1. Rome, Italy
2. Athens, Greece
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
4. Bath, England, United Kingdom
5. Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
6. Lisbon, Portugal
7. Madrid, Spain
8. Moscow, Russia
9. Sheffield, England, United Kingdom
10. Torquay, England, United Kingdom
The similar phrase 'Worldly Christianity' is one used by Bonhoeffer. 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.
It was Easter Sunday and so resurrection hymns and messages were in order, which we were happy to fit in with although with some latitude. I preached from Luke 24:45-47 in the morning and Romans 4:25 in the evening. The congregations were not bad considering how people are often away at this time of the year. With some visitors, however, we were a decent number and only one family seems to have been caught out by the change of the clocks. One nice thing was that we had four in the Sunday School when we thought there might be only one (my wife did an emergency lesson). It was the visit of a new family in the morning and two almost new people in the evening that moist encouraged me. We ended up introducing four important words that begin with 'i' in the two meetings - inspiration, illumination, infusion and imputation.
1. Thunder only happens when it rains (Fleetwood Mac, Dreams)
2. Early morning April 4th - Shot rings out cross a Memphis sky (U2, Pride [in the name of love])
[It was in the evening that MLK was shot]
3. Where Napoleon did surrender (Abba, Waterloo)
[Defeated but no surrender]
4. Born and raised in South Detroit (Journey, Don't stop believin')
[There is no South Detroit excepting Canada]
5. I’m stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin’ on…But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. (Johnny Cash. Folsom Prison Blues)
[If Cash shot a man in Reno, Nevada, he would not be in prison in Folsom, California]
6. In the jungle, the mighty jungle, The lion sleeps tonight. (The Tokens, Wimoweh)
[Lions live on grasslands not in the jungle]
7. Coast to coast, L.A. to Chicago (Sade, Smooth Operator)
[Chicago is nowhere near the east coast]
8. It's that pivotal moment, it's a feeling like this, It's centrifugal motion, it's perpetual bliss (Faith Hill, Kiss)
[Centrifugal force repels rather than attracting]
9. My daddy was a cop on the East Side of Chicago (Paper Lace, The Night Chicago died)
[There is no East Chicago, Lake Michigan is there]
10. From a town known as Wheeling, West Virginia ... he robbed his way from Utah to Oklahoma (Billy Joel, Ballad of Billy the Kid)
[No-one knows where Billy was born but not in West Virginia; he was not a robber]
The interview with Janet Mefferd on Candle in the wind, my book on conscience was finally broadcast yesterday. You can hear it here. It is in two sections in the first half hour of the programme. It was a good opportunity to let people know about the book and hopefully increase sales.
Wednesday seems a long time ago now. A mixture of busyness and illness has kept me from reporting how we got on until now. As it is Easter week I thought we could look at something relevant to that and so went to John 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. That was a good text to get into. There were about 16 of us present and we had a good time of prayer to follow. Some people really know ho to pray and it is a delight to hear.
Really enjoyed Focus at the Underworld in Camden last night. A packed audience gathered first to hear Earls of Mars (rock on the heavy and loud side and not really my cup of tea). Focus were as amazing as ever from the opening Bach flute lines through to Hocus Pocus and the Focus 3/Answers Questions encore. There were genuine classical, jazz and rock moments and some fine playing by Menno Gootjes. I'm still not entirely convinced about the solos from Gootjes and Booby Jacobs on bass though Pierre Van Der Linden and Thijs Van Leer can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. The bonus this time round was a two hour twenty minute set without a break. It's a short tour and so the usual intermission was dispensed with. One Van Leer trick new to me was making a whistling sound with a glass of water in the encore. With the flute, organ, vocals, whistling, melodica, scat, tongues, etc, Van Leer did not put a step wrong. Good to speak briefly with Thijs and Menno before leaving. I should have asked for a photo opportunity but none of my cameras seemed to be working properly.
The set list was Focus 1/Anonymous, House of the King, Ode to Venus, Eruption, Sylvia, Brother, Le Tango, All hens on deck, La Cathedrale de Strasbourg/Harem Scarem, Hocus Pocus with Focus 3 and Answers Questions as an encore.
I do a good deal of walking these days, usually to Highgate and Hampstead. Normally, I don't see anyone famous. Then last week I passed comedian Alan Davies talking to someone about football as he took his kids to school one day and then on another day passed another comedian Terry Jones of Python fame, eliciting nervous hello in response to my beaming smile. Hat trick this week perhaps.
