Sunday, January 31, 2016



 If you were an old house, what do you think could be done with you? Should you be condemned as unsafe? Or could you be renovated to become a home fit for royalty? In terms of the Bible, all mankind is standing like rows of condemned houses. We are like derelict and dilapidated buildings with broken windows and leaky roofs. We stand covered in grime and soot awaiting the wrecker’s ball. But God has decided to spare some of us. He has decided to renovate us! He has purchased us and He is forming us into a new community.

A change God makes when He converts you is that He removes certain walls. The solid brick wall between you and God was demolished when you were converted. Adam built the wall that separates each of us from God. His design was passed down from generation to generation. Therefore you live in a house with a wall separating you from God. However, when God moved into you (i.e., the Christian’s) house, the wall of the carnal mind which is enmity against God was torn down. Romans 8:7 says, ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God.’ ‘Enmity’ is something that separates, a barrier, a wall. God levels that wall in you first off. Then He begins to patiently clear away the dust and rubble.

The other wall that needs to be torn down is the wall between you and your brother and sister in Christ. Scripture says, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ Galatians 3:28. There may be racism, social distinction, sexism in the world outside, but there is to be none of it in Christ’s church. Each of us has our different roles to play in the church and in society, but we are not to despise others because of their station in life. However, the wall between you and your non-Christian neighbour stays in place. If you’ve ever renovated a house, you’ll know about ‘supporting’ walls. These cannot be removed unless you want the house to fall down. The wall between the Christian and the world has to remain or Christianity crumbles. Christians need to be aware that it’s not a flimsy plasterboard partition. It is a load-bearing wall.

You wouldn’t renovate an old house without rewiring it. If you’re going to think the thoughts God wants you to, you’ll need a new electrical system. Scripture says, ‘And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God’ Romans 12:2. You used to be wired according to the system of this world. But now you’ve been rewired to accommodate a power way stronger than the power in the world. Before your regeneration and subsequent conversion your sins had tripped the breaker, blown the fuse. Sin had broken your connection with God. But now God has come into your house and is busy rewiring.

An old building wouldn’t be an old building without its grime-covered windows smashed. The Lord is repairing your windows. Windows are for letting in air and light, and seeing out of. However, they also let out light. When the Lord turns on the power in the Christian’s house the lights come on. If Christ the Light of the world comes, by His Spirit, to live in your home it stands to reason that the lights will come on.

Thank God for changing your life. ‘He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ’ Philippians 1:6.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Amazing Grace & (Me) The Prodigal

This morning for a wee change I attended Bray Park Community Church (which was, and perhaps still is), part of the Christian Reformed Church here in Australia. During the singing there were some members of the congregation inviting us to smell their underarm deodorant! Fine! I can’t complain as I have been known to wave my hands around whenever I speak! So, if you wish to wave or hold your hands in the air while you sing, then be my guest! Anyway, that is not what I wanted to talk to you about.
I was impressed by the power-point slides which not only had the words to the hymns flash up on the overhead-projector screen but as a background it actually had the rising (or was it setting?) sun with moving waves rolling onto the sandy seashore. O the wonders of modern technology! Great stuff! But again, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.
The preacher wanted to allude to something in the The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:25-32). So he flashed up on the screen certain verses from that parable. (I think he used the NIV but I’ve used the NKJV below):
“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’” Luke 15:25-32.

The preacher was talking about something else entirely but something struck me – you know, the way it sometimes does at church when the Holy Spirit shoots an arrow of truth into your heart! Now, I know that you all know this and have seen it every time you read or hear this parable. However, it was those words at the end of verse thirty: “You have killed the fatted calf for him.” O, the father in the parable killed the fatted calf so that he and his deadbeat prodigal son could celebrate his change of mind, (a.k.a. repentance) – the son who devoured his father’s livelihood with harlots.
What a picture! What a picture appeared on the overhead projector screen of my mind! There it was! Vivid as anything as the Holy Spirit burned this into my heart – My heavenly Father killed His Son so that He and I (who devoured His livelihood!) could celebrate my change of mind about Him!

O let’s make merry and be glad. I once was dead but I am alive again, “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see!”

You too?

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Scots, Tartan & Jacob's Pillow

The Scots, Tartan & Jacob’s Pillow

My old professor, the late Rev professor Dr Francis Nigel Lee, was a historian (among other things), He left me, as a Scot, wondering when occasionally during a lecture he would, e.g., connect Scottish tartan with Joseph’s coat of many colours (Genesis 37:3), the standing stones of Callanish and the stones of other places in Scotland with Abraham and his altars (Genesis 12:7), particularly with the Israelites crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 4:1-9) and the connection of the Scots to the Scyt-ians (Scythians, Colossians 3:11). Sure, the connections at first may seem a tad tenuous, and I know other historians, such as perhaps John Prebble and Neil Oliver, probably chuckle at the mere suggestion of a connection between Scotland and these Biblical things. Dr Lee simply may have been trying to incite me to further study by these mild assertions. On a recent trip to Scotland when visiting the Clava Stones near Inverness this came to mind.

Yes, some historians may laugh at any Biblical connection and the historicity of the preamble to The Declaration of Arbroath of 1320, (a document sent by the Scots to the Pope), especially the following words:  Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today.’ Think about it, would the Scots lie to the Pope when seeking to gain his favour and blessing? Surely they believed what they had written to be truth! We see mention of Scythians.

