Saturday, April 12, 2014

THE RATS OF TOBRUK 2014

I was “surfing the net” the other day and my eyes were drawn to a little article that mentioned the Rats of Tobruk. It was on the Australian War Memorial website. There were a few introductory lines then it went on to say,

“The second year of the war had begun with a series of impressive British and Commonwealth successes against the Italians in Libya. Australian troops led the advance. But a rapid German offensive quickly reversed these early victories. All that stopped the Germans’ march on Egypt was the defiant garrison at Tobruk.”

Did you get that line? “All that stopped the Germans’ march on Egypt was the defiant garrison at Tobruk.” I like that word “defiant”, especially when the defiance is against an unlawful aggressor. That little garrison, that defiant garrison at Tobruk, was the line in the sand, the desert sand. It was as if they had sent the Germans a letter, saying, “Dear German offensive. If you wish to march on Egypt, first you will have to go through us. Signed, ‘The Rats of Tobruk.’” Defiance!

So, how did the German offensive and their Italian cohorts reply to this khaki line in the sand, this letter of defiance as it were? The article went on to say,

“For eight long months, surrounded by German and Italian forces, the men of the Tobruk garrison, mostly Australians, withstood tank attacks, artillery barrages, and daily bombings. They endured the desert’s searing heat, the bitterly cold nights, and hellish dust storms. They lived in dug-outs, caves, and crevasses.”

The “Rats” were called “rats” by the Germans because, “They lived in dug-outs, caves, and crevasses.” That is bad. The living conditions were deplorable. And then there was the weather, “the desert’s searing heat, the bitterly cold nights, and hellish dust storms.” No central heating. No air-conditioning. No fridge to fetch a cold beer from. Just searing heat, bitter cold and eye-stinging winds! Wouldn’t this be bad enough? Wouldn’t enduring this sort of hardship for eight months even without being surrounded by the enemy be a real test of endurance, a real test of determination?

I’ve seen tanks up close on exercise. I have seen them fire rounds that blow giant craters in hillsides. Such terrifying firepower! I would hate to have to face a tank while I was in a dug-out, a cave or some crevasse. Imagine undergoing artillery barrages and daily bombings! The German offensive really wanted to cross that line in the desert sand! “Too bad,” said the Rats of Tobruk. Such defiance!

The article went on to say,

“The defenders of Tobruk did not surrender, they did not retreat. Their determination, bravery, and humour, combined with the aggressive tactics of their commanders, became a source of inspiration during some of the war’s darkest days. In so doing, they achieved lasting fame as the ‘Rats of Tobruk’.”[1]

So the defiance of the Rats of Tobruk “became a source of inspiration during some of the war’s darkest days.” There is something about defiance that inspires! It is the story of David and Goliath. It is the story of Jesus and the Devil! Defiance in the face of what would seem to be certain defeat takes a certain amount of bravery. I would suggest a great deal a bravery!

We say a humble and grateful “thank you” to those who fought at Tobruk. And, to those who lost their lives at Tobruk Scripture says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus Christ said those words, and He should know!

No, we do not wish to glorify war. We hate war because we love peace. We all wish it did not, but peace comes at a price. Yes, thank you “The Rats of Tobruk” for the important part you played in winning peace for us!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

WHY I AM NOT AN ATHEIST

My father and mother were Marxists like their parents before them. The area where I grew up (Alexandria, Dunbartonshire) even had streets named after Marxists (such as Engels Street, named after Frederick Engels who with Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto). I started my working life in the early 70s in a shipyard on the “Red Clydeside” (i.e., “red” as in a Socialist/Communist area of) Glasgow.

