Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Why God sends sickness?

Below is one of answers given in the 1549 Prayer Book of the Church of England. After reading it, you'll see why officials (cowardly/unwisely) decided to remove it in later editions of the PB.

First, being assured that “Almighty God is the Lord of life and death, and of all things to them pertaining,” such as “youth, strength, health, age, weakness, and sickness,” the sick person is urged to know “certainly” that “whatsoever your sickness be…it is God’s visitation.” There are, moreover, at least two possible reasons for which God has sent this sickness. It is either a trial of the sick person’s patience, both for the example of others and that the individual’s faith “may be found, in the day of the Lord, laudable, glorious, and honourable, to the increase of glory and endless felicity.” Or it is sent “to correct and amend in you whatsoever doth offend the eyes of your heavenly Father.” If, therefore, the sick person truly repents of his sins, bears the sickness patiently (“trusting in God’s mercy”), renders to God “humble thanks for his fatherly visitation,” and submits himself wholly to God’s will, then his sickness shall turn to his profit, and help him forward in “the right way that leadeth unto everlasting life.”

It's things like that, which make clear why ministers must be *men*.

Friday, 12 December 2014

East or West, home is best

Today is Kenya's independence day. On this day in 1963, the Brits said au revoir and we in turn became a self-governed nation. Lots about that has been good; quite a bit has been bad. However, we've been at it for only 51 years so, not bad considering. Come and see us in 2 or 3 centuries and God willing, it will be mostly good stuff to report, and, everyone will want to come and live there J We're therefore getting ahead of the crowd, and planning our big move back (after being away nearly 20 years) for sometime next year. To get our hearts stirred and the love for Kenya rekindled, we present the National Anthem and a well-known local ditty (translations below both videos)

Kiswahili                                   English

1                                                1

Ee Mungu nguvu yetu               O God of all creation
Ilete baraka kwetu                 Bless this our land and nation
Haki iwe ngao na mlinzi           Justice be our shield and defender
Natukae na undugu                   May we dwell in unity
Amani na uhuru                    Peace and liberty
Raha tupate na ustawi.            Plenty be found within our borders.

2                                                  2

Amkeni ndugu zetu                 Let one and all arise
Tufanye sote bidii                With hearts both strong and true
Nasi tujitoe kwa nguvu            Service be our earnest endeavour
Nchi yetu ya Kenya                 And our homeland of Kenya
Tunayoipenda                      Heritage of splendour
Tuwe tayari kuilinda              Firm may we stand to defend.

3                                                 3

Natujenge taifa letu              Let all with one accord
Ee, ndio wajibu wetu              In common bond united
Kenya istahili heshima            Build this our nation together
Tuungane mikono                   And the glory of Kenya
Pamoja kazini                                    The fruit of our labour
Kila siku tuwe na shukrani        Fill every heart with thanksgiving.

Hello Sir
Hello, Hello sir,
How are you
I am fine

Visitors are welcome,
to our Kenya; don't worry

Kenya is a nice country
Don't worry

A country of wonder
Don't worry

A country of peace
Don't worry

Don't worry
Don't worry
Everybody; don't worry
you're all welcome

don't worry
Don't worry
don't worry ( till end)

Monday, 8 December 2014

What we all dread the most

It is a dreadful truth that the state of having to depend solely on God is what we all dread most…     it is good to Him to force us; but dear me, how hard to feel that it is good at the time.

– C.S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady (16th December 1955), p. 49

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Raise a glass to Saint Nicholas, the real Santa

While the 4th century pastor who inspired the tradition of Santa Claus did not live in the North Pole or travel by reindeer, he certainly was a model of graciousness, gentleness and Christian charity. Though little is known of Nicholas' childhood, his love and concern for children is recounted in various myths, which have gained him great renown. One legend tells how a citizen of Patara (a region in the Diocese where Nicholas was Bishop) lost his fortune because he could not raise dowries for his 3 young daughters and was going to give them up to prostitution. After hearing this, Nicholas took a small bag of gold and threw it through the window of the man's house. He apparently performed the same gracious deed for the other 2 girls on the succeeding nights. Interestingly, the 3 purses of gold which are sometimes portrayed in paintings of Nicholas are thought to be the origin of the pawnbroker's symbol of 3 gold balls. 

