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.

Lord's Day November 19 2017

Yesterday was strange in some ways as I was very conscious that I would be leaving for Nigeria first thing the next day and so I was tempted to let my mind stray there. Perhaps first thng Monday is not the bext time to be heading away. Anyway, although attendance was not great for various reasons (only eight of us sat down to communion before the evening meeting) it was a  blessing to preach the Word once again. I preached n Dorcas from the end off Acts 9 in the morning. A bit longer than usual. I was more my usual length in the evening I think (about half an hour). I decided to preach fro 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 as I am conscious of many needs in the congregation at present. For some reason the sining did not go so well today (a wrong tune involving a restart, one or two unfamiliar tunes, a bit of a failure by me leading acapella at the communion table, etc). The thing is I don't think everyone is convinced about our approach - singing a huge variety of (mostly older) hymns from the new Christian Hymns and so when we struggle a bit they tend to think it's the approach that's wrong. We had two Japanese ladies there in the morning (an older lady visiting and a younger lady with her daughter from the area). It was good to meet them.

10 more rugbyasongs

1. Let there be scrums
2. Benevolent conversion
3. Good sixnations
4. Yer Blues
5. The Lions sleep tonight
6. Rucking in the deep
7. Wallaby
8. All Black Star
9. Scarlets jibons
10. Maul by myself

10 Rugbyasongs

1. Try again
2. Here comes the scrum
3. Eleanor Rugby
4. Maul right now
5. Disco ruck 
6. Prop Muzik
7. Girl in the front row
8. I heard it on the gain line
9. Yer Blues
10. Scrum together

Midweek Meeting November 15 2017


I am in Nigeria next week speaking at a conference and so I tried out half of one of the papers I am to give on those gathered last night. The subject I have been given is How the Reformation affected England then, a lesson for Nigerian churches today not an easy subject to tackle. What I have done is to select a number of works (Tyndale's Bible, Cranmers BCP, Foxe's Martyrs, the Westminster Standards, Bunyan's PP) and describe them leading to five recommendations for Nigerian churches today. We just focussed on focussing on the Bible an worshipping reverendly last night. We had a good prayer time too. Several in our congregation are unwell at present with various underlying ailments.

Semper Paenitere


I just put this on one of my blogs here.
Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Sola Deo Gloria. These are the great Reformation watchwords. Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, the glory of God alone. One can only have so many watchwords but if one wanted to add an extra one what more obvious than Semper Paenitere, always repenting?
When Luther nailed his famous 95 theses to the Wittenberg castle church door this issue was top of the agenda. The theses, originally in Latin but soon translated, began, Out of love and zeal for truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following theses will be publicly discussed at Wittenberg under the chairmanship of the reverend father Martin Luther, master of arts and sacred theology and regularly appointed lecturer on these subjects at that place. He requests that those who cannot be present to debate orally with us will do so by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. When our Lord & Master Jesus Christ said Repent [Matthew 4:17], he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortifications of the flesh.
We need to hear this message again today.
1. Paenitere
The Bible calls on us in many places to repent. Think of the preaching of John the Baptist, of Christ himself, of the apostles. But what does it mean to repent? Roman Catholicism taught that it meant Do penance. One of Luther’s greatest rediscoveries was that the Greek word translated in the Latin Vulgate Do penance actually means Be penitent or Repent. This is not the same as remorse or regret although it includes that. There is a different Greek word for that. No, Repent means Change your mind, turn away from sin.
The word occurs 57 times in the New Testament. It can refer more generally to conversion but usually refers to the other side of faith. Sometimes the apostles called for repentance, sometimes for faith. Both are God given (See Acts 5:31, 11:18). Both are necessary to salvation. There is no forgiveness except through faith and repentance. Faith and repentance are possible only because of Christ’s work on the cross. 
As Luther says, true repentance has inward and outward aspects. In 1826 John Colquhoun produced an excellent work on repentance. There he turns to 2 Corinthians 7 for an anatomy of what is involved. Paul talks there about godly sorrow in contrast to worldly sorrow. The roots of true repentance lie in this godly sorrow. Its fruit is salvation and no regret. This godly sorrow is characterised by,
Earnestness, not complacency about sin; Eagerness to clear one's name - not excuses but a desire for pardon; Indignation or hatred towards sin; He is angry and sins not when he is angry at nothing but sin and angry with himself only because he has sinned comments Colquhoun. There is also Alarm or Fear of sinning and provoking God’s wrath; there is Longing for a thorough reformation, to be right with God; there is Concern or Zeal to see sin dealt with, for God’s glory and in order to be holy; Readiness to see justice done, one pronounces the death sentence on self. Outwardly there must also be a change of behaviour. See Acts 26:20. Think of Zacchaeus or the occultists converted at Ephesus (Acts 20:18,19). Think of all that the book of Exodus has to say about restitution. Have you truly repented?
2. Semper paenitere
Like faith, repentance must be a life long thing. That is clear from the New Testament. See, for example, Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:23, which both speak of the Christian’s mind being changed or renewed. Even a man of God can wander. When he wanders he must be brought back. Think of David or Peter. Think of the Bible’s emphasis on restoration of the fallen. Restoration is always by way of repentance. Repentance then has to be a daily thing, an hourly thing. Is it with you?
Originally published in Grace magazine

Lord's Day November 12 2017


It was a great day yesterday and with a lot going on. We began with the two minutes silence for Remembrance Day then we proceeded with our usual morning service. At the end of this we had a baptism, the second this year. The woman involved grew up in Pakistan and so it was an unusual baptism for us. We are so glad she has come to this point. I preached on Lydia from Acts 16. Following the service we had a lovely meal together, something we try to do every other month. I prefer to have baptisms in the evening as the evening service can be a bit of a damp squib otherwise. It was okay, as it turned out. We looked at the feeding of the 4000 from the end of Matthew 15 with not a bad turn out. It is encouraging to know that others in the congregation are thinking of baptism.

