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Summer thoughts

I finally gave myself two weeks off from posting on this blog. In the past I have made sure to have something to post even if I was going to be away from home.

Unusually hot weather (not as extreme as in much of England this year) made me think twice about switching on my computer. There were days when I didn’t leave the house either.

I am currently reading a very interesting nonfiction book, which I have renewed from the library a few times already. I hope to finish it and review it before I need to show the librarian that I still have it.

The hobby I began earlier this year of researching my family history is time-consuming, but interesting. Making discoveries about people is sometimes exciting. Other times there is frustration when there do not appear to be any relevant records.

In my quiet times this year I have read some of the minor prophets – Amos and Joel, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and I am currently reading Chronicles and John’s gospel. When I reached the point in 2 Chronicles when Rehoboam, son of Solomon, was king of Judah. One verse jumped out at me.

The news is full of reports of people doing evil. People doing good things rarely reach the headlines. Rehoboam did evil because his heart was not set on seeking the Lord. 2 Chronicles 12:14

How many people nowadays have set their hearts on seeking the Lord? Have you? Have I?

The state of the world is depressing. We hear of wars, people fleeing countries where they feel unsafe, weapon tests, pollution, global warming, unprovoked physical attacks on people in public places, unjust governments, people only caring about themselves and their nearest and dearest.

In the Bible we read that there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

Over and over again in the Bible the story is told of how people sought God and worshipped Him; then they forgot about Him. He often brought them back into a state of grace by bringing various hardships on them – plagues, wars or famine, for example.

We are living through difficult times. We have had plagues in the form of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases. There are wars. Global warming is bringing the threat of famine to many people.

In the Bible God relieved people’s suffering when they began to seek Him again.

Nowadays people ask, ‘How can a loving God allow awful things to happen?’

Another side of God’s character is that he is holy and just. I am not going to attempt to make a theological explanation. We have the example of God’s dealings with people in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

We also have the promises made there. Even if we give up on God, he doesn’t give up on us.

There are other pieces of advice, which do not come from the Bible. One I have been thinking about recently is, ‘Consider what sort of world it would be if everyone did what you do.’

This needs questioning. What you do…
…is how you behave, what you achieve and more.

There are some things which everyone might do, such as looking after themselves and others in their household, being polite and courteous, keeping their homes and gardens in a reasonable state, considering carefully what to buy, how to dispose of rubbish, how to use the world’s resources without negatively impacting others (including other species). There are also beneficial things that we may do, which others will not. They have different skills and interests.

My family history research began because I inherited historical papers and old photographs. I have been able to share some information with a local history society. This is not something that everyone would have the opportunity or time to do.

‘Do what you can, but don’t be too hard on yourself over the things you can’t’, might be good advice.

Perhaps we should make a habit of asking for eyes to see opportunities to help others day by day.

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Book review – The Wanderer: Scorned by Natasha Woodcraft

Natasha Woodcraft has written a remarkable book – The Wanderer: Scorned is the first in a series looking at what the background might have been to some well-known stories from the book of Genesis. She is not writing specifically for people who regard the Bible as a sacred text. The Wanderer: Scorned is a work of fiction, but the story includes many truths about relationships between people and between people and God.

Picture of the paperback book The Wanderer: Scorned

The tale is told as a story within a story. I became so absorbed in the main story that I had forgotten the context in which it was being told. Once I had read the book and the appendices I went back and read the prologue and epilogue consecutively. They fit together perfectly and left me wanting to read the sequel.
I enjoyed the way that Natasha Woodcraft imagined what it would have been like for the first humans, having been expelled from Eden and being inexperienced in every way.

Readers who are familiar with other Bible stories may find a foretaste of some of them. The relationship between two brothers reminded me of the story of the prodigal son. Having to wait during a character’s illness was not unlike Jesus’ response to Lazarus’ illness. There was also an incident reminiscent (or prescient) of Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

As well as being a writer, Natasha Woodcraft is also a musician. Her song included in Chapter 3 is available as a video with subtitles on YouTube.

I read an ARC (advance review copy) as a large print .pdf file, which took me longer than it would have taken to read a book. (For one thing it wasn’t on my TBR (to be read) pile!)

The Wanderer: Scorned is being launched on 6th August 2022. It was a real privilege to be able to read it ahead of that date. It is available from Amazon as a Kindle edition from 2nd August 2022 and a paperback from 6th August 2022.

The sequel, The Wanderer: Reborn, is expected in Winter 2022.

Book Review The Captive’s Crown by Olusola Sophia Anyanwu

The Captive’s Crown: A story of inclusion, diversity and redemption by Olusola Sophia Anyanwu is biblical fiction. It contains some adult content.

The main protagonist is the woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. There are many other characters (most of them fictional) from the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth. The story is told imaginatively in Sophia’s unique style.

Sophia (who is a member of the Association of Christian Writers as I am) asked me to read and review this book. She hoped it would be a blessing to me. It contains many quotations from the Bible and some interludes where we are given a glimpse of the activity of God and the angels in heaven. These are indeed a blessing. The story is gripping, with many lives changed through encounters with Jesus and his followers.

The Captive’s Crown is available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.