Book Review: Cast of Characters – Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God

I read all sorts of books, but the books that keep drawing me back are books of characters.

In a Cast of Characters Max Lucado takes a set of characters from the Bible and tells their story. These aren’t just a retelling of the well known stories but a new look at the familiar. Sometimes he tells the story by changing the time and the place, at other times he tells a parallel story, other’s are a look at the story from another perspective.

The characters come from both the old and new testaments. Some of them a major biblical characters, others appear just once. All of them are characters.

I particularly liked the story of Jairus, who sought out Jesus for the healing of his dying daughter. This story is recast into the current as the story of Wallace a preacher and influential man. A whole new look at an encounter between Jesus and a man in need.

Rather than storming through this book I’ve used it as a focus for my times of quiet contemplating the questions at the end of each chapter. The questions are really well constructed, asking you to consider rather than asking for a simple a-b-c answer.

A great read. Thought provoking. Spirit lifting.

Blessings #151 – Colourful Community Recipe

I love being part of an extended community that is full of colour and character. Whenever I get full of myself I think about the sparkling rainbows that God has placed in my life and smile. These gems might not be the people that our society regards as stars, or celebrities, but I tell you they are just as sparkling, and just as colourful.

Spring Flowers 2010“Diamonds in the rough” would be a good way of describing them, but there’s more to it than that, these diamonds are becoming sparkling gems before my eyes. I don’t know whether they realise it, but they are changing day by day. Sometimes the refining comes with laughter, at other times it comes with tears, and sometimes it comes in the most peculiar of ways,

Sue and I sometimes sit opposite each other and smile wryly at the events that are unfolding before us. Through this smile we are saying to each other “is it me?” this isn’t an accusation, it’s an affectionate phrase we use when we haven’t a clue what is going on.

The community in which we find ourselves is spiced with a whole set of characters, adding extra ingredients to the recipe of our life. Community is a bit like a recipe, if all of the ingredients were exactly the same then meal times would be quite a dull experience, it’s the variety that makes the meal interesting.

As an example there’s a lady with learning difficulties who has become, in many way, an extension to our family. Life is a complicated thing and she needs help to navigate its pitfalls and landmines, sometimes she falls in and then she needs help negotiating her way out. Some people might regard her as “difficult” but she is special in many, many ways. Listening to her pray is like listening to a  child talk directly to its dad, and while she’s conversing her face shines. She goes somewhere that the rest of us can only dream of. The recipe of our community would be missing something without her.

There are also people of learning who have insights as a result of their knowledge that enrich the life of the rest of us. Their learning doesn’t make them better, it just makes them different. They bring another different ingredient.

I have a friend who is wonderfully practical. He can make and mend things that I look at in puzzlement. Another wonderful ingredient and a different set of colours.

Jesus disciples were a mixed bag of individuals too, some of them were societies misfits and outcasts. Jesus didn’t pick them because they all fit some kind of psychometric test, he looked past the exterior and saw something inside that he was looking for. We’re not told, but I’m also sure that the disciples had different academic ability, they had different occupations, some of them requiring book learning, some requiring practical learning. I’m also sure that they had different physical builds, they were from a single ethnic group, but after that they would have been very different.

We aren’t called to live in pristine uniformity, we are called to be part of a body.