It was most gratifying to see such a good turn out at the Evangelical Library recently for the first of this Autumn's lunch time lectures. A special thanks to Stan Evers who gave an excellent overview if the life of the 18th century preacher George Whitefield with a helpful PowerPoint presentation adding to the pleasure. Whitefield's life is one that ought to be kept in the public eye as it is easy to forget how powerfully God used him in time of revival. The talk was videoed as well as being recorded in audio and will soon be available. Do join us next time on October 14 at 1 pm when Rob Childs from Manchester will speak about John Wycliffe.
The similar phrase 'Worldly Christianity' is one used by Bonhoeffer. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.
An odd thing happened last Sunday morning. I preached on Paul's speech to the Jews in the Temple in Acts 22 and in my manuscript wrote "thankfully this sermon has not been interrupted" (as was Paul's). When I wrote it I did think "we'll see". You guessed it. Near the beginning of the sermon a local character I have mentioned here before popped in and started a conversation with me about football. (It has happened before but not to this extent). Anyway when you've been preaching for 45 years you have an idea how to deal with things and we managed to get through it. The whole service was a joy as was the evening meeting, looking at Jesus and Barabbas. We had a decent turn out morning and evening - the congregation swollen by visitors, including some of my own family, and a number of seminary students deciding where they will worship this year. I'm not sure how it will all pan out but as there are 21 children on site this year we may have a significant number joining us, which would be great. This Sunday four children were away but I had five children to speak to (the last in the series of what Jesus' became - this time curse). Glad to have a man back who has been away several weeks after falling down. Loved the singing today - we sang some good old fashioned hymns and it was a good day a round despite three or four people being away for no reason I know.
Ten of us gathered last night for the midweek meeting. We looked at Psalm 132, the last of the songs of ascents we are planning to look at for now. Psalm 132 is a little longer than the others and has some difficulties but it did not take too long to go through and there were good lessons about prayer. Not sure what we'll do next. We had a good time of prayer too.
Numbers were slightly down for day 2. We had such a good day yesterday, it was hard to keep up the pace and the first two of the three papers were quite demanding. First, Mark Garcia continued his exploration of Genesis 38, especially taking in the story of the other Tamar in 2 Samuel 13. He sought to connect the reference to Joseph's long sleeved garment to that of Tamar in 2 Samuel and that, with much else he said, was very stimulating. Sadly, there was less discussion time on this second day and so we had no chance to discuss.
After lunch it was a change of pace as we were in the hands of Yannick Imbert from Aix en Provence who spoke on the remark in Genesis that God intended it for good. This was a thorough an academic, highly nuanced look at a difficult subject.
We ended the day with David Green who looked with us at the references to Egypt in Genesis. This was typically thorough and provocative. He argued for a nuanced understanding of this world and our place in it as believers. We had a good discussion to follow before parting.
This is a really worthwhile conference and one wishes it was better attended.
We had a very good first day of conference at the seminary today with Academy leader Garry Williams giving us two sessions and US based Mark Garcia, president of Greystones Theological Institute. About 40 of us were present. Garry spoke on the subject of typology, giving a brief and interesting history and urging a cautious but willing use of typology. His focus was on the story of Joseph. He sought to lay down parameters for the employment of this tool. We had a good couple of discussions on the subject with several taking part.
Mark Garcia spoke at the end of the day on Genesis 38. He began with these observations
1. We should be happy to admit that its placing is jarring and unexpected at first sight
2. Tamar reminds us of Eve and her desire to be blessed with children and to see Messiah
3. There is also the link forward to David and his family, including a namesake Tamar
4. Tamar is the first woman mentioned in the New Testament
5. At the very end of the canon we meet the final king Christ on his throne, the lion of the tribe of Judah who has a glorious bride, which takes us back not just to Eve but to Tamar.
The story is a smaller type scene of the larger Joseph type scene. Dr Garcia focussed on the moment where Tamar asks Judah to recognise whose beongings she had. This echoes the request of Jacob's sons to him to recognise Joseph's coat.
At the end of Ruth Tamar is remembered in reference to fruitfulness
Here in Genesis 38 is a type scene
Expectation is followed by deception and counter-deception, admission of guilt and final denoument. There are many examples of this in Scripture.
Judah deceives Tamar just as his son has. It is Judah who in the wider Joseph narrative is the spokesman for the deception toward Jacob. Again in th wider narrative we have Joseph remaining unknown to his brothers adn so on, leading to a similar revealing and resolution moment.
