Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ebay Values - People are Basically Good

You can only imagine the excitement when I opened an email from ebay to be told that I had achieved five positive feedbacks. Only five more and I will receive my first feedback star (yippy do da!)Apparently all this positive feedback reinforces the ebay values. I was dying to know what that entailed so a followed the link:

We believe people are basically good.
We believe everyone has something to contribute.
We believe that an honest, open environment can bring out the best in people.
We recognise and respect everyone as a unique individual.
We encourage you to treat others the way you want to be treated.

Some interesting stuff! The theology of modern man is the ebay values system. Do they not read the papers or listen to the news. A perverted man murders five women whose lives have broken down - basically good? Do they never ponder their own thoughts - basically good?
According to ebay all we need is an honest and open environment to bring out the best in people - only one problem there - where does one find an honest and open environment when human beings are by nature dishonest.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to have an environment where people were accepted for who they were, where the best in them was drawn out, where all were treated as unique individuals who treated one another as they wished to be treated.
The Lord Jesus told a parable about all this - the Good Samaritan. The person asking the Lord the question that prompted the parable lived by ebay values - he was a works man - do your best and all will be well.
The whole purpose of the Lord's parable is to show that we can't live by ebay like values. The ideals are great but of ourselves we just can't do it. The message of the parable and indeed the Bible is that we are sinnners through and through - we are not good, we don't care what others can contribute, environment doesn't make us bad that is what we are, we don't respect others. We are in big trouble.
So is there any hope? Yes. The Lord Jesus came into the world to save men and women from the guilt and power of sin. In Jesus Christ there is new life. There is forgiveness from all our sin, a wonderful new standing before God, a way to please God and truly serve our fellow human beings in a manner that honours God.
So where will you find an environment where the best in people is brought out? According to the Bible that is what your local church is to be like.
The following verses will give you a true understanding who you are and what the Lord Jesus Christ does for sinners: Mark 7:20-23; Luke 10:25-37, Romans 3:9-31

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Just in Case you Missed it

An American TV show just recently gave air time to report on a man who claims to be Jesus Christ. His name is Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda. His growing cult following lavish the former heroin and addictconvict with money and luxury goods. According to the cult leader there is no devil, sin has been destroyed and there is no hell. His followers say that all other religions must be destroyed.
What sadness that men and women, no matter how few, would get sucked in by such nonsense. How deseperately wicked and deceitful is the human heart.

It's All Your Fault Knoxy!

Dr. Harry Burns Scotland's chief medical officer has named and shamed one John Knox as the root cause of Scotland's negativity and cringe culture, "I think John Knox has a heavy burden to bear ... 'Oh doom and gloom'." The same article in the Scotsman (7.10.06) gave the top ten things for making people happy: marriage, sex, exercise, time with pets, gratitude, affirmation, chocolate, material wealth, friends and attainable goals.
No doubt Dr. Burns will be ordering in a load of exercise bikes and a containter or two of Dairy Milk to bring a smile to the face of the Scots.
It is not hard to imagine what sort of "Trumpet Blast" John Knox would make at the state of the land of Scotland and those in positions of authority. He would certainly not be silent - he "never feared the face of any man." What Scotland needs is not the top ten ways to feel a little happier - but be to brought to its knees, confess the horror of its iniquity and cry unto Knox's Saviour for grace and mercy. Only then will the happiness that brings peace to a man's soul come sweeping in over the heather.
Who knows - may in His infinite mercy God will give again to Scotland a Knox or a Wishart - let us pray so.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Amish Murder - God saw it all

"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more." Matthew 2:18
"In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises....He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent...His victims are crushed; they collapse, they fall under his strength." Psalm 10 various verses.
The world weeps today at the aftermath of the crazed, murderous shooting spree of Charles Carl Roberts IV. Four little girls swept off into eternity by the wicked actions of a man bent on mayhem. Four sets of parents weeping for their precious daughters because they are no more. A community ravaged by the wickedness of man. A world watching in stunned silence, unable to grasp all of the horror. A world asking, Why, O LORD do you stand far off? (Psalm 10:1)
Psalm 10 is such a help in the face of such wickedness. God does see such trouble. He considers it to take it in hand. (Psalm 10:14) Charles Carl Roberts may have avoided the force of the American law system by his self murder, but he will not have avoided the judgement seat of God. He saw all that happened in that school room and justice will be done.
This same God is doing something about all the wickedness of our world. He has struck that fatal blow at sin 2000 years ago when Jesus Christ died on the cross. And this same Lord Jesus Christ will come again ushering any a new heaven and earth - and man who is of the earth will terrify no more.

Monday, September 25, 2006

This is as good as it Gets!

