Thursday, December 29, 2016

Return of the Bedford Review

Once again, health issues and personal life have prevented me from posting on this blog.  Things in general have finally settled down.  The doctor have my Raynaud's Disease under control so I plan on returning to blogging for 2017.  I am already working on some posts so I can start the year off on the right foot.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Silence and Beauty

Author:  Makoto Fujimura

First Publication:  May, 2016

Publisher:  InterVarsity Press

Source:  Netgalley

One of the great classics of Christian literature is "Silence" by Shusako Endo.  Fujimura reflects on and examines it through a lens of pain, art and culture.  "Silence and Beauty" gives the reader a unique insight into Endo's classic work.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

A Diary of Private Prayer

Author:  John Baillie

First Publication:  October 2014

Publisher:  Scribner

Source:  Netgalley

From Goodreads:  In this book of personal devotions, noted theologian Dr. John Baillie offers personal prayers for people who are seeking a better understanding of God and themselves.  Intermingling adoring and meditative thoughts about God with a concern for the social and individual good, these daily invocations help and inspire us to search within our inner selves and find the deep religious beliefs that lie within.

Editor Susanna Wright has updated it by using modern language to capture the spirit of the origin edition.  Baillie wrote prayers for morning and evening with special ones for Sundays.

Baillie does a great job of giving you a morning prayer that guides you to focus on God each day.  In the hectic pace of day to day living it is easy to let our focus drift away from what God wants us to do.  His prayers are a good way of starting the day off on the right foot.

The evening prayers give thanks for the day and guidance for others in your life.    Due to the events of the average day, we tend to not always remember to give thanks.  Even when it seems like something happened that is not what we thought it would be, we should still thank God.  He is in control.  Baillie helps us to remember that.

I would recommend this book to everyone to read.  If you have friends who need help with their prayer life, it would make an excellent gift.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Evangelism Study Bible

From the back cover:  The Evangelism Study Bible provides all the tools you need to learn to share the gospel clearly and simply as God opens doors of opportunity.

The New King James Version takes the lyrical, poetic King James translation and updates some of the language.  It makes it easier for today's Christians to read and understand the classic translation while still retaining the feel of the original version.  I remember the first Bible I had in this translation.  It stayed a favorite of mine for many years until it became to worn for everyday use.

Among the many special features of this Bible are:

  • Introductions to each book that help the reader to focus on the evangelism aspect of that particular book.
  • Over 2,600 study notes help the reader to understand the passages.  At the same time they also help to point out the evangelism aspects of the passage.
  • Tips for how to build your evangelism skill set so you become more comfortable with sharing the gospel.
  • Detailed articles that explain the various parts of evangelism such as apologetics.
  • Additional how-to articles to assist with developing your evangelical skills.
  • Devotions to help your relationship with Christ to grow.
  • Other features that appear in other study Bibles such as maps and cross-references.
An example of an illustration from Galatians.
I found many of the articles to be either a great reminder or a good way to see how evangelism permeates the Bible.  Reading this study Bible helps to keep the reader focused on how important it is to practice evangelism every day.  Most Christians know the role of evangelism but sometimes need a reminder.  The Evangelism Study Bible provides that extra boost to keep us on track.

I strongly recommend getting this Bible.

The copy I received for review was supplied by Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Celtic Christianity: A Sacred Tradition, a Vision of Hope

Author:  Timothy Joyce

First Publication:  March 1998

Publisher:  Orbis Books

Format:  Paper

Source:  loan

From Goodreads:  This fascinating book introduces the mysterious and extraordinary world of Celtic Christianity. Timothy Joyce, a Benedictine monk of Irish descent, evokes the distinctive spirituality that drew on pre-Christian beliefs and culture. He shows how this style of Christianity changed, was subordinated, and gave way to the larger Roman church, and yet how elements endured. Finally, he explores what Celtic spirituality has to offer today to the church as well as spiritual seekers.Celtic spirituality is holistic -- a joyful, mystically-inclined spirituality that affirms the goodness of creation, urges respect for women's gifts, and finds expression in poetry, myth, and song. Joyce recounts the heroic stories of such saints as Patrick, Bridget, Columcille, and Columba. But he goes beyond other treatments to explore how this tradition was gradually subsumed by a more rigid style of "Irish Catholicism, " and he reflects on the centuries of suffering that have left an indelible mark on the Irish consciousness and spirit. Yet ultimately Joyce shows how the recovery of this ancient tradition of Christianity might rejuvenate the church and contribute to spiritual renewal today.

When Pastor Josh brought up Celtic Christianity, I realized that I did not know much about it.  I had heard about it and knew of Saint Patrick but that was the extent of my familiarity.  He loaned me this book to help fill me in on the history of this part of Christian history.  It led to an interesting discussion.

Some of the interesting tidbits I learned were:

  • The Celts embraced Christianity peacefully.
  • Martyrdom is practically unknown in the Celtic church.
  • Emphasized community, relationships, and the equal gifts of all.
  • Believed that all are called to live the life of a monk, even the married.
  • The second most important saint was Bridget (showing the equality between the sexes).
  • Accepted the trinity without debate.
One of the main beliefs is that everything reflects the sacred and the secular.  While they did not worship trees, the Celts believed that God could be seen in the beauty of the tree and everything else in this secular world.

Favorite quote:  "Spirituality is the manner in which we humans face the transcendent in our lives, the particular way we approach the divine and ultimate reality beyond us."

Based on their views on equality(all people are equal), ecology(use but replenish what God has given us), and the way God is reflected in the secular world(how can we not think of God when we look at the oceans or mountains)  we can learn much from studying this branch of Christianity.

Highly recommended.