Tuesday, 30 June 2009


Ministry Trainee
in bible teaching, leadership and service
ideal for any person seeking to test and develop ministry skills and gifts with a view to future ministry opportunities
See here for details.
You'd be learning from a great and godly pastor (Neil Robbie) with a super fun family.
See here, here and here for a taster of what Neil is like!

What happens if your children turn into little Richard Dawkins?

Here is an amusing account given by an atheist of the fearful logic of consistent atheism. He is assessing a new arrival on the 'summer camp' market - Camp Quest:

Now, I have no quarrel with Camp Quest's objectives. I am an atheist. And of course children should be taught to think scientifically. No, my worry is simply that the camp's teachings will be too effective. For if there's one thing to make my blood freeze, it's the thought of my child mutating into some kind of pedantic, humourless, eight-year-old mini-Dawkins.

Imagine trying to celebrate the little beast's birthday: "Many happy returns, Darling. Now blow out the candles and make a wish."

"Certainly not, Father. This is a futile custom. There is no evidence to support the notion that blowing out the candles on a Marks & Spencer Victoria sponge increases the likelihood of one's desires becoming reality."

"Right. I see. Sorry. Well, luckily, we've bought some nice gifts for you."

"On the contrary, Father, luck did not influence your purchases. Indeed, there is no such thing. To believe otherwise is flabby thinking."

"Oh, God."

"Please don't say that, Father. You know perfectly well that the deity whose name you invoke does not exist."

"That Camp Quest thing really had an effect on you, hasn't it. I suppose you'll be wanting to go on the course they're organising for Easter…"

"Most assuredly not. Easter is a spurious festival based on the fallacy that a man came back from the dead, which double-blind experiments have proved impossible. In consequence, I refuse to recognise Easter and shall spend the holiday period at school, whether or not my teachers are in attendance."

Still, at least I wouldn't have to waste money buying Christmas presents for the little squirt.
Michael Deacon in the Telegraph today.

As for my household, Jane and I are getting ready for our God filled summer camp - Edgehill -under the CPAS Ventures umbrella. We can't wait, we have a fantastic leaders team and 60 children coming, 9 from Grace CC. And the new challenge of doing camp with a pre-toddler!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Radical Womanhood

This looks to be an excellent book. And certainly Vinegar Hill Pictures have given us a useful 4min 'advert'!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Bearing up quite well thanks

So, are polar bears in danger from global warming or not? This article suggests not so much. Welcome to to the world of 'objective' science.

the greatest theme tune?

There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
that fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he,
washed all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God
be saved, to sin no more.

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
and shall be till I die.

When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
lies slilent in the grace
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I’ll sing Thy power to save.

William Cowper (1731-1800, ALT)

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Hallelujah! We're raising men - Amen! (Part 4)

Some Resources That We Used
· Larry Burkett, Surviving the Money Jungle: A Junior High Study in Handling Money (Gainesville, GA: Christian Financial Concepts, 1995).
· Catechism for Young Children: An Introduction to the Shorter Catechism (Philadelphia: Great Commission, n.d.)
· Paul Little, Know What You Believe (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor, 1987).
· Paul Little, Witnessing; How to Give Away Your Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996).
· Susan S. Macaulay, How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor, 1982).
· Theodore C. Papaloizos, Alfabetario: Pre-School Reader (n.l.: Papaloizos Publications, 1990). (Introduction to Greek letters and pronunciation.)
· Amye Rosenberg, Alef Bet Mystery (New York: Behrman House, 1980). (Introduction to Hebrew letters and pronunciation.)
· R. C. Sproul, Choosing My Religion, tape series (Orlando, FL: Ligonier Ministries).
· R. C. Sproul, Objections Answered, tape series (Orlando, FL: Ligonier Ministries).
[How I Have Helped My Boys to Become Christian Men - Vern S. Poythress Copyright (c) 2005 by Vern Sheridan Poythress.]

Friday, 26 June 2009

Getting in Under the radar!

What various hindrances we meet
In coming to a mercy seat;
Yet who that knows the worth of prayer,
But wishes to be often there.

Prayer makes the darkened cloud withdraw,
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
Gives exercise to faith and love,
Brings every blessing from above.

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;
Prayer makes the Christian’s armor bright;
And Satan trembles, when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.

While Moses stood with arms spread wide,
Success was found on Israel’s side;
But when through weariness they failed,
That moment Amalek prevailed.

Have you no words? Ah, think again,
Words flow apace when you complain;
And fill your fellow creature’s ear
With the sad tale of all your care.

Were half the breath thus vainly spent,
To Heav’n in supplication sent;
Your cheerful song would oft’ner be,
“Hear what the Lord has done for me.”

William Cowper (1731-1800)

Hallelujah! We're raising men - Amen! (Part 3)

Thinking It Through
What do our boys think of it?
They are intimidated. At times they get discouraged. "It's too hard," they say. "I don't like it." "Why do I have to do this?" We did make it hard. Manhood is not easy. This life is not easy for a Christian. We keep encouraging them. But we also challenge them. And we avoid showing any sign of giving in to the pressures around us. "Why are we different?" they say. "This is what Mommy and I have decided to do. God has given us a responsibility to train you to be a man. Because you are in this family, this is what you have to do."
We have to strike a careful balance. We have to match the projects to our children's capabilities. We can't make the work so hard or so time-consuming that it exasperates our children or is just an oppressive burden (Eph. 6:4). On the other hand, we don't want to give way to the lazy feeling of much of American culture, where many people just float along, without clear goals, and seek to be entertained and avoid hard work. Other people in America work very hard, but for unworthy goals: to be "successful," to get fame or wealth. We encourage hard work toward the worthy goal of serving Christ. We try to hit the positive note of encouragement many times for every one time that we have to criticize them. But we don't hide the fact that we are swimming against the cultural tide.

