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.

West Kilburn 150


It was good to be at West Kilburn Baptist Church today for their 150th anniversary services (their building is five years older than ours but I think the work in Childs Hill actually began 1863). Peter Law the present pastor chaired, the previous pastor Paul Pease preached (above) and several others gave testimony and prayed. There was also a bit of the history and a lovely tea to follow.

Retro Album of the Week 21 - Play To Win

Getting a bit out of kilter with this series I guess, but we'll do our best to catch up. Play to win is the fourth studio album by the British singer Gabrielle. It came out in 2004. Gabrielle co-wrote all the tracks. It was not generally liked I fear (too much country and not enough soul, perhaps) but I got on very well with it as did many others. Gabrielle has a great voice and I find the way this album is arranged and produced most satisfying (especially the acoustic guitar). I particularly liked Latchkey Kid and Tumbling down. The War Of Two Minds, Give & Take and Play To win also stand out.

Midweek Meeting May 27 2015

As it is half term this week I thought I would take a break from Philippians and look at 2 Corinthians 5:16, a verse that has been on my mind  a lot recently. We worked through what it is to regard Christ in a worldly and in a spiritual way and then with regard to others. I hope it was helpful. We had a good time of prayer to follow and most people prayed. 

Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter is one of those books you hear about from time to time. I'd never read it but I eventually got round to it the other week. The lead in is a little long winded but Hawthorne wants to root you in his present before taking you back to yesteryear and a very different New England. I had always assumed that scarlet letter referred to a letter written in red ink, which is not the case. It is a little anti-puritan but I enjoyed the book as it is well written, the story well told and very human and with a little whiff of the mysterious, which is both true to life and makes for interesting reading. I'm glad to have it read (no pun there).

As You Like It

I went down to The Globe this afternoon to see As you like it. As ever, it was very well done. AYLI is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, probably because I first studied it in school. A number of words I first encountered in that context I believe. The seven ages of man and the varying speeds of time speeches are rightly famous and it was good to have them in context again plus "laid on with a trowel", "sweet are the uses of adversity", "forever and a day", etc. The tap dancing was okay for a play that is part way a musical (al that side being done very well) but I don't see the point of introducing modern items (an OS map, sunglasses, a thermos flask, a bicycle, etc) when such efforts have been made to get back to Shakespeare's own times. The parts are shared out fairly equally and no-one shone. Perhaps they could have got more humour out of it. I fear some material was cut.

Theology with Mike Reeves

I've recently read Mike Reeves two Paternoster books The good God and Christ our life. I read the first (which is subtitled, on Father, Son and Spirit) on my kindle and the second in traditional format. Both books are written in a racy but highly theological style that makes good use of past masters. The books are illustrated throughout and certain sections are placed in separate panels, which all adds to the delight of the experience. These books have now been published in America by IVP as Delighting in the Trinity and Rejoicing in Christ. Not everyone copes so well with this fresh approach but it is good to know that a fresh voice is articulating ancient truth in the modern vernacular.

Lord's Day May 24 2015


Having come to the end of the series on 1 Corinthians I thought I'd preach a one off on Psalm 23 in the morning. It is always a good place to come back to. One reason I was glad I had was that it is the anniversary of the death of one of our members. I had forgotten but here widower reminded me afterwards. In the evening I carried on in the Sermon on the Mount, looking at the dangers of wealth. It 's such a challenging subject. The day went off quite well but was marked by several slip ups o my part. In the morning I almost forgot the collection for some reason but remembered before the sermon. By the evening I had managed to send the kindle I use to Cardiff and so had to return home and print it off on paper. We also had our monthly prayer meeting for the children's work before the evening meeting.

