost three weeks in Uganda doing so many different things. Since July I have sometimes find it hard to express what can be gained from such a trip because I am so full of the encounters, experiences and emotions of a land so different to our own. However David McDougall uses all these in what I can only describe as an inspirational book of adventure and personal application.
Go to Grow is laid out as a study book so at the end of most chapters there are questions and practical instructions. I feel that it is not only for future participants of such mission trips but for the many of you out there who may have been thinking about organising one for yourselves. It goes through all the practicalities of preparation, funding, luggage, health, travel, prayer and making the most of everything which, in turn, allows you to give the most of everything to those you meet.
Canon J John writes, ‘David has discovered a way to infuse faith, hope and love in people.’
...and what did short term mission do for me? During the middle of next year I shall be joining friends living and working at a vocational training centre on Bugala Island, Uganda!

Review by Mike Norbury  (18/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Onwards and Upwards Publishing
Published: 09 September 2012
ISBN: 978-1-907-50960-5
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Holiness Without The Halo

- Finding Unexpected Joy and Freedom In Holy Living

by Stuart and Jill Briscoe


What I like most about this book is the ‘groundedness’ of it. Yes, it's a very scripture heavy book with a strong biblical viewpoint running through it, but what it isn't - despite this - is heavy on the jargon or holier than thou attitude, which is probably just as well given it's called Holiness without the Halo!
It's a practical book on holiness, real holiness, the holiness you are meant to practice everyday not the seen to be holy type: rather the ordinary skill of living a good life, righteous in our dealings with others and yes, ourselves too. The type of holiness that was meant when Jesus said 'My yoke is easy, my burden light'. The authors really do manage to convey this well.
I also love the format of this book, each chapter is largely written by Stuart and they are very much studies on aspects of holiness. These are then rounded off with a considered prayer, usually dealing with addressing how we might have done wrong things and how we can change. Then there is a lovely little consideration from Jill, a personal note, that is almost a practical case study from her own life and experience followed by end of chapter questions – really good ones that can be used for personal study or could be tailored for group use too.
It’s an easy to read book that covers an important subject and is certainly worth reading if you want it made clear that being holy and living in holiness is not the same as being stuffy, staid or serious but instead is the best way to living a life full of joy and happiness everyday.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (26/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: CLC Wholesale
Published: February 2012
ISBN: 978-1-936-14317-7
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Emotions

- Living Life In Colour

by Graham Beynon


The subject of emotion in Christianity is an emotive one in itself. Here Graham Beynon attempts to steer a way between the equally unhelpful poles of hating and distrusting all emotions and wallowing in them rudderless. It is, as he says, ‘a journey of exploration into the Bible, into the writings of church history, into modern thought, and into my own emotions.’ Many interesting testimonies from ordinary people are featured and the tension between modern thought-processes and those commanded by Christ is set out. What it comes down to in the end is that, as in all things, we should look to Christ as our pattern for appropriate expression of emotion, and accept that steadiness and emotion are not mutually exclusive. The book aims to be both a blueprint and an encouragement to persevere in that and succeeds in the second aim slightly better than it does in the first. I had a feeling that there was much more the author could have said but was constrained by the length of book people are willing to take the trouble to read. A more than adequate signpost in the right direction, though, via prayer, meditation on God’s word, and worship.

Review by Diane Morrison  (24/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 978-1-844-74589-0
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Winning the Food Fight

- Victory in the Physical and Spiritual Battle for Good Food and a Healthy Lifestyle

by Steve Willis


Steve Willis is the pastor of a church in, Huntington, West Virginia. This small town, and the surrounding area became notorious in the States because in 2008 the Center for Disease Control issued a report pinpointing the area as the unhealthiest in the nation. Jamie Oliver became involved in the story and made a mini-series for TV called Food Revolution, teaching people about nutrition, with a focus on helping cooks in schools to prepare healthier meals. Steve became closely involved because he was aware that the obesity problem which was rampant in the area was right there in his church. He says in the preface, 'I wrote Winning the Food Fight because I am tired of watching people die before their time. I am tired of seeing too many young families weighed down by the mental, spiritual, emotional and physical burden of poor eating habits.' Of course Steve writes very much from an American perspective, but it is easily translated into other cultures, particularly the British one where we struggle with many of the same issues. It is a book that well repays reading carefully. It will challenge you at many levels, and topics covered include : family nutrition and mealtimes, the truth about fast food, fasting, community gardens and a Biblical plan for change. Reading it has already helped me make some changes in my own lifestyle.

