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.

Two helpful little books recently published

I have recently read two new little books, one from EMW and one from Evangelical Press. They are quite different in style and content but both to be highly commended.
The first is My sunflower girl by Dyfan Williams. I bumped into  Dyfan a year or two back in the seminary on sabbatical. I guess he was working on this then. In 2003 Dyfan and Caroline's daughter Megan died rather suddenly. She was only 10. This book is a reflection on that fact  I guess it does not contain anything I did not know about the Bible's approach to Christian suffering but coming, as it does, from someone who really has suffered in a  way I never have it has a strength that I could never muster if I put pen to paper. There are also some helpful reflections on grief, such as its individuality. I particularly liked the illustration of the ball and three containers of different sizes and how the grief does not change in size but the ability to contain it does.
The second is Paul Helm's new little book on biblical revelation Just words? This is written in a simple philosphical style rather than than the usual well referenced biblical manner and so it comes over more Johannine than Pauline, if I can put it that way. That gives it a simple but profound  character that probably menas that only a second reading will bring out all the arguments it contains. You can get the favour from these two pargraphs from Dr Helm's blog

In this short book we are to consider one important aspect of the ordinariness with which God visits us. God has done things for us and he says things to us. Some of the things he does are to attract attention. But not like Presidents may command our attention, by their residence or their motorcade or the eloquence of their speech or the might of their army or the size of their entourage. In making himself known, God does not lose anything of his glory, but in what he does his glory shows through in surprising ways. And when all his redemptive work is done his glory will be manifest to all. Christ will come in great glory, and all his angels with him.
We learn that in God’s dealings with the human race, matter and manner are intertwined, vitally connected. In this study we are considering God’s book, what we call The Holy Bible. It is a book made up of other books, spanning hundreds of years. This shelf of books itself has a character that is at one with God’s coming down. For what God says in his book and how he says it are seamlessly woven together. The Bible tracks what has happened in human history when God came down.

Another helpful book reviewed - The Pastor's soul

This is the other

The Pastor's Soul: The Call and Care of an Undershepherd
Brian Croft & Jim Savastio, Evangelical Press, 2018, 100pp, £7.71 (Amazon) / £5.26 (Kindle)
From the Reformed Baptist stable, this book is written by two American pastors, both based in Louisville, Kentucky. Brian is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church and Senior Fellow of the Mathena Centre for Church Revitalization at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jim is one of the pastors at the Reformed Baptist Church in Louisville. Both are very much involved in Practical Shepherding, a Gospel-driven resource centre for pastors and church leaders to equip them in the practical matters of pastoral ministry. The book has grown out of this work and is a helpful contribution to thinking about the practical side of Christian ministry in the twenty-first century. It is in four parts, alternating sections being written by the two men.
Jim starts by looking at the biblical commands to a pastor – taking heed to oneself, to doctrine, to the flock – and why these matter. Brian then contributes a section on the need for every minister to be converted and called.
In part three Jim has two chapters on the public and private means of grace. Brian’s last section deals with six important topics with regard to the pastor’s wellbeing – eating, sleeping, exercise, friendship, silence and rest (including his day off, his holidays and having sabbaticals).
I recall hearing Joel Beeke say that a pastor should read at least one of these sorts of books every year. If you are a pastor, we commend this little book for your perusal. Dr Beeke also said at that time (with tongue in cheek) that you cannot follow everything recommended in such books as there are not enough hours in the day! That is probably true of this volume, although it tries hard not to be prescriptive. Few will agree with everything that is said here but it will stimulate thought on these important subjects. It would make a great book for a ministers’ fraternal to discuss.
Gary Brady, Pastor, Childs Hill Baptist Church, London

A helpful book reviewed - Can we trust the Gospels

I have recently reviewed two books in Foundations 76 now available here.
Here is the first

Can we trust the Gospels?

