Charles Spurgeon Prince of Preachers, a book review by Joel.

Christian Focus 4 Kids kindly sent me an e-book of ‘Charles Spurgeon Prince of Preachers’ which I have reviewed for them.  

Charles Spurgeon Prince of Preachers is a very well written book of historical fiction on the life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, possibly one of the best preachers of all time.

Charles is a 15 year old boy on his way to church when a blizzard strikes he ends up in a small country church the stand in minister gives a very powerful message which would change Charles’ life forever. Charles grows up meeting many people, changing many lives and making history. Charles Spurgeon died in Meneton, France with gout.

I was interested to read this book because I have watched a film about Spurgeon and know a little about his life, also I have read about him in other books. I expected this book to be easy to read because I have read other trailblazer books from the series, it was indeed an easy read.

I liked the way the author wrote the book in a way that you felt you were the character and it was your life, also the author described the situations in Spurgeons life well.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted to know about Charles Spurgeon and the main events in his life, though as always with historical fiction it’s good to remember you are reading a story based on the history not ‘actual’ history.

Thank you Christian Focus for giving me the opportunity to read another book in this series.

Joel Wallace (age 11)

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Stepping Heavenward – Study Guide giveaway.

So our ladies are getting all ready for the commencement of our Study of the book Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss.

We will be using this study guide written by Carson Kistner.

When purchasing the study guides from Reformation Heritage Books I ordered enough for our own ladies and 1 extra.  “Just in case”.  I don’t think I need to keep the “just in case” copy, so I’ve decided to give it away.

For your chance to win this free book, just leave a comment below letting me know if you’ve read the novel before.

This book would make a great gift for someone who is familiar with the novel, but hasn’t studied it in depth before.

I’ll leave the entries open until 14 February, we’ll organise a draw that will equate that of Pastor Walker fame and one of you will be the proud owner of the said book.

What could be easier?

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.

Elizabeth Prentiss information.

Further to our ladies evening at church some further information and links about Elizabeth Prentiss.

If you missed our night last night you can read a brief biography of Elizabeth at Wikipedia.

Most of the information presented came from this book by Sharon James, More love to thee.

You can also read  her husbands biography of her The Life and letters of Elizabeth Prentiss, or on a kindle here for free.  Or a Kobo here for free.

Stepping Heavenward is available for kindle here for £0.77p and here for Kobo for free.

The other books I mentioned last night were

Aunt Jane’s Hero.

The Home at Greylock

(both of these can be downloaded free at this site).

Another book I mentioned  was How sorrow changed to sympathy.

You can also listen to some of Elizabeth Prentiss works at this link.

Hope this is helpful…..

Sticky Toffee Pudding

1 Bag of dates

1teaspoon Baking Powder

4oz margarine

12oz brown sugar

2 eggs

16oz self raising flour.

Soak a bag of dates overnight in a pint of boiling water and add a teaspoon of baking powder.

Cream the marg and sugar, beat in the eggs & fold in the flour, Pour in the date mixture and mix.

Bake at 180 Degrees C for about 30-40 mins, test with a skewer.

(This will make enough for 2 square dishes  or 1 large and 1 small).

The sauce.

4oz butter

8oz demerara Sugar

Double cream 1 carton

Melt the butter and add the sugar then the cream, heat through.

(The puddings freeze well, I’m  told you can heat them from frozen but I usually remember to leave them out of the freezer for a few hours and just re-heat in the oven).

Enjoy.

Shortbread Recipe

I’ve used this shortbread recipe for a few years now, always a large batch made before Christmas and it disappears fast!

8oz butter

4oz caster sugar

2oz cornflour

10 oz plain flour

Cream the butter and Sugar together until light and fluffy.  Sieve in the cornflour and plain flour and mix well to combine.

Roll out and cut into shapes.  Cook for 45 minutes at 120 degrees C.

Book Review “Aunt Jane’s Hero – by Elizabeth Prentiss

I’ve been reading a lot in relation to Elizabeth Prentiss over the past few months in preparation for our upcoming ladies study on her book “Stepping Heavenward“.  (We’ll be using this study guide).

I just finished reading another of her novels “Aunt Jane’s Hero”.  The good thing about many of Prentiss’s works is they are available for e-readers.  (Paul got a Kobo for Christmas so I think we nearly all have a book on the go on it now).  Many of her works I have looked at are free for e-readers.

Aunt Jane’s Hero is a novel telling the story of Aunt Jane and her influence in Horace’s life.  Horace isn’t actually Jane’s nephew but it turns out Jane is of such a loving character that most people call her “Aunt”.  She is a typical Titus 2 woman who you can learn much from.  Aunt Jane lovingly steers those around her to seek God’s will in all they do.  She advises and challenges mostly in areas concerning courtship and marriage.

I enjoyed reading this novel of Elizabeth Prentiss as I had only ever read “Stepping Heavenward” – certainly it does read as another “Prentiss” work and while it could be said that the heroine Maggie was beyond perfect I really appreciated many of the lessons found in the book.

I think I appreciate these novels as I find ‘modern day’ Christian Fiction too wishy washy – Elizabeth Prentiss has a gift of telling a nice story while convicting you of your sin and showing you Christ along the way.

I’m looking forward to reading more of Prentiss’s work.

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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What the Bible means to me.

Thanks again to Christian Focus for sending a copy of “What the Bible means to me” for review.

Due to the season and some family illness, I’ve not had a chance to complete this book,  thankfully (as is normal when a new book arrives), my husband snapped it up for a quick read.

He very kindly did this review for me……

One of the defects of the post-modern mindset that permeates our world is that tendency to individualism, that absolute commitment to a lack of absolutes. This mindset has permeated the Church too, even in its approach to the Bible. The question so often asked in the small group Bible study is that which is related (vaguely) to the title of this book, “What does this verse mean to you?”. The answers given can be many and various, and in opposition to each other. Thankfully ‘What the Bible Means to Me’ is not like that at all. The book is a collection of answers to the question “What does the Bible mean to you?”, but the answers given are not a post-modern jumble of subjectivity but a unified appreciation of the Word of God as the inspired, living, life-changing book that it is. 
At the same time as their being great unity however, there is as much variety in the responses to the question as there is in the people who have written them. There is absolute agreement on everything, yet amazing variety in the phrasing of that agreement. As the four Gospels describe the same person and work of Christ in different ways, here 40+ different people describing the same Word of God from their life perspective; variety yet unity.  This underlines the permanent applicability to us in all conditions and states of life of the Scriptures. In this excellent little book we have the responses of the seasoned mature theologian, the pastor, the housewife, the artist, the multiple sclerosis sufferer, the missionary, the author, all agreeing that in their varied circumstances the Bible has been, and is that powerful, sanctifying, vivifying, comfort-giving, guiding Word.
This book is highly recommended, it is one of those books that is hard to put down, but more importantly it is a book which will make you want to read God’s Word more. Between its covers you will find sentiments that you have felt, yet never voiced, or even logically collected in your mind. Here you will find warm reminders of Gospel truth. Here you will find encouragement to press on in daily reading, even if it is apparently fruitless. 
I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book, I guess my concern was that it might be have been a mild post-modern fog. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Really, I should have known better, Catherine Mackenzie has always been a ‘safe pair of hands’ and she continues to be in the concept and editing of this little book.

Pages: 144
Trim: Large trade paperback
Isbn 13: 9781845507237
List Price: £7.99

We received a copy of this book from Christian Focus in return for a review the opinions are those of Paul Wallace.

(Paul Wallace is the Pastor of Magherafelt Reformed Baptist Church, Northern Ireland).