Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Arminian slog, Calvinist sleep

Don’t be leaning on a shovel and praying for a ditch; work like an Arminian, sleep like a Calvinist.

HT: Canon Wired

Monday, 25 July 2011

Fantastic funeral entry

Otto von Habsburg, the last heir to the once great Austrio-Hungarian empire died last month. He was by most accounts a great man and the extraordinary pomp and ceremony that accompanied his funeral illustrated something of his prominence. But guess how the clergy responded, when his body was brought to the door of the Imperial crypt, before being laid in its 'final' resting place. Here is what happened (accompanying video below)


Capuchin Friar : “Who desires admission?”

Leader of funeral party: “Otto of Austria, former Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, Prince Royal of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, Modena, Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, of Osweicim and Zator, of Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trento and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria: Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and Windic March; Grand Voivod of the Voivodship of Serbia”

Friar : “We do not know him!”


Friar : “Who desires admission?”

Leader : “Dr Otto von Habsburg; President and Honorary President of the Pan-European Union; Member and Father of the House of the European Parliament; Holder of honorary doctorates from countless universities and freeman of many communities in Central Europe; Member of numerous noble academies and institutes; Bearer of high and highest awards, decorations and honours of church and state made to him in recognition of his decade-long struggle for the freedom of peoples, for right and justice.”

Friar: “We do not know him!”


Friar : “Who desires admission?”

Leader : “Otto — a mortal, sinful man!”

Friar: “Let him be admitted."

Ain't that fantastic? Of course it would need a little tweaking if the "mortal sinful man" was a professing Christian but I still think, it is a great entry in reminding us of the truths of Psalm 49

Saturday, 23 July 2011

God loves cliffhangers

God loves cliffhangers. He stops Abraham when the knife is raised above Isaac. He delivers Israel when the Red Sea water is lapping at their toes, and the armies of Pharaoh are closing in at their backs. He saves Hezekiah when Jerusalem was entirely surrounded. And what does this mean? It means that many have collapsed and given way to temptation when deliverance was right around the corner. 

Friday, 22 July 2011

No. 1 killer in black community (US)

I wonder, if it's a similar pattern in the UK AND, how this must grieve our LORD?

"Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made man"
saith the LORD

Image of the week: Barry Potter

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Grudem's answer to world poverty

I believe the only long-term solution to world poverty is business. That is because businesses produce goods, and business produce jobs. And businesses continue producing goods year after year, and continue providing jobs and paying wages year after year. Therefore if we are ever going to see long-term solutions to world poverty, I believe it will come through starting and maintaining productive, profitable businesses. 
Wayne Grudem, Business  for the Glory of God, 80

Fascinating eh? I haven't thought much about this subject but if I was to re-write Grudem's paragraph above, I'd change that first line to:

I believe the only long-term solution to world poverty is the undertaking and promoting of business, in a society that is largely Christian.

Would anyone be able to get him come lead a conference (in the UK) on this topic?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The hand of death

Queen Victoria, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I

It's not too difficult, to establish that the above three, would feature prominently in a compendium considering who Britain's greatest monarchs are. Queen Victoria ruled over such extensive lands that it was said during her reign that the sun never set on the British empire. Henry VIII, is perhaps best described as a type of the Eglon, who was to come. In addition to his heavily rotund figure, Henry Tudor was the genius who bravely broke away from Rome for reasons that are best described as what shall we say... dodgy. Elizabeth I is renowned for her triumphant reign, at a time when women were mostly seen and rarely heard. Ok, enough about their achievements - most of that is fairly well known... I wonder though if you know anything about the final moments leading to the deaths of any of these three monarchs? Recently I came across the following:

When the Archbishop arrived, he prayed for a long time. As he arose from his kneeling at the end of his prayer, a gesture from the bed forced him down again. He prayed for another long stretch, and as he did so, one thin hand reached for his. He held it, as an earlier Archbishop, had held the hand of the dying ________________. The ___________ slipped into a coma from which ______ did not awake.

Can you fill in the missing blanks? (Clue: two of the above Monarchs feature)

Monday, 18 July 2011

Psalm 127 applied

Unless God anoints it, you are praying to the ceiling, preaching to the air, sending a schlub, ordaining his brother, planting a religious club, and reasoning with a two-year-old. You are sweeping water uphill.

In short, we are entirely dependent upon the Holy Spirit, who is a sovereign wind who blows where He pleases. This therefore means that when the reformation arrives, it will not be because we whistled Him up. That's the first thing to be settled in our minds. The second thing is that He will come. He promised.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

How to stop grumbling (1)

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood (Hebrews 12:1-4)

In other words, "whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent" (St John of the Cross, 1542-1591).

