The Higher Heights!

There is no doubt but that the apostle Paul scaled to spiritual heights that few others will ever reach and exalted experiences that few ever know.902822

Yet in his letters to the churches, the Apostle never writes as if this type of “spirituality” and “heavenly” living were the exclusive province of the initiated and privileged few.

Rather, he writes as if he were someone nearing the summit of a mountain and happening to look  back down and finds to his surprise and dismay, that they are not there with him but are still struggling on the lower slopes and getting vertigo in the foothills.

The Apostle is up there enjoying the view and the fresh air, while many of his fellow believers are clinging on for dear life by their fingernails weighed down by earthly cares and preoccupations and struggling with sinful desires and cravings.

It is clear that we Christians, often live beneath our privileges as the people of God , it is also clear that we have no one but ourselves to blame for our lack of progress and growth in the Christian life.

We simply do not avail ourselves of the many helps and spiritual resources provided by God for our welfare and progress in the Faith.

There is certainly nothing ‘snobbish” or “elitist’ about the Apostle’s dealings with the various groups of believers and individual Christians he reaches out to.

Rather He “comes across “as someone gracious and loving and wholeheartedly and selflessly seeking their earthly blessing and eternal good.

That he stands on his authority as an “apostle of Christ”  in dealing with many issues in the churches is constantly evinced, but Paul the  “sinner saved by grace” and “fellow soldier of Christ” is exhibited just as surely, if not more so.

It is very difficult to have fellowship with people who display a constant sense of superiority and “holier than thou” attitude.

We may admire those who display or evidence spiritual maturity and eminence but it is human nature to regard them as being somewhat apart from the mainstream and beyond any serious emulation on our part.

So we content ourselves with a sensible mediocrity and blend into the crowd with their humbler aspirations.

We see in many Christian groups the “cult “of personality where one particular leader or group of leaders hold sway over their followers to such an extent  that the “rank and file” hang on  to their every word and make the ”Super-Apostles’” rule their law.

They themselves dwell in “ivory towers” of joy, wealth and peace and promise to show their devotees the way to obtain similar blessings and status in return for a contribution to their cause.

I see none of this self aggrandizement in any of the “Apostles” and certainly none in “The One” who, could have, if he had wished, taken the throne of this world from the hands of the tempter, but instead humbled Himself by coming in the “likeness of sinful flesh”and walking the way of the Cross.

Christ and the Apostles , rather than exalting themselves, chose to deny self and live in humility with the expectation that God would  lift them up, even while living in the World, here and now, to dwell  in  the “heavenly places”  and at the appointed time raise them up, both soul and body to be forever with the Lord.

I may be mistaken but my reading of the apostle Paul is that, in imitation of his Master, he would have been eminently approachable by anyone and everyone

He was to be found day by day “in the trenches” striving and suffering with the all the other “soldiers of Christ”.

Paul would have been the first one to be found at the place of greatest need and also where there was the most likelihood of spiritual threat and danger to the Body of Christ.

He would not have thought it below his dignity to perform the lowest service of love to the humblest saint and follower of Jesus.

There was no self attribution of perfection or of having “arrived’ at the mountain top about the Apostle Paul, but rather the repeated urge and plea for Christians to “soldier on”, “fight the good fight of faith” and join with him as a “fellow pilgrim” and “soldier of Christ, to strive to attain the “full stature of Christ, arrive at the heavenly realm and partake in ultimate victory through Christ Jesus our Lord.

indexrc sproul approval of men.jpeg

“Born of a virgin”

Most professions, Sciences and “disciplines” have developed a terminology and vocabulary that those, without familiarity and intimate knowledge of these areas, have difficulty comprehending.

When the experts in these various fields discuss facets of them the uniformed “layman” has great difficulty in making heads or tails of what they are talking about.

Theology has, over the centuries of history, developed a language very much its own and for the average Christian it has been the temptation to take a great deal of Christian doctrine and belief on trust rather than engage in personal study in order to understand it.

