Jesus Christ is Still King and His Gospel is Still True

Sermon preached at a Taunton Churches Together Sunday Service on 15/11/2020.

On the evening of November 5th, my wife, pregnant daughter and her husband, and our 4 year old daughter, were in the garden having a fire-pit bonfire.

We had German sausages cooking; marshmallows warming. Sparklers, and one or two thimbles of beer. We were having a great time.

When suddenly:  my daughter’s waters broke (nearly extinguishing the bonfire)! Our younger daughter Laura, said to our older daughter:  “I sometimes have accidents too Abi!”

Five hours later, she gave birth to twins.  

And their names gave rise to what I want to share today:  Alfred & Evangelina

Continue reading “Jesus Christ is Still King and His Gospel is Still True”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in particular exacerbates these longings…

Eric Metaxas on his ten year anniversary edition of ‘Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy‘:

Bonhoeffer’s story remains so moving to me that I feel deeply humbled God allowed me the privilege of bringing it to so many readers over the years. His extraordinary life cannot help but inspire anyone who becomes familiar with it. I know because it’s changed me dramatically, and everywhere I’ve gone people who have read the book have told me the same. That’s what the lives of saints do. They reverberate through the years, shining truth and light into the future.

The first couple of chapters:

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You are Called to Greatness

Called to Greatness: Is. 40:28-31; John 6:66

It is so easy for my life to be consumed by triviality, pettiness and banality.

Do you know what I mean?

I don’t want my life to meander along in a predictable, mundane fashion.

It’s not that I’m looking for the novelty of experiential excitement:  As an end in itself.

It’s more that I know I am made for more, and I want more.

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A Psalm: The Lockdown of Covid

Psalm 137 Covid Version:

In the lockdown of Covid,

Indoors we stayed, and wept,

When we remembered friends, family, sanity and jobs.

In the churches we silenced our tongues, and muzzled our faces,

For the Government required of us fearful obeisance to the gods of bureaucratic scientism & the spin of half-truths.

Why should we so meekly comply and not sing the LORD’s song in this ‘new normal’?

If I forget you, O Christ, let me throw away my own heart upon the ash heap;

If I forget you O Church, cast me upon the rocks of ruin,

Let not my highest joy in Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Be subordinated to whimsical diktat of conflicting authoritarian pronouncements.

Remember LORD, in previous actual plagues of old

Twas the Church that fought like lions,

And preserved the communities and society.

O Covid, destroyer of civilisations, doomed to be destroyed,

May the LORD repay those whose courage failed.

May the LORD repay those whose courage roared.

Let not the future prove to be the rocks upon which we have dashed our little ones.

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Bad ‘Woke Traits’ in the World and in the Church

One of the best cultural critics I know has once again done what great cultural analysis does best: Expose the little man behind the curtain (Wizard of Oz) pulling all the strings and presenting a certain reality (fake news) that many people absorb and assume to be the norm. What follows is a masterclass from my friend, who remains anonymous at this point because the Woke Militia are really a terrible bunch of virtue-signalers and it is my duty and joy to protect him and share it here.

“Part of the woke problem is premature self-ascription of prophetic authority by people who suppress the true prophets. I think we are allowed to point that out.”

Yes we are. And we must. Whether in the Church or in the World, a kind of prophetic mantle is presumed and then acted upon with all sorts of illegitimate authority, by the religious and the non-religious. Woke culture displays classic religious traits of cultic and cultural authoritarianism on a par with Nazism and Communism: Left and Right in an inter-play of 1984 meets the Gulag Archipelago. Any non-echo chamber YouTube search will plentifully prove my point.

“The Social Justice Warrior (SJW) movement known now as ‘Woke’ is a cultural, intellectual and theological dead-end. It is ignorance, projected self-righteousness and illegitimate rage on steroids.”

Richard Matcham

Buckle up: Here are some bad woke traits:

Continue reading “Bad ‘Woke Traits’ in the World and in the Church”

Shameful Behaviour

Sermon preached on 13th September 2020.

Luke 13:10-17 ‘Shameful Behaviour’

The last time I entered a synagogue was in Cairo, 2007.  It was a beautiful experience and nothing much happened.  In Luke’s gospel, this is the last time Jesus enters a synagogue too.  Unlike my visit, which was quite sedate; With Jesus (as usual), it all kicks off again!

I want you to notice:

  • Last week in Luke 13:11-5 18 we read people were killed by a collapsing tower.  This week in following Luke, a poor woman was bent over for 18 years.  She never asked for anything.  Jesus called out to her.

Notice too:

  • The word Sabbath is mentioned what seems like an excessive 5 times
  • The synagogue ruler tries to publicly shame Jesus by appealing to the crowds.
  • Jesus fights unholy fire with holy fire.
  • The man, behaving like a beast, treats his ox and ass better that a human being.

This story is specially tied to the one before.  This is the example, given by Luke, of a “fig tree” that is not bearing fruit (13:6-9).  It is an example of the “That’s not right!” tragedies in 13:1-5.

Think about Sabbath:  mentioned FIVE times!!    Excessive!  Why?  To get our attention!  To get our imaginative juices flowing.

FIVE.

In Judaism, numbers are extremely significant.

Most have meaning attached that are symbolic and expressive of deeper truth.

5 in Hebrew numerology is attached to:

  • The Torah
  • 2×5 = 10 Commandments

And in this way they become symbols of God’s goodness and grace.

