Best children’s Christmas story book

Jesus' Christmas PartyOne of my favourite resources for the Christmas season is Jesus’ Christmas Party by Nicholas Allan.

Nicholas Allan writes and illustrates the nativity through the eyes of a grumpy inn keeper who is unexpectedly at the centre of Jesus’ birth.  The story follows him as he is woken up repeatedly by Mary and Joseph and guests visiting the newborn.

I first heard of the book when I was a child and it was used for a Sunday School drama to present the Christmas narrative to the whole church.  As a children’s and youth worker I’ve used it numerous times, be it with young pre-school children, older teenagers, or non-Christian adults.  The book is easy for people to follow and join in, and yet still allows for profounds truths to be taught.

It can be bought in a number of sizes – from A6 just to fit in the pocket and use to tell a large group of people, to a large A4 size which a class of children can crowd around and look at the pictures.

Books I have read: Passion: The Bright Light Of Glory by Louie Giglio

Passion book

The Passion movement, led by Louie Giglio, was designed for 18-25 year olds who want to follow Jesus and share their faith with others, and based on Isaiah 26:8 which says, “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your truth, we wait eagerly for You, for Your name and Your renown are the desire of our souls.”.  Passion: The Bright Light of Glory is a compilation of messages from many who have spoke at the conference such as John Piper, Francis Chan, Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Judah Smith, to name a few.

The book starts with an introduction by Louie Giglio on how the Passion conferences came into existence and what the journey has been over the last few years.  Following this each chapter is a different message from one of the above speakers – all with very different themes and styles – some obviously clicked much better for me than others whereas other people might find that different chapters connect for them.

The theme that kept coming up was the concept of life changing encounters with Jesus, and the need to share that with others.  Beth Moore summed it up well:

You have been set on this earth, at this hour, and in this generation to bring fame to the Lord Jesus Christ in your sphere of influence.

The book was thought provoking and full of truth I needed to hear. I encourage anyone to read this book.

Books I have read: The Irresistible Inheritance Of Wilberforce

the irresistible inheritance of wilberforce

The Irresistible Inheritance Of Wilberforce by Paul Torday was a book I picked up in a charity shop thinking it looked an intriguing read.  Wilberforce is a man who has become an alcoholic, drinking up to 4 or 5 bottles of wine, but unlike many alcoholics he focuses only on top quality vintage wines – many of which he “inherited”.

I found it to be a real poignant literary piece – it was clever how Paul Torday starts the story with the conclusion – the year of 2006 – with each section of the book sharing the previous year, so as the book goes on the reader discovers the reasons for his alcoholism and his intricate personal relationships.

This isn’t a happy narrative – it is a book that narrates the story of a lonely and depressed man who in trying to please other people and in this ends up an alcoholic and thereby further alienating those around him.  Whilst it isn’t a happy book, I did enjoy the book, and found the writing captivating – especially the early chapters where I was still trying to place Wilberforce and the other characters in the story.

Books I have read: Puritan Portraits

Books I have read: Puritan Portraits

J. I. Packer, a well known theologian, named by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals alive, and one of the leading authorities on the Puritans has written a new book Puritan Portraits.

The first part of the book discusses the historical context from which the Puritans ministered.  Much of the book was initially published as introductions to the Christian Heritage series of paperbacks published by Christian Focus, looking at John Flavel, Thomas Boston, John Bunyan, Matthew Henry, Henry Scougal, John Owen and Stephen Charnock and two closer portraits of William Perkins and Richard Baxter.

Instead of writing a detailed biography about each man, Packer instead focuses on a specific essay or book that each had written:

  • Henry Scougal: The Life of God in the Soul of Man
  • Stephen Charnock: Christ Crucified
  • John Bunyan: The Heavenly Footman
  • Matthew Henry: The Pleasantness of a Religious Life
  • John Owen: The Mortification of Sin
  • John Flavel: Keeping the Heart
  • Thomas Boston: The Art of Man Fishing
  • Thomas Boston: The crook in the Lot
  • Thomas Boston: Repentance.

At times it felt weird that the book that was so heavily written about wasn’t then included in the book, but equally I found this book great at whetting my appetite to read more of the Puritans.  The book then concludes with a chapter that looks at the ideals of the Puritan theology.

This isn’t a light read or an easy read but it certainly encourages you to dig deeper into their writings, to understand more fully what they were writing about.