While on holiday I picked up a book which is now available as a paperback a debut work by David Lough a competent manager of other people’s money who was, through connections with a client, able to gain access to the tangled web of Winston Churchill’s personal finances.
This is a wonderful read and benefits from chapter headings which give the exchange rates and inflation multiples for the time period discussed. So you know how big an overdraft from 1910 of £5,000 is today.
In Churchill we find a heavy smoker and drinker. A writer, novelist and historian. A Cabinet Minister. All sources of very good income. He was among the 10,000 highest earners in the United Kingdom and yet one of the most indebted. I learned a lot of historical facts but I hope I also learned some spiritual truths from this work. Here are some.
Family Sins are the Hardest to Tackle
All of the Churchill’s seemed to squander their wealth. They engaged in the same fault and folly of their parents. Taking a great deal of money and wasting it. Winston will get a rebuke from his father Randolph for how he spends too much, and years later be found writing a letter to Randolph his son…rebuking him for spending too much!
In the Bible we find that Cain had pride in his own offering, just as Adam too decided that God’s commands could be reversed. Solomon and David both fell into adultery. The Kings of the Northern Kingdom were all of them idolaters. The crime syndicates of America, Italy and Russia are very much family affairs. If we are brought up to think sin is righteousness then we may pursue that sin. Consider the wonder of the Lord Jesus Christ, perfect and sinless who despite having a sinful mother and step-father, was free from sin. While sin may surround us, we are accountable for it.
Pleasures are Never Fully Satisfying
Churchill’s clothing, tobacco, alcohol and sports budgets would make many Premiership footballers blush. He spent large amounts on cigars and alcohol, often many years in arrears for payments. He spent still more at the casino. In all this, in later life, he was not reflecting on the great cigars and bottles of his younger days – but in his achievements and family. How we ought to cultivate spiritual things, and lay up treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust corrupt. Use pleasure, says Brooks, as you use medicine. Only occasionally as a help.
People Have Problems
A man born in a palace owing so much money, and losing so much money, while on the surface happily representing the needs of his constituents in parliament. Having legal wranglings with insurance companies for a very small sum of money (less than a weeks salary as a Crown Minister). All hidden from the public gaze.
Our Ministers labour in the word with diligence and a care for souls, but they often have problems too. Physical, family and perhaps even financial problems intrude upon the Manse and impact the Minister. We need to remember that Christians who maybe don’t shake our hand one Sabbath are not neccesarily being rude and indifferent, they are simply dealing with something of more pressing concern.
Churchill ended his life comfortably wealthy, how great it is to know that we who are in Christ will be able to walk into a house of many mansions, where gold is of so little value that it can be used to pave the streets. And why not, of what worth is anything compared with the worth of Christ?
A fun exercise for those who are interested in political matters is to play around with the electoral college vote of the United States for the Presidential election.
Many people are not aware that the popular vote is no more requires to win a US election than it is to win a British election. Rather, smaller areas are allocated a number of votes based on their population that they assign to the candidates. In most states the entire number is assigned to one candidate, but two states allow for a division of the electoral college vote.
The minimum number of electoral college votes is 3. One vote for each member of the Congress (House of Representatives + Senate). All states have 2 Senators, and each state then has at least 1 Congressman (member of the House of Representatives).
In 2012, Obama clearly won the Presidential election and it is unlikely therefore that Donald Trump will do worse than Mitt Romney, the Mormon who headed the Republican ticket last time, a play on the word Mormon with regards to Donald Trump tempts me but I feel obligated not to say it.
Even if Trump does pick up a few states, I suspect he will make progress in some areas, he has too far to come. His clashes with the Popular Republicanism of Jeb Bush will have weakened his ability to take Florida. He currently leads in opinion polls there by 3%. There will be a motivated population for the Democrats and a somewhat less enthused Republican voter.
