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.

He lifts me up by Al Martin

I was at the John Owen Centre today where the TSG was meeting to discuss Al Martin's little book He lifts me up on avoiding ministerial backsliding, burnout and washout. The book is firmly based on a series of addresses given on the subject some years ago. I found the book helpful over all and very challenging though I didn't like it somehow. I decided in the end there was some sort of personality clash going on. We were only five met for discussion but there was a similar reaction from some. One man thought the book quite negative. Others thought the problem, if there was one, was the transatlantic issue in terms of the situation and the way men express themselves. The book is not long and it is very easy to read form the comprehension point of view. It stimulated us, nearly all ministers, no end and led to a lengthy and full discussion that was most helpful as we worked through the book considering the various pastoral issues raised. We plan to discuss John Owen on the Person of Christ next time in February 2015.

Lord's Day September 28 2014

I have been back preaching now for a while. At first I managed to stay ahead in my preparation but time has already caught up with me and I am back to a week by week pattern. It was harvest with us on Sunday morning. We don't decorate the church with vegetables and so on but I do like to preach a harvest type sermon (Acts 14:15-17 this time) and we sing those great harvest hymns. In the evening we came to L of TULIP, Limited Atonement, the most difficult perhaps but clear enough in Scripture. There were some missing morning and evening but one or two visitors including people from Ghana, South Africa, Madagascar and South Korea, which added to our international feel (Nigeria, Romania, the Philippines, etc, already represented). 


Midweek Meeting September 24 2014

I forgot to add my comment on the last midweek meeting, as promised. We had a church members' meeting the next night and I was involved in the children's work Friday evening. Also on Thursday I was speaking at a fraternal up the road. So Wednesday night we had a good number there and a good prayer time as we carried on with the subject of spiritual growth talking about personal prayer, journal keeping and devotional reading. We also started on family duties, namely family worship and hospitality. All practical stuff. We began with Cowper's wonderful Jesus, where'er Thy people meet.

Lord's Day September 21 2014

It was a good day yesterday though with some folk missing. We had a well attended communion in the evening thinking about the crown of thorns. In the morning I carried on with 1 Corinthians 13 (5-7) and the character of love and in the evening we pressed on with tulip, coming to unconditional election. Romans 9 is quite something is it not? Wonderful subjects again then. What a privilege to be given to such work. 

Two bits of good news

Reading The Times this morning I saw that the world's population is soon to hit 11 billion in 2100 (according to Science). The Guardian like the Times is very pessimistic in its presentation but if you are pro-life you will look at it more optimistically I would hope. Also gratifying to some extent is that this is not what the experts expected. Clearly a growing population (like a growing family) brings its own problems but there is no reason to be gloomy just because there are going to be more people. Lack of healthcare, poverty, pollution and rising unrest and crime are all problems caused by greed rather than booming populations I would guess.
I'm trying to hide the line The preference for large families is linked to lack of female education which limits women’s life choices from the wife.
The world’s population is now odds-on to swell ever-higher for the rest of the century, posing grave challenges for food supplies, healthcare and social cohesion. A ground-breaking analysis released on Thursday shows there is a 70% chance that the number of people on the planet will rise continuously from 7bn today to 11bn in 2100.
The other interesting article was from something in Nature Communications saying that trees are growing faster due to climate change. See the article here. It begins
The Earth’s forests are a crucial resource for absorbing human carbon output and slowing, at least to a degree, the pace of climate change. But climate change also is altering the forests themselves. For one thing, it seems to be making trees in some places grow a lot faster.
 

Scotland Today


I thought that what is going on in Scotland today would be a good excuse for a bit of Julie Fowlis. No prizes for guessing which way Julie has voted. I hope that not all proud Scots will agree as understandable as the yes vote is.

Midweek Meeting September 17 2014

We carried on last night with our studies in Spiritual growth, still based on Colossians 1:9, 10 and this time looking at the phrase bearing fruit in every good work which led to a brief exploration of the importance of reading and meditating on Scripture in private. Managed to keep it a little shorter this time and we had a good prayer time. It was nice to have my mother-in-law there who is with us while Geoff is in Russia preaching with EP. Several have moved on since we last met and some were missing but one other was back and we were a decent number.

