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 culturehere. 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.
It's about the right time of year now for this poem by John Keats from around 1820. Keats lived just over from here in Hampstead. His house is open to the public (next to the Library). What poetic potential he showed. Ode To Autumn is known as the subtlest and most beautiful of all Keats odes. More here.
Ode To Autumn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees, And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease, For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep, Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers: And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep Steady thy laden head across a brook; Or by a cyder-press, with patient look, Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours. Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-- While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Among the river sallows, borne aloft Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
1. Bard - Bardd Poet 2. Booth - Bwthyn Cottage, small house 3. Brock - Broch Badger or Coney - Cwningen Rabbit (or rabbit-like creature)
4. Eisteddfod - Eisteddfod Sitting or Session 5. Coracle - Corwgl One man boat 6. Corgi - Cor Dwarf + gi (mutation of ci) Dog 7. Druid - Derwydd, possibly derived from Derw oak 8. Flannel - Gwlanen Flannel (Cf OED 'uncertain') 9. Pout - Pwdu Pout, Sulk 10. Bite - Bwyta Eat or bite
(I doubt Penguin is Welsh though some dictionaries suggest it is)
A good number gathered yesterday evening at the John Owen Centre at LTS for the Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones Memorial Lecture. This year the lecturer was LTS Principal-designate Robert Strivens. The meeting was chaired by Mostyn Roberts (Welwyn). Mr Strivens spoke on Lloyd-Jones and evangelistic preaching. He began by observing that we are presently in something of a crisis in this country with regard to evangelism. The problem is not a lack of activity but a lack of very much success.
As part of the answer to this problem Mr Strivens made two suggestions as to what is wrong.
1) That there is a serious imbalance with regard to our evangelism
We have so emphasised every member evangelism that we have downgraded the importance of evangelistic preaching from the pulpit. Although his published output does not reflect it Lloyd-Jones was very much an evangelist always preaching evangelistically on a Sunday evening. He did call on his members to evangelise but he also emphasised, as we must, the role of the church's leaders - as is the case in the New Testament.
2) That elements of our evangelistic preaching need attention
He then proceeded to highlight five areas where Lloyd-Jones excelled and where we, perhaps, need to do more work.
1. Lloyd-Jones would give a great deal of attention to the subject of sin and with that the glory of God including his wrath. Men and women need to see why they need to be saved.
2. His great objective was to bring sinners into a right relationship with God. man's essential problem is that he is not right with God and that needs to be put right.
3. The way he structured his evangelistic sermons has something to teach us too. Unlike his sermons on, say, Romans, they do not assume the unbeliever is happy to listen but seek to engage and keep their attention. He would retell the OT stories and use illustrations, even personal ones.
4. His sermons were strong in propositional content. There was plenty of doctrine. So important.
5. He recognised, as we always must, the vital work of the Spirit if people are to be converted.
Some discussion followed, which added little except when one man who had sat under his ministry spoke of his urgency and the burden he had for sinners. That is so very important.
4. At most churches the two meetings are quite distinctive. Failure to attend both may create an imbalance. In many places one meeting features teaching for ‘saints’ and the other a gospel message for ‘sinners’. Anyone receiving only one of these is getting an imbalanced diet. Even where this is not strictly followed there is usually a commitment to expository preaching morning and evening. Rarely will a minister preach on a book of the Bible in the later meeting that he has already expounded in the morning and vice-versa. Oncers are likely never to hear some parts of Scripture expounded even though a little effort would give them the opportunity. Listening to the message on tape is hardly the same thing as being there under the Word and worshipping with the people. 5. By coming to both meetings you may avoid the ‘Service’ mentality. Perhaps it is the word ‘service’ that gives the wrong impression. Undoubtedly some look on the church as providing a service for the public’s convenience. Services at different times of the day mean that one can come when it best suits. If you are a late riser or you like to have an elaborate Sunday lunch, fear not, you can always catch ‘the late show’. Or if you like to stop in on Sunday evenings watching TV or you go to see friends or family after lunch ‘the first sitting’ should be enough to keep you up to the mark. Full involvement in all the meetings of the Lord’s people should help to dispel that sort of consumer mentality which does so much harm to Christians. 6. Paradoxically it will enable you to be aware of everyone in the church orbit, even the Oncers. I have a friend whose church had a large number of Oncers, some the morning sort and some the evening type. Thus the morning and evening congregations were quite different. Some never met even though they went to the same church and heard the same men preach! While Oncers continue to exist the only way to know all those who attend the same place of worship, you cannot do the same. 7. You will be a great encouragement to your pastor and the rest of the congregation who have no doubt put as much effort into the earlier meeting as the later one if you will make the effort to come to both. The super-spiritual will reply that they do not come to church to please men but to please God. However, in Hebrews 10:25 the writer has no embarrassment in urging the people to meet more often in order to encourage one another. What an encouragement it might be, under God, if you decided to give up your lie in, your walk in the countryside, your cosy evenings in or whatever and started coming twice on Sundays. It will do you some good too if you stay humble. What about it?
