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.

Paris witness

Apart from the statue of Coligny the only other sign of any life I saw in Paris was this German gentleman hoding up texts to be seen by passing traffic. I am not sure that this is the most effective approach but it heartened  me to see someone doing something.

Gaspard de Coligny

Paris is a lovely palce in many ways but largely devoid of Protestant witness. It was a joy to stumble across this 19th century statute of Admiral Coligny (1519-1572) at the back of an Eglise Reformee. A stout Protestant he was martuyred with many others in the St Bartholomew Day massacre. See here for more on Coligny and here for a little on the church.

Fat Boys Slim etc

Some fun pics from Paris

Parisienne Solution

This sign is found in the Paris buses that we used. I have never seen anything quite like it in England. I think it says something like
Opening and closing of windows
You can open or close the windows as you please. In the case of a disagreement between passengers, priority is given to he who prefers the window closed.

Brady Paris

While we were in Paris we saw these signs. The Bill (my dad's name) is a shop and Le Brady is a cinema. It gives its name to a nearby arcade, presently full of Indian restaurants. In Paris, shops selling similar items often seemed to be found together in our experience. We came across rows of shops selling bridal wear in oneplace and in Montmartre there were music shops and African hair places all in one place.

Still gently weeps

In one of those "random" events I see that this piece from Dutch TV at the time of Harrison's death was recently posted on youtube. I remember talking to Jan at the time of Harrison's death. I'm afraid his opinion of the man as a guitarist was not very high (broomstick player was the term he seized on when it was suggested).

Down and out

We're just back from a few days in Paris. We're tired but there's lots to do. This was taken on a Paris bus between th Arc de Triomphe and Garde du Nord. More to follow.

Bradstreet Meditations 5

XLI A Wise father will not lay a burden on a child of seven yeares old, which he knows is enough for one of twice his strength, much less will our heavenly father (who knows our mould) lay such afflictions upon his weak children as would crush them to the dust, but according to the strength he will proportion the load, as God hath his little children so he hath his strong men, such as are come to a full stature in Christ; and many times he imposes waighty burdens on their shoulders, and yet they go upright under them, but it matters not whether the load be more or less if God afford his help.

XLII  I have seen an end of all perfection (sayd the royall prophet); but he never sayd, I have seen an end of all sinning: what he did say, may be easily sayd by many; but what he did not say, cannot truly be uttered by any.

XLIII  Fire hath its force abated by water, not by wind; and anger must be alayed by cold words, and not by blustering threats.

XLIV A sharp appetite and a thorough concoction, is a signe of an healthfull body; so a quick reception, and a deliberate cogitation, argues a sound mind.

XLV We often se stones hang with drops, not from any innate moisture, but from a thick ayer about them; so may we sometime se marble- hearted sinners seem full of contrition; but it is not from any dew of grace within, but from some black Clouds that impends them, which produces these sweating effects.

XLVI The words of the wise, sath Solomon, are as nailes and as goads both used for contrary ends—the one holds fast, the other puts forward; such should be the precepts of the wise masters of assemblys to their hearers, not only to bid them hold fast the form of sound Doctrin, but also, so to run that they might obtain.

XLVII A shadow in the parching sun, and a shelter in the blustering storme, are of all seasons the most welcome; so a faithfull friend in time of adversity, is of all other most comfortable.

XLVIII There is nothing admits of more admiration, then God's various dispensation of his gifts among the sons of men, betwixt whom he hath put so vast a disproportion that they scarcely seem made of the same lump, or sprung out of the loynes of one Adam; some set in the highest dignity that mortality is capable of; and some again so base, that they are viler then the earth; some so wise and learned, that they seem like Angells among men; and some again so ignorant and Sotish, that they are more like beasts then men: some pious saints; some incarnate Devils; some exceeding beautyfull; and some extreamly deformed; some so strong and healthfull that their bones are full of marrow; and their breasts of milk; and some again so weak and feeble, that, while they live, they are accounted among the dead—and no other reason can be given of all this, but so it pleased him, whose will is the perfect rule of righteousness.

XLIX The treasures of this world may well be compared to huskes, for they have no kernell in them, and they that feed upon them, may soon stuffe their throats, but cannot fill their bellys; they may be choaked by them, but cannot be satisfied with them.

