Saturday, 20 June 2020

Summer Reading Club 2020



Our Summer Reading Club launched on June 1st and will run until the end of August.  To join, all you need to do is...

1. Spend over £5 on your first summer order
2. Make sure you are on our mailing list

That's it!

You will then be sent a voucher code that gives you a whopping 25% off new and secondhand books for the rest of the summer.
What's not to like!

Check out all the terms & conditions on our website.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

The Subversive Puritan

Perhaps this is not the most colourful re-telling of what must have been a very colourful life. But it is a thoughtful biography, in which Mostyn Roberts considers what Roger Williams' life and belief have to say to present day Christians. He had to find answers to important questions which divided opinions among godly people - and still do. Should the church aim to gain civil power? Does it seek freedom of conscience for itself alone among the different faiths making up society? Should it be expected that Christian observances and values are enforced by the powers that be? Williams wrestled with these issues both before and after embarking for New England, where Puritans had sought a new home and a fresh start free from interference in the mother country. He found that, sadly, the persecuted soon became the persecutors. Thus he was eventually banished from Massachusetts for his views on the separation of church and state, which entailed tremendous hardships for him and his family as it was winter at the time. But he was a true pioneer, first in going out to find a place to settle, and then in helping to establish a new colony, Rhode Island, and ensuring that its charter was the first in the world to protect full liberty of conscience - for all.
Williams has been rewarded with a statue at the Reformation wall in Geneva, yet all too few know of him today. This book goes a long way to put that right, and throw light on a man of uncompromising integrity - yet so as to show him as Cromwell desired to have his own portrait painted - 'warts and all.'
The Subversive Puritan. Roger Williams and Freedom of Conscience by Mostyn Roberts, published by EP Books, £9.99.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Trusting Through the Tears

Keren Baker and her family have experienced many trials of different kinds: bereavement, chronic illness, mental health issues and financial difficulty, to mention a few. Trusting Through the Tears was written to show how God's grace has shone through the trials of their lives. This is not just their story though, and in fact it doesn't give much detail on their particular trials, but it does have much to say on the care and compassion of the Lord they trust.  The practical elements of coping with the difficulties of day to day life is woven in amongst the spiritual necessities of handling trials. Indeed we are exhorted to focus on the spiritual when all around us is falling apart, but we are also given practical ways of doing this from Keren's own experiences.
We read about the need to be honest in our weakness and how this weakness will show forth the glory of God better than any show of 'false' strength we have in ourselves.  We also learn about how to combat loneliness, with very real examples of how loneliness can be a problem even in a crowd.  The practicalities of prayer when struggling mentally or emotionally is not glossed over and we are shown the necessity of recognising the sovereignty of God and submission to the mystery that may surround our circumstances. Peace is considered: what this really means and feels like in a seemingly chaotic situation. The definitions of comfort and true joy in all these things is another topic, plus a recognition that a sense of brokenness can actually in truth, mean a fuller wholeness.
The chapter that really resonated with me highlighted the beauty of spiritual depths found in those who have suffered and the spiritual fellowship that can be found there.  It was a reminder to look for those depths in ourselves and others, and not to be satisfied with the shallowness of so much of our routine conversation. The ugliness of suffering causes the beauty of grace to shine ever brighter and will bring a richness to relationships that would not otherwise be there.
I hesitate to write this, but this is a very 'British' book (there is a subtle difference between British and American authors, which is not to say that one is better than the other 😉). In a practical and realistic way, it has a lot to teach us about trials and how we grow through them. I have found it helpfully thought-provoking and would recommend it to those who are suffering or those who are supporting the suffering (which should be all of us!).
Trusting Through the Tears by Keren Baker published by Evangelical Press.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Reading Recommendations...

Our latest eBulletin has been sent out with some new reading recommendations & offers...
In particular this book 'Counting the Cost' has been proving popular and is well reviewed.  It is a sober and inspiring testimony of God's help and grace given while enduring the most terrifying ordeal.  British missionary doctors David and Shirley Donovan were taken hostage with two others by a crazed gang in Nigeria and held to ransom.  Their gripping story is interwoven with their search for meaning in it, and what they came to learn of the sovereignty, yet nearness, of God through it.  It challenges the flabby Christianity too often evident today, and is a humbling and searching book to read, and to confidently recommend to others.

