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.

Banner Conference 2017 Session 3 Garry Williams

On our first full day of conference our first speaker was Dr Garry Williams on the subject of a functional doctrine of Scripture. We began with a reminder that at the root of the Reformation was a rediscovery of Scripture as originally given. Unlike Luther the scholastic Zwingli and Calvin were humanist scholars and all their lives they took a humanist approach. Luther too was involved very much in a close engagement with Scripture.
Garry's plan is to look at the literary Word of God this time and the living Word of God next time. Some take the view that a commitment to one mitigates against a commitment to the other . However, the more committed we are to the literary, the better we will be able to treat it as the living Word. This is assuming the ordinary means. One caveat is that God cannot be put in a box and it is true that God can use the weakest of sermons, even errors in sermons! Even unregenerate preachers can be used!
Nevertheless, if we slacken our grip on the literary Word then we are failing to grapple with it at all.
Further caveats. There are many wrong ways of seeing the Bible in literary terms. It is not just an ANE text, it is a divine ANE text. We cannot read it just like any other book. We have a vigorous doctrine of the origin of Scripture and so we should have an equally vigorous one of Scripture and how it is to be interpreted. It is not enough to look at Scripture in purely human terms. We need to have in mind the divine dimension. n the other hand, we must take careful note of the context. Vern Poythress argues that "Because God is all-wise, he takes into account social and historical circumstances when he communicates to people in particular circumstances. In fact, he takes circumstances into account thoroughly, much more so than a merely human author with human limitations."
Further, we cannot get always so caught up in detail that we fail to get the message across. The message this morning is really just a reminder that we must, nevertheless, give full attention to detail. John's comment at the end of his Gospel about there being more to tell than can be recorded alerts us to the fact that every little detail is important.

1. The details of a text can locate the text in its right place
Eg 2 Samuel 11
... From the roof he saw a woman washing. The woman was very beautiful, (good) and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers to get her ....
David is like Adam and so as great a king as he was, he is not the King we need as Christ is.
2.  The details of a text often reveal the nature of it
Eg Genesis 11:1-9
This passage also raises the theological question of what punishment is and shows that punishment is an answer to sin. Jonathan Edwards said "Sin says, God is a despicable being, and not worthy that the sinner should fear him; and so affronts him without fear." God answers such affrontery.
3. The details of a text can show us the character of God
That is something that is also seen in the Genesis passage. The quid pro quo of the passage shows that God is what Owen calls "a rational fire".

Application
1 Read more in biblical studies we were told.
2 Isn't this a remedy to tediousness?
3 Delight in the fact we have a detailed text. We need such a book to describe such a God.

Banner UK 2017 Session 2 S Ferguson


Our evening speaker is Sinclair Ferguson. After a word of introduction to the conference and a prayer from Iain Murray, he took us to Philippians 3 with the intention of looking over the coming three nights at three dimensions of Paul's autobiographical testimony

1. His conversion to Christ
2. His communion with Christ
3. His consolidation in Christ

So this first evening it was Paul's conversion to Christ. The context here is that of the danger of false teaching, in particular the Judaising tendency of dogs and distorters of the flesh. Three things
1 What he was without Christ - ambitious and angry. Lloyd-Jones once spoke of the Christian as a man who has had his mouth shut. That was Paul, who appeared to have so much in his favour with regard to pedigree and performance but came to see he was nothing. Christ took hold of him. He was stopped in his tracks and yet embraced at the same time by Christ.
Importantly, how was he taken hold of Christ? Stendahl and a mass of scholars in his wake have contended that Saul was not actually converted but simply accepted Christ as Messiah. There is enough evidence in the New Testament, however, to trace the line of his conversion. In persecuting Christians Paul was going beyond his teacher Gamaliel. A careful reading of Acts reveals Paul to be a very angry persecutor who outstripped his contemporaries in his zeal.
It is often asked why it was the tenth commandment that gave Paul so much trouble. If we read Acts with care then we will see that Luke draws attention to certain things in connection with Stephen (eg 6:9) because this was the first man he came across who was actually beyond him and so on reflection saw that he was guilty of covetousness.
It is Paul's realisation of God's mercy that is the secret of his genius. No-one came as close to destroying the church as Saul and et God had mercy on him. What a motive to prayer.
2 What he became in Christ -
There was a new spiritual accountancy
There was a dissatisfied satisfaction - Christianity is Christ.
We had the Jack Nicklaus story, which is lovely. All it was was a look from the great Jack but his boy looked up and said "Do you know Jack Nicklaus?" Well, of course, he didn't. But he knows Christ adn that's the best. (Worth hearing again).
This was a superb exposition by a superb theologian and preacher. It was a privilege to be here.

