Month: January 2005

a.m.: Romans 6:3-4 p.m.: 1 Corinthians 7:17-24

This morning was my sister’s baptism. For people who grew up in a church to know when they are actually part of ‘The Church’ can be difficult. For many, God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – has always been a reality, along with Christian faith, hope and love. Those who grew up outside of the sphere of a church can very often know a significant change in their life when the grace of God irresistibly draws them to The Church, as the way of the world outside is significantly different. Within a church though, it is like listening for the still small voice and sometimes it is hard to tell. I am so very glad that my sister has testified that God has elected to pare away her sin from her, to place them as far as the east is from the west, that she may declare through baptism that she has died to her sin and been made alive in Christ through faith – that she is indeed part of The Church.


The week we played Buck Rogers

Well, back where I grew up again. The main reason for returning is my sister’s baptism, but I also got a chance to catch up with some old friends who I’d known for years (all in excess of fifteen years!) Strangely enough, nothing much has happened to any of us since we last met, and we just picked up where we left off. The only significant thing is that we’re all turning thirty this year, so we’re planning on doing something different this year to commemorate/commiserate. As we spent the evening chatting and looking back, many fond memories arose, from holidays together, to significant moments, to recalling a wasted youth playing cards. It was good to be able to just meet, chat and catch-up.


Exalted to the highest place

Q: Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation?
A: Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.

(Question XXVIII from the Westminster Shorter Catechism)


Why is church history important?

There are a lot of things in the Christian religion which don’t appear to make sense on first sight. The fundamentals can be found in the bible e.g. salvation by the grace of God alone through faith, but a lot of other things only make sense with some understanding of church history. From the birth of the church in the Acts of the Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, through the schisms which rent the church asunder for various reasons, through to the church in the present day, we can learn so much about the work of God.

Questions such as, “Where did the Bible come from?” and “Where does the word Trinity come from?” are answered early on in the history of the church, with the various councils which rubber-stamped the canon of Scripture and threw out Arius and his followers. Who were men like Arius, Marcion and Pelagius? What was wrong with their teachings?

We find out the origins of the Roman Catholic Church, with the rise of the Papacy, and its split with the Eastern Orthodox church, which can be seen developing through fall of the Roman Empire and the dark ages in Europe. We see the slow decline of the primacy of Scripture in the church going hand in hand with the rise of corruption and heresy. In this climate, non-Scriptural teachings relating to teachings such as purgatory and indulgences arise.

Yet, at the height of the Roman Catholic Church’s power on earth, God is working to bring the church back to his word. Men such as Wycliff and Tyndale appeared on the scene, each with an urge to translate the bible into the language of the common man. They would pave the way for Martin Luther and Jean Calvin. Who would’ve thought that an Augustinian monk in Wittenberg, a lawyer from France along with many others would bring about a reformation of the church? From their actions, the word of God was restored to its rightful place in his church. This return to Scripture instigated massive changes in these reformed churches, and in the countries where the reformation of the church took place. The translation of the Scriptures into English would influence the development of this language, in its grammar and usage, just as it was beginning to spread around the globe. The Reformation would cause a huge backlash in the Roman Catholic Church, culminating in the Council of Trent and its opposition to the doctrine of justification by faith alone being set in stone.

Despite God’s blessing on the church, the church was quick to forget and only a few hundred years after the Reformation, the reformed churches in England are in dire straits again. Again, God uses a few men, men such as George Whitfield and John Wesley to revive the church, and to bring men and women back to God and his word. Many historians believe if this revival had not happened, the kingdom would’ve fallen and England would’ve undergone violent revolution and become a republic, likes its neighbour France. This period of history would also be a time of prolific hymn-writing by people such as Isaac Watts, John Newton and Charles Wesley.

Most of the Reformed, or Protestant, churches, by their very nature, were fragmented. By now there were a myriad number of Protestant churches, Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, to mention just a few. Whether this was a good thing or not is open to question. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, most were firmly evangelical, so rooted in the word of God and prospering. By the middle of the twentieth century, many had abandoned the word of God as their prime authority in an attempt to be more like the world around it, instead of changing the world around them. At the same time, these churches saw decline in membership and attendance, with many eventually closing. Today, is still no different. Statistics show that evangelical churches are generally holding their own, whereas more theologically liberal churches are in decline. Indeed, the church in Europe in general is in decline, whilst the church in the rest of the world is thriving.

This is just a brief whistle-stop tour through, mostly English, church history. From this, some things will still not make sense. Most of it is not the entire truth, indeed some of it might be misleading without further reading.

Will we spend the time to learn more about the history of the church, how it has shaped the church and the world around us, both temporally and spiritually, and learn from the mistakes made in the past? Or will we just learn nothing and repeat the mistakes?


Too much running

Had a good run around yesterday evening. A few good shots at the goal, unfortunately a good goalkeeper, so only one goal. Not entirely convinced all this running around is beneficial though as I spent all of today walking with a slight twinge in my legs! Is it possible to run around too much?


a.m.: Matthew 6:19-34 p.m.: Nehemiah 1

In this portion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is reasoning with his followers.

He puts forward that, if we trust him with our lives, we should seek to build up for ourselves that which cannot be taken away from us. After all, if we are eternal, we should spend more time storing up worthwhile and eternal things, rather than perishable and ultimately worthless. Yet, this is completely at odds with our fallen sinful nature and requires a complete attitude readjustment. Jesus lays it down bluntly though – no one can serve both God and money (the things of this world).

