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 March 18 2018

I'm rather behind with this, sorry. It was such an interesting day too. Firstly, my second son Dylan preached in the morning. I have not heard him before and I was mostly encouraged. It was a clear, warm, well ordered sermon, not too long, with a good introduction and on an excellent subject. It was from 2 Samuel 9. Dylan is pursuing theological studies with EMW and would like to be in a church in the South Wales area where his gifts can be developed. Of course, the snow kept some away, especially the older folk. Some have been away for a while now, though and I doubt if it was just the snow that made the difference. One man who comes on rare occasions slipped in at the start of the sermon and even though he slipped out for a reefer in the middle he was sstill able to tell me what the sermon's subject was. In the evening we had communion before the main meeting. I was welcoming in three new members who we accepted at our church meeting last Thursday. A couple in the seminary have now joined as associate members and a lady who was baptised with us many years and joined us is now back from a long period in Nigeria where she has suffered at the hands of the prosperity gospel people. Appropriately enough the evening sermon (from me) was on that famous passage about the church in Matthew 18:15-20. So a good day on the whole. Sorry not to have written it up sooner.

Last Saturday at Wesley's Chapel

There is a phenomenon I have noticed. When I start to like something it quickly goes out of fashion and becomes hard or even impossible to get hold of. I experienced this once again recently with the Congregational Studies Conference. I remember years ago seeing the annual meetings advertised and thinking about going. I was slightly put off by the fact I am not a Congregationalist. Anyway three years ago I started attending. I think it was the presence of Michael Haykin that finally jerked me into action. Well, this year they announced to be the last. If like me you have often thought about going and never made it I suggest you get in touch with Digby James or someone else and tell them that if they will get one organised nest year you promise to come. See what you can do.
As for the conference itself we had three good papers and a short presentation on Trevecka College by Digby. I missed Digby and the first paper from Dominic Stockford (although he kindly let me have his printed manuscript which I have now half read). Dominic gave The Alan Tovey Memorial Lecture on Calling a Minister (What are we looking for and how do we go about it?).
In the afternoon Richard Underwood spoke helpfully on Supporting the Ministry and Peter Beale again helpfully on The Minister in Retirement.
The mp3s are on the website as are details of the lectures as they are published. See here. A recording of my own lecture from 2017 is here.
The picture above shows the conference secretary Peter Beale seated and the conference chairman Digby James standing.

Speaking in Bala to Pastors' Wives

I am due to speak along with my wife to pastors wives in Bala, North Wales, on April 21. Do check it out here. I speak only at the end on the famous woman of Proverbs 31. I hope numbers will pick up soon.

Gary (Hoey)'s dream comes true

10 Euphemisms for death from Monty Python

This list was inspired by a question on University Challenge. The speech is Mr Praline's (John Cleese) to the shopkeeper (Michael Palin)
1. 'E's passed on!
Pass on or pass away has apparently been used in the sense 'die' since about 1375; Lay Folks Mass Book (MS. B) 112: “God lord graunt .. rest and pese ├×at lastis ay to christen soules passed away.” It implies a life beyond this one.
2. This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be!
This is the more correct way to speak of the death of a parrot, which would have no after life.
3. 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
To expire is to breath our one's last breath. One's maker is, of course, God. A British phrase it is only found as far back as 1814.
4. 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace!
The slang term stiff for a dead body (where rigor mortis has set in) dates back to 1859.  Rest in peace (Latin: Requiescat in pace) is a short epitaph or idiomatic expression wishing eternal rest and peace to someone who has died. The expression typically appears on headstones, often abbreviated as RIP. It appears to go back to early Christianity but probably comes from Judaism.
5. If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies!
The exact origin of the phrase pushing up the daisies is disputed. Some take it back to 1860. It is a fairly short step from daisies growing above the bodies of the dead to the idiom. It is certainly at least as old as World World I. It is used in the poem A Terre by Wilfred Owen about the physical loss suffered by a soldier entrapped within his deteriorating body. The link between daisies and death (particularly innocent death) is obvious. The Celtic poet Ossian wrote of how unborn children would return to the ground as flowers. A woman named Malvina, who was mourning the death of her baby, was consoled by the Maidens of King Morven. Malvina was told that her child had turned into a flower with a golden disc surrounded by silvery petals. It supposedly looked like an infant playing in a field.
6. 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory!
This sounds fairly original. Two types of metabolic reaction take place in a cell: 'building up' (anabolism) and 'breaking down' (catabolism). Anabolic reactions use up energy. Catabolic ones gie out energy. Both of these cease when an organism dies.
7. 'E's off the twig!
A British slang phrase and euphemism. Hopping off or falling off the twig appropriately uses bird imagery.
8. 'E's kicked the bucket,
Kicking the bucket goes back as far as 1785 and is perhaps is from a word referring to a "beam on which something may be hung or carried" (1570s), from French buquet "balance," a beam from which slaughtered animals were hung (by the heels or hooves). This was perhaps reinforced by the notion of suicide by hanging after standing on an upturned bucket though there is also a Norfolk term bucket used for a pulley.
9. 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil,
The phrase is found in Hamlet's famous to be or not to be speech. Mortal coil refers to the bustle and turmoil of this life.
10. run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!!
Run or ring down the curtain refers to lowering or closing the stage curtain at the end of a theatrical performance. It could just be a corruption of bring down the curtain but appears to refers to the practice of ringing a bell to signal the time to close the curtains. Curtains were also 'rung up' and the practice remains well-known to theatre-goers as 'the bell' which is rung to signal that a play is soon to begin or resume after an interval. An early citation is found in David Garrick's 1772 farce A Peep Behind the Curtain: "Pray be so good as to ring down the curtain, that we may rehearse in form." The figurative use began use in the early 20th century. Eg Sheila Kaye-Smith on John Galsworthy: "Thus the curtain rings down on Irene Forsyte, crushed under the heel of prosperity."
O May I join the choir invisible Of those immortal dead who live again are the opening lines of a poem by George Eliot.