Banner UK 2017 Session 1 Jeff Kingswood


Banner Trustee and Canadian pastor Jeff Kingswood kicked off this years' conference by taking us to Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
He was brief and had three main points. Ezra, he said, loved the Word and was a practitioner of the Word and one who taught it too. He was a Banner man!
He spoke of delight in the Word that studies it but that also leads to a practice of the Word that grows out of that study. If we are being transformed by the Word, it will show in our lives. I the first two are in place then we will also teach it as we should.
He quoted George Swinnock and Samuel Rutherford who said "Serve Christ, back him, let his cause be your cause; give not an hair-breadth of truth away; for it is not yours, but God's."

At the Banner

New venue this year and a few new faces but many familiar faces and the same teachings I hope. The conference is being streamed.
Check here


Lord's Day April 23 2017


Before church yesterday I tried to access an app I have on my phone called prayer mate. I had inadvertently wiped the data, which was a blow. Anyway in church I preached in the morning from Acts 3 and in my notes I had noted down that a computer wiped was a good illustration of how God wipes away the sins of those who turn to him. As I preached I recalled the distressing experience of earlier that day but then thought of what I called a sin app (sounds a little like synapse in the plural). Every sin you commit gets recorded on the sin app and each time you look at it the list gets longer. Then one day you look at it and it has been wiped. It is the very opposite of the feeling I had experienced earlier. I think the illustration helped.
I really enjoyed being back preaching and especially the wonderful old hymns we sang, including three resurrection hymns. In the evening I went to the phrase but some doubted in Matthew 28:17. not sure why it was in my head. The evening meeting was preceded by communion.
Turn out was not amazing. Not sure where some were. Our sleepless Slovak friend turned up again - still not sleeping, even with my preaching.

Glossary Chapters 2-4 Burmese Days


1. Chokra Young man, boy "The invisible chokra who pulled the punkah rope outside was falling asleep in the glare."
2. Eheu! fugaces labuntur anni Alas! our fleeting years pass away (Latin) "Ah well, eheu fugaces! Those days are gone for ever, I am afraid."
3. Havildar British Indian Army rank equivalent to Sergeant, next above Naik (Indian)
4. Bo-kadaw A white man's wife (Burmese)
5. Machan  A safety platform in a tree used when hunting big animals such as tigers and leopards Indian)
6. Catlap Milk or weak tea, "only fit for the cat to lap" (English)
7. Dudh Milk? (Indian)
8. Talab Payment; wages? (Burmese?) "...wail something about his 'talab', which was eighteen rupees a month."
9. Civis Romanus sum I am a Roman citizen (Latin) "Good gracious, no one would believe anything against ME. Civis Romanus sum. I'm an Englishman - quite above suspicion."
10. Durwan A live-in doorkeeper (Indian)
(Also Pax Britannica The British Peace (Latin); Pukka Genuine; authentic (Indian) B.F. Bloody Fool? (English) "With the curious air of spite that some men can put into their tiniest action, he re-pinned the notice on the board and pencilled a tiny, neat 'B. F.' against Mr Macgregor's signature.")

Glossary Chapter 1 Burmese days


I'm currently reading George Orwell's Burmese Days. He uses quite a few unfamiliar terms. Here are a number from Chapter 1
1. Dak Bungalow - A traveller's rest-house (for a postal service)
2. Topi - A light-weight hat
3. Sahib European man spoken to or of by Indians
4. Burra Great, used as title of respect; e.g. Burra sahib: important official, manager, chief. (Indian)
5. Pwe Burmese dance (Burmese)
6. Punkah Large fan consisting suspended from the ceiling
7. Longyi/Longyi Coolie  Sheet of cloth worn around the waist/Unskilled labourer (Burmese)
8. Dah Large knife with curved blade?
9. Sepoy Private soldier of the Indian infantry
10. Mali Gardener
(Also Rickshaw Two-wheeled cart for one passenger; pulled by one person; Dacoit Armed robber)

10 Italian musical terms


1. Calando (getting softer, dying away)
2. Giocoso (playful, humorous)
3. Incalzando (getting quicker)
4. Legato (smoothly)
5. Ostinato (persistent)
6. Rallentando (gradually getting slower)
7. Rubato (with some freedom of time)
8. Sforzando (forced, accented)
9. Stringendo (gradually getting faster)
10. Volti subito (turn the page at once)