This article appeared in Grace magazine some years ago. Similar points are made in the opening article in the latest Banner mag.
Sadly, we hear increasingly of churches giving up having two preaching meetings on the Lord’s Day. Thankfully most Grace churches continue to have two meetings and sometimes more. Yet not everyone wants to be at both meetings. Let me introduce you to that exotic but hardly rare species of churchgoer sometimes known as The Oncer. Oncers come in 3 main varieties. Most common are Morning Oncers. They are very faithful on a Lord’s Day morning, never miss. But as for any later meetings they are nowhere to be seen. Of course, sometimes older people are a little weary or wary of venturing out at night. Legitimate duties keep some away but, sad to say, even when a lift is arranged or circumstances change the Morning Oncer often still refuses to venture out a second time. Evening Oncers are rarer but, especially in some parts of the country where the tradition is strong, you will see such people without fail in the evening or afternoon meeting though they hardly ever come in the morning. Most exotic of all are Random Oncers. With these you never know quite what will happen until the day is over. If they are not there in the morning they may be there in the evening, but then again, you may not see them at all. Such people are often unbelievers but plenty of men and women who profess faith in Christ almost never think of coming along to church twice on the Lord’s Day, even though there are always two meetings and they are well able to come to both. The idea of coming twice on the Lord’s Day is a form of fanaticism they dare not contemplate. When I was converted as a teenager, no-one told me to come to both Sunday meetings I just assumed it was the right thing to do. Not everyone finds it so simple. What arguments might induce them to come more often?
1. Remember, each meeting is a ‘public means of grace’. Therefore all healthy believers will want to be at both. At church the Word of God is read and expounded, the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and baptism are often administered, there is prayer and praise and fellowship. All these are means of receiving blessing from God. How odd that any serious believer should deliberately throw up half the opportunities they have for such things each Lord’s Day. 2. It is a Scriptural command to meet often with God’s people. Hebrews 10:25 shows us that there were problems with attendance even in the earliest days. However, the writer urges his readers not to give up meeting together as some have done but to do so more and more as you see the Day approaching. The nearer we get to the Day of Judgment and the Lord’s Return the more eager we ought to be to meet with God’s people. 3. Coming to both meetings will greatly help you to honour the Lord’s Day. Christians certainly differ in their understanding of the Lord’s Day but there is a general recognition that Sunday should be different, separate from the other days of the week. Surely this should be so not merely for part of the day but for the whole day. If you properly prepare yourself for and properly take part in the two meetings, you will find that most of your day has been wisely filled. One sometimes wonders what Oncers do with the rest of their day.
I had an eye test this morning. I've never had a full one before. I'm in my late 40s though and spending a lot of time blogging so I can struggle ever so slightly at times - like the score in the corner of the screen when the rugby world cup is on. When we got a free coupon for a test in Vision Express (normally £28) I decided to I get myself across to Brent Cross and book in.
I saw two people and looked into three different machines (including one that blew puffs of air into your eyes - slightly bothersome) as well as looking at the eye charts. My right eye is stronger than my left but all in all they're not in bad shape though reading glasses might be worth getting hold of to make reading more restful. This page talks you through it if you're thinking of going - Vision Express (now expired).
Reformation Heritage Books have just brought out another book in their little devotional series Devoted to the service of the Temple. It chiefly presents writings by Hercules Collins (c 1646-1702), a rather forgotten Baptist pioneer who should be better known. Michael Haykin and Steve Weaver have drawn together an excellent set of brief writings by the man. These are beautifully presented and further enhanced by a brief biographical introduction. Hopefully it will be a great blessing to many. More details here or here.
1. Amen אמן amen (="so be it; truly") 2. Hallelujah from הללויה halleluyah (="(let us) praise God") 3. Beelzebub from בעל זבוב ba'al zvuv (="Lord of flies", name of a Philistine deity) 4. Cherub, cherubim from כרוב kerubh, כרובים kerubim 5. Kosher from כשר kasher (="fit, acceptable") 6. Messiah from משיח mashiach (="anointed") 7. Rabbi from רבי rabbi (="my teacher", or mentor") 8. Sabbath from שׁבת Shabbat (="rest") 9. Satan from שטן satan (="adversary") 10. Jubilee from יובל yovel (Jubilee Year)
We did something interesting Saturday night. Through the Welsh School we know a couple of comedy writers and through them we had a chance to join the audience for the recording of an episode of BBC sitcom After you've gone that goes out on Friday nights, now in its second series. Lead actors Nicholas Lyndhurst and Celia Imrie (as his live in mother-in-law) are the best in the game and one could see why. I've never been to anything like that before so it was all new to me. BBC TV Centre has a certain familiarity from seeing it on the box. It's a rather cold and clinical place and the memorabilia on show serve only to give it a museum feel.
Studio 6 was set up with three or four parallel sets representing the Venables' London home. Three or four large microphone booms dominate the area in front of these. There are also lots of lights and the cameras themselves. All in all this means that you can't see much of the live action but it all comes up on large and small high-definition screens in front of you.