Yesterday Darren Clarke helped Europe win another Ryder Cup victory. Throughout the days of the competition he was understandably clapped and cheered at every hole. We can only admire the man for his fortitude in the face of the loss of his wife Heather. All of us feel great sorrow for this humble giant of a man. We can't even begin to imagine the heartache that he is going through. My ache this morning is even greater for him. Speaking after the victory he said, This is as good as it gets.
Oh what emptiness. Winning a trophy, playing well, having the help of a few golfing cronies and the adulation of the crowds - it is not the best it gets. Knowing Jesus Christ is the best it gets, standing before God robed with the righteousnes of Christ, freely pardoned from all my sin, adopted into the family of God, the Lord of heaven and earth as my Father, the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, Lord and Friend, being set in the midst of the family of God in my local church, being ready for heaven - this is AS GOOD AS IT GETS.
But even all this will be surpassed with the wonder of seeing Him and being captivated with the glimpse of His glory.
Oh that Darren Clarke would come to know that there is much better to get - and it is all free in the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Biblical teaching on Justification is virtually non existent today in many churches. It is blurred by many claiming to be evangelical and attacked head on by Wright and his mates.
More and more I meet people who all their lives have attended evangelical churches and they haven't the foggiest notion of what justification means. Shame on those of us who preach that this hasn't been embedded in the minds of our listeners.
There is no better definition than the one put together by Westminster divines for the weak minded in the Shorter Catechism (Answer 33), Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein He pardoneth all our sins and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us and received by faith alone.
If you are a serious minded Christian you will want to read and read all that you can on this subject. It will transform your life and warm your heart.
Some books that will be helpful:
Justification by Faith Alone, Philip Eveson, DayOne Publisher
Counted Righteous in Christ, John Piper, IVP
Not Guilty, James Buchanan, Grace Publications.
You will read these books in a few evenings.
For any students out there - (Steelo etc) - with loads of time on their hands.
Justification - James Buchanan - Banner of Truth
John Owen - Volume 5
If you have an mp3 player - download Edward Donnelly's four addresses on Justification and listen to until you know them off by heart.
These books and sermons will put theological steel in your mind and a glow of praise in your heart.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Door to Door - Some thinking please!

On Monday evenings from mid April to mid September we go out for an hour or so to make contact with the people of our town seeking to present the gospel. We have tried all sorts of approaches to stir up conversation. No doubt there are many who are more gifted at this than we are and we could learn a great deal in improving the way that we do this. It is tough work - not because we are no good at it but because men and women are dead in trespasses and sins.
Each evening we face the wearying, conversation stopping reply, "Naw I never think about those things."
They are being truly honest - they don't think. Thinking for sinful man is a superficial thing - how do I get, and to coin an American phrase, How do I can what I get.
So why do people not think? It is not that they can't. (Though the Fall has left teh old thinking box very befuddled.) Ultimately the devil has blinded the minds of unbelievers. The devil has various means for doing this brain robbery. Entertainment - that is what people think about - how can I be entertained, how can I feel good for a little while. The proverbial "goggle box" is the devil's most effective weapon in this war for people's brains. It sucks the thinking juice out and replaces it with sound bite opinions that amount to the hollow wisdom of man.
Yes we need to keep going door to door, didn't Paul. Yes we need to learn how to draw people out in conversation. But above all we need to pray that the Lord Himself will send out His Spirit to awaken the living dead that by grace they might become right thinkers.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lack of Goats Made me do it

A Swiss man speeding on a Canadian highway has made use of a age old ploy for being caught red hand - "passing the buck" - or in this case "passing the goat!" The traffic officer on the scene of the offence could hardly believe what he had to write in his notes. The Swiss driver said that he was taking advantage of the lack of goats compared to back home.
Behind this amusing incident is Adam's fallen response to guilt - The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it. Eve also used the goat trick - the serpent deceived me and I ate.
Every evening on national news we hear the same goat trick - the circumstances made him do it...if they had more jobs there would be peace and harmony in the community.
And if truth be told it is something that comes so naturally to all of us.
Peace is not found in this age old strategy but coming clean with God - I did it. I broke your law and deserve your holy and righteous wrath. Having come clean with God we are then to go to Him for what we don't deserve - pardon. That is what God graciously gives to all who trust His Son - for He has paid the price, freely taken the punishment for law breakers like you and I.
So no more goating about. Plead mercy in Christ and it will be graciously given.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Book Review Your God is too Safe Mark Buchanan

Well answer the man's title - is your God too safe? If you want a book to blow some of the dust and cobwebs from your Christian life then this is it. If you are happy with mediocrity in the Christian life, lurching along in the shadows then don't even read the title of this book. I read this book over the summer and was rivetted by the challenging messages. Buchanan writes with vivid expression and mind capturing illustrations. Though I can't say that I would always have agreed with his exegesis of passages he does provide in nearly every chapter a most refreshing way of looking at familar Bible accounts. His basic theme for this book is that many Christians are living a borderland existence, stuck in the rut of lack of passion, power and freedom. So if you are ready for a good shake up, spend a tenner and hold on tight.

