Saturday, 27 November 2010

the earth will be filled with the glory of God

When Christ came to earth over two thousand years ago, he came to inaugurate his kingdom successfully. During his ministry here, he bound Satan. Within a generation of his crucifixion he destroyed the old world of the old covenant and ushered in a new heavens and a new earth. The church is now the Holy City of God and all of the nations are brought into it. She will continue to preach the gospel on earth for thousands upon thousands of years, progressively growing in number and strength until one day, far in the future, the entire world will be transformed by the power of Christ and an Eden-like paradise will be restored. At some point in that golden day, Christ will return to judge the living and the dead. Those who rejected his gospel will be sent to eternal punishment. The dead in Christ will be raised, joined to their resurrected bodies, and all the saints of all the ages will live together in union and communion with the Triune God for eternity. (p39-40, Duane Garner 'Why the End is Not Near')

Friday, 26 November 2010

deep contentment

Thou shalt not inordinately desire what thou hast not; and especially what belongs to thy neighbor. It includes the positive command to be contented with the allotments of Providence; and the negative injunction not to repine, or complain on account of the dealings of God with us, or to envy the lot or possessions of others.
The command to be contented does not imply indifference, and it does not enjoin slothfulness. A cheerful and contented disposition is perfectly compatible with a due appreciation of the good things of this world, and diligence in the use of all proper means to improve our condition in life. (Hodge, Charles 'Systematic Theology, Vol 3 p 498 quoted in Sinai Strategy)
Quoting Philippians 4:11-13 North says: 'Any external condition is acceptable to the man who is content with his present role in God's plan for the ages. But having little is usually the condition against which men rebel.'

The Grace of God in our circumstances

Have you ever thought about why you were born into your particular circumstances? If you are reading this blog entry you are most likely a Christian whose life has been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. You are also likely relatively wealthy, at least compared to most people living in the world. If you have the ability to eat three times per day and have shelter over your head, you are better off than many people in the world. If you earn $25,000 per year, you are the richest 10% of the world. You are rich. In fact if you earn $2,200 per year you are the richest 15% of the world. If you reading this you are literate and likely had several years of education. If so you have received more education than hundreds of millions of people around the world. Perhaps you have gone to college, even graduate school.
So why? Why you? Why your particular circumstances? There are people around the world who might be asking the same questions. Wondering why they weren't born in America. Wondering why they can't eat three times per day, why they don't have the luxury of throwing food away. Wondering what it would be like to go to school or attend college or even read. Wondering what a warm bed feels like.
You could have been born as an impoverished child in an unreached nation. Perhaps as a girl born into a Muslim family where you would be forbidden to show anything beyond what can be seen through the eye slits of your veil and could be beaten if you disobeyed even the simplest command of your father. You could have been born in a remote village in Vietnam with little food or education and no opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You could have been born as a girl in Africa who will eventually be sold by your parents into sexual slavery. That could have been you.
But it's not you. Instead you were born into privileged circumstances. Blessed physically, educationally, financially, and spiritually. Why? Only by the grace of God. What is our response then to such blessing and grace?
Obviously we need to change $ into £ and substitute in UK rather than America. But that works readily. To find out what Michael Oh says our response should be, read the rest of his article here. It is excellent. 

Thursday, 25 November 2010

National Health Service

Daniel Hannan talking about the good and the bad things in a Nationalised Health Service. In other words Socialised Health Care that is in essence a State monopoly of a sphere of our nation's life. He makes that case that the NHS is NOT best for the poorest in society.  

He shall reign for ever and ever!