In yet another legend, Nicholas saved several youngsters from certain death when he pulled them from a deep vat of vinegar brine and afterwards, Christians remembered the day by giving one another large crisp pickles.

Whilst the actual truthfulness of such tales has clearly been distorted over the centuries, it is evident from reading about Saint Nicholas that he was a particular champion of the downtrodden, bestowing upon them gifts as token of the grace and mercy of the gospel. One such evidence is Nicholas comment that:
The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic His giving, by grace, through faith, and this not of ourselves.
It is such a view and the inspiring stories associated with such godly men that have been the inspiration for Christians to act as they do not least in their habit of gift giving during the season of Christmas. To all you Christians, raise a glass to Saint Nicholas. To everyone else, enjoy the blessings of Christmas gift-giving on us!

Monday, 24 November 2014

The positives of working somewhere where there’s no Starbucks

Tim Keller says somewhere that his advice for rookie pastors wanting to gain early experience to prepare and equip them for the long term is to consider being a ‘country parson’. In other words, he advises ministers to seek work in churches that are out in the country, in places deep in the sticks, somewhere where there’s no Starbucks. Among the reasons Keller gives for this counterintuitive counsel is that having to work in rural (often small) churches will expose ministers to the full spectrum of ministry tasks and skills (fund-raising, counselling in various settings, visiting and spending time with a vast spectrum of people, speaking in very diverse contexts, training most if not all the lay volunteers, etc, etc) which would tend not to be the case in more urban, often larger churches. Having been in a semi-rural parish for the past 4 years, Keller’s argument resonates with me and in the past few days, another reason has vividly been presented to me. I was recently visiting a parishioner who’s only just started coming to church. At the end of a very cordial visit, I was presented with among other things, the incredibly sized goodies pictured below (The smaller ones are supermarket bought). When was the last time you saw anything like this at your local grocers? Well know ye today that being in a rural parish vastly reduces thy shopping bill and affords thee wholesome goods that make thy taste buds tingle. Also, young pastors should not turn up their noses at such places!


Just look at the leaves alone on that - impressive hey!

Doesn't the tiny shop bought one look terribly anaemic?

Onion soup galore here we come!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Why do we go to church?

The funny poem below was published by a vicar back in the 19th century. I am sure that I've been all of these people at one time or other (allowing of course for some modification here and there) but I now pray God that I might be more the last on the list...


Some go to church just for a walk,
Some go to stare and laugh and talk,
Some go there to meet a friend,
Some their idle time to spend,
Some for general observation,
Some for private speculation,
Some to seek or find a lover,
Some a courtship to discover,
Some go there to use their eyes,
And newest fashions criticise,
Some to show their own smart dress,
Some their neighbours to assess;
Some to scan a robe or bonnet,
Some to price the trimming on it,
Some to learn the latest news,
That friends at home they may amuse,
Some to gossip false and true,
Safe within the sheltering pew,
Some go there to please the squire,
Some his daughter to admire,
Some the parson go to fawn,
Some to lounge and some to yawn,
Some to claim the parish doles,
Some for bread and some for coals,
Some because it's thought genteel,
Some to vaunt their pious zeal,
Some to show how sweet they sing,
Some how loud their voices ring,
Some the preacher go to hear,
His style of voice to praise or jeer,
Some their sins to vanish o'er,
Some to sit and doze and nod,
But few to kneel and worship God.

Why do you go to church?

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Here's when you should refuse going to heaven

We want HIM! I should refuse heaven if Christ were not there. Take Christ away from heaven and it is but a poor, unheartsome, dark, waste dwelling. Heaven without Christ would look like the direful Land of Death. Ah, saith Christ, your joy must full, John 14:3, then I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also. I confess, mansions are but as places of briars and thorns without Christ. I want heaven in order to have Christ, not Christ in order to have heaven.

