Mostly stuff on Christianity by an Anglican priest who reads a lot of C. S. Lewis. Please note: all my posts about Lewis' book How To Pray are on the cslewis.org site, under Social Media/blog.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Spurgeon's M&E for 12 April - just the thing

"My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels." Psalm 22:14 

Our blessed Lord experienced a terrible sinking and melting of soul. "The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?" Deep depression of spirit is the most grievous of all trials; all besides is as nothing. Well might the suffering Saviour cry to his God, "Be not far from me," for above all other seasons a man needs his God when his heart is melted within him because of heaviness. Believer, come near the cross this morning, and humbly adore the King of glory as having once been brought far lower, in mental distress and inward anguish, than any one among us; and mark his fitness to become a faithful High Priest, who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Especially let those of us whose sadness springs directly from the withdrawal of a present sense of our Father's love, enter into near and intimate communion with Jesus. Let us not give way to despair, since through this dark room the Master has passed before us. Our souls may sometimes long and faint, and thirst even to anguish, to behold the light of the Lord's countenance: at such times let us stay ourselves with the sweet fact of the sympathy of our great High Priest. Our drops of sorrow may well be forgotten in the ocean of his griefs; but how high ought our love to rise! Come in, O strong and deep love of Jesus, like the sea at the flood in spring tides, cover all my powers, drown all my sins, wash out all my cares, lift up my earth-bound soul, and float it right up to my Lord's feet, and there let me lie, a poor broken shell, washed up by his love, having no virtue or value; and only venturing to whisper to him that if he will put his ear to me, he will hear within my heart faint echoes of the vast waves of his own love which have brought me where it is my delight to lie, even at his feet forever.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

On Lust and Gluttony

 A recent lesson on two of the Cardinal Sins after an Evening Prayer service at our church.  I start the lesson about 15 minutes into the video.  You'll have to click on the youtube link to view it.  If you fast-forward, the sound may not be in sync with the video.


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Aquinas and Sola Scriptura

From St. Thomas's commentary on St. John, chapter 21, Lecture 6:

2656 Now John states that his Gospel is true, and he speaks in the person of the entire Church which received it: "My mouth will utter truth" (Prv 8:7). We should note that although many have written about Catholic truth, there is a difference among them: those who wrote the canonical scriptures, such as the evangelists and apostles and the like, so constantly and firmly affirm this truth that it cannot be doubted. Thus John says, we know that his testimony is true: "If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed" (Gal 1:9). The reason for this is that only the canonical scriptures are the standard of faith. The others have set forth this truth but in such a way that they do not want to be believed except in those things in which they say what is true.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Worst Danger of CRT

[I'm still working on this:]

The assumptions and practice of Critical Race Theory are a purposeful attempt to undermine traditional American culture (think Christendom).  That's not good.  But, there's something worse.  

Nations will come and go anyway.  The worst thing about CRT is that it is a violation of the Golden Rule.   Therefore it is sinful and perilous to an eternal soul.  To promote CRT - or to enforce it, as the case may be - is to promote the transgression of God's law, which is worse than violating our sympathy for traditional American institutions or way of life, for these things are temporal.  Hell is eternal.

As Christians, our mission is to call all to repentance, whatever the sin may be, and point them to the Saviour.  We should certainly be concerned for justice in our society - CRT promotes injustice - but our main concern is that which is eternal.  Therefore, our conversation with anyone who is in favour of CRT must be to point them to the law of God and to the Saviour they need.  

I am arguing that our first concern is their eternal welfare instead of any temporal concern we have.  They may not listen, but let us not give up on Jesus's promise that the Holy Spirit will witness to the truth.  

Sunday, February 14, 2021

A Funeral Sermon: A Time for Every Season Under Heaven


I recently preached this sermon at the funeral of my brother-in-law, designated herein as "V."  I've taken out a lot of personal stuff.  The text is that famous first periocope in Ecclesiastes 3.

        Many of us here remember the ‘60’s – how can we forget them!  What a time!  As we read the first lesson from Ecclesiastes, I’m sure many if not all of us were reminded of the Bob Dylan song made famous by The Byrds, “Turn, Turn, Turn”….

As the passage says, we live in seasons, and all our seasons have a purpose, and every purpose is under heaven.  God sees it all, he knows about it all, and he is ultimately seeking our good in it all – as hard as that may be to believe at times.  It’s easy enough to see how our birth was good, but death is not a good thing: it’s a curse brought upon us by the sin of Adam and Eve.  But, however or whenever our death comes, God is still good and He is still watching over his purpose under heaven….

But let’s focus for a few minutes on how the passage starts out: “a time to be born, and a time to die.”  This speaks of a number of things, doesn’t it.  For every one of us, there was a season and a time for our birth.  And for every one of us, there is a season and time under heaven for our death.  As the Psalmist says, “my times are in your hands.”  To us, this is all a mystery.  There may be times when we ask, “Why was I born?”  And we can certainly have lots of questions about death: “Why now?  Why like this?” 

