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.

Griffith John

When I was in Swansea last I was reminded of Griffith John. I had missed the latest biography by a member of the church, John Aaron, which came out last February. It is in the Bitesize series which I am such a big fan of (22 out so far). This was a great introduction for me to man of whom I knew nothing. At the end of the book the author plausibly explains the reasons why he has fallen rather into obscurity. It also makes clear that by spending his life in Chin Griffith John made a real sacrifice one that may have been to Wales's detriment but was certainly to China's gain. The book includes references to Hudson Taylor and to a man who was just a name to me, Timothy Richard, and to the developing scene in China over the period when Griffith John was active. It is well written, brief and to the point, and an excellent introduction to the series. My one moan is that this new style cover is out of sync with all the rest.

Eyeware W

Welding goggles

Eyeware V

Virtual reality goggles

Eyeware U

uv protection sunglasses

A great blessing to me

This book by Canadian Grant Gordon explores the relationship between John Newton (1725-1807) and George Whitefield (1714-1770). I can't remember reading a book exactly like this but it certainly works well in that it sheds light both on Newton and Whitefield and is very stimulating to thought. I suppose when you read a single biography you identify or fail to identify and there can be no easy way to apply the lessons learned. This format means that you are forced to stand back and consider two pretty different men - not even exact contemporaries (they only knew each other the last 15 years of Whitefield's life) - and so the danger of over identifying is not really there in the same way,
The approach is to briefly give the two men's lives up to 1754 then in five chapters look t the life of Newton and his interactions with Whitefield. Closing chapters consider Whitefield's impact on the younger man and how they compare and contrast with a final page or two on Newton's final tribute to Whitefield. If you know the story of Newton and Whitefield you will enjoy the way they are delineated that much more sharply by this book.
Dr Grant intimated that he intends a similar book on Newton and Wesley which would be very welcome. This present volume is enhanced by several visual items, an index, etc. It is a pity it is not in hardback.

Eyeware T

3D glasses

Eyeware S

Swimming goggles

Eyeware R

Reading glasses

Eyeware Q

Quidditch goggles

Lord's Day November 27 2016

On Sunday morning we carried on with Galatians. We are now in Chapter 4. These are fairly basic matters but it is important that we cover them. In the evening, conscious that I will soon wnat to preach on Christmas themes, we took a break from Matthew 11 to begin to look at Acts 3. I've never preached through Acts but we visit from time to time and so I have preached some chapters but never this one before that I recall. Attendance was again good in the morning and evening, although there is always something erratic about attendance. It was good to have five children to speak to for the children's talk. Two others were not well.
After the morning meeting we celebrated three birthdays. One person was 6, one 60 and one 90 (the three born on different continents but brought together here in Childs Hill). One of our members had cleverly baked two cakes in the shape of a zero and a 6 or 9 and so all three were able to blow their candles after we sang happy birthday. Undoubtedly the 90 year old had the most efficient candle blowing technique. That's the wisdom of age I guess.

Eyeware P

Pince nez

Eyeware O

Oversize glasses

Eyeware N

National Health glasses

Another win for Wales

Wales 27 South Africa 13. Still far from perfect but another win means that on paper at least this has been a pretty good run of games, indeed the best in the Autumn for some time (since 2002).

Eyeware M

Monocle

Eyeware L

Lorgnettes

Eyeware K

Kite surfing goggles

10 men who preached sermons marking Whitefield's death


This is a selection of the many preached when George Whitefield died on September 30, 1770. Luke Tyerman says there were 17 such sermons, seven of them being published.
1. Jonathan Parsons, Newbury Port, Phil 1:21, Sep 30
2. Ebenezer Pemberton, Boston, Heaven the residence of saints, Oct 11
3. James Sprout, Philadelphia, Oct 14
4. Edward Ellington, Savannah, Reproach of Christ the Christian's treasure
(and John Joachim Zubly, The wise shining as the brightness of the firmament, Nov 11)
5. David Edwards, London, Hebrews 11:4 (two sermons), Nov 11
6. John Wesley, London, No 23:10, Nov 11 and 23
7. John Newton, Olney, John 5:3, Nov 11
8. Henry Venn, Bath, Isa 8:18, Nov 18
9. William Romaine, London
10. John Berridge, Everton in Bedfordshire,

December Weddings

As far as I recall I've never been to a December wedding. I am aware that they take place but somehow this year they are suddenly all the rage it seems. I know of people getting married on the 3rd, 10th and 17th and one even nearer to Christmas day. I am only going to one (my son's) but here;s wishing you all a really good day as it fast approaches. Hope it's not too cold (one is in South Africa so it's not likely to be).

