Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 31: The Lord’s Galley Slave

by davidtmyers
Were you, the reader, aware that the man of the hour in Scotland, John Knox, once rowed a galley ship? No, it wasn't for exercise. No, it wasn't for some national pride of the fastest galley ship in a sailing contest. Simply put, John Knox was enslaved on that ship.

Earlier, Knox had entered St. Andrews Castle with three young children in tow. Their parents had entrusted him as a tutor. When events following the murder of a Roman Catholic cardinal went badly for anyone suspected of being part of that deed, they urged him to flee to that Protestant bastion for safety purposes. Know was not one of the individuals who killed the cardinal. But he did go there for safety. While present, the chaplain to the soldiers at the chapel was urged by the congregation to extend a pastoral call to Knox, recognizing his spiritual gifts. At first, Knox resisted, but finally gave in to the invitation. He began to preach boldly on themes familiar to the Protestant reformation then beginning in the land of Scotland.

At the end of June in 1547, the French fleet besieged St Andrews Castle. On this day, July 31, 1547, victory was gained over the defenders inside its walls. Surrendering were every one in the castle, with promises of lives spared, transportation to France, the opportunity to enter the service of the French king, but if not, then to be conveyed to any country they wished, provided it not be Scotland again. Upon arrival in France, immediately the terms of surrender were annulled, and they became prisoners of war. John Knox became a galley slave for nineteen months.
While there were months in which the slave ship did not sail due to weather and cold conditions, in warmer months Knox labored under cruel conditions, of which he writes in many a book and sermon afterwards. He was loaded with chains. He spoke of the sobs of his heart during the imprisonment. It was in anguish of mind and vehement affliction. There were torments sustained in the galleys.
Amidst all of the physical treatments came the attacks upon their faith. Daily, the Romanist mass was offered, with expected reverence by the prisoners. As soon as it began however, the galley slaves would cover their heads so they wouldn't hear the words of the service. Daily, there were efforts to get the prisoners to confess the Romanist faith. Once, a figure representing the Virgin Mary, was pressed between the chained hands of a slave, with a command to kiss the figure. The slave, who many believer to be John Knox himself, threw the figure overboard into the sea, loudly proclaiming the Virgin to save herself by swimming! After this, there were no more attempts to convert the prisoners.

John Knox gradually wore down physically from this experience, with a fever near the end of it. Rowing close to the Scottish coast, they raised the feverish Reformer up when the spires of St. Andrews came into view, asking him if he recognized it. He answered, "I know it well; for I see the steeple of that place where God first opened my mouth in public to his glory; and I am fully persuaded, now weak I now appear, that I shall not depart this life, til my tongue shall glorify His godly name in that same place."

Whatever means was used (and even Thomas M'Crie was not sure what it was), after 19 months in harsh conditions, John Knox was freed to continue his ministry in England and Scotland.

Words to Live By: It wasn't God's will that Knox should be kept forever as a galley slave. It was God's will to free him so as to allow him to continue his ministry in the Reformation. All of us ever live within the scope of God's will all of our lives. Let us submit to that will, in large areas as well as small areas.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Which is it? Did Boris mislead the media or the High Court?

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s willingness to redefine words to avoid political inconvenience is exposed today (30 July) following a remarkable High Court judgment involving the banning of a London Bus Ad.

“The words are in black and white in the evidence submitted to the Court. Boris cannot have it both ways. Either he wilfully misled the media and the public during an election campaign or he subsequently misled the Court about his role,” explains Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre.

“At stake here is the plain meaning of English words and whether leading public figures are allowed to wriggle out of that plain meaning when the truth that they convey suddenly becomes politically inconvenient. If we allow the meaning of words to be redefined and reconfigured at the whim of politicians how can we hope to have any political accountability? Is it any surprise that engagement with politics and trust in politicians has fallen to such a low level?”

In today’s judgment Mrs Justice Lang finds that London Mayor Boris Johnson did not order the banning of a Bus Ad at the eleventh hour – in spite of clear evidence, produced in Court, stating that Boris had ‘instructed’ Transport for London (TfL) to pull the Advert.

Andrea continues: “And now we find a High Court judge unwilling to address Boris’ deliberate manipulation of meaning. This remarkable judgment manoeuvres all over the place to avoid the plain meaning of words in order to let the Mayor off the hook.”

The judgment comes in a case brought by the charity Core Issues Trust whose Bus Ad was banned at the last minute following intervention by the Mayor. The Ad, which read “Not Gay. Post Gay. Ex Gay and proud. Get over it!” was a direct response to the Ad being run by LGBT lobby group Stonewall at the time, which read “Some people are gay. Get over it!”

The Core Issues Ad was banned at the eleventh hour but the Stonewall Ad was allowed to run – both at the time and subsequently. Lawyers for Core Issues have consistently highlighted the asymmetry of treatment towards the two viewpoints expressed in the Ads and the damage to freedom of expression through the exercise of government censorship.

On the day of his intervention (12 April 2012), Boris took personal credit in the media for banning the Bus Ad. Yet, two years later, he told the High Court, “I did not instruct TfL to do anything.”

Evidence extracted from TfL and the Mayor’s Office by Core Issues Trust and submitted to the Court further revealed that:

On the day of the Mayor’s intervention, his Communications Director responded to the Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes writing that ‘Boris has instructed TfL to pull the adverts’. A month later, the Mayor himself wrote to Hazel Blears MP stating that he had “instructed” TfL to ban the Ads.

The Mayor’s intervention took place three weeks before the London Mayoral election and just two days before the Mayor was due to appear at a hustings event organised by Stonewall, the LGBT pressure group that had sponsored the original Advert .

However, two years later in May 2014, Boris submitted a signed witness statement to the High Court, claiming “I did not instruct TfL to do anything”. Lawyers acting for him then proceeded to argue that when Boris had used the word ‘instruct’ he was merely expressing a point of view.

Andrea Williams Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which has supported Core Issues Trust responded:

“This is a judgment worth reading. It centres on adverts on London buses and involves words with meanings which are as clear as one of Boris’s double deckers. An official asks if he should “pull” an advert. He is then instructed by Boris to “pull” the advert. Yet the judge says he was not asked to “pull” the advert. It is time for the public and independent commentators to judge the judges (and Boris). If they are incapable of seeing something as obvious as a London bus then the question is what is causing their institutional bias against plain English?

“What are the pressures on our judges that stop them being able to follow the clear meaning of words and search for truth even if it involves powerful people? What pressures made Mrs Justice Lang decline to permit cross examination of the Mayor or allow computer forensics to check the accuracy of his statements?

“Free speech is a precious thing. Testing the integrity of our leaders is important. Our democracy cannot survive if our press is deliberately misled by political figures and justices don’t choose to understand the plain meaning of words. This case is about free speech. This case hinges on the words people use to describe themselves. Their self-identity.

“Mrs Justice Lang cleverly avoided deciding which version of the Mayor’s ‘truth’ was true. She explained away the contradictory versions of what he said as a mere matter of ‘semantics’. I am surprised that the Judge decided to accept Boris’s implausible claim that when he said ‘instructed’ he was not using the word as it is generally understood but instead that he was simply ‘expressing his opinion’.

“This judgment has failed to punish the London Mayor for showing privilege to Stonewall, which has continued to run its controversial bus ads defying an earlier ruling by Mrs Justice Lang that neither Stonewall nor Core Issues ads should not be allowed to run.”

“This case is an important test for democracy and freedom of expression under the rule of law and in the face of a powerful public elite. This case was a test of judicial independence and impartiality. Today that has been found to be lacking”

“The Judge supported TfL’s and Boris Johnson’s biased decision that the terms ‘ex-gay’ and ‘post-gay’ were ‘offensive’. It is a stark example of the State prohibiting the right of people to descriptors of their choice but allowing Stonewall to celebrate the ‘gay’ descriptor. Why exactly can't someone describe themselves as ex-gay?”

Andrea Williams
CEO Christian Legal Centre

Mike Davidson
Core Issues Trust Director

"This judgment marks a dark day for freedom of expression. It demonstrates that fear of a powerful gay lobby will trump the freedom of individual expression and choice. In most all things we must be free to have both sides heard in any debate, and must allow people the freedom to express that belief as broadly as possible, up to and including the point of giving offence to the Guardian’s 750,000 readers. That is what true freedom is and that is what democracy means.”

News from Canon Andrew White

Middle East Daily Update 30 July 2014
Dear Friends,

Everyday we think that the crisis here cannot get worse and every day it does. Yesterday over 1500 people were killed and the Islamic State (formally known as ISIS) simply said we can do anything now the world is just looking at Gaza. In reality that is true Iraq seems like old news, yet things just get worse and worse here. It is as if hell has broken out here and nobody cares, that is apart from your our supporters who never leave us and keep supporting us in every way and to you I simply say thank you. Here are some of the awful pictures of yesterday. The situation is so serious and it is very easy to feel forgotten.

So many of our people have left or are planning to leave. Even here in Baghdad people are terrified of what is happening around us. The I.S. has established their hidden cells within Baghdad and people are seriously under threat even though they are not in the areas controlled by the I.S. The number of kidnappings here has soared and people simply do not know what is going to happen next.

We are still involved in providing a lot of support for the Christians who have fled Mosul and Nineveh to the North but we are staying here as our archdeacon is coming and we are really looking forward to this. We cannot really believe he is willing to come into this but he is. The support we have raised is going to the various established churches and they are sharing what is most needed with their people.

Please continue to pray for us and support us in our crisis.


My voluntary work

My voluntary work has an unusual prerequisite, security vetting including a criminal records check and I declaration that I have no connection with any political organisation on the far right or far left. Every time I participate I have to be issued with keys and a personal radio complete with panic button. What do I do? I am a chaplaincy volunteer at the Harmonsworth Immigration Removal Centre (HIRC) near Heathrow.

