Monday, July 31, 2006

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Dog Dirt

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Dog Dirt

That Rules Her Out!

A while ago my parents made some noises to suggest a girl at their Charismatic church as a possible romantic interest for me. While she is a nice girl (and in the habit of removing her shoes at the door), I was never motivated to visit their church to pursue any such relationship.

However, I am told that she preached last Lord's Day. That rules her out. I could probably marry a moderate Charismatic or even a Five-Point Calvinist. However, there is no way I could ever marry a woman who preached. The very sight of a woman preaching makes me sick.

Friday, July 28, 2006

My Sister's New Job

My sister was offered a new job yesterday. It is an administration job for the local authority, dealing with waste management. Being an environmentalist, waste management is one of her areas of interest.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

What 3 Books would you Recommend?

Let us suppose somebody has become a Christian in the last year. She is 25 and educated to high school or beyond. She is used to reading books.

What three Christian books would you recommend to establish her in the faith? You cannot include booklets or books that are less than a hundred pages in length.

My recommendations are:

H.A. Ironside Romans

Robert Lightner Handbook of Evangelical Theology

Norman Geisler A Popular Survey of the Old Testament


Occasionally I make a trip to Waitrose, the posh supermarket, to buy some treats for myself. It comes with working for a food wholeseller; I get lots of cravings for different snacks. As I was paid last week, I made such a trip today.

I got a few bags of fine quality potato crisps, some apple and bluebery juice, a carton of the new Elderflower drink that my company is now selling, some strawberry pies, a bottle of root beer and a bottle of Fullers ESB.

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Our award to countries where it is customary to remove shoes when entering homes.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Day Thou Gavest, Lord is Ended

The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at Thy behest;
To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

We thank Thee that Thy church, unsleeping,
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night.

As o’er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.

The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren ’neath the western sky,
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.

So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never,
Like earth’s proud empires, pass away:
Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.

John Ellerton

I have posted this hymn before, but I do love it so much. I think the line 'the voice of prayer is never silent' is so inspiring. It thrills me to think that when I am sleeping, other Christians in other parts of the world are in fervent prayer.

Monday, July 24, 2006

An Horrifying Development

I am afraid to say that my research supervisor suggested today that maybe I should write a before nouns beginning with H, instead of an. He pointed out that this was was the grammar used in most of the books he read.

When I was at school, I was taught that you write an, not a before H. This is the Queen's English, God save her soul. An hundred. An helicopter. An historian.

I realise that Americanised English is at the height of popularity and that an before H has largely been abandoned, but I am shocked that a gentleman and an Anglican clergyman like my supervisor should suggest such an horrible corruption of the English language. Has he never read the King James Bible before? An heretick? An hundred pence?

The Japan Christian Link Conference

This weekend I attended the conference of the Japan Christian Link, which was held at All Nations Christian College in Hertfordshire (I am afraid I did not see any characters from Pride and Prejudice, but then I am not sure I would have recognised them).

The train journey on Friday was very long, but I travelled through London at a leisurely pace. I had a brief look outside the two stations I stopped at in London. Outside Paddington station, I found a Turkish cafe where I had a brunch. The waiter did not speak very good English, so when I asked for Chicken Livers, he gave me a Chicken Shish kebab. I decided not to argue about it. I did not enjoy the Kebab, that much, as it contained some greasy, buttery stuff. The freshly-squeezed orange juice was good, however. The waiter managed to convey the impression that he felt very privileged to have me in his cafe. However, I did not give him a tip. At Liverpool Street station, I called into a pub for a pint of Guinness.

The village of St. Margarets in Hertfordshire seemed to be a prosperous commuter village, with lots of recent housing.

The first person I met at the train station was a Japanese lady. It turned out that nearly half of those attending the conference were Japanese. I do not think I had actually met any Japanese people before this weekend, but I found them to be thoroughly nice.

There was quite a lot of prayer and also much worship. Some of the more devotional talks were focused on Psalm 96. We sang a lot of the worship songs in both English and Japanese.