Another cassette

Another cassette I found is Volume 1 of a two volume collection of 28 classic rock numbers. I don't think I ever owned Volume 2. I bought it in a sale and Volume 2 was missing then.
Volume 2 contained T Rex/Ride a white swan, The Who/My generation, Peter Frampton/Show me the way. Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel/Make Me Smile, Canned Heat/Let's Work Together, Fleetwood Mac/Albatross – which I would have loved (the rest are okay - Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity/This Wheel's On Fire, Pink Floyd/Money, Dire Straits/Lady Writer, Lou Reed/ Walk On The Wild Side, Lynyrd Skynyrd/Freebird. Meatloaf/Dead Ringer For Love, Far Corporation/Stairway To Heaven, Deep Purple/Smoke On The Water).
If I remember rightly I bought the cassette for Free/My Brother Jake plus Derek And The Dominos/Layla, Thin Lizzy/Waiting For An Alibi, Status Quo/Caroline, Santana She's Not There, Electric Light Orchestra/Roll Over Beethoven, Jethro Tull/Living In The Past, Rod Stewart/Maggie May, Black Sabbath/Paranoid. I'm alsop happy enough with Mott The Hoople/All The Young Dudes, The Jimi Hendrix Experience/Voodoo Chile, Cream/Strange Brew , Rainbow/Since You Been Gone/Traffic/Paper Sun.
In some ways this is a broad range of rock and shows what good stuff was going down back in the late sixties and early seventies. I currently have on my ipod and listen to exactly half (ie 14) of these tracks.

Planxty After the break

I still have this box full of old cassette tapes, mostly classical, that needs sorting. (Remember cassettes anyone?). Among them is a copy of Irish group Planxty's fourth album from 1979 After the break. I have no idea when I bought it (obviously after 1979 and no doubt before 1990, probably in 1980 or 1981) but I remember playing it with enjoyment. It has been good to enjoy them again. There are eight tracks (two tracks recorded at the time were added to the CD). They are somewhere between Chieftains and Horslips I guess. I remember one of my sons enjoying the first album a while back and I have Follow me up to Carlow on my ipod. They are probably due a retro exploration some time soon.

Midweek Meeting Wednesday April 19 2017

We were a good number last Wednesday (14) as we tackled the next of the solas - Solo Christo (by Christ alone). What I did was to focus on three classic texts - Acts 4:12, 1 Timothy 2:5 and John 14:6. This is all basic stuff but at the heart of what we teach and believe. We had one or two questions at the end as we sometimes do. That was followed by a time of prayer with most people taking part, though certainly not all. I fear that prayer can become a bit of a Cinderella in our thinking at times. I need to put more emphasis on it I'm sure.

Lord's Day April 16 2017

Having been in the wedding we have stayed on in Crosshills or South Craven, thanks to the kindness of our son's future in-laws. We went to South Craven Evangelical morning and evening. We have known of this church for many, many years initially I think because of a medical student from the church who came to London to study. I would also get news from one of my deacons who often holidays in the area and the now former minister who I would see at the Banner Conference. It was a very small fellowship at one time and could not afford a full time pastor at one time.
Anyway this morning they met in a local school and were over a hundred, though many were visitors from the wedding. It was a a "family service" so a bit out of the ordinary, Beauty and the Beast was the theme. The evening was more conventional, back at the church for communion first and then the service, which was led by Martin Woodier, one of the current ministers, with the other  Paul Gamston preaching. He went through Exodus 23, the next reading in the daily reading scheme that people are being encouraged to follow. A good day.

Yorkshire Wedding

In Yorkshire again this weekend and again at a wedding. This time, it was Pieter de Jong, who grew up in Childs Hill, and Coralie Severs. My oldest son is Pieter's lifelong friend and he was best man. My niece is a good friend of Coralie's and was one of a host of bridesmaids. It was a great day.

46 years ago today















[Pics: I used to sit in the third pew on the right; the room where I was converted then just had bare floorboards; idyllic looking the 1836 building is now surrounded by a housing estate]
My parents were not Christians but they were moral people and they brought me up in line with the Ten Commandments, including the idea that Sunday is special and that I ought to go to Sunday School. I never got on with Sunday School as a child but I did start attending the Friday night meetings for young people and the Sunday evening service when I was 11 or 12. Then one night I was converted. It was April 16, 1971.
It was the early seventies so my hair would have been touching the panda collar of my Ben Sherman shirt. I would have worn flares and stack heel lace-ups and possibly a tank top knitted by my mum. It was a long time ago! After a sausage and chips meal, we sat and listened to the visiting speaker.
It was Spring time and I remember sneezing a lot with hay fever but I was still gripped. I don't recall very much about what the speaker actually said though I'm sure he urged us all to trust in the Lord Jesus. Afterwards he gave us something to read and the minister of the church urged me to look at John 3, which I probably did. I certainly prayed, confessing what a rotten sinner I was and asking that I might be born again. I don't remember church the day after next but certainly the matter was still on my mind when I headed for school the following Monday. I was determined to let others know that I was now trusting in Christ.
Not being from a Christian home this change was quite a dramatic one in some ways. Just over a year later I was baptised by immersion at the same chapel where I had been converted. From early on I felt called to be a preacher.
About 10 years on, after time away studying in Aberystwyth University and London Theological Seminary, I became a minister. I am still not what I would call a religious person, although I obviously pray and go to church. What I'm trusting in is not my religion but the grace of God in Jesus Christ my Saviour.

