Monday, November 30, 2009

SHORT STORIES

The westerly breeze seemed to bring wave after wave of darkness over a land wearied with the day. With relentless onslaught the shadows beat back the forces of light till every knoll and hollow was engulfed with the murky ignorance of darkness.

The moon was new. She had yet to realize her full potential as queen of the night sky. However, the stars beckoned each to his neighbour like angels.

Rising from the earth, like a citadel sacked by infidel was a fortress of stone. This bastion once commanded the respect of the village below. Tonight it seemed prostrate before the enemy of day as it poured through its arched window.

Resembling a network of sinews and veins there wandered sap-sucking ivy over the walls of this remnant of an age of fast horses and fair maidens. The roof of the structure had since caved in. However, its foundations had been set deep. Beneath ground level, though dank and musty, was a functional dungeon that had shackled and contained the spirit of youthful immortality. Children from the village believed the “Grim Reaper” has set up his office within these walls.

Perhaps it was the reflection of street lamps from the village below, but there seemed to emanate from the grey brick an ethereal glow. Viewed from the village the castle poked its head and shoulders heavenward through ever-encroaching trees and undergrowth. This produced a picture of surrealism.

By this time the stars in the heavens above were busy shining down through the interior of this roofless building, blinking furiously as if trying to attract the attention of the two sets of eyes staring their way. A pair of darkly clad figures sat with their backs against the cold castle wall gazing beyond the stars... (Excerpted from Castle Cranium.)

If you would like to read the rest of this short story of mine or read some of my other short stories, such as: The Day We Went To Rothesay, O - The Fall of Tullichewan Castle - 'Up the Hill' at Tullichewan - The Love Tree - Postman's Knock - The Ghost Writer, then go to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/THISTLES-GUM-TREES-ebook/dp/B0078H2GG4/ref=la_B006NTVAWY_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1349040917&sr=1-12

Some are true and some are fiction, and some are a mixture of both. Most are set in Scotland, but Postman's Knock and The Ghost Writer are set in Australia.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

DOES GOD HAVE BUTTER FINGERS?

Christians believe that the God who made us is the God who also saves us.

Others say that:

a) We don't need to be saved (and they place posters on the sides of buses telling you not to worry about it!)

b) We save ourselves (by doing whatever they themselves deem to be good things).

c) We cooperate with God (which is to say that God does His bit and we need to do ours).

John Bevere in his book Driven by Eternity teaches that saved people are able to un-save themselves! I wrote a response to Bevere's allegation that God has butter-fingers!

The following are my concluding remarks:

Conclusion
There are many gold nuggets in Driven by Eternity, but it is such a pity that the reader has to crawl around in the decayed and dangerous mineshafts of Dispensationalism and Arminianism to find them! Bevere’s challenge for Christians to live godly lives by keeping God’s Commandments is heartening. His exhortation to do so in order to secure a good seat in eternity is not – although we thank him for the timely reminder that as Christians we ought to be thinking in terms of eternity. However, as Christians we ought to serve the Lord out of love and gratitude for the salvation He has purchased for us on Calvary’s cross. We ought never to presume upon His grace as we strive to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength, and all our mind, and love our neighbour as ourself.

It was a delight to read in Driven by Eternity of a Heaven that is a real and solid place for real and solid (saved) human beings. And it was good to read about the real and solid New Earth to which the real and solid New Jerusalem descends. Yes, there are some aspects even of these things where we’d beg to differ with Bevere on the basis of Scripture. For example, Bevere speaks of a resurrected Christ who walks through solid walls. However, this is nowhere taught in Scripture. Indeed great care needs to be taken here not to confuse the two natures of Christ and have the divine nature absorb the human nature of Christ even for a moment.

Bevere then ascribes the same divine attributes to resurrected Christians in order for them to do likewise regarding solid objects and also to traverse vast distances at the speed of light by their own power. This is to distort the true nature of man even in his glorified state. To be sure, the resurrected saint will have immortal and incorruptible qualities, but as God always remains God so man will always remain man.