 It was during my study of the teachings of Marx that I discovered that he had no answer for the question regarding the origin of humanity. It seemed to me that if he was successfully to influence (manipulate?) the minds of men to his way of thinking (i.e., to think his thoughts after him) he needed to base his model of social engineering on something more solid than the vague musings of Charles Darwin. Marxist Socialism is Social Darwinism. You cannot have one without the other. The World Socialist Website writes,

The two great historical theories of the 19th century, of Darwin and Marx … have fundamentally changed our understanding of the world. They were part of the development of science in its broadest form – the desire to comprehend the natural and social worlds in order to change them for the benefit of mankind.[1]

If Darwin got it wrong then that which is based upon Darwinism must be wrong. From the tearing down of the Berlin Wall to the collapse of the Soviet Union Socialism has been proven to be wrong. Examples of this truth could be multiplied. Cuba, North Korea, and China garner no envy from those who love the freedoms we (used to) enjoy in the various Western democracies. Hitler’s form of government, like today’s China, was National Socialism. However, we are now not permitted by the Political Correct Movement to connect Hitler to Socialism!!! (nor the Ku Klux Klan for that matter!) These are portrayed as right-wingers by the Social-Engineers of the “Department of Revisionist History”! Join in the fun and do a scientific experiment: Ask your friends if Hitler (and the Ku Klux Klan) were Socialist.

It matters not to me whether Hitler or Ku Klux Klan members or any other Socialists are called “far right” (Wikipedia) or even “far left”. What worries me is that these were violent Progressives. Socialism gave birth to Progressivism in which the umbilical is still very much attached! 

In the West we have reached a point in history where our freedoms as law-abiding individuals are shrinking at an alarming rate as governments apply the Socialist theory of Political Correctness to attain their utopian classless society. Freedom of Speech is curtailed. Sodomy and buggery are accommodated, endorsed and even promoted by the State redefining marriage. This is Socialism socially engineering man in its own image and likeness. Progressives, whether Left or Right, remain Socialists regardless of their political parties by virtue of their desire to have government redistribute the wealth of the individual in order to attain their vision of society. Adolph Hitler was as much a Socialist as Stalin. In Socialism all must agree with the collective vision or be ostracised, demonised, imprisoned and… (take, for example, the carnage of the French Revolution). This is not God’s way, which is, in my humble opinion, a far better way.

It became clear to me through my studies of Marx and Marxism that he did not believe in God. Otherwise he would not have come up with his social theories. Marx was a Materialist like Hegel before him.  Thus I put down my copy of “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” (Robert Tressell) and picked up a copy of the Bible, the true inspiration for any philanthropic endeavour. Therein I discovered a better way – a better way to love my neighbour as myself.

What Socialism pretends to be, Biblical Christianity really is! Biblical Christianity is the reality of a caring society – a society in which justice is blind. First off, Christianity answers the question of origins, i.e., the: Who we are as individuals and What we are supposed to be as a society. And secondly, unlike Socialism which has been proven to fail over and over, Biblical Christianity really works when put into practice: democratic government, the rule of law, justice for all, individual rights (in line with the rule of law), Capitalism, schools, hospitals, public sanitation, the abolition of slavery, etc., etc., etc. One only has to study what John Calvin did for Geneva with Biblical Christianity.

In the (Biblical) Westminster system of government and public meetings there are those who speak for a motion (i.e., an issue) and those who speak against it. A moderator (or referee) ensures that the issue is sufficiently discussed before it is put to a vote. This is democracy! However, Socialism seeks to silence all dissenters from its collective Socialist thought. Thus today’s Political Correctness Movement. In this the very foundations of the West presently are being destroyed by Socialism in its various forms. Socialism is Atheistic. Because it is rooted in the Atheism of Marx et al Socialism is a blight on the fruit of Western freedom.

That “The pen is mightier than the sword” may be true but some use that mighty instrument to write vitriolic ad-hominem arguments instead of speaking directly to the issue at hand! I have no personal axe-to-grind with anyone. I desire only to state my own personal hang-ups with Atheism as a contemporary movement. Readers are free to agree/disagree with my take on it! However, please allow me freedom of thought and also the freedom to express that thought in written form.    

