Here or hereafter?

 

It does seem today that most Christians want all their good things now. Where is the heavenly mindedness of former generations? They showed contempt for the things of this world. For them the goods, pleasures and preferments offered by the world were of no comparison with the things of Christ and the great reward waiting for them in heaven.

Why is all our attention today on the things of time which pass away in the using and of short duration? Why do we neglect the enduring and eternal things of God?

How unlike us were the believers of the Old Testament? They saw very little fruition of their faith in this world. They lived by faith and hope in God’s promises. They did not see the fulfillment and only had the merest foretaste of the blessings which were to come. This sustained them and carried them through. How many of the good things and earthly pleasures of this earthly life were cast aside so they could inherit the great and unfading riches of God. How much did they suffer and endure because the clung to this imperishable hope?

Why do we today want to weigh ourselves down with inordinate seeking for wealth and cloying pleasures?

The modern believer is not content to wait, they want here as well as hereafter. How many so-called Bible teachers promise their followers the World? How many of their followers walk away disappointed?

Luther said of the Turkish Empire (the most rich and powerful at the time), that it was nothing else but a crust cast by Heaven’s great Housekeeper to His dogs. Also when he had come into a measure of financial security and material comfort, Luther begged God not to fob him off with it and there by forego and lack desire for God’s true blessings.

The unbeliever knows nothing else but this world, here is the only good they know and experience. It is understandable if it is all they seek.

19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Phillipians 3:19-20

Jesus said “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”John 3:19

If we must grasp at anything let us grasp at the Salvation and eternal hope which is found in Christ regardless of our status and prosperity. Let us hold with a loose grip the things of this world, which like sand slips through our fingers if they are clenched too tight.

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The Wooden Wonder!

Jerry Yagen's restored DH-98 Mosquito, part of his Military Aviation Museum collection, is one of only two in the world now flying.

The Dehaviland Mosquito was a British multi role aircraft developed in the late 1930’s and built during the Second World War, serving throughout the war all over the World.

Due to fear of shortages in the supply of metal and seeking light weight and speed, it was constructed almost entirely of veneered wood  glued together.  This enabled production to be farmed out to furniture manufacturers and wood workers.

Despite being twice the weight and using a similar “Merlin “ engine it was faster than a Spitfire mark II.

The Mosquito was capable of acting as a bomber, fighter and reconnaissance aircraft.
It proved itself an exceedingly useful aircraft on the side of the allies.

It had only one major operational problem. When it was in service in the Far East, the damp and humidity actually caused some aircraft to come unglued in the air.

For an aircraft hoped to reach speeds of 400 mph plus it took a great deal of imagination to construct it out of wood.

The Christian to is an unlikely construction on God’s part. Our frailty and feebleness, as well as our sinful propensities would make us unlikely to be of any use in His purposes. We in and of ourselves would almost certainly come unglued if He did not by his grace hold us together and make us a source of “Wonder” to the myriad of Angelic beings observing  from above.

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Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.

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This well known story has many points of interest.  I will only deal with a few. Firstly it is interesting to note that Philip at this time was actively involved in a highly successful work among the people of Samaria being attended by great crowds. God calls the Evangelist away from this important work and sends him to the middle of nowhere to deal with one man.

God’s workers go where He sends. Working with individuals is just as important as reaching the multitudes, sometimes more so.

This man was a high official of the Queen of Ethiopia and a proselyte of the Jewish religion returning from the temple. He was found deep in study of the book of Isaiah particularly Isa.53:7-8. He was wondering to whom the prophet was referring and Philip saw his bewilderment. This gave Philip the opportunity to preach Christ to the man and so immediate was the effect that he there and then sought to be baptized by Philip in Jesu’s name. The Spirit immediately carried Philip away to other work and the man went on his way rejoicing.

We can take the hint given here of watching for openings and opportunities for witnessing and evangelism, when they present themselves, it is God who sends them.

Being from Ethiopia we naturally assume this man was of the dark skinned people who dwelt there. We can certainly hope that this man’s conversion had a profound effect on his own people and lead to the conversion of others.

Various false interpreters of scripture used the cursing of Ham and the Hamitic peoples mentioned in Genesis chapter 9 as an excuse for mistreating the dark skinned peoples of Africa.