Having Another Man in the House
What happens after our boy becomes a man?
He has the privileges of a man. The privileges must be real and meaningful. This part is scary for Diane and me. But we told ourselves, "It is better to give our young man lots of freedom now, while he is still at home. At 14 he is still young enough to come and ask us for advice. He is young enough to know that he doesn't know everything. For him to explore under these conditions, when he is still in our home, is far better than waiting until he goes away to college and we don't see him or talk with him about all the challenges."
When our boy becomes a man, lots of changes take place in many areas, some big, some small. As a man, he no longer needs a baby-sitter. He can baby-sit younger children himself. He sets his own bedtime and rising time. He decides when he does his homework and how long he works on it. He decides what TV programs he watches and how long he watches. He can (at first with supervision) teach a children's Sunday school class. He participates in the "family council" when my wife and I discuss, plan, and make important decisions. He can buy and care for his own pet. He excuses himself from the table rather than being asked to be excused. He buys his own clothing, school supplies, and gifts. He pays rent once a month, based on an estimate of his share in the utilities, food, and other costs. And he has an allowance to match these new responsibilities! In addition, if I pay him to do an extra job, I pay him at a going rate-at least the minimum wage, and more than that for jobs that are demanding.
But even when our son is a man, he is still part of the family and still lives with us. We love him just as much. We kiss and hug him just as much. We play together. We have certain rules that we would have for anyone living with us, even people outside the family. We expect him to be at meals on time. We expect him to be considerate of other members of the family. If he goes somewhere, we expect to know where he is. On Saturday night we meet as a family and assess the week. We continue to talk with him about where he is spiritually. If we see sin in his life, we will exhort him as we would exhort an adult who was on intimate terms with us. We continue to encourage one another and teach one another as fellow believers in Christ (Col. 3:16; 1 Thess. 5:14).
Christianity, after all, does not isolate adults from one another, but puts them in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12). In that body we are answerable to one another. So Ransom's freedom is not freedom for immorality. If I were to see my brother in Christ filling his mind with raw TV programs, or neglecting his homework, or even just staying up too late every night and then dragging in the morning, we would sit down and talk. We would ask, "Is this really wise for a Christian man?"
I must say that, so far, we are pleased. It has been work for us. But Ransom is a man now. Sure, he has energy and interests like many other fourteen-year-olds. But in matters that count, he acts like a man. Not perfectly. Not without some stumbles and signs of immaturity. But he does. We noticed a big change right after his Bar Jeshua.

[How I Have Helped My Boys to Become Christian Men - Vern S. Poythress Copyright (c) 2005 by Vern Sheridan Poythress.]

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Hallelujah! We're raising men- Amen! (Part 2)

Passing to Manhood
In addition to all the regular things that must go into Christian living, I decided that my boys should have a rite of passage. It involves training and testing. It is not easy for them. They must prove themselves to be Christian men.

My son Ransom, 13 years old, has been through it. He knows that he is a man. He knows it not only because he worked and sweated at it, but because we had a celebration at the end. We sent out invitations. At the party, in the presence of about 90 people, his friends and our family friends, we reviewed some of the testing, and then I declared in front of everyone that he was now a man. "As your father, I declare that you are no longer Master Ransom Poythress. You are Mr. Ransom Poythress. You are now a man."

The change of name is significant. White American culture still has a tiny fragment in which it recognizes manhood. According to formal etiquette, a boy is "Master" until he is 12; after that, he is "Mr." (Mister). One of my Latino friends tells me that they have a celebration of manhood at the 12th birthday. The Jews have a "Bar Mitzvah" for a boy when he is 13. The Jews became a model from which we attempted to learn. Though Diane and I are not Jews by birth, Jesus is a Jew. The Jews of the Old Testament are therefore our spiritual ancestors. In addition, we live in a neighborhood with many Jews. So in our neighborhood the idea of having a ceremony for manhood was not strange. We created a celebration called "Bar Jeshua," "son of Jesus," by analogy with "Bar Mitzvah," son of the commandment, the Jewish celebration for entering manhood.

We can also point to the incident recorded in Luke 2:41-50. At 12 years old Jesus, our Savior and Representative, shows his manly maturity in his understanding of the Bible and his understanding of his role.

The Bible does not require us to imitate slavishly any one culture. But we see wisdom here. So what did we do? We tried to do the normal things that go into Christian parenting. But in addition, we told the boys from an early age about the Bar Jeshua we were planning for each of them. We told them that they would become men when they were 12. They were going to have to train for it beforehand.

The Training
In what does the training consist? Christian manhood is the goal. The training must match the goal. So we set for them projects. They acquire and demonstrate skill in each of several overlapping areas.

1. Knowledge of the contents of the Bible.
o Know the names of books of the Bible in order.
o Know Bible history.
o Read the Bible all the way through.
o Know main themes of biblical books.
o Understand how Biblical teaching centers on Christ.
o Know Greek and Hebrew (amount of knowledge tailored to the child's ability)

2. Memorization of selected verses and passages of the Bible.

3. Knowledge of the major teachings of the Bible (doctrine).
o Memorize a children's catechism as a summary of doctrine.
o Be able to explain doctrines and respond to questions using one's own words.

4. Personal piety.
o Using devotional materials
o Prayer diary
o Day-long personal retreat for prayer and fasting with Daddy
o Growth in understanding of means for overcoming sin

5. Projects of service and mercy.
o Serving the church; serving the needy.

6. Wisdom in dealing with various spheres of life.
o Finances: tithing, drawing up a year-long budget; checkbook balancing; investing.
o Etiquette: table etiquette, greeting etiquette, letter etiquette, conversational etiquette, sexual etiquette.
o Apologetics: answering questions and objections about Christian faith; understanding the Christian world view and the main competing worldviews and ideas in the UnitedStates.
o Sexuality: knowing Christian teaching and standards for thoughts and actions. Understanding how God designed male and female bodies.

They work on these areas over a period of years. Many times we just integrate the work into our family devotional times. At other points we have periods where they have concentrated study in one area. When the boy is 11 years old, we assess progress. If our boy is honestly far from ready, we are willing in principle to put things off for another year. But if he is showing more maturity, we have a time of more concentrated preparation.

In the two or three months before the Bar Jeshua celebration, we enlist our pastors, young people's leaders, and (in my case) my seminary professor friends to test the boy privately in each of the areas (1)-(4). I am present at these tests to provide moral support, but not to coach my boy on the answers. We also reserve the fellowship hall at our church as a site for the coming celebration. We send out invitations. We draw up a program sheet and buy decorations and food.

The Celebration
The day of the Bar Jeshua celebration is a Saturday, so that more people can come. I explain the celebration to all present.. Our boy reads a short passage from the Hebrew Bible and explains it (as does the Jewish boy at Bar Mitzvah). The boy reads a short passage from the Greek Bible and explains it. The people who previously tested our boy come and give a "mini-test" as part of the celebration. But our boy already knows that he has passed the private tests, so he does not have to fear the result. We sing our boy's favorite hymn. We pray for him. I declare that he is a man. Then we eat and converse. That's it. Many of the guests bring gifts for the boy, because they can see that it is like a big birthday celebration.