Trying to imagine this at Merry Hill, Dudley! 
HT Mike Smith

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A crushing view of the future

Orwell paints an ultimately dehumanizing and horribly suppressive view of the days to come: ... 'If you want a vision of the future, picture a boot stomping on a human face forever.' (p7)
The Scriptures teach us that if you want a vision of the future, picture a foot crushing the head of a serpent, forever. (p10) 
[Duane Garner 'Why the End is Not Near'] 

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

unhappy times

The great thing with unhappy times is to take them bit by bit, hour by hour, like an illness. It is seldom the present, the exact present, that is unbearable.
Remember one is given strength to bear what happens to one, but not the 100 and 1 different things that might happen.
C.S. Lewis, Letter to An American Lady

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

The apostle Paul gave thanks for his friends in Thessalonica
Even though, as far as we know, none of them could play the harmonica.
They accepted the gospel with joy and stayed keen
Even though some of the people around them were quite mean. 
p29 KEEP ON GOING (On the Way 14+ Junction Books)

What are we feeding?

All true needs - such as food, drink, and companionship - are satiable. llegitimate wants- pride, envy, greed - are insatiable. (p107 Idols for Destruction: The Conflict of Christian Faith and American Culture)

Water is useful for sailing on, but dangerous in the hold

He may be said to be covetous not only who gets the world unrighteously, but who loves it inordinately. (p174 The Ten Commandments (Body of Practical Divinity))

Monday, 22 November 2010

Nice oxen!

John Frame lists a fourfold distinction that theologians have recognised with regard to our desires [many of which are right and legitimate: the desire for blessing from the Lord (Deuteronomy 28; Mark 10:29-31), for food (Matthew 4:2), for drink (John 19:28-29), for sleep (Luke 8:23), for sex (Genesis 2:22-23; Song of Songs), for children (Genesis 30:22-23; 1 Samuel 1:17; Psalm 127:3-5), for a better house (Proverbs 24:27), to be an overseer (1 Timothy 3:1 & 1 Peter 5:2).

Here it is, not quoted exactly, but quoted with the adjustments that he then makes later in his chapter:
1. Spontaneous desire (one that catches you off guard)
2. Nursing that desire (sometimes called titillatio)
3. Making a plan to achieve it unlawfully
4. Accomplishing the desire. 
The key word is under 3. Unlawfully. 
The problem isn't that my neighbour has a nice ox and I admire it and want one like it. The problem is that I think about stealing it, or defrauding him of his ox in some way. Frame illustrates this with regard to lust: 
Lust is sexual coveting. It is not wrong, say for Chuck to desire a sexual relationship with Alice, given that both are single. That is a God-given incentive towards marriage. It is wrong for him to desire sex with her apart from marriage, for that is a desire to violate God's law.
(p846-849) DOCTRINE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE (Theology of Lordship)

Whole hearted

Q 113. What does the tenth commandment require of us?
A: That even the smallest inclination or thought, contrary to any of God's commandments, never rise in our hearts; but that at all times we hate all sin with our whole heart, and delight in all righteousness.

Tenth Commandment

Q 147: What are the duties required in the tenth commandment?
A: The duties required in the tenth commandment are, such a full contentment with our own condition, and such a charitable frame of the whole soul toward our neighbor, as that all our inward motions and affections touching him, tend unto, and further all that good which is his.

Q 148: What are the sins forbidden in the tenth commandment?
A: The sins forbidden in the tenth commandment are, discontentment with our own estate; envying and grieving at the good of our neighbor, together with all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.

House, wife, qualifications, car, hobbies, income ... in fact ANYTHING

The longer formulations [in 4th (Exodus 20:8-11) and 10th Commandments (Exodus 20:17)] discourage us from trying to find exceptions to the universality of this commandment. 'You shall not covet anything' would not be enough, for our sinful hearts (and the heart is the culprit here) covet in specifics as well as generalities. So God gives us both, and, as with the ninth commandment, focuses on relationships between the believer and his neighbor - the relationships disrupted by coveting.  (p844 DOCTRINE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE (Theology of Lordship))