L Sometimes the sun is only shadowed by a cloud that wee cannot se his luster, although we may walk by his light, but when he is set we are in darkness till he arise again; so God doth sometime vaile his face but for a moment, that we cannot behold the light of his Countenance as at some other time, yet he affords so much light as may direct our way, that we may go forward to the Citty of habitation, but when he seems to set and be quite gone out of sight, then must we needs walk in darkness and se no light, yet then must we trust in the Lord, and stay upon our God, and when the morning (which is the appointed time) is come, the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings.

Gently weeps

Like many modern and post modern people the Beatles were fascinated by the random. I was recently reading that George Harrison wrote his "While my guitar gently weeps" by selecting two words (gently weeps) from a book at random. I thought I might repeat the experiment. I'm using a Penguin edition of Samuel Smiles Self-help book. That gives me something like

While my guitar plumbs the strata OR
My guitar springing into a boat OR
Play my guitar - work to be got.

If we forget about Harrison for a moment and just focus on a random phrase from Smiles - what difficulty - I can come up with

With what difficulty these words I write,
Constrained by my method, I lose the fight.
With what difficulty these lines I compose,
As for what they mean there's no-one knows.
With what difficulty deep thoughts I seek,
While all of the lines are contrived and weak.
With what difficulty I reach the end,
Let's all hope I haven't started a trend.
Just need a solo from Clapton and fame beckons.

Myth of overpopulation

This subject came up recently. I have five kids. I'm not looking for an excuse I meant to have a larger family than my parents.

Bradstreet Meditations 4

XXXI. Iron till it be thoroughly heat is uncapable to be wrought; so God sees good to cast some men into the furnace of affliction, and then beats them on his anvile into what frame he pleases.
XXXII. Ambitious men are like hops that never rest climbing soe long as they have anything to stay upon; but take away their props and they are, of all, the most dejected.
XXXIII. Much Labour wearys the body, and many thoughts oppresse the minde: man aimes at profit by the one, and content in the other; but often misses of both, and findes nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit.
XXXIV. Dimne eyes are the concomitants of old age; and short-sightednes, in those that are eyes of a Republique, foretells a declineing State.
XXXV. We read in Scripture of three sorts of Arrows—the arrow of an enemy, the arrow of pestilence, and the arrow of a slanderous tongue; the two first kill the body, the last the good name; the two former leave a man when he is once dead, but the last mangles him in his grave.
XXXVI. Sore labourers have hard hands, and old sinners have brawnie consciences.
XXXVII. Wickednes comes to its height by degrees. He that dares say of a lesse sin, is it not a little one? will ere long say of a greater, Tush, God regards it not!
XXXVIII. Some Children are hardly weaned, although the breast be rub'd with wormwood or mustard, they will either wipe it off, or else suck down sweet and bitter together; so is it with some Christians, let God embitter all the sweets of this life, that so they might feed upon more substantiall food, yet they are so childishly sottish that they are still huging and sucking these empty brests, that God is forced to hedg up their way with thornes, or lay affliction on their loynes, that so they might shake hands with the world before it bid them farewell
XXXIX. A Prudent mother will not clothe her little childe with a long and cumbersome garment; she easily forsees what events it is like to produce, at the best but falls and bruises, or perhaps somewhat worse, much more will the alwise God proportion his dispensations according to the Stature and Strength of the person he bestows them on. Larg indowments of honor, wealth, or a helthfull body would quite overthrow some weak Christian, therefore God cuts their garments short, to keep them in such trim that they might run the wayes of his Commandment.
XL. The spring is a lively emblem of the resurrection. After a long winter we se the leavlesse trees and dry stocks (at the approach of the sun) to resume their former vigor and beauty in a more ample manner then what they lost in the Autumn; so shall it be at that great day after a long vacation, when the Sun of righteousness shall appear, those dry bones shall arise in far more glory then that which they lost at their creation, and in this transcends the spring, that their leafe shall never faile, nor their sap decline.

