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.

1662 and Nonconformity

Next year will be the 350th anniversary of the Great Ejection of 1662 and a study day on "1662 & Nonconformity" has been arranged.
The study day will be held on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at the Evangelical Library, North London. The speakers are Garry Williams, Robert Oliver and Gary Brady.
Cost: £25 prebooked, £30 on the day. Please send a cheque with your details to the Library. All are welcome.

10.00-10.30 Coffee and registration
10.30-11.30 Garry Williams
1662 & its immediate aftermath
11.30-11.40 Short break
11.40-12.40 Gary Brady
1662 & the men who were ejected
12.45-13.45 Lunch breaks (drinks provided, no food)
13.50-14.50 Robert Oliver
1689 & the toleration of dissent
14.50-15.00 Short break
15.00-16.00 Panel discussion
1662 & dissent today

Feasting and mourning

Ecclesiastes 7:2 says that It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. I have had opportunity to test that out over the last few days being at a wedding in South Wales last Saturday and a funeral yesterday in Bradford on Avon.
The wedding was that of Eleri's cousin's second daughter Mari who was marrying Owain Davies of Bridgend. Mari's father is Meirion Thomas, pastor of Malpas Road Evangelical Church, Newport, (Site currently under construction) who married them (in Welsh). The preacher (and very good too) was Stephen Clark, Owain's pastor who I've known for years. Mari's sister Bethan was married this time last year so there was some deja vu but as Meirion pointed out it was a unique event. People like to have themes these days and the theme here was beach holidays, which was pursued avidly but not relentlessly. The ice cream van outside the reception area before the dancing was a big hit. An added bonus for me was getting to see my sister in Cwmbran (she also did the posies for the bridal party). It was great to be at a Christian wedding, as two young people committed themselves to the Lord for life.
Then yesterday it was the funeral of Eleri's brother-in-law's mother, Ruth Alsop, in Bradford. She was only 58 and had been suffering from cancer for the last couple of years. The burial was first. There is nothing quite like a Christian burial and with fine weather it was a bitter sweet joy to share with the family in their sadness. Phil and Ruth have four married children and a five or six grandchildren (is it?). Back at the chapel Robert Oliver preached from Philipppians 1:21. After a short bite to eat over the road we headed back along the M4. One feature of the funeral is the presence of a number of preachers, most connected with the large Alsop clan (Ian has 27 cousins on that side). Besides Robert Oliver, there are two other retired ministers at the church - John Hancock and Alec Taylor (I was sorry not to get to speak to him just as I was to miss Bruce Powell at the wedding). Also around were Simon Ladd (Bury), Paul Oliver (Netley), Hugh Collier (Gt Ellingham), Ed Collier (Sheffield), Ian's brother-in-law Jamie Cater (Reading) and myself. It was also nice to see Tim Collier again who only lives over the hill from here though we rarely meet up. He had a nice story about being on a plane with Jedward.
So what of Ecclesiastes 7:2? There was not much in it but he is right. The older you get the more you can see it.

Fry's Top Ten Gadgets

10. IPAD
03. IPOD

Gadgets 3

Here is 50 down to 11

49. BRA
47. VCR
33. IRON
29. FAX
15. Wii

Gadgets 2

The 25 next were
68. FAN
57. PVRS


I enjoyed Stephen Fry's countdown of greatest gadgets on Channel 3 tonight. You can find the fascinating list here.
In reverse his first 25 were:
84. PDA
77. BELL

Bible Exhibition

I forgot to mention that while I was away I popped into the National Library in Aberystwyth to see their little exhibition of Bibles marking the anniversary of the AV. It's still on until September 10. While nothing amazing there were still early AVs, a Bishops Bible, a handwritten Wycliffe Gospel, William Morgan's Hebrew Testament and his Welsh translation, etc. 