A good day yesterday with quite large congregations for us, even though some were away. I preached in the morning from Revelation 15, 16. We continue to be challenged and sobered. In the evening it was communion (we looked at Hebrews 5) and then I preached another one off, this time from that great text in Isaiah 12:3. A good day all told.
Three Baptist ministers go into a Methodist church - why did they go in? For the Congregational Studies Conference, of course. They went to hear the Baptist Michael Haykin speak on the Congregationalists Asahel Nettleton (American evangelist) John Owen (not Doddridge as advertised) and Isaac Watts. I've often thought of attending this annual conference but have never made it until now. Dr Haykin gave more conventional papers on Nettleton and Owen and with the Watts paper focused on his hymns (all complete in the earlier part of his life) especially When I survey, which the forty or so present all sang at the end. Nettleton is rather forgotten despite seeing 25,000 or so converted. The much better known Finney was criticised for his many failures, especially his rejection of total depravity. It is, of course, the four hundredth anniversary of Owen's birth. It was good to meet old friends. Having Wesley's chapel and Bunhill Fields on hand adds to the experience. Worth getting the papers in print. See here soon.
It was good to be there with just under 30 others last night in Bethesda, Kensington, for the annual lecture of the Strict Baptist Historical Society. Kevin Price from Kendal gave an excellent overview of the life of Benjamin Ingham, the Oxford Methodist and inadvertent founder of his own denomination (Inghamites). The lecture was well informed and well paced as we looked at Ingham's Methodism, his Calvinism, his relations with the Moravians and the eventual embracing of Sandemanianism. Fascinating. The mystery is why a man with such an emphasis on the experimental should be taken in by the Glasite error. The paper finished with William Romaine's comment on the Inghamites "If ever there was a Church of Christ upon earth, that was one. I paid them a visit, and had a great mind to join them. There was a blessed work of God among that people, till that horrid blast from the north came upon them and destroyed all!"
We are rather behind with this but we had a fairly well attended meeting last Wednesday in the chapel parlour. We looked at 2 Timothy 2:3, 4 The Good Soldier (a searching passage) and had a good time of prayer to follow. It was our privilege to have present both the pastor emeritus and the pastor elect of Alfred Place Baptist Church, Aberystwyth (ie my father-in-law and my son).
It's been perhaps more busy than usual and so there' been no blogging for a little while.
Saturday morning was time for our monthly tracting It was gratifying to have a full team out this time round. People from the Iranian Church in Finchley were also out so there were few places for pagans to hide in Golders Green that day. After a quick lunch I headed for Welwyn where the EMF (European Missionary Fellowship) were saying goodbye to Martin and Penny Leech and hello to Steve Bowers and Ian Parry. There were a large number there and Ian Parry preached well from Acts 16. I was sorry to have to dash off. I'd intended to arrive early and talk to people then but that didn't work out. Anyway, I got back home in time for the second half of the England Wales game. I don't really know what Wales were playing at in that first half but they finally came to life in the second half and almost did it. The 25-21 score line flatters Wales to some extent.
The Lord's Day was a good one. We ploughed on with Revelation in the morning, looking at Revelation 14, a most searching and no holds barred chapter dealing with the realities of heaven and hell. We closed with John Newton's hymn "Day of judgement". At 5 pm we gathered for tea. We weren't many but it was a nice time. I preached in the evening service to a good sized congregation on Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Then after church we heard that the church in Aberystwyth has issued a call to my eldest son. How thrilling.
The family was with us for tea on Monday evening (Rhodri was preaching in Pembrokeshire the day before). It was good to be with them. Before that I had been at the Evangelical Library. We had the Lunchtime Lecture first. Norman Hopkins from Strood, Kent, gave an excellent lecture on Edward Dering, a forgotten Puritan who he dubbed an Elizabethan Spurgeon. It was the best sort of lecture - where the lecturer knows his subject well but is able to get the story across. It was great to have over twenty people present. Next lecture April 18 - yours truly on F B Meyer. After our evening meal, Eleri had me moving a large cupboard form one room to another that had to come apart in the end. Once that was done, I sat down to University Challenge and the News.
