25 September 2016

The living Word


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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 34, sermon number 2,010, "The Word a sword."
"There is a style of majesty about God's Word, and with this majesty a vividness never found elsewhere."

They dream—they dream that they have put us among the antiquities, those of us who preach the old Gospel that our fathers loved! They sneer at the doctrines of the apostles and of the reformers, and declare that believers in them are left high and dry, the relics of an age which has long since ebbed away.

Yes, so they say! But what they say may not after all be true; for the gospel is such a living gospel that, if it were cut into a thousand shreds, every particle of it would live and grow. If it were buried beneath a thousand avalanches of error, it would shake off the incubus and rise from its grave. If it were cast into the midst of fire it would walk through the flame as it has done many a time, as though it were in its natural element.

The Reformation was largely due to a copy of the Scriptures left in the seclusion of a monastery, and there hidden till Luther came under its influence, and his heart furnished soil for the living seed to grow in. Leave but a single New Testament in a Popish community, and the evangelical faith may at any moment come to the front, even though no preacher of it may ever have come that way.

Plants unknown in certain regions have suddenly sprung from the soil, the seeds have been wafted on the winds, carried by birds, or washed ashore by the waves of the sea. So vital are seeds that they live and grow wherever they are borne; and even after lying deep in the soil for centuries, when the upturning spade has brought them to the surface, they have germinated at once.

Thus is it with the Word of God; it liveth and abideth for ever and in every soil and under all circumstances it is prepared to prove its own life by the energy with which it grows and produces fruit to the glory of God. How vain, as well as wicked, are all attempts to kill the gospel. Those who attempt the crime, in any fashion, will be for ever still beginning and never coming near their end.

They will be disappointed in all cases, whether they would slay it with persecution, smother it with worldliness, crush it with error, starve it with neglect, poison it with misrepresentation, or drown it with infidelity. While God liveth his Word shall live. Let us praise God for that.



21 September 2016

Rodney Dangerfield Sociology

by F. X. Turk

Ok, Ok.  Don't get too excited people.  Seriously.

Watch this for about 90 seconds, because it this is where we are today as a society:



The video above is loaded to start at about 1:45, which is after Dangerfield has done his "blue" routine about his relationship with his wife.  The remainder of the bit is his self-deprecating "no respect" routine in which his doctor, his bartender, his wife, kids and parents all treat him with, as we can probably guess, with "no respect."  While he probably didn't invent this trope, at least today he is the one best known for it because of his rapid-fire delivery, his amazing physical presence, and the undeniable dog-faced charm which he never drops.  He is the character needed for the jokes to work from start to finish, even in the walk-off.

So why break my hiatus -- which I am loving, by the way, and I am sorry that you miss me (follow me on twitter if you miss me that much) -- to show you 90 seconds of Rodney Dangerfield on a once-famous blog which was well know for both high-quality theology and red-hot biblically-based commentary?

I have invented a parable this week, and I wanted to run it by you.  In order to sort of get the full effect for that parable, I wanted you to first listen to Dangerfield to set up what I am trying to say here.




So   let's imagine for a minute that you work with a guy that looks and acts like Rodney Dangerfield -- let's call him Andy.  When he comes to work, he wears a decent suit, nice shirt and tie, clean shaven every day.  On the surface, he's just like you -- a person in the image of God, and maybe because he's a little less Brad Pitt and a little more, well, Rodney Dangerfield, Andy knows that he can't come to work looking like he's about to go to a picnic after work.  He has to come to work, as is proverbially said, dressed for the job he really wants.

But as he does his job, week in and week out, Andy is in a routine where he is actually using the classic Dangerfield trope of "getting no respect" whenever something at work happens.  Project is due? Of course it's late - I went to IT to get them to solve the problems with my Outlook, and they told me they didn't have any confidence in me, either.  Customer is unhappy? Of course he's unhappy -- he told me he wanted me to take him to lunch because his doctor said he had to lose weight, and I was so ugly he'd lose his appetite.  Quality is bad? I asked Production if there were any quality issues I should know about, and they told me I was fat and a liar and that I smelled bad, too.  It seemed funny at first, but Andy does it every day: everything that goes wrong around him is not only not his fault, it is draped in this complaint that everyone around him will not give him any respect.


It gets so bad that you decide to take him to lunch to see what it is he thinks he is doing, and if you can help.  And this is where it gets really interesting because even as you invite him to lunch, he says to you, "I know what you're trying to do, but it's no use: this is all your fault."


"My fault?" you say. "How can it be my fault?"

"It happened before you got here, but nobody here shows me any respect. I'm convinced that there's a company policy at this point, a policy of systematic no-respect.  Everybody shows me no respect, all the time.  No respect.  Everybody - even you."