[How I Have Helped My Boys to Become Christian Men - Vern S. Poythress Copyright (c) 2005 by Vern Sheridan Poythress.]

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Some anti-sleeping tablets

Let me now, in the last place, offer some remedies against this great evil.

It will be one remedy against the contempt of preaching rightly to consider the end for which it was designed. There are many who place abundance of merit in going to church, although it be with no other prospect but that of being well entertained, wherein if they happen to fail, they return wholly disappointed. Hence it is become an impertinent vein among people of all sorts to hunt after what they call a good sermon, as if it were a matter of pastime and diversion. Our business, alas! is quite another thing; either to learn, or at least be reminded of, our duty; to apply the doctrines delivered, compare the rules we hear with our lives and actions, and find wherein we have transgressed. These are the dispositions men should bring into the house of God, and then they will be little concerned about the preacher’s wit or eloquence, nor be curious to inquire out his faults and infirmities, but consider how to correct their own.

Another remedy against the contempt of preaching is that men would consider whether it be not reasonable to give more allowance for the different abilities of preachers than they usually do. Refinements of style and flights of wit, as they are not properly the business of any preacher, so they cannot possibly be the talents of all. In most other discourses, men are satisfied with sober sense and plain reason; and, as understandings usually go, even that is not over-frequent. Then why they should be so over-nice in expectation of eloquence, where it is neither necessary nor convenient, is hard to imagine.

Lastly, The scorners of preaching would do well to consider that this talent of ridicule they value so much is a perfection very easily acquired, and applied to all things whatsoever; neither is anything at all the worse because it is capable of being perverted to burlesque; perhaps it may be the more perfect upon that score, since we know the most celebrated pieces have been thus treated with greatest success. It is in any man’s power to suppose a fool’s-cap on the wisest head, and then laugh at his own supposition. I think there are not many things cheaper than supposing and laughing; and if the uniting these two talents can bring a thing into contempt, it is hard to know where it may end.

To conclude: These considerations may perhaps have some effect while men are awake; but what arguments shall we use to the sleeper? What methods shall we take to hold open his eyes? Will he be moved by considerations of common civility? We know it is reckoned a point of very bad manners to sleep in private company, when, perhaps, the tedious impertinence of many talkers would render it at least as excusable as the dullest sermon. Do they think it a small thing to watch four hours at a play, where all virtue and religion are openly reviled; and can they not watch one half hour to hear them defended? Is this to deal like a judge (I mean like a good judge), to listen on one side of the cause and sleep on the other? I shall add but one word more. That this indecent sloth is very much owing to that luxury and excess men usually practise upon this day, by which half the service thereof is turned to sin; men dividing their time between God and their bellies, when, after a gluttonous meal, their senses dozed and stupefied, they retire to God’s house to sleep out the afternoon. Surely, brethren, these things ought not so to be.
He that hath ears to hear let him hear.”

And God give us all, grace to hear and receive His Holy Word to the salvation of our own souls.
('On Sleeping in Church' - Jonathan Swift)

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Coming out

How do we think rightly about those who turn from following Christ and articulate that life and their faith is more authentic and mature? Especially when that involves sexuality.

This blog piece helped me a lot.

Here is a taste:
For men who have been confessing Christians, "coming out" stands for the process of crossing over from sanctification's battle against besetting sin to apostasy's surrender to the sin and demand of loved ones and friends that they now accept that surrender as the mark of their new-found authentic personhood.

"Coming out" is a shorthand way of saying that the sin of sodomy has now become the central fact of their existence. No longer is Ray Boltz a CCM star and Christian; he's become a "gay" man. In other words, this brother who had fought his entire life against the sexual temptations that are common among confessing Christian men (although the particularities of his temptations were skewed in an unnatural direction) has now announced to the world that the battle was always dishonest because "who he is" at the very heart of his authenticity is a man who engages in sexual intimacy with other men.

Think of it this way. Imagine another CCM artist of the name John Doe granting an interview to the Toledo Blade in which he "came out" of the closet, finally admitting that all those songs he'd written that went to the top of the CCM charts had at their heart his own struggle with adulterous heterosexual desire. Then, one night, sitting in the kitchen with his wife and children, he'd been asked by his teenage daughter why he was depressed, and responded, "Well honey, all my life I've wanted every woman I've seen walking down the street, but I fought against it. I prayed and prayed that God would change me, but every time I took a walk, drove to the store, or turned on the television, I found myself lusting the same way I had since I was a teenager. It's gotten so bad that I want to die. I'm in counselling, on drugs, and until now, have been afraid to admit who I am. Whenever I performed my songs, I felt somehow I didn't measure up; that I was a fraud. I didn't want to hurt your mother so I never told her who I really was--I kept it all bottled up inside me."

Then, the Blade recounts, came the night when Doe took a small step after a Swinger's Club seance in Detroit one Christmas Eve, leaving one of his CDs with the host for the evening and signing it with his name and e-mail address. He moved to Las Vegas, began hiring call girls, and for the first time in his life he's at peace with himself. Thus he's much closer to God, also. His wife has become active in a prostitution advocacy group, his daughters are learning new words like 'polyamorous,' and everyone's loving everybody more than they ever did before because now the love is based on honesty, authenticity, truthfulness, and so on. For the first time in his life John Doe is able to be the man he's always been deep down inside--a self-affirming adulterous lecher.

Calvin on the BBC?

Well done Steve Jeffrey. Excellent work on Radio 4's Beyond Belief yesterday.

Thanks to Mike for putting me onto this.

Hallelujah! We're raising men - Amen! (Part 1)

A great song? Maybe not. Men don't fall from the sky or grow on trees. And certainly not godly, faithful, courageous, servants!

I came across this account of one man's bringing up of his two sons a few years ago and I rediscovered it this weekend just gone. It provokes me as I set out with the ambition of raising up a Christian man. I don't expect it something I will copy slavishly at all. And of course he is American and the UK is a bit different! But I love it's shape and some of the specific ideas. In case it helps others I am blogging it.

I don't know the family personally, but here is a photo of them (amazing what you can do with Google!). Somehow seeing the people makes a difference. And Lassie too!

God gave me two boys to raise, Ransom and Justin. Ransom is now 14 years old and is already a Christian man. Justin is a Christian boy 12 years old, and is training to become a man before he is 13.

