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Review: Christ the Controversialist

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When John Stott died last year I vowed I would read some more of his books that I already own.  This is the first one I've finished, which indicates something about my reading ability!  Interestingly, it appears it's quite hard to get hold of today.  My version - published 1970 - is the same as the picture here, which is the same as the picture on Amazon!  So perhaps this one wasn't one of his most popular books.

However, let me say up front that I found this an exceptionally helpful book.  It is classic Stott: carefully grounded in the Bible, precisely written with an eye to culture and application.

The title tells us his focus in terms of Biblical material.  Stott takes us through the controversies or debates that we find Christ engaged in through the gospels.  However, Stott writes:
The aim of this book can be simply stated.  It is to argue that 'evangelical' Christianity is authentic Christianity, true, original and pure, and to demonstrate it from the teachin…

Uprooted: Review

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Given that we're probably moving (again!) some time this coming year, I was intrigued when I saw this book by Rebecca VanDoodewaard: Uprooted: A Guide for Homesick Christians.  So I bought it and decided to give it a go.

Let me say up front that I thought it was excellent.  It helps Christians who are moving to prepare for homesickness considering what it is, what the temptations are, what makes it better and worse and with specific chapters considering things like children, singleness and being in the pastorate.  It is laced with biblical wisdom, supplemented by the author's experience and the experience of other Christians, e.g. Susannah Spurgeon and Ann Judson.

Particularly helpful is a chapter on the good things about moving and a chapter on how our homesickness points us to our real home.

As a book, it may feel like it is targeted at a fairly small niche, although in a more mobile society that may be an ever-growing niche, but a final chapter on helping those who are hom…

What are we here for? - Questions we would like to ask God

One of my series of magazine articles following a survey to find out what questions our congregations would like to ask God.

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What are we here for?
We've reached number seven on our top ten questions for God. This was the very philosophical question about our purpose in life: What are we here for? Without an answer, life becomes meaningless, which is what many people feel today. Perhaps this explains why so many people now seem to be living ruthlessly for their own pleasure and enjoyment. As Paul, quoting Isaiah, says in 1 Corinthians 15:32 “If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die'” (NIV).
Of course, like Paul, Christians believe both that Jesus was raised and that the dead will be raised and this gives us a better alternative. The Bible teaches us that we were made by God to glorify him. So, for example, Isaiah writes “I will say to the north,`Give them up!' and to the south,`Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from afar and…

Review: A Faith to Live By by Donald Macleod

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As part of my quiet times this year I decided to read some basic systematic theology books. Most of the time I systematically study Bible books, but this can mean that I lose the picture of what the Bible as a whole says about a particular theme, which is the value of systematic theology. One book that has been on my reading list for quite a while is A Faith to Live By by Donald Macleod who was the Principal of the Free Church College. It's published by Christian Focus and was recommended when I was doing the Cornhill Training Course. Two features make it stand out from the crowd. First it may be described as 'theology on fire,' by which I mean that this is no dry and academic theology. The content is theologically excellent, biblically faithful and very stimulating, but it is applied to the Christian life (as the title suggests). As quiet time material, this made it excellent. Secondly, Macleod's writing is superb. I think most of the book is actually trans…

Northern Souls is Back

I decided to take a brief break from blogging, but Northern Souls is back, with my takes on the Christian life, ministry, the church and the Church of England. I want to be a better writer. I hope this helps.