Thursday, November 27, 2008


When I was a kid, ministers used to say
We will now sing the doxology and we would respond by singing
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise him, all creatures here below
Praise him above, ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost
Praise God for our new grandson. A firstborn for Daniel and Louise and a cousin for Jerome and Hamish.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Speaking of the Old Testament ...

If you would like some input on how Christians should read the Old Testament, you will find Christopher Wright's Old Testament Ethics for the People of God a great stimulus to your thinking.

The link gives you the table of contents, the introduction, the first chapter and a some extras and should whet your appetite.

I have read the first three chapters and am looking forward to the rest. Well worth your time.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Our home group has been listening to Phillip Jensen's five talks on Christian Prayer. We thoroughly enjoyed listening and discussing this topic and found the talks a great encouragement to pray.

During the five talks, Dean Jensen emphasised that Christian prayer is talking to God and asking him for things. He said that we should always pray with thanksgiving, but that thanking God is not prayer, because to pray is to ask.

He repeatedly urged us to pray because God can do everything and is interested in us, in both the big things and small things of our lives.

The Lord's Prayer and other parts of the Bible show us that we should pray for things which God has promised to give, but should also share all our concerns with God, even if they are not mentioned in the Bible and are not specifically promised.

We should pray about the things God tells us he wants to do [God's aspirations] and also about our problems [our anxieties].

One of the things I pondered from listening to the talks was these words in James chapter 4:
You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
They reminded me of the short and painful time when I was a pastor. It was short and painful because some in the church decided that they needed me like a fish needs a bicycle!

Although it was pretty painful for me and my family, I guess it might have been worse for the congregation!

Once, one of the leaders of the congregation told me that he would have done all kinds of things for the church if only I'd asked. I got the feeling that he was saying that he would have done wonders, if I'd only pushed the right buttons.

I'm assuming he was saying he would have put in money for projects and maybe that he would have given assistance in getting them up and running.

Now I'm hoping that this is not what James is saying when he says
James 4:2-3 You do not have, because you do not ask.
I'm assuming he means that we ignore God and try to be self-sufficient and wonder why we fall down in a screaming heap and make such a mess of things.
I'm assuming he is not saying that God will only do things if we ask, because this has not been my experience with our generous God.
But I think he is encouraging us, as Dean Jensen was, to ask and not to be embarrassed to ask because what we ask is so trifling or such a big thing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reading Ecclesiasticus

Ecclesiasticus sounds like a word someone made up as a joke, like Colin Buchanan's jargonisationismacality in the evangelistic training dvd Just Start Talking. But it is the title of a long book of wisdom in Roman Catholic Bibles. Protestants don't need to be afraid of those books, which Christians have always believed to be worth reading, though Protestant Christians do not believe them to be holy writ.

There is some great stuff in Sirach [another name for Ecclesiasticus], which begins with a prologue by the author's grandson. I'd like to think that one day one of my grandsons would want to edit some of my ramblings!

Take chapters 22 and 23 for example. This morning I read this interesting observation on swearing, which I take to mean making an oath, in my read-through of the New Jerusalem Bible.
Sirach 23: 9 Do not get into the habit of swearing, do not make a habit of naming the Holy One; 10 for just as a slave who is constantly overseen will never be without bruises, so someone who is always swearing and uttering the Name will not be exempt from sin. 11 A man for ever swearing is full of iniquity, and the scourge will not depart from his house. If he offends, his sin will be on him, if he did it unheedingly, he has doubly sinned; if he swears a false oath, he will not be treated as innocent, for his house will be filled with calamities.

This may reflect part of the reason for substituting LORD for YAHWEH in the Septuagint, I suppose.

There was also some great advice for those who fear other people [such as myself, I admit]:
Sirach 23:18-19 ... the man who sins against the marriage bed and says to himself, 'Who can see me? There is darkness all round me, the walls hide me, no one can see me, why should I worry? The Most High will not remember my sins.' What he fears are human eyes, he does not realise that the eyes of the Lord are ten thousand times brighter than the sun, observing every aspect of human behaviour, seeing into the most secret corners.

