Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jul | 31 | The best diet for the health of giants


The best diet for the health of giants

Psalms 119:9-16
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have declared All the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. NKJV

I have just returned from an afternoon walk around the 15th Century Ravenscraig Castle, the first castle in Scotland to be built to withstand Cannon and protect Kirkcaldy from Pirates based on the near isle of May. To my wife’s delight, her hero, Oliver Cromwell, garrisoned some of his invading forces there in the 17th century. It is a ruin now, yes, it is just another footprint in the sand where giants once trod.

When Edward Irving, of whom I referred to yesterday, was teaching in Kirkcaldy, another Scott named Thomas Carlyle was also imported into the ‘Lang Toun’ from Edinburgh maybe to set up some teaching competitiveness? Irving and Carlyle, however, rather than compete with one another, became the greatest of friends. Indeed, Carlyle went on to marry one of Irving’s students, and the joining of these two particular people, continue to provide psychologists and historians with enough material to write a thousand theses! Suffice to say, that though Carlyle, like so many other of Irving’s friends, would later distance himself from what he considered the mad tongue speaking cockney lunatics who would surround Irving in London, it is obvious that Irving, never the less, loved Carlyle deeply. Such love, such respect is very interesting and I say this because Carlyle had already lost his Scot Calvinist rooted faith whilst studying Divinity in Edinburgh. There are far too many who have had their faith destroyed in educational institutions.

Thomas Carlyle, love him or hate him, went on to become one of the greatest of the Victorian writers. It is evident, however, that Carlyle’s loss of his personal faith in his twenties, had left a hole in his soul, which it seemed no amount of intellectual prowess, or plasticine molded, self-invented spirituality could adequately fill. Even so, like the best of ‘ex-pats’, he appears to be more of a devout Christian patriot than the many others who have also gone on to deny respectable Christianity.

So, like I say, long ago, two giants meet in Kirkcaldy. Irving seems in his ‘mysticism’ to draw closer to God, whilst according to his intellectual friends, also moves into the madness of what we might regard as the simple current day evidences and occurrences of the charismatic movement. There is no doubt that Irving’s increased mystical encounter with God led him into error and deception, whilst Carlyle on the other hand, seemingly draws away from God and like some spiritual ex patriot who is ever separated from his homeland, tries to recreate the image of a lost land and culture that suits now his ever changing and ever evolving position and understanding of a lost home viewed from a foreign country. Two giants meet in Kirkcaldy and both leave gigantic imprints on the world as they tread their divergent paths. What can we learn from another brief look at their tracks left on the land?

For me, I first see now that more than ever, it is only time and distance travelled which provide the valid litmus test of whether a life’s journey made seems to be right or wrong, profitable or unprofitable, fruitful and helpful, or empty, vain and destructive. There is a third thing of course, the comfort of which though is only provided for that onlooker who ‘hopes for the best’ and that is: a ‘satisfactory’ mortal end, you know, a good death.

So, Irving, that eventual recycler of old heresies, dies aged just 42. Pushed by the declarations of so-called prophets, he was left tired out, worn out, stressed out, played out, and I wonder, even maybe ‘faithed’ out. God, you see, never did come and heal either his three dead boys or finally himself of tuberculosis.

Carlyle, aged 86 years, eventually died a lonely and virtual recluse. Despite being told he could be buried in Westminster Abbey however, he chooses to be buried with his parents in Ecclefechan. His last words apparently were: “So this is death. Well!”

Two giants. Two lives. Two paths. Two measures of continuing influence in the world. But looking now to the south of Kirkcaldy, in both time and distance covered, it seems that it is Carlyle who leaves the larger footprints on the land, whose very footsteps still echo through the halls of passing time, and whose literary prowess has influenced a thousand million fireside pulpits and set aflame a whole host of other giants.

From these two men we can learn one great thing: That men once touched by God, men once kissed by God, continually desire God. Choices made in life may restrict and shape the expression of that now irrepressible desire, but one way or another, that kiss kindled desire will out.
  • However, the only right shaping of the expression of that desire is: ‘The Word of God’
  • The only course correcting and directing of that desire is: ‘The Word of God’. 
  • The only comfort for the journey is:   ‘The Word of God’.
  • The only safe coracle across the river of death is: ‘The Word of God’ and the only passport to present at heaven’s gate is: ‘The Word of God’. 

