Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I work part time for the Protestant Truth Society and I'll be taking some of meetings for them in the next few weeks. Most of my time today was spent working on an address entitled, Is Protestantism History? Also finished Gaffin's excellent Resurection and Redemption. I cannot recomment this little book too highly (155 pages - P&R, 1987 reprint). Now I really need to get stated on Noll and Nystrom's Is the Reformation Over? The book is an evangelical assessment of contemporary Roman Catholicism. Noll is involved in the Evangelicals and Catholics together movement. I need to get to grips with this book for my forthcoming PTS meetings.
For Christmas I was given Byron Rogers' biography of R.S. Thomas, The Man Who Went into the West (Aurum, 2006). The tragicomic life of the Welsh poet makes for a diverting post-lunch read. I'll probably post a review when I'm done.
Began preparation for our Wednesday's Bible Study/Prayer meeting. We'll be reflecting on Psalm 130. Helpful comments in Kidner, Leopold & Spurgeon. Wish I had time to read John Owen, but his exposition is over 300 pages! Do we only want our sins forgiven (vs. 4) or do we really long for the Lord himself as the watchman longs for the morning (vs. 5 & 6)?
In the evenings, I'm reading C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle to the children. We are nearing the end of the book. Lewis is a very descriptive writer and I enjoy reading him out loud. I try to make up distinctive voices for each character. The children can often spot Lewis' allusions to the life and work of Christ in the Chronicles of Narnia. The way Aslan judges the Narnians and divides them to his right hand and left is redolent of Matthew 25. We're hoping to read The Hobbit next. Story time is followed by Bible reading, discussion and prayer.
A quiet, relaxing evening with Sarah watching film of John Grisham's Runaway Jury that we taped from the TV the other week. I read Grisham's The Testament during the summer hols & I'm reading his latest King of Torts in fits and starts.
Read Mark 2 as part of evening devotions before bed. What words from Jesus! "Your sins are forgiven", "Follow me" "I came to call sinners", "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath".
Monday, January 29, 2007
See label below for my review series.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
I was encouraged to see Frederick Leahy address the green challenge in his final book, The Hand of God, Banner of Truth Trust, 2006 (see here).
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
Over at ITV, the news has featured "The Big Melt". Newscaster Mark Austen and Science Editor Lawrence McGinty reported daily from Antarctica on the problem of global warming. We cannot keep on polluting our world and expect that nothing will happen. On Wednesday 17th January, scientists moved the hands of the symbolic Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight. The clock was originally set up to chart the danger of all-out nuclear war. But scientists now think that environmental catastrophe is the next big threat to life on our planet.
It seems that something is badly wrong with our world. Has the Christian faith any answers? The first thing to say is that God created our planet and declared it "very good". We can see the goodness and wisdom of God in the order and beauty of the earth. But that is not the whole story. Human beings were made in God's image that they might enjoy fellowship with him. They were charged with looking after the earth. But we chose to rebel against our Maker and go our own way. This had catastrophic consequences for humanity and the planet. Sin always results in decay and ultimately, death.
Human greed leads to more and more consumption. This leads to pollution which leads, in turn to environmental problems. We should not take the earth and its God-given resources for granted. But what can we do about all this? The Christian faith emphasises personal responsibility. We can all do our bit to cut down on consumption, recycle waste and try to make our homes more environmentally friendly. Yes, governments have a role to play on an international and national level, but that does not let us off the hook. Our Maker will hold us accountable for the way in which we have treated his world.
The Christian thinker Francis Schaeffer wrote Pollution and the Death of Man in 1970, long before environmental issues were fashionable. In this groundbreaking work, the philosopher/theologian rejected the Green Movement's often pantheistic thinking and argued for a thoroughgoing Biblical approach to ecological issues. He drew upon the doctrine of creation to remind us that we are not autonomous beings who can treat the earth how we like, "What God has made, I, who am also a creature, must not despise." (p. 36). God has affirmed the goodness of the created world in the incarnation and resurrection of Christ. Because of this, Christians should work for a substantial healing of creation,
Thursday, January 18, 2007
My "top three"
1. The Drama of Doctrine by Kevil Vanhoozer
2. The Holy Trinity by Robert Letham
3. The Gagging of God by D. A. Carson
See here for the full list and to cast your vote.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
by David F. Wells, Eerdmans/IVP, 2005
This book is the conclusion of a series of works in which Wells dissects the relationship between Evangelicalism and Western culture. The other titles are No Place for Truth (1993), God in the Wasteland (1994) and Losing our Virtue (1998). We need volumes like this to force us to reflect on our place in the world at this particular point in history. Without a penetrating, Biblical analysis of Western culture, the Church faces two main dangers. She may loose her distinctive witness by unwittingly becoming absorbed into the culture. Or the Church may retreat into its own little sub-culture, and find itself increasingly out-of-touch and bewildered by a fast changing world.