Show me the way 1976

1976 once again

I am thirsty


This is from my Published Articles blog
This is from my Spurgeon once spoke of what was bitter to Jesus being made sweet to his people. That is our aim as we consider the fifth and shortest of the seven sayings of the cross, that exclusive to John 19:28 … Jesus said ‘I am thirsty’.
The darkness over, following his cry of dereliction, we come to the final period of suffering. John begins Later, knowing now that all was completed and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled …. Always self-possessed, even in agony on the cross, Jesus realises that virtually all that was left to do was to say three more things then die (importantly, to die in broad daylight). He always kept in mind the need to fulfil Scripture. John normally makes a specific reference but here he is general.
The response follows. A soldier lifts a wine-vinegar soaked sponge to Jesus’s lips. The wine was either the soldiers’ or for victims. Some question if hyssop is strong enough to lift a wet sponge but Jesus was probably not far off the ground. The drink would give immediate relief but its astringent action would then tighten the throat muscles making things worse. 

Humanity
Never forget that Jesus is a man, a real man. He did not speak for effect but really was thirsty. As he was hungry in the desert at the beginning of his ministry, now at the end he is thirsty. At other times, he was weak, tired, angry, sad. Hebrews 2:17,18 says he was made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Suffering
That Jesus was thirsty is no surprise when we think of all he had suffered since his arrest – trials, mocking, flogging, carrying the cross, crucifixion – all presumably with no drink When offered a drugged drink to dull the pain he rejected it wanting to remain alert. His sufferings were real. Lamentations 1:12, 13 predicts it … Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me, that the LORD brought on me in the day of his fierce anger? From on high he sent fire, sent it down into my bones. … He made me desolate, faint all the day long. His sufferings were not only physical but mental and spiritual. We can speak of the ‘drought of his soul in the fierce heat of God’s wrath’. He bore God’s wrath in place of sinners on the cross and was, in a sense, in hell, longing for someone to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue, because he was in agony (Luke 16:24).
The response increased his suffering. All creation was desperate to slake his thirst – every stream and river, every angel - but a wretched man with a wretched drink acted. Do we appreciate how much he suffered.

Scripture
The phrase was not merely gasped. Relevant Scriptures include Psalms 22:15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth …. 63:1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 69:21 They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst. We are best to see it, perhaps, in Westcott’s words, as a ‘perfect completion of the whole prophetic image’. Scripture was always in Jesus’s consciousness. Do we have the same reverence for the Word?

Submission
Remember Satan tempting Jesus to make bread in the desert? A similar temptation came now - not the sort we know much about. Jesus resists. He yields his will to the Father’s. Because he submitted, we are forgiven. Surely, we should submit too.

Longing
As suggested, we must look beyond physical thirst to heart desire. It was always there. He longed to see his work completed and know the fellowship of his people. An old writer says ‘He thirsts after our thirst’. Christ longs for you, believer, to reach out in faith to him. 

Need
Jesus thirsted in our place, as our substitute. He thirsted so we no longer need to. His tongue was parched because of what sinners like us do with our tongues. Think what you have done with yours. He was punished for his people. 
John 4 presents Christ as the great soul-thirst quencher. There is a deep need and longing in every heart. It cannot be properly quenched by what this world offers. We need the water only Christ provides. It is said that when William Coulthard perished in the Australian desert in 1858 he had scratched the words ‘Lost, lost for want of water’ on his empty canteen. That is our position by nature. Yet we need not perish in the desert of this life if we go to the one who died in the place of sinners. Hear his words (John 7:37, 38) if anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me … streams of living water will flow from within him.

First published in Grace Magazine

Midweek Meeting April 12 2017


We were not so many on Wednesday as several are away at present. We were still nine, however, and we pressed on with the third of these solas grace alone. It is a wonderful theme. I chiefly focused on Ephesians 2:8-10, verses that are always good to go back to. People were keen to pray. I think all nine of us prayed at least once. There's no better place to be than with God's people.

Funeral for our oldest church member


On Wednesday we said goodbye to our longest serving member Ken Rawlings. Ken died at the end of March. He was 84 and joined the church, I believe, back in 1954, over sixty years ago. (The oldest members currently joined the church in the early eighties. The oldest member in years is 90). Ken was a bachelor, one of three sons (both of whom died before him) and the son of a local man and a Welsh mother. He had health problems all his life and latterly was under constant care at home. We will miss him. I preached on the text in 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12 ... make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. It was a small funeral. We sang Guide me O Thou great Jehovah and Stand up stand up at the chapel and Great is Thy faithfulness at the graveside.

Bulkington Church History Lecture Anne Steele

It was good to be in Bulkington Congregational church up in the Midlands last night once again. It is remarkable how they are able to gather a score or two people from various churches in the area with an interest in church history. The pastor Peter Mckenzie chaired and I spoke on Anne Steele and got over the story quite well, I hope. It was good to chat with people over a cuppa afterwards as well. It was a pleasant drive up in the sunshine too.

Broughton in Hampshire


Had a nice afternoon down in Broughton last week.

