The similar phrase 'Worldly Christianity' is one used by Bonhoeffer. 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.

EMA Day 3

At this time of the year I usually pop down to the Evangelical Ministry Assembly at St Helen's organised by the Proclamation Trust. I mostly enjoy being there because I don't know 90% of the people there even by sight (I guess they are Anglicans and others in the mixed denominations). If they are willing to listen to the sort of things you get there then there's more of us than I tend to think there are. Some things wind me up, of course, like the fact the bookstall never stocks my books; the saxophone and the poor drum fills; the parochialness of some of it; the accents now and again; the in jokes I don't get.
I was only able to be present for the final less well attended day this year. There were four sessions of varying quality. One surprising but encouraging thing was that Dr Lloyd-Jones got a (may be unprecedented) positive mention in the first two. It was wonderful to hear people at last saying that preaching is more than simply explaining the text. I have noticed this trend and trust this is a sign of growing maturity.
Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York, is always worth listening to - warm, practical, original, well thought through. (More here). Others spoke highly of his two previous messages although his failure to understand the British scene was noted. His subject on the Friday was 'What is an evangelical ministry?'. He spoke (counter-intuitively) first about the practice then the principles.
Practically, preaching is central in the overall ministry, doxological in its end and Christocentric in its content. More generally, one needs to keep working on evangelism, discipleship, social justice and the integration of your members' faith and work.
His three principles were that the ministry must reflect the balance of God's wrath and love as seen in the cross; it should reflect that contextual balance seen in the incarnation and, thirdly, it should be based more on grace than gifts. This last point was the best and much appreciated by everyone I spoke to. We all know that godliness is more important than gifts in the ministry, however, Keller actually argued the case, which I've never heard done before. His main point was that no-one is going to be brilliant at every aspect of ministry, the only hope then is that you are at least godly. Without that you are sunk. You are an accident waiting to happen. I'm afraid I could identify very much with that and knew exactly what he was talking about. It was a timely reminder of the need for re-ordered priorities.
After such a blistering start it was difficult to sustain that but Vaughan Roberts didn't do too badly with his second survey of Daniel (covering the much more difficult Chapter 7ff). He chimed in well with what Keller had been saying. It's difficult to say anything useful in such brief compass but I'm sure younger men will have been helped.
Over lunch I bought some books, chatted, ate and listened to men from Delhi, Accra and Havana being interviewed.
The patriarch Dick Lucas did the last session (on Philippians again). Every movement needs its older men and Dick always says something useful. At the beginning he remarked in passing that men sometimes try to put too much in their sermons - that's worth chewing on. I'm afraid I was rather distracted after that. He was still banging on about the horrors of the Keswick movement as I began to drift. At least he kept to time.
In between these two was a sort of question time when Keller, Roberts and Richard Cunningham who had spoken the day before were asked about various things not very much related to their subjects but more on what they were doing. Cunningham was asked about the fall out between Spring Harvest and Word Alive ( a rapprochement originally broached many years before by Roy Clements) over Steve Chalke leading to a separate Word Alive this year, which was eagerly being plugged. (They have Don Carson, John Piper and Terry Virgo (!) speaking).
It is at this point that I get completely lost. Cunningham goes to an Anglican church and so, like Chalke and many more there is up to his neck in the mixed denominations. Last April I believe there was a conference that took place in April in Cambridge. An advert says -
A number of ministers from Great Britain and Australia will be on the program, including Wright and McGrath; David Jackman of Proclamation Trust; Steve Chalke, founder of the Oasis Trust and senior pastor of Christ Church, London; and Gordon Moyes of Wesley Mission, the largest evangelical congregation in Australia. See here.
I know it's difficult but at least you can see what some men are aiming at. Anyway I don't want to end negatively the conference did me good and I plan to go again as the more you listen the better you understand. More info here.

How not to use powerpoint

The Somme

This week is the 91st anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. I believe that my grandfather, William Brady, fought in that momentous battle, which few survived. He was from Newport. He was conscripted not a volunteer. He was in the lifeguards.

Words from my childhood

Today I chiefly speak standard English but as a child growing up in South Wales I spoke a variant of what is sometimes known as Wenglish (ie English but with some influence from the Welsh language). We were not valleys Welsh so we spoke little real Wenglish but we heard it and spoke a little too. Most of the words below are in Wenglish dictionaries but not all. See here and here for more on that. Here is a list of words I was familiar with as a child but now rarely hear or use. In two cases I have used a Welsh 'w' which has a sort of 'ou' sound.

1. Cwpi down - to squat (cwpi down by 'ere a bit while we wait)
[We had a teacher in Secondary School called 'twti' presumably because, coming from elsewhere in Wales, he asked boys to twti down rather than cwpi down]
2. Scram - scratch (I'll scram yer eyes out you come near me)
3. Wisp - a stye (I think I've gorra wisp coming in me eye)
4. Daps - plimsolls (Miss said we've gorra bring daps today for PE)
5. Scag - snag (I just scagged my jumper)
6. Obstropolous - Obstrepereous (She was an obstropolous type, always causing trouble)
7. Ashcart - Refuse lorry (You'll end up working on the ashcarts if you don't buck up yer ideas)
8. Cwtch -To be fondled and snuggled up in an especially loving way (Come and have a cwtch with yer mam/dad)
9. Caibosh - messed up (That's put the caibosh on that then)
10. Dobber - ballbearing used as a marble ('E lost 'is 10-er dobber to a kid in Standard 4)
11. Conflab - long discussion or meeting (Come up about 11 and we'll have a good old conflab)
12. Ructions - big trouble (There'll be ructions if your father sees it like that)

13. Skewiff - Awry not straight (You've stuck it in the album all skewiff)
14. Tampin' - Angry ('E 'ad it on 'im, aye, when 'e realised. 'E was tampin')
15. Parched - Gasping for a cup of tea (Get that kettle on love, I'm parched)
16. Jibbons - spring onions (My dad used to like jibbons with his salad)

10 words beginning with 'Z'

A random list of words beginning with Z

1. Zabaglione - A dessert or sauce consisting of egg yolks, sugar and wine or liqueur beaten until thick and served hot or cold. Also called sabayon.
2. Zenana (or Zanana) - The part of a house in Asian countries such as India and Pakistan reserved for the women of the household.
3. Zebu - A domesticated ox (Bos indicus) of Asia and eastern Africa, having a prominent hump on the back and a large dewlap.
4. Zillion - An indeterminately huge number.
5. Zinger - A. A witty, often caustic remark. B. A sudden shock, revelation, or turn of events.
6. Zit - Slang A pimple (origin unknown).
7. Zori - A flat sandal with thongs, usually made of straw or leather (Japanese from Chinese).
8. Zounds - Interjection used to express anger, surprise or indignation (From God's wounds).
9. Zwinglian - Of or relating to Ulrich Zwingli or to his theological system, especially his doctrine that the physical body of Jesus is not present in the Eucharist and that the ceremony is merely a symbolic commemoration of Jesus's death.
10. Zygote - A. The cell formed by the union of two gametes, especially a fertilized ovum before cleavage. B. The organism that develops from a zygote.


This is a haiku
To say 'I don't like you' -
Please, rain, go away!

