Super Gross!!

Slug 1Super gross, and I’m not talking about the 144,000 but something I found in the kitchen on Saturday morning.  We have a container for cooking salt (for all culinary purposes) and as I would be doing some alterations in the kitchen I needed to move a load of stuff and this included the salt keeper.

Slug 2

When I picked up the container I noticed the salt was discoloured – a sort of browny colour.  The first thought was that someone had put a tea spoon or something similar in the salt.

When taking a closer look there was something dark about 2 inches long.  To my sheer horror – it was a slug.  Aaaaargh.  How it got there, I have no idea, but somehow it had made its way into the salt but obviously couldn’t get out.

The brown discolouration must have been dead slug juice.  Now that’s Super Gross!!  Enjoy the pictures – yuk.

Super Gross!
Super Gross!

Pilgrim’s Progress – Mason’s Notes (2)

File1Here’s another instalment form Mason’s Notes.  I placed the extract from Pilgrim’s Progress in italics and the relevant word in bold followed by Mason’s Notes. I think you get the idea.  The picture on the left is a scan (not scam!) of the notes.  The picture on the right is from a couple of pages further on showing Evangelist and Pilgrim.

I looked and saw him open the book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, “What shall I do?” Acts 2:37; 16:30; Habak 1:2,3.

Mason’s Note for cry

The cry of an awakened sinner, who sees his own righteousness to be as filthy rags: his soul in a state of wrath and wretchedness, exposed to everlasting destruction, feeling the burden of his sins upon his back, he turns his face from his own house, from himself, from all his false hopes and vain confidence, for refuge; and takes his Bible in his hand to direct him where he shall flee for refuge and salvation.  The more a sinner reads therein, the more he is convinced of the wretched state and ruined condition of his precious and immortal soul, and of his necessity of fleeing to Christ for eternal life and salvation.  As he reads he weeps and trembles to think what will become of him.  Reader, was this ever your case?  Did you ever see your sins, and feel the burden of them, so as to cry out in the anguish of your soul, What must I do to be saved?  If not, you will look on this precious book as a romance, or history, which no way concerns you: ypu can no more understand the meaning of it, than if it were written in an unknown tongue: for you are yet carnal, dead in your sins, lying in the arms of the wicked one, in false security.  But this book is spiritual; it can only be understood by spiritually quickened souls, who have experienced that salvation in the heart which begins with a sight of sin, a sense of sin, a fear of destruction.  Such, and only File2such, commence pilgrims from the City of Destruction to the heavenly kingdom.

Over the page a little we read: I saw also that he looked this way, and that way, as if he would run; yet he stood still because (as I perceived) he could not tell which way to go. I looked then, and saw a man named Evangelist coming to him, and he asked, “Wherefore dost thou cry?” Here Mason comments:

Behold here the tender love and care of Jesus, the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, to sin-distressed, heavy laden sinners, in sending Evangelist, that is, a preacher of the gospel grace, and glad tidings of salvation to them.

Let’s pray that we too, by the Grace of God have the privilege and opportunity to point sinners to the only refuge and saviour, The Lord Jesus Christ.

How to Read a Book

Adler How To Read a BookSamples WorldKen Samples has delivered (I assume) the third of his Academy Lecture Series “Learning Skills 101: Learning How to Learn” using Mortimer J Adler’s book ‘How to Read a Book’ and the chapters on logic from his own book ‘A World of Difference’.  He plans to give a total of 8 lectures.  If the first two are anything to go by this is going to be a really helpful yet very stretching series.  Listening is one thing putting it all into practice is quite another.

You should check it out at Christ Reformed Academy for the Audio.

Of the Making of Books…

Hay Books 1Hay Books 5On Saturday we spent the day in Hay-on-Wye.  Like many, I had heard of this famous town of ‘Bookshops’ but never been.  The day itself couldn’t have been better – a beautiful sunny day, a pleasant journey with my wife and another couple, and, the (maybe the last) opportunity to wear shorts, sandals and a T-Shirt.  A perfect day.  Hay-on-Wye really is a lovely place but I’m not sure a visit during one of the festivals would suit me.  TheHay Books 2 bookshops I reckon would be ‘heaving’ making it mightily difficult to move round the small town, especially in the shops.  That said, I think I would like to go back perhaps a little more prepared.  I should have checked out the shops to visit.  There are 30 bookshops with over a million books and just going ‘on spec’ was, on reflection, not very wise.  I should have thought more about what I was looking for and checked the appropriate shops to visit.

Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes   ‘And more than these, my son, be warned: The making of many books has no end, and much study is the weariness of the flesh’ (Ecc 12:12).  One of the shops is in the castle and in the lower grassed area there are loads of books – 50p for a paperback and £1 for a hardback.  Several times I saw one of the staff come down with a box full of books to just bung on empty shelves – and there weren’t many of those.  If there is an end to books I guess it’s here, a charity shop or eventually the dump.  A fitting end to some no doubt.

