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.

10 Commentaries on the Whole Bible

As far as I am aware these are the significant "one man" jobs.
They vary in their usefulness.

1. Matthew Poole 1624-1679*
2. Matthew Henry 1662-1714*
3. John Gill 1697-1771
4. Thomas Scott 1747-1821
5. Adam Clarke 1762-1832
6. Albert Barnes 1798-1870*
7. David Brown 1803-1897, Robert Jamieson 1802-1880, Andrew Fausset 1821-1910
8. Charles John Ellicott 1819-1905**
9. James M Gray 1851-1935
10. A C Gaebelein 1861-1945

* Finished by others ** Editor only

Unusual Words 03 Dicrotic

Dicrotic is used in connection with a double pulse for each heartbeat.

I came across this in Camus The Plague where early on he says
In conclusion, some words came back to the doctor's mind; aptly enough, the concluding sentence of the description of the symptoms given in his medical handbook: "The pulse becomes fluttering, dicrotic, and intermittent, and death ensues as the result of the slightest movement."
Being a medical term, I don't think it appears anywhere else in literature.

GBA 2012 Final Session P Jones

In our final session Phil Jones of Gloucester took us to 1 Peter 2. He spoke first (a la Grudem) of our ministry of worship to God, ministry to each other and ministry to those who are outside the church. His main points were under the two headings - God's presence and God's pronouncement.
1. God's presence
To excite and enthuse us as we go back to our local churches Phil reminded us that they are places where God promises to manifest his special presence
2. God's pronouncement
Because we are united to Jesus Christ we are precious in God's sight. Christ not only laid down his life for the church but he is commited to the church in love to the very end. In return we also ought to be committed to the church and passionate about it.
There is no better, safer, happoier place to be than to be fully a part of the church of Jesus Christ.
Good stuff.

GBA 2012 08 R Oliver

On our final morning here in Swanwick we had a paper first on William Kiffin 1616-1701. Dr Robert Oliver is a master of Baptist history and it was a joy to hear him recount the tale.
Kiffin was a confessionalist, a man who espoused unity, a great man who should not be forgotten.
A full biography is needed but Ben Ramsbottom's little book Stranger than fiction was commended.
There is a perhaps surprising amount of material available on the Internet about Kiffin. For example
Also see
Kiffin wrote an autobiography that was eventually written up by William Orme and can be accessed here.

GBA 2012 07 Steven Curry 2

On this second evening Steven Curry took us again very encouragingly to Revelation 5. Once again we had a very thorough exposition that we cannot go into here.
He had five main points.
1. God is sovereign over history
2. Jesus is the key to history
3. Redemption is the focus of history
4. The church is the aim of history
5. The glory of God is the climax of history
Steven began his message by relating a boyhood incident where he had announced in graffiti as an 8 year old that Steven Curry reigns okay. He ended by pointing out that there is a sense in which believers already reign for God uses our prayers. It is part of his sovereignty. We ought to pray then earnestly for the lost.

GBA 2012 06 Business/News

This afternoon we had our brief business meeting. Then at 5 pm we had a reports session. Seven people spoke, two regarding overseas work and the rest on work in this country.

1. Les Beard on a family conference in Kisumu, Kenya, last December
5. Graham Trice talking about involvement in Health Watch

GBA 2012 05 Paul Oliver

Our second morning session was again on church membership, but this time on practical expectations. The speaker was Paul Oliver. He began with some humour speaking of our expectations but pointed out that it is Christ's expectations that matter.
He then spoke on
1. Unrealistic expectations
1 We must avoid placing unscriptural burdens on people eg with regard to Sabbath observance, alcohol, corporate worship.
2 We must avoid an unbalanced message - not make every effort but For this reason make ever effort (see 1 Peter)
3 We must avoid what Paul David Tripp calls personal or locational amnesia. We are this side of heaven and imperfection is bound to exist.
2. Realistic expectations (drawn from 1 Thessalonians)
1. Believing the gospel
2. Turning from idols
3. That we be motivated by faith and love in our Christian lives
4. Growing in faith, grace and love including peace in the church and the helping of the weak and the broken being helped
I found the message a little "touchy feely" myself but there were lots if helpful and challenging things said. The emphasis on God's grace was very much appreciated.

