A fictionalized memoir which has humour to it, but also attempts to break down exactly what the unspoken realities of PB doctrine and practice were and ended up meaning to those of us raised under them:
Lulu.com – All boys from 10 to 54 who like long, gloomy church stories packed with melancholy introspection and soul-shattering
morbidity will want to read every one of the Wikkid People church adventure books. Son of a disgraced Plymouth Brethren preacher man, Peter Grey is drowning in bitter disillusionment as he discovers that almost everything he’s been told to do and believe in is either breathtakingly ill advised or else simply wrong. When his questions no longer match everyone else’s favourite answers, he is ostracized. Failing at romance, his solution is to dig the deepest hole he can, climb into it and stay there, basking in self-loathing. Read these thrilling books after school hours and during vacations to experience unprecedented depths of unadulterated angst and unrelieved ennui.
Here is a sneak preview:
Peter lived with the sort of family that goes to church five times a week, doesn’t allow television or any books with ghosts, monsters or magic in them, and never goes to the movies. In Peter’s house there was no smoking or swearing of any kind. Loud talking or laughing were frowned upon. (Literally.)
There was no entertainment, wine, dancing or celebration either, nor the music that would have gone along with those. There wasn’t even any Christmas or Halloween. These holidays celebrated the devil, and why would anyone want to do that?
There was a long wooden paddle with bible verses written on it that Peter’s father had made to hit him on the hand with when he felt Peter needed to learn a lesson, or when Peter didn’t agree with things or wanted to argue.
When he’d been small, his father had always used to hit Peter on the palm of the hand with his own heavy, callused, brown hand, but when Peter had flinched away from his father as he’d been stepping over Peter to get past, this had upset Barry Grey deeply. Barry had decided Peter needed to know that he would never get hit, unless it was with that wooden paddle with the bible verses written on it. So he’d made it, as Peter watched. He was very careful as he sanded it, and as he took a large black magic marker and wrote the bible verses on it which explained why he had to hit Peter with it.
In Peter’s house, when someone wasn’t getting hit with the Paddle, there wasn’t usually any touching of any kind going on. When the children had got too heavy and large to comfortably sit on their parents’ laps, the hugs and pats had stopped. Only the paddling remained. Like in fairy tales, affection,-if it was shown at all-was shown by giving you food, rather than by touching.
Peter got paddled a lot. Peter argued about the things he wasn’t supposed to do, instead of just going and doing them anyway without saying anything, like his younger sister Beth tended to do. He was confused by the fact that arguing made his father more angry than defiance, sneaking or lying would have. It was like his father almost expected Peter to try to sneak or lie when he was wanting to do something there was a rule against, and didn’t like Peter arguing instead of just doing it. Other people’s kids just did things. “Stop being a Philadelphia lawyer!” Peter’s father would howl at him.
So Peter was odd. If he couldn’t argue his way to freedom, he didn’t normally help himself to any. This meant there was very little freedom to be had.
Usually Peter’s dad hit his hand with the Paddle only about ten times. Some kids had parents who hit them a lot more than that and with belts and breadboards, paint stir sticks and even wire whisks. Some of the other church families had had close calls with the Children’s Aid Society. When Peter’s father punished him, it did not leave a mark on Peter’s hand, once the redness and heat had left it. This was, Peter’s father felt, the right way to do things.
When hitting Peter, his father always said he wasn’t angry, but usually Peter could tell that he really was. Especially if Peter was being hit for arguing. More than that, Peter could tell that his father was terrified he was losing control of his children. Peter’s father felt that if he were unable to control his family, if his children did anything he felt church children ought not to do, he would then have to stop doing his work at the church. And all Peter’s father ever did was work. He worked as a gym teacher in a school, he worked outside at home, and he worked at the church. If he went to visit a relative, it was often either to fix something, or to borrow a tool to use in fixing something.
Peter’s earthly father hitting him with the wooden bible verses did not really teach Peter to love the bible or God his Heavenly Father much. But he definitely took both of them very seriously. They were facts of life, like dogs that bit and bees that stung. And God had made things like dogs and bees and cancer and deadly nightshade, on purpose, and people’s ability to feel pain as well.
He’d not, apparently, intended for them to die, though. Not at first. Nowadays, however, it was part of His Plan. He needed it. Peter had taken this in at church from a young age. God used pain and death to make us good and get us to heaven. He’d even used them with His own son. Pain and death were the main part of how God worked.