Now, this is absolutely not what you expected.  You actually came to him because you could see that what was in fact happening was that this guy was making the whole company lose confidence in his performance, and as he made more of these unfunny excuses it became harder and harder to judge him according to the content of his character because his character, frankly, was not good.  It also made it hard to give him the benefit of the doubt when circumstances actually were stacked against him -- because whether the issue was impossible to resolve or he just never tried, he always blamed everyone else and their lack of respect for him.  You thought he was kidding at first or looking to buy time, but here it turns out that, unbelievably, he is convinced that the reason he's constantly failing is that nobody actually gives him any respect. And that lack of respect is somehow baked into the company's way of doing business.


"OK, hang on a second Andy," you say.  "What about Randy?  You know Randy, right?"


TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT, FACES OMITTED
Randy, it turns out, looks like Andy -- I mean, like brothers.  Like there before the grace of time and natural selection (not that we are evolutionists), you could mistake Andy for Randy from behind for sure, and maybe out of the corner of your eye.

"That guy?" Andy says. "He's the worst of all.  He's like my Uncle Thomas.  I told Thomas I was joining Gamblers Anonymous, he gave me 3 to 1 odds I wouldn't make it."

"What?  What's that supposed to mean?"  It's a funny joke, but you have no idea where he is going with it.

"I'm saying that while everyone is down on me, he's actually getting ahead by using me and pushing me aside."

"That's not true," you tell him.  "You came here from Detroit, he came here from Nigeria.  You have worked in the US all your life, he has only been here a few years -- maybe since just before college.  You started here before he did, and yet somehow even though he has some disadvantages you don't have -- he had to learn the language, he had to become a citizen to keep his job, he has to live far from his family -- he's about to get promoted to the department head, and you are still in this same job because you blame other people for your condition, and he is, frankly, trying to make his own condition."


When you say that, Andy gets really upset.  He starts to shout at you, as if you were the one saying that there was no way for him to succeed on his own. "I can't believe you!  You and your work privileges!  You and Randy and everyone else around here think that it's easy to get by, but you don't know what it's like for everyone to be against you!  Nobody appreciates what I do no matter what I do. And things will never get better around here unless ... " and suddenly a light goes on behind Andy's eyes.  You can see the dawning of revelation as the gears turn in his head and suddenly a new idea is born in him.  You watch him a a minute, and you think he has suddenly realized what you came to tell him.

"Unless you stop blaming other people and get yourself on the team, right?"


His lit-up visage suddenly reverts to an angry glower.  "Are you kidding me?! Are you serious?!  That will never work," he yells.  "But what will obviously work is if they fire the Boss and they put me in charge!  That's what would make things change around here!  In fact, I am going right now to HR to tell them that they better make me the guy running the show around here to make up for all the years of people disrespecting me, or else I'm going to sue them into the ground!"

Andy marches off to the HR office, and you head out to lunch.  You're pretty sure they are going to fire him when he goes up there, but you don't want to be here to see it.



As with all parables, it ruins it to explain it.  But: for those who have ears, let him listen.  




18 September 2016

The midnight cry


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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Gospel of the Kingdom, pages 222-223, Pilgrim Publications

"And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." Matthew 25:6 

That midnight cry, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh,” startled all the sleepers. It would be well if we all thought more of the great truth of our Lord’s Second Advent. The oftener it is preached, in due proportion with other revealed doctrines, the more likely will it be to arouse both slumbering possessors and sleeping professors of love to Christ.

As the midnight of this present evil age approaches, there is increasing need for all to be bidden to listen for the clarion cry, “Go ye out to meet him.” 


11 September 2016

Divided hearts


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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The New Park Street Pulpit, volume 5, sermon number 276, "A divided heart."
"When a man’s heart is divided, he is at once everything that is bad." 

With regard to himself he is an unhappy man. Who can be happy while he has rival powers within his own breast. The soul must find a nest for itself, or else it cannot find rest. The bird that would seek to rest upon two twigs would never have peace, and the soul that endeavours to find two resting places, first, the world, and then the Saviour, will never have any joy or comfort.

A united heart is a happy heart; hence David says, “Unite my heart to fear thy name.” They that give themselves wholly to God are a blessed people, for they find that the ways of religion are “ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”

Men who are neither this nor that, neither one thing nor another, are always uneasy and miserable. The fear of discovery, and the consciousness of being wrong, conspire together to agitate the soul and make it full of unease, disease and restlessness of spirit. Such a man is unhappy in himself.