— Samuel Rutherford, Christ dying and drawing sinners to Himself  

Friday, 14 November 2014

Monday, 10 November 2014

Research shows working mums outperform kiddie free women

That's the conclusion of recent research cited by the Washington Post. Here is one of the key paragraphs:

For men, fathers of one child and those without children similarly throughout much of their careers. But men with two or more kids were more productive than both groups. The effect for women was even more dramatic. Using their own method for analyzing research publications, the authors found that within the first five or so years of their career, women who never have children substantially underperform those who do. (The difference in productivity between women with one child and those with no children is more muted using a different ranking for research. But in both cases, mothers with at least two children perform the best.)

One of the reasons given by the Washington Post for such surprising data is that mums with multiple children tend to be hyper-organized. Whilst agreeing with this, pastor-theologian Peter Leithart adds another important factor - the effect parenting has on settling people:

The research may be “counterintuitive,” but anyone with kids knows it’s accurate. Like marriage, parenthood focuses attention and forces efficiency in time management. Probably more importantly, parenthood, like marriage, settles, and no one is less productive than the unsettled.

That intiuitively makes sense to me and as we are expecting the third kipling I'm off to share this with the lovely Mrs K.

Friday, 24 October 2014

You can't be 'gay' and a Christian

The basis of that belief is exemplified in St. Paul's assurance to the Corinthian church that what some of its believers used to be—and here he recited a catalog of sins that included arsenokoitai ("sexual perverts") — they no longer were, because they had been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God.
Later they spell this out, pointing out that this does not mean Christians never sin:
Let us be especially careful here, to obviate misunderstanding. Referring to our lives in time, and in a spirit of mortification, we may say, with St. Peter, "I am a wicked man."We may say, "I am a thief," "I am a harlot," "I am a liar," meaning that I have committed these sins, they weigh upon my shoulders, they are the splinters of my self-hewn cross, which I bear under my flesh. We say so in shame. But we do not thereby express an ultimate or God-ordained identity. Quite the contrary. We mean, "This is what I am in a distorted sense, because of what I have done, and because of the evil that I am still fearfully tempted to do." 
Thus they helpfully conclude:
There are Christians who are thieves, because there are Christians who are sinners. But there can be no such thing as a Christian thief. We are ourselves at last when we can say, in glory, "It is not I, but Christ who lives in me." And Christ is no sinner.
Lots there to think and pray about...

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

You can’t declare war and insist that you mean it nicely

This from Toby Sumpter
...when an innocent sounding man insists with tears in his eyes that all he’s asking for is the right to be with his lifelong partner in his final moments in the hospital as his legal spouse, Christians must insist that this is not all he is asking for. No, he is also asking that we toss out justice and mercy. He is insisting that we help him defy the God of heaven. Whatever social, emotional, psychological, and cultural factors are at play (and there are likely many), the bottom line is that institutionalizing sin as a human right is a declaration of war on God. And you cannot declare war on God and insist that all you want is to be able to file joint tax returns. That’s like a jihadist landing at JFK Airport loaded with TNT insisting that he’s just here to visit his mother for her birthday, honest. That’s certainly very sweet, son, but, um, no.

A similar case could be argued regarding abortion and the pursuit of women's lib. When feminists say that all they want is to be allowed the choice to do as they please with their bodies, they are often being unwittingly wily.

