Monthly Archives: December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas-CFP

Merry Christmas from all of us here at Christian Focus Publications.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:11–12, ESV

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Catherine Mackenzie’s 12 Books of Christmas – God is My Strength

God is my StrengthMoving on from the books that dominated my summer, this following book has dominated my autumnal weeks as it sparked a rather long trip to the United States in order that I could attend its book launch at Southwestern Seminary in October.

God is My Strength: Fifty Biblical Responses to Issues Facing Women Today

As well as being a book that I’ve enjoyed reading, in its manuscript form, I loved working on the editorial – simply because 1. Pat Ennis is every editor’s dream writer! So great to work with, helpful, relaxed, and 2. This book is just chock full of scripture, and with Pat’s experience as a Christian woman this book is full of practical and spiritual wisdom.

Throughout the book Pat shares God’s Word and God’s Wisdom on the issues that impact all of our lives – issues such as Friendship, God, Myself, My Home and My World.

By the end of the book you find that you’ve opened up your mind to thinking about what God’s will is for your role models, evangelism, money, the holiday season, hospitality, worry, loneliness, and many other topics.

This is a great book for women – that even my Dad enjoyed reading! Again it’s one of those titles you can read from cover to cover or dip in and out of. So you can treat it like your Christmas dinner and read it all at once, or it can be like picking at the leftovers on boxing day when you make multiple visits to the fridge for bits of this and that. 🙂

There are several endorsements for this book one of which is here:

God Is My Strength is about living wisely in His power instead of your own. If that’s your heart’s desire, you’ll find this book to be a dear and constant companion.”
Steve and Becky Miller, Christian Authors

Where to Buy:
God is My Strength is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

God is my Strength Buy Now:

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Catherine Mackenzie’s 12 Books of Christmas – Miracles From Mayhem

Miracles From Mayhem

The reason I’m blogging about this book is that May Nicholson has been like an echo in my life throughout this spring and summer as I’ve worked on a new title of hers: Precious to God.

As I tried to sum up her testimony in a few hundred words I felt that in order to do the best job I could before this book went into the Blythswood shoe boxes for this Christmas I had to actually see where May was working right now. So at one point during the summer I visited her ministry centre: Preshal in Govan, Glasgow for the first time. I was glad to have Irene Howat with me – as the ‘Ghost Writer’ for May’s books she was a valuable source of information before and during my visit.

It was at Preshal that I realised the importance of ‘storytelling’ in the lives of the people who have experienced Christ’s healing within the doors of that wonderful place. As I sat down, eating several slices of hot buttered toast and steaming cups of tea, several people came up to me and said, ‘Can I tell you my story.’ And I went away at the end of that day – exhausted – Yes – but also challenged, encouraged, and amazed.

May’s story on its own is a remarkable example of how God can transform a life… sucked into a life of alcoholism as a young teenager May’s life spiraled out of control… until one day people welcomed her into their midst and shared the Good News of Jesus Christ. The transformation was so dramatic that some time later when she was giving her testimony the local doctor was in floods of tears. The last time he’d seen her he’d hardly expected her to live she was so far gone with her addictions. She had in fact changed so dramatically he hadn’t recognised the smartly dressed woman on the podium as the crazed addict he’d treated in his clinic.

May now reaches out to people who face the same troubles as she did… and if you ever get a chance to visit Preshal in Govan one day, be prepared to listen and to wonder.

But in the meantime read this book and others in the Mayhem series… the story always goes on.

Several of the people I met this summer appear in this book – Renewing Broken Lives.

Where to Buy:
Miracles from Mayhem and Precious to God are available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

Miracles From Mayhem  Buy Now:


Precious to God  Buy Now:

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New in the Christian’s Pocket Guide Series

A Christian's Pocket Guide to SufferingA Christian’s Pocket Guide to Suffering by Brian H. Cosby

When tragedy strikes-the death of a child, hurricanes, a school shooting-we begin looking for an escape from the pain, a way out, or we clamor for answers from a panel of religious “experts” to explain the ever-present question, “Why?” We want answers and we want to believe that our suffering isn’t meaningless.

A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Suffering seeks to simply, but clearly, present a biblical view of suffering so that your feet might land on the solid foundation of God’s Word and the God of that Word and, there, find understanding and hope. All other ground is sinking sand.