10 Cities that have changed their names


1. Bratislava (after 1783) in Slovakia was once better known as Pressburg (German name) or Pozsony (Hungarian name)
2. Tokyo (ie Eastern Capital since 1868) in Japan was once Edo
3. Oslo (since 1925) in Norway was once Christiania (1838) and Kristiania (1877) though Oslo is the orginal name.
4. Istanbul (the most common name for the city after 1928) in Turkey having once been known as Byzantium then Constantinople (from 330 AD)
5. Ho Chi Minh City (since 1976) in Vietnam was once Prey Nokor  and Gia Định and Saigon
6. Harare (since 1982) in Zimbabwe was once Salisbury (and the country was called Rhodesia)
7. Volgograd (since 1961) was once Tsaritsyn (1589-1925) and Stalingrad (1925-1961)
8. Nuuk (ie Cape since 1979) in Greenland was once Godthaab and Godthåb
9. Chennai (since 1996) in India was once Madras
10. Polokwane (since 2005) in South Africa was once Pietersburg

10 Ways of dealing with dead bodies

1. Burial
Burial is the act of interring a person or object in the ground, and is probably the simplest and most common method of disposing of a body. It is generally accepted to be one of the earliest detectable forms of religious practice. Christian burials soemtimes demand that the body be laid flat, with arms and legs extended and aligned east-west, with the head at the western end of the grave. This is to allow them to view the coming of Christ on Judgment day. In Islam, the head is pointed toward and the face turned to Mecca. Warriors in some ancient cultures were interred upright, and an upside down position is typically symbolic of suicides, or as a punishment.
2. Burial at Sea
Burial at sea is the term used for the procedure of disposing of human remains in the ocean. Many cultures have regulations to make burial at sea accessible and it is fast becoming a popular choice. Traditionally, the service is conducted by the captain or commanding officer of the ship or aircraft.
Possibilities include burial in a weighted casket, burial in an urn, being sewn into sailcloth or scattering the cremated remains. 
Most major religions permit burial at sea, and some have very specific rituals concerning it. 
3. Entombment
Entombment is the act of placing human remains in a structurally enclosed space or burial chamber. The body is not consigned directly to the earth but rather is kept within a specially designed sealed chamber. There are many different forms of tombs, from mausoleums to elaborate (and often decorative) family crypts to a simple cave with a sealed entrance.
4. Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing dead bodies to basic chemical compounds in the form of gases and bone fragments. This is most often performed in a crematorium, though some cultures, such as in India, do practice open-air cremation. Generally, temperatures of no less than 1500oF are required to ensure complete disintegration. After the process is complete, the dry bone fragments that remain are swept out of the retort (the chamber in which the body is immolated) and passed through a cremulator. This machine grinds the bones into a fine, sand-like powder.
5. Exposure
Exposure is not typically practiced intentionally in the West today. However, there are people who dispose of bodies in this manner on a regular basis. Tibetan sky burial (known as a jahtor ) is the ritual dissection of the body, which is then laid out for the animals or the elements to dispose of. After being sent on their way with ceremony, the remains of the deceased are toted up to a designated location, where the body is laid out (typically naked). Then the rogyapas (body-breakers) go to work. Parsees in India do soemthing similar but rely on the birds to deal with the yogurt coated bodies. The bones then fall into a pit.
6. Mummification
The Egyptians are the best-known practitioners of this process (although they are far from the only ones), in which a corpse has its skin and organs preserved, by either intentional or incidental exposure to chemicals, extreme cold, very low humidity or lack of air. The oldest mummy found to date was a decapitated head that dates back to 6000 BC. The earliest Egyptian mummy dates back to about 3300 BC. It is possible for a body to undergo natural mummification. The extreme cold of a glacier in the Ötztal Alps resulted in the mummification of a hunter who lived about 5,300 years ago, now known as Ötzi the Iceman. Bog bodies, who were victims of murder or ritual sacrifice, are a common find in certain parts of Europe.
7. Taxidermy
Taxidermy is the act of mounting, or reproducing, dead animals for display (eg. as hunting trophies) or for other sources of study. However, some people haven’t let that stop them from having themselves taxidermied after death. The process is rather simple, but requires a lot of skill. The animal is skinned and the innards disposed of. The skin is tanned and then placed on a polyurethane form. Clay is used to install glass eyes. Forms and eyes are commercially available from a number of suppliers. If not, taxidermists carve or cast their own forms.
One example is that of philospher Jeremy Bentham.
8. Cryonics
Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of humans and animals who can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future.
9. Plastination
As perhaps the ultimate bid for immortality, plastination is a technique used in anatomy to preserve bodies or body parts. The water and fat are replaced by certain plastics, yielding specimens that can be touched, do not smell or decay and even retain most properties of the original sample. The resultant plastinates can be manipulated and positioned as desired. Plastinates are used as museum displays, as teaching tools and in anatomy studies.
10. Aquamation
Aquamation is said to be the most environment-friendly way of disposal of human bodies. The process involves the rapid disintegration of the human body into high quality fertilizers. In comparison with cremation, about 10% of the energy is used, and all of the associated pollution is avoided. With Aquamation, an individual body is gently placed in a clean, stainless steel vessel. A combination of water flow, temperature (~90C) and alkalinity are used to accelerate the natural course of tissue hydrolysis. Typically the process takes about four hours to complete.

Steve Howe - Mood For A Day

Midweek Meeting November 8 2017


Just nine of us last night as we began on that difficult but challenging chapter Leviticus 19. I think it i is easier to preach then to explain. That is to say it is easier to apply the various verses than itito explain why you are applying them in that particular way. Most of us prayed in the preyaer time. There is always plenty to pray about.