Peter’s father told him how, just as he punished Peter because he loved him, God punished everyone because He loved them too. Only God was angry when He punished people. He made no attempt to hide this. And His anger was so divine that it had a special 17th century word to describe it: wrath.
The church folk sang about God’s judgment pouring out in “billows,” like tsunami waves. Peter wondered if they knew what they were singing. They didn’t seem to be paying any attention. Why were they singing about God being angry? When people lost their tempers, this was embarrassing, so you waited until they were done embarrassing themselves, and you never mentioned it to them again. And they also pretended that it hadn’t happened. How rude to draw attention to God’s uncontrolled outbursts!
But Peter got hit with the Paddle often, and it was always either because his sister had provoked him so he’d lose his temper and get into trouble (her favourite game), or it was about him arguing about all the rules (which his father hated above all things).
And the rules weren’t to be called rules. They weren’t to be examined or discussed because of course they were just right. They were necessary. It was the kind of house where you just had to know things were bad and the less said about them, the better. It was like the Emperor and his new clothes. If you couldn’t see something was bad, you clearly weren’t as wise as everyone else.
Sin, Self, This World
and The Old Nature
“Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, and again I say rejoice.” Phil 4:4.
One is shocked and dismayed that we hear so much nowadays of “stress,” of “depression.” What Christian, in meek, faithful service to and time spent low at the feet of his Blessed Saviour has the time to waste in complaining of these self-focused, fleshly weaknesses? Who can be discouraged who has Christ?!
If delighting in prayer, and time spent over the Word with other believers of like precious faith is not something we, as Christians, are rejoicing in regularly, then we are hardly worthy of the blessed title of Christian at all and should ask ourselves if we truly are redeemed sinners, saved by the freely given, unearned grace of God which we have chosen. If we have not joy, we have not Christ. May this be a solemn exercise to every one of us.
It is very fashionable in today’s world, so antagonistic to our Lord and His things, to speak of these kinds of melancholy emotional self-indulgences as if they were something that a hapless person might simply contract, like a case of the flu, or the common cold. How contrary to the clear teaching of the precious, divinely inspired Word of God!
God in His infinite wisdom has ensured that, clearly laid out for our learning in the pages of the precious scriptures, is a formula for joy itself. If we have no Christian joy, we are not obedient to the Word. If we are discouraged, this is clear evidence that we have turned our faces away from Him. Surely time spent in considering this blessed little formula puts paid to any complaints of “stress” or “depression”! We do not serve a saviour who walked this earth “feeling a bit blue.” We serve a glorious, rejoicing Christ who delighted in bringing the good news of God’s salvation to all true Christians. How blessed!
The formula for joy, seen all throughout scripture, has been perfectly crafted by the Holy Spirit Itself to form a convenient axiomatic acronym spelling out in modern English the very word “joy”:
J-O-Y. How precious!
J – comes first, of course, and stands for the Christian name of our blessed Lord Jesus himself. The very first step of the unbeatable Joy Formula which surely covers all eventualities is to put Jesus first. All the leeks and garlics that tempt us, all of the worldly pastimes and leisure activities that seek to beckon and draw us away from contemplating and leading others to the precious One who died for us on the Tree must go. Would we cling to them, brethren, when they certainly mean letting go of him?
When we seek our own joys, when we indulge in going through our lives in search of fleeting things to enjoy, in the flesh, in a natural, human way, we must inevitably miss the spiritual joy, the loftier, divine, true joy that the God Who loves His own would have us experience, and even more so as we see the day approaching. What person worthy of the name of Christian finds himself in this world, seeking to entertain himself among those who crucified his blessed saviour? Can we ever find true joy in a world that hates our dear Lord? No! Joy will never be found there. It can only be found in the company of His own people, those who are dear to His heart.
All forms of fleshly, human, earthly entertainment and pleasure, so tempting to our faithless, wicked hearts, must be sacrificed upon the altar of the sin offering, ascending up into heaven as a sweet smelling savour of our own obedience to His commandments, which tell us to sacrifice ALL of our joy to Him! What could be more important than this sacrifice we are privileged to make for Him?
My hope on nothing less is built.
O – is, of course, the second letter in this happy, alphabetic, acronymic trinity. “O” stands for “others.” We will find that in the flesh we wish to please ourselves (the wrong “o” entirely!) and that we are apt to seek the dubious pleasures of our own company. This means that we are putting ourselves first, in direct contradiction to the example given us by the Lord Jesus Christ who died for us.
