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Latest Review

10 th June 2021: ‘How to pray’ by Pete Greig was well received by members. As
the title suggests, it is accessible for new Christians, but there is still plenty
there for experienced prayers. For instance there are practical tips such as
choosing a regular prayer place and the mnemonic PRAY: pause, rejoice, ask,
yield. More advanced approaches are also mentioned such as contemplative
prayer. Just as we found in the author’s ‘God on Mute’ we studied a year ago,
Pete Greig makes it readable with well chosen examples from the Bible and
beyond. His enthusiasm certainly encourages the reader to pray.

Previous reviews

15 th April 2021 : We found ‘Living his story’; a well-written, easy to read way into evangelism, with practical steps we can all take. It’s well worth rehearsing bits of our Christian ‘story’; which we can relate naturally. The author gives gentle, encouraging examples of ordinary people doing this. There are also plenty of examples of how Jesus related to different people. Inevitably our discussion spread to recent lockdown experiences and what we have learned about different communication technologies.


25 th Feb 2021: We had an excellent discussion of ‘Say yes to life’ by Ruth
Valerio
. It was great to have members of the St Paul's Creation Care group with
us. The book was unanimously endorsed as an excellent explanation of why
Creation Care makes sense to Christians. We appreciated how thoroughly Ruth
Valerio linked it to both Old and New Testaments. There was also plenty of
science presented in an interesting way. I think our recommendation was as
unreserved as any book I can remember discussing! Certainly read it to get
ideas how to help with Creation Care at St Paul’s.


14 th Jan 2021: We had an excellent meeting on ‘The ruthless elimination of hurry’ by John Mark Comer. People appreciated the entertaining, easy to read style. Even those quirky design aspects were noted such as font change and wide spacing. The author seems to be meeting a need: we had plenty of comments on distractions, mindfulness and the usefulness of the spiritual disciplines in our current predicament. His ideas on Sabbath were a refreshing change. On the other hand, the image of the trellis (p95) didn’t hit the mark: it’s inanimate,
which detracts from the idea of the vine growing from the living nutrients whichever of the spiritual disciplines work for you. Also, was the book a bit of an over-reaction to John Mark Comer’s experiences? Was there a better way to inner healing and strength?

29 th October 2021 : we discussed ‘Third person’, by John Peters, which clearly contradicts the one we read last time, where Tim Chester believes that miracles ‘don’t happen with the same frequency and on the same scale’ as they did in Jesus’ time. In ‘Third person’, John Peters lists thirty one miracles which have happened at his church since 2008. We appreciated his clear explanations – it is an easy read – and there is advice we can use in prayer ministry at St Paul’s. However some of us founded it one-sided : it hinges on Matthew 28:20 meaning
we should teach everybody to heal and cast out demons. All in all it was well worth discussing and praying about.


Book Club met on September 17 th to discuss ‘Do miracles happen today?’ by Tim Chester. We agreed there is a lot of wisdom packed into this little book. In answer to the question in the title, the author replies ‘Yes, but not very often’. Backed up by Scripture, he constructs a persuasive argument that ‘miracles are neither necessary nor sufficient’ because ‘revelation is complete in God and the Bible’. For instance, he interprets John 14:25-26 as a specific promise to the apostles, not the rest of us. However it left me with a feeling of disappointment
that I can’t pray with expectation for a miracle.


Book Club met on 30 th July to discuss ‘The Vicar of Baghdad’ by Rev Andrew White. We were impressed by his immense courage in building a church in a war-torn city and his great love for those he negotiated with. The book repays careful study in order to follow the names of the negotiators involved but the real life stories are gripping.


The BOOK CLUB had a great meeting last Thursday June 18 th with three newcomers. There was a lively exchange of different views on ‘The Great Divorce’ by CS Lewis. Although we appreciated his varied and often amusing characters representing our human failings, we sometimes found it confusing. The imaginative treatment didn’t seem as successful as his famous ‘Screwtape Letters’ a few years later. Perhaps this was a bit of an experiment with the
allegorical approach?


The Book Club met on 27 th  February 2020. We agreed that ‘The Life you’ve always wanted’ by John Ortberg is well worth recommending. It is a gentle introduction to spiritual disciplines which makes you think ‘I could do that!’. It speaks persuasively to recent Christians – it could be part of Alpha follow up – while not so recent Christians can still find plenty.  It is entertaining and easy to read although the anecdotes can be superficial and some may find the suggestions for confessing to one another difficult.


St Paul’s Christian Book Club met on December 12th 2019 and discussed
‘A beautiful mess’ by Danielle Strickland. We found it an enlightening, easy read, particularly helpful to those who find chaos a bit threatening. With the help of some striking examples from the Bible and from her life, the author illustrates the possibilities of transformation and growth which arise from experiences which seem beyond our control.

‘The making of us’ by Sheridan Voysey

The book club thoroughly enjoyed reading and discussing this book. It is a gentle and reflective account of the author’s spiritual and physical journey with his friend along the Northumbrian coast with Durham cathedral as their destination. We found we could enjoy it on different levels : it’s an easy read with some lovely descriptions of the landscape, but there are profound insights which encourage careful thought. By the end Sheridan finds a deeper
understanding of his experience and a closer relationship with God. It might even make you want to go on your own pilgrimage! Sadly we couldn’t endorse ‘Out of the saltshaker into the world’ by Rebecca Manley Pippert so enthusiastically. We found this account of ‘evangelism as a way of life’ heavy going. Although the author includes plenty of examples from her own experience, the model of evangelism is quiet detailed and it is quite a daunting prospect to work through all the steps. By comparison ‘Evangelism for amateurs’ by Michael Green which we had on the book display recently seemed a bit more accessible.

‘The Introvert Charismatic’ by Mark Tanner

The book received warm approval, notably for its balanced appreciation of the needs of both introverts and extroverts in church. The Book Club would like in particular to recommend  chapter 10,  ‘Six steps towards fullness of life’. Here’s a short summary :
1. Recognise and accept that you are an introvert : ‘God has made us, and He has made us well’.
2. Nourish yourself with :

  • routines which work for you : introverts don’t thrive on chaos
  • relationships : maybe part of a small prayerful group?
  • boundaries : limits on activities which drain you

3. Find a voice : the best places, times and ways to have your say. This includes those who like   to ‘say it in flowers’, or a card, or music or dance.
4. Learn a second language : share a bit of ‘extrovert speak’, such as contributing to the  conversation as others’ thoughts are formed rather than later when your thoughts are fully formed
5. Step out in faith : don’t be afraid to respond when the Spirit speaks to you.
6. Practise the habits which bring health