Yet, somehow, God has a purpose for our birth and even for our death.  And in it all, whatever our questions, we know he purposes good.  God did not bring you into this world to do you harm but good.  The apostle James says in the first chapter of his letter in the NT:

“God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. …  16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”  In other words, God is good through and through. 

In this fallen world, bad things can happen to us and we ourselves can do bad things.  But that is not God’s ultimate purpose for bringing us into this world. 

In fulfilling his purpose he also brought us into this world at just the right time; He does that with everybody – He did it with his own Son, as the Bible says, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son.”  As for the time of our death, we could say God gives us some leeway.  Going back to Jesus, consider his death.  Jesus died because wicked people killed him.  They didn’t have to, but God let them do what they wanted to do.  But here’s the mystery; Jesus spoke of his death as the hour appointed for him by his Father; the hour that he would save his people from their sins.  Somehow, in spite of leaving people leeway to do what they want, God’s purpose for our salvation, under heaven, was still done. 

This can be a comfort to us.  The time of V.’s death was no accident.  It was no chance.  It wasn’t just because COVID was around.  There was a good purpose under heaven for it; and it was the hour that our Father in heaven had long appointed.  It was simply time for V. to come home.  God is good; He’s been good in giving V. to us, and he is good in taking V. home.

Now this is a loving family, and I cannot imagine any of us wants to find ourselves on the last day, when Jesus returns, and raises us from the dead and gives us our bodies back again, and brings us before his judgment – I can’t imagine any of us wants to find ourselves alive on that day and we not be together, because this one or that one is on the wrong side of Jesus, the Judge.  There is a time for each of us to die.  Then will follow the judgment – there’s a time for that too.  And Jesus promises us that, if we will lose our lives for his sake, we can be on the right side of his judgment.  Jesus calls us today to give up ourselves in this life, so we can have our true selves back, forever; and that all who believe in him, raised back to life, can look each other in the eye again, and shake each other’s hands again, and hear each other’s voices again.  What a gift.  God purposes this blessing for us all.  He wants us to see each other again.  But what we do with our lives, and what we do with Jesus, is up to us.

[image is from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TheByrdsTurnTurnTurn.jpg - used only to illustrate the recording mentioned in this article above.]

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Thackeray on Tyranny

 

William Thackeray published essays on each of the first four King Georges.  While describing King George III, he spoke positively of how he tried to make use of what gifts were given him.  Speaking of his courage, he reflected on what was grand about it, though I think he is being sarcastic.  It was grand in that he exercised it in a grand way against all who opposed him.

"The battle of the King with his aristocracy remains yet to be told by the historian who shall view the reign of George more justly ... It was he, with the people to back him, who made the war with America; it was he and the people who refused justice to the Roman Catholics; and on both questions he beat the patricians.  He bribed: he bullied: he darkly dissembled on occasion: he exercised a slippery perseverance, and a vindictive resolution, which one almost admires as one thinks his character over.  His courage was never to be beat.  It trampled North under foot; it beat the stiff neck of younger Pitt: even his illness never conquered that indomitable spirit.  As soon as his brain was clear, it resumed the scheme, only laid aside when his reason left him ....

And then here is where Thackeray begins to talk more generally:

"I believe it is by persons believing themselves in the right that nine-tenths of the tyranny of this world has been perpetrated.  Arguing on that convenient premise, the Dey of Algiers would cut off twenty heads of a morning; Father Dominic would burn a score of Jews in the presence of the Most Catholic King, and the Archbishops of Toledo and Salamanca sing Amen.  Protestants were roasted, Jesuits hung and quartered at Smithfield, and witches burned at Salem, and all by worthy people, who believed they had the best authority for their actions.  

"And so, with respect to old George, even Americans, whom he hated and who conquered him, may give him credit for having quite honest reasons for oppressing them.  ..."I have no wish but the prosperity of my own dominions, therefore I must look upon all who would not heartily assist me as bad men, as well as bad subjects."  That is the way he reasoned.  "I wish nothing but good, therefore every man who does not agree with me is a traitor and a scoundrel."  

Thackeray notes that George's religious belief of being ordained in his kingship also fueled this fire.  And his policies were popular with the people - noting the votes in the Commons in favour of his positions.  Yet, Thackeray comments on this popularity:

"Popular?  - so was the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes popular in France: so was the massacre of St. Bartholomew: so was the Inquisition exceedingly popular in Spain."

Liberty, joined with Law, is our British heritage, but even the British could at times not see how they were violating their own basic principles - especially when religious fervour was involved.  That section of the ruling class in our country now in power has basically become a religious cult.  They will, with religious fervour, continue to violate the liberties of our people, just as tyrants before them have done, thinking they are doing what is right; "It is the right thing to do."  May we, the freedom-loving descendants of our colonial fathers, maintain our hope in God, and may He have mercy upon our oppressors as we seek to love them as our Lord taught us.  Deo Vindice!