Friday, 31 December 2010

Praying I don't go liberal in 2011

Sounds very much like what St Paul's wrote in 2 Timothy 1:7-8.

To which I say (and pray): Please God, keep me from be a liberal in 2011 and always help me to boldly nail my colours to the mast on issues such as headship and submission in marriage, the tragedy of women's ordination to the ministry, the pervasive hostility to genuine masculinity/femininity as expressed in things like women being drafted into combat roles in the military and men abandoning their God-given leadership roles in the Church/family/state, homosexuality as a gross sin and the unbiblical translations of the Scriptures, which pander to the heresy of feminism...
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Is there anything else that I should have on list and what are you praying for 2011?

The woman language translator

Friday, 24 December 2010

Two quotes of the week (as it's Christmas)

Those who construe the gospel as a limited set of propositions which, if affirmed in a repentance-free and abracadabra-like fashion, will get one's sorry butt into heaven may discover, at the end of the day, that this is not where their sorry butt actually went.

- - - - - - - - - - - 

When the story of the collapse of academicky evangelicalism is finally written, compromises on these sexual issues will be right at the center of the autopsy. The coroner will have circled that business with a red pen.

Via: The Reformed Card and Gift Shop

Thursday, 23 December 2010

A cracking review of Piper's God is the Gospel

One of the best books I have read in a long time was John Piper's God is the Gospel. As soon as I was done, I started right over at the beginning, and am reading it again now. It is required reading (especially chapter two) for all those believe that gospel purity can be accomplished by means of setting up a tiny little evangelical kennel, in which the gospel will be required to be a yippy dog thoroughbred. No, the gospel is as wide as the character of God Himself, and is therefore something which encompasses heaven and earth, and all that they contain. This is not to say that everything is the gospel, but it is to say that the gospel pervades everything. This includes, as it turns out, the sex lives of upscale urban professionals . . . who will almost certainly find a plain statement of this cosmic reality as judgmental and offputting.

Via: The Reformed Card and Gift Shop

Thought for the day: Is Tescos/McD good for us?

Why is growing ten thousand acres of wheat and thereby driving down the price of a loaf of bread in impoverished nations considered exploitation (of the land and the consumer)? Why are fast-food laws justified as a protection of the people from the exploitation of corporations (when [cheap] menus are about the only reason why it’s practically impossible to starve in this country). Via Agnoticism and Agriculture

What do you think?

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

O Lord, I'd like some global warming!

This morning on BBC Radio 2, there was a discussion on whether the UK has descended to being a 'third world' country, given the inability of our authorities to handle the recent snowfall. In and amongst all the discussion, one very important issue was noticeably absent: how the bitterly cold spells in recent winters accord with the widely accepted theory of global warming. I must say, I've had my doubts about this global warming lark and to be honest given the stress in recent winters of getting up most mornings and spending 20-30 minutes trying to clear the drive, defrost the car etc, I've started crying out "O Lord, won't you send me a Mercedes Benz some global warming"

Friday, 17 December 2010

Quote of the week

...asking the rich to pay a greater percentage of their income than the poor is unjust. Property rights are an excellent measure of liberty. If I lessen one man’s right to his property, then I have made his liberty less. To let some men keep all their liberty (or property) because the state arbitrarily decides they have “too little” and to take liberty from another man because the state decides he has “too much” is unequal treatment under the law.

Via: God Bless Us Every One

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Joy of Stats/How could anyone not be Post-mill?

Full stockings deserve a thank you

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?

From GKC (not me the other one!)

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Safe sex?

Well that is not really an option for the Christian... Because...

You cannot have a romantic Pride and Prejudice life with a base soul or with protection. Burning romance demands absolute commitment and trust with the result that it can never be safe sex. It is never for sale. A cupid you can buy is no god at all and married love is divine if it is anything. When we meet the other sex we sense the possibility of a union like that known only to gods.

There is no real marriage outside the Church of Jesus Christ for this reason: God is the end of marriage, for only an eternal and infinite God can contain the explosive fecundity that can come when the two halves of the Image of God are united and made one. A great reason to become a Christian is that only in Christ’s Church can the male and the female find completion in each other.