What is going on here?

Something special. I believe that God has given to my wife Diane and me a special idea about raising boys, an idea that may be of use to you if you have sons in your family. We have created a special celebration and ceremony to introduce them to Christian manhood. This celebration we call "Bar Jeshua," that is, "son of Jesus." This celebration marks the point at which a boy becomes a man, a mature disciple of Jesus.

Is such a thing weird? We don't think so.
Let me tell you about it.

The Idea and the Challenge
Almost every culture in the world has something to mark the difference between a boy and a man. A boy goes through a "rite of passage," after which he becomes officially a man. The rite of passage may involve an ordeal, a test, or a training period of some kind. The boy who has reached a certain age must kill a crocodile, or train
with a bow and arrow, or go on a long journey alone, or join in a dangerous hunt with the men.

When does a boy become a man in white American culture? When he gets a driver's license? When he graduates from high school? When he moves away from his parents? When he can vote? When he gets his first full-time job? When he is 21? When he gets married? When he owns his own home?

No one can say. There is no clear point of transition. There is no one "rite of passage." One of the unfortunate effects can be that boys are insecure. They don't know when they are men. Again and again they may try to prove that they are "grown up." Sometimes they may choose destructive ways-join a gang, go hotrodding, learn to smoke, get drunk, take a girl to bed.

What do we do to give proper guidance? I know and you know that there is no magic formula. God must be at work in teaching us and our boys, and he must be the one who causes them to grow (1 Cor. 3:7). But you and I can plant and water.

I decided that one way I could help my sons was by showing them what it was to be a man. What is a man? What marks maturity? In the Bible, true maturity does not consist in being able to kill a crocodile! The true maturity is spiritual. It is wisdom in knowing God and his will, and being able to carry it out in your life (Prov. 1:1-7).

I must set an example by my manhood. I must be like Paul, who said, "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1). That is an awesome challenge. I fail to live up to the biblical standard. But part of being a man is being able to admit it when I fail and then to ask forgiveness.
[How I Have Helped My Boys to Become Christian Men - Vern S. Poythress Copyright (c) 2005 by Vern Sheridan Poythress.]

Monday, 22 June 2009

Heart problems

I go on, thirdly, to set forth the great evil of this neglect and scorn of preaching, and to discover the real causes from where it comes.

I think it is obvious that this neglect of preaching has very much occasioned the great decay of religion among us. To this may be imputed no small part of that contempt some men bestow on the clergy, for whoever talks without being regarded is sure to be despised. To this we owe in a great measure the spreading of atheism and infidelity among us, for religion, like all other things, is soonest put out of countenance by being ridiculed. The scorn of preaching might perhaps have been at first introduced by men of nice ears and refined taste, but it is now become a spreading evil through all degrees and both sexes; for, since sleeping, talking, and laughing are qualities sufficient to furnish out a critic, the meanest and most ignorant have set up a title, and succeeded in it as well as their betters. Thus are the last efforts of reforming mankind rendered wholly useless. “How shall they hear,” says the Apostle, “without a preacher?” But if they have a preacher, and make it a point of wit or breeding not to hear him, what remedy is left?

To this neglect of preaching we may also entirely impute that gross ignorance among us in the very principles of religion, which it is amazing to find in persons who very much value their own knowledge and understanding in other things; yet it is a visible, inexcusable ignorance, even in the meanest among us, considering the many advantages they have of learning their duty. And it hath been the great encouragement to all manner of vice; for in vain we preach down sin to a people “whose hearts are waxed gross, whose ears are dull of hearing and whose eyes are closed.” Therefore Christ Himself in His discourses frequently rouses up the attention of the multitude, and of His disciples themselves, with this expression, “He that hath ears to hear let him hear.”

But among all neglects of preaching, none is so fatal as that of sleeping in the house of God. A scorner may listen to truth and reason, and in time grow serious; an unbeliever may feel the pangs of a guilty conscience; one whose thoughts or eyes wander among other objects may, by a lucky word, be called back to attention; but the sleeper shuts up all avenues to his soul; he is “like the deaf adder, that hearkeneth not to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely;” and we may preach with as good success to the grave that is under his feet.

But the great evil of this neglect will further yet appear from considering the real causes from where it comes, whereof the first I take to be an evil conscience. Many men come to church to save or gain a reputation, or because they will not be singular, but comply with an established custom, yet all the while they are loaded with the guilt of old rooted sins. These men can expect to hear of nothing but terrors and threatenings, their sins laid open in true colours, and eternal misery the reward of them; therefore, no wonder they stop their care and divert their thoughts, and seek any amusement rather than stir the hell within them.

Another cause of this neglect is a heart set upon worldly things. Men whose minds are much enslaved to earthly affairs all the week cannot disengage or break the chain of their thoughts so suddenly as to apply to a discourse that is wholly foreign to what they have most at heart. Tell a usurer of charity, and mercy, and restitution - you talk to the deaf; his heart and soul, with all his senses, are got among his bags, or he is gravely asleep and dreaming of a mortgage. Tell a man of business, that the cares of the world choke the good seed; that we must not encumber ourselves with much serving; that the salvation of his soul is the one thing necessary; you see, indeed, the shape of a man before you, but his faculties are all gone off among clients and papers, thinking how to defend a bad cause or find flaws in a good one; or he wears out the time in drowsy nods.

A third cause of the great neglect and scorn of preaching arises from the practice of men who set up to decry and disparage religion; these, being zealous to promote infidelity and vice, learn a rote of buffoonery that serves all occasions, and refutes the strongest arguments for piety and good manners. These have a set of ridicule calculated for all sermons and all preachers, and can be extremely witty as often as they please upon the same fund.

Saturday, 20 June 2009


I love this stop motion. Captures 'putting it off' brilliantly.

Preacher's got talent?

I proceed, secondly, to reckon up some of the usual quarrels men have against preaching, and to show the unreasonableness of them.

Such unwarrantable behaviour as I have described among Christians in the house of God in a solemn assembly, while their faith and duty are explained and delivered, have put those who are guilty upon inventing some excuses to extenuate their fault; this they do by turning the blame either upon the particular preacher or upon preaching in general.

First, they object against the particular preacher: his manner, his delivery, his voice, are disagreeable; his style and expression are flat and slow, sometimes improper and absurd; the matter is heavy, trivial, and insipid, sometimes despicable and perfectly ridiculous; or else, on the other side, he runs up into unintelligible speculation, empty notions, and abstracted flights, all clad in words above usual understandings.

