The Nativity

If you know me personally then you will know that I do not have any children, which means that you’re probably asking why I’m reviewing children’s books, right?

The reason I’m reviewing these children’s Christmas books is because I realise that many parents struggle to find good materials that are exciting and interesting for children whilst also being sound and Biblical. These books arrived just in time for me to test them out with my wonderful little God-children.Continue reading “The Nativity”

Raising Kids in the way of Grace

Let’s start off with pure honesty… Parenting is difficult!
Every parent that I have spoken to has explained how becoming a parent was and still is the most difficult thing that they have ever done, but at the same time children are also one of the greatest gifts from God. But wouldn’t we all love a ‘how to’ manual on raising children? I don’t even have children yet and I’d love to read that kind of manual.

I have read a number of books on parenting and on how to interact and serve children for the sake of the gospel, but because I’m not a parent I haven’t reviewed any of them due to my inexperience in this area. But I was recently sent a copy of Raising Kids in the way of Grace and thought that I’d review it because I know that many of you who stumble across this blog are parents.Continue reading “Raising Kids in the way of Grace”

Enjoying God

Is it really possible to enjoy God on any given day? You might be thinking ‘Yeah sure, on Sundays or during times when life is generally OK, that’s when I can enjoy God’ but what about time of difficulty?

Can you enjoy God when the car breaks down on the way to your holiday, or when you’re just about to go into a doctor’s appointment, or can you enjoy God when the world seems to be crumbling at your ankles?Continue reading “Enjoying God”

Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations

There are plenty of books written on the topic of evangelism and plenty of books written about evangelism strategies for church, by there are few books (to my very limited knowledge!) on actually how to tell people the gospel.

Turning everyday conversations into gospel conversationsContinue reading “Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations”

True and proper worship…

Have you ever been at the checkout of a shop and handed over a £20 note and had that awkward moment where the cashier holds it up to the light, rubs it with their fingers and then uses some kind of invisible pen on it? These are all small tests to see if the note is genuine, or if it is a fake. Banks use some of the same methods to see if a note is genuine or not, and the way they are trained to spot a fraudulent note is by studying a genuine note for hours on end. To spot the fake you need to really know the real deal.

In my personal devotions in the mornings I have just finished reading through the book of Romans and one of the verses that has always challenged me in Romans 12:1.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

So often we talk about worshiping together on a Sunday, and by that we usually mean things like singing, praying, reading the Bible and listening to God’s Word being preached, and that is right because all of these things are elements of our worship of God, but they are not the whole of our worship.

The true and proper worship that Paul is describing to the church in Rome is all encompassing, every day worship that is centred on God. As I’ve been thinking about this I’ve always asked two questions; why worship? And what is true worship?

Why worship?

Paul says that the motivation for true and proper worship is to be God’s mercy.  The book of Romans so far has been describing the greatness and mercy of God in His plan of salvation that is promised in Genesis 3 and which finds its fulfilment in Jesus on the cross. Paul summarises the teaching of Romans 3-11 and says that it’s all about God’s mercies, God’s undeserving favour to needy sinners. The amazing things that Paul has been discussing; love, grace, joy, glory, righteousness, sanctification, freedom, identity in Jesus, the Holy Spirit, forgiveness… All of these marvellous things and more are gifts from a great God to an undeserving people and this should lead is to be in awe of and worship our great God.

What is true worship?

Paul describes true worship as the giving up of our bodies as a living sacrifice, this means a complete surrender of ourselves to the will and purposes of God. This means giving all to God regardless of the cost, basing our decisions on His Word and submitting to His will. Sacrifices would have made the original readers think of the death of a sacrificial animal, but Paul urges them and us to be living sacrifices both physically but also spiritually (Rom. 6:13).
This does not come naturally to us, it’s difficult, and this is only possible by our minds being renewed as Paul goes on to say in Romans 12:2. For true and proper worship to take place we need to be a transformed people, and the only way for our minds to be renewed is through the truth of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. That is why it is so important that our lives are built upon the teaching of the Bible, that we preach the Bible, that we read the Bible for ourselves and that we encourage each other with the Bible. The Bible lifts our eyes to God it helps us keep our focus on Him and it fills our minds with truth about God and about ourselves.

True and proper worship matters as Bob Kauflin, a well-known songwriter says;

“It [worship] matters to God because he is the one ultimately worthy of all worship. It matters to us because worshiping God is the reason for which we were created.”

My prayer is that as we go through Christian life together and as Christians meet together on Sundays all over the world and as we meet in each other’s homes that we will be able to encourage our fellow Christians and say that we can see true and proper worship in the lives of our church family.

Gender

Gender has become one of the most talked about topics in recent years. Society has changed. What seemed a given 40 years ago, that a person was assigned their sex at birth, is no longer a given and people can choose their gender. I am glad to see that Christians are not too far behind on this topic but that books are being written and people are speaking out on this vast and difficult topic.

Many books have been written on this topic of gender and how the Christian community should respond in a way that is both Biblical and loving. I have read a good number of books on this topic that I would, and do, highly recommend to people who are being confronted with this issue. But, this is the first that I have read specifically with children in mind.

The truth is that if parents don’t teach their children about gender, sexuality and identity then the educational system and biggest voices in society will. There is no longer such a thing as a ‘Christian bubble’ that remains untouched by the world, this has many many positives, but it also means that there are areas of confusion and difficulties for many people.

Seagraves and Leavine do a tremendous job in this very short, very practical book Gender of setting conversations with children about gender. I am not yet a parents, but I am a member of and Assistant Pastor in a church and these issues are very real for everyone who is involved in any way with children. I find that often when it comes to big topics like this we almost feel as if we need to sit down with the child and have an ‘adult conversation’ too often we forget that kids are kids and that a more natural conversation is the best way forward.

One of the things that impressed me about this book is the way it encourages people to have these conversations really early, and not only to have them as a reaction to a conversation or something happening. A lot of the time Christians can be reactionary, reacting to a situation that happens instead of anticipating it and preparing the child for that situation. This can lead to conversations being awkward and basically kind of weird, if I’m honest. Conversation need to start early and done well.

A true understanding of gender and personal identity must be grounded in a firm understanding of the person of God, His will for and design of humanity and a firm foundation of His authority. Sea grave and Leavine put it like this

“When we start to pick and choose when to accept the authority of God’s word, we are standing on a slippery slope;
if one part is rejected, we will struggle to hold on to any of it.
How we think and talk about gender is connected to our view of God’s word as a whole.”

The way we engage our children with the teaching on the Bible on every issue, not just gender, will shape the importance they put on Scripture in the future and can help them to understand what a good Christian worldview is.

This book is very practical and is gives you questions to ask, answers to give and even situations in which you can naturally talk about gender and what the Bible says about it. I really liked how this book looked at how to have conversations with different age groups (up to 7 years old, 7-11 years old and 12+) this book definitely gave me the confidence to speak about gender and to have an idea of how to approach the topic with children, parents and other who work with children.

I don’t often say this, but here goes… this is a must read for every parents, pastor, youth and children’s worker, teacher… basically if you know a child then you should read this book.  It helps you think through a difficult topic in a simple way whilst being condensed into a small book that can fit into your pocket. I devoured this book in an afternoon, and I suggest that when it comes out in September you get a hold of a copy.

You can buy it here from The Good Book Company: https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/gender

Rating 5/5