Friday, May 19, 2017

Beyond Loneliness

   Trevor Hudson writes with a voice of comfort and compassion in his book Beyond Loneliness, to describe the gift of friendship that we have in God. He begins his introduction, "An Invitation to Transforming Friendship", with some statements regarding loneliness: that it "touches each one of us" and is "no respecter of age or rank", and that it "may be one of the most painful experiences that we go through in this life" (15). Then he asks a few questions:

Cover image for Beyond Loneliness
      - Do you feel lonely?
      - Is there a friendship-shaped hole in your life?
      - Are you open to reimagining your relationship with God as a friendship?
      - Do you want to be transformed into the person God wants you to be?
      - Does the possibility of starting a lifelong journey with God attract you?
      - Do you long for a real experience of the living God?

   If you answered yes to any of these questions, he asks that you "join [him] in discovering how to begin a transforming friendship with God" (18). He then takes the reader on a journey through the different aspects of God's friendship with each of us; the facets of it, the benefits, the determinants of its necessity. He explores spiritual disciplines such as prayer and meditation, as ways of growing closer in friendship with God, and what I found the most striking was the way that he considered what he called "Our Friend's Address Book". In other words, the friends of our friend - the friends of God. This offers an excellent perspective on the verse in the Bible which reads 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’" (Matt. 25:40). From Hudson's writing, "the least of these brothers and sisters" is an address in God's address book, and a location where we will be able to see and live out the Gospel in everyday life.

   Nathan Foster reviews the book quite well in a couple of sentences: "There is something very inviting about this book. With the heart of a wise and caring pastor, Trevor Hudson effectively creates a safe space for us to work honestly with a topic all humans face. This book will help so many!"

   Aside from a voice of care and guidance, each chapter also includes a friendship exercise and reflection to make the journey from loneliness to friendship a tangible and attainable goal.

   -- Elise --

For more information on Beyond Loneliness by Trevor Hudson, visit our website here.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Practice of the Presence of God


Cover image for Practice Of The Presence Of God
     This little book is a quick read, which makes it all the better for pausing and reflecting on the depth that it holds. I read it for a class that I was taking. The Practice of the Presence of God emphasizes the spiritual disciplines of servitude and stillness.

     Brother Lawrence worked in the kitchen at the monastery where he ended up, after time served in the army and a stint of isolation in the desert in search of spiritual growth. There is a short biography detailing his life in this book, but most of The Practice of the Presence of God is a collection of letters written by Brother Lawrence to his Brothers and Sisters in Christ who had written to him troubled, struggling, and searching. His literary voice is that of a gentle mentor seeking to counsel and to comfort with the wisdom that he seeks from God to offer. His words emanate humility, patience, and kindness that comes from a life of intentional servitude. Brother Lawrence practices the art of finding God in every instance, every act, and every moment, through a discipline of service so thoroughly honed as to be renowned even now as inspirational.

--Elise--

For more information visit our website here.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Us Versus Us

Surprisingly, 86% of LGBT people spent their childhood in church.

Gay rights and homosexuality are a hot button topic both in religious and secular circles. Mention one side of the discussion and you are bound to get someone breathing down your neck about how incorrect you are. Even within your circle of belief, there can be disagreement.

Us Versus Us breaks from that in a very refreshing way. Rather than discuss theology, Andrew Marin takes us on a sort of guided tour on this social civil war between the two camps and shows how not so far apart we are. The book draws on the largest scientific survey of LGBT religious backgrounds, beliefs and practices to create a more clear picture of their story. The research is anonymous, but features both quantitative and qualitative information to show the variety of experiences and mindsets out there. Marin uses this information to speak to both sides on the theology of reconciliation and seeking to show Christ's compassion to all. Throughout the book he continually points out that it is not a theological change that needs to happen, but a ministry and heart change.

Both encouraging and heart-breaking, the combination of the survey and personal stories builds a fuller picture of the issue. If you need a starter on the discussion, or are already in the thick of it, I highly recommend you read Us Versus Us. I think everyone needs to read this, to learn to understand what the LGBT community needs from us as followers of Christ.

--Lauryssa--

For more info check out our website here or come in to the store.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Believer's Bible Commentary

A staff recommendation; Brent can be found on and off in our Bible Department. He is a wonderful addition to the House of James family.
Cover image for Believer's Bible Commentary     My wife Jolanda and I prefer the Believer's Bible Commentary because of the richness and depth of it's over all content. There are some commentaries that emphasize a more scholarly type of presentation and investigation and these commentaries are also very popular and valuable.

     We have three Bible commentaries that we have bought from the House of James and I have also looked over some other commentaries that the House of James carries. We also look for a commentary that brings to light our Jewish roots so that context and depth of meaning in our interpretation of Scripture are not lost. The Bible is a complete whole as God intended and you must not divorce the Old Testament from the New Testament. Paul in I Corinthians 10:1-11 is a good example and there are many more New Testament examples.

     All the commentaries have their own good points, but the most consistent one for additional content that can help with personal Bible study or leading a Bible study group, for us has been the Believers Bible Commentary. I will use John 18:5-6 for the comparison and have also included the comments from the NLT study Bible. I bought one for Jolanda and liked it so much that I also bought one for myself. And I am a King James die-hard.

