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.

Every Chapter 04 - Colossians

The theme that comes in every chapter of Colossians is thanksgiving.

1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
1:12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

2:7 ... rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

3:15 -17 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Brave New World

I got round to reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley the other day. It's another of those novels you feel you ought to have read by now. Well, there it is done. Written in the early thirties it is a dystopian novel of the future (2054) that makes a number of telling points about mass production, promiscuity, the search for happiness, etc. One of my sons has made a study of the genre and suggested to me that although Huxley's ideas are very good George Orwell (1984) is probably just a better write. I think there is a lot in that. (The title, of course, is from Shakespeare's The Tempest. The title is not just chosen at happy random).

Chris Squire death

We hear that Chris Squire the bassist from Yes has died aged 67.

The Seventeen Traditions

I was attracted to this book by its nice cover and its title. I didn't really take in that it was by Ralph Nader whose name I am vaguely aware of as a many times US presidential candidate. It turns out that he is an American political activist of Lebanese origin who has written many books. This one is partly a trip down memory lane. He picks out lessons learned form his family and sums them up in 17 chapters of what he calls traditions. The book is devoid of any Christian content but at certain points the values do match things upheld in Scripture. The utopian description he gives of growing up in New England can cloy at certain points but it is a pleasant and thought provoking effort.
The 17 traditions are as follows 1.The Tradition of Listening 2.The Tradition of the Family Table 3.The Tradition of Health 4.The Tradition of History 5.The Tradition of Scarcity 6.The Tradition of Sibling Equality 7.The Tradition of Education and Argument 8.The Tradition of Discipline 9.The Tradition of Simple Enjoyments 10.The Tradition of Reciprocity 11.The Tradition of Independent Thinking 12.The Tradition of Charity 13.The Tradition of Work 14.The Tradition of Business 15.The Tradition of Patriotism 16.The Tradition of Solitude 17.The Tradition of Civics

All Aboard The Apple Train

One of my sons had a new iphone today. The wrapper looked rather trainy I thought.

Pen Deinosaur Clai

Another of my youngest son's creations in clay

Lord's Day June 28 2015

Yesterday turned out to be a minor disaster in many respects. It's quite humbling. We have had to have underpinning work done on the chapel and we have just reached the replastering and decorating stage. The place was a bit higgly piggly therefore and there was a problem with the PA (later mainly resolved when we put the battery in the right way up!). Preaching without a mic is not actually a problem in the summer months when there is no noise from the heating.
While the engineers were working on that I put the folded July ETs on the table from where I preach and they sprang up and upset my glass of water. (I also forgot to bring my copy of the catechism for the children's address).
All these distractions meant that I didn't get a look at my kindle from which I preach until it was time to preach. When I did look at it the screen was blank. This has happened once before and if I had remained calm I could have solved it. Instead I panicked and sent one of my sons for my laptop. So I got through my message on Psalm 91 and it was appreciated although I missed things out and it didn't flow so well. It was a good congregation with a few visitors.
One would have thought I would make sure I got things right in the evening. I was amazed when I looked at my kindle and saw that I had downloaded a previous skeleton version of the sermon document I wanted and so had no real helps for preaching. I struggled through it (the golden rule of Matthew 7:12) and lasted about 20 minutes, never really settling to it.
People were very nice about it. I'm sure the right thing is on one hand not to make too much of this. It was a mistake. Try not to let it happen again. On the other hand it is sobering and a reminder to put more into preparation, to be more prayerful, to avoid all forms of pride and to remember Satan is at work. I am quite humbled.
Psalm 91 is a good psalm to have on my mind as I reflect.

Bill Withers OGWT 1972

Thought some of you may like this

LTS Annual Service 2015

The annual LTS service when the students come to the end of their course is always a special occasion and we try to get along. This year some nine students had finished the two year course and were going on to further studies or pastoral ministry. Three are UK students and six from elsewhere. In the Principal's report he reminded us that one of the factors for deciding on membership of the EU is the present ease with which such students can come and study here. He also mentioned the many books currently coming out by those connected with the seminary on one way or another. The visiting preacher was to have been Sinclair Ferguson but he could not come and so his place was taken by Mark Johnston who preached from 1 Thessalonians 2. Tea on the lawn and a chat with friends old and new is always an added bonus.

Midweek Meeting June 24 2015

We looked at just one verse again last night - Philippians 4:9, Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. In a quite wide ranging presentation I urged us all to take greater advantage of the ministry we receive. We were able to spend a good time in prayer.

