Spiritual footwear

Apart from the useful military vehicles that the U.S. sent to the Soviet Union as part of “Lend Lease” during The Second World War, the most valuable items sent were thousands of “felt ” military boots.

These boots not only protected the Russian soldier’s feet from cold and frostbite but also prevented them  from freezing to the ground.9933796258f76ec759a47e5df2ddc9cc--felt-boots-ww-uniforms

The Germans by contrast with their “hobnailed “ boots suffered terribly from the icy conditions as the nails transmitted the cold to their feet and resulted in many cases of frostbite and amputations.

13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Ephesians 6:13-18

Our spiritual footwear is all important. Only the true gospel can help us stand in the Christian life, all substitutes will freeze our feet to the ground of this “World”. the true message of Salvation. alone can support us as we move forward in the faith and conquer in Jesus name.

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Modern reformers?

15 When they had assembled their fellow Levites and consecrated themselves, they went in to purify the temple of the Lord, as the king had ordered, following the word of the Lord. 16 The priests went into the sanctuary of the Lord to purify it. They brought out to the courtyard of the Lord’s temple everything unclean that they found in the temple of the Lord. The Levites took it and carried it out to the Kidron Valley. 17 They began the consecration on the first day of the first month, and by the eighth day of the month they reached the portico of the Lord. For eight more days they consecrated the temple of the Lord itself, finishing on the sixteenth day of the first month. 2 Chronicles 29: 15-17 N.I.V.

King Hezekiah entered wholeheartedly into the task of reformation.

The idolatrous rubbish which had been accumulated in the past was removed and destroyed while the discarded utensils, tables and altar were restored and re-consecrated to the God ordained ministry of the temple.

There were no half measures here.2467933

We to need a reformation in the Church and seek for a return to the plain teaching of scripture and genuine worship.

Too long have we had teachers and leaders who discard elements of Gospel truth because they do not accord with the “mores” of the times. Too long have we had those who look to the world for methods and gimmicks to appear more appealing to “New Age” and world loving people.

Unfortunately this is not as simple as taking stuff to the rubbish tip or starting a bonfire: rather it is a question of ordinary Christians giving themselves to prayer and speaking and standing up for God’s revealed truth and a return to the message once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).

 

 

Spiritual footwear

Lord Woolton Pie.

Lord Woolton pie was a vegetable pie covered with potato pastry invented during the time of wartime rationing in England. It was meant to provide a substitute meal due to the shortage of meat and maintain public nutrition. It was not universally popular because to most people a pie by definition had to have meat in it.220px-Woolton_pie_(4653443530).jpg

“The recipe involved dicing and cooking potatoes (or parsnips), cauliflower, swede, carrots and possibly turnip. Rolled oats and chopped spring onions were added to the thickened vegetable water which was poured over the vegetables themselves. The dish was topped with potato pastry and grated cheese and served with vegetable gravy. The recipe could be adapted to reflect the availability and seasonality of ingredients.” Quoted from Wikipedia.wooltonpie

After the War this recipe was quickly forgotten having served its purpose.

“Professor John Fuller has noted that Woolton pie and similar wartime austerity dishes “were forgotten as quickly as possible when conditions returned to normal”.[5] (One notable exception to this pattern is carrot cake which, while not invented during the war, was popularised in the United Kingdom during that period because it used the widely available root vegetable in place of some of the scarce flour, fat and sugar found in other cakes.)” Anton-Cartoons-Punch-1941-04-09-340.jpg

A repetitious and bland diet is the bane of some people’s lives. We all like variety and new taste sensations. Many for health reasons are compelled to stay away from foods and beverages that they once enjoyed. They are conscious of the consequences to their health if they eat the things they shouldn’t.

Others due to time of war and famine are compelled to subsist on whatever is available and often they are just enough for subsistence.

The other end of the scale is the gourmet who disdains humble foods and is forever seeking new foods and flavours.