Secondly, They object against preaching in general. It is a perfect road of talk; they know already whatever can be said; they have heard the same a hundred times over. They quarrel that preachers do not relieve an old beaten subject with wit and invention, and that now the art is lost of moving men’s passions, so common among the ancient orators of Greece and Rome. These and the like objections are frequently in the mouths of men who despise the foolishness of preaching. But let us examine the reasonableness of them.
The doctrine delivered by all preachers is the same: “So we preach, and so ye believe.” But the manner of delivering is suited to the skill and abilities of each, which differ in preachers just as in the rest of mankind. However, in personal dislikes of a particular preacher, are these men sure they are always in the right? Do they consider how mixed a thing is every audience, whose taste and judgment differ, perhaps, every day, not only from each other, but themselves? And how to calculate a discourse that shall exactly suit them all, is beyond the force and reach of human reason, knowledge, or invention. Wit and eloquence are shining qualities that God hath imparted in great degrees to very few, nor any more to be expected in the generality of any rank among men than riches and honour.

But further, if preaching in general be all old and beaten, and that they are already so well acquainted with it, more shame and guilt to them who so little edify by it! But these men, whose ears are so delicate as not to endure a plain discourse of religion, who expect a constant supply of wit and eloquence on a subject handled so many thousand times, what will they say when we turn the objection upon themselves, who, with all the rude and profane liberty of discourse they take upon so many thousand subjects, are so dull as to furnish nothing but tedious repetitions, and little paltry, nauseous commonplaces, so vulgar, so worn, or so obvious, as, upon any other occasion but that of advancing vice, would be hooted off the stage?

Nor, lastly, are preachers justly blamed for neglecting human oratory to move the passions, which is not the business of a Christian orator, whose office it is only to work upon faith and reason. All other eloquence hath been a perfect cheat, to stir up men’s passions against truth and justice for the service of a faction, to put false colours upon things, and, by an amusement of agreeable words, make the worst reason appear to be the better. This is certainly not to be allowed in Christian eloquence, and therefore St. Paul took quite the other course. He “came not with the excellency of words, or enticing speech of men’s wisdom, but in plain evidence of the Spirit and power.” And perhaps it was for that reason the young man Eutychus, used to the Grecian eloquence, grew tired and fell so fast asleep.
('On Sleeping in Church' - Jonathan Swift)

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The opiate of the people!

First, I shall produce certain instances to show the great neglect of preaching now among us.
The first instance of men’s neglect is in their frequent absence from the church.

There is no excuse so trivial that will not pass upon some men’s consciences to excuse their attendance at the public worship of God. Some are so unfortunate as to be always indisposed on the Lord’s day, and think nothing so unwholesome as the air of a church. Others have their affairs so oddly contrived as to be always unluckily prevented by business. With some it is a great mark of wit and deep understanding to stay at home on Sundays. Others again discover strange fits of laziness, that seize them particularly on that day, and confine them to their beds. Others are absent out of mere contempt of religion. And lastly, there are not a few who look upon it as a day of rest, and therefore claim the privilege of their cattle, to keep the Sabbath by eating, drinking, and sleeping, after the toil and labour of the week. Now in all this, the worst circumstance is that these persons are such whose company is most required, and who stand most in need of a physician.

Secondly, Men’s great neglect and contempt of preaching appear by their misbehaviour when at church.

If the audience were to be ranked under several heads, according to their behaviour when the Word of God is delivered, how small a number would appear of those who receive it as they ought! How much of the seed then sown would be found to fall by the wayside, upon stony ground, or among thorns! and how little good ground would there be to take it! A preacher cannot look round from the pulpit without observing that some are in a perpetual whisper, and by their air and gesture give occasion to suspect that they are in those very minutes defaming their neighbour. Others have their eyes and imagination constantly engaged in such a circle of objects, perhaps to gratify the most unwarrantable desires, that they never once attend to the business of the place; the sound of the preacher’s words do not so much as once interrupt them. Some have their minds wandering among idle, worldly, or vicious thoughts; some lie at catch to ridicule whatever they hear, and with much wit and humour, provide a stock of laughter by furnishing themselves from the pulpit. But of all misbehaviour, none is comparable to that of those who come here to sleep. Opium is not so stupefying to many persons as an afternoon sermon. Perpetual custom hath so brought it about that the words of whatever preacher become only a sort of uniform sound at a distance, than which nothing is more effectual to lull the senses. For that it is the very sound of the sermon which bindeth up their faculties is manifest from hence, because they all awake so very regularly as soon as it ceaseth, and with much devotion receive the blessing, dozed and besotted with indecencies I am ashamed to repeat.

'On Sleeping in Church' - Jonathan Swift

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Daylight robbery

... in the real world there are deadlines to meet, targets to achieve and bills to be paid. The pressure can be collosal. Many fathers are having to put in extra long hours just to hold on to their jobs, whilst others are experiencing the trauma of unemployment....

....but the sobering fact is that whatever our situation, many of us have the ability to create unnecessary busyness. It doesn't matter whether the demands of the job are great or small, or even if we have a job at all; we fill our lives with activity that robs us of time for things that matter.

When we live like that we are often popular outside the home. We are successful in our hobbies, honoured at work, and - to our friends - the very life and soul of the party. All of that would be fine apart from the fact that so often it leads to a day when we look back on the lost opportunity of parenthood with deep regret.

And the issues of over-busy lifestyles and work patterns are not just limited to men; women feel those pressures just as acutely. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that in cultures all across the globe we are seeing a crisis in the role of fatherhood.

(Intro, p13-14)

Keep preaching at me!

However, this (sleeping in church) being not the only way by which the lukewarm Christians and scorners of the age discover their neglect and contempt of preaching, I shall enter expressly into consideration of this matter, and order my discourse in the following method:-

First, I shall produce several instances to show the great neglect of preaching now among us.

Secondly, I shall reckon up some of the usual quarrels men have against preaching.

Thirdly, I shall get forth the great evil of this neglect and contempt of preaching, and discover the real causes whence it proceedeth.

Lastly, I shall offer some remedies against this great and spreading evil.

