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.

Blog of the week 2

This week it is the John Elias blog here.

They said he was the Methodist Pope
With his hardline ways they could not cope.
He'd thunder and flash,
Turn falsehoods to ash,
He gave Wales the message of hope.

It draws attention to the great Welsh Calvinistic Methodist preacher John Elias (1774-1841). I have known about Elias since I was a teenager in Wales and the republication of Edward Morgan's book of the Life and Letters, still in print (Banner of Truth). I started the blog a couple of months ago looking for material on Elias one night. I realy want to get to know more about him. As far as I know everything on the net is now available at this one site. There are by now 28 separate entries including seven letters he wrote. How many visit the site I have no idea.
Quote: You are not called to believe as elect ones or as redeemed ones. You must believe as a sinner before you can know anything. You do not need to know who has been loved nor who has been elected; only believe in Him who justifies the ungodly.

Flickr Foto Series 01

Belsize Park Station

Joe Grimaldi

Though not a regular haunt I've been visiting Finchley Memorial Hospital for a while now but I only noticed this plaque on my most recent visit, last Thursday. More on Grimaldi here.

Anghenfil Pedwar

Busy as ever

These are busy days as ever. The death of a member of the congregation has dominated the week. Cornelius grew up in Delhi, worked for 25 years in Lybia, where he married and his only daughter was born. Four years ago they moved to London. Both work shifts in a nearby old people's home so they haven't been able to get to church much. In the last few months I learned that he had cancer and that they could do nothing. He was taken back into hospital and his last day on earth came last Friday. I spoke to him earlier in the day. I read Psalm 23, we said the Lord's prayer, I prayed. The family were torn but in the end decided to fly him to Delhi. Yesterday we had a short memorial service in the chapel before they headed off. Around 30-40 came. I spoke from Acts 10 and the story of the centurion Cornelius. I wanted to stress the difference between religion and true faith. Nice chats with people including a young Ismaili Muslim. Family and friends had come on Sunday morning too which was encouraging. We had one or two other visitors too, including an Iranian man, so we were quite packed in the morning. We had been out tracting the day before. No new faces - although one woman has told me she hopes to come the first Sunday in February. Hope so. Oh yes, I was also up helping Dewi on his paper round Saturday as he felt unwell.
Wednesday was also busy with the Mansion House and it was Dylan's birthday. Fifteen already. I was speaking at a regular coffee morning for the elderly in the morning and at our prayer meeting in the evening so with preparation too the day was very full. The day before had been similar. I went down to the Evangelical Library where I and another trustee met with our Landlord to discuss the future. I finished off the latest edition of In Writing in the morning - way over due! In the evening I was at a meeting of the Bible Preaching Trust which seeks to support ministers in need. I popped in to see my friend Robin Asgher, a church planter in West London. He was telling me about how he had been in Pakistan after Christmas and how first there was trouble there and then they heard of what was happening in Kenya where his wife's parents live! It was good to see him.
Today has been a bit slow after all that business. I'll have to work harder tomorrow.

Mansion House

The current Lord Mayor of London is a Welsh man and as it is the fiftieth anniversary of Ysgol Cymraeg Llundain where my younger boys attend he kindly arranged a celebration there last night. The event was covered by the Welsh language proramme Wedi saith and if you go to the site( at the moment you can see a package on the event (Wednesday c 1:50-9:30) including a brief interview with one of my sons (all in Welsh of course). The rest of the family went but I was not able to be there as it was prayer meeting night and I wasn't organised enough to rearrange things. The video shows Gwion's speech. You can spot Owain third from the right in the choir.

Hymn of the week 22

This anonymous hymn was translated from Latin by J M Neale in the 19th Century

To the Name of our salvation,
laud and honor let us pay,
which for many a generation
hid in God's foreknowledge lay;
but with holy exultation
we may sing aloud today.

Jesus is the Name we treasure;
Name beyond what words can tell;
Name of gladness, Name of pleasure,
ear and heart delighting well;
Name of sweetness, passing measure,
saving us from sin and hell.

'Tis the Name for adoration,
Name for songs of victory,
Name for holy meditation
in this vale of misery,
Name for joyful veneration
by the citizens on high.

'Tis the Name that whoso preacheth
speaks like music to the ear;
who in prayer this Name beseecheth
sweetest comfort findeth near;
who its perfect wisdom reacheth,
heavenly joy possesseth here.

Jesus is the Name exalted
over every other name;
in this Name, whene'er assaulted,
we can put our foes to shame;
strength to them who else had halted,
eyes to blind, and feet to lame.

