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.

Redeeming exposition

While away in Tenerife last week I took opportunity to read this large American text book on preaching. We then discussed it at the Theological Study Group at the John Owen Centre last Monday. Ten of us, mostly pastors, met to discuss it and although there was a range of opinion we all felt fairly positive about it, given its main target audience (American seminarians). Most of us (preachers at least) had been able to track down free copies of this second edition via a UK-based American gentleman called Johnny Long who, it would appear shares Mr Chapell's concern over legalistic preaching that lacks a grace impetus. I would recommend the book to any Reformed preacher, the younger the better. Being a text book it is not an easy read but even where one would disagree with what is said there lessons to be learned and questions are raised that are well worth considering. We hope to look at The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Dr Steven J Lawson next time.

Flickr Foto Series 16

Railway Lines Finchley Road

Football skills

I saw this fellow showing off his skills in Piccadilly Circus the other night

Ernesto Illy Coffee Geek

Ernesto Illy has died recently. Being a coffee lover (Americano) I was familiar with the name Illy but not the man. This is from The Times.
Ernesto Illy was an evangelist for espresso coffee, with which his family name is synonymous in Italy. Both scientist and businessman, he dedicated his life to creating the perfect cup, in the process helping to turn a drink hitherto largely appreciated only by his countrymen into one regarded around the world as the chic quintessence of Italy.
Illy had firm views about espresso, born of decades of research and tasting. For him, the water temperature should be between 90C and 95C and the coffee the sand-sized grinds of exactly 50 beans roasted at 220C, with 25ml to 30ml of espresso then extracted from it under 9 atmospheres of pressure. The temperature of the coffee to be sipped must be between 80C and 85C, and Illy even designed the shape of a cup for the ideal taste. Milk and sugar he regarded as contaminants.
Beans passing through Illy's warehouse in Trieste were subjected to 114 separate checks in laboratory-style conditions. He believed that if just one was too fermented it would spoil the taste of a cup, and scanners using ultraviolet light accordingly rejected 1.5 per cent of each intake.
These procedures guaranteed consistency of quality, although they also made Illy's coffee twice as expensive as other brands.
Yet such attention to detail was not merely being pernickety but was based on chemistry. Coffee is composed of about 1,500 different elements, with 800 compounds alone contributing to its aroma. Vital to the smell and flavour of espresso is the crema, the amber film that lies on top of it.

C H Spurgeon Church Planter

Do check out this link which features an audio message given by Doug McMasters at the Evangelical Library last September. it is on C H Spurgeon and his church planting work - not a subject I've ever read about or heard much on elsewhere.

Flickr Foto Series 14

Reeboks on a balcony


Italy this time. Still not perfect but pretty emphatic, eh?


Apologies for the hiatus. Last week was half term here and my father kindly took us off to the sun for a week's holiday in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. The islands are Spanish speaking but lie well south of Spain parallel with the Sahara. We eight flew from Gatwick with XL and stayed in the Bahia Flamingo Hotel, Puerto Santiago, not far from Los Gigantes. We had decent weather until the last couple of days and a real relaxing time.
Sunday was something of a disaster. We set off in good time for a fellowship in Los Christianos but en route someone got on who believed her purse had been stolen. The driver was instructed to wait for the police but people slowly began to drift off. In the end we did nothing for over an hour and so were unable to attend. We had our own meeting in the evening. Lots of lessons there.
We enjoyed a trip later in the week seeing pilot whales and dolphins off the coast. My youngest son celebrated his seventh birthday and chose to go to the Jungle Park zoo to celebrate. That was good too. We were sorry not to be able to do more exploring or to see the less touristy north of the island. Perhaps another time.

Anghenfil Saith

Blog of the week 4

So here is another blog of mine that I want to draw attention to. We started with the Thomas Adams one here. My other blog devoted to a Puritan is here. It looks at forgotten early puritan Richard Bernard [1568-1641].

A Puritan lived name of Bernard
A preacher he was, very learned.
He also wrote much
On pi'ty and such
But now by most people he's spurn-ed.

I came across Bernard studying Puritan writings on the conscience. Some posts here began life here on this blog but then I transferred them over.
This prolific Puritan pastor and writer was author of The Faithfull Shepheard and his practice (1607, 1621), a handbook for ministers and an allegory called The Isle of Man (1627). I started the website in January 2007 and it now contains some 69 posts, not quite as many as I had hoped by this time. It has officially had around 1,274 visits (an average of 7 a day) and 2,443 page views (an average of 11 a day). It's not doing quite as well as Adams then but that is to be expected.

