Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Cosmetic Changes (2)

This article's been written by the Times columnist..
the world's gone so mad even the atheists are starting to make sense

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good…

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I’ve just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.

And I’m afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

The Golden Calf (2)




more great Christian cartoon messages here

Friday, 26 December 2008

Consider the birds of the air...

How's this for meditating on Christ in all of creation..

a couple of quotes from John Flavel - 1650s England

THE SIGHT OF A BLACKBIRD TAKING SANCTUARY IN A BUSH FROM A PURSUING HAWK.

When I saw how hardly the poor bird was put to it to save herself from her enemy, who hovered just over the bush in which she was fluttering and squeaking, i could not but hasten to relieve her, pity and succour being a debt due to the distressed, which., when I had done, the bird would not depart from the bush, though her enemy was gone. This act of kindness was abundantly repaid by this meditation, with which I returned to my walk. My soul, like this bird, was once distressed, pursued, yea, seized by Satan, who had certainly made a prey of it, had not Jesus Christ been a sanctuary to it in'that hour of danger. How ready did I find him to receive my poor soul into his protection ! Then did he make good that sweet promise to my experience, :' Those that come unto me, I will in no wise cast out." It called to mind that pretty and pertinent story of the philosopher, who walking in the fields, a bird, pursued by a hawk, flew into his bosom ; he took her out and said, " Poor bird, I will neither wrong thee, nor expose thee to thine enemy, since thou eamest to me for refuge." So tender, and more than so, is the Lord Jesus to distressed souls that come unto him. Blessed Jesus ! how should I love and praise thee, glorify and admire thee, for that great salvation thou hast wrought for me ? If this bird had fallen into the claws of her enemy, she had been torn to pieces, indeed, and devoured, but then a few minutes had dispatched her, and ended all her pain and misery ; but had my soul f;illen into the hand of Satan, there had been no end to my misery.

Would not this scared bird be flushed out of the bush that secured her, though I had chased away her enemy ? And wilt thou, O my soul, ever be enticed or scared from Christ thy refuge ? O let this for ever engage thee to keep close to Christ, and make me say, with Ezra, "And now, O Lord, since thou hast given me such a deliverance as this, should I again break thy commandments!"


UPON THE SIGHT OF DIVERS GOLDFINCHES INTERMINGLING WITH A FLOCK OF SPARROWS.

Methinks these birds do fitly resemble the gaudy courtiers, and the plain peasants ; how spruce and richly adorned with shining and various colored feathers (like scarlet richly laid with gold and silver lace) are those ? How plainly clad in a homespun country ruffet are these I Fine feathers, saith our proverb, make proud birds; and yet the feathers of the sparrow are as useful and beneficial, both for warmth and flight, though not so gay and ornamental, as the others : and if both were stript out of their feathers, the sparrow would prove the better bird of the two ; by which I see that the greatest worth doth not always lie under the finest clothes ; and besides, God can make mean and homely garments as useful and beneficial to poor and despised Christians, as the ruffling and shining garments of wanton gallants are to them; and when God shall strip men out of ill external excellencies, these will be found to excel their glittering neighbors in true worth and excellency.
Little would a man think such rich treasures of grace, wisdom, humility, &c. lay under some russet coats.

Sæpe sub attrita latitat sapientia veste. Under poor garments more true worth may be than under silks that whistle—who but he.

'Whilst, on the side, the heart of the wicked, as Solomon hath observed, is little worth, how much soever his clothes be worth. Alas ! it falls out too frequently among us, as it doth with men in the Indies, who walk over the rich veins of gold and silver ore, which lie hid under a ragged and barren surface and know it not. For my own part, I desire not to value any man by what is extrinsical and wordly, but by that true internal excellency of grace, which makes the face to shine in the eyes of God and good men : I would contemn a vile person, though never so glorious in the eye of the world, but honor such as fear the Lord, how sordid and despicable soever to appearance.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

It's Christmas

Glen's done a few good posts on the Reason for the season:

Incarnation & Trinity

Incarnation & Creation

Incarnation & Salvation


And hopefully if Leon doesn't mind - I'll take a quote from his essay on Irenaeus's view of the incarnation:

“Original creation was not ‘perfect’ for Irenaeus. It is good, and even very good, but not perfect, though it can be perfected. For Irenaeus, salvation (and the incarnation) is not a consequence of the Fall of creation, but that creation is a consequence of “God’s project of salvation.” For Irenaeus, a created thing is intrinsically changeable, corruptible and subject to decay. Focusing on man, from the start he was “childish and immature and not yet fully trained for an adult way of life… so God could have offered perfection to man at the beginning, but man, being yet an infant, could not have taken it”, hence the Fall. In Irenaeus theology, the Fall seemed to have been unavoidable, because man is created and is not in himself filled by the Spirit to be enabled to fight decay and corruption. Man matures only as the Image (Spirit-filled Son) takes on the flesh of Adam so as to take Adam’s flesh into the Image, and thus fill Adam’s flesh with the Likeness of God(Spirit). In Irenaeus own words, “Now this is His Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, who in the last times was made a man among men, that He might join the end to the beginning, that is, man to God.” This, for Irenaeus, is “recapitulation”. It is not a return to Eden, for man to once again be immature and fall, but to perfection along with all creation where what is “mortal should be conquered and swallowed up by immortality, and corruptible by incorruptibility.””

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Generous Giving

here's a really interesting website on giving to God:

http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=43&page=589#503

whole bunch of questions dealt with
I was quite interested with the questions on whether we should give to non-Christian charities, giving outside the church itself (to independent Christian ministries), and giving directly to the needy... (21-23)

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Cosmetic changes...

Recycling, cruelty to animals, free-range, organic...

Interesting how Christians seem to think these are the issues of the modern church to champion... especially the liberal churches

So what are the options?

1. Lead the way
2. Do the opposite
3. Ignore everything

Personally I sometimes want to do number 2.. just out of spite...
but of course not really the Godly option
neither in some way is number 3 - since God does not want to ignore people - as opposed to worldly concerns

Also biblically there are a number of interesting verses:
For example:

Deut 20:19 - When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you?


Jonah 4:11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?

and many others on plant/animal welfare etc...
now I'm sure they have a deeper gospel meaning...
but let's use them for the sake of argument

So then what is the Christian perspective on these issues?
Join in with the world's insane crusades to create earthly Utopia & ignore the new creation?
Say everything will burn anyway and be made new - so let's give it a helping hand?
Ignore everybody and everything?

How about this:
The problem with dealing with all these issues, whether preaching for them or against them is that they are all merely external problems
It's basically cosmetic surgery...
That person is really evil - let's give him a facelift
Now that may make everything look better - but actually solves nothing

We know that the problem is ultimately the human heart - it is sin

Hosea 4:
Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns,and all who dwell in it languish,and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away.


So if we then try to attempt to change the way we live by changing what is external - it usually leads to a whole host of other problems and issues, and ultimately is utterly useless..

That is why, eventhough God who is concerned for animals and creation, etc... never requests us to do such futile works, because He knows that that actually solves nothing!

What then is to be done?
The gospel - Jesus Christ - solves everything
Follow Him, have a heart transplant - proper surgery - then you get rid of the core issues, rebellion, consumerism, gluttony, oppression, greed, etc, etc....

Now a society living like Jesus would never have all the cosmetic problems either
and ultimately that is the Kingdom of heaven - filled with Jesus Christ's body - living lives that will never cause any of these situations

Let's take a real life example from history:

Crime in the UK
What does a Christian do?
The 'hardcore' crew: - Build more prisons, hire more police, Christians becoming community support officers??
The 'soft' crew: - Teach better in schools, have more youth centres, hug children when they're young??
All these campaigns may have sense from a worldly point of view - and in some sense you have to pity the world - because that's all they can really do anyway! But they all don't really work and have huge problems of their own

Now how about this - go preach the gospel, invite people to ACTUALLY live like Jesus
What happened in Wales in the early 1900s?
100,000 new Christians in 6 months
Alcoholism halved
Crime drops radically
Gambling dens are closed
Judges have to resign because there are no cases
People are genuinely helping and loving one another
(read more here)

Doesn't this solve a whole myriad of social problems and at a level WAY above anything those 'campaigns' could achieve?

