Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28: Birth of J. Gresham Machen

by davidtmyers

Rasing a Leader in the Church

During the course of this historic Presbyterian blog, there have been seven references to the life and times of J. Gresham Machen. This is no surprise, because he was God’s choice to lead His true church in tumultuous days of the early twentieth century. This event recognized today begins the whole story on July 28, 1881, J. Gresham Machen was born in Baltimore, Maryland.

On both sides of his family, there was a firm commitment to the Calvinistic truths of the Westminster Standards. His grandfather, on his father’s side, was a ruling elder of Old School Presbyterianism. His father, Arthur Machen, was a well-known attorney, and member of the Presbyterian church. Marrying Mary Gresham in 1872, a home was divinely ordered together.

His mother came from the southern Presbyterian tradition resident in Macon, Georgia. While we do not know much of her early life, after her marriage to Machen’s father, she exhibited an influence upon young J. Gresham Machen’s life which could not be rivaled. The whole family was influential members of the Presbyterian Church in Baltimore. Machen’s father served as an elder for many years.

When J. Gresham Machen was born, and here we simply quote Ned Stonehouse’s book on J. Gresham Machen, “he entered a home of devout Christian faith, of a high level of culture and social standing, and of a considerable degree of prosperity. Both parents were persons of strong character and extraordinary intellectual and spiritual endowments, and our understanding of J. Gresham Machen is illumined as we observe how various qualities and interests of his ancestors were blended in generous portions in his own personality. . . the intense affection and loyalty that distinguished the Machen home were to prove one of the most influential and fascinating factors in shaping the course of things to come.” (p. 39, J. Gresham Machen, by Ned Stonehouse, Eerdmans) Some of the “things to come” are treated on January 1, March 13, 17, 29, April 1, 11, and May 14 of this historical blog.

Words to Live By: Certainly God’s sovereign grace can change an individual’s life for the better, but also God’s grace can use the faithful upbringing of a Christian family into even greater outreach of service. And the latter was evidenced in the home religion of Dr. J. Gresham Machen. We simply cannot stress too much the vital principles and practices of a godly home on a child’s life and life work. Parents! Labor hard in prayer and perseverance to make your home a godly one, leading by example and exhortation the faith of your children in the things of the Lord.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27: Donald Cargill - The Lone Star of the Covenant

by davidtmyers


Challenged by his land owner father to become a minister, Donald Cargill resisted the suggestion at the first. His inclination was not the gospel ministry. Finally, with what his father had put into his hand and heart, young Cargill at last set aside a day to prayerfully consider whether God was calling him to this ministry. It was said that a text from Ezekiel came into his mind, "Son of man, eat this roll, and go speak to the house of Israel." Then when Presbytery chose the same text from Ezekiel during his trials, there was no doubt of his divine calling to the ministry.

His first charge was that of the Barony Church in Glasgow, Scotland, which charge would take his time and talents from 1655 until 1662. The church was divided in Covenanting groups and non-Covenanting groups of people. No one can abide long in such a divided congregation without receiving the wrath of one group or the praise of another. All this changed however in 1661, upon the restoration of Charles, when Donald Cargill delivered a sermon before a great crowd. He said in part, "the king will be the woefullest sight that ever the poor Church of Scotland saw. Woe! Woe! Woe! unto him, his name shall stink while the world's stands, for treachery, tyranny and lechery." Obviously, this was not a statement which would bring good relations between the Crown and his place as pastor in Scotland! And indeed, before a week went by, government soldiers were out looking for him, and he had gone into hiding.

His ministry from that point on until his capture by the Crown was that of witnessing before small groups of men and women. From 1668 on, he became a traveling evangelist for the Gospel, escaping death and destruction by many a close call. To be sure, he showed bravery and courage in many a situation. In other cases, he was weakened and oppressed by lack of assurance.

On one occasion, a great crowd was present to hear the word of grace from his lips. But in addition to that Word came words which amounted to a curse upon his persecutors. He said, "I, being a minister of Jesus Christ, and having authority and power from Him, do, in His name, and by His Spirit excommunicate, cast out of the true Church, and deliver to Satan, Charles the Second . . . The Duke of York, the Duke of Monmouth, the Duke of Lauderdale, the Duke of Rothes, General Dalziel, and Sir George MacKenzie. And as the causes are just so being done by a minister of the gospel, and in such a way as the present persecutions would admit of, the sentence is just. And there are no kings or ministers on earth who, without repentance of these persons can reverse these sentences. God, who is their author, is more engaged to the ratifying of them: and all that acknowledge the Scriptures ought to acknowledge them." There is no doubt that such words were inflammatory and some even questioned and criticized such talk. Yet all those he mentioned here in his curse did die in strange ways. As Calvinists, we see no place for coincidence in the realm of persons, places, and events on this earth.

Finally caught by the authorities, he would be martyred on July 27, 1681. His last words were "farewell, all relations and friends in Christ; farewell, acquaintances and earthly enjoyments; farewell, reading and preaching, praying and believing, wanderings, reproach, and sufferings. Welcome, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; into Thy hands I commend my spirit."

Words to Live By:
Standing in the crowd of mourners was James Renwick, a future minister of the Covenanters and the last in Scotland to die by hanging for the cause of Christ. God is so gracious as to continue His witness in the land. Consider times when mere man thought that some event was the end of the matter. But God . . . But God . . . But God! To Him goes our prayers and praise for the truth that "He does according to His will in the hosts of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'" (Daniel 4:35b)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sometimes medication is needed for mental or emotional health.

I have written about bipolar disorder on my blog. Look on AUGUST 12, 2010 also 7 and 11 Aug 2011. 10 and 15 Sept 2011 I give some excerpts from my diaries Dec 2010 to Feb 2011. After that you will see fewer posts to my blog. I did keep posting on the troubles in Nigeria but there were several months with no posts at all. This is an indicator of my depression.

What happened was that reaching 65 in 2011 I did not retire but reduced to working only four days a week. I hoped to reduce more each year but my mental health was such that when I reached 66 I retired from pharmacy. I had always thought that in retirement I would stay registered and do some locums but it was not to be. I has found that my cyclothymia was too much and pharmacy no longer had any attraction whatsoever. Autumn 2009 was the start of two continuous long cycles of a year each, depressed in the darker months, better in summer. So in early 2010 I did what I had always resisted, went to my GP, told him the problem and he gave me a prescription for citalopram 20mg, an antidepressant. In the summer my mood was fine. I stopped the tablets with no ill effect. When the dark months came it was worse than ever. Back to the doctor who doubled to dosage and recommended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT. I knew about this counselling and believed I could apply Christian principles to it. I had a few sessions but felt no better until the summer came when I declined more CBT.

Then on holiday that summer we lunched at the home of an old friend. I knew she was a geriatrician. Now I found out she was a psychiatrist too. I recounted my experiences to her. Straightaway she asked if I had ever seen a psychiatrist or had lithium, the medication for bipolar. I has not but after the holiday I asked my doctor to be referred to a psychiatrist. I found the specialist to be sympathetic. He listened well but gave little counsel. To cut the story short I have finished up on three drugs. First was valproic acid, not lithium as the latter requires regular blood tests which would have been very inconvenient while still in full time work. I found that this drug does indeed smooth out the waves of ups and downs but it removes the higs and the deep, deep downs but it leaves one below par. Over the months, to relive the deprssion I was but on a low dose of quietapine and a high dose of sertraline. I had over a year of psychiatric appointments the he signed me off into the care of the GP. I also had over a year of regular counselling sessions with psychologists. I did not think this was a noticeable lift but the good piece of advice was to get active in the local University of the Third Age (U3A) .

My last winter as a pharmacist was awful. I struggled on despite my doctor offering to write down as too sick to work. I was very depressed so in February 2012 I gave in my notice. My employer did not even bothered to acknowledge it and when my three month's notice period was up I left the job I had been in for 13 years (my longest ever in one place) without even a thank you card from the firm.

As a reaction to this depression and work in a profession I had come to dislike, a profession where one is bound to fixed hours, where if you are away from work you have to find a locum, I did not want to take on commitments with a fixed schedule. But I had my responsibilities are an elder in our church and I soon found opportunity for regular preaching, two or three times a month at the Harmonsworth Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow. The chaplain there enlisted me as a volunteer. Security clearance was demanding but now I minister to any of the Christians among the 600 plus detainees.

This summer, things have been the best since 2011. I have got back on this blog and Facebook. My reading has picked up from an endless diet of fiction. Next I plan to start some regular voluntary work at the Evangelical Library. I have reduced the dose of antidepressant and booked a holiday. Last year I could not be bothered to book.

Many people, especially Christians, will refuse to seek medical help. I did it for years. I now think I was mistaken. It was wrong. So I end wtih the the best words I have come across on this topic.

"... we have to face the fact that there are certain emotional disorders for which it is our responsibility before God to accept medication because these disorders have, if not an organic base, at least an organic dimension. For example, there are forms of depression which If the alternative is misery for those whom we live an incapacity for the work to which God has called us, then it is our responsibility before God to manage our temperaments through these medications. yield very readily to chemical control. It is dishonouring to God and cruel to dependants to refuse to accept such medication on the basis of the arrogant principle, 'I do not take drugs.' "A Faith to Live By, Donald MacLeod, p99.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Books read in July 2014

1. A Song in the Morning - Gerald Seymour

I thought I had read all of Seymour's thrillers from Harry's Game right up to the latest. Then I found this on a bookstall and realised it was the one I had missed. As is usual the author uses a real setting. This time it is now in the bad old days of apartheid South Africa, the tensions and atmosphere which it well describes. It is as usual a gripping thriller. No-one writes them better. It is a story of impossible daring and great bravery. Seymour is a realist in his fiction. A happy ending cannot be guaranteed.

2. Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain by Robert Winder

Britain opened its doors to all comers, but extended a warm embrace to no-one. - Rosemary Ashton, Little Germany - Exile and Asylum in Victorian Engalnd, p 243. I found that quote when that book was loaned to me by the daughter of a German refugee from the Nazis whose story is in a footnote of this book, their ancestor immigrant featuring in this book, a friend of Marx and Engels.
The basic thesis of this book is that Britain is an island of mongrel races, the products of successive waves of immigration. Immigration is enriching and good. The author gives history from pre-historic times up to the turn of the century. So you will not hear of radicalised Muslims after 9/11 nor of the unrestricted immigration by EU nationals. Any reader will be informed of much ignored history. You will finish the book better informed and perhaps wiser. I think the author stands left of centre but this is not problematic. He tells of a country that has become a haven for the oppressed but one that often did not welcome immigrants without showing antipathy and racism.
My one criticism is the ignoring of some religious perspectives. Cromwell's theological motivation in re-admitting the Jews is not mentioned. Also, Ireland was not under the Bishop of Rome until the only ever pope from England gave Henry II leave to invade and bring Ireland into the RC church.
But overall a thoroughly good, informative and perhaps an attitude changing book. It is rare that I reread a book but this one was good enough for that.

3. Ephesians (Let's Study) by Sinclair B. Ferguson

Sinclair Ferguson is a first class theologian, preacher and author. I have never read any of his work that deserves less than five stars. This book is a thorough exposition of Ephesians. It is clear and heart warming and will benefit any Christian though second language readers may need their dictionaries. Three little niggles. There is no index. The study questions are not as helpful as the text. Are they from Dr Ferguson? Lastly commentators often skip controversial or disputed passages. So I was sorry to see no explanation of 'psalms; hymns and spiritual songs.'

4. The Elder: Today's Ministry Rooted in All of Scripture (Explorations in Biblical Theology)by Cornelis Van Dam

This is first of all a book for church leaders or those who aspire to lead. But any Christian with a measure of perseverance will be informed and edified. I have served as an elder for nearly 40 years and I wish this book had been published before my ordination. The treatment of the role of an elder is comprehensively exegeted from both Testaments. The OT background is of particular help. Having given us the biblical theology there is much practical pastoral teaching. The author takes the traditional view of the parity of elders but insists on the different callings, teaching and ruling within the grouping. He makes a good case from the Jewish origins but this reviever remains a dissenter. When Van Dam deals with the debated question of fixed term or life serving elders I assume he only talks of ruling elders. He tells us that ruling elders should not give a benediction with raised hands as that is for teaching elders. I dissent. He ignores the question of ruling elders presiding at the Lord's Table, presumably because he thinks that too is for teaching elders alone. Finally, in teaching that elders must be male he fails to mention the crucial argument about the authoritative headship of Christ. But overall an excellent book.

5. Ealing Then & Now by Jonathan Oates and Paul Howard Lang

Old postcards in the main, compared with current photos, endeavouring to shoot from as close as possible to the original position. One would have liked more varied subjects but I expect the available old postcards limited the range. Pleasure for past and present Ealing residents.

6. Stories of World War One - Tony (Comp) Bradman

I bought this book mistakenly thinking it was biographical. No, it is a brilliant anthology of short stories, fiction bur often based on the experiences of real people. The writers are all published authors and show their skill recalling how the was affected all kinds of people, those fighting as well as those at the home front. It is a real page turner and I finished it thinking I had entered the emotions of people a century ago.

July 25: Rev. James Hall

by archivist

At peace with himself, and with his God, and engaged in a good cause.

Our entry today is drawn from William Henry Foote's great work, Sketches of North Carolina, Historical and Biographical (1846).

Rev. James Hall and the Churches in Iredell, NC.

Melchizedek was a king, and a priest of the Most High God. Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, led, for once at least, a military expedition, and on his return from a complete victory received the blessing of the king of Salem, whom the Apostle set forth as a type of Christ the Lord, the author and finisher of Faith. In the war of the American Revolution there were many young men to be found in the ranks of our armies, and in the prisons of the enemy, who, after hazarding their lives for their country, entered the ministry and spent their days in preaching the everlasting gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christs---such as Hunter of Carolina, and Marshall, and Houston, and Lyle of Virginia. There were also many clergymen that went with the armies to act as chaplains, and displayed in the various dangers and exposures of the camp and a soldier's life, the cool collected bravery of men at peace with themselves and with their God, and engaged in a good cause,---such as McCaule of Centre, afterwards of South Carolina, who was beside General Davidson when he fell at Cowan's Ford; some of whom were made a sacrifice to their country's safety---as Rosborough of New Jersey. But there is not perhaps another instance of a man, a licensed preacher of the gospel, that took part in military expeditions, and commanded companies, and still retained the character and maintained the dignity and office of a minister of the gospel, beside that of James Hall of Iredell, the preacher and the soldier. There were some ministers that laid aside their office for a military command, and never resumed it, as Muhlenburg of Pennsylvania, and Thruston of Virginia.

But James Hall performed both offices, a military commander and a preacher of righteousness; was acceptable in both as a young man, and died at an advanced age a minister of the gospel. Said Dr. Robinson of Poplar Tent, "when a boy at school at Charlotte, I saw James Hall pass through the town, with his three-cornered hat and long sword, the captain at the head of a company, and chaplain of the regiment." An amalgamation of characters and officers justified only by special emergencies, and to be successfully attempted only by few. Born of Scotch-Irish parentage, at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, August 22d, 1744, and removed by them to North Carolina, when about eight years old, he grew up in the upper part of Rowan, now Iredell, in the bounds of the congregation to which he afterwards was pastor during his whole ministerial life of thirty-eight years. Secluded in the forests of Rowan, alike ignorant of the knowledge and the follies of the great world, James Hall grew up under the watchful care of pious parents, and the instructions he would receive from faithful and laborious missionaries whose visits to the congregation were less often than desired, about once a quarter. He was made familiar with the Bible and the Westminster catechism in his early days, and his mind stored with the best of truth before he could appreciate the excellence of the truth itself, or the motives of the pious parents who so assiduously taught him.

During the exciting scenes of the Revolution, during which time he had been licensed and ordained, Mr. Hall held the office of pastor of three congregations, which territory extended from South Yadkin to the Catawba, with some congregation members coming from beyond these rivers; and after the Revolution he served them till the year 1790, when wishing to devote more time to the cause of domestic missions than could be consistent with so large a charge, he was released from his connection with the Fourth Creek and Concord churches. His connection with the Bethany church continued till his death on July 25th, 1826, a period of twenty-six years.

A full account of his actions during the Revolution would fill a volume; his active, enterprising spirit would not let him be neutral; his principles drawn from the Word of God and the doctrines of his church, and cultivated by Dr. Witherspoon, carried him with all his heart to defend the ground taken by the convention in Mecklenberg, May, 1775, and by the Continental Congress in 1776. He gave his powers of mind, body and estate to the cause of his country. As the citizens would assemble to hear news and discuss the politics of those trying times, and were making choice of the side they would espouse, Mr. Hall was accustomed to meet with them, and addressing them, infused his own spirit and inflamed their love of liberty, and strengthened their purpose of maintaining their rights at all hazards. The tradition about him, in these cases, is that he was eminently successful; and the fact that there was great unanimity in that section of country, in a measure the effect of his exertions, would of itself show that he was both influential and eloquent.

Words to Live By:
God often gives a powerful voice to the Christian who faithfully kneels before His throne; for truly, as has been said, those who fear the Lord can properly live without any earthly fear.

The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.—Proverbs 29:25, KJV

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have:for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.—Hebrews 13:5-6, KJV.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shameless self publicity with some gospel witness



This is from our local weekly web-zine.


Getting to know the locals

Graham Weeks is a 68 year old, retired pharmacist.
He's active in his local church, and also a volunteer helper of the chaplaincy at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre where he preaches to Christians among the detainees. He's also involved in the Ealing University of the Third Age as convenor of the U3A current affairs and world religions groups.

He's been married to former Falcons music teacher, Katy, for 45 years and has four children, three of whom were born in Nigeria during their time there from 1970 to 1982. They have six grandchildren.


Where do you live in Ealing - how long have you been there?

We have lived in Perivale since 1984, though we first came to West Ealing as newly weds in 1969 for my wife to study at the former Mount Hermon Ladies Missionary College in Mount Park Avenue. I them managed a pharmacy in The Avenue. We are in Perivale because when searching for a first home in England for six of us, Perivale was the nearest place to our church which we could afford.

What are the best bits of Ealing?

I was a councillor from 1990 to 1984 and in contrast to some local authorities we have had peaceful, respectful. government whichever party is in power. Yes I know about the Southall riots but I was in Nigeria at that time and I think that those disturbances and the more recent trouble were largely the work of outsiders. I enjoy the diversity of the borough. Whatever cuisine you fancy you can find it here, with the exception of Korean food which I love.

Where are your favourite restaurants?

Lisa's on Pitshager Lane for a French treat and Silom Village on The Broadway for great Thai food and the best value eating I have found in Ealing.

Do you have any hidden gems?

The canal towpath throughout the borough is great for walking cycling and a different quiet perspective on the borough. The borough's art collection seems to be a much too obscurely hidden gem. I particularly like the painting of the late king and queen inspecting the wartime bomb damage at Hodder Drive, Perivale.

What's not so great about Ealing?
The proliferation of CPZs, road humps and high charges for parking. £1.25 an hour in Ealing, 20p in Hatch End, Harrow. Lack of disabled access at tube stations.
How could it be improved do you think?
The disabled one is obvious and has been done in Greenford. Parking should not be considered a council or hospital cash cow.