Evangelical Library - Dr Densham on the Trinity

It was good to be at the lunch time lecture at the Evangelical Library last Monday. Dr Ian Densham gave his second lecture on the Trinity. Concise and pastorally sensitive it was a blessing to here. Both lectures should appear shortly on the Library website. Recordings are also available. The next lunch time lecture is on November 17 and is to be given by Lesley A Rowe on Arthur Hildersham and his books. Do plan to come.

Lord's Day September 14 2014

Bit slow with this but we had a good Sunday last. In the morning numbers were down slightly but there was a new lady there, who looked keen to come again. We were also saying goodbye to Andrew and Jill. Andrew Lolley has been our assistant over the last year and is now headed for Craigie Reformed Baptist Church in Perth. We were able to give them gifts and pray for them during the service and then later at the fellowship lunch that followed. I preached in the morning on 1 Corinthians 13:4 on love being patient, kind and not envious, boastful or proud. In the evening we looked at the devastating but ultimately encouraging topic of Total Depravity, the first of the five points of Calvin. Getting back into it slowly then.

My new book out soon

I understand that my new book will be out October 17.
A Candle in the Wind is paperback subtitled What the Bible says about the conscience and is by Gary Brady.
It will be £7.99.
This study looks at the biblical data and offers a view of conscience that rescues it from popular confusion
Gary Brady takes his title from a comment in Matthew Henry on Romans, where the conscience is termed 'The candle of the Lord, which was not quite put out.' In this study he looks at the biblical data and offers a view of conscience that rescues it from popular confusion. Conscience in the unbeliever and the believer are dealt with and there is material on conscience and assurance, and on developing the conscience. In the final section Gary deals with the interesting topics of conscience in children, conscience and religious and civil liberty and, finally, conscience in eternity.
No cover image available yet.

10 more Spoonerisms

I like Spoonerisms, indood I dee. Roonerisms spock!
 
1. Go and shake a tower - go and take a shower
2. Mad banners - bad manners
3. Lack of pies - pack of lies
4. Roaring with pain - pouring with rain
5. Pit nicking - nit picking
6. Hypodemic nurdle - hypodermic needle
7. Wave the sails - save the whales
8. Chipping the flannel - flipping the channel
9. Mad bunny - bad money
10. Bedding wells - wedding bells

10 Spoonerisms

These are said to be genuine Spoonerisms spoken by Rev William Archibald Spooner himself
1. You hissed my mystery lecture - you missed my history lecture
2. Cattle ships and bruisers - battle ships and cruisers
3. Nosey little cook - cosy little nook
4. A blushing crow - a crushing blow
5. Our queer old Dean - our dear old Queen
6. We'll have the hags flung out - we'll have the flags hung out
7. You've tasted two worms - you've wasted two terms
8. Our shoving leopard - our loving shepherd
9. A half-warmed fish - a half-formed wish
10. Is the bean dizzy? - is the Dean busy?

Two excellent conferences coming up - Book now!


I've been a bit sleepy on the conference front but I do want to flag up two conferences coming up. The first is the Westminster Authentic Calvinism on December 2 and 3 and the second is the Carey Minsitry in the last days January 6-8. Double click then copy to see more clearly. 

Midweek Meeting September 10 2014

As promised, a brief review of last night. We were about 15 in number because we had two Korean visitors down from Inverness. With my assistant Andrew and his wife Jill off to Perth next week, we were helped to think about Scotland (as if we hadn't already by the news media - not an easy subject to pray about). We were also praying for Wales and for our two new Relay workers working with UCCF in Cardiff this year. See here for Dylan and here for Rosie. I carried on using Joel Beeke's book and speaking about spiritual growth in practice and the need to follow Christ's pattern and to please God. People were tired and it was still slightly too long. We sang at the beginning acapella Master speak, thy servant heareth.

Abraham Conference at John Owen Centre Day 2

Messers Salter (seated) and Gibson (standing) 
We are a bit behind here but the second day at the Abraham conference was a fine one. We opened with a paper from David Shaw of Oak Hill and the whole matter of Abraham and justification by faith. He helpfully brought us up to speed with regard to the current debate with plenty of references to Wright and Barr et al. Perhaps the one failure was to relate this more directly to Abraham and not just to Romans 4 but this was a worthwhile paper. We then tried something a little different as David Gibson and Martin Salter presented papers arguing the paedo- and credo- Baptist positions respectively. Again Abraham was slightly lost in all this but it was a worthwhile exercise even if it shifted nobody's view. Dr Robert Strivens the LTS principal rounded off with an expansive and final paper on Abraham and Paul, arguing that Paul was consciously working out the promises made to Abraham.
I guess when we looked at Adam and Noah it was a little easier to focus simply on them and their times. Both being the first man of creation any extrapolation is both universal and individual to me. Abraham, on the other hand, is the father of the faithful and perhaps counter-intuitively that makes him a much bigger figure, one not so easily surveyed in a two day conference. Perhaps it will be possible to return to this towering figure another time and look at Abraham the prophet, Abraham the liar, Abraham and the land, etc, etc.
The recordings will be online in a few weeks I understand and a conference is planned for next year September 7 and 8.

