Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. 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.

Lord's Day November 19 2017

Yesterday was strange in some ways as I was very conscious that I would be leaving for Nigeria first thing the next day and so I was tempted to let my mind stray there. Perhaps first thng Monday is not the bext time to be heading away. Anyway, although attendance was not great for various reasons (only eight of us sat down to communion before the evening meeting) it was a  blessing to preach the Word once again. I preached n Dorcas from the end off Acts 9 in the morning. A bit longer than usual. I was more my usual length in the evening I think (about half an hour). I decided to preach fro 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 as I am conscious of many needs in the congregation at present. For some reason the sining did not go so well today (a wrong tune involving a restart, one or two unfamiliar tunes, a bit of a failure by me leading acapella at the communion table, etc). The thing is I don't think everyone is convinced about our approach - singing a huge variety of (mostly older) hymns from the new Christian Hymns and so when we struggle a bit they tend to think it's the approach that's wrong. We had two Japanese ladies there in the morning (an older lady visiting and a younger lady with her daughter from the area). It was good to meet them.

10 more rugbyasongs

1. Let there be scrums
2. Benevolent conversion
3. Good sixnations
4. Yer Blues
5. The Lions sleep tonight
6. Rucking in the deep
7. Wallaby
8. All Black Star
9. Scarlets jibons
10. Maul by myself

10 Rugbyasongs

1. Try again
2. Here comes the scrum
3. Eleanor Rugby
4. Maul right now
5. Disco ruck 
6. Prop Muzik
7. Girl in the front row
8. I heard it on the gain line
9. Yer Blues
10. Scrum together

Midweek Meeting November 15 2017


I am in Nigeria next week speaking at a conference and so I tried out half of one of the papers I am to give on those gathered last night. The subject I have been given is How the Reformation affected England then, a lesson for Nigerian churches today not an easy subject to tackle. What I have done is to select a number of works (Tyndale's Bible, Cranmers BCP, Foxe's Martyrs, the Westminster Standards, Bunyan's PP) and describe them leading to five recommendations for Nigerian churches today. We just focussed on focussing on the Bible an worshipping reverendly last night. We had a good prayer time too. Several in our congregation are unwell at present with various underlying ailments.

Semper Paenitere


I just put this on one of my blogs here.
Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Sola Deo Gloria. These are the great Reformation watchwords. Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, the glory of God alone. One can only have so many watchwords but if one wanted to add an extra one what more obvious than Semper Paenitere, always repenting?
When Luther nailed his famous 95 theses to the Wittenberg castle church door this issue was top of the agenda. The theses, originally in Latin but soon translated, began, Out of love and zeal for truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following theses will be publicly discussed at Wittenberg under the chairmanship of the reverend father Martin Luther, master of arts and sacred theology and regularly appointed lecturer on these subjects at that place. He requests that those who cannot be present to debate orally with us will do so by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. When our Lord & Master Jesus Christ said Repent [Matthew 4:17], he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortifications of the flesh.
We need to hear this message again today.
1. Paenitere
The Bible calls on us in many places to repent. Think of the preaching of John the Baptist, of Christ himself, of the apostles. But what does it mean to repent? Roman Catholicism taught that it meant Do penance. One of Luther’s greatest rediscoveries was that the Greek word translated in the Latin Vulgate Do penance actually means Be penitent or Repent. This is not the same as remorse or regret although it includes that. There is a different Greek word for that. No, Repent means Change your mind, turn away from sin.
The word occurs 57 times in the New Testament. It can refer more generally to conversion but usually refers to the other side of faith. Sometimes the apostles called for repentance, sometimes for faith. Both are God given (See Acts 5:31, 11:18). Both are necessary to salvation. There is no forgiveness except through faith and repentance. Faith and repentance are possible only because of Christ’s work on the cross. 
As Luther says, true repentance has inward and outward aspects. In 1826 John Colquhoun produced an excellent work on repentance. There he turns to 2 Corinthians 7 for an anatomy of what is involved. Paul talks there about godly sorrow in contrast to worldly sorrow. The roots of true repentance lie in this godly sorrow. Its fruit is salvation and no regret. This godly sorrow is characterised by,
Earnestness, not complacency about sin; Eagerness to clear one's name - not excuses but a desire for pardon; Indignation or hatred towards sin; He is angry and sins not when he is angry at nothing but sin and angry with himself only because he has sinned comments Colquhoun. There is also Alarm or Fear of sinning and provoking God’s wrath; there is Longing for a thorough reformation, to be right with God; there is Concern or Zeal to see sin dealt with, for God’s glory and in order to be holy; Readiness to see justice done, one pronounces the death sentence on self. Outwardly there must also be a change of behaviour. See Acts 26:20. Think of Zacchaeus or the occultists converted at Ephesus (Acts 20:18,19). Think of all that the book of Exodus has to say about restitution. Have you truly repented?
2. Semper paenitere
Like faith, repentance must be a life long thing. That is clear from the New Testament. See, for example, Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:23, which both speak of the Christian’s mind being changed or renewed. Even a man of God can wander. When he wanders he must be brought back. Think of David or Peter. Think of the Bible’s emphasis on restoration of the fallen. Restoration is always by way of repentance. Repentance then has to be a daily thing, an hourly thing. Is it with you?
Originally published in Grace magazine