My main work is preaching for the Christians there two or three Sunday evenings a month. HIRC houses over 600 detainees at any one time. In is like a prison in that detainees cannot leave at will but unlike prison there is freedom of movement inside HIRC and good facilities like gym, library, computers and tasty food. The facility is run by a commercial contractor and part of the contract is provision for the spiritual and pastoral care of detainees. About two thirds of detainees are Muslims, about a quarter are professing Christians. I was recruited by the senior chaplain, a Christian. His deputy is a Muslim imam. Both of these men are full time employees. There are a number of Christian volunteer visitors who come with different affinities with various groups of detainees. My affinity comes from twelve years' work in Nigeria and still able to communicate in an African language.

Christian detainees are mostly African, especially Nigerians. They are free to meet and some do so twice daily every day of the year. Their worship is very lively indeed with drumming and dance, not at all like that of even the most charismatic church in England. I can join in with my tambourine which I am not allowed to do in our Ealing church.

As in prison, one never asks a person the reason for their detention. Sometimes it will be told. A minority are awaiting deportation after criminal conviction. More are asylum seekers awaiting tribunal decisions. I think the majority may be immigrants who have outstayed the term of residence granted when they entered the UK.

Usually I have no idea why a man is there listening to my preaching. Detainees are there on average for around six weeks but it can be many months. One thing is certain. They all want out . This is why when I leave each time, I can say something one never says elsewhere at the end of a church service. ' I hope I don't see you next week.'

July 30: Birth of Edmund P. Clowney

by archivist
Edmund Prosper Clowney met his Lord face to face on Sunday, March 20, 2005, having passed into glory at the age of 87. He was survived by his wife of 63 years, Jean Wright Clowney; by his five children: David Clowney, Deborah Weininger, Paul Clowney, Rebecca Jones, and Anne Foreman; by twenty‑one grandchildren; and by eleven great grandchildren.

Born in Philadelphia, on July 30, 1917, Ed received his B.A. from Wheaton College in 1939, a Th. B. from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1942, a S.T.M from Yale University Divinity School in 1944, and a D.D. from Wheaton College in 1966. Ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, he served as pastor of several churches from 1942 to 1946 and was then invited to become assistant professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in 1952. He became that institution's first president in 1966, and remained there until 1984, when he took a post as theologian‑in‑residence at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In 1990 Ed and Jean moved to Escondido, California, where Ed was adjunct professor at Westminster Seminary California. In 2000, he took a full‑time position as associate pastor at Christ the King Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Houston, Texas. After two years, he moved back to Charlottesville, where he once again became part‑time theologian‑in‑residence at Trinity Presbyterian Church. He remained in this role until his death.

Ed was a compassionate counselor; a devoted servant of Jesus Christ, his Word, and his church; a peacemaker; and a true visionary. He dreamed for Christ's kingdom and was instrumental in the birth or furtherance of such ministries as the Reformed Theological Seminary in Aix‑en‑Provence, France; Westminster Seminary California; Trinity Church, Charlottesville; the Lausanne Conference; InterVarsity ministries, both in the United States and in England; and "The Westminster Ministerial Institute," an inner‑city training program for pastors in Philadelphia, out of which the Lord developed the Center for Urban Theological Studies. He also had a life‑long interest in children's Christian education materials.

In material written in 2002 for the publisher of one of his books, Ed revealed his creativity and educator's heart: “The biggest job of my life was the production of the Vacation Bible School materials for [the original] Great Commission Publications [in the 1950s]...I had valuable assistance [from a number of people]...I wrote and illustrated the workbooks for children and the manuals for the teachers for the grades up to junior high....To strengthen my figure drawing, I [had] attended Saturday classes in the Chicago Museum school of art for two semesters.”

Ed will be supremely remembered by many as a preacher, perhaps the most gifted proponent and practitioner of redemptive‑historical preaching of this generation. He was unique in his ability to pick up the threads of redemptive history and to weave a rich expositional tapestry that brought Christ in all his perfections and glory before God's people so that they were drawn to love and worship the Redeemer.

He was also a faithful churchman, serving first in the courts and many committees of the OPC and then in the courts and several committees of the PCA. He was a tireless proponent of improvement in the inter-church relations among the conservative Presbyterian denominations in this country. He had a significant role in the genesis of the “Joining and Receiving” process whereby the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod joined the PCA in 1982.

His writing displays the great theme of his life, namely Christ's presence in the whole of Scripture and his present work in the church. His books include Preaching and Biblical Theology, Called to the Ministry, Christian Meditation, Doctrine of the Church, The Message of I Peter, The Unfolding Mystery, and Preaching Christ in all of Scripture. Some of these titles have been translated for the benefit of the worldwide church. His last book, How Christ Transforms the Ten Commandments, was accepted by his publisher only days before his death.

Ed left behind a legacy not only of written books and articles, but a great number of sermons and lectures, as well as magazine columns such as the humor column "Eutychus and His Pin" for Christianity Today and Bible studies for Tabletalk. His sense of humor and his love for people left a mark wherever he went. In the last week of his life, one attending nurse, laughing as she left his room, exclaimed, "What a sweet man!" Those who knew and loved him would agree. His tender‑hearted encouragement and wisdom will be greatly missed, but his work will be established by his Master who has now welcomed him with those reassuring words: "Well‑done, good and faithful servant, enter now into the joy of your Lord!"

[The above tribute was compiled at the time of Dr. Clowney's death by Ms. Mindy Withrow, Associate Director for Communications of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA, with additional material from Rev. Bill Johnson. Used by permission.]

I knew Ed from his visits to our church where his late son, Paul, was a fellow elder. I was able to talk to him about such matters as the relations betwen Schaeffer and Van Til, personal as well as in apologetics. I will never forget two of the sermons he preached in our church, David;s mighty men and also Salvation is of the Lord.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

News first hand from Nigeria

A new forest has been found, stretching from Bauchi up to Jigawa and the Niger border. Some of the B/H
leaders have been caught and lots of ammunition found. There are still lots of B/H in the other forest near GWOZA.

The Chibok girls, who managed to escape, met with President Jonathan along with the parents of those kidnapped. Please don’t think nothing is being done. With the help of overseas intelligence, quite a number of B/H leaders have been caught. How to get the girls is the big question. If the army attack then the B/H will kill the girls. Pray that God will work a miracle.

Many people are still on the Ngoshe Glavda hills. The B/H are still in places nearby and daily the soldiers visit the plains but we often wonder when the B/H will attack at night. The older folks are still in their homes and refused to go up the hills. Many did manage to leave the hills and are in other areas.

Many went to Maiduguri but are struggling to find food and also we hear B/H plan to attack Maiduguri again.Pulka, at the beginning of the Gwoza hills, was attacked but the soldiers managed to kill quite a few of the terrorists but a few Christians were killed. The Pastor, Rev B (one of the Pastors that a Church in Sheffield kindly sent money to train him in Gindiri Pastors College) has had to leave his village and is now up on the hills with the Ngoshe Glavda people.Sadly one of the women was killed and she was nursing her sick husband.

A bridge between Maiduguri and Gomberu Ngala (on the way to Lake Chad) was blown up. This is the only road between the 2 places.

Coming to the south of Borno State, Hawal Local Gov has had attacks and many killed and villages near Chibok lost much property and 500 people fled to the bush. Garkida a nearby town was also attacked. The problem is that the terrorists come in such great numbers that the soldiers can’t contain them.The area the soldiers have to cover is perhaps the size of England, so by the time other soldiers arrive the B/H have gone. The airforce are following them and hopefully will find them. I will try and scan a map of Nigeria and indicate the areas being affected, this might help you understand the different town names I keep using.

Kano has suddenly come under attack with bombs, and a former head of state Buhari and a well known Moslem Sheik were attacked but did manage to escape. Another bomb was defused outside a big Mosque.It had been timed to go off during Sallah prayers. PTL for this. If it had gone off Christians would have been blamed.Very sadly teenagers are becoming suicide bombers and 28th 2 young girls blew up places in Kano, killing 5 and injuring 7. We saw the picture of the girls, they just looked like 12 year olds. What next?

The deputy Prime Ministers wife of the Cameroon was kidnapped at a place not far from Ngoshe Glavda over the Cameroon border.

NIGERIA – Christian community in Borno attacked

Gangirang, a Christian farming community in the Hawul local government area (LGA) in the northern Borno state, was completely destroyed by Boko Haram Islamic militants on July 19.

A number of people were killed and injured and properties, including the Church of the Brethren, were set alight.

More than 500 villagers have been displaced.

Boko Haram are also believed to have been behind an attack on Garubula village in Biu LGA, Borno state, last Thursday. The district head and 11 others were shot dead.

On Sunday five people were killed and others injured when a bomb exploded at St Charles Church in Kano.

(Sources: various including Release partner)

Pray for all those injured, bereaved or traumatised by these latest attacks.
Ask God to comfort the hurting and provide for those who have lost homes and been displaced.
Pray for an end to the violence and that the sources of funding for Boko Haram will be stopped.
Pray that those responsible for these atrocities will be brought to justice.
Pray that militants will turn from their violence and seek peace.
Pray that our petition to help persecuted Christians in Nigeria, to be presented to the High Commission in London in the autumn, will be acted upon by the Nigerian Government.

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28: Birth of J. Gresham Machen

by davidtmyers

Rasing a Leader in the Church

During the course of this historic Presbyterian blog, there have been seven references to the life and times of J. Gresham Machen. This is no surprise, because he was God’s choice to lead His true church in tumultuous days of the early twentieth century. This event recognized today begins the whole story on July 28, 1881, J. Gresham Machen was born in Baltimore, Maryland.