Davis on Psalms 1-12

Just before I came away to Aber I noticed that Dale Ralph Davis had a new little book out - The way of the righteous in the muck of life. What it is is a series of sermons on the first 12 Psalms. Each Psalm is written out in Davis's own translation and followed by a brief sermon characterised by the usual Davis formula of careful scholarship, hippish lingo and great illustration. I enjoyed the first two or three, enjoying the illustrations especially. Then it began to pall a little and I thought there were too many. I then got back on a more even keel accepting that Davis has great strengths but you wouldn't want everyone to follow the same formula. Each preacher is to give us God's word through his own personality.
Here is a great little book then, excellent for devotional reading, sermon prep or just to read through. We are greatly indebted to Dr Davis for this and to the publishers for arranging it. Another few volumes could well be sustained. I was able to get my copy signed by the man himself, which no doubt adds to its value. By the way, I did find myself trying to scratch the speck of mud off the front at one point so full marks to the cover designer for his efforts too.

Bradstreet Meditations 3

XXI. He that walks among briars and thorns will be very carefull where he sets his foot. And he that passes through the wilderness of this world, had need ponder all his steps.

XXII. Want of prudence, as well as piety, hath brought men into great inconveniencys; but he that is well stored with both, seldom is so insnared.

XXIII. The skillfull fisher hath his severall baits for severall fish, but there is a hooke under all; Satan, that great Angler, hath his sundry bait for sundry tempers of men, which they all catch gredily at, but few perceives the hook till it be too late.

XXIV. There is no new thing under the sun, there is nothing that can be sayd or done, but either that or something like it hath been both done and sayd before.

XXV. An akeing head requires a soft pillow; and a drooping heart a strong support.

XXVI. A sore finger may disquiet the whole body, but an ulcer within destroys it: so an enemy without may disturb a Commonwealth, but dissentions within overthrow it.

XXVII. It is a pleasant thing to behold the light, but sore eyes are not able to look upon it; the pure in heart shall see God, but the defiled in conscience shall rather choose to be buried under rocks and mountains then to behold the presence of the Lamb.

XXVIII. Wisedome with an inheritance is good, but wisedome without an inheritance is better then an inheritance without wisedome.

XXIX. Lightening doth generally preceed thunder, and stormes, raine; and stroaks do not often fall till after threat'ning.

XXX. Yellow leaves argue the want of Sap, and gray haires want of moisture; so dry and saplesse performances are symptoms of little spirituall vigor.

What is this life?

Earlier on today the line came up in conversation "What is this life so full of care, if we have no time to stand and stare?". It is by Newport poet W H Davies. Then tonight I noticed this at Reformation 21 by Carl Trueman.

One of the amazing things about modern American culture is surely the pathological fear of wasting time. It is especially evident in the attitude to children. Public school kids have their lives scheduled from morning till night; homeschool parents seem to regard any second of the day from the age of two that isn't used to learn Latin poetry or the cello or conversational Swahili as time that is wasted. It's a far cry from my childhood, when school ran from 9 in the morning till 4 in the afternoon, and then I was free to ride my bike, walk on the common, or just sit around with friends. And it continues in to later life: all the technology we have, and people seem to have less free time than ever.

Indeed, we have surely lost the virtue that is laziness. As Kierkegaard once said, 'Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good' -- a truly amazing theological insight. Some may think that that maybe going a bit far, but compared to the idea that the essence of humanity is busy-ness, it is much to be preferred.

The greatest testament to the power of wasted time in the history of the church is surely Luther's Table Talk. A collection of anecdotes and sayings collected by Luther's closest friends, it reflects the full range of Luther as pastor, mentor, Christian and friend. Reading the comments, from advice to young preachers (`The sixth mark of a good preacher is knowing when to stop.') to comments on lawyers (`One only studies something as dirty as law in order to make money') to general observations on life, some of which don't bear repeating on a polite blog such as this, I suspect Luther's table companions learned more about life and ministry while drinking beer and having a laugh with the Meister than in the university lecture hall.

