15 January 2017

The great procession


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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 20, sermon number 1,175, "Stephen's death."
"It is of the greatest service to us all to be reminded that our life is but a vapour, which appeareth for a little while, and then vanisheth away." 

Through forgetfulness of this worldlings live at ease, and Christians walk carelessly. Unless we watch for the Lord’s coming, worldliness soon eats into our spirit as doth a canker. If thou hast this world’s riches, believer, remember that this is not thy rest, and set not too great a store by its comforts.

If, on the other hand, thou dwellest in straitness, and art burdened with poverty, be not too much depressed thereby, for these light afflictions are but for a moment, and are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Look upon the things that are as though they were not. Remember you are a part of a great procession which is always moving by; others come and go before your own eyes, you see them, and they disappear, and you yourself are moving onward to another and more real world.

“'Tis is greatly wise to talk with our last hours,” to give a rehearsal of our departure, and to be prepared to stand before the great tribunal of the judgment.

Our duty is to trim our lamps against the time when the Bridegroom comes; we are called upon to stand always ready, waiting for the appearing of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, or else for the summons which shall tell us that the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern, that the body must return to the earth as it was, and the spirit unto God who gave it.

08 January 2017

“Thou wilt prepare their heart"


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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 40, sermon number 2,342, "A New Year's retrospect and prospect."
"All gets right when the heart is right."

This year, dear brethren, we shall need heart-preparation for the many duties we shall have to perform for God. Look forward to them with trust in God.

Those who examine the palms of the hand, and pretend to foretell futurity, are fools; those who believe them are not wise. We cannot tell what a day may bring forth, but we know that every day will bring its meed of service. (Editors note: "Meed," is a word!)

Well then, God will prepare our hearts for it. “Thou wilt prepare their heart.” I like to think that nothing shall come for me to do but God will fit me for it. I may be called to work that I have never attempted before; if so, I shall have grace given which I never had before.

You may change your condition of life this year, my dear friend, but you shall be prepared for that change. You may have to emigrate to the other side of the world and find fresh duties awaiting you there; but you shall be prepared for your new sphere of service.

You may be called from being a servant to be a master, or you may have to come down in the world, and from being a master, you may have to become a servant; yet, whatever God shall put before you to do, he will prepare your heart for it. Only plead this declaration in prayer, and you may expect to have it fulfilled.

01 January 2017

The End.

by F. X. Turk

Before you get too worked up, this is not a suicide note.  What this post ought to be seen as is an end to my hiatus as it gives way to retirement.  It has gone through a couple of drafts.  I hope it says only what I mean to say and not everything that I really want to say.

In the 15-ish years I have been on the internet, I have been accused of a lot of things.  Most of the time, it has been by people who did not read what I wrote.  That's just how things go, and the ignorance of other people should never stop a person from doing something worthwhile.

The problem I am having at this point in my hobby-on-hiatus is that as I look at many (most) of the people who were inspired by the work done by this blog and some of my other blogs, those people are terrible. From my perspective, however, this problem has not gotten better with age: it has gotten worse.

There's a hard way to see if something can be done about this, and an easy way.

The easy way would be to start blogging again -- to open up this blog again and get 3-4 posts a week on the obvious problems with blogs which never post anything but the internet equivalent of this:



That path would mean showing the problem and offering the solution (if there is one) to people who don't know the difference between discernment/apologetics and rumor-mongering/slander (the biblical category, not the legal charge).  It would require a staff and donors because it would also require me to do this full-time and not merely when things sort of wander into my field of vision.

The hard way to confront that sort of thing looks easy, but takes more commitment to what is actually right and actually good than creating yet another parachurch organization which damages the local church and causes those who say they have faith in Jesus Christ to develop a skeptical and jaundiced view of how a church in real life works.  That hard way is to stop calling what I am doing here a "hiatus" and to start calling it a permanent protest retirement.

That path means that I have some other things that need to be said clearly, and then I need to say no more.

Here's what's left to be said:

Way far north of 95% of Christian blogging is really just exhibitionism, either exposing one's own poor judgment and thinking or exposing others faults (usually both) for the sake of gaining attention for one's self.  I think unintentionally, I have done this.  I repent of ever doing that, and I repudiate everyone who is blogging for the sake of exposing himself or herself to gain an audience.  If you think that's only people with modest-sized blogs, or people on the fringes, you aren't reading the big blogs with any kind of wisdom or insight, or tracking how many people in Christian circles are getting famous from blogging rather than from having actual accomplishments or a decent faith and a world-tilting local church.

I repent of ever, at any time, causing anyone else to fall into that trap.  If my example caused you to blog, you are doing it wrong.  You are responsible for you, but I am responsible for doing something which caused you to do wrong.  I repudiate it, and I ask you to do the same.