Via: The Last Romantic? Why Marriage Will Endure

Funky way of introducing Isaiah 9

Monday, 13 December 2010

Quote of the week

His holiness is the pinnacle of all His attributes. The seraphim do not cry out, Patience, patience, patience, or Righteousness, righteousness, righteousness. Rather, they cover their faces and feet and cry out Holy, Holy, Holy. As white light is the sum total of all the colors in the spectrum, so holiness is the sum total of all that God is like.

Image of the week

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Fermentation Highlights: Squirrels love sharing

A few months ago, I was introduced to a bohemian/creative/stimulating Journal called Fermentations. Earlier today after a most hearty lunch from the dear darling wife, I got reading one of the back copies. Much like good wine/a refined palate takes time to acquire so too this Journal requires a bit of getting used to but, aaaah... the delights that come as a result! The opening essay in the third issue, written by the brilliant Brad Belschner has so much good stuff that over the next few weeks I will put down some quotes here. Take this for starters:

Survival of the fittest gets too much airtime, Just look outside, or go on a hike. Most creatures in nature live not by out-competing the others, but by cooperating with them. By and large symbiosis is the rule in nature, not competition. 
Consider the squirrels and nuts. Trees aren't in competition with squirrels over their nutes; rather, they make their nuts especially for the squirrels. Squirrels hide nuts and bury them, which propagates the trees far and wide. That means more nuts for the squirrels, which means more squirrels, which means more trees, and so on. The giving multiplies. Squirrels depend on trees, and trees depend on squirrels.

Neat eh?

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Don't squint at one thing

Over the last few years, I have undergone some major changes in my theology. The biggest change I think was my embrace of paedobaptism... It's hard to put to words how big a change this has been... I can still remember the anger and confusion I felt when I discovered that there were Christians in the CU who believed it was right to baptise babies - aaaaaarrrgh! And then look at me now - not only am I happy to baptise babies but I think that my baptist friends who eschew this doctrine, are guilty of the sin of omission. I have in other words become a zealous evangelist for the paedobaptist position sometimes forgetting that I once batted for the other side and almost coming across like it's either my way or the highway. Which leads me nicely to G Campell Morgan whose birthday is today. He was (according to Wikipedia) an evangelist, preacher and a leading Bible scholar. Perhaps more familiar to us is that Morgan was the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London. One of the challenges Morgan faced during his ministry was how to keep Christian unity when the polarization between Liberals and Fundies was increasingly taking root. In the light of these divisions G Campell Morgan observed that

a phase of truth is not the whole of Truth. I do think that is important. I need not stay to stress it, but so many men I have known have squinted at one thing, and seen nothing else! There are some men who think that if you do not say something about the premillenial Coming every time you preach, you are unsound!

and then he gives this joke

A good brother, a Baptist, gave out his text one morning — “Adam, where art thou?” and then said, “There are three lines we shall follow. First, where Adam was; secondly, how he was to be got from where he was; thirdly and lastly, a few words about baptism” !

which leads him to conclude

Some of the worst heresies in the history of the Christian Church have been truth, distorted out of proper proportion and balance and relationship. I have striven, therefore, to remember that a phase of truth is not the whole truth.

And the moral of the story: don't squint at one thing. I reckon this is one of my biggest dangers as an Ordained Minister - haranguing the parishoners with one hobby horse after another. I need therefore to constantly remember that even though I've gleaned an apparently new truth in Scripture, I still ought to be humble, patient and charitable in my dealings with fellow Christians. Thanks for the rebuke G. Campbell Morgan.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Dem dour Puritans!

Is what the world tells around tells us. And for proof, consider the following images

And yet, everyone once in a while, someone comes along with something that blows that view completely out of the water. As for example this:

"The Puritans recovered the biblical teaching that the marriage bed was to be honored and not just tolerated. They gave themselves to the married state with a strong commitment, and one of their great contributions to our culture was the establishment of the view that romantic and erotic devotion was sustainable within the covenant of marriage. In discussing this, C.S. Lewis once commented that the exaltation of virginity was a Roman Catholic trait, and 'that of marriage, a Protestant trait' . . . The Puritans taught that sexual love within marriage was not only lawful, it was supposed to be exuberant and passionate" (Beyond Stateliest Marble, pp. 46-47). via Blog & Mablog

Ah! So not so dour after all...