So, I say to you again: “Young man, get into the Word of God and whatever happens to you, keep in it and get it into you! For the Word is the only thing that encompasses the passing of time, stays fresh in distance travelled, and provides strength and comfort for a good end to this our mortal lives.”

Listen:- Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16 NKJV

Pray: -  When I forsake You, please O Lord fulfill Your Word and do not forsake me. In all of this, my quickly passing life, draw close through the blood of Jesus Christ my King and only hope. Speak loud O Lord, speak long and make my pathway narrow for he long journey started seems quickly to come to its end and the judgement of all things is soon at hand. Prserve me in Your goodness, guide me in Your righteousness, lead me safely home and sink all the pirates on these my present raging seas. Amen and amen

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jul | 30 | 28 People Crushed to Death! 8 Million More Blinded!


28 People Crushed to Death! 8 Million More Blinded!

Acts 5:35-39
And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it — lest you even be found to fight against God." NKJV

When writing this insight, I had recently come back to the ‘Kingdom’, the Kingdom of Fife in particular. For me, it has been a circuitous thirty four year spiritual route from being found by Christ in the Naval Dockyard area of Rosyth, to now, whilst typing, being here once more staring out of my window across these same waters now in Kirkcaldy bay, right across the Firth of Forth toward Edinburgh.

Early this afternoon, my wife and I mounted one of the ‘Paps of Fife’ (which is a wonderfully old fashioned turn of phrase, and by the way, means exactly what you think it means), East Lomond it was, or as it's also known, Falkland Hill, which is some 1512 ft above sea level. From the heights, I breathed in such a view of the Kingdom below me, that it made me drunk with wonder. It was beautiful but bracing, and so we descended to Falkland Palace below and the Lomond tavern in particular, where, whilst being surrounded by pictures of Robert The Bruce, William Wallace and the ‘We shall never surrender’ portraits of the defeat of the English at the battle of Bannockburn, I washed down a Scottish Steak Pie pub lunch with some foreign ale. It seems that we Scotts are always deceiving ourselves. Now, warmer and refreshed, we returned to Kirkcaldy where I continued my investigations of the Christian residents who had once resided in this ‘Kingdom’ here on earth.

Edward Irving, regarded by some as the forerunner of the British Charismatic movement, spent seven formative years here in Kirkcaldy and later returned to the long town from London in 1828 to preach at the parish church. It was so full of listeners that day, that the gallery collapsed and killed some twenty-eight people. Spurgeon of course, had a very similar tragedy in his own popular ministry.

Now I mention Irving in particular, because as a young converted sailor I often attended a reformed Baptist church in Edinburgh, which at the time had purchased and was meeting in a very small portion of an exceptionally large and then long defunct beautiful church building once used by a protestant Christian sect called the ‘Catholic Apostolic Church’. Long ago now, I remember being shown around the rest of the building, which was being used then as a warehouse for Banner of Truth Books, and whilst looking at the magnificence of the architecture and richness of the murals and stained glass, I remember asking what had happened to the congregation? “Oh,” was the disillusioned reply “they were just another group of liturgical Charismatic Christian fundamentalists looking for the imminent return of Christ. They disappeared when their own self appointed twelve apostles eventually died out.” These ‘Irvingites’, for that is what they were; these prophetic, apostolic, tongue speaking miracle working Christians, at the height of their short lived life, at one time numbered eight million souls worldwide! What made this man Irving so popular? What made the movement so materially prosperous? Moreover, most importantly, what made it, like so many other protestant sects, even like my own Countess of Huntingdon Connexion of churches, die out so very quickly?