Midweek Meeting November 23 2016

We were altogether again last Wednesday in the parlour. We had a members meeting the next night but people were still happy to come out. Having finished 2 Timothy I was not sure what to do next but on checking my records I noticed that I have never done a series on the 15 Psalms of Ascent (although I have preached on two of them as one offs; according to my reckoning I have actually preached on less than half the psalms - I've preached only about 60 or 70 of them). So without committing myself to a series we looked at Psalm 120 ans that went quite well, It is psalm about persecution really but has more to say than that. We also had a good time of prayer. We preach peace but people are all for war - against God and against each other. How patient we need to be.

Eyeware J

Joke glasses

Eyeware I

Infra red night vision goggles

Eyeware H

Horizontal glasses

10 well known Indian born Brits

1. George Orwell (Eric Blair), writer, Motihari 1903
2. Spike Milligan (Terence Alan Milligan), comedian, Ahmednagar 1918
3. Kenneth Kendall, newsreader, 1924
4. Alasdair Milne, politician, 1930
5. Gerald Durrell writer Jamshedpur 1925 (and his brother Lawrence)
6. Engelbert Humperdinck, (Arnold George Dorsey), singer, Madras 1936
7. Cliff Richard (Harold Rodger Webb), singer, Lucknow 1940
8. Pete Best (Randolph Peter Scanland), Beatles drummer, Madras 1941
9. Peter Sarstedt, singer, Delhi 1941 (and his brothers Clive and Richard [Eden Kane])

10. Joanna Lumley, actress, Srinagar 1946

More on Transgender

I've read Vaughan Roberts little book Transgender and it covers much the same ground as the conference though it is good to have it in printed form. The book is judicious, biblical, straightforward and clear. What more could you want?
London Seminary also emailed me resource details as follows:
1. This site contains a brief summary, written by the editor David Shaw, of the FIEC Primer on transsexualism (BTW FFR there are apparently two s's), True to Form: https://fiec.org.uk/news/article/true-to-form   
2. The full FIEC Primer available to purchase (£4.99 The Good Book Company): http://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/true-to-form-primer-issue-3
3. The Christian Institute’s hub on transsexualism: http://www.christian.org.uk/issue/transsexualism/
4. Christian Concern’s section on transsexualism:
5. The Grace Baptist Assembly ethics statement contains a small section on transsexualism, see paragraph 20 (XX): http://www.gracebaptistassembly.org.uk/gba2/index.php/about/ethics/
7. And here are two articles:
A. Cretella, M, Van Meter, Q,  McHugh, P, 'Gender Ideology Harms Children', March 2016, American College of Pediatricians, April 6, 2016,
B. James, Sharon, ‘Are we all omnigender now?’ Affinity, 2016,

Eyeware G

Gas mask

Recent Purchase



As a sort of pre-Christmas present to myself I recently bought an album I only discovered a few years ago. Tales from the Book of Time, like its predecessor Beltane, is a reworking of some of the music of Marc Bolan by the French Canadien singer Catherine Lambert. The treatment is a baroque one with lots of harpsichord, recorders and strings. The main CD contains 15 songs from the period from Unicorn to the T Rex album, a golden era for Bolan and beautifully presented on this excellently produced album. I was familiar with most of the tracks through Youtube (see above for example). (I've not explored the second CD yet, an audiobook).
I had almost despaired of getting hold of the 2004 album. I saw one advertised somewhere for over a thousand pounds. I got this one from discogs and it was very reasonably priced although I had to pay the same price again more or less to get it from Switzerland. It really is worth having, however.