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Think Sovereignty, Think Dominoes

God has a whole universe to run, and just imagine the trillions of details He has to dovetail in order to make things turn out according to His plan. It would be lunacy for me to begrudge an interrupted slumber when I have no idea of the carefully positioned dominoes involved here.#

Via: Incident at Motel 6

Monday, 6 December 2010

Christmas carol playing of the week

Quote of the week

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. 

Thomas a'Kempis

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Thought of the day: Are pensions bad?

So some of you know that I'm a BIG BIG BIG fan of small government. In sum, I think that the Government should concentrate on security (protecting people's property) and justice (punishing the evildoer). There are lots of practical reasons for this view but the key one for me is that Scripture (which should be our primary and final authority in all of life) doesn't seem to indicate that the Government has any business poking its fingers in things not security and justice. So there I was with my somewhat 'extreme' views minding my own business when I came across the following

Which got my mind thinking - when exactly did the idea of pensions as they are widely understood today originate? Now as you know, such a question requires a reliable and credible source of knowledge so where best to turn than that great font of knowledge - Google! Here, I discovered, that the pension system we're familiar with today is only 102 years old! In fact if we were to be properly accurate we would have to say the modern state pension is more like 62 years given that it was tagged on to Sir William Bevereidge's beastly creation, the NHS (but that's another story!)

My question for now is, where in the Scriptures is the State exhorted to take money from its citizens so as to provide care once we're in retirement?

Friday, 3 December 2010

But I want it all

The Economist divides the Anglican Church 2010 into the following:

(click on the image to enlarge it)

The thing is I'm struggling to identify precisely which column I fit into...

As with the high church folk I believe in historical continuity and like vestments ritual, Latin, beauty and music
As with the Liberal Catholics I believe in flexibility and like vestments, beauty and music
As with the low church crowd I believe in hellfire, 'heaven', sin and like Discipline and the Bible
As with the Charismatics, I believe in miracles and like Exuberance and the Bible
As the broad church crew, I believe in reason and like do-goodery (I think!)
As with the traditionalists I believe in the Queen and like the KJB and the 1662 Prayer Book

Hmmmm so what am I?

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Quote of the week

“When God acts contrary to our will, disappointment is understandable. But when our desires go unfulfilled and disappointment begins to define us, something else is afoot. It’s called discontentment.” 

Via: Frustrated at work?

Monday, 29 November 2010

Marriage tis hard/The Sermon and the Lunch

With a heading like that, some might be thinking, what's gone wrong... I've been married for only 6 sorry 5 months! The truth is family life is a real joy and it is right for us reformed folk to big up marriage, especially the delights of having a wife (Proverbs 18:22) and the joy of having children (Psalm 128). Nevertheless I'd be a bad pastor if I failed to mention to those in my charge that family life is a labour. There are times, when marriage contains a certain drudgery e.g. doing the chores I'd rather not do (such as getting up early to de-ice the car, talking the rubbish out when it's freezing cold, etc, etc) and failing to warn others of such trials is to set them up for disappointment BIG time. It is right to give the impression that marriage is something to be greatly enjoyed. Nevertheless to give just this impression is to fail to prepare people for marriage. 

I'd like to say that these are all original thoughts but I found out today that CS Lewis got there before me and I recommend his excellent essay, The Sermon and the Lunch which I reckon should be required reading for those doing any sort of marriage prep

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Joke of the week

One time G.K. Chesterton, the rolypologist, was patted on the stomach by his adversary, George Bernard Shaw, a beanpole of an infidel, and was asked what they were going to name the baby. Chesterton replied immediately that if it was a boy, John, if a girl, then Mary. But if it turned out to only be gas, they were going to name it George Bernard Shaw.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Video of the week: Quantitative Easing explained

This is a must watch!

No mama = no papa

Is what Calvin says in a roundabout kind'a way. He says it in the Institutes, whilst addressing the issue of the Visible Church whereupon he writes:
there is no other means of entering into life unless she conceive us in the womb and give us birth, unless she nourish us at her breasts, and, in short, keep us under her charge and government, until, divested of mortal flesh, we become like the angels (Mt. 22:30). For our weakness does not permit us to leave the school until we have spent our whole lives as scholars. Moreover, beyond the pale of the Church no forgiveness of sins, no salvation, can be hoped for (Institutes Book IV, ch i, para 4)
In simple words, people are always born and people have mothers. There is always blood and there is always water

Similarly, if people are to be re-born, they must have a new mother, and there must be blood and water. 

