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.

Dad

My niece Vicki drew this a short while ago. It is a true if slightly romantic likeness.
(Yes, I did sometimes ask him for a family bucket but he never really got it)

Luke 23.43

Thanks for the various messages of condolence by various routes. I received this helpful quotation from John Ling's book Edge of Life. I echoes and strengthens my own thoughts.

There is the reality of the deathbed conversion, and we should never underplay it. Nor should we necessarily be downcast if we do not observe it. Who knows what occurs during the last hours of a person’s life? Searching for God, recalling earlier-heard truths, memories of Christian teaching and testimony, who knows? The dying thief is our exemplar (Luke 23:43). But we should also beware of creating false hopes in ourselves and others. We do not always know how God works, except that it is forever in love, according to his purposes and sovereignty. Conversion is not our business, it is God’s. It is he who has said, ‘I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion’ (Exodus 33:19). Our task is to be true and faithful. Nevertheless, the death of someone with uncertain saving faith and undecided eternal destiny should cause us to, ‘Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near’ (Isaiah 55:6) and prompt others to do the same. But can we doubt that we are going to be astonished by some we meet in heaven?

WFB 1929-2009

My father, William Francis Brady, died in hospital in Pontypool just after 2 pm today - Sunday, November 29th. He was 80 years old. Everyone called him “Bill”. He'd been unwell for several months and we knew that death would probably take him from us before the end of the year. Obviously, my immediate thoughts are ones of great sadness. He was my dad, the only dad I've ever had, and a great dad at that. My mother died 10 years before and so my sister and I are at last left all alone, as it were.
At the same time there is a great thankfulness to God. I am thankful that I had a father who I knew and who I knew well. I am thankful that I had him there for so long – 50 years. I am thankful that for most of that time he was fit and well, especially as I was growing up. I am thankful that he was a moral man who brought me up according to the ten commandments, as best he knew how, and disciplined me so that I would not end up a fool. Although he never taught me the gospel, not knowing it, he never stood in my way but supported me as best as he knew how in seeking to be a Christian and a minister of the gospel. I am thankful that he had a long life and that God gave me many opportunities to testify to him and towards the end to read the Scriptures with him and pray with him too. The last time my boys gathered at his bed and I asked him to say something to them he told them to hear the Bible and listen to what it said.
As far as I'm aware my earliest memories of my dad go back to the time before I was five. My first is of him wet shaving in the kitchen of the first house we lived in. Shaving especially wet shaving is a fascinating process for a young boy to watch. Whiskers themselves are fascinating at that age as is the removal of them. Singing and whistling are in there too, which my dad did plenty of – and quite well. He loved to croon. There was also the concern over hot water. My parents were always very alert to danger and I know they were concerned about that. In my mind's eye I see the plastic cup of hot water into which my dad would dip his shaving brush and in my head I remember learning the word scald and at some point differentiating it from the word scold.
The other main memory from the first house is the day of my fourth or fifth birthday. I recall being at the table with friends from school who were there for the party when we heard someone entering by the side door of the house. “Hello” rang out my dad's inimitable voice. All the kids were afraid or pretended to be. I remember being amazed. Why would anyone be afraid of my dad?
There is also a vague memory of a Christmas in the first house and being given a Scalextric (racing car game) and my dad spinning me some yarn about Father Christmas. (I remember my mother telling me that my dad and the man next door played with the Scalextric most of Christmas morning!).
The other memory find us in the kitchen of the house we moved into after my sister was born. Again it was my birthday but I am definite this was my fifth. It is not the party I recall, though, but my dad coming home with this box containing a green scooter which he proceeded to assemble before my gazing eyes. His favourite colour was green.
There are loads more memories, of course, including being taken to see Godzilla and The Guns of Navarone when I was far too young but those are the first few. He would often tell me that if I didn't work harder at school I'd “end up on the ash carts”. He found it odd when things that came naturally to him – like a sense of direction, arithmetic, dribbling a ball – didn't come naturally to me. My dad was a big man, six foot two inches, with long legs. He almost never had much hair. He was generally patient but could lose his temper with us at times. He hated lying but believed it was permissible in some cases – but only as an act of kindness. He loved to sing, as I have said, and was a fine yodeller. He liked most types of music including jazz. I remember watching the Oscar Peterson show with him sometimes. Glenn Miller was his all time favourite. He always felt that not being able to read music was a great disadvantage but he was musical enough to sing with a band or in a choir. Sometimes when singing he would forget the words and inadvertently repeat himself. He loved to dance as well and loved a smooth floor and good musicianship.
He was a natural at most sports and loved soccer. He played football and baseball at a decent amateur level and was a good swimmer. His racing dive was legendary. He would watch any sport on television, especially golf or snooker. He usually read two newspapers a day (from back to front) but avoided books as he tended to get so absorbed so that they took over his life. When he was reading the paper it was often difficult to get a response from him. He wanted us to be sensible, thoughtful people who enjoyed life and persevered with the things we set about doing.
He had a good sense of humour and liked jokes and puns. He was quite a good story teller too full of anecdotes. He was careful with money but generous at times too. He liked to gamble, especially on horse racing but even on one armed bandits. He drank bitter weekly and whisky at Christmas. He liked his food and was never a fussy eater. He had a healthy appetite. Marriage was a lifelong commitment never to be questioned. He saw his chief duty to us as a provider and guiding hand.
It is staggering to think at this vantage point of a whole life gone. How quickly the years have somehow passed. It won't be long before we're all in the grave.
My dad belonged to a boys brigade as a boy and possibly heard the gospel but was put off by some wrongdoing that appeared to be going on in the Baptist church he attended. He hated hypocrisy and most forms of deceit, especially of the religious sort. Being a man of great moderation and a strong will he found it difficult to think of himself as a sinner and that probably hindered any spiritual progress. A certain self-confidence of the “I'm no worse than the next man” didn't always help either. But who knows God is very great and it may well be that in those final years and months he came, like mother, to accept the truth. In the latter years he would sometimes say to me, quite seriously, “how do you know I don't believe anyway?” Will not the judge of all the earth do right?