In the first two chapters, Wells charts the decline of the modern world and the emergence of postmodernism. The modern world was shaped by the twin forces of Enlightenment rationalism and technological advance. Western culture did not become "modern" simply because the thinking of the philosophers gradually permeated the rest of society. Wells shows how the Industrial Revolution radically transformed Western culture. What intellectuals were saying about the power of human potential was seemingly reinforced by abundant economic growth and rapid technological improvement. This gave birth to a mechanised, capitalist world in which happiness was measured by consumer choice. In this brave new society, God was banished to the margins of life and human beings were placed at the centre. But the turn from God to humanity debased rather than enhanced the true value of human life. We have been reduced to mere consumers, there to be manipulated by the advertising industry, or to victims in need of the latest self-help programme. But the modern consensus, reinforced as it was by the convergence of philosophy and technology is now falling apart. Modernism is so last century. Welcome to postmodernism.
Postmodernism is a reaction against the hubris of modernism. Where modern people were confident of man's ability to discover universal truth, postmoderns dismiss universal truth as a proud fiction. Just like modernism, postmodernism is the product of a new intellectual climate and shifts in society. Jacques Derrida's view that there is no truth, only subjective interpretations of reality is given credence by the shape of contemporary society. In a world of bewildering consumer choice, who is to say that only one worldview is right? Wells also analyses the effect of immigration on societies like America and the UK. As immigration accelerated during the mid-twentieth century, Western people found themselves mixing with adherents of other religions and cultures. The Judeo-Christian consensus was shattered on the rocks of multiculturalism. Such influences lead to a widespread rejection of traditional organised religion and the adoption of pastiche spirituality, where the consumer chooses those bits of religion that he likes best.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Here are mine:
1. The Drama of Doctrine by Kevil Vanhoozer
2. The Holy Trinity by Robert Letham
3. The Gagging of God by D. A. Carson
As we noted earlier, Christmas Evans struggled to find assurance of salvation. The other great struggle in his Christian pilgrimage was caused by his adoption of Sandemanian doctrine while ministering on Anglesey. This teaching, takes its name from Robert Sandeman of the Church of Scotland. He and his followers taught that faith is mere intellectual assent. To Sandemanians, feelings and emotions do not matter – assent to orthodox doctrinal propositions is the thing. William Williams the hymn writer accurately described this tendency, “it sets naked faith as the chief thing, believing without power, making little of conviction and of a broken heart.”
Sandemanianism is the enemy of vital godliness, “True religion is more than a notion/ something must be known and felt”. Evans’ ministry was adversely affected by his new-found Sandemanian teaching,
The Sandemanian heresy affected me so far as to quench the spirit of prayer for the conversion of sinners, and it induced in my mind a greater regard for the smaller things of the kingdom of heaven than for the greater. I lost the strength which clothed my mind with zeal, confidence and earnestness in the pulpit for the conversion of souls to Christ. My heart retrograded in a manner and I could not realise the testimony of a good conscience. On Sabbath nights after having been in the day exposing and vilifying with all bitterness the errors that prevailed, my conscience felt displeased and reproached me that I had lost nearness to, and walking with God. It had disastrous results among the churches. I lost in Anglesey nearly all my old hearers and we thus almost entirely took down what had taken fifteen years to raise.
This is what happens when we downplay the importance of religious affections and feelings. The Spirit is quenched and the Christian life becomes cold and mechanical.