I wrote most of this in an email to an author friend who quickly responded with some thoughts. Wrote Billy Scobie (whose pen name is Alexander Tait),
‘Just thinking out loud here – My old mentor Jamie Scarlett believed that tartan had always been an art-form of the Celtic peoples. It would appear that the Celts originated in an area of what is now south-east of Russia, around the Caspian Sea. They migrated westwards until they finally reached Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and, of course, Scotland. Their migration over the centuries can be traced in the place names beginning with GAL... Galatea, Galicia, Gallipoli, Galada, Gaul, Galway, Galloway... the Gaelic tongues. The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, writing in 50 BC, describes the Celts as wearing tartan “striped or chequered in design, with the separate checks close together and in various colours.” Galilee is described in the Bible as “Galilee of the Gentiles”. Some believe that the original Galileans were Celtic rather than Semitic. Was tartan part of the Celtic heritage of Galilee? Did Jesus wear tartan? It’s not at all as far-fetched as it might at first sound.”
I may never get around to finishing my ‘A Stone From The Throne’ novel, (which refers to the stone that was under the British coronation throne), but now it seems very feasible to me that in their travels the Irish/Scots brought with them the Stone of Destiny’ or Stone of Scone (another stone! i.e., Jacob’s Pillow, Genesis 28:10-22).


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Non-Socialist Looks at Scotland...

Left-leaning Scots ought not to ostracise non-Socialist Scots!
I suppose my support for an independent Scotland might be classed as more heart than head but I disagree! I do try to be Biblical in everything (though I’m not always successful!) It makes perfect Biblical sense for Scotland to be a sovereign nation – even one nation under God. Sure, it wasn’t all roses, but God certainly blessed Scotland for its Reformational stance onwards from Knox’s “Give me Scotland, or I die!” prayer. Any Scottish tourist-shop’s dishtowel “will testify to that” – what with all the lists of inventors with their inventions! Scotland was industrious, a real place of thought and learning. The Enlightenment crowd can put all the spin on it they want but it was “The preaching of Thy Word and the praising of Thy name” that let Scotland flourish! It was the teaching of the Bible, eg, that David Hume was wresting with! Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand belongs to God! And on it goes...
I am a Capitalist because I believe it is Biblical. Greed? The Calvinist, (including the Scottish Calvinist) is to do all things to the glory of God. This Protestant or Presbyterian Work Ethic is exemplified by God-blessed endeavors of Calvinists such as, e.g., Arthur Guinness (& Family). A brilliant book I really enjoyed (because it was about two of my favourite subjects) was The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer That Changed the World by Stephen Mansfield (2009). Management/employee relations? (Non-government) Welfare? Read this book. It shows the Biblical way how it is done. In fact one ought to throw away one’s copy of The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropist and swap it for The Search for God and Guinness!

Don't let Socialist "spin" put you off (Biblical) Capitalism! The 9th Commandment says, "Thou shalt not lie!" This applies to governments as well as individuals! The role of the government is to provide "a level playing field" for business success. The employees and consumers reap the benefits of business success, higher wages, lower prices etc. The government is not a business nor is it to operate as a business, for this would be an unfair advantage to legitimate (i.e., Biblical) business and would (and does!) result in higher taxes as well as stifling healthy competition among legitimate companies, etc.
Och anyway, I just don’t think Socialism can be shown to be Biblical apart from the fact that. empirically, it does not work. Bottom line for me is for less (i.e., limited) government and less taxes. The Government is the Referee. Not a Player. It is there to make sure that, from the individual to big business, we all play by the rules (i.e., God’s rules). Look, I know that even fellow ministers wonder how we Calvinists derive these teachings from the Bible but one only has to study The Westminster Confession of Faith, The Shorter and especially exposition of Ten Commandments in The Larger Catechism – in particular the “Thou Shalt Not Steal” 8th Commandment.

Socialist governments do not have a (Biblical) mandate for their schemes of redistributing (other peoples') wealth! "Thou shalt not steal" apples to governments as well as individuals! Infringing the 1st Commandment ("You shall have no other gods before Me") in Socialism the State becomes god of the people, especially the poor! They become dependant (i.e., slaves) of, to and through the government.

Socialism does not believe in "private property" (i.e., "Thou shalt not steal.") This is why Socialistic governments feel "free" to take wealth from one individual or group and give it to another individual or group as it sees fit in accordance with its Socialist or Progressive (read, non-Biblical) agenda.

Socialism and its attendant Social Democracies are a blight on the West and the freedoms we have attained and have enjoyed through application of Biblical teachings to Western nations and cultures. Socialism is a foreign invader and is the enemy of individual and national freedom.

Scotland: Remember that not all of us are Leftist. Some of us still remember whence we came, where we are and where we ought to go! Socialism is not the Scottish way. It never was. It is not the way because is not Biblical (apart from the fact that it does not work!). Sure, many Christians (including Presbyterians!) and many Christian ministers (including Presbyterian or Church of Scotland ministers) have been deluded by it. But the Bible gives YOU the individual (NOT the government) the mandate to look after the needy. Don't give away your freedom to any government!

The dramatic rise of Marxism coincided with the retreat of Christianity. Marxism offered a saving hope, although a false one, and it parodied the Biblical faith in the sovereign, predestinating power of God with its ideas of materialistic determinism. It has offered victory to a world where too often ostensible Christians have offered instead retreat.” – Rousas John Rushdoony (in Foreword to Francis Nigel Lee's Communist Eschatology.

Aye, in Scotland there was and there still is a better way...