GBA 2012 04 Martin Grubb

Our opening session today was led by Martin Grubb and sought to give the biblical basis for church membership. He began by describing how things are arranged in his own recently constituted church at Charlesworth, quite similar to the 54 churches represented at this assembly. A line is drawn and some are within and some are without.
The question, however, is whether such an arrangement is biblical.
He began by looking at the 1689 Confession and noted how
1. The doctrine of the church is important
2. Scripture is sufficient - there is enough here to know how the church should be organised
3. The visibility of the church is emphasised
Rather than looking at proof texts he took us then to Corinth to show how biblical this is. The situation in Corinth is very much like the situation we are in today. Among the many things he helpfully pointed to were these:
1. There was a church in Corinth to which people belonged
2. We know how the church came into being from Acts
3. All sorts of people belonged to the church
4. Those who belonged had been changed by God
5. A clear line is drawn between those within the church and those outside
6. There is a distinction between the church and the congregation
7. They have many questions and know where to go with them
8. It has the fearful power to hand people over to Satan
9. It has an especial care for its own
10. It welcomes believers from other churches

GBA 2012 03 Steven Curry 1

For our first evening session Steven Curry took us to Revelation 4 which mentions the throne of God some 12 times and very encouragingly spoke (to be brief) of
1. The encouragement from the throne
2. The description of the throne marked by permanence, glory and power
3. The approach to the throne - the basis, majesty and mercy
(This included a brilliant personal story of ruining a page boy suit as a boy and having it replaced for free)
4. The response to the throne - falling down and worshipping and giving all glory to God
This message is also already downloadable at the GBA site here

GBA 2012 02 Albania

We had an excellent presentation on Albania from Scotsman Will Niven at 5 pm. After giving a history of gospel work in Albania he spoke of
1. Unbiblical evangelism
2. Biblical illiteracy
3. Problems in leadership
4. The missionary enterprise (until 97 more missionaries per head than anywhere else)
5. Spiritual gullibility
1. A new openness to the gospel. People are searching for something worth having.
2. Openness in the media
3. A rising generation of men seeking to serve and sympathetic to the Reformed faith
1. Raising up godly leaders
2. Lack of older age group
His great desire is that the work should not be a one generation thing
More here
The 37 minute message is here.

GBA 2012 01 Keith Johns

There is a heatwave here in Swanwick where I have come for this year's Grace Baptist Assembly. Our hosts are Keith and Pauline Johns and so Keith kicked off the whole thing this afternoon with a gentle and well judged opening sermon from 1 Kings 19. His main points were
1. The mysterious fluctuations of gospel work
2. The pastoral heart of the sovereign Lord
3. A certain vindication of those who are faithful
You can find the message 31 minute message on the GBA website here.

Bald ministers

My attention was drawn recently to this about Philip Henry. As one who is very much Calvus et Calvinus (bald and a Calvinist) I found it of interest.

With regard to Mr. Henry's bodily presence, he was of a middle stature, his complexion not approaching to any extreme, of a very pleasant aspect, and an unusual mixture of gravity and sweetness in the air of his countenance, which was the true index of the mind. In the latter part of his life he had but very little hair, and had, like Elisha, a bald head; notwithstanding he could not be persuaded to wear a wig, against which he had an insuperable objection. This lack was however supplied by his usually wearing a neat close cap or turban on the upper part of his head, made of black silk. When some of his friends solicited him to have his picture drawn, he put them off with this remark, that the best picture of a minister is in the hearts of his people.

June Edition of the Banner

On May 17 the electronic edition of the Banner Mag for June quietly dropped into my mailbox. It's come so early that I didn't even look at it at first. Having done so I see it's full of interesting things.
We kick off with a brief bit of T V Moore on Christ's intercession (an appetiser for my book, perhaps). Then we have part 2 of Gary Benfold's helpful call to evangelistic preaching. Next comes the 1953 Evangelical Library Lecture by John Murray on Reformation Principles (not in the collected works). Another subject close to my heart is that of conscience. Joel Beeke has been researching this from a Puritan point of view and here we have part one of two instalments that will eventually appear, I believe, in a big book on Puritan Theology due out in August.
The piece de resistance is a brief but rapier like review of the book Engaging with Lloyd-Jones by Iain Murray. worth the price of the magazine by itself. He ends with this

We wish attention had been given to the words of Professor F. F. Bruce who was hardly a natural ally but was often with Lloyd-Jones. He wrote: ‘He was a thoroughly humble man. Those who charged him with arrogance were wildly mistaken. His confidence was based on the message he was commissioned to proclaim  ...  He was a man of prayer, a powerful evangelist, an expository preacher of rare quality, in the fullest sense a servant of the Word of God, verbi divini minister.' (Evangelical Quarterly 1991, 71).
PS The cherry on the cake is that they have put the news pages in single column so that when it goes on my kindle I'll still be able to read it. I think that's the first time they've done it. I wrote to them about it a month or two back and promptly forgot all about it. What good people they are  up at the Banner!