Visiting Dad 19

Last Tuesday I went down to South Wales to see my dad again. He continues to cling on. The journey seemed to be a waste of time in many ways as he was able to make little response. Perhaps if I had been in a better spiritual state of mind it would have seemed less useless.

Gwent Rivers 01 Rhymni




Having completed the set on castles I thought we might move to rivers. Gwent has four principal rivers and I might mention one or two others.
Afon Rhymni is unsurprisingly in Cwm Rhymni (the Rhymney Valley) and is traditionally the western border of Gwent or rather Monmouthshire. It flows south through Rhymney, New Tredegar, Bargoed, Ystrad Mynach, then goes north of Caerphilly round Caerphilly Mountain and on through Bedwas, Trethomas, Machen, Draethen, Llanrhymney and Rumney (parts of Cardiff). It eventually flows into the Severn Estuary.
Being part of the South Wales coalfield and iron producing area, the river had poor water quality through most of the 20th Century but the water is now a lot cleaner and is apparently full of fish and insect life and supports plenty of other wildlife.

Gwent Castles 09

Newport/Casnewydd
There are other Gwent Castles we could mention (Goodrich and Caldicot come to mind) but we'll finish with the first castle I ever saw. I grew up in Cwmbran but my parents were from Newport and we would often be there. I used to love to see the castle. To me it was like a time travel machine that had come from another age and parked itself plonk in the middle of everything. In those days you couldn't explore it and that probably added to the mystery and attractiveness of what I once read of as being "The finest preserved Norman gateway in Wales".

RnR 05 Jungle Rock


Among several incomplete series on this blog is one on Rock ' n' Roll tracks (See RnR). This one I like for a good beat and good words.
American Mizzell had a brief and unspectacular career in the late fifties and early sixties then became a preacher with a restorationist group. Jungle Rock resurfaced in the seventies. My own favourite version is by The Replacements. More here.

Well, I was walking through the jungle just the other night
I heard a big rumble and I thought it was a fight
Stopped for a listen and I had to move my feet
It was a jungle drummer doin' a knocked out beat

Jungle, jungle rock
It was a knocked out beat and I had to move my feet
It was a Jungle, jungle rock

Well, I moved a little closer just to get a better view
I saw a chimp and a monkey a doin' the Susie Q
A 'gator and a hippo was a doin' the bop
And the big black drums was making me hop

A fox grabbed a rabbit and they did the bunny hug
And the old grizzly bear was a-cuttin the rug
The Camel was jitterbugging with a kangaroo
And everything moving with a ring-dang-doo.

Gwent Castles 08

Castell glas/Green Castle
I think this all but disappeared castle near the Ebbw River is the one connected to Ebbw house in school but I may be wrong. More here.

Shoes L

Larrigans were moccasin boots worn in the 19th Century by trappers and in the 1970s by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull

Shoes K

Kitten heels (like knee high or kinky boots) are for women (more here)

Gwent Castles 07

Caerleon
In school this house was called Isca - short for Isca Silurum, the Roman name for Caerleon (preserved in the name Risca - Yr Isca). This saved confusion with C for Chepstow.
(More here and here)

52 JC No 41

This is Calvin's comment on Psalm 84:10 (... a day in thy courts is better ....)
Unlike the greater part of mankind, who desire to live without knowing why, wishing simply that their life may be prolonged, David here testifies to the fact that not only was the aim he proposed to himself in life was to serve God but that, in addition, he set a higher value on spending one day in the divine service than on a long time passed among men of the world, from whose society true religion is banished. It being lawful for none but the priests to enter into the inner and innermost courts of the Temple, David expressly declares that, provided he were permitted to have a place at the porch, he would be contented with this humble task of being a doorkeeper.
The value that he set on the sanctuary is presented in a very striking light by the comparison, that he would prefer having a place at the very doors of the Temple to having full possession of the tents of wickedness. The plain import of this is that he would rather be cast into a common and unhonoured place, provided he were among the people of God, than exalted to the highest rank of honour among unbelievers. A rare example of godliness indeed! Many can be found who desire to occupy a place in the Church but ambition has such sway over the minds of men that very few are content to continue among the number of the common and undistinguished class.
Almost all are carried away with the frantic desire to rise to distinction and can never think of being at ease until they have attained to some position of eminence.

Shoes J


Jazz Shoes (used for dancing more here)

52 JC No 40

Calvin on why animals suffer (Zephaniah 1:2, 3)
But it may be now asked, why God pronounces his vengeance on the beasts of the field, the birds of heaven and the fish of the sea? For no matter how much the Jews may have provoked him by their sins, innocent animals ought to have been spared. If a son is not to be punished for the fault of his father (Ezekiel 18: 4) but the soul that has sinned is to die, why did God turn his wrath against fish and other animals? This seems to have been a hasty and unreasonable infliction.
But first, let this rule be borne in mind - that it is preposterous in us to estimate God's doings according to our judgement, as perverse and proud men do in our day. They are disposed to judge God's works with such presumption that whatever they do not approve, they think it right wholly to condemn. But it behoves us to judge modestly and soberly, and to confess that God's judgements are a deep abyss. When a reason for them does not appear, we ought reverently and with due humility to look for the day of their full revelation.
This is one thing. Then also it is right at the same time to remember that as animals were created for man's use, they must undergo a great deal in common with him. God made both the birds of heaven and the fish of the and all other animals subservient to man. It is no matter for wonder then that when he is condemned who enjoys a sovereignty over the whole earth, it should extend also to animals.
We know that the world was not made subject to corruption willingly - that is, naturally but because the contagion from Adam's fall diffused itself through heaven and earth. Hence the sun and the moon, and all the stars and also all the animals, the earth itself and the whole world, bear the marks of God's wrath, not because they have provoked it through their own fault but because the whole world is involved in man's curse.
The explanation then is that all things were created for the sake of man. Hence there is no ground to conclude that God acts with too much severity when he executes his vengeance on innocent animals for he can justly involve in the same ruin with man whatever he has created for his use.