The first scene was set in a pub that they had set up at the back. The first take looked fine to me but they did it again and we had a bit of corpsing from Lyndhurst and others. Half the programme had been pre-recorded so we got to see those scenes too at appropriate points.
The live scenes were all shot twice and usually with a few 'pick ups' as they call them to add in. It amazed me to see how well the actors were able to replicate their words and actions, although they would occasional fluff a line. After each take the editing room behind us would check that they had what they wanted and once that was achieved the next scene was set up.
The floor manager (Clare) ran all this but the audience were kept on track by a 'warm up man' called Bobby Bragg. Without his coaxing, explanations and humour it would have been easy to be distracted but he was able to sustain our interest so that pretty genuine audience reaction was engendered. They were also taking shots of the audience for the DVD so five minutes of fame may lay ahead for us. After the show we had a quick view of the high tech editing suite then spent a short while in a packed Green Room 2 with the actors, writers, etc. I think we were introduced to Windsor Davies's daughter and I saw Ruby Wax there (she is married to the director Ed Bye - the butt of most of Mr Bragg's jokes). I asked Ian Brown our host what happens if someone breaks their leg before the end of the series and he had some nice such stories from previous shows he has done (Drop the Dead Donkey and My family). He'd written this particular episode and it wasn't difficult to be complimentary about it. The story is a stock one but to write a whole half an hour of pretty funny dialogue like that is quite an achievement. It's a bit like pop music though - very clever stuff but rather ephemeral.
The programme goes out some time in October. I read of the series that 'the general consensus seems to be that it isn't anything amazing but if you have nothing better to do for half-an-hour then it is a fun way to spend your time' which sounds about right. Few sitcoms rise higher than that I guess.
One thing the internet does well is nostalgia. My last post included a reference to Black Bob, the Dandy Wonder Dog. It may mean nothing to you but when I was around 8 or 10 we had two or three of the Black Bob books in the house from somewhere and I loved to read them at night. I discover (from wikipedia, etc) that
Black Bob was the name of a fictitious border collie from Selkirk, Scotland. He originally appeared in a text story in The Dandy (No 280, 25/11/44). Following this he appeared as a picture strip in The Weekly News (1946), which continued until 1967. Drawn by Jack Prout, the popular sheepdog appeared regularly in The Dandy from 1944 debut until No 2122 (24/07/82). Eight or nine Black Bob books were published at infrequent intervals from 1950-1965 (1950, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1962 [?], 1965).
Jack Prout (1900-1978) joined the Scottish publishing firm of D C Thomson as a staff artist in 1937, retiring in 1968. (His strips were reprinted in The Dandy for another 14 years). Shortly before retirement, Prout acquired a black and white border collie. Staff at D C Thomson's presented the artist with a spoof "dog licence", allowing the animal to keep the artist as a pet. The document was "signed" with Black Bob's pawprint.
It was my privilege on Monday to join several others at the Evangelical Library for the latest lunch-time lecture. (We should have given more publicity for this fine lecture). The speaker was Dr Doug McMasters, (more here) minister of Trinity Road Baptist Church, Tooting (see pic, more here). He spoke challengingly and interestingly on C H Spurgeon and church planting. Not a subject dealt with at any length elsewhere, Dr McMasters interest in it has grown out of a love for Spurgeon, someone who through his books has been from his early Christian days an inspiration and guide, and finding himself pastor of one of the many, many churches founded by Spurgeon and his associates at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in the second half of the 19th Century. Beginning, by way of example, with the founding of Trinity Road itself, we learned that this was by no means an isolated case. Perhaps as many as 200 or more churches were found in the period by Spurgeon, members of his church an students at his pastors college. There were over 40 of these in London alone, including Enfield (1867), Totteridge Rd (1868), Hornchurch (1877), etc. The first of these was East Hill, Wandsworth in 1859, followed by Greenwich soon after. Often not just individuals but twelves and twenties and on at least one occasion, some 250 at one time, were sent out from the congregation of The Metropolitan Tabernacle to get things started. Besides Spurgeon's own preaching and giving and activity other agencies in this work were the London City Mission, the Pastor's College and the London Baptist Association, founded in 1865. By 1907 the latter organisation some 199 churches belonged to that grouping (including our own church here in Childs Hill), these churches including some 57, 000 members. What we would now consider large churches were the order of the day. Undoubtedly the singular and sovereign movement of the Holy Spirit in those days is the key to all this but before we were able to excuse ourselves with 'that was then' arguments we were given a sixfold challenge arising out of what we had heard. Key elements in the success of this campaign were a consciousness of the task, a confidence in the gospel, carefulness about methods, concern for the lost, confident Calvinism and a constant call to involvement. These assertions were all backed up by appropriate quotations from Spurgeon himself. if you would like to hear an audio version of the message, get in touch the the Library via its Website here.
30:18 There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas and the way of a man with a maiden.