Evangelistic Preaching

I picked up a copy of Roger Carswell's new book, Evangelistic Preaching at the conference (thanks John). It is a beautifully produced book - hardback in a lovely blue colour with a few graphics and clear print. The print could have been slightly bigger perhaps but they wanted it short which it is - only just over 70 pages. In five chapters Carswell the evangelist simply urges and encourages more evangelistic preaching inside our buildings and out with lots of helpful advice and quotations on the way (from Wiersbe, Stott and others). After speaking of the need he looks at preaching Christ, manifesting love, being creative, connecting and expecting results. Good stuff. I was slightly surprised but pleased to find this quotation from John Stott on pages 28 and 29.
 
I constantly find myself wishing that we twentieth century preachers could learn to weep again. But either our tear-springs have dried up, or our tear-ducts have become blocked. Everything seems to conspire together to make it impossible for us to cry over lost sinners who throng the broad road which leads to destruction. Some preachers are so preoccupied with the joyful celebration of salvation that they never think to weep over those who are rejecting it. Others are being deceived by the devil's lie of universalism. Everybody will be saved in the end, they say, and nobody will be lost. Their eyes are dry because they have closed them to the reality of eternal  death and outer darkness of which both Jesus and His Apostles spoke. Yet others are faithful in warning sinners of hell, but do so with a glib and even a sick pleasure, which are almost more terrible than the blindness of those who ignore or deny its reality.

Slogging along

Slogging along in the paths of righteousness by Dale Ralph Davis is Davis's apparently unplanned follow up to The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life. The first book covers Psalms 1-12 and the second Psalms 13-24. Both books give around 10-12 pages to each Psalm, beginning with Davis's own careful translation and characterised by his usual mix of gentle scholarship, playful language, brilliant illustrations, judicious quotations and helpful applications. I am far from being alone in recognising what a great gift Dr Davis is to God's people. Another 10 books like this would be most welcome. The only problem I can see is with titles and special effects for the covers (for the first we had slightly raised mud splashes which I did try to rub off and this second has colour in a black and white photo). How about Trudging the Lord's ways through the sludge of reality and using a black and white colour split effect (as below)?
 

10 People who died aged 56

Mayall as Hitler
1. Abraham Lincoln
2. Adolf Hitler
3. Rik Mayall
4. Steve Jobs
5. Joseph Mohr
6. Josephus
7. King George VI
8. Roger Miller (musician)
9. Phil Chevron (The Pogues)
10. Billy Powell (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
(Sobering as ever)

Retro Album of the Week 20 - Graceland

Graceland is a 1986 album by Paul Simon. I bought my original copy on cassette tape! I have always liked Simon and Garfunkel a bit and this seventh studio album of Simon's was well publicised. I have paid it quite a bit of attention over the years and downloaded a 25th anniversary edition not long ago. Apparently Simon's life and career had not been going well until he brought out this album with its many South African township style tracks. Other tracks lean on Zydeco and Cajun music, also very fresh at the time. There is  a track with Los Lobos too. Simon faced controversy for seemingly breaking the cultural boycott imposed by the rest of the world against the apartheid regime in South Africa. He was also accused of exploitation. It is Simon's most successful studio album and his highest-charting effort in over a decade. A big seller, it was given awards. I have mixed feelings about Paul Simon's lyrics. He certainly has an ability to find an attractive lyric that will stick in your head.

Grace Baptist Assembly 2015 Final Day

I have been a little constrained in my reporting the GBA as I forgot to take the computer lead with me. I am back home now and can report that our final morning was very good. Hugh Collier spoke on Adoniram Judson, a great hero, especially of we Baptists. He judged it very well for what to include and what to leave out. It was very good to hear the story again and areal challenge. Carl Muller preached from Romans 8:28 for the finale session and sent us home on the right note.
Having missed last year's assembly I particularly appreciated being there this year. It is good to be with these people. We share so much in common and there is great sympathy one for the other. May such fellowship long continue.

