The Good Book Company

 
Posted in Interesting Thoughts Tim Thornborough|9:17 AM EDT|August 29th 2014

When your elders, church council or PCC meets together, what occupies most time in discussion? What's on the agenda? 

 

I suspect that the universal rule of human life kicks in that the urgent constantly threatens to displace the important. So it might be that your time is taken up with discussing pastoral problems, building projects and needs, complaints from members of the congregation and, the oldest one of all - arguing about the heating system.

 

A friend of mine put it like this. 

Why do you think we are not yet with the Lord in the New Creation? Why has Jesus not yet returned? Is it so that we can worship and praise him better in the here and now? 

 

No. We will do that far better in the new Creation.

 

Is it so that we can grow in holiness and godliness now?

 

No. We will be perfect in the new creation.

 

The only thing we can do now that we won't be able to do better in the new creation is to tell those who don't know him how wonderful he is, and what he has done for us...

 

In his book The Leadership Papers, Philip Jensen made the acute point that, because we will always get absorbed with the details, we need to control what we spend our energies talking about by always listing the main point of the Church as a permanent item no 1 on the agenda: evangelism.

 

We've got to keep evangelism at the centre of our agenda, as churches, and as individuals. Because it's at the centre of God's agenda for the world, and his prime purpose for the church here and now.

 

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

Posted in Best Buy Friday Dean Faulkner|4:19 AM EDT|August 29th 2014

The cross is the very centre of the Christian faith, but that simple truth can sometimes be easy to forget. So how do we remember to focus every day on this reality with all that surrounds us? Never lay the cross aside, never move on says C J Mahaney. Deepen your passion for Christ and his cross each and every day.

 

Mahaney in his book, Living the Cross Centered Life implores us not to move on from the foot of the cross and examines the deepest truths of the events of Calvary.

 

Read more about the book and buy it HERE with 30% off (£6.29) until midday Monday using the code ccl0814 at the checkout.

Posted in Relevant News Carl Laferton|9:08 AM EDT|August 28th 2014

A couple of days ago I received an Ice Bucket Challenge on Facebook. I was delighted—and have decided not to do it. Here’s why.

 

I had actually started to work out how I could perform the challenge in my allotted 24-hour period (if this blog has completely lost you, the Ice Bucket Challenge is where a friend nominates you, you give a donation of £3 or more to a particular charity, film yourself tipping a bucket of icy water over your head within a day of receiving your nomination, and then challenge some friends to do likewise). Then a Christian who is wiser and more thoughtful than me encouraged me to just check that I was thinking Christian-ly about it. To be honest, I hadn’t thought much at all. But the Bible tells me to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10 v 5). Every thought—even thoughts about ice buckets and giving to charity.

 

So I thought about it. And as I did so, I ended up deciding not to be part of it. Why? Well, here’s where I’m at. First and foremost, this is not an issue of Christian obedience. I’ve watched (and laughed at) Christians far more godly than me doing the Challenge, and I’m not saying they were disobeying Christ.  If ever there were an issue where the Bible does not speak specifically, tipping ice-cold water over your own head would be it.

 

But I am saying that my best attempt at thinking with Christian wisdom is suggesting to my conscience that I shouldn’t do it. Here are my five reasons:

 

 1. We’re told to give in secret, rather than telling everyone else about it (Matthew 6 v 1-3). I’m not sure how I can do this if I’m sharing the fact of my giving with everyone on Facebook. The whole premise is: Look, I’m giving, and you should too. The Bible says: Look, Christ gave so much to you, who will you give to?

 

 2. We’re told to give sacrificially (2 Corinthians 8 v 1-4). My giving should if you like “hurt” my ability to buy things for myself, rather than merely my ability to stay dry. The whole set-up encourages us to give little, and then feel good about ourselves. Plus, the deal is that if you duck the challenge, you give $100, whereas if you do it, you give $10. So in fact, I’m being encouraged do something sacrificial so that I don’t have to give as much money.

 

3. We’re told to give cheerfully and freely (2 Corinthians 9 v 8). This is the opposite of giving fearfully or under compulsion. And I know that I would be doing the Challenge at least partly because I want to be liked by others, I don’t want to look dull to others, and I want to be a part of it all. In other words, my motivations would actually be fear-of-man driven.

 

 4.  We’re told to give wisely, considering the impact our giving will have (that’s implicit, I think, in 2 Corinthians 9 v 12-13). ALSA, the main charity that the Ice Bucket Challenge benefits, is doing lots of wonderful things to help those with motor neurone disease and to seek ways to combat it. BUT part of their research is embryonic stem cell research , involving the making and destruction of embryos. Since the Christian position is that an embryo is a tiny person—a living baby—this means that ALSA is involved in ending life. I’m not sure how any Christian can give to a charity who they know might use their money to end life. Of course, I could do the Ice Bucket Challenge and give my money to a different charity, and many are—but I wonder if a lot of Christians are giving their money with no thought as to how it will be used.