Abraham Conference at John Owen Centre

I spent yesterday at the John Owen Centre here in London, with about 50 others, at the Abraham Conference they have organised. Garry Williams, Director of the centre, began by outlining the work of the centre and then we were into the first session in which former LTS principal Philip Eveson helpfully outlined what we have in Genesis about Abraham, using diagrams to show the various chiasms and drawing out some interesting points about the careful way the Book of Genesis appears to be constructed. We had more of that sort of thing in the session after lunch when LTS Vice-principal David Green took us through the text showing us the significance of the word Ra'ah to see and its cognates and sometimes homonyms too. Again this was very interesting and helpful.
Personally, I found the third paper from James Mulrooney, an Edinburgh PhD candidate, who will be lecturing at LTS from this term, the most stimulating even though he used the phrase iconic mimesis at one point. He took us through Genesis 22 arguing for a nuanced typology that helpfully understood Abraham, Isaac and the ram in specific bounded terms. The paper generated a good discussion, most people being favourable to what was proposed while others were more sceptical.
In the evening we had the Lloyd-Jones Memorial Lecture, which was open to the public. Peter Law, a local pastor who regularly lectures in the middle east, was given the subject The great Abrahamic faiths? and he gave us some of the background to this phrase then argued, leaning on Daniel Strange, for a subversive fulfilment, that is a balanced acceptance of commonalities while seeking to expose and challenge differences.
Looking forward to day two.

Lord's Day September 7 2014

So back to it proper yesterday. We started low key with a sparse congregation for communion. Numbers then grew and grew until we were quite full for the morning service. In our studies in 1 Corinthians we have come to 1 Corinthians 13, which is a wonderful chapter but hard to do justice too. We just looked at the first three verses this week. It's powerful stuff. I am reading my Jonathan Edwards to keep me on track. Back home all five buys plus were with us, which was nice. Two are off back to Wales this week. In the evening numbers were much less. I preached from Isaiah 6 on the sovereignty of God in preparation for a series I want to do on five things God wants you to know. It was a good day then and we hope it did some good.

Paul Yeulett inducted at Grove

It was good to be at Grove Chapel in Camberwell last Saturday for the induction of Paul Yeulett to the pastorate there. The place was pretty packed with family and friends and well wishers. I liked the service which included Paul and his wife joining the church as members first. I thought he could have kneeled for the laying of hands but it was all very dignified and helpful. He was also required to sign that he would uphold the church's doctrinal standard the shorter catechism (I guess that was chosen over the confession as it is an independent church in government). Paul was previously in Shrewsbury and was a school teacher for 11 years before that in the north east at Emmanuel School. Ian Hamilton preached briefly from the end of Romans 11 and into Chapter 12. There was a massive spread to follow.  It is good to know that Grove have found a new minister after several years without. Let's pray for blessing on them. Their illustrious past guarantees nothing but faithfulness to God means a lot.

Midweek Meeting September 3 2014

Some time ago I started blogging my Lord's Day activities to better reflect here what goes on in my life. I think the same argument could be made for the midweek meeting. So here we go. Wednesday night's our night. We meet at 8 pm in the parlour. Normally, we sing a hymn, I pray and read the Scriptures then speak. After that we discuss what to pray for and then pray. Praying needs to begin before 9 pm and usually ends between 9.15 and 9.30 pm. Last night I did the second message on Spiritual growth (Growing in knowledge of the Spirit and the Father - we did knowledge of the Son two weeks back). I am using a book by Joel Beeke to guide us through Colossians 1:9, 10. I was slightly longer than I should have been I guess. I need to cut down on the number of sub-points (a Puritan overhang). There were about 13 present including my son Rhodri now back with us. It was nice to have my fellow elder back from Korea. There are always too many things to pray for but there was a good spirit of prayer.

