Thursday, October 2, 2008

In the bleak mid winter

You will say "but it isn't christmas" but well what's a girl to do if a poem comes along? gotta get that poem down.
In the bleak... was written by Christina Georgina Rossetti [1830-94] all the good stuff comes from women, I've retained her 1st and 4th stanzas and part of her 2nd and [hopefully] I will upload C.G.R.s original version beautifully sung by Corrinne May or at the least give the utube link
In the bleak mid winter
frosty wind make moan
earth stood hard as iron
water as a stone
snow had fallen, snow on snow
snow on snow
in the bleak mid winter
long, so long ago
Lay Him in a manger
though He is Lord of all
poverty will teach Him
to hear us when we call
in the bleak mid winter
a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ
I never would have Known Him
though He was sent for me
if He had come in splendour
with might and majesty
this is heaven's wonder
that such a One as He
with love so warm and tender
should stoop so low for me
Oh what can I give Him
poor as I am
if I were a shepherd
I would bring my lamb
if I were a wise man
I would do my part
but what can I give Him
give to Him my heart.
Oh that I could love Him
and show Him all His worth
but I am only human
a child of this earth
when He comes in glory
then my tongue will tell
I will kneel before Him
in the angel swell.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

What was St. Paul's vision, what was he working at?

Ephesians.c.3.vs.9-11. And to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden in for ages in God who created all things that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Would it be too simplistic to suppose that in every city, town and village that St. Paul preached he was labouring to bring together a body of men and women totally united in work and prayer, in mind and heart, so as to effectively reproduce in each of those places the same ministry with the full manifestation and demonstration of the gifts and virtues of the Holy Spirit that were produced in Jesu's earthly ministry in Isreal? St. Paul in another place talks of the church as the body of Christ, Jesus being the Head and in another place each bodily part working together, being knitted together in love. Why that would be as though Jesus were to not only visit those cities, towns and villages but would be in permanent residence ministering to the poor and the sick and needy as of old and as ever.
Is it so far fetched and fanciful? did you not just this past week in fellowship long within yourself and say "if only I could see my Lord"? and you sighed.


Earthly pleasures vainly call me
I would be like Jesus
nothing in this world enthrall me
I would be like Jesus
Be like Jesus is my song
in the home and in the throng
be like Jesus all day long
I would be like Jesus.

By His grace alone

Galations.c.3.v.3-7 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another, but when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Saviour appeared He saved us not because of deeds done by us in righteuosness but in virtue of His own mercy by the washing od regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit which He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
There seems to be a big question in the church as to whether or not man has a free will. I think he has free will to disobey and reject God, how could love be satisfied with anything less, and man under the federal headship of Adam has indeed taken the way of free-will and disobedience and lives under the consequences of that to this day, every time we sin and disobey God we are fully endorsing Adam's original sin for ourselves.
But having taken the way of free-will man is not now able of his free-will able to turn back to God, since free-will is man's disobedience and sin how could it possibly be a way or a means of his restoration back to God and blessing?
He might have desire to serve and to please God but the way and means to do so he has not. This is exactly what St. Paul meant in the 7th chapter of Romans when he says in verse 14 onwards "we know that [God's] law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin, I do not understand my own actions for I do not do what I want but I do the very thing [sin] that I hate." Theologians are ever in a foment about whether St. Paul is talking as a christian or someone who is not saved, I have never seen the difficulty they have [but then I am not a theologian] for St. Paul says quite clearly that he, in the example he is quoting, is carnal, sold under sin, therefore he is clearly describing somebody not saved and this is fully in line with the context of chapter 7. In verse 18 he says "for I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is in my flesh, I can will what is right but I cannot do it." Mankind has free-will but free-will is not the means or way of finding God or serving Him.
What I am writing in a short treatise here needs a book almost as large as an encyclopedia, I would heartily recommend the writings or the sermons of C.H.Spurgeon to anybody trying to get a grasp on the doctrines of free-grace over and against the doctrines of free-will, the two theologies are oceans apart and not only affect the manner in which people are saved but also the whole quality of their christian walk and attainment of the blessings and fruit promised by God to them thereafter.
The almost universally held theology in the modern church is the free-will theology, whereas in ages past it was almost universally free-grace and I would suggest, as many more important and auspicious persons than me have suggested past and present, that this is at the root and core of so very, very much that is wrong in the church today.
So if man by his own free choice is neither able to find God or to serve Him how is he to be saved? what hope has he at all? you say through faith, yes but faith is a spiritual attribute and the bible teaches that man's spirit is slain within him, dead through trespasses and sins, Do you wonder then that God seems unreal or remote to the man who is not saved? is it any wonder at all that he tries to fill this awful loneliness and emptiness with perverted pleasure and drugs and drunkeness? which lead him on to ever increasing depression and death.
What then? Ephesians.c.2.vs8-9 for by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing it is the gift of God, not because of works, lest any man should boast.
All must depend upon a going forth of the Holy Spirit of the Living God into the heart of the one who hears the good news of Jesus Christ and His salvation, it is for God's Spirit to bring about conviction and surrender for the forgiveness of sins at the cross, it is not for the man upon the urgings of the preacher to decide whether to accept or deny Christ.
The appeal of the preacher should be not to the hearer to make a decision but his appeal should be to God to send the Holy Spirit from heaven to demonstrate and bear witness to the gospel message by working in the hearts of the listeners, it is just this work that is missing in modern evangelism and which is the cause of many, many people coming into the church who are not truly saved.