I repent of causing anyone who was otherwise a quiet and private person to get the attention of the internet lynch mob.  I am sorry that I caused anyone to look for your name because you got 0.0001% famous by being associated with me (someone who is 0.001% famous) and because they looked for you, they made your life miserable.  I repudiate anything which caused you to live in violation of 1 Thes 4, and I confess and repudiate that I ever violated it myself.

For anyone who wants to hypothesize why I would say that specifically, two notes: [1] You are definitely part of the problem; [2] Every single one of my internet friends has suffered because they have allowed themselves to be associated with me simply because they are human beings who are not even remotely perfect.  And yes: recent events in one of their lives is particularly on my mind in saying this.  It is not because someone is guilty or innocent, but the exhibitionistic hobby of some is causing his family amplified pain and shame, and God will judge the ones doing it that for it.  The only reason those people are seeking out anyone is that a person knows someone allegedly-famous and therefore they think this person is "famous" or "well-known."  That perverse definition of "well-known" in itself proves you-plural who are doing this are ineffable idiots, but saying more than that will not cure you-plural of it.  I am deeply ashamed that my bush-league notoriety has caused anyone to make bad things worse, and I repent of my part in drawing your attention to people who just wanted to laugh at my comic book clip art.

A corollary to this apology and retraction is this: if you are using the internet to talk to people who do not know you and cannot know you, you are doing some of the things I did, and you probably do not understand the consequences.  I didn't.  The first consequence seems really obvious to me now: you are kidding yourself about your level of influence.  I would argue that you are actually reaching fewer people and ministering to fewer people by never actually being anywhere long enough to do something "like ministry" than you would be if you belonged to a local IBF church with 25 members who meet in a wooden shack with no modern amenities.
The justification, "if I can just save one person ..." doesn't work in its gun-control incarnation, or in its justification of abortion, or any other bad idea.  It certainly doesn't work for someone who claims that the Bible is his or her highest source of authority.  The Bible never asks anyone to be a mostly-faceless, mostly-nameless shill for his own unregulated opinions -- and this a second corollary to my apology and retraction: in all seriousness, nobody is holding you accountable for your actions, and you are harming the spiritual well-being of those you are seeking to influence by proliferating a system in which there is no accountability.  You are making the local church into nothing, and that should bother you.


I apologize to everyone and anyone who ever used my blogging as a substitute for having a local church, and loving real people, and being under the authority of elders and men of good faith who are in it for your good and God's glory.  I was wrong to put myself in that place, and I was wrong to let you think it was ever a good idea.

I repent of exhibitionism.  I repent of leading others to it.  I repent of demonstrating the lack of accountability which exhibitionists acquire and which leads themselves and others astray.  I repent of giving that example to other and that they followed it.

These things have helped create a vile culture of people who use the internet for things Christ would abhor.   I underlined this problem in an open letter to James White a few years ago (link).  Another way to see it is what we think we object to.  We get all worked up about Creflo Dollar buying a big airplane.  We ignore the dollars spent on carting around all the names on the A-List, B-List, D-List and so on down to whatever Z-list it is people have looked down to in order to find my name, as if those dollars are justified (when they are probably higher than the bank note of Creflo's airplane).  We think our version of whatever is happening here in "our part" of the internet is good and godly because we agree with it.  Then we forget that while Paul wrote letters, he didn't publish books: he lived next to people and worked with his hands for his own support so that he could gain the good reputation that he wasn't teaching them for the money.  We forget that our exposition of God's word is not nearly as valuable as God's actual word, and God's actual commandments which we would keep if we loved him.

I repent of every time I did anything which made me part of that high-flying set of exhibitionists, and I repent of ever thinking it was good for me or for others.  I repudiate the lot of it, and I urge you to stop paying people to come and tell you things you the Bible does a better job of telling you already.

That's plenty to say by way of apology and retraction.  There are a few other things which ought to be said by way of thanks in spite of what has been wrought here.



The first thing is to thank everyone who ever tried to see this a different way than I have confessed here and tried to use it for actual-good and not self-aggrandizement.   There are many of you.  In the times when something I wrote here or elsewhere for reasons I didn't fully understand as sinful and God used it for your good anyway, there is proof enough for me that God is good and not merely greedy for justice and making the scales even.  He used my crooked and wretched stick to draw a straight line more than once.  The times I followed a path created by people who wanted to be famous and rich and God allowed what I wrote to make you more like him rather than Him treating me like Demas -- which I would have deserved -- is evidence that God's grace is greater than human words can rightly grade or explain.