Peter J Williams, Crossway, 2018, 160pp, £6.35 (Amazon) / £6.03 (Kindle)
Dr Peter Williams is the Principal of Tyndale House, Cambridge, which describes itself as a research institute “housing one of the world’s most advanced libraries for biblical scholarship”. As a leading centre for biblical scholarship, its in-house academic programmes facilitate the research of the history, language and context of the Bible.
This new publication seeks to look at evidence for the trustworthiness of the biblical Gospels. It is deceptively brief and punches well above its weight. In short compass Dr Williams tackles some eight questions of an apologetic nature. He is brief but wide-ranging.
The opening chapter looks at three writers outside the Bible, namely Tacitus, Pliny and Josephus. This chapter not only serves to show that these sources do not necessarily contradict anything in Scripture but sets the tone for the rest of the book – a serious, historical approach that is neverthless accessible to the layman who truly wants to get at the truth about these much-discussed matters.
We then move on to a brief introduction to the four biblical Gospels, followed by a chapter headed “Did the Gospel writers know their stuff?” This fascinating chapter pursues lines of argument that were previously unfamiliar to me and maybe to you. It helpfully highlights the way the geographical references and the nomenclature that we find in the Gospels strongly suggest that these people are reporting real events, events that they knew plenty about rather than some invented world of their own devising, as is sometimes suggested. Similar points are made more briefly with regard to finance, language and customs.
Chapter 4 is on the subject of “undesigned coincidences”, a rather forgotten line of argument pioneered by John James Blunt in the 19th Century and that has been revived in more recent years by Lydia McGrew in her 2018 book Hidden in plain view. Williams takes up the cudgels here, giving just four examples of coincidences in the Gospels that must surely be there because the authors are writing of what is true rather than because of some sort of conspiracy they have devised.
Next comes a useful discussion of why we can be sure that the Gospel writers give accurate – if not verbatim – reports of what Jesus said, and then a brief survey of textual criticism and a reassurance that the text we have in our Bibles is a text that can be trusted.
Chapter 7 is another fascinating chapter that deals with the question of whether there are contradictions in the Gospels. Counter-intuitively, this is approached by pointing out six places where John’s Gospel deliberately contains apparent contradictions. Yes, there are apparent contradictions but none that cannot be reasonably explained.
The final chapter, “Who would make all this up?”, touching on miracles and the resurrection, boldly argues for the reasonable supposition that all of history hangs on Jesus.
This attractively produced paperback from Crossway is enhanced by a general and a scriptural index at the end of the book. Can we trust the Gospels? Yes, we can. We recommend this little stick of dynamite to pastors and church members alike. As the blurb suggests, “Everyone from the sceptic to the scholar will find powerful arguments in favour of trusting the Gospels as trustworthy accounts of Jesus’ earthly life.”
Gary Brady Pastor, Childs Hill Baptist Church, London

Midweek Meeting June 12 2019

So last Wednesday we looked at the final verses of James Chapter 4. It became clear to me that what James does at the end of James 4 was to give two examples of pride - pride in relation to man (slander) and pride in relation to God (planning without prayer). ABout ten of us were present. A good prayer time once again. 

Preview meeting June 16 2019

Day off week 24

This week it was a great day off as my grandsons and their mother were around. We had pancakes for breakfast - not my forte but I managed to please the boys. Later on we went down to the park. It's lovely to have such a good park on our doorstep. The boys particualrly enjoyed the zipwire. I had to go to the bank in the afternoon. In the evening my father-in-law and his wife and some frineds from church were around. Still enjoying the new coffee nachine. Great day.

Westminster Conference Programme 2019


JOSEPH PIPA President of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary William Perkins stands near the fountainhead of Puritanism proper. He was both a principled inheritor and a sober innovator. His ministry of preaching and writing had a seminal influence on a generation of men, several of whom are more prominent names that we still recognise among ‘the Puritans.’ But who was Perkins, and what was it in his ministry that produced the impact that it did, both in his own time and - through his spiritual children and grandchildren - down to the present day?
JEREMY WALKER Pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley The question of worship lay at the heart of the Reformation. The issue continued to exercise the sons of the Reformation, not least the English Puritans. They contended earnestly, even fiercely, for the purity of the worship of the church. Today we rarely even ask the same kind of questions as did our forefathers. Casual assumptions and thoughtless conclusions often produce crass and even carnal expressions of worship. We will go back to the Puritans to think about the questions that they asked and the answers that they found concerning worship. T
ROBERT STRIVENS Pastor of Bradford on Avon Baptist Church The principles of Puritan worship did not necessarily produce a uniform or monolithic mode of worship, but established certain parameters within which most Puritans operated. With evidence from the writings and the gatherings of various men and churches, Robert Strivens will consider how the principles of Puritan worship worked out in practice. This will prompt us to consider ways in which we might still learn from the practical approach of the Puritans, and the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of their approach to God.