Weekly Proverb 17

25:11 A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver
Picture: golden jewels offset by a silver surround. They look very attractive.
This verse exemplifies its own desideratum. Kings often have to give speeches. We all have to speak to an audience at times. Eloquence and rhetoric are often despised today but we ought not to underestimate the power of attractively spoken and fitting words. Sometimes even a very few words are fondly remembered long after the event. Think of some of the sermons you have heard or words of counsel you have received. I remember someone once saying that it is important in a depression not to do too much thinking. What a help that little gem has been. We trust that similar gems will be found in the settings of silver we have sought to create for them on this blog. Recognise the beauty of Scripture. Endeavour yourself both to be winning in the way you speak and to speak the right word at the right time.
John Kitto wants us to understand citrons rather than apples here and like others sees them as golden fruits in a silver basket. He draws attention to the apples of gold found in the writings of the Puritan Thomas Brooks. He refers to a volume of Brooks’ sayings produced under that title. He urges us to place them in the silver baskets of our minds. Here are two for you ‘Now is an atom that will puzzle the wisdom of a philosopher, the skill of an angel, to divide.’ ‘Two things make good Christians: good actions and good aims; and though a good aim does not make a bad action good (as in Uzzah), yet a bad aim makes a good action bad (as in Jehu).’
This proverb acts as an introduction to the six that follow, also on speech.

Barefoot in Mullyneeny

I caught a brilliant short story on the radio a little while ago called 'The white horse' (or was it 'Coping the lea'?). It was read in a beautiful Irish accent and was a magical bit of nostalgic and evocative reminiscing. More recently I came across this collection of 48 short stories and realised straight away that it was the source of the story I'd heard. Actually it says on the cover 'As heard on Radio 4's Home truths'. I have a soft spot for things Irish (must be in the genes somewhere) but whatever your background this is simply a well written collection of sometimes slight and sometimes more substantive material by amaster story teller who has worked hard on his material and who has a gift for observation and what makes people tick. The back story of Catholic Ulster in the forties and fifties is desperately tragic and wone is bound to be moved. I'm loathe to pick out one but if you read 'Noreen Bawn' about a girl he once saw who lost her innocence in England and are not moved you're made of stone. You can hear 'Coping the lea' here and four others.

10 words beginning with 'X'

With the youngsters on Fridays we do 'Alphabets' at the beginning (ie Boys names, etc). When we come to 'Y' I always say 'Why do we do this?' and when we come to 'X' we usually try and get X-ray or Xylophone in somehow. According to Johnson there are no English words beginning with 'X' although even in his time there were some he could have included. Alphabet books for children frequently feature the word xylophone because it is one of the few words beginning with x that a child (or most adults, for that matter) would know. The majority of English words beginning with x, including many obscure scientific terms, are of Greek origin, the x, pronounced (z), representing the Greek letter xi. In the case of xylophone, xylo- is a form meaning "wood," derived from Greek xulon, "wood," and -phone represents Greek phone, "voice, sound," the same element found in words such as telephone, microphone and megaphone. Xylophone is first recorded in the April 7, 1866, edition of the Athenaeum: "A prodigy ... who does wonderful things with little drumsticks on a machine of wooden keys, called the 'xylophone.'"
Here is a random list of 10 'X' words.
1. Xanthum gum - A natural gum of high molecular weight produced by culture fermentation of glucose and used as a stabilizer in commercial food preparation. Named for its yellow colour.
2. Xenogam - Cross pollination (not marrying a foreigner)
3. Xerography - A dry photographic or photocopying process in which a negative image formed by a resinous powder on an electrically charged plate is electrically transferred to and thermally fixed as positive on a paper or other copying surface.
4. Xiphoid - A. Shaped like a sword. B. Of or relating to the xiphisternum (part of the sternum).
5. X-ray star - A celestial object, especially a star, that emits a major portion of its radiation in x-rays.
6. Xylene - A. Any of three flammable isomeric hydrocarbons, C6H4(CH3)2, obtained from wood and coal tar. B. A mixture of xylene isomers used as a solvent in making lacquers and rubber cement and as an aviation fuel.
7. Xylitol - A sweet white crystalline alcohol, C5H12O5, derived from xylose and used especially as a sugar substitute in oral health products.
8. Xylophagous - A. Feeding on wood, as certain insects or insect larvae. B. Destructive to wood, as certain crustaceans or fungi.
9. Xylophone - See above.
10. XYZ - Informal Used to indicate to someone that the zipper of his or her trousers/pants is open. (eXamine Your Zipper). The joke here is also that the XYZ company make zippers.

Dr Johnson's Dictionary

I've just finished Henry Hitchings' excellent 2005 book on Samuel Johnson and his dictionary. Hitchings has PD on Johnson so knows his stuff. He manages to present the material in an interesting and informative way and I would recommend the book to anyone with an interest in English language, literature or history. He sets out his chapters in a clever A-Z fashion that does not intrude but enhances the experience. W should all know at least something about Dr Johnson and his dictionary.

Short Poem 24

I believe I first came across this poem in a Banner of Truth workbook on the Shorter Catechism. E A Robinson (1869-1935) was an American poet who won three Pulitzer prizes. Many of his poems, it seems, have a dark pessimism. It is speculated that the Cory poem is about his brother. More here. Apparently the poem was made famous by Simon & Garfunkel, although their version seems quite different.
Richard Cory by Edward Arlington Robinson

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favoured, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich - yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Archive 7d Assistant Pastor

What can be expected?
· Assistants must expect temptations. Three obvious examples come to mind.
Pride. We quoted Jeremiah 45:5 Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. It is unclear exactly why Jeremiah spoke to Baruch as he did and what the great things are. No doubt having been so closely associated with the great prophet and reading his words to kings and princes it was tempting for Baruch to be proud. There is a temptation for an assistant to imagine that anything his teacher achieves is his achievement. I remember once hearing that a certain man had been Dr Lloyd-Jones assistant - suddenly he shot up in my estimation. However, it does not automatically follow that because a man has served as a great preacher's assistant he is a great preacher himself. Nothing will be gained by osmosis. Being appointed assistant pastor does not mean a man has 'arrived'. None of us has arrived - pastors, assistant pastors, people. We all need to humble ourselves daily.
Discouragement and fear. No doubt the reason Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas was because he was discouraged and fearful. Such emotions can come in very easily. We must all pray against them.
Coveting. Think of Gehazi for a moment who out of greed tried to get something by deceiving others. It is worth saying that although few assistants are paid much it may be more than they have had before. Such things must not steal their hearts. Again, we all need to take warning.
· Assistants either prove themselves or fail. What happened with Mark was a tragedy and it stands as a warning that there's no guarantee that everything's bound to work out fine. It may not. A work can suffer a real set back. On the other hand, think of those wonderful words in Php 2:22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself …. The best end is for a man to prove himself to be a preacher and pastor who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).
· People may disagree on their success. Of course, at the end of an assistantship there may be disagreement over how successful the exercise has been. If godly men like Paul and Barnabas could disagree so sharply on their opinion of a man it should not surprise us when such things happen to us. We pray against division but to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
· Failure here though undesirable is not the story's end. Perhaps we should make the point finally that failure in an assistantship is not necessarily an unmitigated disaster. John Mark's story convinces us that failure to live up to early promise does not mean an end to all future usefulness. John Mark went on, do not forget, not only to write his Gospel but also to be Paul's fellow-worker and comfort and one who was helpful to him.
· What follows an assistantship cannot be determined for certain. Lastly, note that though men like John Mark and Timothy certainly did go on to great things, as did Joshua and Elijah, with Erastus and Baruch we know almost nothing about what happened subsequently. In everything, we are in God's hands. He does as he pleases. We must not forget that.