Thanks to Phil Johnson, who doesn't believe any of things I have written in this post, and isn't seeking his own fame.  If he could have his own way, he'd be a one-eyed hermit casting a monocular gaze over his own back 40.  His goal has always been that people hear the word of God as preached by his pastor.  Those of you who do not know him cannot know how pure his heart is toward God's people and God's word.  You cannot know how deeply he wants people to see and to serve the savior of the world.  His intentions here have always been pure even when mine were not, and I think his ministry to archive and present the teaching of his local pastor to anyone who needs them far exceeds the teaching of the Pharisees who run Christian publishing and Christian media.  He and his family have always been my friends, and I thank him for his generosity to make anything good that has come of this possible.  I also thank him for the PoMotivators.

Thanks to Dan Phillips, who also has always come at this thing with a pure heart in spite of the accusations and hard judgments of those who, frankly, could have done better by him but didn't because they didn't like him.  Their pettiness is a judgment on them, and it will be something they will answer to Christ for.  Dan, too, has always been my friend and a teller of truth to me, and he also does not see this endeavor the way I do now.  Undoubtedly, this post about the pitfalls of people being and doing what we have been and done over the years was formative in helping me see what is wrong with "internet ministry."  My hope is that he will find the fruit in his ministry that he is looking for, and that people will not just hear him preach the word of God, but that they will do what he tells them it says to do.

Thanks also to everyone who would own the nickname "side-kick," because there are far too many of you to name, and I would be afraid to miss any of you.  You have been the only other reason this has not been a terrible experience.  Some will say I should call you out for enabling me; I call you out for seeing that even in my worst moments, there was a seed in all of it meant to bring joy and good humor to the problem of being all too human in a world which needs Jesus Christ.  I don't blame you for my poor judgment and my poor character and weakness.  I hope that my faults will not take root in you, and that you will forgive me if they already have.



To the rest of you, good luck.  God bless you.  For the things you ought to repent of, repent immediately, as soon as possible.  For the things God really wants you to do, do them with gusto -- and remember that if what you think "God really wants you to do" is make what God has already said in his Word look somehow phony, old-fashioned, or powerless, you are doing it wrong.

So what's left for me to do at this point is close up shop.  The content here has been and always will be under Phil's purview, and if he would keep it as-is, I trust his judgment.  I'll be archiving all the other blogs under my name and closing them in the next 60 days; I'll be shuttering Twitter; If I do not know you personally, I will be unfriending you on Facebook (a process I have been working on since August).  I want you to forget me if that is possible, and if it is not, I ask that you forgive me and let me be at peace as I will seek to make amends by turning my back on any attention not related to people I see every day and places I go every day.  The rest of it is just bound to harm people who do not deserve it.

God bless you all.  Be in the Lord's House with the Lord's People on every Lord's Day, and do your part to keep the internet barn door closed.







25 December 2016

“Our souls worship Him"


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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 Christ's Incarnation, page 103, Pilgrim Publications.
"Oh, you who have never worshipped the Christ of God, may you be led to do so! He is God; therefore adore Him."  

We worship “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

Our faith sees Him go from the manger to the cross, and from the cross right up to the throne; and there, where Jehovah dwells, amidst the insufferable glory of the Divine presence, stands the very same Person who slept in the manger at Bethlehem; there He reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Our souls worship Him.

Thou art our Prophet; every word Thou sayest, we believe, and desire to obey. Thou art our Priest; Thy sacrifice hath made us free from guilt, we are washed white in the fountain of Thy blood. Thou art our King; give Thy commands, and we will obey them; lead Thou on, and we will follow. Thou art God, and we worship Thee.

18 December 2016

Condescension


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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 Christ's Incarnation, pages 47-48, Pilgrim Publications.
"It must ever remain to us the mystery of mysteries that God Himself was manifest in the flesh." 

God the invisible was manifest; God the spiritual dwelt in mortal flesh; God the infinite, uncontained, boundless, was manifest in the flesh. What infinite leagues our thought must traverse between Godhead self-existent, and, therefore, full of power and self-sufficiency, before we have descended to the far down level of poor human flesh, which is, at its best, but as grass, and, in its essence, only so much animated dust!

Where can we find a greater contrast than between God and flesh? Yet the two are perfectly blended in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ the Saviour of the lost. “GOD was manifest in the flesh;” truly God, not God humanised, but God as God. He was manifest in real flesh; not in manhood deified, and made superhuman, but in actual flesh. Since this matchless truth is “without controversy,” let us not enter into any controversy about it, but let us reverently meditate upon it.

What a miracle of condescension is here, that God should manifest Himself in flesh! This is not so much a theme for the tongue or the pen, as something that is to be pondered in the heart. It needs that we sit down in quietness, and consider how He, who made us, became like us; how He, who is our God, became our Brother-man; how He, who is adored of angels, once lay in a manger; how He, who feeds all living things, hungered and was athirst; how He, who oversees all worlds as God, was, as a man, made to sleep, to suffer, and to die like ourselves.

