Friday, 25 May 2012

The vanity of money

In other words, money can't buy happiness. A few quotes from some greats - ancient and recent - that testify to this. First, King Solomon:
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

Second, Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the US:
Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of it filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfied one want, it doubles and trebles that want another way. That was a true proverb of the wise man; rely upon it: “Better a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasures.

Third, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US President:
Financial success is purely metallic. The man who gains it has four metallic attributes: gold in his palm, silver on his tongue, brass in his face, and iron in his heart.

John D. Rockfeller:
I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness. I would barter them all for the days I sat on an office stool in Cleveland and counted myself rich on three dollars a week.

It's good therefore to know that God has promised all His children a lasting inheritance with benefits both in this life and the next. Paul puts it well by asking:
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Queen to the rescue

Currently looking for illustrations for the sermons to be preached during the Jubilee weekend and came across this:

Awkward conversation was being made at Buckingham Palace during the State Visit of General de Gaulle and his wife. Somebody asked Madame de Gaulle what she was most looking forward to in her retirement which was imminent. With great elaboration, not speaking English much at all, she replied, 'A penis'. Consternation reigned for some time but it was the Queen herself who came to the rescue. 'Ah happiness'!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The ugliness of Darwinism

From a tweet a read today:

"Show me one hospital or soup kitchen named after Charles Darwin."

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Earth and heaven in a cosmic kiss

Whilst I completely disagree with NT Wright's take of Genesis 1 & 2, it is hard to watch the video below and disagree that he is a great story-teller (and incredibly talented scholar).

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

10 seconds every 4 years!

A relative once commented, “What a great job you have as a pastor - you only work 2 hours a week.” I replied “Olympic sprinters have an even better job - they only have to work 10 seconds every 4 years!”

Adapted from The Cripplegate

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Champ by a mile

Not sure how precise the research was (e.g. Harry Potter before Lord of the Rings?) but I think this info-graphic gets the general trend right. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The only damning sin

No man was ever condemned for his sin. The condemnation always falls because of a refusal to turn from it. The seal on the vault of damnation bears this imprint—“I will not turn.” The sealing of damnation is complete when the wax on that seal hardens, just like the heart it represents. God is angry with the wicked every day “if he turn not” (Ps. 7:11-12). This means that the damning sin, the only damning sin, is stubbornness.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Why God wants us to suffer

Some quotes from Seneca on why a life without trials, difficulties or obstacles would be doubly unhappy:

I think you unhappy because you never have been unhappy: you have passed through your life without meeting an antagonist: no one will know your powers, not even you yourself.

You are a great man; but how am I to know it, if fortune gives you no opportunity of showing your virtue? 

Great men, I say, often rejoice at crosses of fortune just as brave soldiers do at wars. 

Misfortune is virtue’s opportunity. 

There can be no easy proof of virtue.

All of which could be given as a response to the profoundly heartfelt question that we all struggle with? Why does God allow suffering in the world? Why does God allow bad things to happen? 

It is often argued that a loving God would not allow His children to suffer. But, if Seneca is right that without hardships man can be neither happy nor virtuous, and if you believe that God desires his children to be both righteous and joyful, the question then becomes, how could a loving God not allow suffering in the world?

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Housework-challenged husband

One day my housework-challenged husband decided to wash his sports shirt. Seconds after he stepped into the laundry room, he shouted to me: "What setting do I use on the washing machine?"
"It depends," I replied. "What does it say on your shirt?".
He yelled back: "Manchester United".   

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Origins of Science

Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator.

C.S. Lewis, Miracles, 169

Thatcherite business sense

On this day in 1979, Margaret Thatcher was chosen to become Britain's first female prime minister as the Tories routed the Labour Party in parliamentary elections. Her steely resolve and unflinching opposition to socialism earned her the nickname "Iron Lady" and like Marmite she was (and is) a figure whom people either love or hate. She also had a knack for churning out some wonderful quotes such as this one (which embodied her desire for small government):

“We should not expect the state to appear in the guise of an extravagant good fairy at every christening, a loquacious companion at every stage of life’s journey, and the unknown mourner at every funeral.”

In other words, governments have no business getting into every realm of society trying to play the caring nanny over her citizens. In addition to being biblical (and therefore right) such an approach would be a faithful reflection of quintessential conservatism, that governments should steer clear of those of those areas where business would do a better job (e.g.  healthcare provision and education). Thus to borrow a line from the musical Annie get your gun, businesses should declare to Cameron and his cronies that “Anything you can do, I can do better,” and then be allowed to do it.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

No doubt will save you and your hearers

Doubt is currently in vogue. Even the once-rarefied Radio 3, recently had a week of programmes focussing on the issue of doubt. In the circles with which I'm familiar (ordained ministry in the CofE), embracing doubt is considered as something noble and intellectually honest. For example, various Bishops have trumpeted their skepticism and castigated those who exhibit a confident certainty regarding ό θεός. It is even purported that a former Archbishop of York once said that lust for absolute certainty was a sin. But in preparing a bible study on Hebrews 11 recently, it struck me forcibly that doubting God truly is a heinous sin. To doubt God's word is to make God a liar. It is in fact that act which brought death into our world and all our woe and the loss of Eden. It is a sin which Satan has been promoting ever since that fateful day in the Garden.

We must in my view therefore guard ourselves against the temptation so rife and du jour in many circles. To doubt God's word will lead us to a gospel of our own imaginations. To be faithful to the gospel will necessarily be thought of as out-of-vogue but that is a price worth paying if we are to save both ourselves and our hearers (1 Timothy 4:16). As Augustine once told the heretic Faustus, “You ought to say plainly that you do not believe the gospel of Christ. For to believe what you please, and not to believe what you please, is to believe yourselves, and not the gospel.” (Against Faustus, 17.3)