keskiviikko 30. maaliskuuta 2016

An Exhibition of the Law, the Gospel and the Holy Spirit by Charles Simeon

In his simple, Biblical style Charles Simeon answers the questions:

What is the purpose of "the Law"?

Can we understand the gospel if we don't understand the law?

Why do most people settle for a shallow religion?

And could preaching the law and gospel, as they are presented in the Bible, lead to more and deeper conversions?

What does the "plain and simple" gospel look like?

What does the Holy Spirit really want to do for us, (and have we missed it today)?

Charles Simeon’s voice is wonderfully simple and humble. He seeks to explain profound truths but does not want to exalt his own importance by knowing them.

The book is diveded in three parts: The Law, The Gospel & The Holy Spirit.

In the first part of the book Charles Simeon talks about the meaning of the law and its importance to us, reborn Christians.

He shows that all our faith and Christianity depends on the fulfilling of the law, by Jesus Christ.

The knowledge of law, the moral law, is as important today as it was when God created the universe.

On the second part of the book he talks about the Gospel and its significance in Christian living and the lives of all Christians.

Simeon celebrates the wonderful mercy of Christ’s sacrifice and explains how we are only saved by the grace of God and His never-ending love.

The Gospel is the most important happening of human history and the central story and message of the Bible.

It is God’s love in flesh, and we can only understand its significance trough the knowledge, and confession, of law and our sinfulness.

On the third part of the book Charles Simeon talks about who is Holy Spirit and what is His mission in the lives of Christians.

According to Simeon, there can be no Christian who does not have the Holy Spirit in them.

The book is a wonderful explanation of what is Christian belief and in what we base our faith.

I recommend it to everyone who is interested in deepening their knowledge of God and Christianity.

keskiviikko 23. maaliskuuta 2016

The Path of Celtic Prayer: An Ancient Way to Everyday Joy by Calvin Miller

Discover an ancient way of prayer that leads us to new union with God.

"Long ago," Calvin Miller writes, "when the Celts built their own rustic kingdom of God in what would later be the British Isles, their fervor in prayer washed their world in a vital revival."

In uncertain and dangerous days of high infant-mortality rates, leprosy and plagues, the Celts breathed candid prayers out of the reality of their lives: Desperate prayers for protection. Praise for the God who was king over all creation. Honest prayers of confession.

The author, Calvin Miller, has clearly done a lot of reading and research into the spiritual patrimony of the Celtic peoples, and presents the reader with six distinctive 'types' of prayers that were fundamental to the Celtic Christians and their way of discipleship.

Those six 'types' - Trinity Prayer, Scripture Prayer, Long Wandering Prayer, Nature Prayer, Lorica Prayer and Confessional Prayer - are examined in some detail, yet, as Miller observes, cannot be separated from each other since the Celts themselves had no notion of them being separate 'types' of prayer.

"This book proposes a kind of prayer that can end our amputated feelings of separateness from God," says Miller.

What was true for the Celts is still true for us: "Hunger for Christ keeps us talking to God till our separation is swallowed up in our unending togetherness with him."

As rich as the faith they describe, these pages lead us on an ancient path that gives guidance for present and future prayers, until the day the Celts longed for, when all separation is gone and we live forever in the presence of God.

The Celts had an amazing relationship with nature and the elements and it permeates their prayers. "'The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof' (Psalm 24:1, KJV). And we have been given a mandate to care for God's property (Genesis 2:15). If we allow our environment to deteriorate, not only will we have disobeyed God but humans will have no place to live and worship. ...Never did the sun rise but what the Celts saw the triune God in the light." Miller explores Celtic prayer in nature, in journey and in pilgrimage, as lectio divina, and more.

The Path of Celtic Prayer: An Ancient Way to Everyday Joy by Calvin Miller  is a very experiential book, in which we are drawn into a deeper understanding of and experience of prayer.

For anyone wishing to explore the ways in which a deeply religious and spiritual people like the Celts prayed and developed a prayer life that was real and natural, this book provides an easy entrée into their way of being prayerful.

I would recommend it, not only to those who have a love of things Celtic, but also to those who have a love of all things spiritual and prayerful.

maanantai 21. maaliskuuta 2016

Classical Children's Fantasy Books by Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones was the author of more than thirty critically acclaimed fantasy stories, including the Chrestomanci series and the novels Howl's Moving Castle and Dark Lord of Derkholm.

She was one of my favorite authors in my childhood and I cannot honestly tell how many times I have read the first book of Chrestomanci series, A Charmed Life, or my other favorite, The Fire and Hemlock.

Jones started writing during the mid-1960s "mostly to keep my sanity", when the youngest of her three children was about two years old and the family lived in a house owned by an Oxford college. Beside the children, she felt harried by the crises of adults in the household: a sick husband, a mother-in-law, a sister, and a friend with daughter.

Jones' books range from amusing slapstick situations to sharp social observation (Changeover is both), to witty parody of literary forms. Foremost amongst the latter are The Tough Guide To Fantasyland, and its fictional companion-pieces Dark Lord of Derkholm (1998) and Year of the Griffin (2000), which provide a merciless (though not unaffectionate) critique of formulaic sword-and-sorcery epics.

