Pastor's Blog

News and (mainly) book reviews from our Senior Pastor, James Collins
2nd June 2020  
The senseless and merciless killing of George Floyd is deeply disturbing although tragically it is only one episode in a long-running saga.  Surely the wicked mistreatment of black people can't continue like this.  Lord, please teach us to treat each other with respect and kindness and fairness.  Please make our church family a beacon of welcoming love to all people irrespective of their background.    
23rd April 2020  
Peter Price (bishop) - Alchetron, The Free Social EncyclopediaPeter Price (retired bishop of Bath and Wells) was baptised some 60 years ago at PBC.  He visited one of our evening services some months ago and subsequently I have got to know him a little.  He has enjoyed an amazing journey in Christian ministry and has become a passionate advocate for peacemaking.
Peter has authored a number of books.  He kindly gave me a copy of his book Things That Make for Peace which I've just finished reading.  His commitment to peacemaking (at every level from the personal to the political) pours through the pages of the book and made a big impression on me.
A significant element of our calling as disciples of Jesus is to make peace.  Peacemaking (rather than 'keeping the peace'  - the cowards way out of conflict) requires courage, wisdom and creativity.  Peter's book will renew your commitment to this vital ministry and give you plenty to chew over in the process.
11th April 2020
On Tim Allen's recommendation, I just read a free short online book by Tim Keller entitled How to Reach the West Again.  It took me less than an hour to read but I'll be thinking about it for some time; it seems to me that it's a very important book.  If you're concerned about how to win people to Christ in our post-Christian culture (and why wouldn't you be?) then this is a great place to start.
You can access the book here (you'll need to sign up for notifications from 'redeemer city to city' but you can unsubscribe from these whenever you like).
11th April 2020
Spirit and Sacrament: An invitation to eucharismatic ...I really enjoyed this book by Andrew Wilson.  He makes an impassioned plea for churches to hold together both charismatic and catholic / sacramental / liturgical spiritualities.  He argues that by holding these seemingly opposed forms of Christianity together we can be spared from the weaknesses of both and enjoy a lively and substantive form of Christianity.
Having grown up in a Pentecostal church and attended and ministered mostly in charismatic churches, I have certainly seen the best and (occasionally) the worst that this stream of Christianity has to offer.  I really warmed towards Andrew Wilson's desire to build a spirituality that is faithful to scripture,  builds unity and incorporates the best of both these two traditions whilst avoiding the dangers of sacramental formalism and charismatic excesses.
Great 'lockdown' reading for pastors and church leaders.
21st March 2020
I finished reading this about a week ago - before the world changed.  Welch makes the case that our desperate need for the approval of others and our (often intense) fear of their disapproval can only be addressed when we relate to God properly.
Welch encourages us to fear God and love people rather than ignoring or domesticating God and fearing people.  His approach is provocative; it not only challenges much contemporary psychobabble but also a good deal of sloppy Christian thinking too.
The 'fear of the Lord' is a biblical theme that we ignore to the detriment of our spiritual health.  God cannot be tamed or contained or reduced.  When we downgrade our God to a divine spaniel who only exists to placate and soothe us, we lose much, much more than we gain.  
20th February 2020
David Chilvers drew my attention to this brilliant (and short) essay by C S Lewis on the subject of forgiveness. You can find it here
Well worth a read and an excellent example of the man's genius.
14th February 2020

Book Review: Dirty Glory by Pete Greig | Author David WileyThis is fantastic!