Then today I have been out at the John Owen Centre/LTS for some Greek study with the principal Robert Strivens (my fellow elder who I know is between trips to Eastern Europe lecturing on Hebrews in Serbia and Romania). About nine of us gathered to work our way through Matthew 5-7. Robert does it very well with just the right amount of talking head and questions. I hope to be at the next one on Philippians in June but will be missing the Hebrew Day in May. After a brief session with my grandsons and others in the park I headed home. My parents-in-law arrived a little while after. I watched University Challenge again with Geoff (and got most of the questions right!). Eleri and I then watched the last episode of Happy Valley. There are things to criticise about it but as a piece of drama it is an amazing series. The way the ongoing story of the Sarah Lancashire character and her family and the continuing story of crime in a Yorkshire town are blended and played out is quite masterful. Expect this latest series to be gathering awards like the last one.
In this coming week there are several opportunities in London to hear papers on figures in church history.
March 14 1 pm Evangelical Library.................. Edward Dering c1540-1576 .......... Norman Hopkins
March 18 7 pm Bethesda, Notting Hill Gate..... Benjamin Ingham 1712-1722 ........ Kevin Price
March 19 Day conference Wesley Chapel........ Asahel Nettleton 1783-1844 .......... Michael Haykin
........................................................................... Philip Doddridge 1702-1751 ......... Michael Haykin
........................................................................... Isaac Watts 1674-1678 .................. Michael Haykin
The lecture on Ingham is the Strict Baptist Historical Society Annual Lecture and the three Haykin lectures are for the Congregational Studies Conference.
We were rather low in numbers on Wednesday and it would be easy to have been discouraged (I probably was a bit) but it was just the combination of a number of circumstances. We looked at the opening two verses of 2 Timothy 2 and it was a blessing to see how much is packed into just two verses. The prayer time was a little shorter than usual. Surprisingly, sometimes people are less keen to pray when there are less people.
People seem very keen to dub George Martin "the fifth Beatle". Several people have been connected with this title. Here are ten
1 Stuart Sutcliffe (friend of Lennon's, member of the original group)
2 Pete Best (original drummer)
3 Brian Epstein (manager)
4 George Martin (producer)
5 Neil Aspinall (chief roadie, etc)
6 Derek Taylor (media man)
7 Billy Preston (keyboard player on Let it be, etc)
8 Tony Sheridan (singer with the band in the early days)
9 Klaus Voorman (bassist from Hamburg days, on all the solo albums, etc)
10 George Best (long haired footballer from the sixties)
The death of George Martin is being widely reported. One tiny footnote. In the book on Focus by Peet Johnson there is a fascinating half a paragraph that reads thus:
The Spring of '75, saw former Beatles overseer, George Martin, arrive in Holland to discuss the possibility of producing the next Focus LP. One account, printed in 2002, was to suggest that Jan was so rudely dismissive of the legendary producer that Martin immediately walked out and headed for the nearest airport, but Thijs fiercely refutes this: "Quite the contrary, Jan was friendly, modest and full of humour. Martin had come to stay with us at Kasteel Groeneveld for the weekend and he was more than willing to work with us. But we had to wait a year as he was already busy with the band America and Jeff Beck. Stupidly, we decided not to wait. We had missed the chance of working with this genius."
A bit late with this but we had a good day Sunday with communion first and two meetings. It was pretty long and demanding as I preached from Revelation 13 in the morning (on the beasts and 666, etc) then the final three chapters of Judges in the evening. Not easy then. Lots of people missing bit others there we've not seen for a while. Not sure if I'm scratching where it itches, which is not my only concern by any means but you do want the messages to go home. And I'm sure it did but with what effect? Anyway it's great to have gone through the fascinating Book of Judges and to be over half way in Revelation.
We were back to our regular form of meeting last Wednesday. Some 14 of us gathered and we looked at the closing verses of 2 Timothy 1. This is the story of Onesiphorus and how he refreshed Paul in Rome. It is biographical, therefore, and very practical. After I had spoken on it I remembered that I had taken it as a subject some time ago. When I checked it was in fact November, 2013 - so not so very long ago. It was interesting to compare the two sermons and see the differences. One thing that I had noticed this time round that I had not seen previously was the chiasmus that is undoubtedly there. I didn't check to see if anyone agreed but I just looked it up now and I see someone else advocates it here in fact with a little elaboration on my scheme. My emphasise this time was more on being grateful that others help us than urging people to be helpers, which was my emphasis in 2013.
I notice as I add tags to this blog that I blogged on Onesiphorus here.