Stinging Reminder

Many of us listened with shock and sorrow to hear of the sudden death of the "Crocodile Hunter," Steve Irwin. His TV documentaries entertained and informed a whole generation of wild life lovers. The world will miss his daring and dazzling performances in the face of the most dangerous animals on the planet.
Mr. Irwin's work, that he obviuously loved, and his tragic death are a reminder of the words of Psalm 8. In that psalm the song writer speaks of how the world was when God created all things. The song refers to man as "ruler over the works of your (God's ) hands." As ruler over creation everything was under his control, "all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas." The idyllic picture of the psalm is far from what we have seen on Mr. Irwin's TV shows and far from his shocking death by one of God's creation. Why this change in God's created order with man now in fear and animals striking out at God's viceregents? The message of the Bible is that man has messed up. Adam's sin and ours has ruined creation itself. But thank God that Psalm 8 also speaks of an answer. Psalm 8 is ultimately about the Lord Jesus Christ, "made a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned with glory and honour." His entrance into this world was the answer to man's sin and a creation out of kilter with man. In Christ there is cleansing from all our sin. So great was His work on the cross that when He returns He will bring such an amazing change to the created order that the Bible speaks of it as the lamb and lion lying down together. When He comes there will be no dangerous animals, no poisonous barbed stingrays. He wants all who read this to be ready for His coming and to enjoy His new creation. There is one way to be ready - by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Book Review Marriage Divorce & Remarriage in the Bible by Jay E. Adams

Perhaps the most difficult pastoral issues of the Christian ministry arise over the subject of Jay Adams' book. Unless we grapple Biblically and prayerfully with these complex matters we will be ineffective in reaching a messy world and unsupportive of Christians who are facing these issues. Jay Adams book helps the church not to bury its head in the sand but to face up to the matters in a thoroughly Biblical way. While this book does not cover every possible situation there are sound principles that we can take and apply to situations that we face. This book would be a good read for elders seeking to handle such sensitive matters within their own sphere of oversight. It is also essential reading for any Christian who is seeking to bring Biblical light and Christ centred love to those who are hurting and longing for real answers and not the craft of empty humanistic counselling.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Creationism Rattles Teachers

A recent posting on the BBC news page on Education noted that some NUT delegates want the teaching of creationism or intelligent design as a valid alternative to evolution to be outlawed. The BBC news item reported that the "NUT leader says
There is "enormous concern" among teachers and parents at the influence of some religious "fundamentalists" on education, a union leader says." It is difficult to ascertain who exactly the NUT are having a go at - but it seems suspiciously like their sights are set on the likes of Christian millionaire Sir Peter Vardy academies.
Mr. Sinnott went on to voice his concerns about the school sponsors, "because they have millions of pounds they wish to spend on education" - could "present to youngsters in the classroom their prejudice and their narrow views on religion".
How wonderful of Mr. Sinnott that he has everything sussed. Can he not see how narrow his own views are in expressing such concerns?
The BBC article reports the activities of Mr. Vardy's academy in the following way,"It has been claimed that schools in the North East backed by Christian millionaire Sir Peter Vardy have been teaching Creationism alongside evolutionary scientific theory." Imagine - teaching creationism - tut, tut,horror of horrors, how terrible, whatever next! Equally it could be claimed that for decades the education system of the UK has been filling the minds of little children with the godless speculation philosophy called Darwinianism.
Delegates at another teachers' conference says the government's policy of having more faith schools "will hinder integration, foster religious divisions and provide fertile ground for religious and ethnic conflicts."
Surely some of these delegates can do a little thinking - for decades the young people of our land have had their heads filled with the nonsense of man coming swinging from the trees. Pardon me, pity my simplicity if you like but such education doesn't seem to have fostered integration of the ethnic variety that we are privileged to have throughout our nation.
Only the teaching of the Word of God will educate our children as to who they are as human beings - so very very special, no matter what their colour our ethnic origin - all with the image of God still stamped on their lives. It is the Bible faithfully taught that will teach a rising generation that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ makes true unity amongst diversity.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Voice of the Unborn Cries Out

A leading medical research team from University College London has proven that premature babies as young as 25 weeks feel and experience pain. This research will be of obvious help to those involved in care of the premature.
But what about the other little children in the womb. In the UK abortion is legal up to 24 weeks. Is this not a reminder once again that it is a real little human life that is being scraped and sucked from the one place in the world that it should be secure. Is it any wonder that our nation is in such a mess - it is guilty as proven of the daily murder of the unborn. The God who creates life will not stand by and take no notice of such murderous atrocity. A human being no matter how small is unique, the image of God still stamped on each one. To take a human life in such barbarity is a crime against God. The voice of the unborn cries out to Him who sees in the secret place. Oh that our nation would repent of its wickedness of sanctioning murder in the womb. With the Lord Jesus Christ there is forgiveness for all who will call on Him.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cosmic Ordering