The Father of his mercy gave him for us, and he in love bestowed himself of us. The Father did will our peace, and he spared no pains. He came into the world poor, to make us rich. He was to the wicked a derision, that we with angels might be had in admiration. He was blasphemed, to make us blessed; buffeted and scorned, to make us secure in true comfort. He worked righteousness, that we might be free of wickedness. He was innocent, to procure us pardon, being penitent. His holiness is our happiness, his suffering our safety, his grace our good. He was here in trouble for us, his life painful and miserable, so his end for us doleful, and his torments intolerable. In all his life, that we read of, he did never laugh, but often lament. He mourned to see men’s madness, and wept for their woe. Here he sighed for to make us sing. He sobbed and sorrowed much to make us merry. He bore upon him unutterable torment patiently, that we might avoid the plagues of God eternally. His prayers were loud cries and strong, to make our prayers to pierce the heavens.

Flickr Foto Series 13

MacDonalds Notting Hill

Harry Hill on Chimps

This clip is funny. I especially like the middle section that starts about a minute in where Harry goes into overdrive with classic comic wordplay a la Abbott & Costello's Hoo's on first base.

Hymn of the week 23

This is by William Cowper

Heal us, Immanuel! Hear our prayer,
We wait to feel Thy touch:
Deep-wounded souls to Thee repair
And, Saviour, we are such.

Our faith is feeble, we confess,
We faintly trust Thy word;
But wilt Thou pity us the less?
Be that far from Thee, Lord!

Remember him who once applied,
With trembling, for relief;
"Lord, I believe," with tears he cried,
"Oh, help my unbelief!"

She too, who touch'd Thee in the press,
And healing virtue stole,
Was answer'd, "Daughter, go in peace,
Thy faith hath made thee whole."

Like her, with hopes and fears we come
She would have shunn'd Thy view;
And if her faith was firm and strong,
Had strong misgivings too.

Like her, with hopes and fears we come,
To touch Thee, if we may;
Oh! send us not despairing home,
Send none unheal'd away!

Hats O

The opera hat is an evening top hat designed to be collapsible for easy storage (photo shows white costume model in collapsed mode); worn with black tie at the turn of century and in the 1920s and 30s; also known as a "Gibbus" after its inventor.

Hats N

Nightcaps were popular before the advent of Central heating.

Hats M

The montera is the hat worn by Spanish bullfighters.


Still not a brilliant performance but good enough. One more win and we have the triple crown, two more and probably the championship and three more and it's the grand slam.

Kate Rusby

I'm not English but I've lived here most of my life now and I like this version of the old Kinks' classic. I heard it on Radio 2 recently. I thought I heard her sing "God save little shops, china cups and the Trinity" which would have been wonderful. "And virginity" is almost as good, I suppose.
These are the words

We are the Village Green Preservation Society
God save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety
We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do

We are the Draught Beer Preservation Society
God save Mrs. Mopp and good Old Mother Riley
We are the Custard Pie Appreciation Consortium
God save the George Cross and all those who were awarded them

We are the Sherlock Holmes English Speaking Vernacular
Help save Fu Manchu, Moriarty and Dracula

We are the Office Block Persecution Affinity
God save little shops, china cups and virginity

We are the Skyscraper condemnation Affiliate
God save tudor houses, antique shops and billiards
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do
God save the Village Green

Hats L

A leghorn bonnet. (All the rage early in the 19th Century).

Hats K

Surprisingly we're spoiled for choice here. Apart from the Kiss-me-quick hat and the knotted handkerchief of the British seaside there are at least another 13 possibilities, ie kepi, kufi, kippah, kashket, karakul, kolpik, kausia, kevenhuller, khimar, kunduz, keffiya, klobuk and kamilavka. We have plumped for the kolpik because we often see these around here worn by Orthodox Jews but were unaware of what they were called. More here.

Hats J

The jeep cap. More here. As made famous by Radar O'Reilly in M*A*S*H.

Flickr Foto Series 09

Avenue Green Park

Robert Strivens

The Exile continues with his fascinating series of interviews. The latest here is with Robert Strivens Principal elect of LTS, where Guy and I both studied (though at different times).