'On Sleeping in Church' - Jonathan Swift

Sounds good doesn't?
Interesting to find how contemporary this is. Yet Swift wrote it sometime in the late 17th or early 18th Century.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The great little man

Josephus on Pilate and Christ


1. BUT now Pilate, the procurator of Judea, removed the army from Cesarea to Jerusalem, to take their winter quarters there, in order to abolish the Jewish laws. So he introduced Caesar's effigies, which were upon the ensigns, and brought them into the city; whereas our law forbids us the very making of images; on which account the former procurators were wont to make their entry into the city with such ensigns as had not those ornaments. Pilate was the first who brought those images to Jerusalem, and set them up there; which was done without the knowledge of the people, because it was done in the night time; but as soon as they knew it, they came in multitudes to Cesarea, and interceded with Pilate many days that he would remove the images; and when he would not grant their requests, because it would tend to the injury of Caesar, while yet they persevered in their request, on the sixth day he ordered his soldiers to have their weapons privately, while he came and sat upon his judgment-seat, which seat was so prepared in the open place of the city, that it concealed the army that lay ready to oppress them; and when the Jews petitioned him again, he gave a signal to the soldiers to encompass them routed, and threatened that their punishment should be no less than immediate death, unless they would leave off disturbing him, and go their ways home. But they threw themselves upon the ground, and laid their necks bare, and said they would take their death very willingly, rather than the wisdom of their laws should be transgressed; upon which Pilate was deeply affected with their firm resolution to keep their laws inviolable, and presently commanded the images to be carried back from Jerusalem to Cesarea.

2. But Pilate undertook to bring a current of water to Jerusalem, and did it with the sacred money, and derived the origin of the stream from the distance of two hundred furlongs. However, the Jews were not pleased with what had been done about this water; and many ten thousands of the people got together, and made a clamor against him, and insisted that he should leave off that design. Some of them also used reproaches, and abused the man, as crowds of such people usually do. So he habited a great number of his soldiers in their habit, who carried daggers under their garments, and sent them to a place where they might surround them. So he bid the Jews himself go away; but they boldly casting reproaches upon him, he gave the soldiers that signal which had been beforehand agreed on; who laid upon them much greater blows than Pilate had commanded them, and equally punished those that were tumultuous, and those that were not; nor did they spare them in the least: and since the people were unarmed, and were caught by men prepared for what they were about, there were a great number of them slain by this means, and others of them ran away wounded. And thus an end was put to this sedition.

3. Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

Josephus, Antiquities, 18.3.1-3

Destroying and Rebuilding

Finally two (witnesses) came forward and declared, 'This fellow said,'I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days' (Matthew 26v61)
Here are some 'work in progress' notes on the temple. I have learnt some new things today - the accusation against Jesus takes on a new level of political dynamite in the light of Herod's building project (recent history around 33 AD). Imagine suggestingthat we knock down the Millenium Dome and rebuild it in a week. Or Holyrood. Or Wembley.

So here is Josephus on Herod's Temple, the one that was around in Jesus' day (2nd Temple Mark 2 if you like):


1. AND now Herod, in the eighteenth year of his reign, and after the acts
already mentioned, undertook a very great work, that is, to build of himself the temple of God, and make it larger in compass, and to raise it to a most magnificent altitude, as esteeming it to be the most glorious of all his actions, as it really was, to bring it to perfection; and that this would be sufficient for an everlasting memorial of him; but as he knew the multitude were not ready nor willing to assist him in so vast a design, he thought to prepare them first by making a speech to them, and then set about the work itself; so he called them together, and spake thus to them: "I think I need not speak to you, my countrymen, about such other works as I have done since I came to the kingdom, although I may say they have been performed in such a manner as to bring more security to you than glory to myself; for I have neither been negligent in the most difficult times about what tended to ease your necessities, nor have the buildings. I have made been so proper to preserve me as yourselves from injuries; and I imagine that, with God's assistance, I have advanced the nation of the Jews to a degree of happiness which they never had before; and for the particular edifices belonging to your own country, and your own cities, as also to those cities that we have lately acquired, which we have erected and greatly adorned, and thereby augmented the dignity of your nation, it seems to me a needless task to enumerate them to you, since you well know them yourselves; but as to that undertaking which I have a mind to set about at present, and which will be a work of the greatest piety and excellence that can possibly be undertaken by us, I will now declare it to you. Our fathers, indeed, when they were returned from Babylon, built this temple to God Almighty, yet does it want sixty cubits of its largeness in altitude; for so much did that first temple which Solomon built exceed this temple; nor let any one condemn our fathers for their negligence or want of piety herein, for it was not their fault that the temple was no higher; for they were Cyrus, and Darius the son of Hystaspes, who determined the measures for its rebuilding; and it hath been by reason of the subjection of those fathers of ours to them and to their posterity, and after them to the Macedonians, that they had not the opportunity to follow the original model of this pious edifice, nor could raise it to its ancient altitude; but since I am now, by God's will, your governor, and I have had peace a long time, and have gained great riches and large revenues, and, what is the principal filing of all, I am at amity with and well regarded by the Romans, who, if I may so say, are the rulers of the whole world, I will do my endeavor to correct that imperfection, which hath arisen from the necessity of our affairs, and the slavery we have been under formerly, and to make a thankful return, after the most pious manner, to God, for what blessings I have received from him, by giving me this kingdom, and that by rendering his temple as complete as I am able."

2. And this was the speech which Herod made to them; but still this speech aftrighted many of the people, as being unexpected by them; and because it seemed incredible, it did not encourage them, but put a damp upon them, for they were afraid that he would pull down the whole edifice, and not be able to bring his intentions to perfection for its rebuilding; and this danger appeared to them to be very great, and the vastness of the undertaking to be such as could hardly be accomplished. But while they were in this disposition, the king encouraged them, and told them he would not pull down their temple till all things were gotten ready for building it up entirely again. And as he promised them this beforehand, so he did not break his word with them, but got ready a thousand waggons, that were to bring stones for the building, and chose out ten thousand of the most skillful workmen, and bought a thousand sacerdotal garments for as many of the priests, and had some of them taught the arts of stone-cutters, and others of carpenters, and then began to build; but this not till every thing was well prepared for the work.