Huguenots at the Evangelical Library

We had an excellent lecture this afternoon at the Library from Norman Hopkins at the Evangelical Library on the Huguenots in Kent. Norman has addressed this subject many times and has quite a knowledge of it. Some of us are quite ignorant and it was fascinating to get some of the background to the story of French Protestants and how the fled persecution. The word refugee is from this language and period and so the whole thing had something of a contemporary ring about it. Very many avenues were explored - their faith, their skill, their history, etc. Recordings are always made and can be obtained from the Library if you are interested. I noticed it was also videoed and a vdeo would be the ideal. We had a good crowd and as it was Philip's birthday we celebrated afterwards with a cake that someone had kindly provided.
Peter du Moulin above is one of several Huguenots mentioned specifically.

Interesting news from the John Owen Centre

Home

Dear Friends,
I am very pleased to announce that we have established a Doctoral Study Centre at the John Owen Centre affiliated with Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The Doctoral Study Centre provides a gateway for those studying at London Seminary to the considerable primary and secondary sources held at PRTS in their Puritan Research Centre, specializing in the Dutch ‘Second Reformation’, English Puritanism, and American Puritanism.
Alongside that wider access for students, the Doctoral Study Centre offers a PhD programme in Reformation and Post-Reformation historical theology. The programme is distinctive for its evangelical and Reformed theological approach, its concern to blend academic rigour with biblical piety, and, compared to a UK PhD, its significant taught component.
To find out more about the shape of the PhD programme, click here. For the full details, visit the PRTS site.
The PhD programme is suitable for pastors pursuing higher level study, so it takes its place among our diverse range of activities at different levels, including Study Days, Study Projects, and the ThM with Westminster Theological Seminary.
Do join us in praying that, as with all our activities, this new venture would serve the goal of enriching ministries for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ in his church.
Every blessing,
Garry Williams.

Lord's Day April 9 2017

I began yesterday apologising for my face, which I could do every Sunday I guess but I didn't want people to be sat there thinking "What's he done?" Of course, by the time of the sermon another dozen or so had arrived so I went through it again.
Numbers were good in the morning even though several stalwarts were away. We had four Iranians (we seem to have lost some), plenty of Nigerians and all sorts of others, including ladies from Pakistan and India who I always love to see talking together (our lady from Bangla Desh was away). I preached from the first half of Acts 3 and was basically evangelistic.
We had lunch together, about 30 or more of us. That was a nice time. Lots of nice chats including an interesting one with a business woman about her tribal history and the fact she cannot even go to her home territory these days due to a political problem with a long history. I forget how privileged I am sometimes. One of our new people discovered to her surprise that Eleri is my wife (I told her she just thought Eleri is out of my league!) I also discovered that one of our ladies has been sending her love to a new attendee's wife not realising they are actually divorced.
In the evening we were down to about 13. I thought we might have been more. I preached a one off from Mark 10:13-16. I was very pleased to see a child in the congregation (ie under 10). It was a short sermon, which is something nobody ever complains about.
It was only when I put the news on later that I recalled it was Palm Sunday.

Ooops!

Don't cross the road using your 'phone

Midweek Meeting April 5 2017


With several away, I was mot expecting a good turn out tonight and so I decided to preview a paper I am preparing on the hymn writer Anne Steele. As it turned out we were 10 altogether, seven women and three men, including some who'd not been there in the past. I tried to say something helpful about singleness and suffering. We had a good time of prayer with most leading in prayer.There was plenty to pray about.

10 Shakespearean American Cities


Several places in America have names used by Shakespeare in his plays. Here are ten

1. Alexander Troilus & Cressida North Dakota
2. Cicero Julius Caesar Illinois
3. Desdemona Othello Texas
4. Mountjoy Henry V Illinois
5. Oberon Midsummer nights dream North Dakota
6. Orlando As you like it Florida (see pic of Shakespeare theatre there)
7. Paris Romeo & Juliet, Troilus & Cressida Texas
8. Tamora Titus Andronicus Nebraska
9. Helena Midsummer Night's Dream, All's Well that Ends Well Montana
10. Montague Romeo & Juliet Massachusetts

Lord's Day April 2 2017


It was quite sunny on Sunday. We began, as we do at the beginning of the month, with communion. We had a large congregation in the morning (we ran out of Bibles again must get more) and a decent one later at 6.30 pm. Our Iranians were back, four of them anyway, and several others but there were still some missing (Iranians and others). There were two new ladies in the morning, one from Colombia and one who had gone before the end.  In the morning I dragged them all out for a photo outside. I preached on the final part of Acts 2. I had multiple points disguised as five main points. In the evening we had another go at 1 Peter 2:7, which went okay. My father-in-law turned up in the evening, so I had my son and father-in-law there.