Every Chapter 03 - Philippians

In every chapter of Philippians the themes of joy or rejoicing and striving together, sharing or being of the same mind are found.
Chapter 1
4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 18 ... The important thing is that in every way ... Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel
Chapter 2
1, 2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
17, 18 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
28, 29 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, ....
Chapter 3
1 Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! 
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters,
Chapter 4
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. 

Every Chapter 02 - Ephesians

In every chapter of Ephesus you will find references to the Trinity - To God, to the Father, to the Son (Christ) and to the Spirit.
Chapter 1
1-4 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God's holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world5-17 … he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, … he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, ... to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, ... you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory. For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God's people, … I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. … 20 he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, … 22, 23 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Chapter 2
5-8 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions ... And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, ... it is the gift of God - … 10-13 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance … remember that at that time you were separate from Christ ... without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you ... have been brought near by the blood of Christ. … 16 ... in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. … 18-22 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are ... fellow citizens with God's people ... built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Chapter 3
1, 2 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles - Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, … 4-12 ... you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel ... sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. … Although I am less than the least of all the Lord's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, .... His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities ... according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. … 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, … 16-19 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you ... may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, ... - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. … 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Chapter 4
3-7 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; ... one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. … 11-16 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. … Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. ... 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. … 21 … when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. … 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption .... 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Chapter 5
1-6 Follow God's example, ... and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. … No immoral, impure or greedy person ... has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. ... because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. … 14 ... "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." … 18-21 Do not get drunk ... be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.23-25 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … 29 ... no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – … 32 ... I am talking about Christ and the church.
Chapter 6
5, 6 Slaves, obey your earthly masters ... just as you would obey Christ. ... as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. … 9 … there is no favouritism with him. … 11 Put on the full armour of God13 ... the full armour of God, … 17-19 Take ... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions ... keep on praying for all the Lord's people. … 23, 24 ... love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

The quest for the historical Adam

This big tome from William Vandoodewaard, a church history professor at Puritan Seminary, is a very thorough text book borne of much study that meticulously charts the history of the exegesis of the opening chapters of Genesis from the early church to the present day, seeking in particular to plot the existence of a continuous acceptance of the traditional view.
It demonstrates well Vos's contention that heresy only comes in when people deliberately raise the so-called results of science to a place above Scripture. Meanwhile a multiplicity of interpretations have grown up, especially in the last 150 years that have clearly been suspect if not actually heretical in Vosian terms. Vandoodeward cites and demonstrates encouraging evidence that there is a return to a more traditional approach but there is no shortage of candidates (Alexander and Sailhamer for example) keen to find a new way through.
It is interesting that where an institution such as Southern Baptist Seminary has faced a fight with liberalism it has tended to move into a more conservative position on creation as well as everything else. This can be seen on a smaller scale at Westminster Seminary following the Enns saga. Certainly the idea that creationism is the preserve of fundamentalists is quietly debunked in this book. Whitcomb and Morris get perhaps surprisingly little coverage and are even criticised to some extent. Oh yes, and great title! (Someone very kindly passed this volume on to me so I'm not sure if it is expensive).

Lord's Day June 21 2015

Back in Childs Hill yesterday. We looked at Psalm 107 in the morning. A number of people weren't really familiar with this late psalm that is full of good and encouraging things so I was glad that we tackled it. In the evening after communion we were in the Sermon on the Mount and that very encouraging section about asking, seeking and knocking. I was in quite a jolly mood for some reason and there were a good number present, as was the case in the morning. It's still very few, however. one hopes that the message preached gets to others in other ways as people hopefully talk about what they have heard.

Retro Album of the week 25 - Regatta de Blanc

Reggatta de Blanc is the second and very successful studio album by The Police, first released in late 1979 and including their first two No. 1s: Message in a Bottle and Walking on the Moon. It was their first album to reach No. 1 on the UK Album Charts. The title appears to be modelled after their first album of the previous year Outlandos d'Amour (Regatta de blanc the name of one of the tracks is apparently a pseudo-French phrase meaning white reggae, which is what a lot of this is). Uniquely in this blog list, it is not currently in my collection in any form. I checked it out on Youtube, however, and it stood the test of time. I then began to wonder how I knew it so well. Had I borrowed it from someone? It was only after a while that I recalled buying it some time between 1983 and 1987 in vinyl form. By the time this album came out I was 20 and able to take a rather detached view of the popular music scene. I liked The Police because although it was a pop band, it had an excellent drummer in Stewart Copeland (brother of Miles who later tried to get Jan Akkerman and Sting together) and an excellent guitarist in Andy Summers (spotted playing with Akkerman when he was last in Holland).