23 October 2016

Where to ascribe greatness

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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 7, sermon number 367, "The Great Supreme."
"In this world we seldom judge men as to character; we judge them as to rank."

The poor and honest man shall go through the streets—will ye crowd to see him? A man shall wear a crown who is a perjurer—and will ye not rush out and clap your hands at him? Ye judge according to rank, and not according to character. Would God we all knew how to judge men, not according to the sight of our eyes, or the hearing of our ears, but according to the rightness of their characters.

Oh, honour the Queen; God has said so in his Word. Pay deference unto authorities as ye should do; but if in aught they swerve, remember your knee must bow to God, and to God alone. If in aught there is anything wrong, though it should have a sovereign’s name attached to it, remember one is your Master, one is your King, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Ascribe not greatness unto emperors and monarchs—“Ascribe ye greatness unto our God,” and unto our God alone. In the case of those who are in the employ of masters, it is but just and right that they should render unto their masters that which is their due; but when the master commands that which is wrong, allow me solemnly to caution you against giving to him anything which you are not bound to do.

Your master tells you, you must break the Sabbath. You do it because he is your master; ye have violated this command, for it is said, “Ascribe ye greatness unto God.” You are tempted in your employment to commit a fault; you are commanded to do it; you are irresolute; you waver for a moment; you say, shall I obey God or man? At last, you say, "My master said so, I must obey him, or I shall lose my employment."

Remember you have not ascribed greatness unto God, when you say that. Rather say this:—“In all things that are right, I am the servant of all men; but in things that are wrong, I will not yield. I will stand up stedfast for God’s right and for God’s commands. Men may be my masters when they tell me to do the thing that is honest and the thing that is just, but if in aught they swerve from that, I will not break my heavenly Master’s command. He is more my Master than they—I will stand firm and fast by Him.”

How many young men are tempted from the path they ought to pursue by those who exercise influence upon them! How many a young woman has been turned aside from rectitude by some command which has been given her by a person who had influence over her. Take care that ye allow no man to get dominion over your conscience.

Remember you will have no excuse at the day of judgment; it will be no palliation of your guilt to say that you were commanded by man to do wrong. For God will reply to you—“I told you to ascribe greatness to me, and to me only, and inasmuch as you obeyed man rather than God, you have violated my command.” “Ascribe ye greatness to our God.” Take that caution; believe it; and receive it in your daily life, and in your dealing with great and small.

16 October 2016

"You have few days"

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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 Able to the Uttermost, page 108, Pilgrim Publications.
"Dear brothers and sisters, our one desire is to glorify God." 

Now, we shall glorify Him for ever and ever; but there is a particular form of service which only belongs to this life. Are you not anxious—very anxious—that you should honour Christ here and do as much as you can? Well, you have few days—but few days.

Oh, one could almost wish to live to be as old as Methuselah for the sake of winning men’s souls and bringing sinners to Christ. But it cannot be. Oh, how we ought to work for Jesus, seeing He is such a Master, and deserves to have so much from His servants. And yet there is so short a space to do it in.

If we are painting for eternity, oh, let us move our hands with skill and with rapidity as hearing the chariot wheels of eternity behind us. Can we afford to waste hours or even minutes?

I have heard of a Puritan who used to rise and study at five in the morning. But one day he heard a smith’s hammer while he was getting up, and he said, "Shall a smith work harder than a minister of God? Shall he give to his hard service more time than I give to my Lord and Master?” And he would thus chide himself, though he was one of the most industrious of men.

Remember, dear friends, that you are born of woman, and that you have but few days—few days in which to bring sons and daughters to the Saviour, few days in which to save that Sabbath school class, few days, oh, preacher, in which to make this place ring with salvation, few days in which to be a shepherd to the people of God—a few days in which to call sinners and to warn backsliders.

Let us live, while we live, brethren, to the utmost power and capacity of our manhood, for we are of few days.

09 October 2016

Haters wanted!

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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 Golden Alphabet, Psalm 119:104, Pilgrim Publications
"Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way." Psalm 119:104

Because he had understanding, and because of the divine precepts, he detested sin and falsehood. Every sin is a falsehood: we commit sin because we believe a lie, and in the end the flattering evil turns a liar to us, and we find ourselves betrayed.

True hearts are not indifferent about falsehood, they grow warm in indignation: as they love the truth, so they hate the lie. Saints have a universal horror of all that is untrue; they tolerate no falsehood or folly, they set their faces against all error of doctrine or wickedness of life.

He who is a lover of one sin is in league with the whole army of sins; we must have neither truce nor parley with even one of these Amalekites, for the Lord hath war with them from generation to generation, and so must we. It is well to be a good hater. And what is that? A hater of no living being, but a hater of “every false way.”

The way of self-will, of self-righteousness, of self-seeking, of worldliness, of pride, of unbelief, of hypocrisy, of lustfulness—these are all false ways, and therefore not only to be shunned, but to be abhorred. This final verse of the strophe marks a great advance in character, and shows that the man of God is growing stronger, bolder, and happier than aforetime.

He has been taught of the Lord, so that he discerns between the precious and the vile, and while he loves the truth fervently he hates falsehood intensely. May all of us reach this state of discrimination and determination, so that we may greatly glorify God!

02 October 2016

“Do it"

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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 39, sermon number 2,317, "Obeying Christ's orders."
“Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” Do not think about it, especially for a very long time, and then wait until it is more impressed upon you, or till there is a convenient season. 

“Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” One of the great evils of the times is that of deliberating about a plain command of Christ and asking, “What will be the result of it?” What have you to do with results?

“But if I follow Christ in all things, I may lose my position.” What have you to do with that? When a soldier is told to go up to the cannon’s mouth, he is very likely to lose his “position,” and something else; but he is bound to do it.

“Oh, but I might lose my opportunities of usefulness!” What do you mean? That you are going to do evil that good may come? That is what it comes to. Will you really, before God, look that matter in the face? “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” At any expense, at any risk, do it.

I have heard some say, “Well, I do not like doing things in a hurry.” Very well, but what saith David? “I made haste, and delayed not—to keep thy commandments.” Remember that we sin every moment that we delay to do anything commanded by Christ. Whether every moment of delay is a fresh sin, I cannot say; but if we neglect any command of his, we are living in a condition of perpetual sinning against him; and that is not a desirable position for any of Christ’s disciples to live in.

Beloved, “whatever he saith unto you, do it.” Do not argue against it, and try to find some reason for getting off it I have known some believers who have not liked to have certain passages of Scripture read at the family altar because they have rather troubled their consciences. If there is anything in the Bible that quarrels with you, you are wrong; the Bible is not. Come you to terms with it at once, and the only terms will be obey, obey, obey your Lord’s will.

I am not holding this up to you as a way of salvation; you know I should never think of doing that. I am speaking to those of you who are saved. You are Christ’s servants, his saved ones; and now you have come to the holy discipline of his house and this is the rule of it, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”

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?"

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.”