Numbers 11 tells that the children of Israel got tired of the “manna “ that God to them day by day.

 

It came to them without any more effort than it took to go and gather it.

No doubt they prepared it in every conceivable way and added what else they had in store to it but at last they had had enough and began to murmur against Moses and through him against the Lord.

18 And say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat, for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was better for us in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. 19 You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, 20 but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the Lord who is among you and have wept before him, saying, “Why did we come out of Egypt?”’” 21 But Moses said, “The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot, and you have said, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!’ 22 Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, and be enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, and be enough for them?” 23 And the Lord said to Moses, “Is the Lord‘s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not._31 Then a wind from the Lord sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground. 32 And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail. Those who gathered least gathered ten homers. And they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. 33 While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck down the people with a very great plague. 34 Therefore the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had the craving.” 

Kibroth-hattaavah means graves of craving or greed.

In his anger God sent them quails in abundance and the people prepared them up but while the meat was still in their teeth the Lord smote many of them with a great plague.quail-in-the-desert-e1402282675584

The people had turned their nose up at the sustenance God provided for them and evidenced their greed and lack of trust in God by hoarding up the quails.

Instead of gratitude and reverence for  God who had done such wonderful things for them ,they abused the grace which saved and sustained them

To many of our modern “Christian thinkers” this judgment appears excessive and petty yet the reality is our God is a “consuming fire” and not to be trifled with.

The Christians reverence and submission towards God are important and pleasing in His sight. Our complaining, griping and grousing about His providence and purposes are not.

The “easy going”, all merciful and passively tolerant deity of today’s Christianity bears no resemblance to the Holy God of Scripture.

While we are indeed saved by grace through faith, our walk is to be one of obedience, submission and trust. When we forget this and walk in our own self pleasing , sinful ways and attitudes we can expect chastisement, if indeed we truly belong to the Lord.

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In one ear and out the other.

I have great difficulty in retaining in my memory many of the things people tell me.

I fear I would never make much of a waiter in a restaurant.

It makes me wonder how much of what God’s message to us,that we actually hear in church is kept in the memory and meditated upon at a later time.

The Puritans did all they could to encourage their hearers to go over among themselves and with each other what they heard in the preaching of the Word.

They also expected them to teach and examine their children as to their understanding.

Nowadays we content ourselves with retaining a few salient points from the message and maybe we remember an anecdote used to illustrate what the pastor was saying.

Others go away with a short lived glow imparted by the experience of uplifting worship and pleasure, interrupted by a few words of teaching , challenge or encouragement which we know are part of the routine and to be expected.

How many sit in our modern churches and hear reams upon reams of preaching good , bad and indifferent and are none the better for them?

Even among the sincere seekers after truth, how little is kept in the memory and remembered or utilized in the mundane events or trials and tribulations of life.

One often wonders why God chose such an ephemeral means as the preaching of the word of scripture as the main means of grace for the church.

The fault here does not “Lie in the Stars” and certainly not the wise purposes of God.

While allowance is to be made for our all too human frailty, there are many reasons why we do not gain more benefit and blessing from the hearing of God Word.

One obvious problem is that in many of the places of worship we attend today very little of the word of God preached in them.

In the vernacular of that “civil servant” Sir Humphrey Appleby we are only getting the simplified and palatable “Janet and John” bit. (Janet and John were characters in an infant “learn to read” book from some years ago).

Also when the “Word” is preached, very often it is not being mixed with faith in the hearers (Hebrews 4:2).

Often it is crowded out by worldly thoughts, cares and problems.

Sometimes we are overcome by drowsiness and lethargy due to our worldly pleasures and pursuits.

Either way we miss out on much that we could gain from the preaching of the Word and not preparing ourselves ,as much as we can for its reception.

How thankful we must be that the “Hand of the Lord is not shortened” and that by His Spirit’s work in our hearts and minds,  even the crumbs of the Word and its preaching carry power and fulfill the purpose He has for them in our lives.