 

 5. We’re told to give in a way that is Christlike (2 Corinthians 8 v 9). Our giving is to be inspired by, and based on the pattern of, the way Jesus gave to us in giving up heaven, coming to earth, and dying on a criminal’s cross in material poverty and spiritual agony, rejected by all, in order to give us the riches of heaven. My giving should reflect his. The Ice Bucket Challenge doesn’t, I don’t think; it’s a popular, easy thing to do which makes me part of the in-crowd and allows me to feel great without any cost (other than the cost of a bucket – ours got lost when we moved house).

 

So, thanks so much to the guy who challenged me. It was lovely to be thought of (though I’m not sure I liked the way you smiled as you nominated me!) And I’m not for a moment saying that you, or all the other Christian friends I’ve seen taking on the Challenge, are wrong or being disobedient. We’re free to douse our heads with ice-cold water, and we’re free not to.

 

What we want to do with that freedom is to make sure we’re honouring Jesus wisely in every thought and deed. That’s what matters—to make our thoughts subject to our King. I know that when it comes to the Ice Bucket Challenge, I wouldn’t have done that if another Christian hadn’t encouraged me to. So hopefully this blog will encourage you to do that with your thoughts, whether you end up getting ice-cold or staying bone-dry. And hopefully it will encourage you to keep giving Christian-ly, or begin doing so, whatever that looks like for you. 

 

Of course, we’ll never know if this blog has that effect, because Point One above means that you won’t be telling me via Facebook…

 

This blog has been amended to correct the name of the charity from ALS (which is what motor neurone disease is known as in the US) to ALSA (which is the charity).

Posted in Relevant News Alison Mitchell|9:17 AM EDT|August 27th 2014

Porn in unexpected places

I walked down the office carrying a pile of pornography. I'd wrapped it in two bags so my colleagues wouldn't see it, but I still worried. What if I tripped and broke my neck? After failing to resucitate me, the first thing people would discover was my pile of porn. 

Thankfully, it wasn't as bad as it sounds, but is a salutary tale nonetheless.

It started on my ride to work. The subway under the A3 always collects litter - usually crisp packets, coke cans and the odd condom. Not cards. Not a full pack of playing cards. And certainly not pornographic cards. I glanced down as I wheeled the bike through the tunnel, wondering who'd dropped their playing cards, to be faced with umpteen nude women. I was slightly shocked, but late for work so kept on going.

I did try to keep going, I really did. I cycled half-way up the road. But I couldn't do it; I couldn't leave them. I thought about the nursery children who use that subway every day. I thought of the teens who'd be delighted to collect some free porn. And I had to go back.

Picking up the cards was horrible - they were so dirty (and I don't just mean the mud). I was amazed at my strong reaction. I felt sullied even touching them. (And worried that someone would see me and assume the cards were mine.) I wrapped them in two bags before I could even bear to put them in my bike panniers. And when I got to work, I carried them down the office and buried them as deeply as I could in the kitchen bin.

I'd like to claim I'm always that disgusted by porn, but like many of us, I've had to learn which books and magazines to avoid, and to be wary of late-night TV. But the tale of the playing cards has reminded me that we can be faced with it at unexpected times and places. And maybe that's when we especially need to be asking God to keep the promise he makes us in 1 Corinthians 10 v 13: "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

And maybe also get one of these two helpful new books - A man's greatest challenge and Purity is possible being released in mid-September.

Posted in Interesting Thoughts Tim Thornborough|4:12 AM EDT|August 27th 2014

We're conscious, here at The Good Book Company, of our need for prayer. We want to be working in God's strength - for God's glory - in God's Kingdom not just pottering about doing what we think is good and right. If you could remembers us in your prayers occasionally, that would be so much appreciated. To that end, this Wednesday we're continuing to pop up some prayer requests - asking you to pray for us department by department. This week, the creative team:

At our end of the office there are seven of us, who select and initiate publishing projects, who encourage and interact with authors, who edit, design proofread and nurse those books to the point where they are ready to be printed and deployed to edify, encourage and challenge. We sometimes even write whole resources ourselves!

 

  • Please pray for our personal walk with Christ. We want to be professional and produce excellent books. But we also want to work as those who love Christ and his gospel and are walking in fellowship with him day by day.
  • Please pray that we would know our Bibles. It is a huge privilege to be working day by day on materials that help grow the Kingdom of God. But we are very aware of our role in promoting and defending truth, and refuting error. We need God's help not to get that the wrong way round!
  • Pray that we would continue to be innovative in the ways we present the gospel. It is, of course the same unchanging Gospel: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. But our culture changes, and the ways in which people hear change. We want to be responsive to that, but without getting gimmicky. So pray we would serve the Lord and his people with new materials that help bring Jesus to the next generation in fresh and engaging ways.
  • Pray for wise choices: Scripture warns us that "of the making of many books there is no end". A typical new manuscripts meeting for us will have us making decisions about maybe a dozen books - of which we may only realistically be able to produce three or four. We want to give ourselves to the things that will be most effective in building God's Kingdom, but not at the expense of serving some "niche needs" that would otherwise not be met. We need the wisdom that comes from heaven to make these decisions.