For Charmed Life, the first Chrestomanci novel, Jones won the 1978 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime award by The Guardian newspaper that is judged by a panel of children's writers.

Three times she was a commended runner-up for the Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognizing the year's best children's book: for Dogsbody (1975), Charmed Life (1977), and the fourth Chrestomanci book The Lives of Christopher Chant (1988). 

She won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, children's section, in 1996 for The Crown of Dalemark (concluding that series) and in 1999 for Dark Lord of Derkholm; in four other years she was a finalist for that annual literary award by the Mythopoeic Society.

The 1986 novel Howl's Moving Castle was inspired by a boy at a school she was visiting, who asked her to write a book called The Moving Castle. It was published first by Greenwillow in the U.S., where it was a runner-up for the annual Boston Globe–Horn Book Award in children's fiction.

In 2004, Hayao Miyazaki made the Japanese-language animated movie Howl's Moving Castle, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. A version dubbed in English was released in the UK and US in 2005, with the voice of Howl performed by Christian Bale. 

Next year Jones and the novel won the annual Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association, recognizing the best children's book published twenty years earlier that did not win a major award (named for mythical bird phoenix to suggest the book's rise from obscurity).

Fire and Hemlock had been the 2005 Phoenix runner-up. It is a novel based on Scottish ballads, and was a Mythopoeic Fantasy finalist in its own time.

The British Fantasy Society recognized her significant impact on fantasy with its occasional Karl Edward Wagner Award in 1999. She received an honorary D.Litt from the University of Bristol in July 200 and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2007.

Fire and Hemlock

Polly has two sets of memories...

One is normal: school, home, friends. The other, stranger memories begin nine years ago, when she was ten and gate-crashed an odd funeral in the mansion near her grandmother's house. Polly's just beginning to recall the sometimes marvelous, sometimes frightening adventures she embarked on with Tom Lynn after that. And then she did something terrible, and everything changed.

But what did she do? Why can't she remember? Polly mustuncover the secret, or her true love — and perhaps Polly herself — will be lost.

Charmed Life (Chrestomanci #1)

Cat doesn't mind living in the shadow of his sister, Gwendolen, the most promising young witch ever seen on Coven Street. But trouble starts brewing the moment the two orphans are summoned to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Frustrated that the witches of the castle refuse to acknowledge her talents, Gwendolen conjures up a scheme that could throw whole worlds out of whack.

torstai 17. maaliskuuta 2016

Top 5 Mystery Books For Young Readers

Are you the parent of a curious child who loves to read, or do you know one?
Are you looking for that perfect book to satisfy their appetite for books and mystery? Or even one to enjoy along with them?

If so, stick around for our countdown of the top 5 of classical mystery books written specifically for children between the ages of 8-12, and find out what constitutes the cream of the crop in children’s curiosities.

1. The Famous Five

By Enid Blyton

This is the first in a series that is dear to many people's hearts; the Famous Five is typically remembered fondly by those who read it in their youth. Introducing us to Julian, Dick, Ann, their cousin George (who is actually a girl called Georgina, but she is a tomboy who prefers George) and their dog Tim.

This first adventure sees the Famous Five on holiday on Kirrin Island, upon which they find a shipwreck and learn about the legend of the gold ingots. The Five embark on an adventure to find the treasure, but with others also on the trail, it's a race for the gold.

This is an enthralling and mysterious first venture, and easy to see why the books became so well-loved. Great for children to read alone, the descriptions of outdoor activities and beautiful and interesting locations may even inspire your young reader to venture outside themselves once in a while and have some adventures of their own.

2. The Boxcar Children 

by Gertrude Chandler Warner

In the first book of Boxcar Children series the Aldens begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather.

The book tells the story of four orphaned children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. They create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar in the forest. They eventually meet their grandfather, who is a wealthy and kind man (although the children had believed him to be cruel). The children decide to live with the grandfather, who moves the beloved boxcar to his backyard so the children can use it as a playhouse.

The Boxcar Children is a children's literary franchise originally created and written by the American first-grade school teacher Gertrude Chandler Warner. Today, the series includes well over 100 titles. The series is aimed at readers in grades 2–6.

Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the original book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". In 2012 the original novel was ranked among the all-time "Top 100 Chapter Books", or children's novels, in a survey published by School Library Journal.

3. The Secret of the Old Clock

By Carolyn Keene

Nancy Drew is a children’s mystery classic, most specifically a girls' classic. In her first outing the socially adept Miss Drew, whilst running errands for her father meets a series of people who are connected to a man who has recently passed away and there is some contention over the will. The will which is found is not quite what was expected and Nancy now sets out to find the (real) missing will.

This book is a suspenseful, risky adventure that of course culminates in Nancy saving the day.