Augustine: Prayer before preaching

(Saw this quoted in an essay by Bishop Wallace Benn)
It is from On Christian Doctrine, Vol 4, Chapter 15, Section 32

And so our Christian orator, while he says what is just, and holy and good (and he ought never to say anything else), does all he can to be heard with intelligence, with pleasure and with obedience; and he need and so far as he succeeds, he will succeed more by piety in prayer than by gifts of oratory; and so he ought to pray for himself and for those he is about to address, before he attempts to speak. And when the hour is come that he must speak, he ought, before he opens his mouth, to lift up his thirsty soul to God, to drink in what he is about to pour forth and to be himself filled with what he is about to distribute. For, as in regard to every matter of faith and love there are many things that may be said, and many ways of saying them, who knows what it is expedient at a given moment for us to say, or to be heard saying, except God who knows the hearts of all? And who can make us say what we ought and in the way we ought except Him in whose hand both we and our speeches are? Accordingly, he who is anxious both to know and to teach should learn all that is to be taught, and acquire such a faculty of speech as is suitable for a divine. But when the hour for speech arrives, let him reflect upon that saying of our Lord's as better suited to the wants of a pious mind "Take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." The Holy Spirit, then, speaks thus in those who for Christ's sake are delivered to the persecutors; why not also in those who deliver Christ's message to those who are willing to learn?

Brian May on Akkerman etc

Though never quite a fan of Brian May one admired his sound and this interview on the night he was given the Eddy Christiani award in Holland earlier this summer s a serious, modest and interesting one.

Chairs Q

Queen Anne Chair

VR03 Aberystwyth

Now we have a series. This one is interesting as it is a figurehead salvaged from a ship. Probably carved around 1838 (soon after her coronation, before she married) it was transferred to The Victoria Tavern around 1870. The building remained a tavern until 1920 and has since housed various businesses. In 1989 the building was repainted and the figurehead was undercoated in black. It was restored in 1998. During restoration it was found to have been painted at least 20 times, at one stage, possibly when she died in 1901, in black.

Chairs P

Papasan Chair

Not looking forward to the World Cup

Until two minutes ago I was quite looking forward to the rugby world cup in New Zealand, which starts September 9. Then I looked here to discover that three of Wales's four opening games are on a Sunday. Only the Namibia game (first thing on a Monday morning) is not. For Ireland it's the same, but England and Scotland have only one Sunday game (I'm pleased for Euan Murray at least). If we win Pool D it's another Sunday game but being runner up means a Saturday fixture followed by a Saturday semi-final (I can dream can't I?). The final, unsurprisingly, is on a Sunday (early morning here).

Chaucer's Yong Squier

Chaucer's yong Squier ... 
Syngynge he was, or floytynge, al the day,
He was as fressh as is the monthe of May.
(I had this idea when I was in college - explains a lot)

Need cash now?

Youtube includes adverts on uploaded videos. I'm not sure how this one ended up under this
highwayman in one of my videos but it does perhaps give the wrong impression.

Baxter on Pastoring

From Baxter's Reformed Pastor:

The first and greatest work of ministers of Christ is acquainting men with the God who made them; He is the source of their blessing. We should open up the treasures of His goodness for them and tell them of the glory that is in His presence, a glory which all His chosen people shall enjoy. By showing men the certainty and the excellence of the promised joy, and by making them aware of the perfect blessedness in the life to come in comparison with the vanities of the present life, we may redirect their understanding and affections toward heaven. We shall bring them to the point of due contempt of this world and fasten their hearts on a more durable treasure. This is the work we should be busy with both night and day. For when we have affixed their hearts unfeignedly on God and heaven, the major part of the ministry is accomplished. All the rest will follow naturally.