There is life after Marx. I am not an Atheist because of the grace of God. My father and mother also became Christians after Marx. Yes, it is hard to be a consistently Biblical Christian especially for those having been previously heavily influenced by Socialism, and with so much of it permeating the society in which we currently live. Therefore, as Christians we need to keep on “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” Hebrews 12:2a.

It is with the following gracious teaching of Jesus in mind that I have written my little book called, “Why I am Not an Atheist”. Note the profound depth of grace contained in what Jesus says,

When His disciples James and John saw [that people were not receiving and believing in Jesus] they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’ But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.And they went to another village.[2]

May my manner herein and hereafter be of the Spirit of Christ!


[2] Luke 9:54-56, New King James Version.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

BALANCE


From tightrope walking to finances it is always good to have a proper balance. When kids my heavier big brother would leave me teetering on high on the teeter totter. Seesaws work better when equal weights are on opposite ends. Then there is Jesus. Some deny that He is human. Says the Apostle John, ‘By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.’ 1 John 4:2-3a. And others deny that He is God. Writes John, ‘The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.’ However, true Christianity is well-balanced in that it confesses that Jesus is both God and Man. This is where we need to be careful. Jesus is not two persons. Jesus is one divine Person with two natures forever. His God-nature does not sit on one end of the seesaw leaving His human-nature teetering in the air. Rather, each of His two natures is distinct from the other. A couple of examples? As a human being He cannot be in two places at once, but as God He can. As a human He cannot know all things, but as God He can. If you are struggling to understand how the same Person cannot be everywhere and know everything at once, then it might help you to understand some of the differences between God and man.

God made man in His own image. We did not make God in our own image. We cannot imagine a being who is omniscient and omnipresent. It did not please God to share these two of His attributes with His image. Thus a human being cannot know everything or be everywhere at once. As God’s likeness man is creative. But God alone is the Creator. He is the Creator because He alone is omnipotent. The Almighty spoke creation into being from nothing at its beginning.

Jesus is God because, before He became Man, He was the Word through which He and the Father made all things by Their Spirit: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.’ John 1:1-3 (cf. Genesis 1:1-3). It was this eternal being, (i.e., the Middle Person in the Trinity), who became also a Man. John says, ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ John 1:14a.

The following is a lengthy but accurate description of what the Bible has to say about the Word becoming flesh. ‘The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.’ Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 8 paragraph 2.

If you keep the two natures of Christ in balance you will develop a well-balanced view of God and what human beings are supposed to be like. In turn this will result in you developing a well-balanced theology, cosmology, and anthropology.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

INTERVIEW


1. Hi Neil. Can you start by telling us where you were born, and what places you’ve lived in during your life? 

I was born in Ajax, Ontario. For obvious reasons I refer to it as the cleanest town in Canada! From there I crossed the Atlantic as a two-year old (not single-handedly!) to live in Alexandria which is on the southern end of Loch Lomond, Scotland (not Egypt). Then it was back to Canada as a twenty year old. I spent a year and a half living in Toronto, before moving to Winnipeg, Manitoba. There were a couple of trips back to Scotland for a few months among this. It was after ten years of shoveling snow in "Winterpeg" that Dorothy's brother sent us some photographs of Brisbane, Queensland. Dorothy and I arrived here with our three daughters in 1990. We started in Toowong, moved to Browns Plains, (plus a three month stint in Innisfail), and from there, went to Springsure in central Queensland after graduating from Theological College. Then it was back to Petrie, north west of Brisbane. I also did five years in beautiful Tasmania before returning to sunny Queensland where we hope to remain till our departure.  

