Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November 26: John Knox is Buried (1572)

by archivist
Parking Space Number 23
You might wonder what in the world is a post about a parking space doing in This Day in Presbyterian History?  Well, if this author tells you that it is the final resting place of Scot Reformer John Knox, as seen in the photo of this post, you will understand.  And yet we don't really understand or comprehend it.  All right, every church needs a parking lot. Every church needs space for its worshiper's automobiles. But to pave over a portion of the church graveyard without moving the graves there, especially the grave of a former pastor of the church and Reformation leaders, namely John Knox, that is really crass, in this author's opinion. But that is exactly what happened sometime in the 1970's of the last century.
His funeral had taken place on this day, November 26, 1572, two days after  he died. Read the words of Thomas M'Cree from the "Life of John Knox" (p. 277):
"On Wednesday, the 26th of November, he (knox) was interred in the church-yard of St. Giles.  His funeral was attended by the newly-elected regent, Morton, by all the nobility who were in the city, and a great concourse of people."
  1. M. Hetherington in his History of the Church of Scotland on pg 77 continues the story of his burial when he wrote:
"When his (Knox) was lowered into the grave, and gazing thoughtfully into the open sepulcher, the regent emphatically pronounced his eulogium in these words, 'There lies he who never feared the face of man.'"
Regent Morton knew himself the truthfulness of these final words as John Knox had reproved him to his face, with Hetherington calling the regent later on in his history "that bold bad man." (p. 77)
It is interesting to this author that, despite searching, he has not found anything of the burial service itself other than these brief remarks around the grave. We in these United States usually have a funeral message, with Scripture being read, and other remarks of comfort and promises  regarding the bodily resurrection of the Christian being buried.
What we do know is that in St. Giles Cathedral parking lot is a parking space with number 23 painted on it, with a blank yellow stone at  its head. Below that yellow stone that can be found written  in a circle of colored bricks the following message, "The above stone marks the approximate site of the burial in St. Giles graveyard of John Knox the great Scottish divine who died on 24 November 1572."
Words to Live By:
There are several monuments to John Knox in Edinburgh, one inside St. Giles Cathedral itself. Another one is standing in Geneva, Switzerland. In one sense, all of Scotland is a memorial to this great Reformer. whether they acknowledge it or not. We who are the spiritual Presbyterian heritage of John Knox, have the hope and confidence that one day Parking Space number 23 will be emptied of its remains and John Knox will be reunited with his spirit already up in heaven. Come, Lord Jesus.
Please Note: We are informed earlier today that The Banner of Truth Trust has pending the republication of The Works of John Knox, a six-volume hardback set, published with typical Banner quality. To learn more about this reprint, click here.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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November 25: Parliament Orders Printing of Shorter Catechism (1647)