House of the King

This is Focus and House of the King from my Youtube collection

Anne Boleyn at the Globe

We are back in London now and last night we had a real treat courtesy of my father-in-law, passing through en route to the USA. An avid reader of reviews, he had noticed that Howard Brenton's drama Anne Boleyn was playing at the Globe Theatre. He was only able to get tickets for the four of us (we and our wives) to stand and with an atrociously rainy day we were fearful of a soaking. As it turned out, there was hardly a drop. We really had two things for the price of one then - a positive experience of seeing a play in the interestingly reconstructed Globe as groundlings (something I've not done before although we have gone to the Globe itself more than once) and a very well acted and thought provoking play too.
Current day groundlings are thankfully much, much quieter than Shakespearean ones I guess but we got a real idea of what it might have been like to stand under an open sky and see a play in Shakespeare's time.
The play itself was of great interest to us featuring not only as it did Ann Boleyn and Henry VIII, etc, but also James I commissioning the AV and William Tyndale in unlikely but plausible scenes with Ann (the play takes place in two time periods - that of Boleyn and that of the early years of James I). Boleyn (Like Henry adn James) is an endlessly fascinating figure and although there was much speculation here the play cast an interesting light on her undoubted Protestantism and on Tyndale and the effect of the Bible on the English nation too. There were sadly some crudities that marred the beauty of the piece but many could enjoy it. For reviews see here.

SS2 Remembering Dr Lloyd-Jones

I like to use stuff as much as I can. Back in March this blog appeared here.
A significant anniversary has quietly slipped by recently. March 1 saw the passing of the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It is right to take a moment to remind ourselves, if we know, what an impact his ministry had, under God, and to alert a rising generation to his stature and importance.
I am of that generation that came immediately after the one that knew the full impact of his ministry. All my life I have heard him lionized (and sometimes criticized) but never met him personally.
I became aware of him shortly after being converted as a young teenager in Wales. It seemed that a sermon rarely got preached in those days without the minister mentioning him or Spurgeon or sometimes both. Spurgeon, I discovered, was one of those notorious dead guys but Lloyd-Jones was alive and kicking, living somewhere in London and still often about in our part of the world.
I recall at least two occasions when trips were organized to hear the man himself. Not used to the idea of a preacher so popular that late arrival could mean no seat, both times I turned up late at my minister’s house only to find he and the others long gone.
I got hold of some tapes but only actually heard the man himself once. It was on Wednesday, May 14, 1980 - the last time he ever preached in Wales. I know the date because I still have the bilingual poster announcing that he would preach in the afternoon in Welsh and in the evening in English. Not having Welsh, I only went in the evening. He preached from Acts 2. It was a grand occasion and I well remember seeing the elderly and slightly feeble figure of Lloyd-Jones in his dark overcoat stepping up to pulpit lectern to preach in his own unique way. My wife, six years my junior, was only 12 at the time. When her preacher father asked her what she thought of it, she said it was “just like Sunday mornings only simpler”!
Under a year later he was in the immediate presence of his Lord. Having come to appreciate the importance of this great man of God I made sure that I made the trip with my minister to Newcastle Emlyn for the funeral. I had never been present on such an occasion before and hardly ever since. There must have been as many as a hundred preachers there, many of them familiar to me, men who had made the journey to pay their last respects in that out-of-the-way place to the man they always referred to as “the doctor.” I had never seen anyone at a funeral with a camera before but Iain Murray probably made the right decision to take one along. I well remember being at the graveside and singing God’s praise under an open sky, aware that we were saying goodbye to a great man of God.
The writings of Lloyd-Jones had begun to appear and have continued to come out since. In due time Iain Murray’s two-volume biography appeared. The more I discovered about Lloyd-Jones the more amazed I was. Of course, one was aware of legitimate criticisms that were being made regarding the Doctor’s stance on some doctrinal and practical issues. Sometimes his eagerness for experiential Calvinism perhaps betrayed him into unwise statements and actions. However, he was a man who walked with God and one who was greatly used in his service and we may not see his like for generations to come.
We could all benefit from a perusal of the biography and of at least some of his writings. Perhaps his Preaching and Preachers is a good place to start or Knowing the times, a collection of addresses. His Faith on trial on Psalm 73 is a wonderful little book as is his sermon series on The Sermon on the Mount. Check them out. They will do your soul good.
Some additional resources by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones include the following:
The Cross
Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace
Faith on Trial
The All Sufficient God: Sermons on Isaiah 40
Raising Children God’s Way
The Plight of Man and the Power of God

Chairs M

Morris Chair

Still Protestant?