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Spurgeon on reconciling election and "free will"

My dear brethren, I never reconcile two friends, never. These two doctrines are friends with one another; for they are both in God's Word, and I shall not attempt to reconcile them.


"But," says one, "there is a great deal of difficulty about them."

ANS: Will you tell me what truth there is that has no difficulty about it?

"But," says another "I do not see it."

ANS: Well I do not ask you to see it; I ask you to believe it.

Spurgeon, Sermon on Romans 9:13 in New Park Street Pulpit, Vol 5-6, page 120 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Hacked off with ourselves

The furore about News International's widespread hacking and the accusation by the chattering classes of how depraved the NoTW et al are, has been rather telling. Let me pick two examples to illustrate the point. Last week, Hugh Grant was on Question Time, denouncing NI. He has subsequently taken on the mantle of spokesman against Murdoch's evil empire even filming a clip outside parliament. Isn't it a tad odd, that Hugh Grant, whose image has arisen not just from his acting, but also from his twilight trysts gets applauded for his concerns for faithful journalistic reporting? The second example comes from the Guardian newspaper (UK) which has taken on an active role in attacking NI and calling it to account. This is the same paper, which published the stolen Wikileaks cables last year all in the name of "public interest". Isn't there something absurdly dishonest about the Guardian's admonition? All this reminds me of that insightful comment by pogo:

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Question to Sam Harris: why worry?

One of the high priests of the new atheism, Sam Harris, writes this on his blog:
I have a daughter who will one day take drugs. Of course, I will do everything in my power to see that she chooses her drugs wisely, but a life without drugs is neither foreseeable, nor, I think, desirable. Someday, I hope she enjoys a morning cup of tea or coffee as much as I do. If my daughter drinks alcohol as an adult, as she probably will, I will encourage her to do it safely. If she chooses to smoke marijuana, I will urge moderation. Tobacco should be shunned, of course, and I will do everything within the bounds of decent parenting to steer her away from it. Needless to say, if I knew my daughter would eventually develop a fondness for methamphetamine or crack cocaine, I might never sleep again. 
The above is just one paragraph in a long essay which chronicles/illustrates the twisted labyrinth that inhabits the anti-God mindset. And yet notice, even here in this bleak world, Mr Harris cannot escape the fundamental reality that under-girds our world (viz. God) - hence the great concern for the well being of his daughter including doing all in his power to achieve it. Such unwitting admissions, must for the Christian form a good starting point in our dialogue and engagement as we ask the atheist: Given your conviction that there is no God, what ultimate reason do you have for limiting another's fun or worrying about the future - isn't it all meaningless? Or to paraphrase McFerrin's song: why worry, shouldn't you be happy?

Friday, 8 July 2011

Journal-keeping: a few godly tips

If you don’t want God writing these things down in His journal, don’t write them down in yours. Are you disgusted at how much your neighbour is imposing on you? Why on earth would you want to write that down? Are you feeling lonely and dejected? It would be healthier to forget about yourself and think about someone else. This kind of journal writing just gets you to focus on you, you, you and your feelings, feelings, feelings.

Second, spending hours reflecting on yourself is not wise.  Dumpster diving in your soul only makes you feel worse. The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict us of sin, righteousness and the judgement to come, and we should allow Him to do His work without interference.If you set aside time each day to write about what a worm you are, then you are not wise. God already knows it, you already know it, so why dwell on it? Set your mind and heart on things above!


Think about the writings of St. Paul. He wrote for others, and those others are still being edified after all these centuries. He didn’t write pages about his inner feelings, but mentioned them in passing, to the edification of all. He didn’t gloat or fall into self-pity (or if he did, he didn’t record it for us). He didn’t go on and on about his wrestling with pride or lust. Thank God for that!

In sum: Write each page for others, not to glorify yourself, but to show gratitude to God.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Can the elect defect?

This Sunday I'm preaching on Romans 9. As part of my wider reading/preparation I've been reading some John Frame and came across this provocative comment:
As not all Israelites are Israel (Romans 9:6), so not all members of the Christian church are regenerate believers. Some are elect only as the unbelieving Israelites were: historically elect, rather than eternally elect. Like Saul and Judas, they were chosen only temporarily; they can become nonelect (Frame, The Doctrine of God, 322)
Golly! So you can lose your election can you?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Premier deceives His Royal Highness

Yesterday as part of the Royal tour, the Duke of Cambridge was hosted by the Premier of Prince Edward Island. Part of his advice to newly married Duke was:
"Having been married now for 5 years to my beautiful wife Kate, I have one small piece of advice for the Duke of Cambridge. Your Royal Highness it's very important to remember: Kate's are always right."
WRONG. The lady is NOT always right and you dear chap need to remember who wears the trousers. Or as the Bible kind'a puts it, the guy leads and the lady heeds.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Is evangelism for everyone?