Gwent Castles 06

Monmouth/Mynwy

Ezekiel Complete

I have just completed uploading of my 37 sermons on the 48 chapters of Ezekiel over at my sermon blog here. I completed the series earlier in the year. I trust it may prove of use to preachers and others as a guide to the book and a paradigm for how to (or how not to) preach from the book.
(Link corrected. Sorry!)

Elgar Museum




On Saturday I took two of my sons and four others to a camp reunion in Worcester. I quite enjoyed last year's trip but the constant rain this year combined with one or two other things to make it not quite so hot a trip. The best thing perhaps was stumbling across the very impressive Elgar Birthplace Museum in Lower Broadheath. I'm not well up on my Elgar (1857-1934) and the following things struck me.

1. Though very much a Worcesterhsire man his parents had moved there from elsewhere
2. His dad was a piano tuner but Elgar was largely self-taught
3. He was not really famous until he was in his forties
4. He lived in 25 different places including Hampstead (Severn House has now been demolished)
5. His wife was 9 years older than he and not a Catholic by birth
6. She was in fact the grand daughter of Sunday School founder Robert Raikes (no wonder the family refuused to attend the wedding)
7. he had an excelent sense of humour evidenced in various visual jokes on display
8. He was one for fads including bicycling and chemistry at different times
9. He was very interested in gramophone records and made several recordings; he opened Abbey Road Studios in 1931
10. Despite many honours including a Lordship he thought of hismelf as an outsider (as I have remarked before this is just the way some of us feel - it was not due to his being RC, etc, I'm sure).

Why England Lose

I was in Golders Green Library the other day when a new title caught my eye. It's called Why England Lose: and Other Curious Phenomena Explained. It's by a journalist and an economist and is full of fascinating stuff out of left field. My interest in soccer is pretty mild but the well constructed and fascinating collection here kept my interest almost to the very end as it tackled various subjects - beginning with why England lose (too much football, too working class and too insular in general) and going on to penalties, racial discrimination, winning formulae, etc, etc. The side benefits have been impressing my older sons with football facts they don't know and the encouragement to think laterally about my own issues. More here.

Lotto Trouble

When we hear of a big national lottery win I often express my sympathy for the victims and the trouble they are in. There's probably a bit of schadenfreude in my attitude but this article from the Christian Institute confirms my worst fears.

A married couple from Wales have scooped a share of a £91 million EuroMillions jackpot but a national newspaper asks – is it the worst thing that could have happened to them?
“We may not be as rich” as those who win the lottery “but there’s every chance we may live longer, happier lives as a result”, Julia Hartley-Brewer, a Sunday Express reporter wrote.
She cites a survey of 30 of the biggest jackpot winners and said it branded the lottery “Britain’s biggest marriage wrecker” when it found that a third of respondents said their lives had been blighted by their new found fortune.
Families had fallen apart, marriages had ended and envy had destroyed friendships, the survey reportedly revealed.
The comments follow a spate of real life stories from lottery winners who have admitted misery because of their windfall.
Earlier this year Callie Rogers, 22, who won close to £1.9 million as a teenager in 2003, revealed that she is now facing bankruptcy and the money she won hasn’t made her happy.
She is currently holding down three jobs to support her two young children and she told a reporter that her life was now a “shambles”.
In 2005, after a suicide attempt, she said: “Until you win such a large amount of money at such a young age, you don’t realise the pressures that come with it.”
Michael Carroll, a former dustman, won £9.7million in 2002 but claimed it had made him miserable.
After he won the jackpot, his wife Sandra left him and took their baby daughter with her. Mr Carroll turned to cocaine, was jailed and was later served with two anti-social behaviour orders.
In 1999 Stephanie Powell won £7.2million, but her family life began to break down as a result.
Her partner Wayne Lawrence walked out on her, claiming the stress of her riches as his reason.
The article also cited research published this summer which warned that the lives of lottery winners could be cut short due to excessive alcohol-fuelled partying.
In 1999 Phil Kitchen, a jobless carpenter, won £1.8 million but two years later was found dead in his £500,000 home after drinking himself to death.
In July a report by the think-tank Theos argued that the National Lottery was penalising the poor.
Theos Director Paul Woolley said: “The Lottery might have created a new source of funding for projects that would otherwise have remained un-funded, but this has come with a high price tag for Britain’s poor.”
The report found that skilled manual workers are most likely to play in Lottery draws, with over 67 per cent taking part once a month compared with 47 per cent of professionals and managers.
According to the report, the average Lottery player spends £142.88 each year but among those with salaries of £15,000- £20,000 the figure increases to £174.53.

Gwent Castles 04

Chepstow/Casgwent
(more here)

Old Evangelical Library




This is how Chiltern Street was looking when I last visited. The shelves themselves have gone since then.

Shoes I



I thought I might be difficult at first but inline skates (AKA rollerblades) is fine as is Ice skates.

Jewel Hands

You may enjoy this.

