Summer Reading

For some of us, summer affords a few extra free hours in the week.  It hopefully will mean a chance to use our time for godly rest and restoration.  One element of that is for us to take the opportunity to hear from other Christians who write about matters of faith and life.  We’ve had a little refresh of our Church library which is rolled out each Sunday for you to browse and borrow books as you’d like.  There’s now a small section entitled ‘recommended summer reading’ which may help you narrow the choice down.  Below, also, is a short list of blogs and sites that you might find helpful on your commute, in an airport, waiting for kids, by a pool, sitting around the house or whenever. 

Aimee Byrd blogs at Mortification of Spin under the name Housewife Theologian.  She writes about (among other things) friendship, marriage and singleness.

www.mortificationofspin.org/mos/housewife-theologian/

If you’re interested in tackling hard questions to do with faith, William Lane-Craig addresses a new question about Christianity and belief from a reader each week at https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer.  There are now over 500 entries in the Q&A series.  Some of the discussion is complex but it’s worth the effort.

The Gospel Coalition Blog features a range of bloggers who write on a diverse array of topics.  It’s US-based but many of the issues they address have relevance to us.  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/

Regular preacher at our Church, Kevin Hargaden blogs at Creideamh.  Kevin has opinions and he’s not afraid to share them!  http://www.hargaden.com/kevin/blog/

Lore Ferguson Wilber brings a quirky and wise take on Christian faith at www.sayable.net

Irishman, pastor, and all-round good guy, John-Mark Mullan, blogs at http://jaybercrow.furiousthinking.org/ on the interaction of faith and culture. 

Finally, a reminder of the excellent website The Bible Project which is not a blog but a huge resource of video animations that teach the entire Bible in helpful 8-minute chunks.  https://thebibleproject.com/

Evelyn's story

Early childhood for me was being part of a loving Irish family. My parents brought the family of five children to Mass regularly, raising us to love God and our neighbour. In my early 20’s I perceived that Religion, with its rules and regulations, was not for me. I had a great job and spent time socialising and enjoying travel adventures with my friends. However, there was a part of me that was dissatisfied with my life and I began searching for meaning and fulfilment. This led to doing a degree in English and Philosophy in UCD.  It was during that time, over many discussions of life in the Student Canteen, that my journey of faith began. I met lots of other students who spoke about their faith as something compelling, influencing how they thought and made decisions. It seemed to be a personal faith which made me curious to explore their experience.

An opportunity arose to attend a major Christian event in Dublin presented by an international speaker. The talk focused on the role of Pontius Pilate during the trial of Jesus Christ. The speaker drew out how Pilate did everything to avoid making a decision on who Jesus was, even down to washing his hands of him. For the first time I understood the reason why Jesus died and was challenged about my lack of response up to that time. I knew I had to look again at the claims of Jesus as outlined in the Gospels. I, like Pontius Pilate was sitting on the fence. From then on, I was eager to learn of what it meant practically to be a Christian. This led to meeting with a group of people who looked at the Bible weekly in a group. I was welcomed to join them and with their patience and understanding, I began to read the Bible for myself.

With a growing understanding of who Jesus was I chose to follow Him. I was 26 years old. I know from that day on I was never the same again. New life filled me and gave me a whole new perspective. I now wanted to please God in every area of my life. I believed he loved me and that the principles in the Bible for living were for my good. My husband whom I married 3 years later, shared my faith and together we have sought to serve him and have found the fulfilment which I had been seeking. God promises us "a future and a hope", these are to be found in him and in living for him, this has been my experience over the last 35 years, he has been faithful to me and I hope I can be faithful to him.

How the Gospel is changing my life and is good news for me every day!

"I grew up in a Christian family in Holywood, a few miles outside Belfast. I was taken along to church from a young age, but despite having been brought along to a lot of churchy things, I’d missed the real message of Jesus and had a distorted view of God.

Subconsciously, the God that I believed in was all about how many good works I did. I always felt like I had to perform to please God and this filtered into every aspect of my life. I placed my value on how I performed, I thought that if I was a ‘nice’ person people would like me, I thought that if I did good deeds, God would like me.

When I was in secondary school, a few friends who were Christians invited me to an event. I heard Jesus’ parable of the lost son in a fresh way and understood God’s grace involved in bringing his undeserving son back for the first time. I realised that God invites us into his family based on what Jesus has done, not on anything I can do. I had never grasped that one of God’s main characteristics was his grace.

Realising what Jesus has done for me through his death on the cross and the unconditional love He has for me has radically transformed my life.

In fact, it feels like I’m only scratching the surface for how much this affects my life. The discovery of God’s grace has filtered into everything that I do.

Having been a life long people-pleaser, I know that I spend too much time thinking about what people think of me! Even as I write this little article, I’m thinking of the reactions that you might be having.

But God’s grace is allowing me to be free from worrying about what people think. I am discovering a deeper, more real joy and inner peace in being a follower of Jesus more every year.

I am reassured that Jesus’ death has paid for my sins and given me a new identity as a child of God. Best of all, this new identity is safe and secure.

I’m constantly finding that the gospel makes sense of life to me and brings me joy even in the mundane. It’s changing my marriage, my friendships, my view on the world and what’s important. It’s given me a new set of priorities."

from Josh McCance