"Drummers too"

"Guitarists on their way out"


Listening to the news this morning I heard that the Arctic Monkeys went down well at Glastonbury (clearly important national news) and included a version of Diamonds Are Forever in their set - a tribute to Shirley Bassey, who, it said, is also due to appear. I've checked this out and indeed 'the spangle-clad septuagenarian will perform her most unlikely gig yet: sandwiched between James Morrison and the Manic Street Preachers on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury'. She is in "the living legend slot". I think we can safely put this under the heading post-modern. It is typical of the way the wackiest institutions slowly get tamed and end up repeating all the showbiz cliches. I mean Shirley Bassey is what my parents generation listened to. What goes round comes round, I suppose.


I was just checking out Thomas Gray's Elegy written in a country churchyard here. (It's too long for the short poem series). The page was headed with two ads - one for headstone cleaning and one for equestrian supplies (The ploughman homeward plods his weary way). Nothing for bells (The curfew tolls the knell of parting day) or veteruinary services (The moping owl does to the moon complain). I suppose they are longshots but worth trying. Any other good examples out there?

Archive 7c Assistant Pastor

How is one appointed?
· With a measure of informality. It is clear this is so from the way Mark and Timothy were appointed. Even the appointment of Elisha is a very private thing. It is interesting that although the appointment of Paul and Barnabas was done with fasting and prayer and the laying on of hands the decision to take Mark was quite different. The laying on of hands should not normally accompany the appointment of an assistant. He may attend church officers meetings but he would not be made an elder.
· But with great care. Informality should not suggest lack of care. Do not appoint just anyone. John Mark was well known to Barnabas and had grown up at the heart of the church. He undoubtedly showed qualities that drew Barnabas and Paul to him. We read of Timothy (Acts 16:2) that The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. No doubt their recommendation was important in commending Timothy to Paul.

What does it take?
Obviously, as in any spiritual work, one looks for someone who is godly. He also has to have certain skills of leadership and initiative. There is also the need for a measure of courage and self-sacrifice. John Mark showed a certain amount of character in being willing first to leave his family and friends in Jerusalem for Antioch and then to leave for Cyprus with Paul and Barnabas at the start of the first missionary journey. Sea travel in those days was perilous and Mark cannot have known what he was going to meet with. Sadly, when they reached Pamphylia, however, he was just not up to it and returned home, much to Paul's sadness. Timothy showed a similar courage in being willing to leave his home and loved ones in Lystra. This included undergoing the painful operation of circumcision for the sake of the gospel. He showed even more courage when later Paul began to send him on trips on his behalf such as that into Macedonia (Acts 19:22). We sometimes think of Timothy as Timid Timothy but I think we will find that was not his temperament after all. Being a 21st Century assistant pastor in the west probably does not demand the same level of self-sacrifice and courage as being a 1st Century assistant apostle but it does call for such things. Pray for such people.

What does he do?
Bearing in mind the above data I think that we can list some three possible roles that we can expect an assistant pastor to fulfil.
· Apprentice. In Php 2:22 Paul refers to Timothy and says as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. In days gone by it was the pattern far more than now for sons to follow the same trade as their fathers. Conveniently this meant they learned their trade directly from their own fathers. No doubt Jesus learned from his earthly father Joseph in just this way, serving an apprenticeship in the little workshop next to the house in Nazareth. Paul refers to him elsewhere as his true son in the faith and here he seems to have in mind the apprenticeship idea. It was an apprenticeship in the work of the gospel. We do not know how long Timothy's apprenticeship lasted but in that time he had opportunity to observe Paul and learn from him what preaching and ministering the gospel was all about. Apprenticeships can be of varying lengths. A year is rather short, five years rather long. Perhaps three years is best. Whether the minister is old enough to be his assistant's father or not that is the sort of relationship that should be cultivated in the Lord. They are to be master and apprentice, teacher and student, father and son. The role is very much a learning one.
· Helper. Elisha is referred to as Elijah's attendant and John Mark, Timothy and Erastus are spoken of in similar but different terms. Clearly these men were involved in a certain amount of labour on behalf of those who they were under, though we have no details of what they did. We make jokes about apprentices brewing cups of tea and assistants carrying the minister's bag and so on and certainly we do not want to suggest that an assistant is to act as a skivvy to the minister. However, there is bound to be a certain amount of menial work - work for the minister. Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.
The idea of help also emphasises that the assistant's role is not to do anything hugely different to what the pastor does. Rather, his role is to supplement and strengthen, to assist and augment what is already being done - preaching and teaching, counselling and evangelising. This is to be done not in competition with the minister but in order to develop and extend what he has already begun. The assistant is to be a loyal supporter of what the minister is trying to do, making up for him, perhaps, in areas where he is less strong or too busy with other things.
· Deputy. There were clearly times when at least some of the men we mention acted as deputies for those they served. We mentioned how at one time a lack of consecrated priests meant a need for more Levites than would otherwise have been necessary. There are times when assistant pastors act in a stopgap role. If the minister falls ill it is to the assistant that the church officers will probably turn first to carry on the work. Again, it is clear that when Paul sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia it was because he himself could not leave Ephesus. For the same reason, along with others, Paul also later sent Timothy to Corinth. He wanted the Corinthians, he says, to imitate him. Unable to go himself he did the next best thing and sent Timothy. Clearly this takes time but Paul could say of Timothy (Php 2:23) I have no-one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. He was glad to have such a person as deputy.
One hears of instances where a minister sends his assistant to deputise and there are complaints - not because of any incompetence on the assistant's part but because 'it's not the minister'. Paul seeks to nip this attitude in the bud in 1 Cor 16:10, 11 If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No-one, then, should refuse to accept him. Send him on his way in peace …. Congregations and others need to know that if an assistant deputises for the minister they should make him feel quite at home with them for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as the minister. No-one, then, should refuse to accept him.
To sum up, an assistant does very much the things that the minister does, though hopefully with fresh insight and initiative. Sometimes he will do things with the minister, sometimes instead of him. All the while he is learning the ropes, training for his future work in pastoral ministry.

Favourite Puns 23

Philately gets you everywhere

Check This

There is a fine interview over at Exiled Preacher here with Andrew Roycroft, a very good friend of this blog. Andrew reveals that this blog is his first port of call on his blog trips. Thanks Andrew. We are flattered.

