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.

Midweek Meeting July 11 2018

Ten of us gathered last night for the midweek meeting. We had a little bit more from Genesis 18 and Abraham's friendship with God and then discussed topics before praying. Some churches shifted their meeting night I understand but we're not football fanatics here and I'm not sure it's a good idea anyway. As Gareth Southgate would say some things are more important than football. At least English fans will have less of a struggle on Sunday. (FYI I did with the first half. If only it had stayed like that). 

The Benedict Option

There was a quite a buzz about Rod Dreher's Benedict Option a year or so ago and on Monday our little group that gathers at the Pastors Academy in North London from time to time met to discuss it. As you might expect there was some antipathy to a book by a former Catholic Orthodox fellow who is basically advoccating that we learn from a Mediaeval monk. We tried to see past that and found many things in the book of interest. What struck me about the book was that it really contains nothing new. People have been speaking about it being a post-Christian situation at least since Schaeffer and the suggested answers - more community living, Christian education (not even the classical education idea is new), greater commitment, etc are also not new. If you have not read it you are not missing much but if this paragraph gets you curious it is worth getting a cheap copy or a paperback or borrowing one.

Next time
Calvin's Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609 (Oxford Studies in Historical Theology) Oxford Studies in Historical Theology by Scott M Manetsch.

Lord's Day July 8 2018

I was down in Portsmouth last Lord's Day preaching for the folk at Grace Baptist Church, Copnor Road. (I was last there in 2009). A former member, someone who came to us as a student, is a member there and he looked after me for the afternoon. I know one or two other members of the congregation a little bit also. We were about 30 in the morning and something less in the evening. I preached on Ephesians 2:8-10 in the morning and Romans 8:28 in the evening. It was blessing to be there. More on the church here (the sermons are currently there also).
Alexander was preaching here for me and I think they got on well with several visitors.

Meal and Message with Mike Mellor

We had an encouraging evening last night. Mike Mellor came up from Bournemouth an gave his testimony and encouraged us all to faith in Christ. We were about twenty altogether, so not a large number, but about a quarter of us were people either new to us or near as. One lady comes often to events, another from time to time but the others (a Muslim, a Catholic, an Anglican, someone with vvarious trooubles who wandered in) were al fresh to us. SOme had simply read the leaflet and decided to come! How heartening. So not an achievemnet as such but a great opportunity. We pray something may come of it. The food, etc, as ever, was exceellent. Our members, especially the women, work really hard. If you don't know Mike's testimony you can get the flavour here (with Roger Carswell).

Midweek Meeting July 4 2018

We carried on with the next bit in Genesis 18 on Wednesday evening. This time it was on the God who knows where sin lurks and who sternly opposes it. Great themes. A couple from Slovakia turned up out of the blue and it was good to meet them and hear of their Brethren assembly in the north of the country. They travel regularly to London. Mikhael prayed in English as did all the regulars present. We were praying in particular for our evangelisitc meeting due the next night as well as plenty of other things.

Another two good days at the Met Tab Days 2 and 3 2018

I managed to get most of the rest of the Met Tab School of Theology. Ibrahim Ag Mohamed gave a matching message to his one on Ephesians on the first day with something on Philippians. I missed Dr Masters on the Wednesday evening as I was at our own midweek meeting. He closed the conference with something on Leviticus to match his earlier message on Psalms. Once again we were reminded that Classical music is kosher but Rock is unclean.
Dr Kurt Wise gave a further four power point presentations on the young earth, creation and the flood adn its aftermath. These wer excellent presentations - popular but erudite and full of good things. I am an instinctive young earther but I had not really heard a proper presentation before but this was quite dynamic. I thought that the argument that if we take Genesis 5 and 11 as complete genealogies we not only learn the age of the earth but gain a rationale for inscipturation at the point it comes quite persuasive.
Scott Aniol gave both his second and third papers to Christian cultural engagement. The first was a word study but the second was an excellent presentation of the two kingdoms view.
Nick Needham is always worth hearing. This time on the Synod of Dort he wassurefooted and wise as ever. The first paper covering the history was the more demanding.
All the message were videoed and will no doubt will appear on the website in due time. (The Wednesday evening message is already up). I guess around 300 adn more were there in the day time sessions adn more in the evenings. A worhtwhile conference. Good to see lots of old friends.