Do you have a favourite book/film?

The book has to be The Bible. Film is harder as I only tend to watch any film once. But the one where I see something new each time is Devil's Advocate.

Tell us about your religion and your blog.

I was brought up in a Methodist family in North Yorkshire. After some years of teenage rebellion I came back to faith in 1964 when a student in London. After qualifying as a pharmacist I had two years of theological study and a year after marriage we were in Nigeria with the Church of Christ among the Nations. I worked as a pharmacist in their hospital. Then I was teaching theology, ordained in the church there too. I finished up translating books and teaching the Hausa language.On return to Ealing I was appointed as an elder in The International Presbyterian Church, Drayton Green.
I have a quotations web site which has not been updated for a long while. My blog, Christian Quoter I subtitle, English Christian male who is not backward in coming forward with opinions. I have ranged far and wide I now concentrate on news from Nigeria for it is the parts where we lived peacefully that are now suffering from many Islamist attacks.

Do you feel religion is still relevant?

I reject the predominant secularist thinking which would confine religion to the private sphere of personal opinion. In this, just as the Muslim would say Islam is more than religion, I contend that the Christian should apply his or her faith in every sphere of life.

How do you convince young people?

Well I think that is actually God's work but my part is to be in a church community that seeks to speak the truth and show loving care for all.

What motto would you live you life by?

Jesus is Lord


What motto/slogan would you use for Ealing?

I searched in vain on the council's website for our present motto which is 'Progress with Unity'. I would change it to,'Unity from Diversity'. The history of the last century does not endear me to the idea of progress.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 23: Jenny Geddes (1637)


Our post today is closely adapted from the work by Wm. P. Breed titled Jenny Geddes, or Presbyterianism and Its Great Conflict with Depositism (1869).

Our Lord Delights to Use the Small and Insignificant in Powerful Ways

Jenny Geddes was a Scotch woman, a native of that land of great minds and heroic champions of Calvinistic orthodoxy. Born perhaps about the close of the sixteenth century, by near the middle of the seventeenth century, she was a resident of Edinburgh. She was no doubt of a human position in life, with her food and clothing earned by the labor of her owns hands.

Whether she was married or not, history does not tell us. She was certainly poor, for in the great cathedral church of St. Giles she had no place among the pews and so went to church with her stool in hand, seeking a place to sit in the aisle or in some other unoccupied spot during the service.

Jenny was also, most evidently, a person who thought on her own and acted on her own, decisively and forcefully. She was a true blue Presbyterian, familiar with the Scriptures, and one who expected orthodoxy from her preachers and others.

It was on the 23d of July in 1637 that Jenny emerged from obscurity to historic celebrity and renown. On that day there was a strange ferment throughout Scotland and a wild excitement in the city of Edinburgh. King Charles had resolved to make Presbyterianism give place to Prelacy throughout the realm. A book of canons [in effect, a Book of Church Order] had been prepared subversive of the whole system of Presbyterian government, and had been enjoined upon the realm by proclamation upon the king's simple prerogative. Following this book came a liturgy as a law of public worship, and a royal edict had commanded its introduction into all the churches of the realm on this memorable Sabbath day. Notice to this effect had been given the Sabbath before, and hence this intense excitement. For the Scottish people knew that if this measure were carried into effect by the authorities, Presbyterianism was virtually in its grave.

As the hour of Sabbath service approached, the streets of Edinburgh were thronged with crowds of people, full of excitement. There among the crowds, Jenny Geddes made her way to a convenient place, close to the pulpit of the church and there she sat upon her stool.

The cathedral was filled to capacity with titled nobility and with the nobler untitled nobility of the Scottish Presbyterian masses. There were present archbishops, bishops, the lords of the session, the magistrates of the city, members of the council, "chief captains and principle men," and Jenny Geddes and her stool.

And as the assembled people waited with tension mounting, the Dean of Edinburgh made his appearance, clad in immaculate surplice, book in hand—that fatal book of the liturgy—the device of English Prelacy for the reform of Scotch Presbytery. The was opened and the service begun.

The cup was now full, though as yet no one pretended to know, no one dreamed, what form of expression the pent-up indignation of the outraged people would assume. The question was soon decided.

No sooner had the first words of the book, through the lips of the Dean, reached the ear of Jenny, the stern prophetess on her tripod, than a sudden inspiration seized her. In an instant she was on her feet, and her shrill, impassioned voice rang through the arches of the cathedral:

"Villain! dost thou say mass in my lug?"
and in another instant her stool was seen on its way, travelling through the air straight toward the head of the surpliced prayer-reader.
[A lug is an ear]

The astounded Dean, not anticipating such an argument, dodged it, but the consequences he could not dodge. He had laid his book, as he thought, upon a cushion—the cushion proved a hornet's nest. In an instant the assembly was in the wildest uproar. Hands were clapped; hisses and loud vociferations filled the house, and missiles, such as the hand could reach, filled the air. A sudden rush was made toward the pulpit by the people in one direction, and from the pulpit by the Dean in the opposite direction.

Now, he would be marvellously astray who should suppose that this sudden hurricane at St. Giles was but a passing and unmeaning summer squall. It was in truth the outburst of a national feeling. A mighty ferment at this time pervaded the national mind. Great principles were at stake, and the Scottish masses, well comprehending their nature and the drift of events, were solemnly resolved to vindicate their settled religious convictions in the great controversy at whatever hazard and cost.

When that irregular band of patriots, dressed in Indian attire, marched through the streets of Boston and tossed those tea-chests into the bay, they at the same time virtually tossed British sovereignty overboard; and Jenny Geddes' party at St. Giles signed the death-warrant of civil and ecclesiastical tyranny in both Scotland and England! The storm had been gathering for nearly forty years, and this bursting of the cloud marked a crisis in a great national revolution. It was the first formidable outbreak against the tyranny of the Stuarts, and Jenny Geddes' stool was the first shell sent screaming through the air at those merciless oppressors of the two realms, and the echoes of that shell are reverberating to-day among the hills.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

IRAQ – Last Christians leave Mosul

All Christians in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul have now reportedly fled, after rebels threatened they should convert to Islam – or be killed.

Release partner Middle East Concern reports that Christian leaders in Mosul were summoned by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) rebels last Thursday to notify them of strict Islamic rules to be applied to non-Muslims. When Christians failed to attend, IS announced that they should leave by midday on Saturday or face execution. It's thought only 50 Christian families remained in Mosul until this weekend.

Earlier IS had marked homes belonging to religious minorities as 'property of the Islamic state'; Christian homes were marked 'N' for 'Nazarite'. Militants have also now seized the ancient Mar Behnam monastery, a Christian landmark in nearby Qaraqosh.

A fact-finding team from Release International has just returned from Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, which is proving a safe haven for Christians and other minorities fleeing for their lives.

Most displaced Christians Release interviewed despaired of ever returning to their country, and many wanted to leave the Middle East. A number of church leaders could see no future for Christians in Iraq. The Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar M. Warda, told Release: 'Christians have lost their trust in the land and in the future.'

Even in Kurdistan, Christians have faced restrictions and believers with a Muslim background are still at risk.

(Sources: BBC, Release contacts)

• Pray for Christians still in Iraq and those who have been forced to flee their homeland. Pray that they will hold on to God's word that 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble' (Psalm 46:1).
• Pray for an end to the bloodshed in Iraq. Pray that the aims of extremists will be thwarted – and peace restored.

Release International, PO Box 54, Orpington, BR5 9RT, UK

July 22: Richard Cameron -The Lion of the Covenant

by davidtmyers


To our readers who have been ordained into a church office, or who have had the privilege of attending the ordination of someone else who has been set apart to the biblical office in a local church, I dare say none of us have ever had the following experience happen to us. But in the Presbyterian history of ages past, it did happen to one young man, who was at that time living in Holland. After the laying on of the hands, setting him apart for the office of minister, all but one of the Dutch ministers took their hands off of his head. That sole minister who kept his hands on Richard Cameron's head, uttered a prophetic sentence, saying, "here is the head of a faithful minister and servant of Jesus Christ, who shall lose the same for his Master's interest, and it shall be set up before sun and moon in the public view of the world."

Our focus today in Presbyterian history is Richard Cameron. Born in 1647 in Scotland to a Christian merchant by the name of Alan Cameron, Richard was the oldest of four children. After his university exercises at St. Andrews, he still was not a Christian. Attending a service held by one of the field preachers, he heard the blessed gospel and regeneration occurred in his heart and mind. One year later, he was licensed to preach the Word with strong evidence of his calling beginning to manifest itself in his gifts. Jock Purves in his book Fair Sunshine, said that his sermons "were full of the warm welcoming love of the Lord Jesus Christ for poor helpless sinners." (p. 44) But in addition to the proclamation of the blessed gospel, there were also strong denunciations of the persecuting government authorities which made such field preaching necessary. Despite the danger to both himself and his gathered congregation, Cameron continued to faithfully, fearlessly proclaim the Word of God.

Just a month before his demise at the hands of the authorities, Richard Cameron had set the issue plain before the whole nation by the posting of the Sanquhar Declaration on June 22, 1680. Now a month after that bold challenge to the government of the kingdom, the latter's military forces caught up with Richard Cameron and his followers at Ayrsmoss on July 22, 1680.

The battle was preceded by Cameron three times praying "spare the green, and take the ripe." Looking to his younger brother Michael, who was with him on that occasion, Richard said "Come Michael, let us fight it out to the last; for this is the day that I have longed for, to die fighting against our Lord's avowed enemies; and this is the day that we shall get the crown." And he did, along with many others. The monument to their sacrifice is pictured at right.

