Off The Shelf: 2016 Review

Changes seems to be the word which best sums up the past year for me on a personal level. There has been the death of a close relative, the birth of my first child (Sophia Jane Paterson), moving house, starting a new ministry role & travel to Singapore. However it also seems an appropriate word when we consider global politics. This time last year I don’t think14207610_1314793918560930_1006126931478282718_o there would have been many people who would have expected that Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson would have brought the conservative front bench to their knees. Maybe even less likely was “the Donald” winning the US Presidential election (the only president in history to receive a stunner from Stone Cold). It has also been a year of change in popular culture with the departure of many well loved contributors such as Prince, Bowie, Fisher & Rickman.

It has been a year to pay attention to for many reasons and here are things which have greatly shaped me over the last 12 months; here is my 2016.

Books (Theology) 

There are a number of books which I have found helpful this year in teaching me more about who God is, what he has done and also how I have to respond to him.

  1. Understanding Christian Mission: Participation in Suffering and Glory (2013) by Scott Sunquist – We had the privilege of hearing Scott Sunquist walk through the history of  world mission and migration while we were in East Malaysia so Jennifer bought this for me last Christmas. It was a good read exploring three key areas; History (the mission movement), Theology (Trinitarian mission) & Practical application (The church in mission today). Sunquist helpfully reminds the church that “Empowerment for mission is more about prayer, devotion and silence than about fundraising and seminars. Too much missionary work is done as if the Holy Spirit did not exist or as if he only exists in the church during worship”.
  2. J. Hudson Taylor: A Man In Christ (1990, 2015) by Roger Steer – The subtext to the
    title really says it all. Steer helpfully guides the reader to know more about the motivation and heart of this man of God. Through all of the changes and the trails we see God’s faithfulness to both Taylor and the CIM. I found this really helpful in challenging me about my dependence on the Lord.
  3. In Christ: In Him together for the World (2014) by Timmis & de la Hoyde – It may be small in size but it packs a real punch. Union with Christ is something which is so over looked in the teaching and preaching of many churches, but it is this very thing which changes everything. Believers are united to Christ and this impacts every aspect of life. I throughly recommend reading this.
  4. The Amazing Cross: Transforming lives today (2012) by Jeremy & Elizabeth McQuoid – This is a great book exploring the impact of the cross in a very engaging and readable way. It covers a variety of issues across the spectrum of biblical and systematic theology.


Videos & Pictures 
It is great that there is such easy access to good video content through social media and here are a few that I/we have found helpful, funny etc…..

Seagulls, stop it now – Bad lip reading produce some great videos, but Yoda’s attempt at pop stardom is great

The Task Unfinished–  Earlier this year OMF partnered with Keith & Kristyn Getty to bring focus to the unfinished task of world mission. The talented OMF media team produced a great resource which explores this theme with particular reference to East Asia’s peoples.

Norway (timelapse) – We love to see beautiful scenery and this time-lapse of Norway ticks all the right boxes. Mountains, Fjords, Northern lights…. It is an excellent piece of work. It reminds me of God speaking to his people in Isaiah “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways”  (Isaiah 55:8)

Fire  – And this one on the simple basis that it is both horrendous and hilarious at the same time; Scooter bring the party.

Glen Etive – I love the landscape photography of Colin Prior and this is certainly one of the best he has taken in Scotland


With the arrival of our little girl due around the end of July a sad reality dawned on me. I knew that seeing the new Star Trek film in the local cinema was not going to happen (all sorts of complications could have taken place). Here are some that I did get a chance to see this year.

The Hunger Games (3.2) – I can’t even remember what it was called again because it was not the greatest. Sadly it was a drawn out conclusion which could have been finished in a longer 3rd film.

Star Trek: Beyond –  You will be glad to hear that I did get to see the newest Start Trek on our A380 to Singapore (which is a great plane). It was not all that it was hyped up to be which I expected after Into Darkness. Following Khan played by Benedict Cumberbatch was always going to be hard. A solid effort; not First Contact but certainly not Star Trek V

Rouge One: A Star Wars story – What a fantastic film with depth, great character development and a well though out storyline. Picking up a few hours before the Rebels attack the Death Star in A New Hope we see the rise of the rebellion against the ever increasing power of the Empire. It is interesting to see that people all over the world understand this concept that the salvation of many comes at great cost a sacrifice. Highly recommended viewing!


An olympic and a Euro championship year. I loved the summer time of sport that we had the privilege to watch.

Bolt – Watching Bolt in Rio was spectacular as he achieved the triple triple. He is a fantastic  athlete and a great entertainer. It was also good because it gave me something to watch while Sophia was up during the night!

Rosberg vs. Hamilton – Sadly for me hamilton did not pull of the unthinkable at the Yas Marina circuit a few weeks ago as Nico Rosberg took his first, and what will be only, F1 championship. During the season the battles between both dirvers were intense and it was good to see them go at it every race. I also enjoyed watching the rise of Max Verstappen during the 2016 season. He certainly is someone to watch for the future.

Andy Murray – Love him or hate him, the boy is a player. Winning Wimbledon for a second time and claiming the world No. 1 ranking at the year end by winning the ATP tour final was certainly a highlight of the year in British sport.

Wales & Iceland – The tale of two teams who did the unexpected. I was in an ante natal class (wondering what the score was) while the England vs. Iceland game was on. To my amazement as we returned to the car I could hear supporters cheering on the radio but not one pundit… silence. Turn now to the Dragons, who had a spectacular run in the Euro’s. And who can forget big Robson pinging a winner. Wales vs. Belgium definitely one of the games of the tournament.

Praise, Worship & Resources 

Growing in our faith is so important and learning what it is to become more Christ like requires input. There have been various sources for us this year and here are some.

Aaronic Blessing – This is particularly tied up with the passing of my Grandfather (Papa) earlier this year. As my Gran parted from him she recited this wonderful passage of scripture r 6:24-26). The song in the link above is a great rendition of this wonderful blessing. “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbe

Simon Manchester: Christian Growth – In particular his series of talks on the book of Deuteronomy were outstanding. I have learned so much by listening to him about preaching, teaching, discipleship and most importantly Jesus. I would recommend anyone to listen to him, believer or non-believer.

We three kings – Selecting songs around Christmas is usually a joy because the theology of some older songs is quite simply stunning. In particular this year I was struck by the last verse of we three kings. “Glorious now, behold him arise, king and God and sacrifice! Heaven sings out ‘Alleluia’, Amen the earth replies”. What a wonderful hope we have when trusting in Jesus, he has done it all; all we must do is respond in faith and live in obedience.

Friends – I am very grateful to so many people who have been encouraging us in the year which has passed. We have benefited so much from your time, laughter, tears & company. God created us for community and in that community of people he has given us we have been wonderfully blessed. Not all of you know each other and some are in other corners of the world but we praise God for you.

Book of the Bible 

It was a privilege to share with the church in Stonehouse from the book of Jonah for 5 weeks during the summer. I couldn’t help but get drawn into the compelling drama of the book and it’s highly challenging message. It made me question myself and who I am willing to share the good news of Jesus with. So often we can become complacent, fearful or judgmental and therefore don’t tell others that salvation belongs to the Lord (Jonah 2:9).

What’s more is the great emphasis on mission which pervades the book. God has a heart to see nations changed and people come to saving faith. Nineveh was a world mega-city in its time. Imagine what would happen if such a change were to take place in the great cultural centres of the 21st century.


I hope that you have enjoyed looking back through this year at some of the things which have helped to shape my 2016. We praise God for what has passed and we trust him for what is to come.


Martin, Jennifer & Sophia









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