Friday, 31 March 2017

Gypsy Smith on Repentance

Sorry, I haven't posted for a while. Things have been pretty busy of late. Starting a 2 week gospel mission next week in Ballinamallard in Co. Fermanagh. So, spent this week doing some door to door evangelism and sermon preparation. I see Gypsy Smith's name has come up on Twitter as an #oldpaths evangelist. I looked up to see his views on repentance, and (true to form) he rightly defined it as turning from sin to God.

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Monday, 2 January 2017

Daily Devotionals

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Happy New Year every one! May 2017 be your most blessed year ever! Two exclamation marks are enough, but allow me to enthuse a little. I sincerely hope that 2017 will prove to be another year of grace like 1859 when God moved mightily in revival blessing across parts of the UK  (Spurgeon's revival sermons here) and especially in my own little province of Ulster. (Reports here).

Yesterday, I started reading Samuel Rutherford's Letters again. Although they are not technically set out as a dated daily reading scheme, yet I intend to read one a day. If so, then they won't last the entire year, so I plan to move unto the select letters of John Newton which are also evangelical classics. Daily devotionals shouldn't replace systematic Bible reading (to state the somewhat obvious) but they can supplement it. Last year I used Spurgeon's Morning and Evening exercises, tweeting some of his more Calvinist statements included (with other stuff) under the #GemsFromSpurgeon  hash tag. The previous year, I used William Jay's intensely more challenging daily devotional (Morning Exercises) Mr Spurgeon's work is relatively brief and consists of 2-3 paragraphs at most. Some of Jay's devotional stuff ran to 2-3 pages. His whole book was the size of a volume of Spurgeon's sermons. But it was pure gold. My wife used it last year. His Evening Exercises are available too and maybe some day, if the Lord will, I will start into them too. I do have a couple of other daily devotionals waiting to be used i.e. Bishop Ryle on the four gospels (I have the set of commentaries from whence the daily readings are taken) and John Calvin on the Psalms. I also have dipped occasionally into the daily readings of James Packer too. It may be said, that the barns are full.

You can read about Rutherford here. He ticks all the right boxes for me: A persecuted Scottish Covenanting Presbyterian etc. You may have sang his hymn at one time or another: "The sands of times are sinking." Sometimes, the name of Mrs Annie Cousins appears at the bottom of the hymn. This is because Rutherford didn't actually compose the hymn (He would have been probably a Psalms only man) but his many spiritual statements were taken by the said lady and woven into metre and set to music. If you are familiar with the hymn, then you will invariably come across the original sentiments as you go through his letters. I am using an old edition of his letters which I picked up second hand in John Gowan's bookshop many moons ago. I think John was still operating out of a spare room in his house when I bought them. This Religious Tract Society edition isn't formally dated, but a previous owner ("George  Crew") dated his signature as 1853.

I have a modern reprint of Rutherford's catechism which is useful. Calvinistic to the core, expressing similar sentiments on the sovereignty of God as the Westminster Confession. Rutherford attended the Westminster Assembly, where (according to James Reid) "He was highly useful in that famous Assembly, and distinguished himself by speaking to good purposes in their debates."

So, this is where I am at the beginning in 2017. On the ministry front, I have been engaged to begin some door to door evangelism on behalf of Kilskeery FPC, starting tomorrow. Next week, I plan to attend the FPC ministers and missionary week of prayer. Just enjoying my last day of Christmas holidays (although I preached both Sabbaths - always a delight.)

Must run on...


Friday, 9 December 2016

BBC History Magazine

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Just a few lines of general appreciation about the BBC History magazine. I picked up several old editionsa while ago (some of which I have still to read) in a local charity shop at a very reasonable price and enjoyed them. This led to a very reasonable yearly subscription at 45% of the RRP in the shops and delivered to your door. (It sells for £4.95) As we say in Belfast, "You couldn't beat that with a big stick..."  By a yearly subscription, I mean 13 editions, because there is a December edition plus a Christmas edition. My good wife has kindly renewed the subscription for 2017 as a birthday present that I get the good of every single month. A history buff's dream. 

The articles are generally very good and cover a wide range of history periods. My favourite history period ranges from Henry VIII and the Protestant Reformation, through the struggles of the Puritans and Covenanters during the disastrous Stuart dynasty right up to the Glorious Revolution that led to the ascension of William III, of glorious, pious and immortal memory. Then after a break of nearly 50 years, I pay interest again to the failed attempt of Bonnie Prince Charlie to regain the throne which was wonderfully and decisively defeated at the Battle of Culloden. This last battle was basically a rerun of the Battle of the Boyne 50 years earlier, only fought this time on Scottish soil. 

Being the BBC, the content is largely secular, but still very instructive. Since we believe in God's Providence, whereby He raises up and casts down kings and empires at will, we should take an interest in what He has done in the great battles and the smaller things. I recommend it.

Friday, 25 November 2016

More on David Cloud and Calvinism

Much of what David Cloud writes generally is good. It is Fundamental and one discerns that he has indeed received help over the years from his use of Reformed Commentaries and Bible aids. We all stand in the debt of the great Reformers and those who seek to follow in their footsteps. Although Cloud is on record of declaring what he likes about Calvinism, he himself  is not a Calvinist and I have had to refute some of his stuff before:

Here is the latest offering from his pen which is easily refuted below. I really do wish that I had the time to refute it even further and deeper. This would simply necessitate looking up Calvin and other Reformed commentators on the Bible verses which Cloud references. Yet, even the simple things take time and I just don't have it to afford. However, the two examples below show that his criticism is misplaced and therefore, while of fodder significance for this blog, is really of little significance in the overall scheme of things.

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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Book Review - Heavenly Conference

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 Title of book: A Heavenly Conference
Author: Richard Sibbes
Publisher: Banner of Truth
Publisher’s Address or address where book may be obtained: 3 Murrayfield Rd, Edinburgh EH12 6EL, Scotland
Year of publication: 2015
Number of Pages: 167
Hdbk or pbk: Pbk
Price: £5.00
ISBN: 13: 9781848716339

 Reading a Puritan pastor opening up and expounding a text of Scripture reminds us of the Lord Jesus feeding the five thousand with just a few loaves and fishes.  Just as the Saviour dipped again and again into the physical smallness of the supply, so too the Puritan could oft return to one or two verses of Scripture and feed his flock with countless expositions of the doctrines it contains along with the practical lessons for life.

Sibbes is the classic example of the observation which we have just made. His ‘Heavenly Conference’ took place between the Risen Christ and Mary Magdalene who was first at the tomb on the Resurrection morning as recorded in John 20.  This is the occasion when she was ministered unto by the angels and on seeing Christ, supposed Him to be the gardener. However, when he addressed her by name, she responded “Rabonni” that is to say “my Master”. He forbade her to touch Him because He would be ascending to “my Father and your Father , my God and your God.”  (v16-17)

Personally, I found the doctrinal part concerning the relationship within the Trinity and its effect upon the believer a little difficult to follow at times, but the applicatory parts were good, especially seeing that Mary’s commission to go and tell the disciples is linked to their recent forsaking of the Saviour. The Puritan always excelled in ministering to hurting saints. 

The book is well presented and up to the usual standard expected from a Banner of Truth production. It is also available in Kindle (.mobi)  and EPUB for those equipped to read it in a more modern format. While the price remains the same, yet (if registered with the Banner of Truth) the book really is yours for life, even when your Kindle reader etc. goes the way of all the earth. 

Colin Maxwell.