by davidtmyers
“The ripest fruit of the Assembly’s thought and experience.”
It was on this day, November 25th, a Thursday in 1647, that the British House of Commons ordered the printing of the Shorter Catechism, composed by the Westminster Assembly.
WSC_order_to_printThe Westminster Assembly of Divines had first met on July 1, 1643, having been summoned by the two Houses of the British Parliament to advise as to a further and more perfect reformation in the liturgy, discipline, and government of the Church of England. They immediately set about working on a revision of the Thirty-nine Articles. When the Commissioners sent by the Church of Scotland arrived to be seated as part of the Assembly, the work then began to take on a wider scope. The Assembly was now required to prepare creeds and directories, not for the Church of England alone, but for the Churches of Christ in the three kingdoms, so as to bring all of them into the nearest possible uniformity in doctrine and practice.
The documents which are today the authoritative secondary standards of so many Presbyterian Churches throughout the world (and not just English-speaking churches), were prepared by an Assembly of English Divines, men who were episcopally ordained clergymen of the Church of England. That Church was as yet undivided at that time. The members of the Assembly represented the different views of doctrine and order that were entertained within it. Many of the prelatic party who were nominated by Parliament declined to attend the Assembly, but others of them took the required oath, and assisted in the deliberations of the Assembly, at least for a time. The Independents [or Congregationalists, by another term] were represented by seven men who came to be known as the “dissenting brethren” in the Assembly.
The great majority of the members of this Assembly held Presbyterian views of Church polity, and were the successors of the Puritans, who formed a considerable body in the Church of England from the time of the Reformation. They had all along been working for a more primitive organization of the Church, and a freedom from the practices and priestly robes borrowed from the corrupt Roman Church. In the days of Elizabeth they had instituted a voluntary Presbyterian organization of the Church, and they had often suffered in her days, and during the reigns of James and Charles, for refusing to carry out the practices or wear the robes enjoined by the prelates [or high-Church Anglicans].
To this Assembly were added three ministers of the Reformed Church of France, and four learned divines of the Church of Scotland, who were seated as non-voting members, but whose voice carried great weight in the deliberations of the Assembly.
WSC_coverThe committee first charged with the work of preparing a Catechism never managed to complete its work. Some time later, the Assembly directed that both larger and a briefer catechisms should be produced, both works keeping an eye to the content of the Confession of Faith. Work then proceeded, first on the Larger Catechism, and only as that work was nearing completion did the Assembly turn its attention again to a Shorter Catechism. A new committee was named and by most accounts, the successful completion of the work is due to the efforts of just four men, and in particular the work of Antony Tuckney, Minister of St. Michael’s, London, and Master of Emanuel College, Cambridge.
Completing their work, the committee presented its report to the Assembly. After some revision of the Catechism, the addition of the Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed were considered. A vocal minority opposed the addition of the Apostles’ Creed, and to settle the matter, the Assembly determined that an explanation of the words “he descended into hell” would be added as a marginal notation. That postscript is typically not found in the American editions.
The work now finished, a message was prepared by a committee to be addressed to the Houses of Parliament when the Catechism was carried up. On Thursday, 25th of November, 1647, the House of Commons was informed that divers divines of the Assembly were at the door. They were called in, and the Prolocutor [moderator of the Assembly] delivered the Catechism and addressed the House. On the following day (November 26th) the Catechism was carried to the Lords. Each House thanked the Assembly for its care and pains in this matter. It was ordered that 600 copies be printed under the care of Mr. Byfield, for the use of the Members of Parliament and of Assembly, and that Scripture proofs be affixed in the margin of the Catechism.
Words to Live By:
One characteristic of the Shorter Catechism has not been sufficiently recognized in the past. It is a statement of personal religion. It appeals to the individual sinner, and helps the individual believer.
One anecdote serves to illustrate:
The Rev. Thomas Doolittle, a famous catechist, took great delight in catechizing and urged ministers to that work, as an effective way of establishing young people in the truth, and preparing them to read and hear sermons with advantage. Accordingly, every Lord’s day, he catechized the youth and adults of his congregation, and this part of his work bore great fruit. Once, when he had come to the question “What is effectual calling,” after some explanation, Rev. Doolittle proposed that the question should be answered by changing the words us and ourto me and my. The congregation, hearing this suggestion, a long and solemn silence followed. Many felt the weight of the idea, but none had the courage to answer. At length, one young man stood up, and with every mark of a broken and contrite heart, was able to say, “Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing me of my sin and misery, enlightening my mind to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to me in the Gospel.”
The scene was truly affecting. The proposal of the question had commanded unusual solemnity. The rising up of the young man had created high expectations; and, the answer being accompanied with proofs of sincere piety and modesty, the congregation was bathed in tears. This young man had been converted by being catechized, and, to his honor, Rev. Doolittle says, “Of an ignorant and wicked youth, he had become a knowing and serious believer to God’s glory and my much comfort.”
There was an old expression, particularly among the Scottish Presbyterians, who would say, “I own the Confession.” By that, they meant that they had made its doctrine their own; they had taken the content to heart, and saw that indeed it was an accurate reflection of the teaching of Scripture. So too the Catechism, though briefer.
Reader, do you own the Catechism? Have you made it your own? Clearly it is not Scripture; no such claim is made, and that is why we speak of it as part of thesecondary standards of the Church. But it is worthwhile reading, and a great help in understanding what the Bible teaches.
[The bulk of the above was based on and freely edited from an historical account written by William Carruthers [1830-1922], which is found bound with a facsimile reproduction of an original printing of the Shorter Catechism. A digital edition of that work is available here.
davidtmyers | November 25, 2014 at


Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24: Death of John Knox (1572)

by davidtmyers
On November 24, 1572, Scottish clergyman and reformer John Knox died in Edinburgh.
God's Firebrand Finally Extinguished
knoxJohnThe nickname for John Knox, as used in our title above, was bestowed on him by no less a fellow Reformer than John Calvin. It correctly characterized his life and ministry from the time he strapped on a literal sword to defend the life and ministry of George Wishart to the times of the Scottish Reformation to the very day he went home to receive his eternal rewards. That time came on November 24, 1572 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Oppressed with the infirmities of old age, Knox recognized that in God's providence his time had come to depart this old earth. Sensing that, he prevailed upon the elders of that church to call as the new pastor the Rev. James Lawson as his successor. Lawson was at that time the professor of philosophy in the college of Aberdeen. Not satisfied with a "mere" letter from the Session, Knox followed up their letter with one of his own, urging Lawson to receive the call and come quickly, stressing that if he delayed too long in answering, he might find Knox dead! When Dr. Lawson arrived, he promptly preached two sermons to the congregation. On November 9, the call was placed in his hands. As the successor to John Knox answered in the affirmative, Knox then preached his last sermon to the congregation, exhorting them to stand fast in the faith, and with that, his farewell was given to the congregation.
On the 17th of  November, the Session of St. Giles was called to his bedside. The parting words of the Reformer are too important to be absent here, so here they are:
"The time is approaching, for which I have long thirsted, wherein I shall be relieved and be free from all cares, and be with my Savior forever; and now, God is my witness, whom I have served with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that I have taught  nothing but the true and solid doctrines of the gospel, and that end which I purposed in all my doctrine, was to instruct the ignorant, to confirm the weak, to comfort the consciences of those that were humbled under the sense of their sins, and to denounce the threatening of God's Word against such as were rebellious. I am not ignorant, that, in my heart, I never hated the persons of those against whom I thundered God's judgments; I did only hate their sins, and labored, according to my power, to gain them to Christ; that I did forbear none of whatsoever condition, I did it out of fear to my God, who placed me in this function of the ministry, and I know will bring me to an account." After some words to the new pastor, he commended the whole Session to the grace of God.
From that day until the day of his death, there was read daily to him by his wife a chapter from the Epistle to the Ephesians, the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, 1 Corinthians chapter 15, and John 17, from where, he said to his wife, he had first cast his anchor.  Sermons from John Calvin in French were read to him by his assistant, John Bannatyne.
A difficult life of ministry brought to a close, John Knox departed this world in peace and honor.
Words to Live By:
How a person dies is noteworthy to the overall testimony of his life. Once, when a religious lady of his acquaintance entered his sick room, she began to commend him for the work of the Protestant Reformation. He protested her words, saying that he "wholly relied on the free mercy of God, manifesting to mankind through his dear Son, Jesus Christ, whom alone [he] embrace[d] for wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." That should be every reader's hope and assurance. Is it yours, reader?