Today, more than ever, it is felt by some that because Christian Theology  is  a source of so much disagreement and contains a great deal that seems  nebulous i.e. hazy, confused, it is better to settle for a blissful ignorance rather than lose ourselves in its vagaries.

They limit themselves to gaining the minimum amount of Christian understanding in order to be saved and leave the rest to the “clever and wise”.

The Roman Catholic Church has always said that ignorance is the mother of devotion but it has rather proved the hatchery and breeding ground of grievous errors and heresies.

A great area of theological discussion and controversy and a constant source of incredulity for the opponents of Christianity is the “Virgin Birth” of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The idea of a human birth occurring outside of the normal means of conception and by miraculous means is outside the “realms of possibility” both for atheistic humanism and “liberal” Christianity alike.

Some have said that the “infancy” narratives were added on later and sourced from “Oral” traditions of dubious veracity.

The skeptics may have a great respect for Christ, his life and teaching but they cannot swallow the more miraculous aspects of the gospel narratives. Some in the church today would throw the “Virgin birth” of Christ overboard entirely and yet keep the Resurrection intact. As if the one were more credible and plausible than the other.

In the main however the scoffers deny the miraculous “lock, stock and barrel” and retain only a “sanitized “and “humanized version of Christianity.

Modern redefining and redacting apologists for Christianity teach that the value of the life and ministry of Christ is not lessened if we consign the “Virgin birth” and miraculous signs surrounding it, to the realms of “pious fiction”.

The later additions made by Roman Catholicism with regards to the “Perpetual Virginity” and “assumption of Mary” etc. only tend to muddy the waters making it hard to separate fact from fiction.

The Bible believing Christian’s acceptance of the Scripture record of Christ’s birth, while an article of faith is does not call for blind credulity.

There is more than enough in the Bible narratives themselves to command their acceptance and belief as to their veracity

They are free from the sensationalizing spirit that accompanied the pagan stories of the “gods” so called and have nothing of the ludicrous elements as found in the “Gnostic” “gospels”.

The accounts themselves bear all the “hallmarks” of veracity and especially in the gospel of Luke’s case, careful research and truthfulness.

Once conceding, the reality of the “miraculous” wrought through the Almighty power of God, we are filled with wonder at the Incarnation and accept its contribution to the understanding of the divine nature and ministry of our Lord and Saviour

That it illuminates the inherent sin-lessness of our Lord  as well as teaching His true nature as “very God“ yet truly man, reinforces to our mind and affections God’s great mercy and our Lord’s great condescension as well as the infinite value and saving power of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.

That the innocent sinless Son of God should come as a babe into a sinful world and that He should “taste death” (Heb.2:9) and bear and atone for sin and gain the redemption and salvation of his people is foundational to our belief as Christians.

To hold to anything less robs the gospel message of its saving efficacy and will never be owned by the Spirit’s accompanying power.maxresdefault birth

Sad to see you go!


For good or ill I was weaned on television, and as a child I can still remember that some scenes and events portrayed on the “small screen” had a great if short lived emotional effect on me.

Whether it was hiding behind the couch when the “M.G.M.” lion roared or shedding tears when the final credits of The “Bugs Bunny “ show and “Lassie” show came on, it triggered an emotional response in me similar to the departure of a dear friend or  the terror of a lion leaping out  on me from  the T.V.

I remember that I felt great sorrow at the thought of my favourite “cartoon” characters going away and that I might not see them again.

Also, the thought of “Lassie” wandering lost and alone with “end title” view of “her with paw raised up waving “goodbye” was poignant in the extreme.aa1e400230334c1b0ce1bdd22f00e5de--tv-themes-television

No doubt as we grow older it becomes more difficult to move us to tears. We are conditioned not to “blub” and appear weak.

That some people are more emotional than others is apparent to all , yet others tend to show little emotion , (thank you ”Mr. Spock”) and others still suppress any and all emotion even to the point of harm.

