Unapologetic: Francis Spufford

unapologeticI finally got my hands on this book at a discount price. It has had mix reviews and I must admit as I read the book, I had mix feelings about it. On the one hand, his honesty and plain speaking was really refreshing, it is raw and feels unedited and I think it works. But then it seems to lose its edge half way through and it slightly lost its way. There were lots that I didn’t agree with but there was also lots that I could resonate with.

The other thing that people pick up on is the swearing. I am not sure where I stand with this, I don’t know if the swearing added any value to what he was trying to say. I personally think some of it was making a point, it made the reader take note and listen but at other times I felt like it subtracted from what he was saying and he didn’t need to have it there.

I don’t want this to be a negative book review, but I wanted to be honest that most of the way through I just wasn’t sure if I liked it. On the other hand there were bits that were helpful, so I thought I would share with you 5 things that I appreciated about the book:

  1. The first couple of chapters are really helpful. It felt like his thoughts were spilling on the page and helping the reader to see that Christianity make sense, at least to him.
  2. He identifies the deep longings that we have as humans and the way that the world tries to offer us stuff, but it always lets us down.
  3. His chapter on suffering and all that’s wrong with the world was really insightful and helpful. It is down to earth and sometimes its something you need to hear – it is the less fluffy version.
  4. He explores what is wrong at the heart of humanity and the truth that we all mess up. He isn’t afraid to say that we all mess up, we all have a problem and we need a solution.
  5. If you want to read something that is just really honest when it comes to the deep longing and suffering questions then I think this book is worth reading.

Those are just some of my thoughts. It probably isn’t a book I would read again or even recommend to my friends. However there are bits in it that are worth quoting and worth using for illustrations. So all in all, this book and this review is rather mixed!

Would love to hear what you thought of the book – what did you enjoy? What didn’t you enjoy?

A Loving Life – Paul Miller

Loving lifeA loving life is a short book looking at the story of Ruth. I decided to read this book because several people told me it was good and it turned out to be a book I really needed to read. Sometimes you get those books that just hit the spot and spiritually nourish you, this was certainly one of those books for me.

Here are 5 reasons why I enjoyed A Loving Life:

1) Paul Miller unpacks the story of Ruth – If you have never studied or read the book of Ruth, then this little book is a great place to start. Miller goes through the story step by step and pretty much does a bible study through the book. Its engaging and interesting and it helped me get to grips with the story.

2) Love is not just a feeling – Miller really hits home that we are in a culture that regards feelings and how we feel when in love as our top priority. But he remarks that love is deeper, not just an emotion that quickly changes from one moment to the next. And in a broken world like ours, love needs to be deeper then just an emotion.

3) Love is about dying to yourself – Miller calls this Hesed love, which is written throughout his book. He highlights in Ruth the remarkable sacrifices she makes in the name of love. True love is about sacrifice and dying to yourself, which is so counter cultural where we see love as what we can get out of people and how that person can suit our needs.

4) God is gracious to Naomi – I loved how Miller highlighted Gods mercy and kindness to Naomi who was bitter about the events in her life. It reminds me that the Lord is really with us in every situation and is so kind to us even if we can’t see through the mist of life’s craziness.

5) Encouraging and Challenging – I was encouraged by how God uses each person in the story for an amazing outcome that benefited the whole of the human race (Jesus), I am encouraged by the Lords kindness and his working through each person in the story. I am challenged by Ruth’s sacrificial love, where she died to herself for the sake of Naomi, she never put herself first. I find this hard and it challenges me about what true love is and how to show true love.

I would recommend this book to you if you want to dig into Ruth, if you want to be challenged and encouraged by what true love is and if you want something that will nourish you.

You can buy the book at IVP here.

Jesus + Nothing = Everything

JesusNothingEverythingThis catchy book title was written by Tullian Tchividjian. This is a book about the Gospel and what Jesus has done for us. It is a refreshing book to read as it sits on the bookshelf amongst books that mostly tell you how to be a better Christian, leader, minister, pop star etc. I found it helpful to have my eyes cast away from myself and come back to Jesus. Tullian explains the heart of what it means to follow Jesus and what Jesus did on the cross was enough not just for salvation but for living as a Christian, every day.

Let me tell you 3 things I learnt / enjoyed about this book:

1. The Gospel isn’t just for non/new Christians. The Gospel is for the Christian, every single day. It is for the Christian that has been following Christ for 30 years, 30 days or 30 mins. The truth of the Gospel, what Jesus has done on the cross is something we need to hear and sink into our hearts everyday. It is too easy for me as I walk this road with Jesus to think that I now need to move on to “higher” and “better” things after I have grasped the basics of the Gospel, yet it seems that these basics are what I most need to hear because I easily forget them.

2. Your works can’t add to what Jesus has done. It seems we often believe the lie that the Gospel is enough for salvation but after that happens, we then need to work really hard to keep God happy or to stay in salvation. This is a lie. What Jesus has done on the cross is enough – we can’t add to it and we don’t “work hard” to pay back God. We rest in his salvation and when we do that, with our hearts being changed, we begin to produce fruit and good works.

