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Showing posts from 2023

The Slavery of Prosperity

I read a story this morning about a businessman who was behind fake bombs planted at Grays’ Inn in London's legal district to intimidate lawyers who work for the National Crime Agency (NCA).    He wanted to frighten them after the NCA conducted legal proceedings against him and his wife, which resulted in £1m of assets being recovered. The court heard he was upset at the prospect of losing his stately home, Embley Manor in Romsey, Hampshire.  The man’s case is another example of how our slavery to prosperity leads us to offer more sinful sacrifices to keep it. In his case it has cost him physical freedom. Materialism is a loveless uncaring god.  Now, if we are true followers of Christ, we know that Christ is infinitely better. Yet, how we also still give in so easily to the pursuit of the slavery of prosperity! I recently came across a statement by Paul David Tripp (PDT) that helpfully discusses this issue:  Why are we so busy? There may be many answers to that question, but let m

Workers for Your Joy (A Review)

Workers for your Joy (WFYJ) is about what Christ calls leaders in his church to be and do, particularly the teaching office in the church (i.e. pastor or elder).  It presents a biblical vision of leadership by going through the fifteen qualifications of elders listed 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The central question Mathis is basically asking is – how should we pastor or lead the church in light of these qualifications? The target audience of the book seems to be those who are in the early stages of pastoral ministry. The book was part of the seminary syllabus at Bethlehem. However, the author does explicitly state that the book is also meant to be of use to church members in considering what Christ expects of leadership in the local church.   Mathis has written this book because he believes leadership has fallen on hard times. The church in the west and the society around us has become increasingly discontent with being led due to the high-profile cases that have sprung about leadership.

Beware of False Hope

There are ships lying quietly in Liverpool and London docks, about to sail for every part of the globe. They all look equally trustworthy, so long as they are in harbour; they have all equally good names, and are equally well-rigged and painted: but they are not all equally well-found and equally safe. Once let them put to sea, and meet with rough weather, and the difference between the sound and unsound ships will soon appear. Many a ship which looked well in dock has proved not sea-worthy when she got into deep water, and has gone down at last with all hands on board! Just so it is with many a false hope. It has failed completely, when most wanted: it has broken down at last, and ruined its possessor's soul. You will soon have to put to sea. I say again, beware of mistakes. J C RYLE  (Source : Old Paths) 

Today I Learned

Lord Chesterfeld wandered into a chapel once when George Whitefield was preaching. He sat in the pew that belonged to Lady Huntingdon, listening intensely. The preacher was comparing an ignorant sinner to a blind beggar on a dangerous road. His little dog gets away from him when skirting the edge of a precipice, and the old man is left to explore the path with his iron-shod staff. On the very edge of the cliff his stick slips through his fingers, and falls away down the abyss. All unconscious, its helpless owner stoops down to regain it, and stumbling forward. At this moment Chesterfilef, who had been listening with breathless alarm to this description of the blind man's movements, jumped up from his seat shouting, “Good God! he is gone!", trying to prevent the catastrophe.

The Witness of Character

Though religion, in its ordinary mode of exhibition, commands but little respect, when it rises to the sublime, and is perceived to colour and pervade the whole character, it rarely fails to draw forth the homage of mankind. The most hardened ungodliness, and daring immorality, will find it difficult to despise the man who manifestly appears to walk with God, whose whole system of life is evidently influenced and directed by the power of the world to come. The ridicule cast on religious characters, is not always directed towards their religion, but more often perhaps to the little it performs, contrasted with the loftiness of its pretensions; a ridicule which derives its force from the very sublimity of the principles which the profession of piety assume.  ROBERT HALL

Today I Learned

The English reformer John Hopper was imprisoned from September 1553 and killed in February 1555. Just before Hopper was martyred for his faith in Christ, Sir Anthony Kingston, whom he had once offended by rebuking his sins, came to see him, and begged him, with much affection and many tears, to think about  his safety and recant.  Kingston said to Hopper, "Consider, that life is sweet, and death is bitter. Your life hereafter may do [much more] good."   Hopper answered : "The life to come is more sweet, and the death to come is more bitter”. After seeing that Hoper was not going to change his mind, Kingston left him with bitter tears, telling him, "I thank God that I came to know you, because God appointed you to call me to be His child. By your good instruction, when I was before a fornicator and adulterer, God has taught me to detest and forsake the same”.  John Hooper afterwards said that this meeting with Kingston had drawn from him more tears than he had shed

The Hyper-Spiritualisation of Justice

Our supposedly secular society has in fact hyperspiritualised the question of justice. Every claim to justice takes on an importance equivalent to that of a final battle between Christ and the devil, with good unambiguously on one side and evil on the other, along with all the apocalyptic fervor that this framing implies. But no human struggle can bear this divine weight. That way lies totalitarianism and making any means legitimate in attaining an end that is so pure, so noble, and so absolute. It is the logic behind the proclamation in "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" that in the advance of the Northern troops, "My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." It is the logic that led to the "Terror" of the French Revolution, with the guillotining of around 17,000 people, including many former revolutionaries whose convictions were subsequently considered to be insufficiently radical. It is the logic that led to the Chinese cultural revolution, i

What is the best preparation for preaching?

The best preparation is not to be too anxious about it. Anxious care hinders liveliness and efficacy. It leads to too little dependence on the Spirit. Be not didactic. Aim at the conscience as soldiers aim at the faces. Consider I may be preaching my last sermon. This leads to setting forth Christ as The Way, the Truth and the Life . .. Make Christ the prominent figure…Pay less attention to dear self. JOHN NEWTON