Books Read In July

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I am reading a lot of Catholic Theology / Material at the moment. This was the first I picked up. An interesting and basic defense of catholic theology and practice from the scriptures. This gives you a good basics in catholic belief.

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This is Tom Rachman’s first novel. And it’s quite a debut! Set around the lives of those who work for an International Newspaper based in Rome, Italy, every other chapter tackles the life of one of the main characters. The other chapters tell the story of how the newspaper begin back in the 60’s. Rachman’s characters are complex and largely very well written. Each character faces challenges, issues, problems in their personal and professional life – issues and problems which are not resolved. The writing is good and fun. Towards the end of the book I was a little jaded. You had just got into a character when the chapter ends and a new one begins. The final chapter does draw the pieces together somewhat with a ‘what happened to them..’ outline. Overall this was a great vacation read.

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A great book – read my  review HERE

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Semi biographical / examination of the contemplative pilgrimage. The book revolves around a sabbatical she and her husband took which involved a pilgrimage through Spain on the Camino, walking 20 miles a day. Read larger review HERE

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Meyers book is filled with valuable advice for ministers to find the brakes of their train and regain perspective, perspective about God and the real things of ministry. Recommended.

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This is also an important book. The study of Christian Spirituality in Church History in one volume is a great resource. Tracing the various forms and practices of spiritual life in the major epochs of the Christian Church is eye opening

Water From A Deep Well: Christian Spirituality From Early Martyrs To Modern Missionaries by Gerald L. Sittser

Quite simply this was a surprisingly wonderful book to read. Gerald Sittser makes history come alive with his engaging style and  flowing style. They say that you must understand something profoundly in order to explain it simply. This is true for Sittser. His scholarship is impressive but his scholarship does not make this book hard to read.

This is also an important book. The study of Christian Spirituality in Church History in one volume is a great resource. Tracing the various forms and practices of spiritual life in the major epochs of the Christian Church is eye opening – not just in how spirituality develops but in both the differences AND the similarites.  Sittser is broad and fair in his study covering a large  spectrum of traditions and theologies. Sittser does not focus on the differences, or the problems – he acknowledges that there are many problems between the various denominations. Instead he has focused on the positives  and that is a good thing. The subject matter of this book is important and now, with this volume, it is available in the form of an excellent book. I have a shelf of books which I try and read each year. This book is going on that self. It will also be in the top 3 books i will recommend for Church History reading. Highly recommended.

Whole Life Transformation: Becoming The Change Your Church Needs by Keith Meyer

At the beginning of chapter 5, Keith Meyer writes As a young minister I found ministry to be an exciting ride. The pace of ministry is really fast, and before I knew it I had forgotten how to stop. (Actually, I had never learned to stop in the first place.) As a minister this one sentence was literally like a sharp blow. Why? Because I realized that in the process of training young ministers, we almost never teach them how to stop. And that is wrong. This book teaches ministers how to stop – not just in order to rest, but in order to be transformed, transformed in order to do ministry differently.

The need for ministers to stop the increasing speeding train of ‘the demands of ministry’ is being acknowledged. The problem is most ministers on this train cannot find the brakes. And usually, it’s only when the train crashes that things change and that is often painful. Keith Meyers train does not crash but it came close. He realized that his ministry was effecting his family in a negative way. He recalls the day this changed for him. Sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons with his young son, he is asked the question, Dad are you home yet? I think most ministers have had this feeling, this revelation – that they have fallen in love with Church, not just Christ.

Meyers book is filled with valuable advice for ministers to find the brakes of their train and regain perspective, perspective about God and the real things of ministry. Recommended.

Even More Books For Sale

Again, the books below are $5.00 each unless otherwise indicated – all very good condition – like new!

More Books For Sale

All the books below are $5.00 unless otherwise indicated. All are in very good condition and have been read only once – no markings in the book.