Matthew Poole

Many of you will be familiar with the 3 volume Matthew Poole commentary published by the Banner many years ago. You may not know that there is more to the story tha those volumes may sugest and Poole wrote a much larger commentary or synopsis in Latin that is now being translated into English. Check this link for more info.

9.1 Preparations for the Temple

We come now to Solomon's middle years.
One of the greatest achievements of Solomon’s reign was the building of the Temple, Solomon’s Temple. It occupied the middle years of his life. Way back in Moses’ time God had instructed his people how to create a House of God where the True God was to be worshipped and where the glories of heaven and the beauties of salvation might be displayed. Until David’s time this Tabernacle or tent had served but Solomon’s father had the vision to see a more permanent structure. Although more than willing to undertake the task, David was told that it was not to be him but his son who would do it. The Temple in Jerusalem was to be not only a source of good theology but also a means of emphasising the unity of God’s people – many tribes with one centre of worship.
We have a full account of the building of the Temple in 1 Kings 5-9. There is a parallel account in 2 Chronicles 2-7. Here we focus mainly on 1 Kings 5 but keeping 2 Chronicles 2 in mind.
Ralph Davis notes how ‘even stalwart biblical readers begin to waver when they get to 1 Kings 5.’ Three chapters on Temple construction are difficult to be excited about. It is not easy at first to see how they can help us. There is a way through, however, with God’s help. We need first to say two preliminary things about 1 Kings 5-9.

Comparable accounts
Apparently other ancient documents from the period have been found describing similar building projects. Parallels have been noted between the way that these accounts and those found in Scripture are structured. For example, acquisition of materials follows the decision to build, which itself is followed by the actual building and furnishing. Finally, there is the dedication, prayer and divine blessing of the king. This fact serves to reassure us that this is a coherent, orderly block of material despite what some scholars suggest.

Various factors mean that it is almost impossible to gain physical archaeological evidence for Solomon’s Temple - its structure and look. Factors include
1. Its eventual destruction by Nebuchadnezzar in c 587 BC.
2. The two successive temples later built on the site – one after the return of the exiles and Herod’s Temple, built between 20 BC and 46 AD. These greatly altered the plan of Solomon’s original Temple.
3. The tense religious and political situation regarding the site, making archaeological work almost impossible.
However, what has been discovered about other structures from the same period confirms that what we read about the Temple here is everything that we might expect. All the various descriptions that we have in Scripture can be matched with examples from other projects from a similar period. This leads one authority at least to note that the biblical accounts ‘would appear to be based on early, authentic eyewitness accounts.’
We want to say three things about preparations for the temple. First,

Corroborating God’s promises - act on his promises
In 1 Kings 4:34 we read that
Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom.
5:1 goes on to give an example of one of the kings who heard of Solomon’s wisdom and sent his messengers – Hiram, King of Tyre, just to the north of Israel, where the forests of Lebanon are found. Hiram ruled over Tyre around 969-936 BC.
When Hiram king of Tyre heard that Solomon had been anointed king to succeed his father David, he sent his envoys to Solomon, because he had always been on friendly terms with David.
Solomon sent back a message, which is found in 5:3-6. As Ralph Davis says, it contains theology and an order for lumber! Israel was God’s chosen nation but there was not enough timber or stone of the right quality or the skilled workmen to complete this project within her borders and so Solomon turned to his neighbour.
In 2 Chronicles 2:5, 6 we read that Solomon said to Hiram
The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him?
In 1 Kings, Solomon reminds Hiram that
because of the wars waged against my father David from all sides, he could not build a temple for the Name of the LORD his God until the LORD put his enemies under his feet.
He then says ‘But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster’ (Solomon is his name remember – ‘Peace’)
I intend, therefore, to build a temple for the Name of the LORD my God … then note these significant words, as the LORD told my father David, when he said, Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my Name.
There is evidence for other monarchs of this period entering on similar building projects to enhance their prestige but this was not like that. This was not some whim of Solomon’s or an idea that had simply been put into his mind by his father. His building of the Temple fulfilled the promise of God. This was what was driving the whole project. God was behind it.
This is what prompted Solomon to say to Hiram (6)
So give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. My men will work with yours, and I will pay you for your men whatever wages you set. You know that we have no-one so skilled in felling timber as the Sidonians.
Sidon is next to Tyre. The word is being used here as a general one for the Phoenicians.
Solomon’s sense of authority and urgency springs from his belief in the promise of God. God promised and he set about doing. God said it, I believe it – that is his attitude. Is that how we react to the promises of God’s Word? That should be the order. We must believe the promises in God’s Word and act on them.
God says, for example, that he 'so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life'. Do you believe that? Are you living your life on the basis of it? Jesus says to believers ‘never will I leave you or forsake you’. Again, do you believe that and are you acting on that truth? When he says that those who honour him, he will honour, do you believe it? (see 1 Sam 2:30). Other great promises can be found in Isa 43:2; Acts 2:38, 39; Jas 1:12.
We can think of the whole Bible as a book full of God’s ‘very great and precious promises’ (1 Pet 1:4), cast-iron guarantees from him. C H Spurgeon used to speak of it as the chequebook of the bank of faith – all ready signed, we simply have to fill in the amount. We used to sing a hymn when I was a boy - ‘Standing on the promises of God’ – are you standing on the promises? John Bunyan famously pictured the promises as the steps out of the slough of despond.
We must not forget either that Solomon is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ and so when we think of King Solomon as the builder of God’s House of stone and gold, we ought also to think of King Jesus the Builder who is over the house and uses ‘living stones’, to build ‘a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through’ him. All that he has done and is doing is in fulfilment of the promises of God in his Word. He is our model indeed as far as believing the promises and acting on them is concerned.