We can rest in assurance that this equation is really true: Jesus + Nothing = Everything

3. Focus on what Christ has done for you, rather than looking inwards all the time: “To focus on how I’m doing more than what Christ has done is Christian narcissism” 

I would really recommend this book as it provides a great reminder of who we are in Christ and most importantly what Christ has done for us. It is a short read and really accessible for any reader.

iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual & Social Lives

igodsbook Today the world is literally at our fingertips. We can call, text, email, or post our status to friends and family on the go. We can carry countless games, music, and apps in our pocket. Yet it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by access to so much information and exhausted from managing our online relationships and selves.*

Digital Technology is in the fabric of our world, we use it everyday to function as a society, to keep in contact with people and to run businesses. Craig Detweiler explores the history behind some of the companies that have really shaped the way we live our lives. He goes behind the scenes of Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Amazon. He looks at how these creative companies changed the way we work, shop, build communities and walk with Jesus. While unfolding the history and aims of these companies, he also reveals some of their effects – both good and bad on our lives.

This book is challenging and what I think is rather unsettling about all of this, is that we don’t really know the long-term impact of online shopping, social media and a library full of information we can pick up whenever we want. There have been hints of the potential good that can come out of it all, but also on the other end of the scale, there could be destruction of real face to face communities where isolation is rampant, shops closing down and people losing jobs and an overwhelming amount of information at our finger tips that allow us to be jack of all but master of none. 

facebook-markzuckerberg

It was helpful to have Craig Detweiler bring in a Christian perspective that not only highlighted some of the warning signs of using such technologies, but also celebrating the triumphs and good things that these companies have achieved. It was enjoyable and interesting to read. As someone who did a degree in Computing and IT around the time when Facebook was beginning to establish itself, it is interesting to see how much they have grown in the last 10 years and where technology may be heading next!

And what about our spiritual lives? As Craig says:

“Where shall we express our hopes and fears? If we post our concerns on Facebook, we may forget to cast our cares on the Lord, the one who sustains us in our sorrows.”

This is easy to do as I wake up every morning and turn on my phone instead of getting on my knees in prayer. And yet it connects me with people in the world that need prayer, it links me to find information about certain theological topics quickly so I don’t have to try to find it in the local library. There is a balance.

googleBut more than ever, Christians must be vigilant. With the enemy prowling round like a roaring lion, we need to be awake and engaged in what we are doing. We can not be caught up in the promises of Facebook and the advertising of Google where we can become our own igods – omnipresent on Facebook and omniscient on Google. Falling into a trap that I can be a certain way on social media but different face to face. That as I create my profile, I can fashion it and craft it to bring the best out of me and get people to admire me.

I am the centre. I am the igod.

Suddenly Jesus falls out of focus.

I would recommend this book to you, even just for an understanding of how these companies came about and how they have changed over the years. I think Craig Detweiler writes well and raises some good points, both good and challenging about the digital technology we use every day. And as he brings in a Christian perspective, it can help us have a bit more wisdom about what we do with digital technology and how much we should use it.

You can buy this book here.

*Quote from http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/igods/345171

A New Name

I can’t wait for this book by Emma Scrivener.

Her husband Glen says this about the book:

This book is not just for sufferers and those who care for them – although it will be vitally helpful for them.  It’s a testimony to Jesus.  It’s a meditation on the gospel and how it addresses a deadly mental illness, so emblematic of our culture’s struggles with food, body, performance and identity.  It’s one of the most compelling and vivid accounts you’ll ever read of the lies that can enslave a person and how the truth sets them free.

Here is the excellent promo:

The Good God

“The trinity is a mystery, no one can explain it and only God can understand it” – Have you ever heard that before? I am not sure where we get that from. The truth is, Trinity hasn’t been at the for-front of the church’s teaching for some time now (not all churches, but most), instead it has become another doctrine hidden at the back of our systematic theologies.

But this book will completely change your thinking about the Trinity. Trinity will no longer be a mathematical problem or something you brush under the cosmic carpet. Mike Reeves shows us through scripture how Trinity is essential in our understanding of who God is and why you wouldn’t want any other god.

This book is so easy to read, it’s not full of theological junk words that no one understands – its plain english, for anyone to understand. It explains the beautiful relationship between Father, Son and Spirit and how they are in Tri-Unity. It challenges us about how we think of God and if Trinity isn’t the first thing you think about God – then what flows from that thinking is something that isn’t God, something that is lonely, controlling and devil-like…

I desire so much for Trinity to come back to our churches. For only in Trinity can we speak of Gods Love and there everything follows: Gospel, sacrifice, relationships, community, change, joy, mission etc…

Buy and read this book. Read it with friends. Pass it on to your church leaders. Change the way we think.

Second Guest Post – A book review

So I have written my second Guest Post over at Anita’s blog! I have written a review of one of the most influential books in my life as a Christian. The book is the Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes. Have a look at the review here.

Following on from that I will be starting a mini series of the book on this blog from tomorrow and over the next few days. Looking at some of the themes brought up in the book and hopefully show you more of the love of Christ. I did a bit of this when I was over at blogspot, but I have revamped the posts a little and my hope is that they will encourage you to look at Christ more and more each day. Enjoy!