10 People who died at age 53

I discovered this (to me) interesting info here
19,366 days old - Jerry Garcia
19,378 days old - Maurice Gibb
19,459 days old - Babe Ruth
19,497 days old - Spike Jones
19,511 days old - Jack Wild
19,541 days old - Peter Tchaikovsky
19,592 days old - Jim Henson
19,644 days old - John Denver
19,647 days old - Maria Callas
19,675 days old - René Descartes

10 biggest employers worldwide

The world's largest employers, 2012
United States Department of Defense3.2 million (including civilians) United States
People's Liberation Army2.3 million (not including civilians) People's Republic of China
Walmart2.1 million United States
McDonald's1.9 million (including franchises) United States
National Health Service1.7 million United Kingdom
China National Petroleum Corporation1.6 million People's Republic of China
State Grid Corporation of China1.5 million People's Republic of China
Indian Railways1.4 million India
Indian Armed Forces1.9 million India
Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn)1.2 million Taiwan
I found this on Wikipedia

Trafficked Nepalis in India

This is from Global Prayer Digest here.
The diminutive 62-year-old Anuradha Koirala recounted tales of horror to a transfixed audience of socialites in Kolkata, India. Koirala was awarded the CNN Hero of the year in 2010 for her work in rescuing sex trafficking victims. As the chairperson of Maiti Nepal, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that has rescued over 18,000 women from sexual slavery and exploitation, she recounted the plight of many of Nepal’s women and children. Of the 600,000 to 800,000 people trafficked every year globally, 70 percent are women and children. It is estimated that 150,000 of these cases are in South Asia, and Nepal accounts for most of them. Koirala estimates there are currently 150,000-400,000 Nepali girls and women in Indian brothels.
One short-lived Nepal government after another has been either unwilling or unable to address this abuse. It has been up to NGOs to intervene.
Charimaya Tamang was the recipient of the U.S. government’s 2011 “Hero Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery Award.” She is herself a survivor of repeated rape and torture, but she was rescued in a raid on a Mumbai brothel. In 2000 Charimaya and 14 other survivors founded Shakti Samuke, an anti-trafficking NGO. Today they run safe houses for rescued sex trafficking victims and conduct awareness and intervention programs in 10 of Nepal’s most vulnerable districts.

Minimalist Book Covers

Unusual words 02 Paltering

Paltering refers to talking or acting insincerely or misleadingly.

In Dickens' Tale of Two Cities there is a place where he says
The man slept on, indifferent to showers of hail and intervals of brightness, to sunshine on his face and shadow, to the paltering lumps of dull ice on his body and the diamonds into which the sun changed them, until the sun was low in the west, and the sky was glowing.

In Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, Antony says at one point
Now I must To the young man send humble treaties, dodge And palter in the shifts of lowness, who With half the bulk o' th' world play'd as I pleas'd, Making and marring fortunes.

I came across the word in a translation of Albert Camus' work The Plague (Page 11 in the Penguin edition).

Preaching Ephesians

We finished our studies in Ephesians last Sunday morning. This is the second time in my ministry here that I have tackled the book. I started this time about a year ago and I have  preached 33 sermons altogether. I broke off last summer and over Christmas and new year. We spent quite some time in the final chapter. I preached 11 sermons from it. This contrasts with Chapter 3 which I did in two bites. Thus the most verses dealt with in one sermon was 13 (3:1-13, 5:22-34) and the least half a verse (6:14b, 17a, 17b). It was typical for me to deal with between 3 and 8 verses. It's a great book full of doctrinal and practical matters from election to Christian warfare. It's been a blessing to preach it and, hopefully, to hear it.

Pray for El Salvador

10 Rare Beatles Tracks

1. Thank you girl
2. Cry for a shadow
3. Komm, Gib me deine Hand
4. I'll follow the sun (1963 BBC session)
5. Yes it is
6. Rain
7. Flying
8. The Inner Light
9. It's all too much
10. All together now

Moon names

I hardly notice the phases of the moon. Some cultures have been so aware of the moon as it changes that they have given names to them. For example the Celts had

January: Quiet Moon
February: Moon of Ice
March: Moon of Winds
April: Growing Moon
May: Bright Moon
June: Moon of Horses
July: Moon of Claiming
August: Dispute Moon
September: Singing Moon
October: Harvest Moon
November: Dark Moon
December: Cold Moon

Down with the kids

George Whitefield records a PS in one of his letters the persecution he received when he first preached in the fields:
I cannot help adding that several little boys and girls, who were fond of sitting around me on the pulpit while I preached and handed me people’s notes though they were ofte pelted with eggs and dirt, thrown at me – never once gave way; but on the contrary, every time I was struck, turned up their little weeping eyes, and seemed to wish they could receive the blows for me. God make them, in their growing years, great and living martyrs for him who, out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, perfects praise.