Archive 7b Assistant Pastor

Is the idea biblical? Specific Old Testament models
As for more specific examples of men in a role like that of assistant pastor, two or three again come to mind. There were no pastors as such in those days but they had leaders. The key ones were Moses and Elijah. Both had assistants who later lead God's people themselves.
· Joshua. In Exodus we learn that Moses' successor started off as his assistant (24:13, 33:11 young assistant). Num 11:28 refers to Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses' assistant since youth.
· Elisha. In 1 Kgs 19:19-21 we read how the prophet Elijah found Elisha son of Shaphat … ploughing with 12 yoke of oxen …. He went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha said goodbye to his parents and took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them then burned the ploughing equipment to cook the meat. He gave it to the people to eat then set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant. Elisha also had a servant, Gehazi. His relationship to his master may have been similar to Elisha's to Elijah. Sadly, his greed led him astray for which he was punished.
· Baruch. Another possible model is Baruch who served the prophet Jeremiah as a scribe, writing out some of his prophecies and on occasions reading them out. At the fall of Jerusalem Jeremiah said to him (45:5) Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.
Is the idea biblical? Specific New Testament models
In the New Testament we have no examples of assistant pastors as such but we do have three examples of assistant apostles.
· John Mark. In Acts 13 we read how, led by the Spirit, the church at Antioch set apart two leaders, Paul and Barnabas, for missionary work. In verse 5 we read John was with them as their helper or servant. John Mark was Barnabas's cousin. He grew up in Jerusalem and it was in his mother's house that the early church met. This childhood home was probably where the upper room was, scene of the last supper. When Paul and Barnabas came with a gift to Jerusalem he was invited to join them, accompanying them to Antioch. Sadly, on the first missionary journey, after the period in Cyprus and at the beginning of their journey into the interior of Asia Minor Mark left the apostles. This eventually caused a division between Paul and Barnabas as when they began planning the second missionary journey two years later (15:37-39) Paul did not think it wise … to take Mark because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. Happily, we know that Paul later had a better opinion of him. In Col 4:10 he sends greetings from my fellow-prisoner Aristarchus and from Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. He adds (11) referring to Mark and others These are the only Jews among my fellow-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. In 2 Tim 4:11 he writes
Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
· Timothy. It appears that Timothy was from the backwater of Lystra in Lycaonia, part of the Province of Galatia (today central Turkey), a wild and mountainous district. Shortly after Mark had left them Paul and Barnabas came to Lystra and Timothy appears to have been converted through Paul's preaching then, when still pretty young (early twenties?). We also know that he was brought up in the faith. In 1 Tim 1:5 Paul refers to his sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice. They were probably also converted through Paul. We know Timothy's father, however, was a Greek and not a believer, though not necessarily hostile to the faith. It was on Paul's return journey to Lystra that he decided on Timothy as a replacement for young John Mark. Because he would be preaching chiefly in synagogues on the journey Paul decided to have Timothy circumcised. They all knew that Timothy's father was a Greek and so could accuse Paul of consorting with a heretic. It was better, therefore, to have that objection removed. Circumcision is something indifferent - it can't affect salvation but like anything indifferent it can interfere with the gospel so Timothy was circumcised. It cannot have been pleasant for him but he willingly bore it. He was willing too to leave family and friends and the scenes of his upbringing to go who knew where. He knew his journey probably meant persecution and trouble (he had seen Paul nearly stoned to death by his fellow Lystrans) but he was willing to go for the sake of Christ.
· Erastus. In Acts 19:22 we read that Paul sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia (at Ephesus) a little longer. We know almost nothing about Erastus. He is mentioned in 1 Tim 4:20. It is possibly the same Erastus as the one in Rom 16:23 referred to as the city's director of public works (ie of Corinth). No doubt there were many faithful workers in New Testament days about whom we know nothing or very little. They were faithful nevertheless.

Bio 09c Nehemiah Wallington

Based on the ODNB article on Wallington by P S Seaver, who also has a book on Wallington. See here.

Wallington, Nehemiah (1598–1658), turner and diarist, born May 12 1598 in the parish of St Leonard Eastcheap, London, tenth of 12 children, fourth son of John Wallington, citizen and turner (1552/3–1638) and Elizabeth (1562/3–1603), daughter of Anthony Hall, citizen and skinner and Jane. Following Elizabeth's death John Wallington married Joan Hinde, a widow with two children. Following her death (1605) he married his third wife, Alice Harrison (d 1634), also a widow with two children and mother of Patience, Nehemiah's half-sister.

Wallington was never apprenticed but set up shop as a turner after admission to the Turners' Company, by patrimony (May 18, 1620). Within a year he had married Grace Rampaigne; sister of Livewell Rampaigne, minister of Burton then Broxholme, whose letters of comfort Nehemiah preserved and whose widow, Sarah, and her two children lived with the Wallingtons from 1635 until her death (1654) and of Zachariah Rampaigne, planter in Ireland killed during the rising of 1641, whose son Charles was taken in by the Wallingtons and served as Nehemiah's apprentice until his freedom, 1655.

Wallington's freedom as a turner and his marriage followed two years of mental breakdown, during which, doubting of his salvation, he had made a number of suicide attempts, complicated by his desire to protect his father and the puritan community from the disgrace of such an ungodly act, and had first begun to write. His work, initially a record of his sins and God's mercies, was abandoned in 1620 when he began ‘A record of God's mercies, or, A thankful remembrance’, part diary, part commonplace book, which he continued intermittently well into the 1630s. A combination of work and family responsibilities apparently prevented any further breakdown. Wallington was sustained by the friendship and counsel of Henry Roborough, young curate and lecturer at St Leonard Eastcheap, by the steady common sense and strength of Grace, and perhaps by the discipline of writing. He also received a loan from the Turners' Company. However, the death of his first child, Elizabeth, 1625, led to a fresh crisis, during which Wallington confessed that he forgot all his ‘purposes, promises and covenants’ with God and was inconsolable until reminded by Grace that their daughter had gone ‘home to her husband Christ Jesus’ (‘A record of God's mercies’, Guildhall Library, MS 204, p 409). Their son John died six months after Elizabeth, their second son, Nehemiah, 1627, and their last, Samuel, born 1630, died October 1632. Only their daughter Sarah, born 1627, survived to adulthood to marry (July 20 1647), a young godly turner, John Houghton.

Unlike his father and elder brother John, both liverymen, serving their turn as masters, Wallington never left the yeomanry of the Turners' Company. Though he apparently worked steadily at his craft he had no head for business, as he confessed more than once, and struggled all his life to find a balance between the demands of his calling as a turner and the more compelling demands of his calling as a Christian. He regularly rose in the small hours to write before private prayer in his closet and prayers with his household. He admitted to spending too much on books, particularly on news-sheets during the 1640s, and had a library of more than 200 works, beginning with William Gouge's Of Domestical Duties, which he purchased soon after marrying. By 1654, when he compiled a catalogue of his writings, he listed 50 notebooks, ranging from his diary to memorials of God's judgements against sabbath breakers, commonplaces from scripture, and various puritan guides to the godly life, sermon notes, a volume of collected letters, a number of volumes detailing the mercies he had received, and a number of volumes of political news collected during the 1640s. Aside from a book called The Mighty Works of the Lord, which is a Prop to Faith, which he gave to his wife, and a book on patience, left to his half-sister Patience, he bequeathed all his notebooks to son-in-law, John Houghton. He had little else to leave and apparently made no will.

Wallington was in many respects the quintessential puritan, introspective, bookish, sermon-going, scrupulous in business relations, constantly struggling for even-tempered acceptance of life and of himself, which he believed should accompany assurance of election. He followed the fortunes of protestantism during the Thirty Years' War and those of parliament during the civil war. He served conscientiously as a lay elder in the fourth London classis from 1646 until his last years but his Presbyterianism was based on a desire for parish discipline, and his only quarrel with the protectorate was its failure to bring the godly reformation he had long prayed for. As he wrote, 1655, it was the toleration of ‘many strange, false forms of worship’, of ‘Sabbath profanation’, of ‘our cruel oppression of the poor’, and of ‘our impudent pride’ that he found profoundly disillusioning and that made him fear in his last years a dreadful punishment of his ‘rebellious City’ (‘A memorial of God's judgments upon sabbath breakers, drunkards and other vile livers’, BL, Sloane MS 1457, fols. 99r–101v). Wallington died in Eastcheap, August 1658.