Without a mother and without blood and water, there is no rebirth and no way we could 
call God, Father. 

Or as Paul puts it in Galatians 4, no mama = no papa.

HT: Toby S and Steve J

Quote of the week

The Calvinist movement in which Puritanism was rooted dignified activities that were previously considered mundane, through vigorously affirming the sacredness of earthly life, the glory of the physical, the splendour of the ordinary and the intimate unison between spirit and matter. The Puritan allowed one to serve God by serving one's wife, to be faithful to the Lord through being faithful in one's vocation. To read more about that, click here

Monday, 22 November 2010

Thought of the day: Saints or Sinners?

This weekend begins the Advent season in the Western Calender and for the church I'm based, our preaching now takes a break from Romans and turns now to focus onto passages which speak clearly of Christ's second coming, our resurrection hope and the way sinners like us can be welcomed to the transformed and renewed creation which will be revealed on that Great Day.

DV, when we return to Romans in the New Year, we will pick up at Chapter 6 and I'm hoping that I get asked to do some preaching from this mind-blowing chapter. One reason for this, is that studying Romans 6 will help me to explore whether the widespread tendency amongst Christians to describe each other as "Sinners" with a capital "S" is actually right. How could this be so given passages like Romans 6:4:

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Or Romans 6:11-12:

 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 

Or Romans 6:14:

 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Similar sentiments are expressed by Paul in Philippians 4 as well as by the Apostle John in 1 John 2 + 5

So a question to you are we Sinners or Saints?

Fancy calling her "M'Lord"

A few weeks ago now The Saturday Times dissuaded married couples from giving each other pet names. It was one of their perplexing suggestions of how to keep the marriage flame burning. Apparently, giving each other pet names mysteriously moved the relationship from intimate romance to a good-natured friendship. All I could think of at the time is what's so bad about having a good-natured friendship? And why this apparent division between intimate romance and an amiable friendship? We surely want our marriages to be punctuated by romantic tête-à-têtes as well has having ordinary everyday conversation ("Shall we go down and have some breakfast?"; "I don't like it when you do that"; "Is that the time we need to go to bed now" and so on). Well as you can see, I didn't think much of the Times article and this weekend, whilst reading something on Luther, I discover that he was married to Katherine von Bora (a former nun) for 21 years and had six children. The best bit though was the pet name he gave her:"My Lord Katie". Perhaps he did so because she managed their home (which was frequently full of students), she had a large garden and livestock, she fished and farmed, and also ran a brewery! She also managed their money and took care of their extended household. What a women eh? I'm praying that my dear and lovely wife takes a few leaves off her book (though I shan't share which particular ones) and to help her in that process I'll be adding a new pet name to our repertoire "My Lord Rachel"

Friday, 19 November 2010

We are the champions... my friend

That is exactly right. We (Christians) are the champions and our story is one of victory OR, to quote the Prophet Isaiah

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

The Bible says that the Lord God has appointed His Son has heir and slowly but surely things are being brought in line with His purposes. Nothing or no one can stop it. We win. Now why all this exuberance on a Friday afternoon? Well earlier today, I was perusing some stats on China here. Most of the stuff there is truly interesting (e.g. China executes three times as many people as the rest of the world!). What really got my juices really going though was the comment that there are already more Christians in China than Italy, and it is on track to become the largest centre of Christianity in the world. Now can you believe that? Here is a country that tried to exterminate Christianity in the mid 20th Century and it is now headed towards being a major foci of the Christian faith? I now see what King David meant when he wrote "The One enthroned in heaven laughs" Laughing indeed!


Thursday, 18 November 2010

Wanna know what love is?