Chapters 17 and 18 of the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), to which the aforementioned Jonathan Edwards, John Bunyan, and John Newton were able to subscribe, distils what the Scriptures have to say about the perseverance of the saints and their assurance of grace and salvation. It would be a fitting conclusion to this book review, and is worthwhile reading in order to reassure and strengthen the true Christian:
Chapter XVII: Of the Perseverance of the Saints
I. They, whom God has accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.
II. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace: from all which arises also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
III. Nevertheless, they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; and, for a time, continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve His Holy Spirit, come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.

Chapter XVIII: Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation
I. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God, and estate of salvation; which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God; which hope shall never make them ashamed.
II. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God: which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.
III. This infallible assurance does not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be partaker of it: yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto. And therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure; that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance: so far is it from inclining men to looseness.
IV. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the light of His countenance, and suffering even such as fear Him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived; and by the which, in the mean time, they are supported from utter despair.

Friday, November 20, 2009

ARE ALL WHO DIE IN INFANCY SAVED?

(Photo by Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh: http://homepage.mac.com/macfhionn/

This subject is one that needs further development.

I have made a stab at developing the Doctrine of Infant Salvation. My e-book on the subject can be found at:

http://web.me.com/macfhionn/Infancy/CONTENTS.html

The following is the Introduction to my "Are All Who Die In Infancy Saved?

The issue of what happens to those who die in infancy can be emotional. Dealing with infants can be like dealing with fire or sticks of dynamite; all ought to be handled with tenderness and the utmost of care. A verse of the Scottish poet, and anti-Calvinist, Robert Burns’ satirical poem about a so-called Calvinist he calls Holy Willie quickly springs to mind and strikes a piercing but painful note in the ears and hearts of those born of the Spirit. The poem is called Holy Willie’s Prayer:

When frae my mither’s womb I fell,
Thou might hae plungèd me in hell,
To gnash my gums, to weep and wail,
In burnin’ lakes,
Where damnèd devils roar and yell,
Chain’d to their stakes…

Do Calvinists really believe that any dying infants go to Hell? Surely all Christians who have suffered the loss of an infant or a little child believe that the Bible gives ample comfort that they will see them again in glory. The 1619 Canons of Dort in Article 1:17 sums up what Calvinists believe regarding their own children who die infancy:

Since we are to judge the will of God from His Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they together with the parents are comprehended, godly parents have no reason to doubt of the election and salvation of their children whom it pleaseth God to call out of this life in their infancy.

Holy Willie is William Fisher (1737-1809). He was an elder in the Mauchline Kirk Session. His body lies buried in Ochiltree cemetery. Therefore he was not just some windmill in Burn’s mind that he tilted at because of what he perceived to be Fisher’s hypocrisy. It would seem (at least according to the words Burns put in his mouth) that Fisher disagreed with Article 1:17 quoted above.

Fisher is not alone, for some still hold that there have been infants who have died and gone to Hell. Not only that, they add contempt to their objection to the Calvinist view, by alleging that it promotes infanticide! Their reasoning is that it promotes the idea that parents can ensure their children’s election and salvation simply by murdering them or having someone else do it! But, if Article 1:17 of the Canons of Dort is a true statement of Scriptural doctrine, then those who object to it stand in danger of accusing God of promoting the murder of infants, including abortion!

The onus of proof on those who believe that there have been any who have died in infancy and gone to Hell, is to demonstrate their doctrine from Scripture. But know that no Reformed Confession states this contrary position. Even though it is the sovereign Almighty God who holds our breath in His hand, even though it is He who gives us length of days, all murderers, including all abortionists, are held accountable to God for their actions. Hell is a real place awaiting such unrepentant sinners.

