Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Here's a list of stuff that I've especially enjoyed over the last twelve months:
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"Oi, you" repeated Sky, "haven't I been punished enough? After all it's Christmas time, a season of love and forgiveness. In that book you were reading by Miroslav Volf, it said that it's your Christian duty to offer people unconditional forgiveness whether they repent or not. Well, I haven't repented, so you have to forgive me!" Exiled Preacher sighed a very deep sigh. "But you are not a person, you are a stuffed monkey that came free with a box of tea bags. You have ruined my credibility as a serious blogger with your silly Sky's the Limit antics. Some people think that I'm really behind all that nonsense. I let you go to school with my daughter and you go and bite some kid. You are a wild animal and you don't deserve to be forgiven." David Sky thought long and hard before replying, "Look, so what. I'm fed up being consigned to the naughty corner. I need light and air. Just cut me a deal and and forgive me. It'll give you a warm spiritual glow. The experience could even make a good sermon illustration or at lest a half-decent children's talk. C'mon, you know it makes sense."
"Hey get me down!" Shouted David Sky. "I thought that monkeys liked climbing trees." Exiled quipped. Sky replied, "Yes, but I don't like heights - I'm a stuffed monkey." "You are now." Said the preacher gleefully, "Happy Christmas my little friend. Ho! Ho! Ho!"
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
himself a house of clay,
a robe of virgin flesh he takes
which he will wear for ay.
Hark, hark, the wise eternal Word,
like a weak infant cries!
In form of servant is the Lord,
and God in cradle lies.
This wonder struck the world amazed,
it shook the starry frame;
squadrons of spirits stood and gazed,
then down in troops they came.
Glad shepherds ran to view this sight;
a choir of angels sings,
and eastern sages with delight
adore this King of kings.
Join then all hearts that are not stone,
and all our voices prove,
to celebrate this holy One,
the God of peace and love.
Monday, December 10, 2007
"The minds of men since the fall are not in a condition to receive the transforming and saving power of the truths of the Bible and therefore it is necessary, in order to render the Word of God an effectual means of salvation, that it should be attended by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit." (ST Vol. III p. 473)
Then Hodge engages with the Lutheran account of the relationship between Word and Spirit. Lutheran theologians taught that the Spirit is indissolubly united to the Word. He gives the Word its divine power and sends it forth among men. The is no variation of the Spirit’s operation in this respect, just as there is no variation of the Spirit’s work in providentially upholding and guiding secondary causes in providence. But the theologian objects,
"This doctrine is inconsistent with the constant representations of the Scriptures, which set forth the Spirit as attending the Word and giving it effect, sometimes more and sometimes less; working with and by the truth as He sees fit. It is inconsistent with the command to pray for the Spirit. Men are not accustomed to pray that God would give fire the power to burn or ice to cool. If the Spirit were always in mystical, indissoluble union with the Word, giving it inherent divine power, there would be no propriety in praying for his influence as the Apostles did, and as the Church in all ages has ever done, and continues to do.
This theory cuts us off from all intercourse with the Spirit and all dependence upon Him as a personal voluntary agent. He never comes; He never goes; He does not act at one time more than at another. He has imbued the Word with divine power, and sent it forth into the world. There his agency ends." (ST Vol. III, p. 482).
Charles Hodge asks,
"What according to the Lutheran theory is meant by being full of the Holy Ghost? or, by the indwelling of the Spirit? or, by the testimony of the Spirit? or, by the demonstration of the Spirit? or, by the unction of the Holy One which teaches all things? or, by the outpouring of the Spirit? In short, the whole Bible, and especially the evangelical history and the epistles of the New Testament, represents the Holy Spirit not as a power imprisoned in the truth, but as a personal, voluntary agent acting with the truth or without it, as He pleases. As such He has ever been regarded by the Church, and has ever exhibited himself in his dealings with the children of God." (ST Vol. III, p. 484).
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
The writer has succeeded in opening up the essential message of this portion of the Word of God. His comments unpack the text with brevity and accuracy. He applies the lessons of the prophecy in a thoughtful and apt way. Mackrell does not hesitate to show us how the book points to “one greater than Jonah” – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Each chapter ends with points for further study and some questions for discussion, making this book ideal for group Bible studies. A brief list of additional resources suggests some other helpful materials on Jonah. If you thought that this “Minor Prophet” was just kid’s stuff, then read this refreshing, popular level commentary.