He is in the next place, useless in the church. Of what good is such a man to us? We cannot put him in the pulpit to propound that gospel he does not practice. We cannot put him in the deaconship to serve the church which his life would ruin. We cannot commit to his charge the spiritual matters of the church in the eldership, because we discern that not being spiritual himself, he is not to be entrusted with them.

In no respect is he of any good to us. “Reprobate silver shall men call them.” His name may be in the church-book, but it had better be taken away. He may sit among us and give us his contribution, we should be better without it and without him than with either, though he should double his talent and treble his contributions. We know that no man who is not united in his heart vitally and entirely to Christ, can never be of the slightest service to the church of God.

But not only this; he is a man dangerous to the world. Such a man is like a leper going abroad in the midst of healthy people; he spreads the disease. The drunkard is a leper set apart by himself; he doth but little harm comparatively, for he in his drunkenness is like the leper when he is driven from society. His very drunkenness cries out, “Unclean, unclean, unclean!”

But this man is a professor of religion and, therefore tolerated. He says he is a Christian, and therefore he is admitted into all society, and yet he is inwardly full of rottenness and deception. Though outwardly whitewashed like a sepulchre, he is more dangerous to the world, I say, than the most vicious of men. Tie him up—let him not go loose; build a prison for him.

But what am I saying? If you would build a prison for hypocrites, all London would not suffice for ground for the prisons. Oh my brethren, notwithstanding the impossibility of binding them, I do say that the maddest dog in the hottest weather is not one-half so dangerous to men as a man who hath a divided heart, one who runs about with the rabid poison of his hypocrisy upon his lips, and destroys the souls of men by contamination.


04 September 2016

“Crowned"


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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 19, sermon number 1,102, "Royal homage."
"The less the man’s possessions, often the man’s greater self-possession. But in heaven there are no pauper princes."

There they are rich to all the intents of bliss. They have their crowns, but they have their kingdoms. All things are theirs—the gift of God—and God is theirs and Christ is theirs. They are clothed with honour and majesty—not outwardly only, but inwardly—and they have all the concomitants that should go with royal dignity.

Seemeth it not, however, like a dream, as one thinks it over and tries to realise it! Let us pause one moment and follow the reverie, to which a well assured faith gives substantial reality. You and I, if we believe in Jesus, will soon sit with Jesus, where we shall be crowned!

We are poor today, obscure and ignoble: we have no influence, it may be, and possibly are of little account among our fellows; but within a short time, perhaps ere this year or even this month shall have run out its anxious days, we shall be with crowns upon our heads spiritually.

We shall be before the throne in spirit, and then, by and by, when the Lord shall come, we shall in body as well as in spirit sit there raised from the dead and made perfect for ever, enjoying the rank of kings and priests unto our God, for we shall reign for ever and ever!

Can you conceive of it? Bunyan represents Mercy as laughing in her sleeve. Truly, as we think this over, one feels inclined to laugh for very joy of heart. Shall I wear a crown? Those who were despised and rejected of men and counted fools—will they be kings?

Those saints that were made to lie in prison for their Master’s sake, and no names of ignominy were thought base enough for them—will they be kings? Will the angels be courtiers while these humble ones, raised and changed, but yet the same, sit as kings in the midst of the courts of heaven, there to abide for ever? It will be even so!

Come! If the head aches tonight, let the reflection that it will soon be crowned be a consolation to you. Come! If you have had much to worry you throughout the day, let the sweet thought that you will soon be where not a wave of trouble shall ever cross your peaceful breast be a rich consolation to you.

There is a throne in heaven that no one can occupy but you, and there is a crown in heaven that no other head can wear but yours, and there is a part in the eternal song that no voice can ever compass but yours, and there is a glory to God that would be missing if you did not come to render it, and there is a part of infinite majesty and glory that would never be reflected unless you should be there to reflect it!

Wherefore comfort one another with this, that ere long you shall be there! Because the grace of God has elected you, you have a hereditary right through the new birth; you have a marriage right by reason of union with Christ; you have rights of conquest as a warrior; you shall have the rights of character, for your character will be perfect ere long; and you have the rights of possession, for God has given you all that which goes with the crown.

01 September 2016

"The most offensive thing I believe..."

by Dan Phillips


From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.


The following excerpt was written by Dan back in February 2013. Dan explained why Genesis 1:1 is the most offensive thing a Christian believes.


As usual, the comments are closed.
In Sunday School class, I brought up the subject of secular talk shows and how they like to try to beat up on Christians of any size, shape, and significance about whatever topic they think is most embarrassing and controversial. Of course, at the moment it's "gay" "marriage," or the topic of homosexuality at all.

