August 28th, 2016

the preacher of today must be apocalyptic

“Needed: A Return to Old-Time Preaching” — Vance Havner (Part 3) by David Allen on July 11, 2016 i

The preacher of today must be apocalyptic:

He ought to sound like the book of Revelation, for we are living in a grand and awful time.

I heard a radio preacher some time ago take as his text, “When these things begin to come to pass, lift up your heads for your redemption draws nigh.” And he said, “Just as the crocuses are coming up now in springtime, so a new age of brotherhood and socialism is developing through educational legislation under religious auspices-the social gospeler’s paradise. The crocuses are blooming because a new day has dawned.”

And I said, “God, have mercy on any preacher who can live in an hour like this and stand in pulpit croaking about crocuses.”

We are living in a day of beasts and seals, trumpets, four horsemen, the harlot, scorpions, and dragons. The sea of glass mingles with fire and earthquakes, falling stars Babylon, the bottomless pit, the lake of fire, Gog and Magog, the six hundred sixty-six and the downfall of the devil. The great white city is coming down. It’s not time to tiptoe through the tulips.

The wonderful thing about all this is that it’s good news to a Christian but bad news to others, and bad news can be good news. When they shall say peace and safety, that’s good news, but sudden destruction comes. But turn it around. When men’s hearts fail them for fear of war and rumors of wars, famines, pestilence and earthquakes, that’s bad news. But lift up your heads, because your redemption draws nigh.

It is just the other way around for a child of God. I’m not looking for something to happen; I’m looking for someone to come. I’m not waiting for the abolition of war and poverty and urban renewal; I’m living in the Great Until.

The next time someone asks you what time it is, tell him it’s “until.” He that hath begun a good work will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. I’m waiting until he that hindereth be taken out of the way. I’m judging nothing before the time until Jesus comes. I’m waiting until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, until he puts all things under his feet, until he subdues all things unto himself. I want to be sincere and without offense until the day of Jesus Christ. I want to hold fast to what I have until he comes. At the Lord ’s Table I show forth his death until he comes. He said occupy until he comes. I’m waiting until all his enemies be made his footstool. I’m living in the Great Until.

In Georgia, some time ago, after I preached along this line a dear brother wrote me a letter. Instead of closing “Sincerely” or “Yours truly,” he simply closed “Until.” That’s a good way to do it.

On the tombstone of A. J. Gordon are these words: “Until He Come.”

A few years ago the dearest person I’ve ever known, the sweet little lady who for thirty-three years went with me all over America, went to heaven. I’m the loneliest preacher in the world today. She died at 3:15 on Sunday morning; I preached at eleven. I said that I haven’t lost her because I know where she is. She’s not left me; she’s just preceded me and I’ll catch up with her shortly.

“Death can hide but not divide; she’s but on Christ’s other side. She is with Christ and Christ with me; united still in Christ are we.” After all, an old septuagenarian like myself doesn’t need to hang his harp on the willows, because I’ll soon be there.

She heard me preach on the living in the Great Until, and the last thing she scribbled on a pad because she couldn’t speak was, “There’s so much to endure that I can’t tell you about until…” But I have an idea that when we meet again, she’ll not tell me. Because it’ll all be forgotten in the glory of his presence. After all, boot camp is about over for me, and my internship is just about ended, and I’m ready for the next chapter when his servant shall serve him there.

How will His enemies be made His footstool? By social action? No. When you’re up to your ears in crocodiles it’s not time to discuss how to drain the swamp. We’ve got crocodiles. When he comes again, he’s not coming to hold a summit conference with his enemies. He’s not coming to reconcile. He did that the first time. He’s coming to destroy and conquer and subdue. The day of reconciliation will be over and the day of retribution will begin.

I’m not looking for signs; I’ve seen plenty. I’m listening for a shout. When you hear some scoffer say there are no signs of his coming, you’ve just seen another sign.

When I was a boy, I used to read novels, and always read the last page first, wanting to see how it turned out. Then I’d start at the beginning, and sometimes my hero might be up to his ears in trouble, but I’d whisper, “That’s all right. I’ve known the end from the beginning and you’re coming out all right.”

