Saturday, 29 December 2012

Unbelief: the worst kind of hypocrisy

From Spurgeon:

It is an odd product of our unhealthy nature—the fear to believe. Yet have I met with it often: so often that I wish I may never see it again. It looks like humility, and tries to pass itself off as the very soul of modesty, and yet it is an infamously proud thing: in fact, it is presumption playing the hypocrite. If men were afraid to disbelieve, there would be good sense in the fear; but to be afraid to trust their God is at best an absurdity, and in very deed it is a deceitful way of refusing to the Lord the honor that is due to His faithfulness and truth.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas eve

First Rossetti's moving poem:

Christmas hath darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answering music
For all Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Then the collect for today:

Almighty God,
who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance
of the birth of thy only Son Jesus Christ:
grant that, as we joyfully receive him as our redeemer,
so we may with sure confidence behold him
when he shall come to be our judge;
who liveth and reigneth with thee
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (annotated)

Hark! The herald angels sing (Luke 2:13), ‘Glory to the newborn King (Matt. 2:2);
Peace on earth, and mercy mild (Luke 2:14), God and sinners reconciled (2 Cor. 5:19)!’
Joyful, all ye nations rise (Ps. 117:1), join the triumph of the skies’
With th’angelic host proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2)!’

Christ by highest heaven adored (Luke 19:38); Christ the everlasting Lord (2 Pet. 1:11);
Late in time, behold Him come (Gal. 4:4), offspring of a virgin’s womb (Is. 7:14).
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see (Heb. 1:3), hail th’incarnate Deity (Phil. 2:7),
Pleased as man with men to dwell (John 1:14), Jesus, our Emmanuel (Is. 7:14).

Come, Desire of nations, come (Haggai 2:7), fix in us Thy humble home (2 Cor. 13:5);
Rise, the woman’s conquering Seed (Gen. 3:15), bruise in us the serpent’s head (Rom. 16:20).
Now display Thy saving pow’r (Rom. 8:11), Ruined nature now restore (Heb. 2:8-9);
Now in mystic union join Thine to ours (John 17:21), and ours to Thine (Heb. 2:11).

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface (Eph. 4:22), stamp Thine image in its place (Col. 3:10);
Second Adam from above (1 Cor. 15:45), reinstate us in Thy love (Rom. 5:5).
Let us Thee, though lost, regain, Thee, the Life, the inner man (Eph. 3:16):
O, to all Thyself impart (Col. 1:27), formed in each believing heart (Gal. 4:19).

Hail, the heav’n born Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6)! Hail the Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 4:2)!
Light and life to all He brings (John 1:4), Ris’n with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2).
Mild He lays His glory by (Phil. 2:7), born that man no more may die (Rom. 6:6),
Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth (John 3:3).
Hark! The herald angels sing (Luke 2:13), ‘Glory to the newborn king (Matt. 2:2)!’

For more meat off this tasty bone, check out this edifying post here

Sunday, 16 December 2012

God 3, Satan 0

The New Testament book of Acts in 3 minutes - clever, funny and to the point: God wins!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Wednesday laughter: only if he's buying

Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he’s buying. 

―Fran Lebowitz

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Jesus' new home

Every building is built to accommodate someone or something.  If you are like me, when you drive by a new construction site you look for signs of who might be moving in.  Will it be a store, a bank, a business, or someone’s home?  We want to know who will dwell in that new building.  Well, what we learn in the Christmas story is that our humanity was built to house the Creator and Lord of heaven and earth.  The true temple of God is humanity.  God the Son moves into his temple, his house, his palace when he unites himself to our humanity in the womb of the virgin Mary.  The Father and Spirit construct a glorious house for the Son to dwell in.  And God the Son has no "problem" uniting himself with us and dwelling with us as a man because we have been created for this very purpose.

Via: Corrigenda Denuo discussing Malachi 3:1-4

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Aslan's other name

As to Aslan's other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone is this world who (1) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2) Said he was the son of the Great Emperor. (3) Gave himself up for someone else's fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4) Came to life again. (5) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb (see the end of the Dawn Treader). Don't you really know His name in this world. Think it over and let me know your answer!