Grace Baptist Assembly 2015 02

 


We have had an excellent day here in Swanwick. In the morning we were in the hands of Dr John Hall who passionately called on us to stick with our Baptist principles. He reminded us of the elegance and simplicity of the Baptist position, which has never been seriously argued against. Rather, taking other positions merely leads to other expedients not found in Scripture. There was plenty of time for discussion and that proved quite useful.
In the afternoon we had our business session. We were told that a record 148 people have been at the conference (including six day visitors) from 72 churches. Some 62 churches have registered for assembly, some 39 of them represented by a total of 56 messengers. We discussed a statement of Christian ethical standards that may be adopted. We agreed to meet next year May 24-26 here in Swanwick.
Later in the day we had one of the best sessions of assembly, the news time. Jeyakanth spoke about Sri Lanka, Trevor Routley about Argentina and Will Niven about Albania, all of whom had encouraging things to say though not without qualification (Buddhist thuggery and charismania). We then had six reports from different men in Britain, again mostly encouraging though not without a downside. The areas covered were Basildon, Highbury, Leyton, Halifax, Gloucester and Hyde Heath.
Nick Needham preached in the evening session. Another fine exposition of the cross, this time in terms of sacrifice. Such a blessing to hear. Beforehand he spoke of Reformed Baptist work in Scotland, where there are several small churches (Inverness, Perth, Dundee, Penicuik and two in Glasgow as well as some BU churches).
REcordings of the messages should already be up on the GBA website here.

Grace Baptist Assembly 2015

It is great to be at the GBA once again in Swanwick. The turn out is a bumper 140. Our chairman Noel Ramsey from Wensleydale kicked us off with a look through that chapter beloved of Baptists Acts 16, focusing on Lydia and the Jailer. Later we had a report on the work among Reformed Baptists in Canada from a sometimes quite impassioned (Burlington based) Carl Muller. After our evening meal Nick Needham preached a very helpful sermon on redemption. 
 

Lord's Day May 17 2015

We had the tenth and last Bitesize Theology session for now on redemption to begin the day. It has been a good series with decent if erratic turn out. I then preached to a fairly full congregation on the rest of 1 Corinthians 16 (from verse 5). I focused on the subject of planning ahead in a godly way. In the evening we had communion at 6 pm and then I preached on fasting from Matthew 6. Fasting is not a subject we often look at so it was good to be back on it. Perhaps I have over-reacted against the way the subject has been hi-jacked by more extreme elements and downplayed fasting. This is always a possibility but when you keep coming back to Scripture you at least lessen that danger.

Iain Murray on Amy Carmichael

Like London buses so with biographies of Christian women it sees. This in is quite a contrast to that of Mrs Lloyd-Jones. Iain Murray commends the larger biographies by Houghton and Elliot but this little book is very useful in its ability not only to give the basic story but to attempt some perceptive theological analysis as well. A danger for those who are Reformed in their theology is to dismiss those who they do not know as being overtly on the same page theologically. In the case of Amy Carmichael, Murray argues, that would be a mistake, as despite some obvious issues here is a woman who with great tenacity and commitment lived for God's glory and did a massive amount of good in her time. Do get hold of this very challenging little book and learn the story of one of God's servants. One of Murray's hopes is to produce an interest in her poetry and other works. It will be interesting to know if that happens.

Bethan Lloyd-Jones

They say that behind every great man there is a great woman and this new CFP book by Lynette G Clark Far above rubies on Bethan Lloyd-Jones would tend to support that thesis. This is a relatively small book but it is written in an expansive way and really brings out the humanity of the Lloyd-Jones marriage, which was no doubt a key element in the blessing that the Doctor was to so many. Didactic in style, the book is very thorough. It necessarily leans on a lot of material already in the public domain but there is a lot of fresh stuff here that will fascinate and provoke to thought. Some of the anecdotes are quite something. If you want to know more about Vernon Higham's groin, R T Kendall and his flirting or Dr Lloyd-Jones' laughing at his craving for sheam, it's all here and more. The temptation to hagiography is there from time to time but is resisted and what we get is a rounded picture of a godly woman not without her frailties. The footnoted book is studded with Scripture references and other quotations and includes an 18 page series of questions for reflection, several appendices and a full bibliography as well as many photographs. It is a shame that it is not in hardback. Chapter 10 is one of the most interesting chapters, looking at the couple's differing and sometimes changing views on the Sabbath and infant baptism; at Bethan's devotional life and giving and at her wisdom. There appear to be no typos and very little else of that sort (no doubt in later life she watched snooker rather than billiards on TV but may be I'm wrong). A real treat for ministers or their wives, for women or for men. A real treat.

