I’ve often wondered what it would be like to own a Bible bookshop and what I’d sell if I did. I get this feeling more and more as time goes on and I find it increasingly hard to find good Christian books in my local Christian bookshop. It’s a little bit like mining for precious stones – there’s a lot of coal and not many diamonds. This is most likely due to profit margins, bookshops focusing on what sells. This isn’t altogether unreasonable – bookshop owners have to eat after all! But it’s a shame that the top 10 Christian books are mostly self-help books that just happen to be written by a Christian.
With the rise of the web and sites such Amazon now selling such a great range of Christian books (I love the long tail!) and providing tools and web API’s it’s now possible to create your own Christian bookshop – so that’s what I’ve done. If I had a Christian bookshop it would sell what’s in the two links at the top of this page titled ‘BOOK SHOP UK‘ and ‘BOOK SHOP US‘. I had to create two shops because Amazon keeps the markets separate. This is the stuff I really believe in and believe will really transform your life as a Christian. Clicking the links to each book brings up the full editorial along with customer reviews.
So, feel free to have a browse and let me know what you think. If you end up buying a book, I get a small cut which might help pay for my web-hosting which is no bad thing, but also you might find something you really like. Even if you only use it to read the reviews and buy the book elsewhere you still might find in helpful.
The shop is an Amazon aStore which is a quick and easy way to set up an Amazon shop front. It took a while to create and setup through the Amazon Affiliate program (UK|US) but then it was really easy to add books and create categories. It was also a little fiddly to include on the site (using WordPress), but with a little web help it worked in the end. If anyone wants to create their own Amazon aStore, I’m happy to post a ‘How to…’ guide sometime soon.
I plan to keep adding to the store whenever I come across a good book so keep coming back!
Popularity: 19% [?]
I’ve been a Matt Redman fan since the mid 90′s so I was really excited to hear that Matt, who now lives in the US, has released a brand new worship album. Having a few iTunes vouchers lying around I thought I’d get the album as soon as it came out and since then it’s been on a non-stop loop on my iPod.
I think we’re really blessed as a church to have song writers such as Matt Redman, Stuart Townend, Tim Hughes, Chris Tomlin etc… I think they’ve brought back worship music from it’s largely sentimental state to focus again on the transcendence and majesty of God. Matt’s album continues that trend. Songs like ‘How great is your faithfulness‘ that dwells on the certainty of God’s promises, ‘Remembrance‘ that contemplates the Lord’s supper and ‘My hope‘ which brings a new tune to the Edward Mote classic from the 19th century. The content of the album is first rate.
Whenever I listen to worship albums I normally listen to them on two hats on. I genuinely like worship music so I listen to it in order to enjoy it. But also being a church leader and part-time worship leader I listen to it wondering whether any of the songs would fit into a congregational setting. Having had a large dose of Stuart Townend from a recent conference I’m now on the look-out for more hymn-like songs for church. Modern hymns with good theology.
All of the chord sheets for the album are available from Matt’s website, so I got my guitar out and went through them and was really pleased to find that there were a few really good congregational hymn-like songs on Matts new album. I’m sure other churches with bigger bands and bigger congregations could pull off some of the others, but in a small church setting I thought these would work best:
- How great is your faithfulness. Lovely tune with a rising chorus that reminded me of the Pogues ‘Fairytale of New York‘. The chorus is high but not too high.
- Remembrance. Communion song. I really like the mid section for words and tune: Dying you destroyed our death, Rising you restored our life.
- You alone can rescue. Would be very easy to pick up. I especially like the line: You came down to find us. Refreshing that there are lyrics that don’t talk about us finding God but the much more biblical concept that it’s God who finds us. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost (Lk 19:10)
I know that Matt’s album isn’t just congregational music – it’s a great album in it’s own right, but it’s encouraging that there are songs that the body of Christ can use to encourage one another.
Popularity: 18% [?]
Brenton Brown (of Worship Leader fame) tweeted this a few months ago:
the single biggest impact on my spiritual life this year has been, without a doubt, the audio bible on my iphone.
That’s quite a statement. The only problem is that you need an iPhone and pay some money to be blessed like Brenton. I’m not sure which version of the Bible Brenton has on his iPhone, but even if you’re fortunate enough to own an iPhone, it’s only the King James version that’s cheap and that’s mainly due the lack of copyright restrictions; the other versions cost quite a bit. However there is way of getting a modern version of the Bible onto your iPhone, regular iPod or other mp3 player… for free.