MATTHEW BINGHAM Lecturer in Systematic Theology & Church History at Oak Hill College The seventeenth century saw major discussions and massive developments with regard to the doctrine of the church. Among those elements was the emergence of Independency, in which issues of both soteriology and ecclesiology were at the fore. So where and how did Independency arise? What were its leading principles, who were its primary architects, what were its distinctive contributions? Matthew Bingham will help us to understand the origins of Independent churchmanship and to think carefully about our own convictions and practice.
DOUGLAS MCCALLUM Minister of Cambridge Presbyterian Church The twenty-two volumes of Manton’s Works glower from many a library or study shelf. He was a prolific author, but perhaps best known now for his sermons on Psalm 119, and also his exposition of James. In his own day, he had a reputation to rival that of a man like John Owen. In ours, he is largely unknown, even to many pastors, despite being a favourite of such men as Spurgeon and Ryle. This paper aims to redress that balance, introducing us to this neglected Puritan, providing insights into his life and times, and pointing us to his example for useful service.
PAUL SMITH Full-time elder of Grace Baptist Church, Broadstairs The phrase ‘the Pilgrim Fathers’ is often used quickly and carelessly. Some of what is confidently asserted is more mythical than factual. We do not always know who they were, why they set sail on the Mayflower as they did, and what they were setting out to achieve. Paul Smith will introduce these men (and their families) and their motives, showing us what lay behind their exodus to the New World. While they had the courage of their convictions, we also need to consider the various lessons we can learn for our own attitudes to life and liberty.

Meynell When Darkness Seems

The latest reading group at the Pastor's Academy was on Monday. We tackled Mark Meynell's book on depression in ministry. There were about six of us, including a new recruit from south of the river. I was chairing. We were generally happy with the book although we thought some of it was strange and found it difficult to think who exactly we might pass it on to. Depression is a difficult subject, of course, and the good thing is that someone has bravely tacked the subject in relation to ministry. I liked this quotation on Pages 178, 179

The people who scare me most are the leaders who admit no weakness. They are either living in a super-spiritual fog without self-awareness ... or they wish they could admit it, but are too scared of the repercussions in over-critical and graceless church cultures, and so, perhaps, over-compensate by polishing the facade of ‘sortedness’... or they are plain old hypocrites. As someone once put it, never trust a leader without a limp. How else can any of us be brought to the end of ourselves enough to be forced to throw ourselves on God’s mercy? We’re all too proud ... by nature. But a limp is hard to hide - and, in fact, does not need to be hidden ... leaders who limp are those who are weak and know it, but are not threatened by it. They have no alternative but to trust God. They know they cannot manage on their own; they simply don’t have it in them. And yet still they lead, and even thrive. For that only God can take credit. That is how it was always meant to be for anyone in Christian ministry.

We meet again in the Autumn to look at F V Fesko's Last things first.

Lord's Day June 9 Herne Bay Evangelical

We were in Herne Bay last weekend. My friend Keith Hoare has been pastor of Herne Bay Evangelical Church for the last 11 years. It was the church's anniversary and so we went down on the Saturday and had a nice (though rather wet) day with Keith and Janice (both Aber graduates and contemporaries of mine) and their son David. On the Lord's Day I preached in the morning from Acts 16. We then had lunch together and after that I spoke about John Cennick. For the evening service they made an early start (4.30 pm) and I preached on Daniel 6. It was all a tiny bit heavy on my part but okay and appears to have been appreciated. It is quite an elderly congregation but with some signs of growth. Quite full Sunday morning and 16 in the evening. Lovely day.

10 London Musea focused chiefly on individuals

1. Sigmund Freud (Freud Museum)
2. John Wesley (Wesley's Chapel and House)
3. Thomas Carlyle (Carlyle's House)
4. Charles Dickens (Charles Dickens Museum)
5. Samuel Johnson (Dr Johnson's House)
6. Georg Handel (and Jimi Hendrix) (Handel and Hendrix in London)
7. John Keats (Keats House)
8. William Hogarth (Hogarth's House)
9. Benjamin Franklin (Franklin's House)
10. Florence Nightingale (Florence Niughtingale Museum)

Fleetwood Mac - Oh Well (1969 UK TV)

This is just part of th full song by the old FM -But don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answers that you want me to.

Great quote - Thomas Carlyle on Charles Darwin

Subsequent to my trip to Carlyle's house I came across this. Fascinating.