CS Lewis, writing to 11-year-old Hila Newman

Monday, 3 December 2012

7 wonderful phrases from 2012

1) Off the cob: corny

2) Douse the Edisons: turn off the lights or close your eyes

3) Focus your audio: listen carefully

4) Bubble dance: to wash the dishes

5) In the ketchup: operating at a deficit

6) Get the mitten: to be rejected

7) Wet sock: a limp, flaccid handshake

I love numbers 2-5. What about you?

Others great phrases and others not so great, can be found here

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Museveni's prayer: what a man & may God bless Uganda

Ugandan President - Yoweri Museveni - recently led the 50th anniversary celebrations of independence, by leading the country in - of all things - a public act of repentance (personal and corporate). Here is Museveni's prayer in its entirety:

Father God in heaven, today we stand here as Ugandans, to thank you for Uganda. We are proud that we are Ugandans and Africans. We thank you for all your goodness to us.  I stand here today to close the evil past and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness.  We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation. 
We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal.  Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict.  These sins and many others have characterized our past leadership, especially the last 50 years of our history.  Lord, forgive us and give us a new beginning.  Give us a heart to love you, to fear you and to seek you. Take away from us all the above sins. 
We pray for national unity. Unite us as Ugandans and eliminate all forms of conflict, sectarianism and tribalism. Help us to see that we are all your children, children of the same Father.  Help us to love and respect one another and to appreciate unity in diversity.  We pray for prosperity and transformation.  Deliver us from ignorance, poverty and disease.  As leaders, give us wisdom to help lead our people into political, social and economic transformation.
Having confessed his and the Nation's sin, he then proceeded to dedicate the Nation to God:
We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own. 
I renounce all the evil foundations and covenants that were laid in idolatry and witchcraft.  I renounce all the satanic influence on this nation.  And I hereby covenant Uganda to you, to walk in your ways and experience all your blessings forever.  I pray for all these in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
What a man and such a great example of a penitent leige before The Mighty JC (Psalm 110). Some may wonder whether a president should lead the citizens in a national prayer of repentance? Well absolutely! Who else will? In the Bible we are commanded to pray for those in authority and as the UK (and much of Western Civilisation) continues its rapid descent, I, for one will pray for God's abundant blessings to flow on the nation and people of Uganda and that President Museveni's pattern will be emulated by many of Europe's apostate leaders.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Anti-Santa rant

Probably, not one to show at your local school but then again, maybe...?

Friday, 23 November 2012

Spurgeon on Limited Atonement

I may be called Antinomian or Calvinist for preaching a limited atonement; but I had rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than a universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of man be joined with it.

He's absolutely nailed it!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Distance don't make no evangelist

He that will not serve the Lord in the Sunday-school at home, will not win children to Christ in China. Distance lends no real enchantment to Christian service.

C.H. Spurgeon

Friday, 9 November 2012

Obama is not the problem - the Church is!

Because bad results come from bad actions which were informed by bad thinking which came from bad beliefs. Allow Mr Wretched to explain...

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Witty way to say "you're badly dressed"

From P. G. Wodehouse:

“She looked as if she had been poured into her clothes and had forgotten to say, 'When.'”

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

To the losers of the American election

God’s ways of judgement are sometimes secret, but never unjust.


Monday, 5 November 2012

Tests and vests

It's been a stretching few days in the parish and as ever, the Lord has sustained and upheld us, never giving us more than we can bear. The Puritan William Bridge put it well: “He will require no more than He gives; He will give what He requires, and He will accept what He gives.” Blessed be the name of the LORD.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Quote of the week: No applause

No one pats you on the back for doing the next responsible thing, even when it is really hard to do or feels downright grueling, which – I can attest – it mostly does. There is no applause.  No one puts your face on a glossy brochure, or writes you a big fat check, or invites you on a speaking tour, because you yield to the natural constraints and confines of a faithful life. There is little celebration, actually, in once again deciding not to buy something you really want in hopes of keeping to a budget; to not take a trip or a gig so you can be available to a spouse, or child, or ailing parent; to scale back on commitments to have more time for personal discipline, or family, or reflection, or good old fashioned rest.

