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 July 23 2017

The summer months can be a little strange in Childs Hill with many away but there are plenty of opportunities to do good. We had a good congregation in the morning (a little slow filling up but okay). Our African visitors from last week were not back but two people who began to come the week of the mission were with us and another who has been once before since then. There was also one Iranian again and a new lady, a Filipina. I preached one of the great New Testament texts 1 John 1:9. It is difficult to go wrong with such a statement. In the evening we were due to have ccommunion at 6 pm but everyone forget so we did not do that until 6.25. We were only seven communing. By the time we came to the main meeting we were double that, including one member fresh in from Aberdeen. It was a privilege to preach to so many young people. (Everyone in the congregation was younger than me). I preached on fellowship with believers, the third ina  series I'm doing on living the Christian life.

Midweek Meeting July 19 2017


We were a small company last night but we had a good session looking at the subject of heaven and then in prayer. Always plenty to pray about. Being so few we were finished not long after nine.

Hampstead


We finally got to see the film Hampstead last night. Knowing it is based in our neighbourhood we were curious to see. I remember seeing them filming it from time to time a year or two back. We went to see the film in the JW3 Centre, which we had not been to before. It's a cultural centre with restaurant, cinema, etc. It currently features a large sanded area with deckchairs and a Tel Aviv backdrop. There are security guards on the gates but it has a nice voluntary Israeli feel. Anyway the film is a nice gentle romance featuring two older people not convinced about the rat race. It is nice to be reminded of what a lovely area we live in (as ever in such films the geography is fictional and you know where things really are). It is sad that the only only alternatives offered in this set up are rat race, moan at the race or drop out. There are other alternatives. We managed to exit the cinema just as it was about to rain. I've rarely seen such a storm.

Gail and Paul

We had the invite to my sister's wedding today.
It reminded my wife of two bakers in nearby Hampstead.
My sister will be giving up being a Baker (in joke).

Lord's Day July 16 2017


We were not many Sunday evening, about 12, but in the morning we were packed out - eventually - even with many away. There were some new comers - two lots of two Africans. I didn't get to speak to the one pair but I did meet two South African ladies (one is from Botswana). The most encouraging thing today is that a lady who came for the first time during our mission came again for the first time in a while. I was sorry not to ahve seen her and thought perhaps she wasn't so interested but in fact she has been unwell all this while and was very glad to be back. I preached in the morning on Romans 6:23. It was so encouraging to be preaching on such a verse with such a person present. In the evening we looked at another aspect of Christian living and at union with Christ.

Another Idris Davies poem


I thought I might just throw in another Idris Davies poem at this point.

High summer on the mountains
And on the clover leas,
And on the local sidings,
And on the rhubarb leaves.

Brass bands in all the valleys
Blaring defiant tunes,
Crowds, acclaiming carnival,
Prize pigs and wooden spoons.

Dust on shabby hedgerows
Behind the colliery wall,
Dust on rail and girder
And tram and prop and all.

High summer on the slag heaps
And on polluted streams,
And old men in the morning
Telling the town their dreams.

Midweek meeting July 12 2017


Leviticus 15 is all about bodily discharges and I thought it might be difficult to handle but it was not really as with a bit of help from Philip Eveson I was able t make some good points without embarrassment. We'll have another little break now having looked at the while section on being clean or unclean. Only another 12 chapters and it will practically be just 1 and II Chronicles and Lamentations left. We had a good number out and a good time of prayer.

10 Panics


1. 1819 First major peacetime financial crisis in USA followed by a general collapse of the US economy that persisting until 1821. It announced the transition of the nation from its colonial commercial status with Europe toward an independent economy, increasingly characterised by the financial and industrial imperatives of central bank monetary policy, making it susceptible to boom and bust cycles. Driven by global market adjustments in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, the severity of the downturn was compounded by excessive speculation in public lands, fuelled by the unrestrained issue of paper money from banks and business concerns.
2. 1825 Stock market crash that started in the Bank of England. It arose in part out of speculative investments in Latin America, including the imaginary country of Poyais. It was felt most acutely in England where it precipitated the closing of six London banks and 60 country banks but was also manifest in the markets of Europe, Latin America and the USA. An infusion of gold reserves from the Banque de France saved the Bank of England from complete collapse. It has been referred to as the first modern economic crisis not attributable to an external event, such as war, and thus the start of modern economic cycles.
3. 1837 Financial crisis in the USA that touched off a major recession that lasted until the mid-1840s. Profits, prices and wages went down; unemployment went up. Pessimism abounded. It had both domestic and foreign origins. Speculative lending practices in western states, a sharp decline in cotton prices, a collapsing land bubble, international specie flows, and restrictive lending policies in the UK were all to blame. On May 10 banks in New York suspended specie payments, meaning that they would no longer redeem commercial paper in specie at full face value. Despite a brief recovery in 1838, the recession persisted approximately seven years. 
4. 1847 Minor British banking crisis associated with the end of the 1840s railway industry boom and the failure of many non-banks.
5. 1857 Financial panic in the USA caused by the declining international economy and over-expansion of the domestic economy. Because of the interconnectedness of the world economy by the 1850s, the financial crisis that began in late 1857 was the first worldwide economic crisis. In the UK, Palmerston's government circumvented the requirements of the Peel Banking Act, 1844, which required gold and silver reserves to back up the amount of money in circulation. Surfacing news of this circumvention set off the Panic in the UK.
6. 1873 Triggered a depression in Europe and USA that lasted until 1879, and even longer in some countries (France, UK). In the UK it started two decades of stagnation known as the "Long Depression" that weakened the country's economic leadership. It was known as the "Great Depression" until the events in the early 1930s set a new standard.
7. 1893 Serious economic depression in the USA that ended in 1897. It deeply affected every sector of the economy and produced political upheaval that led to the realigning election of 1896 and the presidency of McKinley.
8. 1901 First stock market crash on the New York Stock Exchange, caused in part by struggles between E H Harriman, Jacob Schiff and J P Morgan/James J Hill for financial control of Northern Pacific Railway. The stock cornering was orchestrated by James Stillman and William Rockefeller's First National City Bank financed with Standard Oil money. After reaching a compromise, the moguls formed the Northern Securities Company. As a result of the panic thousands of small investors were ruined.
9. 1907 Also known as the 1907 Bankers' Panic or Knickerbocker Crisis, a US financial crisis that took place over a three-week period starting mid-October, when the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50% from its 1906 peak. Panic occurred, as this was during a time of economic recession, and there were numerous runs on banks and trust companies. It eventually spread throughout the USA when many state and local banks and businesses entered bankruptcy.
10. 1911 A slight economic depression that followed the enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. It mostly affected the stock market and business traders who were smarting from the activities of trust busters, especially with the breakup of the Standard Oil Company.