Another Childs Hill Sunset


Julie Fowlis in Milton Keynes November 2017


Tuesday is my official day off and I really enjoyed this last one with a long walk with the dog in the morning (good for him and good for me) and a return to The Stables n Milton Keynes, this time to see Julie Fowlis live. I had a front row seat and really enjoyed the excellent double set, as did the 300 or so also there. With Julie the band consisted, as usual, of Eamon Dooley and Tony Byrne (on guitars) and Duncan Chisholm (on fiddle) with Patsy Reid othis time on viola. Julie not only sang but played various instruments including various whistles, a ukulele adn three different whistles.
The prgram was a masterful blend of the pretty obscure with the more immediately accessible. So we started with  a Gaelic song, Oran an Roin, about seals but that soon merged with the now well known Puirt a beul track  Hug air a bhonaid mhoir. Just when it got rather Gaelic we had first Anne Briggs' achingly beautiful Go your way and later Paul McCartney's Blackbird (in Gaelic). In the second half there was plenty more obscurity including a Galician/Gaelic song Camariñas but with a few more instrumentals too. SOmehow she even had us sing along to the chorus of Smeorach Chlann Domhnaill.
All too soon the time had one but we were able to get them back on for an encore. Up until that point, with no bozouki or bodhran, I thought all insturments beginning with the letter B had been banned but then at the very end doing something I had not seen on the two previous occassions of hearing them - Julie on the bagpipes. What an encore! Patsy Reid kindly let me have her playlist at the end and I collected Julie and Eamon's autographs again before heading off and being home by 11 pm.

10 Wales Rugby Managers in my Lifetime

Henry Hansen
There have been many more rugby managers compared with football managers. Here are ten, all Welshmen except the Kiwis Henry, Hansen and Gatland. Statistically the most successful was John Dawes.

1. Clive Rowlands 1968–74
2. John Dawes 1974–79
3. John Lloyd 1980–82
4. John Bevan 1982–85
----------------------------
5. Kevin Bowring 1995–98
6. Graham Henry 1998–2002
7. Steve Hansen 2002–2004
8. Mike Ruddock 2004–2006
9. Gareth Jenkins 2006–2007
10. Warren Gatland 2007– present

10 Wales Football Managers in my Lifetime

Speed and Hughes
Excluding caretaker managers 10 men have managed or coached the Welsh national soccer team in my lifetime. All were Welshmen except Mike Smith and Bobby Gould.

1. Jimmy Murphy 1956–1964
2. Dave Bowen 1964–1974
3. Mike Smith 1974–1979/1994-1995
4. Mike England 1979–1987
5. Terry Yorath 1988–1993
6. John Toshack 1994/2004-2010
7. Bobby Gould 1995–1999
8. Mark Hughes 1999–2004
9. Gary Speed 2010–2011
10. Chris Coleman 2012–present

Luther once again


It was good to be in Westminster Baptist Church once again on Monday for the Westminster Fellowship. Dr Robert Oliver spoke on first on Luther and then on what we can do to conserve the Reformation gains - namely in the areas of Scripture, worship and confessionalism. Dr Oliver is an excellent historian and was able to retell the story with quiet skill, highlighting things that I have missed so far this year (for example that Luther was a friar not a monk as he is usually called and how although Luther was generally unimpressed with Rome the hospitals did impress him). We had a good discussion session too. An interesting question was the construction of confessions. I sought to make the point that confessions are not only a doctrinal stick to beat out heretics but a doctrinal carrot that omits certain controversial matters in order to foster unity (my example was friends in Cyprus who omit the filioque clause in their standards not because they do not believe it but becasue it is such a cause of contention in the Greek speaking world; Mostyn Roberts referenced the way Christ's active obedoence is not stated in the Westminster Confession). This point appeared to be lost on some of those present. We were about twenty all told. Richard March from Milton Keynes chaired.

Credit where credit is due

I often complain about the poor Bible knowledge displayed by the University Cheallenge teams. All credit to UCL last night though; they got all three questions bang on. The first was on the third book of the Bible, the second on Elisha and the bears and the third on Canaan, Ham and Noah (The UCL Captain reminded me of Ryan Giggs)..

Lord's Day November 5 2017


It was a case of the Monday blues again yesterday - not for any particular reason though I could list several factors that might have played their part (one is missing having a fellow elder). Anyway, I just got on with things and wated for it to lift, which it di gradually at first and then particuallry with the wings of a verse of Scripture. I have been reading through Psalm 119 recently a stanza at a time and yesterday I came to the last verse - I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands. It seemed to me that fitted my mood perfectly and I was thankful to have come to it again. 
We began the Lord's Day with communion and we also welcomed in a new member. This is the lady I baptised back in the summer but she has been in Turkey a good deal since then. She was telling us how she had recently visited Ephesus and had loved seeing the site of Paul's labours and those of John whose tomb is said to be there. I hope to baptise someone else next week.
I carrie don in Acts in the morning looking at the healing of Aeneas and then in the evening we were in Matthew 15 again and talking about the Canaanite woman who Jesus was so stern with, not an easy passage in many ways. Several were away for several reasons. Some I wonder f we willever seeagain. Where are they? I felt both sermons lacked something. Prayer is so important.

10 glands in the human body

A gland can be defined as an organ that produces and releases substances that perform a specific function in the body. There are many of these in the human body. Here are ten.

