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What I read in May 2019 (Part 1) Borderlands

The second of three books I received from IVP UK as a Twitter giveaway is Borderlands Navigating The Adventure Of Spiritual Growth by Mark Brickman. This is a scholarly book, which is very readable. It is particularly suitable for reading during this season between Easter and Pentecost. As well as drawing on the author’s own life experiences there is much about those of others, who have been involved in Christian revival in the past.

Although the beginning of Borderlands requires careful reading, towards the end I found that it was very exciting and easy to read. Most of the Bible references in the book are very well known. The reading I had heard in the service on the Third Sunday of Easter (John 21:1-19) was discussed in the part of the book I read the following day.

There are references to many books and online sources.

Borderlands is primarily about spiritual growth,but what I personally gained from this book is that I should continue praying for revival with more fervour.

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What I read in April 2019 (Part 2) A New Day by Emma Scrivener

I received a parcel of three books from IVP (Intervarsity Press UK) before Easter as a Twitter giveaway. I decided to read A New Day first as I had heard of the author and her husband (Glen Scrivener). The book has the most attractive cover of the three! Moving On From Hunger, Anxiety, Control, Shame, Anger And Despair is the strap-line.

Emma Scrivener is a young mother, who has personal experience of anorexia nervosa. Her first book, A New Name, (which I haven’t read) was very well-received. A New Day is her second book. It is well-organised in sections named after parts of a 24-hour period, moving from partial darkness, through night into day. It is full of sensible, helpful advice about all kinds of mental health problems: eating disorders, panic attacks, self-harm, depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar, SAD, schizophrenia and PTSD, perhaps resulting from abuse. It also addresses diagnosis and treatment.

Letters from sufferers are included as is advice on how to receive or offer help. When professional help is required and when/how the Church can help is discussed. The book is written from a Christian perspective and debunks the myth that Christians should not experience problems with their mental health.

I found this book particularly appropriate for the approach to Easter and finished reading it on Easter Day. The theme of moving from darkness into a new day or from an old way of life to a new one was timely. The explanations of why people’s problems take particular forms helped my understanding of some people I know. Having accessed mental health services myself in the past, I can vouch for the authenticity of this book.

There is a useful appendix with resources.

This is a book, which should be read by church leaders and those with safeguarding responsibilities as well as people affected by the mental illness of friends and family members. Recovering patients may also find it helpful. (I suggest that patients in crisis are not ready to read books of this kind.)

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What I read in April 2019 (Part 1)

The first two books I finished reading in April are reviewed here.

Sacristy Press sent me Living Prayer: Learning to Pray in Daily Life by John Davey as a Twitter giveaway. This is a slim volume. The expression ‘it does what it says on the tin’ comes to mind for this book. It took me a few weeks to work my way through it slowly. It is the sort of book to keep at the side of one’s bed and pick up from time to time. It is a good introduction to prayer.

Having recently read Evelyn Underhill’s Prayer Book with its copious superscripts and notes, the plain text including Psalms without verse numbers was a complete contrast. I failed to find any information about the author anywhere in the book or its cover, beyond what he revealed in the preface. What seems important is the content of the book rather than the person writing it. In this age of celebrity that is counter-cultural. So is Christianity.

One prayer made me wonder whether the author was a Roman Catholic. (The prayers from Common Worship suggest he is an Anglican.) I do not know any other Protestants, who address Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ in their prayers. However, I do know some, who would object to the book for the sake of a single prayer. Personally, I’d thank God for Mary’s obedience rather than address her directly. (I have no formal qualifications in theology.)

New Life: Reflections for Lent edited by Amy Robinson and Wendy H. Jones

This book was published shortly before Lent 2018, but I failed to obtain a copy until later. I bought it at a writers’ conference. The book is the first one published by the Association of Christian Writers (ACW), whose members contributed the daily readings. It consists of a Bible reference for each day of Lent (marked in a way that does not tie the book to a particular year) followed by a piece of writing inspired by the passage from scripture. There are introductions to each week’s readings. The writing is varied and imaginative. The book is available from Amazon. I read it during Lent 2019, but raced ahead at the end as I was not prepared to carry it on a journey and wanted to finish it by Easter.

I took the book to the prayer group twice to share some of the writing with the ladies there. They were very favourably impressed with the pieces I read out.

Although it is a Lent book, in the introduction Angela Hobday aka Annie Try (the chairman of ACW) points out that there is enough material to mull over during the entire year. There is a foreword by Adrian Plass, the president of ACW.

It is book to revisit.

(I reviewed the second book from ACW here.)