But the words at the beginning of my reading today surely cannot be from God:
Sirach 22:3 It is a disgrace to have fathered a badly brought-up son, but the birth of any daughter is a loss
Some accuse the Bible of sexism, but I have not encountered anything like that comment in the canonical Scriptures.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reading the Old Testament in the light of the New

It is good to read the Old Testament on its own terms, but Christians can't help but read it also in the light of its fulfilment in Christ and in the light of the way the New Testament teaches us to read it.

The Gospel according to the Old Testament series aims to help us to do this and looks promising. It is written at a less academic level than some Bible expositions, and is often focussing on a character rather than on a Bible book.

So far I have only been reading Crying Out for Vindication on Job, but am thoroughly enjoying David Jackson's book, apart from my caveat above about singling out the NIV for condemnation unfairly.

Back to front?

I read recently that the Roman Catholic Church has decreed that Christians should not use the name Yahweh in liturgy, but should substitute Lord or God as is common in many English Bibles, which follow the practice of the Septuagint, the very first translation of the Old Testament into Greek. This is, of course, the practice of orthodox Jews.

But this morning I read Exodus 23 in the New Jerusalem Bible, a Roman Catholic Bible and came across this command in verse 13:
Do not mention the name of any other god: let none ever be heard from your lips.
It is odd that the Bible seems to command the opposite, don't you think!

The NJB itself is one of the few Bibles which does use Yahweh, rather than LORD or Lord GOD. Nothing is said in the article about the reading of this translation, which has the church's official blessing. I wonder if those who read in church will have to remember to substitute those words when reading?

I am enjoying reading through the New Jerusalem Bible, including reading the extra books and bits that are in Roman Catholic Bibles, partly because the translators did not consciously try to keep to the wording of the King James Version where possible, as translations such as the American Standard Version [a Bible which uses Jehovah for the tetragrammaton],Revised Standard Version, New Revised Standard Version, New King James Version, New International Version and Today's New International Version do.

There is a welcome freshness in approach, which makes you think through the Scriptures again, and which also makes you stumble when reading, because your brain makes you say the old familiar words!

However, the study notes are not so welcome, as they reflect a low view of the Scriptures and regurgitate the discredited Documentary Hypothesis and liberal views of authorship. It is strange that these get the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat of the Roman Catholic Church, whose catechism and offical statements take a high view of the Scriptures.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NIV bashing

I've been reading David Jackson's Crying Out for Vindication, which is part of The Gospel According to the Old Testament series.

It is an interesting, insightful book which I warmly recommend, but I was sorry to see this statement on page 50, commenting on translating Job 3:24.
The New International Version gives us a tame and euphemistic translation of the words Job uses here. Roaring and bellowing would seem to be closer to the meaning of the text.

But most translations do seem to render verse 24 pretty similarly:
For sighing comes to me instead of food; my groans pour out like water. NIV
For my sighing cometh before I eat, And my groanings are poured out like water. American Standard Version
For my sighing comes as my bread, and my groanings are poured out like water.RSV
For my sighing comes like my bread, and my groanings are poured out like water.
For my sighing comes instead of my bread, and my groanings are poured out like water.
For my sighing comes before I eat, And my groanings pour out like water. NKJV
For my sighing comes in place of my food, and my groanings flow forth like water. New English Translation [NET]
My only food is sighs, and my groans pour out like water. New Jerusalem Bible
I cannot eat for sighing; my groans pour out like water. New Living Translation, 2nd edition
When my food is in front of me, I sigh. I pour out my groaning like water. God's Word to the Nations

The only translations I can find which differ are the King James Version
For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters.
and the New American Standard Version
For my groaning comes at the sight of my food, And my cries pour out like water.