One great addition to the Bible world in the last 10 years has been the ESV (English Standard Version). Endorsed by people such as John Piper, Mark Driscoll et al, the ESV aims to be accurate and modern – bringing together the best of modern evangelical scholarship.
One great thing the people behind the ESV have done (The Standard Bible Society) is to produce an online audio version of the ESV, which means you can listen to any passage of the Bible read by numerous professional actors/readers for free on your computer. But they’ve also introduced a rather nifty feature that not many people know about that lets you download each chapter as an MP3 file. This means that with a little bit of effort, you can download a Bible book and have it on your iPhone/iPod/generic MP3 player in no time at all. Here are the simple steps to getting the book of Philippians onto your iPod. You can click on any of the images below to see a larger version if you can’t quite read the text.
Step 1. Go to the site. The url is: http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/
Step 2. Enter the book/passage you’re looking for (e.g. Phil for Philippians) into the search box or select the browse tab to browse for it. You’ll see a small Listen link next to the chapter. By default clicking this runs the little flash player and you get to hear the chapter read out.
Step 3. To change that and be able to download the chapter, you need to select the Options (beta) link on the top right of the page.
Step 4. The Audio Options are what we’re interested in. Select MP3 (David Cochran Heath, complete Bible) and click ‘Save‘ at the bottom of the page. You can select any of the MP3 options. If you’re not keen on David Cochran you can choose to listen to Max McLean. Max sounds a little bit like Tom Baker who played Dr Who (UK sci-fi programme). I think Max might be one of the guys who does the Bible readings at Tim Keller’s church in New York actually.
Step 5. Now when you browse or search again for the passage you’re interested in the link has changed (It’s now a little bigger and links to the mp3 file for the chapter). To get the mp3 file, right click the Listen link and select ‘Save File As/Download File‘ (the precise wording depends on which browser you’re running) and then you can save the file to your computer. To get the other chapters, just click the next chapter link and repeat step 5 again.
It’s worth saying that I haven’t tested this on every browser, but have managed to get it to work on Safari for the Mac and I’m sure it works on Internet Explorer in its various incarnations. One browser I had trouble with Firefox 3.5 – so I’d stick with Internet Explorer or Safari if you’re going to download the mp3 files. Update: Works fine on ie7.
Step 6. To get the files onto your iPod open up iTunes (download iTunes if you don’t have it) and import the MP3 file you’ve just saved (Add to Library is the menu option). Then just drag the file onto your iPod/iPhone. Here’s my iTunes after downloading the book of Acts.
If you don’t have an iPod/iPhone you can drag them from your desktop onto your mp3 player or use whatever software your mp3 player comes with and you have the Bible on the go for free! You too can be as blessed as Brenton Brown.
Popularity: 52% [?]
If anyone’s interested, here’s a video I made when as a church we looked at creation. The video is lots of pictures taken from the NASA APOD site as well as creative commons pictures from Flickr, to illustrate the Tim Hughes‘ song: ‘Centre of it all‘ from his album ‘Holding Nothing Back‘. I’ve posted it onto YouTube.
Popularity: 17% [?]
One of the biggest problems amongst Christians, I think, is understanding what the Bible is all about. It comes out in moralistic Sunday School classes, where the Sunday School teacher talks about David and Goliath and then asks the children: “So, what Goliath’s do you face in your life?“. It comes out in a Bible Study on Moses and the burning bush when the Bible Study leader asks: “So, what are the burning bush experiences in your life?” The problem is understanding what the Bible is all about comes down to who the Bible is about. Is it really all about following rules or having heroes to copy? This just makes the Bible some form of Christian self-help book! The Bible tells us that our problems are so bad we can’t find the answers inside of us, they have to come from the outside.
One great resource I’ve come across recently is The Jesus Storybook Bible. It’s a Christian storybook Bible with a difference. The subtitle of the book is: Every Story Whispers his name. Instead of drawing simple moral lessons from the Bible stories or telling us to copy our Bible heroes, it explains that every story in the Bible leads us to Jesus. Rather than telling lots of individual stories, the Bible tells one story, a story that becomes clearer and clearer as the Bible goes on – the story of a mighty God who made us, saw us rebel and sent his one and only Son to save us.