Monday, November 17, 2014

Nigeria update

The vigilantes and hunters that claimed back Chibok have been strengthened by the Mobile Police and army to hold on to Chibok. Let’s pray for success in repeating that in Mubi, Gwoza and other north eastern towns of Borno and Adamawa.  Holding on to these gains will be really difficult in present circumstances.  Several hundred thousands of displaced people need to be able to return to their towns and villages even though many homes have been destroyed.

Nov 12 a female suicide bomber blew herself up in the Federal College of Education, Kontagoro.  She was the only casualty. 
Nov 14 many displaced people in Cameroon were forced out of their camps so returned to Yola but many are homeless.
Nov 12 and 14 Fulani militants attacked Oga village in Wamba LGA & Fadaman Bauna of Nasarawa State.  With little of no support from army or police people are forced to take the law into their own hands to defend themselves.
Nov 14 a bomb blast rocked Kano at the NNPC Petrol Station along the Maiduguri road during rush hour.  There are no details of casualties.
Nov 15 and Sunday 16 Fulani and other muslim jihadists attacked Alakio in Nasarawa State, killing non- muslims.
Nov 16 another female suicide bomber blew herself up at Azare, Bauchi State, killing around 25 people and injuring 60 others.  A similar bomber killed many on the 7th in Azare.
Nov 17 a Special Task Force soldier shot and killed an Operation Rainbow security man in Barakin Ladi in Plateau which sparked a protest from a crowd of women blocking the main highway for many hours.  No explanation for the shooting was given.
Also Nov 17 a gunman attacked Liawa primary and secondary school in Minna town of Niger State.

The BBC have carried the report that the Emir of Kano at Friday prayers encouraged people to defend themselves against the jihadist, virtually encouraging the population to arm themselves - which is understandable but terrifying.

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Films watched in November 2014

1. War Horse

Beautifully filmed. Utterly unrealistic and totally sentimental.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

November 15: Rev. John Witherspoon

by archivist
The Preacher and Politician Meets His Savior
These days, we don’t meet many preachers or politicians who have accomplished as much in the realms of both church and state as the Rev. John Witherspoon did in his seventy-one years of life—and those accomplishments spanned two nations, as well! And that is the reason why we have dealt with this man and his ministry on five separate dates, this one included. (From earlier year's here on TDPH, see also February 5May 17,August 7, and October 20).  He had a well-deserved reputation as one who was faithful to his Savior, to the saints of God, and to the average citizens of this great republic. He would go to be with his Lord and King on November 15, 1794.
Born in Scotland and raised to an effective ministry for the kingdom of God there in that “mother country,” Witherspoon answered the call to come to the American colonies. John and Elizabeth Witherspoon, along with their five children, traveled here by ship in 1768. Taking the presidency of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), he brought stability to that educational facility in their instruction, library, and financial matters. In the twenty-six years in which he was president, preaching in the nearby Princeton Presbyterian Church known as Nassau Presbyterian, which he founded, and teaching six courses of college level instruction, he taught a president of the United States (James Madison), a Vice-president, nine cabinet members, twenty-one senators, thirty-nine congressmen, three justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, twelve state governors, five members of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and fifty-two delegates out of one hundred and eighty-eight teaching and ruling elders of the first General Assembly in 1789 of the Presbyterian Church in America. Talk about a vital presence in both the church and the state!
We have all heard of John Witherspoon being the only clergyman who signed the Declaration of Independence, present on that occasion as one of four delegates from the State of New Jersey. But how many of us are aware of the fact that he was to serve on one hundred of the committees working to set up the new nation? He helped draft the Acts of Confederation and supported the adoption of the United States Constitution.
Despite the importance of this civil side of John Witherspoon, he never forgot that first and foremost, he was a herald of the gospel. Consider his words in a sermon he preached in 1758:
“I shall now conclude my discourse by preaching this Savior to all who hear me, and entreating you to believe in Jesus Christ, for there is no salvation in any other. If you are not reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, if you are not clothed with the spotless robe of His righteousness, you must forever perish.”
Witherspoon understood that, as his precious Savior put it in the gospels, you could possess the whole world but lose your own soul outside of Jesus Christ. There was and is no profit in that sad situation.
John Witherspoon would become blind two years before his death at seventy-one years of age. He is buried in the Princeton Cemetery with an inscription on his tombstone of 239 words, all in Latin!
Words to live by:  It is rare to find someone in history who accomplished so much for church and state.  Usually, when we find someone who has been known for his work in government, it is at the impoverishment of his Christian testimony. But in John Witherspoon’s faith and life, he simply believed strongly that his faith should impact every area of life, including that of the national affairs of his new country.  This culture mandate is no different from what is demanded of all believers today.  We must enter into every sphere of life with the changeless message of the gospel, seeking to influence those spheres in which God has placed us for His glory and the good of the people found there.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nigeria update

Two bombings in the last few days, both by suicide bombers.  The first was last Friday at Azare in Bauchi State (that’s where the Jos/Maiduguri and Kano/Maiduguri main roads meet).  It was State pay day so many people were queing to use the ATM to draw cash when, it’s thought a girl detonated the bomb killing many people.  Then yesterday 10th a suicide bomber joined the students as they paraded at the beginning of the day at  a Compresensive Secondary school Potiskum in Yobe State.  The bomber was dressed in school uniform (according to the BBC) and detonated a bomb he held in a bag.  BBC said 50 were killed, many quite young, and many were seriously injured.