Via: The Washington Institute reflecting on the D'Souza debacle

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Don't be like Woody Allen and 2 surprises about Halloween

2 surprises about Halloween

What does God think of Halloween? How are Christians to respond to all the spooky outfits, scary masks, witches hats that dominate the scene at this time of year? Should we simply retreat, batten down the hatches, avoid all shops and hope no one knocks on Wednesday night? Before answering that question allow me, to share with you my top tip, that I think is guaranteed to ruin any good party (do not ever say I am not a generous person)! So imagine the scene; you’ve arrived at a party – the venue is lovely, the music is playing, the food is fantastic, conversations are flowing, everyone you want is there and at this point in the party, no one has done anything silly or embarrassing. No one has been on the dance floor and made a fool of themselves, no has attempted to sing along to the music in a tone deaf way, no one has had too much to drink and started acting a bit silly. All told, everything is going well so far. Well here is how to ruin the party. Just wait until there is a bit of a pause, perhaps, after someone has cracked a really good joke and then raise your voice a little and say “I tell you what, this seems like a good time to speak about death!” That would be it wouldn’t it? To wait until everyone is having fun, the party is in full flow and people are enjoying themselves and then mention the dreaded d-word: death.

Now here is the link with that anecdote[1] and Halloween. When you see the sorts of outfits that are sold in the shops and supermarkets at this time, isn’t it as if our society says ‘let’s have a party, a celebration, a festival, and use it, to talk about death’ – isn’t that what it’s like when you come across the scary, horrible-looking, death-imitating costumes in the shop aisles? Don’t they just scream “death” and remind us of this horrible enemy in our midst?

Well here is the first surprise as we return to our question (how are Christians to respond to Halloween). The first surprise is this – Christians (unlike the world/non-believers) have a good reason to celebrate Halloween by putting on scary costumes and joking about death etc because unlike the world we have a King, Jesus Christ, who has conquered, triumphed and overcome death. We Christians have a Saviour, Jesus Christ, who has experienced this horrible enemy death, but who thankfully has defeated it (Hebrews 2:14-15). As Paul asks provocatively in 1 Corinthians 15:55

Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?

His answer: thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who are united to this Jesus Christ have every reason not to fear death. Christians can look death in the eye and say “horrible though you are O death, one day... one day we will have the last laugh on you”. We Christians can mock death because even though we know that it is horrible and painful and sad, yet we can still laugh at it because we have a Saviour who has completely triumphed and defeated death. Christians need not therefore fear these scary costumes that appear at this time of year, and we should be free to mock death by wearing ghoulish outfits as a mock on this defeated enemy – death.

If you’ve seen the film Crocodile Dundee, you’ll know that there’s a scene where the main character, Dundee is walking home late one evening when he gets accosted by 3 kids wanting to mug him. The lead member pulls out a penknife and shouts “give us your wallet” and Dundee’s girlfriend in a bit of panic, urges him to respond quickly by giving the thugs his wallet. Dundee retorts by asking “Why?” to which she replies “because they’ve got a knife” And Dundee’s comical response is to say “That’s not a knife... here’s a knife” as he draws out a machete! And it’s a little like that with the victory accomplished by our risen, reigning Lord. You can imagine him looking at all the scary outfits which people don at this time of year and saying “You think that is scary? Wait until you see the fierce dragon that I had to fight. He is horrible and cruel and everyone he attacks loses. Everyone that is, except Me”.

Halloween then can and should be for the Christian a time to laugh. Not a fake, shallow, pretend laughter, but the kind of laughter which is filled with a certain hope that even though the present may be painful, even though the present may be full of tears and sadness, yet in Christ we are confident that our sorrows will be turned to joy.

Here is the second surprise related to Halloween. Modern day Christians should reclaim the celebration of Halloween, given that it was our forbears who encouraged people to wear scary outfits as a parody of death. Halloween as you may know was originally known as All Hallows Eve. It is the day before All Hallows/All Saints Day, when the Church remembers those who have died in the faith and give thanks for their faithful witness. All Hallows Eve therefore was (and is) an occasion to tease death by reminding ourselves of the wonderful hope of the final resurrection as we give thanks for those who’ve fallen asleep in Christ. The medieval Church thus encouraged Christians to wear frightening and death-imitating costumes not because they were morbid or because they didn’t have access to GAP or Calvin Klein but rather because they were confident that death had been defeated. Christians therefore wore horrible outfits not because of a lack of fashion sense but to satirize death and say to it, ‘you’re a loser!’ or more positively ‘we will win!’ This by the way is the reason that many old churches and some grand buildings have gargoyles. Have you ever wondered why someone would build a beautiful church with intricately designed mosaics, pretty stained glass windows, ornate looking furniture and then include unappealing and oftentimes scary looking gargoyles? Well the reason was simply to say to the congregation (and to the world) that though death may still be present among us (which is what these gargoyles pictured) yet in Christ, we shall overcome. In other words, gargoyles were a visual way of saying that the medieval Christians were not afraid of death.

