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.

New series on the Early Church Fathers

 I was very pleased to see these two new volumes on the church fathers. I read the one on Patrick first and was very impressed. He is not an obvious choice for such a series but he deserves a place and this study by Michael Haykin is brief, to the point and popular, yet scholarly too (c 300 footnotes in a hundred pages). There is scant reliable material on Patrick and this is a great contribution.
All this made me positive about reading the volume on Basil of Caesarea by Marvin Jones. The book is quite a bit longer which seemed a shame but I cracked on and for the first seventy or so pages was happy enough despite one or two quirks. As I got into the second half of the book, however, it became less and less readable and in the end a great disappointment. Let me give you some random examples of the Jones style.
Page 135 "There is no doubt that Basil was the first to speak of God in terms that clarified his existence. ... Basil died 1 January 379 and, therefore, never witnessed his contribution to the issue of the Trinity".
Page 149 "The account of humanity's creation within the cosmology, and the ultimate concept of humanity's destiny within the cosmology, is the central theme that occupies Basil's theme".
These are just examples. May be such slips can be overlooked in an undergraduate essay but I paid good money for this product and find it unacceptable. Who is responsible? Clearly Christian Focus need to employ a proof reader or a stylist or something. Michael Haykin is said to be series editor. Paige Patterson, Jason Duesing, Steven McKinnon and Mike Ovey commend the book. I suggest they read the latter chapters and think again.

Ian Rankin Knots and Crosses

As we were going to be in Edinburgh, I decided to try the first Rebus novel by Ian Rankin Knots and crosses. The Edinburgh setting is not crucial but there was some pleasure in picking up on the few geographical references. The book is deservedly considered a decent one. No doubt a knowledge of the whole series would add to the pleasure. Like most such novels it deal with some fairly sordid details. Perhaps the most interesting element is the idea that Rebus is some sort of backslidden Christian. It would be interesting to see how that plays out in other novels.

Novelists 42 R Erskine Childers

Robert Erskine Childers DSC (1870–1922), universally known as Erskine Childers, was the author of the influential novel The Riddle of the Sands a novel I have not read but am always intending to get round to. It has never gone out of print and is often cited in top novel lists. They say it was the first spy novel. An Irish nationalist he smuggled guns to Ireland in his sailing yacht Asgard. He was executed by the authorities of the nascent Irish Free State during the Irish Civil War. He was the son of British Orientalist scholar Robert Caesar Childers; the cousin of Hugh Childers and Robert Barton; and the father of the fourth President of Ireland, Erskine Hamilton Childers.

Coats H - Harrington

These jackets first appeared in the 1930s. Harrington is a nickname. This style of jacket earned it because it was worn by the character Rodney Harrington (Ryan O'Neal) in the 1960s prime time soap opera Peyton Place.

Midweek meeting October 22 2014

We had a good turn out last night and a good time of prayer again as we covered the last section of our little series on Spiritual Growth. Our final point (via Joel Beeke and Colossians 1) was that to grow spiritually we need to be increasingly thankful. This is not an obvious point but it is true. The more thankful we are, the more we love God and serve him. We are thankful for having been delivered the way we have.

Books from Scotland

I took books to Scotland, of course, but I also brought some new ones home. We found this very quaint bookshop in Edinburgh that had a second hand section so I bought a little volume for Bible Classes on the Holy Spirit by Dr R S Candlish. The bookshop is near the Elephant Café where J K Rowling sat and worked once upon a time. I's not far from the statue of Greyfriars Bobby.
I also bought a Scots English dictionary in The Works. At Waverley Station they had free copies of a little book on Walter Scott. I bought the volume by Bonar on Milne of Perth in a Christian Bookshop in Perth itself. I remember Jonathan Watson giving a paper on the man at Banner a few years ago. I had a fruitless search for Bonar's grave while in Edinburgh.

Coats G - Gilet

Lord's Day October 19 2014

So we ended up in Edinburgh on the Lord's Day. I have heard many times of Charlotte Chapel (no doubt because this is where Graham Scroggie, Alan Redpath and Derek Prime ministered in the past). The current senior minister is a man called Paul Rees, originally from Cardiff. He and his wife are good friends of my sister-in-law and her husband so he heard that we were in town and very kindly invited me to join him for breakfast (I went for salted porridge as we were in Scotland, very nice. I'd had an Irn Bru the night before as I like to get the feel of a place). Paul grew up Brethren, came to London and attended St Helen's was a dentist then studied at Moore, Sydney and led a church in Spokane before coming to Edinburgh. His wife Shiona is Scots. He showed me the massive old St George's West which they have purchased and plan to move into (the present chapel is on something of a side street and the main auditorium is up a flight of stairs).
I'm not often in a large church. One is always impressed by how efficient they are getting people in and giving them coffee after, etc. It's like having a conference every week I guess. There was  an eight piece band in the organ loft who were good musicians and not over conspicuous though some of the song choices were a little weak I felt. The apprentice Ross led very well. The assistant Matt Round preached a very thorough sermon on Matthew 11:25-30, a bit too much to the will rather than the heart I felt. Everyone was very friendly and warm and welcoming. There must have been 600 and more of diverse ages and backgrounds. It was good to be there.
We had to travel back to London before the evening service so I downloaded a sermon for us on the train. People always speak well of the preaching of my former assistant Mark Raines so I got hold of his sermon on Proverbs 26, which he did indeed preach very well.

