On This Day in Christian History

If we don’t know our own history, we will simply have to endure all the same mistakes, sacrifices and absurdities all over again. – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

As part of the BookSneeze program I recently received a copy of Robert J Morgan’s book On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes in the mail.

I’m going to admit right now that I haven’t read the entire book and that’s for a very good reason. I don’t want to spoil the effect of reading the book as it’s intended, one page a day for a year.

Having said that, I have read quite a number of the stories the book contains to get an overall feel for what it contains and I’ve been thrilled by what I’ve read so far. The book isn’t a daily devotional as such, but a wonderful addition to a daily reading and study plan. Morgan has researched the lives of Christians throughout the ages to tell the ongoing story of God’s involvement in the world he created. There are many stories of hardships overcome and each one gives great testimony of God’s faithfulness when his people give their lives to him.

Each day the book gives the reader an opportunity to read about an event in Christian history that happened on that day. There is also a verse or two from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible to complete the day’s reading. While I haven’t found that the scriptures chosen always speak directly to the story shared on the page above it, knowing that all scripture is helpful in teaching and building up those who follow Jesus, the verses are still a delightful way to reflect on God’s goodness.

My favourite aspect of the book is the connection it brings between biblical history and the modern day. When we read the Bible we encounter stories of men and women of God encouraging and directing us. When we read Christian history we’re reminded that God has continued to work throughout the last two thousand years. There’s a certainty that it can bring to us. We know that God is continuing to unfold his plans for this world; we understand that the same Jesus who saved those first century believers has continued seeking and saving the lost over hundreds of years. His work has continued wherever men and women have been faithful to his call upon their lives.

The encouragement I take from this book is that if God has been working in the hearts and lives of his people throughout history, he can work through me. When I read of the failures and setbacks that have ultimately resulted in triumph for the kingdom, I know that God can still work through someone as unworthy as me.

This is a book that is full of encouragement for all believers as well as providing excellent sermon illustrations and resource material for those in ministry. If you’re looking for a gift that will last all year round, Robert J Morgan’s book On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes is an excellent choice to put in the hands of any Christian to be ready to start reading on the first of January.

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Best Books of 2010

As we get closer to the end of another year, you’re probably looking around for some ideas for Christmas gifts. A lot of people have a bit more time after Christmas so books are always a popular choice for those who enjoy disappearing into the pages for a few hours. So how do you choose something worthwhile to give to a keen reader?

If you’re looking for some great gifts for a booklover, Amazon
has announced it’s Best of 2010.

They’ve named Editor’s Top 100 Picks as well as the Customers’ Favourite 100 Books, making it easy to trawl through some great, popular books whether you’re choosing something for yourself or as a gift.

I’m wondering if you’d agree with their selections. What have been your favourite reads this year? Are you likely to find much reading time between now and the end of 2010?

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Born Storytellers

Our family headed off to a book launch yesterday afternoon.  The book is part of the Born Storytellers series which contains short stories written by various school students.

Kevin Price chose to be a professional writer in 1987. He began as a columnist for an advertising industry magazine and a lifestyle magazine before moving on to copywriting for local advertising agencies and businesses.

While he still writes advertising, he now also teaches storycraft to bright young minds in Western Australian schools and writers centres and edits the resulting works for the Born Storyteller books. He completed his first novel in 2007, which remains unpublished. He is married, has two daughters, and writes in his rural studio in the hills north of Perth in Western Australia.

Since its inception in 2005, Kevin has delivered his creative writing program, Learn to Write like A Born Storyteller in ten West Australian schools and a leading writers centre. He has edited and published over 200 young authors in 18 volumes.

We were very proud to hear our daughter, Emily, read part of her story at the launch. I can now say that she’s a published author.

Kevin Price, who taught the students the skills they needed to get their story to publication, spoke about the power of stories and how important story tellers have been throughout history. Seeing the smiles on the faces of the students from the four schools that had their books launched yesterday was indeed powerful.

I really believe that we were created to have a very strong connection to stories. Stories can connect us with each other and our creator in very powerful ways. Stories can be so much more than an entertaining read on a lazy afternoon. We can’t afford to neglect the importance of storytelling.

There was a great collection of talented storytellers at the launch yesterday. I certainly hope they’ll all continue to put their storytelling skills to great use.

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Putting Shantaram on the Shelf

shantaram.jpgThere is something enormously satisfying about placing a book on a bookshelf. A book you’ve read. A book you’ve enjoyed.

When you remove the bookmark for the final time, close the book, and find a place for it amongst other books you’ve read, there’s a sense of accomplishment.

There’s also a sense of sadness that the story in which you’ve immersed yourself has come to an end. What happens now? Where did the characters go? What did they do after that? That’s especially the case when the book is based on fact. If the book is pure fiction then there isn’t necessarily a life after the book. The characters have lived within that story and now the story has ended. If the book is based on real people then there are unresolved issues. What now?

I finished reading Shantaram today. While it’s a fictional novel, the characters and situations are based on real people and circumstances. Most of the book is based in India, which is what drew me to the story originally. It’s a raw book and at 932 pages it’s a long book.

I don’t make nearly enough time for reading so I’ve been working my way through this epic for a long time. It’s a great story but not for the feint hearted. If you want to let your mind wander into a strange and exotic world, consider grabbing a copy of the book, and get ready for an amazing ride.

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We're going to get along fine

coffee_cup.jpgI made a new friend last night. I get the feeling we’re going to be spending a fair amount of time together over the next few years.

After dropping Emily off at youth group last night I had a couple of hours to kill. I was already fairly close to where we’re going to live once we eventually move so I decided to drive past our new house before dropping in to the local cafe. It’s about a kilometre from the new house and I reckon I might be seeing a lot more of that cafe.

I ordered a long black and a melting moment biscuit then sat down with a book I need to read for a review on my radio programme. It felt like home, or at least a home away from home. The staff were friendly, the atmosphere relaxed, the decor warm, and the coffee was just right.

Things don’t always turn out as you plan but I can imagine that I’ll be back at that cafe very soon. I can imagine spending time there alone with a good book or three. I can imagine taking Pauline there for a bit of time out together. I can imagine taking Emily and James there for a treat now and then. I can imagine drinking coffee there with cycling friends that I haven’t even met yet. If you’re in the area you might drop in and have a coffee with me there too.

That cafe and me, I think we’re going to get along just fine.

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