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.