Latest Edition of In Writing

The latest issue of the Evangelical Library magazine In Writing is out. The main item in it is Andrew Atherstone's piece on George Whitefield and the elegies that followed his death in 1770. The substance of it was given as the Library's annual lecture in 2014. This year Digby James will address us on Richard Baxter (June 1). Next Monday (May 18 at 1 pm) Ian Densham will speak on “The Infinity and Eternity of God”. Do join us if you can.

Fesko on Psalms 1-8

Having read one or two of Fesko's books recently I thought I'd try his 2014 Songs of a suffering king which looks at Psalms 1-8. Fesko's concern is to see how the eight psalms relate to each other and especially how they speak of Christ. At the end of each chapter he suggests a way of singing the psalm (which I did and enjoyed doing I confess) and gives a series of questions, which I spent less time on. Fesko seeks to be vigorous in his scholarship but at the same time practical which he more or less manages, though he can sound ponderous at times. This is certainly not Dale Ralph Davis. His chapter headings are as follows - Song of the Righteous Man, Song of the Lord's Messiah, Song of Deliverance, Song of Hope, Song of Protection, Song of Forgiveness, Song of Vindication and Song of Majesty.

Midweek Meeting May 13 2015

We were down to single figures for the first time in a while last night. People are busy with their studies and things I guess. Anyway we completed the final part of Philippians 3 thinking about role models positive and negative and closing with a reminder of our heavenly citizenship and the return of the Lord and all that follows that. We looked at the latest GBM Prayer Waves video (on the work of the Firths in Latvia) and prayed about that and various other matters. Plenty of prayers. Paul wept over the false teachers. If you see and understand what is happening today, you too will weep.

Retro Album of the Week 19 - Trace

This week I want to feature the self-titled first album by the Dutch band Trace which came out in 1974. The rise of the band Focus in the seventies meant that some of us her in the UK began to look to see what else Holland had to offer in this field. We had heard of Ekseption and it was with the demise of that group and the departure of Pierre Van Der Linden from Focus that the line up for this album came about. Ekseption didn't want (the late) Rick Van Der Linden (a sort of Dutch Keith Emerson) for some reason and so Phillips gave him the opportunity to forma  new band. He tried working with the Ekseption drummer but that failed. Then with Pierre Van Der Linden (second cousin of Rick they now say; I had thought they were completely unrelated) and Jaap Van Eik (bass) forming a trio he got it together with this album. (They were to have been Ace but the name had been taken so someone suggested Trace). The album was no Moving Waves as far as success was concerned but I just loved it and still do. They did come to Cardiff but it was prayer meeting night so I didn't join my friends for that. What I like is the reworking of Bach, Grieg and folk tunes from Scandinavia and Scotland plus the obligatory solos for bass and drums. The synthesisers sound dated now but were state of the art then an can still sound good. Much later copies of the album add two bonus tracks. Two further albums were produced after this one with altered line ups. This is by far the best.

Lord's Day May 10 2015

We started the day yesterday with a few of us gathering to look at reconciliation in our Bitesize Theology series. The morning service was a little down in numbers. We seemed to have a lot of Nigerians present for one reason and another, although one whole family was missing for some reason. There were four children for Sunday School during the sermon, which is good for us. I preached on the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 16 on the subject of giving. I took opportunity to note what the passage does not say as well as what it does say. In the evening we had tea before the meeting as we do every other month. A Muslim lady came for the service. I believe it was her first time in a Christian church. Providentially a former Muslim sat next to her and chatted to her before we started. The lady had to leave before the sermon was over but I think this was to keep a prior appointment rather than because of anything I said. I was looking at the Lord's Prayer and what I had to say about coming to God as our Father resonated, I think. We pray.