Evans read Andrew Fuller, the Baptist pastor-theologian’s critique of Sandemanianism. This made him think. Then he heard a sermon by Thomas Jones, who preached against the heresy. On his way home from this service, Evans had a remarkable experience of God that got Sandemanianism out of his system for ever. He relates the story himself,
I was weary of a cold heart towards Christ and his sacrifice and the work of his Spirit; of a cold heart in the pulpit, in secret and in the study. For fifteen years previously I had felt my heart burning within as if going to Emmaus with Jesus. On a day ever to be remembered by me, as I was going from Dolgellau to Machynlleth, climbing up towards Cader Idris, l considered it to be incumbent upon me to pray, however hard I felt in my heart and however worldly the frame of my spirit was. Having begun in the name of Jesus, I soon felt as it were, the fetters loosening and the old hardness of heart softening, and, as I thought, mountains of frost and snow dissolving and melting within me. This engendered confidence in my soul in the promise of the Holy Ghost. I felt my whole mind relieved from some great bondage. Tears flowed copiously and I was constrained to cry out for the gracious visits of God, by restoring to my soul the joys of his salvation and to visit the churches in Anglesey that were under my care. I embraced in my supplications all the churches of the saints and nearly all the ministries in the principality by their names. This struggle lasted for three hours. It rose again and again, like one wave after another, or a high, flowing tide driven by a strong wind, till my nature became faint by weeping and crying. I resigned myself to Christ, body and soul, gifts and labours, every hour of every day that remained for me and all my cares I committed to Christ. The road was mountainous and lonely and I was wholly alone and suffered no interruption in my wrestling with God.
Evans old pulpit power returned to him again. A new spirit of prayer came upon the believers in Anglesey and within two years, six hundred people were added to the Churches.
Are we sometimes so afraid of the emotional excesses and disorder in some Churches that we fail to feel anything at all? When was the last time that you were really moved by the great truths of the gospel?
Reflecting on Christmas Evans’ barren Sandemanian period, Lloyd-Jones challenges us,
This is our only hope, ‘All coldness from my heart remove’. What do we know of warmth of spirit, warmth of heart, warmth in prayer, warmth in preaching, to be moved to the depth of our being and feel the love of God flowing into us and flowing back out of us to him? Is Sandemanianism merely a matter of antiquarian or historical interest or is it our major problem today?
His final sermon and departure to be with Christ
Christmas Evans preached his last sermon at Mount Pleasant chapel, Swansea on Monday 16th July, 1838, He spoke on “Beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). He felt weak, but the message is typical of Evans’ dramatic gospel preaching,
‘At Jerusalem, Lord?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Why, Lord these are the men who crucified Thee; we are not to preach it to them?’ ‘Yes, preach it to all’… ‘Suppose we meet the very man that nailed Thy hands and feet to the cross, the very man that pierced Thy side, that spat in Thy face?’ ‘Preach the gospel to them all: tell them all that I am the Saviour; I am the same Lord over all who is rich unto all that call upon Me.’
As he descended the pulpit steps, the old preacher was heard to murmur, “This is my last sermon!” And so it was. On the Friday of that week, Christmas Evans said to those who surrounded his death bed,
I am leaving you. I have laboured in the sanctuary for fifty-three years, and this is my comfort, that I have never laboured without blood in the basin [a reference to Christ as the Passover Lamb]. Preach Christ to the people, brethren. Look at me. In myself I am nothing but ruin, but in Christ I am heaven and salvation.
“Then” writes his biographer, “as if done with earth, he waved his hand, and exclaimed, “GOODBYE! DRIVE ON!” Was he again, in his thoughts, travelling alone with his faithful pony over the lonely mountains?”
“Goodbye! Drive on!” But now Christmas Evans embarked on his final another journey - from earth to heaven. Aged seventy three, the one-eyed preacher passed into the presence of his Lord and Saviour.
The life of Christmas Evans reminds us that God can take seemingly unpromising people and use them mightily in his kingdom. We should make full use of all our gifts and energy in the service of the Master. Evans was not perfect. He knew periods of spiritual bareness. But the Lord broke into his life, melted him and shed his love abroad in his heart. The revival blessing that Evans experienced makes us long that the Lord will rend the heavens and come down in our day too.