The translators of the NIV have many that agree with them and are certainly not standing out from the crowd in the way they rendered this verse [which they continued to do in the TNIV].

Jackson goes on to cite other places in Scripture where the words come out more forcefully in English and makes a fair case for a stronger rendering in Job 3.

Do you think there was a conspiracy between the translators, or do you think they had good reasons for not speaking of a man as roaring?

In drawing attention to this bit of NIV-bashing, I'm not aiming to make you wary of David Jackson or his book, because I think it is a valuable one which I hope you will read and ponder, but I'm merely commenting that it is worth checking whether a rendering in one version has also been adopted in others, and if so, allowing the translators some credit for their reasons for their decision.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A de-versified Bible

This is a helpful article about the advantages of a Bible that doesn't look like a reference manual.
Why is the Bible so hard to read? For all the energies Bible publishers spend on manipulating the look and feel so that the Bible will go down easy, part of the problem is, well, the look and feel.

Over the last few centuries, we’ve come to believe that the key to better Bible reading is to add more and more stuff to the text. Modern Bibles are cut into two columns and laced with chapters and verses, cross references, footnotes, section headings, commentary and all manner of what-not and hooha. We’ve split books that were originally whole and severed natural connections within big sections. Our Bibles are a complicated mess.

Bible additives like these left philosopher John Locke complaining that the scriptures “are so chop’d and minc’d, and as they are now Printed, stand so broken and divided, that...the Common People take the Verses usually for distinct Aphorisms,” and “even Men of more advanc’d Knowledge in reading them, lose very much of the strength and force of the Coherence, and the Light that depends on it.” In other words: we’ve adapted the Bible to the point that it’s nearly impossible to understand.

Locke was right. The modern form of the Bible has compelled us to read it in bits and pieces. But the Bible is not made up of these bits and pieces. It’s really a collection of whole books. There are lots of books in the Bible and they are quite different from each other. There are letters and short stories, historical narratives and apocalyptic visions. Collections of song lyrics are included alongside prophetic oracles. The Bible’s wisdom literature includes books of short, pithy sayings as well as longer, ponderous explorations of life’s quandaries.

All in all, the Bible is a remarkable gathering of ancient writings combining many literary forms. These things are actual books! Who knew?

Today, readers who want to encounter Bible books as they were intended have work against our fancy formatting. It turns out that fewer people are making that effort. The research tells us that biblical literacy is low across our land. Apparently folks do not willingly, eagerly dive into giant reference books, holy or otherwise, for times of extended reading.

The time has come to reverse the old “Let’s add more!” approach. It’s time for an additive-free, organic Bible.

What would happen if Bible publishers acted on the belief that less is more? Bible formats have not been mandated by early creeds, church councils or denominational boards. Publishers are free to lead the way here. If they will do so, the Bible could be simplified, its text rediscovered.

Some attempts have already been made in this direction. Probably the most far-reaching is The Books of The Bible, a project I’ve been a part of for the last five years. Here’s what we decided to do in our attempt to uncover the books hidden by centuries of accumulated additives:

• Ditch the inserted chapter and verse numbers along with the artificial divisions they create, and look for natural literary breaks instead;
• Scrap the multiple columns which typically ruin the literary flow;
• Take all the footnotes, cross-references, section headings and commentary off the page of scripture text;
• Restore divided books to their original wholeness;
• Arrange the books in an order that makes more sense for literary type and historical order.
It’s pretty simple, really. It is pure text. This is a Bible that is simple, and remarkably (and unfamiliarly) readable. This returns it to a collection of unique, literary writings. As one reader told us, “Not having the clutter of chapters, verses and headings means I’m no longer conscious of ‘getting my Bible reading done.’ I just read and enjoy the book, and tend to read more." Welcome to the Good Books!