 2. Give us one especially warm memory from your youth. 

Swimming in Loch Lomond! Perhaps not a particularly “warm memory”, but we were hardy back then. In "summer" we used to dive off the Balloch Pier when the "Maid of the Loch" paddle steamer was away up the
loch showing off “yon bonnie, bonnie banks” to tourists. Those were the days! Anyway, “Jimmy” was quite a distance out in the water when he suffered a severe cramp. I dived in and swam like a madman out to rescue him only to get clobbered and pulled under by his flailing arms and thrashing legs. However, another mate arrived on the scene, and, between the two of us, we managed to manhandle our sinking cargo back to shore – bruised and exhausted! An incredible feeling of euphoria wells up within when you realise that you have just saved the life of another human being! Warm memory! 

 3. What do you like to do in your spare time?

 Spare time? What’s that? I can’t really remember ever having nothing to do! I mean, even when I’m on holiday I’m doing “holiday stuff!” But, I do like moments when I can relax in my outdoor spa, but even then I always have a book with me. I once remarked to someone that I wished they would invent a waterproof laptop so that I could use it in the spa. The person replied, “You need to learn to relax!” I’m sure there’s a lesson here somewhere… I guess the bottom line for me is that even reading, no matter the subject or genre, is actually study for the work of the Kingdom. But yes, I do like to watch a good movie.

4. When did you become a Christian?

By the grace of God I became a Christian in 1988. I had been wondering about the meaning of life and began to feel hollow inside and so terribly alone in the universe – even in a crowded room! Life for me had become like a night in a dark forest, with the moaning voice of the wind in the tree tops, creaking boughs, distant howls, and oppressive darkness. Canned dread and bottled fear! I mentioned in a letter to one of my brothers that I was, as I indelicately phrased it, “checking out the God thing.” He had been a Christian for many years. I still have a couple of epistles he wrote to me at the time, trying to guide me out of the dark woods. One of his quotes from the Bible was the verse in which Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” John 14:6. By His Spirit, Jesus, the Word, met me in the depths of my darkness and with His light led me to the Father. What’s the meaning of life? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever! The way out of darkness is in Christ the Way. Life has true meaning and true enjoyment only in Him who is the Truth and the Life incarnate! 

5. I understand you were once involved in Freemasonry. What was the decisive factor in your move towards Biblical Christianity?

I entered Freemasonry as part of my “checking out the God thing”. I had been interested in becoming a Mason since teenage. The apparent mystery of Masonic inner workings appealed to my inquisitive nature. Couple that with what seemed to me to be the greatest mystery of all – God – then it seemed logical that I should enter the lodge to have these deep questions answered. Ironic may or may not be the right word to describe it, but I was converted while fully immersed in Freemasonry. I know this may not be what a lot of Christians want to hear, but nevertheless it is true! There are loads of Biblical references and direct quotes from the Bible used in the various Masonic degrees I went through. One in particular was a reference to “the stone the builders rejected”. Utilising the KJV Bible the lodge had presented me with, and cross-referencing Isaiah 8:13-15 with Luke 20:17-18, cf. 1 Peter 2:6-8 ,  I went on, by the grace of God, to discover that the “stone” being referred to in the Old Testament as Jehovah, referred to Jesus in the New Testament. It was earth-shattering for me when I discovered that the mysterious God had actually become incarnate as Jesus! Upon this discovery I immediately fell at His feet as it were and worshiped Him as God! Christ has been my study ever since. And to learn that He has taken away all my sins makes Him more than worthy of my worship and evangelical obedience that I might show my love for Him and gratitude to Him for such a wonderful gift of salvation!   

 6. You’re now an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church of Australia – what do you think is the number one challenge facing the church today?