On Sunday it is reported that a group of farmers from several villages in Nasarawa Eggon LGA of Nasarawa State were ambushed by Fulani and other mercenaries killing 32.  Their motor cycles were then stolen.

Mubi city is a ghost town occupied by BH jihadists.  An eye witness said many bodies are still in the road, many wearing army uniform.

Today 11th it is reported that Rim in Riyom LGA in Pleateau was under attack. Injured were already on their way to Vom Hospital.

Someone alerted us to two articles in the New York Times on the BH and the Potiskum bombings and the Vigilantes that have sprung up in Maiduguri especially.  You can see these at  These do make chilling reading but give a picture of life in these parts of Nigeria familiar to many of us.

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Latest from Nigeria

The situation in Mubi, the second town of Adamawa State has been over run my Boko Haram, as have most of the villages in that whole area of north Adamawa.  Lassa where the population is 95% Christian and the large Lassa hospital, formerly C’ian Brethren Mission CBM was targeted.  We haven’t heard the current situation, but we understand all the people have fled.  Cars have been stopped and the occupants either forced into Islam or killed with the women getting 40 lashes.  The brutality is horrendous.  BH have now declared their Caliphate extends to near Yola, and even threaten the capital city.
On the 31st Oct Fulani and some mercenaries attacked areas in Bokkos Plateau State destroying a number of villages.  Reports say over 100 have been killed with even towns destroyed and thousands displaced.  Further attacks were reported in Nasarawa State, burning houses of all non-Muslims.

Also on the 31st a bomb went off in Gombe lorry/bus park when 8 were killed and others injured and taken to Gombe Gen Hospital.
BH have said they have no intention of keeping a cease fire and that the 200 Chibok girls will not be released and in fact have all been married off (no surprise there) .
On 3rd Nov another bomb went off in Potiskum, Yobe State with 10 confirmed dead.

News came through of around 2000 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon, all from the Gwoza area, have been forced to run by the local Cameroonians.  Many have no food and no-where to go.

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Sunday, November 02, 2014

Books read in November 2014

1. The Rage Against God by Peter Hitchens

Peter Hitchins writes well with logic and grace. His logic is turned to the folly of those who seek after utopia, his grace extended towards his atheist brother who has been a life long antagonist. Hitchins starts with autobiography, his journey from compulsory chapel at public school to avowed atheism, Trotskyite politics, success in journalism then a gradual coming to faith motivated by retiring to ponder the fear of God. He examines reasons for loss of Christian faith in Britain and the horrible effects of atheism in the USSR. I would differ from his placing the two world wars as the major cause of decline of Christianity in Britain. For me the cause and blame are at the door of those who, while professing Christianity, lost faith in the veracity of Scripture and the reality of the supernatural. He then addresses three failed arguments of atheism. First conflicts fought in the name of religion are not about religion. Religion has not been the cause of recent conflicts. They  are about power and control. Is it possible to determine what is right and wrong without God?
Are atheist states actually atheist or are their leaders self-proclaimed false gods? Finally he looks at militant atheism He describes the folly of Leftists in the west who admired the pre-war Soviet regime. He tells of the Soviets systematic campaign against Christianity. He shows how today's new atheists, like the old USSR, would prohibit parents teaching the faith to their children. Finally he concludes by telling us why he will no longer engage in pub;ic debate with his brother. The book was published before his brother's death. This is an excellent critique of atheism old and new, of all utopianism, secularism and socialism. It is a book which can encourage believers despite Hitchen's pessimism concerning the prospect of a godless future.

2.The Cameron Delusion by Peter Hitchens 

A revised edition of his earlier book, The Broken Compass, this was published in early 2009 with Brown as Premier and before the full effects of the banking crisis were known. The first part on how Britain is governed tells how the major parties are now so alike fighting for the centre ground with a consensus on many issues. It is most informative on how politics is reported, the cosy alliance between journalists and politicians, well fed at expensive restaurants. He shows how previous fans of Blair would be happy to see Brown go for Cameron would mean little change, an astute prescience. The next part details how the left in the West failed to properly critique the evil Soviet empire, witness the TUC's failure to back Solidarity. He then examines how racialism, an irrational evil creed, became racism, a convenient slur on anyone defending our monocultural heritage. He criticises feminism for when liberating women from the kitchen it has enslaved them to the workplace. Happy with the original decriminalisation of homosexual acts he critiques subsequent campaigning for homosexual equality, e.g. civil partnerships. This was written before Cameron redefined marriage. He shows how those wanting equality turn into being intolerant of dissent labelling others as homophobic. Sometimes one may be surprised by the position he takes, like his criticism of Thatchers sale of Council houses. He is scathing on egalitarian comprehensive education, the loss of grammar schools, the best ladder of social mobility. He shows that in recent years the value of exam grades has been devalued as most of us have suspected. His chapter lamenting the loss of railways and the effect of road building is a thought provoking surprise. He ends with critiquing the support for Blairs war on Iraq which came from both right and left. This is a pessimistic volume. I looked to see if he has published more of late, but only The Rage Against God.