Let us pray and strive to  be faithful hearers and remember-ers of the Word but also hearty and obedient doers of it.

 

Lord Woolton Pie.

The Blunted blade!

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (N.I.V.)

How few in this current age of the Church are willing or able to wield this “double edged” sword?

The typical sword of the times of the Bible was an, if you will pardon the expression a “hacking and slashing” weapon wielded with a great deal of brute force.

This phraseology speaks to me more of a surgical blade cutting only in order to remove diseased tissue and probing for problems.

Yet there is no escaping the fact that a sword is a weapon used in warfare and throughout the history of Christianity it has been used to great effect as such.

This passage raises the question of how we are to use the Word of God today.

images play swordsIt can only be said that the tendency of many in the church and among Christians generally, is to “blunt” this blade of the scriptures and and make it less an offensive or defensive weapon and more a self help book.

As I said previously we are at the stage where those “seekers” who come into our modern services are not confronted by what the Bible says about their current lost and sinful state or their alienation from their Maker. Indeed apart from a few carefully selected and paraphrased verses they are not taught very much about what the Bible says about anything. If they do receive any teaching it is only at a later stage in their development and at their discretion

The situation is today that the rush to get people into church has meant streamlining the way of salvation to the stage that it is little more than upraised hand or a signed card followed by baptism that is all that is required to profess and be regarded Christian.

While this may be adequate for acceptance to church membership, much more is called for by the scriptures in order to be called a Christian.

We do not hear today much of repentance and being born again. We hear nothing of entering the narrow door that leads to the narrow way that leads to salvation. We hear nothing about the holy living without which no one will see the Lord. Yet this is scriptural and biblical, however little interest is shown by our modern preachers and teachers and church leaders.

Worst of all there is little thought given to these fundamental failings by the average person in the “pew”.

When we turn back to the actual teaching of scripture we are left with a powerful “weapon” which has fallen out of use and no desire on many people’s part to wield it.

Perhaps some might say that it is for the Spirit of God to wield this weapon and we are best to leave it to Him and therefore become less liable to cause offense among those we hope to win to Christ.

While it is true that the Blessed Spirit of God works in and through the Word and works mightily indeed, the fact is the Word is in our hands, is it to be a closed book opened only on certain occasions and only among certain audiences?

Again, many will say that the Scriptures as the Word of God and the preaching of it, no longer has any authority with the World at large and therefore we must find other means of spreading the message of Christianity.

Whether this line of argument is correct or not still leaves us with the dilemma of what to do with this “spiritual sword” which we were obviously expected to use frequently and vigorously.

I think it is true to say that for most non believers the Bible has never had more than a sentimental place in their lives.

The sad fact is that for many Christians today, the authority of the Bible as the word of God is waning, especially on issues where professing believers want to fall into line with Worldly thought and values and morals.

I say again. We all have the sinful tendency to seek to blunt the force of the Word of God when it goes against our fleshly desires and self will. The fact is that in this modern age we see this practice soaring to new heights in the church with the consequences that there is no moral and spiritual force behind anything we say and do in our Christian teaching and doctrine.

Better to be called “simplistic” and “old fashioned” and unashamedly preach the Word of God to all and sundry, without fear or favour, relying on the Spirit’s power working with the Word to open the hearts, minds and souls of men and women to God’s salvation in Christ.cropped-Sword11

This has always been the tried and true “power of salvation” and nothing; even in our modern relativistic age is needed more in our dealings with other believers and the whole World of unsaved sinners.

The “Bush Tuckerman”

Les Hiddins recounts the story of two German aviators who in 1932 crash landed in the “Kimberley’s” in North Western Australia.P282

In a hostile and unfamiliar environment they survived for some time but became so weak that they resigned themselves to death.

They were found sheltering in a cave by a group of Aborigines who brought them food but the men were too weak to chew it, so the Aborigines chewed it for them.