The book has its own website:www.winningthefoodfight.com

Review by Jackie Rowe  (10/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Regal, Pub Gospel Light from Kingsway
Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-0-830-76122-7
Hardback
Price: £14.99

The Cross and the Switchblade



by David Wilkerson


This long term best-seller, a classic story of redemption, was first published more than 40 years ago and is as relevant today as it was then. Having read a highly disturbing account of how a teenage gang had brutally attacked and killed a fifteen-year-old polio victim in a park in New York, a country preacher named David Wilkerson decided to take to the streets of New York. These streets were the most dangerous in the world at that time, with violent gangs ruled by warlords, drug pushers and pimps. He set off on his lonely crusade armed with the simple message of God’s love and the promise of the Holy Spirit’s power. Then the miracles began to happen….. This work is continuing in many cities. David Wilkerson is at present President of World Challenge and Pastor of Times Square Church in Manhattan.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (10/08/02)
Jacket
Publisher: Zondervan from Trust Media Distribution
Published: 08 July 2002
ISBN: 0-310-24829-9
Paperback
Price: £6.99

Battlefield of the Mind

- Overcome Negative Thoughts and Change Your Mind

by Joyce Meyer


Meyer's easy to read and down-to-earth approach engages the reader from the very first page. Broken down into three parts the book explores the battlefield for the mind and the winning strategy against the enemy who has plotted against us since we were born. Meyer takes us on a journey to understanding the mind and its ways, she equips us with scripture and solutions to take control of every thought and in doing so taking control of our minds. This book doesn't offer quick fixes, but rather prepares us for the long-haul, encouraging the reader to come to terms with their own mind's 'wilderness' mentality, make the decision to want to change, to take action, not to get discouraged but rather trust in God and not to reason but rather commit yourself to the Spirit and persist and have the victory in taking back your mind. Whilst this book is more expensive that the general lifestyle books, I believe it is worth every penny.

Website:www.joycemeyer.org

Review by Zoë Stevenson  (07/07/08)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: 2007
ISBN: 978-0-340-94383-0
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Dreaming of Home

- Homecoming as a Model of Renewal and Mission

by Michael Mitton


The sub-title of this book gives a clue to its content, but with such an experienced and good author and speaker as Michael Mitton, it is merely a clue because his exploration of the subject is focussed and detailed. Homecoming does not simply refer to that lovely feeling of getting back home after a hard day at work of after a holiday, but to the sense within oneself of ease, fulfilment, rightness and completion. As a Christian we are taught to try to achieve wholeness but this is never easy. The Church has its role too, of being a home, a family, a community. This discussion of homecoming operates on two levels – the personal and the church community, because in both areas starting from the best possible place enables the onward and outward looking journey to be accomplished with greater purpose and effect.
There are questions and reflections for either personal use or for group discussion, and at a time when many churches are examining their mission, and individuals are looking at a post-modern society, this is a timely book to read and then act upon.

Review by Carole Burrows  (07/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: May 2012
ISBN: 978-1-841-01877-5
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Enough

- Finding More By Living With Less

by Will Davis Jr.