Lord's Day July 9 2017


We had quite large congregations (for us) morning and evening last Lord's Day. Three Iranians were present so it wasencouraging to see that link has not entirely gone. Our two Korean friends were back and there were lots of Nigerians, as is often the case. We ended up with seven children for the talk and Sunday School. I am going through the klife of Peter and we are almost through. I hope to tackle Luther mext. We had our communion before the morning service and tea before the evening, an unusual combination. I preached a text in the morning Romans 5:1, 2 and starteda lttle series in the evening on Christian living, beginning with  the fear of God  - something I don't think I've ever preached on or possibly heard preached on.

Gwalia Deserta by Idris Davies

One further feature of PSB's Every Valley is part of a poem by the Monmuthshire poet Idris Davies (1905-1953) sung by James Dean Bradfield (also from Monmouthshire or Gwent, like myself). I have mentioned him here before and how I discovered him studying Anglo-Welsh poetry in university. The piece is from Davies's Gwalia Deserta, which includes the part made famous by Pete Seeger, the Byrds, the Alarm, etc - The Bells of Rhymney.

In the places of my boyhood
The pit-wheels turn no more
Nor any furnace lightens
The midnight as of yore.

The slopes of slag and cinder
Are sulking in the rain
And in derelict valleys
The hope of youth is slain.

And yet I love to wander
The early ways I went
And watch from doors and bridges
The hills and skies of Gwent.

In Gwalia, my Gwalia,
The vandals out of hell
Ransacked and marred forever
The wooded hill and dale.

They grabbed and bruised and plundered
Because their greed was great
And slunk away and purchased
The medals of the state.

And yet I love to wander
The early ways I went
And watch from doors and bridges
The hills and skies of Gwent.

Though blighted be the valleys
Where man meets man with pain
The things by boyhood cherished
Stand firm and shall remain.
(Repeated several times)

Every Valley PSB


Unusual experience yesterday. I read a review of four new albums in the pop section and knew what they were talking about. I'd not heard of Broken Social Service, but I am aware of Arcade Fire and War on Drugs who apparently followed in their pioneering wake.
Then there was Calvin Harris whose name rang a bell (as did those of Pharell Williams and Arian Grande who are involved on this album I think).
There was also Haim who I've got (rightly or wrongly) next to the Staves in my galaxy of bands I don't know much about.
Anyway, I'm only aware of these becasue I have or have had teenage sons. The fourth album reviewed was a new one by Public Broadcasting Service. I became aware of them when I heard the track Go on Radio 2 one Saturday afternoon. I consequently purchased most of the album The race for space. The other items didn't quite grab me. This new album Every Valley however is about the rise and fall of the South Wales coal field and was recorded in my home county. Having grown up on the eastern edge of the coal field (one of my uncles was a miner as was a great grandfather in Cwmbran itself) I was drawn by this offering and after a listen through on itunes downloaded it in digital form.
Some potential cliches are there (a song in the Welsh language, the final track is done by Beaufort Male Voice) but plenty of others are avoided - a song about Aberfan and references to Margaret Thatcher, Scargill, etc. Rather, the whole thing is done in a more general way in my opinion comes together very well.
Worth checking out. Start here.
This is also well worth looking at.

Met Tab Summer School 2017


I've not been to the Metropolitan Tabernacle in a little while but this year looked an attractive programme so I decided to go and was there for most though not of it.
I was a little disappointed with Ibrahim ag Mohammed's first session on the vast and vital subject of Priesthood of all believers (OT) but the second from the New Testament (4 beauties and 8 duties) was fine. I only caught one of Roland Burrows' set of anecdotes from the Reformation period but that was a lovely session to be in on.
Dr Masters began with Reformations in the Bible but by the time I heard him he had given up on that theme and so we had messages on sincerity (Ephesians 6) and on John 17. Dr Masters has a way of presenting his material that slates half of evangelicalism and usually most of the Reformed constituency too. It has its strengths and you certainly can't listen in a complacent way.
I was surprised to know Vishal Mangalwadi was going to be speaking. It is unusual to see someone in the Met Tab pulpit without a tie but he carried it off in his attractive and apparently meandering conversational style. I must read his Schaeffer style book which has sat on my shelves too long.
Several found him the highlight but I would have to opt for the three messages from Dr Nick Needham on the Reformation, first on the two kingdoms then on Reformation seeds (giving more credit to Erasmus than is usually the case) and finally on the seeds that got lost, pointing out how Baptistic Zwingli, Luther and others were, early on.
Interesting things seen - Chris Cooper approaching a man at the front who didn't get the memo and so raised his hands in worship during the first hymn. It's good to have a clear policy. Also, poor Nick Needham being harassed by some poor man who had quite a shock when Nick suggested that Anabaptists were not Protestants.
I felt slightly more at home here than in the Barbican. The bookshop seemed to be in a slight time warp. I couldn't find anything to buy - always disappointing. The depth and breadth and consistency of the work at the Met Tab is stunning. As at the EMA most of the hundreds of faces were unknown to me although there were a few familiar faces, including that of my father-in-law who made a flying visit and kindly treated me to lunch at the nearby Imperial War Museum.