The biggest allure of the Nancy Drew Mysteries is the woman herself, a smart and spunky young woman who drives a convertible and is a perfect young lady. Nancy is considerate and a social butterfly, with a strong sense of morality and a highly inquisitive nature. These qualities make the female flatfoot a fantastic role model for young girls, and this is how she is often remembered by her fans.

Nancy Drew inspires curiosity, a sense of adventure and altruism. The mystery itself is both highly suspenseful and completely predictable, but wonderful because of it. Whilst the books are not likely to be enjoyed by young boys (it's not impossible, but still unlikely), but definitely a series that smart young girls will love.

4. The Happy Hollisters 

by Jerry West (Pseudonym)

The Happy Hollisters is a series of books about a family who loves to solve mysteries. The series was published by the Stratemeyer Syndicate and entirely written by Andrew E. Svenson (1910–1975) under the pseudonym Jerry West.

This series recounts the adventures of a young American middle-class family solving mysteries from their home on Pine Lake in the city of Shoreham (no state is ever provided). The Hollister family includes five children, their parents, a family of cats, a dog and a burro. Pete is the oldest of the Hollister children and is 12 years old. Pam, or Pamela, is 10 years old and very adventurous. Ricky is a red-headed, rambunctious 7-year-old and Holly is a 6-year-old tomboy. The youngest is Sue, age 4.

Their father, Mr. John Hollister, owns a general store named The Trading Post, where he sells hardware, sporting goods, and toys. Mrs. Elaine Hollister tries to help her children solve mysteries and is always ready with handy tips for solving cases.

Joey Brill and Will Wilson appear as rivals of the Hollister family in most books. While not actually villains, they appear as obstacles and annoyances to the Hollisters' mystery-solving efforts in most plots. Usually their disruptive actions are shown to be the result of lack of awareness, apathy, or indifference, rather than malicious motives.

5. The Mystery of Smugglers Cove 

by Paul Moxham

Are you up for a thrilling adventure? This is book 1 in The Mystery Series. The adventure novel will suit people who enjoy Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys or the Famous Five.

The author Paul Moxham is best known for his middle grade mystery series which follows four children having adventures in 1950's Britain.

When twelve year old Joe Mitchell, along with his two younger sisters, visits Smugglers Cove for the summer holidays, they get caught up in a thrilling adventure that is beyond their wildest imagination.

Follow the children as they flee down a river, are chased by ferocious dogs, locked up in an old manor, get lost at sea, expose a spy, and more!

maanantai 14. maaliskuuta 2016

A Book That Changed a Life - Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burroughs

When the book challenge I’m following this year told me to read a book that someone tells has “changed their life”, I found it quite impossible.

I don’t have conversations with people where they talk about the books that have changed their lives. Ecuadorians in general don’t read many books. And when I lived in Finland I was still in High School and people’s lives weren’t changed by books at that age.

So I found myself in Facebook. Where else could a pose a question like that to as many people as possible, and hope to get an answer.

I got the usual answer that Bible had changed people’s lives. It is the book that has changed, and keeps changing my life. But I think writing a book review of Bible just is beyond my abilities.

I could write book reviews on specific books of Bible. But nobody told me of a specific book in Bible that had changed their life. So that wasn’t possible.

The one answer that aroused my curiosity was by a friend who told me that Tarzan books had changed her life. That was something I couldn’t pass.

I won’t tell why the books changed her life but it has to do with the work she does now, as an adult. But I will tell that Tarzan books did affect my life also.

I read them quite many times as a child and even as a teenager. My dream was to live in Africa myself, to see the lions and elephants, the jungle and the apes.

You can imagine my disappointment when I found out that real Africa wasn’t exactly as Edgar Rice Burroughs describes it. Or that the great apes he writes about don’t even exist. I don’t know till this day which was the more painful disappointment of the two.

I think I stopped reading the books partly because of my disappointment, although I did continue reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’s other books. As a teenager I was especially fond of his Mars and Center of the Earth books. And later on, as an adult, I was delighted when I found his Venus books.

Another reason to stop reading Tarzan books was because I grew up and they seemed too two dimensional and childish to me.

It was a great delight to read the first four books of the series again. The characters are two dimensional and cartoonish; Edgar Rice Burroughs was the great master of pulp fiction after all. And there is undoubtedly much more racism and pure ignorance in the books than I remember from my childhood. But at the same time, the books are enjoyable and a fun, light read.

Something I must also confess, is that I never really enjoyed the Tarzan movies. Especially the old ones, where Tarzan can't even really speak and is always just swinging around undressed with the jungle animals. They completely miss the side of him as an English lord, posh, polished and cultured as any of them.

My all-time favorites have always been the Tarzan of the Apes and The Son of Tarzan, both of which describe the struggle to survive in the jungle. And I can’t really describe how many times I played Tarzan myself in my childhood.

I never accepted to be Jane, she was too boring. I was Tarzan, so were my friends, and my little sister, and any other little siblings there were, would be the apes. It did take negotiations but we made it do, and had a lot of fun too. Luckily our parents considered playing in the forest a healthy exercise for us, as well as climbing to trees and jumping from one to another. And nobody ever broke any bones.