What about the objection that, minus the modern navigation equipment, no one will be able to find their way around? Well, that shows just how much our grasp of Bible “reading” (to use the term lightly) is tied to Bible additives. One especially sorry consequence of this is verse-jacking, the yanking of selected words out of their natural context to make them mean things they manifestly don’t mean.

Secondly, the belief that modern additives are essential to Bible interaction shows a lack of historical awareness of the church’s history with the Bible. The church has read, studied, taught and preached a Bible without all the numbers for much longer than the modern version has been in existence. Plus, the “additives are necessary” objection reveals a disturbing lack of interest in recovering older, different practices, or for imagining new ways to use and reference the Bible in more holistic and contextual ways.

It is not impossible to use a Bible like this. We are simply out of practice. For all the helps and tools brought to us by Bible publishers, we don’t know our Bibles well enough to actually know how to read them.

Eugene Peterson warns us that “[t]he form in which language comes to us is as important as its content. If we mistake its form, we will almost certainly respond wrongly to its content.” The modern Bible forces its literature into unnatural contortions, making it easier for us to mistake the form of the language and thus misinterpret the content. For the sake of the Bible, for the sake of our own reading, let’s go organic and learn again how to read whole books.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Making sense of the warnings and promises

Making sense of all the data on salvation and assurance is a challenge. Most systems do not factor in all the data.

Some folk focus on the warnings and point out that the New Testament teaches we must persevere to be saved [and therefore, we may lose our salvation].

Others focus on the many promises that God will keep us safe [and therefore we cannot lose our salvation].

But a few folk put these warnings and promises together and come up with this:
1. Salvation is assured to those who trust in Christ alone. Consider Romans 8:28-39 among many passages in the New Testament.
2. But we are warned that only those who persevere to the end will be saved. Hebrews chapters 6 and 10 for example.
3. However God in his mercy ensures that we will persevere through giving us these threats and promises to keep us on the path. But this perseverance itself is God's doing. I think Philippians 2:12-13 and many other passages teach this.

Many Calvinist and Puritan authors have taught the above.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Alexander Pope quotes

In preparing for a U3A program on Handel's Semele, written in 1743 to a William Congreve 1708 libretto, supplemented by contributions by Alexander Pope, I came across this page of quotes, and would like to share these ones which tickled my fancy:
To err is human; to forgive, divine.
There is a certain majesty in simplicity which is far above all the quaintness of wit.
Amusement is the happiness of those who cannot think.
It is with our judgments as with our watches; no two go just alike, yet each believes his own.
One who is too wise an observer of the business of others, like one who is too curious in observing the labor of bees, will often be stung for his curiosity.
Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night. God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light.
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring

Thursday, November 06, 2008

More gems from Charles Simeon

My endeavour is to bring out of Scripture what is there, and not to thrust in what I think might be there. I have a great jealousy on this head: never to speak more or less than I believe to be the mind of the Spirit in the passage I am expounding
This one comes from Scott Mackay, involved in university student ministry in New Zealand.

Coincidentally, my dad, Stanley McKay, was always known as Scot.

Charles Simeon (1759 - 1836) was converted to faith in Christ while he was a student at Cambridge University. He became the minister of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, where he overcame resentment and prejudice to exercise an influential evangelical ministry.

Simeon’s approach to preaching has been discussed by J.I. Packer in an essay entitled ‘Expository Preaching: Charles Simeon and Ourselves’. This was first published in Churchman in 1960, is reprinted in Packer’s Collected Shorter Works (Vol 3), and is available online here.

Simeon’s preaching, asserts Packer, was truly expository, even though he usually preached from short texts. Expository preaching, Packer says, is not to be defined according to length of text but according to the relationship between the text and the sermon. If the principle aim of the preacher is to speak authoritatively from God to the people by bringing out of the inspired text what is really there (rather than, say, using it as a motto, or a peg upon which to hang ‘holy thoughts’), then his preaching is expository.