1. The Adrenal glands are a pair of glands located (as the word itself would suggest) atop each kidney that produce adrenaline, etc.
2. The hypothalamus gland is found in the brain and links the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland.
3. The pineal gland (so called because it is apparently pine shaped) is also in the brain, in the mid-cranium behind the forehead. It produces melatonin, a serotonin derived hormone which modulates sleep patterns in both circadian and seasonal cycles.
4. The pituitary is at the base of the brain and secretes hormones that help control growth, blood pressure, certain functions of the sex organs, thyroid glands and metabolism as well as some aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, water/salt concentration at the kidneys, temperature regulation and pain relief.
5. The thyroid is a two-part gland on the front of the windpipe shaped like a butterfly. It secretes thyroid hormones, which primarily influence the metabolic rate and protein synthesis. The hormones also have many other effects including those on development.
6. The thymus gland is under the breast bone in the upper chest. Within the thymus, T cells mature. T cells are critical to the adaptive immune system, where the body adapts specifically to foreign invaders.
7. The pancreas is found below the stomach and it produces insulin and other important hormones.
8. The prostate gland surrounds the urethra just below the urinary bladder and secretes secrete a slightly alkaline fluid, milky or white in appearance, that in humans usually constitutes roughly 30% of the volume of the semen.
9. Olfactory glands or Bowman's glands are found in the nose, in the olfactory region. They secrete the gel-forming mucin MUC5AC(UniProtKB: P98088). They may also secrete proteins and other matter.
10. Henle glands or crypts of Henle (a 19th century German scientist) are microscopic pockets found in scattered sections of the conjunctiva around the eyeball. They are responsible for secreting mucin, a proteinous substance that makes up the inner layer of tears. It coats the cornea to provide a hydrophilic layer that allows for even distribution of the tear film. 

Midweek Meeting November 1 2017


Somehow there were 12 there on Wednesday, which was very encouraging. We were in Leviticus 18, highly topical this week with all the media attention on politicians and sexual harassment. I tackled the passage in a rather pedestrian way I suppose, which is the way in which it is set down but perhaps a bit more flare could have been employed on my part. Our chief problems do not lie in the are of incest but elsewhere, I would guess and I should have reflected that. Anyway, we had a good prayer time to follow. I had to allow an extra five or ten minutes to fit everything in.

Trini Lopez - If I Had A Hammer (1963)


I've always liked this jolly song. Trinidad Lopez is from Texas.

Celebrity Spotting


I can't help myself but celebrity spot, especially living where we do. I saw two on Hampstead Heath yesterday - Bill Oddie and Nick Robinson. It was David Baddiel the other week. All locals I guess.

10 British Dicky Birds and their nicknames

I heard soemone on the radio yesterday saying that Robin is only a nickname for the redbreast. It set me researching after other bird names. It seems there was a time when many types had nicknames. Some (like jackdaw and magpie) have become part of the name. All small birds are nicknamed Dick.

1. Robin Redbreast
2. Jenny Wren
3. Tom Tit
4. Jackdaw
5. Kittiwake
6. Maggie pied Magpie (originally just a Pie, Mag is permanently attached)
7. Philip Sparrow
8. Mavis Song Thrush
9. Ralph Raven
10. Jacob Starling

Two Books by Tim Marshall

A little while aggo I came aross a book by a man called Tim Marshall called Prisoners of Geography. A very helpful book, it explained the geographical element in geo-politics - why China takes the atttiude to North Korea it does, some of the attitudes Russia shows over Ukraine, etc. It was very helpful and well written. I then noticed that he also has a book on flags - Worth dying for. I waited until the paperback came out and this again proved to be fascinating as it explained flag by flag the various flags of the nations and a few more too. Some of it read like a detective novel as he painstakingly traced the origins of some of these. I am not really a fan of politics but I like to keep up to some extent and I enjoy obscure knowlede and so this unusual little book was right up my street. (You may have noticed some lists about flags on this blog while I was readuing the volume).

Lord's Day October 29 2017

People often speak of the pastor's Monday blues. I.m not particularly aware of being a sufferer but that may just be that I get the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday blues too so it doesn't hit me so hard. I had a genuine case yesterday, however. The way it goes for me is not really that I think I didn't preach well, although that can be the case. What is worse is thinking of how many were not there and the lack of power in the messages. Our own assessments are of little value and if you can get to the end of the day repentant and eager to start again (which I managed only by this morning to be honest) that is enough.
Numbers were down perhaps because of half term but there were loads not there. (What is worse on the day the clocks Spring forward is that you foolishly imagine we will all be an hour early but in fact it is the same, indeed usually worse than ever). I preached on Acts 9:19ff and Matthew 15:1-20. It is interesting the way the disciples just cannot accept Paul's conversion at first but Barnabas saves the day with his positive encouragement. We all know we ought to be Barnabases but it looks so dangerous! I'm trying to be one at the moment with a proposed new member. It's taking almost all I've got.

Nos Calan Gaeaf Hapus

One of my son's seasonal efforts.

Sleep no more

I couldn't resist this collection of short stories by P D James when I saw it the other day. I enjoyed last Christmas's Mistletoe murder collection and thought this would be nice too. Ive read it already partly becasue it is not as Christmasy as the last one, only one story being really of that sort. It is an interesting phenomenon the detective story and the late P D James is clearly a master of it. very enjoyable.

Grace Baptist Mission 2017


I've not been to a GBM day for a while and have got out of touch rather. I especially have not been to the delegates meeting. However, little has changed in that period in some ways. As ever, there were encouraging and discouraging things. Discouragingly, the financial problems that have always been there are now critical and serious thought is being given to where cuts can be made. Other problems also exist on the field in some few cases.
More encouragingly, there were four new couples on display, set to begin work in Africa (south and east) and Europe (west and north). The couples are being set aside for a variety of work. It was also good to hear encouraging news of work through radio broadcasts in Africa, more generally in Poland , in Germany and also in this country among Muslims. Nearly two hundred gathered for the delegate meeting and more than twice that for other meetings.
A Reformation theme was followed through part of the day and it was encouraging to see the eagerness with which Reformation truths were emphasised.
Our venue was The Friends House on Euston Road once again. Outside the building it says about Quakers that they are a people who "share a way of life, not a set of beliefs". I found that a helpful distinction to bear in mind as I guess that as Reformed Baptists we are a people who share a set of beliefs but not necessarily a way of life, which is where some of the tensions come for me.
I was sorry not to get to speak to more people. I kept seeing people I knew but I know I missed talking to many I would like to have met with.