Imputing to importunity

Naaman joins a celebrated group of people whom the Lord mentions by name in His preaching, He said "there were many lepers in Elisha's day but none of them was cleansed save Naaman the Syrian."
I hear so very many angry voices raised against the Lord in our day, such people do not wisely, God has declared "woe to her that strives with her maker." Again I hear many people talking about how they "serve the Lord" really? does God know about this? such people are quite often imperious and almost impossible to get near. I would like to gently take them by the hand and lead them down calvary way to a man nailed naked to a tree and ask them there what you are doing to "serve" the Lord, nobody who is actually serving Him will have taken offence at the foregoing remark. Some people think they can come with some sort of golden dish full of delights and fancies and bring it to the Lord as some kind of offering.
Cain is the father of all those who suppose they are serving the Lord but inwardly are angry, usually they do not speak their anger out against God, they take their spite out against God's people like Cain did, he was a farmer, just think how hard he must have worked all the year round to produce the offering he brought to the Lord, But God had already pronounced a curse upon the ground, Cain was bringing to God the fruits of that which had been cursed.
Abel came by way of SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE when he slew his victim lamb and saw the life-blood flow to the ground he knew that his sins were flowing away with it and atonement was made, and with atonement came righteousness and fellowship with God. It is a prophetic picture of the forgiveness of sins at the cross. Why substitutionary? because if we die for our sins we are merely paying the required price, but if a death takes place on our behalf, providing that God has agreed to it, the victim dies, our sins dies with him and we live.
Naaman would have done anything and given anything to be cleansed of his leprosy, he brought sackfuls of gold coins with him to Elisha and changes of raiment, the fruit no doubt of a lifetime of valour and hard service to the king of Syria, but the prophet said only to him wash and be clean and it made Naaman so angry, he turned away in a rage, he was doing what he had always done, going in the opposite direction to the Lord and at a rate of knots, he is a picture of many people today, but his servants drew near and said "my father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then when he says to thee only wash and be clean?" Oh that some person might hear the Holy Spirit today say to them, "my child if God had made faith to be a complicated matter of hard service, and long prayers and tiresome liturgies and rituals, would you not have done it? why not do this easy thing He tells you to do? just forsake your sins, believe the gospel, embrace Jesus as your Saviour, isn't that easy?" just wash and be clean, as many as recieved Him to them He gave power to become the children of God.
Can you see Naaman on the banks of Jordan? the river Jordan was muddy it wasn't clean and it was going to get all over him, dear lovable Naaman can you see him as he pulls off his boots? the breastplate with all of his insignias of authority, his armour his helmet with it's badges and decorations for valour, off they all come, and his servants were peeking and looking until he was stripped down to just an ordinary person, just a man, a soul for whom Christ had died, that's just the place that God takes you to at the cross, God wants you to know you have nothing to give Him, there is nothing He wants from you, just your heart.
Naaman went through with it wading out into the Jordan under he went once, twice, three times four, five and then six but he was no better, every time hurt his pride a little more but the prophet said seven times and when he went down and came up the seventh time he was clean. He went all the way with God and he recieved all of what God had promised, he was saved, he was healed.
Some people come part of the way with God even six parts of the way but they reserve back that part of their own hearts that they will not give to God. Come all the way folks, come clean, all the way with God and recieve all that God has for you. This is divine exchange, this is imputed righteousness, peace, joy and fellowship in the Holy Spirit. This is true religion.