Bio 09b Nehemiah Wallington

Here are two extracts from Nehemiah Wallington found on the net

One night I dreamed I was dead, and the day of Judgement was come and I was raised and stood betwixt heaven and hell, but whither I should go I knew not. Heaven I did see was a glorious place, and as it might be to my apprehension a very spacious large room, and there sat in the midst of it our Saviour Jesus Christ, [so] very glorious I cannot express it, and round about heaven sat all the saints that ever was. And on the left hand I saw hell, a large deformed place, only a kind of burning there, and the damned spirits facing one another. Then, thought I, Oh whither shall I go, and I thought I had one foot in heaven. One while I did think I should go into heaven, and another while I thought I should not, and Oh! that I would I were on the earth again, I would live better than ever I have done.

By reason that my son Samuel did not thrive but consumed and wasted after that he had the fits of the convulsions, we were counselled to put him forth to nurse into the country, and so we did send him to Peckham in January (1632). And on the 6 of October 1632 we heard our son Samuel was well, and I and my wife went to see him the Tuesday following, being the 9 day of October. And on the next Thursday at night word was brought that my son was very sick, and I went to see him the next morning betimes and one met me by the way and told me my son was dead. Then I returned back again with this heavy news, and we went to the burial of our sweet son Samuel on the 13 day of October being Saturday, which was a very wet day; and we went a mile and half from their house to his grave, and we were wet to the very skin, for it was a very wet and doleful day...

Bio 09a Nehemiah Wallington

The good folk at Amazon have recently informed me about a book called The Notebooks of Nehemiah Wallington, 1618-1654: A Selection by David Booy which comes out at the end of the month. See here. At £60 I can't see me buying it but Wallington looks an interesting character.
Nehemiah Wallington (1598-1658) was a simple and firmly Puritan member of the Turners Guild in London. In extraordinary compliance with the Puritan dictum to lead a disciplined and examined life, he filled a number of notebooks with personal memoirs, political observations, and religious advice. He lived in the area of St Leonard’s, Eastcheap, London. His notes go back as far as 1623, and occasionally refer to much earlier dates. Without family connections of a higher social order, he was, at the same time, bookish in his tastes and a great reader of tracts, which he constantly quotes. His miscellaneous chronicle notes all kinds of unusual sights and occurences, and remarkable judgments of God, as, for instance, upon those that break the Sabbath day. Public events he notes in the same strain; on the meeting of the Long Parliament, he recognises the flow of God’s mercies in the judgments done upon Strafford and Laud; the troubles in Ireland are brought home to him by the sufferings there of his wife’s brother Zechariah; and the memoranda end with the execution of the king, on which he comments: "Whatever may be unjust with men, God is righteous and just in whatever he doth."
I'll give some extracts in the following post.

Short Poem 23

You can read about Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) here. A Jesuit priest, his posthumous, 20th-century fame established him among the finest Victorian poets. His experimental explorations in prosody (especially in regard to sprung rhythm) and his lively use of imagery established him as both original and daring, an innovator in a period of largely traditional verse.
Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things -
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced - fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

6.3 Solomon's Prayer

Previous Chapter
2. The true basis for prayer – God’s faithfulness
This comes out in 1 Kings 3:6-8 where Solomon reflects on God’s goodness in the past. ‘You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David,’ he says ‘because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.’
Ebenezer! Up until now the Lord has been good. When in 3:8 Solomon says ‘Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number’ he is clearly alluding back to the promise made to Abraham right at the beginning (Gn 16:10). So Solomon is praising God for his great faithfulness. It also encourages him to pray boldly. It ought to encourage us too. None of God’s promises will ever fail. He is the faithful God.
‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.’ (2 Co 1:20)
When I was a boy one of my uncles used to enjoy playing with his nieces and nephews. He used to promise my cousin Kim that when he married she would be his bridesmaid. As it turned out, when he did marry she was not his bridesmaid and there was some resentment about that. On reflection, he should never have promised. Better not to make a promise than to break it. Now God is never like that. All his promises are yes and amen in Christ. Not one of them will ever fail. In the words of a children’s chorus

Jesus is a faithful friend,
One on whom you can depend.
He is faithful to the end.
Fix your eyes upon him.

3. The true concern of prayer – God’s people
There is something to learn here too from Solomon and his attitude. Look at 3:7-9. Solomon humbly acknowledges that God has made him king in place of his father David ‘But’ he says ‘I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.’ This is the situation (8,9) ‘Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?’
Solomon is not concerned at all about himself. His one great concern is the people of God and how to govern them. Now here is a good test. If I say to you what would you ask for if you were in Solomon’s position, what is your answer? It is difficult to answer the question honestly once you know the story but the question is, ‘Would your concern be chiefly for yourself or for the people of God?’ Ralph Davis says that when he asked his young son the question he had no hesitation. He wanted Astroturf!
I know that Solomon was in a particular position having been made king but the question is still worth pondering. Your chief concern ought to be not yourself or your own family but the people of God. That is something that the very order of the Lord’s Prayer teaches us. Are you concerned about your local church? Are you concerned about the needs of the people of God worldwide? Churches are being attacked and Christians persecuted in various places – are you concerned?

4. The true goal of prayer – God’s pleasure
Finally we focus on 3:10-14. Verse 10 is quite a wonderful verse really. I suppose it could have said something like ‘And the Lord did what Solomon asked’ or ‘granted his request’. That could sound like someone with a rubber stamp approving a planning application. In fact it says ‘The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.’ The Lord goes on to tell Solomon this – ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be, etc.’
Could there be a more perfect conclusion to a story? It is not so much that Solomon got what he asked for but rather that God was pleased with what he had asked for. That is what we should be aiming at in our prayers. Are we? There is a popular phrase that politicians apparently use. They say ‘I’m glad you asked me that question’. Sometimes it is a lie and they are not glad at all. They say it just to give themselves time to think of an answer. At other times it is genuine because they have the answer already to hand.
There is something pleasurable about being asked a question you know the answer to, is there not? I remember doing a history examination a long time ago and seeing the question I had prepared (on Henry VII’s foreign policy). I was glad to be asked and it was a pleasure to write that essay. The Bible is willing to talk about the Lord in very human terms at times and perhaps that gives us a glimpse into God’s pleasure. We should ask God for what pleases him. Let us seek that when we pray.

Archive 7a Assistant Pastor

If you google 'Assistant pastor' it will take you to the Banner of truth website and an article I wrote some years ago when we had our first assistant pastor, Robin Asgher. It begins thus -

Towards the end of his life the great 18th Century Baptist preacher John Gill became rather weak and unwell. It was suggested to him by his deacons that he might benefit from the help of an assistant pastor. He did not take kindly to the suggestion. 'I've read plenty in the Bible' he is reported to have said 'about pastors but I don't recall reading anything about assistant pastors'. It is true that you will not find the phrase 'assistant pastor' in the Bible.
There is plenty about pastors (shepherds). The elders or overseers of the churches were to look after their flocks like shepherds look after sheep. See Acts 20:28, Eph 4:11, 1 Pet 5:1-3 for example. Although there is no direct mention of assistant pastors we ought not to be too quick to assume that the Bible says nothing on the subject. Just because a word is absent from the Bible does not prove it says nothing about the subject. In his day Gill was a great defender of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, a doctrine very much under attack at the time. The word Trinity appears nowhere in Holy Writ; indeed it was not invented until some time later. But it was a word that Gill used because it sums up the Bible's teaching that God is one and yet three; a triune being; Father, Son and Holy Spirit - three equal persons but one God. 'God in three persons, blesséd trinity'. In a similar way, though the phrase assistant pastor is not in the Bible we have good reason to believe that nevertheless the idea certainly is. In this, as in everything, the Bible must nevertheless be our guide.