Sunday, 21 November 2010

'Respectable' Theft

On the same day I read this: 
Stealing calls to mind such felonies as robbery, extortion, and burglary. People do not commonly realize that it has more subtle and respectable forms. We may understand this better if we consider why money is useful for the conduct of economic affairs. The shoemaker accepts money in exchange for his product, even though he has no direct use for it, because he knows that it can be exchanged for articles he values. Money serves him as a medium of exchange and thus, although it is perfectly useless as a commodity, permits him to transcend the barter system and to engage in a specialized economic function. Secondly, it serves a store of value, permitting the shoemaker to save rather than consume, and so accumulate capital for investment. Without capital investment there can be no prosperity, a fact that is true of all economic systems. To steal from the shoemaker the fruit of his labour, one can take his product or the money he has received for it. Or else one can so tamper with the monetary system that the money will not serve to purchase economic goods equivalent to the product the shoemaker provides. Outright stealing is widely recognized for what it is, but the economic crime that accomplishes the same thing through debasing the money is not. Yet the motive and the effect are the same.
(p89-90 Idols for Destruction: The Conflict of Christian Faith and American Culture)
 I read this by Jeff Randall. Here is an appetising quote from it: 
The problem with counterfeit paper is that it’s not backed by gold or any other store of value. Whereas proper money, printed by the Bank of England, is, of course, er… also not backed by gold or any other store of value.

Fence Number 3

The tongue which at first was made to be an organ of God's praise, is now become an instrument of unrighteousness. This commandment binds the tongue to its good behaviour. God has set two natural fences to keep in the tongue, the teeth and lips; and this commandment is a third fence set about it, that it should not break forth into evil.  The Ten Commandments (Body of Practical Divinity)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Lying as an act of war

What then is a lie? I would say that a lie is a word or act that intentionally deceives a neighbour in order to hurt him. It is a false witness against a neighbor.
Is everybody my neighbour? The parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) greatly expanded the Jews concept of their neighbour. But not even this parable universalises it. Thieves, murderers are not our neighbours but our enemies. There is a form of love that is due to enemies, but this is not incompatible with a desire to bring God's judgement on them (certainly this is the case for God whose jealous anger is not incompatible with His general love for all his creatures). Nor is it incompatible with self-defence, punishment or just war. 
It is in this way that I would understand the rather substantial number of Bible passages in which someone misleads an enemy, without incurring any condemnation, and sometimes even being commended:
1. Exodus 1:15-21 [the Israelite midwives in Egypt]
2. Joshua 2:4-6; 6:17, 25; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25 [Rahab's deception - what she did (hiding the spies) and what she said (lying)]
3. Joshua 8:3-8 [the ambush at Ai]
4. Judges 4:18-21; 5:24-27 [Jael and Sisera] 
5. 1 Samuel 16:1-5 [Samuel misleads Saul as to the reason for him mission]
6. 1 Samuel 19:12-17 [Michal deceives her father's troops] 
7. 1 Samuel 20:6 [David's counsel to Jonathan]
8. 1 Samuel 21:13 [David feigns madness] 
9. 1 Samuel 27:10 [David lies to Achish]
10. 2 Samuel 5:22-25 [another military deception]
11. 2 Samuel 15:34 [Hushai counselled to lie to Absalom] 
12. 2  Samuel 17:19-20 [women deceive Absalom's men] 
13. 1 Kings 22:19-23 [God sends a lying spirit against Ahab]
14. 2 Kings 6:14-20 [Elisha misleads the Syrian troops]
15. Jeremiah 38:24-38 [Jeremiah lies to the princes]
16. 2 Thessalonians 2:11 [God sends a powerful delusion so that his enemies will believe a lie] 

p835-836 DOCTRINE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE (Theology of Lordship)

Brits Abroad

I have been enjoying Graeme Swann's video diaries from Down Under on what I am hoping will be a very good Ashes tour. For some dangerous reason I am almost quietly confident about it all. But I have been there before! 

Friday, 19 November 2010

'Unaccustomed as I am to public lying ...'