His blessed “J” was a “G,” as he always put first the wishes and instructions of God the Father, just as we faithfully, humbly and meekly always put HIS concerns and commandments first. After God the Father, he always put others.
He never uttered a harsh word or turned a single person away in his thirty-three and a half years on earth. We read how he was always gentle, meek and mild to everyone. Surely we should be the same! (Except, of course, in the case of those not going on for Him in their lives, those wandering sheep, and then only to faithfully draw their attention to their error, for their own good!)
If one who calls himself a true believer is not coming out to church regularly, is not sitting at the feet of those the Lord has given to us (and He gave some prophets, some teachers, some evangelists…), is not putting in the time properly spent each week in dutiful Christian fellowship with others of like precious privilege, who have alike been gathered by the Holy Spirit, rather than merely attending a human gathering center, then is it any surprise that all is not well in that misguided person’s soul?
If one who claims to be a believer finds time in the day to “entertain” himself, how can he claim to be serving the Lord? There are scarcely enough hours in the day to help out others. Every moment stolen from those around us must be a moment stolen from God Himself, who holds the power of life and death in His Hand, and decides how many moments will make up the lives of each of us! Would that we remember this every moment of every day.
Well and good to cut lawns, carry groceries or seek to do other good works in a natural, human way, (and there is nothing wrong with it) but the Lord’s heart for us, the real, true benefit comes when we are together over His Word, basking in the blest lineage of those of blessed brothers and sisters who have gone on before, walking the pathway of faith!
When a sheep strays foolishly (our hearts are daily tempted so to stray!) from the flock, that sheep will not be long among us and is headed straight for this world. Vital for us, beloved, that the straying Eutychus sheep in question be pointed out, and the little lambs and old rams and ewes as well (that blessed ninety and nine) be alike warned of the error and sin that has been seen, inevitably drawing that wretched creature perversely away from the flock where the Lord has set His Name! Vital that a word to the conscience be given not to gaze after or follow that straying sheep, lest the blind lead the blind and all fall into the Jericho ditch together, where we do not walk.
Who shall inherit salvation? We know from the teachings of the holy Word of God that it will not go to fornicators, men who make women of themselves, rebels, those who seek their own pleasure or yet ones who deviate from the path clearly laid out for us faithfully; ones who stray from the ninety and nine who dutifully follow the flock wherever it leads, in blessed, happy Christian fellowship.
Many a beloved Christian, long gone to be with his Lord at last in that dear home above, has spent a life filled with sweet, obedient, uncomplaining service to others. No young person could miss church, or seek to follow the fashions of this world without this faithful, loving older one clapping a hand to his callow shoulder, with a well-timed word to his conscience, lest his very soul be lost. Many a dear one spent his last years saving with fear, hating even to touch the garment spotted by the flesh!
Y – is here, by the blessed wisdom of the Holy Spirit Itself, not to emphasize the “yourself” it stands for, but rather to remind us to put Your Self last. In the place of death. “Wherefore I ABHOR mySELF, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:6.
The scripture instructs us to ‘kill’ our Selves daily, mortifying our members in the Lord. Of course we cannot live for the Lord, yet also live as a normal person in this World at the selfsame time! A solemn choice must be made daily. Will we be our Selves, or will we live as redeemed children of God? “For if we would JUDGE ourSELVES, we should not be judged.” 1 Cor 11:31
We know, of course, that we can have no worse enemy than our Self. A worldly person is internally united, being cut entire from the same cloth, wholly contrary to God, hating Him and His Own. He is irredeemable, but for the work of those faithful evangelists who can spread the glad tidings to these poor wretches. We believers, however, have had a second nature added to that first one. A second nature which hates our Self. Once we can hate our Self, we can truly live and love our Heavenly Father and our precious fellow believers.
A “nature” is the essential, central NATURE of a thing, what it is, deep down. When we were lost and without God in this evil world, we only had that wicked sin nature that we still wrestle daily with each day, lest we fall short of the grace of God.
Because of the cross work of the blessed Son of God, however, we now have two natures at our core, two cores, two hearts, two essences, two central things we truly are, as believers. The first nature is that OLD NATURE (spoken of plainly in scripture). It takes true Christian vigilance each day to fight it with prayer, reading and time spent in the company of other believers as the Lord would have us do. How solemn should we neglect this even for one week!