(This same item has recentyly appeared on the Exiled preacher site)

The 2010 Westminster Conference Papers have now been published, £5.95 including UK p&p.
The English Reformation Today: Revise, Reverse or Revert?, Garry Williams
Puritan Attitudes Towards Rome Revisited, Guy Davies
The 1611 English Bible: An Unlikely Masterpiece, David Gregson
Repentance and Sola Fide: Various Reformation Approaches, Sam Waldron
Doomed From the Start? The Edinburgh Conference of 1910, Daniel Webber
Andrew Bonar, Malcolm MaClean
Copies can be ordered from:
Conference Secretary,
Rev J F Harris,
8 Back Knowl Road, Mirfield,
West Yourkshire. WF14 9SA

Carey Conference 2012

Double Click if necessary to view
Thought you might like to see the programme for the Carey Conference January 3-5, 2012.

Chairs L

Ladderback Chair

Chairs K

Kneeling chair

Listening again

I was listening again on Sunday to my father-in-law Geoff Thomas in Aberystwyth. It was good to hear him and meet old friends at AP.
In the morning he was in Luke and in the evening in Genesis. Luke 16:18 is about divorce, a sadly all too relevant subject and Geoff tackled it chiefly a la Jay Adams for the most part and was able to answer most of our questions but probably not all. He had the children learn Ecclesiastes 12:11. Genesis 45:16-46:34 is about Jacob learning that Joseph was alive and his going down to Egypt. The sermon covered many helpful themes.
In the afternoon it was great to be with the family and with Keith and Priscilla Underhill once again home from Kenya.

My Perfect Cousin

Thought of this the other day for some reason. Justa  great song from the punk era. Simple tune, brilliant lyrics (He thinks that I'm a cabbage Cos I hate University Challenge is perhaps my favourite)  


Yes yes yes

Aber Conference Round Up

The conference is, of course, much more than the main addresses in the Great Hall. We've mentioned the sort of mini conference that occurs over the weekend before. There was also a history trip on the Monday - to Bala this time. There are also open airs and prayer meetings.
There are also a large number of ancillary meetings for young people and others. My eldest son and daughter-in-law were involved in running the Extra Time (when they weren't working in the Christian bookshop by the chapel) which five young people up from Childs Hill were attending with others. My sister-in-law and her husband were involved in running the Time Out for 26-44 year olds (!). The young people also play football and netball on the Friday, which is good fun.
There were three seminars in the afternoons, Tuesday to Thursday. I missed Paul Mallard on suffering (which I have heard before) and David Jones on evangelistic preaching. On the Tuesday I went to hear P J Williams again who spoke (with helpful powerpoint) ostensibly on the KJV (pointing out that the letters J and V never appeared in the original along with more important matters too).  His real subject was again the reliability of Scripture, pointing out things such as Ussher's general accuracy. Good stuff. He answered the few questions at the end well too.
Then there was the missionary exhibition, which I managed to visit once, not getting all the way round. I did visit the LTS stand, of course, with Robert and Sarah Strivens, also those of WEST and Oak Hill too (Jonathan Stephen and Paul Woodbridge). Former Childs Hill member Paul Fountain was also there with his wife Ruth promoting Reformed Baptist work in Sri Lanka. There was also an inductive Bible study mission I'd never heard of called Precept ministries. It was a great joy to meet my fellow Cwmbranite Andy Lovell, retired missionary to Peru, and his wife Rachel, now promoting the work of Gospel for Asia. Paul Barns also spoke about the work in Nepal one night (India Link Ministries) and I had a nice chat to Mike Moore from CWI at one point.
Of course, besides all this there is the opportunity to meet up with friends old and new. It was great to see Benard and Linda Lewis, Derek and Rachel Sewell, Keith and Janice Hoare, Guy and Sarah Davies, Ian Middlemist, Kees Van Kralingen, etc, etc.