Alterum


A new studio album from Julie Fowlis appeared yesterday and I have begun to listen to it. Alterum contains 11 tracks and, as one would expect, there is plenty of Gaelic. However, almost for the first time, English gets a look in - with God your way and Windward away with Mary Chapin Carpenter. who also sings with Jukie (in Gaelic!) on the opening track. There is also a spoken intro in English on Cearcall Mun Ghealaich (circle around the moon) done very nicely and uniquely with piano.
Another duet is Camariñas, a song in praise of the Galician town of the same name with Gillebrìde MacMillan. Instrumentally, there is more of an orchestral feel (strings at least) to many tracks and the bodhran hardly gets a look in. No a capella songs or instrumentals this time round. Puirt a beul style mouth music is again featured (on two tracks) but it seems a little restrained somehow compared with earlier offerings.
It is important for artists to somehow follow up on previous albums and yet develop in some way as album follows album - not easy to achieve. This album seems to manage it and I look forward to getting to know it better in the coming weeks.

Reformation: The Story Of Martin Luther on BBC 4


There are a pair of 90 minute German dramas that were shown on BBC 4 still available here. The dialogue is in German (with some Latin) and English subtitles. Reflecting modern scholarship the dramas focus not only on Luther but also by way of contrast Thomas Muntzer. Carlstadt also features and Spalatin and Cranach get more of a role. There appears to be no Melanchthon. Under 16s are warned off becasue of some violence. All this helps to narrow down to the essential elements but like so many such dramas eagerness to be relevant means that we get a rather 21st century approach, the main characters not appearing to be from another age at all. The one thing it perhaps does do is to give one an opportunity of entering into the sort of mindset that lived through Reformtion.

Midweeek Meeting October 25 2017

It's half term week this week so we were down to five for the midweek meeting. I thought we'd take a break from Leviticus (especially as it is in some ways a difficult chapter next) and so we looked at Psalm 146 briefly then prayed. It was all over in just over an hour. One person there is leaving us after a few months fiathful attendance. They are moving back to Nigeria. They will be missed.

Fats Domino - The Fat Man


And just one more for theb late Antoine Dominique

Ain't That A Shame


Fats Domino has died in New Orleans. He was born in 1928.

Another excellent Library Lecture

It is three years since we had Lesley Rowe come speak at the Evangelical Library on the Puritan Arthur Hildersham. It was good to have her there again speaking on Hildersham and the 1625 National Fast in light of the plague in London that year. She helpfully gave the historical background before drawing attention to Hildersham and the eight sermons he preached at that time which have been reprinted in recent times through Mrs Rowe's own efforts.
The final lecture of this series will be on December 4 when Dr Ian Densham will speak on The Greatness of God.
Image result for hildersham fasting

Lord's Day October 22 2017


It's our half term this week and, as usual, the rest of the family left for Wales last Saturday. They are always strange Sundays for me when I wake alone and eat alone but preach as usual morning and evening. A graph might show a flatline with two enormous explosions! I did it for five years before I was married but I can't really remember much of that. Anyway I preached on Paul's conversion from Acts 9 in the morning and on Jesus walking on the water from Matthew 14 in the evening. Others were away for half term as well as my family but we were a decent number in the morning and only down a little in the evening. It was encouraging in the morning that a lady from mums and tots was there with her little girls. I hope we see them again. We also had a visit from an old friend from Moldova.

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross - Page CXVI

Spurgeon on Psalm 104:17, 18


Again, you shall find spiritual life in every church. I know it is the notion of the bigot, that all the truly godly people belong to the denomination which he adorns. Orthodoxy is my doxy; heterodoxy is anybody else's doxy who does not agree with me. All the good people go to little Bethel, and nowhere else: they all worship at Zoar, and they sing out of such-and-such a selection, and as for those who cannot say Shibholeth, and lay a pretty good stress on the "h," but who pronounce it "Sibboleth;" let the fords of the Jordan be taken, and let them be put to death. True, it is not fashionable to roast them alive, but we will condemn their souls to everlasting perdition, which is the next best thing, and may not appear to be quite so uncharitable. Many suppose that because there is grievous error in a church, concerning an ordinance or a doctrine, therefore no living children of God are there. Ah, dear brethren, this severe opinion arises from want of knowing better. A mouse had lived in a box all its life, and one day crawled up to the edge of it, and looked round on what it could see. Now the box only stood in a lumber room, but the mouse was surprised at its vastness, and exclaimed: "How big the world is!" If some bigots would get out of their box, and only look a little way round them, they would find the realm of grace to be far wider than they dream. It is true that these pastures are a most proper place for sheep, but yet upon yonder hill-tops wild goats are pastured by the Great Shepherd. It is true that yonder plains covered with verdure are best fitted for cattle, but the Lord of all has his beasts in the forest, and his conies among the rocks. You may have to look a long while before you find these living things, but he sees them when you do not, and it is a deal more important to a cony for God to see it, than it is for a man to see it; and so it is an infinitely more weighty matter for a child of God for his Father to know that he is his child, than for his brother to know it. If my brother will not believe me to be a Christian, he cannot help being my brother; he may do what he will in his unkindness, but if I am one of God's children, and he also is one, the tie of brotherhood cannot be broken between us. I love to think that the Lord has his hidden ones—even in churches that have sadly degenerated from the faith; and, although it is yours and mine to denounce error unsparingly, and with the iconoclastic hammer to go through the land and break the idols of all the churches in pieces as far as God gives us strength, yet there is not a lamb amongst Christ's flock that we would disdain to feed—there is not the least of all his people, however mistaken in judgment, whom our soul would not embrace an ardent love. God, in nature, has placed life in singular spots, and so has he put spiritual life into strange out-of-the-way places, and has his own chosen where least we should look for them.