Other Books in the Series:
A Christian's Pocket Guide to Loving The Old Testament: One Book, One God, One Story by Alec Motyer A Christian's Pocket Guide to Papacy: Its origin and role in the 21st century by Leonardo De Chirico A Christian's Pocket Guide to Jesus Christ by Mark Jones

A Christian's Pocket Guide to Growing in Holiness: Understanding Sanctifictication by J. V. Fesko A Christian's Pocket Guide to Baptism by Robert Letham A Christian's Pocket Guide to Being Made Right With: God Understanding Justification by Guy Waters


Where to Buy:
A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Suffering and A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Sin are available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

A Christian's Pocket Guide to Suffering  Buy Now:


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Off the Shelf: David Robertson on writing The Dawkins Letters

Off the Shelf Feature

The Dawkins Letters was not a deliberate book.  Towards the end of 2006 I had just finished reading Richard Dawkins The God Delusion.  I felt somewhat frustrated that a book, which was being lauded as the best anti-God book, was so weak in its arguments and ignorant in its history, philosophy and theology.  So I wrote an open letter to Dawkins on the Free Church website, commenting on his first chapter.  A few days later I started getting messages from atheists commenting on my open letter.  I was very impressed that they actually read the Free Church website (many Free Church people don’t bother!).  And then I got a letter from an atheist apologizing for all the things I was being called.  Somewhat surprised I wrote back and asked him what he was talking about.  He directed me to the Dawkins website where my article had been posted on the front page, and by the time I got to it, had almost 700 responses.

What amazed me about these responses was that one third of them were just vitriolic.  It was my first experience of the New Atheism motto ‘there is no God, and I hate him!”   Well I am Scottish and I am, in a good Scots word, ‘thrawn’.   So I decided to reply to some of them.  And I kept going.  Despite being banned more than five times (one of the pseudonyms I came back under was The Wee Flea – because Dawkins had called me a flea that was seeking to make a living off his back – he clearly has no knowledge of the limitations of Christian publishing!), I kept going.  And I decided that the best thing to do was write one chapter in answer to each chapter of The God Delusion.  Christian Focus Publications phoned and asked me if I would be willing to make a book of it and so The Dawkins Letters was born.   Because of the time sensitive nature of the subject I was given very little time – indeed I wrote the whole book in one month.

It was not easy.  Despite the fact I was drawing on over 20 years experience of debating, discussing, reading atheist and other secular material, it was difficult to get the tone of what I wanted.   I did not see The God Delusion as a threat to Christianity at all (indeed if my teenage daughter had not been able to answer it, I would have been disappointed!).  Instead I saw it as a great opportunity to present the good news of Jesus Christ.  Millions of people would read TGD – a book about God, Jesus, the Bible, humanity, truth, love etc.  It is a deeply flawed book, giving all the wrong answers in a sustained illogical rant, but it allowed me to present the opposite case.    I did not write the book for the Christian market, or to reassure Christians.  I wrote it for my non-Christian friends.   That’s why the sub-title of the book is ‘Challenging Atheist Myths’ – because in order to be able to present Christ to many people we first of all have to deconstruct and remove some of the ‘defeater beliefs’ that prevent them even considering Christ.

I found the month of writing (whilst I was still pastoring a growing congregation over the busy Christmas period) difficult and intense.  Spiritually there were times when I struggled and I soon became aware I was in a spiritual battle.  One night I woke up in a cold sweat with an acute sense of evil and darkness.  I went downstairs, prayed and read in my bible Ps 91 and some other psalms and received an assurance from the Lord that he would tell me what to say.  I am NOT claiming that The Dawkins Letters was divinely inspired, as thought the First Letter to Dawkins should be added to the canon!  But I do believe that the Lord assisted and aided me.

The letters are very personal and in my own style.  I was concerned that the humour, irony, passion and style would not be appreciated so I sent the manuscript out to 30 different people to assess – scientists, theologians, students, non-Christians, Europeans, Americans etc.  What amused me was that the atheists loved it, and some of the Christians (especially the Americans) were a bit more wary about the passion, humour and irony.  They were concerned that it would not come across as ‘nice’.   I was delighted with that!