Black Beauty


Here's another of my youtube Focus videos. Gina Lollobrigida, featured here in this travesty of the biblical story, was always my father's favourite actress.

Shoes H



For 'H' one thinks of hush puppies and high heels but probably Hiking boots
would be best and quite fair.

Gwent Castles 02

White Castle/Castell Gwyn
I must confess I don't recall ever seeing White Castle (Castell Gwyn).
It's somewhere up Abergavenny way. Looks quite good. 
More here

Gwent Castles 01

Skenfrith
What set me off on this was that someone mentioned how Wales is full of castles. I then remembered that in school our houses were named after castles in Gwent. What happened was that the Grammar School I passed for had four houses named after Gwent rivers and the Secondary School it merged with had four houses named after Gwent castles. After the merger, it became eight houses all named after Gwent castles but retaining some connection with the original river names (which must have been Ebbw, Monnow, Severn and Usk or was it Wye?). Ebbw and Usk Castles exist but there is no Monnow, Severn or Wye Castle so they were renamed after Skenfrith (Ynysgynwraidd), Monmouth and White (was it?). I was in Skenfrith - inevitably tagged "Scumfilth" by members of other houses. Skenfrith is a bit off the beaten track and there's not much to look at but I did manage to drag my parents off there one day to at least see it. it looks more impressive in the picture than I remember it all those years ago. (More here).

Lesser known soccer fact 02


The other lesser known fact to catch my eye is that the only team never to have lost to No 1 soccer team Brazil is lowly Norway (currently around fiftieth place). The teams have met four times. Norway have won two and drawn two. (In 1997 it was 4-2 [in a friendly], in June 1998 it was 2-1 [in the World cup], in August 2008 [ina friendly] it was 1-1. Not sure of the other fixture).

Before the world cup game Olvind Ekeland, a 28-year-old Norwegian, married 29-year-old Brazilian Rosangela de Souza on the pitch before the game. After his "da" and her "sim," fans of both teams joined in a chorus of "Stand By Me" in English.

Lesser known soccer fact 01


I'm reading a book about soccer at the moment (more another time). En passant I've noticed one or two little known soccer facts.

#1 Did you know that Ryan Giggs dad is a black man? Danny Wilson, a Welsh man with West African (?) roots, was a rugby league player.

It's also worth noting that Giggs has played in every Premier League season so far, scoring at least once in each season. See more here. I notice there is a shot of him playing for England schoolboys - what was that all about?

52 JC No 39

This comment (on Psalm 105:8) is again prompted by Joel Beeke.

As Abraham was the first who was called when he was mingled with idolaters, the prophet begins with him. He, however, afterwards declares that the covenant was also confirmed in the hand of his son and his son's son. God then deposited his covenant with Abraham and by solemn oath engaged to be the God of Abraham's seed. To give greater assurance of the truth of his promise, he was graciously pleased to renew it with Isaac and Jacob. The effect of extending it in this way is that his faithfulness takes deeper hold on the hearts of people. Also, his grace, when it is thus testified to on frequent recurring occasions, becomes better known and more illustrious among men. Accordingly, it is here declared by gradation how steadfast and immoveable this covenant is; for what is affirmed concerning each of the patriarchs belongs equally to them all.
It is said that God swore to Isaac. But had he not sworn to Abraham before? Undoubtedly he had. It is also said that it was established to Jacob for a law, and for an everlasting covenant. Does this mean that the covenant was previously only temporal and transitory, and that then it had changed its nature? Such an idea is altogether at variance with the meaning of the sacred writer. By these different forms of expression he asserts that the covenant was fully and perfectly confirmed, so that, if perhaps the calling was obscure in one man, it might be more evident, by God's having transmitted the testimony of it to posterity; for by this means the truth of it was the better manifested. Here again we must remember that God with great kindness considers our weakness when, both by his oath, and by frequently repeating his word, he ratifies what he has once promised to us. Our ingratitude then appears the fouler in disbelieving him when he not only speaks but also swears.

52 JC No 38

We have got rather behind with our Calvin but we hope to catch up. This is Calvin on humility from his comment on Genesis 47:3 (as spotted by Joel Beeke)

This passage also teaches us, how much better it is to possess a remote corner in the courts of the Lord, than to dwell in the midst of palaces, beyond the precincts of the Church. Therefore, let us not think it grievous to secure a sacred union with the sons of God, by enduring the contempt and reproaches of the world; even as Joseph preferred this union to all the luxuries of Egypt. But if any one thinks that he cannot otherwise serve God in purity, than by rendering himself disgusting to the world; away with all this folly! The design of God was this, to keep the sons of Jacob in a degraded position, until he should restore them to the land of Canaan: for the purpose, then, of preserving themselves in unity till the promised deliverance should take place, they did not conceal the fact that they were shepherds.
We must beware, therefore, lest the desire of empty honour should elate us: whereas the Lord reveals no other way of salvation, than that of bringing us under discipline. Wherefore let us willingly be without honour, for a time, that, hereafter, angels may receive us to a participation of their eternal glory. By this example also, they who are brought up in humble employments, are taught that they have no need to be ashamed of their lot. It ought to be enough, and more than enough, for them, that the mode of living which they pursue is lawful, and acceptable to God.
The remaining confession of the brethren (Ge 47:4) was not unattended with a sense of shame; in which they say, that they had come to sojourn there, compelled by hunger; but hence arose advantage not to be despised. For as they came down few, and perishing with hunger, and so branded with infamy that scarcely any one would deign to speak with them; the glory of God afterwards shone so much the more illustriously out of this darkness, when, in the third century from that time, he wonderfully led them forth, a mighty nation.