After being lost for 53 days they were taken overland to hospital in Wyndham.

hqdefaultHiddins adds that if they had known what to look for in the edible plants and environment around them, they would have found sufficient food to keep them alive until rescued.

In a spiritual sense we to are surrounded by the food we need to grow as Christians. The problem is we do not have the appetite, understanding and faith to benefit from it.

Many of us are satisfied by the milk and water “baby food” on offer at many churches and never progress to the strong meat of the Word of God.

Some Christian leaders are calling for Christians to be “Self feeding” thus making Christian preaching and teaching unnecessary on a Sunday.

Rather we should seek to the faithful preaching of the Word wherever we can find it and reinforce it with our on prayerful study of the Scriptures.

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The Blunted blade!

Make it easy for yourself!

28 So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” 29 And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 Then this thing became a sin, for the people went as far as Dan to be before one. 31 He also made temples on high places and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. 32 And Jeroboam appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made. 33 He went up to the altar that he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month that he had devised from his own heart. And he instituted a feast for the people of Israel and went up to the altar to make offerings. 1 Kings 12:28-33 E.S.V.

The first thing Jeroboam did in his reign over the break-away tribes was to set up a rival worship system.

Rather than maintaining the status quo and trusting God to keep His promise, the king resorted to the worldly wise method of imitation and substitution.

Instead of the temple at Jerusalem, he set up shrines at Dan and Beersheba, either end of the kingdom, this made them easier to reach and convenient.

All the faithful priests and Levites deserted the Northern kingdom, so he set up a priesthood of “all and sundry” in other words the riff raff and dregs.

He kept the traditional feasts at the same times during the year so that the people would be less likely to go to Jerusalem as they had always done.

The king’s major departure from the Law of God was to set up golden calves and personally offered sacrifices to them. No doubt he resorted to the usual artifice of idolatry and said that they were mere visual representatives of the true religion of Israel and the true God.Worshiping_the_golden_calf

Under the guise of making the peoples religion more convenient and easier, King Jeroboam undermined all the reality and truth of God’s worship in his kingdom.

No doubt many in the kingdom felt that they were still worshipping the same true God as they had always done. Yet the truth was that God Himself, commanded the people where, when and how He was to be worshipped.

No king or priest had any authority to change or modify the fundamentals of God’s worship.

The setting up of idolatrous golden calves was a return to the pagan worship which cost Israel so dearly in the past and would do so again.

Sadly I think this kind of activity is rampant in many of the churches today.

It appears that a great deal of what is done in the life and worship of the church is done in the name of convenience and expedience with the end of accommodating the ease and comfort of believer and unbeliever alike.

Anything which may touch a nerve or offend someone’s prejudices is avoided like the plague. Our lifelong combat with remaining sin is forgotten and taking up the Cross of self denial and unworldliness is set aside for promises of your best life now.

Many scriptural truths which our protestant and evangelical forebears fought and died for are now either paid  only “lip service “or ignored altogether.

The preaching and teaching of the word of God is now being diluted or removed from worship services and relegated to some other time or means, if they happens at all.

What is worse the average person in the “pew” is either oblivious or turns a blind eye to these innovations and “By –paths” which lead away from God’s revealed will.

It is “too hard” to stand up for the truth now, the personal cost is too high and it is better to get the people “in” at least “professing” Christianity, no matter how deficient in reality and genuineness.

We hear today “that as long as we are seen by God as being in Christ and clothed in his righteousness, it matters little that we remain self centered and worldly and little better than the people who make no profession of Christianity at all. God will deal with our remaining sinfulness so the church need say little about it”.

We see in the seven churches of Revelation what happens when sin in the Church is unaddressed and left to run riot. We also see the fate of those who fail to stand up for God’s truth as revealed in Scripture.

How much real Christianity and the authentic gospel of Christ will be left after the revisionists and re-decorators have finished their work?

Precious little it seems.