15 examples of how to look to Christ from Calvin's Institutes

I think this is a well known quotation but not previously known to me.

(We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ [Acts 4:12]. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is “of him” [I Cor. 1:30].)

1. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion;
2. if purity, in his conception;
3. if gentleness, it appears in his birth. (For by his birth he was made like us in all respects [Heb. 2:17] that he might learn to feel our pain [cf. Heb. 5:2].)
4. If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion;
5. if acquittal, in his condemnation;
6. if remission of the curse, in his cross [Gal. 3:13];
7. if satisfaction, in his sacrifice;
8. if purification, in his blood;
9. if reconciliation, in his descent into hell;
10. if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb;
11. if newness of life, in his resurrection;
12. if immortality, in the same;
13. if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in his entrance into heaven;
14. if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessings, in his Kingdom;
15. if untroubled expectation of judgement, in the power given to him to judge.

(In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.)

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559), 2.16.19.

10 St Patrick's Day Facts

1. Patrick was not born in Ireland (but in Britain)
2. Patrick was not born on March 17 (it is when he died)
3. Patrik's colour is blue not green
4. Patrick probably did not use a shamrock leaf to teach the Trinity
5. Patrick did not introduce Christianity to Ireland
6. Patrick did not get rid of snakes from Ireland
7. Patrick or Patricius was born Maewyn Succat
8. The first St Patrick's Day Parade in the USA was in the 18th Century. There was not one in Dublin until 1931.
9. St Patrick's Day has not always been a day for partying. Pubs used to close in Ireland on Marh 17 in the sixties/
10. Corned Beef and cabbage a traditional St Patrick's Day staple would not have been eaten in Ireland until relatively recently
(Patrick had nothing to do with leprechauns)

Midweek Meeting Wednesday March 14 2018

We were back to full strength last Wednesday and we had a visitor too who is thinking of joining us in the near futre. Encouraging. Before we prayed we looked again at Leviticus 23 and at the Spring festivals in ancient Israel - Passover and Pentecost, basically. It was good to bring the New Testament data to bear on these verses. I am sorry I don't have a clearer grasp of the Jewish feasts. Hopefully this run through Leviticus 23 will help.

Lunch Time Lecture at the Evangelical Library

There was an encouraging turn out for our latest lecture at the Evangelical Library last Monday. Norman Hopkins, who knows his history well and can put ti over well, spoke on some of the church history in connection with Kent mentioning various Lollards and later Reformers. It was a treat to be there.

Spectator Article

I picked this up from Guy Davies on Twitter. Unsurprising, it is a matter of concern. The BBC is in a  powerful position to choose what they consider to be news. See here.

10 Retrievers

Retrievers are dogs bred as gun dogs to retrieve shot waterfowl such as ducks and upland game birds during hunting and shooting parties, and were named 'retriever' because of their ability to retrieve shot game undamaged.

1. Cocker spaniel
2. Dutch partridge dog
3. Golden retriever
4. Irish or red setter
5. Gordon setter
6. Labrador
7. Poodle
8. Portuguese water dog
9. Springer spaniel
10. Weimaraner

10 Terriers

A terrier is a small dog of a breed originally used for turning out foxes and other burrowing animals from their earths.

1. Airedale
2. Bull terrrier
3. Border terrier
4. Cairn terrier
5. Fox terrier
6. Jack Russell
7. Schnauzer
8. Scots terrier
9. West Highland terrier
10. Yorkshire

Ken Dodd in Hamlet

Look out for Doddy from about 1' 30" (Billy Crystal is the gravedigger, Branagh Hamlet).

Eleri ar y teledu eto

Eleri was on tv again recently, in a documentary aboout TV prsenter Alex Jones. At the moment the programme (in Welsh) Alex Jones: Y Fam Gymreig is available on S4C's replay website clic.

Lord's Day March 11 2018

Relatively good turn outs morning and evening yesterday though several missing, includingstudents out preaching. The majority wanted to sit on my right in the morning so the shape of the congregation was a little lopsided. Decided to take a break from Acts in the morning and look at Barabbas. In the evening we were in Matthew 18 again, the parable of the lost sheep. We had tea together before the evening service. Good day.