Historic Corbyn type win for the Lions


It's good to hear that the Lions, despite predictions, have held the mighty All Blacks to a series draw in their own back garden. I managed to see the second half of the final match somehow and a thrilling festival of rugby it was. The final score was 15-15. A final (correct) refreeing decision (scrum not a penalty) made a difference). 

Midweek Meeting July 5 2017


Continuing to catch up. We were the usual sort of number on Wednesday. We looked at parts of Chapters 13 and 14 of Leviticus and the instructions on moulds in fabrics and houses. We will do one more chapter befor takinga  break I think. It is not too difficult to see appplications but the whole way of thinking found in these chapters is so alien that it is hard to connect. As ever there was a time of prayer, Lots to pray for.

Lord's Day July 2 2017


It's been a busy week and I have not done a report on last Lord's Day yet. It may seem like ancient history by now but numbers were quite low last week I recall, with many away on holiday or travelling and one or two not well. We were down to ten in the evening. Not knowing who would be there quite I thought it best to go for texts. I preached in the morning on John 15:4, 5 and in the evening on John 14:13, 14. They are such vital verses, it was good to revisit them.
(We held over our normal morning communion to next week).

More on Baby Driver

I went to see Baby Driver this week. Not to be recommended - violent, lots of swearing, etc. I did enjoy the storyline and the soundtrack though, especially Debora, Focus and Egyptian Reggae and Unsquare Dance too. (Radar Love is too brief). here's a blogfrom my Focus blog


The Focus track Hocus Pocus features alongside a host of other tracks in the new film Baby Driver. Most of the track is played and becomees integral to the shoot out taking place among police adn rival gang members. This is not the first time the track has been used in this sort of way. It also features in a shoot out scene in the 2014 version of Robocop. (It wa also used for  aNike advert remixed some years back).
This time round one especially notes the way at one point gunshots and guiter chords are synchronised. Hopefully it will be a means of introducing younger people to the work of one of the greatest bands ever.
In an interview for Variety director Edgar Wright is asked
Is there an evangelistic element for you, that you might be introducing millennials or even younger people to some classic rock and soul and jazz they wouldn’t otherwise hear? Who wouldn’t want to be introduced to Focus and “Hocus Pocus”?
He answers
I keep saying to people, “If you love the song, watch them performing it on YouTube. It’s astonishing.” I mean, that’s how I know that song, is because there used to be a British music show called “The Old Grey Whistle Test,” which is slightly before my time, but there’s a great DVD of that, and the clip of Focus is amazing.
They go on
“Hocus Pocus” was famous in the ‘70s but hasn’t been kept alive much since then, so it’s hard to explain to people that it’s one of the most exciting rock songs ever recorded… and it has both yodeling and flute.
He adds
Yes. And accordion!
I speak no Dutch but I also liked this comment on one Dutch website.
De 46 jaar oude hit Hocus Pocus van de Nederlandse rockgroep Focus is prominent aanwezig in de actiefilm Baby Driver.
Wright says that the Hocus Pocuus part was his favvourite part - mine too. He also claims the studio was not going to use the track but he was so keen to use it that he paid himself for two extra days of filming. Good call.
Check out this video from 8 minutes to get a tiny taste of the scene.

Tonight Matthew ....

Someone has pointed out to me that this shot of Phil Furneaux reminds them of someone they know.

One Inch Rock and Germaine Greer


Mentioning T Rex's One Inch Rock set me thinking about that strange song and what it may mean. Some time ago it crossed my mind that "I asked her name she said Germaine" was a reference to Germaine Greer. That may be the case. Quite what more we can say I know not.
In the book Ride a White Swan: The Lives and Death of Marc Bolan Lesley-Ann Jones writes

Times were a'changing on all fronts. Germaine Greer, outspoken Australian feminist and International Times and Oz magazine contributor, was now a household name, thanks to her best-selling 1970 work The Female Eunuch. Championing the cause of women's liberation beyond 'mere' equality with men, Greer became a high-profile figure on the London scene, and an unlikely friend of Marc (Bolan), (DJ) Jeff (Dexter) and June (Child). Jeff recounts outrageous nights in restaurants, when Germaine could always be relied upon to let down her hair and get up to mischief while Marc would be beside himself with mirth.

A website here refers to One Inch Rock as "a thinly veiled attack on Germaine Greer".
The lyrics are

Met a woman she's spouting prose She's got luggage eyes and a roman nose
Her body is slung from side to side Need a lift she said much obliged
I'm riding piggy-back Then I came to her shack

We go inside the place it's a mess She said my name's the liquid poetess
She unties her mouth And her buckskin dress
She drinks from a bottle labelled tenderness I'm in one hand in the other's a can

She puts me in the can And smiles through the wall
I got the horrors 'cause I'm one inch tall Next thing I know's a girl by my side
Dressed in a bayleaf she's trying to hide I asked her name she said Germaine

Do the rock do the one inch rock.