For more of Toby's incisive argument go here

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The importance of families for both Church & State

We must have a special eye upon families, to see that they are well ordered, and the duties of each relation performed. The life of religion, and the welfare and glory of both the Church and the State, depend much on family government and duty. If we suffer the neglect of this, we shall undo all... If any good be begun by the ministry in any soul, a careless, prayerless, worldly family is like to stifle it, or very much hinder it; whereas if you could get but the rulers of families to do their duty, to take upon the work where you left it, and help it on, what abundance of good might be done!
– Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, (Banner of Truth, 2005) p.100

Surprisingly, this is not something that I heard much of while at seminary but reflecting on some of the situations I've seen in the parish, I see much wisdom and truth in what Baxter says here.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

How Christianity overcomes terrorism

Only a joyous people can sustain pointless activity, festivity, and rest. Only a people who can sustain pointless activity, festivity, and rest can be joyous. And only a joyous people can finally resist the culture of death, because only through the embrace of pointless activity and the repose in finite forms can we resist this culture’s evacuation of substance.

In simple words, without Christ, we are without God and without hope in this world. One vivid illustration and outworking of this, is the grotesque Islamic terrorism we are currently witnessing in the Middle East. Now, because I know that's not entirely convincing on it's own, here is a very well-read & extremely clever chap saying the same things. Read him here

Sunday, 31 August 2014

8 tips for talking about sex with your kids

Super fantastic article here. And yes those superlatives are justified. Here are the 8 points in brief:

1) Don't have "the talk"

2) Partly be proactive, partly be responsive

3) Sometimes it's good to ask them why the want to know something

4) Mechanics aren't the hard part. Neither is the emotional part. Transmitting your morals is.

5) Love your spouse. View sex as a blessing.

6) Note how you talk about babies. NOT LIKE OBAMA

7) Be positive about sex

8) Consider whether your own confusion is the cause of your own troubles

Can't tell you how many aha moments I had reading the full article - check it out here. As for dealing with kiplings, me thinks I'm ready J

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Overcoming boredom in young boys

Next time a lad you know complains of boredom with their school-work (or some such) remember this anecdote from a former American president John Adam, and then seek to apply it (appropriately) to their situation. 

As a boy, John Adams found the study of Latin to be boring and grew to hate it. He went to his father to see if there was not something else he could do instead. Deacon John, who had been a labourer, told his son, ‘You might try ditching; my meadow yonder needs a ditch.’ So young John went about the task of digging the ditch and soon found it to be arduous work. By the end of the day, he was ready to return to the study of Latin; but being too proud to admit it, he spent one more day in digging the ditch before admitting he preferred the study of Latin. Adams said ‘toil conquered my pride’ and ever after claimed ‘ditching’ had played an important part in building his character.” 

– Paul Boller, Presidential Anecdotes.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Why pastors should have a library

Because...  “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

- Cicero (106-43 BC)

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Abortion breast cancer link

This from Dr Joel Brind, a research biochemist and biology professor in the US:
To those of us who have been studying the Abortion Breast Cancer (ABC) link for years, the growing breast cancer epidemic in communist China was an entirely predictable result of the "one-child policy". But the aggressive promotion of abortion has hardly been limited to China, and a veritable tsunami of peer-reviewed, published reports of the predictable epidemic elsewhere is starting to surface from all over Asia. In South Asia alone, at least a dozen studies have appeared (that I know about) just since 2008: nine in India and one each in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Read the full thing here

Monday, 18 August 2014

Next time you're stressed on London transport!

Remember the joys of travel that exist elsewhere such as these pics showing the all new/happening form of public transport in Kenya! Helmet + full body kevlar armour optional!

This man decided that under whatever circumstances, his calf must get home.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Calvin on Christian courage

It often happens that not only censure, but open condemnation, is pronounced on godly men who are convinced in their own consciences that what they do is agreeable to the command of God. Furthermore, they are accused of pride if they ignore the false judgments of the world and rest satisfied with being approved by God alone. Since this is a difficult temptation and it is scarcely possible not to be shaken by the agreement of many people against us, even when they are wrong, we ought to maintain this truth that none will ever be courageous and steady in acting properly unless they depend solely on the will of God.”