Therefore we in love adoring,
this most blessèd Name revere;
holy Jesus, thee imploring
so to write it in us here,
that hereafter, heavenward soaring,
we may sing with angels there.

Hymns Pantycelyn 07

This is number 24 (in Gloria in Exclesis)

Come, Jesus, haste, make no delay,
Conduct me in the narrow way,
That leads unto the Promis'd Land;
Be my Conductor and my Guide,
I'm weak, and prone to turn aside
From thy most holy pure command.

Ten thousand objects here are found
To tempt and tease me all around,
To steal my thoughts combin'd in one
Lord, show thyself; a glimpse of Thee
Excels all objects fair to me,
Thyself most beautiful alone.

How sweet are all things that are Thine,
Thy comforts are delicious wine;
Thou art the only God and Friend:
Thy absence is a horrid night,
Thy presence is a pure delight,
A blessed feast without an end.

Thy beauties in sweet order shine
With glorious lustre, all divine ;
Sweeter thy love than can be known;
My life, O Saviour, let me spend,
From the beginning to the end,
Gazing upon Thyself alone.

Dung Beetles

I was talking to a South African friend of mine about dung beetles the other day. Here is a National Geographic mini-documentary on them. How ever long they have been around they are a remarkable part of God's creation.

Anghenfil Tri

Gwyl Santes Ddwynwen 08

We covered this last year but check here or here if you're wondering what it's all about.

Blog of the week 1

As an inveterate blogger I thought that here on my main blog I might draw attention to the 10 others, starting with the Thomas Adams one here.
A Calvinist lived name of Adams
He preached against all of the bad'uns.
With puns and with quips
That fell from his lips
He fed both the sheep and the lambs.
It draws attention to doctrinal puritan Thomas Adams (1583-1652) described by Robert Southey as "the prose Shakespeare of Puritan theologians". I first came across Adams when I was given a three volume set of his works as a birthday present. I then wrote an essay on him for Dr William Barker. I started the website a year ago and it now contains some 110 posts. It has officially had 2,260 visits (an average of 14 a day) and 3,869 page views (an average of 27 a day). No-one stays for very long.
Special feature - some lute music by John Dowland that you can play as you browse.
Quote: Ahab cast a covetous eye at Naboth's vineyard, David a lustful eye at Bathsheba. The eye is the pulse of the soul; as physicians judge of the heart by the pulse, so we by the eye; a rolling eye, a roving heart. The good eye keeps minute time, and strikes when it should; the lustful, crochet-time, and so puts all out of tune.

Anghenfil Dau


First thing Monday morning I headed off with my parents-in-law to Cardiff. They've been in London for a few weeks. We dropped off Iola at her daughter's and Geoff and I headed to Hebron Hall for the third Eccentrics Conference. The two day gathering is organised by Steve Levy with the help of an excellent team from the church in Swansea where he ministers, Mount Pleasant Baptist. Steve is a one off and the conference bears his stamp. There was some coming and going but about 35 gathered, mostly younger men ministering in South Wales. I guess I know about a third of them to some extent. The conference is quite relaxed and focuses on messages (no singing and a minimum of prayer) discussions formal and informal and 'avin' a laugh. We were slightly late but we kicked off with a prayer and share in small groups. It was nice to share with the new ministers at Libanus, Morriston (Stuart) and Crickhowell (James who I've met before), one of Steve's apprentices (Emrys) and the new assistant in Newtown (Rob). I also had a nice chat to Ceri from Cwmtwrch later over the meal later. (The catering was of a high standard not ideal for dieters).
Dick Lucas gave two addresses on Philippians on the first day. He's 82 now and this was vintage Dick - some fascinating insights, blasts at the Charismatics and the long gone higher life movement, one or two well worn but good anecdotes and illustrations. In between some of us played football in the gym. That evening we also had a paper on the Lord's Supper from Bob Letham (slightly blunted for me by having been at the Carey Conference earlier in the month and hearing not only Bill James on the same subject but some of Bob's gems in discussion too). Oh yes, what sort of man wears a kilt to speak at the Carey and trousers to speak to the eccentrics? Now, that is eccentric!
Stayed up until some inordinate hour before bed. Roomed with Steve's brother Paul who ministers just down the road to me. Nice to see Paul and to meet Chuck, from the same church and a worker among Muslims. After a surfeit of bacon and other good things Geoff gave two messages - on ministerial anxiety and depression. Great stuff. In between Heresy Huntin' Martin Downes (see his blog) gave us the Seven habits of highly effective heretics. This was followed by small group and open discussion. Saw my sisters-in-law then and nephews and niece before heading home on the bus asleep.