 

And finally, do pray for us by name: Tim, Jackie, Carl, Rachel, Ann, Alison and Andre are all real people engaged in local church ministry, and dealing with busy and stressful family lives at the same time as working at The Good Book Company. Be our partners as we seek to bring glory to Christ in our personal lives, as well as through our publishing ministry.

Posted in On to a Good Thing Dex Fletcher|10:44 AM EDT|August 26th 2014

1. Six ways your iPhone is changing you

Own an iPhone? Love it? Tim Chester helpfully gives us 6 things to think about...

2. On Coming Out

In the wake of Vicky Beeching's recent announcment that she is gay, here are 4 articles that shed some interesting light on the issue.

3. Struggling to organise your prayers?

PrayerMate is a Christian prayer app that seeks to help you actually pray for all the people and causes you care about.

4. 10 greatest Hymns of All time

Well, according to Tim Challies anyway. Here are his 10 favourite.

5. Time to get back into your Quiet Times?

Our video of the week this week is an encouragment, with the holidays ending, to get into new habits of reading the Bible. We think Explore Bible reading notes will help with that:

 

 

Found something that you think should make it on to the On to a Good Thing round-up? Send it to: ontoagoodthing@thegoodbook.co.uk

 

 

Posted in Useful Resources Helen Thorne|10:00 AM EDT|August 25th 2014

God is a generous God. He gives us life, salvation, hope and a whole host of gifts so we can serve him and each other in the local church.

We don't deserve the gifts God gives us but we can make sure we use them well - humbly, lovingly, enthusiastically and for his glory. And we can make sure we hone them, so we learn more about what the Bible says on teaching, caring, administrating, encouraging, welcoming, evangelising as the years go on and become more aligned to God's desires.

That's where some structured studying can help.

In the busyness of preparing talks and craft activities, it can be easy to lose sight of what it means to teach the whole counsel of God to the children in our care. Beneath the piles of paperwork, we can forget just how missional administration truly is. Amid the texts and calls from hurting friends, we can let our eyes shift away from the pastorally liberating words of truth found within the pages of Scripture. Setting aside some time to study can help put all those things back on the map.

So this term, whether you're interested in Administration, Mission and Ministry, Pastoral Care, Women's Ministry or Youth and Children's Work, why not set aside some time to do one of The Good Book College's short courses?

Biblical, accessible and practical, these distance-learning courses will inspire you to read God's word and encourage you to serve God's people. All in the comfort of your own home without the pressure of fixed deadlines.

For more details and to enrol online, click HERE.

Posted in Fighting the Monday Feeling Rachel Jones|2:00 AM EDT|August 25th 2014

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.

Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, Lord,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea –
the Lord on high is mighty.
Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days.

Psalm 93

Posted in Relevant News Carl Laferton|8:23 AM EDT|August 22nd 2014

Whenever we talk about abortion, it's important, as Christians, to say three things:

  1. God is a God who gives life in the womb
  2. God is a God who punishes those who injure or end life, which is, one way or another, all of us, but which includes any part we play in terminating an unborn life
  3. God is, wonderfully, a God who comes in the person of Jesus to bear that punishment himself, taking all our guilt if we ask him to, so that we can enjoy life with him, his way. Whatever you may have done in your past, there is mercy, if you will ask for it. There is forgiveness beyond measure.

But for those in society who don't agree with those statements ... Dawkins is right.

Here’s why.

If you don’t think that abortion is wrong, then why is abortion for one particular reason or another wrong? If you believe in a woman’s right to choose, then, as Dawkins says on his blog:

“What I was saying simply follows logically from the ordinary pro-choice stance that most of us, I presume, espouse.”

In other words: if you are pro-choice, how can you have a problem with a woman making her choice on the grounds of her child not being the one that she wanted? If you oppose abortion on the grounds of health, then you’re not pro-choice; you’re just pro-some-choice (and do you really want to be pro the choice of the woman who just doesn’t want a child full stop, healthy or not, while being anti the choice of the woman who doesn’t want a child that has a chromosomic abnormality)?

The problem with Dawkins (or, perhaps, the joy of Dawkins) is that he will keep pushing a position to its logical conclusion. That’s what he’s done here, with a pro-choice position. Now, if you’re pro-life, of course you take huge issue with his position, and feel deep sadness about those children who weren’t given the chance to live, either because they had Down’s Syndrome, or because they suffered from being inconvenient to their mother.

(By the way, notice that Dawkins uses the word immoral. He does seem unable to push his atheism to its logical conclusion; that he has no basis for morality, indeed that he has no reason even to talk in the categories of morality and immorality; and that he has no reason or right to go advising others on the basis of his own opinions anyway. But that’s for another day).

Put simply, if you’re pro-choice, and don’t like Dawkins’ remarks, it’s because you don’t like your own position.

So here’s the prayer: that many people will see the logical outcome of the pro-choice argument, and will think again about the whole issue. The prayer should be that God would delight in using Dawkins to cause a whole load of people to think again about what it is that he is knitting together in the womb, and to defend those babies’ right to life.

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