We believe therefore that Christians whose children die in infancy have no reason to doubt that their children are with the Lord awaiting them. But does the Bible provide any hope for infants dying outside of the covenant community of God? We believe that the Bible gives probable hope that all who die in infancy are saved, and if so, are saved by the grace of God alone.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

TAKE ME BACK (TO THE VALE OF LEVEN)

(Words & Music & Performed by Neil Cullan McKinlay - Filmed by Nina)
Take me back to the Vale of Leven
I've seen the world, I've had my fill.
Take me back to the Vale of Leven,
That lays beneath that slumbering hill.
Blackbird's on the telegraph pole,
He's singing songs of love,
Songs that elevate the soul.
Tunes from up above.
My mother's in the kitchen cooking,
She's singing harmony.
The music drifts across the miles to me.

Take me back, to the Vale of Leven
I've seen the world, I've had my fill.
Take me back to the Vale of Leven,
And lay me 'neath that slumbering hill.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ISLAM OR CHRISTIANITY?

I'd like to mention in brief some of the main differences between Islam and Christianity:

1. The God of Islam is Allah. Allah is monotheistic. The God of Christianity is also monotheistic, but unlike the God of Islam, the God of Christianity is the Triune Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God therefore is three Persons yet one God.

2. The prophet of Islam is Mohammed. The Prophet of Christianity is Jesus Christ. Jesus is also Christianity's Priest and King.

3. According to Islam Jesus is a prophet. According to Christianity Jesus is God. He is the Middle Person in the Triune Godhead. Jesus is the Word who became flesh, who is like us in every way apart from sin.

4. According to Islam a person pleases Allah by doing his will, by keeping Shariah law. According to Christianty a person gets right with God through Jesus Christ's perfect keeping of God's Law, which righteousness is imputed to believers. Which is to say that we are condemned because we break God's Ten Commandments, but "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

See the following links for more information about Islam:

http://nordskogpublishing.com/publisherscorner/2009/11/islams-world-peace-now-or-later.html

See the following for more information on "Fort Hood & the Separation of Mosque & State:

http://nordskogpublishing.com/publisherscorner/2009/11/fort-hood-separation-of-mosque-and.html

Sunday, November 15, 2009

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

It would seem that the Secular Humanistic (read anti-Christian) Political Correctness Movement’s fifteen minutes of fame is just about over. And we all sigh, “And not a moment too soon!”

Personally I have yet to meet anyone who was happy with the PC drivel we’ve had rammed down our throats for who knows how long now – and believe it or not, I mingle among some non- Christian people!

PC kills free speech. This really became clearly apparent when a Muslim Terrorist shot over forty people at an American Army Base in Texas. The ultra-liberal mass media in America couldn’t bring itself to report 1) That the man was Muslim. 2) That the Muslim Terrorist allegedly yelled “Allahu Akhbar” as he shot innocent people killing fourteen (one of the women was pregnant).

It was left to the more conservative aspect the American news media to deal honestly with this whole issue. Our sympathies lie with the injured and those who lost loved ones.

“Allahu Akbar” does not mean “God is the greatest”, rather it means “Allah is the greatest.” Please don’t ever confuse Allah with the Triune God of Christianity. I’m sure all of Islam including non-terrorist, ie, peace-loving Muslims, will attest to this truth!

As much as Nativity scenes in schools and public places over Christmas-time seem like so much “trinkets and baubles” to me, I say bring it all back! Let the parents and kids rejoice in the birth of Christ again in public expression – FREE expression! FREE SPEECH!

For a humorous but serious song about the meaning of Christmas in a world imprisoned by Political Correctness see:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAckfn8yiAQ

Thursday, November 12, 2009

LITTLE GREEN MEN

I see that the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding a conference on alien life - astrobiology.

I ask: Would the discovery of biological life somewhere "out there" sound the death-knell for Christianity? Or, to put it another way, would biological life on other planets be evidence, nay, let's put more strongly, would it prove biological evolution?

Romanism wavers (havers?), equivocating somewhat on biological evolution:

"Concerning biological evolution, the [Roman] Church does not have an official position on whether various life forms developed over the course of time. However, it says that, if they did develop, then they did so under the impetus and guidance of God, and their ultimate creation must be ascribed to him." http://www.catholic.com/library/Adam_Eve_and_Evolution.asp

Two bob each way!