The come back kid of TV, 56 year old Noel Edmonds has to the astonishment of many in the industry hit the ground running with his latest TV show. On Saturday evening his comeback was sealed with an interview with the silver haired Parky. Noel Edmonds new show has the catchy title "Deal or no Deal." It seems however that Mr. Edmonds is into another sort of dealing which he informed Parky was called Cosmic Ordering. He apparently got the idea from a book passed on to him by a reflexologist. The idea behind cosmic ordering is quite simple - you write down your wish list on a piece of paper and the cosmos kindly delivers them. Mr. Edmonds stated to a reporter that he had put in 6 orders so far and you've guessed it "Deal or no Deal" was on the list.
Once again we see the foolishness of humanity without God. Men and women will do absolutely anything and believe such utter nonsense rather than the truth as it is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Cosmic ordering is simply another new age way of trying to do away with the personal God who rules all things. Cosmic ordering is lucky charm, rabbits foot, Mr. Blobby nonsense.
How far from the wonderful message of the Bible - that as men and women humble themselves before God, repent of their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ that they have an invitation from the Triune God to come humbly before His throne of grace to find find mercy and grace to help in time of need. What a joy to be a Christian - every day I can talk to my Father in heaven knowing that His Son rules all things and is working out all things for my good. What joy to be able to come to that personal God in prayer, knowing that He hears me, delights to receive my stumbling prayers and in the mystery of His sovereign ways weaves them into the outworking of His good pleasing and perfect will.

Bending Your Neck

I can still remember it as if it were yesterday though it is now over twenty years ago. I was three months into a university course that I was beginning to think was such a waste of time. A desire to reach the lost for Christ was beginning to rise over my soul. In my immaturity I thought that the best solution was to drop out and do whatever came to hand and go wherever with the gospel. I shared my dream with a new friend, who was later to become my wife. Thankfully her counsel was so wise(and still is) - to stay the course, finish what I had started and learn what the Lord was wanting me to learn.
As I look back on that time I am thankful for a lesson learnt - there are no quick roads to being equipped to perform the work of the ministry. Often we must bend our necks to those tutors and governors that the Lord has appointed in his providence to bring us to some state of usefulness. For four years a degree in Geography had to be completed where the discipline of study was learnt for days ahead. Then a year of post graduate teacher training where some gifts for teaching were honed. Then five years of teaching, interacting with a a range of ages and learning what life was like in the work place. Then three years of hard grind at theological college, sweat and tears over Hebrew, Greek, and a list of other subjects.
And every day I am still trying to learn this lesson that there are no quick roads to being prepared for ministry. Every day learning to bend the neck to God's appointed tutors - to be busy in the books, reading and being equipped, submitting to His providences that by His great grace I might be of some use to Christ the King and of some benefit to His people for the little while that breath rises and falls in my body.
If you are a young man reading this remember to bend your neck. Bending the neck voluntarily is much easier than having it bent for you. He has had to do that for me too - but that is another story. There are no short cuts. Don't be a half baked preacher or whatever. Whatever is critical to you being the best that you can possibly be for Christ - just do it - NOW! Only one life it will soon be gone.

Church Finds What IT'S looking for

One online news broadcast has stated that episcopal parishes from California to Maine are introducing "U2 Eucharist services." The scheme organisers state that the service is designed to make contact with the youth of society and help those interested in social activism. As well as the traditional bread and wine worshippers are also supplied with ear plugs and fluorescent glow sticks. At one service plasma TV screen illuminated the worship area while multicoloured streamers soared through the air.One particular church leader hinted that it was only a matter of time before U2 songs made it into the hymnal, after all "there's a gift they have for speaking to the human soul."
What a tragic picture of the plight of the church. Has anyone asked, Is this what God is looking for? God has made it very clear in His word that He is to be worshipped as He has prescribed and not as we might think He wants to be worshipped. Surely this awful scenario is just another reminder of the terrible mess that happens when the Word of God is abandoned.
Aping the world is one of the greatest mistakes that the church can make. Christ has made the church to be different from the world, to be a light in the darkness so that men and women will hear the good news of Jesus Christ and by grace make their way to where "the streets have no name."
Oh that the Lord would bring the church to her senses that with one accord men and women would be seeking what God is looking for - true reverence, adoration and worshipped in spirit and in truth. Only then will men and women be truly blessed.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mobiles in your Coffin