Monday, December 03, 2007
1. Gospel centred
2. Bible based
3. Historic orthodoxy
4. Mission minded
5. Practical Christianity
5. Church lite
4. Culturally disengaged
Friday, November 30, 2007
Jesus brings the light of God’s love into our dark world. His name is Emmanuel meaning God with us. We might think that God is remote and unconcerned about the plight of humanity. But Christmas reminds us that God cares for us so much that he stooped to become one of us. In Jesus, God knows what it is to be human. He came to rescue us from the darkness of sin and suffering that shrouds our world.
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Enjoy the Christmas lights that illuminate our streets at this time of the year. But do not forget the True Light of Christmas.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind but now I see.
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name
demands my soul, my life my all.
George Orwell’s novel, 1984, painted a picture of a totalitarian state that kept its citizens under constant surveillance. Everywhere you looked you would be reminded that “Big brother is watching you”. Now, you might think that the people of this country would be alarmed at the rise of our very own Big Brother state. Isn’t it a bit intrusive to be watched as you buy your morning paper each day? But the strange thing is that lots of people find it comforting to be subject to the gaze of a CCTV lens. It means that someone is looking out for us. Criminal activity is reduced in streets where cameras have been installed. Some systems can even speak to people, “Oi you – pick up that litter!”
Perhaps we find living in a CCTV society reassuring because we have lost the sense that God is constantly watching over us. This is a challenging thought. Just as CCTV cameras expose the wrongdoing of criminals, the all seeing God will hold us to account for our actions. But he has acted to remove our wrongdoing from his sight. That is why Jesus came to die in our place. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are adopted into God’s family. The Christian calls the great Creator “Father”. It is wonderful to know that God our Father is looking out for us at all times of the day and night. An impersonal CCTV camera is a poor God-substitute. One of my favourite Psalms is number 139, where David, revels in the knowledge that his life is lived under the loving gaze of God,
O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The modern (or postmodern) idea is that all religions point to the same mysterious spiritual reality. The choice of one faith over another is not about truth, but personal preference. Anyone who suggests otherwise is sadly dismissed as a dangerous fundamentalist and a menace to society. Such people are not to be tolerated. But surely there is a contradiction here, isn’t there? Are we saying that the only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth? Hmm.
Tolerance means coping with real differences over what constitutes truth, rather than pretending that all views are equally well-founded. As a Christian I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and appointed him the world’s true Lord and Saviour. This is an exclusive stance. Only Jesus can bring us to God and give us eternal life. But Christianity is compatible with tolerance because we do not believe in imposing our faith upon others. All we have at our disposal is the compelling power of gospel truth. You may disagree with my beliefs and I with yours. But that should not stop us living harmoniously together in society. Now that is true tolerance.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Some animals are much faster and stronger than us. Cheetahs can run up to 70 mph. An elephant can lift half a tonne. But we human beings have something that makes us unique - we think. Only people can reason things out and express their thoughts in words. That is why you are such a special being as you listen to Morning Thought – you are a human being! Like animals, we need to eat and drink to survive. But surely, there’s more to life than that. From ancient times, the human mind has probed the great mysteries of the universe. As the eminent scientist Paul Davies wrote,
"We human beings have been made privy to the deepest workings of the universe. Other animals observe the same natural phenomena as we do, but alone among the creatures on this planet, Homo sapiens can also explain them".
(The Goldilocks Enigma, Penguin Books, 2007, p. 5).
But there is a limit to what we can explain by reason alone. Why are we here? Why do we have the ability to even think about such a question? The Christian answer is that God made human beings to have a relationship with himself. That is why he has given us the unique capacity to think and speak as we do. It has been said that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. As a Christian, knowing God gives my life meaning and purpose.
It is possible for flawed human beings like us to have a meaningful relationship with our Maker? Yes it is. God loves us. He has acted to remove the barrier that stops us having fellowship with him. Jesus Christ came to bring us back to God by dying for our sin and rising again from the dead. God offers us forgiveness and a new start in life. But he doesn’t bully us unto accepting this offer. He says, “Let’s talk about it”,
Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“ Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
An edited version of Morning Thought from BBC Radio Wiltshire's Breakfast Programme.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
at the grave where Lazarus sleeps?
'tis the Lord, the King of glory!
at his feet we humbly fall;
crown him, crown him Lord of all!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
These sermons are deeply practical and applicatory. Christian parents will find lots of helpful teaching from Lloyd-Jones on principles to follow and pitfalls to avoid. At a time when many are tuning in to TV programmes like “Supernanny” for parenting advice, we need to recapture the Christian view of raising children. These expositions from “The Doctor” will help us to do just that. All Christian parents from new mums and dads to those coping with the stresses and strains of bringing up teenagers will benefit from Raising Children God’s Way. The publishers are to be congratulated for making this material available in such a handy format.