Book Review

Unreachable

Darrell Tunningley. Unreachable

I feel that the title of this amazing little book should have a query mark after it, because unreachable is the antithesis of what this young man has become.

Growing up on a rough estate in West Yorkshire in a stable family unit, Darrell’s parents worked hard to provide for their children. A determined and driven child Darrell was bright, had the ability to achieve and involved himself in extra curricular activities where he mixed with motivated youngsters. But there was another Darrell who was living as he describes, ‘in a parallel universe’ who, with his other mates, stole, drank, smoked cigarettes and cannabis and all of this from the age of 10 yrs old.

By mid teens he thought he was invincible as his own habits turned into dealing and moving onto to harder drugs and more violent behaviour. The conforming other Darrell, who loved order and discipline continued to exist until he left school.

By 17 yrs old he was a heroin addict, committing armed robbery and adept at dodging the police with his mates. At 17 ½ yrs his closest mate died in his arms from a heroin overdose and soon after another close mate was shot and died. The police eventually caught up with Darrell and he was send to prison for 5 ½ yrs.

What happened in prison is truly miraculous. God turned this young man about literally overnight and set about using his driven personality to point hundreds of other lost souls along the road of hope and redemption.
A captivating story, read in a couple of hours but with a life-changing challenge for us all.

Judith Mayer

(If you would like to order a copy of Darrell Tunningley’s book, please ask Hilary Balsdon or Judith Mayer)

The Shack Our attention was drawn during a recent Sunday service to The Shack, a novel which many of you will have heard of. Written by William Paul Young, The Shack is a novel, but through the story we are given glimpses of how God as Father, Saviour and Holy Spirit helps someone through a deeply traumatic and painful period of their life. Although some Christians have strongly disliked the book, many people have found that The Shack has helped them in their own relationship with God (Father, Jesus & Holy Spirit), particularly through difficult and painful times.

Also worth a read is Randal Rauser’s Finding God in the Shack. Many people have known The Shack, Finding Godtheir lives transformed through reading The Shack, but others have strongly denounced the book, labelling it as theologically flawed or even heretical. Theologian Randal Rauser takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the pages of the story, and explores many of the nook’s complex and controversial issues. Finding God in the Shack could encourage our individual theological thinking, as well as possibly helping group discussions about The Shack.

Hilary Balsdon

Margaret Silf Prayer book

A brief but useful book on the topic of prayer.

The author speaks of prayer as not something that we do, but as a way of living.
She speaks of prayer as a way to nourish our relationship with God. In prayer, we can speak the truth, & know that we’ll be received without judgement or rejection (unlike many other relationships!).

There are, says Margaret, as many different ways to pray as there are different people desiring to pray. The author then gives various suggestions of types/situations for prayer, & invites the reader to taste/try as many or as few as they wish! …
When I’m concerned…
When I don’t know what to say…
When I’m furious…
When I’m too tired…
…and several more.
Each time, there are pointers which will aid our praying in such situations.

Then there are suggestions for creative prayer, prayer without words, praying with Scripture, praying with others… Distractions…
Could read it in a few minutes, or could take hours reflecting on what is written within this little book. If you struggle with prayer, or if you just want a change from how you perhaps usually pray, this book could help you.

