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Posted in Useful Resources Dex Fletcher|12:44 PM GMT|December 18th 2014

As the year draws to a close and people make all sorts of Top 5 for 2014 lists, we thought we'd do our own. And add a little competition.

Over the next few days, we'll be telling you our Top 5 selling books for 2014. The competition is to guess the top selling book. We'll send a free copy to the first 5 people who guess the correct answer. Comment on the Blog, reply via Twitter, comment on Facebook. We could let you know all sorts of terms and conditions, but we're all friends here!

 

Today is the last day for sending us your guesses. Competition closes at 11am tomorrow (Friday 19 Dec).

 

Today, coming in at Number 2 is: Original Jesus by Carl Laferton: A funny, faithful introduction to Jesus, comparing him to other versions of "Jesus". Perfect for giving away. 

 

"Laferton simply and attractively walks through Luke's Gospel and in a simple, interesting and relevant way speaks into our culture, which increasingly thinks it's OK for the individual to invent their own view of Jesus. This is a book worth anyone’s time. I loved reading it, and I'd love my friends to read it."    

Rico Tice Associate minister at All Soul's Langham PLace and co-author of Christianity Explored.

Posted in Interesting Thoughts Tom Beard|9:08 AM GMT|December 18th 2014

I was just reminded of this really helpful article I read last year. Hugely wise and practical advice, like:

Accept the day isn’t fully yours and that you’re just called to be faithful. God knows you long for your loved ones to know the Lord. Be a servant to your family and ask God to give you eyes to see them as he sees them. Also don’t forget to reflect upon how God has changed you and your family over time.

Be prepared to say ‘Grace’ at the dinner table. As the token Christian, it may well fall upon you to do the ‘Christian thing’ at the table. You might even want to volunteer! Have a good Gospel-centered ‘Grace’ up your sleeve for this moment.

Read the rest of the article by the Australian Bible Society. Highly recommended!

Posted in Useful Resources Dean Faulkner|1:53 PM GMT|December 17th 2014

And hot on the heels of it being our number 3 bestseller this year, we're offer the The Third Day for just £1.

A faithful and contemporary graphic realisation of Luke 22-24 for young adults and teenagers. This resource will introduce the biblical account of Easter to teens and young adults who enjoy reading illustrated graphic media.
 
Buy the book HERE for just £1 until midday on Monday. Use code ttd1214 at the checkout.
 
Please also take a look at our Christmas book Light in the Darkness illustrated in the same style.

 

Posted in Interesting Thoughts Dex Fletcher|1:40 PM GMT|December 17th 2014

As the year draws to a close and people make all sorts of Top 5 for 2014 lists, we thought we'd do our own. And add a little competition.

Over the next few days, we'll be telling you our Top 5 selling books for 2014. The competition is to guess the top selling book. We'll send a free copy to the first 5 people who guess the correct answer. Comment on the Blog, reply via Twitter, comment on Facebook. We could let you know all sorts of terms and conditions, but we're all friends here!

Today, coming in at Number 3 is: The Third Day Alex Webb-Peploe's faithful and contemporary graphic realisation of Luke22-24 for young adults and teenagers.

 

"In an age that wants to sex up and dumb down the gospel, Alex and Andre's commitment to let the Word of God speak for itself is like cool water for a weary soul. It's powerful to see something so strong in both gospel faithfulness and creativity. Get a copy"    

Nate Morgan Locke Youth Evangelist and author of Soul from Christianity Explored

Posted in Interesting Thoughts Alison Mitchell|9:25 AM GMT|December 17th 2014

For two evenings this week I was present when emergency alarms were sounded.

 

Emergency no. 1
Monday night's was spectacular - and also quite funny. As I waited at a c-c-cold bus stop, a 71 pulled up, and a guy with a HUGE package got on. The bus driver took one look and refused to let the guy travel on the bus.

Driver: "That's too big. You can't come on here."
Guy (wearing earphones): "What?"
Driver: "It's too big."
Guy: "What?"
Driver: "You can't come on the bus."
Guy (still wearing earphones, and now having touched in with his Oyster card to pay the fare): "What?"
Driver (very loudly): "It's too big!"
Guy (eventually taking earphones out): "What?"
Driver: "That's too big. You have to get off the bus."
Guy: "But I've paid!"
Driver: "You still have to get off the bus."
Guy: "But I've taken this on other buses."
Driver: "You're not bringing it on this bus."

(and more of the same for at least another five minutes - driver refusing to let him stay, guy refusing to get off)

 

Then suddenly…
Bus (yes, honestly!): "This bus is under attack! Please call 999!"

(and the same message for at least a further five minutes - driver sitting with his arms folded, guy refusing to get off, bus asking for help)

Eventually…
Two police cars hare up with sirens blazing. Where's the fight??! The bus driver explained. The police couldn't quite believe it and checked with me twice that nothing else had happened. The guy STILL refused to get off the bus… for several more minutes… amazing! But eventually he got off, the police zoomed off somewhere more exciting, and my K2 bus arrived.