3. Roy of the Rovers: The Official Autobiography of Roy of the Rovers by Roy Race

Roy I had heard of but not read before. A football loving friend loaned this to me and it was a fun read if more in the realm of fantasy than football. How else could someone lead a side overseas only to be repeatedly kidnapped with the price a freedom, a football game against their captors. Similarly some incredibly huge crowds, endless last minute goals and generally goals galore. The book does accurately chronicle developments in the game e.g. going from no substitutes through one for injury and up to the present bench.  Apart from kidnappings, two murder attempts and a terrorist bomb it is all good clean fun. Particularly clean is the personal sexual morality of the hero. One might think he is for his era an unusual footballer morally, no drink, drugs or cigarettes. A book that is clean and funny, suitable for adults and children and all who love the fantasy that is football.

4. The Brentford Triangle (Brentford Trilogy) by Robert Rankin

I read this out of local interest. I do not usually read fantasy but this is as much comedy as fantasy with Brentford in danger of attack from aliens. It has the cast first met in The Antipope. I do not know if the genre is growing on me but I enjoyed this more than the earlier novel. However I am still resistant to the genre so am not likely to read more in the series. But if this is your cup of tea, a very good cup it is.

5. At the Cutting Edge: A Lifetime of Politics, Industry and Faith by Sir Fred Catherwood 

Published in 1996, I wish there was an updated edition as the work stops before New Labour and I would like to fead Sir Fred's views on more recent developments and his retirement activities. This is a fascinating account of a strong Christian faith motivating a man at the top in industry, domestic and European politics. He is a passionate European and most critical of many aspects of the Thatcher government when he was a Conservative MEP. Before that he was seconded from industrial senior management to be a senior government advisor under Labour. I found his disclosure that before the UK entered the then Common Market, senior politicians, in private were saying that entry was about more than economics. Sir Fred's case for the EU is definitely economic. I found his criticism of the British parliamentary system refreshing and his desire for a written constitution a surprise. His analysis of the moral decline of our society is spot on and the trends he highlights have only continued since 1996. The family is the backbone of this story. He moved from the pietism of his Brethren upbringing to really apply his faith in all of life. I do wonder if he thought his late father in law, Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was more in the pietist tradition? One very regrettable development after this was published was Roy Clements leaving the pastorate of the church where the Catherwoods were members. I enjoyed this book and it leaves me wondering  what if some of the economic policies he advocated had been followed.

6. Seeing Through Cynicism by Dick Keyes 

The first thing of note about this fine book is the witty title. The cynic claims to see past the outer veneer, the pretence and through his suspicion unmask the reality. He is the critic par excellence. Here this critic gets his come uppance on the basis of the astute argument from Dick Keyes' Christian faith. The author sees through the cynic to man the glorious ruin, a phrase from Francis Schaeffer to whom the author owes a lot, especially in his critique of postmodernism. We cannot know exhaustively but we can know truly. Modern cynical thought is thoroughly exposed in its multiple manifestations. I was particularly taken with the refutation of evolutionary psychology. There are many profound insights, some notably from Scripture passages. His treatment of providence in the light of Job is superb as are his insights into marriage. I found the idea that the best wine coming last at the marriage at Cana being a picture of how marriage itself develops to be a beautiful picture. Well written, erudite and well argued. First class and suitable for a non-christian friend.

7. The Muslim World A Presbyterian Mandate by Greg Livingstone

This fine book is by a veteran missionary to Muslims, a man with over 50 years of service with The Evangelical Presbyterian Church who published the book in USA.  My copy came from the author who lives in England so I am sure you can contact him if you seek a copy. My only criticism of this book is that it is not more widely available for though it is primarily written to further awaken the author's own denomination to Muslim evangelism and church planting, its message is not only suitable for those of the Reformed tradition but a message that all Evangelicals need to hear. This is a resounding call to plant gospel churches among Muslim communities. The question is posed as to why there are so few churches of former Muslims. The obstacles are delineated. The history is related of Presbyterian and Reformed missions to the Muslim world. The calling is given with practical instructions as to what is needed to form and send church planting teams. This is no call for hit and run evangelism but for real church planting.

8. The Invisible Arab by Marwan Bishara 

Marwan Bishara says of himself "Growing up in Nazareth, an Arab in a Jewish state, a secular Christian in a traditional Muslim society," He writes as a senior political analyst and presenter for Al Jazeera. The book was written in late 2011 so is sadly already dated. Events have moved on in Egypt, Syria and Iraq so his optimistic view of the promise of Arab revolution seems dated. Bur this remains a most informative volume from an Arab perspective. The recent history of the Middle East is delineated from colonialism to repressive dictatorships and monarchies, supported in their corruption by Western powers and businesses. Then came 'the miracle generation', youth informed by the internet and satellite TV, who were able to unite and bring down regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. I found the most informative chapter to be on Islamism and democracy where the prospects for democracy, secularism and Islam are discussed. I do have some quibbles. on p23 he writes, 'the Islamic world accounts for some of the world's economically successful and democratic nations,'. Rule out the oil and where is economic success? His book describes some democratic initiatives which are no longer exactly flourishing.  p.34 - Tunisia. Gender equality was established in the mid-1950s, long before other Arab and European women enjoyed the same rights and privileges' I do wonder how UK women lagged behind Tunisians! p71 'violence prior to September 11, 2011.' A mistake for 2001. As one might expect the author is highly critical of the West in general, the US and Israel in particular. He is therefore an answer to Burns' prayer, 'O wad some Power the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us!'  But he is similarly critical of Arab states and rulers.