Let's stop thinking we have only the world's rather pathetic solutions to these deep heart problems
We have the gospel - we have the Spirit of God
Don't act as though we are defeated - Christ is victorious!
The gospel can overcome so much more than we ever imagine
to start Christian-led worldly campaigns is a losing battle
It is quite ridiculous, it is fatalistic, it is definitely not keeping our eyes on the things to come, on heavenly things

What is the issue you are worried about?
Follow Christ... really... do what He says
Invite others to do the same
That solves all the problems
That is the life of the new creation
That Life will be reality very soon

Monday, 8 December 2008

The Tangible Spirit

How does the Holy Spirit do stuff?

Frequently we end up with inevitabilities or terms like 'mystic' or 'mysterious'

But I think it's a bit more tangible than that

for instance - in Glen's post here: Barcode or Magnum?
The gospel itself is the power of salvation - we carry the very words of the Spirit
but then it is not really mere words is it?
Because to a 'spiritual man' - the gospel comes with the Spirit Himself! and produces conviction (cf. 1 Thess 1:5)

Was talking with Tom & Leon about the mystic union we share with Christ
how that too is quite tangible - it is very real, very physical
thus that if one shares one's body with a prostitute - one unites Christ with darkness
similarly if one member of the body suffers - all suffer
or if you sin in the flesh - you grieve the Spirit

I have this view that the Spirit works like a counsellor
He tells us what to do - and then to walk in the Spirit - is to do it
Counsellor isn't it?

But as we do the things the Spirit desires of us, and not do the things that grieve Him or cause Him to withdraw (in a relationship sense) - the tangibility of the Spirit becomes more and more apparent

these connections to Christ and His body are more real - as Paul can say with a great deal of power that he will be there in Spirit
The Spirit influences all decisions and even puts creation and it's functioning into our very being as we are brought up closer into Christ - cf. Acts 27 when Paul knows what is going to happen with the ship -it's as though he has become linked to the whole body of Christ - creation and the church itself!

Food no longer is the satisfaction - Christ - the Word - becomes more of a real filling up and fulfilment

Our feeble attempts at healing one another become real - closing even mortal wounds - our attempts at communication become clearer - crossing language barriers becomes no problem with 'tongues'

The only reason most of the church considers these things mysterious or terminated is the lack of closeness with Him who indwells the body of Christ - follow Him and He will consolidate, even solidify these things - they will become reality.. until the day even our very flesh is transformed into the very physical nature of the Spirit Himself!

Faith & Works

The age old debate of faith vs works:

The Reformers basically knee-jerked everything back to faith on Christ alone
and rightfully so.. and their definitions were quite carefully made

Today however it has become quite common to hear preaching that faith involves doing nothing... and the minute words like 'discipline' and 'duty' come up - that is legalism

Now faith always leads to obedience.. because faith while in itself is not a 'thing' - it is a trusting, a knowledge-based, Word-based conviction that results in the newly-enabled 'Yes' to the divine invitation of following Christ

So then faith is doing EXACTLY what the object of faith proclaims - that is doing whatever Jesus tells us to do - the more we do it, the more faith we have - similarly the less we do, the less faith we have. Now this is not a discussion about being born again.

Faith is to rest in Who our Father in heaven is and to trust that by doing everything He says, everything will be alright, everything will be taken care of, everything will inevitably be good - what He does not say is that everything will be easy or pleasant - but He does say everything will be good

Now to do the 'works of the law' or 'dead works' is to oppose faith - it is to resent Christ - it is to say I want to go my own way - I want to leave Eden and create my own life for myself - inevitably resulting in death

Next - what is so bad about works?
Of course first and foremost it denies Christ and all He does - it undermines who God is
But what about this - the people so often accused of doing works are the Pharisees and Israelites like them - they act without knowledge - not because they do not know but rather they suppress the truth by being disobedient

Why does Jesus hate this?
To do one's own works to gain salvation is actually playing the part of the prostitute - the adulteress
We act like sin acts - we attempt to seduce - to dress ourselves up in a hypocritical show of the things we think God will like in order to arm twist Him to do the things we want to do ourselves
This is really powerplay - we desire to consume God - like sin does with us - we become sin itself - we desire to be God ourselves

In all this God's appropriate response is the same as He tells Cain - dominate and destroy - He has no time for the adulterer - she must be cast away and burned - she has no love for Him - she hates Him and only uses Him to achieve her own selfish desires

This is all forms of idolatry and moralism - it is not the poor child desperately seeking His Father's love in all the wrong places - it is the harlot seeking wealth and possessions from anyone and anything she can get it from - whatever the abuse that comes with it. Demons love this stuff - they get a real rush out of it - seeing us flaunt our nakedness before them and flattering them by doing the things they love to see - then abusing us for it - teasing us with the things we were asking for as well as degrading us further - before finally disposing us like the street trash we are...

Forget all this - let us come to the Living God for Who He is and what He has done - let us trust Him and do what He says - this is faith... let us seek Him with all our heart and seek His will for He is good and worthy to be followed - He has proven it

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Vindicate His holy name...

A sermon on Ezekiel 36:22-32

http://www.mediafire.com/?tnz4t3d5zni

An attempted explanation on the reasons for the destruction of the physical Israel, sin, the cross, and the new Israel...
(ambitious isn't it? haha)

Lifehouse - Everything

Note the interesting theology of salvation...

To love God is to know God...

"Theology is not a subject like other subjects. Rather, because of the universal claims of Christ, it seeks to boldly go where no mere discipline would dare, and inform every other branch of knowledge. The university grew out of the theological faculty, and, if the gospel is to be believed, may never leave it. For, as Abraham Kuyper said, ‘there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, “Mine!”’ Thus in every aspect of our living and knowing we should seek to be informed by the word which is truth, and not to be led astray by any other words that falsely claim supremely authoritative knowledge. This is doing theology." - Mike Reeves

From this article: http://www.theologynetwork.org/theology-of-everything/starting-out/fear-and-loathing-in-las-vagueness.htm

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The Faithful Witness

Revelation 1:5 ...Jesus Christ the faithful witness...

On judgement day, Christ acknowledges us based on one thing:

Matthew 10:32-33 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

The Christian life we lead now is not a life of morality or 'religion'
Rather it is one of servitude, one of being slaves of the Master, sons and heirs of His household

Who cares if we are 'good people' (e.g. Rich young ruler)
Who cares if we are very religious (e.g. Pharisees)
Who cares if we consider the Lord a hard man (e.g. Parable of Talents)

The Lord wants people who love Him
The Lord wants people who will declare His name for His sake
The Lord glorifies those who glorify Him

Therefore our words matter... because they testify about Him
Indeed how can the mouth that speaks Christ also speak the waters of death?

Therefore our actions matter... we do good deeds in the sole hope that others recognise our Father in heaven
We cannot disqualify our testimony of Him by what we do - and so on this we are also judged (cf. Rom 2, etc)
Works that have no witness to our Father are utterly useless

Therefore above all, our heart matters
Because only a heart in love with God for who God is because of what God has done can and will desire to testify about Him to others for His name's sake

This is the Christian - there is no other who will be acknowledged before the Father
Everyday we deny ourselves, we go to the cross, because only cross-work will allow the revelation of our Father in heaven - as Jesus did before us

What did Jesus actually command?