Lord's Day November 12 2017


It was a great day yesterday and with a lot going on. We began with the two minutes silence for Remembrance Day then we proceeded with our usual morning service. At the end of this we had a baptism, the second this year. The woman involved grew up in Pakistan and so it was an unusual baptism for us. We are so glad she has come to this point. I preached on Lydia from Acts 16. Following the service we had a lovely meal together, something we try to do every other month. I prefer to have baptisms in the evening as the evening service can be a bit of a damp squib otherwise. It was okay, as it turned out. We looked at the feeding of the 4000 from the end of Matthew 15 with not a bad turn out. It is encouraging to know that others in the congregation are thinking of baptism.

10 Cities that have changed their names


1. Bratislava (after 1783) in Slovakia was once better known as Pressburg (German name) or Pozsony (Hungarian name)
2. Tokyo (ie Eastern Capital since 1868) in Japan was once Edo
3. Oslo (since 1925) in Norway was once Christiania (1838) and Kristiania (1877) though Oslo is the orginal name.
4. Istanbul (the most common name for the city after 1928) in Turkey having once been known as Byzantium then Constantinople (from 330 AD)
5. Ho Chi Minh City (since 1976) in Vietnam was once Prey Nokor  and Gia Định and Saigon
6. Harare (since 1982) in Zimbabwe was once Salisbury (and the country was called Rhodesia)
7. Volgograd (since 1961) was once Tsaritsyn (1589-1925) and Stalingrad (1925-1961)
8. Nuuk (ie Cape since 1979) in Greenland was once Godthaab and Godthåb
9. Chennai (since 1996) in India was once Madras
10. Polokwane (since 2005) in South Africa was once Pietersburg