Oh to be like Thee

Oh to be like Thee, oh to be like Thee
Blessed Redeemer pure as Thou art
come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy power
stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I recently discussed with a dear brother the question of whether God needs us, his position was perfectly reasonable and understandable in viewing such an idea as presumptious in the extreme to suggest that He does, but I took a different stand and here is the reason I gave to suggest that God does need us.
Jesus has told us that we are held securely in Father's hand and nobody (not even ourselves) can take us out of His hand, He has covenanted with us to "never leave us nor forsake us"
If it were at all possible that any one of us who have trusted ourselves to Christ for the eternal well-being of our souls should fall and lose our share in the everlasting life that God has promised to each and every one of us then His oath and His covenant will have failed, the devil will have gained a great victory over God, this will never happen, when Christ is presented with His bride there would be a spot and a wrinkle, if it were possible that some had failed to attain what God has promised to them.
Eternal security does not depend upon who or what we are or what we can or cannot achieve, it depends (God Himself has made it depend) entirely upon the promise of God and His ability to perform and deliver on His promise. Be assured He is well able to do so. Therefore on this basis He does need us, His oath and His honour He has made to depend upon our preservation.
But why did He make it to depend thus? it is quite clear that if our eternal welfare were to depend in the tiniest degree upon ourselves, what we are in ourselves or what we can achieve then would our souls be forfeit indeed. And the only reason I can suggest for His arranging matters so is (I say hushedly) because He needs us.


John.c.16.vs.13-15 "When the Spirit of truth comes He will guide you into all the truth for He will not speak on His own authority but whatever He hears He will speak and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me for He will take what is Mine and declare it unto you. All that the Father has is mine, therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it unto you."

Nobody who wishes to be taken seriously as a student of God's word doubts the doctrine of the blessed Trinity, God is One yet He is Three in Persons, which of His blessed Persons would you like to dispense with, is it the Father and Creator? the Son and Redeemer of poor fallen man? or God the Holy Spirit? the life giver who breathes into us the breath of life when we are born anew, the Sanctifier and the Enabler.
What seems less well recognised is that man too, created in the image of the invisable God is, a triune or threefold being.
That man has a outward person in the body of his flesh is not disputed, that he has an inward person of the phsyche or soul can be easily proved, but there seems to be a great deal of debate about the third dimension of man's being which is his spirit and a considerable confusion about what is that which pertains to the soul of man and that which pertains to the spirit or whether or not the terms soul and spirit are not interchangeable so that when we are talking about either one or the other the same thing is meant thereby. In Hebrews.c.4.v.12. we read...For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul nd spirit, of joints and marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
There really shouldn't be any ambiguity on the part of the believer about whether or not man has a spirit which is as distinct from the soul as the soul is from the body. That there is this confusion and inability to distinguish and discern between what is of the spirit of man and what is of the soul is cause of so many of the doubts and confusions christians have and the reason why false doctrines arise and on the personal level bad choices made and mistakes made, leading to so much sorrow and pain in the lives of God's precious people.
That the unbeliever should not be able to identify within him or herself the presence of a spirit is much more understandable for it is this part of our being which the bible says in slain, dead in trespasses and sin and which when we come to God through the cross of His beloved Son turning away from our sins He brings back to newness of life by the impartation of The Blest Holy Spirit.
Now we suddenly become aware of His divine Person and Presence, His peace comes upon us, our hearts are filled to overflowing with joy and newness of life and we become as the scripture hath said complete in Him.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


i Corinthians c.1.vs.30-31. [God] is the source of your life in Christ Jesus Whom God made to be our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption, therefore as it is written, "let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."