It is reported that Woody Allen when once asked about death responded “I’m not afraid of death I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” How different for the Christian! This Halloween then, let us not fear... let us not fear the frightening costumes, let us not fear the knock on the door, let us not fear the future and crucially let us not fear death. And why not think of a tangible way (including perhaps wearing a scary costume?) to teach and share with your family and friends, that in-Christ, death is not the end!

[1] Taken from Lee McMunn’s Identity course, Session 4 “The God who comforts us” 

Monday, 22 October 2012

Monday fun: clever cut

A man and a boy go into a barbershop.

After getting his haircut, the man says, “Now cut the boy’s hair too. I’ll be back soon.”

When he’s finished cutting the boy’s hair, the barber says, “When is your father coming back to pay?”

The boy says, “He’s not my father. He met me in the street and asked if I wanted a free haircut.”

Sunday, 21 October 2012

He never saved a friend

Isaiah 45:4 says:

I call you by your name,
    I name you, though you do not know me.
 I am the Lord, and there is no other,
    besides me there is no God

This is the Lord speaking, describing a rank pagan - Cyrus, whom God used to revive a despondent Israel. What is striking is not why God uses an unbeliever to rescue His people but rather how God shows His incomparable uniqueness by saving strangers. Rather than thinking of Cyrus as pagan cog in God's salvation machine, better to think of him as a type of every true believer, every follower of Christ. In other words, God always saves strangers - He never saved a friend. God never saved someone because they had done their part. God never saved anyone by merely giving a helping a hand. God saves sinners. He saves the lost. He saves those who don't know Him and don't know that they need Him. He delights to rescue those who are without hope  in this world. He delights to take dry bones and by His Spirit brings life into existence. And God does this by sending Jesus to die in our place. Some gods might apparently die for good men but our God died for bad men - our God died for the worst of men - traitors, terrorists and tax collectors. God clothes strangers and enemies with Honour so that the world may know that they have never seen a love like this. That they have never met a God like this. Do you know Him?

Friday, 19 October 2012

Spurgeon: paedobaptist in woolly clothing

Reading more Spurgeon, I've come across more of his wonderful inconsistencies. Despite being one of the greatest baptist preachers of all time he advocated catechesis for children and exhorted parents to treat their littl'uns essentially, as growing saints. Read the man yourself:

For my part, I am more and more persuaded that the study of a good Scriptural catechism is of infinite value to our children, and I shall see that it is reprinted as cheaply as possible for your use. Even if the youngsters do not understand all the questions and answers in the “Westminster Assembly’s Catechism,” yet, abiding in their memories, it will be of infinite service when the time of understanding comes, to have those very excellent, wise, and judicious definitions of the things of God. If we would maintain orthodoxy in our midst, and see good old Calvinistic doctrines handed down from father to son, I think we must use the method of catechising, and endeavour with all our might to impregnate their minds with the things of God.

Huh! Talk about being paedobaptist in woolly [i.e. baptist] clothing!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Self-pity is like having wet pants

“Feeling sorry for ourselves feels so good. That’s why we love it. But like the boy who loved to wet his pants because it felt so warm, we are soaking in our own toxins.”

Via: Faith working

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

3 points on the Resurrection

1) Immortal life outranks the stench of death
2) Our justification outranks the dirty rags of judicial iniquity
3) The everlasting Word is the ultimate word on us our world

Prize quote: It doesn't matter what you name it. It matters what Jesus names it. But someone will say "but we've passed a law that says this [homosexual marriage] is a marriage." Oh yes? And Caligula made his horse a senator. Men in rebellion against God can call it what they want - you can call your horse a senator but that doesn't make it a senator. You can call homosexual marriage a marriage - that doesn't make it a marriage. The world is what God names it.