Unusual words 01 Precipitancy

Precipitancy refers to an action or thought marked by impulsiveness or rash haste.

When Francis Bacon 1561-1626 seeks to explain the story of Memnon or a youth too forward he speaks of it being explained by "the fatal precipitancy of youth".
The saying "Precipitancy creates prodigality" can be neatly paraphrased as "haste makes waste".
I came across the word in a sermon on James 2:13 by Benjamin Beddome.

10 Biographies of Christian Women

We've been doing some book shifting and for convenience I've put all the biographies of Christian women we have in one place. There are quite a few, which is good. I thought I'd try a list of just 10 here, most of which we have. You could add to it in the comments if you wish.

1. Susanna (Wesley) Arnold Dallimore
2. This Is My Story This Is My Song the autobiography of Fanny Crosby
3. By searching Isobel Kuhn
4. The hiding place (Corrie ten Boom) John and Elizabeth Sherrill
5. Joni Eareckson Tada Her Story an autobiography
6. Idelette ie Idelette de Bure wife of Calvin, Edna Gerstner
7. Selina: Countess of Huntingdon Faith Cook
8. Mrs C H Spurgeon Charles Ray
9. Anne Bradstreet Faith Cook
10. Elizabeth Prentiss: More Love To Thee Sharon L James

There are also Luther and his Katie by Donna MacCuish and Jonathan and Sarah an uncommon union by Edna Gerstner.

Novelists 12 M G Lewis

Matthew Gregory Lewis 1775 – 1818 was an English novelist and dramatist, often referred to as "Monk" Lewis, because of the success of his classic Gothic novel, The Monk. It's not a novel I have read or probably ever will read but I am aware of it significance and thought Jamaican born Lewis deserved a place in this list.

Pray for Denmark

Pray for the Czech Republic

Cassette 07 Brahms

I've never been big into Brahms but I bought this cassette back in the nineties as I had so enjoyed Thijs Van Leer's version of part of the third symphony (poco allegretto) on his 1988 album Reflections. Sadly the rest of the third symphony seems to me not quite so good as that section. What clinched it for me to buy this particular presentation was the addition of Brahms' Variations on a theme of Haydn. This is the piece that Focus adapted for the opening section of their magnum opus Hamburger Concerto. (See here) When I was in Secondary School the music teacher Mr Measey used to play some classical piece as we marched out of morning assembly. Most of it was lost on me but I remember one glorious morning when he played the Brahms variations. It's a great piece.

Ku Klux Scrap Paper

Is it just me? When I came down this morning and saw this piece of paper hanging about it looked to me suspiciously like something. Do I just have an overactive imagination?

F A Cup Final

It's the F A Cup final later today. Two of my sons are excited, as one is keen on Liverpool and the other is keen on Chelsea. Being in London and having once been a Chelsea fan (how I cheered in 1970 when they beat Leeds in the replay) my preference is clear. I'm not that excited though, not like I was in that brief period 1969-1972 when soccer was everything to me
I remember going with my family to my auntie and uncle's house the day after one of those finals (the Chelsea one on April 11, the Arsenal/Liverpool one of May 8 1971 or Leeds/Arsenal on May 6 1972). My dad, who (in the days before Sky, etc) always watched any televised sporting event that he could, said to my Uncle Frank "Did you watch the game yesterday, Frank?". I can never forget how flabbergasted I was to hear him say "No, Bill, I didn't bother. I switched over and watched the film on BBC 2."!
In those days the F A Cup final was on both BBC 1 and ITV and BBC 2 was your only alternative. The final today is at 5.15 pm for some reason and only on ITV. BBC 2 is showing Flog it and old episodes  of The Good life! and Dad's Army. If you want a film you'll have to settle for Carry on Spying on Film4 or make your own arrangements.