We may reasonably feel suspicious of any Christian belief that resides wholly and solely in the often transient emotions and depends on the maintenance of holy and spiritual feelings. These emotions and feelings of exist without out being balanced by a true and as far as possible understanding of what and why we believe.

Contra-wise we should feel the some concern about the truth of a belief in Christ and profession of Christianity that reaches only to mere intellectual assent and no further.

If our Christianity resides in one part of our “psyche” to the exclusion of the others, we can reasonably question the balance and utility and may be even the reality of our profession of Christianity.

God’s dealing with us is designed to reach into every corner of our being.

True we may be touched initially in one part of our “being” or the other, yet it must permeate  with the “Spirit’s” aid, our entire “being” to work its wondrous change in our lives and make us effective instruments to convey Christ’s light to the World.



The Higher Heights!

Art imitates life!

I have always been a TV watcher and have often noticed that in some of the circumstances of my life,events portrayed in programs on television happened to coincide with what has just happened to me.

When I first discovered I needed spectacles an episode of “the Brady Bunch” was screened about Jan trying to lose her new “eye glasses”. 375428688931409e0b6e3af773f8cd7cWhen my mother died recently, an episode of “Star Trek the Next generation” aired the next day that had “Geordie La Forge’s” mother missing presumed dead.

TNG255This has occurred at various times and coincident with various occurrences.I have no idea why this happens but it does make you wonder.

The fact is that such events are common to us all. We are not alone or unique in the joys, sorrows, the good and the bad, the exciting or the mundane.

The one thing television cannot truly imitate is faith in God and Christ because all its emotions are feigned and imitated.

Only by experiencing the reality of faith and Christ can we see it truth and power.

Just made it!200_s

We all know the scene in the film or cartoon where the car barely completes the race and crosses the finish line, only to have the wheels fall off, the engine to fall out and the car falls to bits. The driver is left sitting on the track with only the steering wheel left.

The question is do we want to finish the course of our Christian lives like that.stock-photo-crazy-male-auto-driver-with-the-steering-wheel-and-a-helmet-concept-81227995

We Christian easily get lackadaisical about our spiritual lives. We feel that as long as we sincerely believe in Jesus we will be all right in the end. We often neglect those spiritual practices that help us grow as Christians such as Bible study, prayer and self denial because they require time we do not always have and concentration that we often lack.

We can even be spasmodic and indifferent about our church attendance and can always find reasons for missing the odd worship service.

To neglect these things and fall into bad habits may or may not mean we are not Christians at all. What it does mean is that all the nuts and bolts on our race car are coming loose and by not tightening them and looking after our car we risk not finishing the Christian race or just “getting over the line”.

The Puritans often compare our arrival in heaven as either being that of a ship entering harbour full of holes and with tattered sails compared to a ship in top condition and under full sail. I know which I would rather be.


images t5ozer

A living Hope!

 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:1-9 English Standard Version.

Peter in his first epistle writes perhaps, too many of the same people to whom he preached on the Day of Pentecost. He endeavors to confirm them in the practice of their faith.

While mindful of their manifold sufferings he reminds them of their high calling and their being kept by God who had known and chosen them from eternity.

They had been brought to a life of godly obedience by the sanctification through the Holy Spirit and by the sacrificial sprinkling of the Blood of Christ.

These believers showed the marks of the new birth and professed the new hope which flowed from Christ’s resurrection.

They knew that a glorious and incorruptible inheritance waited for them and would soon be a present possession.

Indeed all their trials and tribulations only served to whet their appetite and increase their present joy.

The trial of their faith, proved and tested like gold, served to bring glory to Jesus Christ.

Though invisible to human eye, Jesus Christ was the sum and sphere of all their hope, love and worship and the fountain of unspeakable joy.

I wonder if we know anything of these things ourselves, here and now.