Oh yes, Richard Cameron's head and hands were cut off by the British dragoons, to be taken to the city of Edinburgh. But before they were placed on stakes in front of the prison, they were taken to his father Alan who was in prison. He kissed them, saying, "I know them, I know them. They are my son's, my own dear son. It is the Lord. Good is the will of the Lord, Who cannot wrong me nor mine, but has made goodness and mercy to follow us all our days."

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21: Rev. John Livingstone [1603-1672]

by archivist
One biographical entry lists under John Livingstone's name that of "revivalist preacher." And there is no doubt, as John Howie put it in The Scots Worthies, that there has been none whose labors in the Gospel have been more remarkably blessed with the outpouring of the Spirit in conversion work than John Livingstone, at least, since the Reformation commenced in Scotland. Who was this man of God?

Born on this day, July 21, 1603 at Monyabroch/Monieburgh in Scotland to a home filled with piety and prayer, his father William was a minister. Later on, young John became a student of Robert Blair at Glasgow University (see post for July 10). The subject of our post today became the assistant minister in Torphichen between Glasgow and Edinburgh, but in 1621 was "silenced" for his Presbyterian views. Moving to north Ireland, or Ulster, he became known as a young man and minister at what has become known as the Kirk O'Shotts Revival. The circumstances of his presence are remarkable for the Spirit's leading.

John Livinstone had been a domestic chaplain to the Countess of Wigton, Sarah Maxwell. Upon hearing of plans for a Communion observance at Kirk O'Shotts, he went to attend this sacrament. With a huge crowd of both ministers and members in attendance, as W.M. Hetherington put it in his "History of the Church of Scotland, the Communion Sabbath "had been marked with much solemnity of manner and great apparent depth and sincerity of devotional feeling." (p. 136) When the Monday came, the large crowd had been reluctant to depart without another religious service of thanksgiving to God for His redeeming love. So they begged for another worship service, but the pastor of the church was ill and couldn't comply with their wishes. So young twenty-seven year old John Livingstone was prevailed upon to take his place.

The latter was so overwhelmed with his insufficiency of spiritual gifts however, that he ran away into the country side. Some accounts state that someone went after him to encourage him to return. Others state that he was taken by a "strong constraining impulse" to return. Which ever it was, he did return and began to preach to the huge multitude. It then began to rain, but for the next hour, the young minister preached the Word in a driving rain storm, outside! Listen to William Hetherington describe it. He said the crowd "was affected with a deep unusual awe, melting their hearts and subduing their minds, stripping off inveterate prejudices, awakening the indifferent, producing conviction in the hardened, bowing down the stubborn, and imparting to many an enlightened Christian, a large increase of grace and spirituality." (p. 136)

This author cannot help but remark, "Oh for such an awakening and revival in our United States now" as took place on that day back in Ulster! It was said that some 500 people could date either their conversion or a confirmation of their case from that date and place. Livingstone went on to continue to preach the Word of grace in Ulster, with another experience of the Spirit's falling two or three years after this occasion, when a thousand were brought to Christ.

We will return to his life and times as he was one of four ministers who endeavored to sail to America on the "Eagle Wing" vessel, but had to turn back due to storms. Livingstone, now married, ministered in both Scotland and Ulster, and with increasing persecution of Presbyterians in the lands, moved at last to Holland, where he died on August 9, 1672.

Words to Live By: There is perhaps no greater pastoral advice and counsel—Rev. Livingstone wrote the following words to one of his former churches:

"In all things, and above all things, let the Word of God be your only rule, Christ Jesus your only hope, His Spirit your own guide, and His glory your only end." This could well be written on the inside leaf of your Bible as a reminder, reader, but far better for it to be written upon your heart and life as your belief and behavior."

================================================================================================

I would point out this was an event in Scotland not Ulster. - GJW

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Imprisoned in Iran for following Jesus: Maryam and Marziyeh tell politicians

In 2009, thousands of Open Doors supporters campaigned for the release of Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh – two Iranian women imprisoned for their faith in Christ and threatened with a death sentence. Thanks to all that prayer and action, praise God, they were released! Yesterday – 16 July – both women had the opportunity to share their story with UK politicians in a meeting hosted by Naomi Long MP.

MPs and peers present listened intently as they spoke of their conversion from Islam to Christianity and their mission to share the gospel with fellow Iranians – a mission which eventually led to their imprisonment in the infamous Evin prison and the threat of death by hanging.

But even in prison, Maryam and Marziyeh knew God's presence! Under intense pressure to deny their faith, they found the strength to show the love of God to fellow prisoners and the guards. For nine months they endured their conditions until finally, under the weight of a growing international outcry, the Iranian authorities released them.

Maryam and Marziyeh shared that the actions of those who called on the Iranian authorities to release them and uphold their freedom of religion, were crucial in addressing this injustice.

Lord Anderson of Swansea was one parliamentarian who agreed with this. He also highlighted an upcoming debate in the House of Lords on 24 July, which will focus on the extent to which freedom of religion or belief is upheld internationally and will touch upon some of the issues Maryam and Marziyeh spoke about.

If you know a Peer in the House of Lords, it would be fantastic if you could write to them and encourage them to take part in this important debate – it is vital that all of Parliament, the Lords and Commons alike, engage with the issue of religious persecution.

Finally, you’ll remember that earlier this month, we told you about an event specifically aimed at engaging more Labour MPs with international religious freedom. On 8 July, Douglas Alexander MP, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, spoke passionately to a room packed full with members of civil society, the clergy, local councillors and politicians, including 14 Labour MPs. Mr Alexander clearly asserted the need to 'awaken people’s conscience to the plight of Christians around the world today who face persecution in more countries than ever before in our history'. His speech, which was given in the ‘spirit of bi-partisanship’, is available to read online.

If you invited your Labour MP or candidate to the meeting, our huge thanks for sharing the need for freedom of religion to be a cross- party issue. This is a message we are committed to and will continue to share so that all of Parliament is awakened to extreme persecution. Thank you so much for your partnership in this.

Open Doors UK, PO Box 6, Witney, OX29 6WG. Registered Charity in England and Wales No 1125684.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Toplady updated - Now Why This Fear



Now Why This Fear

Verse 1
Now why this fear and unbelief?
Has not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for us?
And will the righteous Judge of men,
Condemn me for that debt of sin,
Now cancelled at the cross?

Chorus
Jesus, all my trust
Is in Your blood
Jesus, You’ve rescued us
Through Your great love!

Verse 2
Complete atonement You have made,
And by Your death completely paid
The debt Your people owed
No wrath remains for us to face
We’re sheltered by Your saving grace,
And sprinkled with Your blood.

Verse 3
Be still, my soul, and know this peace
The merits of your Great High Priest
Have bought your liberty
Rely then on His precious blood,
Don’t fear your banishment from God
Since Jesus sets you free

Tag
How sweet the sound of saving grace
How sweet the sound of saving grace
Christ died for me
Music and alt. and additional words by Doug Plank, original verses by Augustus Toplady (1772).
© 2011 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP).

Latest news from Nigeria

Early July at Damboa (south of Maiduguri) 50 B/H, also 8 soldiers, 7 Police and 3 Civilians were killed. 63 of the Fulani women were able to escape, from those abducted a few weeks ago.

In Dikwa many traders bringing fish from Lake Chad were killed.

8th July we hear many were killed and also injured in Taraba State. We need to pray for the many refugees there.

We hear there are reckoned to be about 2 million displaced people, both Christian and Moslems.
Balmo forest, from Bauchi to Jigawa and ajoining Sambisa forest has been discovered by the soldiers and ammunition found in an underground camp, also lots of food.

Recently an attack in Taraba State left many killed and injured.

Floods in Sambisa forest have now driven out more of the B/H to the Damboa area. God is answering prayer. The Chibok girls are still incaptivity but one or two are still escaping.

11th July a COCIN Pastor was killed in Toro LGA Bauchi State and his wife and a boy.

From PCUS to PCA

by davidtmyers


The evidence was already in, in fact, it was well in. All of the efforts of the conservatives in the Southern Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church U.S.) had failed to stop the tide of liberalism in that once great church. So after the last General Assembly in 1971, something had to be done.

Gathering together in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 15, 1971, a group of conservative Presbyterians met to discuss the situation. Realizing that some key elders were not present, they met two weeks later on July 30th at the Airport Hilton in Atlanta, Georgia. This was a meeting which was filled with talk to the heavenly Father as well as to those of like precious faith. They met all together and then in small groups.

By the morning of the next day, some statements were presented to the group. They were as follows: “A plan for the continuation of a Presbyterian Church loyal to Scripture and the Reformed faith: 1. To create a climate of opinion favorable to the continuation of conservative presbyteries and churches loyal to Scripture and the Reformed Faith, by promoting as strong an image as possible of such loyalty through actions taken by synods, presbyteries, and congregations. 2. To identify presbyteries and congregations willing to take such a stand. And 3. To accept the inevitability of division in the PCUS and to move now toward a continuing body of congregations and presbyteries loyal to Scripture and the Westminster Standards.

This intent was breathed in prayer in, in the discussion towards it, and breathed out in prayer at the conclusion of it. Men who had been through the battle to return the PCUS to the faith of the fathers wept at the very prospect of the future. And when the vote came in favor of the three points, there were no high fives, or shouts of victory, but rather silence, as one of the men there said, a heavy silence of profound sadness. They were not merely leaving the southern church. The southern church had left them and their ordained convictions for a mess of liberal pottage, as Cain had done much earlier in his life.

A timetable was then worked out followed by the organization of a Steering Committee. The plans were set in motion for a Continuing Church, which in time was named the Presbyterian Church in America.