Most people would deplore the criminal who perjures himself in court, but we have become accustomed to politicians, business men, journalists and sportsmen who lie to cover their poor judgement, insider deals, bent informers or drug taking. A society can never be healthy or secure when lies form part of its unwritten code in politics, economics, the media - or religion. p246 The Ten Commandments for Today

Why bother with expository preaching?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The myth of absolutely free speech

The dream of absolute free speech is a myth and a delusion. No society has ever granted it. We do not recognise the right of a man to shout 'fire!' in a crowded theatre, not to call for the execution of the President, nor to publish totally false and malicious statements with respect to a man. Speech must be responsible to be free, and there is a social necessity for freedom of responsible speech. (p577 The Institutes of Biblical law: A Chalcedon study with three appendices by Gary North)

Handling one another with care

Q. 77. What is required in the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment requires the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbor’s good name, especially in witness-bearing.

Q. 78. What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment forbids whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own, or our neighbor’s, good name. 
[Westminster Shorter Catechism]

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.  22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.  23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out,  24 "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"  25 "Be quiet!" said Jesus sternly. "Come out of him!"  26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.  27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching--and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him."  28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.  29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew.  30 Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her.  31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.  32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed.  33 The whole town gathered at the door,  34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.  35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.  Mark 1:21-35 describing a typical Sabbath day in the life of our Lord. He provides us with a concrete description of Jesus' Sabbath life so that we can meditate upon it and take it as a pattern for our own observance of the Lord's Day. The delightful thing is that Mark gives us a vision for the entire day, beginning with corporate worship and extending to works of mercy and necessity as well as fellowship. (p70 The Taste of Sabbath: How to Delight in God's Rest)

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Dr Who?

...the past is not subject to the kinds of controls and observation that science requires. Interpreting the past involves guesswork to a far greater degree than observational science, and thus there is far more room for presupposition and assumptions to play a role. (p126 Creation in Six Days: A Defense of the Traditional Reading of Genesis One)

Monday, 15 November 2010

Lying is a failure to honour

... the eighth through tenth commandments all deal in some way with property law. One may even summarize the 'second table of the law' by saying that the fifth commandment requires respect for others, which means that we may not unjustly take life (sixth commandment), a spouse (seventh), or property (eighth through tenth). DOCTRINE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE (Theology of Lordship) p831

take your time

From hereten ways we might steal at work:-
  • making personal copies
  • using the company's fax machine for personal use
  • taking longer coffee or smoke breaks. Do you take 15, 20 or 25 when you're supposed to take only 10 minutes?
  • getting and making personal phone calls at work.
  • running personal errands on company time. You know, running by the bank to deposit your check when you were on your way to the post office for your boss, or even worse, stopping at the dress shop to browse, while running errands for the office...tsk, tsk...
  • making long distance phone calls, or using your company's cell phone for personal calls, tons of them.
  • usurping company time for personal things such as....napping or daydreaming, doodling, painting your fingernails, reapplying makeup, snacking, balancing your checkbood, cleaning out your purse, listening to the ball game or watching tv, reading your romance novel, gabbing and gossiping.
  • taking pens, paperclips, manila folders, rolls of tape, staples or stapler, ruler, stamps, whiteout, envelopes or paper for home and personal use.
  • surfing the web, playing pc games such as solitare, looking at porn...uhoh!
  • taking a longer lunch break.
  • getting to work late and leaving early but logging in and out on time. Ten minutes late, leaving 15 minutes early every day or so...just think about how those minutes add up! 20 minutes a day times five working days, almost two hours a week, after one year you will have gotten paid for 96 hours that you did NOT work! Now that's stealing!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

When is 53% extraordinary?

The share of our economy taken up by the government (ie the public sector) is now 53 per cent; in Communist China the figure is 25 per cent. Even at the peak of the Soviet Union the figure was only 70 per cent. At the height of Britain’s economic power in the Victorian era, the figure was 10 per cent. James Delingpole
I don't know where the information comes from to back these figures up. Are they right? 