This verse clearly reminds us that there are no racial barriers at all in the way of the gospel. Indeed I think we can safely say that many people will come in to Christ’s Kingdom from Africa, South America and Asia where the gospel is preached, when the rich and privileged people of the Western World will remain outside, despite the existence of thousands of Bibles, churches and centuries of Christian preaching.

Today we hear much about “Seeker Sensitive” churches and worship. It is enlightening to observe how Philip handled this obvious seeker. He taught him the meaning of the scripture and proclaimed the good news of Jesus.

Philip was not content to point to a few proof texts but took the time to expound the Scripture especially as it referred to Christ and the way of Salvation via Calvary’s cross of which this passage in Isaiah foretells and is full of.

He was not squeamish or ashamed of using scripture, even as found in the Old Testament as the means of conveying God’s saving truth.

We would do well to follow Philip’s example today.

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Here or hereafter?

Dropping the pilot!

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Otto von Bismarck was feared and admired for his political skill and abilities. His one aim was to unite Germany and place it in the forefront of Europe and the world.

The methods he used were often reprehensible.

He was a master of playing off one section of society, one leader or country off against the other.  He played on their vanity and fears. While he flattered one person, he bullied another. He used any and every avenue to achieve his political ends.

Through his machinations Prussia fought and won three wars and became the head of a united Germany.

When Bismarck became chancellor, he sacked or fined those who were opposed to his methods and those he did not like. He forced newspapers out of business and started his own. He made full use of the Berlin rumour mill to blacken the name and reputation of his opponents. To get his way on one issue he would promise reforms on another issue. To distract Germans from internal issues, he turned their attention to international issues.

In short while he was a master of politics and statecraft, his way of doing things was little more than skullduggery.

Disliking the heir to the thrones pro English and liberal leanings, he played on the Prussian Kings autocratic stance and sidelined his son crown prince Frederick and his wife eldest daughter of Queen Victoria. Bismarck coddled and flattered Frederick’s son the future Kaiser Wilhelm the second, who later turned the tables on Bismarck and dismissed him.https://carlcymrushistoryblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/1890_bismarcks_ruecktritt.jpg?w=344&h=501

It would be an interesting study to find out whether the things Bismarck did achieve could have been brought about without the need for such methods. He would no doubt justify himself by saying that human nature and international relations being what they were, he could have acted in no other way.

Wherever we look in the world today we see in varying degrees the same misuse of wealth and power and position. We see the methods political and business leaders use and wonder why they need to resort to lies, bribes, blackmail and suppression of the truth in order to further their agenda and personal fame and wealth.

It is only by looking at Jesus that we see the true way of leadership. It is the exact opposite of the World’s methods and means.

Rejecting worldly gain, it sacrifices self. Ignoring earthly pomp and selfishness it seeks the good of all. Instead of making man the centre of everything it acknowledges God as the one on the throne of the Universe and the true source of blessing and joy.

The world and its leaders may be sparing with the truth but Christ is always truthful and is Himself the “Truth”. This truth we need desperately today.

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What might have been?

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Frederick the third of Germany was only Kaiser for ninety nine days in 1888. Although an accomplished soldier, he abhorred war and was praised by friend and enemy alike for his humane conduct.

Even though he was brought up in a militaristic atmosphere, he was a gentle and forward thinking man.

He found himself opposed to the methods used by the German chancellor Bismarck.

Bismarck feared the influence Frederick might have and dreaded his accession to the throne. So he poisoned his father against him and branded the English influence of his wife as unpatriotic and weakening.

As mentioned above he flattered and manipulated Wilhelm, Frederick’s heir who rejected his parent’s ideology.

When Frederick became Kaiser he was suffering from throat cancer and died aged fifty six not having the opportunity to accomplish the reforms he hoped for.

His son later sacked Bismarck and started Germany on a path that lead to the First World War.

We can only speculate whether this war would have been avoided and Germany a better, kinder place had Frederick lived longer.

We know that God rules over history. One man is raised up, one is thrown down. Good men  die young, bad men prosper. God is not behind the curve of history. Rather He sees the end from the beginning. How little of His ways we understand.

God brings good out of evil and salvation out of a cross.

Our alternative is either to shake our heads or TRUST in HIM.

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Dropping the pilot!

L.I.D.A.R.