The law about pennies

Following up the last blog see this article here.

Pointless Books

Over the summer, I came across a spin off book from the Pointless series in a charity shop (100 Pointless Arguments). Having enjoyed it I couldn't resist sending for the previous volume (100 Pointless Things). As the books suggest these are ideal for reading on the toilet -short humorous chapters that sometimes stimulate or inform. I liked (from Book 1 - not yet finished) cushions on beds, extended warranties, sharing packs and charges at ATMs (all pretty pointless you'll agree). I also was interested to learn that it is illegal to pay for goods using more than 20 pennies. In the second book (which I read first - that's my way) I liked "Whose turn is it to take out the bins?" "What is the best length for a pop song?" and "Is it okay to go to the cinema on your own?" and was interested to learn that Postman Pat's real name is Patrick Clifton.
Before some other wag gets in I do realise that blogs like this are pretty pointless. It's also pointless to argue against them too.

Carson on 1 Cor 7:26

Read this today in Carson's For the love of God. Sane and helpful.
 
IN THE COURSE OF HIS treatment of “virgins” (1 Cor. 7:25-38—the word refers to the sexually inexperienced, whether male of female), Paul writes, “Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are” (7:26). Thus it is good for the celibate to remain celibate, for the married not to seek a divorce, and so forth. This does not mean, Paul adds, that if a virgin marries, she is sinning. But he does insist that “the time is short” (7:29). What does this mean?
(1) Some have argued that in common with everyone else in the early church, Paul believed that Jesus was going to return very soon, certainly within their lifetime. With so limited a horizon, Paul says that on the whole it is better for those who are celibate to remain unmarried. This reading of the passage means, of course, that Paul and the rest of the early church were just plain wrong: Jesus did not come back that quickly. But there are so many passages in the New Testament that envisage the possibility of long delay that we cannot go along with the notion that early Christians suffered under this particular delusion.
(2) Some have argued that “the present crisis” (7:26) refers to some specially troubling period of persecution. If the authorities are out to get Christians, especially their leaders, it might be an advantage to be celibate: you are more mobile, can hide more easily, and the authorities cannot exert pressure on you by leaning on your family. But this interpretation has two insuperable problems.
(a) It may fit the celibates, but it doesn’t fit all the other people to whom Paul makes application: eg those who mourn should live as if they did not mourn, those who are happy as if they were not, those who buy something as if it were not theirs to keep (7:29-30).
(b) Above all, there is no good evidence that the Corinthians were being threatened with persecution. The entire tone of this letter suggests they were finding life a bit of a lark.
(3) The word rendered “crisis” simply means “necessity” or “compulsion.” What Paul is referring to is neither the return of Christ nor persecution, but the present “necessity,” the present “compulsion,” of living with the End in view. Unlike pagans and secularists, we cannot make our chief joy turn on marriage, prosperity, or any other temporal thing. They all fall under the formula “as if not”: live “as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away” (7:31, emphasis added). There are responsible ways for Christians to enjoy these things, or mourn, or be happy - but never as if these things are ultimate.