According to a recent BBC report more and more people are requesting that when they die their mobile phones are placed in their coffins. The first noted cases of this were from South Africa. Some in the Cape Town area spoke of their fear of a voodoo spell which they believed would make them appear to be dead. Their concern was that they would then be buried alive by well meaning relatives. The idea of the mobile was that when they came to in their coffins they could phone a friend. I suspect however that the reception isn't that good from under 6 feet of soil! As the trend circumnavigates the world the placing of such goods in a coffin appears to be because people want buried with totems that represented their lives. For some there may also be the Tutankhamen effect, i.e. that these goods will be of help in the life to come. One undertaker wil even slip in a spare set of batteries - just in case!
This recent trend speaks to us clearly about important spiritual issues. Again we are reminded that knowledge of a life to come is wired into the very fabric of our being - we know deep down that there is life beyond the grave. But the new craze also highlights the spiritual ignorance of our generation. How sad that people consider these pieces of electronic gadgetry so vital that they just can't bear to be parted from them even in death. The Lord Jesus has a clear warning concerning such idolatry, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34
How tragic too that men and women so misunderstand what lies beyond the grave. How heart breaking that men and women would make such a foolish preparation for the grave as a list of favourite goodies to accompany them and not make that most vital preparation of becoming right with God. The Bible makes it very clear about how we leave this world, Naked a man comes from his mother's womb,and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. Ecclesiastes 5:5. Equally the Bible makes it clear that when we leave this world heaven or hell is our instant destiny and that the only way of being bound for heaven is to have the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour and Lord. Are you ready?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Death of Henry Morris

On Monday 27th March The Times carried an extremely informative obituary of Henry Morris who died February 25th aged 87. Here was an extremely intellectual man who had no trouble believing what the Bible said about Creation. He was a graduate in civil engineering with a particular interest in hydraulics. As a child Henry Morris had no interest in the things of God. When the Spirit of God opened his eyes to the truth of the gospel he accepted the Bible as the infallible and literal word of God. With his interest in hydraulics and belief in the Bible he had a particular interest in the details of The Flood. He was author of over 60 books dealing with the Bible and science. His book The Genesis Flood was once described as the founding document of the creationist movement. One note in the Times obituary surely shows the measure of the man. On one occasion he was engaged in a debate with a professor of biology who later desribed him as, "unfailingly polite, a real gentleman and a person who was a sincere and committed Christian." It is that spirit of grace and humility that we need today as we respond to the agenda of the world that would seek to knock Christ the Creator from His throne.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Rowan Williams and Teaching Creation

In a recent interview Rowan Williams was asked if he thought creation should be taught in schools. He answered, "I don't think it should actually." In the same interview he referred to creationism as a "category mistake." For an ordinary bloke like me it is often difficult to discern what Mr. Williams is actually talking about, what he actually means by the words that he connects. It seems that his worry is "that creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it."
You may pity my simplicity but the Word of God is not really that difficult - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Mr. Williams said that such a statememt "is quite compatible with a degree of uncertainty or latitude about how precisely that unfolds in creative time." But hasn't God said in Genesis 1 how it unfolded in creative time, ie that the Lord created it all in six literal days. Since the God of the Bible was the only one that was there I'm opting for believing God.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Silvio Berlusconi Comments

What I know about Italian politics would fit quite easily on the back of the proverbial postage stamp. However, I do know that Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi appears greatly confused in his understanding of the One who rules the nations, the Lord Jesus Christ. The multi millionaire media mogul turned politician has on several occasions compared himself to the Lord Jesus Christ, even calling himself "the Jesus Christ of politics." The BBC news reported him as saying that he has "suffered like Jesus Christ for Italy." On another occasion he allegedly compared himself to Christ with the comment that he too was a "patient victim sacrificing himself for everyone." Obviously Silvio Berlusconi seems unaware of what the Scripture says regarding the suffering of the Lord. What physical agony Christ endured on that cruel Roman cross. That agony however paled into insignificance compared to the agony of soul when He cried, My God, My God why have you forsaken Me? At that moment the Lord's suffering was at its peak as He bore in His body the sins of many and suffered the punishment of separation from God that was due to others. Never was the Lord a "tireless victim." All that happened to Him on that cross He willingly allowed to happen. Every moment He was in control of. No victim cries out loudly as He did - It is finished. It is not a victim but a victor who says, Into your hands I commit My spirit. As to whether Christ's sacrfice was for everyone - the Scripture is clear on this too. Not long before He died He made it clear that He was the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for HIS SHEEP. Yes His sacrifice on Calvary was so enormous that it would have been sufficient to cover over all. But in the sovereign plans of God it was decreed to be efficient only for the sheep that the Father had given to the Son from before time began.
As men and women turn from their sin and trust in Christ alone to rescue them from the holy wrath of God they will find that they are amongst the sheep in God's flock. This good news is not just for Italians - because Christ suffered, died and rose not just for Italy but for the world.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Book Review Philip and the Revival in Samaria

This book by Geoff Thomas, pastor of Alfred Place Baptist Church Aberystwyth was published in 2005 by the Banner of Truth Trust. It is a study of Acts 8. ALthough a short book of just 120 pages it is filled with many vital truths for the church today. Those who have had the prvilege of listening to Pastor Thomas preach will be able to hear in the text that delightful Welsh cadence and passion. This is an immensely practical book dealing with what it means to be filled with the Spirit, what sort of person the Lord delights to use and some helpful comments on revival. Like all Mr. Thomas's work it is thoroughly reformed and touches down in every day life. It is heart warming and thought provoking. Carefully placed illustrations thoughout make this an easy book to read. It would be a useful tool for your quiet time or the basis of a midweek meeting study. Preachers will find help here too.