From Blackham's blog:

The 'direct' commands of Christ in Matthew's gospel's sermon on the mount:

The Commands of Jesus
Matthew 4:17 – “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
Matthew 5:12 – “Rejoice and be very glad”, when you are persecuted for Jesus’
sake.
Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good
works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:22 – “Whosoever shall say “Fool” shall be in danger of hell fire”
Matthew 5:25 – “Agree with your opponent quickly”
Matthew 5:28 – “Whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed
adultery with her already in his heart”
Matthew 5:29‐30 – “If your right eye/hand offend you, pluck/cut it off”
Matthew 5:37 – “Let your yes be yes and your no be no”
Matthew 5:39 – “Do not resist evil”
Matthew 5:39 – “If someone hits you on the right cheek, let him hit you again on
the other cheek”
Matthew 5:40 – “If someone takes your coat, let him have your cloak as well.”
Matthew 5:41 – “If someone forces you to go one mile, then go two miles for
them”
Matthew 5:42 – “Give when people ask from you”
Matthew 5:44 – “Love your enemies. Bless your enemies and never curse them”
Matthew 5:44 – “Do good to those who hate you.”
Matthew 5:44 – “Pray for those that abuse you and persecute you.”
Matthew 5:48 – “Be perfect just as the Father is perfect.”
Matthew 6:1 – “Do not do charity in public”
Matthew 6:5 – “Do not sow off in your prayers”
Matthew 6:7 – “Do not use pointless repetitions in your prayers”.
Matthew 6:9‐13 – Pray using the pattern of the “Lord’s Prayer”
Matthew 6:16 – “When you fast, do it secretly”
Matthew 6:19 – “Do not possess many things that have value in this world”
Matthew 6:20 – “Possess lots of things that will have value in heaven”
Matthew 6:25 – “Do not think about this present life – whether food, drink or
clothing”
Matthew 6:28 – “Consider the lilies”
Matthew 6:33 – “Seek the kingdom of God as your top priority in life”
Matthew 6:34 – “Don’t worry about tomorrow”
Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge people”
Matthew 7:3‐5 – “Don’t focus on other people’s faults. Deal with your own.”
Matthew 7:6 – “Don’t give holy things to unholy people”
Matthew 7:7 – “Ask, seek and knock”
Matthew 7:12 – “Treat others as you would like to be treated”
Matthew 7:13 – “Enter in through the narrow gate”
Matthew 7:15 – “Beware of false teachers”
Matthew 7:24‐27 – Obey the commands of Jesus.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Friday, 14 November 2008

A little bit of Danish...

For some strange reason..
ended up doing the KFS (IFES equivalent) conference near Copenhagen

these are a couple of hour-long talks on 'Who is Jesus' and 'So what?'

http://www.mediafire.com/?wlzmhyrntzk

http://www.mediafire.com/?dymkktmkqod

Didn't know there was a Scandinavian revival about 100+ years ago!
Although now there must be just around 100 Christian students in the whole of Copenhagen!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

The Golden Calf

Update:



Check out Glen's post:

http://christthetruth.wordpress.com/2008/10/31/not-a-great-image/

How much more revealing can you get...

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

If God were your Father...

This still makes my blood boil in so many different ways...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7706977.stm

Monday, 3 November 2008

Purifying yourself...

A short 15min sermon on 1 John 2:28 - 1 John 3:3

http://www.mediafire.com/?jozmgwivcry

Sin loves to fester in the darkness - the love of God demands that we drag it screaming out of its hiding hole into the Light where it can be exposed and destroyed, both in guilt and power...

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Hammertime...

From the Merrie Theologiane

On this day, 491 years ago, Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg 95 theses for debate over the matter of indulgences.


An actual photo of Luther nailing up his theses

Some of the theses were actually quite funny, like Thesis 82, which asked why the pope didn’t just release all souls from purgatory out of love, instead of charging for it. Later, though, Luther realised he’d missed a trick, and he circulated a pamphlet inviting people to see an even greater collection of relics than that in Wittenberg. This included:

· Three flames from the burning bush on Mt Sinai
· Two feathers and an egg from the Holy Spirit
· Half a wing of the archangel Gabriel
· A section of Moses’ left horn [Exod 34:29, in the Vulgate, Moses‘ face was ‘horned’ from the conversation with the Lord]
· Two ells of sound from the trumpets on Mt Sinai
· A remnant of the flag with which Christ opened hell
· A large lock of Beelzebub’s beard, stuck on the flag

Who says you have to be always serious to reform the Church? The laughter of the Reformation was one its most powerful weapons, exposing and humiliating bankrupt theology.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Losing the conviction of sin

A portion of Jonathan Edwards sermon on Hosea 5:15

Hos. 5:15. — I will go and return to my place, till they
acknowledge their offence, and seek my face; in their affliction they
will seek me early.


Doctrine, It is God’s manner to make men sensible of their misery and
unworthiness, before he appears in his mercy and love to them; particularly
before he appears in his redeeming love and mercy to their souls.

Second use. To exhort those, who have some convictions of sin and
danger, that they do not lose them. If you have the strivings of God’s
Spirit, God has met with you, led you to reflect upon your sins, and
sensible that you are in danger of hell; and so made you concerned about
your soul, and put you upon seeking salvation. Take heed that you do not
lose your convictions, and grow senseless of eternal things, and negligent
of your soul’s concern, that you do not return to your former careless way
of living, that you do not return to your former sins. Here consider,

1. That there is danger of it. It is not all who are under concern for their
souls, and who, by the strivings of God’s Spirit, are put upon seeking and
striving for salvation, who hold out. There are many more, who set out at
the beginning of the race, who do not hold Out to the end. Many things
intervene between the beginning and the end of the race, which divert, and
stop, and turn back many who commenced well, There are many, who
seem to be under strong convictions, and to be very earnest in seeking,
whose convictions are but short-lived. And some, who seem to be much
concerned about salvation for a considerable time, it may be for years
together, yet by degrees grow careless and negligent, There is much in
your own heart, which tends to stupify you. It is the natural tendency of sin
and lust, to stupify the conscience. And as corruption is reigning as yet in
your heart, it will ever be ready to exert itself in such acts, as will have a
great tendency to drive away your convictions. And Satan is doubtless
diligently watching over you, striving in all ways to abate, and to take off,
your convictions, he joins in with the sloth and lusts of your heart to
persuade to negligence, and to turn your mind to other things. And the
world is full of objects, which tend to take off your mind from the soul’s
concern, and are constantly, as it were, endeavouring to take possession of
your mind, and to drive out the concerns of another world.

2. Consider, if you lose your convictions, it will be no advantage to you
that ever you had them, as to any furtherance of your salvation. Whatever
terrors you have been under about damnation, to whatever reflections you
have been brought upon your sins, whatever strong desires you have had
after deliverance, and whatever earnest prayers you have made, it will all
be lost. What you have suffered of fear and concern will turn to no good
account; and what you have done, the pains you have taken, will be utterly
lost, When you have strove against sin, and laboured in duty, have
stemmed the stream, and have proceeded a considerable way up the hill,
and made some progress towards the kingdom of heaven, when once you
have lost your convictions, you will be as far from salvation as you were
before you began; you will lose all the ground you have gained; you will go
quite down to the bottom of the hill; the stream will immediately carry you
back. All will be lost; you had as good never have had those convictions, as
to have had them, and then to lose them.

3. You do not know that you shall ever have such an opportunity again.
God is now striving with you by his Spirit. If you should lose the strivings
of his Spirit, it may be that God’s Spirit would never return again. If you
are under convictions, you have a precious opportunity, which, if you knew
the worth of it, you would esteem as better than any temporal advantages.
You have a price in your hands to get wisdom, which is more valuable than
gold or silver, It is a great privilege to live under means of grace, to enjoy
the word and ordinances of God, and to know the way of salvation, It is a
greater thing still to live under a powerful dispensation of the means of
grace under a very instructive, convincing ministry. But it is a much greater
privilege still to be the subject of the convincing influences of the Spirit of
God. If you have these, you have a precious advantage in your hands. And
if you lose it, it is questionable whether you ever have the like advantage
again, We are counselled to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to
call upon him while he is near. Isa. 55: 6. A time in which God’s Spirit is
striving with a man by convictions of his sin and danger, is especially such
a time, that is a sinner’s best opportunity. It is especially a day of salvation.
God may be said to be near, when he pours out his Spirit upon many in the
place where a person dwells. It is prudence for all then to be calling upon
God as being near at such a time. But especially is God near, at a time
when he is pouring out his Spirit in immediately convincing and awakening
a man’s own soul. If therefore God’s Spirit is now at work with you, you
have a precious opportunity. Take heed that you do not by any means let it
slip. It may doubtless be said concerning many, that they have missed their
opportunity. Most men, who live under the gospel, have a special
opportunity, that there is a certain season, which God appoints for them,
which is, above all others, a day of grace with them, when men have a very
fair opportunity for securing eternal salvation, if they did but know it, and
had hearts for it. But the misery of man is great upon him; for man
knoweth not his time. The wise man tells us, Ecc. 8: 6, 7. that “To every
purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great
upon him. For he knoweth not that which shall be.” And again, Ecc. 9:12.
“Man knoweth not his time.” If the Spirit of God is now striving with you,
it may be it is your time; and it may be your only time. Be wise, therefore,
and understand the things which belong to your peace, before they are hid
from your eyes. You have not the influences of the Spirit of God in your
own power. You cannot have convictions and awakenings when you
please. God is sovereign as to the bestowment of them. If you are ready to
flatter yourself, that although you neglect now, when you are young, yet
you shall be awakened again; that is a vain and groundless presumption. It
is a difficult thing for a man who has been going on in a sinful course, to
reform. There are a great many difficulties in the way of thorough
reformation. If you therefore have reformed, and returned again to your
former sin, you will have all those difficulties to overcome again.