10 Ways of dealing with dead bodies

1. Burial
Burial is the act of interring a person or object in the ground, and is probably the simplest and most common method of disposing of a body. It is generally accepted to be one of the earliest detectable forms of religious practice. Christian burials soemtimes demand that the body be laid flat, with arms and legs extended and aligned east-west, with the head at the western end of the grave. This is to allow them to view the coming of Christ on Judgment day. In Islam, the head is pointed toward and the face turned to Mecca. Warriors in some ancient cultures were interred upright, and an upside down position is typically symbolic of suicides, or as a punishment.
2. Burial at Sea
Burial at sea is the term used for the procedure of disposing of human remains in the ocean. Many cultures have regulations to make burial at sea accessible and it is fast becoming a popular choice. Traditionally, the service is conducted by the captain or commanding officer of the ship or aircraft.
Possibilities include burial in a weighted casket, burial in an urn, being sewn into sailcloth or scattering the cremated remains. 
Most major religions permit burial at sea, and some have very specific rituals concerning it. 
3. Entombment
Entombment is the act of placing human remains in a structurally enclosed space or burial chamber. The body is not consigned directly to the earth but rather is kept within a specially designed sealed chamber. There are many different forms of tombs, from mausoleums to elaborate (and often decorative) family crypts to a simple cave with a sealed entrance.
4. Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing dead bodies to basic chemical compounds in the form of gases and bone fragments. This is most often performed in a crematorium, though some cultures, such as in India, do practice open-air cremation. Generally, temperatures of no less than 1500oF are required to ensure complete disintegration. After the process is complete, the dry bone fragments that remain are swept out of the retort (the chamber in which the body is immolated) and passed through a cremulator. This machine grinds the bones into a fine, sand-like powder.
5. Exposure
Exposure is not typically practiced intentionally in the West today. However, there are people who dispose of bodies in this manner on a regular basis. Tibetan sky burial (known as a jahtor ) is the ritual dissection of the body, which is then laid out for the animals or the elements to dispose of. After being sent on their way with ceremony, the remains of the deceased are toted up to a designated location, where the body is laid out (typically naked). Then the rogyapas (body-breakers) go to work. Parsees in India do soemthing similar but rely on the birds to deal with the yogurt coated bodies. The bones then fall into a pit.
6. Mummification
The Egyptians are the best-known practitioners of this process (although they are far from the only ones), in which a corpse has its skin and organs preserved, by either intentional or incidental exposure to chemicals, extreme cold, very low humidity or lack of air. The oldest mummy found to date was a decapitated head that dates back to 6000 BC. The earliest Egyptian mummy dates back to about 3300 BC. It is possible for a body to undergo natural mummification. The extreme cold of a glacier in the Ötztal Alps resulted in the mummification of a hunter who lived about 5,300 years ago, now known as Ötzi the Iceman. Bog bodies, who were victims of murder or ritual sacrifice, are a common find in certain parts of Europe.
7. Taxidermy
Taxidermy is the act of mounting, or reproducing, dead animals for display (eg. as hunting trophies) or for other sources of study. However, some people haven’t let that stop them from having themselves taxidermied after death. The process is rather simple, but requires a lot of skill. The animal is skinned and the innards disposed of. The skin is tanned and then placed on a polyurethane form. Clay is used to install glass eyes. Forms and eyes are commercially available from a number of suppliers. If not, taxidermists carve or cast their own forms.
One example is that of philospher Jeremy Bentham.
8. Cryonics
Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of humans and animals who can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future.
9. Plastination
As perhaps the ultimate bid for immortality, plastination is a technique used in anatomy to preserve bodies or body parts. The water and fat are replaced by certain plastics, yielding specimens that can be touched, do not smell or decay and even retain most properties of the original sample. The resultant plastinates can be manipulated and positioned as desired. Plastinates are used as museum displays, as teaching tools and in anatomy studies.
10. Aquamation
Aquamation is said to be the most environment-friendly way of disposal of human bodies. The process involves the rapid disintegration of the human body into high quality fertilizers. In comparison with cremation, about 10% of the energy is used, and all of the associated pollution is avoided. With Aquamation, an individual body is gently placed in a clean, stainless steel vessel. A combination of water flow, temperature (~90C) and alkalinity are used to accelerate the natural course of tissue hydrolysis. Typically the process takes about four hours to complete.

Steve Howe - Mood For A Day

Midweek Meeting November 8 2017


Just nine of us last night as we began on that difficult but challenging chapter Leviticus 19. I think it i is easier to preach then to explain. That is to say it is easier to apply the various verses than itito explain why you are applying them in that particular way. Most of us prayed in the preyaer time. There is always plenty to pray about.

