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.

Midweek Meeting September 20 2017

Another look at angels last night in the midweek meeting, looking at Hebrews 1 and 2. Good session with ten present, mostly men, including three seminary students. At least two not well enough to come out. Nearly everyone prayed. Plenty to cover as ever. I was especially encouraged by one man's prayer for the Lord's Day.

10 National Flags Depicting the Sun

1. Argentina
Bangladesh flag
2. Bangladesh

3. Greenland
Flag of Japan
4. Japan
Flag of Laos
5. Laos
macedonia flag
6. FYR Macedonia
Malawi flag
7. Malawi

8. Philippines
Rwanda flag
9. Rwanda
Taiwan flag
10. Taiwan

Flags courtesy of ITA's Flags of All Countries used with permission.

Bunhill Fields Again

I did not think we would be returning to this subject so soon but if you have been watching the series of J K Rowling detective stories you may have noticed that Bunhill Fields features (slightly egregiously) in the second episode of silkworm, as illustrated. The snag here is that no new graves have been made in this London graveyard for well over a hundred years. (In this episode you also see shelves of books in someone's home and people have spotted a fat Harry Potter book there). I've enjoyed the episodes so far.

10 National Flags Featuring Crescents

Image result for flags with crescents
1 Algeria

Image result for flags with crescents
2 Lybia

Image result for flags with crescents
3 Malaysia

Image result for flags with crescents mauritania
4 Mauritania

Image result for flags with crescents mauritania
5 Pakistan

Image result for flags with crescents turkey tunisia
6 Turkey

Image result for turkmenistan
8 Turkmenistan

9 Uzbekistan
Image result for Nepal flag
10 Nepal

10 National Flags Featuring Crosses

  1. Georgia (country) Georgia - the "five-cross flag"; the central element of it is St George's Cross (used also in the national flag of England); there is one smaller cross within each of the four quadrants
  2. Switzerland Switzerland - a bold, white Greek cross in the centre of the flag
  3. Tonga Tonga - a red cross appearing as a canton of a red ensign
  4. Greece Greece - a Greek Cross in the upper hoist corner
  5. Malta Malta - a George Cross in the upper hoist corner (in the canton of the white stripe)
  6. Denmark Denmark - a Scandinavian cross
  7. Finland Finland - a Scandinavian cross
  8. Iceland Iceland - a Scandinavian cross
  9. Norway Norway - a Scandinavian cross
  10. Sweden Sweden - a Scandinavian cross

Lord's Day September 17 2017

We were around 40 again Sunday morning (half members, half not; some members and others missing as ever) and about half of that in the evening when we began with communion. It was nice to have our other Seminary student back from his months in South Africa. In the morning I carried on with Acts 8, meditating on what was the worst of times and yet at the same time the best too. In the evening we returned to our studies in Matthew 13, looking at the very interesting verses 51, 52. One of the newer members of our congregation brought a relative, a ten year old, so I was keen to make it accessible to them and more or less managed it I hope. It was my son's last Sunday before heading off to university. I've just taken in that there are now three or four Nigerians in their early twenties around, who often attend. It would be good to try and do something to help them.


Also in Regents park today I came across a word I did not know - banksman. Wikipedia explains it thus - In British civil engineering, a banksman is the person who directs the operation of a crane or larger vehicle from the point near where loads are attached and detached.

World's Shortest Football Pitch

I saw this in Regents Park today

Fortieth Anniversary of the death of Marc Bolan

Marc Bolan was an early musical hero of mine. I never saw him life (protective parents). On September 16, 1977, the T. Rex singer was killed instantly when the car, a mini, driven by his girlfriend, Gloria Jones, left the road and hit a tree in Barnes, West London. The couple were on the way to Bolan's home in Richmond after a night out at a Mayfair restaurant. A local man who witnessed the crash said, “When I arrived a girl was lying on the bonnet and a man with long dark curly hair was stretched out in the road; there was a hell of a mess”.
A very good documentary called Cosmic Dancer aired last night on BBC 4 and is worth watching. It appeared to give to me a fair and balanced account of the life. I thought it about right when someone said Bolan was not as good as he sometimes claimed but then not as bad either as others made out. Like most geniuses he was a flawed genius. To die so young was a great tragedy.See here for the next month.

10 Krautrock Bands

The term is disputed but here are 10 German bands from the seventies
1. Amon Düül II
2. Ash Ra Tempel
3. Can
4. Faust
5. Kraftwerk
6. Neu!
7. Tangerine Dream
8. Popol Vuh
9. Sunbirds
10. Cluster
(Most of these bands I am not really aware of but the list was prompted by the death of Can's bassist Holgar Czuky). Out of Focus is another example and should not be confused, of course, with Fcous who are Dutch.