Numerous applications come to mind: seminary is the people with whom you strike up friendships (a point which must be taken into account as seminaries move towards more distance education);friendships (real, embodied friendships that are not exclusively mediated through pixels) are crucial to staying the course of ministry -- laughter in the face of adversity and hardship not only being vital in this regard but also, of course, an almost exclusively social phenomenon that requires company; drinking beer with friends is perhaps the most underestimated of all Reformation insights and essential to ongoing reform; and wasting time with a choice friend or two on a regular basis might be the best investment of time you ever make.

Hocus Pocus


Twice in recent days I have come across a word that I thought was unfamiliar. The word is terrine. Firstly, near Chester I had a banana and chocolate terrine as pudding. Then at the wedding they were serving a rabbit, pheasant and venison terrine. According to wikipedia the latter is the more traditional type, being "a French forcemeat loaf that is served at room temperature". Similar to a pâté, it uses more coarsely chopped ingredients and is a form of charcuterie or preservation of meat.
What wikipedia also reveals is that I do actually know the word as it is the one also used for an earthenware pot with a tight lid (not to be confused with a turreen - a large dish for soup or stew).

Cook Books

Faith Cook appears to have written around 17 books since 1989, mostly of a biographical nature. In this list I have put her autobiographical work first, then her five biographies of individuals, followed by eight books that are collections of briefer biographies. Numbers 15 and 16 are novelisations and 17 contains poetry. I have read a number of these and found them well written and very helpful.

1. Troubled Journey: A Missionary Childhood in War-Torn China (Paperback 2004)
2. William Grimshaw of Haworth (Hardcover 1997)
3. Selina: Countess of Huntingdon (Hardcover 2001)
4. The Nine Day Queen of England: Lady Jane Grey (Paperback 2005)
5. Fearless Pilgrim: The Life and Times of John Bunyan (Hardcover 2008)
6. Anne Bradstreet: Pilgrim and Poet (Paperback 2010)
7. Samuel Rutherford and His Friends (Paperback 1992)
8. Singing in the fire: Christians in adversity (Paperback 1995)
9. Seeing the Invisible (Champions of the faith) (Paperback 1998)
10. Sound of Trumpets (Paperback 1999)
11. Lives Turned Upside down (Champions of the faith) (Paperback 2002)
12. Hymn writers and their hymns (Hardcover 2005)
13. Stars in God's Sky (Paperback 2009)
14. Overcoming the world (ET Perspectives) (Paperback ?)

15. Under the Scaffold: And What Happened to Tom Whittaker (Paperback 2005)
16. Caught in the Web: A Tale of Tudor Times (Paperback 2006)
17. Grace in winter: Rutherford in verse (Harddcover 1989)

Bradstreet Meditations 2

XI. That town which thousands of enemys without hath not been able to take, hath been delivered up by one traytor within; and that man, which all the temptations of Sathan without could not hurt, hath been foild by one lust within.

XII. Authority without wisdome is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish.

XIII. The reason why Christians are so both to exchange this world for a better, is because they have more sence than faith: they se what they injoy, they do but hope for that which is to come.

XIV. If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes tast of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.

XV. A low man can goe upright under that door wher a taller is glad to stoop; so a man of weak faith, and mean abilities may undergo a crosse more patiently than he that excells him, both in gifts and graces.

XVI. That house which is not often swept, makes the cleanly inhabitant soone loath it, and that heart which is not continually purifieing itself, is no fit temple for the spirit of God to dwell in.

XVII. Few men are so humble as not to be proud of their abilitys; and nothing will abase them more than this—What hast thou, but what thou hast received? Come, give an account of thy stewardship.

XVIII. He that will undertake to climb up a steep mountain with a great burden on his back, will finde it a wearysome, if not an impossible task; so he that thinks to mount to heaven clog'd with the Cares and riches of this Life, 'tis no wonder if he faint by the way.

XIX. Corne, till it has passed through the Mill and been ground to powder, is not fit for bread. God so deales with his servants: he grindes them with grief and pain till they turn to dust, and then are they fit manchet for his Mansion.

XX. God hath sutable comforts and supports for his children according to their severall conditions if he will make his face to shine upon them: he then makes them lye down in green pastures, and leads them beside the still waters: if they stick in deepe mire and clay, and all his waves and billows goe over their heads, He then leads them to the Rock which is higher than they.