     Comparing John 18:5-6:
1. NLT Study Bible 2008 Second Edition
Cover image for NLT Study Bible Large Print     "18:5
"literally I AM. Jesus identified himself by the divine name God had revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai."

     18:6
"The soldiers and guards all drew back before the Lord. Even Roman soldiers, who were trained not to fall, fell to the ground before the Christ."

2. The MacArthur Bible Commentary
Cover image for MacArthur Bible Commentary

     18:5-6
"When He spoke "I am He", a designation He had used before to declare Himself God, they were jolted backward and to the ground."



3. The Moody Bible Commentary
Cover image for Moody Bible Commentary     18:5
"His reply 'I am He' ('He' is not in the Greek) recalls Jesus' use of the same term to claim deity."
     18.6
"Precisely when He said to them, I am He, his opponents fell to the ground. The collapse of the soldiers came in reaction to a small taste of the divine power of Jesus."

4. The Believer's Bible Commentary
Cover image for Believer's Bible Commentary      18:5
"They sought Jesus of Nazareth, little realizing that He was their Creator and their Sustainer- the best Friend they ever had. Jesus said "I am" (the "He" is not found in the original but needed for English). He meant not only that He was Jesus of Nazareth but that He was Jehovah as well. As mentioned previously, I AM is one of the Names of Jehovah in the Old Testament. Did this cause Judas to wonder afresh, as he stood with the others in the crowd?"

     18:6
"For a brief moment, the Lord Jesus had revealed Himself to them as the I AM, the Almighty God. The revelation was so overpowering that they drew back and fell to the ground."
Best Wishes,

Brent

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Carol Recommends

A staff recommendation! Carol is one of our lovely Giftware Department experts, always welcoming with a smile and ready to help you find exactly what you're looking for, before even you know it.
"Gretl, an orphan girl, finds herself totally alone at age seven. Through harrowing experience she is spared from the concentration camp but life looks so bleak, she wishes she would still be on the train until she hears and sees the smoke from it being blown up.

Cover image for Girl From the TrainJakob is fighting for the Polish resistance and finds Gretl. They become very close but are separated by continents, politics, language, and religion.

Will Gretl ever see Jakob again, and if so, what will become of their relationship?

I dare you to read this book."
--Carol Dyck--
 For more information on The Girl From the Train by Irma Joubert, visit our website here.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Tangible Kingdom

     The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay is one of several books of its kind presenting what they might refer to as a "new hope" for anyone looking for a new way of living out God's mission. This book is is a "call for churches to take a leap from their safe environments of their buildings and truly enter into the real world - God's reality".

Cover image for Tangible Kingdom     I read this book for one of my Bible College classes last year and the reviews from the other students in the class were very mixed, which is why I really took an interest in it. The concept of re-defining the way the church gathers in community was one that I had heard talked about, one that I had been in discussion with other people about, but not one I had ever taken the time to pursue on my own. The Tangible Kingdom reminded me in various ways - especially in tone and gentle openness - of the book Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli. While Yaconelli is exploring the ides of personal, spiritual growth and the ways we are perhaps enslaved by tradition, Halter and Smay in The Tangible Kingdom seek to expand the bigger picture. They seek to develop the growth of the church.

     On a spectrum of avid disagreement or absolute consensus, the responses to this book were so varied. I find myself neither here nor there in many ways but my impression of the work as a whole was quite positive. Approaching their ideas with an open mind, Halter and Smay are two experienced followers of Christ always searching for a better way. As with any push back on tradition, there is a certain amount of aversion to their message, but I personally found their ideas refreshing. They are actively pursuing more and more tangible ways to build faith communities whenever and wherever they are.

    "Many faith seekers have tried different churches, methods, programs, leaders, teachers, and styles only to discover that nothing holds their interest." Halter and Smay want to present another possible way, in no way easier, and possibly in no way better than anything else the world has tried before. But they are actively pursuing possible avenues, which is more than many of us are doing, engrained in our places of comfort and ease of living.

--Elise--

     For more information on Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, visit our website here.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Good of Giving Up

Lent is upon us. The season of giving up. To me, it's always been like the Christian version of new year's resolutions: an attempt at curbing some bad habit, or to try to become more healthy. Aaron Damiani's The Good of Giving Up reveals the season of lent as so much more than that.

This tradition of fasting and prayer before the celebration of Christ's death and resurrection goes way back. While some may say it's not mentioned in the Bible, it is steeped heavily in the teachings and life of Jesus himself, and the Judaic traditions. Damiani delves into the rich history of Lent and gives the reader a quick overview as a basis for understanding it's importance in our lives. With that context in mind, he provides his guidance as a pastor as to the way to approach the season of Lent, not just practically but also spiritually.

The Good of Giving Up reads well, like having coffee with your pastor. Damiani has written with a great heart for the reader to seek God in all of their life, using Lent as just another part of the Christian calendar. At the end he even includes helpful tips and tools for parents and leaders to prepare and lead those under their care for the Lent season.

--Lauryssa--

For more info, check out our website here or come in store.