Good news from Iran


I haven't really followed this story but I read here

The news that we have been waiting for for so long has now come. What an answer to prayer!

Maryam and Marzieh have been released from prison in Tehran. The conditions of release are not yet fully known but I expect we will hear more soon. These two young women refused to deny God, despite this meaning they could have faced a death sentence. Their story has impacted Christians across the globe and brought a new level of boldness and determination as we share the gospel.

This is just the beginning of another episode. Both Maryam and Marzieh have suffered physically and have incurred enormous legal costs. I expect the cost of defending themselves will have been high, and as both Maryam and Marzieh have suffered physically they will probably need expensive expert medical help over the coming months. I expect various organisations will launch appeals soon to allow Christians to give.

Katherine Hankey Repeat


Someone commented recently on this post from 2007 and I thought it might be worth reposting.
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.

Shoes G

Ghillies are those dancing shoes for Scottish or Irish dancing.

Shoes F

Known as Jandals (Japanese sandals), thongs and chappals elsewhere, I've always called them flip flops, which is a great name. When I looked the word up on Wikipedia some joker had managed to insert the idea that they were invented by Phillipe Phillope!

Hebrew Noah


Spent a brilliant day at the John Owen Centre today looking at Genesis 6-9 with eight others (mostly recent ex-LTS) under the expert guidance of David Green. Previous days have been well attended but this was something of a test as we had to pay for the privilege this time. I think everyone would have agreed that it was money well spent. Once again it struck me that there are many things in the Hebrew text almosty impossible to detect by any other means. David works incredibly hard to prepare these days. By riding on his tails as we do a great deal of time is saved as although at a push I could possibly do the work myself I guess it would take me most of the week. The next one (on Abraham) is on March 16. Nice to have fellowship with the other men, all of whom I know to some extent. Ben Midgeley had a wonderful story of a recent conversion which I had only heard a slightly garbled account of.

Visiting Dad 18


So while I was in Bounds Green yesterday (Monday) helping Ian Densham to lay cable for the computer system in the new library and receiving the books as they came up from Chiltern Street I had a phone call saying that my dad had taken a turn for the worse and that my sister had been called from work to the hospital. So I drove down to Pontypool and spent the rest of the day there.

I didn't rush there so I must have arrived in Panteg around 3 pm (I came via the Membury services [where there was a fire alarm just as I was leaving] and the old bridge once again - the wind was quite strong). When I arrived my sister Gail was at my dad's bed with her daughter Vikki. He certainly did look worse and Gail said that the night before they had thought he was gone. My dad slept for most of the time I was there but did stir a little between six and seven and we managed to get some blackcurrant squash into him. My dad's brother, my Uncle John had arrived about an hour before that (yes, John from Penperlleni). He's always a breath of fresh air so we chatted about everything and everything for while and he tried to rouse my dad. one of the things that came up that I'd forgotten and that I should have mentioned when I did that post about the old Severn Bridge was how when it first opened my grandad arranged with the local bookmaker (Derek Pugh) a coach trip to see it. He also moaned about how noisy people are and the way that people swear in public, etc. There was also a story of being in school in the fifties and being told that people in the northern hemisphere were all bigger and superior. When he had noted that Zulus were hardly small people he got a good clouting.

So I headed back this way. My dad has spent much of the day with dad today too and if anything he's rallied a little. We need to be patient again then.

New Evangelical Library



It was my great joy to be present as the first books were placed on the shelves of the newly sited Evangelical Library. The books were brought by lorry from Chiltern Street and carefully put onto the waiting shelves at the new site - Gateway Mews near Bounds Green.

Flagle's Law etc



I have been noticing recently how incredibly tangled headphone wires become when you put them in a pocket. It strikes me as a clear warning against believing what evolution teaches. It's probably related to what someone recently described to me as the perversity of inanimate objects, also known as Flagle's law.

Flagle's Law of the Perversity of Inanimate Objects
Any inanimate object may be expected at any time to behave in a manner that is entirely unexpected and totally unpredictable for reasons which are completely unknown or thoroughly obscure.

More laws here.

Shoes E

Espadrille has got to be my favourite word for a shoe (favourite word not favourite shoe).
From the Pyrenees I gather. More here.

Hymn of the Week 37



On Sunday we sang two hymns by the 18th Century Baptist Samuel Stennett. We'd not sung either of them before. See more here . The versions in the new Christian Hymns are slightly different to these.

Come, every pious heart,
That loves the Saviour’s Name,
Your noblest powers exert
To celebrate His fame;
Tell all above, and all below;
That debt of love to Him you owe.

He left His starry crown,
And laid His robes aside;
On wings of love came down,
And wept, and bled, and died:
What He endured, O who can tell,
To save our souls from death and hell!

From the dark grave He rose;
The mansions of the dead,
And thence His mighty foes
In glorious triumph led;
Up through the sky the Conqueror rode;
And reigns on High, the Savior God.

From thence He’ll quickly come,
His chariot will not stay,
And bear our spirits home
To realms of endless day;
There shall we see His lovely face
And ever be in His embrace.

Jesus, we ne’er can pay
The debt we owe Thy love;
Yet tell us how we may
Our gratitude approve;
Our hearts, our all to Thee we give;
The gift, though small, Thou wilt receive.

Majestic sweetness sits enthroned
Upon the Saviour’s brow;
His head with radiant glories crowned,
His lips with grace o’erflow.

To Christ, the Lord, let every tongue
Its noblest tribute bring
When He’s the subject of the song,
Who can refuse to sing?

Survey the beauties of His face,
And on His glories dwell;
Think of the wonders of His grace,
And all His triumphs tell.