Thomson on John Owen

Next year is the anniversary of John Owen's birth in 1616 so I thought I'd read some biography. On my shelves I have Andrew Thomson's 19th century biography in the CFP Historymakers series of a few years ago. This work can also be found online and at the beginning of the 16 volume edition of Owen's Works. This edition is lightly edited. Thomson is rather discursive and a modern biography would best (I wonder if  EP are working on a bitesize one). Owen's life is interesting enough, involving trips to Ireland and Scotland (his roots are Welsh so the Celtic fringe should be kept happy), being a preacher, being Vice Chancellor at Oxford and ending his days under the opprobrium of being a Nonconformist.
I worked myself up to this with the very attractively produced children's version by Simonetta Carr. Also worth checking out. We enjoyed as a family reading a chapter a time on Sunday afternoons recently.
 

Speaking in Essex

I spent this morning in Rayleigh, Essex, speaking on Proverbs to a gathering of people from UEC churches at one of their Faith Matters days. Around 30 people gathered and hopefully I managed to stir them to want to read Proverbs and forearmed them against some of the pitfalls. The UEC is a group of 15 churches (formerly the Peculiar People), nearly all in Essex. See here for more. What a great way to spend a morning!

Samuel Johnson

I was in Fleet Street the other week and I noticed this statue of Johnson outside St Clement Danes, the church he used to attend.
On the base it says
Samuel Johnson LLD, critic, essayist, philologist, biographer, wit, poet, moralist, dramatist, political writer, talker. Born 1709, died 1784. The gift and handiwork of Percy Fitzgerald, FSA and erected by the Revd. S. Pennington, MA, Rector of St. Clement Danes, 1910.
(Around the pedestal there are 3 large bronze reliefs: - on front - Boswell's head in profile, inscribed "Boswell" - on left hand side - Johnson with Mrs Thrale, inscribed "Mrs Thrale" - on right hand side - Johnson with Boswell, in the Highlands).

10 British Executioners

I was reading about capital punishment recently. Hence this bizarre list.
1. Thomas Derrick
(Elizabethan executioner convicted of rape but pardoned by the Earl of Essex, [whom he later executed, 1601], on the condition that he became an executioner at Tyburn)
2. Richard Brandon
(17th-century hangman who inherited his role from his father Gregory [hence the nickname "Young Gregory". He is often named as the executioner of Charles I).
3. Jack Ketch
(infamous English executioner employed by King Charles II. Famous for the way he performed his duties during the tumults of the 1680s. Executed death sentences against Lord Russell, 1683, and Duke of Monmouth, 1685, after the Monmouth Rebellion. Named in Punch and Judy and Dickens novels. A proverbial name for death, Satan and executioners.)
4. William Marvell 1715–1717
(a blacksmith by trade, conducted hangings at Tyburn from 1715. He lost his job due to debt in 1717 and two years later was convicted of theft after stealing "10 silk handkerchiefs").
5. William Calcraft
(executioner 1829–1874. It is estimated that in his 45-year career he carried out 450 executions. A cobbler by trade, he was initially recruited to flog juvenile offenders held in Newgate prison)
6. William Marwood
(executioner 1874–1883, another cobbler by trade. He developed the so-called 'long drop' method of hanging)
7. Bartholomew Binns 1883–1884
(formerly Marwood's assistant he was a drunkard and was soon sacked)
8. James Berry
(executioner 1884–1891, he wrote of his experiences. His most important contribution to the science of hanging was his refinement of Marwood's long drop. Some of his improvements remained standard practice until the abolition of capital punishment in the UK)
9. James Billington
(served 1884–1901. Three sons - Thomas, William and John - followed in their father's footsteps and became hangmen too)
10. Albert Pierrepoint
(served 1932–1956. His father [Henry] and uncle [Thomas] had also been hangmen. On retirement Albert became a publican and wrote his memoirs. He executed at least 400 people in his long career, including war criminals).

