Our books this month are great for advent and gifting, but are also important titles for any season of the year.
BOOK OF THE MONTH: ‘Brightest and Best’, Philippa Wilson (2022)
Christmas is a time when we’re meant to be joyfully singing carols and eating mince pies right? Yet, in a world that is full of brokenness, pain, and sin it can feel difficult to feel joyful at this time of year. In these short devotions Philippa is realistic about the reality of life in a fallen world and points us to the only true source of hope, joy, and peace, Jesus Christ: ‘To people walking in the reality of the world as it is, in exhaustion, despair and mourning, God speaks tenderly…the comfort of advent is that the Lord has come. It’s the comfort that the Lord is coming’.
In her first part, each devotion is based on the line from a Christmas carol and reflects on why Jesus is the brightest and best both in the moments of great joy, and great sorrow. She travels through many of the familiar Christmas passages while also dipping into other passages along the way, looking at who Jesus is, why he has come, and why that is good news for us as we wait for him to come again. The second part covers the slightly odd time between Christmas and New Year, where to be honest I often find myself struggling in my daily bible reading after I’ve finished my advent devotional and for some reason feel I should wait till 1st January to start that new plan. It guides us as we reflect on the year that’s been and look ahead to the year to come. It gives an opportunity to focus your mind on who Christ is and why he makes a difference to our disappointments, hopes and plans.
Philippa is wonderfully honest about her own struggles throughout these devotions, and how these truths of Jesus make a difference to her day-to-day life. She holds out the glorious hope of the gospel and how it shines brightly even on the darkest days. I loved how each day I was reminded of another aspect of who Jesus is and led to praise him anew. I thoroughly recommend these devotions as you prepare for Christmas, or to be honest anytime as I read them through September and found them a helpful refocus each morning as I walk with Christ.
This book is available from Mound Books.
Carrie Marlow, Free North Church, Inverness
‘Overcoming Walls to Witnessing’, Timothy K. Beougher (2021)
This short but excellent book from Dr Timothy K. Beougher is called “Overcoming walls to Witnessing”, when more precisely, it is like taking a stick of dynamite to the reasons we don’t witness or share our faith. Dr Beougher challenges us to see that the often self-built walls to our evangelism are easily dismantled by the Gospel.
“Overcoming Walls to Witnessing” is structured on six common issues facing people and encourages the reader to see that these do not need to be walls that stand the test of time but rather are better to be blown away by the Good News of Jesus.
I would encourage the reader of this wee book to pass it on to members of their church family rather than keep it in their office, study or bookshelf after reading.
This book is available from 10ofthose.com.
Chris Davidson, Merkinch Free Church, Inverness
‘The Magnificent Time Machine’, Sinclair Ferguson (2022)
This is a wonderfully simple story told through pictures and few words, of the life of our world, with Jesus at the centre. A time machine engages the young reader by asking them to step inside and travel with the pictures. It travels past well-known events such as sending men to the moon, and Robert the Bruce. The time machine arrives in the first century AD seeing stories we know from the Bible but then picks up speed and continues into the Old Testament, inviting the reader to listen in to a private conversation before the beginning of our time. The promise of that conversation is worked out over the next section of travel. The culmination of the story is at your town, your house, and your church. This is an inspired book for children with easy language and the most beautiful illustrations by Martyn Smith. Ferguson has paraphrased the Bible in a way that is accessible to the youngest of readers who will remember this book well into their adult years.
This book is available from 10ofthose.com
Ruth Aird (Bruntsfield Evangelical Church, Edinburgh)
‘Let us Worship God’, Derek W.H. Thomas (2021)
Christians can often take what they believe for granted. In similar vein, Derek Thomas feels that we often adopt particular practices in church worship without thoroughly looking at their scriptural basis. This interesting and valuable book considers methodically twelve aspects to Christian worship and how these are ordered by God. In doing so, he helps readers from whatever Christian tradition they find themselves in to examine what should really constitute a worship service. Clearly Thomas writes from the perspective of an experienced Christian minister in a large Presbyterian church in the USA and I wonder how some of what he says would apply in different contexts, e.g., smaller churches without ministers. Although I belong to a different Christian persuasion from Thomas, I found this book both illuminating and useful when thinking about the way we worship. However, I would have benefited from a fuller exploration of the role of the body in worship, not just in the use of liturgy and psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
This book is available to purchase from Mound Books.
Gari Lewis, Tabernacle Baptist Church, Llwynhendy
These books are only a small proportion of the ones we review. You can find all our reviews online at https://books.freechurch.org or sign up to our monthly email to get them directly to your inbox: https://thefree.church/books-sign-up.