While I have not posted book reviews or write-ups on this site for texts that do not fall within the theology/Christian living category; however, I felt compelled to make an exception in this case. I hope that as you read you will understand why and forgive the digression from the usual subject matter.
A couple of years ago, in 2019, the year of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight which saw three men fly to the moon and two become the first people to walk on the surface of another planet – I became somewhat interested in the subject of space flight and exploration.
It all began with listening to the fascinating ’13 Minutes to the Moon’ podcast by the BBC World Service. The series, hosted by Kevin Fong, chronicles the Apollo program’s finest achievement, focusing particular attention on the critical 13-minute descent period in which the space-age-alfoil-covered spider-like Eagle Lunar Module left the Columbia Command and Service module bound for the vast and desolate surface of the moon, eventually touching down at ‘Tranquility Base’ – a milestone in human history. Along the way, I heard this book mentioned as the seminal work of astronaut autobiography and eventually picked up a copy to read for myself.
This book is short and small in stature, yet it is a treasure trove of bite-sized meditations on the cross and resurrection of Christ which makes a big impact. It’s a step ladder allowing you to stand on the shoulders of Christian giants from across the centuries and to see the events of the first Easter as the most central, God-glorifying, mankind humbling, faith building events in human history.
Friday 24 June 2022 was a historic day – the day on which the controversial Roe vs Wade decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) was overturned. Roe v Wade had made abortion a ‘constitutional right’ on the basis of the court’s interpretation of the fourteenth amendment back in 1973. Since that time, it has been the central linchpin on which America’s abortion industry has relied, and has therefore been instrumental in perpetuating a state sanctioned, parent-requested genocide of over 60 million unborn children. Read that again, over… 60… million. Unlike some historic moments that pass with little notice from the global community, the overturning of this particular court ruling has reverberated loudly around the world, particularly in the global west. As pro-choice advocates lament the fact that ending the life of an innocent human being due to their size, level of development, environment or level of dependence may no longer be an option in some or even many states, many anti-abortion activists are seeing this as an important victory. It’s not a decisive one that ends abortion once and for all, but it is undeniably important.
Family Devotions are something I’ve wanted to make a regular spiritual staple for our family for some time now and when I heard about this book, I knew I just had to get a copy. Fifty-two weeks on, I’m so glad I did!
David Murray has crafted an easy to use, understandable and adaptable family devotional tool guiding families on an exploratory journey through many of the Bible’s key moments in a way that is engaging for children and not daunting for parents.
In all honesty, as a Christian parent of a child with multiple disabilities, I wanted to love and be gripped by this book, but while it started strongly and ended strongly, the middle section caused my attention to wane at times.
The book is divided into four parts: The Voice of God, Voices from the Past, Voices of Today and Speaking into Tomorrow.
I was interested to read Beates’s explanation of the ways scripture speaks to the issue of disability and how it relates to the gospel in Part 1. As a Christian, I am less interested in how secular voices in the past, and even voices of believers throughout church history, have spoken about this issue. This was the type of content covered in the middle two portions of the book. To me, the most critical part, having laid the groundwork in Part 1 was Part 4, looking at what the church must say to the world on this issue and looking at God’s sovereignty in the area of disability.
Had the book ended at Part 3, or not hit home the key points it does in Part 4, I would have been very disappointed, but the final section contained many, many beautiful truths and made me really appreciate Beates’s work on this topic.
I hope many Christians, particularly church leaders, will read this and be convicted and provoked to think more deeply about disability and the gospel, as I was, thanks to this book.
Today is my youngest son Josiah’s third birthday. Recently, my older son, Asher, turned five. For me at 35, my birthday is not super significant. It’s a good milestone each year, and a chance to celebrate with those I love, but it doesn’t hit for me the same way as my kids’ birthdays. I imagine there’s a certain amount of reflection that is unavoidable as a parent celebrating your child’s birthday, and when your child’s health journey is, shall we say, less than straightforward, it feels like this is amplified even further. Just last week we had one of those moments where everything sort of pauses or slows down temporarily due to a health scare, as we wait to find out what is wrong below the surface, what can be done, how quickly and what the outcome will be. Thankfully, this time was a minor one, but more on that later.
This reflection is healthy, I think, and worthwhile, but has its challenges too – but first, an update…
I began reading this book at Easter, and recently finished this journey through ‘the most important week of the most important person who ever lived’. Tracing the events of the final week of Jesus’ life leading up to (and including) his death, burial and resurrection, I found this journey through the Easter story to be a refreshing and helpful way to ponder, meditate upon and think through these events which are so central to my faith and the faith of Christians across the globe.
Arranged with two primary elements to each chapter – namely the scripture passages from each of the gospel accounts, broken into appropriate sections and included one after the other for easy comparison, followed by commentary by the authors – this book serves certainly as a harmonisation of the gospel accounts, and also as a tool for bible study/personal devotion. If you have ever wanted to delve deeper into some of the criticisms levelled at the gospels by unbelievers, you will likely find this to be a helpful volume to read and keep in your library!
Produced from a series of (edited) lectures given at the 2009 Desiring God National Conference on the God-glorifying life, ministry, theology and praxis of John Calvin, this book provides an invaluable insight into one of the most influential pastor/theologians the world has ever seen.
Calvin himself uses the metaphor of the theater of God being the stage upon which all of history plays out, and each of the authors of this book’s chapters tackles, with an appreciative but fair hand, as aspect of the Christian life as it is rightly lived – in a manner that makes little of self, much of God and, specifically, most of his glorious grace to us in Jesus Christ.
Prompted by a sense of wanting to honour and learn more about the life of Dr J.I. Packer on the occasion of his passing into glory, I began reading this volume by Sam Storms on 19 July 2020, just two days after Dr Packer’s death. I had heard about Packer from a distance over the years – including in Iain Murray’s single volume biography of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones – and I seem to recall subsequently hearing from the man himself in interviews, but at the time I began reading this book I had not read a full book of Dr Packer’s. This quickly changed as I devoured Weakness is the Way: Life with Christ our Strength shortly after starting Packer on the Christian Life, and I very much appreciated Dr Packer’s wisdom in dealing with the topic of the appropriate stature for us to take as believers – walking faithfully and humbly through this life with Christ as our strength, understanding that when we are weak, He is strong and His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). While it was wonderful to finally have some entry into reading Packer himself, Packer on the Christian Life helped me to get to know the man and the theologian that was Dr J.I. Packer, and for that I am very grateful.
Two years ago today my youngest son was recovering from his second invasive brain surgery. This time, to place a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt into the right rear side behind his ear, to constantly drain cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the ventricles in the brain where it is produced, into his abdominal cavity via a catheter tube running internally down his neck. This device, though far from perfect in its design, with something like a 50% fail rate in the first year or two after placement, is a life-saver for children with hydrocephalus. It stops the fluid, which has trouble draining naturally, from building to the point where it squashes the brain against the skull, leading to brain damage and eventually (if left untreated) death.
Way back then, when he was just three months old, we were amazed at how resilient he was and how he had bounced back from his first brain surgery like a champion, but there were so many unknowns about how much his conditions would impact him as he grew and developed.