Kevin DeYoung on Homosexuality

At the recent Banner Kevin DeYoung mentioned to some of us that his next book was to be on homosexuality. Crossway were eager for a book on a very hot topic from a reliable and gifted writer. The book is well written and very helpful. On the face of it, it should not be a difficult task to show that the Bible opposes homosexual practice. What Kevin DeYoug does here is not only to deal with the relevant Scriptures in a way that is both orthodox and theologically robust but also to answer a series of seven common objections to the orthodox position - “The Bible Hardly Ever Mentions Homosexuality”;.“Not That Kind of Homosexuality”; “What about Gluttony and Divorce?”; “The Church Is Supposed to Be a Place for Broken People”; “You’re on the Wrong Side of History”; “It’s Not Fair”; “The God I Worship Is a God of Love”. This really is a very thorough book and very helpful. It also includes three appendices - same-sex marriage, same-sex attraction and what he calls a 10 commandments on the subject.

Midweek Meeting May 6 2015

We were a very good number once again last night (about 15) as we ploughed on through Philippians 3, looking this time at verses 10-16. Once again I was struck very much by Paul's total commitment to Christ and the highly positive yet realistic way he sees the Christian life. It is so easy to come adrift but with passages like this one in the Bible there is no reason to do so. We again had an excellent time of prayer, with a good balance of requests and thanksgivings. It is always good to be with God's people, especially to pray. We prayed about the election, of course, but lots of other things big and small too.

10 Free

1. Free churches - churches intrinsically separated from state government. Not part of the established or state church. 
2. Free house - a pub not tied to selling beer from only one brewery but free to choose its wares
3. Free jazz - an attempt to alter, extend, or break down jazz convention, often by discarding fixed chord changes or tempos. Regarded by some as avant-garde, others say it is an attempt to return jazz to its primitive, often religious, roots with an emphasis on collective improvisation.
4. Free port - or free zone (zona franca), sometimes also called a bonded area (or in the US a Foreign-Trade Zone) is a port or other area with relaxed jurisdiction of customs or related national regulations
5. Freeware - computer software available for use at no monetary cost, though there may be some restrictions (eg on redistribution). Some would say freeware that is closed source (eg Adobe Reader and Skype) should not be called freeware.
6. Free Wales Army - Byddin Rhyddid Cymru was a paramilitary Welsh nationalist organisation, formed at Lampeter in 1963 by WIlliam Julian Cayo-Evans. Its objective was to establish an independent Welsh republic.
7. Free trade - a policy in international markets in which governments do not restrict imports or exports
8. Free market - a market system in which the prices for goods and services are set freely by consent between sellers and consumers, in which the laws and forces of supply and demand are free from any intervention by a government, price-setting monopoly, or other authority
9. Free association - a technique used in psychoanalysis originally devised by Freud
10. Fee culture - concerns the way copyright restrictions have increased since 1974 in duration, scope, reach, control and other ways, stifling competition and creativeness. It argues for greater freedom to distribute and modify creative works in the form of free content by using the Internet and other forms of media.

Great Town Aberystwyth

Somebody has decided that Aberystwyth is a great town. Some of us knew that already. One judge sais it was town that punches above its weight. Much more here.

Far from the madding crowd

Eleri and I went to the cinema tonight. We'd been to a lovely barbecue with friends during the day and rounded it off with this.  Neither of us could remember when we'd last gone to the cinema together. Thomas Hardy's Far from the madding crowd is a great novel and this film does it proud. Great cinematography, wonderful lighting, great acting, good indoor and outdoor scenes and costumes, appropriate music, etc, etc. We just really enjoyed the whole thing. A love triangle is always a good literary device and it is done well and not predictably. Hardy was a gloomy old soul and so you have to bear with a vast whack of gloom and doom but somehow we get through to (spoiler alert)  a happy ending. I really did enjoy every moment of it.