- John Calvin, Commentary on the harmony of the Gospels, Volume 3

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Polly Toynbee is happy to push people to death

Arguing for assisted suicide, Polly Toynbee writes:
Another bad argument is that the frail will be intimidated into hastening the end of their lives so as not to be a burden on their children. Well, why not? I would not choose to put unbearable caring duties on my four children. I hope not to leave them with a miserable memory of a wretched prolonged and agonising end. That's not a bad reason.
Wow! Read those first 2 sentences again and think about what Toynbee is saying... She is basically saying that those who are diagnosed with acute disabilities or serious illness should be encouraged (intimidated is her word) to end their lives. Wow! Wow! Wow! Welcome to the tragic world of atheism pro-choice actually = pro-death!

Friday, 1 August 2014

The economics of sex

The video below is presented from what patently seems a non-Christian world-view and there are things in it that I'd want to put differently. However, the overall message confirms a recurring Biblical theme namely that when society breaks down, it is generally the women who suffer the worst and the men who 'gain' the most. Check it out...

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Bible commands us to feel

Moderns tend to view emotions as inevitable. We cannot help what we feel. Paul says, “Not so fast.” Throughout Paul’s epistles he encourages us to feel certain things and to not feel other things.  One of the best examples is Romans 12:15 where Paul encourages us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.  Here are two expressions of emotion that Paul commands us to feel. Come on Paul, you know I cannot just conjure up weeping! There are numerous other examples as well. Our emotions are not a runaway semi careening towards the bottom of the hill. We are to corral our emotions, to discipline them, so that we feel what is appropriate to each circumstance. There are times we are supposed to feel anger, joy, love, etc. Christians often speak of training our minds to think righteous thoughts (Romans 12:2), but we do not speak of training our emotions to feel righteous feelings (Romans 12:10-12).  Our whole life is to be brought into conformity to God’s Word, including our emotions.

Via Liturgy as emotional discipline - a helpful article talking about the benefits of a good liturgy/order of service

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Prostitutes, Sex offenders, Murderers and Homosexuals welcome

This from a beautiful and moving exposition of God's grace. First a bit of the intro:
One of the greatest scandals of the gospel is the free grace of forgiveness. But we say this, and I do not think we often let it sink in. The scandal of free grace is God’s love of sinners, God’s love of His enemies, His love of the worst kinds of evil people...
Then some applications:
This means that God receives prostitutes who sleep with married men, helping them break their marriage vows, helping them betray their wives at home. God receives those prostitutes. 
This means that God receives sex offenders, men who prey on little children, rapists, abusers, stalkers, molesters, and creeps of all of shapes and sizes. God receives filthy sex offenders. 
This means that God receives murderers, haters, backbiters, gossips, and liars. He receives those who have planned the execution of the innocent. He forgives abortionists and the women who order the murder of their own babies. He forgives the military officers who order unjust attacks, and He forgives the soldiers who carry them out. God receives bloody murderers. 
This means that God receives homosexuals and transexuals and bisexuals and transgendered and porn addicts and adulterers and fornicators of every stripe. God cleanses. God forgives. God extends mercy. God receives the sexually immoral and confused.
The challenge:

And someone will say, but don’t they have to change? Don’t they have to repent? Don’t they have to stop sinning? Don’t they have to understand something about the grace of God? Otherwise, why wouldn’t God save everyone? We’re not universalists are we? Yes, good questions. But first let’s fix the pronoun problems in the previous sentences.

Why do you say they…? Why do you speak as though they are out there, they are behind bars, they are extreme cases? Don’t you know that they are you? Don’t pretend that these sins are so far removed from you. Don’t pretend that you are all holy, chaste, and pure. If you say you have no sin, you deceive yourself, and the truth is not in you (1 Jn. 1:8). But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:9).

From most unrighteousness? From the milder forms of unrighteousness? From the socially acceptable forms of unrighteousness? No, from all unrighteousness. Yes, when God’s grace comes, it accomplishes miracles, it transforms, it breaks through, it heals, it changes. Absolutely. This is no inert grace. This is reactive, explosive, living grace.

Moving stuff indeed. Read the full thing here