Deboraarobed

In case you are wondering what I am talking about. In the second recording the song is played backwards from the halfway point
.

A new film and a musical memory


As soon as I heard there was a new film Baby Driver I spotted the reference to the Simon and Garfunkel song. We then learn that the film is full of  songs from the past and they form an integral part of the plot and characterisation. This website lists over 70 songs in the film.
Of most interest to me is another use of Hocus Pocus by Focus, always a good move. Not sure how long that plays for. Hocus Pocus came out in 1971 but we were not aware of it in the UK until 1973. (Given that they also have Radar Love by Golden Earring in there too (also 1973), Dutch rock is not really under represented.)
The other track that caught my eye (I have only read about the film, not seen it) is Debora by T Rex. I think the song goes back to 1968. There is an alternative version on the album Prophets seers, and sages called Deboraarobed, which is a fascinating exercise in palindromy. I bought my copy back in 1972 when it was re-released as a single on the back of Marc Bolan's electric pop success. I bought it from Woolworths in Cwmbran if I remember correctly. It was one of those rare occasions in those days when a single had an interesting cover. Being an acoustic effort from four years before it immediately sounded dated but with the help of the three tracks on the B side from the same era (One inch rock, Woodland Bop and Seal of Seasons) I was convinced it had been worth my pennies. From then I was on the look out for the four Tyrannosaurus Rex albums that came before the T Rex album that launched the pop career.
It must have been that same year that I came across a copy of Best of T Rex in David Evans department store, a collection of old singles, etc, that included Debora.


Midweek Meeting June 26 2017


We were just under double figures last Wednesday evening when we met for Bible study and prayer. I decided to go on in Levitics with the main part of Chapter 14 (leaving the stuff on mould in clothes for later) and focus on when a person is declared unclean from a skin disease. Philip Eveson's Welwyn Commentary is a real gem and I lifted his eight gospel observations straight into my own presentation. (My only contribution was that the two birds show propitiation and expiation - a quick look just now shows that at least one other person agrees but another is much more nuanced). The prayer time was good.

A day at the EMA


As many of you will know the annual Evangelical Ministry Assembly was on at the Barbican this last week. We had a friend from Germany staying with us again. He attended all three days and really enjoyed it. I was only able to attend one day, the Wednesday, (£55 it cost me, travel and food extra, coffee free). As usual, there were a vast number present, most of whom I did not recognise. One of the first people I saw who I knew was an old college friend now based in France. It was good to catch up with him. I also bumped into two or three others over the day.
The highlight on Wednesday for me was Kevin deYoung on sin. It was great to have someone address such a central issue and it was done in a very competent and helpful way.
I found the other three sessions less rewarding. Andy Gemmill spoke on Ephesians 2. It was a very thorough presentation and made some good points. However, when you consider that Christ is mentioned more than ten times in the chapter, I fear we were short changed on that front. Graham Beynon on 1 Peter 2 was equally competent on the importance of the church but the elephant in the room seemed to me to be the whole parachurch question. In the afternoon there were seminars and I went to the main one with Justin Mote on application in preaching. This was the distillation of a whole course yet beyond calling for a distinction between what he called primary and secondary (ie direct and indirect) applications there was not much to help us here. It was more about hermeneutics really.
Truth is I'm very hard to please and can be rather negative by inclination. My fear is that the Proc Trust's pleasing obsession with exegesis is not yielding the rewards it really ought to. Not sure why.
The best thing was just to be there with men who clearly love the word. It was also nice to see a fine selection of books there (thanks to Jonathan Carswell). I completed my set on the Five Solas edited by Matthew Barrett. I also picked up Kevin deYoung's very brief book on conscience, which I have also now received for review.
Another bonus was to sing a recent revival of an old hymn by the Victorian hymn writer Ada Habershon

When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail,
He can hold me fast.

He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast; For my Saviour loves me so, He will hold me fast

I could never keep my hold,
He will hold me fast;
For my love is often cold,
He must hold me fast.

I am precious in His sight,
He will hold me fast;
Those He saves are His delight.
He will hold me fast.

He’ll not let my soul be lost,
Christ will hold me fast;
Bought by Him at such a cost,
He will hold me fast.

Lord's Day June 25 2017


Sunday was interesting. For the morning I had had a request from a member of the congregation that we could mark his sixtieth birthday. (I know that in the 18th century Benjamin Beddome would preach funeral sermons in the regular meetings and was sometimes asked to preach on a certain text and willingly did). This man is especially pleased about reaching 60 because he has been quite unwell. He is Nigerian so he and his friends and family were expecting something a bit more Nigerian. There appears to be a particular fondness for taking the collection by the congregation going to the front instead of the stewads going to them (I know that to some good Reformed people both methods are anathema). Anyway, I felt I could stay within the regulative primciple and please the Nigerians. I think we managed it (though some still thought we were collecting for the man whose birthday it was!). I preached on Psalm 90:12, which you will find in due time on our church website and my Preached Sermons blog. There was a reception after but I could not attend as we had a guest at home (our German friend here again for the EMA) and the evening to prepare for. With all the Nigerian visitors (including one lady and her grandchildren who I don't think was part of the celebration crew) I nearly missed a Ghanaian lady I know not normally with us. I think she was there (as was the returning Portuguese lady) because a large charismatic church in Golders Green has recently moved on. We will see.
In the evening we had a baptism. We have known the lady being baptised, who is Turkish, for man years and it was great to see her coming to this point. We were a larger congregation than we might have been as we were visited by a large family we know en route home to West London. We had a nice little tea to follow. I preached on 2 Peter 3:21. Before the evening meeting I saw two people I know outside the church and invited them in. Both were keen but did not show up. It is easy to get discouraged. I fight it, of course. I failed yesterday but am doing better today.

