English

A Modern Psalm

A meditation on God’s varied character
Who is this God of many facets?

O Lord, my Lord, I see You as a Crystal,
Reflecting varied facets of Your light.
I wonder at Creation, then am dazzled,
By seeming shifts between Your love and might.

One facet shows You speaking loud and clearly
To Adam, Noah, Abram; Jacob, too.
They heard, they dared not doubt Your clear intention,
And reaped the blessing when they heeded You.

With Moses shone a new and fearful aspect:
Commandments hewn from rock of Sinai’s hill.
Now sacrifice and rituals ruled the people,
And judgement when they failed to do Your will.

For settlers, You appointed mighty Judges,
Who acted more or less as You required.
The days were harsh, your Majesty was thwarted;
Without a king, all did as they desired. 

You chose a King, who met Your own heart’s longing,
But treachery and murder marred his reign.
Perverted rulers caused the people’s exile;
Then, in Your grace, You brought them back again.

“Not sacrifice, but mercy!” called Your Prophets,
“God wants allegiance rather than such rites.”
Rebellion caused Your chosen folk to flounder.
Hope of Messiah now was in their sights.

He came – a babe, admired by dirty shepherds.
He preached, He healed, He welcomed many outcast;
He introduced Your Kingdom, showed forgiveness;
Then died to heal our discord; rose at last.

His followers he left to spread His message
Of love and hope; of Him, the living Word;
To show by acts of grace and tender kindness
That Jesus is the only valid Lord.

And now, as all Creation groans in bondage,
Our only hope is that You’ll come again,
Renew both Heav’n and Earth as You intended,
Forever banish sin and death and pain.

I gaze upon this Crystal’s many facets,
And wonder at the bright translucent Truths.
Though Jesus is the same of yore, forever,
We each experience You in unique moods. 

Almost incredible!

God intervenes in astonishing ways.

Glory Zone in the War Zone: Miracles, Signs, and Wonders in the Middle East, by Andrew White

One cannot repudiate Canon Andrew White’s frequent experiences of divine intervention, guidance and help in scenes of horrendous tragedy in the war zones of Baghdad and the religious tensions in other parts of the Middle East. His trust in the God who has revealed himself in Jesus and through the words of the Bible is unshakable. He shows tremendous courage, motivated by love, as he serves the innocent victims of war, whatever their religion or faction. And he steps in boldly to mediate in unimaginably stressful conflict situations.

Torn apart for their faith

Dramatic events following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes

The Huguenot Chronicles
5 Stars

France, 1685. Louis XIV has brazenly revoked his grandfather Henry IV’s treaty, which had granted Protestants substantial residential and religious rights. Now the King is determined to unite the nation in one Church – by force, if necessary. A period of persecution of Huguenots commences.

A child’s view of a new world

Between the Mountain and the Sea by Gill Kimber

When an overworked vicar is posted to a remote island in the South Atlantic, his family faces an entirely new life. Tristan da Cunha’s rough but devout population – a couple of hundred lobster fishermen and their constantly knitting wives – live in simple houses, cultivate potatoes and herd cattle. Everyone shares what they have and cooperates, their daily activities dominated by the unpredictable and often fierce weather. Contact with the outside world is limited to intermittent radio messages and occasional ships from Cape Town bringing sacks of mail and supplies. This book gives the modern reader a fascinating insight into this unfamiliar world.

Torn between two lives

Being Lena Levi by Bobbie Ann Cole

Being Lena Levi

Is she Marlene or Lena? For a fourteen-year-old English schoolgirl to discover ‘Mum’ is not her real mother and by birth she is a German Jewess is a life-shattering revelation. And who is the real ‘Mutti‘ is behind her glamorous but rather worldly façade; she’s quite a contrast to the Christian circles Marlene had grown up in. But how could Mum deceive her so cruelly?

Marlene decides on the spur of the moment to experiment with being Lena. She travels with Mutti by train and ship – how exciting! – to Haifa in Israel, and is introduced to the young Jewish nation’s struggle to survive in a hostile and rather neglected environment. On the way, a brief conversation with a sympathetic old man exposes her burning dilemma.

A passionate plea for mutual respect

Confessions of a Toxic Perfectionist and God’s Antidote, by Dr. George Verwer

I have great admiration for George Verwer, as a humble man of faith with tremendous courage and initiative as well as dynamic evangelistic, motivational and leadership qualities. My experiences on short-term stints with Operation Mobilization, though hugely challenging, proved spiritually enriching and I know several long-term OMers, whom I love and highly respect. As an organisation, OM does magnificent work in spreading the Good News of Jesus, while also serving practical, medical and educational needs in many countries.

Dramatic tension as the storm brews

Before The Storm 1685 by Paul C. R. Monk – an object lesson in creative historical fiction writing

This free novella covers the same dramatic events as my work-in-progress, Gédéon. In my opinion, Paul C. R. Monk has not only written a captivating prequel to his trilogy, The Huguenot Chronicles but presents a masterpiece in regard to character, location setting and atmosphere.

These short chapters contain invaluable examples of how to draw a reader inexorably into the depicted scene, reveal the contrasting temperaments of the protagonists, and conjure a vivid feel for the horrendous experience of having one’s home commandeered by unscrupulous dragoons.

I’d like to quote some passages – narratives as well as dialogues – to illustrate these points.

Entertaining encounters of a Yorkshire school inspector

The other side of the Dale by Gervase Phinn

The other side of the Dale by Gervase Phinn
5 Stars

New on the job, Gervase several times has to ask for directions as he searches for the little primary school he is supposed to inspect in the tiny village with the delightfully tongue-twisting name. His frustration is compensated by the stupendous scenery as he winds his way through the narrow serpentine roads of the Yorkshire Dales. But he arrives too late. All the children have long since gone home. He’ll have to come back another time – at the very end of the book.

Over the next months, many another establishment waits for him to visit, staffed by colourful headteachers such as the lovely Miss Christine Bentley of Winnery Nook Nursery and Infant School. Too bad that his encounter with her rugby referee father proved less than warm.

International intrigues at the highest levels

Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett

International intrigues at the highest levels
Four stars

Edge of Eternity – the final book of Follett’s perspective-shattering Century Trilogy – traces the vibrant lives of the offspring of the British, Russian, German and American families that we got to know in Fall of Giants and Winter of the World. Relationships come and go and fates fluctuate, revealing international intrigues at the highest levels. A salutary feature of the narrative is how most world leaders are revealed as dishonest, weak and morally corrupt puppets of various political and economic factions.

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