If the election were held today, as a graduate of Social Sciences and a student of Politics who has had to play around with opinion polling data I believe the election would look something like this:
However, if you believe the BBC News the election will look something like this:
Recently on a Wednesday night I got a taxi from the Free Presbyterian Church after picking up some books and hoping to avoid the rain. The cab driver was an Islamist and we had a very open conversation, or at least we did for a few minutes, at which point when he realised I was prepared to answer all his critiques and knew more than a little about Islam myself he proceeded to encourage me watch a youtube video of Dr Zakir Naik interacting with a Christian lady.
Several of the arguments that were made by the Islamic speaker were of little worth other than as soundbites for the Muslim community. He mentioned for example that the Revised Standard Version was translated by the greatest scholars and their choice to ditch the word begotten in John 3:16 was proof positive that Jesus Christ did not have a Divine nature. Now, those of us who hold to the Received Text would not entertain this notion for a second.
The other argument was that if Christian meant following the example of Jesus that the Islamist made a better Christian than the so-called Christian. After all the Muslim abstains from alcohol and pork and is circumcised and so on the argument went. What a great thing to throw out to the Muslim crowds and Muslim people.
Of course, Christ turned water into wine. Irrelevant, it could have been grape juice. Well he was present at the feast where there was wine and made no criticism. Both he and his disciples were accused of drinking alcohol in excess, not merely of drinking it.
The restriction on eating pork is no more relevant today than the sacrifice of livestock. Jesus Christ has freed us from the ceremonial law and we are not to seek to be in bondage again. But here the Muslim boasts that he continues to abstain from Pork – when he tramples under foot the blood of Christ. Caring more for his “lifestyle” than for the death of the lamb of God.
Baptism of course is the sign and seal of the covenant, the means of entrance into the visible Church for those who profess faith in, and obedience to Christ, and for the children of believers.
Of course, the Muslim crowd cheer the apologist who throws them this unthinking diatribe. Where he can decide that a group of 19th century translators are somehow better than 17th, 18th or 20th century equivalents.
Islam does not possess holiness, it possesses severity. They are severe. But the Christian religion is holy. Truly holy.
Perhaps the greatest blessing of Atheist and Non-believing critique of the Holy Scriptures is that it stirs the Protestant Evangelical to go to the scriptures and to make a very powerful defence of God’s Word. The Roman Catholic need not run to the scriptures to answer atheist critique as he may rest on the authority of the Pope.
Christians though can find a great deal of blessing from dealing with “Bible Difficulties”, the Bible is to be read by individuals, families and congregations and it is a wonderful blessing to have it in our own language. I reccomend the use of the King James Version of the Bible for the beautiful prose and accuracy of language.
In the next series of Blog Posts I hope to deal with these Bible Difficulties that I have looked at and share the blessing that has come to me from studying them. Remember that God cannot lie and he has preserved his word. If we mock it or misunderstand it, further study will show us up – it will not show the Great God up. May the Lord Jesus have the Glory.
However, I will only “skim” the surface, I will not go into detail because the reader should be Blessed by looking into God’s word thesmelves. As a result I will pass over information and will offer only a partial analysis of certain problems.
We may therefore come and expect that God will honour his word.
God Unable to Overcome Iron Chariots?
In the Book of Judges and the very first chapter and the verse 19 we read
“And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”
The Difficulty: This verse would seem to indicate that the Chariots of Iron are a defence against God. Therefore, God either lacks the power to overcome man made technology or the Bible contains contradictions.
The Solution: The verse is not a critique of God. The chapter explains the failures of God’s people in their battles. All of their successes are because of God, as with the victory in the mountains, but the defeats and failures and misplaced confidence of the tribes of Israel are critcised.
The Benefits: 1) Thought of how Christ was able to overcome the cross, but was taunted as being unable to do so, just as God can drive out a chariot – so Christ did not have to be subject to a few metal nails pierced through his hands, but he was for his people’s sake.
2) The LORD (the God who keeps covenant) is mentioned here alongside his people and assosciated with them. God with us even when we stumble, not ashamed to be OUR God. Though we would provoke him to anger, yet he is longsuffering. Slow to wrath and in mercy plentious.