On both sides of his family, there was a firm commitment to the Calvinistic truths of the Westminster Standards. His grandfather, on his father’s side, was a ruling elder of Old School Presbyterianism. His father, Arthur Machen, was a well-known attorney, and member of the Presbyterian church. Marrying Mary Gresham in 1872, a home was divinely ordered together.

His mother came from the southern Presbyterian tradition resident in Macon, Georgia. While we do not know much of her early life, after her marriage to Machen’s father, she exhibited an influence upon young J. Gresham Machen’s life which could not be rivaled. The whole family was influential members of the Presbyterian Church in Baltimore. Machen’s father served as an elder for many years.

When J. Gresham Machen was born, and here we simply quote Ned Stonehouse’s book on J. Gresham Machen, “he entered a home of devout Christian faith, of a high level of culture and social standing, and of a considerable degree of prosperity. Both parents were persons of strong character and extraordinary intellectual and spiritual endowments, and our understanding of J. Gresham Machen is illumined as we observe how various qualities and interests of his ancestors were blended in generous portions in his own personality. . . the intense affection and loyalty that distinguished the Machen home were to prove one of the most influential and fascinating factors in shaping the course of things to come.” (p. 39, J. Gresham Machen, by Ned Stonehouse, Eerdmans) Some of the “things to come” are treated on January 1, March 13, 17, 29, April 1, 11, and May 14 of this historical blog.

Words to Live By: Certainly God’s sovereign grace can change an individual’s life for the better, but also God’s grace can use the faithful upbringing of a Christian family into even greater outreach of service. And the latter was evidenced in the home religion of Dr. J. Gresham Machen. We simply cannot stress too much the vital principles and practices of a godly home on a child’s life and life work. Parents! Labor hard in prayer and perseverance to make your home a godly one, leading by example and exhortation the faith of your children in the things of the Lord.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27: Donald Cargill - The Lone Star of the Covenant

by davidtmyers

Challenged by his land owner father to become a minister, Donald Cargill resisted the suggestion at the first. His inclination was not the gospel ministry. Finally, with what his father had put into his hand and heart, young Cargill at last set aside a day to prayerfully consider whether God was calling him to this ministry. It was said that a text from Ezekiel came into his mind, "Son of man, eat this roll, and go speak to the house of Israel." Then when Presbytery chose the same text from Ezekiel during his trials, there was no doubt of his divine calling to the ministry.

His first charge was that of the Barony Church in Glasgow, Scotland, which charge would take his time and talents from 1655 until 1662. The church was divided in Covenanting groups and non-Covenanting groups of people. No one can abide long in such a divided congregation without receiving the wrath of one group or the praise of another. All this changed however in 1661, upon the restoration of Charles, when Donald Cargill delivered a sermon before a great crowd. He said in part, "the king will be the woefullest sight that ever the poor Church of Scotland saw. Woe! Woe! Woe! unto him, his name shall stink while the world's stands, for treachery, tyranny and lechery." Obviously, this was not a statement which would bring good relations between the Crown and his place as pastor in Scotland! And indeed, before a week went by, government soldiers were out looking for him, and he had gone into hiding.

His ministry from that point on until his capture by the Crown was that of witnessing before small groups of men and women. From 1668 on, he became a traveling evangelist for the Gospel, escaping death and destruction by many a close call. To be sure, he showed bravery and courage in many a situation. In other cases, he was weakened and oppressed by lack of assurance.

On one occasion, a great crowd was present to hear the word of grace from his lips. But in addition to that Word came words which amounted to a curse upon his persecutors. He said, "I, being a minister of Jesus Christ, and having authority and power from Him, do, in His name, and by His Spirit excommunicate, cast out of the true Church, and deliver to Satan, Charles the Second . . . The Duke of York, the Duke of Monmouth, the Duke of Lauderdale, the Duke of Rothes, General Dalziel, and Sir George MacKenzie. And as the causes are just so being done by a minister of the gospel, and in such a way as the present persecutions would admit of, the sentence is just. And there are no kings or ministers on earth who, without repentance of these persons can reverse these sentences. God, who is their author, is more engaged to the ratifying of them: and all that acknowledge the Scriptures ought to acknowledge them." There is no doubt that such words were inflammatory and some even questioned and criticized such talk. Yet all those he mentioned here in his curse did die in strange ways. As Calvinists, we see no place for coincidence in the realm of persons, places, and events on this earth.

Finally caught by the authorities, he would be martyred on July 27, 1681. His last words were "farewell, all relations and friends in Christ; farewell, acquaintances and earthly enjoyments; farewell, reading and preaching, praying and believing, wanderings, reproach, and sufferings. Welcome, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; into Thy hands I commend my spirit."

Words to Live By:
Standing in the crowd of mourners was James Renwick, a future minister of the Covenanters and the last in Scotland to die by hanging for the cause of Christ. God is so gracious as to continue His witness in the land. Consider times when mere man thought that some event was the end of the matter. But God . . . But God . . . But God! To Him goes our prayers and praise for the truth that "He does according to His will in the hosts of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'" (Daniel 4:35b)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sometimes medication is needed for mental or emotional health.

I have written about bipolar disorder on my blog. Look on AUGUST 12, 2010 also 7 and 11 Aug 2011. 10 and 15 Sept 2011 I give some excerpts from my diaries Dec 2010 to Feb 2011. After that you will see fewer posts to my blog. I did keep posting on the troubles in Nigeria but there were several months with no posts at all. This is an indicator of my depression.

What happened was that reaching 65 in 2011 I did not retire but reduced to working only four days a week. I hoped to reduce more each year but my mental health was such that when I reached 66 I retired from pharmacy. I had always thought that in retirement I would stay registered and do some locums but it was not to be. I has found that my cyclothymia was too much and pharmacy no longer had any attraction whatsoever. Autumn 2009 was the start of two continuous long cycles of a year each, depressed in the darker months, better in summer. So in early 2010 I did what I had always resisted, went to my GP, told him the problem and he gave me a prescription for citalopram 20mg, an antidepressant. In the summer my mood was fine. I stopped the tablets with no ill effect. When the dark months came it was worse than ever. Back to the doctor who doubled to dosage and recommended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT. I knew about this counselling and believed I could apply Christian principles to it. I had a few sessions but felt no better until the summer came when I declined more CBT.

Then on holiday that summer we lunched at the home of an old friend. I knew she was a geriatrician. Now I found out she was a psychiatrist too. I recounted my experiences to her. Straightaway she asked if I had ever seen a psychiatrist or had lithium, the medication for bipolar. I has not but after the holiday I asked my doctor to be referred to a psychiatrist. I found the specialist to be sympathetic. He listened well but gave little counsel. To cut the story short I have finished up on three drugs. First was valproic acid, not lithium as the latter requires regular blood tests which would have been very inconvenient while still in full time work. I found that this drug does indeed smooth out the waves of ups and downs but it removes the higs and the deep, deep downs but it leaves one below par. Over the months, to relive the deprssion I was but on a low dose of quietapine and a high dose of sertraline. I had over a year of psychiatric appointments the he signed me off into the care of the GP. I also had over a year of regular counselling sessions with psychologists. I did not think this was a noticeable lift but the good piece of advice was to get active in the local University of the Third Age (U3A) .

My last winter as a pharmacist was awful. I struggled on despite my doctor offering to write down as too sick to work. I was very depressed so in February 2012 I gave in my notice. My employer did not even bothered to acknowledge it and when my three month's notice period was up I left the job I had been in for 13 years (my longest ever in one place) without even a thank you card from the firm.

As a reaction to this depression and work in a profession I had come to dislike, a profession where one is bound to fixed hours, where if you are away from work you have to find a locum, I did not want to take on commitments with a fixed schedule. But I had my responsibilities are an elder in our church and I soon found opportunity for regular preaching, two or three times a month at the Harmonsworth Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow. The chaplain there enlisted me as a volunteer. Security clearance was demanding but now I minister to any of the Christians among the 600 plus detainees.

This summer, things have been the best since 2011. I have got back on this blog and Facebook. My reading has picked up from an endless diet of fiction. Next I plan to start some regular voluntary work at the Evangelical Library. I have reduced the dose of antidepressant and booked a holiday. Last year I could not be bothered to book.

Many people, especially Christians, will refuse to seek medical help. I did it for years. I now think I was mistaken. It was wrong. So I end wtih the the best words I have come across on this topic.

"... we have to face the fact that there are certain emotional disorders for which it is our responsibility before God to accept medication because these disorders have, if not an organic base, at least an organic dimension. For example, there are forms of depression which If the alternative is misery for those whom we live an incapacity for the work to which God has called us, then it is our responsibility before God to manage our temperaments through these medications. yield very readily to chemical control. It is dishonouring to God and cruel to dependants to refuse to accept such medication on the basis of the arrogant principle, 'I do not take drugs.' "A Faith to Live By, Donald MacLeod, p99.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Books read in July 2014

1. A Song in the Morning - Gerald Seymour

I thought I had read all of Seymour's thrillers from Harry's Game right up to the latest. Then I found this on a bookstall and realised it was the one I had missed. As is usual the author uses a real setting. This time it is now in the bad old days of apartheid South Africa, the tensions and atmosphere which it well describes. It is as usual a gripping thriller. No-one writes them better. It is a story of impossible daring and great bravery. Seymour is a realist in his fiction. A happy ending cannot be guaranteed.

2. Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain by Robert Winder

Britain opened its doors to all comers, but extended a warm embrace to no-one. - Rosemary Ashton, Little Germany - Exile and Asylum in Victorian Engalnd, p 243. I found that quote when that book was loaned to me by the daughter of a German refugee from the Nazis whose story is in a footnote of this book, their ancestor immigrant featuring in this book, a friend of Marx and Engels.
The basic thesis of this book is that Britain is an island of mongrel races, the products of successive waves of immigration. Immigration is enriching and good. The author gives history from pre-historic times up to the turn of the century. So you will not hear of radicalised Muslims after 9/11 nor of the unrestricted immigration by EU nationals. Any reader will be informed of much ignored history. You will finish the book better informed and perhaps wiser. I think the author stands left of centre but this is not problematic. He tells of a country that has become a haven for the oppressed but one that often did not welcome immigrants without showing antipathy and racism.
My one criticism is the ignoring of some religious perspectives. Cromwell's theological motivation in re-admitting the Jews is not mentioned. Also, Ireland was not under the Bishop of Rome until the only ever pope from England gave Henry II leave to invade and bring Ireland into the RC church.
But overall a thoroughly good, informative and perhaps an attitude changing book. It is rare that I reread a book but this one was good enough for that.

3. Ephesians (Let's Study) by Sinclair B. Ferguson

Sinclair Ferguson is a first class theologian, preacher and author. I have never read any of his work that deserves less than five stars. This book is a thorough exposition of Ephesians. It is clear and heart warming and will benefit any Christian though second language readers may need their dictionaries. Three little niggles. There is no index. The study questions are not as helpful as the text. Are they from Dr Ferguson? Lastly commentators often skip controversial or disputed passages. So I was sorry to see no explanation of 'psalms; hymns and spiritual songs.'

4. The Elder: Today's Ministry Rooted in All of Scripture (Explorations in Biblical Theology)by Cornelis Van Dam

This is first of all a book for church leaders or those who aspire to lead. But any Christian with a measure of perseverance will be informed and edified. I have served as an elder for nearly 40 years and I wish this book had been published before my ordination. The treatment of the role of an elder is comprehensively exegeted from both Testaments. The OT background is of particular help. Having given us the biblical theology there is much practical pastoral teaching. The author takes the traditional view of the parity of elders but insists on the different callings, teaching and ruling within the grouping. He makes a good case from the Jewish origins but this reviever remains a dissenter. When Van Dam deals with the debated question of fixed term or life serving elders I assume he only talks of ruling elders. He tells us that ruling elders should not give a benediction with raised hands as that is for teaching elders. I dissent. He ignores the question of ruling elders presiding at the Lord's Table, presumably because he thinks that too is for teaching elders alone. Finally, in teaching that elders must be male he fails to mention the crucial argument about the authoritative headship of Christ. But overall an excellent book.

5. Ealing Then & Now by Jonathan Oates and Paul Howard Lang

Old postcards in the main, compared with current photos, endeavouring to shoot from as close as possible to the original position. One would have liked more varied subjects but I expect the available old postcards limited the range. Pleasure for past and present Ealing residents.

6. Stories of World War One - Tony (Comp) Bradman

I bought this book mistakenly thinking it was biographical. No, it is a brilliant anthology of short stories, fiction bur often based on the experiences of real people. The writers are all published authors and show their skill recalling how the was affected all kinds of people, those fighting as well as those at the home front. It is a real page turner and I finished it thinking I had entered the emotions of people a century ago.

7. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

First of all I should say I have never read Potter books for I do not read anything in the fantasy genre. But I have enjoyed her previous non-fantasy book. Until just before the end, this would have been five star. It was gripping stuff with well drawn characters. Up to the big let down my only criticism was ignorance of when premier league football is shown on TV in England. But 3 stars were deducted because in the end I could not see the motive for hiring the detective in the first place. I do not want to write a spoiler but can someone tell me why Strike was hired. I want to know the real reason, not the one stated at the start of the book. It is said that if you want to know what God thinks of money, look at the people he gives it to. This book reads like a commentary on this quote. Surely JKR, your own life shows that not all the rich are so obnoxious.

8. The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England,1400-1580 by Eamon Duffy

There are no objective historians nor unbiased reviewers, This respected academic is by his own admission an Irish cradle Catholic. So when he produces a huge detailed work on popular English religion from late medieval to Elizabeth it is no surprise that he has a warm appreciation of Catholic piety and very little to say about the martyrs of Bloody Mary. He presents a pre-reformation England as one of a vibrant Catholicism, the dominant unifying force in the land and loved by the common people. Duffy was born in 1947 so he could be as well writing about the Ireland of his youth. This English Protestant reads a very lengthy description of superstition and ignorance fostered by the unreformed church of Rome.

If the English Reformation starts with Henry breaking with the Pope and installing himself to primacy in the church, we see that the start of reformation was more due to politics than theology. What is then observed throughout the Tudor time is religious change with a top down impetus. As in all of life there was an innate conservatism, a resistance to change among the people and change came slowly. This is well documented here. One also clearly sees the politics which inhibited Cranmer under Henry who was not a Protest king, merely an anti-papal one.

One senses Duffy's sympathy with those who wanted to resist Protestant iconoclasm. His illustrations show plenty of evidence that there was no complete cleansing of the superstitions I suspect Duffy of both theological, historic and aesthetic opposition to the stripping of the altars and other iconoclasm. As an unabashed iconoclast I understand the motivation of the iconoclasts was a triumph of theology over aesthetics.

Overall a very informative work though so detailed that the reader may resort to some skimming.

July 25: Rev. James Hall

by archivist

At peace with himself, and with his God, and engaged in a good cause.

Our entry today is drawn from William Henry Foote's great work, Sketches of North Carolina, Historical and Biographical (1846).

Rev. James Hall and the Churches in Iredell, NC.

Melchizedek was a king, and a priest of the Most High God. Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, led, for once at least, a military expedition, and on his return from a complete victory received the blessing of the king of Salem, whom the Apostle set forth as a type of Christ the Lord, the author and finisher of Faith. In the war of the American Revolution there were many young men to be found in the ranks of our armies, and in the prisons of the enemy, who, after hazarding their lives for their country, entered the ministry and spent their days in preaching the everlasting gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christs---such as Hunter of Carolina, and Marshall, and Houston, and Lyle of Virginia. There were also many clergymen that went with the armies to act as chaplains, and displayed in the various dangers and exposures of the camp and a soldier's life, the cool collected bravery of men at peace with themselves and with their God, and engaged in a good cause,---such as McCaule of Centre, afterwards of South Carolina, who was beside General Davidson when he fell at Cowan's Ford; some of whom were made a sacrifice to their country's safety---as Rosborough of New Jersey. But there is not perhaps another instance of a man, a licensed preacher of the gospel, that took part in military expeditions, and commanded companies, and still retained the character and maintained the dignity and office of a minister of the gospel, beside that of James Hall of Iredell, the preacher and the soldier. There were some ministers that laid aside their office for a military command, and never resumed it, as Muhlenburg of Pennsylvania, and Thruston of Virginia.

But James Hall performed both offices, a military commander and a preacher of righteousness; was acceptable in both as a young man, and died at an advanced age a minister of the gospel. Said Dr. Robinson of Poplar Tent, "when a boy at school at Charlotte, I saw James Hall pass through the town, with his three-cornered hat and long sword, the captain at the head of a company, and chaplain of the regiment." An amalgamation of characters and officers justified only by special emergencies, and to be successfully attempted only by few. Born of Scotch-Irish parentage, at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, August 22d, 1744, and removed by them to North Carolina, when about eight years old, he grew up in the upper part of Rowan, now Iredell, in the bounds of the congregation to which he afterwards was pastor during his whole ministerial life of thirty-eight years. Secluded in the forests of Rowan, alike ignorant of the knowledge and the follies of the great world, James Hall grew up under the watchful care of pious parents, and the instructions he would receive from faithful and laborious missionaries whose visits to the congregation were less often than desired, about once a quarter. He was made familiar with the Bible and the Westminster catechism in his early days, and his mind stored with the best of truth before he could appreciate the excellence of the truth itself, or the motives of the pious parents who so assiduously taught him.

During the exciting scenes of the Revolution, during which time he had been licensed and ordained, Mr. Hall held the office of pastor of three congregations, which territory extended from South Yadkin to the Catawba, with some congregation members coming from beyond these rivers; and after the Revolution he served them till the year 1790, when wishing to devote more time to the cause of domestic missions than could be consistent with so large a charge, he was released from his connection with the Fourth Creek and Concord churches. His connection with the Bethany church continued till his death on July 25th, 1826, a period of twenty-six years.

A full account of his actions during the Revolution would fill a volume; his active, enterprising spirit would not let him be neutral; his principles drawn from the Word of God and the doctrines of his church, and cultivated by Dr. Witherspoon, carried him with all his heart to defend the ground taken by the convention in Mecklenberg, May, 1775, and by the Continental Congress in 1776. He gave his powers of mind, body and estate to the cause of his country. As the citizens would assemble to hear news and discuss the politics of those trying times, and were making choice of the side they would espouse, Mr. Hall was accustomed to meet with them, and addressing them, infused his own spirit and inflamed their love of liberty, and strengthened their purpose of maintaining their rights at all hazards. The tradition about him, in these cases, is that he was eminently successful; and the fact that there was great unanimity in that section of country, in a measure the effect of his exertions, would of itself show that he was both influential and eloquent.

Words to Live By:
God often gives a powerful voice to the Christian who faithfully kneels before His throne; for truly, as has been said, those who fear the Lord can properly live without any earthly fear.

The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.—Proverbs 29:25, KJV

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have:for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.—Hebrews 13:5-6, KJV.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shameless self publicity with some gospel witness

This is from our local weekly web-zine.

Getting to know the locals

Graham Weeks is a 68 year old, retired pharmacist.
He's active in his local church, and also a volunteer helper of the chaplaincy at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre where he preaches to Christians among the detainees. He's also involved in the Ealing University of the Third Age as convenor of the U3A current affairs and world religions groups.

He's been married to former Falcons music teacher, Katy, for 45 years and has four children, three of whom were born in Nigeria during their time there from 1970 to 1982. They have six grandchildren.

Where do you live in Ealing - how long have you been there?