Chairs J

Jigsaw Puzzle Chair

Aber Conference Evening Addresses

Gwynn Williams
The pattern at Aber is to have four morning addresses given by one main speaker and various other speakers who speak in the five evening meetings. People book their accommodation from Saturday to Saturday and so  with so many people about, arrangements are made so that everyone can go to church. First, the EMW themselves organise services in one of the chapels. This year the preachers were Ollie Gross and Paul Kosciecha. Meanwhile, the regular Alfred Place congregation move over the street to Bethel, where my father-in-law Geoff Thomas preaches. For many years now he has done series which also includes a third stripped down service on Monday morning, that I usually lead. Geoff tackled Deuteronomy 29:29 looking at the secret  things (such as when Christ will return) and the revealed things (such as how to be contented). As ever, the series was very much appreciated, people ordering loads of CDs.
Geoff was also the main speaker on the first evening of the conference proper where in the warmest and most pleading terms, arms open wide, called upon all to strive to enter the narrow gate.
Paul Levy (Swansea boy now a neighbour of mine in Ealing) spoke on the second evening on the blind man of Luke 18. This was done very competently with occasional humorous asides and lots of exegesis. Perhaps it lacked a little urgency.
David Meredith of Smithton-Culloden Free Church (yes, yet another Presbyterian) was given two nights as men sometimes are. Again very competent, he took us, successively, to Acts 1 and Acts 2. The two messages were full of good things, chiefly for believers. In his attempts at self-criticism he perhaps gave the impression of being rather negative about some Christians but his intentions were good. The suggestion that Christians are arguing over the colour of the hymn book was rather bizarre and inaccurate. I'd not heard that quip before that when we freeze water, we make ice cubes. When God freezes water, he makes snowflakes – each one different (apparently Vaughan Roberts at the Lausanne Conference last year)
Gwynn Williams (Caerdydd) closed the conference well tonight with an encouraging message from the close of Romans 16 as we leave the glass house of the conference and head back to reality.
So good solid preaching, not much of it very expository or evangelistic but heartening nevertheless. To sit with 1200 others and listen was a joy indeed.

Aber Conference Main Addresses

The main addresses at the conference this year were given by David (Norman) Jones of Hobart, Tasmania. Converted under Peter Trumper in his native Pembrokeshire, David was a student in Aber then served in Crickhowell and Grove Chapel, Camberwell, before heading south several years ago. He chose to tackle chapters from Romans - 9-11 and 15. The messages were all simply structured and liberally sprinkled with illustrations, anecdotes, quotations and personal references. The style was self-effacing and warm with moments of passion. Perhaps some of the exposition could have been closer but given the large amount of Scripture covered it was done well.
1. Romans 9 was on Paul's Duties, Dilemma (Has God's Word failed? Are God's ways fair? Is God's will free?) and finally his Delight. This 70 minute message was probably the one I enjoyed most (perhaps because it was fresh, not having heard David for some 20 years). It was well crafted and covered important ground on election in a winsome, searching and evangelistic way.
2. Romans 10 was then the counterpart sermon looking at Jewish unbelief and applying it to those present. The Jews (1) Had a foundation but stumbled over it (2) Had a zeal but it was misdirected (3) Had a Word from God but they complicated it and (4) Had messengers sent to them but refused to listen. Here the post-millennialism and evangelistic zeal came through quite strongly.
3. Romans 11 is a controversial chapter, of course. David Jones pointed out that (1) Israel's fall is not total (2) not pointless and (3) not final. He then (controversially) spoke, as people often do, of a great revival among the Jews. I could not see that in the text, however, sadly.
4. This morning we skipped on to Romans 15:14ff and the work of proclaiming, pioneering, partnering and praying. This was a challenging final message that very appropriately ended a helpful series of  popular expositions that was both faithful and stirring.