The example of Simeon, as evidenced in the 2,536 sermon outlines he has left, suggests a number of lessons:-

1. An expository sermon should follow the ordinary basic rules of sermon construction. An expository sermon is not merely a running commentary on the text. Simeon insisted that it must have ‘unity in the design, perspicuity in the arrangement, and simplicity in the diction’. And, since a sermon is meant to instruct, it must not be longer nor more difficult than the hearers can tolerate.

Then again, even though a sermon is meant to instruct, it is not a lecture. The mind must be informed in a manner that affects the heart - comforting the hearers, or leading them to acts of piety, repentance, and holiness.

2. An expository sermon should be textual in character. The substance of the sermon should come out of the passage, and not be imposed on it. “I never preach,” said Simeon, “unless I feel satisfied that I have the mind of God as regards the sense of the passage.” He objected to the tendency in his day for both Calvinstic and Arminian preachers to read their respective systems into the text. Although he preached from short texts, rather than from the longer passages favoured by many expository preachers, he insisted that the text should make complete sense: preaching from just one or two words would be impertinent and foolish. As Packer says, ‘the prime secret of freedom
and authority in preaching, as Simeon was well aware, is the knowledge that what you are saying is exactly what your text says, so that your words have a proper claim to be received as the Word of God.’

3. The expository sermon must have a doctrinal substructure. Even though, as just noted, Simeon strongly objected to the artificial imposition of any doctrinal system on to the text, and even though a sermon should not be turned into a doctrinal lecture, or be overloaded with theological terminology, nevertheless the expositor should know his doctrine, and be able to open up his text in the light of the more general truths and principles revealed by God. An individual text is to be expounded in the light of the analogy of faith, ‘i.e., in terms of the broad framework of doctrinal truth which the Bible embodies.’ Simeon’s sermons abound in formulations of the great doctrines of the Christian faith - God, creation, sin, the plan of salvation, atonement, the church, and so on.

4. The expository sermon must have evangelical content. It will set forth the gospel as both a revelation and a remedy. In continually seeking to cast light on the twin themes of sin and grace expository preaching will seek to humble the sinner, exalt Christ, and promote holiness. For Simeon, as for Paul, Christ crucified was the sum and substance of the message. ‘The preacher is not handling his texts biblically, Simeon would say, unless he is seeing and setting them in their proper relation to Christ. If the expositor finds himself out of sight of Calvary, that shows that he has lost his way.’

5. The expository sermon must have a theocentric perspective. The real subject of Scripture is not man and his religion, but God and his glory. We tend to preach about man - his needs, problems and responsibilities. Consequently, our thoughts of God are small and sentimental. But Simeon would tell us that we cannot hope for God to honour our preaching unless we honour him by giving him his rightful place.

Let the preacher conscientiously observe these five things in his preparation. And let him be in earnest about the need to glorify God and seek his grace. This earnestness will come, not from correct methodology, but from the preacher’s walk with his God. As Donald Coggan wrote of Simeon:-

“The quality of his preaching was but a reflection of the quality of the man himself. And there can be little doubt that the man himself was largely made in the early morning hours which he devoted to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures. It was his custom to rise at 4 a.m., light his own fire, and then devote the first four hours of the day to communion with God. Such costly self-discipline made the preacher. That was primary. The making of the sermon was secondary and derivative.”
from JEMblog
Charles Simeon (1759-1836)


Charles Simeon was born on September 24, 1759. He attended school at Eton and enrolled at King's College, Cambridge, in 1779. Although baptized as an infant, his family was not particularly religious and neither was Charles, until an experience during his first few months at university.