Thomas Carlyle made the the following biting remarks to a friend who visited him a short time before his death:
"The so-called literary and scientific classes in England now proudly give themselves to protoplasm, origin of species and the like, to prove that God did not build the universe. I have known three generations of the Darwins - grandfather, father, and son, atheists all. The brother of the present famous naturalist, a quiet man, who lives not far from here, told me that among his grand-father's effects he found a seal engraven with this legend: Omnia ex conchis  (everything from a cockle shell)! I saw the naturalist not many months ago; told him that I had read his Origin of Species and other books; that he had by no means satisfied me that men were descended from monkeys, but had gone far towards persuading me that he and his so-called scientific brethren had brought the present generation of Englishmen very near to monkeys. A good sort of man is this Darwin, and well-meaning, but with very little intellect. Ah! It is a sad and terrible thing to see nigh a whole generation of men and women professing to be cultivated, looking around in a purblind fashion, and finding no God in this universe! I suppose it is a reaction from the reign of cant and hollow pretence, professing to believe what in fact they do not believe. And this is what we have got. All things from frog-spawn; the gospel of dirt the order of the day. The older I grow - and now I stand upon the brink of eternity - the more comes back to me the sentence in the Catechism which I learned when a child, and the fuller and deeper its meaning becomes: ' What is the great end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him for ever.' No gospel of dirt, teaching that men have descended from frogs through monkeys can ever set that aside."

Day off week 23

This last week's day off was a bit different, partly because, having had most of it on my usual Tuesday I also carved out an hour or two to visit Thomas Carlyle's House in Cheyne Row, Chelsea, on another day as it is closed on Tuesdays. On Tuesday I was dog free for once and having this new 60+ oyster card I thought I'd see ho far I could go. I ended up in Stratford (not that far). I think I'd seen the Olympic Stadium but I'd never been to Westfield - nice Foyles' there. In the evening we watched the final two episodes of the BBC mini series Summer of Rockets which has been fresh. Through the day I was reading The Secret Barrister which I bought recently.
I have been meaning to visit Carlyle's house for ages. I don't know much about him but he moved from Ecclefechan to London aged 35 and the house became a hub for the literati of the time. The house has been made to look as it would have in the 19th century and filled with pictures of the great man and his wife and cards briefly recalling some of the great and good who visited. It seemed to me that (apart from Jack the Ripper, Florence Nightingale and R L Stevenson) nearly every famous Victorian was mentioned.
Edward Irving is one. Having read Arnold Dallimore's biography some years ago I was aware that the two had shared origins. Irving's story is a very sad one. I liked the comment from Jane (who sounds a fascinating character) years later ‘If I had married Irving, the tongues would never have been heard.’
There was also a reference to Charles Darwin. Jane (who was connected with Erasmus Darwin at one point) said "But even when Darwin, in a book that all the scientific world is in ecstasy over, proved the other day that we are all come from shell-fish, it didn’t move me to the slightest curiosity whether we are or not. I did not feel that the slightest light would be thrown on my practical life for me, by having it ever so logically made out that my first ancestor, millions of millions of years back, had been, or even had not been, an oyster. It remained a plain fact that I was no oyster, nor had any grandfather an oyster within my knowledge; and for the rest, there was nothing to be gained, for this world or the next, by going into the oyster-question, till all more pressing questions were exhausted."

Feargal Sharkey OBE

The recent OBE for FS is a good excuse to watch this again

Midweek Meeting June 5 2019

Somehow I've forgotten to out this in. I've backdated it to maintain some semblance of order. I was back in Childs Hill after a break and we went back to James.touching on only two verses - James 4:11, 12 on slander, etc. We had a good run out - about 13. We had a former member viisting so that was nice. Penty to ray about as usual. We seemd to hang around talking after for ages, also nice. Our traveller friends have already left.

Evangelical Library Lecture 2019

It was a real privilege to be among the thirty or so present last Monday evening at the Evangelical Library to hear Dr S Blair Waddell, pastor of Huntsville Baptist Church, Alabama, USA, speak on the biblicism of the 19th century Congregationalist pastor William Jay, who was born 150 years ago this year. This was the best format in that in Dr Waddell we had someone who is an expert on Jay (his PhD dissertation was on Jay - see here) but, after a slightly nervous start, who was able to put the material over in a simple and straightforward manner. Dr Wardell began by outlining the extraordinary of Jay's great success as a preacher, pastoring Argyle Chapel, Bath, a full 62 years. He then spoke of his biblicism, describing his personal and family devotions and referring to his publications, designed to help God's people in this area. We hope to publish the lecture in our magazine in due time.