Foundations 72



The new edition of the theological journal Foundations is now availabe online. See here. It contains five articles (mostly on the theme of church planting) adn 10 bokk revviews including this one by yours truly.

I shall not die, but live: facing death with gospel hope

Douglas Taylor, Banner of Truth, 2017, HB, 360pp, £13.00
We live in the age of the blog (or weblog). A popular form of website, all sorts of things, good and bad, get blogged on the worldwide web. When Douglas Taylor was told in 2011 that he had incurable cancer he began a blogYou can still access it today (http://worksworthdeclaring.blogspot.co.uk).
Douglas worked as an assistant editor for the Banner of Truth Trust from 1997 until 2011. Following his death in June 2014 his Banner colleagues felt it worth disseminating Douglas’s blogs in printed form and so have assembled a large number of them (about 250) with a brief foreword by Walter Chantry and a short autobiographical entry penned by Douglas himself in 2013.
This beautifully-produced hardback book would make an excellent present for any Christian, especially one facing something similar to the author. Each entry has a heading and date and is somewhere between 300 and 600 words. It is especially useful for someone unable to read for long.
You may get the flavour from these quotes. One entry begins with a reference to the “Diary of Kenneth MacRae”:
Mr MacRae is described, during his last illness, as dreading the night, with its sleeplessness and loneliness. “Oh, the night, the night”, he said wearily on one occasion. His wife Cathie tried to comfort him: “There are songs for the night, too, my dear. He will compass you about with songs of deliverance”. I can very much identify with this. During sleepless periods lately, I have dreaded the night too. I think Mrs MacRae must have had in mind such scriptures as Psalm 42:8: “In the night his song shall be with me.” Or perhaps Psalm 77:6, or Job 35:10…
He goes on to recommend songs of gratitude, confidence and praise for salvation for those in such a position.
Elsewhere he writes,
It would be interesting to know when the expression, “the intermediate state”, was introduced, and by whom. It certainly seems inadequate to express the ideas of paradise (Luke 23:43), of being with Christ, which is far better (Philippians 1:23), of being absent from the body and present [or, “at home”] with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6), or of being received to glory (Psalm 73:25). Not to mention the very clear testimony of Calvin, of the Reformed confessions and the Shorter Catechism, and of some of the best Reformed writers, like Rutherford and Boston, which are far removed from the concept we are considering.
Gary Brady
Pastor, Childs Hill Baptist Church, London

London Seminary 40th


The London Seminary started in 1977. In 40 years, over 400 men have been trained for pastoral and preaching ministry, the bulk of whom are ministering today. They are all over the country, from Scotland to the south coast, from Wales to East Anglia and in nations the world over. Other ventures, such as the John Owen Centre and the newly announced Flourish course for women have also been alongside.
It was appropriate that at the seminary's annual service last Saturday the chairman (fresh back from Singapore) was former principal Philip Eveson. He took opportunity to remind us of the work's beginnings and represented the Board in giving a big thank you to our secretary for 39 of the 40 years, Brian Stevens. He also publicly thanked Robert and Sarah Strivens, helped by Board chairman Spencer Cunnah, on the Seminary's behalf.
Dr Strivens gave the annualreport, his last in his present capacity. We also heard from principal elect, Bill James, who begins in January reading and praying.
We also heard from six leaving students – Chris Durrant, John Kerr, Philip Lievesley, Pedro Real, Manuel Redondo and Chris Statter. Five are about to begin ministry – in Bournemouth, Gloucester, Frinton-on-sea, Brazil and Salford. Manuel hopes to do further study before returning to Spain.
It was a great opportunity to hear Al Mohler again. He preached on John 15:18-27 where Christ the General warns his untried soldiers what is ahead. Under the heading, What do you expect? he warned of what lies ahead and gave reasons to continue
1. Because we belong to Christ
2. Because we have the Holy Spirit alongside us
3. Because we have Christ praying for us, Christ who has overcome the world.
There was a good number there, perhaps more than usual. Tea and discussion on the lawn (se epic above from the Seminary Twitter accoount) is a tradition on this occasion and that was kept despite periodic attempts by the overcast skies to send rain.

Al Mohler at London Seminary


It was good to have the opportunity of hearing Al Mohler wiht the students at London Seminary this morning. Dr Mohler specialises in looking at the world as it is and encouraging a Christian approach to it all. He spoke for two 45 minute periods broken by coffee and then opened up for questions, soemthing he does regularly on Youtube and which he did well today, answering questions on Islam, hell and witness. His clarification on the term Post-Christian (not post a period when everyone was a Christian but post a time when everyone accepted certain Christian tenets) was helpful. He also made a helpful point regarding Islam that it is more a way of life than a belief system as such.
Dr Mohler could come over a s name dropper as he has read so widely adn met with all sorts of people. It would be a mistake to think like that. No, here is a fine mind honed by Scripture and careful thinking about what those who oppose the gospelsay.
He quoted himself at one point, "The culture says you have an alien problem to be solved by an inner solution. The gospel says you have an inner problem that will be solved only by an alien righteousness.” That is very helpful. I believe that the quotation is from a message given a conference adn preached as “Preaching with the Culture in View”. See Preaching the Cross, Together for the Gospel (Wheaton, IL: Crossway 2007), p 81.a

Midweek Meeting June 21 2017


We were a good number midweek as we began on the teaching from Leviticus on infectious skin diseases. We tackled 13:1-46. I was eager not to be too long as I wanted to allow time for both prayer and a church members meeting. We did not do too badly althoiugh it was gone ten by the time we had finsihed everything. The reason for the members meeting was that we wish to baptise two people shortly and welcome two others already baptised into membership. (We did not absolutely insist on baptism by immersion but it is the norm here). We were all agreed on the way forward. It was a great privilege to hear these four testimonies. The way it works with us is that after speaking to the pastor candidates for membership are interviewed by two members either alone or with someone else who is applying. We seek to establish that they are converted and living the Christian life and how they might contribute to the life of the church. The first of the two baptisms will eb this Lord's Day, God willing.