3. So Herod took away the old foundations, and laid others, and erected the temple upon them, being in length a hundred cubits, and in height twenty additional cubits, which [twenty], upon the sinking of their foundations fell down; and this part it was that we resolved to raise again in the days of Nero. Now the temple was built of stones that were white and strong, and each of their length was twenty-five cubits, their height was eight, and their breadth about twelve; and the whole structure, as also the structure of the royal cloister, was on each side much lower, but the middle was much higher, till they were visible to those that dwelt in the country for a great many furlongs, but chiefly to such as lived over against them, and those that approached to them. The temple had doors also at the entrance, and lintels over them, of the same height with the temple itself. They were adorned with embroidered veils, with their flowers of purple, and pillars interwoven; and over these, but under the crown-work, was spread out a golden vine, with its branches hanging down from a great height, the largeness and fine workmanship of which was a surprising sight to the spectators, to see what vast materials there were, and with what great skill the workmanship was done. He also encompassed the entire temple with very large cloisters, contriving them to be in a due proportion thereto; and he laid out larger sums of money upon them than had been done before him, till it seemed that no one else had so greatly adorned the temple as he had done. There was a large wall to both the cloisters, which wall was itself the most prodigious work that was ever heard of by man. The hill was a rocky ascent, that declined by degrees towards the east parts of the city, till it came to an elevated level. This hill it was which Solomon, who was the first of our kings, by Divine revelation, encompassed with a wall; it was of excellent workmanship upwards, and round the top of it. He also built a wall below, beginning at the bottom, which was encompassed by a deep valley; and at the south side he laid rocks together, and bound them one to another with lead, and included some of the inner parts, till it proceeded to a great height, and till both the largeness of the square edifice and its altitude were immense, and till the vastness of the stones in the front were plainly visible on the outside, yet so that the inward parts were fastened together with iron, and preserved the joints immovable for all future times. When this work [for the foundation] was done in this manner, and joined together as part of the hill itself to the very top of it, he wrought it all into one outward surface, and filled up the hollow places which were about the wall, and made it a level on the external upper surface, and a smooth level also. This hill was walled all round, and in compass four furlongs, [the distance of] each angle containing in length a furlong: but within this wall, and on the very top of all, there ran another wall of stone also, having, on the east quarter, a double cloister, of the same length with the wall; in the midst of which was the temple itself. This cloister looked to the gates of the temple; and it had been adorned by many kings in former times; and round about the entire temple were fixed the spoils taken from barbarous nations; all these had been dedicated to the temple by Herod, with the addition of those he had taken from the Arabians.

4. Now on the north side [of the temple] was built a citadel, whose walls were square, and strong, and of extraordinary firmness. This citadel was built by the kings of the Asamonean race, who were also high priests before Herod, and they called it the Tower, in which were reposited the vestments of the high priest, which the high priest only put on at the time when he was to offer sacrifice. These vestments king Herod kept in that place; and after his death they were under the power of the Romans, until the time of Tiberius Caesar; under whose reign Vitellius, the president of Syria, when he once came to Jerusalem, and had been most magnificently received by the multitude, he had a mind to make them some requital for the kindness they had shewn him; so, upon their petition to have those holy vestments in their own power, he wrote about them to Tiberius Caesar, who granted his request: and this their power over the sacerdotal vestments continued with the Jews till the death of king Agrippa; but after that, Cassius Longinus, who was president of Syria, and Cuspius Fadus, who was procurator of Judea, enjoined the Jews to reposit those vestments in the tower of Antonia, for that they ought to have them in their power, as they formerly had. However, the Jews sent ambassadors to Claudius Caesar, to intercede with him for them; upon whose coming, king Agrippa, junior, being then at Rome, asked for and obtained the power over them from the emperor, who gave command to Vitellius, who was then commander in Syria, to give it them accordingly. Before that time they were kept under the seal of the high priest, and of the treasurers of the temple; which treasurers, the day before a festival, went up to the Roman captain of the temple guards, and viewed their own seal, and received the vestments; and again, when the festival was over, they brought it to the same place, and showed the captain of the temple guards their seal, which corresponded with his seal, and reposited them there. And that these things were so, the afflictions that happened to us afterwards [about them] are sufficient evidence. But for the tower itself, when Herod the king of the Jews had fortified it more firmly than before, in order to secure and guard the temple, he gratified Antonius, who was his friend, and the Roman ruler, and then gave it the name of the Tower of Antonia.

5. Now in the western quarters of the enclosure of the temple there were four gates; the first led to the king's palace, and went to a passage over the intermediate valley; two more led to the suburbs of the city; and the last led to the other city, where the road descended down into the valley by a great number of steps, and thence up again by the ascent for the city lay over against the temple in the manner of a theater, and was encompassed with a deep valley along the entire south quarter; but the fourth front of the temple, which was southward, had indeed itself gates in its middle, as also it had the royal cloisters, with three walks, which reached in length from the east valley unto that on the west, for it was impossible it should reach any farther: and this cloister deserves to be mentioned better than any other under the sun; for while the valley was very deep, and its bottom could not be seen, if you looked from above into the depth, this further vastly high elevation of the cloister stood upon that height, insomuch that if any one looked down from the top of the battlements, or down both those altitudes, he would be giddy, while his sight could not reach to such an immense depth. This cloister had pillars that stood in four rows one over against the other all along, for the fourth row was interwoven into the wall, which [also was built of stone]; and the thickness of each pillar was such, that three men might, with their arms extended, fathom it round, and join their hands again, while its length was twenty-seven feet, with a double spiral at its basis; and the number of all the pillars [in that court] was a hundred and sixty-two. Their chapiters were made with sculptures after the Corinthian order, and caused an amazement [to the spectators], by reason of the grandeur of the whole. These four rows of pillars included three intervals for walking in the middle of this cloister; two of which walks were made parallel to each other, and were contrived after the same manner; the breadth of each of them was thirty feet, the length was a furlong, and the height fifty feet; but the breadth of the middle part of the cloister was one and a half of the other, and the height was double, for it was much higher than those on each side; but the roofs were adorned with deep sculptures in wood, representing many sorts of figures. The middle was much higher than the rest, and the wall of the front was adorned with beams, resting upon pillars, that were interwoven into it, and that front was all of polished stone, insomuch that its fineness, to such as had not seen it, was incredible, and to such as had seen it, was greatly amazing. Thus was the first enclosure. In the midst of which, and not far from it, was the second, to be gone up to by a few steps: this was encompassed by a stone wall for a partition, with an inscription, which forbade any foreigner to go in under pain of death. Now this inner enclosure had on its southern and northern quarters three gates [equally] distant one from another; but on the east quarter, towards the sun-rising, there was one large gate, through which such as were pure came in, together with their wives; but the temple further inward in that gate was not allowed to the women; but still more inward was there a third [court of the] temple, whereinto it was not lawful for any but the priests alone to enter. The temple itself was within this; and before that temple was the altar, upon which we offer our sacrifices and burnt-offerings to God. Into none of these three did king Herod enter, for he was forbidden, because he was not a priest. However, he took care of the cloisters and the outer enclosures, and these he built in eight years.