The book was published in early 2007 and much to my surprise (and I think CFP’s) it became a best seller (at least in Christian terms).  I was (am) a nobody.  I am not a famous author/pastor/media personality and I did not want to be.  I just wanted to write something for my non-Christian friends that would help introduce them to Christ.    The Lord has blessed and used it in ways that are to me almost miraculous.   Eight years later it is still in print and (because I foolishly put my e-mail in the book) I am still getting e-mails asking about the contents and seeking to find out more.

Once I got the taste for it I thought I would like to try and take on two of the other New Atheists, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris.   I have since written a response to Hitchens God is not Great’ which is entitled Magnificent Obsession (2013).   How Magnificent Obsession came to be written is another story that is for another time.  I am currently working on a response to Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation, entitled Letter to a Post-Christian Nation.   Prayer is appreciated.  Unlike Dawkins accusation, I don’t write to make money or to be famous.  I just simply want to use the opportunity to present the Gospel in contemporary form to the people in the societies in which we live.  May the Lord continue to use this wee book for his own Glory.

About The Author:

David RobertsonDavid Robertson is pastor of St Peter’s Free Church of Scotland and current Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland. David is a trustee of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity and works to fulfil the Centre’s mission to engage culture with the message of Christ.

Ebook Sale:

The Dawkins Letters, along with Magnificent Obsession and Why I Am Not An Atheist will be available on ebook special offer until December 9, 2015.

Magnificent Obsession Sale Price: $2.99/£1.99


The Dawkins Letters by David Robertson Sale Price: $2.99/£1.99


Why I Am Not An Atheist Sale Price: $2.99/£1.99


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Catherine Mackenzie’s 12 Books of Christmas – Far Above Rubies

Far Above RubiesThe Third Book in my list is Far Above Rubies: The Life of Bethan Lloyd-Jones.

The Christian church has many women throughout its history who have been vital and energetic workers for God’s kingdom. Most of them do not share the accolades or column space that their male counterparts do. A lot of them are like Bethan Lloyd Jones – the help behind the hero, with their work and influence known only to a few close friends and family.

This book on Bethan Lloyd Jones goes some way to informing the rest of us what only a cherished few were aware of in the past – that Bethan Lloyd Jones, the wife of Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones, was of great value in the ministry of her husband – her worth was in fact Far Above Rubies.

This is a refreshingly honest account, one that not only challenges and encourages you  but also brings a smile to your face as you read about this witty and wise woman of faith.

I love it when you read a biography and you come face to face with the human, not the ‘biography character’ – and this is what you witness in this book… Bethan Lloyd Jones, flesh and bone and soul.

This is a great gift to give to any woman, particularly a pastor’s wife, but don’t leave out the guys… someone who has enjoyed reading ‘The Doctor’s’ books in the past will relish this insight to his life.

Again here are a couple of good endorsements of the material:

“What a rich and colorful portrait, of a godly woman who served her Savior with wit and wisdom…This is a portrait worth stopping to relish and study.”
Kathleen B. Nielson, Director of Women’s Initiatives, The Gospel Coalition

“A lovely portrait of a lovely woman of God!…The wisdom and insight drawn from Bethan’s life will be of great encouragement and help to today’s pilgrims.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Author, Revive Our Hearts & radio host, Niles, Michigan

Where to Buy:
Far Above Rubies is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

Far Above Rubies  Buy Now:

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Pleased to Dwell: The Perfect Preparation for Christmas

In the busyness of December – gifts to be bought, decorations to go up, Christmas dinner to organise  – it is easy to lose sight of the wonder of Christmas. At the centre of heaven is Christ, lovingly adored as the forever Lord of all. At the centre of Christmas is Christ, frail and cradled in the tender arms of a young mother. How can the two be put together? Heavenly glory and human frailty? That is the real wonder of Christmas. Pleased to Dwell is an energetic biblical introduction to Christmas. It is an invitation to ponder the Incarnation, and a God who was please to dwell with us.

Building anticipation with the great themes of the Old Testament, enjoying the remarkably distinct birth narratives of Matthew, then Luke, before surveying some great New Testament passages, Pleased to Dwell is an engaging introduction to the wonder of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. This book offers a wealth of ideas for preachers, an easy access mini-reference tool for Bible students, and an enjoyable cover-to-cover read for everyone. Twenty-four short chapters would make a great advent devotional, but this book is not just for Christmas. God’s Son stepped into our world and that changes every day of the year!

Praise for Pleased to Dwell

“This book is perfect food for the heart for all of us who long for a richer understanding of the birth of The King!”