Hopefully this won’t sound like a rant, but here goes: I believe that the apparent declension of Christianity in the West today has to do with the authority of Scripture. Is this Book reliable and therefore believable? Should I stake my present and my future life on the claims of a Book written thousands of years ago by a bunch of men, some of whom were not that well educated? That is what it amounts to – trust in God’s Word. This has always been the number one challenge for the people of God even since Satan said to Eve in the Garden before the Fall, “Hath God said?” If I cannot trust what the Bible says about Adam, then how can I trust what It says about the Second Adam, Jesus? If we didn’t Fall, then we don’t need to be saved. If I’m not a sinner, then I don’t need the Saviour. Why should I worship God, why should I pray, why should I attend church, why should I bother about anything in the Bible, if it is simply the ramblings of a bunch untrustworthy men, liars, who are trying to trick me into thinking that they were moved by God to write It? And what does it say about God’s Sovereignty if He could, as claimed therein, create the heavens and the earth and all that is in them by merely speaking, but not preserve intact written revelation of the way of salvation? If the Gospel is not the power of God unto salvation, then why does the Bible claim that it is? Of course, I believe in the authority of the Bible and the power of the Gospel unto salvation. However, having lived through the unsteady days of the “Church Growth Movement” (where the Church became like the world to attract the world) I am left wondering about the Church at large and my own Denomination in particular. What’s wrong with simply preaching the Word in season and out of season? Why all the seeming panic in the churches when numbers dwindle? Scripture was using irony when the Holy Spirit said through His Apostle, “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Cor. 1:21b). “So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”(Rom. 10:17). So, the number one challenge for the Church today is not to be ashamed of the Gospel, but to trust it – even during times of sifting. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” (Psalm 127:1a). We all know it because God has said it. But do we believe it?    

7. You write both fiction and non-fiction books. How would you describe your writing style?

My writing style is usually a cross somewhere between the written and the spoken word. I noticed long ago that when I read, for example, a Bible commentary by, let’s say, Charles Hodge on Romans and then a commentary on the same by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, I noticed that there was a glaring contrast of two styles. Don’t get me wrong, I love Charles Hodge’s writings, but he and others like him, may perhaps be described as dry and academic, yet clear but clinical, whereas Lloyd Jones, being no less clear or academic writes in an easier to read style. Upon further investigation I discovered that Lloyd-Jones’s Commentary on Romans is comprised of a series of sermons he preached on the subject. Ah! I thought. I will try to write in a style as if I am speaking rather than writing. And I will even try to include my Scottish accent and idiom (while trying to withhold words unfamiliar to non-Scottish ears). Of course I am aware that there is a difference between writing a doctoral thesis and an adventure novel, but neither should be dry and dusty. CS Lewis, for example, was an expert at switching writing styles. Perhaps Peter the Apostle too? I suffer from a low self-esteem as a writer. However, the greatest encouragement I ever received to persevere as a writer came from my old theological professor, when he said to me, “I wish I could write like you!”   

8. What do you hope people will gain from reading your non-fiction works?

The short answer to this is that I hope they will gain a deeper understanding of Christ. He is the centre of the Trinity. He is the centre of the universe. He is the centre of the Bible. And He needs to be the centre of your life if you are ever going to make sense of God, the universe, and yourself. I think it was when my big brother said to me years ago that Christ gives doors their “door-ness” that I really began to cotton on to the fact that it is Christ who gives all things their meaning. If Christ is the door, the gate, the lamb, the lion, the bread, the life, the light, the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, etc., etc., then these things, and everything, gets its meaning from Him, and in turn reveal something about Him. Even marriage gets its meaning from Christ and His relationship to His Bride, i.e., His Church. This means that marriage is about Christ, not homosexual rights. I digress, but I merely wish to illustrate that my non-fiction works are about centring everything on the Christ who gives meaning to the cross, Adam, sin, redemption, the Gospel, water baptism, the Lord’s Supper, salvation, angels, demons, cats, dogs, horses – everything! I just hope that people will gain a better and deeper understanding of Christ from reading my non-fiction works!   