The main guest speaker was a young pastor from Japan. He was very dynamic and inspiring, though he spoke through an interpreter. He liked to be called by the nickname Abu which was a shortened version of the Japanese name for Abraham. This nickname had a double meaning, because, Abu is the word for a kind of wasp with a painful sting. This nickname reminded the pastor of how he had a very bitter and hurtful tongue before he became a Christian.

There was a very useful optional session on going to Japan. This was quite helpful.

One of the young men at the conference was going to Japan as a missionary. He was very experienced at witnessing to Japanese folks. He made a very good point in conversation:

Everybody says that Japan is a hard country to evangelize, but maybe rather than blaming Japanese people, we ought to find fault with the way we do evangelism in Japan.

There was an interesting talk from the director's wife on compromise by Christians in Japan. She outlined how the church in Japan had compromised by participating in the worship of the Emperor in the 19th century and in the twentieth century before the Second World War became a pawn of the Japanese state. The Vatican, as well as Protestants had permitted worship at Shinto shrines, arguing that this was just reverance to the state. She expressed concern that the Japanese government had now required school teachers to sing the national anthem, which is essentially a hymn of praise to the emperor. A number of Christians were challenging the constitutioanlity of this law, but they had little hope of repealing it. She was clearly saddened that most Christians in Japan thought it was acceptable to sing this song, though she acknowledged that it was a difficult issue for Japanese Christians.

On the Sunday, there was a brief talk on the Alpha Course in Japan. It was presented by a guy who was involved in promoting it. I was not so pleased about that, as I do not think the Alpha Course is very sound.

The meals were good, though we had to take turns doing washing up duties, which was not so fun. The temperature was mostly very hot through the weekend.

I was suffering with my cold during the conference. I kept feeling embarassed when I blew my nose, as I knew this was not done in public by Japanese people. That was, until I saw a Japanese lady blowing her nose!

Travel back was not so easy. Trains from St. Margarets had been cancelled, so we had to be given lifts to another station, which was a nightmare for the JCL staff to organise. I had to take a longer route through the Underground Train system, as there were some engineering works. Nevertheless, I had no real difficulties with travelling back.

I am certainly very glad I attened this conference. I am not normally a conference-attending person, but I do hope to attend the next Japan Christian LInk conference.

Monday, July 17, 2006

J.N. Darby on the Papal System

Anybody been missing Darby?

John Nelson Darby wrote:

"What is the Papacy? Satan's fiction to answer all this (the Church of Christ). While men are kept down in the lowest desires of a depraved world, in the bondage of the corrupt affections of a nature alienated from the gift of God, it presents a head on earth, earthly in his interests and in his objects, knitting together in a body, not a people separated out of the world to spiritual objects, but one tied by the closest interests to maintain his earthly supremacy, and with it their own importance upon earth, and in an earthly way; and by this universal and astonishing scheme of antichristianity, which is antitheism, precluding the application of the divine word, the instrument of sovereignty, to the souls of men. In short, the system of Popery I look upon as an entire counterpart of the Christian scheme, set up by Satan on the decay of faith to hold its place, uniting men to an earthly head and to each other by those interests from which Christianity delivers, and keeping the world in bondage, instead of leading men to heavenly things out of those interests, to be humbled in the presence of the world's dominion. The members of the Papal system will accordingly be found, in their interests, objects, and activities, such as would result from such a system. We know, blessed be God! that, in result, the kingdom of His Son will be glorified in the splendour of its great Head, and the destruction of that antichristian counterpart, by which Satan has deceived the nations under the pretence of Christianity."

Taken from Considerations Addressed to the Archbishop of Dublin in Collected Writings, vol.1, p.6

Darby was not yet an Evangelical when he wrote this. He was still an High Churchman, who emphasised the sacraments and the authority of bishops.

More on Mission

Yesterday evening, I spoke to the elder at church who is responsible for mission. He was very encouraging. Like the pastor, he stressed that the church had been praying very hard for God to call missionaries from the congregation. He affirmed that I would certainly have the church's full support.