No mortal can with Him compare
Among the sons of men;
Fairer is He than all the fair
Who fill the heav’nly train.

He saw me plunged in deep distress
And flew to my relief;
For me He bore the shameful cross
And carried all my grief.

His hand a thousand blessings pours
Upon my guilty head:
His presence gilds my darkest hours,
And guards my sleeping bed.

To Him I owe my life and breath
And all the joys I have;
He makes me triumph over death
And saves me from the grave.

To Heav’n, the place of His abode,
He brings my weary feet;
Shows me the glories of my God,
And makes my joys complete.

Since from His bounty I receive
Such proofs of love divine,
Had I a thousand hearts to give,
Lord, they should all be Thine.

Wesley on Money


I found this here recently. Very interesting. It is by Charles Edward White, assistant professor of Christian thought and history in Spring Arbor (Michigan) College.



What Wesley Practiced and Preached about Money


John Wesley preached a lot about money. And with probably the highest earned income in England, he had the opportunities to put his ideas into practice. What did he say about money? And what did he do with his own?
John Wesley knew grinding poverty as a child. His father, Samuel Wesley, was the Anglican priest in one of England’s lowest-paying parishes. He had nine children to support and was rarely out of debt. Once John saw his father being marched off to debtors’ prison. So when John followed his father into the ministry, he had no illusions about the financial rewards.
It probably came as a surprise to John Wesley that while God had called him to follow his father’s vocation, he had not also called him to be poor like his father. Instead of being a parish priest, John felt God’s direction to teach at Oxford University. There he was elected a fellow of Lincoln College, and his financial status changed dramatically. His position usually paid him at least thirty pounds a year, more than enough money for a single man to live on. John seems to have enjoyed his relative prosperity. He spent his money on playing cards, tobacco and brandy.
While at Oxford, an incident changed his perspective on money. He had just finished paying for some pictures for his room when one of the chambermaids came to his door. It was a cold winter day, and he noticed that she had nothing to protect her except a thin linen gown. He reached into his pocket to give her some money to buy a coat but found he had too little left. Immediately, the thought struck him that the Lord was not pleased with the way he had spent his money. He asked himself, Will thy Master say, “Well done, good and faithful steward?” Thou hast adorned thy walls with the money which might have screened this poor creature from the cold! O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid?

What Wesley Did
Perhaps as a result of this incident, in 1731, Wesley began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. He records that one year his income was 30 pounds and his living expenses 28 pounds, so he had 2 pounds to give away. The next year his income doubled, but he still managed to live on 28 pounds, so he had 32 pounds to give to the poor. In the third year, his income jumped to 90 pounds. Instead of letting his expenses rise with his income, he kept them to 28 pounds and gave away 62 pounds. In the fourth year, he received 120 pounds. As before, his expenses were 28 pounds, so his giving rose to 92 pounds.

Wesley felt that the Christian should not merely tithe but give away all extra income once the family and creditors were taken care of. He believed that with increasing income,

what should rise is not the Christian’s standard of living but the standard of giving.

This practice, begun at Oxford, continued throughout his life. Even when his income rose into the thousands of pounds sterling, he lived simply and he quickly gave away his surplus money. One year his income was a little over 1400 pounds. He lived on 30 pounds and gave away nearly 1400 pounds. Because he had no family to care for, he had no need for savings. He was afraid of laying up treasures on earth, so the money went out in charity as quickly as it came in. He reports that he never had 100 pounds at any one time.

Wesley limited his expenditures by not purchasing the kinds of things thought essential for a man in his station of life. In 1776, the English tax commissioners inspected his return and wrote him the following: “[We] cannot doubt but you have plate for which you have hitherto neglected to make an entry.” They were saying a man of his prominence certainly must have some silver plate in his house and were accusing him of failing to pay excise tax on it. Wesley wrote back: “I have two silver spoons at London and two at Bristol. This all the plate I have at present, and I shall not buy any more while so many round me want bread.”
Another way Wesley limited expenses was by identifying with the needy. He had preached that Christians should consider themselves members of the poor, whom God had given them money to aid. So he lived and ate with the poor. Under Wesley’s leadership, the London Methodists had established two homes for widows in the city. They were supported by offerings taken at the band meetings and the Lord’s Supper. In 1748, nine widows, one blind woman, and two children lived there. With them lived John Wesley and any other Methodist preacher who happened to be in town. Wesley rejoiced to eat the same food at the the same table, looking forward to the heavenly banquet all Christians will share.
For almost four years, Wesley’s diet consisted mainly of potatoes, partly to improve his health, but also to save money. He said: “What I save from my own meat will feed another that else would have none.”
In 1744, Wesley had written, “[When I die] if I leave behind me ten pounds ... you and all mankind [may] bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber.” When he died in 1791, the only money mentioned in his will was the miscellaneous coins to be found in his pockets and dresser drawers.
What had happened to the rest of his money, to the estimated thirty thousand pounds he had earned over his lifetime? He had given it away. As Wesley said, “I cannot help leaving my books behind me whenever God calls me hence, but in every other respect my own hands will be my executors.”

What Wesley Preached

Wesley’s teaching on money offered simple, practical guidelines for every believer.
Wesley’s first rule about money was Gain all you can. Despite its potential for misuse, money in itself is something good. There is no end to the good it can do: “In the hands of [God’s] children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked. it gives to the traveler and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of a husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. We may be a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain. It may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame: yea, a lifter up from the gates of death!”
Wesley adds that in gaining all they can, Christians must be careful not to damage their own souls, minds, or bodies, or the souls, minds, or bodies of anyone else. He thus prohibited gaining money through industries that pollute the environment or endanger workers.