9. Are you currently writing anything at the moment?

I’m between books at the moment. However, I’m always tweaking the stuff I’ve already written. The beauty of publishing e-books is that the author doesn’t have to wait till the next print run to fix mistakes and make improvements. I’ve noticed one minor typo in my hardcover book that will have to wait till such times as there’s another print run. This might never happen! I am working on an idea for a sequel to my first Christian novel, “A Stick In Time”. It has to do with the “Stone of Destiny”, a.k.a., “Jacob’s Pillow” – the stone that sits under the coronation throne at Westminster. That stone might somehow end up in Australia…   

10. If you could give a budding author any advice, what might it be?

Hone the gift that God has given you. Write to the glory of God. And write for the joy of it. No longer are we authors at the mercy of pernickety and fickle publishers! With e-books the sky’s the limit. Writing a book is the easy part. Marketing your book is something else entirely. Crave feedback but grow a skin as tough as the back of a cane toad! Learn that bad criticism might be good, and good criticism might be bad. But know that all criticism can be helpful. Know your intended audience, but don’t be presumptuous, especially never underestimate their intelligence. No one likes being talked down to. Someone jokingly said that we ought never to use a big word when a diminutive one will do! There’s a place for big words, but it’s not when trying to show off! One piece of advice I’m still working on and probably have yet to master is in regards to fiction writing. Someone said that we ought to “show” rather than “tell” the reader, which is simply a verbose or wordy way of stating ye olde saying, “A picture tells a thousand words.” Use word pictures and learn the difference between garbled verbiage and verballed garbage!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Biggles Meets Bond

Having grown up in the same Scottish town on the same bonnie, bonnie banks as the story's likeable hero I was therefore more than interested in reading this short novel. Set immediately prior to WWII the tale taxies down the runway and takes off at a fairly fast-pace with its Biggles meets Bond main character confidently at the controls. Its fictional storyline is almost believable, though its ending is perhaps a wee bit too predictable. However, had the author not brought this adventurous yarn in for a landing the way I was eagerly anticipating and hoping (nay, begging!) he would, I would have shot him down in flames myself and wanted my money back! I am pleased to say that I was uplifted! Hugh Wilson had me soaring, even looping-the-loop, in Caledonian Skies! Well done!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Story Behind ‘From Mason To Minister: Through the Lattice’

From Mason To Minister: Through the Lattice is an autobiography at heart. It is about one man’s lonely journey in his quest to find the meaning of life. Therefore, in some ways it’s a journal. As I began writing down some of the events that led me to my present place in life I began to see that I had a rather interesting life story. I have lived in Scotland, Canada, and Australia. These places seem exotic to those who have never lived there. I could see that even just with that I could have an interesting book. However, it was when I started adding it all together that I began to see that it was more about the invisible leading of God than the haphazard journeys of a young adventurer. So, God was the inspiration for my book!

The Through the Lattice part of the title has to do with a verse of Scripture: “The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows, gazing through the lattice” Song of Solomon 2:8-9. Along the way on my journey, though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was catching glimpses of God through the lattice as He watched me through the lattice. The Bible says that God is reflected in the things He has made (Psalm 19; Romans 1). In my search for God I was actually catching glimpses of Him at every turn.  He was like that elusive highland stag on a Scottish mountain…

When we were growing up people would refer to God as “the man upstairs.” The school I attended as a kid was next door to a church. There were dormer-like windows on its steeple. We thought that God was upstairs watching us through those windows! (A friend of mine actually wrote a poem about this very thing!) At times we were sure that we saw someone looking out the window at us! Anyway, the fertile imagination of my young mind has stayed with me now that I’m much older.

The idea of God looking at us through the lattice was very inspirational to me. I entered into Freemasonry where the Omnipresence of God is spoken of as “the all-seeing eye”, like that depicted on an American one dollar bill. Some people don’t like the idea of God watching them, while others, find it a reassuring comfort. My trouble was that I had begun to wonder who God was. Was he some old guy with a long white beard that lived up in a church steeple? Who is God? That’s what inspired me to write From Mason To Minister: Through the Lattice. I want to tell people about God, about how He can be seen in the things He has made. As strong as an ox, as graceful as a gazelle, as gentle as dove, as wise as an owl, I’m sure you’re getting the picture. All of God’s creation reflects something of God. I found this to be amazing and I wanted to tell others.

