Archive for January 2011

Books I am reading   Leave a comment

One of the great joys of feeling better is that the desire and ability to read has returned. For the last year each time I would pick up a book it would be a signal for my eyes to close! I had a very dry year, spiritually. I never doubted the hand of God on my life and His control over all that was happening, however often the control room seemed a long way away. And such intellectual and physical energy I had was focused on asking the Father for weekly sermons and then preaching them, only to crawl into bed to accumulate the energy for the next Sunday

What a joy it was to get back my desire to read!  I thought I would share with you the books I have read and am in the process of reading. I have completed four books so far this year; the first two focus on the development of my devotional life and the other two are works of fiction (it’s been a long time since I read any fiction!!!)

Opening to God by David Benner is a book I probably would not have seen if I had not been a member of the Intervarsity book club. It was delivered to me so I glanced at it and my interest was piqued. Focusing on prayer, it is a practical book that really helps the reader to experiment and cultivate a prayer life that draws them closer to God.

Whole Life Transformation by Keith Meyer another Intervarsity book the author of which was not known to me. The title caught my attention and it did not disappoint. The book is particularly aimed at pastors and the like and is based on the author’s experience in pastoral ministry. A question from his son caused him to rethink the foundations of his ministry. This is also a very practical book with many suggestions as to how to translate the content into a day to day reality

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Maggie gave me this for Christmas having read about it pamphlet. Immediately I picked the book up I remembered why I have not been reading fiction; when I get into a story, I can’t put it down. This a wonderfully written true story (so not technically fiction) about a service man captured by the Japanese. He somehow survives a horrendous selection of tortures to struggle with the return to civilian. A superb book, (Mark Batterson said it was the best book he read last year!) but not for the squeamish!

Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peritti This fictional work is the second of a pair of books that paints a picture of the relationship between the forces of evil and the Christian community. The story is gripping (as is the first by the way) and I found myself having to remind myself that it all comes from the fertile imagination of the author and is not the truth! However I believe it did somehow give me a fresh appreciation of the reality of evil. Once again I could not put it down and I think Maggie wonders if it was a good thing to encourage me to include fiction in the books I read

Right now I have my bookmarks in;

Small Faith Great God by NT Wright another Intervarsity offering. Wright is one of our most prolific and gifted Christian theologians and authors. So far the book is great and has given my yellow highlighter ample employment.

The Reason for God by Tim Keller. Keller is an amazing apologist and renders complicated theological ideas with incisive simplicity. This book is destined to become classic in apologetics alongside the work of Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel.

On Road with the Archangel by Fredrick Buechner. More fiction, a fascinating story set in Jerusalem, Antioch or Alexandria about 722 BC, If you have never read any Buechner, I recommend you do. His use of images and language is extraordinary.

Books “on deck”

The Lighthouse by PD James

So what are you reading? I would love to hear. If you are looking for something I have one or two books in my office that you can borrow if you wish!

Posted January 24, 2011 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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In Retrospect   Leave a comment

Today like any other day comes round each year and every year; it’s my birthday!! I was encouraged to write some reminisces of what has been a remarkable year in so many ways. Last January I was writing as I began a year’s treatment for Melanoma, In fact my birthday was in the middle of the first month of very intense treatment.

During the year I have experienced all sorts of interesting side effects; a significant loss of balance, which included taking a fall at the bottom of an escalator in Atlanta airport. a variety of digestive disorders and, what appeared at least, to be a never-ending attack of flu. However God has been so faithful. I asked Him to let me continue to preach and He gave me the strength to achieve that goal in all but one week! (Actually (one and a half as I had to leave 2/3 of the way through one sermon!!)  My year of treatment was to have finished on Dec 28th, but two weeks early the doctors decided my body had had enough and I stopped injecting interferon in the middle of December. Now I am waiting for the scans and tests to know what is next.

Over the past year I have seen a number of things that revealed the faithfulness of God I mentioned above. First I have the most incredible gift of a wife! Maggie has been to every doctor’s appointment with me. She has been a constant encouraging and supportive presence each day, helping me to remember my medications and insisting we go to the emergency room when I did not want to go. It sounds trite but I am not sure how I would have survived without her. Secondly I have an incredible family both sides of the ocean. My sons and stepdaughters and their partners have been remarkable, always willing to do anything to help. And of course my wonderful grandson Atticus, who has brought so much joy to my life.

We began the year with Emily and Jonathan living with us and now they are happily established in their home near Sacramento. Currently we have Katie, Courtney and Atticus with us as they transfer from San Diego as Katie has a wonderful job in the city. What a joy it has been to get to know and love them better.

Back in February I was almost given a heart attack, to go with everything else, when my precious sister Judith and niece Bethany (all the way from England) walked in the door and stayed for a week. What an amazing way to cheer me up (again Maggie had a significant part in arranging and keeping it secret!) I was also able to go the UK with Mags to celebrate my parents’ 60th anniversary and had one of the best vacations of our lives. (Thanks to the staff of Bowditch Middle School who have been so supportive and made it possible for her to come with me.)

Then there’s my incredible church family. I cannot begin to describe the encouragement and care I have had from every one of them; the meals, the prayers, putting up with my lack of energy and worrying whether I was going to fall over when preaching… I could go on, but just know that I love you all and it is such a privilege to be part of New Life.

On December 17th I stopped treatment and another amazing gift from God was in store. I felt better within days and after a couple of weeks with the exception of tiredness, I felt back to my old self. I could not really believe it! I am now enjoying food and preparation for Sundays has become a joy again.

If you are one of those who have prayed for me all over the world, I will never know how to thank you. It has been a constant amazement to hear of people who have been praying, many of whom I barely know. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

There is so much more and in time I am sure I will share it but for now just know that the last year have been living proof of this verse

Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never permit the righteous to be moved Psalm 55:22

Posted January 15, 2011 by jolm15 in Uncategorized