The conference was excellent – apart from the food (they had little idea how to cater for my low-carb diet), and the pillows (DH had a bad night on lumpy pillows!). I wasn’t totally comfortable as the majority are ‘complimentarian’… ie they believe women shouldn’t be ordained/in leadership, and some would go so far as to say women shouldn’t preach (and there weren’t many there). But I had a useful conversation with a passing Bishop about how we avoid splitting the evangelical constituency over what should be a secondary issue, in the face of the bigger issue of same sex relationships – which reassured me that my concerns are at least reasonable. But as with so many things, the theory doesn’t match the reality on the ground (which is my hesitation about complimentarianism … I would rather hear good bible teaching from someone though she is a woman, than liberal guff from someone just because he is a man 😦 ). The conference was about inter-church unity (someone’s PHD paper looking specifically at Paul’s letters – excellent stuff) and the evangelical heritage of Anglicanism … though it didn’t really make practical applications to our current situation in which the denomination has failed to defend the truth. Very thought provoking nevertheless.

But the best bit was the bookstall! I spent my pocket money (and a bit more) … nearly all on books I had on my wish list, but to see them in real life was too great a temptation to resist.

PrayerFollowing on from my post about New Year resolutions, Prayer: Awe and Intimacy with God (Tim Keller) is proving to be the inspiration I need … fortunately I’ve just reached the section on putting it into practice 🙂

PsalmsI started the year with Keller’s My Rock, My Refuge – a year of daily devotions in the Psalms. However, the writings are brief, and perhaps I lack the discipline to engage with them adequately. By contrast, Alec Motyer’s Psalms by the Day takes concentration … I wouldn’t have sufficient to read a whole section at bedtime (my usual ‘quiet time’)! But it is a delight. I hope to manage a complete section every two or three days … whether in one sitting or in parts. And I think I shall have to go on to read his companion volume Isaiah by the Day.

So for bedtime reading I now have Daily Readings from all four Gospels based on the writings of J C Ryle. Actually, they are morning and evening readings (after the manner of C H Spurgeon) … I have yet to decide whether to make it last two years, or to push myself to the discipline of reading twice in a day? Not that I have yet begun …

John's lettersOne book not already in my sights was Walking in Truth and Love (David Mulready) … six weeks of readings from 1, 2 & 3 John. Not specifically arranged for Lent, nevertheless I will make it my Lent book for this year, and indeed I have already started though it’s not yet Lent (after all, there will be one or two nights on which I’m passed any measure of concentration by bedtime), so to get ahead will even out in the end 🙂

NIVI thoroughly recommend all these books. However one book I hesitate to recommend is something of a disappointment – though not, I hasten to add, the content. The Zondervan NIV (2011) Study Bible (Don Carson) is in a typeface that is not easy to read … such a drawback. I’m not a fan of the NIV 2011 edition* in any case, but had looked forward to the study notes and articles. Sadly, the narrow, serif font is quite pale and for me, makes reading difficult. There is, fortunately, a digital version which you can access having purchased the hard copyunclear … OK online, but I’m struggling to load it on my tablet. Ho hum, you can’t win them all! (You could simply choose to buy the digital version in the first place, of course!)

*Sadly the previous edition (NIV 1984) has been withdrawn. While the translation of the 2011 is sometimes an improvement, the drive to use inclusive language makes some basic biblical truths unclear.

Fortunately, we found a couple of spare copies of the NIV84 – so can continue to use if for the foreseeable future. The obvious alternative is the ESV, a more direct translation than the NIV, though the English is rather clumsy at times. We continue with the NIV simply from familiarity – and the fact that our church bibles are NIV84!