Archive for April, 2009


About 8% of the UK population will suffer from panic attacks in their lifetime. (source)




A friend of mine recently told me her best advice for handling a panic attack: 





When I feel one coming on I reach into my handbag for two things:  a sweet and a bible verse.



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Dan Hames tells us why here

He covers:

‘You don’t have time’,

‘You think the bible’s all about you,’ and

‘You think your bible reading is for God’s benefit.’


In this context the Bible is given to us as a gift to feast on, rather than a project to complete before judgment day.  We will find we go to it to savour and enjoy, and when we miss a day we might feel hunger pangs, but we could never feel guilt, fear, or condemnation.  In the same way that skipping breakfast is more of a missed opportunity than a morally dubious choice; not going to the scriptures for nourishment is not a matter of calling down the anger of God, but of omitting to take advantage of his good gifts to his children.



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Tim Challies has quoted a pithy saying of Ligon Duncan’s:

Hell is eternity in the presence of God without a mediator.

Heaven is eternity in the presence of God, with a mediator.

What do we reckon?

Here’s what’s great about it.  It affirms that our experience of eternity hinges on our relationship to the Mediator.  It also affirms that God is not absent from hell.  Both those things are true and worth lifting up.

But I think there are better ways of saying such things.  Here’s what’s unhelpful about it:

  1. In terms of our doctrine of God – what sense can be made of ‘God without a Mediator’?  Trinity means that mediation goes way back.  WAY back.  And WAY forwards.  1 Corinthians 8:6 – all things have always been from the Father and through the Lord Jesus.  All things.  And all things always will be.  Who is this God who is without His Mediator. I simply can’t recognize ‘God without a mediator’ as the Christian God.
  2. In terms of our christology – does this sentiment give Christ His due?It could lead people to suppose that Christ is simply the wrath-averter.  Now of course He is the wrath-averter.  And if He was only the wrath-averter we would still praise Him into eternity for it.  But He is far more than this.  He is the Mediator of all the Father’s business.  Christ does not exist for our benefit – we exist for His.  The saying above could be easily misconstrued to mean that the Mediator is extremely important for us – but not so important for God.  No.  He is essential to the divine life before we ever consider His importance for us. 
  3. In terms of Scripture – 2 Thes 1:9 “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (KJV)  There’s a translation issue about the preposition (‘apo’).  Should it be translated ‘from’ or ‘away from’?  I favour ‘from’ – ie implying that Christ is present in judgement.  This goes with Revelation 14:10 where the damned are tormented in the presence of the Lamb.  See also Rev 1:18 where Jesus is presented as the Jailor of death and hades, and Rev 6:16-17 where it’s the wrath of the Father together with the Lamb.  Jesus expressly says in John 5:22 that the Father has entrusted all judgement to Him. 

What does this mean?  It means that hell is being in the presence of God who continues to mediate His judgement through the Son.  There is no such thing as ‘God without a mediator’. 

I’ve got some more to say on this, but I’ll wait for another post… 


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Some housekeeping

First, I had my laptop stolen last month.  And on it were a few emails from blog readers kind enough to write to me.  If you’re out there, please feel free to email again, but unfortunately I don’t have your addresses.

Second, since my laptop was stolen I’ve not had google reader feeding me a thousand posts a minute.  Which has been kind of nice actually, but it’s meant that I haven’t been visiting blogs that much at all.  Sorry if you haven’t heard from me for a while.

Third, my blog roll is a gargantuan mess.  It hasn’t been updated in about 18 months.  And it has some glaring omissions like Dave K at the 48 files – one of my absolute favourites.  I will seek to rectify this soon.

Fourth, I realise my posts have been pretty negative of late.  One day critical of the macho-men, next day critical of the scholarly types.  I’m not in a particularly critical or downbeat mood – just coincidence that a couple of different things raised my hackles simultaneously. I’ll try to be more positive in future! 

As a token of this, I present to you a little video I’d like to call:

 “In your face, ping pong dude!”

from Ray Ortlund



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O thou brain — exalted, senior,
Holding forth from pulpit’s throne.
Feed us with thy academia,
Meted out in monotone.
     ‘We could never,
     ‘We could never,
     ‘Plumb such myst’ries on our own.’

Hear the classics now recited,
Tumbling from thy tutored lips.
Nooks ignored are now ignited,
By thy greek and latin quips.
     ‘O how richly
     ‘O how richly,
     ‘Wisdom from each sentence drips.’

Teach us frames to fathom glory,
Scriptures’ tale doth not agree.
Pure distil the Jesus story,
Into subtle sophistry.
     ‘All was darkness
     ‘All was darkness,
     ‘Till thou spoke and now we see.’

Pompous, ponderous, proud, pretentious,
Leaning o’er thy preacher’s perch.
Pressing out the sap that quenches,
Thirst for knowledge, Eden’s search.
     ‘Breathe thy wisdom
     ‘Breathe thy wisdom
     ‘Till inflated is thy church’

O thou noble mind pray guide us,
Through the darkness and the lies.
Warn us from thy foul deriders,
We shall fear, avoid, despise.
     ‘Raise a banner
     ‘Raise a banner
     ‘We shall chant thy tribal cries.’

How to mark our true devotion?
What could ever count as praise?
But to clone thy stale emotion,
Forced to feign thy learned ways.
     ‘Where’s my pulpit?
     ‘Where’s my pulpit?
     ‘I’ll abide there all my days.’

Marching strong into the brightness,
Resolute, we set our face.
Staunch persistence, clothed in rightness,
Rectitude, our saving grace.
     ‘Call us onward
     ‘Call us onward
     ‘Grimly to our resting place.’

Then one day in vindication,
Face to face at last we’ll see
Precious few in that location,
Gathered with thy coterie.
     ‘Now receive us
     ‘Now receive us
     ‘To thy ‘ternal library.’




I’ll confess I’m part of the problem as much as I’m part of the solution.

But part of the solution is confessing there’s a problem.


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From a random internet sermon I listened to this evening:

God does not react.  He cannot react. God is pure initiation.  He only leads.

Where has this assumption come from?  Not trinitarian reflection.

Where does it lead?  Philosophical determinism.

What would it look like to begin with the living God Who initiates and responds, Who leads and follows?


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While I’m talking about masculinity etc (here and here)…

1. Who am I head of?  Not my church.  That post is filled.  And not women in general – I trust married men react with protective outrage at the suggestion I possess some measure of headship over their wives.  I am head of my wife.  Full stop.

2. Therefore the expression of my God-given headship is not a general leadership quality but a particular loving movement towards my woman.  My masculinity is most tested by my ability to move into my wife’s world with gentleness (Col 3:19), understanding (1 Pet 3:7) and sacrifice (Eph 5:25).  (In fact GUS is the acronym I use to pray for my marriage.)  Whatever definition of a ‘real man’ that the culture or the church comes up with, if this ‘man’ is unwilling or unable deeply to touch a woman – his woman – he is not yet the man he ought to be.

3.  I’ve never heard it advocated but I wonder whether ‘headship’ has a great deal to do with prayer.  The argument goes something like this:  OT headship has deep military significance.  e.g. “The LORD thunders at the head of His army.” (Joel 2:11)  Our battles are with spiritual powers through prayer.  (Eph 6:10-20).  Therefore headship is being prayer warrior for your wife.  To see a ‘head’ at their most manly is to see him on his knees.


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