26th November 2019
bringing-the-gospelUndoubtedly, evangelism is very challenging, particularly so when we are trying to reach those that we love most and who know us best.  I've just finished reading Randy Newman's Bringing the Gospel Home.  It's an excellent book full of wisdom and encouragement.   It has certainly re-energised me to love and witness to those closest to me.
The author's honesty is admirable.  He readily admits the difficulty of the task and resists the temptation of turning evangelism into a technique or 'sure-fire' scheme (I've had more than enough of these - they are like 'clouds without rain').  Nevertheless, he leaves the reader with many thoughtful suggestions and much inspiration for prayer. 
19th September 2019
LuminousAlain Emerson has written a wonderful book.  It comes from his experience of losing his wife a little less than two years into their marriage.  He honestly charts his struggles with God and how his faith deepened and his character was formed through profound grief.  
I can't really do the book justice.  Suffice to say it's beautiful and terrible and inspiring and disturbing and comforting.  Read it and then get your friends to read it.
19th September 2019
wind in islamYou may have heard about this book already.  Based on extensive research, David Garrison charts the course of 'Jesus movements' among Muslims.  It seems that the Lord is doing something very exciting.  
This is an inspiring book.  There is much in the way of suggestions how we can 'fan the flames' of God's work through prayer and practical support.
30th August 2019
One of Purley Baptist's previous ministers, Rev Bill Channon, has interested me for a number of years.  He also ministered at Redhill Baptist Church (my last church).  Basil and Doreen Goodchild recently lent me a copy of a book (Come Life, Come Death) of his sermons published after his sudden death in 1970.  He died just a few weeks before I was born.  I'm sure that you can appreciate why I feel a connection to him.

At both Redhill and Purley Baptist Churches his ministry was exceptionally well received and both churches grew substantially under his leadership.  The book reveals a humble, warm, loving and wise pastor and a bold evangelist with a particular impact upon younger people.   His example is a profound inspiration to me.

Here are one or two quotes from the book that you might like:

You can never possess peace till you possess Christ.  A life outside of Christ is a life outside of peace.  There may be excitement, pleasure, success, but peace never!

If a man anchors himself to that which is transient, when it perishes he too will suffer a like fate.  God is the only permanent Reality in the universe.

Never yield to despondency whatever the temptation, but remember the grace of God, and go steadily on day by day, smiting at every kind of evil within and without, entertaining no fears, giving no quarter to sin, never resting until the battle is over and the victory won.
9th August 2019
I have just started using a new search engine.  Ecosia uses its profits to plant trees. They have recently become 'carbon negative'.  You can read more about them here:

To make the change go to the “Settings” or “Options” (look for the cog icon!) of your internet browser and look for the search engine option. Ecosia may already be listed as an option. Simply select it as the default and start planting - on average a tree gets planted every 45 searches!

13th June 2019
About 60 PBCers had a great time at Spring Harvest back in April.  The main speaker was Pete Greig who inspired us and taught us about prayer.  Since then I've read his God on Mute and I'm now working on How to Pray.  These are great books - really easy to read and full of wisdom about developing a fruitful prayer life.  I look forward to reading Dirty Glory.

In other news, I'm currently suffering with shingles.  I'd appreciate your prayers and hope you'll forgive me if I'm a bit less visible than usual while I recover.
18th May 2019
circle maker Just finished The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.  Really inspiring book on prayer.  Easy to read and very encouraging.  Mark wraps his reflections on prayer around his experience particularly that of the dynamic church he leads in Washington.
18th May 2019
Had a great time praying with the rest of the Leadership Team at the beginning of this week.  Thanks to everyone who was praying for us as we were praying for the church.  I have an increasing passion that PBC develop into a hotbed of passionate and persevering prayer.  Why not join us for our monthly 'Thy Kingdom Come' prayer meeting next Wednesday (22nd May) - 8 pm at the church.?
27th April 2019
Looking forward to 'running' the London Marathon tomorrow with fellow 'PBCers' Ashley Cooke and Andy Collis.  We're raising money for the excellent work of International Needs in Buikwe, Uganda:
26th April 2019
Spent an excellent day at the London School of Theology participating in their annual research conference.  Several excellent papers given - much food for thought.  It was great to meet Professor Pete Ward of Durham University (author of several very well received books - do check them out) and hear his thoughts about celebrity and theology.
28th February 2019
The Bible Project is the best web resource for bible study that I'm aware of.  Their site includes an excellent bible reading plan (you'll need to scroll all the way to the foot of the home page).  Strong recommendation - spend some time looking here:
22nd February 2019
better story

Finished another excellent book.  Glynn Harrison (formerly a professor of psychiatry at Bristol University) offers guidance for Christians as they attempt to negotiate the widening gulf between Christian sexual ethics and those of mainstream culture.  As he rightly observes there is much more pastoral reflection to be done but his book is an excellent and very readable starting point.

19th February 2019
soul keeping I just finished reading Soul Keeping by John Ortberg.  The pace and accompanying strain of modern life can so easily choke our souls - this wonderful book offers invaluable insights into living a life of joy and peace. 

Highly recommended.