Luther on justification

The third incomparable grace of faith is this, that it unites the soul to Christ, as the wife to the husband; by which mystery, as the Apostle teaches, Christ and the soul are made one flesh. Now if they are one flesh, and if a true marriage - nay, by far the most perfect of all marriages - is accomplished between them (for human marriages are but feeble types of this one great marriage), then it follows that all they have becomes theirs in common, as well good things as evil things; so that whatsoever Christ possesses, that the believing soul may take to itself and boast of as its own, and whatever belongs to the soul, that Christ claims as his.
If we compare these possessions, we shall see how inestimable is the gain. Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation; the soul is full of sin, death, and condemnation. Let faith step in, and then sin, death, and hell will belong to Christ, and grace, life, and salvation to the soul. For, if he is a husband, he must needs take to himself that which is his wife’s, and, at the same time, impart to his wife that which is his. For, in giving her his own body and himself, how can he but give her all that is his? And, in taking to himself the body of his wife, how can he but take to himself all that is hers?
In this is displayed the delightful sight, not only of communion, but of a prosperous warfare, of victory, salvation, and redemption. For since Christ is God and man, and is such a person as neither has sinned, nor dies, nor is condemned - nay, cannot sin, die, or be condemned - and since his righteousness, life, and salvation are invincible, eternal, and almighty; when, I say, such a person, by the wedding-ring of faith, takes a share in the sins, death, and hell of his wife, nay, makes them his own, and deals with them no otherwise than as if they were his, and as if he himself had sinned; and when he suffers, dies, and descends to hell, that he may overcome all things, since sin, death, and hell cannot swallow him up, they must needs be swallowed up by him in stupendous conflict. For his righteousness rises above the sins of all men; his life is more powerful than all death; his salvation is more unconquerable than all hell.
Thus the believing soul, by the pledge of its faith in Christ, becomes free from all sin, fearless of death, safe from hell, and endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of its Husband Christ. Thus He presents to Himself a glorious bride, without spot or wrinkle, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word; that is, by faith in the word of life, righteousness, and salvation. Thus He betrothes her unto Himself "in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies" (Hosea ii. 19, 20).
Who then can value highly enough these royal nuptials? Who can comprehend the riches of the glory of this grace?
Martin Luther, On the Freedom of a Christian Man

Nick Needham on Luther

Nick Needham answering questions with Edward Malcolm seated
It was great to be at the Protestant Truth Society Conference today with about 50 or 60 others at the college and seminary in Finchley. I wanted to go to something on Luther this month and this was a good choice I'm sure. In the chair was Edward Malcolm of the PTS and the speaker was Nick Needham, pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church in Inverness and lecturer in church history at HTC in Dingwall. Nick is always worth hearing and he was very good today on the material and the formal principle of the Reformation, that is justification by faith and Scripture alone. Perhaps the first message on the formal principle was superior but both were excellent papers. We also had good question sessions following the two papers.
That first message included two excellent quotations that I will include in separate blogs.

Tyndale, Cranmer, Foxe


I was pleasantly surprised to see this programme recently. See here. Marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Janina Ramirez tells the story of three books that defined this radical religious revolution in England. Tyndale's New Testament, Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer and Foxe's Book of Martyrs are sadly no longer commonly recognised titles, yet for nearly 400 years these works formed the backbone of British life. Their words shaped the English language, fuelled religious division and sparked revolt.
Tyndale's Bible made the word of God accessible to the common man for the first time; The Book of Common Prayer established a Protestant liturgy; and Foxe's Book of Martyrs (they say) enshrined an intolerance of Catholicism, although it did a lot more thna that. Woth catching.
I haven't seen the other three programmes in the series but this was okay. See here.

Oxbridge


One of the news items today has been about how few students from the north or from lower income families or ethnic minorities go to Oxford or Cambridge. Apparently if you take five elite schools - Eton, Westminster, St Paul's Boys and Girls and state-funded Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge, together they sent 946 pupils to Oxford and Cambridge 2007-2009. By contrast, 2,000 lower-performing schools combined sent a total of 927 students to the two universities, getting less than 6% of available places (this is according to the Sutton Trust). Many of these schools sent no pupils at all, or on average fewer than one per year.
One can understand the frustration. One of my regrets in life is not having gone to Oxford. I did try, with no encouragement from my school. My parents were keen but clueless. I sat an entrance exam and was then interviewed for Lincoln College. They liked the idea of having a boy from a Welsh comp there but in the end it was too much of a risk and they said no. (There were 19 of us trying for 11 places I recall). And they were right. In almost every way I would have been totally out of my depth and it would have been a wretched three years on the whole. Coping with Aber and all that brought was bad enough.
It is all very well talking about outsiders going to Oxbridge but it really is no simple matter. It is not enough to simply tell the universties to be more open to diversity. A public schoolboy in this country today is a million miles away from the average kid in parts of South Wales or certain parts of the North of England and it is foolish to try and pretend that is not the case. It is not something we need to lose too much sleep over either. Us plebs do okay, thank you.

10 Rocked up takes on Cantata 147 by Bach


1. Ekseption 'Jesu, Joy' cantata from choral BWV 147
2. Herb Alpert 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring'
3. Wendy Carlos 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring'
4. Apollo 100 Joy
5. Jigsaw 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring'
6. Moody Blues The quiet of Christmas morning (Bach 147)
7. The Byrds She don't care about time
8. Margo Guryan Someone I Know
9. The Beach Boys Lady Lynda
10. Bob Dylan Sad eyed lady of the lowlands

Midweek Meeting October 19 2017

We were in double figures last night to look at Leviticus 17. Leviticus 17 is all about blood and it is easy to forget what a central theme this is in Scripture and what a central place it ought to have in the thinking of Christian people. It was good to be reminded. We spent a good time in prayer too. At the beginning we sang the Lewis Hartsough hymn

I hear Thy welcome voice
That calls me, Lord, to Thee,
For cleansing in Thy precious blood
That flowed on Calvary.