We have lived in Perivale since 1984, though we first came to West Ealing as newly weds in 1969 for my wife to study at the former Mount Hermon Ladies Missionary College in Mount Park Avenue. I them managed a pharmacy in The Avenue. We are in Perivale because when searching for a first home in England for six of us, Perivale was the nearest place to our church which we could afford.

What are the best bits of Ealing?

I was a councillor from 1990 to 1984 and in contrast to some local authorities we have had peaceful, respectful. government whichever party is in power. Yes I know about the Southall riots but I was in Nigeria at that time and I think that those disturbances and the more recent trouble were largely the work of outsiders. I enjoy the diversity of the borough. Whatever cuisine you fancy you can find it here, with the exception of Korean food which I love.

Where are your favourite restaurants?

Lisa's on Pitshager Lane for a French treat and Silom Village on The Broadway for great Thai food and the best value eating I have found in Ealing.

Do you have any hidden gems?

The canal towpath throughout the borough is great for walking cycling and a different quiet perspective on the borough. The borough's art collection seems to be a much too obscurely hidden gem. I particularly like the painting of the late king and queen inspecting the wartime bomb damage at Hodder Drive, Perivale.

What's not so great about Ealing?
The proliferation of CPZs, road humps and high charges for parking. £1.25 an hour in Ealing, 20p in Hatch End, Harrow. Lack of disabled access at tube stations.
How could it be improved do you think?
The disabled one is obvious and has been done in Greenford. Parking should not be considered a council or hospital cash cow.

Do you have a favourite book/film?

The book has to be The Bible. Film is harder as I only tend to watch any film once. But the one where I see something new each time is Devil's Advocate.

Tell us about your religion and your blog.

I was brought up in a Methodist family in North Yorkshire. After some years of teenage rebellion I came back to faith in 1964 when a student in London. After qualifying as a pharmacist I had two years of theological study and a year after marriage we were in Nigeria with the Church of Christ among the Nations. I worked as a pharmacist in their hospital. Then I was teaching theology, ordained in the church there too. I finished up translating books and teaching the Hausa language.On return to Ealing I was appointed as an elder in The International Presbyterian Church, Drayton Green.
I have a quotations web site which has not been updated for a long while. My blog, Christian Quoter I subtitle, English Christian male who is not backward in coming forward with opinions. I have ranged far and wide I now concentrate on news from Nigeria for it is the parts where we lived peacefully that are now suffering from many Islamist attacks.

Do you feel religion is still relevant?

I reject the predominant secularist thinking which would confine religion to the private sphere of personal opinion. In this, just as the Muslim would say Islam is more than religion, I contend that the Christian should apply his or her faith in every sphere of life.

How do you convince young people?

Well I think that is actually God's work but my part is to be in a church community that seeks to speak the truth and show loving care for all.

What motto would you live you life by?

Jesus is Lord

What motto/slogan would you use for Ealing?

I searched in vain on the council's website for our present motto which is 'Progress with Unity'. I would change it to,'Unity from Diversity'. The history of the last century does not endear me to the idea of progress.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 23: Jenny Geddes (1637)

Our post today is closely adapted from the work by Wm. P. Breed titled Jenny Geddes, or Presbyterianism and Its Great Conflict with Depositism (1869).

Our Lord Delights to Use the Small and Insignificant in Powerful Ways

Jenny Geddes was a Scotch woman, a native of that land of great minds and heroic champions of Calvinistic orthodoxy. Born perhaps about the close of the sixteenth century, by near the middle of the seventeenth century, she was a resident of Edinburgh. She was no doubt of a human position in life, with her food and clothing earned by the labor of her owns hands.

Whether she was married or not, history does not tell us. She was certainly poor, for in the great cathedral church of St. Giles she had no place among the pews and so went to church with her stool in hand, seeking a place to sit in the aisle or in some other unoccupied spot during the service.

Jenny was also, most evidently, a person who thought on her own and acted on her own, decisively and forcefully. She was a true blue Presbyterian, familiar with the Scriptures, and one who expected orthodoxy from her preachers and others.

It was on the 23d of July in 1637 that Jenny emerged from obscurity to historic celebrity and renown. On that day there was a strange ferment throughout Scotland and a wild excitement in the city of Edinburgh. King Charles had resolved to make Presbyterianism give place to Prelacy throughout the realm. A book of canons [in effect, a Book of Church Order] had been prepared subversive of the whole system of Presbyterian government, and had been enjoined upon the realm by proclamation upon the king's simple prerogative. Following this book came a liturgy as a law of public worship, and a royal edict had commanded its introduction into all the churches of the realm on this memorable Sabbath day. Notice to this effect had been given the Sabbath before, and hence this intense excitement. For the Scottish people knew that if this measure were carried into effect by the authorities, Presbyterianism was virtually in its grave.

As the hour of Sabbath service approached, the streets of Edinburgh were thronged with crowds of people, full of excitement. There among the crowds, Jenny Geddes made her way to a convenient place, close to the pulpit of the church and there she sat upon her stool.

The cathedral was filled to capacity with titled nobility and with the nobler untitled nobility of the Scottish Presbyterian masses. There were present archbishops, bishops, the lords of the session, the magistrates of the city, members of the council, "chief captains and principle men," and Jenny Geddes and her stool.

And as the assembled people waited with tension mounting, the Dean of Edinburgh made his appearance, clad in immaculate surplice, book in hand—that fatal book of the liturgy—the device of English Prelacy for the reform of Scotch Presbytery. The was opened and the service begun.

The cup was now full, though as yet no one pretended to know, no one dreamed, what form of expression the pent-up indignation of the outraged people would assume. The question was soon decided.

No sooner had the first words of the book, through the lips of the Dean, reached the ear of Jenny, the stern prophetess on her tripod, than a sudden inspiration seized her. In an instant she was on her feet, and her shrill, impassioned voice rang through the arches of the cathedral:

"Villain! dost thou say mass in my lug?"
and in another instant her stool was seen on its way, travelling through the air straight toward the head of the surpliced prayer-reader.
[A lug is an ear]

The astounded Dean, not anticipating such an argument, dodged it, but the consequences he could not dodge. He had laid his book, as he thought, upon a cushion—the cushion proved a hornet's nest. In an instant the assembly was in the wildest uproar. Hands were clapped; hisses and loud vociferations filled the house, and missiles, such as the hand could reach, filled the air. A sudden rush was made toward the pulpit by the people in one direction, and from the pulpit by the Dean in the opposite direction.

Now, he would be marvellously astray who should suppose that this sudden hurricane at St. Giles was but a passing and unmeaning summer squall. It was in truth the outburst of a national feeling. A mighty ferment at this time pervaded the national mind. Great principles were at stake, and the Scottish masses, well comprehending their nature and the drift of events, were solemnly resolved to vindicate their settled religious convictions in the great controversy at whatever hazard and cost.

When that irregular band of patriots, dressed in Indian attire, marched through the streets of Boston and tossed those tea-chests into the bay, they at the same time virtually tossed British sovereignty overboard; and Jenny Geddes' party at St. Giles signed the death-warrant of civil and ecclesiastical tyranny in both Scotland and England! The storm had been gathering for nearly forty years, and this bursting of the cloud marked a crisis in a great national revolution. It was the first formidable outbreak against the tyranny of the Stuarts, and Jenny Geddes' stool was the first shell sent screaming through the air at those merciless oppressors of the two realms, and the echoes of that shell are reverberating to-day among the hills.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

IRAQ – Last Christians leave Mosul

All Christians in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul have now reportedly fled, after rebels threatened they should convert to Islam – or be killed.

Release partner Middle East Concern reports that Christian leaders in Mosul were summoned by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) rebels last Thursday to notify them of strict Islamic rules to be applied to non-Muslims. When Christians failed to attend, IS announced that they should leave by midday on Saturday or face execution. It's thought only 50 Christian families remained in Mosul until this weekend.

Earlier IS had marked homes belonging to religious minorities as 'property of the Islamic state'; Christian homes were marked 'N' for 'Nazarite'. Militants have also now seized the ancient Mar Behnam monastery, a Christian landmark in nearby Qaraqosh.

A fact-finding team from Release International has just returned from Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, which is proving a safe haven for Christians and other minorities fleeing for their lives.

Most displaced Christians Release interviewed despaired of ever returning to their country, and many wanted to leave the Middle East. A number of church leaders could see no future for Christians in Iraq. The Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar M. Warda, told Release: 'Christians have lost their trust in the land and in the future.'

Even in Kurdistan, Christians have faced restrictions and believers with a Muslim background are still at risk.

(Sources: BBC, Release contacts)

• Pray for Christians still in Iraq and those who have been forced to flee their homeland. Pray that they will hold on to God's word that 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble' (Psalm 46:1).
• Pray for an end to the bloodshed in Iraq. Pray that the aims of extremists will be thwarted – and peace restored.

Release International, PO Box 54, Orpington, BR5 9RT, UK

July 22: Richard Cameron -The Lion of the Covenant

by davidtmyers

To our readers who have been ordained into a church office, or who have had the privilege of attending the ordination of someone else who has been set apart to the biblical office in a local church, I dare say none of us have ever had the following experience happen to us. But in the Presbyterian history of ages past, it did happen to one young man, who was at that time living in Holland. After the laying on of the hands, setting him apart for the office of minister, all but one of the Dutch ministers took their hands off of his head. That sole minister who kept his hands on Richard Cameron's head, uttered a prophetic sentence, saying, "here is the head of a faithful minister and servant of Jesus Christ, who shall lose the same for his Master's interest, and it shall be set up before sun and moon in the public view of the world."

