Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Two, Three, and Four...

As Alister McGrath continues his series called The Heart of Christian Faith, this second volume in the series is called The Living God, and is published by wjkbooks.com.  McGrath asks, "How do we know about God?" and he says that dictionaries offer definitions of  God as a "vague supreme being," He notes that Christian faith "stretches back to the dawn of civilization," and "we hold hands with millions who have known and loved our God and passed their wisdom on to us." Christians believe in the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob (Exodus 3:16), and when we read of those "with whom we are linked by faith we are absorbing our own family history."

McGrath is Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion, and Culture at King's College, London, and a prolific author. He claims that our God is "a personal God," an "almighty God," as well as being creator of the universe. He uses images as "windows into God," such as light, rock, shepherd, father, mother, king, and friend to describe the personal relationship between God and those who believe and have faith in him. He explains the doctrine of the Trinity as mystery, yes, reminding us of the one in three: God is creator, redeemer, and sustainer. The Holy Spirit, as the third person in the Trinity, is with us daily in our minds and hearts, leading, guiding, encouraging, and often leading us to worship and thanksgiving for our Triune God who loves us.

Volume three in this series is called Jesus Christ, and McGrath focuses on "what is, in many ways, the centrepiece of the Christian faith." He explores "more thoroughly what Christians mean when they declare that they believe in Jesus Christ." Volume four is called The Spirit of Grace, and as McGrath continues his teaching on the Holy Spirit, he brings in once again C. S. Lewis and Dorothy Sayers to share some of their opinions and writings.

While volumes three and four are now available, the fifth and final volume, titled The Christian Life and Hope, will be available from WestminsterJohnKnox in the Spring of 2016.

Lois Sibley,

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Life Before and After Winter

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter again. It was Winter '07 when Al Groves left us. His wife, Elizabeth, or Libbie if you know her, chose those headings for sections of the story. The book is called grief undone, A Journey with God and Cancer, published by New Growth Press, and you will need some tissues nearby as you read this heart-breaking but somehow comforting tale. It is heart-breaking because it hurts to read of  this loving, happy, busy family as they deal with incurable illness. And it is both sad and comforting to know they are leaning on God, the Father; Jesus, the Good Shepherd; and the Holy Spirit, who guides us through each new day. This book is incredibly sad. But if you read it, I am sure you will be incredibly glad you did.

It was in the winter of '06 that Al was told that there was "a spot" on his chest X-ray. They had many scares before that and he had been through many doctors' appointments, exams, tests, biopsies, and X-rays. They were unloading groceries from the car when he told Libbie. They continued with the unloading while they were both thinking of the possibilities and not wanting to scare each other.

After talking it over, they decided to tell their children. "It's hard to tell your kids that their father has something that might turn out to be terminal cancer," Libbie wrote later. The younger two were twelve and fourteen. The older two were one in college and one graduated, married, and at work, both in other parts of the country.

I'm not sure when Libbie decided to write this book but early on she kept detailed notes and she tells us in mostly two-or-three-page-chapters all of the difficult, heart-breaking, and beautiful moments and days. A friend helped them start a blog and Al often wrote to friends in their local neighborhood and church and around the world to tell them what was happening, how they were dealing with it, and asking for prayers. More than seven years have passed since Al went to be with the Lord in the Winter of 2007. Libbie continued her education and is now a lecturer and teaching assistant at a nearby seminary and she has several grandchildren to love and enjoy. Thanks be to God.......

---Lois Sibley,