Book Sale

Over the coming months I am going to post some books which are for sale. I confess that I am posting for the benefit of those in South Carolina – I do not intend posting books, because of the cost. However if you are in South Carolina Diocese and want to collect some books then let me know. Also, come by the office and browse!!

Here are the first batch for sale:

Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy, ca. 1520 to ca. 1725 (4 vols.) – Peter Muller – read once, no markings, like new – $70

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Reformed Dogmatics – 4 vols – Herman Bavnick – Like new $70

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Systematic Theology – 4 vols – Norman Geisler – like new – $70

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Institutes of Elenctic Theology 3 vol. set – Francis Turretin – new – $65

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John Frame Trilogy – $45

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The Fundamentals – 2 vols -$12

The Earliest Christian Church

AMMAN – Lying underneath Saint Georgeous Church in Rihab, Mafraq, is what archaeologists describe as the first Christian church in the world.

“We have uncovered what we believe to be the first church in the world, dating from 33AD to 70AD,” said Archaeologist Abdul Qader Hussan, head of the Rihab Centre for Archaeological Studies.

The discovery was “amazing”, Hussan told The Jordan Times.

“We have evidence to believe this church sheltered the early Christians: the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ,” the scholar said.

The early Christians, described in the mosaic inscription on St. Georgeous floor as “the 70 beloved by God and Divine”, are said to have fled from Jerusalem during the persecution of Christians, to the northern part of Jordan, particularly to Rihab, he added.

Citing historical sources, the expert said the 70 lived and practised their rituals in secrecy in this underground church.

We believe that they did not leave the cave and lived until the Christian religion was embraced by Roman rulers.

“It was then when St. Georgeous was built,” said Hussan.

READ MORE HERE

Pilgrimage Of A Soul: Contemplative Spirituality For An Active Life by Phileena Heuertz

The re-discovery of Contemplative Spirituality  has been on the rise within mainstream, orthodox christianity over the past decade. There are many books which explain what contemplative spirituality / prayer looks like and how it can be done. Not many share about the deep, and sometimes hard experiences of what takes place in the process of contemplative spirituality; of putting yourself into a place where you give yourself, all of yourself, over to God, being willing to shed the junk that has cluttered up your life and your relationship to God and others and then being wiling to receive from him whatever He chooses to give you. This is what Phileena Heuertz does in this book. You feel that she does not hold anything back in this semi biographical / examination of the contemplative pilgrimage. The book revolves around a sabbatical she and her husband took which involved a pilgrimage through Spain on the Camino, walking 20 miles a day. The feelings, experiences, struggles, emotions and joys that she shares will resonate with everyone. Despite differing circumstances we all have experienced the emotions that this author has experienced – even the darkness – the dark night of the soul. What really struck me was that for most of us, we turn back when we start to experience the darkness – when in fact, it is essential for us to go through it to experience what God has for us.

Each chapter of the book is  laid out as part of the journey – Awakening, Longing, Darkness, Death, Transformation, Intimacy and Union.

What Phileena Heuertz does is to take us through her journey allowing us to see it in it’s fullness so that we can then embark on our own, confident that when we reach that dark night of the soul we must press on knowing that God is working.

Why Monday’s Are The Worst Day For A Minister To Take For His Day Off!

When should a minister take his day off? For many the choice day is Monday. The wisdom is you need the rest after a day of services and preaching. This is totally understandable. However, I always advice younger ministers NEVER to take Monday’s off. Why? Here are  2  reasons;

1. To have Monday off is to see worship as the end of the week, when really, worship should be the beginning of our week. Our corporate worship, where we encourage one another, pray for each other and are fed with the word should be the launch pad for the week ahead. Sunday’s should launch not finish our week.

2. Many parishioners have seen you Sunday – have spoken with you, given you messages etc. Hence Monday’s are often the quietest day of the week in terms of phone calls and meetings. This means that Monday’s are perfect for sermon preparation. I have found a number of benefits of preparing, or at least beginning and doing the majority of the work on the sermon / teaching on a Monday; (i) it gives me the rest of the week to meditate and pray for the word/message, (ii) I don’t get crunched at the end of the week having a sermon hanging over my head.