Why do people consider the Puritans, as those 17th Century Christians, who were against the enjoyment of life and promoted a repressive morality? I ask because whenever I read the Puritans, I am often struck by their love of life and concern to delight in the everyday. Consider for example the pointers below from the renowned Richard Baxter on how to keep that lovey feeling going OR to use Baxter's 17th Century speak, "The sub-directions for maintaing conjugal love are:

1. Choose one at first that is truly amiable, especially in the virtues of the mind.
2. Marry not till you are sure that you can love entirely. Be not drawn for sordid ends, to join with one that you have but ordinary affections for.
3. Be not too hasty, but know beforehand, all the imperfections, which may tempt you after wards to loathing. But if these duties have been sinfully neglected, yet
4. Remember that justice commandeth you to love one that hath, as it were, forsaken all the world for you, and is contented to be the companion of your labours and sufferings, and be an equal sharer in all conditions with you, and that must be your companion until death. It is worse than barbarous inhumanity to entice such a one into a bond of love, and society with you, and then to say, you cannot love her. This was by perfidiousness to draw her into a snare to her undoing. What comfort can she have in her converse with you, and care, and labour, and necessary sufferings, if you deny her conjugal love ? Especially, if she deny not love to you, the inhumanity is the greater.
5. Remember that women are ordinarily affectionate, passionate creatures, and as they love much themselves, so they expect much love from you. And when you joined yourself to such a nature, you obliged yourself to answerable duty: and if love cause not love, it is ungrateful and unjust contempt.

6. Remember that you are under God's command ; and to deny conjugal love to your wives, is to deny a duty which God hath urgently imposed on you. Obedience therefore should command your love.
7. Remember that you are relatively, as it were, one flesh; you have drawn her to forsake father and mother, to cleave to you; you are conjoined for procreation of such children as must bear the image and nature of you both; your possessions and interests are in a manner the same. And therefore such nearness should command affection; they that are as yourselves, should be most easily loved as yourselves.
8. Take more notice of the good, that is in your wives, than of the evil. Let not the observation of their faults make you forget or overlook their virtues. Love is kindled by the sight of love or goodness.
9. Make not infirmities to seem odious faults, but excuse them as far as lawfully you may, by considering the frailty of the sex, and of their tempers, and considering also your own infirmities, and how much your wives must bear with you.
10. Stir up that most in them into exercise which is best, and stir not up that which is evil; and then the good will most appear, and the evil will be as buried, and you will more easily maintain your love. There is some uncleanness in the best on earth ; and if you will be daily stirring in the filth, no wonder if you have the annoyance ; and for that you may thank yourselves : draw out the fragrancy of that which is good and delectable in them, and do not by your own imprudence or peevishness stir up the worst, and then you shall find that even your faulty wives will appear more amiable to you.
11. Overcome them with love; and then whatever they are in themselves, they will be loving to you, and consequently lovely. Love will cause love, as fire kindleth fire. A good husband is the best means to make a good and loving wife. Make them not froward by your froward carriage, and then say, we cannot love them.
12. Give them examples of amiableness in yourselves; set them the pattern of a prudent, lowly, loving, meek, self-denying, patient, harmless, holy, heavenly life. Try this a while, and see whether it will not shame them from their faults, and make them walk more amiably themselves.

All married folk out there - are you listening?

Quote of the week

Repentance is a dish best served fast.

Don’t think Gordon Ramsay, six courses, haute cuisine. Think McDonald’s drive-thru.


Conservative Evangelicals 0, Reformers 1

Whilst at theological college my Church history tutor, oft commented that contemporary Evangelicalism differs greatly both in practice and theology from the people it claims are it's forebears/heroes namely the Reformers. This morning reading a quote from Luther about our everyday work I couldn't help but agree. Luther says:

What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow.

Now compare that with the ideas we often hear from our Conservative Evangelical heroes ministers that so called "gospel ministry" far outweighs social care/mercy ministry or cultural endeavours.

And yet, a cursory reading of Scripture reveals how important our everyday work is. Paul speaks of this when he calls on us to do everything to glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and even more fundamentally, the resurrection of Christ ensures that our labour is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

And so to the conclusion: Reformers 1, Conservative Evangelicals 0

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Song of the week:"American P.I.E"

Simply brilliant...

A long, long time ago
I can still remember
how the ol’ time gospel made me smile.

And with revival’s message tell
how regeneration made me well;
unmediated grace saved me from hell.

But Vantil’s postmils made me think
and from the ancients I did drink.
“Good news” I could see
was about much more than me.

The Anglo-puritan banner had
lost its luster, now I’m glad,
and I knew that I’d been gifted
the day my paradigm shifted.

