Friday, 24 August 2012

UPDATE: Norwich City Council v. Norwich Reformed Church

As I have informed you over recent weeks, it is with great regret that we have to report that both the Christian Institute and the Christian Legal Centre have disappointed us. The former were not wholeheartedly in favour of the contents of my leaflet WHY NOT ISLAM and, to date, after some legal advice was given, silence has prevailed for several weeks. While the CLC spoke approvingly of the leaflet, the refusal of the Daily Telegraph (with whom the CLC has a media connection) ‘to run with our story’ (on account of ‘my strong views’) delayed any real commitment to our case, until the three-month deadline for mounting a challenge to NCC eventually expired. Sadly, these two organizations have some flaws in their style of operating, which is highly regrettable. This means that we had no option but happily to appeal to the Court of Heaven! As you all know, we have accordingly been praying regularly. Positive interest currently being shown in our case by a member of NCC (who knew nothing of our situation until very recently), might well be the LORD’s answer to our prayers. We wait in faith and pray on...
Dr Alan C. Clifford

Tomorrow - C. H. Spurgeon

“Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” Proverbs 27:1

Suggested Further Reading: Proverbs 31:10-25

On one occasion I pleaded for a friendly society, and not knowing a more appropriate text, I selected this, “Take no thought for the morrow, for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” Some of my hearers, when I announced my text, feared the principle of it was altogether hostile to anything like an insurance, or providing for the future, but I just showed them that it was not, as I looked upon it. It is a positive command that we are to take no anxious thought concerning tomorrow. Now, how can I do that? How can I put myself into such a position that I can carry out this commandment of taking no thought for the morrow? If I were a man struggling in life, and had it in my power to insure for something which would take care of wife and family in after days, if I did not do it, you might preach to me for all eternity about not taking thought for the morrow; but I could not help doing it, when I saw those I loved around me unprovided for. Let it be in God’s word, I could not practise it; I should still be at some time or other taking thought for the morrow. But let me go to one of the many excellent institutions which exist, and let me see that all is provided for, I come home and say, “Now, I know how to practise Christ’s command of taking no thought for the morrow; I pay the policy-money once a year, and I take no further thought about it, for I have no occasion to do so now, and have obeyed the very spirit and letter of Christ’s command.” Our Lord meant that we were to get rid of cares.
For meditation: Are you playing your part to provide practically for the members of your family? (1 Timothy 3:4-5, 12; 5:4,16). If not, perhaps you should start getting anxious (1 Timothy 5:8).
Sermon no. 94
25 August (1856)

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Activity - a Smokescreen?

We have spoken about the 'barrenness of a busy life.'  How awfully true this is.

But let me put this another way:

"activity can be a smokescreen for disobedience."

Now what do you think about that!  Christian ministers like to boast about how busy they are, and they probably are very busy people.  What do ministers do about the command, BE STILL?  They live to be busy, and to be seen to be busy.  Business is a great ploy to keep a minister from doing the work he has been called by God to do.  Activism destroys ministries and churches.  It sends Christians down a one way street.  Devotion to Christ? - We've no time for that sort of thing.  We're too busy.  We have too many meetings to go to, too many committees to attend, too many conferences and seminars to participate in. 

So why do we go to all things events?  Because it makes us feel important, indispensable to the Kingdom of God.  It is how we achieve significance, as they say. 

But is our activity really a smokescreen for personal and habitual disobedience to God's revealed will in Scripture?  Do those whose calling it is to minister the Word of God practice what they preach to others?  How do husbands demonstrate their love for the wife and children when they are hardly ever there to show that love?  Is their activity really a smokescreen for disobedience?

How much of your activity can be done without?  Really done without.  How much of it is essential to the work of the ministry? 

Let every man examine himself to see whether he be in the faith.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Noteless Sermons

Listen to these strong words from Prof. Robert Lewis Dabney:

Reading a manuscript to the people can never, with any justice, be termed preaching.... In the delivery of the sermon there can be no exception in favor of the mere reader. How can he whose eyes are fixed upon the paper before him, who performs the mechanical task of reciting the very words inscribed upon it, have the inflections, the emphasis, the look, the gesture, the flexibility, the fire, or oratorical actions? Mere reading, then, should be sternly banished from the pulpit, except in those rare cases in which the didactic purpose supersedes the rhetorical, and exact verbal accuracy is more essential than eloquence.

I have said it often, there are way too many "essay readers" in Christian pulpits that have been dedicated for the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Why do we need a trained and ordained man to read out an essay?  Can such productions not be bought off the Internet and someone asked to read it out?

But whatever you might call that, it's certainly not preaching.  A preacher whose eyes are fixed on a manuscript cannot have any meaningful eye contact with those to whom he is preaching.  When we communicate with another person, we look at their eyes.  Preaching is communication par excellence.  To communicate from a pulpit, you need to see the whites of your congregation's eyes and they need to see the white of yours.  

I know that someone will cite Jonathan Edwards who is believed to have read his manuscript under candle-light and many were struck down, convicted of their sin and savingly converted to Christ.  But do exceptions prove rules?  Hardly.

Dabney is correct - "mere reading should be sternly banished from the pulpit" as a rule.

Monday, 20 August 2012

The Plantation of Ulster - Christian Perspective

The next installment in the History of Ireland series of books, written from a Christian and theological perspective, has just been published on Smashwords.

This book deals with the Plantation of Ulster, and brings out several theological principles that are most encouraging for the Christian reader.

It clears up and answers some of the myths generated by those who oppose Northen Ireland's link with Britain and who are trying to re-write Irish history with a view to justifing the terrorist campaign that they perpetrated for the past four decades. 

Who were the original planters in Ulster? 

Were the native Irish driven off their lands, as is supposed?  

Were the planters only Protestants? 

Read this new book and find out for yourself the truth of the matter, and much, much more.