Bill Gates - Really Rich?

Surprise, surprise according to the annual rich list in Forbes magazine Mr. William Gates is still number one with an estimated wealth of 50 billion dollars. The magazine also reported that there are now 793 billionaires scattered across the world with the UK having 31 billionaires of its own. No doubt many people around the world envy the wealth that these men have gathered and continue in their lifelong quest to get what they can.
What a contrast to a little old lady, called Ruby, lying almost motionless in her nursing home bed. She is barely 5 stone in weight, is paralysed and needs constant nursing. Her small purse on her bedside locker all that is left of anything by way of financial wealth. She has no bank account, no house to call home, no health, few living relatives. Yet her face shines brightly though her body is twisted and knarled with the effects of disease. She is rich beyond Bill Gates' wildest dreams. She has wealth that will never perish, be corrupted or destroyed. Her billionaire status is in a currency from another world - it is measured in grace. Super abundant grace has been given to her by God. She knows and loves the Lord Jesus Christ. For Ruby her Saviour is her all together lovely one, the fairest of ten thousand. She knows forgiveness, acceptance with God, is a child in God's family - she is a Christian, converted to Christ as a little girl. And all her riches she took with her to her eternal rest when she passed from this world. For all eternity she will be overwhelmed by the riches of God's great grace towards her.
You don't have to win the lottery to get into this list of the really wealthy or do any stock market magic. The message of the Bible is really quite simple. The apostle Paul summarises it when He writes in II Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. God makes it clear in his Word that as sinful human beings, separated from God we are so very poor in the things that matter. In His great love however God's unique Son left the riches of heaven and came to earth and went to the cross so that the penalty for sin could be dealt with and the spiritually poor become rich. When a person turns from their sin and trusts in Christ alone to make them right with God a wonderful transaction occurs. All our bad debt towards God for sin is paid for by Christ and all the riches of His righteousness put to our account. What an offer - and it is all free. There is no small print. Simply Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Then you will be added to the real list rich with Ruby.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Dan Brown's Shock

Apparantly Dan Brown is shocked at the reaction of Baigent and Leigh co authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Their book is the book that Brown alledgedly plagiarised for his best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code." If truth be told it is not the reaction of these two authors that Mr. Brown need be concerned about but the living God who is holy and treats with great seriousness any derision or scorn poured on His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. But before too much finger pointing at Mr. Brown and his blasphemous writing I am quickly reminded of my own sin. It is sadly all to easy for many of us to remember with shame days when we treated the things of the Son of God with scorn and our derision rose to God as a great stench.
The gospel writers record for us the most wicked activity ever carried out against the Son of God, namely that they crucified Him on a cruel Roman cross. Those same gospel records also reveal that while the soldiers were piercing His hands and feet that the Lord Jesus was praying - Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing. That prayer was not just for the soldiers but for Mr. Brown and every one of us. It was a prayer that the Lord would not bring His judgement instantly on the world. It was a prayer for a stay of execution so that sinners would have opportunity to hear the gospel, turn from their sin and trust in Christ. How wonderful it would be to hear of Dan Brown's conversion. Christians ought not to put Mr. Brown on their hit list but on their prayer list.
How wonderful it would be to hear of Dan Brown's shock - not at the reaction of men -but shocked to know that the one that he has so greviously sinned against is ready and willing to forgive.

Dunblane - Ten Years On

Who will ever forget the tragedy of Dunblane ten years ago today. In a chilling, planned rampage Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 children and one teacher while wounding 12 others. Since that autrocity there have been 40 more incidents where children have been shot dead in schools. Thankfully after Dunblane the British government had the wit to ban hand gun ownership by the general public but the debate still goes on about the national firearms registry. No doubt everything should be done that might possibly reduce the chance of such crimes happening again. But what about dealing with the wicked men who do such crimes. Thomas Hamilton took his own life further adding to his crime against God. Others who have carried out such autrocities find themselves with a jail sentence that soon passes. The murder of a human being is not only a great crime against another human being but also against God for man is made in the image of God. The Bible makes clear that such a crime must carry with it the maximum penalty - death.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Journey of Redemption

