Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Beatitudes and Responses


Beatitudes and Responses (Psalms of David)

Occasionally, in place of the Reading of the Law before the Prayer of Confession, it would be appropriate to use the Beatitudes.  Indeed, it would be possible to frame the prayer of confession on the basis of the Beatitudes.  I recently read in a 19th century American Episcopalian work on the revision of their liturgy a reference to the Beatitudes with responses based on Psalm 51, (which the writer thought was rather artificial), but have not been able to trace this,.

These responses, based on the Psalms are appropriate.  I have edited them from some suggestions in: 

Matthew 5:3   Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Psalm 70:5 But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!

Matthew 5:4  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Psalm 30:11  You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness

Matthew 5:5   Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Psalm 37: 3, 11 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.  The meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Matthew 5:7  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Psalm 18:25   With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless.

Matthew 5:8   Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Psalm 51:10, 11   Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Matthew 5:9  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Psalm 34:14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Matthew 5:10   Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Psalm 31:15   My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Slow Down and Read 2


Solw Dwon and Raed 

One of the diecufliifts in unsig the rcih adaunnbce of toioahgclel luiatterre taht has now been dstiieigd and is abillavae trhuogh the itirchnntreaeve.org and ohetr seits is taht smeotmies the OCR is lses tahn peecrft. Coumpetr stafwroe is not as good as the haumn bairn in inirepenrttg achirac txet. Ieendd, smtmoiees it is taltloy uesless and the txet is mroe or lses unbadlraee. In taht csae I adboann my mboi (kdnile) txet and rrseot to the pdf igmaes. It is lses ufusel, canont be seeahrcd or cnanot be cut and pteasd as txet, but it is rbldeaae. 

Mroe otfen the OCR is smpily %E2%80%9ogCddy%E2%80%9D and wtih a lttile pscreaenerve can be raed rbansolaey wlel. Waht is deos do is mkae me solw dwon and raed retahr tahn sacn the txet. By dnoig so I tkae mroe in and tnihk mroe cllfueray abuot waht I raed. I uesd to hvae a psoter in my calss room in wchih a parpagrah of txet was jbulmed up, but the fisrt and lsat lettres of ecah wrod wree in the crcreot palce: 

%E2%80%9niccorCAdg to a rcrecshaeh at Cbmgiadre Urensivity, it deson't mteatr in what oerdr the lertets in a word are, the only iepmrtont thnig is that the frsit and last letter be at the right pacle. The rest can be a tatol mess and you can siltl read it wutihot polrbem. This is baeusce the haumn mind does not read every lteetr by ilestf, but the word as a wolhe.%E2%80%9D 

Waht azaemd me was not how mnay puplis cuold raed the txet, but how mnay of our pilups wtih dxeislya cuold rades it! Puipls wree aslo iniugetrd taht tcahrees cuold raed txet upidse dwon, or at lseat I cuold, wchih was vrey useufl in syniervug tehir oongnig wrok. (Try it; it cmeos wtih ltilte pciracte.). Rraecesh aslo sohws taht a beurrld or gryeed txet is prelcfety rlbedaae and taht it aiagn mekas you solw dwon and tihnk as you raed. 

Sniowlg dwon to raed any txet is of bfnieet; swonilg dwon to raed Srtpurice is of eronumos bfeenit. We semtmieos seped raed our bilebs as if mroe is bteter and qkuicer is cdmlaembone. I smtmeeios feed docetunms itno a Srtpiz rdeear, (http://siptnzirc.com/ ), and trhee can be a pcale for tihs wehn lrgae anoutms of txet hvae to be dstegeid qucikly. I was not srusiperd to fnid taht trhee is a smrat pnhoe app taht uess the tohglonecy to raed the blibe, %E2%80%9C BbGiilset %E2%80%93 Stpriz the Blbie%E2%80%9D. I do not tinhk tihs is how the bilbe sluohd be raed. Nor do I tihnk taht lesiintng to the bblie txet at x1.5 or x2 seped is waht sholud be dnoe. 