Hats I

The flat cap is also known as an Ivy cap in America. See here. My grandfather, my bampie, wore one of these. In Wales it is sometimes called a Dai cap.

Hats H

The Homburg. As popularised by gangsters and others. More here. I remember my grandad wearing one of these.

Hats G

Glengarry bonnet or cap. Invented by Alasdair Ranaldson MacDonell. More on it here.

Flickr Foto Series 08

Circle of light in a triangle

Blog of the week 3

This time we highlight the blog AD 1735. See here. This one hasn't worked quite as well as I had hoped. For years I have thought of concentrating on one particular year in history and gettung to know it well. I chose 1735 because it was the year the Welseys, Whitefield, Harris and Rowland were converted. The snag here is that is only the beginning of the story. Anyway I began in June 2007 and already have 95 posts covering all sorts of subjects. My motto is this
If in 1735
Some girl or some boy was alive,
It's of interest to me
On this blog it shall be
It's for that sort of info I strive.
If you turn to the site the music you will hear is Le CouCou by Louis Claude Daquin from that year. You can also sample Bach's wonderful Italian Concerto from the same year.
A side panel gives the ages in 1735 of more than 60 contemporaries, from George Washington (3) to Jonathan Swift (68).
On Tuesday, Dec 2, 1735 John Wesley wrote
I had much satisfaction in conversing with one that was very ill and very serious. But in a few days she recovered from her sickness and from her seriousness together.
Sunday 7,
Finding nature did not require so frequent supplies as we had been accustomed to, we agreed to leave off suppers; from doing which we have hitherto found no inconvenience ...

Hymns Pantycelyn 09

Headed 'The Best Treasure' this is 28 in Hosanna to the Son of David

Gloomy darkness now approaches,
As a horrid deluge, o'er
The creation which shall perish
In oblivion evermore.
The elements shall to their former
Rude and messy chaos turn,
And the starry hosts of Heaven
In the conflagration burn.

Other worlds I must inhabit,
There where time imperial reigns,
And in streams of endless pleasures
Overflow the eternal plains ;
Ocean without bounds or limits,
A beginning or an end,
Millions of revolving ages
Can't it's vastness comprehend.

In those mansions ends my journey,
Where my God sits on the Throne,
And my dearest Mediator
For his brethren does atone.
O what pleasures! O what comforts
Shall detain my ling'ring Flight
From a world of woe and trouble
To the realms of purest light!

All the creatures in connection
Loudly summon, "Come away,
Thou thy precious time hast loiter'd
Careless on the narrow way."
Every tongue now bids me hasten
On the wing whilst I have breath,
Lest the shades of night eternal
Draw the curtain o'er in death.

Have the glorious luminaries,
From their rising to their set,
In the vast extensive heavens
With such object ever met?
Are their treasures in the mountains,
Or the bottom of the sea,
In the thousandth part as precious
As my dear Redeemer be?

Flickr Foto Series 07

Westminster Elephant

Hats F

The fez. As made famous by Tommy Cooper. More here. Could have had Fedora.