Here’s a quote from the book:
No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything – to rescue the ones he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life… There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the centre of the Story there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle – the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.
The reviews are quite revealing too. Here are a few from Amazon.com (lots of 5/5 stars!):
Without a doubt the best story Bible I have read to my kids. Buy it! I work with college students and I believe that if I could get them to read it, this story Bible would help them understand scripture 100% better.
This book is absolutely wonderful! I can’t stop telling people about it. I have been reading it to my two daughters (1 1/2 and 4 1/2) and they both love the stories and pictures. I have to admit that after my daughters fell asleep I took the book to my room and kept reading it! The writing is magical and the connections between the old and new testament are fantastic. This is the best children’s bible book I have ever seen – and we have MANY. I will be getting this for all the kids in our world.
This is the most beautifully illustrated and written bible I’ve seen yet, and I’ve searched for many! I can’t wait for a bedtime story either!
Sally Lloyd-Jones has done a great job of explaining the message of the Bible in a language that anyone can understand.
Popularity: 24% [?]
I found this great quote from an obscure leaflet written by Sinclair Ferguson – heard in an equally obscure sermon given by Dr. Tim Keller at Gordon Conwell Seminary in the US. The talks can sadly only be bought in CD form and not downloaded. I’ve asked about MP3 versions, but they’re not available. Here’s the quote anyway:
“Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is [given] to us. Jesus is the true and better Abel who though innocently slain has blood that cries out for our acquittal not our condemnation. Jesus as the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go into the void not knowing whither he went. Jesus is the true and better Isaac, who is not just offered up by his Father, but actually sacrificed by his Father. Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserve so that we like Jacob only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us. Jesus is the true and better Joseph who at the right hand of the king forgives those who betray him and sold him and uses his new power to save us. Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant. Jesus is the true and better rock of Moses, who struck with the rod of God’s justice now gives us water in the desert. Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends. Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, although they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves. Jesus is the true better Esther who didn’t just risk losing an earthly palace but lost the ultimate heavenly palace and who didn’t just risk his life but gave his life to save his people. Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast into the storm so that we could be brought in. Jesus is the ultimate lamb, the ultimate priest, the ultimate king” (Sinclair Ferguson)
Popularity: 57% [?]
I’m not sure to what degree you can apply this to the church, but it certainly helps if like me, you’re keen on building interesting web applications. Here are some of the highlights for me from the talk:
- 20 mins: Don’t try and force a new medium to your ends, but change your business to suit the new medium (the web)
- 28 mins: Give people something to talk about – tell stories. People will tell a story about you. Give them a story you want them to tell.
- 34 mins: Don’t think “how many people can I interrupt with my message?“, but “who can I interrupt?“
- 39 mins: We have no right to build a fancy website and expect everyone to come. The rules have changed.
- 41 mins: Don’t ask “how can I find more customers for my product?” but “how can I find better products for my customers?“
If I we’re pushed on what could apply to the church (and I think we have to be careful) it would be the stuff he talks about at the end of the video. He gives a introduction to his next project called ‘Tribes‘. He says some fascinating stuff about the nature of people groups at about 50 mins. Perhaps this can help us as Christians understand the nature of people groups in our ever changing world. John Stott says that as Christians we need to be good ‘double listeners‘ – meaning that we need to make sure we take the unchanging truths of the Word and apply them to our ever changing world.
He’s actually written a book on ‘Tribes‘. You can get the book on Amazon but it’s available as an audio book that you can actually get legally and for free here. Here’s the audio if you’re feeling a little lazy:
There’s also an eBook that goes along with it that contains case studies to go along with the book.
Popularity: 19% [?]
The last of the videos from the Biblical Parenting talks given by Ted Tripp at a recent conference at Mars Hill Church in Seattle.
Here’s the audio:
Popularity: 20% [?]
The last few videos from the Biblical Parenting talks given by Ted Tripp at a recent conference at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. This talk focuses on understanding the heart. Rather than moderating outward behaviour we need to find a way to get kids to see what’s motivating their actions. All good stuff.
Here’s the audio:
Popularity: 19% [?]
Here’s the third talk by CCEF’s Tedd Tripp talking about biblical parenting at a recent Mars Hill conference. It’s been pointed out that much of this is also available in book form by the speaker. The book is called Shepherding a Child’s Heart.
Here’s the audio:
Popularity: 20% [?]