Five godly Anns

1. Anne Bradstreet 1612-1672
2. Anne Dutton 1692-1765
3. Anne Steele 1717-1778
4. Ann Griffiths 1776-1805
5. Ann Judson 1789-1826

Bradstreet Meditations 1

In 1664 Anne Bradstreet passed on a series of meditations to her second son Simon. She wrote
Parents perpetuate their lines in their posterity, and their maners in their imitation. Children do naturally rather follow the failings than the virtues of their predecessors, but I am persuaded better things of you. You once desired me to leave something for you in writing that you might look upon when you should see me no more. I could think of nothing more fit for you, nor of more ease to my selfe, than these short meditations following. Such as they are I bequeath to you: small legacys are accepted by true friends, much more by dutiful children. I have avoyded incroaching upon others conceptions, because I would leave you nothing but myne owne, though in value they fall short of all in this kinde, yet I presume they will be better priz'd by you for the Author's sake. The Lord blesse you with grace heer, and crown you with glory heerafter, that I may meet you with rejoyceing at that great day of appearing, which is the continuall prayer of
Your affectionate mother,
A. B.
March 20, 1664.

Here are the first ten:

I. There is no object that we see; no action that we doe; no good that we injoy; no evill that we feele or feare, but we may make some spiritu(a)ll, advantage of all: and he that makes such improvement is wise as well as pious.

II. Many can speak well, but few can do well. We are better Scholars in the Theory then the practique part, but he is a true Christian that is a proficient in both.

III. Youth is the time of getting, middle age of improving, and old age of spending; a negligent youth is usually attended by an ignorant middle age, and both by an empty old age. He that hath nothing to feed on but vanity and lyes must needs lye down in the Bed of Sorrow.

IV. A ship that beares much saile, and little or no ballast, is easily overset; and that man, whose head hath great abilities, and his heart little or no grace, is in danger of foundering.

V. It is reported of the peakcock that, prideing himself in his gay feathers, he ruffles them up; but, spying his black feet, he soon lets fall his plumes, so he that glorys in his gifts and adornings should look upon his Corruptions, and that will damp his high thoughts.

VI. The finest bread hath the least bran; the purest hony, the least wax; and the sincerest Christian, the least self love. [I guess she would hve known that sincere means literally without wax].

VII. The hireling that labors all the day, comforts himself that when night comes he shall both take his rest and receive his reward; the painfull Christian that hath wrought hard in God's vineyard, and hath born the heat and drought of the day, when he perceives his sun apace to decline, and the shadows of his evening to be stretched out, lifts up his head with joy, knowing his refreshing is at hand.

VIII. Downny beds make drosey persons, but hard lodging keeps the eyes open. A prosperous state makes a secure Christian, but adversity makes him Consider.

IX. Sweet words are like hony, a little may refresh, but too much gluts the stomach.

X. Diverse children have their different natures; some are like flesh which nothing but salt will keep from putrefaction; some again like tender fruits that are best preserved with sugar: those parents are wise that can fit their nurture according to their Nature.

By night

This is a great little poem by Anne Bradstreet

By night when others soundly slept,
And had at once both ease and rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lie I found it best.

I sought Him whom my soul did love,
With tears I sought Him earnestly;
He bowed His ear down from above.
In vain I did not seek or cry.

My hungry soul He filled with good,
He in His bottle put my tears,
My smarting wounds washed in His blood,
And banished thence my doubts and fears.

What to my Saviour shall I give,
Who freely hath done this for me?
I'll serve Him here whilst I shall live
And love Him to eternity.

Anne Bradstreet

I have been reading Faith Cook's latest biography, on the 17th Century New England poet Anne Bradstreet. There are many extant Bradstreet poems and these give a few biographical hints but apart from these and a brief autobiographical manuscript there is little else. Mrs Cook has little to work with, therefore, but skillfully weaves a short and interesting Christian biography from turbulent and momentous times.
The book starts off a little like a children's book ("King James I of England was angry") but settles down to a good readable pace that will be of particular interest to Christian women but useful to all. The short paperback (not very much over 150 pages) is well illustrated and nicely presented. Its great strength is that, apart from the fact that the publication of her poems in England to a rapturous reception, Bradstreet lived a moderately ordinary life, her main achievement being the raising of eight children at the edge of civilization.
I had eight birds hatcht in one nest,
Four Cocks were there, and Hens the rest.
I nurst them up with pain and care,
No cost nor labour did I spare
Till at the last they felt their wing,
Mounted the Trees and learned to sing.
The book includes an index and the autobiographical piece as an appendix.
Anne Bradstreet has her eown website here. It contains many of the poems if not all. There are also a few quotes including this one

"If we had no Winter, the spring would not be so pleasant;
If we did not sometimes taste the adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."