Another Childs Hill Sunset


Julie Fowlis in Milton Keynes November 2017


Tuesday is my official day off and I really enjoyed this last one with a long walk with the dog in the morning (good for him and good for me) and a return to The Stables n Milton Keynes, this time to see Julie Fowlis live. I had a front row seat and really enjoyed the excellent double set, as did the 300 or so also there. With Julie the band consisted, as usual, of Eamon Dooley and Tony Byrne (on guitars) and Duncan Chisholm (on fiddle) with Patsy Reid othis time on viola. Julie not only sang but played various instruments including various whistles, a ukulele adn three different whistles.
The prgram was a masterful blend of the pretty obscure with the more immediately accessible. So we started with  a Gaelic song, Oran an Roin, about seals but that soon merged with the now well known Puirt a beul track  Hug air a bhonaid mhoir. Just when it got rather Gaelic we had first Anne Briggs' achingly beautiful Go your way and later Paul McCartney's Blackbird (in Gaelic). In the second half there was plenty more obscurity including a Galician/Gaelic song Camariñas but with a few more instrumentals too. SOmehow she even had us sing along to the chorus of Smeorach Chlann Domhnaill.
All too soon the time had one but we were able to get them back on for an encore. Up until that point, with no bozouki or bodhran, I thought all insturments beginning with the letter B had been banned but then at the very end doing something I had not seen on the two previous occassions of hearing them - Julie on the bagpipes. What an encore! Patsy Reid kindly let me have her playlist at the end and I collected Julie and Eamon's autographs again before heading off and being home by 11 pm.

10 Wales Rugby Managers in my Lifetime

Henry Hansen
There have been many more rugby managers compared with football managers. Here are ten, all Welshmen except the Kiwis Henry, Hansen and Gatland. Statistically the most successful was John Dawes.

1. Clive Rowlands 1968–74
2. John Dawes 1974–79
3. John Lloyd 1980–82
4. John Bevan 1982–85
----------------------------
5. Kevin Bowring 1995–98
6. Graham Henry 1998–2002
7. Steve Hansen 2002–2004
8. Mike Ruddock 2004–2006
9. Gareth Jenkins 2006–2007
10. Warren Gatland 2007– present

10 Wales Football Managers in my Lifetime

Speed and Hughes
Excluding caretaker managers 10 men have managed or coached the Welsh national soccer team in my lifetime. All were Welshmen except Mike Smith and Bobby Gould.

1. Jimmy Murphy 1956–1964
2. Dave Bowen 1964–1974
3. Mike Smith 1974–1979/1994-1995
4. Mike England 1979–1987
5. Terry Yorath 1988–1993
6. John Toshack 1994/2004-2010
7. Bobby Gould 1995–1999
8. Mark Hughes 1999–2004
9. Gary Speed 2010–2011
10. Chris Coleman 2012–present

Luther once again


It was good to be in Westminster Baptist Church once again on Monday for the Westminster Fellowship. Dr Robert Oliver spoke on first on Luther and then on what we can do to conserve the Reformation gains - namely in the areas of Scripture, worship and confessionalism. Dr Oliver is an excellent historian and was able to retell the story with quiet skill, highlighting things that I have missed so far this year (for example that Luther was a friar not a monk as he is usually called and how although Luther was generally unimpressed with Rome the hospitals did impress him). We had a good discussion session too. An interesting question was the construction of confessions. I sought to make the point that confessions are not only a doctrinal stick to beat out heretics but a doctrinal carrot that omits certain controversial matters in order to foster unity (my example was friends in Cyprus who omit the filioque clause in their standards not because they do not believe it but becasue it is such a cause of contention in the Greek speaking world; Mostyn Roberts referenced the way Christ's active obedoence is not stated in the Westminster Confession). This point appeared to be lost on some of those present. We were about twenty all told. Richard March from Milton Keynes chaired.