So bye-bye, Miss American P.I.E.
Had my doctrine in a system but the system was dry.
And the Reformers were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
singin’, it’s about time you came nigh.
It’s about time you came nigh.

Did you make profession yet,
and is salvation immediate,
if Charles Spurgeon tells you so?

Is immaterial bliss the goal,
can gnosticism save your soul,
and should your child regenerate when old?

Well, I know you’re egalitarian
‘cause you think hierarchy is a sin.
Complete churches made us wince.
Man, we downplayed those sacraments.

I was a feisty five point, logic gifted
with a perfect ordo, the Church I sifted.
But modernity’s fog was lifted
the day my paradigm shifted.

I started singin’,
bye-bye, Miss American P.I.E.
Had my doctrine in a system but the system was dry.
And the Reformers were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
singin’, it’s about time you came nigh.
It’s about time you came nigh.

Now for some years I’ve been moving to
the Nicene catholic point of view,
but that’s not how it used to be.

When the preacher taught for the congregation
the systematics of justification
with a voice that shuddered you and me.

Oh, but while the preacher panned sacraments,
Calvin reformed my “common sense.”
My viewpoint was adjourned;
the ancient truth returned.

And while I found a federal vision,
the purists practiced endless schism,
and I sang dirges to pietism
the day my paradigm shifted.

I was singing,
bye-bye, Miss American P.I.E.
Had my doctrine in a system but the system was dry.
And the Reformers were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
singin’, it’s about time you came nigh.
It’s about time you came nigh.

Drums were beating in a pastor’s meeting.
The H-word flew, civility fleeting.
Controversy’s strong and spreading fast.

Some cried foul for the rancor vast.
The pastors tried to invoke the past.
The Baptists in attendance were aghast.

Now the aftermath was fear endowed
with the Southern Pres. tradition loud.
We all tried to explain,
Oh, but the tempest strength it gained!

‘Cause the pastors jumped from the frying pan,
and Machen’s heirs the flames to fan.
Do you recall how it began
The day my paradigm shifted?

I started singing,
bye-bye, Miss American P.I.E.
Had my doctrine in a system but the system was dry.
And the Reformers were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
singin’, it’s about time you came nigh.
It’s about time you came nigh.

Oh, and there we were at the chapel door,
a generation needing more,
with no hope for revivalism’s mend.

So come on: with objective grace endowed,
united sing Te Deum loud
‘cause bitter schism is the devil’s friend.

Oh, and as our covenant is renewed,
individualism is hewed.
Pietism’s concerns,
they are addressed in turn.

And with the ancient faith in sight
we joined in sacramental rite.
I saw angels smile with delight
the day my paradigm shifted.

They were singing,
bye-bye, Miss American P.I.E.
Had his doctrine in a system but the system was dry.
And the Reformers were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
singin’, it’s about time he came nigh.
It’s about time he came nigh.

I met a girl with American views
and defined for her the full “good news,”
But that fullness nearly made her reel.

I saw the old church one more time
where I’d learned my former paradigm,
but the teaching there lost much of its appeal.

And the children needed maturity
before they could come near and feed.
Despite the true words spoken,
modernity was broken.

And the pastors of the years to come
had seen enough to make them numb.
We caught the train to Christendom
the day our paradigm shifted.

And we were singing,
bye-bye, Miss American P.I.E.
Had our doctrine in a system but the system was dry.
And the Reformers were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
singin’, it’s about time you came nigh.

Via: American P.I.E. I

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Isaiah 2:4 in action

One of the greatest prophecies in Scripture is found in Isaiah 2 which prophesies a time in the last days (i.e. the period we're in) when

He (God) will judge between the nations 
   and will settle disputes for many peoples. 
They will beat their swords into plowshares 
   and their spears into pruning hooks. 
Nation will not take up sword against nation, 
   nor will they train for war anymore.

And today I came across the British artist Al Jarrow who uses military items to construct religious buildings in miniature (like the image above). Could Isaiah's vision be already being fulfilled so soon?

Quote of the week

The canonical text of the Lord's teaching is a translation, and not what originally came from the Lord's mouth. This means that God approves of translations. We ought not to accept therefore the idea that "something is always lost in translation." Sometimes, sure. But there are also many times when something is gained in translation.