Just yesterday disgraced former Tory cabinet minister John Profumo died at the grand old age of 91. Some will remember that back in 1963 he was forced to resign over an extra marital affair with a 19 year old prostitute called Christine Keller. Following his disappearance from politics he gave the rest of his life to raising moneys for charities and even offering to be a toilet cleaner. Prime minister Tony Blair's comments about him on the BBC news are most enlightening. Rightly he spoke of his serious mistake and then commented that Mr. Profumo gave himself to a "journey of redemption." I presume that Mr. Blair was referring to redeeming himself in the eyes of the public. However I couldn't help think how Mr. Blair's comments summarise the thoughts of many people in a spiritual dimension. Many imagine that their life is to be a journey of redemption - trying to make up for the all the wrong that they have done and somehow get into God's good books.
The message of Biblical Christianity is the complete opposite to this man made religion. Our lives are a journey of damnation, all that we do corrupted by our sin, even our best efforts as "filthy rags." But thanks be to God that there was one who did indeed have a journey of redemption - the Lord Jesus Christ. His journey, the Bible says, began way back before time when God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, the great three in one God, planned how in love, mercy and justice a great many sinners could be saved from the guilt and punishment of their sin. In the fullness of time the eternal Son came to earth in the form of a man, yet still God and took the sinner's place - keeping the law perfectly and receiving in his body the punishment that was due to others for a broken law. When He hung on Calvary's cross and cried out, "It is finished," that journey of redemption was complete.
Now there is nothing left for us to do, but by grace, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.
What good news the true gospel brings - no journey of redemption to engage in for it has been done. What good news that idolaters, liars, adulterers, blasphemers, thieves, coveters - can as they see their sin and flee to Christ alone in saving faith be in an instant declared right with God and have the sure and certain hope of heaven.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

So When Did I First Exist?

In early March a mother lost her bid in the courts to have children from embryos that she and her former fiance had frozen some time previously. The European Court of Human Rights rejected the mother's case that her human rights had been infringed by a British court which said her former fiancée was entitled to stop her using the embryos. The father's argument was that he did not want the financial or emotional burden of being a father to a child he would not bring up. Some issues on this case touch at the very heart of life. The fact is - this couple do have children - six in all. Yes they are in the very early stages of development and will not develop any more until removed from suspended annimation and implanted in their mother's womb. But already she is a mother and he the father of 6. More than the rights of a man or woman - what about the rights of the the tiny bundles of life which have all the information and potential of useful active human beings? What about their rights to reach full devlopment and be part of a warm and loving family unit as God designed human beings to be? Life according to the Bible does not begin on entrance into this world or some magical date along the pre birth calandar but at conception. David writes in Psalm 139 "For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb...My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place...Your eyes saw my unformed body."
How sad our society that the voice of the unborn is so rarely championed. The minds of men and women so shaped by the opinions of the masses. Time again for another look at who I am and when I first came into being. Time again to think - so why do I exist at all. The message of the God of all the earth is quite simple - we exist to praise and glorify Him and we will only be truly happy when our lives are anchored firmly in Him through the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Dispatches - The New Fundamentalists

Tonight Channel 4 continued its attack on evangelical Christianity in Rod Liddle's "The New Fundamentailsts." The journalist was all guns blasting on the Christian faith. It would be easy to become angry at the smug and offensive efforts of Mr. Liddle, especially when he lambasted six day creationist as some sort of backward Hill Billies. His arguments throughout his diatribe were weak and flawed. But his programme was such an encouragment. We were reminded of the truth of the Word of God - that men hate the truth. How encouraging to hear of an increasing number of Christians committed to six day creation. How encouraging to hear Christians say that homosexuality and sex before marriage are sins to be repented of. How encouraging to hear that evanglical Christianity is on the rise and that Christian based schools are amongst the best in the UK. In the end I felt nothing but sorrow for Mr. Liddle - his whole manner in complete contrast to the gracious and clear comments of those who uphold truth and righteousness.
Once again even God's enemies serve His purposes.

Prayer and Preaching

How foolish we can be searching hither and thither for some ways to build the church. God has prescribed a very simple way - prayer and preaching. Saturday's Times newspaper carried the heart warming obituary of Selwyn Hughes who founded Crusade for World Revival. What was it that changed his life? Two simple things owned by God - prayer and preaching. The obituary tells of his conversion to Christ. On his way out for a night's "fun" he overheard his father pray for his conversion at a local mission hall. Those heart felt prayers seemed to lance his soul. He writes in his biography how when he arrived at the dance hall, "the lights seemed less bright that usual, there was something missing in the music...God was calling me." It was not long after this that at a Bible meeting that Hughes committed himself to follow Christ. He spoke of the preaching, "reaching deep into my soul."
Here in the conversion of one man we see what God delights to use - the pleadings of God's people and Spirit owned preaching - Lord imprint this simplicity on the lives of your church - the praying of the saints and the preaching of the Word.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Nearly Right but So Wrong