Cy Leslie

I was reading The Times the other day and saw an obituary for a man called Cy Leslie who died earlier this month. The obituary is here. He was the man behind Pickwick's successful Top of the Pops series. The very first LP I ever bought was a record like that. It cost 75 p (you can see the 15/- mark on the record illustration). These LPs were covers of the hits of the day by unknown artists. The question was asked 'Can you tell the difference between these and the original sounds?' Well, you could, of course. Quite easily in some cases. They were alright, but I never bought another. Elton John is one who started out on that label (I will resist a cruel comment at this point). The Top of the Pops LPs are available on i-tunes and I was confused for a while as to what I had bought. Closer inspection reveals that what I had was a Hot Hits record from MFP (Music for Pleasure) a rival to the Pickwick idea. This was the first in a series of 20.

Hymns Pantycelyn 06

This is the third part of a series of hymns and is numbered 19 in Hosanna to the Son of David.

What is the world, and what is life,
And what are honours vain,
When Thou art absent from my soul,
But only grief and pain ?

I ask not those seraphic flames
That ravish thrones above,
Nor what the perfect spirits taste
Of that immortal love.

But bliss that Thou art wont to give,
And promis'd in thy Word ;
Communion with Thyself alone
Is all I want, my LORD.

O! let me see those beams of light,
Feel that celestial spark,
That veils the beauties of the world
In an eternal dark.

One drop of that o'erflowing stream,
That angels taste above,
One smile from my Redeemer's face
Would kindle all to love.

And make the passage of my life,
Tho' rough, but smooth and bright,
Direct my slow unconstant steps
Unto the realms of light.

Anghenfil Un

We had good fun making monsters between ourselves over Christmas. Here's one.


I walked past this exclusive brethren building in North Finchley the other day. I'd not noticed it before although I have heard it mentioned. I've never seen anything quite like it.

High Diver

I found my youngest kids playing this game the other day. I don't know where they got the idea.

Bloggy man 42

Carey Conference 2008

It was my privilege once again to be at the Carey Conference in Swanwick, Derbyshire, for three days last week. Sadly, one of our main overseas speakers, Michael Haykin, was unable to be present. The other such speaker, Dr Russ Moore from Southern Baptist Seminary, had a number of difficulties getting to us but when he finally reached us he was well worth hearing. He gave two addresses from Colossians on Jesus is Lord, looking first at Christ's wisdom and then at his power. These punchy and dense addresses covered a wide range and basically argued a very high Christology. I have found it difficult to retain the detail of what he said and so have ordered recordings. The impact was certainly very positive and stirring. (See pic).
Other highlights were biographical papers on Oliver Cromwell (by Phil Arthur) and William Grimshaw (by Faith Cook who also spoke to the women alone for one session) plus an unscheduled paper on the Complexity of Scripture by Bob Letham, who is busy preparing a book on the Westminster Assembly's theology building on the work of Chad Van Dixhoorn, who we have mentioned on this blog previously. Dr Letham also introduced the subject of Christ and culture in another session. (This is the first time I have listened to a man speak who was wearing a kilt!). Bill James spoke helpfully on the Lord's Supper urging the Calvinian view. In the absence of Steven Curry who was unwell David Ellis from Stowmarket gave the closing sermon from Colossians 1.
At our prayer and share session we heard from the EMF students and from several others including the self-effacing open air worker Alec Moulton, busy working on the Greek island of Cos. The opportunity for more informal fellowship is always appreciated too. I travelled up with Henry Dixon and Ken Brownell from East London and three LTS students - from Cameroon, The Philippines and China. Great times.
On Dr Moore see here.

Hymns Pantycelyn 05

This fourteenth hymn (like the thirteenth) is on the cross.
[Pic Statue of Williams, Cardiff City Hall]

Ye Sons of Men, lift up your Heads,
The greatest Wonder see,
Jesus the Saviour and the God
Nail'd to the cursed tree.

He brought in life, immortal, pure,
By his redeeming grace,
Pardon and holiness and bliss,
For the believing race.

Grim death here lost its poisonous dart,
By spilling precious blood ;
Hell swallowed up in victory,
Now man enjoys his God.

O Mystery ! That life should spring
From death that mortal foe;
And cruel death to Jesus should
Deliver us from woe.

My God, my God! How couldst thou die
For poor and worthless me ?
I am astonish'd, and must say
That all thy grace is free.