Eagle. If you have ever seen an eagle or any bird of prey flying high up, either in life or on film, you will have been struck by the amazing ease with which it is done. Perfectly adapted to its home ‘high in heaven’ this ‘Bird of the broad and sweeping wing’ has its throne ‘on the mountain top’ while its fields are ‘the boundless air’ (I am quoting John Gates Percival). Hang gliding is the nearest man can get to it. Snake. A snake has no legs but it is able to quickly move along even rough ground. If you have ever walked across pebbles with bear feet you will appreciate the skill. Emily Dickinson’s ‘Narrow fellow in the long grass’ is one who ‘likes a boggy acre, a floor too cool for corn.’ She speaks of him and tells how
when a child, and barefoot, I more than once at morn, Have passed, I thought, a whip-lash Unbraiding in the sun,- When, stooping to secure it, It wrinkled, and was gone.
Ship. We know that by Solomon’s time navigation and shipping skills were quite advanced. The Phoenicians were the best at it at that time and Solomon made use of some of Hiram’s men for a fleet that was based at Elath, in the Gulf of Akabah on the Red Sea. It brought gold from Ophir. Other trading ships brought silver, ivory, apes and baboons. It is a majestic sight – a sailing ship gliding through the high seas. Even landlubbers can enter into John Masefield’s enthusiasm for ‘the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking’. What can compare with a
windy day with the white clouds flying, And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying.
A man with a maiden. The last reference is either to man’s wooing of a maiden or the act of love itself. Song of Solomon 2:8, 9, 17 is evocative Listen! My lover! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look! There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice … Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn, my lover, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills. What is the point of the comparison in each case? Some believe that the point of comparison here is the fact that in each case no trace is left. Probably the point is rather that these are all mysterious things that seem hard, almost impossible - flying, moving smoothly over rough terrain, sailing on the sea, a man seducing a maiden.
The application folows in verse 20 where the adulteress sees the act of adultery as just like having a meal. (This is the way of an adulteress: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I've done nothing wrong.’) You think, I hope, that is a terrible thing to think and say. How can she live with herself? Yet for her it is no big deal. Yes, the first time she did it, it was probably quite something (think of a fledgling eagle, a young snake, a maiden voyager) but no longer. Her conscience has been seared. What about you? Are you so used to some sins that you no longer think anything of them? What danger! Recognise this and repent. Because he had never sinned the Lord Jesus always saw sin in all its horror, in a way that we do not. We must endeavour to see sin through his eyes.
Besides the first three thinsg we learn about wisdom mentioned last time, we also learn
4. It goes back to first principles The question here was which woman was the true mother. By focusing on that central question Solomon was able to see that what he needed to do was to reveal the answer to that specific question. Once that was done everything else would fall into place. It is for this that he sought. Too often and in too many areas we are not wise because we are unwilling to go back to basics, back to first principles.
5. It sees that getting at the truth sometimes involves using unconventional means What a way to deal with the situation! But it worked. Solomon saw he was not going to get anywhere by conventional means. Something powerful and dramatic was necessary. He needed to bring this thing to a head. Somehow the true mother had to be revealed. His method was perfect for that. Somehow we must learn to see things clearly and to be willing to act decisively. Solomon had no intention of having the baby killed, of course, but he pretended that he did. Some would find that sort of sleight of hand objectionable but surely there are contexts, as here, where it is acceptable. We read of the risen Christ himself making as if he was going to continue his journey.
6. It is an admirable, awe-inspiring thing Do not miss verse 28 ‘When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe.’ It is certainly an absolutely amazing story. I have often thought about it and I do not think I would have come up with a solution even in a lifetime. But Solomon did. There is something awe-inspiring about wisdom. You think especially of the examples of Jesus’ wisdom. For example the way he answered that question about whether the Jews should pay taxes to Caesar or the way he handled all sorts of potentially difficult questions. Or think more mundanely of the wisdom of putting a knot in your thread if you are sewing or how to split a chocolate bar between two children – let one cut it in half and the other choose which 'half' to have. What about the wisdom of having answers ready for sceptics? For example, if the Bible was written by bad men why would they be so keen on such high morals? If it was written by good men, why should they lie about the resurrection?
The resurrection itself can be established without difficulty once the inadequate alternatives are considered – that Jesus either ‘swooned’ or was replaced by someone else, that the body was stolen either by his disciples or his enemies.
C S Lewis famously pointed out that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic or the Lord. There are no other real alternatives. It is God who convinces men, of course, but such arguments have something awesome in their simplicity and power.
7. It is something God-given The verse ends ‘because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.’ True wisdom comes from God alone. Man’s wisdom fails. There are many examples of man’s foolish ‘wisdom’. In China in the 1950s Chairman Mao ordered a ‘Four pests campaign’ against fleas, mosquitoes, rats and sparrows. Peasants in many places banged pots and pans to scare sparrows away from crops. Terrified of landing, the birds died of exhaustion. The unforeseen upshot was that many more locusts lived than would otherwise have been the case, leading to several plagues, the loss of many crops and the death of millions. Or think of the misguided animal rights activists who, in 1998, set free 6,500 mink from a farm in the south of England, leading to the deaths of many domesticated and wild animals and birds, including some rare species. There have been other similar incidents. Other examples abound. The First World War was to have been ‘The war to end all wars’. Despite much optimism at one time, universal education and better housing in Western Europe have not served to improve moral standards.