6. But the temple itself was built by the priests in a year and six months; upon which all the people were full of joy; and presently they returned thanks, in the first place, to God; and in the next place, for the alacrity the king had showed. They feasted and celebrated this rebuilding of the temple: and for the king, he sacrificed three hundred oxen to God, as did the rest every one according to his ability; the number of which sacrifices is not possible to set down, for it cannot be that we should truly relate it; for at the same time with this celebration for the work about the temple fell also the day of the king's inauguration, which he kept of an old custom as a festival, and it now coincided with the other, which coincidence of them both made the festival most illustrious.

7. There was also an occult passage built for the king; it led from Antonia to the inner temple, at its eastern gate; over which he also erected for himself a tower, that he might have the opportunity of a subterraneous ascent to the temple, in order to guard against any sedition which might be made by the people against their kings. It is also reported, that during the time that the temple was building, it did not rain in the daytime, but that the showers fell in the nights, so that the work was not hindered. And this our fathers have delivered to us; nor is it incredible, if any one have regard to the manifestations of God. And thus was performed the work of the rebuilding of the temple.


There was great messianic expectation re. the temple:
The word of the LORD came to me: 10 "Take silver and gold from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon. Go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. 11 Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. 12 Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says:`Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. 13 It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his
throne. And there will be harmony between the two.'
14 The crown will be given to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen son of Zephaniah as a memorial in the temple of the LORD. 15 Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the LORD, and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the LORD your God." (Zechariah 6:9-15)
Exekiel 40 following
2 Samuel 7:14 cf. Psalm 2:7 {cf. Matthew 26:63 'Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God'}

An extraordinary model of Herod's Temple has been built at the Israel Museum. You can take a tour here (you need Java to view this).

A more 'British' homegrown version is here !

Sleeping Safely

The accident which happened to this young man in the text has not been sufficient to discourage his successors; but because the preachers now in the world, however they may exceed St. Paul in the art of setting men to sleep, do extremely fall short of him in the working of miracles, therefore men are become so cautious as, to choose more safe and convenient stations and postures for taking their repose without hazard of their persons, and upon the whole matter choose rather to trust their destruction to a miracle than their safety.

'On Sleeping in Church' - Jonathan Swift

Monday, 15 June 2009

On Sleeping in Church

While enjoying my holiday hobby of browsing charity shops (this time in Sherborne) I bought a little book of essays and have discovered a few gems in it.

One that both amused and edified me was by Jonathan Swift, 'On Sleeping in Church'!

You can easily find it on the web, but I am going to post it over the next few weeks.

"And there sat in the window a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul was long preaching. When he was sound asleep he fell down from the third story, and was picked up dead.” - Acts 20v9
I have chosen these words with design, if possible, to disturb some part in this audience of half an hour’s sleep, for the convenience and exercise whereof this place, at this season of the day, is very much celebrated.

There is indeed one mortal disadvantage to which all preaching is subject, that those who, by the wickedness of their lives, stand in greatest need, have usually the smallest share; for either they are absent upon the account of idleness, or spleen, or hatred to religion, or in order to doze away the intemperance of the week; or, if they do come, they are sure to employ their minds rather any other way than regarding or attending to the business of the place.

(Jonathan Swift 'On Sleeping in Church')

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Braver than most or else just silly

'Is - is he a man? asked Lucy.
'Aslan a man!' said Mr Beaver sternly.'Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion - the Lion, the great Lion.'
'ooh!' said Susan,'I'd thought he was a man. Is he - quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.'
'That you will, dearie, and no mistake,' said Mrs Beaver;'if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly.'
'Then he isn't safe?' said Lucy.
'Safe?' said Mr Beaver; 'don't you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.'
(Chapter Eight, p75)

Friday, 12 June 2009

Don't you know?

'Who is Aslan?' asked Susan.

'Aslan?' said Mr Beaver. 'Why, don't you know? He's the King, He's the Lord of the whole wood, but not often here, you understand. Never in my time or my father's time. But the word has reached us that he has come back. He is in Narnia at this moment. He'll settle the White Queen all right. It is he, not you, that will save Tumnus.'

(Chapter Eight, p74)

Thursday, 11 June 2009

We are the change that we seek?

'It's no good, Son of Adam,' said Mr Beaver, ' no good your trying, of all people. But now that Aslan is on the move - '
'Oh yes! Tell us about Aslan!' said several voices at once; for once again that strange feeling - like the first signs of spring, like good news, had come over them.'
(Chapter Eight, p74)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Lord of All

Dudley Council’s Songs of Praise is now in its 12th year and people are being invited to have a picnic on the lawns of the historic hall. Hundreds of people will again turn out for the popular event which will this year be held on Sunday June 14, from 2pm.

We are going along as a church. Not least because the Mayor of Dudley said this recently and we'd like to get behind him!

“Himley Park is the perfect venue for this superb annual Songs of Praise event. There will be plenty of favourite hymns, ancient and modern, for everyone to enjoy so I hope as many people as possible will turn out to celebrate the measureless love and forgiveness of our saviour God.

“We are also starting proceedings a few hours earlier than we traditionally have in order to encourage more families to this fantastic event. There will be plenty of entertainment for children, so why not bring a picnic and make an afternoon of it.”

Monday, 8 June 2009

Phew! Not out!!

Dead wrong!

According to this Jesus heads a list of 'dead' celebrities that we would like to bring back from the dead.


He is not here; he has risen!
Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:
`The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,
be crucified
and on the third day be raised again.'" (Luke 24:6-7)

Monday, 1 June 2009

Is man so great?

7. Trust God’s all-sufficiency and don’t be afraid to profess the truth. Remember the Lord Jesus who professed before Pontius Pilate (1 Timothy 6v13, John 18v37)

If thou believe not that Christ can secure thee from the rage of man, thou believest not indeed in Christ. If thou believe not that heaven will satisfy for all that by scorns or cruelties thou sufferest from sinners, thou hast not indeed the hope of a believer…But if thou believe that God is God, and Christ is Christ, and heaven is heaven, and the gospel is true, thou hast enough in thy belief to secure against all the scorns and cruelties of man, and to tell thee that Christ will bear thy charges in all that thou sufferest for his sake.