John Gill writes on part of this verse:

Hay Books 3of making many books there is no end; many books, it seems, were written in Solomon’s time; there was the same itch of writing as now, it may be; but what was written was not to be mentioned with the sacred writings, were comparatively useless and worthless. Or the sense is, should Solomon, or any other, write ever so many volumes, it would be quite needless; and there would be no end of writing, Hay Books 6for these would not give satisfaction and contentment; and which yet was to be had in the word of God; and therefore that should be closely attended to: though this may be understood, not only of making or composing books, but of getting them, as Aben Ezra; of purchasing them, and so making them a man’s own. A man may lay out his money, and fill his library with books, and be very little the better for them; what one writer affirms, another denies; what one seems to have proved clearly, another rises up and points out his errors and mistakes; and this occasions replies and rejoinders, so that there is no end of these things, and scarce any profit by them; which, without so much trouble, may be found in the writings of wise men, inspired by God, and in which we should rest contented;

Hay Books 4Enjoy the pictures, and if you can pay a visit, have a meal at The Three Tunns – excellent!

Pilgrim’s Progress – Mason’s Notes (1)

250px-Bunyan_in_prisonThis will be the first of several posts from Mason’s Notes.  Quotations from Pilgrim’s Progress can be found at Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den*, *Bedford jail, in which the author was imprisoned for conscience’ sake.’

Mason’s Note for ‘den’

The Jail.  Mr Bunyan wrote this precious book in Bedford Jail, where he was confined on account of his religion.  The following anecdote is related of him: a Quaker came to the jail, and thus addressed him: “Friend Bunyan, the Lord sent me to seek for thee, and I have been through several counties in search of thee: and now I am glad I have found thee.”  To which Mr Bunyan replied: ” Friend, thou doth not speak truth in saying, the Lord sent thee to seek me; for the Lord well knows that I have been in this jail for some years; and if he had sent thee, he would have sent thee here directly.

Meet The Puritans

Danny Hyde (Pastor of Oceanside United Reformed Church) and three other contributors have a new blog called Meet the Puritans.  In their own words:

PuritansThis website is a collaborative effort. You can read about the contributors in the Author Profiles page at the top left of the home page.

The purpose of this website is to promote the seventeenth century English Puritans. We intend to do this by means of original research, theological and devotional commentary upon the writings of the Puritans, reviews of books about the Puritans, recommendations of books about the Puritans, and by providing Recommended Reading of helpful materials in your study of the Puritans.

Pilgrim’s Progress – Mason’s Notes

We had friends round last night for a meal together and afterwards we chatted briefly about John Bunyan and ‘Pilgrims Progress’.  I remembered an edition I have of this book with ‘Mason’s notes’.  A previous work-mate bought me this edition (a small hardback copy) from a second hand book shop for 20 pence.  I used to work with this man (John) on the shop-floor fabricating aluminium shop fronts, doors and curtain walling.  I had known John since infant school but sadly he died a few years ago through an asthma attack.  Though we talked about Gospel things as far as I know he never embraced the Saviour.

William MasonI began to think about this edition and realised the notes would make for excellent blog content.  From time to time then, I will post some of Mason’s notes.  I could find very little about the Rev Mason, other than the following:

William Mason, Calvinist writer; born Rotherhithe, 1719; died 29 September 1791.  He was briefly (1774) editor of The Gospel Magazine, immediately before Augustus Montague Toplady.

Other writings were:

I’ll try and regularly post some of his notes as they are solidly Evangelical and worth reading.

Justification by Faith – Alone!

Nick Vol 3I’m slowly reading through Dr Nick Needham’s 3 Volumes 2000 Years of Christ’s Power.  At the end of each chapter are exerts from the writing of various people referred to in the main text.  The name Calvin can be quite intimidating to new believers and I remember feeling a little of that myself.  Yet Calvin is surprisingly easy to read.  Young believers ought to be encouraged to read these great men of God.  They are the Lords gift to the Church – let’s receive His gift gladly.

The following text is from Calvin’s’ Institutes of the Christian Religion.

To be justified in the sight of God, to be Justified by faith or by works. A man is said to be justified in the sight of God when in the judgment of God he is deemed righteous, and is accepted on account of his righteousness; for as iniquity is abominable to God, so neither can the sinner find grace in his sight, so far as he is and so long as he is regarded as a sinner. Hence, wherever sin is, there also are the wrath and vengeance of God. He, on the other hand, is justified who is regarded not as a sinner, but as righteous, and as such stands acquitted at the judgment-seat of God, where all sinners are condemned. As an innocent man, when charged before an impartial judge, who decides according to his innocence, is said to be justified by the judge, as a man is said to be justified by God when, removed from the catalogue of sinners, he has God as the witness and assertor of his righteousness. In the same manner, a man will be said to be justified by works, if in his life there can be found a purity and holiness which merits an attestation of righteousness at the throne of God, or if by the perfection of his works he can answer and satisfy the divine justice. On the contrary, a man will be justified by faith when, excluded from the righteousness of works, he by faith lays hold of the righteousness of Christ, and clothed in it appears in the sight of God not as a sinner, but as righteous. Thus we simply interpret justification, as the acceptance with which God receives us into his favor as if we were righteous; and we say that this justification consists in the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.180px-Portrait_john_calvin