Eyeware F

Fish eye lens glasses

Eyeware E

Eye protection goggles

Eyeware D

Driving glasses

Transgender

I was at an excellent conference today organised by the London Seminary in Finchley on the issue of transgender. The day was structured so that four specialists gave a different angle on a matter that has quickly climbed to the top of the agenda in terms of social issues facing the church at the present time. Dr Sharon James kicked us off with an introduction to the social, cultural and historical background. This was very helpful though quite disturbing in parts. Dr Peter Saunders of CMF then dealt with the medical issues. This was a more difficult paper and I was not entirely happy with everything that was said although this is possibly because of the need to use broad brushstrokes in addressing such a vast subject. His paper on Gender dysphoria was recommended (you can find that here). He himself recommended a resource (especially the conclusions) which I think is here.
After an excellent sandwich lunch the 70 or so present had another three sessions crammed between 1.45 and 4.40 pm. Simon Calvert from the Christian Institute took us through the laws on this matter, which are partly bad news and partly good. Then Durham based Dr Alastair Roberts gave us a helpful biblical theological session. We finished off with a pastoral session from Ulsterman David Magowan from Reading. He gave us a useful six point plan:

1. Understand the culture
2. Access Christian resources (Vaughan Roberts, etc)
3. Teach and preach a biblical understanding of gender
4. Discuss transgenderism with your church leadership team
5. Give advice to your welcome teams and leaders of church ministries
6. Provide compassionate pastoral care and biblical counselling

Throughout the day we had time for questions after each session and this added to the value of the day.
The messages were all recorded and can be obtained from the seminary (website here).
Friends in Wales will be interested to know that something similar will take place in Cardiff on March 25, 2017. I believe on the same day there will also be something like it going on in Stirling too.
One more useful resource is a statement of Christian ethical standards here at the Grace Assembly website. It includes all manner of items including this

XX. TRANSSEXUALISM
A Christian must not adopt a sex other than his biological sex, for example by wearing clothes appropriate only to the opposite sex; by using pronouns applicable only to the opposite sex; by using a given name associated exclusively with the opposite sex. A Christian must not use hormonal blockers, surgical alteration, or any other means in an attempt to take on the physical characteristics of the opposite sex. A Christian must not encourage any other person to relate to him or to address him as if he were a member of the opposite sex.
Gen 1:27; Deuteronomy 22:5; Psalm 139:13-16.

The usefulness of such a document is for churches to spell out where they stand on such matters before any dispute or unhappiness arises.

Lord's Day, November 22 2016

This last Lord's Day was an encouraging one. I thought we may not getting anyone to the all age Sunday School but there were six our best turn out so far. We looked at the next section on the church in the 1966 Affirmation, the part on church officers. We also had communion in the evening, which was fine though we have sadly lost the person who used to bring the bread and wine and we still have not sorted out who is doing it instead (Robinson's fruit and barley apple and blackcurrant isn't quite it). The main services were quite well attended though several people have bad colds, which affected the attendance of some. For some reason I forgot the collection in the second hymn but we coped when I remembered in time for the third hymn. We're very flexible on things indifferent at Childs Hill. I preached from the end of Galatians 3 in the morning and the wonderful closing verses of Matthew 11 in the evening. I'm trying to be faithful out of season I guess.

10 Winter Songs

These are not really Christmas songs but winter ones.
To hear them go here.
1. River Joni Mitchell 
2. Winter time Kayak
3. Winterborn lyric Jan Akkerman
4. Drive the cold winter away Horslips/Kate Rusby
5. The throat of winter Tyrannosaurus Rex
6. Midwinter night Tangerine Dream
7. Trains and winter rains Enya 
8. Flight of the snow goose Camel
9. Winter time love The Doors/Bojoura
10. Hazy shade of winter Simon and Garfunkel/Bangles

Go! PSB FYE

 FYE (for your enjoyment/entertainment)

Another win - just!

Wales (playing appropriately in black) just about beat Japan today (33-30). it is difficult to see how Wales could have played so poorly. A win's a win but this was not much fun to watch. At least I'm not a South African. They're next.

The Somme Again

Today is the hundredth anniversary of the last day of the Battle of the Somme. On the anniversary of the first day I produced the piece below. What I don't think I mentioned is a family story of my father at the Somme, apparently being told to take a message outside the trenches. It is said that my grandfather said to the officer that if he went he would die for certain and so the officer, to avoid trouble, sent someone else who did indeed die.It is a striking thought, for me especially.