In his book the “Wizard War” by R.V.Jones, (who worked in scientific intelligence during the Second World War,  He also did a lot of work on “Infra red”) mentions the theorizing and research on what became known as of LIDAR ,Light imaging detecting and ranging, in the 1930’s.Using light beams instead of sound beams to detect and measure distances. He describes it as the optical equivalent of “Radar”.

Many of the modern inventions we enjoy are the products of very old study, research and science. I always thought LIDAR went no further back than the sixties, but even as far back as the 30’s it was propounded.

It was the invention of the laser that made LIDAR viable and its modern uses are numerous applications of 3D scanning e.c.t..

When we look at the heresies that abound in this age we assume they have popped up out of no-where. In fact if you look at their various teachings and doctrines, they are usually the re-hashing of very old heresies, eastern religion and nonsense in new and modern guise.

It seems the true Church of Christ must be forever fighting old enemies in new disguises.

Christianity is quite old to .The Divine Truth it holds, remains the same unchanging word of salvation held out to sinful man as at the beginning.

Its roots go back to the promise of a redeemer in the Garden of Eden. Yet the passing of time has not changed the fact that the Gospel of Christ is forever new. It never requires re-hashing or additions taken from worldly thought or religion. It does not need to be dressed up or decorated with glitz and glamour, because the beauty of Christ needs no such adornment.

The preaching of the Word and the worship of its Lord in all simplicity, never benefited by the addition by men of spectacle, finery or sensationalism. Its life changing abilities came from the power of the Holy Spirit, not man’s “special effects”.

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Fortress Singapore!

I was always under the impression that the Japanese conquest of Malaya and Singapore was hastened by a lack of will on the part of the defenders and that they gave up to easily. The truth was not that at all.

The will to fight was there but the defenses promised were never started. The weapons needed had not arrived. The only fighter and bomber aircraft available were obsolete and too few.

When the fighting started the army was made up of soldiers from different parts of the British Empire, some experienced fighters but in the main they were poorly trained or with no training at all.

The Japanese had air superiority and the initiative. They could move inland or land anywhere from the sea. The enemy had spies and collaborators in key areas to facilitate their movement

The defenders on the other hand were hampered by poor communication, wet muddy conditions and the need to prevent materiel and fuel (on which they still relied) from falling into enemy hands and yet avoid the panic this destruction would cause in the civilian populace.

There was also the need to cope with enemy tanks and retreat in an orderly manner. This did not always occur and some units withdrew while others did not receive the orders and held positions only to be outflanked and wiped out.

The advance of the Japanese was slowed by could not be halted.

Most notoriously Singapore’s defenses and heavy guns were positioned to prevent an attack by sea not by land as it eventuated.Image result for the fall of singapore

When Singapore itself was reached the fighting continued but supplies of ammunition, food and water were running short, this meant defeat was inevitable.

The Japanese treatment of captured soldiers, medical staff was barbaric. This did not cease at the fall of Singapore.

Our defenses as Christians are under constant threat and attack. To us and to the World they may appear weak and threadbare, yet they are invincible none the less.

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6; 17

Like Elisha’s servant we need our eyes open to the fact that God is our invincible defense and defender. He is well prepared for any eventuality and is never the victim of a surprise attack. He is  worthy of all our trust and able to bring deliverance from all our enemies. He is the hope and Saviour from all our fears.

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I was watching an excerpt from a you tube message by Benny Hinn. He was criticizing another tele-evangelist for saying that Christ was not the only way to the Father. Hinn became fired up declaring Christ as the only way to the Father and the only way to be saved.

Being well aware that Hinn’s ministry is full of false doctrine and error.  It made me think what would happen if these error teaching preachers turned around and preached nothing less and nothing more than the true gospel , what the effect would be?

I think the hardest thing would be for them to unsay the mountain of false teaching, bad example and damage done by their past ministries. Yet there is no doubt we should pray that false teachers should be brought by God to see the error of their ways and in repentance come to a knowledge of the truth and the true gospel of Christ.

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L.I.D.A.R.

A wee dram?

According to the film “Whiskey Galore”, people in the highlands of Scotland had it very hard and needed whiskey to brighten up their lives.Image result for whiskey galore

In the Royal Navy for many years they issued the “Rum ration”, to make up for the privations of naval life.