Our focus today in Presbyterian history is Richard Cameron. Born in 1647 in Scotland to a Christian merchant by the name of Alan Cameron, Richard was the oldest of four children. After his university exercises at St. Andrews, he still was not a Christian. Attending a service held by one of the field preachers, he heard the blessed gospel and regeneration occurred in his heart and mind. One year later, he was licensed to preach the Word with strong evidence of his calling beginning to manifest itself in his gifts. Jock Purves in his book Fair Sunshine, said that his sermons "were full of the warm welcoming love of the Lord Jesus Christ for poor helpless sinners." (p. 44) But in addition to the proclamation of the blessed gospel, there were also strong denunciations of the persecuting government authorities which made such field preaching necessary. Despite the danger to both himself and his gathered congregation, Cameron continued to faithfully, fearlessly proclaim the Word of God.

Just a month before his demise at the hands of the authorities, Richard Cameron had set the issue plain before the whole nation by the posting of the Sanquhar Declaration on June 22, 1680. Now a month after that bold challenge to the government of the kingdom, the latter's military forces caught up with Richard Cameron and his followers at Ayrsmoss on July 22, 1680.

The battle was preceded by Cameron three times praying "spare the green, and take the ripe." Looking to his younger brother Michael, who was with him on that occasion, Richard said "Come Michael, let us fight it out to the last; for this is the day that I have longed for, to die fighting against our Lord's avowed enemies; and this is the day that we shall get the crown." And he did, along with many others. The monument to their sacrifice is pictured at right.

Oh yes, Richard Cameron's head and hands were cut off by the British dragoons, to be taken to the city of Edinburgh. But before they were placed on stakes in front of the prison, they were taken to his father Alan who was in prison. He kissed them, saying, "I know them, I know them. They are my son's, my own dear son. It is the Lord. Good is the will of the Lord, Who cannot wrong me nor mine, but has made goodness and mercy to follow us all our days."

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21: Rev. John Livingstone [1603-1672]

by archivist
One biographical entry lists under John Livingstone's name that of "revivalist preacher." And there is no doubt, as John Howie put it in The Scots Worthies, that there has been none whose labors in the Gospel have been more remarkably blessed with the outpouring of the Spirit in conversion work than John Livingstone, at least, since the Reformation commenced in Scotland. Who was this man of God?

Born on this day, July 21, 1603 at Monyabroch/Monieburgh in Scotland to a home filled with piety and prayer, his father William was a minister. Later on, young John became a student of Robert Blair at Glasgow University (see post for July 10). The subject of our post today became the assistant minister in Torphichen between Glasgow and Edinburgh, but in 1621 was "silenced" for his Presbyterian views. Moving to north Ireland, or Ulster, he became known as a young man and minister at what has become known as the Kirk O'Shotts Revival. The circumstances of his presence are remarkable for the Spirit's leading.

John Livinstone had been a domestic chaplain to the Countess of Wigton, Sarah Maxwell. Upon hearing of plans for a Communion observance at Kirk O'Shotts, he went to attend this sacrament. With a huge crowd of both ministers and members in attendance, as W.M. Hetherington put it in his "History of the Church of Scotland, the Communion Sabbath "had been marked with much solemnity of manner and great apparent depth and sincerity of devotional feeling." (p. 136) When the Monday came, the large crowd had been reluctant to depart without another religious service of thanksgiving to God for His redeeming love. So they begged for another worship service, but the pastor of the church was ill and couldn't comply with their wishes. So young twenty-seven year old John Livingstone was prevailed upon to take his place.

The latter was so overwhelmed with his insufficiency of spiritual gifts however, that he ran away into the country side. Some accounts state that someone went after him to encourage him to return. Others state that he was taken by a "strong constraining impulse" to return. Which ever it was, he did return and began to preach to the huge multitude. It then began to rain, but for the next hour, the young minister preached the Word in a driving rain storm, outside! Listen to William Hetherington describe it. He said the crowd "was affected with a deep unusual awe, melting their hearts and subduing their minds, stripping off inveterate prejudices, awakening the indifferent, producing conviction in the hardened, bowing down the stubborn, and imparting to many an enlightened Christian, a large increase of grace and spirituality." (p. 136)

This author cannot help but remark, "Oh for such an awakening and revival in our United States now" as took place on that day back in Ulster! It was said that some 500 people could date either their conversion or a confirmation of their case from that date and place. Livingstone went on to continue to preach the Word of grace in Ulster, with another experience of the Spirit's falling two or three years after this occasion, when a thousand were brought to Christ.

We will return to his life and times as he was one of four ministers who endeavored to sail to America on the "Eagle Wing" vessel, but had to turn back due to storms. Livingstone, now married, ministered in both Scotland and Ulster, and with increasing persecution of Presbyterians in the lands, moved at last to Holland, where he died on August 9, 1672.

Words to Live By: There is perhaps no greater pastoral advice and counsel—Rev. Livingstone wrote the following words to one of his former churches:

"In all things, and above all things, let the Word of God be your only rule, Christ Jesus your only hope, His Spirit your own guide, and His glory your only end." This could well be written on the inside leaf of your Bible as a reminder, reader, but far better for it to be written upon your heart and life as your belief and behavior."


I would point out this was an event in Scotland not Ulster. - GJW

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Imprisoned in Iran for following Jesus: Maryam and Marziyeh tell politicians

In 2009, thousands of Open Doors supporters campaigned for the release of Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh – two Iranian women imprisoned for their faith in Christ and threatened with a death sentence. Thanks to all that prayer and action, praise God, they were released! Yesterday – 16 July – both women had the opportunity to share their story with UK politicians in a meeting hosted by Naomi Long MP.

MPs and peers present listened intently as they spoke of their conversion from Islam to Christianity and their mission to share the gospel with fellow Iranians – a mission which eventually led to their imprisonment in the infamous Evin prison and the threat of death by hanging.

But even in prison, Maryam and Marziyeh knew God's presence! Under intense pressure to deny their faith, they found the strength to show the love of God to fellow prisoners and the guards. For nine months they endured their conditions until finally, under the weight of a growing international outcry, the Iranian authorities released them.

Maryam and Marziyeh shared that the actions of those who called on the Iranian authorities to release them and uphold their freedom of religion, were crucial in addressing this injustice.

Lord Anderson of Swansea was one parliamentarian who agreed with this. He also highlighted an upcoming debate in the House of Lords on 24 July, which will focus on the extent to which freedom of religion or belief is upheld internationally and will touch upon some of the issues Maryam and Marziyeh spoke about.

If you know a Peer in the House of Lords, it would be fantastic if you could write to them and encourage them to take part in this important debate – it is vital that all of Parliament, the Lords and Commons alike, engage with the issue of religious persecution.

Finally, you’ll remember that earlier this month, we told you about an event specifically aimed at engaging more Labour MPs with international religious freedom. On 8 July, Douglas Alexander MP, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, spoke passionately to a room packed full with members of civil society, the clergy, local councillors and politicians, including 14 Labour MPs. Mr Alexander clearly asserted the need to 'awaken people’s conscience to the plight of Christians around the world today who face persecution in more countries than ever before in our history'. His speech, which was given in the ‘spirit of bi-partisanship’, is available to read online.

If you invited your Labour MP or candidate to the meeting, our huge thanks for sharing the need for freedom of religion to be a cross- party issue. This is a message we are committed to and will continue to share so that all of Parliament is awakened to extreme persecution. Thank you so much for your partnership in this.

Open Doors UK, PO Box 6, Witney, OX29 6WG. Registered Charity in England and Wales No 1125684.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Toplady updated - Now Why This Fear

Now Why This Fear

Verse 1
Now why this fear and unbelief?
Has not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for us?
And will the righteous Judge of men,
Condemn me for that debt of sin,
Now cancelled at the cross?

Jesus, all my trust
Is in Your blood
Jesus, You’ve rescued us
Through Your great love!

Verse 2
Complete atonement You have made,
And by Your death completely paid
The debt Your people owed
No wrath remains for us to face
We’re sheltered by Your saving grace,
And sprinkled with Your blood.

Verse 3
Be still, my soul, and know this peace
The merits of your Great High Priest
Have bought your liberty
Rely then on His precious blood,
Don’t fear your banishment from God
Since Jesus sets you free

How sweet the sound of saving grace
How sweet the sound of saving grace
Christ died for me
Music and alt. and additional words by Doug Plank, original verses by Augustus Toplady (1772).
© 2011 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP).

Latest news from Nigeria

Early July at Damboa (south of Maiduguri) 50 B/H, also 8 soldiers, 7 Police and 3 Civilians were killed. 63 of the Fulani women were able to escape, from those abducted a few weeks ago.

In Dikwa many traders bringing fish from Lake Chad were killed.

8th July we hear many were killed and also injured in Taraba State. We need to pray for the many refugees there.

We hear there are reckoned to be about 2 million displaced people, both Christian and Moslems.
Balmo forest, from Bauchi to Jigawa and ajoining Sambisa forest has been discovered by the soldiers and ammunition found in an underground camp, also lots of food.

Recently an attack in Taraba State left many killed and injured.

Floods in Sambisa forest have now driven out more of the B/H to the Damboa area. God is answering prayer. The Chibok girls are still incaptivity but one or two are still escaping.

11th July a COCIN Pastor was killed in Toro LGA Bauchi State and his wife and a boy.

From PCUS to PCA

by davidtmyers

The evidence was already in, in fact, it was well in. All of the efforts of the conservatives in the Southern Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church U.S.) had failed to stop the tide of liberalism in that once great church. So after the last General Assembly in 1971, something had to be done.

Gathering together in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 15, 1971, a group of conservative Presbyterians met to discuss the situation. Realizing that some key elders were not present, they met two weeks later on July 30th at the Airport Hilton in Atlanta, Georgia. This was a meeting which was filled with talk to the heavenly Father as well as to those of like precious faith. They met all together and then in small groups.