Words to Live By: Thank God for men and women with a firm conviction of the historic Christian faith. Praise God for Christian leaders who refused to compromise the truth of the gospel for a mixture of theological error. We need men and women like these in every age, for the Christian church to march on and be the appointed means to bring the gospel to every creature. Be a part of your local church if it is holding faithfully to the faith once delivered unto the saints.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Complete Atonement Thou Hast Made - August Toplady

From whence this fear and unbelief?
Hath not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for me?
And will the righteous Judge of men
Condemn me for that debt of sin
Which, Lord, was charged on thee?

Complete atonement thou hast made,
And to the utmost farthing paid
Whate’er thy people owed;
How then can wrath on me take place
If sheltered in thy righteousness,
And sprinkled with thy blood?

If thou hast my discharge procured,
And freely in my room endured
The whole of wrath divine,
Payment God cannot twice demand—
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.

Turn then, my soul, unto thy rest!
The merits of thy great High Priest
Have bought thy liberty;
Trust in his efficacious blood,
Nor fear thy banishment from God,
Since Jesus died for thee.

On the C of E and bishops.

This is my reply to a good friend rejoicing in today's vote for women bishops. Well this description of the mixed multitude that is the C of E confirms why I could never be an Anglican. This is a clear example of the culture shaping the church rather than the proper way round, not being conformed to the world. How long before they have homosexual bishops? Of course as a Presbyterian I do not believe in any sex in an order of government higher than elders. Not my monkey, not my nuts.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Prayers for Nigeria!

Fri, 11 Jul 2014 at 16:5616:56 Thank you so much for praying for Nigeria! I wanted to let you know about the positive news we’ve heard from Nigeria since you took part in the Nigeria Week of Prayer last month: A key figure in the Boko Haram terrorist group has been arrested (the group is responsible for the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls in April); A plot to bomb a school in Gombe State was uncovered; A young boy alerted police to a potential car bombing, averting the threat; A bomb did explode in Kaduna State, but there were no deaths; Recent intelligence breakthroughs may help the police to contain the wave of terrorist attacks. The international press continues to focus primarily on the attacks that take place, and this can obscure the encouraging news that is emerging slowly but surely in the midst of the crisis. Bomb plots have been uncovered and terrorist attacks foiled; but even when an attack has taken place, the police have been able to make arrests. We need to persevere in prayer until the bombing and killing come to an end. Pray especially for southern Borno State, which is predominantly Christian and non-Kanuri – the major tribe in Borno State. As part of Boko Haram’s campaign of religious cleansing, the people of Chibok recently received a message telling them leave their ancestral lands or face annihilation. They have reported this and other threats, but complain that they receive insufficient protection because they are non-Kanuri; Pray that the sponsors of Boko Haram are exposed and rooted out, otherwise all the efforts to ensure stability will be of no use in the end. Please do keep praying – prayer resources are still available online. Thank you for your prayers! Let’s keep asking God for justice and mercy to reign in Nigeria. -ww.csw.org.uk CSW is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) PO Box 99, New Malden, Surrey, KT3 3YF

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Books read in July 2014

. The Carrier by Sophie Hannah An interesting psychological thriller. She draws some complex characters which give us several puzzles. It kept my attention. Most original was what I would call an open ending. Do they live happily ever after? Let the reader decide.

2.Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty This starts as a story about adultery and is not until well into the book that we have crime and court room drama. Gripping story showing the differences between the sexes in the matter of sexual relations. This is a moral tale and a gripping one.

3. Like This, For Ever by Sharon Bolton

A perplexing mystery thriller about a serial killer of young boys. The killer is well concealed from the police and the reader. A good gripping page turner.

4. Wars of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulde
I have not read much in the way of historical fiction but this author encourages me to read more. Here he makes the time of Henry VI come alive as a really good story. This entertaining as well as an educaitonal read. I look forward to the next volume in the Wars of the Roses.

5. The Reluctant Hero by Michael Dobbs A thriller set in a fictitious Central Asian republic in post-soviet times. The hero is a James Bond sort of character, who, like Bond is a man of incredible feats and unrealistic escapes. A bit too far-fetched for me.

6. The Westminster Confession of Faith (Pocket Puritan) This mid 17th century confession of faith is the doctrinal confession of Presbyterian churches. It was the product of the Westminster Assembly, called by Parliament to produce confessional documents for all the church in the British Isles. It remains a masterpiece of reformed theology. You can indeed put it in your pocket and read as you travel. This edition also contains the variants adopted by American Presbyterians who have a different view on church and state.

7. From Heaven He Came and Sought Her by David Gibson & Jonathan Gibson It is over forty years since I read Owen on The Death of Death. It was hard going but my conclusion was that Owen had given us the definitive work on definite atonement, Christ died for God's elect. Now the Gibson brothers have brought the doctrine into the 21st century. This is an easier read than Owen but not it is demanding of the reader. This is deep theology and while it is not essential that the reader has Hebrew, Geek and Latin, knowledge of those tongues is a help. I found this book comprehensive in dealing with different aspects of the doctrine, exegetical, historic, systematic and pastoral. As well as being informative there is heart warming doxological teaching here. I should also note you may need a dictionary at hand. There are words here not in common use in everyday speech. As the book is by a variety of authors there is some measure of repetition in different chapters. But this is a great book to be read slowly. May one look forward to similar volumes on the distinctive doctrrines of Refeormed theology? I hope so.

8. Students of the Word: Engaging with Scripture to Impact Our World by John Stott

This must be one of the last books of the late John Stott as it is based on lectures to Christian students in 2006, five years prior to his death. I have heard form different sources that in his latter years he suffered some loss in his faculties when public speaking. There is none of that in evidence here. It is the Stott we knew, learned, lucid, Biblical, logical, teaching profound truths with simplicity. How to study the Bible and apply it in the world by developing a Christian mind. Important lessons for all Christians. Stott concise as ever. Great book by a great Christian teacher and pastor.

9. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Lesslie Newbiggin

Bishop James Edward Lesslie Newbigin (8 December 1909 – 30 January 1998) was a British theologian, missiologist, missionary and author. Though originally ordained within the Church of Scotland, Newbigin spent much of his career serving as a missionary in India and became affiliated with the Church of South India and the United Reformed Church, becoming one of the Church of South India's first bishops. These lectures were given to theological students in Glasgow in 1988 but have lost none of their relevance.

He tried to communicate the serious need for the church to once again take the Gospel to post-Christian Western culture, which he viewed not as a secular society without gods but as a pagan society with false gods] From Newbigin's perspective, western cultures, particularly modern scientific cultures, have uncritically come to believe in objective knowledge that was unaffected by faith-based axiomatic presuppositions. Newbigin challenges this ideas of neutrality and also the closely related discussion concerning the distinction between facts and values, both of which emerged from the Enlightenment.

He emphasises that it is the corporate task of the church to bear witness to all concerning the gospel. Jesus Christ is the absolute truth and only hope for mankind. There is no dualism between gospel witness and cultural transformation. This book is both intellectualy stimulating and heart warming for a Christian.

I have given only four stars because there are points where I think he is weak. We have a chapter on election but it not an election to personal salvation. It seems that all are elect in Christ. This leads to an agnostic view on the fate of those who do not hear or respond to the gospel. Both these weaknesses show a denial of penal substitutionary atonement. He fails to teach a real distinction between common and particular grace.He writes against what he calls a biblical fundamentalism but misrepresents it when he says that leaves the fundamentalist claiming to be free from error in his interpretation. In fact he seems to rarely if ever quote from scholars with an evangelical view of scripture preferring respectable theologians from academia who he says are operating within the plausibility structures of modern secularism, the very structures he is opposing. I think his thesis would have been helped by reference to the insights of sphere sovereignty as taught by Kuyper.

But my points of criticism do not diminish the force of this book contra pluralism and secularism. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. The mission of the church is to bear witness in and to the transforming power of His Spirit.

10. The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Having enjoyed Gregory' White Queen on TV I chose this sequel. It is a real page turner, a mix of history, supposition fiction and fantasy. The history is the reign of Henry VII and his queen Elizabeth of York. This was the marriage that was to unite the houses of Lancaster and York and put an end to civil war. But here the king is portrayed as under constant threat from Yorkist pretenders, real or imaginary. The most important pretender claims to be Richard of York, son of Edward IV so the rightful king. His real identity is the question throughout the book. The fantasy is a curse pronounced by the queen and her mother, a curse on whoever killed the princes in the Tower. He, his son and grandson are to die and his line end in a virgin queen. Indeed the history of the Tudors. The story is told from the perspective of the queen. I look forward to the next in the series. My only criticism is that the family tree of royal England is not extended to encompass all in the book who are related or married into the royal houses.