9.  Upon this Rock - A history of Welwyn Evangelical Church to 1928 by Raymond Belton

Having been married at Welwyn where my wife was a church member I read this with interest and it is a fascinating account of a non-conformist church in a rural Hertfordshire village from the late 18th century. The church has maintained a consistent Calvinistic witness down the years. This book was published in 1928 and reprinted in 2014. I am left wondering why it was not updated for one is left with unanswered questions. When did the church move to its present building? When and why the change of name ? When and why the move to baprtstic practice.?

10. And So to Bed...: A Biblical View of Sleep by Adrian Reynolds 

One may think this is a strange subject for a Christian author but he teaches us that sleep is part of our created humanity, a good gift to be treasured and enjoyed and an earthly picture of a spiritual reality. He concludes with answers to a good night's sleep. I am impressed by the author's holistic approach. He describes how physical and mental factors may affect sleep as well as spiritual ones. Here is sound teaching and advice given in a pleasing way, not without humour. The one omission I think is there is no treatment of soul sleep. Asleep in Jesus is quoted from Victorian tombstones but what of the idea that the dead in Christ are asleep, not sentient until the resurrection? This is I believe an error that the author should have addressed.

11. The Long Haul (Diary of a Wimpy Kid book 9) by Jeff Kinney

I was asked to buy the Wimpy Kid series of books for a 10 year old granddaughter so thought I would have a look at her choice of reading. The author is a very popular American but the bok has been 'translated' into British English - except for the odd word, check for cheque. The setting though is 100% an American holiday journey. I found it an engrossing tale, inventive and with laugh out loud humour. My only criticism, Me and Rodrick. Rodrick and I please.

12.  C.S. Lewis: His Life & Thought by Terry Glaspey 

First the author gives us a brief life of Lewis. It lacks the detail or depth of McGrath's later work but it is a concise biography. Then we have thirty brief chapters on Lewis's thought followed by a concluding section on the influence of Lewis. The thought of Lewis is lucidly explained but I wonder if the author has sanitised Lewis in areas where others have thought him somewhat heterodox e.g. his doctrine of Scripture. Finally I was puzzled by Glaspey calling the Guardian a conservative paper. American ignorance? Then there were two references to Lewis drinking dark English beer. Does he mean bitter or stout? Lastly he uses the word homely several times and I could not work out if this was the American sense of plain or the English one of warm and welcoming.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mubi taken by Boko Haram

Report came midday (29/10/14) of an attack by BH on Mubi in Adamawa State.  It started last night with BH attacking the security at Mubi Junction in Mubi North LGA and Uba LGA.  Later it was reported that the military made a tactical withdrawal back into Mubi but BH were too strong for them.  By this afternoon BH had broken into the prisons in Mubi, bombed the military barracks and taken up residence in the Emir's Palace.  Military aircraft were expected from Yola.  Then at 9pm it was reported that BH have over run 3 LGA areas, those of Uba, Mubi North and Mubi South.  Many are reported as being killed while thousands have fled into Cameroon or to Yola the State capital (about 200km).  It was reported that many soldiers with heavy equipment also fled during the raid.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More killings by Boko Haram

On 25 Oct BH sent messages to Christians in hidehouts in the Gwoza Hills that they will massacre all non Muslims in the hideouts.  Many tried to escape into Cameroon in the night of 26 but were stopped.  Some were able to escape and get back to their hideouts.  Yesterday the news came through that the BH have burnt the area and killed many people in the Hills.
Today  news came through that three people, an elderly man, a boy and a woman were abducted, presumably by BH in the town of Beto in Adamawa (where girls were abducted from recently but then they escaped).  Most people from that area have fled into Gombe town.  

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Films seen in October 2014

1. Four Lions

The most unusual subject possible for a comedy but it does work. It has many hilarious moments. While The Life of Brian showed no real respect for the Christian message I did not see this as in any way disrespectful of Islam, it merely poked fun at four very stupid Muslims. I am still left wondering if this is not too serious a subject for parody. The language is over ripe with expletives.

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News from friends in Jos, Nigeria

First of all the threats in Jos have died down so thanks for praying. Over 80 folks from Niger were caught and since then more have been caught. Our SS do a good job so we praise God for this.
Gwoza area, about 500 miles from Jos is in a bad way. Most of the area from just outside Maiduguri to Mubi about 200 miles away have been taken over by BH. Gwoza is about half way between Maiduguri  and Mubi. Most of the Christians have fled from these areas. The worst place is the thousands still left on the Ngoshe Glavda hills.  These people fled from the plains when their houses were looted and then burnt and thousands built shacks on the hills or lived in the caves. Now, these last 2 weeks  BH are climbing the hills, taking all the food they can get, burning their shacks and killing folks. Some are trying to escape but all roads have been blocked , although we hear a few hundred have reached Cameroon. The journey from Cameroon is complicated and needs money. The recent family of 8 to be in our house took about 2 weeks from Ngoshe Glavda to Jos. and spent a lot of money. But lots that flee have nothing. Folks are trying to help and 2 people in Federal Gov. are seeing what they can do but it is not easy. Continue to pray.
We have been able to get a big building so we wait to see if people come. It is not easy as we could never afford to transport people in great numbers. What would they do in the future if in Jos.? Pray for wisdom.
The 23 families that came to us one or two at a time are nicely settled in Jos and villages around where they can get farm land and now we are trying to pay school fees, medical care and setting some up with petty trading so hopefully by next year they will be independent of us.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