Babies born with Downe’s syndrome were once called Mongols because of a bizarre, unscientific and racist understanding of embryonic development.
More controversially, the theory of evolution and the extensive use of prison as a means of punishment in the last hundred years can be cited as further examples of man’s folly.
What insight do we gain into Christ’s wisdom here? Always we want to see Christ in the Scriptures and as Solomon is a type of Christ we end the chapter by briefly drawing attention to four qualities of Christ that come out in this passage. These qualities are seen now in part but will especially be evident on the final Day of judgement when he judges the world. Remember (2 Cor 5:10) We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
1. He is able to discern the truth Like Solomon Christ has the power of perceiving the truth. It is not possible to pull the wool over his eyes. Though many attempt it, he cannot be fooled. God is not mocked. One day ‘God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ’ (Rom 2:16).
2. He is able to bring about justice
Like Solomon Christ the great Judge is more than able to establish justice. The Judge of all the world, for that is who he is by the Father’s appointment, will do right. 1 Cor 4:5 ‘He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.’
3. He will be gracious to the good This incident must have led to great relief and consolation for the woman who almost lost her baby owing to the folly and dishonesty of another. Similarly, there is a great day of consolation coming for all who look to Christ. He will not fail us. Rom 2:7, 10 ‘To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour and immortality, he will give eternal life.’ There will be ‘glory, honour and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.’
4. He will expose the evil nature of the wicked For the other woman this was the end of the road. She had clung to a lie in order to find comfort and relief. In the end, her folly and dishonesty are exposed. So it will be at the Judgement for all who have sort to live dishonest and wicked lives. Rom 2:8, 9 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
I'm sorry to be so predictable but once again it's good old Charles Wesley. That line in verse 2 "Where saints in an ecstasy gaze, And hang on a crucified God;" is just amazing from many points of view.
1 Thou Shepherd of Israel, and mine, The joy and desire of my heart, For closer communion I pine, I long to reside where thou art: The pasture I languish to find Where all, who their Shepherd obey, Are fed, on thy bosom reclined, And screened from the heat of the day.
2 Ah! show me that happiest place, The place of thy people's abode, Where saints in an ecstasy gaze, And hang on a crucified God; Thy love for a sinner declare, Thy passion and death on the tree: My spirit to Calvary bear, To suffer and triumph with thee.
3 'Tis there, with the lambs of thy flock, There only, I covet to rest, To lie at the foot of the rock, Or rise to be hid in thy breast; 'Tis there I would always abide, And never a moment depart, Concealed in the cleft of thy side, Eternally held in thy heart.
Meine blog haben beginnt sprechen zu mir in Deutsch aber ich nicht verstehen Deutsch. Wat kan man machen? Sprechen sie Deutsch? [My blogger window is currently saying Blog Anzeigen (in einem neuen fenster) Why? Is it just me?]
That ITV documentary turned out to be quite short and only okay. A longer and much better one was shown on BBC 4 last night. The general opinion seems to be that Bolan was ambitious, talented, hard working and prone to various vices. The Early T Rex period (Ride a White Swan to Children of the Revolution) was clearly the best period with early promise and a later revival either end. (I was pleased to see my opinion confirmed that after Tanx things went down hill). It struck me how important producer Tony Visconti [see pic] was in the whole thing. See here for his website. I warmed to the man. Steve Harley's suggestion that Beard of Stars was almost a good as Revolver really appeals but it can't be true. At the end it was quite moving to hear B P Fallon and others talk about the tragic and untimely death. Harley had the last word as when asked to sum it all up with three words he shunned the popular 'beautiful, clever, loving, etc' for 'I miss him'. Eloquent.
Ringo Starr's footage of Bolan in concert followed. I dipped in and out but it was all a long time ago now.
1. Black Bess - Dick Turpin 2. Bucephalus - Alexander the Great 3. Incitatus - Caligula 4. Champion -Gene Autrey 5. Trigger - Roy Rogers 6. Silver* - Lone Ranger 7. Copenhagen - Duke of Wellington 8. Burmese - Queen Elizabeth II 9. Marengo -Napoloeon 10. Lamri -King Arthur
(*There were in fact two horses [see pics] as in the show Clayton Moore used both 'White Cloud' and 'Tarzan's white banner')
We have said that we need wisdom because we are ignorant and because of conflicting opinions. Further, we need wisdom ...