10 Famous Argentinians


1. José de San Martín General
2. Ernesto "Che" Guevara revolutionary
3. Eva Peron first lady
4. Juan Manuel Fangio racing driver
5. Jorge Luis Borges writer
6. Diego Maradona footballer
7. Roberto de Vincenzo golfer
8. Guillermo Vilas tennis player
9. Lionel Messi footballer
10. Pope Francis

Westminster Conference papers 2016 published


The papers for the 2016 Conference last December are now available from the conference secretary, John Harris.
(Secretary the Westminster conference, 18 Nook Green Dewsbury West Yorkshire WF12 0BJ UK)

A week of mission

The above shows the team eating together one evening
There are arguments for and against a special week of mission in a local church. The chief argument against is that every week should be mission week and a special effort risks introducing an artificial and unsustainable note to the work that risks demeaning the regular efforts. On the other hand, a special effort can sometimes reach people otherwise unreached and, if visitors are invited in to help, can be a help to them as well as the church itself.
Missions have been rare here in Childs Hill. We have just had what must be the third or fourth in 34 years. As I begin to recover I thought I might briefly report.
We know Hicham from France well and he has led church missions and so we followed the pattern he is familiar with. This involved gathering a team to do formal evangelism chiefly Saturday to Thursday in the week June 10-15. Our team was a little on the small side - three full time and four more for the last two days plus two or three visitors on the Thursday with help from five or six members at various times, including me.
We started each day with breakfast in church followed by prayer and a short Bible study. We then spent 90 minute sessions morning and afternoon delivering leaflets and invites, door knocking or speaking to people in the streets of Golders Green, our nearest shopping centre. We ate lunch in the church and evening meal either there or in homes.
In the evenings we had excellent and well attended seminars on reaching Jews and Muslims on Monday and Tuesday; Wednesday was  our regular midweek meeting; and on Wednesday we had an evangelistic meeting with Mick Lockwood from Haworth.
on  the Wednesday morning the Mothers and Toddlers group had a bouncy castle and some of the team took opportunity to mingle. One young woman very helpfully gave a testimony.
We prepared 10,000 A3 leaflets containing testimonies, messages and information and gave away about half of these plus nearly a thousand postcards inviting people to hear Mick. We also had other literature to give away - Gospels, UQs, etc.
We were able to reconnect with several people we already know and some fresh faces. Some few came to meetings on the Thursday and Lord's Day. Some, such as the atheist who wrote to complain, and the people who saw us talking at length to the son of a rabbi, were not happy but generally speaking we did ourselves good. The feedback answered questions such as, say,  where most Jews and Muslims and Filipinos tend to be found, the fact there are Syrians in the area as well as Iranians and the fact some have little English.
It was a worthwhile effort. We are very grateful to the team who helped us and to Mick Lockwood and "Mr McH" in particular. Last time we had a mission we were unable to follow up the next year. I would hope that now we have a clear plan of approach we might try again next Junes or July.

10 Actresses having alliterative appellations

1. Barbara Bach
2. Brigitte Bardot
3. Claudia Cardinale
4. Courteney Cox
5, Doris Day
6. Diana Dors
7. Deanna Durbin
8. Farrah Fawcett
9. Keira Knightley
10. Marilyn Monroe

10 Popular singers with alliterative names

1. Big Bill Broonzy
2. Carlene Carter
3. Gloria Gaynor
4. Janis Joplin
5. Joe Jackson
6. Joan Jett
7. Kris Kross
8. Loretta Lynn
9. Shakin' Stevens
10. Tina Turner

10 Pop Bands with alliterative names

1. Adam and the Ants
2. Beach Boys
3. Bellamy Brothers
4. Culture Club
5. Counting Crows
6. Duran Duran
7. Foo Fighters
8. Franz Ferdinand
9. Sister Sledge
10. The Ting Tings

Lord's Day June 18 2017

It was hot yesterday, of course, but our building is not too bad. By the evening we had set up some fans.
As is most often the case we had a large morning congregation and a small evening one. In the morning we had at least two visitors responding to our leaflet distribution - one professing faith, one not. I was on Stephen's sermon in Acts 7, not the easiest place to start, perhaps. I did make a mistake in having such a long reading. I should have dropped the consecutive reading (the Witch of Endor) and taken Acts 7 in two bites. What I did in fact was to have us sing one verse of our third hymn after the reading and then prayed before the final two verses. Many people missing but some visitors and some of the missing had returned. We had communion in the evening. I read from 1 John 4. I preached on the parable of the net.

Reply to an irate atheist

We have had a mission this week delivering leaflets door to door and on the streets. One irate atheist wrote a long e-mail to me complaining. I wrote back with this e-mail.