 

Great fun.But the thing that really struck me was how people reacted to the bus alarm. "This bus is under attack! Please call 999." It was serious. Very loud. And non-stop for five minutes. And no one did anything.

 

I had prime view of it all, so knew there was no danger - but that wasn't true for the many people passing by on the pavement OR the people on the top deck of the bus. Nobody stopped (except to stare). No one tried to help. No one got off the bus in case they weren't safe. Pretty much everyone presumed it was a false alarm - didn't mean anything - and just carried on with whatever they were doing. Interesting…

 

Emergency no. 2

The previous night also included an emergency alarm. Like many of you, we had our carol service. It was terrific in every way - brilliant atmosphere, fantastic music, great mix of traditional and modern, thoroughly Bible-centred, and a wonderful opportunity to praise and thank God for the gift of his Son. 

 

The message came from John 1, about Jesus "the Word" and "the true light", and our need to receive Him. It wasn't blaring out of a bus's speakers - but it was an emergency alarm just the same. The call was clear - to investigate, to find out, before it's too late.

 

And I find myself wondering: did any more people take that message seriously than the one about the bus? I hope and pray they did…

Posted in On to a Good Thing Dex Fletcher|3:00 PM GMT|December 16th 2014

1. Come Home for Christmas

A short video from UCCF about coming home for Christmas.

2. The Pendulum of Growing up Christian

A great little poem from Nicholas McDonald about the realities of being a Christian.

3. Glen Schrivener and Carl Laferton speak...

Listen to them discuss why Tricky was written; how to have a Jesus-centred approach to evangelism; how Christians can speak about homosexuality in conversations with non-Christians; and much more.

4. Christmas Carols Radio

They play none-stop traditional Christmas carols choral music, with Bible thoughts on the nativity. Listen here.

5. Pilgrim's Progress for Free

Desiring God are giving away eBook version of Pilgrim's Progress for free. Get it here!

6. And finally...

Our video of the week, 'Tommy the Tiger' from St. Thomas Church, Norwich:

 

 

Found something that you think should make it on to the On to a Good Thing round-up? Send it to: ontoagoodthing@thegoodbook.co.uk

 

 

Posted in Interesting Thoughts Dex Fletcher|12:30 PM GMT|December 16th 2014

As the year draws to a close and people make all sorts of Top 5 for 2014 lists, we thought we'd do our own. And add a little competition.

Over the next few days, we'll be telling you our Top 5 selling books for 2014. The competition is to guess the top selling book. We'll send a free copy to the first 5 people who guess the correct answer. Comment on the Blog, reply via Twitter, comment on Facebook. We could let you know all sorts of terms and conditions, but we're all friends here!

Today, coming in at Number 4 is: Questions Christians Ask: Can I really trust the Bible? Barry Cooper's  short, readable book that explains clearly and simply what Christians believe about the Bible and how God speaks today.

"The Bible says it is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey. But today most people doubt those claims. Many don’t even bother to read the Bible before dismissing it. Whether you’re a long-standing Christian or just beginning to explore the Christian faith, Can I Really Trust the Bible? will give you good reasons to pick up the Bible with confidence. It's a model of clear and engaging writing."    

Dr. Tim Chester Director of Porterbrook Seminary

Posted in Interesting Thoughts Tim Thornborough|9:55 AM GMT|December 16th 2014

We're used to images of the Jolly fat guy who is kind to everyone. And even though he supposedly makes a list of "who's naughty and nice" - he never really leaves the naughty kids off the list - it's just a feeble attempt by parents to introduce justification by works into the Christmas story.

But the real St Nic was quite different, although stories about his life are more in the realm of folklore and legend than accredited historic fact. As the pastor of a church in Myra (in the SE of modern Turkey), he was a tough Gospel-preaching evangelist. His elevation to universal gift giver stems from a story about him throwing gold coins through a window to provide a dowry for three young Christian women whose family had fallen on hard times. Some versions have him dropping them down the chimney and/or the coins ending up in their stockings hanging to dry by the fire. But note the difference. His are not gifts to give delight to the already wealthy. They are gifts of compassion to rescue poor young women from a life of slavery or prostitution for a Christian future.

During the persecutions under Roman Emporer Diocletian 303 AD, Nic was arrested, imprisoned and tortured. When he was released, the story is that he was covered in blood from the torture he endured. Perhaps that's a connection we can make with the red suit that our modern Santa habitually wears.

Nicolas of Myra also attended the First Council of Nicea in 325, which was called to discuss, among other things, the Arian controversy over the nature of the Trinity.