4. If you lose your convictions, and return again to a way of allowed
sinning, there will be less probability of your salvation, than there was
before you had any convictions. Backsliding is a very dangerous and
pernicious thing to men’s souls, and is often spoken of as such in God’s
word; which was signified in that awful dispensation of God in turning
Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt, to be a standing emblem of the danger of
looking back after one has set out in a way of religion. The ill to which
they are subject, who lose their convictions, is not merely the loss of their
convictions. Their convictions are not only a means of no good to them,
but they turn to much ill. It would have been better for them that they had
never had them. For they are now set more remote from salvation than
they were before. For having risen some considerable way towards heaven,
and falling back, they sink lower, and farther down towards hell, than ever
they were. The way to heaven is now blocked up with greater difficulties
than ever it was. Their hearts now are become harder for light, and
convictions being once conquered, they evermore are an occasion of a
greater hardness of heart than there was before. Yea, there is no one thing
whatsoever, which has so great a tendency to it. Man’s heart is hardened
by losing convictions, as iron is hardened by being heated and cooled. If
you are awakened, and afterwards lose your convictions, it will be a harder
thing to awaken you again. If there were only that you are growing older,
there would be less probability of your being awakened again; for as
persons grow older they grow less and less susceptible of convictions; evil
habits grow stronger and more deeply rooted in the heart. You greatly
offend God by quenching his Spirit, and returning as a dog to his vomit,
and as a sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. And there is
danger that God will say concerning you, as he did concerning Jerusalem,
Eze. 24:13.
“Because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt
not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my
fury to rest upon thee.”
If you return again to your wicked course, if you should go to hell at last,
you will lament that ever you have had any convictions; you will find your
punishment so much the heavier. And if you should be hereafter awakened,
and set about striving for salvation, yet you will probably find harder work
in it; you do but make work for yourself by your backsliding. You will not
only have all to do over again which you have done, and which you must
have done, if you had gone on, but there will be new work for repentance.
There probably must be greater and more dreadful terrors; and it may be, a
much longer time spent in seeking and striving, a more difficult work with
your own headstrong corruptions. If you were but sensible of one half of
the disadvantages of backsliding, and the many woes and calamities in
which it will involve you, you would be careful not to lose your
convictions.

5. Consider the encouragement there is in Scripture to persevere in seeking
salvation, as in Hos. 6: 3. “Then shall we know if we follow on to know
the Lord.” Thence we may gather, that God usually gives success to those
who diligently, and constantly, and perseveringly seek conversion. And that
you be the better directed in taking care not to lose your convictions, it is
convenient that you should be aware of those things which are common
occasions of persons losing their convictions, I shall therefore briefly
mention some of them.

1. Persons falling into sin is very often the occasion of their losing their
convictions. Some temptation prevails, so that they are drawn into some
sin. Some lust upon some occasion has been stirred up, and they have been
overcome by their sinful appetites, and have provoked God to anger. It
may be they have been drawn into some criminal act of sensuality, and so
have quenched the Spirit. Or they have got into some quarrel with some
persons. Their spirits are disturbed, and heated with malice and revenge,
and they have acted sinfully, or have sinfully expressed themselves, and
have driven away the Spirit of God. These are the most ready ways to put
an end to convictions.

2. Sometimes there happens some diverting occasion; there is some
incident which for the present diverts their minds. Their minds are taken off
from their business for a short time. They are drawn into company. It may
be they see something which revives a desire of worldly enjoyments and
entertainments; or they are engaged in some exercise and business, which
diverts their minds. And so afterwards they are more careless than they
were before. They are not so strict in attending private duties; and
carelessness and stupidity by degrees steal upon them, till they wholly lose
their convictions.

3. Some change in their circumstances takes off their minds from the
concerns of their souls. Their minds are diverted by the new circumstances
with which they are attended; or are taken up with new pleasures and
enjoyments, or with new cares and business, in which they are involved. It
may be they grow richer. They prosper in the world, and their worldly
good things crowd in, and take possession of their minds. Or worldly cares
are increased upon them, and they have so many things to look after, that
their minds are taken up, and they have not time to look after their souls.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Hmm...

Guess Lambeth didn't turn out the way he hoped...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7689186.stm

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Devolution

One wonders if person mentioned is like a little adolescent teenager who so insists he is not guilty of wrong-doing that he denies the whole education system...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7681914.stm

well.. he'll go the way of the Dodo soon...

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Parables

Speaking of parables..
they are confusing little things aren't they?

This is my attempted explanation in a short talk - do help =)
(again excuse the poor quality and pauses)

Mark 4

Friday, 3 October 2008

Bible Overview

I finally have in my hands this book:

The Bible Overview by Steve Levy & Paul Blackham
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bible-Overview-Steven-Levy/dp/1845503783

It is so good, it is already out of stock at Amazon.co.uk!

A must read for every new Christian or every Christian that does not know how all of Scripture is about Jesus

but remember... don't just buy this book for your friend - the call to follow Christ is a call to discipleship - do not disconnect that with buying books and downloading mp3 sermons - live with them, talk with them, walk with them

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The Jesus Parables

Glen's doing a great series yet again
this time of identifying Christ in all the parables!

The parable of the hidden treasure & pearl

The parable of the Good Samaritan

The Prodigal Son

Saturday, 27 September 2008

You've gotta love Spurgeon....

‘A merry heart doeth good like a medicine’
Thursday, September 25th, 2008

‘What a bubbling fountain of humour Mr. Spurgeon had! I laughed more, I verily believe, when in his company than during all the rest of my life besides.’ That’s what people said about Charles Spurgeon, the nineteenth century ‘prince of preachers’.



A 19th century cigarette card of Spurgeon. The text reads: ‘When I have found intense pain relieved, a weary brain soothed, and calm refreshing sleep obtained by a Cigar, I have felt grateful to God and have blessed His name.’

There was laughter everywhere with Spurgeon, too much so for some. Someone once complained about all the gags in his sermons, to which Spurgeon said ‘He would not blame me if he only knew how many of them I keep back.’

His love of cigars provided a steady stream of giggles. While he would enjoy a cigar en route to his church so as to prepare his throat, others felt this to be unchristian behaviour. ‘Mr Spurgeon, tobacco is the devil!’ said one outraged contemporary. ‘Yes, that’s why I burn it!’ replied the preacher. (Lest the reader is worried, he once told a fellow preacher that if ever he smoked excessively, he would quit smoking immediately. The suspicious colleague asked ‘What would you call smoking to excess?’ ‘Why, smoking two cigars at the same time’, replied Spurgeon.)

Such humour was an effective way of bringing to the surface the real issues in the people around him. One day, for instance, a rather pompous gentlemen loudly exclaimed to his face ‘Mr Spurgeon, I don't agree with you about religion; I am an agnostic.’ ‘Yes!’ he replied, ‘that is a Greek word, and the exact equivalent is ignoramus; if you like to claim that title, you are quite welcome to.’