This is a book that challenges, informs, convicts and opens the door to letting go of the culture of want and need (need in the sense of want not real need!) that we are surrounded with and instead challenges us to accept and want having enough, just enough and only enough for our needs
This book asks a lot, but then so does the big book – the Bible! As Will Davis Jr. so rightly points out, the Bible is constantly challenging the concept of greed and asks us to share with others the extra we have. Christ, challenged the rich young man to give away his wealth, and when sending his disciples out said ‘take nothing more than you need’... when we can learn to accept this then we can rightly find contentment in our lives and in turn we can help others and increase the wealth for not only our neighbours but the world at large – we will have enough to share and go around, but it has to start with us accepting Enough is enough.
A powerful and challenging book and certainly one for anyone interested in the new monastic movement, or who just realises that the culture of more we are surrounded with is wrong. Worthy of being read by almost everyone out there – it’s surprising how much we overlook what we have, especially in these tough economic times when we are so sure we don’t have much!
At the end of every chapter you will find three questions for further reflection making this a useful book for group study too.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (07/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Revell imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-800-72002-5
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Ten at Work

- Living the Commandments in Your Job

by John Parmiter


The book is a challenge to Christians as to how we truly honour God, and show this in our working lives. There are several Christian books available that advise and guide us on how we should behave at work. But Ten at Work is different to these. John Parmiter starts from an understanding that God gave us the 10 Commandments not as a prescriptive set of rules and regulations to live by, although that is how many non-Christians and some Christians see them. The function of the Ten Commandments is to protect us from ourselves. He also looks at how the world perceives the value of the Commandments.
The principles that John Parmiter outlines in the book are applicable in any working situation. However as John only uses examples from an office and a management situation it could appear distant to people working in different circumstances. I found it a really interesting and useful book, one that I would fully recommend for all Christians to read regardless if you are working or not.

Review by Bob Stoneham  (25/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: November 2011
ISBN: 978-1-844-74557-9
Paperback
Price: £8.99

There is Still More

- Searching for More of the Kingdom

by Mary Pytches


An encouragement to press ever deeper into your relationship with Christ, at whatever point you find yourself on your walk with Him. Mary Pytches draws upon her many years as a missionary and minister’s wife at home and abroad to demonstrate how to mature as a Christian despite your external circumstances – and how not to! One of my favourite stories is how, when in Chile with four small children and beset by earthquake, revolution and military coup, gun battles outside the house, curfews and utilities failures 'sometimes praise was the last thing on my mind.' A friend helped by putting a reminder notice in her kitchen that said 'Hallelujah Anyway'! This woman is amply qualified to write about how to lead a surrendered life pursuing holiness. Other chapters explore commitment, anointing, healing, and such challenges as diversion, change and growing older, with many personal examples closer to the experience of the average Christian. A thought-provoking and ultimately inspiring read.

Review by Diane Morrison  (24/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: River Publishing from Joining the Dots Distribution
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 978-1-908-39303-6
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Envy of Eve

- Finding Contentment in a Covetous World

by Melissa B. Kruger


This book examines the sin of covetousness and how it can influence every aspect of our lives. The author uses numerous examples from Scripture to illustrate how covetousness is at the root of what people do, from Judas’ love of money to the sons of Korah’s desire for prestige, and then applies their experiences to our 21st century lives. Starting with Eve, she shows how the pattern of seeing, coveting, taking and hiding is repeated time after time throughout the Bible and can also be reflected in our own experiences.
The author uses anecdotes to illustrate her points and has clearly written mainly for a female readership. That being said, the book would also be useful to a pastor/church leader who wanted to get a better understanding of how women think.
At the end of every chapter there is a series of questions for discussion and personal reflection, so the book could be used in a small group Bible study. However, an individual who wanted to understand better how to identify and tackle their own covetousness in a God-honouring way would find much to help them within its pages.

Review by Paula Hill  (13/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
Published: Spring 2012
ISBN: 978-1-845-50775-6
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Presence Carriers

- Shaped by His Presence Called For a Purpose

by David Shearman


This book is a really well written guide book to understanding what we are called to be and how we can best go about achieving this aim.
So Presence Carriers then? Taking the image of the bearers of the ark and those that witnessed it David Shearing shows how we can all be Presence Carriers, carrying the presence of the living lord within us and achieving this through actions as simple as listening, acting and doing that which we are called to do.
What’s so good about this book though is the way in which it blends the biblical with the reality of now, the charismatic with the mundane, I like how we are not asked to place any on a pedestal, including the author, but are simply called to live in the active presence of the Lord and to reach out past our humdrum lives into the reality of stepping out in faith, something not nearly as daunting as perhaps you thought it was.
I found this book to be one that was easy to read, down to earth and that spoke clearly and without fuss. A book I’ll be sharing with my housegroup and would recommend to any newer Christian or one struggling with hearing and feeling God in their lives.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (03/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: River Publishing from Joining the Dots Distribution
Published: May 2012
ISBN: 978-1-908-39306-7
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Recipes for Good Living