In Freemasonry I learned a lot about symbolism, how certain objects and ideas can be used to illustrate other things. At theological college I learned about typology, how certain themes and principles are played out or contained in the Bible. For example, David slaying Goliath is also a picture of Christ tying up the strongman, i.e., Satan. Solomon and his Temple is a picture of Christ and His Kingdom. All the Old Testament sacrifices and the shedding of animals’ blood pointed to THE sacrifice and the shedding of Christ blood to take away our sins. The list of Old Testament types and New Testament anti-types is almost endless. I wanted to share a lot of these in my book.

So, in summary and in conclusion, I was inspired to write my book because I was just bursting to tell others about God in Jesus Christ and how God can be seen in the things He has made. However, my book is peppered with Biblical references because it was in the pages of the Bible (the Masonic Lodge had presented me) that I found the One to which everything in creation and in Scripture points, i.e., Jesus Christ.

(Read the original article at):   http://thestorybehindthebook.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/the-story-behind-from-mason-to-minister-through-the-lattice/

Purchase From mason To Minister at: http://www.nordskogpublishing.com/book-through-the-lattice.shtml

Saturday, February 15, 2014

GROWTH!


Growth

Christianity is not an armchair religion from which we pontificate about the rest of humanity’s poor performance. Rather it is about rolling up your sleeves and loving God and your neighbour as yourself. This is your way of showing thanks to God for forgiving you your own poor performance. However, slavish commandment-keeping is for slaves. Christians are free, having been freed forever from God’s condemnation. The freedom comes with knowing that God knows you fail to measure up to His perfect standard. That is why He sent us a perfect Saviour who kept God’s Commandments as our representative and died to pay the price we owe for our breaking of His Commandments! This is what believers’ believe. This is the good soil into which we, as new shoots, have been planted.

The great Gardener talks to His plants as He feeds and waters them. Christians are to, ‘be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves’ James 1:22. Notice that the Christian is not to make it up as he/she goes along. First he/she is to hear the Word (i.e., understand, heed and apply what the Bible teaches), then he/she is to practice it. The whole Bible teaches us about God’s grace being extended to undeserving sinners, i.e., a humanity that keeps on breaking every one of the Ten Commandments. However, the Bible’s emphasis is on God’s grace! Grace is the sunshine in which Christians grow.

What does God’s grace have to do with growth? The Christian is to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ 2 Peter 3:18. To grow in grace is first to learn what grace is and secondly to practice it. What is grace? Grace is God giving you what you do not deserve while not giving what you do deserve. Without God grace is nigh impossible for human beings to begin to understand. Thus growth for the Christian begins when the meaning of God’s grace begins to sink into the heart and waters the good soil into which God has planted the seed of His Word. This is where the knowledge of Jesus Christ comes in.

Who is Jesus? Jesus Christ is God’s gift. He is God’s grace to fallen humanity. He is the Light of the World that is sitting in darkness. We remain in darkness without Him. We wither and die on the vine without him. We become straw and stubble without Him. If we are to be saved from the great bonfire on the Last Day we need to understand who He is and what He has done for us. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. He is the ideal mediator, being God and man in one divine Person forever. Our sin separates us from God. If we are not reconciled with God we remain separated from Him forever in Hell. However, God and mankind have been united, reunited, in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus kept God’s Commandments perfectly as representative of those He is saving. God poured out His judgment on Him instead of those whom He represents. He represents, i.e., He is the Saviour of all who believe in Him alone for salvation.

New Testament believers are grafted into the same tree as Old Testament believers (Romans 11:16-24). All believers are to grow and to bear fruit. Jesus says, ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful… I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.’ John 15:1-2,5-6.