At other times, there wasn’t much of a reason, he just enjoyed the joke. During a heated few months when he debated some theologians who believed in baptismal regeneration, he quietly had a baptismal font installed in his back garden as a birdbath. ‘The spoils of war’, he called it

All this is made rather pertinent by the fact that Spurgeon used to suffer from terrible attacks of melancholy. More than anything else, his humour was a weapon for his own heart. He knew the truth of Proverbs 17:22. As he put it when preaching on Philippians 4:4, ‘I want you to notice, dear friends, that this rejoicing is commanded. It is not a matter that is left to your option.... You are commanded to rejoice, brethren, because this is for your profit.’

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Boaz - in Him is eternal life

Here's the really fast Christ focused commentary on Ruth


- the condition of the time of the judges is spiritual anarchy
- this is represented by the life of Elimelech (my God is King)
o They reject their God who is King
o they marry into the despicable practises of Moab
o the results are Mahlon and Chilion – famine and pestilence
o indeed there is no bread in Bethlehem (the house of bread)
o Ultimately it will take the death of the God who is the King of the Jews to kill famine and pestilence and restore bread to Bethlehem
o this is the time of the beginning of the barley harvest - Passover
- After the death of the King,
o there is return to the house of Israel
o this time not just the Jews – Naomi
o but also the Gentiles, Orpah & Ruth
- The Jews advertise Israel to the Gentiles
o many love it – but they do not know the cost and are not prepared for it
 indeed they are Orpah (stiff-necked)
 so they cannot turn away from worldy things and sinful darkness
o a few will follow despite the cost
 they are Ruth (companion)
 the bride of Christ, partners of the church
 they know that it will cost them their whole lives, and they are ready to die for the resurrected Messiah
- The Jews initially think that it is a bitter thing – Naomi becoming Marah (bitter)
o that the Lord has dissolved their family, their people, their possessions
- The Gentiles upon following Christ find it a hard thing
o faith in the beginning is often impoverished
o crawling with God, gleaning the crumbs that fall off the Jewish table
- Yet the Lord of the Harvest – Boaz – the One in whom is Life
o He will come and assure them
o He will build us up and feed us
o He will give provision for us
o He will invite us to the King’s table to commune with Him bread and wine
o Those who were far off are brought near, adopted sons and daughters, equal partners with their Jewish Christian brethren
- They now have an equal share in the crop
o here also can be an allusion to maturity of faith, growing from crawling to walking side by side with our Messiah, as those who have gone before us
- They have ample blessing
- Their share in the gospel convicts the Jews that the Lord has not deserted them
o indeed He is the risen Lord who has not forsaken the living or the dead
- This resurrected Christ calls in the whole harvest
o it is the time of the end of the harvests – Pentecost
o The Lord sits enjoying the fruit of His work, resting from His daily work of redemption
o He takes out His winnowing fork and separates the wheat from the chaff
- The bride is now prepared, Rachel and Leah, Ruth and Naomi
o She waits for Him at His feet with eager expectation, knowing it is now but a little while
- He will not delay
o He is the redeemer-kinsman
o the Saviour who is one of our own
o He grants her the deposit that her wedding is assured (?)
- He claims the birthright from the ‘legal owner’
o the hairy man Esau/Adam who has spurned his inheritance for Mammon
o Indeed he is the un-sandaled one who deserves to be spit out of the mouth of God
- And so Israel claims His people
o and indeed His people are Rachel and Leah
- Boaz being only the symbol
o the true Messiah will come from the people of God, from Israel
- He will be of the red line of Perez – the scarlet thread that is the blood of Christ
- In the end of days He will restore all things, He is the true King to come, the true David

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Living like Jesus & Speaking about Jesus

Just received another update from Farm Fellowship @ Preston

These are the commitments every member of that church has signed up to:

1. Everything we do and think begins with Jesus (Col 1:15-20)
2. The Bible rules our thinking and doing (2 Tim 3:16)
3. Jesus represents us in the highest heaven, so every day we talk to our heavenly Father (Heb 4:14-16)
4. We give 100% of our money and possessions to Jesus. We carefully and prayerfully decide how much of His money we should keep for our own uses (1 Tim 6:6-10, Luke 14:25-35)
5. Everything we have is the shared possession of the Christian family (Acts 2:42-47, Acts 4:32-37)
6. It is our duty and privilege to care for all those in needs, beginning with the Christian family, and reaching as far beyond as we can (James 1:27, Gal 6:10)
7. Everyone is welcome in our community, there are no pre-requisites to follow Jesus. (Matt 7:1-5, 1 Cor 5:9-3)
8. We seek refreshment in Jesus and His family. Not in money, drugs, alcohol, exex, religion, sport, etc... (Ps 42)
9. In order to remind us that Jesus is more important than food, we fast. (Matt 4:2, 6:16-18, 17:21)
10. Personal holiness is essential and the fruit of the Spirit vital for all, regardless of personality type. (Gal 5:22-23, James 1:19-20, Mark 11:25, Matt 18:21-22, etc)


Good local church creed isn't it?

Sunday, 14 September 2008

A Simple Theology of Evangelism

Right, so evangelism is basically light & darkness
Creation proclaims this to you everyday - first there is evening, then there is morning

You are in darkness, the Son comes, there is the light, the darkness & the light separate:

Matthew 4:15-16 15 "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles - 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned."

- those that want to follow the Son, STAY in the light
- those that do not want to follow the Son, resist the Holy Spirit & flee into the darkness - why? because they love the darkness

Anyway:

So then.. how do I carry out effective evangelism?

1. Make the light shine clearly
- preach the gospel
- live a holy life like Jesus
- do this corporately (e.g. John 13:34-34)

The more we talk about Jesus, talk like Jesus, do what Jesus does, and the more people that do it, the brighter the light shines

Now if that fails - what do I do next?

2. Make the darkness be seen for what it is
- in some sense this is already done by you living a holy life - opposing the wicked lives of others
- God blinds the minds, the hearts, sends the fallen angels, the law, etc...
- all to make hearts darker - so that the light may shine brighter
- ex-communication is a handing over to Satan - this follows the same logic
- you are sent to stumble not so that you fall, but so that you repent

Ephesians 5:7-11 7 Therefore do not associate with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
- think John the Baptist & Herod
- Robert Murray M'Cheyne - "The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness"


What not to do:
- do not attempt to make the Light similar to 'worldly lights'
- this is cultural evangelism
- if you make Jesus seem really 'cool' and 'relevant' - you do not make Him shine brighter, in fact you make Him invisible!
- you end up with no one coming to Jesus and churches full of people who will not stand on the day of judgement!


Arguments against this way of thinking:
1. Jesus was culturally relevant to the Jews
- this is ridiculous because the Jews are a culture created by God for God - totally 'separate' from any other nation!!

2. Paul's speech at the Aeropagus
- this is hardly an attempt to pander to culture, in fact it is a rebuke of culture if anything
- the early church fathers practised only one type of apologetics - the offensive type - they would study every practise of the culture around them to show them HOW WICKED IT IS and to convict them of hypocrisy and sin!

3. 1 Cor 9:20-22
- as far as I know, all Paul means is that he does not unnecessary push people away - i.e. He upheld the law by the gospel to prove to the Jews that the law was about the gospel, He showed the Gentiles that they don't NEED the law to get to the gospel, He showed the weak Christians that he would not force them into his mature faith but was prepared not to let them be, but to encourage them to grow


Why is it Christians don't just go and preach the gospel?

1. We don't want to live holy lives - the cost is too great
2. We fear man not God
3. We don't actually love our neighbour - i.e. we don't actually love God
- so as an excuse we put all the pressure on techniques and church buildings and on paid workers so that we don't actually have to go and love people - a thing that should be our joy

Result:
People die & are sent to Hell for all eternity

Saturday, 30 August 2008

The Merrie Theologiane Continues...

Navel or no?
Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Today in theological debate, mentioning Adam and Eve is likely to get you into discussion about the interpretation of Genesis 1, the age of the earth, or whether the Fall was a real historical event.

