Wednesday, 30 April 2014

KEEP THE CHANGE




“Rome actually insists that we believe that when these popes died, they wrote a check for more than they owed and calmly told God He could keep the change.”

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

MEN NOT MACHINERY



What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use, men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men, men of prayer.
   
                                                                                                      E M Bounds

Monday, 28 April 2014

CEREBRAL ZEALOTRY



Food for thought here on having a mind for God as well as a heart.

“…instead of creating a weird disparity where the mind for God is often undervalued and under appreciated- and in fact in some denominational circles it is treated with open hostility [We've all heard some variation of the slur "You need to have 'heart- knowledge', not 'head knowledge'"] we should instead be cultivating this cerebral zealotry in the body of the congregation.”

Saturday, 26 April 2014

AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU



do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you…”

                                                                                                      (1 Cor 6:9-11a)

As we enter the third decade of the 21st Century we must continually thank God for (if you will pardon the traditional masculine pronoun) “His” abundant grace in opening our eyes to the hypocrisy and sin of the Church in the past.  

 It was the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Her Grace The Most Reverend “Jo”  Smith, who in 2019 took the brave step of reaching out to those in the Stealing Community who have been so shamefully mistreated by the Church for millennia.       

Thursday, 24 April 2014

EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING




Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations,before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God                                                                                                         (Ps 90:1-2)

From everlasting to everlasting” says Moses.  

One suggested alternative way of expressing this is “from the vanishing point to the vanishing point.”

I find that to be illuminating.

It has been well said that, "the past is a foreign country.” We cannot look too far back into history before it starts to become vague and shadowy, and ultimately the past must disappear from our view altogether.  

 To attempt to gaze into the future is, of course, even more hopeless. Aside from the prophetic revelations contained in the Scriptures we are wholly ignorant of what the future holds. So it is that when we attempt to peer into them, both past and future reach the "vanishing point" so far as human sight is concerned.

 However God’s knowledge of both “past” and “future” (meaningless terms to Him!) is perfect and complete. He was there before the mountains were brought forth and He will be there when they finally crumble into dust. The passage of the long ages is as nothing to the One who inhabits eternity.

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Pet 3:8)

S often have we heard this verse abused as part of some dubious eschatalogical timetable when all the writer was actually saying is that God stands outside of the merely temporal and so the passage of time is entirely a matter of indifference to Him.

 The reason we can put our complete trust in God, both for our eternal salvation and for our temporal needs, is that He has from His eternal vantage point already lived all of our tomorrows. He is the One who “declares the end from the beginning” and has a perfect knowledge of all that which is to come - be it events of moment in world history or the minute details of each of our individual lives.

 This means His promises can be trusted, not only because He is a faithful God; but also because from His standpoint their fulfilment may as well have already taken place.

 So it is that we can march confidently into the future knowing that the things which will occur- whilst they will very frequently take us by surprise - are already known to divine prescience and have been prepared for in His eternal providence.

 Our trust is in the unchanging One who holds past, present and future in the palm of His hand:

            Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

ON POLITICIANS




Current events prompt me to dare a rare (and very brief) diversion into the realm of politics

 I have learned that whenever any politician makes a statement that is seen as positive about a given religion there is only one thing that needs to be established: to whom was he speaking when he said it?

A politician is not going to speak to a group of Christians and be rude about Christianity. Christians have votes like everybody else. But surely we ought to realize that next week the same politician will speak to some Muslims and say nice things about Islam. The week after that it will be Hindus etc.

 It is only if the nice things are said without being prompted by – say - an address to a religious gathering or in an official statement marking a religious holiday that his words can be considered in any way noteworthy.

Otherwise it is just a politician being a politician.

This seems to me to be so obvious that I have to wonder why so many fail to see it

MOON MADNESS



I am sure that many of us will have heard about the “four blood moons” hypothesis that has been circulating in Christian circles over the last few months.

Essentially the hypothesis runs like this:

During 2014/15 there will occur a notable astronomical phenomenon known as a lunar tetrad. This constitutes four successive total lunar eclipses ("blood moons"), with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months.