3) Teaches the need to read in context. Verses are best understood by the use of other verses.
Dr White makes no apologies that this a Christian book. Written for Christians to teach them how the Holy Scriptures compare with the Qu’ran and how the Christian is best to understand Qu’ranic messages particularly as they relate to Christianity.
This series of sermons by Jeremiah Burroughs show a level of competence and capability which belongs to the Puritan preachers of the 17th of century. There was a lot of happy thoughts. Of particular value is his teaching on “How Christ teaches contentment”. We do not want to focus on our learning but his teaching. The Saviour is the finest teacher and instructor. We would do well to meditate and to learn how he teaches contentment.
With my memory exercised there are a few points of particular note. One particular illustration is that a servant may be sent by his master to do a less honourable duty – but it serves him better. SO our Master may make us leave a great estate; or a mighty family or a fine occupation – to take up some other role but it is more needful and beneficial to our glorious Saviour, and that thought produces contentment! This strikes a note when I consider the great men.
We may be filled with admiration for the “contentment” of our Ministers who remained with the Continuing Free Church in 2000 and the Ministers of the Gospel who were our fathers at the Disruption of 1843. Both groups gave up a great deal of a more honourable position – but have done so for a better service to the Master.
Another point, if you are in a strange place, you do not mind that you lack the comforts of home. Home is not to be found on this earth! This is but a place of sojourning for the born again Christian.
The Banner of Truth, who are yet to cut out the AV from the Puritan reprints, is the best place to purchase this book here.
Thirdly, the biography of Frederick Douglas available for free on kindle is an interesting read and one I am thankful to have read. Despite his criticisms of the Free Church of Scotland, I warmed to Douglas as an African-American Christian and not merely a former slave. It is available for free on kindle.
Mr Hardworking vs Mr Sleep
Recently the Court of Divine Providence issued a judgement in favour of Mr Sleep against Mr Hardworking, Mr Sleep (pursuing) claimed that Mr Hardworking had on various occasions undertaken to pay Mr Sleep the sum of 6-8 hours and had been unable to do so, Mr Sleep further brought before the court evidence of his patience with Mr Hardworking and particularly that he often allowed debts to be accumulated until Friday and Saturday night before receiving payments with interest.
However, due to his younger years being past him and due to increasing church and work commitments Mr Hardworking had been unable to continue repayments. Mr Sleep had no choice but to demand an immediate reduction in Mr Hardworking’s work, prayer and social life to repay his debt. He cited statute Psalm 127:2 “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late”. The court noticed that the Lord Jesus Christ had himself commanded rest to be taken and set an excellent personal example of resting from diligent and hard labours (Luke 8:23).
The defendant pleaded that he required to reduce his sleep in order to continue in his prayer and Bible study, but no such claim could be permitted on the following grounds: 1) That he was fearfully and wonderfully made and his very nature demanded rest 2) That it denied the previous ruling of the Divine Law that there is a “A time to weep, and a time to laugh” &c. On further examination, Mr Reality testifying for the pursuer indicated that only very little of the additional time (owed to Mr Sleep) was actually devoted to the cause of prayer or study.
Mr Conscience and Mr Experience both testified against the defendant while those who appeared in his defence were barred from the courtroom, for the unclean could not enter having no mediator. Mr Hardworking himself had to confess that the evidence that Satan and his angels could offer would be in contempt of court.
Judgement therefore has been issued in favour of the claims of Mr Sleep, who must either be paid in full or Mr Hardworking will suffer a loss of productivity, prayer, study, worship, love, zeal, joy and recreation. Potential further penalties will include: increased stress, mental and physical health problems, loss of earnings, loss of employment and breakdown of family life. It was further noted that any such attempt to blame Scripture, conscience or Providence itself would result in the defendant being found guilty of contempt of court and liable to chastisement.
Mr Hardworking, receiving the judgment through his Righteous Advocate, departed from the court singing:
“I will both lay me down in peace,
and quiet sleep will take;
because thou only me to dwell
in safety, Lord, dost make” – Psalm 4:8