When preaching we might want to back further and point out how the story refects the history of the world. Thecross is the final resolution.
Very stimulating stuff, and a good discussion again to follow.
This weekend I was down in Wiltshire once again - preaching this time at Providence Baptist Chapel for Guy Davies at the church's anniversary. There was a Saturday afternoon meeting to which those from other churches were invited and we had a decent turn out for the meeting in the large chapel, followed by a nice tea. Psalm 133 had gone well at a recent midweek meeting and so I decided to look at that - it seemed an appropriate subject for a church anniversary. What I had not calculated on was the presence of at least some who were once in the same church but not now. Anyway, where angels fear to tread ... I put it down to the providence of God. It was nice to chat with Dr Oliver and others afterwards.
I spent the night with a widower in the church who I had met some years ago at a Grace Baptist Assembly. John is well on in age and not so well but he looked after me very well and we had some sweet fellowship. I noted how we were both converted through evangelists - they really have a knack of reaping.
Sunday went fine as we looked at John 4:13, 14 and 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 in the large back room. I found there were people I had met before and other connections, which is always delightful. I had a lovely afternoon with Guy and Sarah who saw me int the train to London after a quick look at the Westbury white horse. See here. (I had come by car with the family en route to Cardiff).
It was the usual select gathering last Wednesday as we looked at Psalm 128. About 8 of us there. There was little bit of interaction but mostly just me speaking. Most of us prayed. Unusually we sang a hymn at the end as well as at the beginning.
It was a very full day the latest day off, which is good. I had to visit the dentist first thing - all well there - and make a trip to collect something from the doctor's. Before and after that I did some emails and blogging before heading out with my son to St Giles, Cripplegate, near the Barbican. I had been reading recently about how Milton and Fox are buried there, etc. There's not much to see, as I expected but just to know such people once walked those streets is something. We had lunch in a Wrap it up! which was knew to us - a nice wrap each (mine Mexican, his Portuguese). We then walked to Aldersgate Street where Wesley's heart was strangely warmed and had a quick look at Postman's Park. I not ice that this is where City Presbyterian Church now is. I had not realised that. Anyway, we were home fairly early and there was time to begin reading the latest Private Eye and I almost finished a lovely book on Bach by Horatio Clare. I did that listening to Focus 3 which is still an absolutely amazing album. After an evening meal I watched some TV - talking head documentaries on the Rise of the Nazis and on Harvey Weinstein. Interestingly, people have so low view of women that they assumed they were willing to give sexual favours to get parts. Also, Weinstein was not in trouble until he lost his power. Meanwhile I tried to follow the news of the day - strange times. Glad to see I managed to get over the 10,000 steps mark today.
1. John Milton 1608-1674 Buried there (next to his father)
2. John Foxe 1517-1587 Buried there
3. Oliver Cromwell 1599-1658 Married there (1620)
4. Lancelot Andrewes 1555-1626 Vicar there 1588-1605
5. Sir Martin Frobisher c1539-1594 Buried in the church (though part of him is in Plymouth)
6. John Speed 1552-1629 Buried there (with his wife)
7. Daniel Defoe 1660-1731 Born in the street where the church is and buried nearby
8. John Bunyan 1628-1688 Often preached nearby
9. Ben Jonson 1572-1637 Lived in the parish and two of his sons are buried there
10. William Shakespeare 1564-1616 Lodged here; his rother Edmund had two sons christened there
It was great to be preaching oncne again last Sunday. We looked at John 4:13, 14 in the morning - very evangelistic - and at the silence of Jesus before Pilate (Matthew 27) in the evening. We started with communion. Our two deacons are still away and so we were a miserable number at the start but then four men joined us and more or less doubled our numbers. In these situations one just has to ask quick questions and give out the elements as best you can. Three turned out to be Dutchmen (two just about to start at the seminary and one son) adn the other was an Iranian believer called Mohammed. I love it when I get opportunity to preach to people called Mohammed! At the table I used some notes I have from J C Ryle to focus minds. I spoke to the two children in the morning on Christ being made sin. In the evening there were two under 8s present so on a whim I got them to write down how many times I said silent or silence. The tallies differed widely but it must have been between 45 and 55 times or so, In the end we were not a bad number am (or pm either). It wa snice to have some members back for lunch. I noticed again how diverse we are congregationally - Filipinos, Nigerians, Jamaicans, the Dutchmen, the Iranian, a Ghanaian, an Indian, a Colombian, a New Zealander, etc. The hymns went well.