Is the idea biblical? General models
Certainly the idea of assistants or helpers is there. We have the idea both in general and in both the Old and New Testaments in the cases of certain individuals.
First we consider three general models. We take these from the spheres of family, state and church.
· A model from family government - wives. At the very beginning the idea of a helper is introduced with the description of how Adam was alone and needed a helper suitable for him. That is why God created Eve and this is the model for marriage. One of the strengths of families is that we are able to help one another.
· An example from civil government - officials. Then in Ex 18 we learn how Moses's father-in-law came to meet him and the Israelites in the desert. Seeing Moses' heavy workload he warned him that he was likely to wear himself and the people out and suggested that if it was God's will Moses should select capable men from all the people - men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain - and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. There would then be a structure in which easier cases could be dealt with by them so that Moses would need only to deal with difficult ones. And that is what was done. This principle goes on to this day in every well run state.
· An example from church government - Levites. Similarly, when the priestly system was introduced though the sons of Aaron were to do the main work the other Levites were to help (Num 3:6,7; 8:26; 18:3). In 2 Chron 29:34 we read how when there were too few priests to skin all the burnt offerings their kinsmen the Levites helped them until the task was finished and until other priests had been consecrated, for the Levites had been more conscientious in consecrating themselves than the priests had been. Temple servants (Ezra 8:20) are a further extension of this idea.

Favourite Puns 22

Feeling a little hoarse

Short Poem 22

This is a rather obvious choice but it is Blake's best poem.
Wikipedia article here.

The Tiger
by William Blake

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And What shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

F W Boreham

I recently came across this item from Michael Haykin here.
F. W. Boreham (1871-1959) has long been one of my favourite authors. I am not sure where I first encountered his writings. Most likely I came across them in what was then the library at Central Baptist Seminary,Toronto, the first school where I had full-time employment as a teacher. But I took an immediate liking to this author who was the final student C. H. Spurgeon ever accepted into his Pastor’s College. The books I first read were his unique topical sermons on Bible texts that he preached in Baptist Churches in New Zealand and Australia and that summed up the lives of various figures in church history. Boreham’s A Bunch of Everlastings (1920) and A Casket of Cameos (1924) are gems in this regard.
It was with great interest, then, that I picked up this slim study—F. W. Boreham, Lover of Life: F. W. Boreham’s Tribute to His Mentor (Eureka, California: John Broadbanks Publishing, 2007)—by Boreham on the man who was his mentor, Joseph John Doke (1861–1913). Doke was a Devonian from the West Country in England who came out to New Zealand when Boreham had just arrived at his first pastoral charge. The two became close friends and in the matrix of their friendship there was what proved to be a rich experience for Boreham, namely that of being mentored by Doke. It was Doke who helped make Boreham into a voracious reader when Boreham had come to recognize the limitations of his theological training. The solution Doke suggested was reading: “Read my dear man,” he once told Boreham, “Read; and read systematically; and keep on reading; never give up” (p. 8)!
It was also Doke who challenged Boreham to reflect deeply on how to walk with God. On one occasion, by role-playing, he helped Boreham learn how to minister to the sick and dying. As Geoff Pound states in the introduction, this small work is “a helpful vision of what a mentoring relationship might become” (p. x).
Though a frail man physically, Doke was cut from heroic cloth, as his later years well reveal when he helped Mahatma Gandhi in his struggle for human rights in South Africa. On one occasion he even saved Gandhi’s life.
This is the first of a series of Boreham’s books that are being reprinted by the newly-formed John Broadbanks Publishing. It is attractively produced and augurs well for future reprints.
Note: “Chuddigh” on p. 6 should be “Chudleigh.”
To learn more about Boreham, visit:

“The Official F W Boreham Blog Site” here.
For a brief biography, see Geoff Pound, “F. W. Boreham: Australia’s Greatest Baptist Preacher Ever”, The Baptist Studies Bulletin, 6, No.1 (January 2007) here.

Busy again

It's been busy again - as always.
On the Lord's Day I was in Lower Ford Street Baptist Church in Coventry. I'd not been there before but I know the minister, Paul Watts, who is currently taking a sabbatical. The church was a Strict Baptist one on the Gospel Standard List but has been moving away from that position for some time and now has the feel of a regular evangelical church. I suppose around a hundred gathered in the morning and less in the evening (60?). Of all ages, multi-ethnic, most dressed casually though not all, we sang from an overhead with Praise! hymn book being available (not my cup of tea but I can think of worse hymn books). They use the NKJV. I preached on the feeding of the 4000 in the morning and on Revelation 15, 16, pm. They are available here on the church website (low sound quality but they download in seconds). That Sunday there was lunch in chapel to follow. It was nice to speak to various ones, some of whom I knew of. I went on with others to the home of Peter and Janet Cordle for further fellowship before the evening meeting. Coventry is about two hours away so it was a long day but a blessed one indeed.
On Monday morning I headed off to the Tyndale Academy in Forest Gate where I'd agreed to take a lesson on David Brainerd. We had a lovely time discussing the great man and I sat in on the beginning of their further work on the subject before heading off. One of my members works there alongside Ferris Lindsay who is a man of vision and commitment. The Academy is often struggling but they continue to look to the Lord. See here.

On Tuesday we had two meetings here run by the Newcastle based organisation The Christian Institute. Over the lunch time we had a meeting for ministers, to which about 10 came and then in the evening around 40 were present. Mike Judge and David Greatorex spoke explaining the work and reminding us of the various issues of the day - chiefly the Sexual Orientation Regulations, passed recently and the upcoming Human Embryology Bill. It was also useful to have the background to cases in the past, to hear them answer questions and to talk to them personally.

I should really have a permanent link to their site on this page. It's here.

Moffat Quotation

On p 266 of Iain Murray's latest book A Scottish Christian Heritage there is s striking quotation from Robert Moffat. The quote can be found here on in this form -
Robert Moffat was a Scottish missionary to South Africa and this quote is drawn from a letter he wrote to his wife Mary. In the mid 1850's he completed the great work of translating the entire Bible into Sechuana and subsequently revised the translation several times. Despite this work he provides an assessment of the limitations imposed by his humanity.
It was only yesterday, after laying down the Bible, that I wondered what kind of mind I would have had if I had not the Book of God, the Book containing the astounding idea of 'from everlasting to everlasting,' the development of all that is worth knowing ... One would think, that as I have critically and, I think, devoutly read and examined every verse, every word in the Bible, some a score of times over, I should not require to open the pages of that unspeakable blessed Book. Alas, for the human memory! I read the Bible today with the same feeling I ever did, like the hungry when seeking food, the thirsty when seeking drink, the bewildered when seeking counsel and the mourner when seeking comfort. Don't you believe all this? For alas, I read it sometimes as a formal thing, though my heart condemns me afterwards ... I am yet astonished at my own ignorance of the Bible!