Listen to the 3 points from the horse's mouth below:

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Loser's last laugh

Today the Church remembers William Tyndale, a brave man and brilliant translator who was martyred on this day in 1536, for his new translation of the Bible. His dying words as his was strangled were: "Lord, opt [open] the King of England's eyes". 4 years later, Tyndale's prayer had been more than answered as there were 4 translations of the Bible all based on Tyndale's work. One of them was even appointed as the official English Bible and Tyndale's influence on the Bible translation work, continues to this day - a brilliant example of the 'loser' having the last laugh.

The Collect/appointed prayer for today:

O Lord, grant to thy people
grace to hear and keep thy word
that, after the example of thy servant William Tyndale,
we may both profess thy gospel
and also be ready to suffer and die for it,
to the honour of thy name;
through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Final words from a dying pastor

A Christian pastor in the last stages of terminal cancer writes to his local paper to say goodbye. Wonderfully, the paper publishes the letter which speaks movingly of the abiding comfort Christ gives and the unique hope we Christians have beyond death and all this, in under 400 words...

Dear Editor:
Terri and I moved to Sedalia with one child in 1983 to pastor a new church which has met at Highway M Chapel since 1987. Alas, pancreatic cancer showed up two years ago. Apart from divine intervention, I’m near the end of the road. Permit a farewell to my dear community.
In the almost 30 years we have raised our five children, lived our lives, gone in and out of the businesses, talked on the sidewalks, preached indoors and out, and I’ve written maybe 300 letters to the editor. This appears to be the last. The song writer says, “Time, like an ever-rolling stream bears all its sons away.”
Especially being a Christian, I’ve known that life is brief, death is certain, and an appearance before the Judge of all the earth is coming. Yet, my life is more of a “disappearing vapor” than I imagined. Indeed, the one great thing in life is to be ready to die. It is simple, but big. Yes, I’d like to stay on with my family, with my church, and with the souls of men to try to serve. But God’s will is sovereign. And, I am ready to die, in that I was saved from my sins by the grace of Christ 41 years ago. Heaven is ok! This world is passing away, ruined by sin. There is no fix to all the misery. A new president cannot fix the land. Hospitals remain, law courts remain, the jail house remains, the military remains, and tears will continue to fall.
My closing exhortation to fellow-Sedalians is that Christ is the only hope. Make sure you have Him. That’s all one can have, ultimately. All else is stripped away. He will fix you; He will fix it all. He conquered the grave. I go down with a glad shout, “O grave, where is your victory?” When the Lord Jesus returns I will rise again with all the Christians to a new heavens and new earth. There is a heaven to gain; there is a hell to shun. Farewell to all. It has been a well-spent journey here in Sedalia.
Robert C. Jennings
Sedalia, MO

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

More Post-mil from Spurgeon

I keep coming across my stuff by Spurgeon that makes me think he was a closet post-mil. Commenting on on the Holy Spirit's chief work in History he says:

The eternal purpose of God to set his king upon the throne, and to make Jesus Christ reign for ever and ever, must be fulfilled, for the Holy Ghost has undertaken to see it accomplished. Amidst the surging tumult of the battle, the result of the conflict is never in doubt for a moment. It may seem as though the fate of Christ’s cause hung in a balance, and that the scales were in equilibrium; but it is not so. The glory of Christ never wanes; it must increase from day to day; and the day shall come when Christ’s praise shall go up from all human tongues.

That sounds like the 8 cylinder, turbo-charged version of postmillenialism to me - way to go Spurgeon!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

7 Rules for Reformers

Doug Wilson nails it again with this post here. In sum the 7 rules are:

1) Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever.

2) Remember the distinction between principles and methods

3) Prefer the concrete to the abstract

4) Cultivate a high sense of humour

5) Be combative

6) Play the long game

7) Always remember that religion shapes culture and culture trumps politics.

There are too many choice quotes, but me being a good Trinitarian, here are my favourite 3:

Secular conservatism is like trying to use your pocket handkerchief to slow you down after the main chute has failed. The person and work of Jesus is not optional.

Love your neighbour, not mankind. Build an actual school for your children, and do not love the notion of educational great concepts in some Euclidean eschaton.

You have to fight, and you have to fight clean, and you have to fight fair. When you enlist in the army, you cannot feign surprise when you find yourself in battles.