Good day at the Met Tab 2018 Day 1

It was great to hear Kurt Wise at the Met Tab last night as he gave a PowerPoint presentation covering six areas where the Creationist view makes more sense than the Evolutionary one - things such as the anthropic principle, beauty, the origin of life, etc. Very encouraging.
We also had an excellent paper from Scott Aniol of South Western Baptist Seminary clarifying Isaac Watts and his Trinitarianism. That was helpful and good lessons were drawn - the difficulty of drawing doctrinal boundaries, the importance of historical creeds and the vital place of hymns in determining people's theology.
Ibrahim Ag Mohamed and Dr Masters himself also spoke helpfully on benefiting from Ephesians and Psalms. I was sorry to miss the pastor from Colombia speaking about the work there.

A slightly different day off

My day off was slightly different this week as I took a different day to my usual one. The bonus here was that I got to have lunch with my wife, always a joy. (We're back on salads after a short respite). I began with a long walk to Highgate (no dog this time) followed by a coffee and puzzles but first I made sure I had breakfast and devotions (learning from last week). Later I worked on this book I'm trying to write, did some reading,a little blogging and watched most of the Brazil Mexico game.
In the evening we were scheduled for door to door work. It was gratifying to find we were six all told in the end (and one is going out another night). By this stage we are mostly leafleting. We do hope people will come to our meeting on Thursday evening.
Now, of course, you could say, is it a day off if you are working for the church in part of it? There are constant little issues like this for the minister. Given that everyone else was doing what they were doing on their own time I don't see it is a problem just because it fell on my day off. The church does not support me on an hours worked basis but in a way that means I do not have to do other work. On the same basis I was happy to do a few emails and take some phone calls.
I watched the dramatic end of the Belgium Japan game and did some ordering on Amazon for something I have planned then headed for bed.

Sloop John B live at Capitol Studios 2016

Lord's Day July 1 2018

A new month so we started with communion. I read Isaiah 53. In the morning I preached from the text John 15:26 (part of my hundred texts project again) on the Holy Spirit and in the evening when we were down to about ten of us, on the final verses of Matthew 19
By the end of the day I was quite discouraged. I know from the photo last week there were 39 of us. It also tells me that 13 of those were not there this week (if I add the ten or so not there last week that is some 23 gone astray). Having said that three last week were visiting and one has now left us for South Africa. Seven of those missing were away in Sri Lanka, Turkey and Bedford. Further, another three of the ten were back plus at least two visitors. Someone also shared with me an seemingly intractable situation they are in which is sad too.
I've been here before. The only answer is to humble yourself, repent and press on. No-one ever suggsted it would be easy.

10 Drummers who led bands

  1. Dave Clark (Dave Clark Five)
  2. Jon Hiseman (Colosseum, etc)*
  3. Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac)
  4. Stewart Copeland (The Police)
  5. Buddy Rich
  6. Gene Krupa
  7. Jack Parnell
  8. Eric Delaney
  9. Art Blakey
  10. Chick Webb
* This list was prompted by the recent death of Jon Hiseman