By the morning of the next day, some statements were presented to the group. They were as follows: “A plan for the continuation of a Presbyterian Church loyal to Scripture and the Reformed faith: 1. To create a climate of opinion favorable to the continuation of conservative presbyteries and churches loyal to Scripture and the Reformed Faith, by promoting as strong an image as possible of such loyalty through actions taken by synods, presbyteries, and congregations. 2. To identify presbyteries and congregations willing to take such a stand. And 3. To accept the inevitability of division in the PCUS and to move now toward a continuing body of congregations and presbyteries loyal to Scripture and the Westminster Standards.

This intent was breathed in prayer in, in the discussion towards it, and breathed out in prayer at the conclusion of it. Men who had been through the battle to return the PCUS to the faith of the fathers wept at the very prospect of the future. And when the vote came in favor of the three points, there were no high fives, or shouts of victory, but rather silence, as one of the men there said, a heavy silence of profound sadness. They were not merely leaving the southern church. The southern church had left them and their ordained convictions for a mess of liberal pottage, as Cain had done much earlier in his life.

A timetable was then worked out followed by the organization of a Steering Committee. The plans were set in motion for a Continuing Church, which in time was named the Presbyterian Church in America.

Words to Live By: Thank God for men and women with a firm conviction of the historic Christian faith. Praise God for Christian leaders who refused to compromise the truth of the gospel for a mixture of theological error. We need men and women like these in every age, for the Christian church to march on and be the appointed means to bring the gospel to every creature. Be a part of your local church if it is holding faithfully to the faith once delivered unto the saints.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Complete Atonement Thou Hast Made - August Toplady

From whence this fear and unbelief?
Hath not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for me?
And will the righteous Judge of men
Condemn me for that debt of sin
Which, Lord, was charged on thee?

Complete atonement thou hast made,
And to the utmost farthing paid
Whate’er thy people owed;
How then can wrath on me take place
If sheltered in thy righteousness,
And sprinkled with thy blood?

If thou hast my discharge procured,
And freely in my room endured
The whole of wrath divine,
Payment God cannot twice demand—
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.

Turn then, my soul, unto thy rest!
The merits of thy great High Priest
Have bought thy liberty;
Trust in his efficacious blood,
Nor fear thy banishment from God,
Since Jesus died for thee.

On the C of E and bishops.

This is my reply to a good friend rejoicing in today's vote for women bishops. Well this description of the mixed multitude that is the C of E confirms why I could never be an Anglican. This is a clear example of the culture shaping the church rather than the proper way round, not being conformed to the world. How long before they have homosexual bishops? Of course as a Presbyterian I do not believe in any sex in an order of government higher than elders. Not my monkey, not my nuts.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Prayers for Nigeria!

Fri, 11 Jul 2014 at 16:5616:56 Thank you so much for praying for Nigeria! I wanted to let you know about the positive news we’ve heard from Nigeria since you took part in the Nigeria Week of Prayer last month: A key figure in the Boko Haram terrorist group has been arrested (the group is responsible for the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls in April); A plot to bomb a school in Gombe State was uncovered; A young boy alerted police to a potential car bombing, averting the threat; A bomb did explode in Kaduna State, but there were no deaths; Recent intelligence breakthroughs may help the police to contain the wave of terrorist attacks. The international press continues to focus primarily on the attacks that take place, and this can obscure the encouraging news that is emerging slowly but surely in the midst of the crisis. Bomb plots have been uncovered and terrorist attacks foiled; but even when an attack has taken place, the police have been able to make arrests. We need to persevere in prayer until the bombing and killing come to an end. Pray especially for southern Borno State, which is predominantly Christian and non-Kanuri – the major tribe in Borno State. As part of Boko Haram’s campaign of religious cleansing, the people of Chibok recently received a message telling them leave their ancestral lands or face annihilation. They have reported this and other threats, but complain that they receive insufficient protection because they are non-Kanuri; Pray that the sponsors of Boko Haram are exposed and rooted out, otherwise all the efforts to ensure stability will be of no use in the end. Please do keep praying – prayer resources are still available online. Thank you for your prayers! Let’s keep asking God for justice and mercy to reign in Nigeria. CSW is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) PO Box 99, New Malden, Surrey, KT3 3YF

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Books read in July 2014

. The Carrier by Sophie Hannah An interesting psychological thriller. She draws some complex characters which give us several puzzles. It kept my attention. Most original was what I would call an open ending. Do they live happily ever after? Let the reader decide.

2.Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty This starts as a story about adultery and is not until well into the book that we have crime and court room drama. Gripping story showing the differences between the sexes in the matter of sexual relations. This is a moral tale and a gripping one.

3. Like This, For Ever by Sharon Bolton

A perplexing mystery thriller about a serial killer of young boys. The killer is well concealed from the police and the reader. A good gripping page turner.

4. Wars of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulde
I have not read much in the way of historical fiction but this author encourages me to read more. Here he makes the time of Henry VI come alive as a really good story. This entertaining as well as an educaitonal read. I look forward to the next volume in the Wars of the Roses.

5. The Reluctant Hero by Michael Dobbs A thriller set in a fictitious Central Asian republic in post-soviet times. The hero is a James Bond sort of character, who, like Bond is a man of incredible feats and unrealistic escapes. A bit too far-fetched for me.

6. The Westminster Confession of Faith (Pocket Puritan) This mid 17th century confession of faith is the doctrinal confession of Presbyterian churches. It was the product of the Westminster Assembly, called by Parliament to produce confessional documents for all the church in the British Isles. It remains a masterpiece of reformed theology. You can indeed put it in your pocket and read as you travel. This edition also contains the variants adopted by American Presbyterians who have a different view on church and state.

7. From Heaven He Came and Sought Her by David Gibson & Jonathan Gibson It is over forty years since I read Owen on The Death of Death. It was hard going but my conclusion was that Owen had given us the definitive work on definite atonement, Christ died for God's elect. Now the Gibson brothers have brought the doctrine into the 21st century. This is an easier read than Owen but not it is demanding of the reader. This is deep theology and while it is not essential that the reader has Hebrew, Geek and Latin, knowledge of those tongues is a help. I found this book comprehensive in dealing with different aspects of the doctrine, exegetical, historic, systematic and pastoral. As well as being informative there is heart warming doxological teaching here. I should also note you may need a dictionary at hand. There are words here not in common use in everyday speech. As the book is by a variety of authors there is some measure of repetition in different chapters. But this is a great book to be read slowly. May one look forward to similar volumes on the distinctive doctrrines of Refeormed theology? I hope so.

8. Students of the Word: Engaging with Scripture to Impact Our World by John Stott

This must be one of the last books of the late John Stott as it is based on lectures to Christian students in 2006, five years prior to his death. I have heard form different sources that in his latter years he suffered some loss in his faculties when public speaking. There is none of that in evidence here. It is the Stott we knew, learned, lucid, Biblical, logical, teaching profound truths with simplicity. How to study the Bible and apply it in the world by developing a Christian mind. Important lessons for all Christians. Stott concise as ever. Great book by a great Christian teacher and pastor.

9. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Lesslie Newbiggin

Bishop James Edward Lesslie Newbigin (8 December 1909 – 30 January 1998) was a British theologian, missiologist, missionary and author. Though originally ordained within the Church of Scotland, Newbigin spent much of his career serving as a missionary in India and became affiliated with the Church of South India and the United Reformed Church, becoming one of the Church of South India's first bishops. These lectures were given to theological students in Glasgow in 1988 but have lost none of their relevance.

He tried to communicate the serious need for the church to once again take the Gospel to post-Christian Western culture, which he viewed not as a secular society without gods but as a pagan society with false gods] From Newbigin's perspective, western cultures, particularly modern scientific cultures, have uncritically come to believe in objective knowledge that was unaffected by faith-based axiomatic presuppositions. Newbigin challenges this ideas of neutrality and also the closely related discussion concerning the distinction between facts and values, both of which emerged from the Enlightenment.

He emphasises that it is the corporate task of the church to bear witness to all concerning the gospel. Jesus Christ is the absolute truth and only hope for mankind. There is no dualism between gospel witness and cultural transformation. This book is both intellectualy stimulating and heart warming for a Christian.

I have given only four stars because there are points where I think he is weak. We have a chapter on election but it not an election to personal salvation. It seems that all are elect in Christ. This leads to an agnostic view on the fate of those who do not hear or respond to the gospel. Both these weaknesses show a denial of penal substitutionary atonement. He fails to teach a real distinction between common and particular grace.He writes against what he calls a biblical fundamentalism but misrepresents it when he says that leaves the fundamentalist claiming to be free from error in his interpretation. In fact he seems to rarely if ever quote from scholars with an evangelical view of scripture preferring respectable theologians from academia who he says are operating within the plausibility structures of modern secularism, the very structures he is opposing. I think his thesis would have been helped by reference to the insights of sphere sovereignty as taught by Kuyper.

But my points of criticism do not diminish the force of this book contra pluralism and secularism. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. The mission of the church is to bear witness in and to the transforming power of His Spirit.

10. The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Having enjoyed Gregory' White Queen on TV I chose this sequel. It is a real page turner, a mix of history, supposition fiction and fantasy. The history is the reign of Henry VII and his queen Elizabeth of York. This was the marriage that was to unite the houses of Lancaster and York and put an end to civil war. But here the king is portrayed as under constant threat from Yorkist pretenders, real or imaginary. The most important pretender claims to be Richard of York, son of Edward IV so the rightful king. His real identity is the question throughout the book. The fantasy is a curse pronounced by the queen and her mother, a curse on whoever killed the princes in the Tower. He, his son and grandson are to die and his line end in a virgin queen. Indeed the history of the Tudors. The story is told from the perspective of the queen. I look forward to the next in the series. My only criticism is that the family tree of royal England is not extended to encompass all in the book who are related or married into the royal houses.