Have a read of our eBulletin here

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Friday, 10 January 2020

God Sings! (And Ways We Think He Ought To)

The curious title of this book reflects Zephaniah 3:17, which reveals that God in some sense sings with joy over his people.  Douglas Bond has turned back to non-fiction again in this his latest book, and is concerned with how and what the church should be singing back to God in worship.   He has clearly thought long and hard, and visited many churches, to research this issue, which has great practical impact right across all denominations.  Bond is a hymn enthusiast with a love and appreciation of music.  But he is not concerned with merely lobbing grenades over the divide between those who favour contemporary worship music, which has had a huge take up in the last few decades, and those who hold to traditional hymn music.  Even though it becomes apparent that he comes down on the side of the latter, his concern is rather with genuine enquiry than with recrimination.  A compelling part of his investigation is his concern to analyse the church music scene using biblical principles.  Hence Bond critiques ‘high art’ music as well as ‘folk art’; ‘solemnity’ as a criteria for hymn singing as well as 'emotion'; psalm-only convictions as well as culture-sensitive ones.  However, as this is achieved in his lively and familiar style of writing it doesn’t feel too intense to be useful in a book of this size and purpose. In following out his view of hymn composition as the most exalted form of poetry, he gives profitable space to the analysis of some of Isaac Watts’ and Augustus Toplady’s hymns. And he justifies his concern over contemporary lack of formal poetic education, and the way music takes priority over words, by taking a look at one of the most successful modern worship songs, '10,000 Reasons' by Matt Redman.  Just one gripe I have with this book is that it is not well edited in my opinion.  Only at the end of the book where the acknowledgements are placed, does it become clear that it began life as a series of articles and lectures over a period of years.  This explains the small degree of repetition, but it is regrettable nevertheless. But don’t let that itch put you off - this is a good theological guide to the sung praises of God.
God Sings! by Douglas Bond, Scriptorium Press, £11.99

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Joy in the Sorrow

Suffering.... No-one is immune to it, but everyone reacts differently to it. Joy in the Sorrow is a collection of stories from Christians who have suffered. Matt Chandler, pastor of a large American church, introduces the book and includes his own experience of having a brain tumour. But then the remainder of the book is written by various members of his own congregation. Not well known Christians, but 'normal' everyday Church members who have walked through deep trials and have learnt to rejoice through them. These stories show the greatness and goodness of God in his gracious, personal dealings with each believer. From the death of a young child, to the death of a young spouse; from chronic physical illness, to long-term mental health issues; from family breakdown, to childlessness. Each story is a clear testament to a God who sanctifies suffering, who walks with his people through trials; who teaches, guides and directs in these difficult pathways.
This is a moving read, but well worth it.

Joy in the Sorrow - How a Thriving Church (and its Pastor) Learned to Suffer Well by Matt Chandler, published by Good Book Company, £8.99.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

The Fruitful Home

It is always a pleasure to read an Ann Benton book. Her style is down-to-earth and practical when writing on family matters, whether it is caring for young children or elderly parents. Her latest offering is no exception.  'The Fruitful Home' is based on her many years of parenting and running parenting courses.  She writes according to the principle given in the letter to Titus - as an older woman teaching the younger. The emphasis of the book is that of the importance of creating a gospel culture in the Christian home, and the necessity of weaving our faith into every aspect of our lives.  This may seem obvious but Ann shows how the current culture or trends can creep in and subtly squeeze out Biblical principles in the busyness of everyday life.
Beginning with Psalm 128, Ann shows the importance of a sound Biblical ethos to undergird all of life in the Christian home. Whatever mistakes are made, if the gospel essentials are there then the home will flourish.  This is the basic premise.  Ann then digs into the foundations to look at the building blocks of the home; the Structure, the Substance and the Story. With these sound foundations in place, Ann then continues on to look at the furnishings, the day to day living out of Sorrow, Sympathy, Service, Sharing and Sojourn.
This is a helpful little book, not an onerous read, and when read with thought, one that will give much profit. For Christian parents, those who truly love and fear the Lord, this book is a gentle reminder to maintain the Gospel culture in the home and stand against the worldly culture that frequently knocks at the door.

The Fruitful Home by Ann Benton, £4.99