As most will be aware, today is the one hundredth anniversary of the first day of The Battle of the Somme or the Somme Offensive, a First World War battle between the British and French empires and the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of upper reaches of the River Somme in France. It was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front; more than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.
Initial plans called for the French army to undertake the main part of the Somme offensive, supported on the northern flank by the Fourth Army of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). When the Imperial German Army began the Battle of Verdun on the Meuse on 21 February 1916, French commanders diverted many of the divisions intended for the Somme and the "supporting" attack by the British became the principal effort.
The first day on the Somme was the worst day in the history of the British army, which suffered 57,470 casualties, mainly on the front between the Albert–Bapaume road and Gommecourt, where the attack was defeated and few British troops reached the German front line.
The British troops on the Somme comprised a mixture of the remains of the pre-war regular army, the Territorial Force and the Kitchener Army, which was composed of Pals battalions, recruited from the same places and occupations. Among these latter conscripts was my grandfather, William Brady, born in Bilston but by then living in Newport, South Wales.  He was of Irish ancestry and a Roman Catholic. There is a photograph somewhere from 1914 of my grandfather in a ragtime band. In 1916, aged 21, he was conscripted to the life guards and soon found himself at the Somme. I have no details of what happened, although I believe he was injured and may well have been gassed at this time.
Debate continues over the necessity, significance and effect of the battle. I am simply glad my grandfather survived. Following the war he looked for a job. Apparently, he was spotted in an unemployment queue by an officer (my grandfather was 6' 4" and not easy to miss) and efforts were made to secure him a job in the steel industry. He spent the rest of his working life in Lysaght's as a steel checker. Remembrance Day was always an important day and he was very involved in the local British Legion. Nine years after the Somme he married my Bristol born, Newport based Protestant grandmother. They soon had my father, who was followed by four other children. He died in 1978, aged 83.
(The 119th Brigade, originally the Welsh Bantam Brigade, was an infantry brigade formation, part of Kitchener's New Armies. It served in the 40th Division on the Western Front. It was formed in Newport and may well have been my grandfather's brigade.)

Midweek Meeting Wednesday November 16 2016

On Wednesday we looked at the closing verses of 2 Timothy 4. This was the twenty eighth sermon that I have preached on the letter this time round. We started looking at the beginning of the year and took a big break in early Autumn. Last night the subject was our need of help the fact we need it, a call to look to God for it but a recognition that we also need human help. We followed that with a time of prayer. We began with a hymn (We rest on Thee) and unusually ended with one (Blest be the tie).

Lord's Day November 13 2016

We began with an all age Sunday School lesson on church membership. We have lost a bit of impetus there and we were very few. The service began with the two minutes silence followed, as is our usual custom, by Our God our help in ages past. I preached from the next part of Galatians. It did seem a little basic, perhaps, but to simply assume that we are all on the same page is usually a mistake. 
We were a good number morning and evening, though there were people away as ever. Some had let me know others I'm not sure. I'm sure people don't realise how much they are missed when they go awol. Perhaps I should make it clearer. Our new Iranian friend brought her young son for the first time. Three people were there who are not happy in the church they currently attend. That is always a difficult situation but we will take things step by step. In the evening someone turned up who has been missing nearly three weeks. That was a great encouragement. Two people also asked about getting involved in the young people's work, which is also encouraging.
In the evening I preached from Matthew 11 where Jesus castigates the towns where most of his miracles were done. Sobering stuff.
We had a fellowship lunch after the morning service. We were glad that our eldest member who rarely gets out these days came along. I interviewed one of our seminary students and he had interesting news for us. I'm glad I did that.
For some reason as I looked out on the congregation on Sunday night and as the already quite large moon shone down on us I felt more encouraged than I have for a while somehow. Nothing much had changed beyond a greater willingness to accept who we have rather than who we wish to have and a new resolve to track down some of the missing sheep. We are bound to go up and down in our feelings.