From this he draws some points. If we trust in Christ, God is our heavenly Father and will provide everything we need. (Rather than what we think we need). Therefore, we should not worry. This is not referring to concern about others, but rather needless anxiousness about oneself. God is loving and perfect and will provide everything his heavenly children need. Do we realise that we are children of God?

He also points out that worrying about something will not achieve a thing. It will not provide our needs and may even hinder us in our everyday lives.

Rather he points out that we should primarily seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and God will provide everything we need.


The hostess with the mostest…or something

Another mad Saturday! Spent the afternoon playing snooker against David again. Quite a few close frames compared to last week. I think the majority closed with black ball games. Despite losing the cue tip last week, I had sourced a new tip, attached it and the new tip appears to be so much better for controlling the cue ball. Overall a good afternoon, finishing 7-1 frames in my favour.
The evening was spent at home with the usual suspects who had descended on my humble abode to watch Cypher on DVD. Quite an interesting film, leaving you wondering what was going on for most of it. It also raised an interesting issue – Who can you trust? We go about our everyday lives, usually taking things at face value without questioning the validity of the things we take on board. Are we critical enough of our information sources, be it information about ourselves or others? Not to say we should be critical of everything, just the things which are worth being critical. Do we know what is important? Worth seeing.
Alas, I’m not a particularly good host, so it was good that some of the usual suspects – notably Sarah, once shown the location of necessities, were adept at being hosts. Thanks. 🙂


Über!

I am nerdier than 96% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!
“All hail the monstrous nerd.”

Well, nothing I didn’t know already. 🙂


Psalm 100

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice,
Him serve with fear, His praise forthtell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make.
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

Oh, enter, then, His gates with praise,
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His name always.
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? The Lord, our God, is good;
His mercy is forever sure.
His truth at all times firmly stood
And shall from age to age endure.

Genevan Psalter, 1551


Misfiring

Yesterday evening was a usual evening with my work colleagues on the football pitch. Sometimes I’m amused they still let me play, given my atrocious footballing skills. Within the first couple of minutes of play, I’d managed to hit one of my team’s players twice with a belter of a shot – even if it wasn’t intentional at all! However, I was pleasantly surprised I managed to run around for the whole game, without wishing the game would end sooner. I also had a few good shots at the goal and even scored a goal. Result. 🙂


a.m.: Proverbs 6:16-19 p.m.: Ephesians 2:8-10

In these few verses of Proverbs, Solomon reveals a few things about God, God’s word and God’s people.

There is one true God, who is the God of truth. He hates all falsehood, lies and deceit. Jesus reveals himself as the truth, and the Holy Spirit guides his people in truth.

God has revealed himself to us in his word. As God is the God truth, so his word, given and preserved by his Spirit, can be trusted to be the truth.

Those who trust in Jesus Christ should endeavour to know the truth, and to live by the truth. Their whole being should reflect the truth of God, through the Spirit of truth working in them with the word of truth.


The younger generation

Spent most of today with the teens of the church. Not sure if this is my age beginning to show, but I’m shattered!
Started off playing David at snooker. Fortunately I wasn’t completely shown up by this young upstart, eventually finishing the afternoon at 6-3 frames in my favour.
In the evening, the teenagers from HWEC were invited to join the teenagers of HTC for an evening of food and games at the HTC manse. Despite our disqualification, Karen and myself were allowed to stay and have food rather than go out into the street and beg. It was good for these young people to be able to get to know each other, as well as have a good time. I must admit, I’m beginning to feel a little old now though. 🙁 It’ll be the zimmer frame next…


When I was a boy

Spent the evening with Vic and Barb, who generously provided me with dinner. After a hearty meal, including American pancakes and Maple Syrup for dessert, we chatted about lots of different subjects. I think I’m actually beginning to show my age as I was completely comfortable talking about “the youth of today”, as well as how different things were many years ago. It was also good to talk about things that never change, and that will remain the same until the end of time. I think younger generations would learn so much more if we actually listened to those who have already learnt so much about life and are willing to pass on their wisdom. All in all, a completely different and very relaxing evening.


Yes, I know…

Will this birthday celebration never end? As is traditional at my workplace, my colleagues and I went to the local public house at lunchtime to celebrate my birthday. Admittedly it was a pleasant way to spend one’s lunch break, sipping on my Coca-Cola and eating chips. I’ll be glad when I return back to normality – days when I’m not reminded it’s my birthday. Chances are, I’ll probably look back at the past few days with fond memories though. Now, where’s my cardigan?
Anyway, we were back on the football pitch this evening after a Christmas interlude. Surprisingly, I managed to run around for the whole hour, as well as have a few good shots at the goal. A good game in my opinion, even if we did win.


a.m.: Ecclesiates 2:12-23 1 Corinthians 15:12-21 p.m.: Matthew 2:1-12

What is life? This was what the philosopher considered in Ecclesiastes. He lamented that everything he did, everything he worked for and earnt would be nothing to him when he died. Like building sandcastles on the beach – you may build the most beautiful and ornate sandcastle, but when the tide comes in, it is gone as though it never existed. He had realised that without God in the picture, everything he did would eventually perish.
Like the philosopher, the apostle Paul also knew that without God, life is meaningless and transient. Ultimately, both Paul and the philosopher came to the same conclusion – a meaningful and everlasting life can be found only through faith in Christ, that through faith we might work for the glory of God.