For these reasons I have Friday’s off. I have a ‘sabbath’ day – sundown Thursday to sundown Friday. This leaves Saturday for final tweaking and prayer and preparation for the beginning of the week and the joy of worshiping with the body of Christ and through the blessing of meeting with the body of Christ, being launched once again into another week of serving Jesus!

G K Chesterton

I have been reading Common Sense 101: Lessons from G.K. Chesterton by Dale Ahlquist. A wonderful book so far. Here is a snipet:

He seems so frivolous and so careless, but he gives money to beggars, not frivolously or carelessly, but because he believes in giving money to beggars, and giving it to them “where they stand”. He says he knows perfectly well all the arguments against giving money to beggars. But he finds those to be precisely the arguments for giving money to them. If beggars are lazy or deceptive or wanting a drink, he knows only too well his own lack of motivation, his own dishonesty, his own thirst. He doesn’t believe in “scientific charity” because that is too easy, as easy as writing a check. He believes in “promiscuous charity” because that is really difficult. “It means the most dark and terrible of all human actions—talking to a man. In fact, I know of nothing more difficult than really talking to the poor men we meet.” He says that if we really believed in democracy, we would not be debating about what we should do with the poor; the poor would be debating about what to do with us.

The Myth Of Hitler’s Pope:Pope Pius XII and His Secret War Against Nazi Germany by David Dalin

Pope Pius XII, has in recent years come under intense criticism for his role and (allegedly) lack of action during World War II. It has been argued that Pius was not just ineffective by not responding to Nazism – but in fact he was anti-semitic and pro-nazi. The term Hitler’s Pope was coined by a critic of Pius in a book.

David Dalin steps up to the plate to defend Pius. Not only does he defend him he provides ample evidence that not only was Pius NOT ant-Semitic and pro-Nazi but he was ACTIVELY protesting and harassing the Nazi regime. He was also directly and indirectly responsible for the safety of over 800,000 jews. Pius actively told clergy and monasteries to help and harbor jews for their safety. What makes the book more impressive is that the author is Jewish – a Rabbi. Dain clearly calls for Pius XII to be recognized as a righteous gentile. Dalin’s book is heavily footnoted and annotated. His argument clear and very persuasive. Another good vacation book.

A Period of Sabbath

It is a deluded minister who thinks he is indispensible. There is no such thing as an indispensible minister. It is also a foolish minister who is a workaholic. So today I gladly shut down my computer and lock it away in a draw in my office. Until the 22nd July I will not check email, or blog, or read a blog, or do any work whatsoever. I am on vacation with my family  🙂

World’s first illustrated Christian Bible discovered at Ethiopian monastery

This is from the Daily Mail Newspaper…..

The world’s earliest illustrated Christian book has been saved by a British charity which located it at a remote Ethiopian monastery.
The incredible Garima Gospels are named after a monk who arrived in the African country in the fifth century and is said to have copied them out in just one day.
Beautifully illustrated, the colours are still vivid and thanks to the Ethiopian Heritage Fund have been conserved.
Abba Garima arrived from Constantinople in 494 AD and legend has it that he was able to copy the gospels in a day because God delayed the sun from setting….

The survival of the Gospels is incredible considering the country has been under Muslim invasion, Italian invasion and a fire in the 1930s destroyed the monastery’s church.
They were written on goat skin in the early Ethiopian language of Ge’ez.
There are two volumes which date from the same time, but the second is written in a different hand from the first. Both contain illustrations and the four Gospels.
Though the texts had been mentioned by the occasional traveller since the 1950s, it had been thought they dated from the 11th century at the earliest.
Carbon dating, however, gives a date between 330 and 650

Read more: HERE

July 4th – Some Reflections From a Brit in the USA

Flags have a very interesting history – especially in the ancient world. A flag, or, as it was know then, a STANDARD would be taken by an army, be it the Egyptian, Assyrian or Babylonian Army, first into battle. The troops and soldiers would follow behind it. It was more than just a decorative item on the battle field – it was symbol – a very powerful symbol. In those days a standard did not hang like a flag does today – it was hung on a pole which was in a cross shape. The standard or banner was a symbol of that army’s values and attached to it would be ribbons or symbols of the battles it had won in the past. A banner or standard was meant to put fear into the opposing army, as its sight would tell the story of its previous battles.