I’ve got a bible that reads along about the middle like the devil has it made, “truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne.” But no matter how the devil struts across the page, I say, “Your goose is cooked from the start.” I’ve got a Bible with no devil on the first two pages and no devil on the last two pages. That’s because Jesus is the Alpha and Omega.

The only kind of preaching that will change men’s lives is the message of Christ crucified, buried, resurrected, ascended and coming again – preached by men who are anointed, authoritative and apocalyptic – men listening for a shout.
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Jesus is the eschatological priest of the new age

It is 12:21 PM Sunday afternoon here by Lake Michigan. It has been a normal day thus far for me.

I got up this morning around 6:15 AM. I got up made a pot of coffee and then messed with our main computer. After messing with our main computer I wrote in my paper diary. After writing in my paper diary I read from these two books thorough the morning hours-

"God has Spoken in his Son: a biblical theology of Hebrews" by Peter T. O'Brien

"The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance" by Thomas R. Schreiner & Ardel B. Caneday

Carol did not get home from work till 10 o'clock AM because she went downtown to Reader's World Bookstore to buy some more Sunday newspapers and to buy Children's books.

There is not much else to write this afternoon. I plan to drift through the day. I am tired as usual. I had all night spiritual dreams. I have these dreams where I am preaching so emotional that I lose my voice. In the dream as I am preaching the glories of the Gospel I become unable to speak/I am gasping for breath so as to speak words. I am so emotional that I am unable to speak/make myself heard/gasping for air.

Carol is off tonight from work. She said she plans to go to Covenant PCA tonight.

Well since I am falling asleep I will close. Last night I mainly read till bedtime the novel, "Pinkerton's Sister" by Peter Rushforth. I did make a video for my BookTube channel last night.

"[14] For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
[15] Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
[16] That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
[17] That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
[18] May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
[19] And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
[20] Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
[21] Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21
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Pinkerton's Sister By Peter Rushforth a book review

It is 7 o'clock PM Sunday night. I have been reading all afternoon and into the evening hours the novel "Pinkerton's Sister" by Peter Rushforth. I found this review of this novel that I thought was right on.

Pinkerton's Sister By Peter Rushforth a book review

The best books are secrets, whispering their disclosures to one reader at a time, and for many readers, Peter Rushforth's "Kindergarten" is a treasured secret indeed. Published in 1979, the novel continues to cast an unforgettable shadow, and like most cherished novels, it's a strange one: Two young English brothers, on the anniversary of their mother's death in an airport explosion, uncover some insurmountable truths of the Holocaust while celebrating German Christmas with an old woman, herself a survivor, who once illustrated the most sinister stories of the Brothers Grimm, and all the while a terrorist situation with child hostages plays out on TV.

The bitter lessons of fairy tales, the transformative power of art, the timely and timeless rattle of skeletons in the closet and the mercurial and unchanging history of cruelty: It's a heap of material, but what might be overambitious in another novel seems quite modest in Rushforth's quiet, unrushed hands.

"Kindergarten" has been called a perfect novel, which is something to argue over at cocktail time, but certainly it's perfectly made: The mysterious jigsaw fit of the novel's themes and concerns show a workmanship one thought you couldn't get anymore, like handmade lace or real absinthe. "Kindergarten's" shadowy appeal -- all the spookier these days, when a schoolroom terrorist scenario isn't nearly as imaginary -- was made all the more alluring by the fact that the author was something of a shadow himself. Despite the critical acclaim the novel garnered, the author produced nothing else. By the time someone passed me the book in the early '90s, Rushforth had become a mini-cult version of Salinger: an esteemed writer who, for one reason or another, was not going to give us anything more.

Until now.

Resurfacing after a 26-year gap, Rushforth gives us "Pinkerton's Sister," a novel so long awaited that most readers stopped awaiting. Immense and zigzaggy where "Kindergarten" was compact and stark, in many ways this new book is the opposite of its predecessor. But it is also, finally, exactly the same. A puzzle of a book, "Pinkerton's Sister" offers an array of secrets that rattle the reader long after the book is back on the shelf.