The certainty is, that if by faith we place Christ where He should be in our hearts we would know like joy and be able to withstand the tribulations that befall us and partake in the same living hope.






Art imitates life!

Right Question wrong Answer!

The future for Judah and Jerusalem looked very dire. The message coming from the “false” prophets with their words of speedy deliverance and the return of prosperity was starting to sound rather hollow.

Jeremiah chapter 38 reveals that things had got so desperate that King Zedekiah sought out the prophet to seek God’s message and reveal His will for the people.Image result for jeremiah and king Zedekiah

Jeremiah told the king that if they surrendered to the Babylonians, the City, its people and the king himself would be spared. The prophet further told Zedekiah that if they continued to resist, the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed and the king and populace would fall into the hands of the Babylonian army and those who were not killed would be carried into captivity.

King Zedekiah as it later proved, was hoping for something more in line with his own wishes and not at all interested in heeding the prophet’s message of warning from God. As a result of his own fears and lack of faith, rather than surrender peaceably, he fled by night, hoping to escape the wrath of the Babylonian king. He only got as far as Jericho before the Babylonian soldiers caught up with him, was taken to Riblah in the land of Hamath to King Nebuchadnezer who then killed his sons and put out his eyes.

Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled to the letter as Jerusalem was burned and the majority of the people carried off to Babylon except for the poorest of the people and the prophet himself.

Sometime later Gedaliah the man left by the Babylonians as governor was assassinated in a cowardly attack by Ishmael, one of the members of the royal family still in the land. This man carried off some of the people but was pursued by Johanan the son of Kareah and the captives rescued.

Johanan and the remaining leaders and people were unsure of what to do, whether to stay or flee. They approached Jeremiah to receive guidance from the Lord. They vowed to hear and follow the Commands of God received through the prophet and Jeremiah relayed God’s message and assured the remnant of the people that if they remained in the land they would be safe.

Far more God promised to bless the people and sustain them but also warned them that, if they remained disobedient and sought to flee to Egypt, the disaster they feared would catch up to them there.

Obviously this was not the answer they were hoping for. The self appointed spokesman of the people accused Jeremiah of lying about God’s actual message. They claimed that the prophet’s former spokesman Baruch had put him up to it, to get back at them. They as Zedekiah and the Jewish leaders before them did not like the answer they received because it involved faith in God and ran counter to their own desires.

So the Jewish remnant lock, stock and barrel, fled to Tahpanhes in Egypt, carrying the unwilling prophet with them.

Do we not see this tendency among us today?

We want God to show us the way but when He points us in a direction or guides in the path we do not like, we go ahead and choose our own way.

We must all examine ourselves and ask, are we truly seeking God’s will for ourselves and the Church and are we willing to hear and obey what God has revealed to us in His’ authentic , Biblical Word. Or are we only interested in the revelation which caters to our earthly desires and wishes and hopefully get heaven into the bargain?

There are many today who purport to brings us a message for God but like the false prophets of old they preach smooth things which exalt our egos and harmonize with our earthly aspirations and make no mention of our sinfulness and need for repentance and obedience.

Rather let us be willing not only to hear but to obey what God says to us in His holy Word.


Image result for quotes from william gurnall

Seeing things in Black and White!

Colour television was a long time coming in my country. So when I was growing up all the programs were black and white even if originally made in colour.Image result for black and white television

While the appearance of colour television added a new dimension to our viewing it very quickly became common-place and something we gave little thought to. Indeed I for one still hark back to those days because what we lacked in colour was made up for the quality and comparative wholesomeness of the programs we watched as children.

Some filmmakers persisted in making films in black and white because they felt it enhanced the drama of their work. We see this in the continued popularity of old films. The performances and story lines absorb us to such an extent that we give no heed to the lack of colour.

However some people seeking to re-release old films, have felt it necessary to colourize them to make them more marketable for this modern age. Many film “purists” deplore this and insist on turning the colour down.