Christmas Evans by B.A. Ramsbottom, Bunyan Press, 1984
Sermons and Memoirs of Christmas Evans, Kregel Publications, 1986
Christmas Evans by Robert Oliver here
On Sandemanianism see The Puritans, Their Origins and Successors by D. M. Lloyd-Jones, 'Sandemanisnism', Banner of Truth Trust, 1987
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Wednesday, January 10, 2007
On the night that he lost an eye, Evans had a vivid dream of judgement day. This gave him a deep concern to preach the Word of God. He first attempted to preach in a Cottage meeting, while still a member of the Presbyterian Church. It is fair to say that his sermon did not go down too well. In fact, it was not even his sermon. He had borrowed it from Bishop Beveridge’s Thesaurus Theologicus. His ruse was spotted by a farmer in the congregation, who just happened to own that very book! Nevertheless, the farmer expressed the hope that Evans had some potential as a preacher, because his ‘prayer was as good as the sermon’. Unbeknown to the farmer, the prayer was not exactly Evans’ own either – it was lifted from a collection of prayers by Griffith Jones of Llanddowror! I can’t be too hard on Christmas Evans at this point. My first attempt at preaching was more than a little reliant on a message that I had just read by Martyn Lloyd-Jones! I even used to begin my early messages with, “Now I would like to draw your attention….”, just like the great man himself.
If we can “fast-forward” about ten years, we can see how God was able to make a powerful preacher of this unpromising young man. The year is 1794. A vast open-air congregation has gathered at Felinfoel near Llanelly. It is the event of the season – the Association meeting. But to everyone’s embarrassment, the preacher for the occasion had not turned up. Various ministers were approached, but all shrank from preaching to thousands at a moment’s notice. Timothy Thomas, the man who baptised Christmas Evans was urged to preach, but he too declined saying, “Ask that one-eyed lad from the north!” (By this time Evans was ministering in Anglesey). As a last resort, the unknown, lanky, badly dressed and disfigured Christmas Evans was pressed into service. The people who saw him ascend to the platform wondered if a mistake had been made. Here was no “big name” preacher, worthy of addressing the great Association.
Some in the congregation even began to wander away, seeking refreshments. Others stayed on, hoping that the preacher would not detain them long. Evans announced his text:
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— (Colossians 1:21 & 22).
He began a little awkwardly, but soon warmed to his theme as the preacher eloquently proclaimed the gospel of reconciliation. Wanderers returned to the congregation and the people were gripped by the one-eyed preacher’s powerful message. Many were moved to tears and some cried out, “Gogoniant!” (Glory!) and “Bendigedig!” (Blessed!). They wondered “Who is this preacher?” “Where is he from?”
Christmas Evans had developed a unique imaginative preaching style. His sermons were so full of pictures that he was nick-named “The Bunyan of Wales”. Let me give you one or two excerpts from his sermons,
Here he is preaching on the conversion of Saul of Tarsus,
Saul of Tarsus was once a thriving merchant and an extensive ship owner. He had seven vessels of his own, the names of which were, (1) circumcised the eighth day. (2) of the stock of Israel. (3) of the tribe of Benjamin. (4) a Hebrew of the Hebrews. (5) as touching the law, a Pharisee. (6) concerning zeal, persecuting the church. The seventh was a man of war, with which he once set out from the port of Jerusalem, wel1 supplied with ammunition from the arsenal of the chief priests, with a view to destroy a small port at Damascus. He was wonderfully confident, and breathed out threatenings and slaughter. But he had not got far from port before the Gospel Ship, with Jesus himself as commander on board, hove in sight, and threw such a shell among the merchant fleet that all his ships were instantly on fire. The commotion was tremendous and there was such a volume of smoke that Paul could not see the sun at noon. While the ships were fast sinking, the Gospel commander gave orders that the merchant should be taken on board. 'Saul, Saul, what has become of all thy ships?' 'They are all on fire.' 'What will you do now?' 'Oh, that I may be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.'
Robert Oliver comments dryly, “As a preacher Evans was unique. It would be wrong to imitate his method, although some tried to do so and made themselves look foolish”.
Now I’ll take my finger off the “fast-forward” button, rewind the story to 1790 and consider the beginnings of Christmas Evans’ work in the ministry.
At the tender age of twenty-three, he was urged by several ministers go to the Llyn peninsula as a missionary among the Baptist churches. Off he went to begin his work as a minister of the gospel. But at this point, he was still struggling with doubts about his own spiritual condition. He felt too that something was missing in his preaching. But in the early 1790’s the Lord met with Evans and brought him to full assurance of salvation. He testified,
I then felt that I died to the law, abandoned all hope of preparing myself to apply to the Redeemer, and realised the life of faith and dependence on the righteousness of Christ for my justification.
