Knowing what to say to someone who’s had a miscarriage is really hard. I’ve been reminded of this recently after three wonderful women in our church shared with me the grief and horror of their recent miscarriages. Miscarriages, and infertility more generally, are really hard topics to talk about because they’re deeply personal by nature which means that sometimes people aren’t ready to share their struggle. And when someone is hurting or confused, our quick-fix comments can actually be inadvertently careless and insensitive. Or our desire not to offend means we find it easier to not say anything at all, leaving the women (and men) who are grieving feeling isolated or forgotten in their pain. So, what can we say or how can we love and encourage someone who’s experienced a miscarriage? And how can we bring the beautiful truth of the Bible into these conversations and care?Read More
We follow an amazing Master, have a listen, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” (Matthew 5:46), “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27), “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3), “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40), “Do you love me?” (John 21:17).
These are just some of the thought-provoking, searching, passionate, deep, probing questions Jesus asks as he walks alongside his disciples. In the course of his ministry the gospels record Jesus asking 307 questions - that’s an awful lot! The people he ministers to ask him 183 questions. And here’s something truly surprising: He answers only three of them. Overwhelmingly, asking questions is a huge part of Jesus’ ministry and Newman thinks we have much to learn from the Master.Read More
In reading this book I’ve become more and more aware of how much I avoid asking questions and my two reasons why. The first is that I’m more your ‘stand up comedian friend’ and less your ‘therapist friend’. My conversation style is observational - I value honesty and humour and connect mainly by adding things to a conversation and less by drawing things out from others. Secondly, asking questions is so personal and has the potential to be invasive - questions can take you right to the pointy edge of an issue. Newman, however is a master at getting people to this space and using questions to create opportunities for mindset shift. He calls this dialoguing to the point of despair:Read More
Some people are brilliant at small talk and starting conversations. I was eating at a Lebanese restaurant with my husband and young son when a friendly guy (also with a young son) sitting several tables away caught the eye of my husband and said, “How’s life?” And then they started talking. I had assumed that they must know each other from the park or around the traps. No. They had never met before. This guy just confidently threw a line out there and my husband went with it.Read More
How would you respond if a friend said to you, “Religion’s a private matter, we don’t need anyone to evangelise.”? Would you stay silent? Perhaps you’d be tempted to launch straight into rebuttal, ready to fire off your points about freedom of speech one after the other. Or could you respond by simply asking a question? Could you keep the conversation going by asking warmly, “Why do you feel that way? I’d love to hear more about why you think that - Are you religious?...”Read More
I’m a sucker for a biography. I love how they transport you to another time and place, but a real time and place. I’m also a sucker for any movie that begins with the caption: ‘based on a true story’. Somehow the events grab my heart so much more tightly – even if they are ‘based on a true story’ (about as much as my attempts at butter chicken are ‘based’ on authentic Indian cuisine). Anyway, enough about movies. Let's talk books, in particular this month’s book – Anne Bradstreet: Pilgrim & Poet’ by Faith Cook.Read More
I became a Christian when I was in high school, and I remember being really excited about the Bible. Reading verses for the first time was amazing. My best friend and I used to pass notes to each other in class, writing Bible verses on them, and writing stuff like, “Check this out!”, “How cool is that!”. Those were great days. These days, I’m still walking with God and the Bible has certainly sustained me across the years. But I have to admit, I don’t feel that wonder and delight as frequently as I did. There’s times when that joy springs up again, but often the Bible can feel like a duty, instead of a delight.
I think that’s why I found Christopher Ash’s book, Bible Delight so helpful. I think for me, it addresses an issue that not many of us Christians want to talk about. We don’t really want to admit that we often don’t feel excited about the Bible.
The True Story of Why Jesus Died and Rose Again
If you love Biblical Theology, and if you love really good kids books, and especially if you teach kids you will enjoy this book. At Easter I read The Garden, The Curtain and The Cross to my kids, I read it to my scripture class and I read it to the kids in crèche at church. The illustrations are beautiful and most importantly, it teaches the whole story of the Bible and shows God’s amazing plan of salvation through Jesus.Read More
Book covers can only tell you so much. If it’s a book by Peter Carey or Jane Austen, then I know I am going to love it. I am personally working hard to spread my love of these two authors to anyone who will listen. Book reviews can help us go a bit deeper and see if we want to commit, and whether this will be the right book to give away. Maybe you have been thinking of giving Harriet Connor’s Big Picture Parents: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Life to someone for Christmas? In this second post I will be telling you a bit more about this great parenting book, with some specific readers in mind. And during December I will also be reposting some previous reviews on books that would be ideal to give as gifts. In January, Equip Book Club will all be taking a break. Time for some novels, a biography or two and some more good Christian books.Read More
Do you like to read parenting books? Maybe you are past that stage, or not in that stage at all, but you would like to be able to recommend a good parenting book. Harriet Connor’s Big Picture Parents is like a breath of fresh air in a world filled with blogs, lists of top tips and Instagram pictures of everyone else’s perfect family. Sometimes it’s all a bit overwhelming and you need to step back and see the big picture.Read More
Reading about the life of each woman in “Reformation Women” has given me a wider picture of what happened as the Reformation spread across Europe during the 1500s and 1600s. It was encouraging to follow the work of the gospel down through generations and also sobering to see how many endured terrible persecution. Here is a little more about some of the remaining women profiled in Rebecca VanDoodewaard’s book.Read More
In Reformation Women, Rebecca Van Doodewaard profiles 12 women and their influence on the growth of the Protestant church throughout Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. They came from different countries, backgrounds, families, and socio-economic levels, and but each of them was committed to sharing the true gospel. Here is a snapshot of each of these women we learn more about… (VanDoodewaard writes about these women using their maiden names, mainly to avoid confusion between them when some were married multiple times.)Read More