In regard to the use of the term with reference to the present subject, when Paul speaks of the Scripture, “foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith” (Gal_3:8), what other meaning can you give it than that God imputes righteousness by faith? Again, when he says, “that he (God) might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus” (Rom_3:26), what can the meaning be, if not that God, in consideration of their faith, frees them from the condemnation which their wickedness deserves? This appears still more plainly at the conclusion, when he exclaims, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Rom_8:33, Rom_8:34). For it is just as if he had said, Who shall accuse those whom God has acquitted? Who shall condemn those for whom Christ pleads? To justify therefore, is nothing else than to acquit from the charge of guilt, as if innocence were proved. Hence, when God justifies us through the intercession of Christ, he does not acquit us on a proof of our own innocence, but by an imputation of righteousness, so that though not righteous in ourselves, we are deemed righteous in Christ.

The above quotes are taken from John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 11, Sections 1-3.  They are from the freely available e-Sword edition.

Martin Downes interviewed on Christ the Centre

mdownesMartin Downes has been interviewed on Christ the Centre at The Reformed Forum about his new book Risking the Truth.  This is an excellent and very helpful interview.  Go to the website to download or listen on-line.  They have many interviews that are a great asset to the Church.

Or, you can listen to the interview here – click on play.


The X Factor Factor

It’s that time of year again when the X Factor returns to our screens.  Shall we or won’t we watch it?  Well we did.  Let’s be honest, the show is what it is – a piece of trash.  Very popular money making trash – millions will watch the show each Saturday.

dreamgirlsIt never ceases to amaze how completely talentless singers will put their whole life on hold thinking they have any possibility of winning.  For example the opening act – two sisters from Estonia (I think) had actually moved to Britain to be on the show – and to win it.  When the awful truth dawns on them that they are going no further in the competition – it’s a moment of sadness to see their whole world come crashing down.  But after the initial shock – ‘life will show them the way’ – they continue as ‘Dream Girls’ to singing stardom.  Amazingly, they really believe it. They are not alone. Most of the acts are simply deluded.

I might be criticised for watching the X Factor but I believe the show illustrates two (and many more I’m sure) very important truths.

The power of delusion.

To those watching the acts – it’s easy to see there is no way they will go any further.  And even those that do, most are still devoid of real ability. We all know people that think they are good at something but we know they are not. We might think ourselves to have some sort of talent, but the reality may be very different.  The point is this – If we can be deluded at this very basic level, then how much more powerful is a spiritual delusion. The Bible (Word of God) is very clear on this.

2Th 2:11 …because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. …God shall send them (a) strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
2Th 2:12  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The X Factor type of delusion is sad and the consequences may not be too bad. But the delusion the Bible speaks of is dangerous and has eternal consequences. The delusion the Bible speaks of is twofold. There is the blindness of a sinful nature – spiritually dead and unable to receive spiritual truth and realities. But there is also the delusion mentioned in the verses above – a delusion sent by God. Only the free Grace of God can overcome these. Call upon Him.

Rooted in Autonomy

The spiritual delusion finds its root in the autonomy of the self. This is brought out when acts are colloquially told ‘don’t quit the day job’. But they just don’t get it. Whatever you may think of Simon Cowell he knows his business (though he doesn’t always get it right). And, unless a person does have a modicum of genuine talent they should listen to the expert. So despite being told the reality of the situation many continue to believe in their own opinion of themselves. So quite often phrases like ‘Simon Cowell doesn’t know what he’s talking about and I’ll prove him wrong’ are used.

Here’s the thing, the Word of God quite clearly reveals to us that it’s within God that we all live and have our being. Apart from the Sovereign will of God none of us would have any existence. Theologians call this the Creator creature distinction. To use a phrase of A. W. Tozer ‘where God isn’t there’s just us.  God is everywhere but you get the picture. On our own we are truly lost and undone. Far from being able to extricate ourselves from any and every situation the reality is that we cannot and we all know it. In other words our whole future is in the hand of another outside of ourselves – the hand of God. And if we are unable to control any and every event in our lives how much less are we able to control our eternal destiny. If I may put it in these terms: there is an expert – a physician of souls whose diagnosis is sound and correct. In the Gospels we read ‘This is My Beloved Son, listen to Him’.  The Scripture says: ‘Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him’. But rebellious man says – no thanks I’ll be master of my own destiny. Jesus told a story about such a person and concluded by saying: ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you…’ The future is bleak indeed outside of Christ.

Call Upon God

We all of us need to cry to The Son of God – The Lord Jesus Christ also said “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” Therefore, while it is called today, call upon the name of the Lord.