Yr Hwntws Nawr


I think this is a fairly recent line up of Yr Hwntws with a triban from the original album

Retro Album of the week 18 - Yr Hwntws

In 1982 the first album on the now defunct Loco label appeared and I bought a signed copy in my home town of Cwmbran. The appeal to me of this 17 track record was manifold. Firstly, it was in Welsh, a language I was trying to get my head round at the time (and am still trying). Secondly, the informative and attractive booklet with it claimed that there was a Gwentian dialect of Welsh, used on the album. Some of the band were actually from Cwmbran. (One of them had given my sister guitar lessons and his sister was the headmistress in the school where I did my teacher training). Thirdly, it is a folk album, more Irish than Welsh in many respects, so right up my street musically. You can no longer get hold of the album although one or two tracks can be found on i-tunes.and an album in the same mode Gwentian was released a few years ago. I must check it out some time. I have only a poor recording of the original vinyl on my computer. The album includes versions of Bachgen Bach o dincer and Ymh Mhontypridd as well as a number of tribans.

Lord's Day May 3 2015

Yesterday was a little strange in some ways. I have a bit of a cold which made things  slightly difficult. As expected there were also a large number of people away so I was concerned about the singing (we only failed the once).
I also preached two pretty short sermons (they must have been about 25 minutes each). This is basically good news but I tend to fear I just haven't worked hard enough on the material. I was on the final verses of 1 Corinthians 15 in the morning (I claimed it was verses 50-59 on the notice sheet but there are only 58 verses in the chapter). In the evening I preached on prayer from the Sermon on the Mount. Size wise neither congregation was too bad. We had a few visitors of various sorts.
We started the day with communion. We now have two deacons rather than three and one was away so we are having to get used to a slightly different pattern there. I also welcomed into membership the two young people baptised the other week.
Anyway it is a privilege to preach the word in season and out and we pray it will be a blessing to those who heard.

How old do I look?

Have you tried the How old do I look site? (see here). I'm not over-impressed (my wife likes it).

Baptist Covenant Theology

There are a number of books on covenant theology available at present. Just a few of them are actually by Baptists! This one is a composite thing beginning with a long article by Earl Blackburn and shorter ones by Fred Malone (Hermeneutics) and Walt Chantry (works, imputation and baptism). It is a real joy to read a book where you agree with almost everything unlike the usual experience where the Presbyterian suddenly heads off in a direction that you have no wish to go in. The book is really worth reading. It not only has the baptism debate in mind but also dispensationalism and new covenant theology, a movement that is quite strong among Baptists. The book accepts the existence of a covenant of works. Chantry links Jonathan Edwards with the views of John Cameron on page 122. It might be useful to know more about that.

Ian Hamilton on Faith

I picked up Ian Hamilton's little book The faith shaped life at the Banner. I think I mentioned recently that I like to read books by people I know. I had mistakenly thought it was a series of studies on faith but it is, in fact, a collection of 43 "pastoral letters" written over the years. (I think you can find them on his church's website - here). I'm not sure why the book lacks a little foreword explaining this. It is an important part of the pastor's duties in some traditions (Ian would be very much a Willie Still man, a selection of whose letters was published by Banner some years ago). My old pastor used to do it. Anyway, this book is a fine read. There are rare repetitions but lots of good quotations and sensible points in brief compass.

Fesko on the fruit of the Spirit

Having read John Fesko's book on the tabernacle recently I dug out my unread copy of his The fruit of the Spirit is .... It is a tiny book that just goes through the passage in Galatians 5, its distinctive being the way it draws on the Old Testament material that Paul must have in mind when he writes. It is worth checking out.

10 things in the Bible you might not expect to find

1. A wrestling match (Genesis 32)
2. A man killing a lion with his bare hands (Judges 14)
3. A romantic love story (Ruth)
4. A séance (1 Samuel 28)
5. A more gritty love story (Hosea 1-3)
6. A beauty contest (Esther 2)
7. A foot race (John 20)
8. A trade union riot (Acts 19)
9. A shipwreck (Acts 28)
10. A runaway slave restored (Philemon)