If I was to write something on this, I'd say:

1) Yes BUT

2) This does not mean that every Christian individually needs to witness to one person each day (i.e. the Evangelical emphasis on personal evangelism that wants to make everyone into a personal evangelist who actively evangelises every day rides roughshod over people's gifting and calling. In other words, we shouldn't feel bad if we didn't share the gospel with someone today.) Obviously this does not mean that we forget 1 Peter 3:15 - everyone should be ready to give an answer for the great hope that we have.

ILLUSTRATION: Think of the army or navy. The whole point of an army or navy is to be focussed on the mission: the defeat of the enemy. This however does not mean that everyone in the army fights at the front line. There are engineers, cooks, musicians, tea ladys etc etc. You've got different people doing different things but all are part of the one mission and all should be clear on that one mission.

I wish all this was original to me...    It's all better put in the video below (including a memorable illustration on how the body of Christ - in it's different roles - is somewhat akin to what happens to us when watching a movie).

10 brilliant ideas on Family Worship

Since the kipling's arrival, opportunities for doing regular family worship have all but disappeared. Life at the moment seems to be a routine of baby, baby, baby, a bit of eating, some sleep, quick chat to the lovely Mrs C, a bit of work, baby, baby, baby and so it continues. At some point though, I'd like to return to our routine of doing some devotional stuff in the evening and perhaps even extend that to also do something in the mornings (seeing as the littl'un has introduced us to what the world looks like at 5am). Anyway earlier today over at the Desiring God blog, I came across some very helpful (and liberating) pointers, to egg me to persevere in my desire to lead my Family in regular Worship:

  1. Our God is a family God. He is a Triune God. He has an inter-trinitarion relationship. He deals with families throughout the Old Testament and the New in the terms of Covenant and into Representative Headship.
  2. Family worship requires some preparation. Have your Bibles ready, and maybe an additional book — a devotional. Choose some Psalms and Hymns that are easy to sing.
  3. Don't make Family Worship too long and provoke your children. Maybe 10 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night.
  4. Maybe you lost your temper a few minutes ago and you are in no mood to do family worship. A.W. Pink says this is all the more reason to do family worship. Confess your sins immediately and move on in worship. Your family worship will even have more meaning to you that night.
  5. Lead your Family Worship with a firm fatherly hand and a soft penitent heart.Talk naturally yet reverentally with your children.
  6. Involve the whole family in the reading, as soon as your children can read.Even before they can read, give them a Bible. If you have 20 verses to read and you have 5 people in your family, each reader should take 4 verses.
  7. In your instruction be plain in meaning, pure in doctrine, relevant in application, and affectionate in manner.
  8. Be short in your prayers when your children are young: 3-5 minutes when your children are young, 7-8 minutes when your children are older. Be simple in your prayers without being shallow. Be direct in your prayers, naming your children by name and spread out their needs one by one before God.
  9. God often uses family worship and devotional life to save souls.
  10. Family worship helps to promote family harmony in sickness, sadness and death. It creates a context to speak about things. If you can speak about intimate, sacred and tender things, then you can speak about anything throughout the day.

I particularly love Nos. 1, 4, 9 and 10 and find 3 & 8 incredibly liberating.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Keep going

If you're going through hell, keep going.

Winston Churchill

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Calvin contra today's Evangelicals

“The Eucharist is the communion of the body and blood of the Lord.” Consequently, the people must learn “the necessity of their frequent participation in the flesh and blood of the Lord as well as to its great benefits, which are received from this participation and mastication.
From: Calvin's Ecclesiastical Advice, 165

For there is not the least doubt that the Sacred Supper was in that era set before the believers every time they met together....”
From: Calvin's Institutes, 4.17.46. 

“The Lord’s Table should [be] spread at least once a week for the assembly of Christians, and the promises declared in it should feed us spiritually.... All, like hungry men, should flock to such a bounteous repast.” 

From: Calvin's Institutes, 4.17.46.
So who's up for weekly communion then?

Law as boundary rather than obstacle

If you look at the ten commandments as a boundary around something, instead of a obstacle to something, you will see that God’s laws are situated in places that make real life possible. They are rules of freedom. You may not commit adultery, as in, you are free to have functioning marriages. You may not covet, as in, you are free to live your own life, unsoured by sidelong glances. You shall not worship other gods, as in, you are free from that bondage. You do not need to not sacrifice your children in some pagan festival. You shall not murder, as in, you shall be free to live without blood guilt.

HT: Femina

Friday, 1 July 2011

At the expense of ________

Following the recent protests in Greece and the strikes yesterday in England, how would you fill in the following?

Everyone has the right to ____________ at the expense of __________.

And how would you defend your view biblically?