Read the whole thing here

Monday, 1 October 2012

My biggest weakness

With the vicar unexpectedly away these past few weeks, I've discovered what one of my big weaknesses is - I'm a wimp. I want everyone to love and esteem me and so I avoid taking the hard road when it comes to the tricky decisions especially when dealing with people face to face. E.g. one of our church deacons resorts to foul language when frustrated and all I can think of is when will the vicar be back so that he can rebuke them! A parishioner living in sin turns up seeking baptism for their child, and my confident chatter a moment before becomes stuttering babble. As I prepare sermons for the Lord's Day I opt to go for short (and hopefully funny) homilies so that the punters will be pleased and not moan. What has become of me? As I've been reflecting on my cowardice these past few weeks I see that C S Lewis was right: 

'[Courage] is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point... A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.' 

He's right. Very often, our decisions come down to choosing between courage and cowardice and most times I've been quick to take Pilate's path. I really really would like to grow some gracious backbone, so that I'm gentle yet firm, reproving yet abounding in love, full of grace and truth - anyone have ideas how one does this?

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Kills the dragon, wins the girl

Today is Michelmas day. The day when historically, the Church has recalled how Michael that super angel fought the wicked dragon - Satan - and triumphed. It is the original story from which contemporary authors have riffed-off (as for example the defeat of Smaug in The Hobbit). Michael's victory over the serpent, today reminds the Church of that Greater Hero - Jesus Christ - whose epic victory at calvary slayed the Dragon and there won His bride.

The Collect for today:

O EVERLASTING God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order: Mercifully grant, that as thy holy Angels always do thee service in heaven, so by thy appointment they may succour and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Was Spurgeon a Post-Mil?

He probably wouldn't say yes, but judging from the quote below I think he was!

Let not the missionary be afraid, even if for thousands of years to come there should be little apparent success to the preaching of the Gospel. If the Lord should tarry another 6,000 years, yes, sixty thousand years—and He may—we are still to go on working, still to go on laboring, looking for His coming and expecting it, but not relaxing our efforts because He pleases to delay it, for the Lord has sworn that all flesh shall know His Glory and you may depend upon it—there is no spot of earth that shall be left to be Satan’s dominion!

C.H Spurgeon, 1834-1892 (emphasis mine)

Sunday, 16 September 2012

You're not married because...

'You're a b*tch'! 

So says an article by a TV scriptwriter named Tracy McMillan, which is aimed at women who want to be married but aren't and wonder why. Pulling no punches, she tells them why. She gives six reasons:

1) You're a b*tch
2) You're shallow
3) You're a sl*t
4) You're a liar
5) You're selfish
6) You're not good enough

There is a lot here that is provocative and unnecessarily exaggerated (perhaps to generate more publicity) but there is quite a bit that is useful and true including her realistic reflections on marriage: don't expect it to be happy all the time! One of the best lines of the article is her comment that:

"Ultimately, marriage is not about getting something - it's about giving it."

Preach on sister!

Read the article here

Friday, 14 September 2012

The moment before death

How fickle we are. Helped by the recent protests in other Islamic lands, the raging war in Syria has been taken off our minds. Even the pro-Islamic Al-Jazeera has only got a small section on it's home page focussed on Syria. The focus is now on Libya, Yemen and wherever else the Islamic protesters will live out their faith and unleash their fury today. Anyway there I was with my thoughts of Aleppo, Damascus or Al-Assad tucked away deep in my innermost recesses of my being when I came across the photo below which captures the exact moment that a tank shell hits a group of rebel fighters in Syria. One moment it was like this:

Next thing it was this:

Then this:

Only the man in the foreground survives, the other three are completely obliterated. There is a collection of the photos here showing the scene before and after the attack. Sadly, one of the things the survivors say to each other to comfort one other soon after the disaster happens is "Allahu Akbhar". How tragic. One day soon they'll discover that not only did they back the wrong side of the war but the trust the wrong God. Kyrie Eleison

Friday, 31 August 2012

More Friday Fun: Luther insulter

The Reformers exemplified speaking the "truth in love". Some examples:

You are a little pious prancer
You are poisonous, worthless gossips.
Blind moles!

To see some more examples, click the link below and get your dose of Luther's straight talking. [Health warning - don't click if you're easily offended]

Friday fun: Ebay magic

The image below was spotted on E-Bay... Talk about being connected!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Transubstantiation? How silly!