Perilous Times

There are very few in the churches today that seem to have any concern about the state of Christianity or where the “evangelical” church is heading today.

Were you to judge from many of the happy, clappy church services and concerts prevalent in popular christian worship today, you would think that the only end is having a good time, ostensibly to worship God and that all in the garden is lovely.

While many of the attendees may have a social conscience and also deplore the slide of morality and decency, you seldom hear comment on these sorts of things from the pulpit.

Indeed many of the things taught and warned against by the Word of God are seldom addressed in our modern pulpits and churches.

The reasons for this are varied but mainly it is due to the fear of man supplanting the fear of God among modern professors of ?Christianity.

The overriding desire of the Church today is for relevance and numerical growth. While charitable and social work is done by the church and individual Christians is it be because these things make us more acceptable in the eyes of society.

How important it is for us to do the right things for the right end, that is the glory of God and Him alone

If Christians do stand against the evils in society and immorality they ignored as “old fashioned” or are howled down and abused.

For the churches this may mean decrease in attendance and unpopularity,  the fears of which are driving much of the accommodation to the Worlds prejudices , glitz , hype and gimic attending Christian meetings.

No one likes seeing a poorly attended church service and a dying  congregation. Unfortunately many of the current cures being put forth by the “prophets of our time” are worse than the disease.

The true gospel of Jesus Christ has always  been unpopular.

In times past it was the “done” thing to profess Christianity and it was sociably acceptable to attend church. Very often however, Christianity could be reduced to mere good morals and respectability, devoid of any true spiritual power and reality.

Today the pendulum has swung the other way and Christianity is, at least in its Biblical form, out of favour  and countenancewith the world. So the Church is under increasing pressure to “populate or perish”, regardless of the means used or concessions to the sinful “World” made.

The standouts who seek to stand for Scriptural truth and preaching and pure and unadulterated Christian worship are now the pariahs of “the Church” as well as the ungodly World.

Rather be an Athanasius standing alone, “ contra mundum” (against the world) for God’s Truth than yield to compromise in departing from it.images athanasius.jpeg

 

 

 

Make it easy for yourself!

The Weapons of our Warfare!

The “Smith” gun.

During the early days of World War two and the imminent of threat of invasion of Britain the greatest need of the defenders was for effective anti-tank weapons, especially for the Home Guard.

So desperate were they for an answer to the seemingly unstoppable German tanks, that someone suggested they place upside down dinner plates on the local roads to arouse the curiosity of the German tank crews to provoke them to leave their vehicles and investigate ,hoping to dispose of them in the process.

One weapon developed was the Smith Gun.220px-The_Smith_Three_Inch_Mobile_Gun_H18832

“The Smith Gun was an ad hoc anti-tank artillery piece used by the British Army and Home Guard during the Second World War. With a German invasion of Great Britain seeming likely after the defeat in the Battle of France, most available weaponry was diverted to the regular British Army, leaving the Home Guard short on supplies, particularly anti-tank weaponry. The Smith Gun was designed by a retired Army Major named William H. Smith as a makeshift anti-tank weapon, and was put into production in 1941 following a demonstration to the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill”. (Quoted from wiki)

Unfortunately by the time the”Smith Gun” arrived the threat of invasion had largely subsided.

To operate this weapon it had to be turned on its side, which was not always easy to do as it was heavy and awkward to handle especially on uneven ground.

It required a high firing trajectory and with the shortage of ammunition, target practice was not always possible.4088263_orig

It had a mixed operational history and was quickly withdrawn from service at the end of the war.

It is understandable in those desperate days that for all its faults this weapon was jumped upon.

There are many in the churches today who feel that we can no longer rely on the Bible as our primary weapon in the fight against sin and our endeavour to save people from its clutches.

They regard its claim to inerrancy and  faith in the utility Scriptures for God’s saving purposes in the world ,as being “Old hat” and not worthy of credence for twenty first century man.