3. Because of the existence of evil in the world Of course, what exacerbates this problem is the evil in the world. We might be tempted to think that if the one woman had not rolled onto her baby this problem would not have arisen. Or go back further. If these two women had not become prostitutes they never would have ended up living in the same house as they were living without husbands. If no man had been willing to sleep with them as prostitutes, the problem may never have arisen. It is the existence of sin in the world that so complicates things and makes for multiple dilemmas. Proverbs 10:23 ‘A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.’
4. Because of deceivers in this world Of course, the dilemma is ultimately due to one woman’s refusal to tell the truth. If she had simply accepted her own bad mistake, as tragic as it was and as hard to take as it must have been, then this dilemma would never have arisen. One of the earliest lessons we need to learn if we are ever going to be wise is that not everyone tells the truth. I know it sounds obvious to say – a truism indeed – but you would be surprised how often it is forgotten. Just because a man says the Bible is not true or that God does not exist, do not be taken in by him. He may well not be telling you the truth! He may protest very loudly and use seemingly profound arguments but in fact he is lying. Proverbs 18:17 ‘The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.’
5. Because of the need to make decisions Clearly a decision had to be made here. That is what brings wisdom into sharp relief. That is why wisdom has to be an everyday thing. Every day we are making thousands of decisions. What time shall I get up? What shall I do first? Shall I agree to do this? Shall I say no? Shall I trust this person or not? Shall I believe this or believe that? In every decision large or small we all need wisdom.
6. Because of the need for order and justice in this world You may have been tempted to say that it was their problem and that they should sort it out themselves as best they could. But imagine what would happen if that became widespread. It would lead to anarchy. No longer would right be the important thing but might. There would be no one to defend the weak. No, it was vital that the true mother be discovered and for her to have her own baby. Such things do matter. Without order and justice in this world, life becomes intolerable. We should pray for those in charge of justice in our own countries and beyond. Pray that they will be people of integrity and wisdom. Pray for them in the tough decisions they have to make, sometimes on an almost daily basis. Otherwise, what suffering lies ahead. In some places things are bad enough already in many respects. If all law and order breaks down, how much worse. This dishonest woman was pretty bad but at least she saw that in the face of justice she could not win. What a relief to the honest mother when she saw justice prevail!
What do we learn about the nature of wisdom here? Already we are beginning to see something of the nature of wisdom. Let us spell it out a little more.
1. It is aware that simply gathering the facts is not always possible Solomon does not go looking for witnesses. He does not try to tease out more facts. That is the instinct of most and often it will help. However, here it is useless. The one woman is determined to tell lies, the other did not actually see what happened and is only putting two and two together. There are many things about which we cannot gather facts in the conventional sense. For example, the beginning of the world, God’s existence, the soul of man. Such questions are not susceptible to scientific enquiry in the normal way. It is part of wisdom to recognise that.
2. It is aware that simply listening to all opinions is not always effective We have already made this point but we want to underline it because it is a common view that really needs to be scotched. It is a profound mistake to suppose that once you have asked everyone’s opinion then you are in a position to come to a wise decision. There are many problems with that popular but erroneous view. Firstly, how do you know you have everyone’s opinion? Then, how do you know if they are all telling the truth? Further, how do you know that one of these opinions is right and that they are not all wrong?
3. It is aware that focusing on the real issue is vital One interesting thing here is that Solomon takes no time to rebuke the women for engaging in prostitution. He resists the temptation to say ‘If you were not prostitutes this would never have happened’. He does not go into how the other baby died either. I would guess that the wicked woman was drunk – I may be wrong. Perhaps they were both drunk and that is how it was so easy to exchange babies. These are guesses and in the end they are irrelevant. The one crucial issue was whose baby is it? If we are to be wise we need to focus on the real issue in that way. It is the big issues that need to get our attention – God’s existence, the truth of the Bible, that Jesus is the one and only Saviour, that he died on the cross in the place of sinners, that faith in him can save you from hell and bring you to heaven. Focus there.
Lessons for parents29:15, 17 The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother ... 17 Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul Last visited in 23:13, 14 here is a final reminder about corporal punishment for children. When a rod of correction is used, it is imparting wisdom, a helpful thought to have in mind when exercising such discipline. Unlike the last reference, the emphasis in these proverbs is on the benefit to the parents rather than the child. The same is true of 3 where a grown up child is in mind (A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth). This is also to be borne in mind. Simply to leave a child to himself will lead to your disgrace in the end. The mother’s disgrace is highlighted. Discipline is the way to peace, a peace that comes at a price. What a delight it is when a child grows up to be a credit to you. The context points to a wider application for the verses but they apply firstly to parents. Or to put it another way, a well-governed country needs well-governed homes. Proverbs is famous for its commendation of strict discipline. This is the only way to wisdom and success. By nature, we are all foolish and perverse and so strict discipline is vital. These verses on corporal punishment are not necessarily confined to Proverbs. A little while ago a group of Christian schools were arguing their human right to exercise corporal punishment on the basis that it is a biblical doctrine. A professedly Christian academic countered them in the courts. Dr Lloyd Pietersen said ‘I cannot think of a single New Testament passage that supports the idea of corporal punishment.’ He is aware of Ephesians 6:4, which speaks of bringing up children in the training and instruction or nurture and admonition of the Lord. Apparently, he is unaware of the argument that says that while the latter term refers to what is said to the child, the former refers to what is done to him. The first term could be rendered discipline.