I wonder sometimes whether we treat Christianity and church attendance like this. We need our weekly dose to brighten up our lives and bring a bit of warmth and friendship into an otherwise mundane and difficult existence.

Karl Marx said that “religion is the opium of the people’, and some people treat it as something to make them forget their problems and fears.

Christianity is not a painkiller.  Rather it comes to deal with the disease itself .

It puts it finger on man’s fundamental problem of alienation from God and reveals the way of salvation through Christ’s death on the cross and faith in Him. As a result flowing from this regeneration and new life are imparted and instead of making ourselves the centre of everything we put God where He belongs as supreme.

The joy and blessing we receive is a result but not and end in itself. We still know suffering and loss, poverty and sadness. It is counteracted by the fact that our time on earth is very short compared to eternity. It is balanced by the abundant joy that even now we have a foretaste of but will immerse ourselves fully in through eternity in Christ’s presence.

Elizabethan Spelling

During the era in which Shakespeare flourished there was some latitude in the ways they spelled words. Shakespeare himself was found to have spelt his name different ways at different times. If you look at old books they seem to spell words phonetically according to how they sound.Some letters were interchangeableand they only had 24 letters instead of 26.Image result for elizabethan writing

Many pronunciations were different in those days as well.

Shakespeare was famous for coining new words and new phrases.

In the process of time words became obsolete and fell out of use and new words and terms came into current usage.

In the Church past and present different groups have used the same words from God’s Book but spelled them in different ways. They also pronounced many words differently and with different accents but were trying to convey the same message and intended the same thing, God’s glory and the salvation of man. They differed in interpretation and emphasis but by and large held to the fundamental truths of God.

Unfortunately there were also those who use the same scriptural words but in a deceitful way, they use them to convey other meanings not in accordance with a true understanding of the Word of God. There are those who claim to understand scripture and its words in new, previously unknown ways, but instead of leading to a clearer understanding of the truth they lead instead into error and confusion.

The difficulty remains how to discriminate between those speaking God’s word and whose aim is conveying the truth and those using God’s word in order to distort it, and as a means of injecting falsehood and satanic distortions. Well may we pray for more light

Is Prayer wasted energy?

One of my former pastors had theological works by Paul Tillich on his bookshelf. There is a well know story that when Tillich was asked by the press whether he prayed, he replied “No I meditate”. He only saw divinity within himself.

Trawling videos on you tube, I come across some tele-evangelists who call their hearers little pieces of God. Where in Scripture they deduce this from I do not know.

It is one thing for God to exalt redeemed man and place him in the heavenly places. It is quite different when man exalts man and caters to his pride and ego. We may partake of the divine nature by His saving grace yet this goes not make us little gods.

God does impart a new and divine nature in the believer but the man remains man, the women remains a women.  The “new age” may speak about small g, gods and goddesses. We would only speak about the one true Triune God and give Him the glory alone.

I think the whole point of Christian teaching found in scripture is that we are to look out of ourselves and look to Him. We have come to the end of our own righteousness. We are commanded to place no confidence in the flesh. We need the Holy Spirit to testify with our spirit that we are children of God.  This is a long way from the “Word of Faith” teachers claim for their hearers that they are little gods.

Prayer is never to be an afterthought, never to be subordinated to ecstatic experiences. We may find prayer hard work, we may get tongue tied, distracted and hindered in many ways. Yet with the command of Christ to pray continually and persevere, he clearly teaches the vital need not to throw into the too hard basket.

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A wee dram?

Take Cover!

 

Watchman Nee writes that during the Japanese invasion of China, the Chinese soldiers had no heavy weapons to counter the Japanese tanks. The method they came up with was to fire a rifle shot against the side of the tank and after an interval to do it again. When the tank driver stuck his head out to see where the shot came from a well placed bullet dealt with him.Image result for a wrecked japanese tank in china

In the Christian life we are most in danger when we come out from behind and forsake our defenses. When we no longer stand behind the bulwark and wear the armour that God has provided we become vulnerable to the enemies’ false doctrines and errors.

When we cast aside the “shield of faith” we are exposed to no end of fiery darts. When we fail to take up the Word of God as the sword of the Spirit we become incapable of taking offensive action against sin and falsehood. When we lose the desire and fervency for prayer, we fail to avail ourselves of the reinforcement God so readily sends. When we are isolated from our fellow Christians we are in danger of being captured by the enemy.

