In this time of online church services and Bible studies – whether through livestream or Zoom – it’s easy to become spiritually detached from our fellow brothers and sisters, as well as having struggles in our personal relationship with God.
Some Christians in Sydney have found podcasts and books a great way to be encouraged spiritually and continue to grow in faith in this time of isolation. If you don’t know where to start, here is a short list of recommendations (in no particular order):
Help Me Teach the Bible - recommended by Julie Hayward
For pastors, ministry apprentices and Bible study leaders looking to enrich their theological knowledge, an excellent podcast to listen to is Help Me Teach The Bible, hosted by Nancy Guthrie. Each episode, you’ll be treated to discussions with knowledgeable teachers and preachers, who will give their recommendations for how to teach specific books of the Bible.
Julie Hayward, wife of the Bishop of Wollongong Peter Hayward, recommends the podcast because Guthrie “has the cream of the crop guests on who are teachers of that particular Bible book. There are also topics [such as] ‘Why Middle Eastern women want to learn to teach the Bible’ and ‘Teaching women to teach’.
She says she can be encouraged by the word of God while reading along with the talks.
Help Me Teach the Bible airs fortnightly on Fridays, and is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Renewing Your Mind by R.C. Sproul - recommended by Julie Hayward
If you’re looking for extra sources of spiritual nourishment each day but don’t have a lot of time to spare, Renewing Your Mind, hosted by R.C. Sproul, could be the podcast for you. It seeks to provide listeners with sound theological doctrine and discussion of topical issues facing believers today. Listeners also have two formats to choose from: the full-length 26-minute podcast, or a 1-minute version that highlights key teachings and neatly condenses them into 60 seconds. Perfect for the busy listener.
Renewing Your Mind is available daily on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
The Crossway Podcast - recommended by Karen Beilharz
Those who want answers to challenging and topical questions about the Bible, theology, church history and the Christian life might want to jump on to the The Crossway Podcast.
It’s recommended by Karen Beilharz from Summer Hill Anglican, who says, “I like that it seeks to address many of the questions that preoccupy us as Christians – for example, how to read the Bible, and how to read the Bible with your family!; how to disagree well with other Christians; why the local church is important; and this doozy: ‘Does Jesus really like me?’
“The interviewees are always interesting and knowledgeable, and the topics are encouraging, helpful and relevant to my life in Christ.”
The Crossway Podcast airs weekly on Mondays. It is available at crossway.org, on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Salt: Conversations with Jenny - recommended by Julie Hayward
Christians in need of encouragement to live for the kingdom each day could try this podcast.. Each week, Jenny Salt interviews a different guest speaker – across a wide variety of occupations – inviting listeners to discover extraordinary gospel stories of Christians living for the Lord each day, in unexpected ways.
Julie Hayward particularly recommends the episode “Can we trust God with this?”, featuring guest speaker Helen Thomas. In this episode, the two women discuss how to hold onto God when faced with a seemingly insurmountable array of challenges – potentially very helpful at a time when many of us are grappling with extreme change, social isolation and loss.
Salt – Conversations with Jenny airs weekly on Wednesdays, and is available on Apple Podcast and Spotify.
The Prodigal God by Tim Keller - recommended by Alice Mann
Alice Mann, from St James’, Turramurra, says that Keller’s thought on Home – particularly the innate longing we all share for a heavenly home – was “incredibly encouraging… especially while I was stuck at home during the pandemic”.
“It gave me hope knowing that our versions of home on earth will only ever be a shadow compared to the joy and belonging we will experience when we finally get to go Home to our Heavenly Father,” she says.
Keller’s thought on Home – particularly the innate longing we all share for a heavenly home – was “incredibly encouraging… especially while I was stuck at home during the pandemic”.
“One of my favourite quotes from the book is ‘Our future is not an ethereal, impersonal form of consciousness. We will not float through the air, but rather will eat, embrace, sing, laugh and dance in the kingdom of God, in degrees of power, glory, and joy that we can’t at present imagine’. I don’t think I have ever longed for that day more, or truly appreciated that vision of Home more than during this time of social isolation.”
The Prodigal God is available in hard copy from stores such as Koorong, or as an e-book or audiobook on Google Play and Apple Books.
A Short Book About Jesus, the Man from Heaven by Paul Barnett - Recommended by Graeme Watson
Graeme Watson, a lay canon at St Andrew’s Cathedral, highly recommends this book by Paul Barnett. He read it during lockdown and found it helpful for those looking for something that assesses the accuracies of Jesus’ origins and ministry, and subsequently the Christian faith.
He writes: “This book helps to explain why Jesus is much more than just a genuine historical figure, even a unique figure. We can follow the carefully assembled and argued evidence around the things Jesus said and did and be ready to share with others the Jesus who is transcendent, divine and truly the Man from Heaven.”
A Short Book About Jesus is available at Koorong.
The Payneful Truth - recommended by Rachel Macdonald
“I am finding Tony Payne's weekly articles on The Payneful Truth very thought-provoking,” says Rachel Macdonald from the parish of Lane Cove and Mowbray.
“What I like about them is that he has thought very deeply about topics essential for Christian discipleship that I wouldn't have necessarily thought to seek out. And because they are well-written by a professional author, they don't take long to read... another bonus!”
The Payneful Truth journal is available to read and/or listen to at https://thepaynefultruth.substack.com/.