Recently in sharing with a brother on peace, joy and love as being essentials of the victorious christian lifestyle he looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said "Oh you are going to be a nun then."
This quip played on my mind somewhat and made me to realise and not for the first time that when you come round to discussing the fruits and virtues of the Christ-like Christ-life the meaning of what you are trying to convey is widely misconstrued and interpreted as human feelings instead of being understood as what you really mean as a state or condition of the heart.
There is a theological term much beloved by C.H.Spurgeon among others which is thouroughly scriptural called the doctrine of IMPUTATION the reasoning of which is that when we come to God through Christ at the cross, He takes everything that is of ourselves, our sinful selves, and places it upon Christ, He then takes everything that is of Christ's self, His righteous self, and imputes this to us by a miracle of divine transference. All that we are or were is nailed to the cross, all that He now is in His risen life becomes ours by a divine exchange. All this is of course foreshadowed in Isaiah 53.
This exchange fully embraces the realm of mind and soul which is of course the seat of our emotions, but just as forgiveness and salvation cannot be earned or merited, nor can they be striven for or achieved by works of piety and prayer and such-like devotions, neither can anything else pertaining to the life of Jesus Christ in the human soul by the effectual working and indwelling of the Holy Spirit of the Living God.
This divine exchange or imputation must be recieved by faith as a gift but then we have to learn to walk in it, I call it practising the presence of Jesus, as it is written, "Lord in Thy Presence is fulness of joy."
As we daily learn to walk in His presence His peace will rest upon us according to His sweet promise and God pours His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. This is the Christ-like Christ-life and becomes our habit or way of life, moreover it is from this heart condition of what St Paul has called "righteousness, joy, peace and love in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit" that all our serving will flow as rivers of living waters and constitutes what St Paul calls true religion.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Holy Spirit be my Guide by Cope

Holy Spirit my heart yearns for Thee
Holy Spirit abide in me
make me clean oh make me pure
I must know the double cure
Ne'er my trust will be in vain
nought to lose and all to gain
take my life, my self. my soul
burn the chaff and make me whole
Holy Spirit be my Guide
Holy Spirit my door's open wide
make me to know Thy will divine
Holy Spirit be Thou mine.

Above is the interior of the Metropolitan Tabernacle.
Above right Charles Haddon Spurgeon
opposite General William Booth

