Wednesday, 29 October 2008

A Beginner's Guide to...

This book is so new I can't find an image of its attractive cover! It is a slim (84pp including bibliography) introduction to the evidence for Creation. Dr Chris Pegington has worked in the field of genetics and thus has a personal knowledge of the influence of the scientific establishment and their aggressive adherence to evolutionary theory. So this is a handy book from a capable writer. He is notably honest in distinguishing between creationist theory and the actual biblical facts. There is also a refreshing candour in the author's own testimony as to how he became convinced of Creation. He openly acknowledges that it is "through faith we understand" (Hebrews 11:3), rather than 'by understanding we believe'. However the reasonableness of faith can be shown, and in this he succeeds even if some subjects are dealt with in more detail than others. New (to me anyway) facts are brought forward, and the 'in' topic of Intelligent Design is given a chapter to itself.
I was disappointed with a non-scientific statement on the very last page, in which the purpose of Christ's death is extended to include the redemption of the cosmos, ie. not just people. It is not therefore confined to sinners in this view, let alone the elect. But this is undervaluing the precious blood of Christ, not exalting it! It certainly does not square with Christ's own words in John 10:15, "I lay down my life for the sheep." I realise that a brief reference in a book is open to misinterpretation - hence I hope that may be the case here.
'A Beginner's Guide to Creation' is published by Bryntirion Press and costs £4.95.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Elizabeth Prentiss

I'm a newbie when it comes to Elizabeth Prentiss. I've felt a bit left out for years knowing that her best selling title 'Stepping Heavenward' has literally been read by millions and I hadn't so much as seen a copy. Now I have! My first surprise was when I discovered that it is fiction, somehow I had got the impression it was her autobiography. Not so, it is the journal of a fictional character 'Katy'. Katy is an impetuous teenager when the book begins and we follow her teenage tantrums, rebellion and of course the obligatory 'unsuitable' fiance, before her conversion. Her priorities then gradually change as she grows in grace. Her journal is written honestly, we learn of her initial struggles with married life, her innermost spiritual pride, her daily struggles with her hot tongue, her battles with legalism and her gradual submission to the will of the Lord. The human heart has not changed since the 1800's! I think this must account for it's continued popularity. The book is an easy read and thought provoking. I have discovered though that it seems to engender some extreme views - some people love it and recommend it to all their female friends, others really turn their noses up and would rather leave it to get dusty on the shelf. Why? I actually enjoyed it more the more I read it.
Having read 'Stepping Heavenward' I was then keen to know how similar it was to her real life. Sharon James' biography 'Elizabeth Prentiss: More Love to Thee' is a nicely produced hardback which traces her life, drawing heavily on 'The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss' (compiled by her husband shortly after her death), and many of her other writings. It is an accessible biography clearly laid out with timelines and family trees, although I did get a little bogged down in the detail at times. It is clear that Elizabeth Prentiss did indeed draw on her own life experiences in the writing of 'Stepping Heavenward' and this is evidently what makes it such an authentic read.
I have even gone one step further and have now read a short article by Prentiss' father, Edward Payson, on parenting. I feel 'Prentiss-ed out'. Enough for now.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Horizons of Hope

This is not a new book, but certainly not one that should be 'written off' - just like the many people whose stories fill it. This is a book about disability. Subtitled 'Reality in Disability' it tells the stories of various Christians who struggle daily with disability, but throughout the struggle find that it is only by trusting in God's sovereign purposes that they are carried through. Brian Edwards describes his wife's physical battle with rheumatoid arthritis, the ups and down of her spiritual life throughout the years of living with such a debilitating disease and his own difficulties trying to balance life as a busy pastor with life as his wife's carer. His honesty is heart-warming and their spiritual testimony profitable. We also read of the preacher who had his larynx removed, the soldier who survived a firefight only to have his leg amputated, a teenager with cystic fibrosis and others who spent most of their lives in institutions and then struggled with the adjustments of living independently. One chapter, written by a pastor who was privileged to have a group of people with learning disablilities in his congregation should be read by all pastors, elders and church members. He gives sensitive advice on some of the difficulties he encountered but also the many pleasures of pastoring this group of people... 'We certainly receive from them as much as we give, and we have discovered that if they are different from the rest of us, it is not their learning disabilities that sets them apart so much as certain qualities they possess that many of us find very humbling and challenging'. Brian Edwards also adds a very practical chapter on how those of us that are more able-bodied can be sensitive to the needs of the less-able and particularly those that use wheelchairs.
As an ex-Occupational Therapist this is a subject close to my heart and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who finds it hard to 'know what to say' when they come face to face with someone with a disability. Always remember, they have feelings like you.
Horizons of Hope, edited by Brian Edwards, published by Day One, £8

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

John Bunyan

I'm about a third of the way through Faith Cook's new biography of John Bunyan 'Fearless Pilgrim' (EP hardback £16.95). So far, so good. It is in her usual interesting and easy style. Perfect Christmas present material. Some might question the need for another book on one of the most studied Christians of all time. But I get the feeling that the present generation has perhaps less knowledge of him - is 'Pilgrim's Progress' still a fave book? What a pity if decreasing familiarity with older English form and style becomes a barrier to that classic book with its original inimitable phrases. But Faith Cook also directs attention to the fact that he wrote so much more than 'Pilgrim's Progress' and 'The Holy War'. In fact his output was prolific. Amazing considering his lack of (formal) education and grim persecution. Thankfully different American publishers have maintained in print virtually the whole range of his works in their individual compositions - Reiner, Grace Abounding Ministries, and Gospel Mission. We featured a couple of books in our mailout this Autumn, but we distribute all the others plus those available from UK publishers. See our John Bunyan special listing. I try to spend as much time as possible cowering behind the covers of 'Fearless Pilgrim' because our new stock management system has just gone live, and the bullets are flying. Some tweaking is necessary already, but if that's all I'll be more than pleased. It's a nervy ride for a Mr Faint-heart!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

October Offers

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are already thinking about Christmas, and even some really organised people who are actually thinking about Christmas presents. Well, this is for you... We have some great October offers that I think would make perfect presents for your friends and family whether they are Christians or not.

Faith Cook's historical novels are always a good read for young and old alike. Caught in the Web is set in the Tudor period of English history and revolves around the life of Lady Jane Grey. If you buy this and team it with Under the Scaffold, another historical novel based in Haworth at the time of William Grimshaw, you will get a 20% discount off both.
Caught in the Web by Faith Cook, RRP £8.95
Under the Scaffold by Faith Cook, RRP £7.95
BUY BOTH FOR £13.50 (you save £3.40)

War stories are always popular with Grandpas (sorry, am I generalising??!), and our second offer has plenty of them. War and Grace is a collection of stories highlighting God's work in the lives of various people (some high-profile) during the World Wars of the last century. This is a book that is hard to put down and one which has a wide appeal. We have bundled this with the hugely successful Running the Race, a biography of Eric Liddell which has sold in its thousands and was even allowed into China for sale at the Olympic Games. Again a 20% discount applies if these books are bought together.
War and Grace by Don Stephens, RRP £8.95
Running the Race by John Keddie, RRP £8.95
BUY BOTH FOR £14.30 (you save £3.60)
We only plan to run these offers during October, so make sure you don't miss out on the opportunity to get started on your Christmas shopping.