David Beckam, football superstar turned Mystic Meg has this to say, "Something supernatural guides me, judges me. I feel there is a power watching over us, seeing what we do and taking care of us." Here is the mind of fallen man - so nearly right but so very far wrong. It is not a something that guides and judges - but the eternal God, that wonderful three in one God of the Scripture, the only true and living God. He is not a something - but "personal that is self conscious and self determining, living and active." He is the one in whom we live and move and have our being. He is the one who sees all things, nothing and no one hidden from His gaze. He is the one who delights to be the guide of sinners. He is the one who watches and keeps all who are in union with His Son. This great God sent His eternal Son to earth in the form of a man yet without sin. That wonderful God man, the Lord Jesus Christ willing laid down His life as a substitute for many. He died that sinners like you and me would have life, reconciled to the God we rebel from by nature.
David Beckham also says, "the life path of a soccer player is the best and most wonderful thing that could happen to you." Not so David. The best and most wonderful thing that can happen to you is to be so laid hold of by God that you see your sin, see the wonder of the Lord Jesus Christ, turn from your sin and trust in Him. It is the most wonderful thing to be saved, declared right with God, be forgiven, brought into the family of the living God, have a Father in heaven who guides and cares. It is the most wonderul thing to have a Saviour, who has been judged in our place that when we have that certain appointment with God that we will hear those words - you can go free - another has taken your judgement.
Who knows maybe in God's great grace many soccer players will come to know the wonderful life.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Book Review On the First Day of the Week

On the First Day of the Week, Iain D. Campbell, Day One Publications (2005) £8.00 224pages

One comment would suffice for this book READ IT. In a day and age when the Lord’s Day is increasingly under attack, even from those who profess the Lord Jesus Christ, we need every help we can get to shore up the crumbling walls of the first day of the week. Dr. Campbell’s new book is comprehensive, concise, compassionate and clear. It is simple and yet profound. Each of the eight chapters oozes with Scripture and is incised by rich veins of precious and practical truths. The book follows a logical pattern beginning in chapter 1 with “God and the Sabbath” and ending with chapter 8 entitled “Heaven and the Sabbath.” In the chapters between hardly a Scripture that refers to the Lord’s Day is left unturned as the lengthy and helpful Scriptural index indicates. Between the two great pillars of the opening and closing chapters the writer deals with: “Moses and the Sabbath,” “The Prophets and the Sabbath,” “Jesus and the Sabbath,” “The Apostles and the Sabbath,” “The Puritans and the Sabbath” and “The 21st Century Christian and the Sabbath.” Each chapter is set out under simple headings with helpful summary paragraph at the end.
Before you buy any book you should look at the footnotes to see where the writer has been gathering his thoughts, who he has consulted. Dr. Campbell’s new book condenses and brings into our hearing the thoughts of a galaxy of the great and gracious giants of the past.
This is without doubt the best book that I have read about the Lord’s Day. It is a must for every Christian home. Read it with your young people's group, discuss it with your teenagers, make some questions around each chapter for your midweek meeting.
If you haven’t got the £8.00 to buy it sell your MP3 player, your favourite plant in the garden, your walking stick, your dog, your favourite cd – you simply must buy it and let the contents of this book help you call the Sabbath a delight.

Transform our lowly bodies

Transform our lowly bodies - that is the promise of Christ, Philippians 3:21. When the Saviour comes from heaven, the power that He uses to control every atom in this universe He will use to transform the lowly bodies of every single person in Christ. Take a visit to the nursing home and you will see a few lowly bodies - an elderly saint - now unable to hold a drinking cup without drowling - lowly body. Take a vist to the cancer ward - and a Christian man sits, a shadow of his former self, waiting for the gnawing from within to bring things to an end - lowly body. Take a vist to the graveyard where a follower of Christ has placed in the earth the tiny body of his infant child, reduced now to dust with the passing of the years - lowly body. Take a vist to the prison cell of Allan Cameron presented with the hands of his son Richard - lowly body. Take a visit to the jungle hut of the missionary who has just lost his life at the hands of Muslim extremist - see his lowly body dashed in its own blood.
And all these when the Savour comes from heaven will be transformed so that they will be like His glorious body. Blessed be King Jesus who does all things well.

"Faithful God" by Sinclair Ferguson

Orginally a series of addresses given at the EMW conference. If you are looking for a devotional commentary on Ruth then look no further. As ususal Mr Ferguson has that knack of digging up some wonderful gems and setting them in language that is both mind capturing and vivid. The commentary has a warm Christ centred feel to it - which isn't that difficult when going through Ruth. Mr Ferguson shows well the place of this book of Scripture in God's plan for saving sinners. The book is worth reading and having on your shelf not only for the comments on Ruth which are stimulating, but for the appendix. The appendix is on the theme of guidance. It is a letter of John Newtown. If Christians would read this it would keep them from all sorts of silly nonsense about discerning the will of God. Read and be blessed.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Why the Title?

The title of this blog is taken from my favourite psalm - psalm 22. These were words that were on the Lord Jesus mind as He hung between heaven and earth bearing the sin of many in His own body on the tree. He was comforted in that horrible hour by the fact that He would rise triumphant from the grave and be successful in saving a great number of people. At this moment He is in heaven ruling the nations of the earth for the purpose of building His church on the earth. One day He will return to this earth and all will bow the knee before Him. There is only one way to be ready for that day - faith alone in Christ alone.