Raith Rovers

We passed Raith Rovers ground today on the train. It is in Kirkcaldy. If you've ever been into football then you know names like Raith, Fife, Stirling, Forfar, etc, even though you know nothing about them.
Wikipedia reveals that the modern Raith Rovers were founded in 1883 in Kirkcaldy. Though there were other teams who incorporated the town name, such as Kirkcaldy Wanderers and Kirkcaldy United, Raith became the most successful of the local teams, winning five trophies in the 1890s. There had been a much earlier (unrelated) Raith Rovers which merged with what is now Cowdenbeath in 1882. Although it lends its name to many entities in the region, Raith is not itself a settlement. A Raith Rovers victory in the 1960s led to a famous BBC commentator's blunder that the fans would be "dancing in the streets of Raith tonight". (Commonly attributed to David Coleman, it was actually said by Scotsman Sam Leitch.) Raith (Scottish Gaelic: rath, "fort" or "fortified residence") as an area once stretched from south of Loch Gelly as far as Kirkcaldy and the Battle of Raith is said to have been fought here in 596 AD. Raith House and Raith Tower sit on Cormie Hill to the west of Kirkcaldy and several parts of the town are built on land formerly of the Raith Estate, although the modern housing estate bearing the Raith name dates from long after the origins of the team.

Induction in Perth today

It was a great joy to be with our friends Andrew and Jill Lolley today for Andrew's induction to the pastorate of Craigie Reformed Baptist Church, Perth. About 70 gathered from all over Scotland and England. We had a history of the call in three parts taking us from Tinshill, Leeds through Childs Hill, London to CRBC. Then there was the induction (led by Barry Garth of Penicuik) and preaching from Robert Strivens my fellow elder and LTS Principal. We had the service in the M'Cheyne Rooms elsewhere in Perth and then in the church's own building. Great day.


A W Pink on Sleep

Adrian's book brought this passage to mind. Not sure why he did not add it in (though the gist is there in his book). I must have read this when I was 15 or 16. It has stayed with me ever since.

 A.W. Pink
 “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so He giveth His beloved sleep”.  [Psalm 127:2]
How often is it now lost sight of that the Lord cares for the bodies of His saints as well as for their souls. This is more or less recognized and owned by believers in the matter of food and clothing, health and strength, but it is widely ignored by many concerning the point we are here treating of.
SLEEP is as imperative for our physical well-being as is food and drink, and the one is as much the GIFT of our heavenly Father as is the other.
We cannot put ourselves to sleep by any effort of will, as those who suffer with insomnia quickly discover. Nor does exercise and manual labour of itself ensure sleep: have you ever lain down almost exhausted and then found you were “too tired to sleep”?
Sleep is a DIVINE GIFT, but the nightly recurrence of it blinds us to the fact.
When is so pleases Him, God withholds sleep, and then we have to say with the Psalmist, “Thou holdest mine eyes waking” (77:4). But that is the exception rather than the rule, and deeply thankful should we be that it is so. Day by day the Lord feeds us, and night by night He “giveth His beloved sleep.” Thus in this little detail - of Elijah’s sleeping under the juniper tree - which we are likely to pass over lightly, we should perceive the gracious hand of God ministering in tenderness to the needs of one who is dear unto Him.
Yes, “the Lord pitieth them that fear Him,” and why? “for He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14). He is mindful of our frailty, and tempers His winds accordingly; He is aware when our energies are spent, and graciously renews our strength. It was not God’s design that His servant should die of exhaustion in the wilderness after his long, long flight from Jezreel, so he mercifully refreshes his body with sleep. And thus compassionately does He deal with us.
Alas, how little are we affected by the Lord’s goodness and grace unto us. The unfailing recurrence of His mercies both temporally and spiritually inclines us to take them as a matter of course. So dull of understanding are we, so cold our hearts Godward, it is to be feared that most of the time we fail to realize WHOSE loving hand it is which is ministering to us. Is not this the very reason why we do not begin really to value our health until it is taken from us, and not until we spend night after night tossing upon a bed of pain do we perceive the worth of regular sleep with which we were formerly favored?
And such vile creatures are we that, when illness and insomnia come upon us, instead of improving the same by repenting of our former ingratitude, and humbly confessing the same to God, we murmur and complain at the hardness of our present lot and wonder what we have done to deserve such treatment. O let those of us who are still blessed with good health and regular sleep fail not daily to return thanks for such privileges and earnestly seek grace to use the strength from them to the glory of God.
[Quoted from A.W. Pink’s ‘Life of Elijah’]

And so to bed

I read this week Adrian Reynolds little book on sleep - And so to bed. It is the right length and covers most of the ground (the only ommission I spotted was Elijah and may be a blast against the idea of psychopannychia). His book suggests that quite a few people suffer with lack of sleep (not my problem I have to confess) and the first thing to help them is to think of it in a biblical way. There is also practical advice here and an acknowledgement of the fact that sometimes there may be a medical problem. Very nicely written. Thanks ever so much Adrian.

Coats E - Ermine fur coat