Recent Thanksgiving

On Friday I was one of over a hundred at the thanksgiving for the life of Richard Stonelake in Hayes Town Chapel, where the service was led by Richard's lifelong friend David Philpott and the recently retired minister Gwynne Evans. I was there really on behalf of the Evangelical Library where, for the last twenty years of his life, Richard had served in a voluntary capacity. Richard knew he was dying from cancer and so carefully arranged as much as he could of his funeral. It was a privilege to hear testimony of a man whose life was dedicated to God. What I had not realised was that it was only half way through his life (when he was 39) that he was actually converted. He had always gone to Gower Street Memorial Church but it was not until one Sunday in 1977, hearing the preaching of the late Peter Rowell that he was finally delivered from the wall of unbelief that he had built around himself. From then he sort to serve the Lord in various ways, first as a member at Gower Street Memorial (you can find his history of the place online) and then latterly at HTC. Like myself, the father of five boys, Richard leaves a grieving wife and sons and many friends but also a fragrant testimony of the grace of Christ. The Library will not be the only organisation that misses his input.

A win at last

Wales managed to beat Argentina today 24-20 - just about. At least it was a win (w elost the last five). Let's hope the soccer team do better against Serbia.

Nice polka on flutes

Free Christmas Ebook

You can download a free Christmas ebook this month by Alistair Begg. See here.

New Appointment at The John Owen Centre

Garry Williams Director The John Owen Centre London Seminary writes
I am delighted to be able to tell you that the John Owen Centre has appointed John Benton, of Chertsey Street Baptist Church in Guildford and Managing Editor of Evangelicals Now, to a new role providing pastoral support for pastors.
John’s ministry will broaden the ways in which London Seminary seeks to provide life-long help for pastors through the John Owen Centre, complementing our existing theological work.
As I meet with pastors on our Study Projects to help them with their theological work, I am struck by how often our conversation turns to the ups and downs of ministry. Many are thriving, but my sense is that more are struggling, and a significant minority are in serious difficulty and on the brink of leaving the ministry - a fact confirmed by the sad attrition rate for pastors. I frequently find myself thinking ‘Wouldn’t it be good if we had an experienced pastor available to sit down to spend time talking this through properly, offering biblical counsel and sharing the wisdom that he has gained during a long ministry'. This is the role that John will fill. As we have met with John it has been exciting to hear him speak about his vision for the role, his deep understanding of the challenges that pastors face, and the ways in which he has already been used by the Lord to help and encourage younger men in ministry.
John will begin the work in January 2017. He will be available to meet with pastors 1:1 to provide them with counsel, support and encouragement. His work will not involve mediation, and it is intended to complement and encourage rather than to bypass existing pastoral support structures. If you are a pastor and would like to arrange to meet with John when he starts, please contact us (johnowen@londonseminary.org). I will write later with further information on John’s availability to teach groups of pastors on topics relating to the challenges of ministry.

A new friend for Roosevelt and Churchill

I'm not sure how long Rosevelt and Churchill have been sat outside the Catto Gallery in Hampstead. They have acquired a new friend, however. I first saw her, I think, around Hallowe'en in a bin. They both seem to like her.

Seventeen Years On

It was asurprise today to be reminded that it is now 17 years since my mother diied. I wrote this article at the time.