July 10: Rev. Robert Blair

A Sweet Majestic Man Showed me the Majesty of God by davidtmyers Our title was a description of the preaching of the Rev. Robert Blair at St. Andrews in Scotland by an English merchant who heard him on the Lord's Day one time. It spoke volumes about our post's figure on this day. But it doesn't do him full justice, as he ministered also effectively in Northern Ireland. Robert Blair was born in 1593 to John and Beatrix Blair, the youngest child of six children. His father, a man of prayer, would die of tuberculosis when he was but five. He was able in God's providence to go to the University of Glasgow in 1608. Becoming a school teacher in the same city, he has the oversight of 150 pupils. In 1616, after becoming acquainted with the principles of the university, he began to teach on the college level in Philosophy and Greek. It was during this time that he was encouraged to preach the Word and prepare of his life calling. A change of administrators at the school to Episcopalian brought an end to his association with that university. After considering a number of possibilities, an invitation to Ulster was made and accepted. His arrival in Bangor, Ulster, or Northern Ireland, brought him to the same issue from which he left Scotland. The official church in Ulster was the Church of Ireland and Episcopalian in government and practice. Blair was a convinced Presbyterian. So the present Anglican bishops, with the encouragement of Archbishop Ussher, proposed and carried out his ordination by the laying on of hands of Presbyterian ministers in the land. That took place on July 10, 1623. Blair's first pastorate was large, with over 1200 members. He began to proclaim the Word of God four times a week with home visitation for the purpose of helping his educational backward people understand the Scriptures. It was said of him that he was the greatest instruments for preaching the gospel in the North of Ireland! Certainly, he was an outstanding Reformed minister just as that time who shaped the Scot-Irish in the land in Presbyterianism. About eight years later, his ministry was brought to a sharp end with the bishops of the Irish Anglican church seeking to gain control. From that time in 1631 to 1638, he was to be suspended from the gospel ministry by the Anglican authorities, then reinstated, then suspended again by the bishops. Finally he, and three other Presbyterian ministers sought to flee to America with a hundred lay people. Tragically, that trip was not successful and they were forced to return to Ireland. Finally, he went back to Scotland, where he preached for 23 years as a pastor to the church of St. Andrews. It was there that the merchant of our title spoke of him. At last, he answered his Lord's call, laying down his labors and entering upon his eternal rest in 1666. He died at Aberdour on 27 August 1666, and was buried in the parish churchyard. Words to Live By: The circumstances may be different, but today's under shepherds of Christ's flock have many trying times in their calling. This is why this author, who was a pastor for thirty-five years himself in Canada and the United States, frequently speaks of the importance of lay people to pray for their pastors. Scripture is clear. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13 states, "But we request of you . . . that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give your instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another." (NASB)

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

SUDAN – Christians killed in aerial bombings

At least ten Christians are reported to have died in repeated aerial bombardments of civilian targets in southern Sudan. During the past two months, the Sudanese air force has reportedly launched repeated attacks on villages in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, forcing thousands of civilians to take refuge in caves. Muslims too have been killed in previous attacks but one of the reasons behind the bombings is to kill or drive out Christians and non-Arabs. Four children, a nursing mother and an elderly woman were among the dead in attacks on villages in Um Dorain County. At least five church buildings belonging to the Sudanese Church of Christ have reportedly been bombed, as well as the area's only hospital. The area, which borders South Sudan, is home to the black ethnic Nuba people, who have long suffered discrimination from Khartoum. Many Nuba are Christian; they constitute the largest community of Christians in Sudan. Under the terms of the 2005 peace accord that ended Sudan's civil war, the people of South Kordofan were to vote on whether to join Sudan or South Sudan, but the state governor suspended the process. (Sources: Morning Star News, Persecution Project Foundation) For a country profile about Sudan, click here Please pray that God's peace and presence will be with villagers in South Kordofan. Pray they will hold on to His promise that 'He shields all who take refuge in Him' (Psalm 18:30). Pray that the bombing will stop and that the people of South Kordofan will be allowed to determine their own future and to vote on whether or not to join South Sudan. Release International, PO Box 54, Orpington, BR5 9RT, UK

Monday, July 07, 2014

July 7: When Reformation Preaching Prevailed in Edinburgh

by davidtmyers Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah—Psalm 37:4, KJV It wasn't the case that John Knox had not been a pastor before this date. After all, he has served as a pastor in a couple of congregations in his Anglican days. Further, during his time of exile, he had been a undershepherd in Germany and Geneva. But now, having returned to his beloved Scotland, John Knox was called to St. Giles, the mother church of Presbyterianism, the High Kirk of Edinburgh on this day, July 7, 1559. He was to serve the people of God there, except for a brief stint in St. Andrews, Scotland, for the next twelve years, until his death in 1572. St. Giles was a historic church in many ways. It went back to the Middle Ages. In more recent times, the National Covenant was signed there in 1638. There is a framed copy of it in one of the rooms. Even the Solemn League and Covenant was drawn up in 1643 when the General Assembly met there at the church. Oh yes, this was also the church in which one Jenny Geddes threw her stool at an Anglican leader when he tried to lead the worship from the new Anglican Prayer Book, which action in turn led to a riot. Supposedly, there is a stool present within the church there to remember that celebrated incident. Then in 1904, a statue of John Knox himself was presented by Scots people from all over the world for the church. Knox was a busy pastor during these years at St. Giles. He preached twice on Sunday. Another day of the week had him preaching three times. He met with the Session of Elders weekly for discipline purposes. Still others of the congregation met with him for what is described as "exercises in the Scriptures." The regional and national meetings of the church were not neglected by the Reformer. And of course, he was invited to preach the Word all over the kingdom during those years. In fact, so busy was he that the Town Council in 1562 brought in another pastor by the name of John Craig to assist Knox in the ministrations of the ministry. As far as books were concerned, in 1652, the First Book of Discipline was written there by Pastor Knox. Five years later, his Reformation in Scotland was completed while a pastor there. And most of all, his celebrated conversation with Mary, Queen of Scots, all took place during these twelve years. He wanted to lead her to Jesus as Lord and Savior. She wanted to get rid of him out of the kingdom! He was to take one sabbatical for his own safety to St. Andrews for a while. Someone tried to kill him as he sat in his study at his table. The bullet missed him. So he went to this other pulpit for a time. After several months, the Session re-called him as their pastor. He went back, but with little strength for the work of the pastor. John Knox went to be with the Lord in 1572, the details of which this author will write on that date in Presbyterian History. Words to Live By: It has been said that John Knox was the Scotsman to whom the whole world owes a debt. Certainly, we Christian Presbyterians need to celebrate what the Holy Spirit did through him in Scotland and our land, considering that 2014 is the 500th anniversary of his birth. Is your church planning any sort of celebration of his life and ministry? It is not too late to plan one for your people's appreciation of this Reformer, not to elevate the man, but to praise the Lord who so powerfully worked through him.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

July 5: The Third Indulgence (1687)

by davidtmyers Today we will borrow a few paragraph from Men of the Covenant by Alexander Smellie in order to relate the story of the Third Indulgence of King James II of England. Indulgences 1 and 2 were on February 12 and March 31 of 1687. This Third Indulgence took place in London on June 28th, 1687 and then reissued on this day July 5, 1687. Smellie writes: "King James touched nothing which he did not mismanage and spoil. His policy was a curious mixture of tyranny and toleration. A Romanist himself, he was resolved to grant new liberties to his Catholic subjects. But he dared not single them out alone for the enjoyment of favour; the country, he realized, was too fervently Protestant to permit such a preference. Of necessity he embraced other excluded folk in the largesse he distributed. In Scotland, the year 1687 saw no less that three Indulgences issued under the royal seal. These suspended 'all penal and sanguinary laws made against any for nonconformity to the religion established by law,' and gave sanction to His Majesty's 'loving subjects to meet and serve God after their own way and manner, be it in private homes, chapels, or places purposely hired or built for that use.' Only against the Coventicler did the lightnings continue to flash forth; the Acts which Parliament had decreed for the suppression of the gatherings in the open fields were left in full force; for impenitent Cameronians it seem that there could be no whisper of mercy and no outgate into freedom. Yet here were large measures of relief which might carry in them the promise of a hopefuller era. If the followers of Renwick denounced them, there were Presbyterian ministers, in prison or banishment or hiding, who welcomed James's Indulgences, and returned to their homes under the shelter of their provisos. But even they, profiting although they did by the altered current of affairs, had no confidence in the man who brought it about." (p. 411) W. M. Hetherington, author of the History of the Church of Scotland to the Period of the Disruption in 1843, picks up the account of this Third Indulgence. He writes on pg. 286 - 287: "Few were deceived by these hypocritical pretences (of the king). All true Protestants . . . perceived clearly enough, that direct favor of the Papists was intended; and it was not unfairly surmised that, by the universal toleration, the king hoped to throw the various denominations of Protestants into such a state of rivalry and collision, that they would weaken each other, and prepare for the establishment of Popery upon their ruins. There is little reason to doubt that such as his majesty's aim and expectation; but both the immediate and the ultimate consequences were very different from what he intended and hoped. . . . In Scotland, almost all the Presbyterian ministers in the kingdom availed themselves of the opportunity which it gave them of resuming public worship, and collecting again the scattered congregations. Many, both ministers and people, returned to their long-lost homes, and engaged with renewed fervor in the reconstruction of the Presbyterian Church by the revival of its unforgotten forms of government and discipline, the reunion of its scattered but still living members, and the resuscitation of its imperishable principles." Words to Live By: Let us always remember that "the king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever His wishes." (Proverbs 21:1 NAS). Whether we live and move and have our being in a kingdom or a republic, the truth remains the same. Let us beseech our sovereign Lord to move in the hearts of those who govern our times to recognize that "righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." (Proverbs 14:34 NASB.)

Friday, July 04, 2014

Latest news from a friend in Nigeria

22.6 Gwoza BH killed 2 soldiers. 23.6 Kano School Of Hygeine 5 students and 3 civillians killed. 23.6 Kaduna Fulani militants. 19killed Fadan Karshi,13 in 2 other villages.25.6 10 villages attacked at the same time. Folks running for their lives.87 killed 25.6 Bomb blast in Wuse 2 Abuja. About 100 killed. Bomb intended for view centre at time of Football Match (Nigeria) but security was very good so they let the bomb off at a shopping centre Over 20 cars burnt. 25.6 Bomb blast Mubi but no casualities. Some injured. Lagos 3 killed in blast. 26.6 Suicide bomber suspect arrested in Jos University. 26.6 Kwamda, Madagali LGA 3 killed by B/H and women threatened on their farms. There are still many folk on the Ngoshe Glavda hills. Those who fled to Maiduguri are suffering. The Gov sent money for food etc but it never reached the churches and went to other people instead.An organisation arrived with food and some families who had not eaten for 3 days got food but how long will a few measures of grain last 27.6 Bomb blast in Maiduguri killed 8 soldiers at a check point. 30.6. Dalwa has been completely gutted. Kwamda Adamawa State 3 killed and everone fled and houses were burnt. 2 villages near Chibok were attacked and nearly 100 were killed.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

A remarkable Ulster Presbyterian.