Chairs I

Inflatable Chair

Jaber Mag

We are here at the EMW's Aber Conference. No reports from me yet, sorry, though it's been excellent. Our youngest kids and their cousins have been going to the meetings for chiklren and young people (Junior Aber). The older one (Gwion, Iwan and Lydia) made this brilliant seven page magazine which is a great piece of work though not judged the very best of those made. Thanks to Ian Middlemist and Richard Baxter (no, another one) for all your hard work and to those working with the two youngest too.

Family Services

Yesterday (the Lord's day) was quite unique in many ways. Firstly, I wasn't preaching myself, which usually happens a few times a year. Much more unusual was the fact that I was listening to my father-in-law in the morning and my son in the evening. What happened was that Geoff was preaching in Aberyswtyth am. The EMW has its annual conference in Aber this week and so it was the bumper crowd in Bethel for the first in a short series on Deuteronomy 29:29. Then after lunch I drove my son Rhodri and his wife Sibyl to Shrewsbury where he had agreed to take the evening service. We had tea first at the home of members whose daughter is married to a member of Childs Hill. The Shrewsbury church meets in a decommissioned Anglican church. Numbers were down a little (although someone I was in university with was there) but swollen by visitors (we weren't the only ones, there was a large home schooling family from West London too - we know the Wells family a little. They were holidaying in the home of a couple who grew up in Aber). Rhodri preached on 2 Timothy 1:7.
So an unusual but great day

Chairs F

Farthingdale Chair

Famous Trees

I'm not sure how many famous trees there are in the world but my wife and I had our pictures taken with two of them this week. Both are looking rather decrepit (watch it!) but have some claim at least to antiquity and fame. The first is the apple tree in the orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor which has some claim to have helped Newton thinking about gravity. (The original tree did go down but a new one grew in its place). The second is the Major oak in Sherwood Forest, which appears to be over a thousand years old so was around in Robin Hood's day.


We've been away this week as a family in Muston near Grantham on the borders of  Leicestershire and Lincoln. We got to see Grantham itself, where Isaac Newton went to school and the farm (Woolsthorpe Manor) where he was born and had some of his great ideas. We also got to see a bit of Sherwood Forest, a windmill in Tuxford (briefly) and the lovely mediaeval town of Stamford (not pictured).

Chairs C

Chaise Longue

Chairs B

Balloon Back Chair

Captain America

We had a family outing to the cinema yesterday. We went to see Captain America The First Avenger and enjoyed it. It's a fun film with a clearly defined hero and villain with a love story that does not dominate, some nice little one liners and a generally positive theme about how even those with weaknesses can make a difference. I was genuinely struck by the grenade scene. Knowing practically nothing about Captain America  I was a little apprehensive but with no reason. I've not seen most super hero films (Spider man, Iron man, etc) having been rather disappointed with wha happened to Batman a few years back.  More on the film here.

A day out

Since he was a kid Dylan has been a Liverpool fan and as a music fan he loves the Beatles. He gets embarrassed if people ask him if he's been there as they sometimes do (I've been to Liverpool several times) so when a trip to Alton Towers was mooted recently he and I decided on a road trip to Liverpool instead. So the other day, having dropped off the others at said theme park we headed west and arrived at Anfield around 11.30 am. We looked around the Anfield museum first (even saw the European Cup) then had a tour of the ground which was fascinating, especially seeing the actual (relatively spartan) dressing room and the pitch itself. The history of Liverpool seems to begin with Bill Shankly in 1959, though the club has been going from 1892. One of his great psychological tricks is that as you go on to the pitch you see the sign "This is Anfield".
We then got down to the Albert Dock for some lunch and a trip round the Beatles Story, a pretty well done museum. (I remember going to a Beatles museum years ago with Pastor Rob Harrod now of Christchurch when the Carey Conference was Liverpool based). We also went to a second exhibition featuring forgotten photos of the Beatles and stuff on John Lennon. We had a look at the Liver building and then rounded the day off with a trip to Penny Lane