10 Great Acts from the Sixties

1. The Beatles
2. The Kinks
3. Manfred Mann
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival
5. The Byrds
6. Simon and Garfunkel
7. The Monkees
8. The Hollies
9. Donavon
10. Dionne Warwick
(We won't bother with my under impressed by this time)

Lord's Day June 2019

We began last Sunday with communion. We were about 16 altogether so that was encouraging. Others joined us for the main meeting and I preached on 1 Timothy 1:15 very evangelistically. It is one of the hundred texts. I think I have preached on it before but way back. In the evening I took another text, Deuteronomy 4:2, more difficult to handle usefully, but a good text. We were again around twenty. During the morning meeting there was a lot of off stage activity that I was aware of but not most of the congregation. What seems to have happened is that during the meeting a group of travellers turned up in eight caravans and parked themselves on a piece of waste ground next to the church. The kids were a bit wild. Late on in the morning an Irishman also turned up - I'm not sure if he is one of the travellers. We met him tracting in Golders Green the day before. He wanted to give us groceries in exchange for a cold drink. I did go over to speak to the travellers but there were not many around. The police were there. Never a dull moment in Childs Hill.

Three Good Weeks

It's been quite busy here and there are three weeks f activity I wanted to write something about that have just gone by.
In the first week (May 12-18) we had people staying with us from New Zealand. I think I mentioned how Georgina from Wellington was here in London 26 years ago when she was given a tract by us on the street (she still has it). She came to church and within a very short time was converted. After five weeks she moved down to Crawley where she met her now husband, Graham. Things were not straightforward but their son Calvin was born about six years before they headed to New Zealand to live. They have been in Christchurch these last 14 years and as you will be aware these have not been easy years for that city. Further, Georgina now has stage 4 cancer and so it was a bitter sweet reunion. She is very positive about it while  being realistic and it was lovely to have them with us. On the Friday I had to leave for Cwmbran where there was a funeral for a man who had been a deacon in the church where I grew up, Derek Morgan. Derek's brother started the service. I thought it was just right when he began the service by saying that he had discussed what should be said with Derek and they were agreed to begin by saying Derek was a sinner and so are well but Christ saves sinners. I have not heard such a good beginning to a funeral. Pontrhydyrun minister Jonny Raine did well too and spoke very clearly to a very mixed company. It was good to see old friends, some of whom I have not seen in ages. We did not realise it at the time but that was a very special period in the seventies when many, many young people were saved. We are now scattered but some remain in the area.
The second week (May 19-25) was my birthday week and that was a lot of fun. That was on Wednesday. I had an phone and various other things. The best present came the next day, however, when we went to Heathrow to collect our on Gwion fresh home from his stint in America. True to form he arrived without luggage, prompting a wild goose change to Gatwick, where he should have come in originally. We were shattered by the end of the day. His suitcases have now been located and should arrive by the end of the week. On the Friday evening we all (Eleri, Gwion, Owain and I) headed out to Pizza Express for a celebratory meal. Great time.
I have spoken of how this third week (May 26-June 01) began with celebrations in church. On the Monday we headed off to Derbyshire, to Tibshelf (yes, it does have an M1 services but we are on the other side). We are staying in a lovely old farmhouse in the town for a family holiday. We have been up to 23 here plus Alffi the dog all told but one son and wife have headed back to Wales and a niece has flown off to Uganda where she is for the next five weeks with UFM. Meanwhile we have been enjoying the house and one another and one or to sites, including Hardwick Hall. There was also a further celebration as some of the boys had still to give me a gift. I was given a lovely book and a voucher for a night in a hotel. These are very easy and enjoyable days.

Death Richard Bewes

Well behind with this but I see that Richard Bewes has died aged 84. See more here.

I rode with him in an auto once,
only a hundred miles and a half,
Seemed like it took a couple of months.*

*An allusion to the Bob Dylan song Lenny Bruce is dead. RB spoke once at an eccentrics conference and he and I had a lift home to London from Paul Levy. RB did most of the talking and fascinating it was.