These often well meaning people, seek to supplement and sometimes replace the preaching of the Word with worldly methods and devices that can only be regarded as gimmicks.

I fear that for many so called ministers of the Word that the last thing they want to do is preach it. Very often they will substitute anything else for the actual exposition and proclamation of the Scriptures.

God does not need us to “second guess” Him. He has warned us against using carnal weapons and must look to the Captain of our Salvation for our supply and ammunition.

Christ has not left His army without the weapons they need to fight their spiritual enemies. The Bible as the in-scripturated Word of God is an “arsenal of freedom” that we despise at our peril.

Supported by fervent prayer and trusting faith we are well equipped for whatever the world, Satan and ungodly men can throw against us.

Empowered by the Spirit, we have all the means we need to overcome the enemy’s seemingly impregnable defenses.

Through Christ and His grace, the Church and individual Christian is more than capable of withstanding any attack and assault if only we will avail ourselves of them.

It will endure and prevail when all our man made designs and devices will end on the scrap heap.

Strangers and Sojourners.

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“9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:9-11 E.S.V.

The Christian in his or her original state is no different from the non-Christian. We were to without God and without hope.

The Apostle Peter places the originating cause of our difference from the people of godless world at large solely in the reality of God’s choice of the believer.

It is only through His undeserved and indeed ill-deserved mercy that those who were once “not a people” became the people of God.

It is because of this high calling that Christians are to live differently and on a more exalted and heavenly plane than those around them.

This world is not our final dwelling place and because of this, our attitude towards it must be that of strangers and sojourners, with the expectancy of departing from it at any time.

Instead of involving ourselves with the  inordinate pursuit of world’s passions and desires we must place our ultimate desire in seeking to glorify our Lord and Saviour by living holy and God glorifying lives in serving our fellow men and women.

We are to show forth the Excellencies and saving mercies of the one who has saved us and has a wondrous eternal reward in store for His chosen, blood bought and redeemed people . This merciful God , continues to call others to Himself by the proclamation of the glorious gospel of Christ.

To Him alone be the Glory of our Salvation.

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Editorial Note:

The only feedback I get regarding this blog is from “followers ” and ” likes”.

The only comments I recieve are spam or treated as spam by WordPress.

Since most of my readers appear to be in the United States, I can only wonder what they make of most of my references to my favourite genres in films and history.

I can only hope that despite these seemingly obscure sources, the lessons and conclusions I have tried to draw and illustrate from them, will not be lost in translation.

 

 

The Weapons of our Warfare!

Family tree: Knots and Knotholes.

 

We may know a great deal about our immediate and extended family.

When looking at more distant and unfamiliar family and our family tree however, we find a tendency to “idealize” and place in “the best light” our forebears and time – distant relatives.tree family

We may pick up a clue here and there of how they lived and what they did. We may know a little of what they were like. Yet by and large we know nothing substantial about them.

Unfortunately or (fortunately) there are some relatives that we know next to nothing about.

We may know when they were born or when they died or where they came from or who they were married to or who their children were. We may also know something of their circumstances.

It is more probable that we will never know nothing about them at all.

As to what sort of people they were or what they believed and thought may very well remain a mystery till the Day of Judgment.

Not knowing better, we tend to paint them as people of hardy and upright stock. Pioneers may be, brave soldiers and loving mothers and fathers, thrifty and the sort to be proud of.

The truth is that people are not as we would like to paint them. As in the title there are a lot of knots and knotholes in most family trees.knothole By this I mean those who were not always very nice people, hard to get along with, a bit strange or to put it bluntly were “kooks.

Some may have over indulged in drink or other vices; some were wastrels and others hard to get along with or bad tempered.

No doubt you could add to this list.

In talking to my relatives over the last few days, I have heard some dark sidelights about some of my long dead relatives that did not paint them in a very good light yet although unknown they may have had things that extenuated the way they were and they may have had good qualities to offset the bad.

We all have skeletons in our closets and black sheep in our families.