Via: Ancient Roman Toddlers

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Full-bodied Anglicanism

Last night here in rural Staffordshire, we had our own impressive display of fireworks... actually the fireworks display was away in town, down in the valley below and clearly visible from our heightened patch. Folk came from all over, parked their people carriers on the side of the road and watched the dazzling display for free. I'm sure the same will happen today and tomorrow as people flock to this part of the county turning the side of the road into a car park-cum-viewing platform. The 5th of November is a well-championed date in the UK's national psyche and one that gets the crowds out and about celebrating. One of the key ways in which the 5th of November was celebrated in the past, was by a service commissioned and promoted by the Church of England. The service was entitled the “Form of Prayer with Thanksgiving, to be used yearly upon the Fifth Day of November for the happy Deliverance of the King, and the Three Estates of the Realm, from the most Traiterous and Bloudy intended Massacre by Gun-Powder”. Sadly this service has been dropped from the Book of Common Prayer in recent centuries. 
Now admittedly, one reason why this service was abandoned was because of its politically incorrect overtones and somewhat forthright language. However, consider the prayer below which introduced the service and wasted no time in exalting the True God and rebuking false religion
ALMIGHTY God, who hast in all ages shewed thy power and mercy in the miraculous and gracious deliverance of thy Church, and in the protection of righteous and religious Kings and States, professing thy holy and eternal truth, from the wicked conspiracies and malicious practices of all the enemies thereof;
We yield thee our unfeigned thanks and praise for the wonderful and mighty deliverance of our late gracious Sovereign King James, the Queen, the Prince, and all the Royal Branches, with the Nobility, Clergy, and Commons of England, then assembled in Parliament, by Popish treachery appointed as sheep to the slaughter, in a most barbarous, and savage manner, beyond the examples of former ages.
From this unnatural conspiracy, not our merit, but thy mercy; not our foresight, but thy providence, delivered us: And therefore, not unto us, O Lord, not unto us; but unto thy Name be ascribed all honour and glory in all Churches of the saints, from generation to generation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Now I'm almost certain that most of our Anglican clergy would suffer a tiny bit of indigestion at saying such a prayer (not least the Archbishop of Canterbury who hosted the Bishop of Rome recently!) but isn't it refreshing to see the utter confidence in God's sovereignty that our forebears displayed? The prayer highlights Guido "guy" Fawkes' capture was not down to our merit, but rather by God's mercy and thus we are led to declare that it is to Him and Him alone, that all glory and honour is due, both now and ever more, AMEN.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Quote of the week

The intellectual life of our age is characterized by a squishy goulash of subtleties all the way to the bottom of the pot, a farrago of pomothot, and the purveyors of this pomothot are often quite clever -- they don't hate labels because they can't follow arguments. They hate labels because they can follow them, and those arguments get in the way of their lusts. Remember that the devil is a dialectician.

Via Lusts and Labels

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Iron Lady was right

As you may have gathered from my previous post, questions about our post-resurrection existence have been on my mind recently. In that post, I offered a Trinitarian solution to the question of whether everlasting punishment in Hell is fair or not. In a sense, the solution I offered there, focused on who God is.

I've been doing a bit more reading and I think, I can see another good reason related to our fallen state why everlasting punishment is just. If we as fallen beings need outside help to move from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light how much more will we need it then? Or putting differently, if the grace of God is the only hope for salvation now what hope then for those who spurning Christ have been banished to the fiery lake? If an individual clings to their sin right to the moment of death what remedy will suddenly cure them from such folly in the world to come?

It's instructive at this point to consider the rich man described in Luke 16 who post-death is shown to be in hell. Have you ever stopped to reflect on the kind  of assistance he asks for? This is what we read him saying

'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

Notice that all he wants is respite from his agony. He doesn't ask for help in turning to the Saviour.

I suppose all I'm saying is that continuing in sin now and dying in that state of sin offers no hope for someone suddenly turning to God in repentance in the afterlife, even if that were possible. In fact Scripture makes clear that the wicked are those who post-death continue rebelling against God even in the face of severe judgement. Thus for example we read in Revelation 16:9

They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.