Three Trips to Finchley

Saturday afternoon - I was at the LTS for the packed annual end of term service. Around 9 students were leaving - 5 British and 4 from the far east was it? They all spoke well. Luke Jenner has been under us during the two years and is about to become an assistant in Welwyn with Mostyn Roberts. Mr Eveson, the Principal, was looking well despite treatment for cancer at the end of last year. Graham Harrison is retiring after sterling service from the inception 30 years ago. Iain Murray preached well from Acts. Tea on the lawn followed as usual and (apart from sneezing with hay fever) I greatly enjoyed the time to chat with everyone.
Sunday evening - I was back to preach in the same chapel for around 60 who gathered for the evening service of the Kensit Memorial Church. I preached on John 3:16. Communion followed. We were one communion cup short - so I went without wine (a rather Catholic thing to do in the heart of Protestantism - it's the PTS HQ). The congregation seems to be much more white and middle class compared to us. They are without a pastor at present.
Monday morning - This time I was in the Library and meeting under the auspices of the John Owen Centre in the Theological Study Group. Six of us, mostly pastors, meet every few months to discuss a book. This time it was an EP book by American pastor Tom Barnes on Living in the hope of Future Glory on 'The glorification of the Christian'. We all appreciated the book but felt it laboured under certain deficiencies - Chiefly a lack of clarity and a questionable approach to systematics. I prepared the outline for the study and it is always good to work through a book for an occasion like that. Next time we are planning to look at John Owen on justification.

What a privilege to have such a place on my doorstep. Next week they will have Mark Garcia lecturing on Calvin on union with Christ. I'd love to be there but for various reasons it's just not going to happen.

Johnson's Dictionary

Here are some (mostly) famous entries in Sameul Johnson's English Dictionary of 1755.
Cough: A convulsion of the lungs, vellicated by some sharp serosity.
Distiller: One who makes and sells pernicious and inflammatory spirits.
Dull: Not exhilaterating (sic); not delightful; as, to make dictionaries is dull work.
Excise: A hateful tax levied upon commodities, and adjudged not by the common judges of property, but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid.
Far-fetch: A deep stratagem. A ludicrous word.
Lexicographer: A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words.
Network: Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections. (See how he defined 'reticulated,' below.)
Oats: A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people.
Pastern: The knee of a horse. (This is wrong. When Johnson was once asked how he came to make such a mistake, Boswell tells us he replied, "Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance.")
Patron: One who countenances, supports or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery.
Pension: An allowance made to any one without an equivalent. In England it is generally understood to mean pay given to a state hireling for treason to his country.
Politician: 1. One versed in the arts of government; one skilled in politicks. 2. A man of artifice; one of deep contrivance.
Reticulated: Made of network; formed with interstitial vacuities.
Tory: One who adheres to the ancient constitution of the state, and the apostolical hierarchy of the church of England, opposed to a Whig.
Whig: The name of a faction.
To worm: To deprive a dog of something, nobody knows what, under his tongue, which is said to prevent him, nobody knows why, from running mad.
These are taken from the Samuel Johnson sounbite page here.

Short Poem 21

Stevie Smith (1902-1971) was born Florence Margaret Smith in Kingston upon Hull and grew up in North London. Seem more here at wikipedia.

Not waving but drowning by Stevie Smith

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Weekly Proverb 16

By wisdom a house you'll build, by knowledge its rooms are filled Proverbs 23:3, 4 By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures
This is a very attractive proverb on wisdom, contrasting with the wicked of verse 1 and using the homely figure of a house and its furnishings. It again anticipates Jesus’s parable at the close of the Sermon on the Mount. It can be taken literally or, metaphorically, as referring to a household or dynasty or, best of all, in reference to a life of wisdom.
There are two parts. First, the building and establishing of the house itself, then filling it with rare and beautiful treasures. This powerfully illustrates how wisdom and understanding are gained. For example, growing wise is a long term business. It demands hard work and skill. Planning and careful thought are vital. Perhaps we can think of the whole business as having two aspects. First, there is the work of getting the house up. Certain fundamental things must be understood and established if we are to begin to be wise. Educationists are aware of this. Beyond that, however, there is the filling of the house with treasures. If building a house is a work that takes some time, filling it with rare and beautiful treasures is the work of a lifetime. Further, it is implied that wisdom can provide not only shelter and protection but also comfort and joy. The picture of the man, having built his house and filled it with treasures, sitting back to enjoy them is very seductive. One can pursue the pictures almost endlessly. The thought of the rare and beautiful treasures being damaged because of an unrealised or neglected structural problem comes to mind.
When you meet a person who is able to quote a great writer, tell you an illuminating story or show you the best way of doing something, realise that such treasures were accumulated one by one with patience and proficiency.
In 1901, Flora Kirkland took up the theme of 3 in a hymn. These are some of the verses
Building, daily building, while the moments fly,
We are ever building life work for on high!
Character we’re building, thoughts and actions free
Make for us a building for eternity.
Choosing, as we labour, what we wish to take,
Oh let us be careful for the Master’s sake!
He will help our labour, he will strength bestow.
Let us choose for Jesus all we use below.
May the Lord approve us! ’Tis our earnest prayer.
Oh, to have our building tall, and strong and fair!
Oh, to live for Jesus! Truly every hour,
Building, praying, trusting in his mighty power!

Just for fun

The Bloggy Man 33

Short Poem 20

There is a brief intro to Wendy Cope (b 1945) here at Wikipedia. I like a bit of sarcastic wit.

Engineers' Corner
by Wendy Cope

Why isn't there an Engineers' Corner in Westminster Abbey? In Britain we've always made more fuss of a ballad than a blueprint ... How many schoolchildren dream of becoming great engineers?
- advertisement placed in The Times by the Engineering Council

We make more fuss of ballads than of blueprints -
That's why so many poets end up rich,
While engineers scrape by in cheerless garrets.
Who needs a bridge or dam? Who needs a ditch?
Whereas the person who can write a sonnet
Has got it made. It's always been the way,
For everybody knows that we need poems
And everybody reads them every day.
Yes, life is hard if you choose engineering -
You're sure to need another job as well;
You'll have to plan your projects in the evenings
Instead of going out. It must be hell.
While well-heeled poets ride around in Daimlers,
You'll burn the midnight oil to earn a crust,
With no hope of a statue in the Abbey,
With no hope, even, of a modest bust.
No wonder small boys dream of writing couplets
And spurn the bike, the lorry and the train.
There's far too much encouragement for poets -
That's why this country's going down the drain.

Favourite Puns 21

An Old Singer

Hymn of the Week 9

It's Charles Wesley again. In a rather metaphysical way he coems up with some brilliant juxtapositions as he mediates on salvation through Christ. I especially like

By His pain He gives you ease, Life by His expiring groan: Rise, exalted by His fall,
Find on earth the life of Heaven: Live the life of Heaven above,
Blest in Christ this moment be, Blest to all eternity!

It's all in Isaiah 53 already I know but Wesley does it well.

Weary souls, who wander wide
From the central point of bliss,
Turn to Jesus crucified,
Fly to those dear wounds of His:
Sink into the purple flood;
Rise into the life of God.

Find in Christ the way of peace,
Peace unspeakable, unknown;
By His pain He gives you ease,
Life by His expiring groan:
Rise, exalted by His fall,
Find in Christ your all in all.