New year celebrations were coloured for me by my mother’s death last November (1999), cancer having been diagnosed last May. It is good to reflect on unsought providences. With a sense of God’s goodness my mind has been on lessons he has taught me through her.
It’s good to put the spotlight on motherhood, something on which the Bible places a high value. 1 Timothy 2:15 (Women will be saved through childbearing …) we can paraphrase as ‘Woman’s role is not preaching or other things some men do but bearing and bringing up children (domestic activities). In such roles Christian women should live and receive salvation’.
Any good I do as a preacher is due greatly to my mother’s nurture. We must never think motherhood a lowly calling. It is crucial. What impact mothers have. My mother had many jobs, perhaps too many. However, she never looked at these as her career. When she was asked to be London buyer for a boutique she refused as it would harm her career - as housewife and mother!
My mother taught me many helpful lessons as I grew up but was not converted until I had grown up. Some things I learned were unhelpful and she failed to teach me things I needed to know. She never taught me how to pray, for example. When very young she encouraged bedtime prayers but there was no real teaching or encouragement as until in her fifties she did not know how. By the time she began praying I had been long converted. Though unbelievers can do nothing truly good they can do relative good and in certain areas she encouraged me greatly in the right direction until I was converted. A Salvationist grandfather and a local Brethren Assembly were positive influences on her. Although converted after me, her influence in leading me to Christ and to the ministry was crucial.
  • Most obviously there is the lesson of grace. I prayed many years for her conversion and at last God answered. It seemed impossible, yet it happened. I saw changes in my mother I hardly imagined. They could have come only by God’s grace.
  • She taught me to believe in God. But What may be known about God is plain … because God has made it plain … Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities … have been clearly seen …. However, by nature we deny the facts and attempt to suppress our knowledge. The fool’s There is no God is less unbelief and more refusal to accept facts. Although we know God we neither glorify him as God nor give thanks to him. I am so thankful that even before my mother was converted she believed in God and encouraged me to believe. She had plenty of the usual excuses for unbelief – she grew up in war time; a younger brother fell into an open fire; her nearest sister died at 19. By God’s grace she did not make these things excuses for unbelief. She did nothing to undermine belief in God so much so that I have never had serious doubts.
  • When I was a boy, if I did wrong I was reprimanded, smacked with a wooden spoon or sent to bed. I was always encouraged to do right. The idea of no difference between right and wrong was never encouraged. This was, of course, something my own soul told me but my mother did everything to encourage that attitude. I wanted to be good not naughty – partly to please her. Isaiah 5:20 pronounces woe on those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light … light for darkness, …. In the 1960s many efforts were made to blur distinctions but my mother stood firmly against that. There is such thing as right and wrong. I am thankful to have known that from a baby.
  • Further, she taught me the Ten Commandments – not formally but I was brought up on the basis of this Law. She wanted me to obey and honour her and my dad. It is one reason I have lived so long. I had friends who shouted at their mothers in the street, something I never dreamt of. I was encouraged to turn from all forms of hatred. Her lifelong devotion to my father bore its own testimony. When I was five my best friend’s mother ‘ran off’. Attempts were made to steal my mother from my father too but it was not something she would even contemplate. Stealing was again alien. Even petty pilfering was beyond her. I was the same. I remember coming home from school with a piece of wax crayon in my pocket. I was horrified at having stolen! For my parents, lying was a great sin. Coveting and greed were again outlawed. The standard answer to ‘So-and-so has got one’? ‘I don’t care what anyone else has – you’re not having one’. My parents bought us good things but we were taught to keep our desires for things within bounds. She not only encouraged me to believe in God but opposed idolatry and bad language too. I remember being called from play once for saying ‘Shurrup’. For some time I thought it was one word and swearing at that. God’s name was certainly not to be used that way. I was encouraged to keep Sunday special too. Sundays were for playing ‘out the back’ not in the street. I remember children calling in the vain hope I would be allowed out. Sunday was special, not boring but special – hair washed, special food, special pastimes, usually a family day. When very young indeed I remember being sent to Sunday School. I still remember having Bible stories in the nursery with paper figures in a sand tray and take home leaflets with biblical scenes. For many years my mother did not attend church herself but was keen to send my sister and I. I grew to loathe Sunday School and finally she agreed I could stop. Her non-attendance undercut her argument. It is a mark of this country’s decline that so few keep Sunday special today.
  • My mother was never one to sit down. When she eventually did, she would fall asleep. She instinctively agreed with Proverbs 10:4 Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth and Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might … and, perhaps, New Testament verses about self-control. She was determined to make every day count – up early, working hard, being diligent. Her attitude was a workmanlike one. She would say things like ‘You’ve got to make your brain work’, ‘You need to keep at it’. She would attack me for my ‘Couldn’t care less attitude’. A favourite rejoinder to laziness was a sarcastic ‘Lay down there and I’ll fan you!’. (I dod once as a joke). The downside was scepticism about illness and weakness but we all need to recognise the wickedness of laziness, the nobility of hard work, the importance of self-control.
  • I must balance that by saying that my mother was good at enjoying life too. There was a liveliness, a zest for life that was attractive. She loved sport as a youngster and dancing all her life. Her face enjoying a Chopin etude was a picture. She would love verses like 1 Timothy 4:4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, Some of us tend to be morbid and depressive – we need to be reminded that God intended us to enjoy life. At first my mother did not see how she could live to God’s glory and still enjoy life. The idea of giving certain things up did not appeal. However, when she came to Christ she saw that life in Christ is not so much about giving things up but more about abundant life to God’s glory. Her sins troubled her. It is difficult married to an unbeliever, especially when he can say with justification ‘It’s you that’s changed, not me’.
  • Another thing she gave me was thirst for knowledge. She left school at 14 and found facts difficult to memorise. However, she was convinced of the importance of education. From my youngest days she did all she could to fill my head with facts. She was a bit of a Gradgrind but that was partly due to ignorance. Her philosophy of children was ‘they are like sponges’; you need to feed their young minds. She would buy general knowledge quiz books to test me and always loved University Challenge. (I still watch it, partly as an homage to her memory), She encouraged me to read, though no great reader herself. The negative side for me has been a head full of trivia but when I was converted I began to see that she was right about the need to thirst for right knowledge. See Proverbs 4:1-13. With that thirst for knowledge came an emphasis on the power of words. A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Like the teacher of Ecclesiastes she liked the idea of searching to find just the right words. I rebelled at first against speaking nicely, etc, but I got hooked on things like Readers Digest’s ‘Expand your vocabulary’ so that I have come to love words. It is one element in the way the Lord has led me to become a preacher (and editor).
  • The last lesson was in her death. She is now in heaven, safe forever. To have someone so close in heaven brings its own blessings, despite the pain – something I never knew before.
Not every lesson was positive. My mother’s zeal and drive meant she was sometimes slow to give praise, afraid of feeding pride. God has his ways of humbling people – it is not our job. She was not a great example of patience and at times was perhaps too slow to express emotion. Yet how thankful I am to God to have had such a mother. May these words about her be a blessing to others.
The original article appeared in Grace Magazine