He began to preach with new power so that in his first year, many people were converted and fifty were baptised. In the second year, eighty converts sought church membership. The theme of his preaching was the mighty, sovereign grace of God in the salvation of sinners. He could say of his preaching,
The eternal power is here, and with one hand it conceals me in the shadow of redeeming mercy, and with the other it points out the glory of the great and wondrous truth that God is once a just God and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus
It was in Llyn that Evans was to find a wife – Catherine Jones. She was, by all accounts a
godly and resourceful woman - and she needed to be, to get by on her husband’s meagre stipend. Evans’ biographer remarks, “it is astonishing what she contrived to make out of oatmeal, buttermilk and potatoes – their staple diet.”
Christmas Evans supervised five preaching places on the rugged peninsula. He would often travel twenty miles on foot on a Sunday and preach in five services. Evans nearly wore himself out with his constant labours. But this did not stop him attempting an arduous preaching tour, walking from Llyn to South Wales. He preached with unusual power in the towns and villages on the way and large crowds would gather to hear him.
In 1792, Evans received “a providential intimation” that he should leave the scene of his labours and move to the island of Anglesey. The Baptist Churches on the heathenish “Dark Isle”, promised him £17 a year for his services. Evans’ salary, which amounted to 33p a week, was never once increased in nearly 34 years of his ministry on the island.
He arrived on Anglesey on a frozen, snowy Christmas Day to take up lodgings in a dilapidated old cottage. The ten congregations he was to serve were in a very poor state. They were divided and demoralised. A previous minister had fallen into open disgrace. The Baptists consequently suffered from a very poor reputation among the islanders. Evans called for a day of prayer and fasting and the Lord began to bless the work. The new minister divided the island into four districts so he could preach regularly for each group of churches. Many were converted and in two years, the ten congregations had become twenty. To fund the building of chapels to house the new fellowships, Evans would undertake preaching tours in South Wales. He believed that the wealthier Churches in the South aught to support poor Christians in the North.
Christmas Evans closely supervised the Baptist work on Anglesey. Co-pastors were appointed to serve in the churches, but they were ultimately accountable to Evans as the senior minister. Some of the churches wanted more independence and a number began to resent Evans’ centralising tendencies. In 1823 his wife Catherine died. In the same year, he suffered from eye trouble and had to spend several months having medical treatment in Aberystwyth. With tensions mounting between Evans and the Baptist congregations, the preacher accepted a call to Caerphilly in South Wales.
In 1826, aged sixty Evans began a remarkable two-year pastorate in the small, castle-dominated village. Crowds flocked to hear the famous preacher and one hundred and forty members were added to the church. It is reckoned that some of his greatest sermons date from that revival period. But here too, Evans faced difficulties. Maybe the church deacons, who had been used to ruling the roost could not come to terms with their minister’s somewhat autocratic style? Not one to stay where he wasn’t wanted, the preacher accepted a call to Cardiff and spend four years there, accompanied by his second wife, until moving to his final pastorate in Caernarvon in 1838.
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Tuesday, January 09, 2007
His early life
On the evening of 25th December 1766, Samuel and Johanna Evans welcomed their second child into the world. Because of the day on which he has born, they decided to call their son Christmas Evans. Christmas’ mother, it seems was a godly woman, who often urged her little boy to think of his eternal welfare. However, tragedy was soon to strike in the Evans household, as Christmas’ father died, plunging the family into terrible poverty. Johanna’s brother, a farmer from, Bwlchog, offered to take little Christmas under his wing. He promised the child food and board in exchange for help on the farm.
But Uncle James was a cruel man, given to drink and a harsh task-master. In the six years that Christmas spent with his uncle, he was starved of affection and deprived of even the most basic education. At the age of seventeen, the poor lad was illiterate.