This site here appears to give access to all that is online. May be this is better.

One more wedding

So we headed off on Thursday afternon via Rhug and a stay in a Days Hotel just north of Chester to our fourth and final wedding of the summer in Upper Hopton, Mirfield. There a member at Childs Hill was getting married.
Several things marked this out as a little different to other weddings this summer. Firstly, bride and groom are in their forties. Secondly, it is a transatlantic affair. He is an American. They will be living in America. Then there is the fact that they met on the internet and both bring children to the new situation, both having had previous relationships.
The wedding took place in St John the Evangelist, Upper Hopton in Mirfield, Yorkshire, a delightful but painfully "high" Anglican church. The reception for about 60 of us, including seven from Childs Hill, followed in a new part of the model farm, Bradford. It was an unseasonably cold day, which was a pity but it was a lovely time in other respects, including the lovely food by local caterers.
We headed back to Aber around 9 pm and got home in the small hours. We do wish them well, especially with visas and citizenship, etc.


I notice that several past Aber Conference videos are now availale at vimeo. See here.

1662 and all that

One of the things I have been doing this week is exploring the possibility of a study day on 1662 and nonconformity for some time in 2012 in conjunction with the Evangelical Library. Can anyone who would like to express interest in such a study day send an email to with a contactable email address. More details to follow.

Aber 2010 03

The Aberystwyth Conference is over for us as we are attending a wedding today. As ever it has been nice to see so many people and enjoy good ministry. Sadly, there were loads of people we just didn't get to chat to. There are meetings this morning and this evening. I apologised to Stuart Olyott that I would miss tonight. He thought that I was about the hundredth person to so apologise and only his wife Doll is a definite at present. I'm sure the Great Hall will be packed, however, as it has been through the week and some will have to sit in the plush cinema downstairs and watch it there in the overflow. As for the morning meetings, the inimitable Dale Ralph Davis has been walking us through Jeremiah. The opening session on Jeremiah 1 was stellar and a brilliant start with its powerful mix of thorough exegesis, cautious theology, semi-street talk, great application and fine illustrations. None of those present will read the opening remarks of Jeremiah about when he prophesied again without remembering that far from being pedestrian remarks about chronology, this is a testimony to the relentlessness of God's Word whatever the circumstances. None of the subsequent talks lived quite up to that first one for some reason but we have had excellent stuff. Those who attended Wednesday's seminar got an extra talk from Jeremiah 40 dealing with failure in ministry. That had a mixed reception maybe but was again for me a powerful bit of applied exegesis. It was also a treat Wednesday night to be in the manse where my father-in-law Geoff Thomas had invited Dr Davis and one or two others. I wasn't the only one to grab opportunity for a book signing. I got the impression that Ralph is a self-effacing man, cheerful but only by grace, something of a scholar but chiefly a pastor who enjoys writing. I could identify. He is about to retire from the pastorate and is set on writing up another Old Testament book and not doing too much conference work. It is good to know that God has such a variety of servants working away in the vineyard.

Why Johnny can't sing hymns

Why Johnny can't preach rather passed me by but now T David Gordon has another book out on the problem of modern singing in church. Called Why Johnny can't sing hymns, it is subtitled "How Pop Culture Re-Wrote the Hymnal".

The book is quite personalised and chiefly descriptive but there is a clear agenda - to decry the modern trend for using exclusively contemporary praise. (I was staggered, by the way, that at the Extra Time meeting we sang Before the throne of God to the modern tune - a song that has been done to death even for me with my sheltered existence. There was also a Townend/Getty and one by the Cooks).