- The Beginners Guide to Spirituality

by Terry Biddington


What a brilliant book! A gentle intelligent guide and journey companion into the realism of spirituality and what being a spiritual person is all about. Following from the title it used a food and recipe format, breakfasts, entr&éacute;e’s, foreign cuisine and dining out to lead into the discussions of all the different ways we can experience Christian spirituality and the many types of spirituality there are.
The personality type quiz at the beginning is great for getting you thinking and leading you in the directions that might best suit you, then at different points there are short but comprehensive breakdowns of jargon and issues that help clear up what can sometimes come over as complex and confusing issues on the journey to spirituality. Nothing is taboo here, we deal with sexuality as well as faith, depression along with creativity, it really is a whole life look at spirituality – and that’s important because spirituality is not just one part of our lives! There are sections on your own experiences to make you think them through, then ‘recipes’ i.e. experiences and actions for you to undertake.
My one criticism is that the introduction aims this book at students first going away to university or such and for me this just means that some people who may otherwise find this book of value may well be put off, thinking it’s not for them, when really this book is excellent for anyone of any age, for those who are ‘beginners’ and those looking for refreshment.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (03/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Circle Books imprint of John Hunt Publisjing Ltd
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-846-94902-9
Paperback
Price: £11.99

Called to Happiness

- Where Faith and Psychology Meet

by Sidney Callahan


This new book of Sidney Callahan’s, subtitled Where Faith and Psychology Meet, is the most recent among a plethora of self-help guides to happiness, of which several hundred are published every year. Callahan first looks at the definition of happiness made by psychologists, social scientists and theologians and then looks at several self-help programs. Callahan is herself a Christian and there are interesting chapters on God and happiness. She believes, and argues persuasively, that God wants us to be happy in this life, and that, in spite of the pessimists and cynics, happiness is possible this side of heaven. Her style is smooth and reader-friendly but nevertheless full of meaning. It is a book that would be even more rewarding after a second reading.

Review by John Irvine  (07/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-570-75918-5
Paperback
Price: £12.99

God’s Church My Place

- What it Means to Belong to a Christian Community

by Steve Tilley


This is a timely, insightful, enjoyable and challenging book to read. It's style is richly entertaining and fluid as it looks into what being a part of the Christian community, and going to church, is really all about, looking at it from many points of view and not least looking at it from within a biblical context too. It addresses things like should you choose your church or service solely on the basis of the music played there? How do you enliven your church? How not to be a leader and many more subjects that are relevant to how we actively live out being a church community. Given the author is a Church of England clergyman the main focus is based on more mainstream denominational congregations, however he does not overlook the fact that there are other denominations and actively tries to highlight the similarities along with the difference, after all being part of a community has a commonality about it regardless of denominational style or church building (or school!) used to meet in.
At the end of each chapter there is a pause for thought, discussion questions and a short prayer, thus making this book a really good basis for a church study – and what a great church activity working on this book would be - but equally it makes a really good thought provoking read just for an individual too.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (05/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-857-46011-0
Paperback
Price: £6.99

Living the Questions

- The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity

by David M. Felten & Jeff Proctor-Murphy


This is a book for those who are interested in attempting just what the title says. It doesn’t provide answers but it aims to make them unnecessary, opening a window on how to live with those ambiguities and contradictions for whose clear dogmatic answers we search in vain. So the questions have become the subjects of 21 short, well organised and referenced chapters.
Here the Christian is offered a life journey dedicated to revelling in the unknowable, the unfathomable, for it is in this mystery that God is found. It attempts to strip scripture of its spin and make us comfortable with Biblical inconsistency. It encourages us to live both incarnation and resurrection for ourselves rather than through implausible accounts. It must be said that not all the chapters succeed, partly due to their brevity, but they do make stimulating reading. If the journey appeals, then this book is for you.