O shall Worms presume to understand
The secrets of his love?
Reason is mute, and all the choir
Of Cherubim above.

Hymn of the week 21

This is a hymn by Gerhard Tersteegen (1697-1769) that we sang at the Lord's Table yesterday. It was translated by Samuel Jackson (1786-1861). For something on Tersteegen see here on this blog.

Though all the world my choice deride,
Yet Jesus shall my portion be;
For I am pleased with none beside;
The fairest of the fair is he.

Sweet is the vision of thy face,
And kindness o'er thy lips is shed;
Lovely art thou, and full of grace,
And glory beams around thy head.

Thy suff'rings I embrace with thee,
Thy poverty and shameful cross;
The pleasure of the world I flee,
And deem its treasures only dross.

Be daily dearer to my heart,
And ever let me feel thee near;
Then willingly with all I'd part,
Nor count it worthy of a tear.

O keep my heart and love with thee
until my mortal work is done;
and then in heaven thy face I'll see,
to be with thee for ever one!

Christmas CDs 07

Besides books this year (and clothes, etc) there were a few CDs. I bought the red and the blue albums by the Beatles with money from my dad. This is a completist thing I guess. (See here for a complete discography). I also had the George Harrison led Concert for Bangla Desh (the first benefit concert of its kind) from my sister-in-law, which I am enjoying. It includes Ravi Shankar, Billy Preston, Bob Dylan, etc, and is a fascinating recording. (There is a website here.)
I'm also planning to download tracks from my son's album by The Fray (more here) and one or two from a Cliff Richard Greatest Hits that Eleri bought (Out in the country and Wired for sound). While we were still in Aber my eldest and I went into Siop Y Pethe looking for Welsh Rare Beats. It turns out there are now two volumes so we had to shell out for both. It's basically a history of Welsh pop music (Tebot Peuce, Heather Jones, Edward H, etc) thankfully presented in a way that is accessible to the monoglot. Rhodri knows less than I do about it so we have enjoyed the sleeve notes (with appreciated references to Focus and Horslips) and the CDs too. (More here)

Hymns Pantycelyn 04

This twelfth hymn deals with contentment.

Why should ambition proud and vain
Our deathless souls invade?
And discontentment e'er prevail
To starve our tender blade?

If wealth's our aim, the more we seek
The greater is our pain;
Ambition blind disturbs our rest,
Embitters all our gain.

Thus wearied of the carnal mind,
I earnestly do groan,
And nothing wish beside Thyself,
Thou art enough alone.

Had I the world and all its wealth,
Its pleasures and its gain,
Without Thyself the greatest bliss,
All other were but vain.

My heavy-laden soul would wish
Its rest in Thee to find;
'Tis only Thou that can compose
My ever roving mind.

Thomas Adams Link

I don't often add to my Thomas Adams blog these days but I just ran across this quotation in Spurgeon's Treasury of David where he deals with Psalm 80:4 ("O Lord God of Hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?" ) and added it here as well as here.
There may be infirmities enough in our very prayers to make them unacceptable. As if they be Exanimes, without life and soul; when the heart knows not what the tongue utters.
Or Perfunctoriae, for God will have none of those prayers that come out of feigned lips.
Or Tentativae, for they that will petere tentando, tempt God in prayer, shall go without.
Or Fluctuantes, of a wild and wandering discourse, ranging up and down, which the Apostle calls "beating the air, "as huntsmen beat the bushes, and as Saul sought his father's asses. Such prayers will not stumble upon the kingdom of heaven.
Or if they be Preproperae, run over in haste, as some use to chop up their prayers, and think long till they have done. But they that pray in such haste shall be heard at leisure.
Or sine fiducia; the faithless man had as good hold his peace as pray; he may babble, but prays not; he prays ineffectually, and receives not. He may lift up his hands, but he does not lift up his heart. Only the prayer of the righteous availeth, and only the believer is righteous. But the formal devotion of a faithless man is not worth the crust of bread which he asks.
Or sine humilitate, so the Pharisee's prayer was not truly supplicatio, but superlatio. A presumptuous prayer profanes the name of God instead of adoring it. All, or any, of these defects may mar the success of our prayers.

Hymns Pantycelyn 03

This is number 6 and is headed The atonement. I have altered the word 'immerg'd' to 'immers'd' in line 1.

My soul thou art immers'd in Sin,
So deep that none can trace;
Look to the ransom God decreed
To clear the guilty race.

The Atonement made once on the Tree,
Can balance many more
Than all the Sins of Adam's race,
If number'd o'er and o'er.