I would be broadly in agreement with Dr Gordon's outlook although because the book is written from a sociological point of view and has little by way of exegesis few would want to line up with every statement he makes. The book's strength is in the alarm call it gives to those immersed in the contemporary praise movement, to consider again just what they are doing. If Dr Gordon is right that the modern idiom is ill equipped to convey serious and soul-searching messages then the sooner we back away from this the better. I particularly liked the way he argued not against pop music as such but against its use (or certainly its over-use) in worship. As he suggests, I think that the folk idiom is the one best suited to Christian worship with some limited room for classical and pop.
Do get hold of a copy if you can and read it. It is an easy read and a good contribution to the current debate (or lack of it as is too often the case).

Aber 2010 02

The first evening session was on Monday night. The preacher was Gareth Williams from Bala and he took us to Colossians for a message that was chiefly evangelistic. Gareth is a similar age to myself. He was in Cardiff when I was in Aber. The second evening it was our friend Martin Downes on Acts 24, more consistently evangelistic but with a similar clear, calm and deliberate style. I am missing Bill James tonight as it's my turn to babysit. I'll also be missing Steve Brady and Stuart Olyott on subsequent nights as we have to leave early for a wedding.
I also missed Hywel Jones on the Christian mind yesterday afternoon but was able to hear Dale Ralph Davis the main speaker at a seminar this afternoon. I'll say something about his main addresses and this one in another post. I also managed a nice coffee with my friend Robert Strivens.
I missed Dr Jones as we were all on the beach in Borth (the whole wider family and friends, including one cousin of Eleri's over from the States) chatting and playing cricket. It's been remarkably good weather since we got here more or less. On the Monday afternoon I made my annual visit to the Christian Bookshop here in Aber and made a number of purchases. I sat down on the seafront to peruse them and got chatting with a young Estonian student. I don't think she had met a Christian really before so she was keen to talk. She proved sceptical and was sure that simply doing good deeds to please herself was enough. I told her she was blind and needed a "Copernican revolution" in her whole way of thinking - from a me-centred outlook to a God-centred one. I hope she meets other Christians this week. There are plenty about.

Aber 2010 01

So we are now in Aber for the conference. We arrived ahead of most conferees on Thursday night and then had Friday to settle in. We stay with my in-laws along with Eleri's two sisters and their families. We're quite a large crowd by now but two of my sons are able to stay with my eldest and his wife in their flat round the corner.

I was a last minute replacement at the welcome meeting for Extra-time, the programme of fringe meetings organised for under 25s. I spoke on making the most of it. See the sermon here. About 40 were present and it was a nice start.

One of the traditions pre-conference is that besides the official conference Sunday services (this year Andrew Norbury and James Sercombe at Capel y morfa) my father-in-law puts on a mini conference, usually preaching himself. It is normally in Bethel, the church building diagonally opposite (the smaller) Alfred Place but that was due to have roof work so it was in Seion, Baker Street just down the street.

Geoff did three messages on Adoption, looking at the doctrine itself, the implications and then some application. The first two were given on Sunday morning and evening just later than the usual times. Then on Monday morning we have a stripped down session where I open with prayer and the Word. Well over a hundred were present.

So as usual even before the conference had really started we had had a good time. Sunday afternoon Eleri and I went over to the house of one of the AP elders and had a lovely time with him, his wife, and their Yorkshire based son and his wife and daughter.

It's lovely to see lots of old friends, of course, from LTS and student days and so on, as well as family.


We are getting into holiday mood at present as we are off soon, taking in the Aberystwyth Conference among other things. Paul Gamston has had to drop out and so I have been drafted in to speak at the Saturday night Extra Time meeting, which I think is a wonderful opportunity. Paul was going to do something on the parable of the sower but I want to look at Ephesians 5:15, 16.
It was interesting. I preached on Revelation 3:14-22 on Sunday and when the call came I was discussing opportunity with someone (one of my points was about being aware of, thankful for and using open doors - "what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open") so I was immediately able to say that I'd like to speak on that subject. Aber is a great opportunity especially for the young people.
The picture show the Greek god Kairos hairy at the front and bald at the back. (We call our young people's group in Childs Hill Kairos Klub because we want them to take the opportunity we offer).