Lunar tetrads are not especially unusual. There will be eight in the 21st Century alone. 

The excitement is aroused by their alignment on this occasion with the Jewish Feasts of Passover and Tabernacles as observed in Israel (the first of these was in the Passover just celebrated).

Monday, 21 April 2014

THE OLD WORLD HAS GONE



“We cannot say that Jesus rose from the dead, but that strange things happen from time to time, and then go back to our old world. The old world isn’t there any more.”
       
                                                                                                            Doug Wilson

Sunday, 20 April 2014

THE MAN WHO KNEW THE WAY BACK



                           "Come, see the place where the Lord lay"  (Mt 28:6)



After reading the prophet's long description of the fate of the Suffering Servant,
wounded for our transgressions…crushed for our iniquities…led like a lamb to the slaughter…cut off from the land of the living…made His grave with the wicked,” we are always startled to read the words that follow,

         ”He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days” (Isa 53:10)

He came back! 

At the end of that terrible ordeal and after that brutal death He came back to the land of the living.But really we ought not to have been so surprised. The Grave had no chance of ever holding onto this prize for the Grave is the most unnatural place in the whole of the Universe for Him to be.

Death is the penalty only for sin. The Grave is the place for sinners. Hades cannot hold onto the Sinless One for it has no claim upon His life. Even though He has died, Death has no power over Him!

Hence this could only ever be a weekend visit not a permanent change of residence.  

He knew the way back.

Now the founder of modern Judaism is said to have died weeping because he did not know this way. Muhammad did not know the way back. Buddha never found the way back.

Only Jesus knew the route.

In any event He could never have been locked in.

No man ever fears being locked in when he knows that he has his keys with him (Rev 1:18).
 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

HOPE HAS DIED


                                  "...we were hoping that it was He" (Lk 24:21)


This is the day that we sometimes miss.

Good Friday we have just solemnly marked. Easter Sunday awaits with its joyous celebrations. But Easter Saturday is the day that we too often overlook.

 For the disciples of Jesus, yesterday was a day of unimaginable horror. Tomorrow there will dawn a day of unspeakable joy.

But today there is neither. Today is limbo.

 On this day there is only a mute grief and the numbness known only to those who have wept until they can weep no longer. Today there is only that awful “hollowed-out” feeling. 

For on Easter Saturday all of our dreams lie behind a cold, stone slab.

This is the day of dashed hopes.

 The two on the road to Emmaus sum it up best for us.  For although in the scriptures we meet them on what is – by the calendar – Sunday; as they walk that dusty lane, there still remains in their hearts a cold stone slab.

For them it is still Saturday and they fear that it will always be so.

They had placed all their hopes upon Jesus. Invested everything in Him. Now he is gone, leaving behind only grief, confusion and crushing disappointment.
 
         But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”   (Lk 24:21)

Behind those simple words lies a world of pain.

In varying ways, Easter Saturday comes to the life of every believer. And how we deal with the day will reveal to us the strength of our faith.

 What do you do when God, who had planted hope in your heart allows that hope to be brutally snuffed out?  What do you do when the dream that you firmly believed that He Himself had given to you, has died?

It is too easy for us to look back on this day from the high and secure vantage point of Resurrection Sunday. Too easy to simply note that everything turned out well after all.

On Saturday that seems too much to hope.
 
Now, joy will follow and no one will take that joy from us. But that is yet future.

On the "Easter Saturdays" of life there is nothing left to do but to hang on. Cling to your trust in God.

Your trust in a God who will not allow a cold stone slab to have the last say.

Your trust in a Saviour who, though dead, had so frequently reassured us in the past that He knew the way back from the grave.

This is the day when we must cling unshakably to the conviction that dead dreams can rise again.
  

Friday, 18 April 2014

HEREIN IS LOVE



“God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing (or should we say "seeing"?- there are no tenses in God) the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath's sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a "host" who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and "take advantage of" Him. Herein is love."