It seems to me therefore that everlasting punishment of the unrighteous in hell, is 'fair' in that the God's ongoing punishment in hell is not limited to just those sins committed whilst on earth, but will also be an expression of the on-going antipathy of the unrighteous towards God and their continuing sin. I wonder as well whether the phrase ‘gnashing of the teeth’ – a frequent expression of Jesus to describe the reprobate is an image of people grinding their teeth in rage or in helpless anger at God?

Put very simply the damned in hell persist in their sinning and therefore continue (in perpetuity) to incur God's wrath. The Apostle Paul was right all along: 

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Or to paraphrase the great Margaret Thatcher the people are not for turning

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

From love comes wrath

Many people decry the duration of hell. Even among Evangelicals I've heard the question asked as to whether it is fair that God inflicts everlasting punishment on people who have committed offences in this short and troublous life? One helpful way to resolve this apparent predicament is by embracing the Trinity. The mutual glorification within the Trinity, alerts us to the zeal with which each member of the Godhead guards each other's honour. For example we read in the St John's Gospel that the Father intends it 'that all may honour the Son' (John 5:23). The Son in turns honours the Father (John 13:31) and the Spirit glorifies the Son (John 16:14). It is also interesting to note that the stern warning against committing the unforgiveable sin: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, provides us with a glimpse of the high honour that Son regards the Spirit. Set against this backdrop, the everlasting punishment of the wicked becomes more an expression of intra-Trinitarian love rather than an unjust expression of God's wrath. As Ralph A. Smith indicates in his excellent book on the Trinity (Trinity and Reality) God's wrath is an expression of a pure yet outraged love: 'it is the love of the Father for the Son that He will not allow His Son's name to be tarnished.' It is from such love that wrath flows.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Another gem from Herbie

A few months ago I spoke about the joys of reading poetry here. One of the poets I recommended in that post was the great Herbie aka George Herbert, 1593-1633). His works are not always easy to read/comprehend but when you get one that is understandable, boy what a gem it is... Well that intro, let me introduce you to Herbie's Grace

MY stock lies dead, and no increase
Doth my dull husbandrie improve:
O let thy graces without cease
                                       Drop from above!

If still the sunne should hide his face,
Thy house would but a dungeon prove,
Thy works nights captives: O let grace
                                       Drop from above!

The dew doth ev’ry morning fall;
And shall the dew out-strip thy Dove?
The dew, for which grasse cannot call,
                                       Drop from above.

Death is still working like a mole,
And digs my grave at each remove:
Let grace work too, and on my soul
                                       Drop from above.

Sinne is still hammering my heart
Unto a hardnesse, void of love:
Let suppling grace, to crosse his art,
                                       Drop from above.

O come!  for thou dost know the way:
Or if to me thou wilt not move,
Remove me, where I need not say,
                                       Drop from above.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Is this Proverbs 22:29 in action?

Collect for today

"...because the triune God is infinite, and the Second Person of that Trinity became one of us, insignificance and cosmic importance now indwell one another, world without end. Amen."

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Quote of the week

“Too little” means cleavage, vast expanse of thigh, that sort of thing. Women with this problem dress like a sale at J.C. Penney’s—forty percent off. 

From the legendary heavy D at Credenda/Agenda

Saturday, 9 October 2010

I want liberty of spontaneity

Preparing for services I always hanker after originality and freshness. Many a time I have wondered how those I admire lead worship so well all the while speaking edifying words spontenously. Well apparently there is a secret and it is for you, to prepare to be fresh. Read more about that here and to get you started, consider this brilliant quote

But before the message can be fresh, the man must be. Prepare the man before you prepare the message [...] confess sin, grow in grace, resist temptation, feed your soul something other than spiritual Doritos.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Another quote

 If we habitually doubt the faithfulness of God, this is no poetic virtue; it’s called unbelief. 

From, "Accidental death and a Sovereign God" at The Rabbit Room

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Quote of the week

Heaven is not the destination of the saved. Rather, we will participate in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. We will become part of the new creation. Jesus’ salvation is not just about me and my sins, but will envelop the whole of the cosmos. A new heaven and earth will be created, and our call is to live as his people there in relationships of love with the Trinity and with one another forever. No clouds and harps and halos; instead, real life and love, with no more crying and no more dying. I don’t know how he’s going to do it. But if Easter is any indication of what’s in store, then he’s off to a very impressive start.

From William Black in the land of milk and honey via Christians should know better