We all have known people in whom “darkness” dominated and others who despite their faults were the “salt of the earth”.

It would be true to say that few of our lives can be marked down as singly pure and virtuous, rather in most of us darkness and light, fight for mastery and one or the other seems to be winning at various points in our lives.

Often we will end our lives with others not knowing which side won in the end.

The Puritans used to picture the Christian life as a spark a-float in the midst of the ocean. Sometimes it appears to be drowning and about to be quenched forever yet inexplicably it continues to shine in an environment seeking to overcome it.20151224_192752

Were we able to see into the lives of most Christians, as to the ups and downs of their spiritual state we would see times when sin appears to gain mastery and the upper hand. At other times we would see times of especial closeness to Christ and holiness triumphant.

Still others lead lives of almost unbroken closeness to God while others only draw near to Him in the end and finish  in a blaze of His glory.

God alone knows all: we may be up to our neck in sin and going down for the third time but as long as there is a hand above water reaching for Christ there is hope.

It is the fact of God’s Holy Spirit being at work in our life that guarantees victory in the end. He is the factor that ensures the successful completion of Christ’s saving work in the believer’s lives.

Woe betide the man or women who does not place their wholehearted trust in the Lord Jesus Christ because however good a life we lead without him it will end in sorrow .

Let us pray that we and many more will glorify God and believe in Christ and become trophies of His grace.

Bad Grammar!

John Macarthur relates that a man came up to D.L. Moody and said that He counted a great many mistakes in grammar during his message.dl-moody_400x400

Moody replied that as he was not very happy about it himself but as his father had died when he was very young his education was not what it should have been. He also said that he was trying to serve the Lord with all the grammar he possessed.

 

Living Still!

“And as he   ( Christian ) went, he sang, saying,

“Well, Faithful, thou hast faithfully profest
Unto thy Lord, with whom thou shalt be blest,
When faithless ones, with all their vain delights,
Are crying out under their hellish plights:
Sing, Faithful, sing, and let thy name survive;
For though they killed thee, thou art yet alive””.

D.L. Moody also said “One day you will read in the newspaper that ” D.L. Moody is dead,”

Don’t you believe it! I will be more alive then, than I ever was before.”

May we all be able to say the same by God’s grace. Amen

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Family tree: Knots and Knotholes.

Sermons in Gravestones!

A small volume of Spurgeon’s collected sermons is titled “Sermons in Stones”. It uses illustrations from nature and history and geology and mineralogy to base a series of Christian sermons on.

In the course of my family researches I have spent a great deal of time searching the cemetery and reading the inscriptions on headstones.tombstones-in-graveyard

No doubts for many, Cemeteries are dreary depressing places; sometimes I find them so as well.

From the Christian as well as historical perspective they are places of great interest and full of meaning. They are after all; all that most people leave behind to testify their existence and mark their passing, at least as far as the general public are concerned.

In our local cemeteries the classic headstone is becoming a thing of the past except for the few who can afford it or desire to express their love despite the cost.

In looking at many of the older gravestones they are inscribed sometimes with more than just name, birth and death dates.

Some record the cause of death for example, as a mining accident. I found one young man’s grave who died in a mine fall in the late 1850’s at little Bendigo not far from where I live, he was only 23.

Death due mine accident was common in Ballarat; my great, great grandfather was killed in a mine accident in 1898.

Some Gravestones give the cause of Death, death by drowning, death by railway accident or by car, even death by sunstroke. Some people whose sons were killed overseas in the First World War and were buried there added their son’s names to their family grave here.

(The puritans used to say that you would always find a grave your size in the “churchyard”.)

Some mark the place of their birth. Many people of “Cornish “descent came to Australia and Ballarat to engage in gold prospecting and mining. (Some of my forebears came from Redruth, although their family was English originally. Some of my family came from a place called Sancreed in Cornwall. Some from Devon and Somerset)

Others in the cemetery originated from various places in the British Isles and other European countries. There are also many of Chinese descent as well.