I am coming, Lord, Coming now to Thee! Wash me, cleanse me in the blood That flowed on Calvary. 

Though coming weak and vile,
Thou dost my strength assure;
Thou dost my vileness fully cleanse,
Till spotless all, and pure.

’Tis Jesus calls me on
To perfect faith and love,
To perfect hope and peace and trust,
For earth and heav’n above.

’Tis Jesus who confirms
The blessed work within,
By adding grace to welcomed grace,
Where reigned the pow’r of sin.

And He the witness gives
To loyal hearts and free
That every promise is fulfilled,
If faith but brings the plea

All hail, atoning blood!
All hail, redeeming grace!
All hail, the gift of Christ our Lord,
Our Strength and Righteousness.

I left the place thinking of that hymn Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

10 Songs that reference Bob Dylan by T Rex and others

Bob Dylan with Neil Young
1. Ballrooms of Mars T Rex
the monsters call out The names of men Bob Dylan knows And I bet Alan Freed did There are things in night That are better not to behold
2. Mystic Lady T Rex Oh bobby you're a hobby With the learned ones Like a setting sun
3. Telegram Sam T rex
Bobby's alright Bobby's alright He's a natural born poet He's just outta sight
(Some say Bolan is from BOb dyLAN)
4. Fizzy Jesus and Mary Chain
Elvis lives and Bob Dylan is dead And OJ's wife's crawling back from the dead
5. Chinese Bakery The Auteurs
just somebodys past Don't blink, pinch me twice Just seen Bob Dylan on a motorbike I don't think this relationship will last
6. Flags of freedom Neil Young
Sister has her headphones on She hears the music blasting She sees her brother marchin' by Their bond is everlasting Listening to Bob Dylan singin' in 1963 Watching the flags of freedom flyin'
7. God Plastic Ono Band
I don't believe in Zimmerman I don't believe in Beatles I just believe in me Yoko and me And that's reality
8. Song for a small circle of friends Larry Norman
Dear Bobby watch your fears all hide And disappear while love inside starts growing You're older but less colder Than the jokes and folks you spent your childhood snowing
9. A Simple Desultory Phillipic Simon & Garfunkel 
I knew a man, his brain so small  He couldn't think of nothing at all  He's not the same as you and me  He doesn't dig poetry. He's so unhip that  When you say Dylan, he thinks you're talking about Dylan Thomas  Whoever he was  The man ain't got no culture  But it's alright, ma  Everybody must get stoned
10. Folk City Jan &Dean
I'm gonna sing all the words like Bob Dylan does 'bout where it's at and where it was

10 Songs that reference T Rex or Bolan

Marc Bolan with The Ramones 1976
1. Mott the Hoople/All the young dudes
The television man is crazy Saying we're juvenile delinquent wrecks Man I need a TV when I've got T. Rex Hey brother you guessed I'm a dude
2. The Who/You better you bet
I love to hear you say my name especially when you say yes I got your body right now on my mind and I drunk myself blind to the sound of old T.Rex To the sound of old T.Rex - who's next?
3. The Ramones/Rock'n'roll radio
Will you remember Jerry Lee, John Lennon, T. Rex and Ol' Moulty? It's the end, the end of the 70's It's the end, the end of the century
4. Dada/Posters
She locked the door behind me she lit a candle Then blew it out said the moon would do just fine The lizard king and T. Rex for wall paper Above her bed hung a No-Parking sign
5. Zodiac Mindwarp/Prime Mover
Yeah yeah yeah yeah Well I love TV and I love T. Rex I can see through your skirt I've got x-ray spex
6. R.E.M./The Wake Up Bomb
Practice my T. Rex moves and make the scene get drunk and sing along to Queen
7. B A Robertson/Kool in the Kaftan
Do yourself a favour Don't you savour All that hippy thing find what's next Hey man don't you stop and pray man Go out and buy T Rex
8. Smog/Floating
Floating Hear a name From which planet Do you beckon I don't reckon It could be too far from here I'll bet you look like Marc Bolan's girlfriend
9. Kate Bush/Blow away (For Bill)
Put out the light, then, put out the light Vibes in the sky invite you to dine Dust to dust Blow to blow Bolan and Moony are heading the show tonight
10. Devendra Benhart/The Beatles Yo sí oigo a (I have listened to) Donovan. Yo sí oigo a Marc Bolan. Yo sí oigo a Ben Chasny. A Six Organs me gusta a mí.

Novels by Cynan Jones

Over the summer I came across the novels of Cynan Jones. Because he was born near Aberaeron I thought he might have been in the Aber Waterstone's as a local author but when I returned to London I found his works there. There are five or six things altogether. I read the 2006 novella The long dry first adn tht is something quite special. The action all takes place on the same day, although there is a back story that extends back from that day. It is very well written. I then read Everything I found on the beach which, while being a good read, is not such an unusual piece. The first novel is about a couple on a farm, the second about a local man and a Polish immigrant but takes place in a more wide ranging landscape, still within Wales but at various locations. I should probably try The dig next (2014). His latest novel is Cove (2016).

