Welcome to the 4th Romans 15:8 blog of 2021. This is also the 3rd anniversary of these blogs, with the first being uploaded to the CMJ UK website platform back in April 2018.
If you are new to reading these blogs, I hope you find them useful - also please consider joining the Romans 15:8 network. Many members of this network find that being ‘signed up’ brings a degree of support and encouragement as well as being an important mark of identity regarding ministry values and theological convictions.
Ministry News Update
During this month the Spring Appeal has been launched, which is one of only two occasions each year when individual members and supporters are directly invited to give financially to support the ongoing ministry of CMJ. These appeals help set out the vision for the months ahead as various ministry projects are promoted.
This month I also had the opportunity to preach ‘live’ for the first time in 2021. I have preached via Zoom 7 times for CMJ so far this year, and while these Zoom preachings have gone well, and we are all thankful for this technology; I think most of us are frustrated by the restrictions such online events bring to us. Therefore, it was good to meet with the congregation at Battisford Free Church, despite the necessary limitations imposed by social distancing and Covid protocols, it was so encouraging to share in a ‘live’ act of worship.
One final update for this month is that sadly our main speaker Rev. Malcolm Duncan withdrew from our Conference as medical advice deemed it was unwise for him to travel. We pray that Malcolm will make a full recovery and will soon be able to re-engage with his full ministry programme. However, we have a good substitute - namely Canon J. John! If you have not yet booked into our Conference which is taking place at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick between the 16th and 18th July, please consider doing so asap. The programme is great, and spaces are limited and there has been a recent surge in bookings.
As this is the 3rd anniversary of the blog, I am not bringing you a new book review or book recommendations, but I have compiled the list of the 22 books I reviewed from the past 18 months. Most of these reviews can be accessed via past blogs which are still available on the website page (LINK). Also, if you have a book recommendation or a review to share with the Romans 15:8 network please send these to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Books Reviewed in Romans 15:8 blogs from August 2019
Aug: Holy Land Holy City (Paternoster, 2004) Robert Gordon
The Silk Road (Bloomsbury, 2015) Peter Frankopan
Sept: Maimonides Yahweh (Wipf & Stock, 2019) Amy Downey
Oct: The Scandal of Evangelism- A Biblical Study on the Ethics of Evangelism (Cascade, 2018) Elmer Thiessen
The Life of Saul Bellow (Vintage, 2017) Zachary Leader
Dec: Ordinary Men (MACAT, 1992) Christopher Browning
Jan 2020: Mindful Ministry - Creative, Theological and Practical Perspectives (SCM Press, 2012) Judith Thompson
Feb: Theodor Herzl - From Assimilation to Zionism (Indiana University Press, 1993) Jacques Konberg
March: The Religious Thought of the Chassidim (Vine of David, 2017) Paul Levertoff
A Profile of Jewish Believers in the UK Church (Wipf & Stock, 2018) Jonathan Allen
April: Hasidism - A New History (Princeton University Press, 2018) A range of contributors including David Biale, David Assaf, Uriel Gellman, Moshe Rosman, Gadi Sagiv and Marcin Wodzinski.
June: The History of Jewish Christianity (Duckworth, 1936 - republished by Bruce Booker - 2009) Hugh Schonfield
Aug: Ezekiel - Tyndale Commentaries (Inter-Varsity Press, 1969) John B Taylor
Sept: The Way of St Benedict (Bloomsbury, 2020) Rowan Williams
Why Being Yourself is a Bad Idea (SPCK, 2020) Graham Tomlin
Oct: He Will Reign Forever - A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom of God (Lampion House, 2020) Michael Vlach
Nov: Bazyli and Anna Jocz – Jewish Christian Victims of the Holocaust (Heritage, 2020) Kelvin Crombie
God is Good - Exploring the Biblical Character of God (Wipf & Stock, 2020) Martin Kuhrt
Dec: Degrees of Separation - Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Pres, 2020) Schnuer Zalman Newfield
Jan 2021 Hidden Heretics - Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age (Princeton University Press, 2020) Ayala Fader
Feb: C.S. Lewis - A Life (Hodder & Stoughton, 2013) Alister McGarth
March: The Cross in Four Words (Good Book Company, 2020) Kevin Deyoung, Richard Coekin and Yannick Christos-Wahab
Monthly Memory Verse
…but they who wait for ADONAI will renew their strength. They will soar up with wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk, and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31 – Messianic Jewish Family Bible - Tree of Life Version)
Teaching Reflection of the Month
This month I had the opportunity to give the monthly staff/public CMJ UK lecture. The theme followed on from my book - 60 Days with Romans and looked at issues raised in Romans 16. The title of the lecture was “More than a footnote? Some key insights from Romans 16”. You can view this lecture on the CMJ UK YouTube Channel.
Also, this month I revisited the book The Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton (SPCK, 1990 - 1ST published by Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1948). I mentioned this book in my Romans 15:8 blog (December 2020) when I shared my interview answers to questions asked by the publication Evangelicals Now! I share below a number of key quotes from this autobiography. Within them I think there is lots to reflect upon and pray into:
The integrity of an artist lifts a man above the level of the world without delivering him from it.
If what most people take for granted were really true – if all you needed to be happy was to grab everything and see everything and investigate every experience and then talk about it, I should have been a very happy person, a spiritual millionaire from cradle even until now.
The only really valuable religious and moral teaching I ever got as a child came to me from my father, not systematically, but here and there and more or less spontaneously, in the course of ordinary conversations. Father never applied himself, of set purpose, to teach me religion. But if something spiritual was on his mind it came out more or less naturally. And this is the kind of religious teaching, or any other kind of teaching, that has the most effect. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good fruit; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”
As a child, and since then too, I have always tended to resist any kind of a possessive affection on the part of any other human being – there has always been this profound instinct to keep clear, to keep free. And only with truly supernatural people have I ever felt really at ease, really at peace.
(as he prepares for his baptism he says) I went downstairs and out into the street to go to my happy execution and rebirth.
God often talks to us directly in Scripture. That is, He plants the words full of actual graces as we read them and sudden undiscovered mysteries are sown into our hearts, if we attend to them, reading with minds that are at prayer.
We all add up to something far beyond ourselves. We cannot yet realise what it is. But we know in the language of our theology, that we are members of the Mystical Christ, and that we all grow together in Him for whom all things were created.