10 Seventies Acts I was never over-impressed with

1. Elton John
2. David Bowie
3. Pink Floyd
4. Rod Stewart
5. Bruce Springsteen
6. Black Sabbath
7. Bee Gees
8. Kiss
9. Alice Cooper
10. Billy Joel

10 Great Acts from the Seventies

1. Focus
2. Yes
3. Horslips
4. Tangerine Dream
5. Vangelis
6. Mike Oldfield
7. Free
8. T Rex
9. Roxy Music
10. The Chieftains

Lord's Day May 26 2019

I have recently turned 60 and so I thought I might preach a sixtieth birthday sermon last Lord's Day morning. I turned to Psalm 66:16 which says Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. So I spent a short time on Come and hear, and then spoke for a while about the fear of God. The final section was let me tell you what he has done for me where I spoke of God's providence to me in birth, life, call, etc. I feared that it might discourage any who felt their lives had been more difficult or thought it was a bit "me" centred but people seemed to appreciate my efforts.  After the morning meeting there was a cake and a happy birthday song, which was lovely. There was also a present - a coffee machine, which I have surprisingly learned to use quite quickly - the church are so kind. In the evening we were joined by some of the team in London for UBM's Christian Answer Weekend. The base church is West Kilburn but some sleep in our parlour and a few make it along to our evening service before heading back to WKBC. Always nice to see them. It meant we had about 22 for the evening meeting. I preached on my favourite text 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Some new books

Midweek Meeting May 22 2019

I spent the evening of my birthday very happily leading the midweek meeting. There were 11 of us present. In light of the timing I thought I would take a break from James and look at my baptismal verse 2 Peter 3:13. That went well and we had a good prayer time too. We tried to pray for today's election but it is difficult to know what to pray.

10 People who died at the age of 60

1. David Livingstone (1873)
2. Theodore Roosevelt (1919)
3. Calvin Coolidge (1933)
4. Mahalia Jackson  (1972)
5. John Constable (1837)
6. Paul Klee (1940)
7. Leon Trotsky (1940)
8. Anne Bradstreet (1672)
9. John Chrysostom (407)
10. Keith Chegwin (2017)
(Also Stephen Jay Gould, Lev Yahsin and Syd Barret).

10 Fried chicken joints

Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana,
Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee
(no Kentucky for some reason)

Lord's Day May 19 2019

We were a good number again last Lord's Day. We used the upright piano which is on my left rather than the baby grand, which is apparently slightly out of tune. Some thought the upright a little quiet, but we got the lid up for the evening. Another great set of eight hymns. We have sung a lot lately for the first time and ut has been good, where the tunes have been well known. I preached in the morning on Acts 21. It was quite a long sermon on sharing and praising and persecution with a middle section on the whole question of what is a wise plan. I hope it was a blessing. In the evening it was communion followed, curiously by a sermon on the Last Supper. A Jewish man came in in the evening which is a rare event. He claimed to be more Buddhist than Jewish. In the morning a family was there who have been missing for a while and a Latvian lady who has been away. The Portuguese lady was missing but the Colombian was there yet again. The Pakistani lady turns out to be trying to deal with a crisis that has arisen due to her circumstances. I had a difficult day last Saturday somehow but God was very good, as he so often is.

Charles Bridges The Christian Ministry

It was good last Monday to meet wth the members of the Westminster Fellowship. Dr Ian Densham had been asked to present a paper on the 19th century Anglican minister Charles Bridge's The Christian Ministry. Like many present I last read it over thirty years ago but unlike others I have not had chance to re-read it more recently but it was good to be reminded of its contents. It can be found easily enough online or in print. One anomaly that Ian discovered is that the Banner version (the one most of us are familiar with) lacks the final sections of the whole work