Pray for Croatia

Persecution Nigeria

The Barnabas Fund ask us today to “Pray without ceasing” for Christians in Nigeria as “… a palpable terror is being unleashed in Christians so that Sunday is transformed from a day of worship in to a day of fear”. These were the words of a church leader in Jos following a second church bombing in the space of two weeks. The attack happened 10 minutes into a Sunday service on 11 March; seven people died in the blast. Later that same day, gunmen ambushed Christians in Chungwi village, killing three people. Nigerian Christians are under constant threat as Boko Haram seeks to eradicate Christians from the North. Pray for grace for our brothers and sisters, and that even in the face of such violence they will respond in love and not retaliate.
A previous prayer request stated that on 4 March, militant Islamist group Boko Haram has declared “war” on Christians in Nigeria. A spokesman said that that they were planning coordinated attacks to “eradicate Christians from certain parts of the country”. Two days later, they followed this up with a threat to kidnap Christian women. Boko Haram, which has been fighting to establish an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria since 2009, has committed numerous attacks against Christians and the security forces; these have intensified this year after the group issued a three-day deadline on New Year’s Day for Christians to leave the North. Pray that the authorities will be able to restrain Boko Haram’s violent menace, and that Christians will be protected from further attacks.
Another report stated that at 7.20am on Sunday 26 February, a suicide bomber forced his way into the grounds of the Church of Christ (COCIN) HQ in Jos. Two women and an 18-month-old child were killed and around 50 people were injured as the vehicle sped past a security checkpoint and exploded three metres from the church building. Pray for the families of those who died in this attack, that they will find comfort in the Lord. Ask that He will also grant healing to those who were injured in this bombing, and in a similar attack at a church in Suleja, near the capital, Abuja, on Sunday 19 February. Pray for protection for the Christian community in Jos; prior to this attack, a list of potential Boko Haram targets, which included the COCIN headquarters, had reportedly been found.
PS The latest edition of Grace Magazine featrues Nigeria

Affinity Theological Conference

The next Affinity Theological Studies Conference will be at High Leigh January 13-18 2013


Paper 1: Natural Law in Scripture. Exploring multi-faceted aspects of natural law in the Bible
Jonathan Burnside
Reader in Biblical Law, Bristol University

Paper 2: Exploring themes of continuity and discontinuity between aspects of ethical teaching in the ancient world and NT
Joshua Hordern
Assoc. Director, Kirby Laing

Paper 3: Exploring the Bible’s ethical teaching in the Psalms
Gordon Wenham
Old Testament Tutor, Trinity College, Bristol

Paper 4: It’s A Rich Man's World? Exploring the biblical material on money, wealth and economic justice
Andrew Hartropp
Church minister, economist & Research Tutor at the Oxford Centre for Mission

Paper 5: War and Peace Exploring the ethics of war, 'undercover' operations, torture etc.
Paul Helm
Theologian, philosopher & Teaching Fellow at Regent College, Canada

See here

Pray for Costa Rica

Whitefield on Justification

In his sermon What think ye of Christ? George Whitefield helpfully says

Every man that is saved is justified three ways: First, Meritoriously, by the death of Jesus Christ: "It is the blood of Jesus Christ alone that cleanses us from all siu." Secondly, Instrumentally, by faith: faith is the means or instrument whereby the merits of Jesus Christ are applied to the sinner's heart: "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Thirdly, We are justified Declaratively, namely, by good works: good works declare and prove to the world, that our faith is a true saving faith. "Was not Abraham justified by works?" And again, "Shew me thy faith by thy works."

Cassette 06 Gershwin Addinsel Litolff Liszt

I think I bought this one for the Gershwin which I heard in some bowdlerised form first. Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto I first heard on an early live recording of the Carpenters that we had at home. The Litolff Scherzo and Liszt Fantasy never got much of a hearing.

Novelists 11 Jane Austen

Jane Austen 1775 – 1817 writer of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry. One of the most widely read writers in English literature, as popular today as she has ever been and a personal favourite. Apparently her realism and social commentary has gained her historical importance among scholars and critics.

Saving Grace/In the Garden

Frank Visco's Rules

  1. Avoid Alliteration. Always.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
  4. Employ the vernacular.
  5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  8. Contractions aren’t necessary.
  9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  10. One should never generalize.
  11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
  1. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
  2. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  3. Profanity sucks.
  4. Be more or less specific.
  5. Understatement is always best.
  6. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  7. One word sentences? Eliminate.
  8. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  9. The passive voice is to be avoided.
  10. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  11. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  12. Who needs rhetorical questions?

William Safire's Rules for writers

I stumbled across these recently

William Safire's Rules for Writers:
  • Remember to never split an infinitive.
  • The passive voice should never be used.
  • Do not put statements in the negative form.
  • Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
  • Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
  • If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
  • A writer must not shift your point of view.
  • And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
  • Don't overuse exclamation marks!!
  • Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
  • Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  • If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  • Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  • Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  • Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
  • Always pick on the correct idiom.
  • The adverb always follows the verb.
  • Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.