Martin Luther Renegade and Prophet

Back in July last year, I bought a copy of Lyndal Roper's biography of the great Reformer. I really got into it early on but then put it down but I picked it up again more recently when we decided to do it at The Pastors' Academy Reading Group.
For various reasons numbers were down and only four of us gathered to discuss the book at our meeting yesterday. It's always good to talk over a book, however, and it was interesting to see what others thought. We agreed that it was a very readable and thorough book that gives a rounded picture of Luther - the good, the bad and the ugly. We were in agreement that no-one could really read this book and come away thinking Luther was some sort of plaster saint.
Be warned that some of the imagery, content and language in this book is outside the usual remit of evangelical publishing.
We were most dismayed at his advocacy of secret bigamy and some of his other advice on marriage and divorce and his manic insistence on the real presence, not to mention his magisterialism and his attitude to the Jews.
One thing we could not agree on is how well Dr Roper understands Luther.
Do get hold of the book if you want a very thorough treatment of the man that we're all talking about this month.
We will meet again in the new year, God willing and look at a book from the past. The exact tome is to be decided.

Lord's Day October 15 2017


It was good to be back in Childs Hill again yesterday. We had a bumper turn out in the morning and the usual small crowd in the evening. It was good to see so many there in the morning, though there were  afew missing fo known and unknown reasons. There were extras in the morning as my son and his wife were there plus two visitors - a Czech man who liked the words over our door (Jesus lives) and a Nigerian lady. I preached from Acts again - on Philip and the Ethiopian. I have often preached it for a baptismal service but for the first time as part of a series. I did the last bt on Martin Luther for the kids (his death). In the evening we had communion and then I preached on the feeding of the five thousand from Matthew 14.

Spelling mistakes, etc

I know the idea of correct spelling and such like strikes some people as a rather pedantic. Perhaps it is but my fear is that inattention to such minutiae is symptomatic of a deeper malaise. Here is an example from my recent reading.

The Story of Everything by Jared C Wilson published by Crossway, page 13. Just over halfway down there is a reference to a "stunning climatic scene" in a film. A "stunning climactic scene" surely. See here.

More controversially I was surprised to see in Grace Alone Salvation as a gift of God by Carl Trueman published by Zondervan, page 128, that Luther strived for many years to gain assurance. I would have thought the strong form strove the obvious word to prefer there but I may just be out of sync there.

PS We have plenty of typos on this blog, which I try to correct but these are mistakes (or not mistakes in the case of the second example) not typos.

(I was going to include here Martin Luther Renegade and Prophet by Lyndal Roper published by Bodley Head, page 346 . At the beginning of the section on Anabaptists comes a reference to "ideas of millenarian violence". I thought it should be millennarian (as in Millennialism) but apparently not.

My dad December 2007

Stumbled across this shot of my dad, 78, speaking to Rhodri and Sibyl in December 2007. I miss him.

Midweek Meeting Wednesday October 12 2017


It was encouraging to see 13 gathered together yesterday night as we began again our studies in Leviticus, looking at Leviticus 16, where the Day of Atonement is described. This crucial chapter leads straight to Christ and his cross and so it was not difficult to preach, thugh I continue to benefit from Philip Eveson's excellent Welwyn Commentary. I should have left a little longer for prayer but many prayed and we closed with this appropriate hymn by James Deck (we began with Not all the blood of beasts).

The veil is rent. Lo! Jesus stands before the throne of grace,
while clouds of incense from his hands fill all that glorious place:

His precious blood he sprinkles there, before, and on the throne;
and his own wounds in heaven declare his work on earth is done.

"'Tis finished!" on the cross he said, in agonies and blood;
"'Tis finished!" Now he lives to plead before the face of God.

"'Tis finished!" here our souls can rest; his work can never fail:
by him, our sacrifice and priest, we enter through the veil.

Within the holiest of all, cleansed by his precious blood,
before thy throne thy children fall, and worship thee, our God.

Boldly our heart and voice we raise, his name, his blood, our plea;
assured our prayers and songs of praise ascend by him to thee.

Dr Lloyd-Jones Memorial Lecture 2017

Monument Palma, Mallorca
For some years now the London Seminary has put on an annual lecture in memory of Dr Lloyd-Jones the seminary's founder. This year Hicham from France spoke on the forgotten pioneer missionary to Muslims, the Franciscan Ramon Llull (c1232-1325). He is also remembered as the first writer in Catalan. His writings before conversion are apparently on the bawdy side. Born in Mallorca, he is also buried there. Between times he learned Arabic and travelled to Tunisia seeking to win Muslims to Christ. Hicham, who was very positive about Llull despite his Romanist background, has been able to consult some of his Arabic writings in Barcelona, which added to his knowledge of the man, though many mysteries remain. The only biography is Samuel Zwemer's 1902 work. It was a refreshing privilege to hear this paper, which will hopefully stir many to such pioneer work also. About 40 were present.

Focus in Milton Keynes October 2017


 

It was fun to be at a Focus Concert once again. I have seen them in The Stables. Milton Keynes before. It is a little sterile but it was good to see nearly 400 present. I ended up with a front side row seat just a few feet from Thijs van Leer himself. It was not a great spot in some ways but it gave certain advantages. We had the usual run - Focus 1, Anonymous, House of the King to begin; Eruption, Sylvia and La Cathedrale with Harem Scarem elsewhere; Hocus Pocus to close and Focus 3 with Answers Questions, Questions Answers as an encore. We also had All Hands on Deck, which I have heard before and, for the first time for me, P's March.
Being as close to van Leer as I was I observed how he mostly only used one hand to play the battered old Hammond organ he sat at most of the night. He also played the flute with one hand at times (sometimes combining flute and organ). He also played the haunting alto flute at the beginning, the simple melodica on Le Tango and did various things voice wise - scat, singing, whistling, yodelling, throat singing and oohs and aahs, usually with the vocoder. The high note on Hocus Pocuss are no longer possible but Thijs still has a very good singing voice.
I enjoyed all the solos from the band in the main, including new man Udo's six string bass. Still not sure about all of Menno's.
The evening began with an elderly heavy metal outfit called Burnt Out Wreck who were alright for what they were. After the main event the band happily signed autographs and chatted. I bought the latest offering (already purchased on itunes) and had it autographed. I also persuaded Pierre van der Linden to give me a signed drumstick.