Evans left the tender care of his uncle and sought work as a farm labourer. This was a lonely and difficult time in Christmas’ life. But God had plans for this young man. He began attending the Presbyterian chapel in Llwynrhydowan. The minister was David Davies. He was, a learned man and something of a poet, but his views on the Person of Christ were decidedly unorthodox. Around 1783, revival broke out in the area and many of the young people, including Christmas Evans were awakened. He later testified,
The fear of dying in an ungodly state especially affected me (even from childhood), and this apprehension clung to me till I was induced to rest on Christ. All this was accompanied by some little knowledge of the Redeemer, and now, in my seventieth year, I cannot deny that this concern was the dawn of the day of grace on my spirit, although mingled with much darkness and ignorance.
Evans separated himself from his old worldly companions and began learn to read, having just bought a copy of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Evans and few other young people from the church would meet together in a barn with candles and Bibles, for impromptu reading classes. They all had a real thirst for knowledge and understanding. Within a month, Evans was no longer illiterate. He could read his Welsh Bible and began to borrow books in English too. From and educational point of view, Evans was a late developer. But his conversion gave him a life-long love of study and learning. Intellectual gifts that had lain dormant were awakened. He later became proficient in Hebrew and Greek and was deeply familiar with the theological works of the Baptist John Gill and the great puritan divine, John Owen.
For Evans, there was no doubt that the Bible itself is the best book of all,
The Bible is the Book of books, a Book breathed out of heaven…I am very grateful for books written by man, but it is God’s Book that sheds the light of life everlasting on all other books.
Although his minister’s views were unorthodox, he was a kindly man, who encouraged Evan’s quest for learning. He arranged for him to study at his school for six months, free of charge. This was the only period of formal education in Christmas Evans’ life.
Evans’ former friends resented his sudden conversion experience. Six of them attacked him as he was walking home one evening. They beat him unmercifully and one of their number hit him in the eye with a stick. This resulted in the loss of the eye. Hence Christmas Evans would be known as “the one-eyed preacher from Wales”. One contemporary account of his appearance as a grown man puts it somewhat quaintly, “He had lost one of his eyes in his youth, but the other was large and bright enough for two.”
As Christmas grew in understanding and discernment, he became increasingly dissatisfied with the preaching of his minister. He began to listen to preachers who taught sound doctrine with power and authority. One of his friends, named Amos had left the Presbyterian Church and joined the Calvinistic Baptists. At first, Evans criticised Amos' Baptist convictions. But his friend was not to be moved. This forced Evans to search the Scriptures to bolster his own infant Baptist views. But the result of his quest was not quite as he expected,
I went home and I therefore fully examined the Scriptures to mark down every passage that mentioned infant baptism, for I believed there were hundreds of such there. But after careful perusal I was terribly disappointed to find none of that character there. I met with about forty passages, all giving their suffrages in favour of baptism on a profession of repentance and faith.
It says something for his humility and honesty, that Evans renounced his former views and joined the Baptist Church. At the age of twenty he was baptised the river Duar by Timothy Thomas, the Calvinistic Baptist minister. This was a time of revival in the fellowship with scores of people being added to the Church. Evans benefited greatly from the warm, orthodox preaching of his new pastor. He became more and more established in the doctrines of sovereign grace.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Thanks to my wife, kids & Santa Claus, I had a few books for Christmas. Two are biographies of leading poets from the 17th and 20th Centuries respectively - John Stubbs on John Donne and Byron Rogers on R. S. Thomas. Thomas is sometimes described as a latter-day metaphysical poet, so the two books should make interesting comparative reading. I'll try to post reviews in the coming weeks.
The third is U2 by U2 a gigantic "coffee table" book, detailing the story of the band so far. This is a great book to dip into for fans of the band. I bought U2's first two albums, Boy and War on cassette, which shows how long I've been a fan. I saw them playing live during the Joshua Tree tour, at the old Cardiff Arms Park. The Edge, whose parents hailed from Llanelli, joked that his dad always wanted him to play in that great sporting arena. He then kicked a rugby ball into the crowd. (It's probably best that he stuck with guitar playing - he was no Gavin Henson).
I'm waiting for the local Calne (Wiltshire) Christian Bookshop's February sale before I order some more theological books. I've got my eye on Gospel of Free Acceptance in Christ: An Assessment of the Reformation and ‘New Perspectives’ on Paul by Cornelis P. Venema see here and Catholicism, East of Eden: Insights into Catholicism for the 21st Century by Richard Bennett see here.
Here's wishing my readers a very happy and blessed new year.