July 2: Rev. William Martin (1757) by davidtmyers Five Shiploads of Settlers to South Carolina Not that long ago in Ulster or North Ireland. some 250 Christians gathered at a crossroads in County Antrim, known as the Vow, to remember the ordination of the Rev. William Martin. That ordination took place on this day, July 2, 1757. He was the first Covenanter minister ordained in Ulster. He had a wide place of ministry, essentially covering two counties. In fact, in seven separate towns, he pastored various societies. In addition to his pastoral role, he became the voice of opposition to the Anglican authorities who sought to place huge rent demands on the Presbyterian tenants, often evicting them from the land for failure to pay those demands. Sometime during the year 1770, Rev. Martin received a call from the Scot-Irish settlers in South Carolina to come and pastor the church at Rocky Creek. After prayerful consideration, Rev. Martin decided to go. But being a true shepherd of the flock, he urged a mass movement of his congregations in Ulster to join him in South Carolina. Think of the administration gifts needs to move shiploads of settlers to South Carolina that year of 1772. But that is exactly what occurred. Five ships—the James and Mary, the Free Mason, the Lord Dunluce, the Hopewell, and the Pennsylvania Farmer—carried over 1200 Scot Irish from Ulster to South Carolina. And while some went to other areas of the South, most settled in the region around Rocky Creek. As astonishing as this move was, consider the fact that this large number of settlers were composed of several factions of Presbyterians from the old country. There were Associate Presbyterians, Covenanters, Burgher Presbyterians, Anti-burgher Presbyterians, and Seceders. All of them came together in the local congregation known as Catholic Presbyterian Church. An interesting fact which shows up in the record is that the families lived in tents on their property until the church building was erected! The Lord came first. When the Revolutionary War began in 1775, Rev. Martin preached a fiery sermon reminding the congregation that there was a time to pray and a time to fight. Two companies were raised out of the congregation, and over fifty fought and died from the congregation. Rev Martin himself was imprisoned for six months by the British. All was not right however with Rev. Martin himself. After returning to the parish for three years, he was let go by the congregation for "intemperate" remarks. Finally in 1801, six charges were brought against him. Two of these were habitual drinking and the holding of slaves. He was deposed by the Presbytery in 1801. He died five years later in 1806. Words to Live By: We cannot take away the amazing work which Rev. Martin did in transporting so many Christian Presbyterians to the new land of opportunity. Certainly, he remains as one of the stalwarts in establishing Presbyterianism in the South. But at the same time, we who are involved in the Lord's work must pray and work to remain in good standing with the Lord. It is so easy to fail and fall away from the standards of His Word. So people, pray much for your pastors that they will remain solid in the Lord until their labors are finished on the earth.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Daily Prayer

Terrorists Coming to Christ in Northern Nigeria

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 'No Small Work': Refugees and Terrorists Coming to Christ in Northern Nigeria Contact: Amie Cotton, APR (256) 426-4543 Christian Aid Mission amie@christianaid.org CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (ANS) -- "I think we would have been overwhelmed in the mission field long ago if you were not here for us." Northern Nigeria is experiencing a rash of attacks by insurgents who systematically destroy villages, marketplaces, and schools. Local gospel workers are ministering to refugees and to the militants who are becoming soldiers for Christ. (Image credit: Navanti) That nod of thanks was expressed to Christian Aid Mission this past week by the director of a Nigerian ministry who has fought long and hard in the trenches of spiritual warfare. He has experienced his share of both victories and defeats. His life has been threatened. The ministry's headquarters was forced to relocate because of insurgents that are terrorizing the countryside. Challenges abound, but he never gives up the work God has entrusted to him. Families displaced by violent attacks on their villages are pouring into crowded displacement camps or crossing the border into adjoining countries. Using funds provided by Christian Aid Mission donors, the ministry is delivering supplies to some of the refugees. However, travel to the camps is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous. The ministry leader sent the following report to Christian Aid Mission June 13 detailing the hardships-and the harvest-experienced by Nigerian missionaries: "For the past two m onths, the world and particularly believers have stood with Nigeria and with our Northeast region where we live. The insurgents have destroyed virtually everything within their reach. Women and men alike are being captured and taken into the forest, where it seems the military has been unable to rescue anyone thus far. The increasing number of men, women, and children in the refugee camps is mounting to millions in three countries. We believe we must do our best to help them, even at risk to our own safety. We ask God's people to send materials and resources to enable us to salvage the lives and souls of people trapped in this ugly circumstance. "The killing continues, and this week alone at least six villages were invaded and burned down by insurgents. This has happened without any challenge from the military, and these men are committing their evil deeds daily. More families are streaming into the refugee camp where we bring aid. Unfortunately for two weeks now, we have not been able to visit again due to intense fi ghting in the region. The military would not gua rantee our safety on the more than 80-mile journey to the first camp. The road itself is littered with military road blocks. The insurgents have attacked some of these stations and killed the military personnel. "We are playing it safe for now. We have been able to repatriate some people, including children and ex-insurgents who left the rebel group and repented of their crimes. We have been training and feeding them at two of our stations-the School of Missions and our convert care center. Thank you for your support. To handle these crises is no small work." He went on to say that they have to do the following as part of their added ministry activities: 1. Take responsibility to work in a refugee camp with over 300,000 people. We help provide food, medicine, and other services to some of the refugees, although not without difficulties 2. Strengthen those who accept Christ so as to empower them spiritually and physically 3. Resettle families to enabl e them to continue their lives after attacks on t heir villages 4. Help traumatized people who witnessed the killings 5. Provide education for their children Serious challenges The ministry leader added, "The rainy season is beginning in the Northeast, and this is the time farmers plant their crops. There will be an impending crisis, even if the insurgent attacks decline. Many of these farmers are in refugee camps, and they have decided not to return to their farms for fear of an attack by the rebels. In some cases, those who went to their farms to begin planting did not come back alive. The situation is serious, as it means that next year there will be massive famine in the land if care is not taken now. We are thinking of helping some of them by renting land in a safer location where they can raise crops while they wait to return to their villages. "In addition, two weeks ago we rescued some of our staff in two eastern states due to the killings. None of them was affected but they had to evacuate. Now the hostilities have diminished, and we are already thinking of moving our missionary brothers back to the area. They will go, but their wives and children will remain behind. We will travel there to assess the situation and then begin the move. Our missionaries need care and support. They have been traumatized in some cases. The Lord has helped our brethren recover from this pain of running and escaping from dangers, sometimes leaving their hundreds of converts behind. This is terrible for a missionary." "The Treasure" Audio Bibles Audio Bibles bring the gospel to remote Nigerian villages. He also noted, "We were able to give out 45 of 'The Treasure' audio Bibles to Muslims who were ready to hear. Some of them assured us we shall hear from them when we come back. Pray for one new convert who accepted Christ after listening to the Gospel of John. This is a great tool for reaching Muslims." Testimony of a convert He then said, "It is impossible to think Banga* could be saved. He was the one who championed the attacks on two villages. He cries now when he remembers killing innocent people. I am personally working with him to help him overcome the trauma. He stays with one of our mission friends who takes care of him." Urgent needs * A bus or truck to carry our mission support materials to the needy. A used bus costs about $17,000. * Send refugee children to school. Some have been orphaned or their parents were seriously injured when insurgents attacked th eir villages. This is also a wonderful opportuni ty to introduce youngsters to Christ. * Help support a missionary and his family by providing funds for food, clothing, and other basic needs. *name changed for security reasons For more information, visit www.christianaid.org/News/2014/mir20140618.aspx?SC=MIR Learn more about indigenous missions around with world by signing up for Christian Aid Mission's weekly e-newsletter, Missions Insider, here (christianaid.us7.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=ad362c05e7e320f66e6a44d00&id=f17b618e6b ). About Christian Aid Mission Christian Aid Mission is an evangelical missionary organization that seeks to establish a witness for Jesus Christ in every tribe and nation by assisting effective indigenous or native ministries through prayer, advocacy, and financial support. Our focus is on reaching the unreached for Christ in areas in the world where there are few Christians, where Christians suffer because of poverty or persecution, or foreign missionaries are not allowed. We currently assist more than 500 ministries overseas that have tens of thousands of indigenous or native missionaries in the field. These ministries are engaging more than 1,000 unreached people groups in more than 100 countries around the world. For more information, please visit www.christianaid.org, as well as: Facebook: www.facebook.com/CAM53 ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA Visit our web site at: www.assistnews.net -- E-mail: assistnews@aol.com