Our spiritual enemies are concentrating a withering fire against us at the current time so we need to look to our spiritual strong points and not cast them away.

Satan may act like a tank bearing down on us but he has his weak points and is no match for our all powerful Lord Jesus and those who live by faith in Him.

Brewster Buffalo

The Brewster Buffalo was an American fighter that was used during the Second World War. It was used by the R.A.F. and R.A.A.F. in the defense of Malaya and Singapore. It was found to be completely inadequate for its role and was sometimes nicknamed the flying coffin. It was no match at all for most of the Japanese fighters.brewster_model_339_buffalo

The only place where the Buffalo was used successfully was by the Finns in their war against the Russians. The prevailing cold of Finland counteracted the Buffalo’s engines tendency to overheat.

In many of the aspects of our life, Christian and otherwise we find a sense of inadequacy real or perceived. We sometimes wonder why God puts us in circumstances where we are out of our depth.

We feel ourselves ill-equipped and unprepared for tasks and problems which come our way. It is here we must remember that our sufficiency is of God.

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 2 Cor 3:5

When we get out of our depth we may panic and sink. Therefore we need to cultivate a spirit of implicit trust in God and rely on His resources. We must make prayer and faith our first resort instead of our last.

Speaking the Truth in Love!

I wonder if anyone reading the epistles of the New Testament, especially those of the Apostle Paul, could possibly misunderstand the motivation behind them. It is true they said many hard things to the churches and sometimes risked offending the members of these fledgling fellowships.

Yet is there any doubt of the Apostles’ love for these people? Do we find any evidence that they were being harsh or mean spirited?

Our Lord himself said many things which offended the Jewish leaders and His would be followers, who doubts that the hard words and condemnations were the product of faithfulness to the truth and love for the recipients despite their errors?

Our Lord was faithful in all things and spared no one the truth they needed to hear.

Many in the church have ignored and forgotten this in these modern times.

Anyone who criticizes new innovations and questionable practices and insidious doctrines in the church are labeled as un- Christ-like and motivated by unchristian motives and hatred.

This imbalanced reading of scripture and making of God as all mercy and no justice or truth is the besetting sin of many members of the church.

Well meaning they may be, faithful to the whole truth they are not. They have taken Christ’s command to “Judge not lest ye be judged”. As a blanket command to allow anything and everything providing it is done sincerely and by people claiming Christianity.

While we are to aim to be Christ-like we are not infallible as He was, we err and misjudge in many things. As fallible as we are, we all have a duty to stand up for God’s Truth.

We must always temper what we say and do in love and a seeking to reclaim those in the toils of error and delusion.

It is by standing firm on God’s will and truth revealed in scripture and by shining its light everywhere ,that many will come to a knowledge of Christ and His, to His name be the glory!

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Take Cover!

Worship and Doctrine

In the matter of Christian theology, doctrine and practice, to engage in controversy for controversies sake is wrong. It is quite another thing to stand up for God’s truth as revealed and reasonably deduced from scripture. There are many matters upon which we can differ and agree to differ without doubting each other’s Christianity.

It is in the fundamentals of the faith that we all must seek to preserve, each according to our abilities and circumstances.

Many of the peddlers of error are speaking via the media to many thousands of people and there are pastors and bible teachers who write books and publish video sermons to counter these false teachers. For the rest of us our influence may extend no further than our immediate family and friends and local church.

We all like a quiet life. No one wants to be at odds with those he fellowships with or his local minister. Yet we are all called to speak the truth in love. We must always deal with our differences in a loving caring way, conscious of our own fallibility.

There are methods and approaches in the church today which while they may not be downright wrong, are the inlets to practices and doctrines which are detrimental to the Church and its mission of faithful proclamation of the genuine gospel of Christ

I know from my experience that much in the church today in doctrine and worship does not accord with my understanding of Scripture or the emphasis needed on preaching the Word fully and faithfully. Being in the minority how am I to deal with this situation? Should I remain silent and let the will of the many prevail unchallenged?