New EMW Magazine Article 1 - 1 Thessalonians 1

The new Evangelical Magazine (ie Sept/Oct) is out and contains lots of good articles including this one from me that reads more or less as follows (More here)
How do I know if God loves me and has chosen me?
Gary Brady
How can I be sure God loves me? How do know I am elect? Read 1 Thessalonians 1 and ask yourself
1. Has the gospel come to me with words and with power, the Spirit and deep conviction?
Obviously, it is the norm for the elect to hear the message. Paul knows the Thessalonians are loved by God and chosen by him (5a) because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.
Some hear the gospel but it makes no difference. Mere hearing guarantees nothing. It is basic, though. All God's elect hear the gospel - may be through you or me. Have you heard?
A mother says “tidy your room”. The child does nothing. He hears but does not respond. Similarly, it is only the elect who know the word coming with power, the Spirit and deep conviction. It may not come like that at first but it will.
The elect not only hear the call to repent and believe but are able to do so. Power is vital for conversion. This is why one person leaves church untouched while another is converted.
The Spirit makes the difference. The one who breathed out God's Word, when it is preached, takes it and uses it to transform those God has chosen.
The deep conviction could be the preacher's. Preachers must be deeply convinced and convincing. What happens when someone is converted is that they also become deeply convinced of the gospel.
Are you aware of the gospel's transforming power? Of the Spirit in your life? Are you deeply convinced? You have reason to believe God loves you and has chosen you.
2. Has it come to me so that I imitate believers and Christ, welcome the message with Holy Spirit joy and have a faith that is known?
Paul not only preached to the Thessalonians, he says You know how we lived among you or your sake. It was only for a short time but it had an impact. Verses 6-8 say more of how Paul knew God loved them and had chosen them.
He says You became imitators of us and of the Lord. The people saw how Paul lived and began to imitate him. He himself was imitating Christ so they were really imitators of Paul and Christ. Another mark of one loved and chosen by God is that he begins to imitate Christ and his followers. He wants to live as a Christian and, to some extent, like Christ.
Paul also observes how in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. Acts 17 reveals the strong early opposition. Paul recalls how despite this, they welcomed the message with Spirit given joy. So, after a more general reference to the Spirit and his transforming power, Paul also speaks of how he gives joy to genuine converts, a happiness independent of circumstances, another mark of the elect. By way of example, recall Latimer's dying words, “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England as I trust shall never be put out.”
Verses 7 and 8 are specific to the Thessalonians but it points to the tendency of conversion. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia - your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it …. Sometimes the faith a person shows is quite striking. What an impact the gospel has, say, when someone turns from paganism to the truth and quite suddenly. In some cases everyone knows, it seems. Whenever anyone is converted, someone will know. Real faith cannot be hidden long. Sometimes, many know of it. Do people know about your faith? It is another evidence pointing to God's love and election.
3. Has it come to me so that I have turned from idols to serve the living and true God and wait for his Son my Saviour to come from heaven and rescue me?
The final set of criteria, negative and positive (verses 9 and 10) say For they themselves (the people who spoke of the Thessalonians' faith) report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols. Many of the converted were people who daily worshipped pagan idols. Others were Jews who unknowingly worshipped demons. In each case there was a turning away from idols, another characteristic of people God really loves and has chosen.
The positive side is that they began to serve the living and true God. This is what happened in Thessalonica so long ago and what has happened to us if we are truly loved by God and chosen by him. We turned from dead, false idols to serve the living and true God from then on. Have you turned from idols to serve God? Are you serving him today? You have reason to believe God loves you and has chosen you.
The very last verse adds and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. There are several things there. Jesus is God's Son; he died and rose; he rescues from the coming wrath; he is now in heaven; he will return before the day of wrath. His servants, all those loved by the true and living God and chosen by him, wait for Christ's return. You hear of people waiting to be rescued. It is very hard, even when you know someone will come, to be patient and hold on until they arrive but that is what Christians do. Are you waiting for Christ's return? You have another reason to believe God loves you and has chosen you.

10 Animal Myths

Although often repeated the following statements are not true. You can check out the facts online if you are so inclined.

1. Ostriches bury their heads in the sand if scared or threatened.
2. Touching a frog or toad will give you warts.
3. Goldfish have a three-second memory
4. Bats are blind
5. Owls are particularly wise
6. Dogs can only see in black and white
7. The colour red makes bulls angry
8. The lion is the king of the jungle*
9. Crocodiles don't cry (though they do produce tears)
10. Magpies steal shiny objects

*It doesn't live in the jungle see here

Lord's Day August 31 2014

I was not preaching once again as we were at my niece's wedding in Cwmbran and Newport on Saturday. In the morning we went to Emmanuel, Cardiff, where Eleri's sister and family are involved. The pastor John Woolley was preaching. It was a special from the heart sermon on prayer that managed to be both very challenging and yet stirring too so that you actually wanted to pray more rather than feeling bad about your lack of prayer. The Ellises kindly treated us to lunch before we all trekked up to Cwmbran to be with my sister for tea in her garden (the biggest private garden in Croesyceiliog I believe). At Pontrhydyrun the preacher was their assistant Stephen Tucker who was just coming to the end of 1 Thessalonians. So two more experiences of congregational life to add to my earlier samples from my sabbatical period. Buildings vary greatly. Clearly, screens are in, at least for the songs and readings if not for the sermon points. An extra few accompanying instruments is no big deal. Preachers rarely wear ties. Open prayer in the evening is common enough but taking a collection  any time (or even mentioning giving) rare.

Good Books at Bargain Prices

I notice that all my books are currently available at bargain prices here.