Another role for the standard or banner was that it was a place of safety – if in the midst of battle you needed to retreat or to find your army you would see your standard and go to it for protection.

Standards, banners and flags have been powerful symbols in history.

One of the things which I have noticed since living here in the United States is the reverence for the flag. Homes fly the flag – churches have the flag in their building – government offices have the flag in their offices.

This does not happen back home. Homes do not fly the British flag; government offices do not always have the flag in them; churches do not have the flag in them. The only times we Brits wave or have flags is for an event which involves the celebration of the Queen, or for a national sporting event.

Why is this? My own thoughts are because of what the flags represent. The British flag represents a history –It’s a history of conquest – a history of an empire which did some good and did some bad.

I always like to joke with my American friends that while America may want to rule half the world, the British actually did rule half the world – Africa, India, the Americas, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, Australia. Our flag flew in these places and over time our flag was rejected by many of these nations as they sought independence and freedom.

Independence and freedom – that is what I see in the American flag. The American flag, from my perspective, does not represent a history of conquest, or of an empire. Far from it! The stars and strips represent the opposite – the journey to freedom and Independence. I am sure that you already know that the thirteen red strips on the flag represent the original thirteen colonies who declared independence from Britain.

Right there in the American flag is a reminder of where this nation has come from and how it was founded.

George Washington is credited for saying: “We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty.”

It represents an ideal. As the Pledge of Allegiance says – liberty and justice for all. The USA is made up of many different people, many different backgrounds. The founding fathers and those who first settled here came from Britain, Germany, Holland. America has been the place that people all over the world look to come not because of its history – but because of what it stands for – what the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States gives to people.

It is a standard to which people can run to when they are without justice or liberty. And for me, as a Priest in the Episcopal Church, I can not but help see the connection this has with the Bible. I was fascinated to discover the powerful symbols of the banner or standard in the Bible – especially the Old Testament. The tribes of Israel were instructed to gather around the tabernacle – which was made of banners – under the banner of their tribe and family.

But there is a quote in the book of Isaiah which I want to share with you:

In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. Isaiah 11:10

The root of Jesse is Jesus; remember I said that a banner was placed on a cross – Jesus died on a cross. He was lifted up and all who come to him will receive Justice and truth and liberty.

The American flag – for what it stands for and what it strives to be, is an earthly type, not perfect, of the perfect truth which is in Jesus Christ and his kingdom.

Committed Utterly To Christ

Not to preach the Gospel would be my undoing, for Christ himself sent
me as his apostle and witness. The more remote, the more difficult
the assignment, the more my love of God spurs me on. I am bound to
proclaim that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the living God. Because of him
we come to know the God we cannot see. He is the firstborn of all
creation; in him all things find their being. Man’s teacher and redeemer,
he was born for us, died for us, and for us he rose from the dead.
All things, all history converges in Christ. A man of sorrow and
hope, he knows us and loves us. As our friend he stays by us
throughout our lives; at the end of time he will come to be our
judge; but we also know that he will be the complete fulfillment of
our lives and our great happiness for all eternity.
I can never cease to speak of Christ for he is our truth and our light;
he is the way, the truth and the life. He is our bread, our source of
living water who allays our hunger and satisfies our thirst. He is our
shepherd, our leader, our ideal, our comforter and our brother.

From a homily by Pope Paul VI
(Hom. Maniliae habita die 29 novembris 1970)