There was a time, however, when you’d have been pinned to the wall by your sparring partner and forced to declare your position on the thorny issue of whether or not Adam and Eve had navels. While Monks spent time literally 'navel gazing' over the puzzle in the quiet of their monasteries, fierce rival factions warred outside over what they took to be a key theological battleground. When Michelangelo painted Adam with a navel on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he was labelled a heretic by some theologians. In 1646, Sir Thomas Browne an English philosopher published his Pseudodoxia Epidemica in which a whole chapter was dedicated to the evils of ‘Pictures of Adam and Eve with Navels’, describing it a ‘vulgar error’.


Michelangelo dares to paint Adam's navel on the roof of the Sistine Chapel.

The opposite team argued hard for Adam and Eve’s belly buttons, laughing-off accusations that they must have pictured God with one since the our first parents were made in His image. Unfortunately, this group had to deal with some internal politics as three distinct camps emerged; the pre-umbilicists, mid-umbilicists, and post-umbilicists. The first group assumed that Adam and Eve were created with navels (usually in order to give the appearance of prior history, solving the infamous chicken and egg connundrum); the second posited that surely Adam’s navel was created when the Lord removed his rib to create Eve, and Eve went without; the third places the umbilicus on the pair after the Fall as a reminder that they’d been severed from the Lord, just as a child would be severed from his mother at birth.

The debate over whether Adam and Eve’s navels were intrusions (innies) or protrusions (outies) is still simmering in theology faculties around the country.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The Experience Meeting

Update:


this is the book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Experience-Meeting-Introduction-Societies-Evangelical/dp/1573830437/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219755234&sr=1-2


IF you are a minister/pastor/any form of leader requiring you to be heavily pastoral - I strongly recommend this as a fantastic starting point!


____________________________________________________________

The experimental or experiential aspect of the Christian life has been seriously neglected during the present century. Certain factors and tendencies have led to this unfortunate condition. Chief among these has been a superficial evangelism which has neglected real conviction of sin and repentance and encouraged an easy believism. Secondly, there has been a theory of sanctification, more psychological than spiritual and scriptural, which has discouraged self-examination and taught that we have only to 'leave it to the Lord.' Thirdly, and more recently, has been an unbalanced emphasis on intellectual understanding of Truth, the social application of Truth, and the manifestation of particular spiritual gifts. All this has greatly impoverished the spiritual life of both the individual Christian and the churches, and led to coldness, barrenness, and loss of power. The greatest need of the hour is a return to the emphases of the Evangelical Awakening. It is in the belief that this classic of the spiritual life and warfare can greatly stimulate and hasten that return that I encouraged my wife to translate it, and am now happy to commend it, and to advise all Christians to read it.I would particularly urge ministers and pastors to read it, not only because it will prove to be an invaluable help in what is now called counselling of individuals, but also because I would press upon them the importance of introducing such meetings into the life of their churches.

Much untold blessing would follow. - Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

___________________________________________________________________________________

10 questions based on that - which I recommend you get at least 1 other Christian to ask you every single week. (This is something like what they do at Farm Fellowship)

  1. How is our daily Bible reading going? How are we putting the Bible into practise?
  2. How is our prayer life going? How long are we spending in prayer? What are we praying for? How have our prayers been answered?
  3. How is our holiness coming along? What sins are we aware of and how are we dealing with them? Have we confessed and forsaken them?
  4. Have we built new relationships?
  5. How have we served and loved others this week? What practical help have we given to those in need?
  6. Have we shared our story with anyone this week?
  7. Have we shared the story of Jesus with anyone this week?
  8. Who have we invited to church this week?
  9. How are we praying for the people on our Impact List? What have we done to reach the key person on our Impact List?
  10. How are we developing our particular style of reaching out to others? Are we learning new ways to serve others, explain the Bible, tell our story?

John 14:21 "Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Sovereignty of God

Blackham's put up an article on God's Sovereignty on Theology Network:

The sovereignty of God has drawn out some of the deepest thinking from the Christian church. The classic question of divine sovereignty for the church has been the problem of injustice.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Christ-focused Ruth

Here's a sermon just done on Ruth 2
(hope it's more listen-able this time)

http://www.mediafire.com/?bfofi1c8hcc

Will write out a summary looking at Christ in the book of Ruth soon.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Perichoresis

Hey guys,

Recently I've been talking a little with this fella called David Congdon on the term perichoresis: check out the comments I had with him. I'd like your view on the word - he seems to like the distinction of 'actualistic ontology' which I'm not familiar with. Any person want to clarify?

http://fireandrose.blogspot.com/2008/08/five-theological-words-i-like-and-five.html

Friday, 8 August 2008

How to Spend the Day with God - Richard Baxter

A holy life is inclined to be made easier when we know the usual sequence and method of our duties - with everything falling into its proper place. Therefore, I shall give some brief directions for spending the day in a holy manner.

Sleep

Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.

First Thoughts

Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your hearts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows.

Familiarise yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night's rest and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonising pains and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives.

Think of how many souls were that night called from their bodies terrifyingly to appear before God and think how quickly days and nights are rolling on! How speedily your last night and day will come! Observe that which is lacking in the preparedness of your soul for such a time and seek it without delay.

Prayer

Let prayer by yourself alone (or with your partner) take place before the collective prayer of the family. If possible let it be first, before any work of the day.

Family Worship

Let family worship be performed consistently and at a time when it is most likely for the family to be free of interruptions.

Ultimate Purpose

Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day's work or approach any activity in the world, let HOLINESS TO THE LORD be written upon your hearts in all that you do. Do no activity which you cannot entitle God to, and truly say that he set you about it, and do nothing in the world for any other ultimate purpose than to please, glorify and enjoy Him. "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Diligence in Your Calling.

Follow the tasks of your calling carefully and diligently. Thus:

(a) You will show that you are not sluggish and servants to your flesh (as those that cannot deny it ease), and you will further the putting to death of all the fleshly lusts and desires that are fed by ease and idleness.

(b) You will keep out idle thoughts from your mind, that swarm in the minds of idle persons.

(c) You will not lose precious time, something that idle persons are daily guilty of.

(d) You will be in a way of obedience to God when the slothful are in constant sins of omission.

(e) You may have more time to spend in holy duties if you follow your occupation diligently. Idle persons have no time for praying and reading because they lose time by loitering at their work.

(f) You may expect God's blessing and comfortable provision for both yourself and your families.

(g) it may also encourage the health of your body which will increase its competence for the service of your soul.

Temptations and Things That Corrupt

Be thoroughly acquainted with your temptations and the things that may corrupt you - and watch against them all day long. You should watch especially the most dangerous of the things that corrupt, and those temptations that either your company or business will unavoidably lay before you.

Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, selfishness, pride, flesh pleasing and the excessive love of earthly things. Take care against being drawn into earthly mindedness and excessive cares, or covetous designs for rising in the world, under the pretence of diligence in your calling.

If you are to trade or deal with others, be vigilant against selfishness and all that smacks of injustice or uncharitableness. In all your dealings with others, watch against the temptation of empty and idle talking. Watch also against those persons who would tempt you to anger. Maintain that modesty and cleanness of speech that the laws of purity require. If you converse with flatterers, be on your guard against swelling pride.

If you converse with those that despise and injure you, strengthen yourself against impatient, revengeful pride.

At first these things will be very difficult, while sin has any strength in you, but once you have grasped a continual awareness of the poisonous danger of any one of these sins, your heart will readily and easily avoid them.

Meditation

When alone in your occupations, improve the time in practical and beneficial meditations. Meditate upon the infinite goodness and perfections of God; Christ and redemption; Heaven and how unworthy you are of going there and how you deserve eternal misery in Hell.

The Only Motive

Whatever you are doing, in company or alone, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Otherwise, it is unacceptable to God.

Redeeming The Time

Place a high value upon your time, be more careful of not losing it than you would of losing your money. Do not let worthless recreations, idle talk, unprofitable company, or sleep rob you of your precious time.

Be more careful to escape that person, action or course of life that would rob you of your time than you would be to escape thieves and robbers.

Make sure that you are not merely never idle, but rather that you are using your time in the most profitable way that you can and do not prefer a less profitable way before one of greater profit.

