All posts by JP Wallace

Chicken Apple Wraps

Chicken Apple Wraps

Ingredients
1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken breast
3 tablespoons chopped Fuji apple
2 tablespoons chopped black or red grapes
2 tablespoons Crunchy Peanut Butter
1 tablespoon lite mayonnaise (or greek yogurt)
2 teaspoons honey
Iceberg lettuce

Preparation
Chop chicken meat and fruit, mix in bowl. Mix in peanut butter, mayonnaise and honey.

Spoon into open lettuce leaf, roll and serve

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Review: The Priority of Preaching by Christopher Ash

Christian Focus Publications kindly sent me a copy The Priority of Preaching by Christopher Ash for review, and I’m very glad they did!

There are plenty of books about preaching, and I’ve read a fair few. Most of them I have appreciated and found helpful. It is no different with this little book. It is a little book but its content is weightier, more profound and much more important than its size would suggest. Furthermore there are a few features that make this book interesting and impressive.

One of the first things I noticed about this book was not it’s content but the way it was written. Christopher Ash writes well. Something I have noticed, but only really recently thought about is just how well Anglicans write, I mean that to be taken as commendation not as an expression of surprise! Think Stott, Packer and to them I would now add Ash. His writing is erudite, one feels one is learning something, indeed much, in the reading of this book (as should be the case). The author’s knowledge not only of his subject, but of culture, history and literature is obviously extensive, though at no time does he come across as pompous in the presentation of this knowledge. He quotes frequently from a wide range of authors, not just spiritual greats, but ‘secular’ authors too. All this makes the book a joy to read.

A second feature that makes this book stand out from the crowd is that the author bases each of the chapters upon a section of Deuteronomy. This has two important benefits. Firstly the book puts into practice what it preaches, though obviously not a sermon, it was based on sermons, and being rooted in the Word, it is a kind of literary test-case of the thesis of the book itself. Secondly, and obviously, it means that much, if not all of what the author says is firmly rooted in the authority of Scripture itself, this again harmonizes well with the theme of the first chapter, the author is not so much writing his own message but God’s. Not many books about preaching expound Scripture throughout in a systematic way, this one does, and it is all the more persuasive for it.

The book is made up of three chapters. Chapter One, ‘The Authority of the Preached Word’, is a fantastically countercultural commendation of preaching as a God-ordained authoritative act. It draws on the the prophetic motif  found throughout Scripture; prophet not as the forecaster but as the deliverer, the herald of a message from God to man. Chapter Two ‘ Preaching that Transforms the Church’ seeks, and succeeds in my opinion to prove that preaching, done right, is still effectual, but also exhorts us as preachers to ‘do it right’, and especially not to be satisfied with merely ‘teaching’ but preaching with clarity, urgency and passion to real people, dependent upon God’s grace. Chapter Three, ‘Preaching that Mends a Broken World’ extends the author’s faith in preaching beyond the walls of the Church, unto the world itself, to the bringing in, and keeping in, of the disparate peoples, and the broken people who will make up the people of the New Creation. Finally there is a Appendix; ‘Give God the Microphone! Seven Blessings of Consecutive Expository Preaching’

All through the book Ash, communicates to the reader his belief in, and enthusiasm for, what he is writing, and he does so convincingly because he bases what he is writing on Scripture.

I highly recommend this book for all ministers of God’s Word, but would also happily commend it to anyone who sits under preaching. In a day when the Church is so sadly given to drama, and endurance singing sessions, ‘talks’ and any number of other activities (anything other than preaching), this book is a breath of fresh air. I look forward to reading the rest of the series as it is issued.

Parallels

I began preaching a series on the Life and Times of Hezekiah last Lord’s Day. One of the observations I made (though didn’t develop it fully in the sermon) is the way the summary of his life brings together a number of textual parallels.

Here’s what we read of Hezekiah,

2 Kings 18:5-7   5 He trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him.  6 For he held fast to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses.  7 The LORD was with him; he prospered wherever he went. 

Notice especially verse 7 – having described the faithfulness of Hezekiah in trusting the Lord, holding fast to Lord, not departing from Him, keeping His commandments we are told that the Lord Yahweh was with him and that he prospered wherever he went, and, by implication, in whatever he did.

This ought to be no surprise,

Psalm 1:1-3  Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;  2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.  3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. 

And then extend it further – both the blessed man of Psalm 1 and Hezekiah, as a righteous Davidic King, foreshadow the Great King, the Perfect Man – Jesus Christ,

Isaiah 53:11   11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.

Let’s thank God that not only can we be blessed and prosper through faith in Christ, love of God and obedience to His Law, but Christ our Saviour has been faithful, perfectly so, and has prospered in all He came to do – to justify His people through living and dying and rising again for them.

Failing Faith (inaugural official post by the man of the house)

Of Israel’s request for a king in the days of Samuel, Alec Motyer writes (emphasis added)

“….the request for a king arose from the failure of faith. The strain of living without visible means of security was more than the people could any longer endure. Notwithstanding that the Lord had always proved reliable, they were not strong enough in trust to face seen dangers whilst looking to the unseen.” 1

It seems to me that ancient Israel are not the only people who struggle with such failures of faith resulting in misplaced faith, or in a never-ending pursuit of something, or someone reliable enough to trust in, something or someone who can give us peace of mind, comfort or assurance. The pursuit is legitimate  and unavoidable, the widespread search is not. Even as Christians we seem to have a hard time resting in God’s promises, trusting in His essential nature of love towards His people, we too often find ourselves looking for something tangible to believe in, and being unable to be at peace unless there is some such thing to comfort us – as if the love and care of our Creator God isn’t enough. Sometimes we disguise such lack of faith as prudence, as carefulness, as diligence, in Cromwellian fashion ‘keeping our powder dry’2, but in reality it’s just old-fashioned ‘failure of faith’. Perhaps a good start to the 2012 would be to give ourselves a good shake and start believing, really believing that God is good to those who fear Him.

Psalm 37:22-27   22 For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth, But those cursed by Him shall be cut off.  23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.  24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.  25 I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.  26 He is ever merciful, and lends; And his descendants are blessed.  27 Depart from evil, and do good; And dwell forevermore.

1Alec Motyer, Look to the Rock (Leicester:IVP, 1996), 27-28
2 See here for the story
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