Appropriate song for today

Defenestration of Prague and the Missouri Compromise

I was reading two history books recently when I came across two phrases I know and have known for years. If you woke me at 4 am, however, I couldn't give you an adequate explanation.
I refer to
The Defenestrations of Prague is an incidents in the history of Bohemia in which multiple people were defenestrated (ie thrown out a window). It happened in 1618 (but can refer to an earlier incident in 1419). It helped trigger prolonged conflict, within Bohemia and beyond.
The Missouri Compromise is the title generally attached to the legislation passed by the 16th Congress of the United States May 8, 1820. The measures provided for the admission of the District of Maine as a state free to ratify a state constitution that both did not recognise and prohibited slavery within the state. Further, it provided that the Missouri territory was free to enact a state constitution that both recognised as legal and permitted (through affirmative state legislation and state government regulation), the institution of chattel slavery. In addition, it outlawed as a matter of Federal law both the recognition and legality of the institution of chattel slavery in the Federal territory that remained of the Louisiana Purchase that was still unorganised and north of the 36°30′ parallel (excluding Missouri, hence "Missouri Compromise") within the Purchase lands.
It is one of the events that led to the Civil War.

Lament for the 82 bus


O bus! Red bus sublime!
Up whose steep steps I'd climb,
Looking for a seat (having stood before);
When again will you arrive on time?
No more - No, never more!

Not in the day or night,
Our bus has taken flight;
In spring and summer, and winter hoar,
The 82 that used to come – delight!
No more - No, never more!

(From April 1 the 82 bus has stopped running).

Hacked


Google have been in touch with me today about the blog and apparently I've been hacked. For the last 12 months every time anyone accesses this blog their microphone is immediately activated. I am sorry this has happened. Apparently it is not that unusual.
Google have sent me some of the recordings the hacker captured and to be honest it is a bit embarrassing. Some of you I can hear saying the harshest things. "Oh no, another one of those videos from Youtube" I caught someone saying. Another was unkind enough to wonder aloud whether I was on some sort of drug. There seem to be a lot of "where does he find the time?" and "does he think that's funny?".
Google reckon they can sort the problem out but meanwhile, for my sake, if you have anything harsh to say when looking at the blog try not to say it out loud.

Midweek Meeting March 29 2017

We were a good number last Wednesday as we tackled the next of the five solas - this time sola fide, by faith alone. It is a basic doctrine but it was good to go over it again, especially the emphases rediscovered in the Reformation. I found Tom Schreiner's book on the subject very helpful. We had a good prayer session.

God is king

It was good to be at the Evangelical Library last Monday for the most recent lunch time lecture. Dr Ian Densham gave us a very helpful lecture on the sovereignty of God. We had a good number present too including at least one person who had just turned up at the Library to do some work and found there was a lecture on. Serendipity. I love this quote from Professor John Murray

These are days when international conflict has taken on staggering proportions. Men’s hearts fail them for fear. Barbaric tyranny has brought its cruel heel upon millions of our fellowmen. In words that Calvin wrote four centuries ago, “the turbulent state of the world deprives us of our judgement”. In such days there is inexpressible comfort in the sovereignty of God. The world has not been abandoned to cold and relentless late, nor has it been given over to the totalitarianism of man or devil. God’s counsel still stands and He still does all His pleasure. It is still true, “Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand” (Isa. 14:24). Through all the disquieting events of our history there runs the sovereign and holy purpose of the Lord God omnipotent. Justice and judgement are the habitation of God’s throne even though clouds and darkness are round about Him. He fulfils His righteous purpose through the unrighteous wills of wicked men. He holds the reins of universal government and not a sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge and ordination.
In this let the believer take solace, for it is the secret place of the Most High and the shadow of the Almighty. It is the absolute sovereignty of the eternal God. It is the absolute sovereignty of none other than the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And it is even with equal universality the mediational sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man, the incarnate Son, the Saviour-King, the King of kings and Lord of lords
“Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Rev. 19:6). 

Yes, that really is what they are singing

Lyrics in popular music can often turn out to be not quite what you thought. Sometimes they really are,  however. I've been listening to an early Norah Jones track with the Peter Malick Group - Things you don't have to do - for some time now and just subliminally taking in the reference to Benny Hinn but then wondering if I was imagining it.. I just checked and it really is there.

Bill, doesn't call me anymore

I hear, he's found religion.
He's watchin' Benny Hinn
With a big blonde-haired apprentice beautician.

All the words and gesticulations that came before,

They don't seem to mean a thing
You can feel fine to drop a dime
If you're ever hanging by a string.

Ain't it just a little scary sometimes
To find the lies that you know to be true
Find you smiling about
Things you don't have to do
Things you don't have to do

Lord's Day, March 26 2017

Once again we were quite full in the morning and quite a small group in the evening. Some of our students are back which added to our numbers, though others were away. Just two Iranians again but lots of others fro different backgrounds. One couple are now back from a few weeks in New Zealand. Someone else will be in The Philippines for the next six months. One of my sons and his wife were there. They noticed how different the congregation was even from just four or five weeks back. In the evening a fairly new person said they wanted to talk after about a problem. I couldn't guess what it was but it turned out to be sleeping. Thankfully I was able to put my hand on Adrian Reynolds' little book on the subject so I hope that helped.
I preached in the morning again from Acts 2 and I hope was helpful and evangelistic. In the evening I preached from that great text 1 Peter 2:7.

