Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Book Review - Communion With God - John Owen

Perhaps you find from time to time a certain flatness creeping over your soul, a dryness, a paralysing lethargy. Of course there may be a host of reasons for this - physical, mental and spiritual. But whatever the reason and whatever the course of recovery this little Banner paperback should be part of that reviving concoction. Owen believed that close fellowship with God lies at the centre of the Christian life. This abridged version by R.J.K. Law will be a tonic for your soul. It is thoroughly rooted in the Word and extrememely practical, teasing out in typical Owen style what fellowship with the different persons of the Godhead entails and how that fellowship is deepened. There are life stimulating potions on every page, Biblically rooted statements to prayerfully ponder. There are twenty four short chapters. Take one chapter on your knees before God each day and you will find the joy of your salvation growing to heights that you had never dreamed of.

My copy of this masterpiece cost me just £1.50. (Obviously a long time ago). I doubt if you will find one as cheap. But whatever the cost - get one and read, reread and reread.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What is there for the Children?

Time and time again I get asked, "At your church what is there for the children?" Obviously it is always a joy to hear concern voiced for the needs of a rising generation. It goes without saying that every effort of parents to bring their children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord is highly commendable. I now realise that when this question is voiced that I need to ask a question, "what do you mean?" If parents or grandparents or uncles or aunts mean, Is there a host of youth activities filling every moment on the calendar? Then the answer is no. If they mean is their a special service for the young people? Then once more the answer is no? If they mean is the focus of the church on the youth? Then again the answer is no.
So what is there for the young people? Well we have discovered what the young folk really really need. We have found something that is having a tremendous impact on the young people? We are directing our energies into something that shapes from the cradle to the grave. We are focussed on something that is impacting not only on this generation but on a generation yet on born. We have found something that is making little ones life time servants of King Jesus. We have found something that is making teenagers enthusiastic about using their lives for the cause of the gospel. We have found something that parents are teaching their children from the earliest age to pay close attention to. We have found something that God is delighting to bless in ways that we had never imagined. We have found something that parents are really believing God is using in the lives of their children. It is not a cresh. It is not a band banging out a mindless drone. It is not a youth worker expert at reaching the young.
So what is it? It is the preaching of the Word of God. Each Lord's Day morning and evening the Bible is opened up, explained and applied to the lives of young and old. Of course we are not surprised that God is using this to transform lives - for that is what He has ordained to be the means of converting sinners and building up the church. We not surprised that God is using this in the lives of young and old because each week we pray that God would use the preaching of the Word to glorify His own name.
So if you would like to have something that will really really bless your children bring them with you to hear the everlasting Word of God and watch for the change in your life and theirs.
What is there for the children? The one thing that really matters - the Word of God dripped in to their lives.
Ps We do also have a Sabbath School and a monthly youth meeting. And yes you've guessed it - the primary focus of those meetings - is teaching our children all about the Lord Jesus Christ from His Word.

How to Be an Ineffective Church Member - Avoid Unity at all costs

Avoid Unity At All Costs
To make sure that your descent into ineffective church membership is not a lonely affair you will need to establish an inner sanctum to your ICYS (Ineffective Covenanting Youth Society). These select groupings in the church have through the years come under several guises: The Hole Pickers or The M&Gs (Mumblers & Grumblers). One of these clubs will aid greatly in the demise of your whole congregation. The main point of these select groupings is to stir up disunity in the church.
To really hamstring the effectiveness of the witness of the church it is important to bear in mind that avoiding unity at all costs has several levels that you must become proficient in.
Let me deal firstly with the local church. This will be your training ground for a wider scale assault on unity. When someone apologises for something that they said or did tell them that it doesn’t matter. Then file it away in the deepest recesses of your hard drive, but make sure you have a desk top icon on the surface of your mind so that every time you see them or hear their name those words that they said in haste and asked forgiveness for come flashing across the screen of your mind. Grudge bearing will soon have the pulses of ineffectiveness spreading through the church faster than the Covenanter Grapevine can report Rev. Jolly has been called to First Ballygobackwards. Oh and by the way use that Grapevine to good effect. Stash your juicy comments about others in the guise of prayer points, “isn’t it too bad about…..”
You must try and devise ways of remembering people that zoom in on their bad points the way the camera does in a zit cream advertisement. Learn to see the speck in your brother’s eye even when there is a whopping great plank in your own. Alongside of this, categorising people is a useful tool. Tar all members of the one family with the same brush and make sure that someone’s faux pas doesn’t disappear with the passing of time. “He’s not reliable….do you remember the time…” are excellent thoughts to keep afloat in your mind.
Disunity will be greatly advanced when you dig your heels in on every decision of church life that clashes with your personal preference. Say loudly and widely, “Nobody ever gets a say round here,” when what you really mean is, “I don’t get my way round here.” You must grumble about every decision that the elders make and quietly leave little incendiary devices in the minds of others to detonate in the next church gathering. Never ever, ever say, “Well I am happy to follow the lead of the elders in this matter.”
Remember the simplest things can be agar plates for stimulating the bacteria of disunity: what colour to paint the church hall, the change in the time of church activities, changing the name of the church to something less off putting, who sits where.
When you have got local scale disunity well sussed and the “fellow ship” is listing, then you are ready for your first mission on a grander scale. Only go to other RP churches where you are happy with every jot and tittle of church life. Do a survey and cross out congregations from your holiday visits as you see fit. Bible versions, Psalter used and dress codes are ideal categories for your list of “to visit or not to visit.” When you have got your “hit list” completed be sure to share your ideas with others. As this mentality spreads little pockets of “Real R.P.s,” “Out on our Own R.P.s” and “Anything Goes R.P.s” will develop. By this stage the downfall is imminent and ineffectiveness has won the day.
With the local church and denomination in the bag your ineffectiveness campaign is ready for one final frontier, the Wider Christian Church. You have got to realise here that only Psalm singers are bound for the “Pearly Gates.” Anyone that might have a different opinion from you about worship, church government or baptism is to be viewed as second class and to be pitied. The last thing you want is for some non-Christian to think that you Christians love each other. Follow that approach and the next thing you will have on your hands is some new convert, and they are the hardest of all to get on the ineffectiveness bandwagon.
One final hint about unity, but you’ll have to be really clever for this. There’s a unity that you must make every effort to see developed in your church and life, namely that unity that abandons the Bible and accepts every opinion and idea as of equal validity. Embrace everyone as a Christian who says they are Christian, no matter what they think about justification by faith alone. Lambaste far and wide every Christian minister who refuses to share a platform with all religious leaders. “Narrow-minded bigot” is a good inflammatory name to use for such ministers. And if some of the ordinary members of your congregation have had a hard time for not going to some interfaith service make sure you add your tuppence worth of, “in this day and age we need to be much more broad minded.”
Remember avoid Biblical unity at all cost.
Bible Bit to Avoid Ephesians 4:1-6