The second is the NEW NATURE (which the beloved apostle writes about at great length as well). It is but the earnest of what we will one day enjoy unadulterated in heaven; a new, incorruptible nature that loves to read God’s word, to pray, and to spend time in the company of others of the people of God. It can do these things; as we have said; because it hates our Self every bit as much as does God Himself from Whom it came and from Whose grace that first nature fell so heinously. How blessed!
The scripture clearly teaches us that (practically speaking, of course) Christ accepts us only so long as we reject our Selves. (He has forever accepted us as to our STANDING before him eternally, but as to our STATE of soul, day to day, it is a very different matter.) We are saved by God’s grace, despite our disobedience, but we are blessed, as Christians, only through our own obedience to His precious word, seen in our dutifully sacrificing everything for Him and spending our time with His people, in following His will, which must, by its very nature, always be the opposite of our own. We must sacrifice and obey, and God must bless! Christ gives us the new nature of course, but it is OUR job to deal with the old one. How solemn and precious!
Grace is blessing from God which we did not earn and do not deserve. How ungrateful we are if we do not seek to walk worthy of it! We must remember every day; when we wake up and read our chapter of scripture; to reject our Selves.
An accepting heart is His work, and not ours. God “so loved” this world, but it is up to us to shut it out, neither loving it, NOR the things that are of it. If we faithfully do our rejection work, He must needs honour this and do His blessed acceptance work. We know that this is the very essence of Salvation. Let us never lose sight of this blessed relationship as we live out our poor, wearisome earthly lives in these wretched bodies of humiliation given to us by God Himself! Only in keeping this solemn prospect before us, making it our watchword, can we be blessed as were those faithful brethren of old.
We know of course that this NEW NATURE given us through the work of Christ and fostered through our own rejection of Self is not one we often see at work. We can feel it, judging Self, reproving, filling us with disgust at how wantonly we would otherwise seek to follow the natural urges and paths of the children of disobedience. We can perhaps feel it urging us to spend time with others of like precious conviction, or seeking to set straight the crooked paths of those in the middle of straying, but that is all. A leopard cannot change its spots. We will have to wait for glory to see much of in action. In glory, we will have had the old nature cut out of us like a diseased heart, and will enjoy having only that new nature; for the first time; free to act within us. We will then, need worry about Self no longer, for it will be entirely eradicated, through the blessed work of our Lord Jesus, who came to die for us for this express reason.
Of course some of us have been privileged to witness the new nature active and able to stalemate for a time that pervasive, wicked old nature, in the lives of those older ones who have now gone on to be forever with the Lord and sing his praises eternally. Many of them could have been great men or women, gifted as they were, in the flesh, by birth. But how wonderful that they were instead, through the leading of the scriptures, able to give all of that up to humbly, uncomplainingly follow the precious Word of GOD!
Let us, in any difficulty or misunderstanding that may arise among us, never seek to mold the minds of other Christians through our own personality or presence among them. Self must not be allowed to act. At the first sign of Self raising its wicked head, it must be judged immediately.
And so we see that the Christian’s lot is to be divided. To war daily against Self. To seek to repress the unceasingly self-pleasuring efforts of that old nature, always remembering how active, deceitful, and above all things ALIVE that old nature is.
The scripture teaches us that we were crucified with Christ, and this is true, in a sense at least. But surely none of us can claim that our old nature is DEAD? Ridiculous! Far be the thought from us! We fight that old nature every waking moment of every waking day. What is the only thing that can rob a true Christian of his happiness? Thoughts of Self. Seeking to please and follow and be one’s Self. This is something we must give up, if we are to ever please our Heavenly Father above. How solemn if we try to, like Jonah of old, run off into this World, with its leeks and garlics, its apes and peacocks, to follow a path of self will! There must always be cleavage. We must needs cleave to Him lest we walk unworthy of the vocation in which we were called.
God has boundless wrath toward our Self, and so we MUST NOT be our Selves. The personality we were born with, which came to us with our mother’s milk, clearly must go. Can anyone ponder what has been laid out faithfully here in this little booklet, and these clear directives from the precious Word of God and still complain of “depression”? How sad, when the Word of…See More
-from George Shovel’s “Sin, Self, This World and The Old Nature” (1923) Wasp Tent Publishers. Print.