The heroine, however, is the most rattled of readers. It's the dawn of the 20th century in New York City, and Alice Pinkerton has decided to celebrate the way she has her entire life: by staying in her room and reading. Known in the neighborhood as "the madwoman in the attic," Alice defends herself by inscribing a world concocted out of literary trickery; while modernity looms outside, Alice keeps the fading centuries alive through eternal and internal cross-reference, knocking reference against memory and, dimly, the touchstones of her present life.

The novel is a quilt of puns and quotes, exclamations and parentheticals, references and memories, all laid out according to the mental schemata of a woman whose turbulent past and meditative present remind her of, well, everything. It might be best to let Alice explain it herself:

"It was time to wander about the house, ignite a few bed-curtains, rend a few wedding-veils, that sort of thing. Another busy day in the life of a madwoman. [...] What wond'rous Life is this I lead/ Ripe Apples drop about my head;/ The Luscious Clusters of the Vine/ Upon my Mouth do crush their Wine. .. . She might even manage an enthusiastic demoniac laugh as she staggered berserkly about, though it would be wasted in the absence of visitors. If she had never started the attempts at finding some sort of 'cure' for herself (she heard the quotation marks click cozily into place around 'cure' like comforting hands patting shoulders) -- Dr. Severence of Staten Island, Dr. Wolcott Ascharm Webster (above all, Dr. Wolcott Ascharm Webster) -- perhaps she would not have been thought of (by some people) as being a madwoman. She was surely well within the permitted range of strangeness, particularly when she paused to compare herself with some of the people she knew, the acquaintances around her, the neighbors? (The word 'neighbors' had something folksy and apple-pie about it that was at odds with the reality.) [...] She could never lapse into broken inertia, as Laudy Audley had done at the end of the novel, as she looked around the suite of apartments that was to be hers for the rest of her life in the private lunatic asylum, dreary in the wan light of a single wax candle. She really ought to have a candle in her hand as she went downstairs, to continue the Lady Macbeth motif that had come into her mind earlier."

It's a mash-up of literary contrivances: the sarcastic use of an Andrew Marvell poem to indicate her own despair, the self-conscious punctuation in an internal monologue, the mention of some apparently real doctors with suspiciously odd, literary names, a tribute of a heroine of a popular 19th century novel, a Shakespeare reference and all those parenthetical accentuations and softenings, the linguistic digressions, that make Alice's connections between what she reads and what she lives all the more tenuous.

It is astonishing how such a little passage can go such a long way, but it must be said that many readers may find, also, that a little of this kind of passage goes a long way. "Pinkerton's Sister" is 729 pages long, each of those pages as wondrously unsettling as the next, and over the course of the book, one can't help asking if Rushforth, like his heroine, is laying out a path few can follow.

I started this book with pen in hand, mapping references on a piece of paper; I stopped when I found myself wondering if "E-I-E-I-O" counted as a quotation. This book is best if you surrender. Then, over the hum of Alice's card catalog, a slow, narrative arc emerges, one of family scandal and cold, male cruelty. Her actual freedom constrained by the tenets of the time, Alice -- whose birth, she is quick to remind us, coincides with the first publication of "Little Women" -- could only find a safe place for herself within the confines of the written word. Now, as New York City expands, people are beginning "to live in places that were not yet on the map, did not really exist."

Alice's whole life has driven her into imagination; with imagination proclaiming itself as a new frontier, she might find liberation if only she could get up the nerve to leave the house. It's a gorgeous conundrum, the result of a lifetime of close reading -- and some 25 years of close writing. Such a maddening situation as Alice's can only be conveyed through a maddening book, but a maddening book, like a maddening woman, may be mistaken for mad.

Alice's sensibilities have isolated her from the 20th century; in the 21st century, a book so stuffed with well-aged ephemera -- Show of hands: Who's read "Lady Audley's Secret"? -- may isolate itself from readers, even those who've been waiting since "Kindergarten." This would be a shame. After 26 years in the wilderness, I'd hate to see Peter Rushforth locked up in the attic
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