Andrew and Caroline (my missionary mentors?) were very encouraged by my appointment to see the mission agency in August. It turned out that two of Caroline's children had served with that agency. Everybody seems to speak very highly of it.

A big concern on my mind is whether any prospective agency insists that I attend Bible College. I have no objection to attending Bible College, but having been through years of higher education, I simply cannot afford to fund myself through it. I expect to get plenty of financial support for mission work that I do, but I doubt that it would be so easy to find support for study.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Five Books that have had a Big Influence on Me

Stephen T Davis God, Reason and Theistic Proofs

This book showed me how reasonable it is to believe in God.

Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology

This book got me studying the theology of the Bible for myself. It made me strive to understand true doctrine. I may not agree with him as much as I used to, but it is a great and accesible introduction to systematic theology.

Robert Gundry
The Church and the Tribulation

This book re-inforced my Post-Tribulational convictions about the rapture. It also showed that you can be Dispensational and Post-Trib.

Finis Dake Dake's Annotated Reference Bible

This guy may have been an heretical Pentecostal type (his teaching on the Trinity laid the groundwork for Benny Hinn), however I remain convinced of some of his unconventional views, such as human reproduction in eternity and the three character view of Song of Solomen.

Zane Hodges Grace in Eclipse: A Study in Eternal Rewards

This book gave me such a desire to serve Christ and to live only for Him.

Unashamed of Grace: Does Anybody agree with this Quotation?

Unashamed of Grace: Does Anybody agree with this Quotation?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Dyspraxic Distress

Suffering from Dyspraxia can be distressing.

Sometimes it seems like I have trouble hearing. I muddle up what people say in my head. A guy phoned today whose surname is Mann. I thought he said Mud, even after he spelled the letters out for me. I did not actually address him as Mr. Mud, but I felt pretty stupid when my boss corrected me after I passed on the message.

You can imagine the difficulty that causes in trying to learn languages.

Later in the day, my boss asked me to pack up a box of brochures to send. I misunderstood his explanation of how he wanted me to do it and if he had not stopped me, I would have made a complete mess of it.

It is very difficult to deal with the fact that in practical terms I am stupid. Obviously I am not stupid, it is just a disability, but it is humiliating to know that I cannot do things properly. As far as accomplishing simple tasks goes, I am stupid.

What other people have, but I lack is commonsense. Because my senses do not work efficently, the world seems a weird place to me and I cannot always see where I am going wrong in the way other people do.

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Our award to countries where removing shoes in homes is customary.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

First Steps

I got a phone message from a mission agency yesterday. They wanted me to come and talk to them about serving as a missionary in Japan. I phoned them back today and made an appointment.

Apparently the application process is very lengthy, so it is good that I still have a lot of time to complete my studies while that goes on.

They seem to be the sort of mission agency that spends huge lengths of time preparing and training their missionaries. In contrast, my friend Andrew served with an agency that just dropped their missionaries in at the deep end and let them get on with it with no training and little knowledge of the local language.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Very Bad News for Blair

Today, Lord Levy, one of Blair's cronies and a major fundraiser for the Labour party was arrested. He was under suspicioun of offering places in the House of Lords (our senate, almost) in exchange for loans to the Labour party.

Lord Levy has not been charged with any offence, but if this investigation continues, the prime minister could come under increasing suspicioun of being behind it.

Lead the Service?

Andrew told me last night I will be expected to lead the service when I preach at this chapel.

That will be an experience.

Obviously, I am opposed to presidential worship, considering it a denial of the authority of the Holy Ghost in the assembly. However, God has let this opportunity fall to me. It would be foolish to decline on principle. If I do not lead the service, somebody else will.

John Nelson Darby preached in Strict Baptists churches sometimes. I dare say he might have even lead the services on those occasions.