Congregational Studies Conference 2017

I was with my Congregational friends last Saturday and had a very nice time. I used to see the conference advertised and think about cming along but never made it until last year when Michael Haykin was speaking. Anyway this year Digby James its convenor asked me to speak on libraries (a reciprocation for my asking him to speak for the Evangelical Library perhaps). I spoke on Libraries and their value and enjoyed preparing and speaking.
The other speakers were Paul Lusk on pluralism today a very stimulating non-Christian Institute approach to this whole difficult matter on which Paul has recently published. It being the 300th anniversary of the birth of William Williams Pantycelyn we had a fine  message from young Nathan Munday who is currently doing a Welsh PhD on the sweet singer of Wales. Great stuff.
Digby also gave us a nice presentaiton on the fifty year history of the EFCC.
The papers will be printed in due time. I just sent mine off now.
Next one March 17 in Wesley's Chapel. This one was in the Dr Williams Library.

Pregnant Pachyderm Produces

I seem to be seeing new born elephants everywhere. This one arrived in Chester earlier this year.
The gestation period for an elephant is 22 months!

Midweek Meeting Wednesday March 22 2017

Wednesday was a bit disappointing. We were in double figures but only just and there were some missing. I decided to take a break from Leviticus a  think it is quite demanding. What I chose to do was something on Sola Scriptura, however, and I rather gabbled through that. When it came to the time of prayer we were a little slow to get going really. I think events in London that day had left us a little subdued. Life is often not straightforward.

This is a song

I was thinking about his song the other day. I found this acoustic demo. Nice.

Tasteless?

I'm not sure how these malgorithms work but if you know anything of the story of Marc Bolan (he died in a car crash) then you will recognise how tasteless this ad on Youtube is.

Comb your hair and curl it

I thought some of you might enjoy this. For most of us it will be better to listen than to look. Aah, the seventies, eh? Charles O'Connor's little guitar is a specially made electric mandolin. BTW I am, of course, rooting for the Welsh tonight not the Irish.

Lord's Day March 19 2017


This week has brought some twists and turns and so once again I find myself unable to report on the Lord's Day until now. Numbers were very good in the morning (pretty much out of Bibles once again) and once more a little low in the evening. We had at least one new lady in the morning and other newbies also came. One oddity was that I tried to help the Iranians by having one of them translate my sermon heads into Farsi which I then reproduced on the notice sheets. Imagine my consternation when nearly halfway into the service there were no Iranians in sight. Soon two turned up, both well able to cope with English. Apparently the recent Spring equinox marks the beginning of Iranian new year hence the no show. There were plenty of others present still from various places and I am hoping to gather some of them this week to discuss baptism and church membership.
In the morning, we tackled Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost, which I hope went well. In the evening we took a break from Matthew to take a one off text John 5:39, 40. This is one of the hundred texts of the Irish Church Missions mentioned here before, one that I think somehow I have missed until now. I'll probably put it on my preached sermons blog.

Anne Dutton


I took a trip into the countryside last Saturday. Although I live in England I am not very familiar with it apart from London. This trip took me deep into the Bedfordshhire and Cambridgeshire landscape, along roads and through villages that I don't recall ever having travelled before. I can't remember seeing so many thatched cottages in one afternoon. My target was the Baptist Chapel in Great Gransden, a lovely square 19th century building with a gallery and a large clock.
It is the church where Anne Dutton was a member and she was the focus of two lectures that afternoon, given by Professor Michael Haykin and David Gay. The church was packed with about 60 present. We were well looked after by the church. Dr Haykin gave us the background and took us through the life of Anne Dutton (she is one of the subjects in his new book of biographies of eight women). Mr Gay in his own idiosyncratic style gave us some highlights from her writings, matters such as assurance (he has written a book The Spirituality of Anne Dutton). Dutton was a prolific writer and there has been a new surge of interest in her over the recent past. Her writings are easy to come by if you look on the Internet and seem well worth investigating.
We have mentioned Dutton previously. See here.
Worth missing the rugby for, especially as Wales lost. (At least England have finally been stopped so missing out on the Triple Crown and Grand Slam).