                                                                                                                C S Lewis

DARKNESS



 

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.”

                                                                                                                 (Mt 27:45)

“This phenomenon evidently was visible in Rome, Athens, and other Mediterranean cities. According to Tertullian,…it was a “cosmic” or “world event.” Phlegon, a Greek author from Caria writing a chronology soon after 137AD, reported that in the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (i.e. 33AD) there was “the greatest eclipse of the sun” and that “it became night in the sixth hour of the day (i.e. noon) so that stars even appeared in the heavens.”

                                                                                       Paul L Maier Pontius Pilate

Thursday, 17 April 2014

HELL OR HIMSELF



The Easter weekend looms and with it the opportunity to reflect upon the necessity of the Cross.

I submit that there has never been a day when it was more vital that we do so.

 For the typical person in the pews today - even in an “evangelical” church - has no real grasp of the necessity of the Cross. This is because he has no real grasp of the problem of sin.

And this is not his fault.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

REALITY





“Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have”
                                                                                                           (C S Lewis)

Monday, 7 April 2014

PREACHER PITFALLS: TEXTUAL VARIANTS


As promised, here is the first in an occasional series of articles on some of the common pitfalls that the preacher needs to be wary of when preparing sermon material. It is also linked to in the "Pastors" section above for future reference.



Let’s face it. If we are looking at the pitfalls that can befall the preacher’s ministry then there are few things that can go more badly wrong with your sermon than to discover that you were preaching on something that isn’t actually in the Bible! 

And it happens more often than you might think.

 How many preachers (including me!), for instance, have over the years waxed lyrical over the grace and forgiveness shown by Jesus to the woman caught in adultery; contrasting it vividly with the hard-heartedness of her accusers (Jn 7:53-8:11)?

 Yet this passage (known by theologians as the pericope adulterae, or the Adulteress Passage) is described by New Testament textual scholar Daniel Wallace as his favourite passage not in the Bible!

Another classic example is the Comma Johanneum (John Passage) in 1 Jn 5:7-8,
There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth…”

  These words are unquestionably an addition made by a later scribe and not part of the original epistle. Unfortunately ignorance of this fact has led to many a believer attempting to use the verse to prove

Sunday, 6 April 2014

AN ANSWER TO PRAYER



I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favoured hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

                                   (John Newton) 

Saturday, 5 April 2014

THE FIRST GOSPEL (2)







I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”                                             (Gen 3:15) 

Continuing our look at the protoevangelium of Gen 3:15.

I often remind the folks at church that if they are ever unfortunate enough to find themselves in A & E then they need to remind themselves that being there is all the fault of A & E (Adam & Eve)!


What would have happened to the human race had our first parents not fallen?

 This can only ever be a matter of conjecture, but it is noteworthy that prior to the Fall

Friday, 4 April 2014

TRIFLES & TRAGEDIES



“The trouble with many believers is that they get angry over trifles and are unmoved about tragedies.”

                                                                                                   (Leonard Ravenhill)

Thursday, 3 April 2014

PREACHER PITFALLS




Preacher Pitfalls will be an occasional series of articles in which I will be looking at some of the common hazards that preachers need to be able to successfully navigate around during their sermon preparation.

I will post the articles here in the blog but also list them in the "Pastors" section above for future reference.

The first is coming very shortly and will focus on the potentially explosive topic of textual variants.

Light the blue touch-paper and stand well back…  
 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

THE FIRST GOSPEL (1)








 
  
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”    (Gen 3:15)




Belonging to a tradition that does not observe Lent does not absolve us of a responsibility to meditate upon the Cross as we approach Easter.


This we shall aim to do beginning today, and with many posts over the coming weeks leading up to the Easter celebrations.

And in order to understand the Cross we need to start at the beginning.

 Despite the title, our subject matter is (mercifully) not a discussion of the theory of Marcan priority in the four gospels or any such thing. Instead in this series of posts we are seeking to answer the question, where is the Good News first preached?

 Where in Scripture is the first proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?