Global Warming

David Field points us to an article which casts doubt on the theory that global warming is a result of human activity. The arguments are similar to those found in the Channel 4 documentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle.

Both the article and the documentary ask important questions which I have yet to see answered. Can anyone point me to any recent attempts to answer them?

I have to confess I am increasingly skeptical of the claims made by the environmental lobby and of scientists who, as Field alludes, tap into the gravy train that has grown up around it.

Global Warming

Confessional, Compassionate, Contextual

A few days ago David Strain of LCPC wrote about his reflections on the Free Church of Scotland General Assembly which took place in Edinburgh last week. Of particular interest to him was the moderator’s opening address to the assembly. David subsequently posted the complete transcript on his blog, and you can find a pdf on the FCS site. David encouraged us to read the address.

Well, I have done so, and I liked it too. It is one of the most interesting things I have read on the net for a while.

As a resident in Glasgow in the 1980s I had a grudging respect for the FCS. It was, and is, strictly confessional (i.e. doctrinally sound). But I have to confess there were some barriers for me:

  • it held, and still does, to exclusive psalmody
  • it seems to be mostly a church for highlanders in the north or ones exiled to the cities of the Scottish central belt.
  • it was inward looking, only concerned about doctrinal details and not about mission, though it has always had missionary interest on foreign shores.

To me the evangelicals in the Church of Scotland seemed to be where God was at work with a more outward facing gospel ministry. I heard it said, so the rest of this sentence is third-hand or more, that Donald MacLeod (of the FCS) believed that if revival was going to come to Scotland it was going to come through this evangelical ministry in the CoS.

Rev. John Ross’s address to the FCS assembly has knocked my long-held views sideways. Whatever the limitations of the text compared to the address itself, the text was pretty moving. It seems to me to present a vision of the church and its mission to Scotland which is firmly in the spirit of Thomas Chalmers’ legacy. It is summarised in the memorable alliterated headings: Confessional, Compassionate, Contextual.

Confessional, seeking unity with other Westminster Confession churches (I have been to villages in the north where there are four churches serving tens of people) and seeking to link arms with other evangelicals.

Compassionate, following our Lord Jesus in our being moved by the whole spectrum of human suffering. Mr Ross said, “Compassion authenticates the gospel”.

Contextual, following the Lord who “…accommodated himself to us.” Ross quotes J H Bavinck,

Abstract, disembodied and history-less sinners do not exist; only very concrete sinners exist, whose sinful life is determined and characterised by all sorts of cultural and historical factors… I must bring the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ to the whole man, in his concrete existence, in his everyday environment. It is obviously then a great error on my part if I do not take a person’s culture and history seriously.

Yes, abstract, disembodied and history-less sinners. What a description! Who has not thought about people like that?

I urge all of you to read it and see what you think.

Confessional, Compassionate, Contextual

One Was Enough

The Rams have done it! Next year it’s Premier League football.

I can’t let the event go by without noting that it took a Scotsman to score the winning goal and a Scotsman manage the club to success. The PL will be choca with Scots managers.

Pity we will have moved before the new season starts…

One Was Enough

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We (i.e. the Dancer family of Little Eaton) are thankful for the progress of events to do with the family over the last 4-6 weeks. Here is what has happened:

  • Susan has managed to get a job which starts after the Summer holiday. She will be Deputy Head of a secondary school in the north-east of Birmingham, larger than her current school in Derby.
  • We have agreed the lease on a house in Solihull. We have only to sign the contract. It should have ample space for living and for ministry purposes.
  • We have secured a school place for our daughter. The way system works here is that the local authority handles all the placings. We submit a prioritised list of schools, but one may not get the top choice. However, on this occasion we got the choice which we feel will best suit our daughter.

So, we are very pleased and thankful to God. We move sometime at the end of July/early August. We still have a lot to do before that can happen!

We hope that with the move, with God’s blessing, we will also see a step change in progress at SPC. It has been pretty tricky ministering at a (50-mile) distance. We have had some awkward pastoral situations over the last few weeks. To be honest, we have been unable to minister in the way we would like.

Nevertheless, this lack of control and influence is a valuable reminder that the church is not my church or anyone else’s. It belongs to Christ and he will build it as he sees fit.

All glory to him.

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No-name, the Preacher

It’s been a while.

On Sunday night I was at a service where a young guy was preaching. I think it was his first time. This guy does a great job ministering and working with teenagers. But preaching to a mixed congregation was a new experience and pretty daunting.

He did a good job. He dealt with the text, explained it well, used illustrations, spoke intelligible English. Good stuff. I hope he gets constructive feedback and does it again, even better.

Thinking about this reminded me of early feedback I got in my early days of preaching. Frankly, I didn’t understand what I was hearing. So I heard similar things several times over.

“You obviously haven’t done much preaching.”

“You are very nervous.”

“You need to grow in confidence in the Word.”

This last one was from a pastor who wrote three sides of A4 of constructive criticism. I didn’t understand this comment at the time. I thought I did have confidence in the Word.

Now I realise that I was proud, thought of myself and my abilities too highly, expected praise every time. I had no confidence in the Word, just in me. Hence my preaching was self-conscious and woeful.

Over the last three years I have been discovering the truth. I am nothing, Christ is everything. I am called to be a no-name servant who rolls up before the congregation to deliver a message from the King. And they must know it is from the King of Kings. This means

  • The no-name preacher must have a deep appreciation of who his Lord is. Christ has absolute authority. No-name must demand to be heard. When he speaks all people should be silent.
  • The no-name preacher must know the message, its point, its application. He needs to steep himself in it and spend a lot of time with God about it, wrestling.
  • No-name must receive the message himself. He is both a servant and a subject.
  • As No-name preaches, he must seek the approval of his King. No-name may not like the message. The congregation may not like it. But that doesn’t matter if Jesus Christ wants it said.
  • When No-name preaches he must demand the full attention of the hearers. Not because of himself but because of Jesus Christ. That means he must preach with certainty, conviction and clarity. (Thanks to John MacArthur for this alliteration!) He must not be happy that some people look out the window, fiddle with their watch, look bored. If that is the case something has gone wrong. It may be something wrong with them, but most probably with No-name.
  • A no-name preacher must be willing to die for preaching the King’s message. Yes, die.

I have had several opportunities over the last three years to speak to other preachers about preaching. Often the conversation gets down to these things. Not “methods” or “techniques” but about heart: preaching as a man who belongs to Another.

I didn’t get a chance to speak to this young guy after the service. But I would have told him the essence of what I have listed above.

Finally, having ranted a little on this, I have a confession to make. I have much to learn about this. Last Sunday morning was probably the worst sermon I have preached for a while. As I was preaching I was thinking, “What is your point?” Without certainty there is no conviction. Without conviction there is no clarity. Without clarity the people do not hear. If they do not hear they cannot believe. They get nothing but sore ears. What good is that?

No-name, the Preacher