Eating and Drinking

Eat and drink with moderation and thankfulness for health, not for unprofitable pleasure. Never please your appetite in food or drink when it is prone to be detrimental to your health.

Remember the sin of Sodom: "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food and abundance of idleness" - Ezekiel 16:49.

The Apostle Paul wept when he mentioned those "whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame -- who set their minds on earthly things, being enemies to the cross of Christ" - Philippians 3:18-19. O then do not live according to the flesh lest you die (Romans 8:13).

Prevailing Sin

If any temptation prevails against you and you fall into any sins in addition to habitual failures, immediately lament it and confess it to God; repent quickly whatever the cost. It will certainly cost you more if you continue in sin and remain unrepentant.

Do not make light of your habitual failures, but confess them and daily strive against them, taking care not to aggravate them by unrepentance and contempt.

Relationships

Remember every day the special duties of various relationships: whether as husbands, wives, children, masters, servants, pastors, people, magistrates, subjects.

Remember every relationship has its special duty and its advantage for the doing of some good. God requires your faithfulness in this matter as well as in any other duty.

Closing the Day

Before returning to sleep, it is wise and necessary to review the actions and mercies of the day past, so that you may be thankful for all the special mercies and humbled for all your sins.

This is necessary in order that you might renew your repentance as well as your resolve for obedience, and in order that you may examine yourself to see whether your soul grew better or worse, whether sin goes down and grace goes up and whether you are better prepared for suffering, death and eternity.

May these directions be engraven upon your mind and be made the daily practice of your life

If sincerely adhered to, these will be conducive to the holiness, fruitfulness and quietness of your life and add to you a comfortable and peaceful death.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Real Christianity

Ever seen a group of people actually 'living' like Jesus?

Paul Blackham preaching every week, as long as he needs, & uncut:

http://www.farmfellowship.com/test/resources.html


Go visit them if you can! You will never ever regret it!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Christian Hospitality

Hebrews 13:1-2 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Romans 12:13-14 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Just been in Toronto, Canada for a wedding.
Stunned by the level of hospitality shown to us by the bride's family, though we've never met them before.

Flats were vacated for us, and they simply handed us the keys, even offering to drive us to and fro as we went around the city.
Random relatives opened their homes to us, and allowed us to stay and enjoy all their comforts.

I know we're not angels, but this was a lesson learnt - total hospitality as a demonstration of the God who loves those who are His enemies, those He does not know, in the hopes that they will know Him and be known by Him.

A big thank you, especially, to John & Marg!


Sunday, 20 July 2008

Five Smooth Stones

Glen's doing another series via David & Goliath:

1. Preaching

2. Grace


3. Faith

4. Election

5. Reward

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

12 days of Christmas

So I never knew the song "12 days of Christmas" had such theological depth...

Paul Blackham (taken from Mark Meynell's blog):

It has got to be the most theologically intense Christmas song. I know that might sound odd… but it is a song written as a memory aid to teach Christian doctrine. It is one of several songs called “catechism songs”. I’m sure some already know this, but here is a complete list of the 12 gifts and their meanings:

  • 1 Partridge in a pear tree = Jesus on the Cross
  • 2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
  • 3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity (Some think this is The Trinity, but this is not the case)
  • 4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
  • 5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the books of Moses
  • 6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
  • 7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit OR the seven sacraments of the Catholic faith
  • 8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes (from the start of the Sermon on the Mount)
  • 9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Spirit
  • 10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
  • 11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
  • 12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Yet More Venning

Ralph Venning is turning out to be one of my all-time favourite Puritans...
more from his book on sin:

Love the sinner, hate the sin??

God hates man for sin. It is not only sin but sinners that God hates, and that for sin. IT is said of God that He hates the workers of iniquity (Ps 5.5); not only the works of iniquity but the workers of it. Hatred is known not by judgements, nor by the evil of suffering, but by the evil of sin which is before us (Ecc 9:1-2). It is because of sin that the merciful God says, "He that made them will not have mercy on them, nor shew them any favour" (Is 27:11). This is the highest that can be spoken of the venom of sin, that in a sense, and to speak after the manner of men, it has put hatred into God Himself; it has made the Lord hate and destroy His own workmanship. God is love, and judgement is a strange work; yet sin makes Him out of love with men and in love with their destruction at last. Though He does not delight in the death of a sinner who repents, yet He does in the death of one who is impenitent...

Christ is the best and the greatest of Saviours, and His salvation is the best and greatest salvation. This proves sin to be the worst and greatest of evils...

Sin is so sinful, contrary and displeasing to God, and has made man so much God's enemy, that it is a mircale that He should find His enemies and let them go away safely. God who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity looks on the sin of men. His eyes so affect His heart as to grieve Him. It tempts and provokes Him to anger, wrath and hatred. And yet God keeps His anger, which is like burning coals in the bosom; He does not let out all His wrath and ease Himself of His burden by avenging Himself on His adversaries, but He woos and waits on sinners. Such is the power of His patience, the infiniteness of His mercy and compassion, and the riches of His unsearchable grace!


His concluding paragraph:

Lastly then, the poor despised profession of the power of godliness, a trembling at the Word of God, a scrupulous and conscientious forebearance not only of oaths but of idle words, a tenderness and aptness to bleed at the touch of any sin, a boldness to withstand the corruptions of the times, a conscience of but the appearance of evil, a walking humbly and mournfully before God, an heroic resolution to be strict and circumspect, to walk in an exact and geometrical holiness in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, which the world esteems and scorns as the peevishness of a few silly impolitic men, shall in good earnest from the mouth of God Himself be declared to have been the true and narrow way which leads to salvation; and the enemies thereof shall then, when it is too late, be driven to that desperate and shameful confession: 'We fools counted their life madness, and their end to have been without honour. And now they are reckoned among the saints and have their portion with the Almighty!'

A Quick Christology of Abraham

Genesis 15:6 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Ever wondered why Abraham was only counted righteous at Gen 15?
It's clear he had faith at Genesis 12!

Hebrews 11:8-9 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.

This is a very rapid attempt at seeing Christ through Abraham:

starting at Gen 12:
- so his name is Abram - exalted Father - who will become the Father of many nations
- he leaves his father's house and home for the promised land
- he is promised to have the greatest name above all names
- he is destined to go there with his wife - the princess - Sarai - the one who will be the Jerusalem that is above (cf: Gal 4)
- he will take over the land of Canaan - the city of merchants - making it the city of peace
- he places his tent between Bethel (house of God) & Ai (destruction) - both places that will only be named much later
- he starts of in Canaan - but then goes into Egypt
- in Egypt he shows that his wife is actually his sister - and Pharaoh who tries to steal her away is rebuked
- instead out of Egypt he is called, the prince who will own all the treasures of the serpent king
- He is the chosen one who seeks only the land of God, not the land of riches - which Lot seeks, going east - living in Sodom
- So Abram claims his title on Canaan - the entire promised land - in all directions - promised to all from the Seed
- meanwhile - the rulers and powers of the earth - note their names & their Nephilim heritage (e.g. Tidal king of Goiim means 'The reverent king of all the nations') their absolute audacity - they war with one another in the valley of destruction
- the renegade powers then possess that which belongs to the family of the chosen seed
- Abram and his band of mighty oak-faith-men then defeat the kings that rage in vain
- they pursue them till judgement (Dan - another place that has not been named yet)
- then the true King of Righteousness comes out and sets a table before the conquering Seed - offering bread and wine -anointing him
- Bera king of Sodom (meaning - son of evil, king of burning) - tries to bribe him for the people - offering the treasures of the world - but this exalted Father will not allow him to tempt him
- then again Abram is guaranteed of his reward - for his defeating of the enemies & the rescuing of his people - in fact he is vindicated in righteousness (Gen 15:6) - and promised the fruit of his hands
- then told that this is just a symbol of all things to come - the real time will be much later - the real sacrifice that the vultures of the air will try to interfere with but will not succed - the real deep sleep of the exalted father - the deliverance of the people from the fiery furnace - by the burning torch

well that's about enough for now - plenty more on Abram calling into existance things that don't exist (Gen 16/Rom 4), the covenant that is established by cutting off the flesh of the exalted one to make him the father of many nations, etc...