Thankful Owen 1620-1681

I recently posted the following on my 1662 blog. It is from Alfred W Light's book on Bunhill Fields.

(Same Tomb as Goodwin.)
Translation of Latin Inscription.
Thankful Owen, STB. Here mingles his sacred dust with that of Goodwin; to whom in life he was most dear. He scarce survived an hour the finishing of a Preface which he had been writing to that great work of Goodwin's on the Epistle to the Ephesians, the publication of which had fallen to his care. Dying with the same calmness with which he had lived, without a groan, save of the heart to Christ, on the 1st April, 1681, in the 63rd year of his age.
Thankful Owen was born, according to one account, at Taplow in Buckinghamshire, but another authority states that he was born in London. While quite a youth he had a remarkable preservation from drowning, for as he was swimming near Oxford he sank twice under the water. He received his education chiefly at Exeter College, Oxford, where his tutor was a Puritan. He became a man of much learning, and was greatly admired for the easy fluency of his language and compositions, and for the quite exceptional purity of his Latin style. He joined the Independent Church, afterwards becoming one of their preachers, and he was also chosen Proctor of the University in 1650, whilst in the same year he became President of St. John's College.
At the Restoration he was ejected by the Commissioners and, like Goodwin, removed to London. Here he lived very quietly, preaching as often as he could and steadfastly maintaining his nonconformity. On the death of Goodwin he was chosen to succeed him, but was only pastor for a fortnight, as he died quite suddenly at his house in Hatton Garden. His last labour was, as stated in the Inscription, to write a Preface for Goodwin's work on the Ephesians, and he had almost finished a work of his own, entitled "Imago Imagins" which was designed to show that Rome Papal was simply an imitation of Rome Pagan. Dr. John Owen said of Thankful Owen that he had not left his fellow behind him for learning, religion, and good humour.

Contrasting Viewpoints

Midweek Meeting Wednesday September 13 2017

We were up to 11 this week as my son Rhodri was with us too. Pursuing our theme of things unseen I decided we would hae a little look again at angels (by which I mean heavenly creatures of various sorts). We focused on Revelation 4, incorporating references to Ezekiel 1 (and 10) and Isaiah 6. It is always an uplifting and fascinating subject. We had a good time of prayer to follow - plenty to pray for as ever.

Constablesque Clouds

John Constable loved to paint clouds. He lived in this part of London at one time and wold have seen clouds like this I saw the other day, I guess.

John Owen Centre Conference 2017 Day 2 at the Pastors' Academy

had another good day today. I think the figures are more like 40 than 50 so a little down on previous years. Perhaps the title is a little vague and with all in house speakers people make less effort. Another possible theory is that people are planning to go to Reformation commemmoration events. Anyway, Stephen Clark kicked off on ethics. This is a fairly well trodden subject but it was good to air it again. Reluctantly Stephen disagreed with Professor John Murray's notoriously conservative position, preferringa  hierarchical approach. I think this is right but it was interesting how in discussion that position did seem to unravel, at least a little.
John Benton took the other two sessions, looking at Isaac and Ishmael and Jacob and Esau. Here the approach was more pastoral adn designed to be encouraing, which both messages were.
At the end of the conference Garry Williams revealed that the JOC will from now on be known as The Pastors' Academy.

John Owen Centre Conference 2017 Day 1

The two day conference at the London Seminary/John Owen Centre in Finchley began yesterday and continues today. We were around 50 again. There seems to be a core of twenty or thirty of us with another changing bunch of newcomers and occasional attenders. The atmosphere is a good one - theological but with a practical edge. We are all men this time I think, mostly pastors. The theme is two brothers (in Genesis) inspired I'm sure by the nearby fish restaurant. David Green kicked us off with a fascinating walk through the various birth narratives found in Scripture focusing on the birth of brothers but culminating with the birth of Christ. He was keen to debunk Matthew Henry and the way moral lessons are drawn from a story like that of Lot and his daughters. People seemed persuaded but I think we should be slow to jettison past exegetical insights too quickly. The points made on this and Tamar were very helpful nevertheless.
Garry Williams ended up taking both the other two sessions, due to the illness of Flavien Pardigon. Garry looked at Abel and his death and at Galatians 4 a classic exegetical minefield. As we have come to expect these were thorough and thought provoking presentations. Some of the new covenant types were not so happy with his understanding of Sinai but there was general appreciation. I though the paper on Abel was particularly good.
So good papers, good conversation in between times with friends new and old and good discussion following each paper this was an excellent day and a great blessing to all who were present.