If ever you've been tempted to believe or think that at The Eucharist/The Lord's Supper*/Holy Communion, the bread literally turns to Jesus' body and the wine literally turns into Jesus' blood, then here are some probing questions (in the form of a witty poem) from a  wise 16th century Augustinian monk:

If this we see be bread, how can it last,
So constantly consum’d, yet always here?
If this be God, then how can it appear
Bread to the eye, and seem bread to the taste?
If bread, why is it worshipp’d by the baker?
If God, can such a space a God comprise?
If bread, how is it, it confounds the wise?
If God, how is it that we eat our Maker?
If bread, what good can such a morsel do?
If God, how is it we divide it so?
If bread, such saving virtue could it give?
If God, how can I see and touch it thus?
If bread, how could it come from heav’n to us?
If God, how can I look at it and live?
(Luis de León, 1527-1591)

*my preferred term for this meal

Friday, 24 August 2012

Heaven without Christ?

"Oh, to think of heaven without Christ!  It is the same thing as thinking of hell. Heaven without Christ!  It is day without the sun, existing without life, feasting without food, seeing without light.  It involves a contradiction in terms. Heaven without Christ! Absurd. It is the sea without water, the earth without its fields, the heavens without their stars. There cannot be a heaven without Christ. He is the sum total of bliss, the fountain from which heaven flows, the element of which heaven is composed. Christ is heaven and heaven is Christ." 
C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Friday, 10 August 2012

Calvin & Bonhoeffer on speaking out

Calvin first:

A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw the truth of God attacked and yet would remain silent.

Next, Bonhoeffer:

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.

Simply put, Christians should not be ashamed of Christ and His wonderful, life-giving words

Minister's main job: beat every bush

The Puritans had a wonderful way with words. How's this for what they considered the minister's chief goal in preaching:
We must go with the stick of divine truth and beat every bush behind which a sinner hides, until like Adam who hid, he stands before God in his nakedness.
Better get that stick ready...

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Wednesday fun: name affects fame

Ever doubted that a person’s name can have a significant influence on their life. See the display below which shows that one of the women in the 400m hurdles heats, stumbled and did not finish. Her name? Vania...

Monday, 6 August 2012

Only Capitalism can create this

Over 50 years ago, essayist Leonard Read used a pencil, to illustrate how millions of free individuals all driven by the quest to better the world (and better themselves) produced such an elegant item as the majestic pencil. The video below updates that illustration skilfully, to remind us in a simple and yet convincing way that only Capitalism/Free enterprise (and not the State) can create this...

Sunday, 5 August 2012

9 rules for preachers

Apparently these are originally from Luther. I like nos. 2, 6, 7 and 8 most.

First, a good preacher should be able to teach well, correctly and in an orderly fashion.

Second, he should have a good head on his shoulders.

Third, he should be eloquent.

Fourth, he should have a good voice.

Fifth, he should have a good memory.

Sixth, he should know when to stop.

Seventh, he should be constant and diligent about his affairs.

Eighth, he should invest body and life, possessions and honor in it.

Ninth, he should be willing to let everyone vex and hack away at him.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Shattered pride

Finally, look at Jesus. When He came among us, He was the only one to see clearly.  Being sinless He is the only human who has ever truly appreciated the human condition for what it is – depraved, distorted, dead.  And yet His response was not to fold His arms, shake His head and say “Shame on you.”  He opened His arms, bowed His head and said “Shame on me.”  It’s astonishing grace.  And it shatters our pride.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

God's Providence, wonderfully illustrated

In George Herbert's moving poem - The Windows - where he first asks a question and then answers it by pointing out that though we Christians are weak, poor and lowly, yet by God's Holy Word we are wonderfully transformed into beautiful kings and queens. May our lives be ever in tune with God's word, our consciences ring with the melodies of His Law.

THE WINDOWS (by George Herbert)

Lord, how can man preach thy eternal word?
    He is a brittle crazy glass;
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
    This glorious and transcendent place,
    To be a window, through thy grace.

But when thou dost anneal in glass thy story,
    Making thy life to shine within
The holy preachers, then the light and glory
    More reverend grows, and more doth win;
    Which else shows waterish, bleak, and thin.

Doctrine and life, colors and light, in one
    When they combine and mingle, bring
A strong regard and awe; but speech alone
    Doth vanish like a flaring thing,
    And in the ear, not conscience, ring.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

People generally quarrel because...