Sunday, June 22, 2014

On this day, June 22, 1680

June 22: The Sanquhar Declaration by david t myers Do you own the Sanquhar Declaration? That question would be asked again and again by the authorities in the land of Scotland in the latter part of the seventeenth century against Presbyterians in the kingdom. If it was answered in the affirmative, then your very life was in danger, either at that very time or later. The name of the declaration was in reference to a small town in the southwest part of Scotland. It was the very center of persecution. Fugitives from the east or west naturally passed through it for passage to safer areas. On one of its streets was a village cross to which people would affix various messages to the outside world. It was on this day, June 22, 1680, that a band of horsemen who were heavily armed with swords and pistols rode into the town early in the morning. Led by a Presbyterian minister by the name of Richard Cameron, the group stopped, sand a psalm, prayed, and then publicly read the following declaration. It is found at the bottom of this post. There was no doubt as to what it maintained, namely, a declaration of war against the present king in London, England. Consider its chief sentence: "Therefore, although we be for government and governors, such as the Word of God and our covenant allows; yet we, for ourselves, and all that will adhere to us as the representative of the true Presbyterian Kirk and covenanted nation of Scotland, considering the great hazard of lying under such a sin any longer, do, by these presents, disown Charles Stuart, that has been reigning, or rather tyrannizing, as we may say, on the throne of Britain these years begone, as having any right, title to, or interest in the said crown of Scotland for government." And further, "As also we being under the standard of our Lord Jesus Christ, Captain of salvation, and his cause and covenants, do declare war with such a tyrant and usurper, and all the men of his practices, as enemies to our Lord Jesus Christ, and his cause and covenants . . . ." There was no doubt as to the intention of this declaration. The sword was to be taken up from its sheath and used to bring about the Presbyterian cause once and for all. There was equally no doubt as to what it proclaimed from the Crown. They, in a Proclamation on June 30, 1680 that Richard Cameron and his followers were Rebels and Traitors. Large rewards were offered for them dead or alive. Words to Live By: Alexander Smellie in his book "Men of the Covenant" says regarding this declaration, "What had they done? They had cast off the authority of their monarch. But they had not done it in mischievous anarchy and blatant revolt. They made their adjuration a religious act. They prefaced and followed the oath of insurrection by the worship of God. Moreover, they had disavowed King Charles in the interest of King Jesus. They disobeyed the unworthy ruler, that they might obey the Ruler who is incomparable...We may not approve every phrase in their Declaration...It contends for the essentials, for a free Parliament and an unshackled Church...Its principles triumphed in 1688 (the arrival of William and Mary." The text of The Sanquhar Declaration:— “The Declaration and Testimony of the True Presbyterian, Anti-prelatic, Anti-erastian, persecuted party in Scotland,” published at Sanquhar, 22 June 1680. It is not amongst the smallest of the Lord’s mercies to this poor land, that there have been always some who have given their testimony against every cause of defection that many are guilty of; which is a token for good, that he doth not, as yet, intend to cast us off altogether, but that he will leave a remnant in whom lie will be glorious, if they. through his grace, keep themselves clean still, and walk in his way and method as it has been walked in, and owned by him in our predecessors of truly worthy memory; in their carrying on of our noble work of reformation, in the several steps thereof, from Popery, Prelacy, and likewise Erastian supremacy—so much usurped by him who, it is true, so far as we know, is descended from the race of our kings; yet he hath so far debased from what he ought to have been, by his perjury and usurpation in Church matters, and tyranny in matters civil, as is known by the whole land, that we have just reason to account it one of the Lord’s great controversies against us, that we have not disowned him, and the men of his practices, whether inferior magistrates or any other, as enemies to our Lord and his crown, and the true Protestant and Presbyterian interest in this land—our Lord’s espoused bride and Church. Therefore, although we be for government and governors, such as the Word of God and our covenant allows; yet we, for ourselves, and all that will adhere to us as the representative of the true Presbyterian Kirk and covenanted nation of Scotland, considering the great hazard of lying under such a sin any longer, do, by these presents, disown Charles Stuart, that has been reigning, or rather tyrannizing, as we may say, on the throne of Britain these years bygone, as having any right, title to, or interest in, the said crown of Scotland for government, as forfeited, several years since, by his perjury and breach of covenant both to God and his Kirk, and usurpation of his crown and royal prerogative therein, and many other breaches in matters eccelesiastic and by his tyranny and breach of the very reges regnandi in matters civil. For which reason we declare, that several years since he should have been denuded of being king, ruler, or magistrate, or of having any power to act or to be obeyed as such. As also we’ being under the standard of our Lord Jesus Christ, Captain of Salvation, do declare a war with such a tyrant and usurper, and all the men of his practices, as enemies to our Lord Jesus Christ, and his cause and covenants; and against all such as have strengthened him, sided with, or anywise acknowledged him in his tyranny, civil or ecclesiastic; yea, against all such as shall strengthen, side with, or anywise acknowledge any other in like usurpation and tyranny-far more against such as would betray or deliver up our free reformed mother Kirkunto the bondage of Antichrist, the Pope of Rome. And, by this, we homologate that testimony given at Rutherglen, the 29th of May 1679, and all the faithful testimonies of those who have gone before, as also of those who have suffered of late, and we do disclaim that Declaration published at Hamilton, June 1679, chiefly because it takes in the king’s interest, which we are several years since loosed from, because of the aforesaid reasons, and others which may, after this, if the Lord will, be published. As also, we disown and by this resent the reception of the Duke of York, that professed Papist, as repugnant to our principles and vows to the Most High God, and as that which is the great, though not alone, just reproach of our Kirk and nation. We also, by this, protest against his succeeding to the crown, and whatever has been done, or any are essaying to do in this land, given to the Lord, in prejudice to our work of reformation. And to conclude, we hope. after this, none will blame us for, or offend at, our rewarding those that are against as they have done to us, as the Lord gives opportunity. This is not to exclude any that have declined, if they be willing to give satisfaction according to the degree of their offence.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Books read in June 2014

1. Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God: How to give love, create beauty and find peace by Frank Schaeffer Like a former heavy smoker who becomes strident against tobacco, Frank rails against the beliefs of his parents. But first I should thank him for his generosity in allowing a free Kindle download for a couple of days and for what reads as a heart on the shoulder account of his presents beliefs. However I believe he is wrong to describe his parents as fundamentalist, a really pejorative term. His father preferred the name, Bible believing Christian. I also take exception the Frank slandering such believers as Bible worshipping Christians. Frank treats Scripture like someone in a pick and mix sweet store. He choses the bits that suit his now liberal and post-modernist perspective. He ask what is truth and concludes it does not consist of objective presuppositions. He is big on love and beauty and there is beauty n the way he depicts his family love. But why does he need to use four letter words in his narrative? I see he has rejected more than his father's doctrine of Scripture. He has left antithesis for what Francis would call an upper story experience of religion and in so doing he confirms his father's assertion that the non-believer cannot consistently follow his own chosen path of rejection of the truth. But on some things I am with Frank. He stridently rejects the atheists who claim certainty, also the non-representational in modern art and the atonality of modern music. 2 Revenge by Martina Cole ( This is I think the third of her books read recently. All are about the life of East End Gangsters. This one is particularly brutal, do much so that I cannot see it being shown in a visual medium without drastic editing. As usual the language is much riper and authentic than East Enders. The are interesting issues raised about family life and conscience. A good read but not for the squeamish. 3. Backlash by Lynda La Plant I think the author is the best crime thriller writer alive today. This a great page turner and seems most authentic. I seem to recall parts of this on TV but my memory was very sporadic and did not affect the pleasure of reading. I think it is well told and the characters well draw. I have seen lots of La Plante on TV. Now I want to read more. 4.An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris I am not surprised that this work was awarded a prize for the best historical novel of the year. It is a riveting read retelling the story of the greatest ever injustice and conspiracy in France. As with best of tales you would think it an unbelievable tale if you did not know its historical basis. It has left me with to thins to do. Read more about Dreyfus and read more from Harris. 5. The Kill Room by Jeffery Deaver A gripping crime thriller set in the Caribbean and New York. Held my attention. Some good twists but I found the drone technology a little far fetched. Ruthless killing but some human touches even post traumatic stress. 6. Dust by Patricia Cornwell My second thriller read in the Scarpetta series. A gripping who dunnit thriller with plenty of twists and turns. There is a lot of forensic detail as befits a former pathology worker but I fund some of the technology from the neiece of the heroine to be more science fiction than fiction.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Books read in May 2014

1. Little Stories of Life and Death @NHSwhistleblowr by David Drew David Drew was a respected consultant paediatrician for over 37 years. His care for and commitment to his patients comes across in this well crafted autobiography. It was this care for his patients that landed in trouble with his employers when he complained about lack of child protection, bullying of staff, a ward dangerously cold in winter and other matters. When he complained about a senior nurse he was the one suspended and referred to a psychiatrist. After he was reinstated there followed a travesty of a supposedly independent review of his case. He was not allowed to have witnesses cross-examined so he was not told who had complained about him expressing his Christian faith, Offered over £250,000 to resign with a good reference and a gagging order he bravely refused. The BMA, his professional body were of little help in contesting his dismissal so he had to fund his own case at employment tribunals. I will not spoil the story by disclosing the end of the tale. Throughout the book Dr Drew enjoys the full support of his wife Janet and their four adult children. It is quite a romantic tale of married love amid a very difficult struggle. All power to this good doctor as he now seeks to help other whistleblowers. By the way, we learn here that NHS employers do not recognise whistleblowers. They are mere trouble makers. 2. To the Hebrides: Samuel Johnson's Journey to the Western Islands and James Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebdides edited by Ronald Black It seems remarkable that Johnson and Boswell should pioneer touring the Highlands less than thirty years after the suppresion of the Jacobite rebellion. It was informative how the two men's different accounts of the same experiences were placed side by side. The Highlands had been pacified and disarmed, transformed foom a land of internecine feuds into a peaceful and hospitable country. The native tongue was Gaellic, here called Erse. English only schooling would lead to its decline. The country was poor and already many of the poor were emigrating to a better life across the Atlantic away from greedy lanlords. This was before the Clearances. Johnson's prejudices against the Scots, Whigs and Presbyterianism are all too evident though he does concede that the Presbyterian clergy were more diligent in pastoral care than their Anglican counterparts. All in all this is a great glimpse at life in Scotland over 200 years ago. 3.The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism (History of Evangelicalism) by Brian Stanley This is church history in contemporary, post World War II times. While titled about a global diffusion it in fact concentrates on the West especially North America and the UK. So I found the section on Nigeria to be a very partial account and that concerning Korea notable by its absence. I do not think the author has done justice to his title but he is very informative on the trends in evangelicalism in the West.