Dear Sebastian (not his real name)
Thank you for your long letter. It is always good to get a response even if it is a negative one. You say that you received a ‘Come Take a Look’ leaflet through your door from our “organisation”. I should explain that we are just a little group of local people with plenty of links to others and getting some help this week but not part of some big organisation in the accepted sense.
I note your vehement objection but I do not see that we have been shameful or wasteful. Your use of the word “foist” is highly contentious. We simply offer leaflets. No-one is being forced to read them. You helpfully mention reasons for objecting to our ‘evangelising’. They turn out to be pretty flimsy as far as I can see.
The first point makes no sense. I can only assume there is a typo. Your second point shows a lamentable ignorance of British history. If you care to do a little research you will discover that Baptists were fiercely persecuted in earlier times. That came to an end in 1689 but we were still subjected to various disadvantages for our faith, including being effectively barred from the universities until the 19th century. Thankfully, we live in partly more enlightened times and we have the right to go on to the street and let people know what we believe. Long may that right continue.
I do know that the Golders Green area has a large Jewish population. Having said that, it is still only 15% in Barnet, meaning that 85% of the people we are likely to meet are not Jewish. We are not cynically or provocatively trying to foist Baptism on anyone. You would be surprised, perhaps, how slow we are in fact to baptise anyone. (By the by are you aware that the Jew themselves have miqvot all over the area where they happily get baptised on a regular basis?). Again, your ignorance is letting you down I fear. Have you ever come across Messianic Jews? These are Jews who have become Christians. True Christians tend to be more respectful to Jews than most.
The only person being provocative here is you with your suggestion that you are going to report me and the church to the council! Have you done that? I have not heard from anyone. Perhaps you have rethought it – why give them all that free publicity, eh? What exactly would be “appropriate action”?
If you are aware of any hungry or homeless people in the area, please let us know. Our resources are small but we have been able to help people in the past. Another point, you seem to think we are fundamentalist Christians. Now we certainly take a firm stand on the fundamentals but we probably fall short of the accepted definition. As for “bothering people with religion” we are with you on your apparent opposition to religion. It was religious people who were largely responsible for Jesus's death and religion has clearly been responsible for many ills in this world. No, we are not peddling religion. If that is the impression we have given then I am sorry. We are talking about a personal relationship with God himself, something he brings about not us.
As you are perhaps aware, atheism is not a philosophically tenable position. You do not know everything and so it may be that one thing you do not know is God. If you would care to take a look at one of the many books on the resurrection of Jesus you will find that it is a well established historical fact. The virgin birth is not susceptible to the same sort of demonstration and so it is a matter of faith. As for the immaculate conception we are totally agreed – utter nonsense.
You are rather dismissive of the Bible. I wonder if you have actually read it. I think you would be much less dismissive if you knew it better. I would be happy to provide you with a copy or even help you read through it if you wish. I am a graduate in English literature and have a history degree too and I can assure you that a knowledge of the Bible will open up real vistas if you have any interest in these areas. Your self-confessed failure to see how a book that was written some 2000 years ago (well over that in the case of the Old Testament) can be applicable in the modern world is most understandable. It amazes me too. However, once you see that the New Testament lays down principles applicable in any age and culture it all begins to open up.
Your antipathy to creationism is no surprise. There is nothing nonsensical about it. That adjective could be applied more appropriately to evolution. You say that science has disproved the young earth idea but that is only true if you accept the theory of uniformitarianism, which cannot be proved. As you probably know, the reliability of carbon dating and radio isotopes is hotly debated. Having said that, if the Bible is wrong on creation then that undermines the whole thing, as you say. Hey, that's something else we agree on!
Your advocacy of keeping religion private is the mantra of the day and I am well aware of the desire many have for our types to shut up. But then if you believe what we believe there is no way you can go private. Anyway, why should we be quiet when someone like Richard Dawkins grabs all the publicity he can get? Hardly fair. How about if you keep your atheism to yourself? You say that you believe that I have every right to follow a religion if I so choose but I believe I ought to let people know what I believe.
I love your list near the end of your letter - subservient, non-questioning, irrational, hypocritical, and utterly disconnected from the realities of modern life. I cannot think of anyone in the church who fits such a description. Okay, may be we are a bit hypocritical, sometimes.
I see that you have checked out the scientific evidence on whether prayers do anything at all. The evidence is pretty poor you are right. It is a very difficult thing to examine scientifically. Your idea of prayer as a selfish act is most interesting. I suppose that you are just thinking of one sort of prayer, supplication. There is also confession, praise and thanksgiving. As someone who tries to pray often I can assure you that feeling good is not the usual feeling that prayer produces. I agree that there are selfish prayers but everything in the Bible encourages the very opposite attitude.
Your conclusion that “religion, all religion, belongs in the dustbin of history” has often been said but so far has proved hollow.
If you let me have your address I will do all I can to avoid bothering you with further leaflets. As I said at the beginning we are not a large organisation so I cannot totally guarantee that it will not happen again. If it does, just bin it.
Gary

Midweek Meeting June 14 2017

We've had our mission this week so I've been extra busy. Let me just mention our regular midweek meeting. We were supplemented by members of the team and I wanted to allow plenty of time for prayer so seeing that the next chapter in Leviticus (12) was a short one I thought I'd press on even though it was purification rites in connection with child birth. Part of my thinking was that no-one in the room had heard a message on Leviticus 12 before and no-one was likely to hear one again any time soon. So we got through it just about. The only fly in the ointment for me was the fact that a Spanish lady who has come the last to or three weeks failed to show and we may have inadvertently caused the problem by leaving a door shut too long. I hope we see her again. It would be especially ironic if we unintentionally snubbed someone in the midst of making great attempt to reach others.