He paid the mighty sum and died
For Sinners yet unborn;
From men, the works of his own hands,
He suffer'd shame and scorn.

Had I the guilt of all the world,
He's able to forgive:
Why should I fear? The Debt is paid
If only I believe.

Hymns Pantycelyn 02

This is the third hymn in HTTSOD headed Love unspeakable. (Above, the house where Pantycelyn lived. I once visited there with a friend and was kindly shown a lock of Pantycelyn's red hair by the couple living there).

The enormous load of human guilt
Was on my Saviour laid;
With woes, as with a garment, he
For sinners was array'd.

And in the horrid pangs of death
He wept. He pray'd for me,
Lov'd and embrac'd my guilty soul
When nailed to the tree.

О love amazing ! love beyond
The reach of human tongue;
Love which shall be the subject of
An everlasting song.

Eternity, though infinite,
Is short enough to trace
The virtues of his healing wounds,
The wonders of his grace.

Ye Men rejoice in Jesu's blood,
Ye angels, join your lays,
In one harmonious endless choir
Sing his eternal praise.

Hymns Pantycelyn 01

"Hosannah to the Son of David; or Hymns of Praise to God for our glorious redemption by Christ. Some few translated from the Welsh Hymn Book, but mostly composed on new subjects" is the first collection of hymns in English by William Williams Pantycelyn. It was first published in 1759. This is the second of the 51 hymns there.

My Saviour is my only life.
My treasure is his cross;
And everything besides himself
Is emptiness and loss.

Here treasure lies ; whoever hath,
He thirsts, he wants no more;
And yet professes still to be
Both indigent and poor.

He stays himself upon the Rock
Of his Redeemer's breast,
Where envious Satan, death, or hell
Can ne'er disturb his rest.

Come, sinners, then, in numerous throngs.
The blind, the halt, the poor,
To Jesus, wretched as ye are,
And ye shall fear no more.

Nor qualify nor first compose
Yourselves into a frame,
Which would you do a thousand times
You would be just the same.

Come, then, a sinner as thou art,
A miserable one,
And thou shalt find th' atoning blood
Thy comfort here alone.

Christmas 07

Christmas Books 07

Among other gifts, I received a few books this Christmas - all secular and all spot on for me. I suppose people think I've enough Christian books. My sons gave me QI: The book of general ignorance by Lloyd and Mitchinson (more here) and Grumpy old Christmas by Stuart Prebble, which I've started - in the midst of the humour there are some serious points made.

My wife got me Philip Ardagh's Book of absolutely useless lists (more here) and a small AA pocket guide book to Tenerife (as we're off there next month), which it turns out is written by our neighbour Andrew Sanger (see here and here).

From my parents-in-law there was a nice hardcover I Never Knew That About Wales by Christopher Winn and a Sudoku puzzle book.

While in Aber I also treated myself to Cleopatra's face fatal beauty by Michelle Lovric and two Welsh books in Oxfam. One was Llais y doctor Welsh language pieces by Lloyd-Jones, which I'll probably never be able to read and the other was the second volume of the works of Pantycelyn, which at least contains all his English hymns as well as his Welsh ones. (More here and here).

Hymn of the week 20

We've been singing second advent as well as advent hymns recenty. Here's one - by Henry Alford 1810-1871. Alford was both an Anglican minister and a Greek scholar. More here.

Ten thousand times ten thousand in sparkling raiment bright,
The armies of the ransomed saints throng up the steeps of light;
’Tis finished, all is finished, their fight with death and sin;
Fling open wide the golden gates, and let the victors in.

What rush of alleluias fills all the earth and sky!
What ringing of a thousand harps bespeaks the triumph nigh!
O day, for which creation and all its tribes were made;
O joy, for all its former woes a thousandfold repaid!

O then what raptured greetings on Canaan’s happy shore;
What knitting severed friendships up, where partings are no more!
Then eyes with joy shall sparkle, that brimmed with tears of late;
Orphans no longer fatherless, nor widows desolate.

Bring near Thy great salvation, Thou Lamb for sinners slain;
Fill up the roll of Thine elect, then take Thy power, and reign;
Appear, Desire of nations, Thine exiles long for home;
Show in the heaven Thy promised sign; Thou Prince and Savior, come.

Thanks for your comments

Thanks to regulars Alan and Tom, to any lurkers and to Reimer (though I do like talented show offs myself and would dissociate myself from any suggestions of anti-semitism) and Moshable and Jason. I've had a nice time away but good to be back.