Rev. Jhon T. Csroan, a frmoer mtoeordar of the Petryrsbiean Cuchrh in Ianerld, ocne seyatd wtih us on Aarrn. He srhaed taht for his devotnoial rneiadg of Srtrpicue he uesd Sricputre Uinon noets, but the Fnecrh langague voeirsn. Tihs had cmoe auobt by acncidet wehn he was viitnsig in Cadnaa and neeedd new nteos but olny the Fncerh lanaugge vesiron was abiavalle. He fnuod taht uisng the Fencrh S.U. neots sleowd him dwon, mdae him tihnk mroe auobt waht he was rieandg and deevploed a depeer daenvootil icnittareon wtih Sprcurite. 

I am not aincovtdag taht we nsrescelaiy raed our Bbelis in a fioregn lgunagae, raed tehm trgouhh the meidum of bad OCR or raed the txet upidse dwon. Waht I am adocvaitng is taht we solw dwon, thnik, pary, and medattie as we raed Suticprre. Eualqly, wehn we are rineadg toihlgecoal lutitraree we slouhd solw dwon and dgiset waht we are redniag. We may not get tghuroh as mcuh, but waht we raed wlil be of mroe beeifnt to us. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

Slow Down and Read


Slow Down and Read

One of the difficulties in using the rich abundance of theological literature that has now been digitised and is available through the internetarchive.org and other sites is that sometimes the OCR is less than perfect.  Computer software is not as good as the human brain in interpreting archaic text.  Indeed, sometimes it is totally useless and the text is more or less unreadable.  In that case I abandon my mobi (kindle) text and resort to the pdf images.  It is less useful, cannot be searched or cannot be cut and pasted as text, but it is readable.
 
More often the OCR is simply “dodgy” and with a little perseverance can be read reasonably well.  What it does do is make me slow down and read rather than scan the text.  By doing so I take more in and think more carefully about what I read.  I used to have a poster in my class room in which a paragraph of text was jumbled up, but the first and last letters of each word were in the correct place:

“Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.”

What amazed me was not how many pupils could read the text, but how many of our pupils with dyslexia could reads it!  Pupils were also intrigued that teachers could read text upside down, or at least I could, which was very useful in surveying their ongoing work.  (Try it; it comes with little practice.).  Research also shows that a blurred or greyed text is perfectly readable and that it again makes you slow down and think as you read.

Slowing down to read any text is of benefit; slowing down to read Scripture is of enormous benefit. We sometimes speed read our bibles as if more is better and quicker is commendable. I sometimes feed documents into a Spritz reader, (http://spritzinc.com/ ), and there can be a place for this when large amounts of text have to be digested quickly.  I was not surprised to find that there is a smart phone app that uses the technology to read the bible, “ BibleGist – Spritz the Bible”. I do not think this is how the bible should be read.  Nor do I think that listening to the bible text at x1.5 or x2 speed is what should be done.

Rev. John T. Carson, a former moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, once stayed with us on Arran.  He shared that for his devotional reading of Scripture he used Scripture Union notes, but the French language version.  This had come about by accident when he was visiting in Canada and needed new notes but only the French language version was available.  He found that using the French S.U. notes slowed him down, made him think more about what he was reading and developed a deeper devotional interaction with Scripture.

I am not advocating that we necessarily read our Bibles in a foreign language, read them through the medium of bad OCR or read the text upside down.  What I am advocating is that we slow down, think, pray, and meditate as we read Scripture. Equally, when we are reading theological literature we should slow down and digest what we are reading.  We may not get through as much,  but what we read will be of more benefit to us.



Wednesday, 6 September 2017



Dodderidge and Prayer before Preparation

Philip Dodderidge’s “Lectures on Preaching” may be dated, but it still contains a great amount of biblical and practical wisdom.  Before beginning any sermon preparation Dodderidge wisely counsels prayer:

Begin the work with a solemn address to God. This will lay you in the way of his blessing and assistance ; and will naturally have some good influence to awaken, compose and encourage your soul. It will direct your minds to right ends and views, which is a matter of vast importance. Perhaps a form of prayer might not be improper for that purpose; yet varied with some particular regard to your subject.”

The editor provides such a form of prayer from Dodderidge’s own hand:

“Blessed God ! It is thou that gavest me a rational soul, and upon thee do I depend entirely for the continuance of those capacities with which thou hast endowed me. I am not sufficient of myself, so much as to think anything as I ought, but all my sufficiency is of thee.

I am now engaging in a work of singular importance, in which I would desire to be sensible of the need I have of thy gracious assistance. I beg that thou wilt command my attention to the affair before me. May no vain or intruding thoughts break in upon me to hinder a steady application to my business. 