All Cambridge students were required to receive communion at least three times each year during their time in university. After arriving at Cambridge, in January, and learning of this requirement, Simeon wrote in his diary:

"Satan himself was as fit to attend as I; and that if I must attend, [and to receive Holy Communion] I must prepare for my attendance there. Without a moment�s loss of time, I bought the old Whole Duty of Man, (the only religious book that I had ever heard of) and began to read it with great diligence; at the same time calling my ways to remembrance, and crying to God for mercy; and so earnest was I in these exercises, that within the three weeks I made myself quite ill with reading, fasting, and prayer�" (Memoirs, p.6)
Although Simeon made his January Communion, he continued to feel he was unworthy. He reflected, concerning his former sins, that he was "so greatly oppressed with the weight of them, that I frequently looked upon the dogs with envy." He found he had so many sins, that he despaired of ever fully making restitution for them.

During Holy Week, Simeon was reading "Bishop Wilson's" book, which was speaking of the Jewish sacrifices in the Old Testament, and of the sacrifice whereby the sins of the people were laid upon the head of the goat (scapegoat) that was brought as an offering. Simeon experienced a revelation:

"What! may I transfer all my guilt to another? From that moment on I sought to lay my sins on the sacred head of Jesus, and on the Wednesday began to have a hope of mercy; and on the Thursday that hope increased; and on Friday and Saturday it became more strong; and on the Sunday (Easter Day, April 4, 1779) I awoke early with those words upon my heart and lips, �Jesus Christ is risen to-day; Hallelujah! Hallelujah! From that hour peace flowed in rich abundance into my soul; and at the Lord�s Table in our chapel I had the sweetest access to God through my blessed Saviour." (Memoirs, p.9)
The 1770s were difficult time to be an evangelical Christian in a university. The Anglican Church was in the midst of dealing with the new Methodist movement. The universities were, simultaneously, bastions of the established Church of England and seedbeds of Enlightenment rationalism, neither of which made them sympathetic to religious fervor. A few years before Simeon's arrival at Cambridge, a group of students at Oxford had met on Sunday evenings for extemporaneous prayer and mutual encouragement. When a professor complained of "certain Enthusiasts in that Society, who talked of regeneration, inspiration, and drawing nigh unto God," the students were expelled.

Simeon recalls in his memoirs that after his conversion, "for 3 years I knew not any religious person [at the university]." Despite the difficulty, Simeon believed he was called to ordained ministry, and he was ordained shortly after graduation by the Bishop of Petersborough.

At this point something happened that would affect the remainder of Simeon's life: The vicar of Trinity Church, Cambridge, died in October, 1782, just as Charles Simeon, now a graduate, was preparing to leave Cambridge. Simeon had often walked by the church and said to himself, 'How should I rejoice if God were to give me that church, that I might preach the Gospel there and be a herald for Him in the University.' His dream came true when the Bishop appointed him 'curate-in-charge' (being only ordained a deacon at the time). He preached his first sermon there on 10th November 1782.

The lonliness as a Christian that Simeon experienced as a college student was replaced by the active opposition of his new parisioners. The congregation did not care for Simeon's biblical preaching and would have preferred the assistant, Mr. Hammond, to become rector of the parish. They showed their displeasure toward Simeon by not attending and locking the small doors of their pews (which most churches had at the time). At times, they even locked the doors of the church to prevent Simeon from holding additional services. Simeon persevered, however, and remained rector of the parish for 54 years, gradually winning over his parishioners and making a great impact that reached well beyond Cambridge.

In April, 1831, Charles Simeon was 71 years old. He had been the rector of Trinity Church, Cambridge, England, for 49 years. He was asked one afternoon by his friend, Joseph Gurney, how he had surmounted persecution and outlasted all the great prejudice against him in his 49-year ministry. He said to Gurney, "My dear brother, we must not mind a little suffering for Christ's sake. When I am getting through a hedge, if my head and shoulders are safely through, I can bear the pricking of my legs. Let us rejoice in the remembrance that our holy Head has surmounted all His suffering and triumphed over death. Let us follow Him patiently; we shall soon be partakers of His victory" (H.C.G. Moule, Charles Simeon, London: InterVarsity, 1948, 155f.).