This feature has been resting over the summer but we sang this Isaac Watts hymn from New Christian Hymns on Sunday and I would like to feature it. I don't recall ever singing it before. It has some magnificent phrases.
Praise ye the Lord; ’tis good to raise Our hearts and voices in His praise; His nature and His works invite To make this duty our delight.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem, And gathers nations to His Name; His mercy melts the stubborn soul, And makes the broken spirit whole.
He formed the stars, those heav’nly flames; He counts their numbers, calls their names; His wisdom’s vast, and knows no bound, A deep where all our thoughts are drowned.
Great is our Lord, and great His might; And all His glories infinite: He crowns the meek, rewards the just, And treads the wicked to the dust.
Sing to the Lord, exalt Him high, Who spreads His clouds all round the sky; There He prepares the fruitful rain, Nor lets the drops descend in vain.
He makes the grass the hills adorn, And clothes the smiling fields with corn; The beasts with food His hands supply, And the young ravens when they cry.
What is the creature’s skill or force, The sprightly man, the warlike horse, The nimble wit, the active limb? All are too mean delights for Him.
But saints are lovely in His sight, He views His children with delight; He sees their hope, He knows their fear, And looks, and loves His image there.
We sang the famous hymn Tell me the old old story recently by the Clapham set poetess Arabella Katherine Hankey (1836-1911) and it struck me that what she says there ought to be in the mind of every faithful preacher as he preaches.
1. Stick to the main thing - Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above Of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love
We want it to be fresh and relevant but not new and not earthbound - just the good old gospel and how to get to heaven. Tell them about Jesus - that's what they need to hear.
2. Keep it simple, stupid - Tell me the story simply, as to a little child, For I am weak and weary and helpless and defiled.
Don't try to be clever or expect too much. You're dealing with weak and weary and wanderers who need help.
3. Easy does it - Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in, That wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin.
Don't be in a rush and don't assume things. Patiently explain it all - the whole plan of redemption and how sinners are saved.
4. Let's go through that again - Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon; The early dew of morning has passed away at noon.
Be subtle but don't be afraid of repetition. You'd be surprised how quickly people forget things. And don't be afraid of repetition. It's amazing how quickly people forget things!
5. This is serious - Tell me the story softly, with earnest tones and grave; Remember I’m the sinner whom Jesus came to save.
Don't be flippant or uncaring. There is seldom need to shout. Seek to be filled with compassion. Be earnest. Love them. Take it seriously.
6. What they really need - Tell me the story always, if you would really be, In any time of trouble, a comforter to me.
Never forget that what they need more than anything else is not your pop psychology or the latest cliches but the gospel. Whatever their particular trouble, the answer is found ultimately in the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.
7. The ministry of warning - Tell me the old story when you have cause to fear That this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear.
A warning note needs to be sounded for some. A gospel call implies a call to leave the world and its supposed charms. Don't be afraid to be negative where necessary.
8. With an eye on the goal ahead - Yes, and when that world’s glory is dawning on my soul, Tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”
Death is fearful thing even for the Christian and the people you are speaking to will all have to face it one day, some sooner than others. In death, as much as in life, what they really need to face the final enemy is the same gospel that they needed in life. Preach conscious of that fact.
A recent report suggested that people in rock music do die younger than others. Among the many to die young was Marc Bolan, founder of seventies band T Rex. This month would have marked his 60th birthday had he lived. An iconic star in British music, Bolan's classic hits continue to be popular. A TV programme tonight (ITV1 10.40 pm) Marc Bolan - 20th Century Boy is billed as "a colourful celebration of the life and work of a man who changed the face of British pop". An article continues:
As lead singer of the band T Rex, Bolan kick-started the glam rock era that defined the 1970s. But this September also marks the 30th anniversary of his tragic death at the age of just 29, an event which contributed to his enduring appeal as a true musical legend. Marc Bolan - 20th Century Boy contains exclusive interviews with his son Rolan Bolan in Los Angeles and with his long-term partner Gloria Jones, in Sierra Leone where she now runs an orphanage.
There are also interviews with his brother, Harry Feld; Jeff Dexter, his best friend; personal assistant Mick Gray; T Rex bandmate Bill Legend; legendary record producer Tony Visconti; Simon Napier-Bell, Bolan's early manager; his friend, Cilla Black: and fan Ana Matronic, of The Scissor Sisters.With archive concert footage and an early performance never before broadcast on British TV, this film proves that Bolan really was born to boogie.
The narrator is Craig Kelly. Another documentary is coming up on BBC 4 in another week's time.
I've just received the programme for this year's Westminster Fellowship. This is the ministers' fraternal originally started by Dr Lloyd-Jones that became very popular in the late sixties and early seventies but that is now, I'm afraid, down to a rather reasonable number most months.