Let's Work Together

Here's a nice song and a nice sentiment from Canned Heat in the late sixties. I dig that slide guitar.

Midweek meeting November 9 2016


There were 11 of us last night at the midweek meeting to look at the next part of 2 Timothy 4 - verses 9-15. I spoke on enemies, friends, creature comforts and books. The enemies were Demas and Alexander the metalworker, the friends Timothy, Mark, Luke, etc and I said that creature comforts are okay to some extent and books a great help. Under the first heading I mentioned Jonathan Edwards the former triple jumper and Rob Bell the former evangelical preacher. Sad stories and sobering. We had an encouraging time of prayer when most prayed.

Gabrielle



On Tuesday night I went with my wife to Guildford. We drove down in time for an Italian meal and then to the G Live Theatre for a concert by Gabrielle. I have liked her music for some years. My wife is not really a fan but was willing to come to this one at least. The theatre holds around a thousand and most though not all seats were taken - chiefly by white females over 35. Fans were quite vocal and most of the evening were coming up to the stage for selfies with an ever obliging Gabrielle. We were in good seats slightly to the side. Those in front of us had paid extra to enjoy a meet and greet before the show (Gabrielle's note on the set list refers to Joanna one of these mostly ladies).
We began with a warm up - four or five numbers from backing singer Phebe Edwards and guitarist Mac Douglas. Gabrielle came on half an hour later and worked through the set list above. Gabrielle, 46 and Hackney born, turns out to be a rather chatty woman, curbed only by her manager's earpiece remonstrations. Personally, I feel ordinariness is over-rated though her friendliness, co-operativeness and appreciation for the audience was great.
The young band consisted of keyboard (Emlyn Maillard), drums (Jesse Grant), with Mac on acoustic guitar and Olivia Williams the other backing vocalist. They were more than competent and the lack of a bass player was not detrimental. Gabrielle provides likeable pop music delivered with a strong but relaxed, slightly gravelly voice. The content is rather pop psychological but very positive and largely unexceptionable. She told us she had been unwell but seemed to manage the whole thing with a consummate ease. She paced things well and had us all on our feet for the obvious encore. Great fun.