Thursday, 26 June 2008

Living Sacrifice

Helen Roseveare is so honest it is easy to warm to her style. Using illustrations from her life as a medical missionary in Africa, 'Living Sacrifice' is a candid analysis of her failings and the lessons she learnt about her practical Christian walk and specifically the need to sacrifice ALL to the Lord. Her chapter headings show how fully she deals with the subject: With all my heart, With all my soul, With all my mind, With all my strength, and in so doing encourages the reader to analyse their own Christian walk in the same way. Apologising, sacrificing possessions, re-evaluating priorities, submitting to physical weakness are all issues dealt with in a very practical way. To give you a taster, I will leave you with a quote taken from the chapter 'With all my Soul' when Helen was struggling with her 'rights' in terms of the way she did her job...
"If I would learn to love God with all my soul, I would have to learn to give Him my will. That would mean giving Him the right to exercise control over it. I had to learn that I had no rights. All rights are His. How was I ever going to learn to live in the atmosphere of the prayer: 'Not My will, but Thine be done' (Luke 22:42)? My right to be considered, to have my opinion listened to, to give my advice, to make choices and decisions, certainly insofar as these related directly to my own life and the outworking of the vision He had given me, all seemed so essentially right and reasonable. It is against all modern teaching and practice to deny any human being the right to be himself and to express himself. Hence the freedom of speech,and of the press, and many other avenues of self-expression have become precious and almost fundamental to our whole way of life and thinking. Psychologically it is sound. Intellectually it is reasonable. Practically, it may lead to anarchy and strikes and disruption of whole communities, though perhaps one might not say so (even in these days of freedom of speech!).This is considered a small price to pay for a basic freedom. However, spiritually, it is not God's way. He has a perfect plan for each one of us, a plan that fits into His overall purpose for the whole world. My individual liberty is safeguarded within His plan. If I truly believe in Him, I'll trust Him to desire for me that which is for my highest good, and to have planned for it's fulfilment. How hard this comes!"
There is certainly much food for thought throughout the book.
Living Sacrifice - Willing to be Whittled as an Arrow, by Helen Roseveare, £6.99 (first published 1980, reprinted by Christian Focus Publications 2007)

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Caring for Life continues

We spent our day off yesterday up at the Caring for Life farm in North Leeds. For those not in the know, Caring for Life is a charity that does an amazing work amongst the most deprived people of Leeds. Their motto is 'Sharing the Love of Jesus' and they do this by literally 'Caring for Life', each person that comes under their wing becomes part of the family. They house people, support people in their own homes and give each person an occupation, a reason for living, by involving them in activities on the farm and the many projects involved. I mentioned them in a post last year when the story of their work was published but I mention them again really to recommend a visit to the farm by anyone who is local or holidaying in the area. They have just this weekend launched their new 'Granary Cafe' and Farm Shop as a venture to help support their ministry. We enjoyed a light lunch in the cafe (freshly baked bread, veg,fruit and herbs from the farm gardens) shopped in the Farm Shop and spent an afternoon enjoying the Sensory Garden, the sensory pond and a walk down into the valley where a lot of work has been done on the Care in Creation conservation project. A highlight for the boys was seeing a calf just born to one of the herd of Old English Long Horn Cattle - the first of the season. Along with the Cafe and Shop the new Adult Learning Centre and also a People and Animals Meeting Building have been opened, both of which are to further the activities of the Charity with the people they care for.
This farm is a lovely place to visit and this Charity is well worth supporting.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Pocket Puritans

I have to say, I think Banner have hit on a good one here. They have reproduced some puritan writings in bite-size pieces on topical subjects. They are certainly pocket size (13.5cm x 9cm) and perfect for a handbag or pocket - as one customer who was enthusing on 'Anger Management' (Richard Baxter) assured me, hers would always be in her bag to refer to! What Banner have not shouted about is the fact that each booklet also contains a short biographical sketch of the author.

In our musings on these booklets Jeremy and I have been wondering if the need for 'pocket' puritans is a reflection on the reading habits/abilities of people nowadays. Probably when Banner of Truth first brought out their 'Puritan Paperbacks' they were intended as 'bitesize' excerpts to give a reader a flavour of some of the writings of that era. Now there seems to be a need for even smaller bites. However, I believe Banner have accurately identified an area of need and we have had some very positive feedback from customers. Let's hope in their enthusiasm customers will progress to the Puritan Paperbacks and then on to the originals in all their multi-volume glory!

The titles currently available are:
Anger Management - Richard Baxter
Heaven, A World of Love - Jonathan Edwards
Impure Lust - John Flavel
Living Faith - Samuel Ward
£3.25 each

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

June Children's Books Promotion

I don't think there could be a better opportunity to pick up a few books to replenish the young people's section of your church library, or buy presents for youngsters. Our marketing manager has obviously failed to get the message across. Let me make it clear now. On offer at Buy 1 Get 1 Free are the Bibletime and Biblewise series (14 books in each to choose from on a Bible character - in the 3 to 7 age range). And yes you can mix 'n match. Also two sets of boardbooks for under 3 yr olds.
Then some great series of books are being offered at £2 off. This is very good when you consider that their selling price is £4.99 or £5.99. Hence in the roughly 8-12 yr old category, 1/3rd off 'Trailblazers', an extensive range about pioneering men and women of faith - whether scientists, writers, missionaries, preachers - all action-packed biographies. Also, 1/3rd off my old favourite 'Jungle Doctor' books - stories (semi-fictional?) with a compelling African flavour. 'Ivan' is another series down to £2.99 for this month only. Stretching up to 14 yr olds it is fiction based on cold war fact for Russian christians back in the Soviet era. Finally, how could you pass over £2 off the 'History Lives' series? There are 4 books now taking you from Apostolic times to some of the figures in the Great Awakening of the C18th. This really shows history for the great drama it is, told with flair. I reckon this could reach ages from 14 to 41. Pick one up and you will learn more than you'd care to admit.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Crisp back at Brinkworth