1 October OPEN MEETING Rev Robert Strivens (Principal of LTS) a.m. Mr Strivens will preach p.m. Doddridge and Compromise: Training for the Ministry Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow 5 November Rev Gary Brady (Childs Hill) Regeneration Revisited 2008 4 February Rev Neil Evans (Porth, Rhondda) The Structure and Content of Worship 3 March Dr Stuart Burgess (Bristol University) Intelligent Design 12 May OPEN MEETING Rev Andrew Davies (Ystradgynlais) a.m. Mr Davies will preach p.m. Unction in Preaching 2 June Discussion Meeting OPEN MEETINGS Please note: The meetings in October and May are open to evangelical ministers who are not members of the Fellowship. We encourage members to invite such men to the meetings on both these occasions.We hold meetings of the Westminster Fellowship in the Lounge at the rear of Westminster Chapel, Buckingham Gate, London SW1. From 10.30 a.m. we meet for coffee and the morning session commences at 11.00. For lunch (from 12.45 p.m.) we bring our own sandwiches, and helpers serve tea/coffee. A time of prayer at 1.45 p.m. precedes the afternoon session, which ends by 3.30 p.m.
It's been a full day especially of preaching to the elderly today. In the morning I headed down to a sheltered housing block in Brondesbury on the Kilburn High Road for a short morning service followed by coffee. Our numbers were swollen with the new minister at the nearby Baptist church and the temporary warden (also a minister) joining we usual seven, mostly residents. We looked at the beginning of Mark 14.
Then after lunch I headed up to Heathgrove Lodge, a BUPA care home. This is a new venture at the invitation of Lori, the activities organiser. Folk here are more needy (one of the seven or so gathered is over a hundred years old). We sang a little and I spoke from Mark 1 then asked for questions before tea arrived. A lovely Irish lady the played some hymns and other tunes on the organ. Nice time. Seeking to the reach the elderly, especially those who are not really well, is not easy. But we cast our bread on the waters. One hears some wonderful stories of people being converted quite alte in life.
Innocence leads to confidence, wickedness to fear28:1 The wicked man flees though no-one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion God uses this image of fleeing unpursued in warning his people against disobedience in Lev 26:17 I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no-one is pursuing you. (Cf Lev 26:36 As for those of you who are left, I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a wind-blown leaf will put them to flight. They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and they will fall, even though no-one is pursuing them.) This is what literally happened to the Arameans in 2 Kings 7. Cf Ps 53:5 There they were, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread. There is nothing quite like a clear conscience. English proverbs liken it to a soft pillow, an easy couch, a coat of mail and a continual feast.
A striking contemporary example of this is the story of Denver born Katherine Ann Power. At the end of the sixties she was a student in Boston caught up in the anti-war movement of the day. To raise funds the group organised a bank raid in which she was the getaway car driver. In the course of the crime William Schroeder, a police officer, was killed. Legally, Power was considered an accessory to murder. Although the others were soon captured she became a fugitive and evaded arrest. She took on a new name and identity, settling in Oregon under the name Alice Metzinger. She even married and had a son. In 1993, however, some 23 years after the murder, she finally turned herself in to the Massachusetts authorities and received a prison sentence now served. Why did she give herself up? By that time it is highly unlikely that she would have been indicted. Being reunited with her original family no doubt played its part but the chief motive for her action was the desire for peace of mind. Suffering from a deep depression she and her therapist came to accept that the underlying problem was her sense of guilt for her past crime. She was being tormented by guilt. However skilful she had been at hiding from law enforcement officers, she could not hide from herself and the knowledge of her crime.
Here the righteous man, the man with a clear conscience, is said to be like a lion. He is a legitimate tyrant over his own moral life. The righteous have no fear. Behind them is only God’s goodness and mercy. Do you know this blessing? Think of how Daniel and his three friends faced what they faced. This is what made Moses bold before Pharaoh, Elijah bold before Ahab, Paul bold before his Roman judges and Luther bold before the Emperor. If we are wearing the breastplate of righteousness we can say with David (Ps 27:1) The LORD is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?
We headed off to the seaside last Saturday, to Herne Bay on the Kent coast. We weren't heading for sun and sand, however, so after half an hour looking at the sea we headed to Herne Bay Evangelical Church where my old college friend Keith Hoare was being inducted to the pastorate. Former pastor Patrick Hawes (Hawes, Hoare - could be confusing) led proceedings and Graham Heaps from Keith and Janice's church in Dewsbury read and spoke. I preached from 1 Peter 5:1-3. Keith and his family have been working in France for the last 22 years, mainly among Muslims but also pastoring a church in Marseille. The link with Herne Bay can chiefly be traced back to Ashford (Middlesex not Kent). It was nice to be present and meet various Kent folk, one or two who I know but most not and some missionary organisation types who know Keith. Eleri checked out the Welsh connections. I was sorry not to get a chance to speak to retired church planter Michael Toogood. You usually have to explain where Childs Hill is but one man told me he had gone to school here. Good time