Wesley’s second rule for the right use of money was Save all you can. He urged his hearers not to spend money merely to gratify the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eye or the pride of life. he cried out against expensive food, fancy clothes, and elegant furniture: “Cut off all this expense! Despise delicacy and variety and be content with what plain nature requires.”
Wesley had two reason for telling Christians to buy only necessities. The obvious one was so they would not waste money. The second was so they would not increase their desires. The old preacher wisely pointed out that when people spend money on things they do not really need, they begin to want more things they do not need. Instead of satisfying their desires, they only increase them: “Who would depend anything in gratifying these desires, if he considered that to gratify them is to increase them? Nothing can be more certain than this: Daily experience shows that the more they are indulged, they increase the more.”
Wesley especially warned against buying too much for children. People who would never waste money on themselves might be more indulgent with their children. On the principle that gratifying a desire needlessly only tends to increase it, he asked these well-intentioned parents: “Why should you purchase for them more pride or lust, more vanity or foolish and hurtful desires? ...Why should you be at further expense to increase their temptations and snares and to pierce them through with more sorrows?”

John Wesley’s third rule was Give all you can. One’s giving should begin with the tithe. He told the one who does not tithe, “Thou doest undoubtedly set they heart upon thy gold” and warned, “It will ‘eat thy flesh as fire!’” But one’s giving should not end at the tithe. All of the Christian’s money belongs to God, not just the first tenth. Believers must use 100 percent of their incomes as God directs.

And how has God directed Christians to use their incomes? Wesley listed four scriptural priorities:
1. Provide things needful for yourself and your family (1 Tim. 5:8). The believer should make sure the family has the necessities and conveniences of life, that is, “a sufficiency of plain, wholesome food to eat, and clean raiment to put on” as well as a place to live. The believer must also insure that the family has enough to live on if something were to happen to the breadwinner.
2. “Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:8). Wesley adds that the word translated raiment is literally coverings and thus includes lodging as well as clothes. “It plainly follows whatever is more than these is, in the sense of the apostle, riches - whatever is above the plain necessities, or at most, conveniences, of life. Whoever has sufficient food to eat, and raiment to put on, with a place to lay his head, and something over, is rich.”
3. “Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Rom. 12:17) and “Owe no man anything” (Rom. 13:8). Wesley said the next claim on a Christian’s money was the creditors’. He adds that those who are in business for themselves need to have adequate tools, stock, or capital for the carrying on of the business.
4. “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). After the Christian has provided for the family, the creditors, and the business, the next obligation is to use any money that is left to meet the needs of others.

In giving these four biblical principles, Wesley recognized some situations were not clear-cut. It isn’t always obvious how the Christian should use the Lord’s money. Wesley accordingly offered four questions to help his hearers decide how to spend the money:

1. In spending this money, am I acting like I owned it, or am I acting like the Lord’s trustee?
2. What Scripture requires me to spend this money in this way?
3. Can I offer up this purchase as a sacrifice to the Lord?
4. Will God reward me for this expenditure at the resurrection of the just?

Finally, for the believer who is still perplexed, John Wesley suggested this prayer before a purchase:
“Lord, thou seest I am going to expend this sum on that food, apparel, furniture. And thou knowest I act therein with a single eye, as a steward of thy goods, expending this portion of them thus, in pursuance of the design thou hadst in entrusting me with them. Thou knowest I do this in obedience to thy word, as thou commandest, and because thou commandest it. let this, I beseech thee, be a holy sacrifice, acceptable through Jesus Christ! And give me a witness in myself, that for this labor of love I shall have a recompence when thou rewardest every man according to his words.”
He was confident that any believer who has a clear conscience after praying this prayer will be using money wisely.

Shoes D



From Bristol over as far as Swansea the usual name for school plimsolls like those above is daps.
Great word. Brings back a lot of memories for me. See fascinating site here (insert "what they wear" and "childs soft shoe").

Eira

As I've had my first Christmas card I thought I'd see if it might snow here. I put something into google and found an easy way. My only problem now is making it stop next January. See here.

First Christmas card


We had our first Christmas card today. Rather early I thought (its still November) but someone has to be first. It was from my Uncle John (and hsi girl friend Sally) who is now living in Penperlleni I learn.
I thought the back of the card was funny. It reads


WARNING!
Not suitable for children
under 36 months due to small parts
which may present a choking hazard

House of the King 1990


The first hit - from the one off reunion concert in 1990.

Visiting Dad 17

Last Tuesday I headed off to see my dad in hospital once again. I drove this time as now my dad is in the Panteg hospital public transport is inadequate. That seemed to suit me better. Certainly not being in Newport or Cwmbran where there are so many people was less depressing I think. I also listened to music and not the radio so much, which may have helped. There were a lot of nice little providences on the way too.
I've been having some problems with my ears recently but as I entered Wales my ears popped, which was nice.
I also arrived just after my dad had woken up and he was having a good day. I was able to chat a little and we read to the end of Mark Chapter 5 and I prayed.
Just as I was ready to go my dad's face brightened. It was my eldest niece Vicky. It was nice to see her and to see how positive she is with my dad. She kept supplying him with fruit pastilles and seemed to communicate with him better than I could, although sometimes she failed too. She has done a lovely drawing of my dad. I must get a copy. It was a reminder to me to be a bit less negative. I think I get a bit nervous, which doesn't help.
Then after the hospital visit I saw a post office and popped in as I had a parcel to post. There happened to be a second hand book shop there. I glanced to see if they had Joseph Heller's Catch-22 as I have been looking out for it recently. And there it was! A snip at £2.99.
Then on the way home I arrived at a services, bought a coffee and saw someone I thought I recognised. "Peter Fearnley?" I asked. He knew who I was too, which was good. We overlapped by a year when I began at Aber and only know each other a little. He is a member at the Grace Baptist church in Yateley. He had been up to WEST to give a lecture on education. Well, we had a lovely chat for half an hour or so. It especially encouraged me when he mentioned how he had gone to Aber a nominal Christian and heard the gospel through my father-in-law. Also, how he and his wife Wendy have been involved in the young people's work these many years.
Of course, not all providences are so nice. I manged to smash the tail light on the car at one point - a reminder not to suppose I lead a charmed life.
When I started recounting these visits to my dad I had assumed it would not be too many I'd be recording but I note that this is the seventeenth visit now. May be there'll be quite a few more, we'll see.
Tuesday was the tenth anniversary of my mother's death. It was in my mind throughout the day. I couldn't talk to my dad about her but I enjoyed listening to the Kinks' "Thank you for the days" (which I thought was a bout a dead sister but may be not) and noticed there was an article on mothers in The Times, but I didn't get round to reading it. It strikes me that one feature of family life is getting closer and closer to people only to have them taken from you in the end. Hopefully my dad will be the last. There are no guarantees. So much for my plan to be more positive.