The story goes that during a heated debate between Arius and Nic, Arius broke out into a song:

The uncreated God created the Son, the beginning of all things
The uncreated God adopted the Son, advancing himself as king
The persons of the trinity do not share equal glory

No sooner had Arius finished than the incensed Nic punched Arius in the face. Kind of gives a whole new meaning to the song: "Deck the halls". But the point is this. Heresy isn't a matter of trading around ideas. It is vitally important, because to get it wrong is ultimately cruel and unloving to people. I'd like to think that, if Nic actually did what legend reports, he didn't do it because he was annoyed that Arius disagreed with him, but because he was incensed that the Lord Jesus was dishonoured, and saw that Arianism cuts right to the heart of the Gospel. He did it out of a love for the Lord, and a genuine compassion that people heard clearly the only Gospel that could bring them forgiveness and eternity.

So in honour of Nic's example, perhaps we could encourage you, not to punch the next heretic that comes to your door, but to explain the truth to them, or even to buy a good theological book for a non-Christian friend this Christmas. Santa would approve...

Image: Nicholas strikes his opponent. Part of a fresco from the Soumela Monastery (Turkey) Photo: Marco Prins Licence:Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

 

This blog was originally posted on The Good Book Blog on 18 December 2012

 

Posted in Interesting Thoughts Helen Thorne|2:53 PM GMT|December 15th 2014

"It's the most wonderful time of the year". Or so the 1960's crooner, Andy Williams would have us believe. And his tune - along with many others sharing the same sentiment - are being piped at us endlessly as we shop, commute and potter round the house. Wherever we turn, we are confronted with cheery melodies, tinsel and trimmings, party invitations and the expectation of some presents to remember.

Of course, there's some truth in the sentiment that it's a wonderful time of year. Remembering the moment when God took on human flesh to save us from our sins is undoubtedly awesome, profoundly life-changing. But that doesn't necessarily make Christmas fun. And, personally, I don't find it hard to think of people who are, quite frankly, dreading it:

There are those who are recently bereaved and the gaping hole that the deceased person has left makes it hard to want to carry on. There are those who are ill. Those whose relationships are crashing and burning. Those who know that, save a miracle, this will be their last Christmas. Those caring for loved ones who know they wont get a moment's rest. Those with certain disabilities who can't cope with the change of routine. Those who were depressed before December hit and things have just gone from to worse since... For some, Christmas is a dreadful time of the year where the pain of a fallen world seems to get magnified by the surrounding festivities.

Hopefully most church communities are aware of who's hurting. And in any functional church there will be a desire to support such people. Sadly, however, such support can all too often come in the form of wanting to jolly people along. "Oh, come round to ours" 'the invitation goes "we've got plenty of food, there'll be loads of people, we'll be playing games all afternoon - it'll be great fun". Sometimes such invitations are spot on ... but for others they result in nothing but a sinking heart ... people don't want to seem ungrateful, the kindness is genuinely appreciated, but if they're honest the thought of such a celebration is simply dreadful, wholly inappropriate, just plain wrong.

So this year - as well as passing out fun invitations to those who are able to party - let's quietly celebrate the value of the understated Christmas with those who aren't. What's important is spending some time thinking about Jesus. The rest is up for grabs. So, after church, let's be willing to switch off the radio or TV, put the games away for an hour and quietly go for a walk with someone who's hurting. Let's ditch the festive food one lunchtime after Christmas and eat cheese on toast with someone who just wants to talk about their hopes and fears for the coming year. Let's ask people how we can be praying for them rather than probing them about their festive gifts. Let's be willing to accompany someone to a gravestone and pass them tissues as they cry instead of assuming they'd like to play a 3-hour game of world domination. And let's babysit the children or sit by the bedside of someone infirm so their carer can have the nap they've been wanting for months.

That way, even if it doesn't feel like the most wonderful time of the year, those around us who are hurting can be confident that there are people who are willing to point them to the great, loving God incarnate who is worthy of our worship in ways that are tender and gentle, without the pressure of having to pretend to have fun.

 

Helen Thorne is the author of: Purity is Possible

This blog was originally posted on The Good Book Blog on 21st December 2012.

Posted in Interesting Thoughts Dex Fletcher|1:03 PM GMT|December 15th 2014

As the year draws to a close and people make all sorts of Top 5 for 2014 lists, we thought we'd do our own. And add a little competition.

Over the next 5 days, we'll be telling you our Top 5 selling books for 2014. The competition is to guess the top selling book. We'll send a free copy to the first 5 people who guess the correct answer. Comment on the Blog, reply via Twitter, comment on Facebook. We could let you know all sorts of terms and conditions, but we're all friends here!

Today, coming in at Number 5 is: Galatians for You. Timothy Keller's expository guide to Galatians will excite ordinary Christians in their faith and equip teachers and preachers in their work.

"With all the talk of being gospel-centered today, this book takes us to Galatians and clearly, helpfully illustrates exactly how Paul called on the people he loved to center their lives and their church upon the gospel."    Tim Challies Author and Blogger

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