Lord's Day June 11 20017


This Lord's Day was a bit different in that this week is a week of mission for us in Childs Hill and so that was much in mind. We started on Saturday and continued Sunday afternoon, preceded by a fellowship lunch together and followed by a fellowship tea.
The team is very small and only four are with us so far - three from France and one from Ulster. We also had a Korean visitor and a man from Middlesborough who we have seen before. Lots of Iranians and others missing again, however.
It was nice to have lunch together and begin to get to know the team. I preached on Stephen, a hero for our times, from Acts 6 and The pearl of great value from Matthew 13.
Among conversations today was one with a member concerned about a relative who just won't get a job. What to do? Another had been glad to witness to people in Golders Green but still gets overwhelmed at God's goodness to him.
Good day.
(One thing I forgot to say was that a young man we know wandered in. He was high on something I fear. He still understood what was said. He appeared t think wehave trouble ahead if we persist with such ideas.)

Phil Arthur on Luther at the Library

I've not yet taken opportunity here to say what a good time we had on Monday at the Evangelical Library when our annual lecture was given by Phil Arthur from Lancaster speaking on 1517 and Martin Luther.
With such an excellent speaker and topic I could have wished for a better attendance, though we must have been around thirty and pretty much filled the room. We were also quite on the grey side, it is true, but it was pure joy to see three generations from one family all represented on the front row.
Phil simply took us through the early part of Luther's life - his upbringing, conversion and the beginnings of the Reformation. As a trained historian he knows this material very well and was able to put it across in a manner that was very easy on the ear. I was rather tired for some reason but my attention kept up throughout.
A recording of the paper is available from the Library and I hope that in due time that we will publish a written version of the paper in In Writing (I am conscious that the paper from last year on J C Ryle is still outstanding but I will get to it). Even as I write, Phil is busy correcting the manuscript for the press. He has had ill health for a little while and now has to use voice recognition software to get things down. If you have ever used such software you will know that errors can easily creep in and he wants to iron these out before publication.
It was good to spend a little time with Phil, who is currently on sabbatical from Lancaster but will begin again, part time, in September.

No voting for you, sonny

So we - my wife, my son and I - headed off to our local school to vote. It must be exciting voting for the first time but we live in Barnet and so, unsurprisingly in some ways, my 18 year old could not do so. He had registered online within the stipulated deadline but Barnet, without letting him know he needed to send it, had not had his proofs of identification. So no actually he didn't vote. As he himself observes "so when they talk about the lack of Young voters maybe they should think about the system being broken rather than trying to figure out what's wrong with British youth?" Like his dad he enjoys a good rant, but how much better to have been voting, like his friends in Camden.

10 useful Bible texts for this year

I've been reflecting on events this year so far and these texts have come to mind. They are worth considering.
1. 1 Timothy 5:24 The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgement ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.
2. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
3. 1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
4. Romans 7:1, 19 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.
5. Proverbs 28:26 Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
6. Ecclesiastes 9:3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterwards they join the dead.
7. Isaiah 2:22 Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?
8. Psalm 118:8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans.
9. Hebrews 12:2a fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
10. Matthew 16:18a I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

New Double Issue of In Writing


The latest edition of In Writing is now out. It is a double issue containing the content of the lectures given at the Reading John Owen conference at the Library last September.

Lord's Day June 4

We began, as usual at the beginning of a new month, with communion. In the morning I preached on the first half of Acts 6, drawing out seven principles, which I labelled using the names of the seven "deacons". In the evening we looked at just one verse - Matthew 13:44 and the parable of the buried treasure. There seemed to be lots and lots of people missing (no Iranians) and in the evening we were down to 14, which doesn't sound too bad but we were all spread about. In the morning there was a lady who had married in the church 60 years before and since buried two husbands and lived in Idaho. It was part of a trip down memory lane.
I heard the news of the London terrorists only in the morning and did debate briefly whether to preach a special. It seemed wiser to carry on as intended, although in praying about it I was relaying news to some. I probably should have referred to it at the beginning of the meeting. It is always difficult to know what is on whose mind.
We seem to be through our present cycle of new faces and are back to our where are they phase. That is how it seems to go in Childs Hill, Frustrating.

Hey Hay



Somewhere in the midst of quite a busy week last week I headed down to Cardiff to stay briefly with my son Dylan (and Cat briefly). We then spent much of  the day in Hay-on-Wye beginning at the showground where the thirtieth Hay Festival was in full swing and moving on to the town famous for its second hand bookshops.
I've only been to Hay once or twice before and as before I found that although one starts off quite excited that slowly wears off and at the end you are glad to be gone. The reasons for the frustration is the narrowing down pretty much just to books, the sheer volume of these and, above all, the almost non-existence of a bargain. All the books are carefully priced so much so that even the bargain books at £1 yield nothing you might actually want. This leaves a bad taste in the mouth in that part of the frisson of secondhand books is the thought of a bargain. I you were looking for a long lost title I can imagine the experience being rewarding but for bargain hunters l like myself  ...,
Having said that, it was a lovely sunny day and it was good to be with Dylan. We enjoyed chips at lunch time and a nice Shepherd's ice cream, I was a bit tired driving back but happy. 

William Perkins Videos

The videos from the Perkins conference are now available on Youtube.
See here.
One seems to be missing at the moment.
They are well worth listening to.

Wednesday May 31 2017


A little ,ate with this again but we had a good turn out on Wednesday, even though it was half term and some were away. A new lady from the area was there. She wants to get to know the Bible. I arrived late which is never a good start but I did recover and was able to speak on Leviticus 10 and led a good prayer time. Most people prayed. Leviticus 10 is an interesting chapter. We have recently looked at Acts 5 and there are definitely parallels there.