Direct my mind to proper thoughts; and to the most  agreeable manner of arranging and expressing them.

And may my heart be inflamed with pious affections; that divine truths coming warm from my own soul may more easily penetrate into the souls of my hearers : May I remember that I am not to compose an harangue to acquire to myself the reputation of an eloquent orator ; but that I am preparing food for precious and immortal souls; and dispensing that sacred gospel which my Redeemer brought from heaven, and sealed with his blood.

May I therefore sincerely endeavour to give my discourse the most useful turn, and do thou direct me so to form it, as best to promote the great purpose of christian edification.

And grant, O Lord, that I may receive present refreshment to myself, and future edification from the study of those divine truths I am entering upon.

May this be one of the most delightful employments of my life. While I am watering others may I be watered myself also and bring forth daily more and more fruit, proportionable to the advantages which I enjoy, to the glory of thy great name and the improvement of my everlasting felicity,

Through Jesus Christ. Amen." 

The language may be dated; the thoughts are timeless!


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

On the Blessing of Bridges


On the Blessing of Bridges

I see from the Church of Scotland’s website that the Moderator of the General Assembly was involved in the opening ceremony for the Queensferry Crossing, the spectacular new bridge across the Firth of Forth:
“The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has blessed the Queensferry Crossing. Right Rev Dr Derek Browning said bridges were “symbols of inclusion and hope”.
Now as someone who regularly crosses what I assume to be unblessed bridges such as the Clackmannanshire, Erskine and Kingston bridges, this causes me some concern.  The Moderator has not said the sacred words, “God bless this bridge; God bless this [Queensferry] Crossing, And all who travel on it” over my bridges!  Am I to assume that as I travel on them I remain unblessed because the engineering marvels themselves have not been blessed?
It is an interesting yet predictable analogy the Moderator makes about bridges being symbols of inclusion: “For people of faith, bridges remind us that faith is also called to connect people, overcome barriers and span divides.”
It so happens that I also used the opening of the new Queensferry Crossing as a spiritual illustration when I spoke to the children on Sunday morning.  I spoke of Christ as the bridge between man and God, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all…” (2 Tim 2:5,6)  
However I also pointed out that whereas there are now three spectacular bridges across the Forth – the railway bridge, the old road bridge and the new bridge – there is only ONE bridge to God for “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)  Somehow I do not think that if the Moderator had spoken of Christ as the exclusive bridge to God, rather than a vague idea of social and religious inclusion, his part in the proceedings may have been quite so welcomed.
Nevertheless, now that I am retired I can see a new and unique opportunity presenting itself – could I become a bridge blesser for hire, (viaducts and culverts also included.)  No; I am perfectly content to pass over unblessed bridges in unblessed buses and cars.


Steve Chalk and the Nashville Statement

Steve Chalk and the Nashville Statement

I would not have imagined that the former evangelical Steve Chalk could have signed the Nashville Statement on Biblical Sexuality. (https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement/ ) However he has surpassed himself in his flight from biblical ethics in becoming one of the first signatories of the Nazareth Statement. (http://www.christiansunitedstatement.org/ ).
The Nazareth statement is, of course, for “those who have been on the leading edge of the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work”, through fully embracing the agenda of LGBT+ community.  Indeed, Chalke is actually one of the editors who produced the Nazareth Statement and not merely a fellow traveller.
When you move from biblical orthodoxy it is inevitable that you not only reject a biblical understanding of the atonement, you will invariably reject a biblical understanding of sexuality. I see that the former PCA minister Rev. Fred Harrell is also among the initial signatories.

This is simply a further illustration that liberal progressive pseudo-christianity is another religion that cannot co-exist with true biblical Christianity.  

Monday, 24 July 2017

Some Sermons Online


Sermons Online

I don’t normally have my sermons online.  However, over the last two Sundays I have been preaching at Knox Church, Perth, (Free Church of Scotland), and the sermons are now online:


There you will also find the excellent messages of the Pastor, Paul Gibson.

I have to say my visit to Perth was a blessing to my own soul and the warm welcome and hospitality of the members was deeply appreciated. I heartily commend the work of Knox Church and can recommend it as a spiritual home for those in the greater Perth area who are looking for a church that is Christ centred and biblically based.