October 24: John G. Paton

by davidtmyers
Courage in the Cause of Mission
The young seminary graduate traveled with his bride to a two year foreign mission stint in Alberta, Canada. Settling in the apartment underneath the church sanctuary, the newly ordained minister on Reformation day in 1966 began his first pastorate to the small Canadian mission church. Sometime during the first few months, he discovered in a used book store the two volume set of John G Paton, missionary to the New Hebrides. That stirring mission account became the Lord's Day reading for the  young couple all during their stay and ministry in the capital city of the province.
Yet the author of this post in Presbyterian history did not have to worry about his physical safety, or that of his bride during our time there. Being eaten by cannibals was never on our minds and hearts. But to the Rev. John G. Paton and his wife, this was a constant danger in a society utterly depraved in word and deed. Indeed the lives of some earlier missionaries to those islands did end in that terrible way, while attempting to minister the Word of Grace to these same inhabitants. Yet still these Presbyterian missionaries in the mid-eighteen hundreds went courageously to these islands with a firm belief in the sovereignty of God and a loving desire to see the natives converted to Christ.
Paton believed in the power of the gospel. Yes, there were difficulties. His first wife and child both perished in childbirth. He was subject to threats of life and limb on a day by day basis. More than once, he had to flee for his life to a tree limb or to a ship which came providentially off the coast. But with the provision of a second wife, he was blessed with a quiver full of children. In God's timing, he was also blessed with a quiver full of spiritual children, as the entire island of Aniwa inhabitants came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And it was on this day October 24, 1869, that he was able to offer the Sacrament of Communion, in the Presbyterian manner, as he was apt at saying in his ministrations on that island.
He would go to be with the Lord on January 28, 1907, with his wife proceeding him by two years. Both are buried in Australia.
Words to Live By:
There is a notable quotation which was given to a Scotsman who, upon hearing of John Paton's desire to minister in the islands of the South Pacific, said to him, "Cannibals! You will be eaten by cannibals." Paton replied to the old saint, "You are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer." May you and I, dear Reader, have a similar desire to go and minister for the Savior, come what may, knowing . . . knowing that our lives are sure and firm in the Savior's plan for our lives.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

More about recent attacks in Nigeria

A  bomb blast 22 Oct in Azare,  Borno St in the lorry park killing 5 people.
Men in uniform (thought to be Fulani) attacked two villages near Wukari in Taraba State on Sunday morning 19th while people were in church.  4 were killed in one village and 27 in another (Sondi)  Among the dead was the CRCN pastor and his only son.
On the night of 21st/22nd Fulani terrorists attacked a village near Lafiya leaving one 20 dead, 40 houses set on fire and hundreds displaced.

It's all very distressing but we can only keep praying for those suffering and praying for an end to the terrible trouble.  Let's pray too for the terrorists who ever they are that God would have mercy on them and bring them to repentance - pray for Damascus Road encounters.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

NIGERIA – Weekend attacks cast doubt on Boko Haram 'truce'

Scores of Christians were reportedly killed and several churches burned down in raids on two villages in Adamawa state yesterday.
Release partners said militants were believed to have raided Pelachiroma and Chung villages in the Gombi local government area.
There were also reports that Boko Haram extremists killed several Christians in an attack on Gava 111 village in the Gwoza local government area of Borno state on Saturday.
These reports appear to undermine the Nigerian military's announcement on Friday that it had agreed a truce and signed a ceasefire with Boko Haram.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Recent events related by friends in Nigeria

The fighting and terrorism still carries on in the N.E as well as parts of Plateau State, and other areas too.  It is so sad to hear of hundreds of lives being lost, and so much property being destroyed.  All the villages and towns between Maiduguri and Limankara (over 100 miles) have been attacked, including Gwoza, and the Christians and moderate Muslims have now fled to other areas. Many went to Adamawa State, which neighbours Borno, but Boko Haram followed them there, and they had to move again. 
In the past, Boko Haram, operated hit and run tactics – they would terrorise an area, the people would flee, but then they would leave.  This has all changed now.  Following the establishment of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram have done the same in large parts of Borno State.  In Gwoza they have raised their flag, set up a government, and taken control.  They are extending from here, and have taken control of Bama (50 miles away) and are surrounding Maiduguri, a further 50 miles away.
In the past few months in the Ngoshe Glavda area over 400 were killed, many buildings burnt, and there are over 50,000 refugees.  We will never know the exact numbers, but this gives us some idea of what is happening.
The Christians initially, could only flee to the hills as the other ways out were blocked.  Some did manage to get to the Cameroon and are now in a UNICEF Camp – we hear there are about 5,000 here.  They are being fed and it is a lot safer for them but unfortunately they was a Cholera outbreak that killed up to 200 people. Others moved to farmland near Abuja (Nigeria’s capital). There are 2 camps, one with 45 families, and the other with 46. The churches and individuals have been very kind, supplying food and cash.
There are still about 5-10,000 living in caves or amongst the rocks on the Gwoza hills.  They struggle to get food, although they were able to get some animals, and we were able to send grain to them.  Sadly Boko Haram have climbed up to them, and they have had to leave the animals and food, and gone even higher into the hills.