Some quotations
This sacred office is administered by agents, Divinely-called through the medium of lawful authority, and entrusted with the most responsible and enriching blessing; rendering the highest possible service to their fellow men, because that most nearly connected with the glory of the Saviour.
As to spiritual qualifications, we would be careful neither to lower, exceed, or deviate from, the Scriptural standard.
It is not easy to overcome our natural love of ease, our indisposition to self-denying devotedness, and our false tenderness in flinching from the declaration of unpalatable truths.
When we see the most "able Minister of the New Testament" that the Church has ever known, deeply penetrated, and indeed well-nigh overwhelmed, with the sense of the "necessity laid upon him" — we may well be ashamed, that with qualifications far inferior, our sense of obligation should be less accurate and constraining.”  
Except we realise a high estimation of the Church, the constraining influence of the Saviour's love, and the upholding prop of Almighty grace, what is there to preserve us from sinking in despondency?
Covetousness is far more specious than worldly conformity. It has much to plead under the cover of necessity, justice, prudence, and economy.
In the Church he " transforms himself into an angel of light" — exhibiting either the attractive idol of self-righteousness — or that most inveterate form of antichrist — the dependence on the profession of a pure doctrine.
What a large share of humility, what unceasing supply of Divine grace, is needed to resist a temptation, that falls in so powerfully with the selfish principle of the natural heart!
No one attains remarkable eminence or success, without a resolute and habitual self-denial in subordinating every secondary point to the primary object.
The kindness of the world is far more formidable than its enmity. Many, who were prepared to stem the torrent of its opposition, have yielded with compromising indulgence to its paralysing kindness.
The contempt also of the Sabbath — the predominant character of pleasure, dissipation, and the general inattention or opposition to religion in the heads of the parish — too often present a hostile front to our course of effort and instruction
Thus our whole course is a struggle against the mighty current of sin — flowing out of that restless bias of the natural heart, which upon the highest authority is declared to be "enmity against God."
The Church is the mirror, that reflects the whole effulgence of the Divine character. It is the grand scene, in which the perfections of Jehovah are displayed to the universe.
If a young man has capacity; culture and application may make him a scholar, a philosopher, or an orator; but a true Minister must have certain principles, motives, feelings, and aims, which no industry or endeavours of men can either acquire or communicate. They must be given from above, or they cannot be received.
Thus discouragements, properly sustained and carefully improved, become our most fruitful sources of eventual encouragement while love to our work bears us on above all our difficulties.
The revelations made to the Church — the successive grand events in her history — and, above all  the manifestation of "the glory of God in the Person of Jesus Christ" — furnish even to the heavenly intelligences fresh subjects of adoring contemplation.
the Divine call to this sacred office will be evidenced by a supply of competent qualifications for its discharge.
In considering "the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus," we witness a most harmonious combination of seemingly opposite characteristics. The Ministry of our Lord was distinguished by the dignity of God, and the sympathy of a man and a brother — by the authority of the commissioned delegate of his Father, and yet by the humility of a servant, who " came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.

Ps I'm speaking at the next Westminster Fellowship on July 1 on Proverbs

Day Off Week 20

I decided to spend the day trying to complete a history of the local church here that I am trying to write. Still not sure if that is enough of a break. I did get out with the dog, of course, and had a coffee. I also watched some back to back to TV with Eleri until quite late.

In Writing 133 Now available

The latest copy of the Evangelical Library's In writing magazine is now available. It is free to members and costs £1.50 to buy. Do note the back cover

Blog Link for Old fashioned humour

I was reading some William Jay recently and came across these unexpected qotations to be found on one of my many blogs here . Enjoy! 

Lord's Day May 12 2019

Late with this but we had a good day on Sunday with around 40 in the morning and about 15 in the evening. In the morning I preached again from Acts - five snapshots from ancient times. I should have made more, perhaps of Paul's willingness not only to suffer but to die if necessary for Christ. We had tea at 5 pm - a decent crowd despite many being away. For a combination of reasons we decided to wheel the upright piano from the parlour to the chapel and used that instead of our struggling baby grand. One advantage is that the upright and the PA ended up on my left hand side, where as normally we need one person on the PA to my far left and one person on piano to my far right which spread out what is usually a pretty thin congregation. This way we ended up with all 15 or so present on 24 chairs to my left. I also moved the communion table from where I preach across. We'll see how it goes. One thing I noticed that I might not have otherwise was how female we are in the evening these days. Only 20% of the congregation was male. Enjpyed the hymns today as ever. We sang another two resurrection ones and one or two we'd not sung before again. People misisng as ever. Where are they?

Preview Meeting May 12 2019

Midweek Meeting May 8 2019

We were a good number last Wednesday. We looked at the second part of James 3 on two sorts of wisdom. Now we've moved to a more interactive style of presentation it was hard to keep that up. The text didn't lend itslef to that approach. We had planty of time for prayer. I think may be we are starting a little later each week.