There are 5 Great Mysteries:

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That’s Not Right!

Sermon: September 6, 2020 watch here.

“That’s Not Right” Luke 13:1-5 (and 12:54-56; 13:6-9)

My first two years of Secondary School were at a Boys Boarding School.  It was also in the days when kids had milk at school.  We had those 1/3 pint bottles.  But sometimes the bottles arrived early and so were left outside.  In the summer, this is not a good thing.

I remember, during a break time, we were rebelling:  The milk had turned – lumpy!  There was no way I was going to drink it.  And as I stood right by the crate, in what we called the ‘Milk Rebellion’ of ‘82  The Headmaster appeared. Proper Old School.   Made Genghis Khan look like a fairy!  Hard as nails. Dipped in starch.  Hair parted like the Red Sea and socks pulled tight up to his knees! We’ll call him Donald.

He heard our squeaking and wailing and said passive-aggressively: “Is there a problem?”  He stood there, picked up a bottle, punched the foil away, and gulped down the milk.  We all looked on in astonishment.  He wiped the lumpy bits from around his mouth and chin.  And said, “Delicious, nothing wrong with that!”  And walked away, like a victorious king!

My thoughts were not quite suitable for a Sunday morning in church.

But I did think:  “That’s not right!”

Continue reading “That’s Not Right!”

The Gospel Cancels Cancel Culture

The Western world is a secular post-modern culture.  Some people alive today remember when it was different.  A time when our culture was neither secular nor post-modern.  Post-modernity is a massive cultural earthquake is continuing to take place right now!

Those of you who feel out-of-sorts!  Disorientated.  You no longer understand your grand-childrens language!  And don’t even get me started on their music!

We witnessed the decline of the church in the post-modern West!  On average: 1 join, 6 leave.

And so we get anxious; we panic, then pray, then panic again.  Our politics have become polarised.  Our social and political fabric is under enormous strain.  Every 10 years we crash into another 10 years of austerity.  We’re slowly learning that going to war does not fix our domestic problems.

If it’s not wars, it’s the banks; if not banks, it’s Brexit; If not Brexit, it’s Covid.  Then there are the “other” wars:  Race wars; Sexuality Wars; Identity wars; Political wars; Post-truth; Fake News; Authoritarian censorship; Cancel Culture.  This is what we are dealing with, and to a far great degree, our kids & grandkids.  Post-modern culture has gone and is going into warp-drive.  Elvis has left the building.

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The Church is not a Passing Phenomena!

“The Church is an entity which has outlasted many states, nations and empires, and it will outlast those that exist today.  The Church is nothing other than that movement launched into the public life of the world by its sovereign Lord to continue that which he came to do until it is finished in his return in glory.

It has his promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  In spite of the crimes, blunders, compromises, and errors by which the story has been stained and is stained to this day, the Church is the great reality in comparison with which nations and empires and civilisations are passing phenomena.

The Church can never settle down to being a voluntary society concerned merely with private and domestic affairs.  It is bound to challenge in the name of the one Lord all the powers, ideologies, myths, assumptions, and worldviews which do not acknowledge him as Lord.

Continue reading “The Church is not a Passing Phenomena!”

A Word for Our Times – Why the Gulag Archipelago is a must read!

I am just starting the audio version of the Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and the Forward by Jordan Peterson is simply magnificent.  Below is the video recording of Peterson reading his own Forward, but I would advise getting the book whether in print or as I have, audio – This is supremely important today in the Western world, as a neo-Marxist tyranny threatens everything and everyone once again.  To quote Peterson on this point, “The hypothetically egalitarian, universalist doctrines of Karl Marx contained hidden ­within them sufficient hatred, ­resentment, envy and denial of ­individual culpability and responsibility to produce nothing but poison and death when manifested in the world.”

 

 

First, you defend your homeland against the Nazis, serving as a twice-decorated soldier on the Eastern front in the criminally ill-prepared Soviet Red Army. Then you’re arrested, humiliated, stripped of your military rank, charged under the auspices of the all-purpose Article 58 with the dissemination of “anti-Soviet propaganda”, and dragged off to Moscow’s infamous Lubyanka prison. There, through the bars of your cell, you watch your beloved country celebrating its victory in the Great Patriotic War. Then you’re sentenced, in absentia, to eight years of hard labour (but you got away easy; it wasn’t so long ­afterwards that people in your ­position were awarded a “tenner” — and then a quarter of a century!). And fate isn’t finished with you yet — not by any means. You develop a deadly cancer in the camp, endure the exile imposed on you after your imprisonment ends, and pass very close to death.

Despite all this, you hold your head high. You refuse to turn against man or God, although you have every reason to do so. You write, instead, secretly, at night, documenting your terrible experiences. You craft a personal memoir — a single day in the labour camps — and, miracle of miracles! The clouds part! The sun shines through! Your book is published, and in your own country! It meets with unparalleled acclaim, nationally and internationally. But the sky darkens, once again, and the sun disappears. The repression ­returns. You become (once again) a “non-person”. The secret police — the dread KGB — seize the manuscript of your next book. It sees the light of day, nonetheless; but only in the West. There your reputation grows beyond the wild­est of imaginings. The Nobel committee itself bestows upon you its highest literary honour.

Continue reading “A Word for Our Times – Why the Gulag Archipelago is a must read!”

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