For argument's sake, let's say some strange critters were discovered slithering, or swimming, or hopping, or climbing, (or whatever alien critters do), around somewhere in a galaxy far, far away, then what would this be evidence of? Does it prove anything?

Presupposition: Biological life on earth evolved out of slime... Hold it! What's the presupposition? It's that IF biological life evolved out of slime on earth, THEN it could happen elswhere in the universe. You see, as part of this worldview all that is needed for this to happen are the right conditions.

Think about the above paragraph. There's a whole lot of presupposing going on, is there not?

Please notice that biological life on earth does not prove anything. And neither would the discovery of biological life outside the planet earth prove a thing! All that would happen is that the ears of your presuppositions would be tickled. In other words, it's all in the mind!

Did God create other planets, perhaps similar to this one? Did God create biological life on other planets? Well, why don't we keep on firing our wee probes and rockets into space and keep on looking. But don't tell me that anything we find "out there" is going to prove that biological life grew out of pond scum, or that man evolved from molecules...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

REMEMBRANCE DAY

Today alone at 11oo I gave thanks to God for those who laid down their lives in the defence of the freedoms we enjoy in the Western nations.

Wherever evil raises its vile and ugly head, those who truly love peace are compelled by God to seek to cut it off, as it was in the Great War, as it was in WWII, as it is in all the wars against freedom and justice, ie, against the Judeo-Christian Ethic, including that waged in Afghanistan today by the Taliban.

Thank you to all who serve in the defence of Western freedom, especially the Australian Defence Force, the Canadian Defence Force, the British Army, and the American Armed Forces.

May the Prince of Peace soon fully bring to pass His promise:

"Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.'
For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." Isiah 2:2-4.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I MISS YOU LOCH LOMOND

(Words, Music, & Performed by Neil Cullan McKinlay - Filmed by Nina)


It's been a while, but I still mind

Fond memories bring me joy!

For on your banks I was inclined

To wander as a boy

Skiffing stones the whole day through

Or just gazing at your islands

Panoramic is the view

The gateway to the Highlands.

(Chorus)

Your clear sparkling water

Fills my heart with pride

While the braes of Ben Lomond

Stand guard by your side

I always will love you

Though I'm far from your shore

I miss you Loch Lomond

I'll see you once more

(2nd Verse)

Fish without fins, waves without winds

There's a floating island too

Bracken brown, ferny green

Purple heather hue

Do greylag geese still make their home

Round by Drumkinnon Bay?

Wild Capercaillie's echo fades

As I grow old and grey

(Chorus)

THE SCAPEGOAT

If you had a scapegoat to call on every time you were accused of some wrongdoing, you would have a blame-free life, a quiet conscience, and peace of mind. For the scapegoat would bear your blame for you.

We see a scapegoat in action regarding the people of God in Old Testament times. The LORD gave Moses’ brother Aaron, who was a priest, a very important job to perform once a year. “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.” Leviticus 16:21&22.

The scapegoat was one of two goats for which lots were cast. The other was to be sacrificed to the LORD as a sin-offering for the people. The two goats were intended to clearly picture the promised Saviour. Thus both goats symbolize Jesus Christ and the work He was to do. The usual practice is to focus on the sacrificed goat as it clearly speaks of Christ’s substitutionary sacrificial death on the cross. But what about the scapegoat?

John the Baptiser was baptising in the wilderness. “Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptised by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.” Mark 1:5. When Jesus arrived John said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29b. Thus the people were confessing their sins when Jesus arrived to take away the sin of the world.

Water Baptism pictures our being cleansed of our sins from heaven above by the poured out Spirit who applies to us the poured out blood of Christ. (Titus 3:5b&6; Heb. 10:22; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 1:5) The sin-muddied waters of those who had confessed their sins were applied by the hands of John the Baptiser to the head of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. For, “When all the people were baptised, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptised, and the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.’” Luke 3:21&22. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be [a sin-offering] for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor. 5:21. “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1. Thus Christ fulfils the Old Testament role of scapegoat.