But if they are anything close to being right then it is extraordinary:
a) that this is the case and b) that this isn't seen by most people as extraordinary (and extraordinarily bad at that!). 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Run rabbit, run, run, run

Photoshop gives the evolutionary edge to anything!
I once watched a stoat hunt down and kill a rabbit - just the kind of 'selective pressure' that should (according to Darwinian principles) cause the emergence of a tribe of super-rabbits that could outrun stoats. No problem with that. But natural selection is never going to endow cabbages with a turn of speed sufficient to outrun their rabbit  predators, because cabbages can't move in the first place.
Natural selection can only work by preserving or 'selecting' fortuitous improvements in some functional aspect of the organism.  
...complex biological systems cannot evolve step-by-step as taught by new-Darwinianism, because until they have become functioning systems they serve no purpose and natural selection cannot operate upon them. In asking how a irreducible complex system could arise, we're not asking how rapid-rabbits might evolve from also-rans but how a cabbage might grow legs.
 p75-76 Who Made God? Searching For a Theory of Everything

Monday, 8 November 2010

You will not steal

Patron Saint of Thieves
The thing that is forbidden in this commandment, is meddling with another man's property. 
The causes of theft: 
1. Internal Causes
a. Unbelief: 'Can God spread a table for me? says the unbeliever. No, he cannot. Therefore he is resolved he will spread a table for himself, but it shall be at other men's cost, and both first and second course shall be served in with stolen goods.' 
b. Covetousness (e.g. Joshua 7:21) 

2. External Causes

a. Satan 'The devil is the great master-thief, he robbed us of our coat of innocence, and he persuades men to take up his trade.'

The kinds of theft: 

1. Stealing from God 
2. Stealing from others 
a. the highway thief (who takes by stealth or force from a 'neighbour')
b. the house-thief (who filches out of his 'master's' belongings)
c. the thief that shrouds himself under law (the unjust accountant or lawyer etc.)
d. the church-thief (Ezekiel 34:2, 8)
e. the shop-thief (who steals in the course of business) 
f. the usurer
g. the trustee
h. the borrower 
i. the receiver of stolen goods 

[What makes this sin especially grievous? 

1. To steal when there is no need (to be a rich thief)
2. To steal church goods 
3. To commit theft against the checks of conscience
4. To rob the vulnerable (Exodus 22:23) or poor (2 Samuel 12:5)]
Unoriginal sin

3. Stealing from ourselves 

a. by stinginess 
b. by foolishly wasting our opportunities and wealth (Luke 15)
c. by laziness
d. by becoming responsible for the debts of others 

Uses of this commandment

-> 'Property must be respected; God has set this eighth commandment as a hedge about a man's estate, and this hedge cannot be broken without sin. If all things be common, there can be no theft, and so this commandment would be in vain.' 
-> to rebuke those who live by theft instead of living by faith (2 Thessalonians 3:12; Luke 19:8) 
-> for all so that we would take heed of this heinous sin of thieving ... seeing it for what it  is and not excusing it THAT we would not sin. 
How do we avoid stealing? 

1. Live in a calling (Ephesians 4:28)
2. Be content with what God has given you (Hebrews 13:5) 
Thomas Watson '10 Commandments'

Stealing - 1st Base

What is stealing?
In a narrow sense:
1. Property theft (Exodus 22:4, 7)
2. kidnapping or manstealing (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7; 1 Timothy 1:10)
3. Swindling (Jeremiah 22;13-17; Amos 8:4-6; Habakkuk 2:9-10)  
4. Stealing from widows and orphans (Matthew 23:14) 
5. Defrauding employees (James 5:8)
6. Land theft (Isaiah 5:8)
7. Unjust weights (Leviticus 19:35-36; Deuteronomy 25:15)
8. Misleading someone for economic gain (Proverbs 20:14)

In a broader sense:
1. Stealing affection (2 Samuel 15:6)
2. False prophets, who steal God's word from the people and proclaim their own words as God's (Jeremiah 23:30)
3. False religious leaders as thieves and robbers (John 10:1)
4. Merchandising in the temple (Matthew 21:13)
5. Robbing God of tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8; cf. Joshua 7:11)

p798 DOCTRINE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE (Theology of Lordship)