This is a statement not easily to be believed. If He had not been beheld by many witnesses, so that men handled Him, looked upon Him, and heard Him speak, it would have been a matter not readily to be accepted that so Divine a Person should ever have been manifest in flesh. It is a wonder of condescension.



11 December 2016

“Is it not a little one?"


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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 248, "Little sins."
"That thought shall carry a desire; that desire a look; that look a touch; that touch a deed; that deed a habit; and that habit something worse, until the man, from little beginnings, shall be swamped and drowned in iniquity." 

Little things, we say, lead on to something worse. And thus it has always been. A spark is dropped by some unwary traveller amidst the dry grass of the prairie. It is but a spark; "Is it not a little one?" A child's foot may tread it out; one drop from the rain-cloud may quench it. But ah! what sets the prairie in a blaze? what bids the rolling waves of flame drive before them all the beasts of the field? what is it that consumes the forest, locking it in its fiery arms? what is it that burns down the habitation of man, or robs the reaper of his harvest? It is this solitary spark,—the one spark—the breeder of the flames. 

So is it with little sins. Keep them back Oh Satan! They be sparks, but the very fire of hell is only a growth from them. The spark is the mother of conflagration, and though it be a little one I can have nought to do with it. Satan always begins with us as he did with Achan. He showed Achan, first of all, a goodly Babylonish garment, and a wedge of gold. Achan looked at it: was it not a little thing to do,—to look? Achan touched it: was not that a little thing? How slight a sin—to touch the forbidden thing! He takes it, and carries it away to his tent, and—here is worse,— he hides it. And at length he must die for the awful crime. 

Oh! take heed of those small beginnings of sin. Beginnings of sin are like the letting out of water: first, there is an ooze; then a drip; then a slender stream; then a vein of water; and then, at last, a flood: and a rampart is swept before it, a continent is drowned. Take heed of small beginnings, for they lead to worse. 

There was never a man yet that came to the gallows but confessed that he began with small thefts;—the stealing of a book at school—the pilfering, afterwards, from his master's till leading to the joining of the gang of robbers,—the joining of the gang of robbers leading to worse crimes and, at last, the deed was done, the murder was committed, which brought him to an ignominious death. 

Little sins often act as burglars do;— burglars sometimes take with them a little child; they put the little child into a window that is too small for them to enter, and then he goes and opens the door to let in the thieves. So do little sins act. They are but little ones, but they creep in, and they open the door for great ones. A traitor inside the camp may be but a dwarf, and may go and open the gates of the city and let in a whole army. 

Dread sin; though it be never so small, dread it. You cannot see all that is in it. It is the mother of ten thousand mischiefs. The mother of mischief, they say, is as small as a midge's egg; and certainly, the smallest sin has ten thousand mischiefs sleeping within its bowels.

04 December 2016

Killing and healing


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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 teachings of nature in the Kingdom of grace, pages 223-224, Pilgrim Publications.
"Whatever God hath not planted will be rooted up."

Jesus Christ had spoken certain truths which were highly objectionable to the Pharisees. Some of His loving disciples were in great fright, and they came to Him and said, “Knowest Thou not that the Pharisees are offended?” Now our Saviour, instead of making any apology for having offended the Pharisees, took it as a matter of course, and replied in a sentence which is well worthy to be called a proverb,—“Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.”

Now we have oftentimes, as Matthew Henry very tritely remarks, a number of good and affectionate but very weak hearers. They are always afraid that we shall offend other hearers. Hence, if the truth be spoken in a plain and pointed manner, and seems to come close home to the conscience, they think that surely it ought not to have been spoken, because So-and-so, and So-and-so, and So-and-so took offence at it.

If we never offended, it would be proof positive that we did not preach the Gospel. They who can please man will find it quite another thing to have pleased God. Do you suppose that men will love those who faithfully rebuke them? If you make the sinner's heart to groan, and waken his conscience, do you think he will pay you court and thank you for it? Nay, not so; in fact, this ought to be one aim of our ministry, not to offend, but to test men and make them offended with themselves, so that their hearts may be exposed to their own inspection.

Their being offended will discover of what sort they are. A ministry that never uproots will never water; a ministry that does not pull down will never build up. He who knoweth not how to pluck up the plants which God hath not planted, scarcely understandeth how to be a worker of God in His vineyard.

Our ministry ought always to be a killing as well as a healing one,—a ministry which kills all false hopes, blights all wrong confidences, and weeds out all foolish trusts, while at the same time it trains up the feeblest shoot of real hope, and tenders comfort and encouragement even to the weakest of the sincere followers of Christ.