Day Off Week 19 2019

One of the many things in ministerial life hard to judge is what to do with Bank Holidays. Bank holidays are there for us all but if you take  holiday nothing gets done. Anyway, ever inconsistent the other week I took the bank holiday and my day off the next day - I was jet lagged - but this time I counted the bank holiday as my day off. This was partly because I was in London Seminary all day Tuesday (and a little of Wednesday too). Anyway one of my sons and his wife were still round and so we met up with my father-in-law and his wife in nearby Chiswick Park for a little walk and a nice al fresco lunch. Not the warmest of days it was a lovely three generational get together that we all enjoyed and were refreshed by.

Lord's Day May 5 2019

This last Lord's Day was an encouraging one. An Indian gentleman contacted me the day before. He was in London on business and was catching a plane back to the US that afternoon but wanted to enjoy some fellowship before departing. Born in Kenya and brought up in Nigeria, he had spent some time in the Kilpauk Baptist Church in South India, before moving to live in Fremont, California, where he attends a Reformed Baptist church - I assume it is this one here although I may have that wrong. He joined us for communion and most of the morning service. I was preaching from Acts again on the Christian ministry. After the morning a lady asked me about membership and baptism. At least two others are considering so that is good. In the evening we had the son of one of my deacons visiting with his wife and a local lady from Namibia who we had not met before. One of my sons was visiting also with his wife at both services, so we were 14 or 15 in the evening. I looked at Matthew 26:1-5, sometimes forgotten verses. I was pleased to discover on the Sunday afternoon that the way I planned to preach these verses had been done before (by a man called J A MacDonald who I know nothing about).

Death of Warren Wiersbe 1929-2019

We hear that the prolific Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe has died aged 89. Some years ago Gary Benfold gave this helpful quote from the commentary on 1 Peter, Be hopeful.

This miracle [the new birth] all began with God: we were chosen by the Father (Eph. 1:3-4). This took place in the deep counsels of eternity, and we knew nothing about it until it was revealed to us in the Word of God. This election was not based on anything we had done, because we were not even on the scene. Nor was it based on anything God saw that we would be or do. God's election was based wholly on His grace and love. We cannot explain it (Rom. 11:33-36), but we can rejoice in it. 'Foreknowledge' does not suggest that God merely knew ahead of time that we would believe, and therefore He chose us. This would raise the question.'Who or what made us decide for Christ?' and would take our salvation completely out of God's hands. In the Bible, 'to foreknow' means 'to set one's love upon a person or persons in a personal way.' It is used this way in Amos 3:2: 'You only have I known of all the families of the earth.' God set His electing love on the nation of Israel. Other verses that use 'know' in this special sense are 1 Corinthians 8:3, John 10:14, 27; Matthew 7:23; and Psalm 1:6. But the plan of salvation includes more than the Father's electing love; it also includes the work of the Spirit in convicting the sinner and bringing him to faith in Christ. The best commentary on this is 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14. Also, the Son of God had to die on the cross for our sins, or there could be no salvation. We have been chosen by the Father, purchased by the Son, and set apart by the Spirit. It takes all three if there is to be a true experience of salvation.

Preview Meeting May 5 2019

Midweek Meeting May 1 2019

Nine of us gathered to look at the tongue in James 3. A few missing then. We looked at the first twelve verses. These are pretty easy verses to understand due to the excess of illustation James uses. Very convicting, however, as we see how impossible it is to keep our tongues from sin. As usual we spent time in prayer also.

Two more

Route 66

One delight of the recent trip to America was to find ourselves on the historic Route 66 at one point. The route took you all the way from Los Angeles to Chicago. It was made famous ina  ong recorded by Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, etc.

Day off Week 18 2019

The way it turned out this week I took Monday off, the more traditional day for ministers. What happened was that someone agreed to paint our front room (a long overdue job) and so Eleri and I spent much of Monday clearing the room so be could start on Tuesday. We also watched a bit of TV in the evening. Not much reading done.

Lord's day April 28 2019

So the final Sunday of the month saw us looking again at Acts and Matthew 25. In the morning it was the interesting story of Eutychus who fell out of the window and in the evening the sobering parable of the sheep and the goats. In the morning one of my deacons gave another talk on John Paton, which was good but slightly long After the morning service we sang happy birthday to one of our members who recently turned 50. Spurgeon says somewhere that he gave up counting numbers years ago. I haven't and so in the evening service the change from there being eight of us, as there were at the start, to that of there being thirteen of us was slightly traumatic.

Freak Alley, Boise

With my boys in Boise

Still processing the America Trip.
This one goes with "with my nieces in Nice" from way back. See here.