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mr Spurgeon and the General

I love the story of how when the Salvation Army was beginning to spread her wings somewhat in terms of numbers and ministry, General Booth betook himself for an interview with Charles Haddon Spurgeon the famed pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle at the Elephant and Castle in London's east end with the hope of procuring the use of the Tabernacle as a venue for an annual conference.
Unfortunately Spurgeon was bound by solemn promise that the building, having been consecrated to the preaching of the doctrines of free grace should never be used as a platform for any other gospel. This of course precluded the possibility of it being used by such a professed preacher of universal salvation and free will as William Booth, unless of course by some manner of means the good General could be persuaded and converted to that theological disposition so beloved of Spurgeon.
This Mr Spurgeon set out to do expounding the five main principles one by one.
He had as much success as Mr George Whitefield had with the imperious Mr Wesley a century earlier,, William Booth was appalled, even outraged at what seemed to be the implications of the doctrines of predestination and limited atonement.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, sadly shaking his head was left with no alternative but to refuse permission, but as he did so he sat down at his beaureau and scribbled out a cheque the value of which was more than enough to cover the cost of hiring out a building meet for the General's purpose with some left over for the work of the mission of the Salvation Army.
What are those divides? in theological outlook as far as the east is from the west, separating such mighty men of faith and service as Booth and Spurgeon, Whitefield and Wesley.
Never having read Calvin or his five principles I could never be accused of being a Calvinist, I have absorbed and grown greatly to love the preaching and theology of Spurgeon who of course was a Calvinist (though not writ large enough for many) Nor have I read any work of Joseph Arminius but have read enough and seen enough of what is called the free will theology, which incidently is all but total in it's prevalency today in the church, to be able to discern it's basic tenets.
In this article I simply would like to draw attention to the effects of the two different mind-sets as they are brought to bear on the gospel message as it preached.
THE ARMINIAN PREACHER in preaching the gospel will point out the basic problem to be addressed, man's sin and God's solution to the same, salvation through the redemptive work of Christ in dying for sinners on the cross at Calvary and the neccessity of the new birth, wrought by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit of the Living God. He will then call upon his hearers to make a decision to accept or to deny this Christ whom God has set forth, His Son, His only Son as the Saviour. The preacher may even ask for his hearers to make themselves known by standing forward or submitting themselves to be counselled and prayed for.
THE FREE GRACE PREACHER in preaching the gospel will point out the basic problem to be addressed, man's sin and God's solution to the same, salvation through the redemptive work of Christ in dying for sinners on the cross of Calvary and the neccessity of the new birth, wrought by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit of the Living God. Both preachers will emphasise the substitutionary nature of Christ's sacrafice, He died for us in our place. But the free grace preacher will make no appeal to his listeners to make a decision to either accept or reject, he may call upon his hearers to repent but then he leaves all in the hands of the Holy Spirit of the Living God to convict and to covince and to bring the sinner to the place of repentance.
The free-will preacher's appeal is to the sinner, the free-grace preacher's appeal is to the Holy Spirit.
In the case of the free-will preacher's ministry the effectual working of the Holy Spirit is abruptly interrupted, this vital work which must be wrought out in the heart and life of the one who would enter the kingdom of God and be saved.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How the East London Christian Mission became the Salvation Army

By the middle of the 19th century the fires that had burned so brightly in the Methodist movement at the time of the great awakening had begun to die down and Methodism had itself become just another denomination.
William Booth who was an itinerant preacher with the Methodist New Connection hailed from Nottingham. On his arrival in London's east end he was staggered by the desperate poverty that he encountered among the working classes, he resigned his ministry with the New Connection to form The East London Christian Mission. His first preaching engagement was outside the notorious "Blind Beggar" pub on the Whitechapel Rd, a pub that was a known hive of prostitution, gambling and every sort of vice.
William Booth threw his hat upon the ground an started preaching to it, among the missiles that greeted his loving invitation to the patrons within to turn from their wicked ways and to turn to Christ for salvation were human waste, offal and at least one live cat. But three persons got saved and the following night they set up a tent in a field opposite. And by and by God blessed the work and it grew in size and strength.
One freezing november night Booth was walking across London bridge with his son Bramwell and peering over the side of the bridge he saw what appeared to be lines of cardboard boxes seemingly stuffed full of nothing but newspaper, he enquired what they were "why father"...his son replied.."those are homeless men and women, they sleep in those boxes." William Booth was distraught, he went home in an agony of grief that such a thing could be. Endlessly he paced his room, back and forth, pulling on his beard "and you knew about this, you knew but you did nothing."
From this time forward the E.L.C.M. started to buy and rent disused warehouses and such like buildings and the first hostels were formed. On the wall outside was this message NO MAN NEEDS TO STEAL OR TO BEG OR TO SLEEP OUT AT NIGHT OR TO STARVE OR COMMIT SUICIDE WE WILL HELP YOU.
In May 1987 William Booth called George Railton and his son Bramwell to revue the E.L.C.M. annual report, written at the top of the paper were the words The christian mission is a volutary society, but Bramwell objected strongly to those words " I am no volunteer, I must serve." His father took his pencil and put a line through those words and wrote in their place THE SALVATION ARMY.