Lord's Day September 10 2017

We had a good turn out Sunday morning, almost 50 altogether, even though two regular families were away.. We were swollen by the presence of a family of seven who have come to us from time to time since they moved to the UK but have never really settled anywhere. I hope we see them again soon. We also had all three of the people who began to come to us after the mission and the close of a health and wealth church in Golders Green (the building now sold to Muslims I hear) and my son and family were with us too as well as a new seminary family again who I hope will stick with us. I went back to Acts, preaching on the final verses of Acts 7 and the death of Stephen. It's good to be back to straight exposition. For some reason I read half the evening reading in the morning. I think I was  a bit distracted for some reason.
Only half the congregation stayed for lunch but we had a nice time and I briefly interviewed Rhodri about the work in Aber. We were a similar number for the evening when I preacched on worldliness, cribbing mainly from J C Ryle. I have wanted to preach on this for a while as I think it is a subject we are all at sea on. Ryle (see Practical Religion) is quite helpful. (I shoul mention here that the title of this blog is a little joke really. I'm sure some people happen on it and think - yes, very worldly,but I would defend myself). A nice thing in the evening is that the third hymn we sang (by Faith Cook) we sang to a tune written by our pianist (Philip Miles). It's a very nice conventional hymn tune that fits the words well.

Latest Library Lecture

We rather struggled to get up to double figures at the Library last Monday but we made it. It is probably too early in the month for some. Norman Hopkins gave us an excellent illustrated introduction to the Reformers and Martyrs of Kent, beginning with Wycliffe's Lollards. It was good to be reminded of this material and expecially of John Frith (burned 1533), a rather forgotten character perhaps. The lecture helped clarify for me that while thefive ssolas are the theological meat and veg of the whole period in England it was transubstantiation that was the critical point of contention. It was also a reminder of what a good man John Foxe was. In that regard this website is worth checking out.

Midweek Meeting Wednesday September 6 2017

We managed to get 10 along this week thanks to a newcomer. Encouraging. (An Iranian man phoned earlier about coming but he didn't show). We looked one more time at the subject of hell, working our way through the verses in Luke 17. It was again a sobering subject. Nearly everyone prayed (my wife told me later she was going to pray but there was no time - I should have got us praying earlier). Our prayers ranged far and wide. There is never a shortage of things to pray for.

Grenfell and Childs Hill

It is of interest when one sees a national story having its effect in your own locality.

Bunhill Fields Virtual Tour

Reciprocal Church History Tour

Last week, as Mike Iliff was in London, I reciprocated his tour of Llangeitho with one of Bunhill Fields and the Wesley Museum (hence the recent list here). Besides the godly men Bunhill Fields is the final resing place also of the writer Daniel Defoe (who did come to faith later in life, I believe. Robinson Crusoe is worth reading for the evangelical content alone) and poet and painter William Blake (a Swedenborgian by persuasion). For more on the dead of Bunhill Fields, see Alfred W Light's tome, accessible here. Across the road from Bunhill Fields is the Wesley Chapel and the house in which he latterly lived. It was good to see that again. There is a little museum in the basement of the chapel. Wesley is buried behind the chapel. Both places are free to enter, the nearest tubes being Moorgate and Old Street. More here and here.
(In the picture above someone has imagined John Wesley visiting his mother's grave in Bunhill Fields).

Lord's Day September 3 2016

We began with communion. I think we were around 16 or so for that. Over 40 am and under 20 pm service. Some visitors, some newcomers, some missing for various reasons. I preached again on judgement. Still not easy but a good subject to be handling. In the evening we looked at sef denial, which is such a challenging subject again, I wasn't quite happy with it. Had one of my coughing turn in the morning but got through it. No-one wanted to go home am or pm. We tried having coffee in the main auditorium rather than at the back. That helped.

10 godly men buried in Bunhill Fields

1. John Bunyan (1628–1688), author of The Pilgrim's Progress
2. Thomas Doolittle (?1632–1707), nonconformist minister, tutor and author
3. Andrew Gifford (1700–1784), Baptist minister and numismatist
4. John Gill (1697–1771), Baptist pastor, biblical scholar, and Calvinist theologian, author of the Exposition of the Bible and the Body of Divinity
5. Thomas Goodwin (1600–1680), Puritan theologian and preacher
6. William Kiffin (1616–1701), Baptist minister and wool-merchant
7. Hanserd Knollys (1599–1691), Particular Baptist minister
8. John Owen (1616–1683), Puritan divine, theologian, academic administrator and statesman
9. John Rippon (1750–1836), Baptist clergyman, composer of many well known hymns
10. Isaac Watts(1674–1748), hymn writer, educationalist and poet