Earlier some did manage to escape, and there are 2000 families in Maiduguri, and others to towns in the next State.  The Christians are struggling to feed them – thanks to gifts from the UK we have been able to help with this.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

No cease fire in Nigeria

On saturday 17th around mid-day 6 civilians on the Biu/ Garkida road of Borno State were held, hands bound and then all slaughtered. It was the same spot where the late Emir of Gwoza was killed several months ago.  The terrorists prevented relatives from removing the bodies.  One young man, the son of one of those killed, was shot and is in hospital in Biu.

On Sunday 18 the BH attacked and killed people at Abadam near Lake Chad and are now in full control of the village.  Later on Sunday it was reported that BH were attacking a village in Gwoza LGA and many villagers were slaughtered.

Today, Monday 19 news came in of an ongoing attack on villages in the Garkida area.  Several churches have been burnt and scores of Christians killed.  (This is an area where the majority of people are indigenous Christians, mainly of the EYN/CBM Church).

Nigerians are now demanding the total eradication of the BH, not a cease fire, as the only way out.  (with what appears to be support from key people in Government and society in Northern Nig. this is unlikely to happen.  We can only continue to pray and hope).

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Recent news from Nigeria

You will have heard on BBC or other sources that the Nigerian govt have reached a cease fire agreement with the BH and that plans are underway to release the 200 + girls from Chibok.  We can only hope and pray that this becomes reality.  Naturally people are very sceptical.

People are wondering how this can be a cease fire and not a total surrender.  Only then can the 9 million displaced people return to their homes in the north.  Much more is needed to end the violence, including that caused by Fulani terrorism and city bombings.  He adds that many law abiding Nigerians, victims of Islamic violence are bleeding over the denial of justice shown by the negotiations going on.  Whose are the faces representing this evil and deadly group that appear to be above the law and how can people overlook such violence and live with such people in the future?

On Wednesday 15th there was panic at Jos Teaching Hospital when gunmen in trying to force their way in, shot and killed the security guard when he discovered arms in the boot of their car.  The gunmen all escaped.  Security has been on red alert in Jos following a wake of violence and the arrest of foreign terrorists.

News also came in that BH abducted a 10 yr old girl and a 7 year old from Beto and 7 other girls from Krio near Mubi in Adamawa State.  All were taken to a hideout in the hills.  As the terrorists went to carry out a second attack one of the girls, a 14 yr old, took courage and led all of the girls to freedom. 

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Nigeria 8 to 11 October 2014

Oct 8 The Special Task Force arrested 80 people in Rikkos area of Jos.  They were suspected to be mercenaries from Niger and confessed that they were hired to do violence in the State.  That was some welcome good news.
Two days before that gunmen gunned down 2 policemen on guard at the gate of the University of Jo Permanent site in Plateau.
On the 7 STF reported that Boko Haram fired a rocket from Banki town on the border with Cameroon.  the rocket hit the town of Amchide inside Cameroon killing 8 people.  That could be a very serious development.
Oct 10 six people were way-layed between villages in Riyom LGA  (that's less than 40 miles from Jos) Plateau St and all killed.  these same villages were attacked only a week ago when 17 were killed.
11th BH attacked refugees in the settlement near Kirawa in Borno when 17 were killed but one report said many were massacred .

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Thursday, October 09, 2014

October 9: Death of David Brainerd

by davidtmyers
brainerd02We have more than once made reference to the diary of David Brainerd in this historical devotional guide. Often times these entries filled a date in which no other Presbyterian person, place, or event could readily be found, so this writer was thankful for that. But it also set forth the true example of an individual who by his own statement wanted to wear out his life in God’s service and for His glory. How scarce are they found today in Christ’s church!
Talk about a Christian who, by all reports, was skinny and sickly. No modern missionary agency, whether for overseas or in our own country, would even approve of one like this for missionary service. So the very fact that he was a missionary in the first place to native Americans had to be of God. There simply was no other reason for it. God was in the whole plan as well as the details of the plan.
From the time of his ordination until his death was but about three years. As the inscription on his tombstone reads, “Sacred to the memory of the Rev. David Brainerd, a faithful and laborious missionary to the Stockbridge, Delaware, and Susquehanna Tribes of Indians.” And yet his influence upon them doesn’t really tell the whole story. His diary has caused countless in every century since that time to open themselves up to the call of God upon their lives. His life and ministry have stood the test of time, and a stream of workers for the kingdom of God have been sent forth to the nations of the world with the gospel of Christ, at least in part because of his example.
His closing days were precious in more than one way. After discovering that he had tuberculosis, he spent his months in the home of America’s greatest philosopher, Dr. Jonathan Edwards, in Northampton, Connecticut. While there, Dr. Edwards youngest daughter, Jerusha, a mere teenager, took care for him in an atmosphere of spiritual love. Whether they were engaged has never been proved, but there was a loveliness in that relationship which brought words like “we will spend a happy eternity together,” on the day he died, which was October 9, 1747. That eternity came sooner than later, as Jerusha contracted the same dread disease, and died a year later. They are buried side by side in the cemetery in Northampton.
Words to live by: If you have never, dear reader, read the Diary of David Brainerd, it remains available in either book form or on  the web in digital format. Open your heart to the words of this young man who died at age 29. Not only will it convict you of your need for more holiness, but it will give you a sense of urgency to take the gospel to unsaved loved ones, to friends, and to strangers, as David Brainerd did in his day. And who knows? Maybe it will send you to far off shores as a missionary, as it has so many since that time now long ago in colonial America.