It is possible to be sincerely wrong. It is therefore necessary to identify whether the errors we perceive in the Church come from our own misunderstanding. If what they teach and practice jars your prejudices or upset your sensibilities, it is probably best to look at the good in the church and pass over the things that are not according to your taste.

Yet making allowance for this we must “test all things” and not blindly follow where others lead.

I can only speak for myself, when I say that my opinion of today’s worship style in the church is not the reverent, preaching and prayer centered, corporate worship scripture enjoins.

It seems to me, that it takes away from the congregation and minister.

The singers and musicians put on a “show” a la charismatic (without the phenomena,) and call it worship. Whether or not the members of the congregation actually sing the  repetitive and sometimes, shallow theologically, songs is a matter of seeming indifference to them.

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Whatever of the heart goes along with the modern worship style, there seems to me very little scope for the mind.

Not only does the dominance of this form of “Worship” relegate the preaching of the Word to a subordinate position, I think it positively hinders it.

As for the actual preaching of the Word, it seldom reaches the heights it reached in past times. You can hardly see a Bible opened let alone expounded in any meaningful way. Sadly what with everything else that goes on in the service there is often not the time even if there was the inclination.

I have often gone to a church service and the Word of God is not preached at all but is supplanted by an interview, concert or video and it seems many delight to have it so.

Considering many people only attend one service a Sunday it makes one wonder how much teaching they actually get.

With the prevalence of false doctrine in the Church today, there must be sound and faithful preaching. People may condemn it as hate speak or whatever, but to tailor the sermon and service to soothe the scruples of non believers and not scare away mere professing believers is not going to achieve  lasting spiritual results. It will never combat the serious doctrinal errors and worldly inroads that beleaguer the Church in the twenty first century.

In saying all this I make allowance for the fact I am old fashioned and set in my ways. I am definitely in the minority but in good conscience based on years of bible study and attendance in various denominations, I can only ask of anyone who reads this, that they would have a good look at the things that we believe and do.

We must also remember that much of what we do in worship today is only of very recent origin and discards the historic practices of the evangelical church without adequately replacing them.https://i1.wp.com/visionofhopeumc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/traditional-service.jpg

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Why do we need Worldly hype and gimmicks in our Children’s Ministry?

Sunday at Church we had a lady from the U.S. who was in charge of her Arizona church’s children’s ministry.

From my hearing of what she described, it seems to me that ,what with the bright colours they use in their children’s area,  the games, invited celebrities and felt need to generate excitement,that they have taken their lead more from the World and marketing methodology rather than Scripture.

No doubt there was teaching and evangelism in the program, but it seems to me, it was only after the young people had tired themselves out having a good time.

If , as I suspect,the teaching was the usual pablum dispensed by “seeker sensitive ” churches, you may wonder how much was sugar and how little was salt. I hope this was not the case here.

If we use carnal, worldly and sensual methods in any of our ministries, the chances are we will produce Carnal, Worldly and sensual Christians. More likely they will grow bored with the excitement they find in the Church and seek the excitement found in sinful and worldly pleasures and fall away.

I can truly understand the desire to bring people and their children into the church and keep them there.First of all surely, we need to bring them to Christ and disciple them.

The desire and aim of these innovators is commendable.  However the approach they take is what we would expect from an advertising agency or business enterprise with no higher aim than increasing their customer base and profits.

They claim that traditional methods are boring and that we are being left behind in the growth stakes.

They use entertainment and catchy   gimmicks and methods to capture the attention and attendance of great crowds of people.

They hope that by getting people within the walls of the church they will become Christians.

They seek through their grandiose programs to bring children to Christ but does He really need the help of artificial hype and slick marketing to bring children to Himself.

I wonder how big a church needs to be and how big their budget to support this sort of program?

How many families are drawn away from smaller churches to the bright lights these churches generate?

How many times do I hear of people leaving a small struggling church because they do not have a “children’s program” such as is found in these type of churches?

The ends seldom justify the means. When the Church looks like the World chances are children will think the Church and the World are interchangeable.

Rather let us seek to stand apart from the worldly approach to dealing with problems and seek in simplicity to proclaim Christ and share His saving love in a way which is pleasing to Him.

Let indeed, the children come to Him and not merely to a Christian equivalent of the “Wiggles”.