10 Interesting facts from the World Cup Group Stages

1. This is the most competitive first round ever
61.5% of victories were by a one-goal margin in the group stages - the second highest proportion for any previous tournament behind only South Africa in 2010. On top of this, the number of goals scored in the second half stoppage time has also reached a record high for the group stages. As many as 16 goals have been scored after the 90 minute mark so far in the tournament which is equivalent to 13.1 % of all goals scored.
2. The fewest number of 0-0 draws since the 1950s
Aside from the joyless 0-0 draw played out between France and Denmark in their final group game, the group stage hasn't featured a single goalless match. This is the fewest number of scoreless draws in the first round of any World Cup since 1954
3. The curse of the holders is now a proper thing
One reason we shouldn't be surprised at Germany's exit is that the holders barely ever win the World Cup, a trend that has become more pronounced of late. Four of the past five winners have now been knocked out of the World Cup at the first hurdle. France 2002, Italy 2010, Spain 2014 and now Germany 2018.
4. Top-seeded teams have struggled
There are several notable examples of big footballing nations making slow-starts in World Cups before eventually clicking into gear and coming away with the trophy. In Russia, many of the favourites look as though they’re trying to employ this model with Portugal, Spain and Brazil all drawing to supposedly lesser adversaries, while Germany and Argentina have both endured losses. Indeed, of the pot one teams in the World Cup, the average Elo change in the group stage has been -16.4 points. The average pot two team has picked up 18.1 points over the same period, indicating that good teams that aren't quite top are closing in on the favourites. Pot three teams picked up an average 3.8 points per team, while the worst teams in pot four lost 3.1 each. 
5. Fouls are down
There is a noticeable reduction in fouls per game in this World Cup. With a total of 883 fouls over the first 36 matches, there is an average of 24.5 fouls per game. There was an average of 30 fouls per game in the 2014 Brazil World Cup - the lowest level seen for at least 50 years.
6. VAR has led to a record number of penalties
There have already been 18 penalties scored in the 2018 Russia World Cup, meaning 14.8 % of all goals scored have been from the spot. This has already eclipsed the record number of spot-kick goals which was set in 1998. VAR has made its mark on the competition with this, with referees consulting the video assistant referees and hence punishing fouls that may have once gone missed.
7. Own goals are winning the Golden Boot for the first time
There have already been nine own goals in the 2018 World Cup - eclipsing the total number seen at the Brazil 2014 World Cup and tying for the record, set in 1998. These have been committed by Morocco's Aziz Bouhaddouz, Australia's Aziz Behich, Nigeria's Oghenekaro Etebo, Poland's Thiago Cionek, Egypt's Ahmed Fathy, Russia’s Denis Cheryshev, Mexico's Edson Álvarez, Switzerland's Yann Sommer and Tunisia's Yassine Meriah. Othrwise Harry Kane is top with five. This would be the first time that own goals have won the golden boot outright.
8. Spain are now unbeaten in 23 games
Going into the tournament, the longest unbeaten runs were for Spain (20), Morocco (18) and Belgium (18). After a win and two draws, Spain's unbeaten run has extended to 23 games - the longest of any country in the World Cup. Belgium's unbeaten run has also extended to 21 matches while Morocco's loss to Iran ended their run. Spain's forward Lucas Vazquez and defender Sergio Ramos celebrate their second goal against Morocco Spain's forward Lucas Vazquez and defender Sergio Ramos celebrate their second goal against Morocco CREDIT: OZAN KOSE/AFP
9. John Stones has scored more World Cup goals than Wayne Rooney
By scoring two headed goals against Panama, John Stones has already scored more World Cup goals than Wayne Rooney. Rooney's only goal at a World Cup came in Brazil in 2014, in England's 2-1 loss to Uruguay in the group stage. With five World Cup goals to his name, England captain Harry Kane is well on his way to rivalling Gary Lineker (10 World Cup goals). He's currently England's joint-second-best World Cup goalscorer, alongside Geoff Hurst on five goals.
10. Croatia, Sweden and Belgium had the best group stage
Impressive wins over Argentina and Germany have grabbed the headlines in the last few weeks, and such performances have meant that teams such as Croatia have had the largest boosts to their Elo ratings of any team. Croatia's Elo rating has been boosted by 103 points over their first three games, to move from 14th to 7th place. Over the course of the first three games, Sweden also picked up 77 points in the Elo ratings (moving from 17th to 15th), and Belgium picked up 62 with their three wins (moving from 8th to 4th).

10 More Penalties at the World Cup

1. Mile Jedinak for Australia vs Denmark after VAR review (scored)

2. Gylfi Sigurdsson for Iceland vs Nigeria after VAR review (missed)

3. Eden Hazard for Belgium vs Tunisia after VAR review (scored)
4. Carlos Vela for Mexico vs South Korea (scored)
5. Harry Kane for England vs Panama (scored)*
6. Harry Kane for England vs Panama (scored)*

7. Fahad Al Muwallad for Saudi Arabia vs Egypt (missed)
8. Fahad Al Muwallad for Saudi Arabia vs Egypt after VAR review (scored)

9. Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal vs Iran after VAR review (missed)

10. Karim Ansarifard for Iran vs Portugal after VAR review (scored)

* Surprising statitic - England have never missed a penalty in the world cup - in normal play that is.

Buddy Holly doing Peggy Sue on Ed Sullivan Show 1957

Midweek Meeting June 27 2018

We went back to our Bible study and prayer format this week. We took up where we had left off in Genesis 18 and just looked at the opening verses and God as the God of beginnings (the birth of Isaac is announced) and endings (the end of Sodom is intimated). It was  good brief session followed by items for prayer and prayer itself, all of us again praying (about nine we were I think). Some were missing.