 Joseph M. Stowell, President, Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, Michigan

“Through a clear and accessible explanation of the profound miracle of the incarnation… An ideal introduction to a profound theme – and a great Christmas present!”

 Jonathan Lamb, Keswick Ministries, CEO and minister-at-large

About | Peter Mead

Peter MeadPeter Mead is a mentor with Cor Deo, a small ministry that exists to multiply ministry that shares God’s heart.  He is also on the leadership team of Trinity Chippenham, a new church launched in 2014. Peter leads the Bible Teachers & Preachers Networks at the European Leadership Forum.

Where to Buy:
Pleased to Dwell is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

9781781914267 Buy Now:


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Catherine Mackenzie’s 12 Books of Christmas – A Little Bird Told Me

A Little Bird Told Me: Everyday Expressions from Scripture by Timothy CrossThe second book in my List: Twelve Books of Christmas – is not a Christmas book. In fact none of the titles in this list fit that seasonal mold – though if you’re looking for gifts and even stocking fillers for the adults in your family this year any of these titles would suit.

A Little Bird Told Me: Everyday Expressions from Scripture is a relaxing read, a curl-up-by-the-fire sort of title and a real book lovers book. You know the sort of person who posts on facebook pictures of libraries and gorgeous leather bound books? I could probably tag over half my friends under this description. Well they are just the sort of person who will enjoy digging around these little devotionals.

Timothy Cross has taken 52 well known phrases from the English language and shows us how these phrases have their origins in the Bible. So many of these expressions are ones that I use in everyday life. You’ll even hear them used by people who walk past you in the supermarket or sit beside you on the bus.

A guy stocking shelves in Tesco’s the other day said ‘O ye of little faith’ to his colleague.

I don’t know how many times over the years someone has said to me, ‘Rise and Shine’ as I’ve struggled bleary eyed out of bed.

Just two of the expressions in this book that you will discover have their roots in the Scripture! The English language owes a lot to the Bible. But this book by Timothy Cross is not just a study in linguistics – it’s an enlightening devotional. As well as studying the origins of these sayings the author goes deeper into the spiritual meanings of the phrases.

Where to Buy:
A Little Bird Told Me: Everyday Expressions from Scripture is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

A Little Bird Told Me: Everyday Expressions from Scripture by Timothy Cross  Buy Now:

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Catherine Mackenzie’s 12 Books of Christmas – Held in Honor

Held in HonorOver the next few days I’m going to bash out a few posts about twelve Christian Focus books that have been in that leaning tower of literature on my bedside cabinet over the last year. In no particular order I’m starting off today with

Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past

This book is something I’ve found to be a very easy read but also highly beneficial – even though I’m a single woman. Held in Honor has 50 devotional entries on the subject of marriage, each one written by a Christian from the past or present. People like Paulinus of Nola (354–431) and Piper of Minnesota 🙂 – (1946 to present aka John Piper.)

Each devotional gives a short biography on the writer, a quote that they have written on the theme of marriage and then there is a short additional devotional from the authors: Matthew D Haste and Robert L Plummer.

But to whet your appetite for this book I’ll leave you with a quote from Martin Luther:

In order that we may not proceed as blindly, but rather conduct ourselves in a Christian manner, hold fast first of all to this, that man and woman are the work of God. Keep a tight rein on your heart and lips; do not criticize his work, or call that evil which he himself has called good. He knows better than you yourself what is good and to your benefit, as he says in Genesis [2:18], “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” There you see that he calls the woman good, a helper. If you deem it otherwise, it is certainly your own fault, you neither understand nor believe God’s word and work. See, with this statement of God one stops the mouths of all those who criticize and censure marriage.

There are a good stock of endorsements for this book but the one that jumps out for me is the following:

“As a woman engaged to be married for the first time (in my mid-50s), who loves classic Christian writings and devotional literature, I have found this book to be a treasure trove. A sweet and timely source of wisdom as I seek to honor Christ in a new season and station of life.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Author, Revive Our Hearts & radio host, Niles, Michigan

This is a good book for any library. Not only will it be helpful to married couples, it will be an engaging read for anyone who is a history-buff or simply just interested in the spiritual side to relationships. With it’s easily read format it’s one of those dip into books – a perfect after turkey, boxing day read.

Where to Buy:
Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

Held in Honor Buy Now:

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