July 10: Rev. Robert Blair

A Sweet Majestic Man Showed me the Majesty of God by davidtmyers Our title was a description of the preaching of the Rev. Robert Blair at St. Andrews in Scotland by an English merchant who heard him on the Lord's Day one time. It spoke volumes about our post's figure on this day. But it doesn't do him full justice, as he ministered also effectively in Northern Ireland. Robert Blair was born in 1593 to John and Beatrix Blair, the youngest child of six children. His father, a man of prayer, would die of tuberculosis when he was but five. He was able in God's providence to go to the University of Glasgow in 1608. Becoming a school teacher in the same city, he has the oversight of 150 pupils. In 1616, after becoming acquainted with the principles of the university, he began to teach on the college level in Philosophy and Greek. It was during this time that he was encouraged to preach the Word and prepare of his life calling. A change of administrators at the school to Episcopalian brought an end to his association with that university. After considering a number of possibilities, an invitation to Ulster was made and accepted. His arrival in Bangor, Ulster, or Northern Ireland, brought him to the same issue from which he left Scotland. The official church in Ulster was the Church of Ireland and Episcopalian in government and practice. Blair was a convinced Presbyterian. So the present Anglican bishops, with the encouragement of Archbishop Ussher, proposed and carried out his ordination by the laying on of hands of Presbyterian ministers in the land. That took place on July 10, 1623. Blair's first pastorate was large, with over 1200 members. He began to proclaim the Word of God four times a week with home visitation for the purpose of helping his educational backward people understand the Scriptures. It was said of him that he was the greatest instruments for preaching the gospel in the North of Ireland! Certainly, he was an outstanding Reformed minister just as that time who shaped the Scot-Irish in the land in Presbyterianism. About eight years later, his ministry was brought to a sharp end with the bishops of the Irish Anglican church seeking to gain control. From that time in 1631 to 1638, he was to be suspended from the gospel ministry by the Anglican authorities, then reinstated, then suspended again by the bishops. Finally he, and three other Presbyterian ministers sought to flee to America with a hundred lay people. Tragically, that trip was not successful and they were forced to return to Ireland. Finally, he went back to Scotland, where he preached for 23 years as a pastor to the church of St. Andrews. It was there that the merchant of our title spoke of him. At last, he answered his Lord's call, laying down his labors and entering upon his eternal rest in 1666. He died at Aberdour on 27 August 1666, and was buried in the parish churchyard. Words to Live By: The circumstances may be different, but today's under shepherds of Christ's flock have many trying times in their calling. This is why this author, who was a pastor for thirty-five years himself in Canada and the United States, frequently speaks of the importance of lay people to pray for their pastors. Scripture is clear. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13 states, "But we request of you . . . that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give your instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another." (NASB)

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

SUDAN – Christians killed in aerial bombings

At least ten Christians are reported to have died in repeated aerial bombardments of civilian targets in southern Sudan. During the past two months, the Sudanese air force has reportedly launched repeated attacks on villages in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, forcing thousands of civilians to take refuge in caves. Muslims too have been killed in previous attacks but one of the reasons behind the bombings is to kill or drive out Christians and non-Arabs. Four children, a nursing mother and an elderly woman were among the dead in attacks on villages in Um Dorain County. At least five church buildings belonging to the Sudanese Church of Christ have reportedly been bombed, as well as the area's only hospital. The area, which borders South Sudan, is home to the black ethnic Nuba people, who have long suffered discrimination from Khartoum. Many Nuba are Christian; they constitute the largest community of Christians in Sudan. Under the terms of the 2005 peace accord that ended Sudan's civil war, the people of South Kordofan were to vote on whether to join Sudan or South Sudan, but the state governor suspended the process. (Sources: Morning Star News, Persecution Project Foundation) For a country profile about Sudan, click here Please pray that God's peace and presence will be with villagers in South Kordofan. Pray they will hold on to His promise that 'He shields all who take refuge in Him' (Psalm 18:30). Pray that the bombing will stop and that the people of South Kordofan will be allowed to determine their own future and to vote on whether or not to join South Sudan. Release International, PO Box 54, Orpington, BR5 9RT, UK

Monday, July 07, 2014

July 7: When Reformation Preaching Prevailed in Edinburgh

by davidtmyers Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah—Psalm 37:4, KJV It wasn't the case that John Knox had not been a pastor before this date. After all, he has served as a pastor in a couple of congregations in his Anglican days. Further, during his time of exile, he had been a undershepherd in Germany and Geneva. But now, having returned to his beloved Scotland, John Knox was called to St. Giles, the mother church of Presbyterianism, the High Kirk of Edinburgh on this day, July 7, 1559. He was to serve the people of God there, except for a brief stint in St. Andrews, Scotland, for the next twelve years, until his death in 1572. St. Giles was a historic church in many ways. It went back to the Middle Ages. In more recent times, the National Covenant was signed there in 1638. There is a framed copy of it in one of the rooms. Even the Solemn League and Covenant was drawn up in 1643 when the General Assembly met there at the church. Oh yes, this was also the church in which one Jenny Geddes threw her stool at an Anglican leader when he tried to lead the worship from the new Anglican Prayer Book, which action in turn led to a riot. Supposedly, there is a stool present within the church there to remember that celebrated incident. Then in 1904, a statue of John Knox himself was presented by Scots people from all over the world for the church. Knox was a busy pastor during these years at St. Giles. He preached twice on Sunday. Another day of the week had him preaching three times. He met with the Session of Elders weekly for discipline purposes. Still others of the congregation met with him for what is described as "exercises in the Scriptures." The regional and national meetings of the church were not neglected by the Reformer. And of course, he was invited to preach the Word all over the kingdom during those years. In fact, so busy was he that the Town Council in 1562 brought in another pastor by the name of John Craig to assist Knox in the ministrations of the ministry. As far as books were concerned, in 1652, the First Book of Discipline was written there by Pastor Knox. Five years later, his Reformation in Scotland was completed while a pastor there. And most of all, his celebrated conversation with Mary, Queen of Scots, all took place during these twelve years. He wanted to lead her to Jesus as Lord and Savior. She wanted to get rid of him out of the kingdom! He was to take one sabbatical for his own safety to St. Andrews for a while. Someone tried to kill him as he sat in his study at his table. The bullet missed him. So he went to this other pulpit for a time. After several months, the Session re-called him as their pastor. He went back, but with little strength for the work of the pastor. John Knox went to be with the Lord in 1572, the details of which this author will write on that date in Presbyterian History. Words to Live By: It has been said that John Knox was the Scotsman to whom the whole world owes a debt. Certainly, we Christian Presbyterians need to celebrate what the Holy Spirit did through him in Scotland and our land, considering that 2014 is the 500th anniversary of his birth. Is your church planning any sort of celebration of his life and ministry? It is not too late to plan one for your people's appreciation of this Reformer, not to elevate the man, but to praise the Lord who so powerfully worked through him.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

July 5: The Third Indulgence (1687)

by davidtmyers Today we will borrow a few paragraph from Men of the Covenant by Alexander Smellie in order to relate the story of the Third Indulgence of King James II of England. Indulgences 1 and 2 were on February 12 and March 31 of 1687. This Third Indulgence took place in London on June 28th, 1687 and then reissued on this day July 5, 1687. Smellie writes: "King James touched nothing which he did not mismanage and spoil. His policy was a curious mixture of tyranny and toleration. A Romanist himself, he was resolved to grant new liberties to his Catholic subjects. But he dared not single them out alone for the enjoyment of favour; the country, he realized, was too fervently Protestant to permit such a preference. Of necessity he embraced other excluded folk in the largesse he distributed. In Scotland, the year 1687 saw no less that three Indulgences issued under the royal seal. These suspended 'all penal and sanguinary laws made against any for nonconformity to the religion established by law,' and gave sanction to His Majesty's 'loving subjects to meet and serve God after their own way and manner, be it in private homes, chapels, or places purposely hired or built for that use.' Only against the Coventicler did the lightnings continue to flash forth; the Acts which Parliament had decreed for the suppression of the gatherings in the open fields were left in full force; for impenitent Cameronians it seem that there could be no whisper of mercy and no outgate into freedom. Yet here were large measures of relief which might carry in them the promise of a hopefuller era. If the followers of Renwick denounced them, there were Presbyterian ministers, in prison or banishment or hiding, who welcomed James's Indulgences, and returned to their homes under the shelter of their provisos. But even they, profiting although they did by the altered current of affairs, had no confidence in the man who brought it about." (p. 411) W. M. Hetherington, author of the History of the Church of Scotland to the Period of the Disruption in 1843, picks up the account of this Third Indulgence. He writes on pg. 286 - 287: "Few were deceived by these hypocritical pretences (of the king). All true Protestants . . . perceived clearly enough, that direct favor of the Papists was intended; and it was not unfairly surmised that, by the universal toleration, the king hoped to throw the various denominations of Protestants into such a state of rivalry and collision, that they would weaken each other, and prepare for the establishment of Popery upon their ruins. There is little reason to doubt that such as his majesty's aim and expectation; but both the immediate and the ultimate consequences were very different from what he intended and hoped. . . . In Scotland, almost all the Presbyterian ministers in the kingdom availed themselves of the opportunity which it gave them of resuming public worship, and collecting again the scattered congregations. Many, both ministers and people, returned to their long-lost homes, and engaged with renewed fervor in the reconstruction of the Presbyterian Church by the revival of its unforgotten forms of government and discipline, the reunion of its scattered but still living members, and the resuscitation of its imperishable principles." Words to Live By: Let us always remember that "the king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever His wishes." (Proverbs 21:1 NAS). Whether we live and move and have our being in a kingdom or a republic, the truth remains the same. Let us beseech our sovereign Lord to move in the hearts of those who govern our times to recognize that "righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." (Proverbs 14:34 NASB.)