"People generally quarrel because they cannot argue. And it is extraordinary to notice how few people in the modern world can argue. This is why there are so many quarrels, breaking out again and again, and never coming to any natural end. People do not seem to understand even the first principle of all argument: that people must agree in order to disagree. Still less so their imaginations stretch to anything so remote as the end or object of all argument; that they should disagree in order to agree." 

(G. K. Chesterton, The Illustrated London News, March 9, 1929)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A collect for our times

My vicar and I are reading through 2 Chronicles at the moment during Morning Prayer. This morning we came across a simple yet pointed prayer which seems so relevant for today's times and battles, that we Christians face: Here is the prayer:
LORD, there is no-one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.
Wonderfully simple and yet full of incredible confidence. Following this prayer, the LORD brought Judah a mighty victory, totally destroying her enemies and I am confident, that sometime in the next few hundred years those opponents of Christ's Church (both within and without) will be strewn all over the pages of history. You've been warned!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Children love fat mothers

“...They like them because while any mother is a diagram of place, a picture of home, a fat one is a clearer diagram, a greater sacrament. She is more there. I can think of no better wish to all the slender swans of this present age than to propose them a toast: May your husbands find you as slim as they like; your children should always remember you were fat.”

From the mostly charming and sometimes wacky Robert Farrar Capon in his great book Bed and Board 

Sunday, 22 July 2012

CWT is not an optional extra

Christian worldview thinking is not an optional add-on extra. We must know and understand the gospel of John, of course, and the book of Romans, certainly. But we must also know what to do with rap music, sitcoms, neckties, tattoos, secular universities, sports cars, and eye liner. If we are steeped in Scripture, but cannot read the world, we are helpless. If we are steeped in the world, but do not know what the Bible says, then we are just worldlings, plain and simple.

Monday, 16 July 2012

What to say, to the "I've prayed about it" brigade

For example, when a Christian woman is (somehow!) granted that coveted spiritual exception to marry an unbeliever and when challenged by her friends, says: “I prayed about it.” Or when a well-established Christian is startled to hear the Spirit say a resounding “YES, you can move in with your girlfriend,” or “YES, you can leave your spouse, because, after all, I want you to be happy.”

How would you respond? Find the answer here

Monday, 9 July 2012

Prayer for the Bishops at Synod

O GOD, our heavenly Father, We beseech thee to send down upon all thy Bishops, the Pastors of thy Church, the abundant gift of thy Holy Spirit, that they, being endued with power from on high, and ever walking in the footsteps of thy holy Apostles, may minister before thee in thy household as true servants of Christ and stewards of thy divine mysteries; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

Adapted from today's collect for the commemoration of Stephen Langton (c. 1150-1228), Archbishop of Canterbury from 1207

Friday, 22 June 2012

Friday fun: What a drive

You'll realise what a terrible pun the title is when you see the video below, showing a skilled driver catching a golf ball in a moving car.

Monday, 18 June 2012

How humans differ from animals

“I have found a perfect definition of human nature as distinguished from the animal.  Benjamin Franklin said, Man was a ‘tool-making animal’, which is very well; for no animal but man makes a thing. But this applies to very few of the species.  My definition of Man is, a ‘Cooking Animal’.  The beasts have memory, judgement, and all the facilities and passions of our mind,  in a certain degree; but no beast is a cook.” 

Samuel Johnson , 1709-1784

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

4 defining features of a gentleman

“A gentleman never looks out of the window.” — Oscar Wilde

“Gentlemen do not take soup at luncheon.” — Lord Curzon

“Gentlemen are never busy — insects and city people are busy.” — Beau Brummel

“A gentleman never sits in the house with his hat/cap on in the presence of ladies for a single moment... People who sit in the house with their hats/caps on are to be suspected of having spent the most of their time in bar rooms, and similar places.  From an American Manual of Etiquette, 1866

I've been terribly guilty of the second and the fourth!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The 10 commandments for the 21st century

As presented by Jamie Quatro

1. no1 b4 me. srsly.

2. dnt wrshp pix/idols

3. no omg’s

4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)

5. pos ok – ur m&d r cool

6. dnt kill ppl

7. :-X only w/ m8

8. dnt steal

9. dnt lie re: bf

10. dnt ogle ur bf’s m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.

M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.

ttyl, JHWH.

ps. wwjd?