In the wilderness the ‘tempter’ wanted the Scapegoat to bypass His other role as the sacrificial Lamb. He tried to tempt Jesus by reminding Him that Jesus could even change stones into bread if He wanted, and that the angels were under Christ’s command. Therefore why go to through the agony of the cross? Satan even offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, should He fall down and worship the devil rather than go to the cross for them. But, unlike the first Adam who sided with the devil, the replacement Adam, the last Adam resisted the devil to the praise of His glory.

Satan accuses, but the Holy Spirit convicts. Dear reader, if you feel convicted of your sins, call on Christ the Scapegoat today. For, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.

Excerpted from my ebook
: Disembark the Ark & Other Contemplations - http://www.amazon.com/DISEMBARK-OTHER-CONTEMPLATIONS-Cullan-McKinlay-ebook/dp/B006WTDLRC/ref=la_B006NTVAWY_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391328036&sr=1-2

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Second Use of the Law


I just finished reading Ray Comfort's book The Way of the Master. I recommend this particular book of Comfort! See also: http://www.wayofthemaster.com/index.shtml

Ray Comfort, with helpful comments by Kirk Cameron, takes head on the "Easy Believism" movement that has been distorting the Gospel. (See my own book review of John Bevere's Driven By Eternity for related subject matter): http://web.mac.com/macfhionn/More_Snow_on_the_Ben/Driven_by_Eternity.html

Comfort and Cameron want Christians to use God's Law - properly. No more of the "Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life..." stuff. No! Though they don't state it as such, it's back to the Biblically Reformed "use of the Ten Commandments to convict the sinner of his sins before you show him the grace of God!"
The Way of the Master is very helpful in showing the reader how easy it is to use the Law in this convicting endeavour. "Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever looked lustfully at a woman? Have you ever stole?" etc. etc. The person you are talking to will inevitably admit to these sins. Then comes the mention of Hell as God's just punishment. Only after this comes Substitutionary Atonement whereby Christ pays what you owe God.

Of course if you read the book you'll see that Comfort and Cameron do a far better job than I'm doing here to help get the Church back on track with the Gospel.

Indirectly, one is reminded of Reformed Christianity's threefold use of the Law as stated by Louis Berkhof 1873-1957. (In their book Comfort and Cameron are concerned only with the 2nd use of Law stated in the following):

"1. A usus politicus or civilus. The Law serves the purpose of restraining sin and promoting righteousness. Considered from this point of view, the Law presupposes sin and is necessary on account of sin. It serves the purpose of God's common grace in the world at large. This means that from this point of view it cannot be regarded as a means of grace in the techinical sense of the word.

2. A usus elenchticus or pedagogicus. In this capacity the Law serves the purpose of bringing the man under conviction of sin, and of making him conscious of his inability to met the demands of the Law. In that way the Law becomes his tutor to lead him unto Christ, and thus becomes subservient to God's gracious purpose of redemption.

3. A usus didacticus or normativus. This is the so-called tertius usus legis, the third use of the law. The Law is a rule of life for believers, reminding them of their duties and leading them in the way of life and salvation. This third use of the Law is denied by Antinomians."

It's my prayer that in all the good work that Comfort and Cameron are doing they won't forget to also tell people the 1st and 3rd uses of God's Law! Well done guys!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

DAYLIGHT ROBBERY REVISITED

(Photos by Neil Cullan McKinlay)
A while back I blogged about a major telephone company in Australia wanting to charge its customers $2.50 just for paying their bill! Well, I'm pleased to announce that Telstra (Australia) has scrapped that as a bad idea.

Has this company of robbers seen the light? Has it had a road to Damascus conversion? Has it clothed itself in sackloth, dust and ashes? Has it repented of its breaking of the 8th Commandment (the one about not stealing)? Well, er, no! From what I can determine it has no moral conscience whatsoever. It was merely charging its customers $2.50 in order to try to dissuade them paying their debts in cold, hard, jingling cash. See, Telstra simply wants its customers to go electronic!

Poor old granny and grandad!

"Granny, Telstra wants ye tae pay yer bills oan-line?"

"Eh? Whit's a' this aboot bills oan the washin' line?"