In private, first note that Irving had a very affable likeable humorous personality. Publicly he was an ostentatious and charismatic extrovert, able to couple earnestness with stinging satire in stunning and pointed proportion. He was well worth the watching and well worth the listening to. Hence the crushing of twenty eight people due to lack of crowd control. Now, there was and is nothing wrong with this engaging type of personality and preaching, but it is worth noting that even though Irving was not a crowd pleaser, he was still most certainly a crowd puller. So then, let me ask, how many crowd pullers now occupy the pulpits and fading TV screens of our current modern mega churches? Remember, there is nothing wrong with a crowd puller, but please recognize that the propensity of the character and style of such a person can just as well be used to sell soap powder or start the Nazi party.

Second, note that Irving was no ‘mug’. He was an intellectual who became a mystic. He would have fit well with the goateed brigade of the post modern and emergent crowd that’s for sure. There is nothing new under the sun is there? Indeed, Irving was an intellectual who moved in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, advocated the centrality of the Scriptures, and church unity under the four fold gifting’s of Christ to the church. So far so good.

Thirdly, Irving was a millenarian believing in the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ to set up His Kingdom on earth. Indeed around the turn of the 19th century, (or the turn of any century it seems) these millennial teachings find many a listening and inquisitive ear. It’s the same today, and today especially.

Now then, though I do not sport the intellectual prowess of Irving, I am a millenialist. I also believe in the soon return of Jesus Christ, in the present fivefold gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as in the modern day presence of the gifts of healings and tongues. (Though, by the by, personally I have never seen a gift operation of the former and most of the latter which I have heard, is flesh.) Being then synchronized at many key points, what can I, what can we, learn from the swift disappearance of eight million similarly connected believers?

In summary, here are three things to ‘beware!’

First, though each day most certainly takes us a ‘days march nearer home’ as well as bringing the return of Christ that much closer, there are most definite signs of His coming which must all occur simultaneously before His return. In light of this, and of Christ’s statement on the unknowability of the date, it is wrong to set dates and timescale expectations of the return of Christ. As for me, I surely do expect Christ to return in my lifetime and I believe I have good reason for such an expectation. Yet, I could be wrong and in all likelihood, I probably am! This strange tension of uncertain expectation should be the mark of the true believer until the ‘signs of His coming’ all come about. Beware then of any man, or any group, that is moved from a preparing expectation to an assumed ‘certainty’ about such timescales.

Second, the Irvingites, all of them, were highly committed tythers. Regular giving to the local church is necessary for sure, so who can say anything against that? However, note that it was this regular and committed giving became the engine for the rapid growth of this mixtured movement of wonder and recycled heresies! It is right to give but there is power in the pound. You be aware then, of what vehicle that pound-empowered engine is driving and the direction in which it is going. Let each one of us examine the exit notes of our wallet, be they pounds, dollars or Euros

Lastly, the Irvingites had an astonishingly bold leadership. One aspect of the Irvingites was the restoration of the 'Apostolate of the twelve' as a precursor to Christ's second coming. Interestingly, Irving himself was not a Catholic Apostolic Church apostle, but the twelve who were, were deemed to be both unique and irreplaceable and so became the only people who could ordain priests. That being the case, there were no more ordinations after the last Apostle died in 1901 thus leading to the inevitably of the decline of the sect and the closure of most of its churches. Obviously, these twelve apostles, bold enough to announce even to Royalty and all high church authorities in the world of their own Divine appointment, were just plain wrong! They were deluded deceivers dressed in decorated man made vestments of high office. Beware then of other modern day self deluded deceivers, who sport charismatic personalities, large followings and have lots of money, who in turn focus on millennial teachings with a charismatic and prophetic spin followed by dodgy healings thrown in for good measure.

There is nothing new under the sun, and yes indeed, the old recycled ‘tut’ is coming around once more, only this time, the deceptions are set in glinting bleached white teeth.

Listen:- For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 2 Thessalonians 3:11-15 NKJV

Pray: - Father, we long for and look for the return of Christ our King and Saviour. Living in this desire, walking in this tension, when all is abnormal around us, even when the waves roar and crash against our own crumbling concrete walls, still keep us fixed in the cyles of normal everyday living, grounded in the truth of Your word, fixed, firm settled, solid, steadfast sure. Amen and amen.

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