Shoes C

Ignoring crocs and cycling shoes (as well as cleats - an American term for studded sports shoes) we go for clogs - itself a broad term that includes wooden overshoes, wooden soled boots, special dancing shoes and those mule style Swedish clogs from the seventies. Here are some typically Dutch ones of the first type.

PS How could I have failed to mention Chukka Boots, my favourite sort of shoe.




Shoes B

Brogues are the obvious ones for 'B' if we discount ballet shoes. Apparently Americans call them "wingtips". More here. Americans call Oxfords Balmorals and Derbys Bluchers but we'll save them for later I hope.

Modern Britain 03

I saw this in the Times today

How the middle class are shoplifting to keep up appearances

Middle-class shoppers who have been hit by the recession are stealing hundreds of millions of pounds of expensive food in an effort to maintain their high standard of living, according to a new survey.

Quality cuts of meat, fresh fish and high-priced cheeses are being taken by mostly middle-class women from speciality food and convenience shops, where thefts have risen sharply in the past year. Thousands of retailers have found that luxury foods are being stolen for individual use rather than to be sold on.

The information comes from more than 42,000 shops in Europe with combined sales of £262 billion, who were questioned by the Centre for Retail Research, an independent organisation, for Checkpoint Systems, the retail security specialists.

They found that shoplifting in Britain has increased in the past year by nearly 20 per cent to almost £5 billion, £750 million more than in 2008, keeping Britain at the top of Europe’s shoplifting table. Clothing and fashion accessory shops were hardest hit, with branded designer goods high on thieves’ shopping lists, closely followed by DIY stores.


Neil Matthews, vice-president of Checkpoint Systems, said that he was astonished at the rise of middle-class shoplifters. “We are not simply looking at your traditional shoplifters here. We are seeing more instances of amateur thieves stealing goods for their own personal use rather than to sell on than before,” he said.

“This is epitomised in the recent uprising of the middle-class shoplifter, someone who has turned to theft to sustain their standard of living. I suppose people want to carry on with their lifestyle but cannot afford the expensive cheeses, fresh cuts of meat or nice fish that they used to be able to afford and now they just take it. This is the first year we have seen a huge rise in theft of these items and we are being told it is for their own consumption rather than to sell on.”

He added: “The UK’s retail industry has seen its largest ever increase in shoplifting over the last 12 months, and it comes at a time when the industry can least afford it.”

The report, which surveyed more than 1,000 retailers worldwide with sales of £514 billion, found that 43.5 per cent of all stock that went missing was stolen by opportunistic thieves and organised gangs, but employee theft was on the rise. Britain is behind only the Irish Republic in Western Europe for the most dishonest staff.

Updating you


Last Wednesday we had a visit from a friend I met in The Philippines. Joel or Jose Reuel had come over to be best man to his friend Reddy at the wedding to Naomi Clarke in Kent the other week. He had also spent time in Suffolk and in Southampton before spending his final night here in Childs Hill. I briefly interviewed him at the Wednesday night meeting about the floods and how he came to faith as a 15 year old. His mother is in the Cubao church but his father is a bishop in a Filipino cult. Joel is a deacon in the church and hopes to begin studies at the Grace Ministerial Academy next June.
On the Thursday we went up to see Kenwood House and then in the evening I took him to Heathrow. It was nice to meet Mr Clarke and one of his daughters briefly when they dropped in with Joel's case.
Friday was busy day in the study and speaking at the clubs (on the widow of Nain) restarting after half term. The younger one were making key hooks and we had some Madlib fun in the older club.
On Saturday we headed for Wales where we dropped in on Eleri's brother-in-law and family as it is Glyn's fortieth this week. Eleri's other sister and family were also there en route to Aberystwyth. It was Osian's second birthday (already!) the other day. We came back over the old bridge - the novelty is beginning to wear off. We were not back too late.
Remembrance Sunday went off okay with the two minute silence and lunch after church. I preached on Jesus words against the teachers of the law in Mark 12 and the end of Romans 3. The morning congregation was quite large for us. The evening congregation was not large. People were slow to leave, which is nice.

Stained Glass Interview 2


This is the second part of the interview with Ken Hancock.

Stained Glass Interview


This is the first part of the interview with Ken Hancock broadcast in the north of Scotland last month.

Crancota yn yr haf


I finally got round to uploading this on Youtube today.

Shoes A




I thought it about time we had another series. We're kicking off (geddit) with Ammunition boots as issued to British soldiers in the first half of the 20th Century. The alternative is Australian work boots. (Athletic shoes is stretching it rather).