O believe the record true,
God to you His Son hath given;
Ye may now be happy, too,
Find on earth the life of Heaven:
Live the life of Heaven above,
All the life of glorious love.

This the universal bliss,
Bliss for every soul designed;
God’s primeval promise this,
God’s great gift to all mankind:
Blest in Christ this moment be,
Blest to all eternity!

Bloggy Special 13

Favourite Puns 20

Grounds for divorce

Bio 08b More Buckland

Here is some more on William Buckland (from ODNB)
By all accounts Buckland's lectures were anything but dull: they were enlivened by his benevolent good humour, by jokes, and even by impersonations of the gait of extinct animals.
While most of his audiences were charmed, amused, and instructed, some of his peers were critical of his pre-Victorian, sometimes scatological, sense of humour and lack of the gravitas deemed appropriate for a scientific savant of the time. These included Darwin, who was definitely not amused by Buckland's showmanship and buffoonery. The affection in which Buckland was held by his contemporaries, however, is attested in numerous humorous satirical poems and cartoons by his friends such as De la Beche and Sopwith.
Wherever possible, Buckland employed experimental methods. One night, puzzling over some newly discovered and problematic fossil footprints, he roused his sleeping wife and asked her to prepare a slab of dough in her kitchen at Christ Church. Then he caused his pet tortoise to walk across it, the results convincing him that the fossil footprints had been made by a long extinct relative. This demonstration was repeated at a party in Roderick Murchison's house for a group of ‘geologists and savants’; before a proper consistency was attained, the dough had to be kneaded afresh and it was ‘a glorious scene to behold all the philosophers, flour-besmeared, working away with tucked up sleeves’
In 1850 (and probably for several years before) signs of a severe mental breakdown (possibly resulting from a fall from a coach) became apparent, and prevented Buckland from performing his duties as dean or professor. He retired to Islip, but later was placed in The Retreat, John Bush's mental asylum at Clapham, where he died on 14 August 1856. He was buried at Islip church.For a century after his death Buckland's reputation suffered a decline: he was largely remembered as an eccentric figure who tried unsuccessfully to reconcile geology with Old Testament accounts, and as a champion of ‘diluvialism’ and an outmoded catastrophism which was destroyed and superseded by the ‘uniformitarianism’ of Lyell. However, recent reappraisals, in particular those by Rupke (1983) and Boylan (1997), have shown that, on the contrary, Buckland was one of the leading figures in the golden age of geology. It could be argued that more than anyone else he was responsible for making geology, and in particular the concept of ‘deep time’, acceptable to the Anglican establishment centred on Oxford, and so for paving the way for the Darwinian revolution.

Short Poem 19

Frederic Ogden Nash (1902–1971)was an American poet best known for writing pithy and funny light verse. He's famous for (among others)
The Camel has a single hump, The dromedary two, Or else the other way around, I'm never sure - are you?
The Lord in His wisdom made the fly And then forgot to tell us why
The one-L lama, he's a priest The two-L llama, he's a beast And I would bet a silk pajama
There isn't any three-L lllama
More here in Wikipedia.

The Purist by Ogden Nash

I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist,
Trustees exclaimed, "He never bungles!"
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later,
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile.
"You mean," he said, "a crocodile."
(I once saw a john Wayne film where someone explains the difference between a crocodile and an alligator by saying that the first chews your leg off while the other snaps it off in one bite!)

Bio 08a William Buckland

We haven't had a biographical thread for a while. This one's a little different. I came across this chap recently looking for something else.
Dean William Buckland (1784-1856), naturalist and Anglican minister, was an eccentric. President of the Geological Society in England and Dean of Westminster, he was one of the early pioneers in the field of geology. Along with many lesser discoveries, he is credited with being the first person to scientifically describe a dinosaur, Megalosaurus, in 1824. In fact, he was the paragon of a perfect scientist. Until he went off the deep end, that is.
Buckland had always been a little odd to begin with. He was known to cover his desk with petrified reptile droppings and let free-range guinea pigs and jackals roam about his office. But by 1813 there were signs that the mostly innocuous scientist was moving in a very odd direction. That year, a student recounted the following episode in one of his lectures.
"He paced like a Franciscan preacher up and down behind a long showcase ... He had in his hand a huge hyena’s skull. He suddenly dashed down the steps - rushed skull in hand at the first undergraduate on the front bench and shouted ‘What rules the world?’ The youth, terrified, threw himself against the next back seat, and answered not a word. He rushed then on to me, pointing the hyena full in my face - ‘What rules the world?’ ‘Haven’t an idea’, I said. ‘The stomach, sir,’ he cried."
Buckland, it seemed, had a new fascination with the stomach and all things consumable. The most pronounced symptom of this new behaviour was that Buckland was somehow seized with an unquenchable drive to eat his way through the entire food chain. He was resolved to eat one of every type of animal. His dinner parties become infamous for their toasted mice (a favourite of his), chilled insects and stewed birds. Hedgehog, guinea pig, alligator, sea slug, ostrich - the menu at his house was eclectic to say the least. He became a sort of Anti-Noah, living near London Zoo meant he could turn up when something died he had yet to sample. Apparently on holiday when the zoo's Leopard died, he returned to find it buried, but dug it up and tried it anyway. There is no exact list of everything he tried - but we know that his two least favourite snacks were Mole and the humble Bluebottle, which he thought was 'disgusting'. He obviously had an effect on his son, Frank, as he carried on his father's passion for unusual foodstuffs, managing to plough through a whole dolphin.
In addition, Buckland’s extensive intercourse with all of nature’s delicacies apparently convinced the scientist that he had developed superhuman powers of taste. According to the former geologist and historian Simon Winchester, the Rev Buckland was with a party of friends at St Paul’s Cathedral when the group happened upon an oddly shaped stain in front of the steps. A few of them foolishly began speculating on the source of the stain, and before anyone could stop him, the Reverend was on his knees licking the dark substance. "Bat's urine!" he exclaimed.
Buckland also had a table made entirely out of coprolites, which was greatly admired by visitors, often unknowing of what they were actually admiring! Buckland junior wrote: ‘I have seen in actual use ear-rings made of polished portions of coprolites (for they are as hard as marble); and while admiring the beauty of the wearer, have made out distinctly the scales and bones of the fish which once formed the dinner of a hideous lizard, but now hang pendulous from the ears of an unconscious belle, who had evidently never heard of such things as coprolites.’
Buckland’s most famous eccentric exploit, however, nearly defies the imagination. The story is related by the famous raconteur Augustus Hare, on the Oxford University Museum of Natural History website. "Talk of strange relics led to mention of the heart of a French King preserved at Nuneham in a silver casket. Dr Buckland, whilst looking at it, exclaimed, ‘I have eaten many strange things, but have never eaten the heart of a king before,’ and, before anyone could hinder him, he had gobbled it up, and the precious relic was lost for ever."
Despite his now supremely outlandish behavior, Buckland managed to be appointed Dean of Westminister in 1845. The old chap began failing in health however, and was bedridden for several years before copping in 1856. True to his sense of humour, Buckland arranged to leave this world in style. The plot he reserved in the local graveyard turned out, surprise, surprise, to be above only a few inches of soil above an outcrop of dense Jurassic limestone. It took several sticks of dynamite to clear enough space for the coffin. Well, that’s one way of going out with a bang.
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