Author and pastor John Piper, relates the following incident from Simeon's life:

In 1807, after twenty-five years of ministry, Simeon's health failed suddenly. His voice gave way so that preaching was very difficult and at times he could only speak in a whisper. He remarked that after a sermon he would feel "more like one dead than alive." This condition lasted for thirteen years, until he was sixty years old. In all this time Simeon pressed on in his work. The way this weakness came to an end is remarkable and shows the amazing hand of God on Simeon's life. He tells the story that in 1819 he was on his last visit to Scotland. As he crossed the border he says he was "almost as perceptibly revived in strength as the woman was after she had touched the hem of our Lord's garment." His interpretation of God's providence in this begins back before his weakness. Up till then he had promised himself a very active life up to age sixty, and then a 'Sabbath evening.' Now he seemed to hear his Master saying:
I laid you aside, because you entertained with satisfaction the thought of resting from your labour; but now you have arrived at the very period when you had promised yourself that satisfaction, and have determined instead to spend your strength for me to the latest hour of your life, I have doubled, trebled, quadrupled your strength, that you may execute your desire on a more extended plan.
So, at sixty years old, Simeon renewed his commitment to his pulpit and the mission of the church and preached vigorously for seventeen more years until two months before his death on November 12, 1836.
Simeon's is best known as a great Bible expositor, and example revitalized preaching in the Church of England and set a standard for generations down to the present day. His magnum opus is his twenty-one volume Horae Homiletica— a collection of expanded, sermon outlines from all sixty-six books of the Bible.

Among the many people influenced by Simeon was the Evangelical leader, Henry Martyn (1781-1812), who, inspired by Simeon, abandoned his intention of going into law and instead devoted his life and his considerable talents to preaching the Gospel as a missionary in India and Persia. The great British statesman William Wilberforce (1759 - 1833), also influenced by Simeon, became the most prominent figure in the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire.

Another part of Simeon's legacy is the founding of the Church Missionary Society in England, and the University and College Christian Fellowship, which, in turn, led to the founding of the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in the United States and Canada, and the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, with branches in many countries. Though he was a faithful pastor and preacher who spent his whole ministry in one parish in Cambridge, England, his influence extended throughout the Anglican and Evangelical Christian world.
from The Anglican Library

Charles Simeon on preaching

Charles Simeon in the preface to Horae Homileticae wrote that three questions should be asked of a prepared sermon: “Does it uniformly tend TO HUMBLE THE SINNER? TO EXALT THE SAVIOUR? TO PROMOTE HOLINESS? If in any one instance it loses sight of any of these points, let it be condemned without mercy”
Thanks to Andrew Groves for this timely reminder.

Perry Mason

My wife and I are enjoying watching the first series of Perry Mason. We like the corny 50s ambience, the corny plots and the fact that the series always features the same few characters, who quickly become familiar. When there is nothing worth watching on TV, we slip in a dvd and have a smile. One thing that puzzles us is that Perry Mason and co appear to be, like Inspector Gadget, always on dooty.

People call him up, often late at night and find him working in his office. But tonight, on the 4th of the dvds, we finally find him asleep and later in the episode, he wakes up his private investigator assistant, Paul Drake.

Every other time, they have all been at work late into the night and available every time someone calls them.

I guess that lawyers, secretaries, policeman and district attorneys would have chuckled at this wonderful 24 hour service.

Another thing that strikes me is that many of the roads they travel on look quite rough. I wonder if this was because they wanted to make them look like they were in out-of-the-way locations, or if the roads really were as poor, back in the 50s. They look similar on the old 50s episodes of Superman, too.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Big Chart

If you have 20 minutes, I think The Big Chart is worth your time.

It is amusing and thought-provoking.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Reformation Polka

This Reformation Polka is a pretty good summary of events in the life of Luther and a reminder of our Protestant heritage.

Running from your problems?

Gordon Cheng linked to this amazing story about Dean Karnazes, a mad marathon runner.