It felt very strange having Andrew explain the typical order of service at the chapel. It all seems very ritualistic. Four hymns, the offering, a long prayer, a brief time of open worship (a positive touch), the sermon and a benediction. It will be a very interesting experience.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Great Opportunity

My friend Andrew phoned this morning. He told me I had the opportunity of preaching at a small chapel near Birmingham in August. He had been invited to preach himself, but was unavailable that Lord's Day.

It is an excellent opportunity. I may find other similar opportunities through my church in future.

This evening, I am going to Andrew's house for dinner. I phoned him yesterday and asked if I could get his advice on pursuing my calling to mission.

My Favorite Judicial Quote

English judges are famous for their wit and eloquence. I love this ruling by an English judge:

The charwoman may have her mysteries, but the act of cleaning a step covered in snow requires no esoteric art.

A charwoman was a cleaner or janitor (apparently they drank lots of tea, which is why they were called that).

The point of this rule is that if you employ somebody to perform a task that affects the safety of others, you are responsible to make sure they do it, unless it is something technical.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Our award to countries in which removing shoes is customary.

Dinner Tonight

I cooked for myself a slightly different dinner, fried potatos with onions and salami.

After dinner, I am enjoying a beautiful non-alcoholic drink, Apple juice with Elderflowers.

Meeting with my Pastor

I met with the pastor of my church today to discuss my sense of calling to the mission field. It was very interesting for me, because I had not had any long conversations with him before.

We talked for about 45 minutes. He gave me some very good advice about how to pursue my calling. He felt it would be very useful for me to be involved in some sort of ministry at the church.

He asked me some hard questions. I was particulary challenged by the question 'Is -- church your home church?'. I told him that despite my reservations, there was nowhere else where I wished to attend in Worcester. He asked me to explain those things that I was unhappy with about the church.

He asked me about my theology, where I stood on Calvinism and the Charismatic gifts. I described my theology as 'Dispensational Fundamentalist Non-Reformed.' He told me a bit about where he stood. He was inclined to Calvinism, but did not feel dogmatic about it. He did not agree with seeking charismatic gifts, but he was not completely convinced of the Cessationist postion.

I had a generally postive view of my pastor before the meeting, though I was very uncomfortable about his Lordship Salvation tendencies. However, the meeting lead me to be even more convinced of his humility, his gentleness and his warmness of spirit.

Monday, July 03, 2006

It is Official

It is official that from today I have read all 34 volumes of J.N. Darby's Collected Writings.

I may not be in fellowship at any Brethren assembly, but I sure can out-Darby any man of Plymouth.

I carry a Scofield Bible too.

Dear Lord?

An Open Brethren preacher I know complained to me that he often heard Brethren elders beginning their prayers with Dear Lord Jesus. He said that was fine in a Sunday School, but was not very impressive coming from an elder. He argued that it was far more correct to address prayers to the Father in the name of Jesus.

Do you think this is a legitimate concern? What do you think of mature Christians beginning their prayers with Dear Lord Jesus?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Hushed was the Evening Hymn

Hushed was the evening hymn,
The temple courts were dark;
The lamp was burning dim
Before the sacred ark;
When suddenly a voice divine
Rang through the silence of the shrine.

The old man, meek and mild,
The priest of Israel, slept;
His watch the temple child,
The little Levite, kept;
And what from Eli's sense was sealed
The Lord to Hannah's son revealed.

O give me Samuel's ear,
The open ear, O Lord,
Alive and quick to hear
Each whisper of thy Word,
Like him to answer at thy call,
And to obey thee first of all.

O give me Samuel's heart,
A lowly heart, that waits
Where in thy house thou art,
Or watches at thy gates;
By day and night, a heart that still
Moves at the breathing of thy will.

O give me Samuel's mind,
A sweet unmurm'ring faith,
Obedient and resigned
To thee in life and death,
That I may read with childlike eyes
Truths that are hidden from the wise.

There are not many hymns that tell stories other than our Lord's nativity, passion and resurrection. This is one of the few exceptions. It is in my long list of favorite hymns.

The tune is difficult to pick up, but it is quite lovely.

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Our award to countries where removing shoes in homes is the norm.