Saturday, 26 May 2012

Happy Birthday

Tomorrow is Pentecost, often expressed as the church's birthday.

Today, in Abingdon, we had a birthday celebration. There was a bouncy castle, storytelling, arts & crafts, tea & coffee and, of course, cake. Everything was free and it was a great event. The weather was perfect, sunny but with a cool breeze (all the better because it could be used to illustrate the power of the Holy Sprit).

If you live nearby then look out for next year's event- as it annual!

How do you celebrate Pentecost?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Crusade of Tears by C.D. Baker (A Review)

It's the Year 1212- Jerusalem is occupied by Islam. Thousands of Christian Knights in armor have failed to liberate the Holy City. Who else will the Church send to fight for the Faith? More Knights? Peasant Labourers? Or...... their children?

My review:
Despite being the first in a series, this book works really well as a stand-alone adventure. Sometimes sad and heartbreaking, this historical tale (loosely based on scarce historical sources) speaks of what true faith is all about. A Christian reading this book will find themselves reconsidering the basis of their faith, with questions at the end of the book further aiding this process. But this is not just a story for those who consider themselves Christians, it is a tale for all and could easily find its place on a mainstream chain's bookshelf as easily as in a faith bookshop. The characters are complex and real, and their journey is one of growing up as well as distance. A great tale for all who aren't afraid of their adventure straying from the path of fantasy.

Action Reader's Action: Give some money, or advice, to someone going on a gap-year abroad.

Have you ever been on a journey that didn't turn out exactly as you expected? 
Feel free to post (or link to) your memories in the comments. 

Also posted on The Story Factory Reading Zone

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Christian Aid Week

Today (Sunday 13th May) marks the beginning of Christian Aid Week. All across England supporters are delivering envelopes to houses, running stalls, shaking buckets and generally spreading knowledge of this charity.

Christian Aid aims to change our world so that everyone can live a full life, free from poverty. They support everyone, not just Christians. They work globally, alongside other groups, to aim for equality, dignity and freedom for all, regardless of faith or nationality. They tackle poverty at its root causes, through urgent, practical and effective assistance, as part of a wider movement for social justice. 

At its most basic, Christian Aid aims to:
  • expose the scandal of poverty 
  • help in practical ways to root it out from the world
  • challenge and change structures and systems that favour the rich and powerful over the poor and marginalised.

If you want to be involved, check out the resources page on their website and don't forget to gift aid any donations you give (it costs you nothing extra but gives Christian Aid just a little bit more).

Monday, 7 May 2012

Communication in the Justice System

Many of the people brought infront of our justice system have communication difficulties. And yet, currently, many do not have the right to help with their communication. Is the justice system letting them down? Watch this video from The Communication Trust and then decide for yourself.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Review of N.H.I. and Interview with author Ray Ellis

Today I am please to welcome Ray Ellis to my blog. According to his blog, Ray Ellis is twenty-two year veteran of law enforcement and an ordained minister. NHI is his first published book. Ray says that, as an author, he attempts to relate the common man's struggle to live in a gritty world and remain clean.


Half of Treasure City is controlled by a violent street gang. The other hald is controlled by fear. A rookie detective, Nate Richards, is thrust between the two. Abyss, a mysterious street gang moves into the valley and people have started dying. Nate's girlfriend suddenly disappears and the gang is being targetted as the cause. Will Nate succumb to the pressure to get the job done by any means necessary, or will he become part of tthe problem and prove that there are No Humans Involved.

My review:
I'm not usually into detective/police stories, but I am so glad that I accepted this one for review. Suspense, drama, feeling and a dynamic plot combine to create a gripping story-line. I just simply couldn't put this book down- despite having been in a reading rut previously I stormed through this book within only a few days of hectic lifestyle. I had to force myself to go to sleep at night, feeling so connected with Nate and his girlfriend that I simply wanted to find out what would happen next. I'd also like to praise Ray Ellis for writing a book that truly shows Christianity within the context of a realistic life- something which I wish more books would do. Definatly looking forward to the sequel.

The Interview

1. What made you decide to become a writer?
I was driven to write by the compulsion to workout the question of what it means to be great. I had always dreamed of writing, but it wasn't until wrestling with that question and trying understand what creates that drive in a person that I wrote my first novel, Cave of the Kracken, which is a scif-fi adventure. Kracken will be released this summer with my new publisher.
2. Who has influenced you the most in your writing?

It was my 12th grade English teacher that sparked the love of story in me. As she read Shakespeare's Macbeth, I  simply feel in love with the power of words.
3. How did you come up with the title for N.H.I?

It kind of birthed itself. I was thinking over some of the things that separate us as cops, culturally speaking, from the rest of society and the way we hold ourseleves apart led me naturally to the idea N.H.I.: Nu Humans Involved.
4. Can you explain what 'No Humans Involved' actually means

As a rookie police officer, I came across many industry specific terms, one of which was the phrase NHI. It means No humans Involved and represents a way of identifying a certain person or group of people that are less than desirable. Its a way of saying that "you are person of low social value."
5. Tell us a little about some of the issues tackled in NHI.

The main issue dealt with is the question of how we judge evil in ourselves and in others. The story takes the reader along with Nate Richards, as he explores his own faith and how he deals with the problem of sin.
6. What do you see as the biggest problem in society today?

Simply put, the refusal of men to accept the lordship of Jesus Christ. All other ills are derived from this.
7. How did you come up with the name 'Abyss' for the 'Street Gang'?
I chose the name Abyss because I wanted to draw in the feeling of an emptiness that still sounded of power. Even the gang-warlord as powerful as he was, was still empty.
8. If you could meet one of your characters in real life, who would it be and why?
It would be Reverend Richards because he is the ideal father. Funny, sympathetic but wise. HE knows the Lord and knows how to reveal the Father's presence in everyday life.
9. If Nate wasn't a detective, what job do you think he would have?
Wow! That's a much more difficult question than it might appear because Nate was made to do police work. But if I had to stretch, I would say it would be a teacher.
10. What are your 3 top tips for achieving a work-faith balance?

The key is not to try and add God to what you are doing. You have to have God up front, first and foremost. Secondly, you have to make sure you are doing, for work, what it is God has called you to do; and lastly, rest. Make sure to take advantage of the Sabbath's rule. Rest and refresh yourself in the presence of the Lord.
11. What is your favorite bible translation, and why?

You might find this strange, but I love the KJV. I like it because its old and gives a feeling of reverence and its poetic and lyrical in its presentation.
12. Please describe your next book, D.R.T., in 3 words. 

"How we are."

Also posted on 'The Story Factory Reading Zone'