Review by Paul Scott  (05/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Harper One from Gardners Books
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-062-10936-1
Paperback
Price: £14.99

Trusting God When Times Are Tough



by Ed Hindson


The book is about how using the scriptures and God's word you can really let God help you no matter what situation you are in. I liked the way the author connected different feelings to different attitudes e.g. anger can lead to bitterness, then hate and it can accelerate out of control. Not only does the book give advice for the sufferer it also helps people to understand how to help and react to people when they are suffering using God's word to strengthen the person and help them.
I personally could connect with the depression section. The author did not turn round and say not to use professional people (unlike some other writers I have encountered) but that they can be used in conjunction with Christian counsellors. All in all a good book. I would definitely use it.

Review by Julia Bennett  (11/06/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Published: 01 July 2011
ISBN: 978-0-736-93733-7
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Jonah

- Navigating a God-Centred Life

by Colin S. Smith


The first thing to be said about this little offering is that it is a book about a much misguided pastor, written by a pastor. Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of the Evangelical Free Church in Chicago, and once you understand this you begin to see the parallels and the comfort that Colin must be taking from Jonah's life. Of course, this book is best read in conjunction with Jonah - and when I felt called to read Jonah, I was surprised to find that it's only 4 chapters. That's because Colin undertakes a thorough examining of Jonah's life, from the beginning when the prophet is a happily settled preacher in Nineveh. Colin explains that Jonah wallows in self-pity and refuses to answer God's call. He loved Nineveh; but it was no longer a love from God - Jonah had put Nineveh before God, and was extremely unhappy to do God's call and preach against his beloved city; hence, of course, Jonah, unable to pray to the God that he was so angry with, ran away on a ship. Colin doesn't only focus on Jonah's life though; he puts in personal excerpts from the lives of friends of his, some of whom, like Jonah, were too settled in their positions to answer God's call. Colin also points out that, as Jonah was saved by grace so that he could go on answering his call, so can we be. I found this book both challenging and well-written. It's also laced with some quite heavy theology in parts, but do bear with it. Colin's excellent exploration of Jonah's story could help save your life, too.

Review by Alice Collins  (02/06/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
Published: Spring 2012
ISBN: 978-1-845-50639-1
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Finding God in Other Christians



by Lorraine Cavanagh


Diversity in the family of God, is a great idea but a real struggle to fully accommodate. We are called into community but can default to isolation and self all-too-easily! It requires the generosity of God-empowered grace for this possibility to be fully manifest in our lives. Here in Lorraine Cavanagh’s writing is a warm and wise exploration of fellowship, discernment and revelation. There is a meaningful blend of biblical exposition, stories and personal experience, rooted in some of the relational, social, theological and practical implications of what is ideal. The chapters on Radical Hospitality and Reconnecting with Wisdom are particularly rich, as part of Cavanagh’s compelling invitation to a deeper and more compassionate lifestyle. Themes from Corinthians, the importance of catholicity and generosity of our most holy faith are some of the take away messages for me.
Quality goods here!

Review by Johnny Douglas  (02/06/12)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: 04 April 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06585-1
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Grace

- More Than We Deserve - Greater Than We Imagine

by Max Lucado


In short almost staccato sentences Max Lucado writes an urgent and impassioned teaching about God’s stupendous gift of Grace to humankind – if only we will open ourselves to receive it.
Freely given – with no strings attached, many of us feel it impossible to receive this gift – we feel we must do something to ‘pay’ for it.
Not so, says Max Lucado. A free gift is just that: free. Given with love and inspiring love in return.
Those who are familiar with this author will welcome this book, but hopefully many other readers will be drawn to it and learn one of the most important lessons of the Christian faith.
Highly recommended.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (02/06/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Thomas Nelson From TMD or Joining the Dots
Published: 11 September 2012
ISBN: 978-0-849-94674-5
Paperback
Price: £10.99