In the course of the lesson, I remarked that I think — from the comfortable quiet safety of my study — that I'd take a different approach.

When Piers or Larry or Tavis or Rosie or Ellen or The View or whoever tried probing me about homosexuality, or wifely submission, or any other area where God has spoken (to the world's consternation), I think I'd decline the worm altogether. I think instead, I'd say something like,

"You know, when you ask me about X, you're obviously picking a topic that is deeply offensive to non-Christians — but it's far from the most offensive thing I believe. You're just nibbling at the edge of one of the relatively minor leaves on the Tree of Offense. Let me do you a favor, and just take you right down to the root. Let me take you to the most offensive thing I believe.

"The most offensive thing I believe is Genesis 1:1, and everything it implies.

 "That is, I believe in a sovereign Creator who is Lord and Definer of all. Everything in the universe — the planet, the laws of physics, the laws of morality, you, me — everything was created by Another, was designed by Another, was given value and definition by Another. God is Creator and Lord, and so He is ultimate. That means we are created and subjects, and therefore derivative and dependent.

"Therefore, we are not free to create meaning or value. We have only two options. We can discover the true value assigned by the Creator and revealed in His Word, the Bible; or we can rebel against that meaning.

"Any time you bring up questions about any of these issues, you do so from one of two stances. You either do it as someone advocating and enabling rebellion against the Creator's design, or as someone seeking submissive understanding of that design. You do it as servant or rebel. There is no third option.

"So yeah, insofar as I'm consistent with my core beliefs, everything I think about sexuality, relationships, morals, the whole nine yards, all of it is derived from what the Creator says. If I deviate from that, I'm wrong.

"To anyone involved in the doomed, damned you-shall-be-as-God project, that is the most offensive truth in the world, and it is the most offensive belief I hold.

"But if I can say one more thing, the first noun in that verse — beginning — immediately points us forward. It points to the end. And the end is all about Jesus Christ. That takes us to the topic of God's world-tilting Gospel, and that's what we really need to talk about."

I mean, why quibble about minor offenses, when we know how to take them right to the mother lode of all offense — that God is God, and we are not?

28 August 2016

“Gloried in, or else despised"


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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 59, sermon number 3,350, "Stewards."
"The apostle was anxious to be rightly accounted of, and well he might be; for ministers are not often estimated rightly: as a rule, they are either gloried in, or else despised."

At the commencement of our ministry, when our stores are fresh, and our energies are full; when we blaze and flash, and spend much time in the firework factory, people are apt to think us wonderful beings; and then the apostle’s word is needed: “Therefore let no man glory in men” (1 Cor. iii. 21).

It is not true, as flatterers insinuate, that in our case the gods have come down in the likeness of men; and we shall be idiots if we think so. In due time foolish expectations will be cured by disappointment, and then we shall hear unwelcome truth, mingled with unrighteous censure.

The idol of yesterday is the butt of to-day. Nine days, nine weeks, nine months, or nine years; be it more or less, time works disenchantment, and changes our position in the world’s account. The primrose-day is over, and the nettle months are come. After the time of the singing of birds has passed away, we come nearer to the season of fruit; but the children are not half so pleased with us as when they wandered in our luxuriant meadows, and strung our daisies and buttercups into crowns and garlands.

In our more autumnal years the people miss our flowers and greenery. Perhaps we are becoming sensible that it is so. The old man is solid and slow; whereas, the young man rode upon the wings of the wind. It is clear that some think too much of us, and some think too little of us; it would be far better if they accounted of us soberly “as the ministers of Christ.”

It would be for the advantage of the church, for our own benefit, and for the glory of God, if we were put in our right places and kept there, being neither over-rated, nor unduly censured, but viewed in our relation to our Lord, rather than in our own personalities. “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ.”

We are ministers. The word has a very respectable sound. To be a minister is the aspiration of many a youth. Perhaps if the word were otherwise rendered, their ambition might cool. Ministers are servants; they are not guests, but waiters; not landlords, but labourers.

The word has been rendered “under-rowers,” men who tug the oar on the lowest bench. It was hard work to row a galley: those rapid strokes consumed the life-forces of the slaves. There were three banks of oars: those on the upper bank of oars had the advantage of fresh air; those who were beneath were more closely shut in; but I suppose that the lowest bank of rowers would be faint with heat, as well as worn out with sore travail.

Brethren, let us be content to wear out our lives even in the worst position, if by our labour we can speed the passage of our great Caesar, and give speed to the trireme of the church in which he has embarked. We are willing to be chained to the oar, and to work on through life to make his barque cleave the waves. We are not captains, nor owners of the galley, but only the oarsmen of Christ.