It seems to me that many people today are trying to colourize the gospel. The black and whites of God’s revealed truth and saving word are not appealing to modern man, so those who would attract him to the “cause” daub the gospel message with bright colours and rosier hues: each one working from his own palette .

Someone splashes a lot of gold about the scene, while another daubs the sky with perpetual blue, all the while rubbing out the Dark black clouds which sometimes threaten judgment.

Unfortunately many of these self appointed daubers are in fact colour-blind. They cannot see that the spectrum of the gospel of Christ already has colours all its own, if only we have eyes to see them.Image result for color spectrum

All at Sea!

The old saying is if you want to learn to pray, go to sea.

One can imagine in the days of sail, being at the mercy of wind and wave in mountainous seas. A storm on land is scary enough, but bobbing about on the sea like a cork must be terrifying.Image result for a storm at sea

Even today with propeller powered ships of ever increasing size, extreme weather conditions are always a matter of concern.

The dangers of a ship at sea have always been used as an analogy for the experience of the Christian life.

Imagine all the varieties of experience a ship and its crew undergoes on their numerous voyages. Long periods of smooth sailing interspersed with moments of drama and even peril.

To have a sound ship and a capable crew is imperative but the fact is much of what happens to a ship is beyond any ones control.

Many times throughout voyage of the Christian life, the wind and waves swamp him and threaten to capsize his life and rob him of peace.

It is here that the fundamentals and reality of our Christianity are exercised and tested.

To cultivate the habit of Bible study, prayer, praise and thanksgiving in day to day living coupled with close reliance on God’s sustaining power, are imperative to keep us afloat when storms assail and rocks appear before us.

The Christian is in a sad state if they only really pray when they have tried everything else first and cast on it as a last resort: also the Christian who does not know or study his Bible casts away the chart needed to navigate life’s shoals and reefs.

To carry on the analogy, I wonder how many of us look on prayer as a lifebuoy which is reassuring to have nearby if the ship sinks but we hope we never need to rely on it.

Whatever the perceived difficulties of prayer it was never meant to be a last ditch way of deliverance but our constant privilege and support.

Right Question wrong Answer!

Who’s pulling the Strings?

When I was little, my favourite TV shows were two British “ marionette “ shows, “Andy Pandy” and the “Flower pot” men.Image result for andy pandy waving goodbye These dolls, with strings attached, existed in an age without computer generated animation.

Today they would appear naïve and amateuristic, yet to a small child they were entrancing. The  Puppet-eers were able to impart a convincing semblance of life to these inanimate dolls.Image result for andy pandy waving goodbye

In fact the memory of “Andy Pandy”,”Teddy” and “Looby Loo” waving goodbye at the end of the show still brings a tear to my eye.

There is an idea current in the minds of Christians that if they can reach some high spiritual state and empty themselves and by placing their brains into neutral, that God will enter in take control, much like the puppeteer controls the puppet. Is this really the case?

If we look at the Holy Spirits’ work in inspiring the writers of the various books of the Bible, we find it hard to believe that the works they produced were done in this manner.

While the books of the Bible give clear evidence of Divine handiwork they also show the hand of human authorship with individual style and characteristics.

Paul does not write like John, Isaiah is not an earlier version of Jeremiah etc.

We see people clearly used of God yet not losing themselves in the process.

The Apostle Paul when reluctantly recounting His experience of exaltation to third heaven,  where he saw and heard things he could not describe or understand, gives clear evidence that his mind was still functioning, although it was out of its depth.

Our age in the church is full of people seeking these heightened spiritual experiences, and very often as a result of leaving their minds  and understandings behind, are fooled by Satan’ counterfeits.

Whatever way God reveals himself to a follower of Christ, it is not like a marionette, but is in us and through us and with us.

We are made willing “in the day of his power”.

Also God’s Holy Spirit never acts contrary to the Word of God which He himself inspired. He cannot contradict himself.


Thomas Manton Quote

Who’s pulling the Strings?