Friday, 4 July 2008

Come to Christ to make your election sure...

Glen's found another gem from Spurgeon that just has to be reposted:

Many persons want to know their election before they look to Christ, but they cannot learn it thus, it is only to be discovered by ‘looking unto Jesus.’ If you desire to ascertain your own election; after the following manner shall you assure your heart before God. Do you feel yourself to be a lost, guilty sinner? Go straightway to the cross of Christ and tell Jesus so, and tell Him that you have read in the Bible, ‘Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.’ Tell Him that He has said, ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ Look to Jesus and believe on Him, and you shall make proof of your election directly, for so surely as thou believest, thou art elect. If you will give yourself wholly up to Christ and trust Him, then you are one of God’s chosen ones; but if you stop and say, ‘I want to know first whether I am elect’, you ask what you do not know. Go to Jesus, be you never so guilty, just as you are. Leave all curious inquiry about election alone. Go straight to Christ and hide in His wounds, and you shall know your election. The assurance of the Holy Spirit shall be given to you, so that you shall be able to say, ‘I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him.’ Christ was at the everlasting council: He can tell you whether you were chosen or not; but you cannot find it out any other way. Go and put your trust in Him and His answer will be - ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.’ There will be no doubt about His having chosen you, when you have chosen Him.” (‘Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.’ Morning and Evening, July 17. 1 Thess 1:4.)

Only perhaps the 'everlasting council' bit may be a bit weird =)

Thursday, 3 July 2008

GAFCON

There was a post-GAFCON briefing at All Souls

and it was great to see JI Packer give his testimony of his expulsion from the diocese of New Westminster, Canada

Also the archbishop of the southern cone giving testimony of the churches there and how the 'churches of the old west' need to take the Word of God seriously and not be content with the once a week 20 min sermon

As well as the archbishop of Uganda affirming we need to be ready to die for the faith to be passed from one generation to the next

I have no idea what on earth all these meetings will surmount to, but in the words of archbishop Jensen... even heresy can be a good thing - if it leads to godliness

On a side note..
the usual nonsense continues:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/anglican-rebels-punched-gay-rights-activists-858332.html

Quick response by the rector:
http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/2008/07/03/from-the-rector-of-all-souls-church-to-the-editor-of-the-independent-newspaper/

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The latest from the Merrie Theologian...

Armed to the Teeth with Laughter

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Tertullian, the great North African theologian writing around 200 AD, was like a cross between Bruce Banner and Oscar Wilde: scary enough that you didn’t want to get on the wrong side of him, and very, very funny.

Tertullian, ready either to explode or write a 'Knock! Knock!' joke.

Tertullian chuckled so much it disturbed people. First of all, he used to laugh at how simple – in fact, how absurdly simple – truth is, meaning it takes a humble mind to recognise it. Once, he put it like this:

‘The Son of God was crucified: I am not ashamed, because it is shameful.
The Son of God died: it is immediately credible, because it is silly.
He was buried, and rose again: it is certain, because it is impossible.’

Fighting talk for those who reasoned God couldn’t become man, nor three be one!

But he also used to laugh at the absurdity of false belief. This was quite appropriate, he reckoned:

‘There are many things which deserve refutation in such a way as to have no gravity expended on them. Vain and silly topics are met with especial fitness by laughter. Even the truth may indulge in ridicule, because it is jubilant; it may play with its enemies, because it is fearless. Only we must take care that its laughter be not unseemly, and so itself be laughed at; but wherever its mirth is decent, there it is a duty to indulge it.’

Marcion was a heretic to be given exactly such treatment. Marcion, reasoning that Jesus was God, felt he had to deny that Jesus was fully human. Tertullian reckoned this merely proved that Marcion himself was not fully human, because he must be lacking a brain. Tertullian thought he probably had a pumpkin instead, meaning Marcion was half-man, half-fruit.

He dished out such lines because he believed they were just the sort of jolt the pompous heretics, puffed up with all their pretentious ‘profundity’, needed. And, especially for dealing with those who denied Jesus’ humanity (and so were a bit inhuman themselves), it was a very human way of arguing.

Perhaps PC means we can’t be like Tertullian any more (or like Paul in Galatians 5:12). Or is it that PC, bone-dry theology is itself a bit half-man, half-fruit?

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Next Gen Church

Adam Rushton made a few great points at the Prayer Gathering on Tuesday evening, of which two are as follows:

1: We need to pray hard and be concerned about the next generation, because if we do not do so, then more Churches will fall into dilapidation and will be converted into houses, flats, restaurants and night clubs.

2: We need to pray hard that the next generation are more Holy and Christ-like than we will ever be.

Amen!!

Sexual Tension

The UK Anglican church is probably heading towards a similar split as their American and Canadian counterparts on the issue of homosexuality

The 'liberal' church has done a well-timed event of marrying gay priests just a few weeks before the big global Anglican conference of Lambeth

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7459269.stm

So many of the evangelical church will be willing to part from the church if they are made to preside over gay weddings - and things like Gafcon will be more prevalent.

But sometimes I wonder... if the Biblical church wants to take a stand over such an issue.. shouldn't we first look at ourselves?
Wouldn't it be much more beneficial and godly if we first implemented sexual purity in all the churches?
Implementing marriage discipleship, dating discipleship, family discipleship, sexual addiction pastoral programmes - then we could advertise we have stable marriages, dramatically lower rates of divorce, single people who are living pure lives, no sex before marriage, dating for the purpose of marriage, strong family units inter-supporting one another - wouldn't this be a much better show of the great gospel of deliverance, of the great gospel of the family of God, of the great gospel of Christ crucified!!

Anything else almost seems like self-righteousness.... and hypocrisy... which Jesus hates the most!

Let us all be unified in Christ, strive for holiness, then all the world will know we are the body of Christ, we are His true born-again disciples, if we have love one for another, like He first loved us.

______________

more on this stuff here:

http://christthetruth.wordpress.com/2008/06/29/gafcons-final-statement/

http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/media/video/?bcpid=1321273398&bclid=1318915958&bctid=1630381595

http://covenant-communion.com/?p=786

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The Dos and Don'ts of a Christian Life

In gearing up his readers to think of their lives in a war-time mindset for the Kingdom, John Piper writes, "In wartime we ask different questions about what to do with our lives than we do in peacetime. We ask: What can I do to advance the cause? What can I do to bring the victory? What sacrifice can I make or what risk can I take to insure the joy of triumph? In the peacetime we tend to ask, What can I do to be more comfortable? To have more fun? To avoid trouble and, possibly, avoid sin?"

The problem with drifting into a peacetime mindset is that we stop living a life that desires to win as many as we can for Christ when we start to think of ourselves as citizens of this earth. Our sinful hearts defaults to satisfy our fleshly needs of what we want for ourselves, as opposed to what God wants for His kingdom. The temptation of this world lures with lies of the non-existence of the spiritual warfare, so comfortable and peaceful that we reduce the Christian life into a list of dos and don'ts, ie, avoid sin. In the past I have participated in legalistic discussions with other Chrisitans about how to live our lives. "Don't date a non-Christian." "Don't have sex before marriage." "Tithe regularly." This is legalism, that the human heart will try to push the boundaries as far as the bottom line of the rule to justify our own sinful actions. "I won't date a non-Christian but I can date a church-goer even though his fruit of the Spirit is not apparent." "I won't have sex before marriage, technically." "This money belongs to me and I am giving 10% to God." Whereas the more fruitful and life-changing discussion would've been, "Pursue Christ-likeness, love purity, set your hopes in heaven, put your treasures and wealth in heaven."

And I'm grieved by the Pharisaic nature of my sinful heart that distorts God's law and reduces it to a list of Bare-Minimum-I-Have-to-do-to-Be-a-Christian. It is not a surprise that I can't even keep to my self-constructed list of "dos and don'ts" because the real Motive behind these rules is far out of sight and out of mind.

Hence, I'm scrapping those things on my list, and replacing it with this one, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31