10 British Buns

1. Bath bun (shown) - rich, round sweet roll that has a lump of sugar baked in the bottom and more crushed sugar sprinkled on top after baking
2. Chelsea bun – currant bun first created in the 18th century at the Bun House in Chelsea, an establishment favoured by Hanoverian royalty which was demolished in 1839
3. Colston bun - named after Sir Edward Colston; made in the city of Bristol; composed of a yeast dough flavoured with dried fruit, candied peel and sweet spices
4. Hot cross bun - spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top, traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the UK, etc but now popular all year round
5. Iced bun – bread roll made to a sweet recipe with an icing sugar glaze covering the top
6. London bun - finger-shaped or elongated bun made of rich yeast dough flavored with either currants or caraway seeds and topped with white sugar icing
7. Saffron bun - rich, spiced, yeast-leavened sweet bun, flavoured with saffron and cinnamon or nutmeg, and contains currants, similar to a teacake
8. Sally Lunn bun – enriched yeast bread associated with the city of Bath
9. Currant bun - sweet bun that contains currants or raisins; towards the end of the seventeenth century the Reverend Samuel Wigley founded the Currant Bun Company in Southampton
10. Sticky bun - dessert or breakfast sweet roll that generally consists of rolled pieces of leavened dough, sometimes containing brown sugar or cinnamon, which are then compressed together to form a flat loaf corresponding to the size of the baking pan; they have been consumed since the Middle Ages, at which time cinnamon became more prominent

Something for St Patrick's Day

In honour of St Patrick's Day here are some Kerry Slides from the album Chieftains 5. The pictures include two slides in Tralee, County Kerry. Listen out for the singing. My great on one side was Irish or the son of an Irishman I guess, hence my surname.

Midweek Meeting March 15 2017


We were a little low in numbers last night as we came to the end of the opening section of Leviticus. We looked at a lot of verses but I think we got through it okay. We'll need to take a break soon, I'm sure. We had a good prayer session but I cut it a little short perhaps. We had started late as I arrived late owing to technical problems.

Baptist Anecdote

I came across this anecdote recently from 1824 in The New Evangelical Magazine, and Theological Review, Volume 10. A correspondent (Elimelech) includes it saying he had it from Benjamin Francis. (Apologies to any paedobaptist friends).
A poor woman, a member of a neighbouring Independent church, requested me to give her a Bible. I replied, “Yes, Mary, I have no objection to give you a Bible, but it must be on one condition.” “Well, Sir,” said she, “ and what is it?” “Why it is this, that you bring me one text from the New Testament that authorises Infant Baptism.” “Yes, Sir, that I will," was her reply; and she went away apparently very much pleased with the success of her application. The next day she came again, I said, “How do you do, Mary - have you got the text?” “Yes, Sir,” said she, “the best I could find.” She replied, with much seeming satisfaction, “It is in 1 Pet. ii. 13. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake Sir.” I do not recollect the close of this short dialogue, except that it contained a promise that the good woman should have the Bible.

The Beginning of Spring

I am currently enjoying the novels of Penelope Fitzgerald. Having read The Blue Flower and The Bookshop I recently picked up the appropriately titled The beginning of Spring which is set among expatriates living in early 19th century Russia. It is not particularly seasonal but it is very well written and even has something of a plot, something which is often in short supply in many novels I read these days. I guess the Spring thing or the ice thaw is acting as a device to underline the general drift of the novel. Worth a second read. Perhaps the two snippets below will give the flavour

“You can borrow my Blackbird, if you like,' said Ben. This was his new fountain pen, which troubled him. It was guaranteed not to leak, but writers and schoolchildren knew better. Ben wished to be relieved of the responsibility of the Blackbird, without losing his own dignity.”

"Birch Tree Thoughts was at the censor now, and since all poetry was suspect, would perhaps be more carefully read there than it ever would again."

Lord's Day March 12 2017


I arrived at church around twenty minutes before we began and already four people were sat in the congregation. At first I thought they were all strangers but it turned out that one was a lady who is not there every Sunday and she had brought a friend. There was also a new Nigerian lady and a new Korean lady. We were again a good number in the morning. I tried giving a translated sheet to the Iranians, using google, but that was not particularly successful (no verbs apparently). A former member in the country for a while turned up unannounced so that was encouraging. Someone who had left us has also decided to come back, it seems. With people asking about baptism, these continue to be mostly encouraging times. I preached on the opening verses of Acts 2. It is a lot easier now than in the past as I've thought about it so long and do not feel under pressure from the Charismatics at all. In the evening we looked at the closing verses of Matthew 12 about who is most closely related to Jesus.

A day in Brighton


Last Saturday I headed down to Brighton by train - not for a day out as such but to speak at the annual Sussex Conference on the subject of conscience. The conference, which has run for many years, took place in Ebenezer Reformed Baptist Church in the heart of Brighton and is organised by the pastor Tony Bickley with Howard Sayers from nearby Hailsham. About 20 attended from churches in Brighton and other places. It was good to meet people, some of whom I knew, others who were knew. My book was on sale and I think sales were good. I did have a little wander down to the pier with old friend David Mitchell and his mum who had come across from Portsmouth. It was quite a nice day despite a foggy start. I hope people enjoyed the day as much as I did.

22-9 Wales victorious

A deserved win for Wales. Well played against Ireland. George North superb. What a game!