It was a fascinating and ultimately encouraging afternoon. Puritan preacher Tobias Crisp's words were once again heard in his parish church at Brinkworth. Dr David Samuel gave an unusually balanced lecture on Crisp and his theology to an unusually mixed audience. It can be obtained from the Protestant Reformation Society of which Dr Samuel is President. There were vicars aplenty, rubbing shoulders with Strict Baptists and Calvinistic Independents. Even a lineal descendent of Crisp was present...and a good time was had by all. The books we provided (see list in the previous post) were readily snapped up. It's good to think that although Crisp has been often dismissed, his clear spiritual understanding of free grace - God always looks upon his people as accepted in Christ, yet this is no open door to ungodliness to them - hasn't been destroyed.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Tobias Crisp Lecture

Dr D N Samuel is to give a lecture on Tobias Crisp DD under the auspices of the Protestant Reformation Society on Saturday 14th June at 2.30pm (tomorrow!) at Brinkworth Parish Church in Wiltshire. It is appropriately titled 'Christ Alone Exalted' because that was the great theme evident in the sermons which have been preserved in his Works. For any who don't know, Crisp (1600-1642) was a Puritan, under whose gospel ministry the Church building was filled to capacity and beyond. On the back of his pulpit seat he had a motto text carved which he would have seen every time he went up into it 'Woe be unto me if I preach not the gospel'. This took place in a quiet, remote (especially in those days) village, far from more famous people/places.
I hope to get down to the event, and will be very interested to see how Dr Samuel handles his subject. The Society have accepted my suggestion of having Crisp's sermons available for any attendees who are interested in further reading. My experience is that they express the worth of Christ and yet the freeness of his salvation. Crisp is good at meticulously removing all perceived obstacles that a sinner feels must surely stand in the way of his acceptance with God.
Books in print by Crisp which we stock are:-

Christ Alone Exalted - a 4 volume paperback edition by Gospel Mission. This is a scanned version of the original Works. £22.95
Christ Alone Exalted - a 1 volume paperback edition by Diggory Press. This has been re-typeset. £24.95
Christ Alone Exalted Series - an edition in 8 booklets by CBO Publications (that's us!). Re-typeset, containing between 3 and 5 sermons each, to comprise the first 33 sermons in his Works. £2.50 each. Bargain.
Christ's Pre-eminence - slim booklet size edition by Zoar Publications (my Dad was part of that 2 man team!). Re-typeset as an edited version of material from 2 of the sermons on Colossians 1:18. £1 each - can you believe it! I might as well give them away.

Brinkworth is on the B4042 near Malmesbury, easily accessible from the M4. A tea is to be served in the village hall afterwards.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Father's Day and Fathers

Virtually everyone I meet in and out of the book trade is convinced that christians are reading less and less. I think so too, but also that the drop off is more true of men than women. Why is this I wonder? Answers on a Comment please. Ministers and theological students are still buying books, but how many books does the man in the pew get through in a year? Father's day could be your excuse for buying a man a good book and monitoring his progress with it.
I took a book newly in about fathers and sons on holiday to review. Perhaps I was actually spending too much time doing some of the very things the book advocates to get on and finish it! Anyhow, my initial overview resulted in me shooting it down in flames. I felt (and still do) that it was deeply flawed. However, dipping further and further has made me appreciative of some of the content, so that it has been given a reprieve. The book is called 'Stand Fast in the Way of Truth' by Douglas Bond. It's all very culturally American - the muscular title sets the tone, the many case studies are full of it, the points for discussion and resolves etc, at the end of chapters are typical of it. But you can get over that if you try hard. The problem is betrayed from the foreword onwards. There is a clear although unstated assumption that sons are also in a covenant relationship with God if their fathers are believers. This should not be a surprise as the author is a ruling elder at a Presbyterian Church as well as a teacher at a Christian School. Now, if you can sign up to this view, OK. Otherwise you will find yourself like me, constantly interpreting the book to fit your own view of those who constitute God's children. This is in fact not altogether without profit, but nevertheless tiring. Rather like me swimming against a cross current on my holiday in the sun. Sure, the book contains much good advice on 'Men's issues'. It encourages the (for me!) challenging notion that fathers should be good role models for their sons. It is at its best towards the back in the sections promoting intelligent reading of the Bible, and correct theological reflection as a 'manly' activity. But one always returns to the point: who is this book for? It simply won't work in the context of a christian father who has a son who is not born again.

Monday, 9 June 2008

We're Back!

Back at our desks today, we're working hard on our June promotion. This month we're focusing on youth workers. That includes Sunday school teachers, those who run children's clubs or holiday bible clubs, and yes, it even includes parents! Our special offers include Buy One Get One Free on various children's book series which would be perfect for Sunday School prizes or just bedtime reading (that's for the children not the parents!). We're also highlighting books aimed more specifically at the youth worker themselves such as 'The Devotional Life of a Sunday School Teacher' (J R Miller, £4.95), or 'Counsel for Christian Workers' (C H Spurgeon, £4.99). Plus we have stocked up on a variety of resources for running clubs, Sunday schools or family devotions, with curriculum samples to give away.
The usual baking is going on in the background so that those who make it to our late night openings (Monday 16th and Thursday 19th) can relax with cake and a cuppa. Otherwise, just give us a call and we will be happy to advise over the phone.
(The holiday was great by the way - you can't beat a British beach when the weather's good - book reviews from holiday reading are on their way...)