 

Worship and Doctrine

Jesus and John the Baptist

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Matthew 3:7

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We can only wonder what motives brought the Pharisees and Sadducees to leave Jerusalem and travel all the way out to see John the Baptist.  John said that their coming to be baptized by him inferred their seeking to escape the “Wrath to come” by repentance of sin and renewal of life.

Whether these Jewish leaders genuinely saw the need for the repentance that John’s Baptism represented is problematical. Perhaps they went as many Roman Catholics, on pilgrimage to a so-called Holy site. Maybe it was to give the appearance of great sanctity and religiosity. We can only hope some went in sincerity.

It could be also true that because the mass of the people left their employments and went to be baptized by him ,that the Jewish religious leaders could not  bear to be outdone  and have the common people show more religious devotion than they did.

Jesus himself talking about the Jewish reaction to John’s ministry said that;

He was a burning and a shining light: and you were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. John 5:35

We know that the Pharisees and Sadducees occupied the opposite extremes of Jewish religious life. They only banded together for dealing with common threats to the religious and political status quo.

They had sought John’s credentials for doing as he did (Matthew 1:25), and he made it very clear that he was not the Messiah.

(It is interesting to note that during the period that Jesus and his disciples baptized (John 3) that there is no mention of the Pharisees or Sadducees coming to be baptized by Him. Although they often came and asked Jesus to tell them his authority for doing and teaching as He did and a miracle for heavenly confirmation.)

This is pure speculation but it seems to me that John the Baptist fitted more into the Jewish idea and framework of a prophet and his ministry. He was the new “Elijah” who they had long waited for. He very much conformed to the Jews idea of a prophet even down to his manner of dress and diet.

People have always attached great superstitious reverence for the monastic and ascetic ie. austere, self denying, religious lifestyle. While many have followed this path during human history they have often done it to bring themselves a reputation for sanctity and in search of religious merit.

John the Baptist however was the very opposite. Indeed although he received the attention and favour of the multitude, he went out of his way to shun the adulation. Rather he pointed to the one who was coming, the true light of the world and the Lamb of God, by comparison of whom he was a mere nobody.

John condemned the practices and superficial religion of the Pharisees and Sadducees as vehemently as did Jesus. Yet we hear of no persecution or seeking to entrap him as they attempted with Jesus during His ministry. Indeed it was not until he “crossed” King Herod in his adultery, that John was eventually arrested and beheaded.

Jesus on the other hand was hounded from the beginning. I think it was fair to say that Jesus no way conformed to Jewish expectations. That He had miraculous gifts and teaching ability was obvious. The people followed him like shepherd- less sheep, (but what did they know)?

Despite all this the Jewish religious leaders rejected and crucified Jesus.  He was the Messiah they did not want. He was leading on a path and they did not want follow.  Ultimately they were more interested in freedom from the Romans and World domination than the forgiveness of sin and the establishment of the true church encompassing both Jew and Gentile, worshipping God “in spirit and in truth”.

John had he sought to, could have set himself up as a false messiah but in his faithfulness and devotion to God, he set the example that ministers of the gospel and Christians generally must follow, by exalting Christ and him alone as the hope and Saviour of the World.

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War and Peace?

I have been reading some books that talk about the Japanese invasion of China and the Asia Pacific during the Second World War.https://granosalispaullocandro.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/10f9f-japanese-infantry-march-manchuria-1931.jpg?w=660

By all accounts they were bloody, ruthless and barbaric in what they did to captured soldiers and civilians, young and old, male and female. The untold suffering they caused has forever tainted Japan’s reputation in the world.

So many years later Japan is technologically advanced seemingly peaceful.

My question is where did this propensity for violence go? Did the war and intervening years since, teach them the error of their ways and bring about a miraculous change, or is it still deep down in them somewhere, waiting to burst out?

The Japanese are not unique among the peoples of the earth. The fallen nature of man in given circumstances is capable of expressing itself in great hatred and mindless violence when not restrained by law and self control.

We all in some degree must watch over ourselves in order to avoid harming others physically, psychologically and spiritually. “There but by the grace of God go I.”

Some may speak of the inherit nobility of man and his eventual arrival at perfection but it is only through Christ’s redemption and repentance for sin and  by daily living in union with His indwelling Spirit that we can hope to deal with our sinful ,violent and hateful tendencies.

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Jesus and John the Baptist