Saturday, 31 July 2010

Activity Morning

Back in the Easter school holidays we trialled running a children's activity day at the shop.  The idea was to encourage more footfall from the local community so that they a) realise there is a Christian Bookshop in town, b) realise it is not staffed by aliens, c) enjoy spending time here, d) become enthusiastic about reading, e)... (I won't bore you with any more!).  It was a success! That first activity day saw 19 children with their Mums in the shop enjoying crafts, colouring, book quizzes & storytelling.  Okay, so it didn't really generate sales, but that is not always the sole aim behind our ventures. 
We were encouraged to give it another go during the June half term holidays, which turned out to be such a gorgeous day that the morning ended with a game of football in the carpark (supervised by the Dads). 
Yesterday we had the first of our Summer holiday sessions.  Thankfully we knew in advance that we could have an abundance of folk and therefore moved to Plan B which was to set up the activities & a selection of books in the Chapel building next door (our shop floor is pretty small).  No less than 31 children turned up and this time we actually sold a few books too (bonus!). Much to Jeremy's dismay the homemade cakes were also demolished and there were scant leftovers to take home.
For anyone who missed out on the fun yesterday, we are planning a second session at the end of the holidays.  Friday 3rd September is the date to mark on the calendar, drop in anytime between 10am and noon.  See you there...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Gospel Invitations

I have recently read a little booklet by Daniel Whitaker (1800's) on the subject of the Nature and Design of Gospel Invitations.  It is well worth reading and clearly distinguishes between the errors that are so widely preached in many churches and the truly biblical Gospel Invitation.  The following quote is taken from his concluding comments...
"When men attempt to set forth the invitations of the gospel, of a spiritual nature, in an indefinite, unlimited manner; there is such an uncertainty in the sound, that the poor, needy and disconsolate sinner, for whose sake they are designed; knows not what is piped, or what is harped.  Therefore, while such men attempt to encourage all, they in reality encourage none; but only discourage the real character, for whom they are intended; namely, the hungry, and the thirsty, the labouring, and the heavy-laden.
But when they are set forth, as they really are in the gospel, in a definite way, the character being described, the blessings pointed out, and their freeness shown; then the mind and will of the Lord is clearly manifested; as in the following invitation: 'Come unto me, all ye that are heavy laden: and I will give you rest' (Matt 11:28).  Here the love of Christ is set forth to the persons invited; and his readiness to receive and entertain them, and bestow his blessings needed by and promised to them; for he means them to come and enjoy the blessing; it being his delight to give it to them."
I would love to quote more, he seems to hit the nail on the head so many times!
The booklet is published by Huntingtonian Press, a small publisher specialising in experimental high calvinist literature click here for their full list of publications.
The Nature and Design of Gospel Invitations by Daniel Whitaker, published by Huntingtonian Press, £2.20

Thursday, 15 July 2010

William Gadsby

William Gadsby is still alive and well today. Reports of his death have been much exaggerated (apologies to Mark Twain). His hymns, full of gospel doctrine, are used today in hymnbooks outside of his own selection. Gospel Mission Books also maintain his 'Select Works' in print. Cost £6.95. This is a reprint of Volume 2 of his full Works, not easy to get hold of secondhand, and includes miscellaneous material. There are some trenchant pieces, eg. 'An Everlasting Task for Arminians,' and 'The Nature and Design of the Marriage Union.' Very gracious sermons, eg. 'The Glory of God's Grace,' and 'The Publican's Prayer.' But also there is 'A Few Thoughts on Sunday Schools,' which although 170 years old, is still relevant. His references to general education are now (thankfully) obsolete, in the UK anyway. But he is good on the basic purpose of them and the principles by which the teachers should be led. In connection with this he produced his Catechism, intended for children, but which is also helpful for adults. Indeed today many might think it too hard to use! However it gives real doctrinal backbone, particularly to the gospel through which we are to be saved, and by which we are to live. We have found it useful for teaching our own children. It can be had separately as a booklet for as little as 75p, or £1.50 if you prefer a much smarter Gospel Standard publication.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Helpful Truth in Past Places

There has been a resurgence of interest in the Puritan writings in recent years.  Banner of Truth were at the forefront of reprinting Puritan writings when they began back in the 1950's, but it seems that even in the last 5 years or so there has been an even greater flood of publications that are edited versions of the Puritans.  One such book that I have recently been reading is called Helpful Truth in Past Places.  It is subtitled 'the Puritan Practice of Biblical Counseling' and whatever your bias for or against Biblical Counselling (a controversial issue in some quarters!) you cannot deny that many of the Puritan writers have much practical advice that is solidly biblical and whose principles can certainly be applied to contemporary issues.  The aim of Mark Deckard the author of this book is to take the reader through some of these Puritan writings, to draw out some of the principles and to make the applications relevant. 
'Why is this happening to me?' is answered through John Flavel's The Mystery of Providence, the anxious and dissatisfied Christian is encouraged through The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs and those who have lost all joy are comforted with A Lifting Up for the Downcast by William Bridge.  Writings by Thomas Brooks, Jonathan Edwards, John Bunyan and John Owen are also examined.  I haven't finished the book yet, but so far I have found it useful for an overview of some of these older writings and thought provoking in its applications.
Helpful Truth in Past Places by Mark Deckard, Christian Focus Publications, £11.99