Heaven is for Real

This book begins in July 2003, with an ordinary family of four (Mum, Dad, young daughter & son) on an ordinary car journey. This journey took them very close to a hospital where, 4 months earlier, the youngest member of the family had had an emergency appendectomy, & had almost died. Now aged 4, this little boy started to speak of angels singing, of sitting on Jesus’ lap, of being ‘out of his body’, of seeing his Mum & Dad praying, making phone calls… all of which had happened when he was in that hospital aged 3 yrs 10 months.
Through Heaven is for Real, the story of Colton’s ‘trip to heaven’ gradually emerges. His parents (who pastor a church) gently, over time, take opportunities which arise to encourage their son to talk about his experience of heaven. This includes things like:-
• Colton recalling a conversation with Jesus, meeting John the Baptist, seeing Mary the mother of Jesus. He also recalls having seen Satan, but won’t talk about that.
• Colton sees family members who’d died before he was born, yet he knew who they were. They recognised him too!
• Colton speaks more of what things felt like in heaven rather than what things looked like – he especially spoke of how much God loves, particularly how much God loves children.
• Colton also speaks of having seen things which in our spectrum of time are ‘yet to be’ – of having seen battles just like those described in the book of Revelation. “But it’s ok, ‘cos Jesus wins,” he says.
The books tells of an occasion when Colton is desperate to know whether a deceased person ‘had Jesus is their heart’. On another occasion, to a dying man (who he knew to be a Christian), Colton said – “It’s ok, the first person you’ll see is Jesus”. Colton was very clear that he’d visited heaven for 3 minutes;.he said Jesus was letting him go back, in answer to the prayers of his Mum & Dad, & others. On one occasion, when being scolded by his Dad for running across a car park which ‘could be dangerous & you might die’, Colton replied that it’d be good to die, as he’d get to go back to heaven. This was said in the genuine innocence of a 4-yr-old.
Within the book, there is also recall of amazing ‘co-incidences’ of prayer by church people at exactly the same time as key ‘down points’ medically. Money gifts came in from all sorts of places when bills (especially medical – this is a story from the USA) came in, & the finance situation was desperate.
It is a compelling, ‘can’t put it down’ read, giving amazing insight into heaven. A small child could never have made this all up. Throughout, there are various references to Scriptures with which the story can clearly be linked. I know a number of people who’ve read this book, but haven’t found anyone disappointed by it yet!
Hilary Balsdon

Was the tomb empty?The question is, posed by Josh McDowell in his book, ‘Evidence that Demands a Verdict’ in 1981:

“The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men, or it is the most fantastic fact of history”

Graeme sets out to weigh up the evidence to ascertain which it is. Is it a heartless myth or is Jesus’s resurrection the Truth. And if so, what are the implications for us coming down on one side or the other of his evidence?

As a highly qualified solicitor and District Court judge with over 25 yrs of experience, Graeme presents unbiased evidence as to whether:

  • Resurrection stories of Jesus are myth or truth?
  • What are the possible sites of Jesus’ tomb?
  • What do historic writings outside of the Bible say?
  • Conspiracy theories about the resurrection, (ie. he wasn’t actually dead when they laid Jesus body in the tomb) could they be the truth?

Graeme asks readers to follow the evidence with open minds, making it easy for us as the evidence he submits draws parallels to the rules of court law, BURDEN OF PROOF and the STANDARD OF PROOF, using the example of a road traffic accident – as each driver blames the other, the trial judge will determine who is responsible by considering many avenues of evidence.

So, what is THE EVIDENCE

His starting point is that what ever it was,’something happened’ Graeme goes on to investigate the evidence as would a trial judge.

This understandable, thought provoking book is as unbiased in presenting non-selective evidence as is possible when penned by a committed Christian. Graeme’s eclectic knowledge of contemporary literature from Dr Who to Sherlock Holmes, precedes in ‘sound bites’ each chapter with humorous, tongue-in-cheek relevance.  Each chapter ends with plenary summative bullet points as a very helpful aide memoir.

Your thoughts will be provoked as the evidence falls into a clear time frame of understanding. The question Graeme leaves you with is this:

Having considered the evidence, what decision will you reach? You can take time, as judges often do, to consider the evidence. Graeme suggests you might set aside a specific period of time to do this to reach your final decision: Did Jesus rise from the dead?

A number of us met Graeme on the 8th of February when he came to stand as an independent witness for the Big Promise wedding vow renewal service here at Wellspring. I didn’t figure out that he had written this book until after he had gone but having subsequently spoken to him and pick up his book for review, from his home down the road from me in Rode Heath,  he kindly inscribed it to WS:

To Wellspring Church, wishing you every blessing, Graeme. Eph. 1 v 18-20.

‘Pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty

strength which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at the right hand in the heavenly realms’.

(It is a really great book to lend to non Christian and Christian friend alike as it is factual, humorous and thought provoking, especially as already this Easter, there is much on the television about discovery of ancient documents and scrolls for you, having read this book, to be more decerning about).

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