The Cornish people were largely “Methodists” and their gravestones testify to their faith in Christ and hope of the resurrection and second coming of Christ. They are not alone in that many a believers’ grave is inscribed with a verse from a hymn, scripture text or Christian hope.

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When one reads a Christian witness like this it is like a candle in the midst of death’s darkness and we can only pray that we could leave a like Christian testimony behind us.

Others seek to testify to their love for their departed parents, wife or child others wish for their peace and rest after trials and sickness in life.

Others leave behind a testimony to their being freemasons. You often find the wife will have a small cross above her name and the husband will have a “compass “above his. I confess I shudder when I see this because although some older professing Christians are members of a Masonic lodge, it is my firm conviction that free masonry is contradictory to Christianity.

Many modern grave plaques testify to the person’s devotion to golf or fishing. Others profess their religious devotion to a particular football team.

I do wonder what comfort their relatives get by the remembrance of this “profession of faith”.

Unless alive at the Lord’s return, we will all get a grave or if cremated a container. The Lord Jesus Himself had a tomb but because death could not hold him it is an empty one.

It is because of this glorious fact of history that those who die in Christ will not remain in the grave but will rise again to be ever with the Lord.

Woe to those who die with no greater hope but that their football team will keep winning Grand finals or that the fish they chase all their lives will finally get caught.

 

I sometimes imagine what it would be like to be up at the cemetery on the day Christ returns and see the various reactions among the people to the sight of Christ in His Glory. Some of the people will rejoice to be united again with their resurrected bodies and their glorious Lord. The rest will wish that they had stayed in their graves.

Let us pray that we will be found among those who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and that we can leave behind us testimony and a witness to our belief and faith in him.

A Christless sermon is a worthless sermon.

It is like bread made without flour: the essential element is lacking.

Of such a sermon we may say — “They have taken away my Lord,

and I know not where they have laid him.” The writer is of the

same mind as John Berridge, who wrote, —

“Some fast by Calvin hold,

Some for Arminius fight,

And each is mighty bold,

And seemeth surely right:

‘Well, though with Calvin I agree,

Yet Christ is all in all to me.”

Quoted by C.H. Spurgeon in the “Salt Cellars”.

“Do-Gooders”

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”  Titus 3:1-8

Although not justified in God’s sight by the good works we have done, the Christian is to be known by what they do as much as by what they say.

Paul in the last years of his life and ministry seeks to impress upon Titus the need to persevere in exhorting his congregation to live holy, useful and Christ-like lives.

In this portion He hammers home the need for Christians to be good citizens and submissive to authority and government in lawful things. (It is only when obedience to man conflicts with obedience to God that we are to obey God rather than man.)

Our obedience to God shows itself in our obedience to those He has placed in authority over us and in the believer’s readiness and willingness for every good work.

It is also show by their avoiding of quarrelsomeness and exhibiting gentleness and courtesy, even in the most difficult situations.

Paul reminds us all, that by nature we are born sinners like those around us and full of the selfish and frictional tendencies which provoke hostility and conflict.

It is only the grace of God working in us that makes us to differ and seek to emulate those characteristics which abounded to the full in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We owe all to the great mercy and love of Christ who contrary to our deserts, suffered and died in our stead and reconciled us to God.

Through Him we have an eternal hope which colours our attitude to this present world and prompts us to live the heavenly life, here and now.

This scriptural reminder of the foundation of Christianity and its visible expression to the people around us, is one to which we need to pay close attention today.

Many “Christians” so called are regarded by the people around them as being little different from themselves and judge them as being motivated by the same earthy considerations and pleasures as everyone else.

This is one reason why the message of Salvation is disregarded and the Church relegated to merely the place for weddings and funerals.

Perhaps if we were the Christians we should be, we would see our friends and neighbors drawn to like faith in Christ.

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Sermons in Gravestones!