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.

This half-wore black arm

I have at least one Korean friend on Facebook. All her posts are in Korean and I can't so much as read a letter. No problem, though, as at the click of the mouse I get a translation from Bing. So now I understand .... ???? She posted recently (in translation)
In this weather, in this half-wore black arm, I don't know why. Cold.
One of my favorites, the professor said. Study was so tired when I look in the mirror and get the front teeth shake and voilá. If you are going to grow a decent shake, which is further study. To Ah.
Where would be without Bing?

Lord's Day May 27 2013

There were quite a few away yesterday mainly because we are coming up to half term. We also had visitors, however, especially in the evening when some involved in the Christian Answer weekend based down in West Kilburn and others joined us. Our South African friend was back and we got a little more of his story and that was a blessing itself. I carried on with 1 Corinthians 4 in the morning and Numbers (33:50-34:29) at night. So we were on being fools for Christ and so on in the morning and living the Christian life in the evening. I suggested that just as Canaan had boundaries so the Christian life does too - grace, law, love and lifespan.

10 Great Landscapes

1. A field of poppies, Monet
2. View of Dedham, Gainsborough
3. Flatford Mill, Constable
4. Wheatfield with cypresses, Van Gogh
5. Rainbow, Turner
6. Monte St Victoire, Cezanne
7. View of Delft, Vermeer
8. Winter landscape, Brueghel the elder
9. Vesuvius, Wright of Derby
10. Wanderer above the sea of fog, Friedrich

Novelists 27 R M Ballantyne

R. M. Ballantyne (1825-1894) was a Scots writer of juvenile fiction. When I was a kid we had at home cheap classic novels designed for children published by Dean and Son. Lists of novels and authors were reproduced on the backs of these so I have long known the name of Ballantyne and the fact he wrote Coral Island, though I've never read it. Edinburgh born he was part of a famous family of printers and publishers. At 16 he went to Canada and was six years in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company, returning in 1847. In 1848 he published his first book, Hudson's Bay: or, Life in the Wilds of North America. In 1856 he gave up the publishing business to write. His books include The Young Fur-Traders (1856), The Coral Island (1857), The World of Ice (1859), Ungava: a Tale of Eskimo Land (1857), The Dog Crusoe (1860), The Lighthouse (1865), Fighting the Whales (1866), Deep Down (1868), The Pirate City (1874), Erling the Bold (1869), The Settler and the Savage (1877), and over a hundred other titles. He was also an accomplished artist, and exhibited some of his water-colours at the Scots RA.

Nine sermons of Lloyd-Jones from 1969

I have actually been to Pensacola where the sermons in Setting our affections upon glory were preached in 1969. I can't imagine Dr Lloyd-Jones on a Florida beach in August with his overcoat on. I found it too hot in my trunks. Perhaps he avoided the beach and kept the A/C on. Anyway, these never before published nine sermons were preached in 1969 at the Pensacola Theological Institute (the last time DMLl-J was in the USA) and are good examples of the Doctor at his best. He takes nine almost entirely New Testament texts (tellingly, perhaps, the one on revival is from Exodus) and preaches some old sermons and perhaps some newer ones at the height of his powers. A brief foreword by John Schultz and nine footnotes give you all the background you need. This would be ideal as an introduction to Lloyd-Jones preaching, a refresher for people like me who may not have read him for a while or as another volume for the completest who has read everything else. Good move Crossway.

The Black Hole: Money, Myth and Empire by Jan Dalley

Jan Dalley
I remember learning about the black hole of Calcutta in school (good old Mr Purton again) so I'm the right age to appreciate this book (first published in 2007). The book is nicely enough written by a skilled journalist who tells you more than you ever wanted to know about the subject and just about keeping your interest for the whole 213 pages. Frustratingly, details of the story will always be a little hazy but the book at least demonstrates that and gets as near to the truth as anyone is likely to. It also gives you, in addition, a partial history of Empire, which is not what one might have thought and an example of the power and importance of myth or whatever we should call it. Fascinating stuff if you want to get to the bottom of the black hole, as it were.

10 Histories

1. Church history
2. Art history
3. History of science
4. Ancient history
5. Black history
6. Gender history (including women's history)
7. History of education
8. Social or cultural history
9. Maritime history
10. Music history or historical musicology

Lily of the valley


A stitch in time saves Nain

Eleri put these five pieces of embroidery up recently. They were kindly done by her mother over the years. They reveal that Rhodri is the oldest, Dylan was born earliest in the calendar year, Dewi earliest in the academic year and Gwion was the heaviest. I would expect that Owain will be the tallest. 

10 Quotes on art by well known artists

1. The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery
Francis Bacon
2. A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art
Paul Cezanne
3. Art is made to disturb. Science reassures. There is only one valuable thing in art: the thing you cannot explain.
Georges Braque
4. Great art picks up where nature ends.
Marc Chagall
5. Have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it./ Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.
Salvador Dali
6. Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.
Edgar Degas
7. The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real.
Lucian Freud
8. If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.
Edward Hopper
9. Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.
Pablo Picasso
10. Painting is the most beautiful of lies
Kees van Dongen

Graham Harrison Memories

When I was in LTS one of the things I remember Mr Harrison saying was that there are things in the Bible that you or I would not have put quite like that. I often recall that observation. One of my fellow students pointed out that Mr Harrison had a penchant for military and pugilistic metaphors. He even started writing the down I think. Having been alerted to this I noticed ever after that it was a pretty common trait. What caused it I do not know. Perhaps it was growing up in Grange Town, a rather challenging part of Cardiff in those days. Of course, I can't give you any obvious examples now, though I do remember expressions such as "going a few rounds with Warfield". I tried to look up examples form online sermons but all I could find was "You are knowing the strength of this temptation to try and show that you are of superior intelligence, that the gospel is something that can knock spots off these Greek philosophers, etc."

Tribute to the late Graham Harrison

When I was growing up as a young Christian in South Wales it was a rare time. There were four chief Lloyd-Jones churches in the Newport and Cwmbran area. The Baptist church I attended was pastored by the late Derek Garwood. Also in Cwmbran was Ebenezer Congregational Church where Phil Williams was the minister in my time. Down in Newport there was the late Hugh Morgan and in Emmanuel opposite the Royal Gwent Hospital, Graham Harrison. All four were godly men and faithful preachers.
When I came up to London Graham Harrison was one of four Welsh men who were the main teachers there at the time (Philip Eveson, Hywel Jones and Andrew Davies being the others). Again these were men of God of the highest calibre, full of Christ - awe inspiring to a young man in their holiness and discernment. Mr Harrison was my lecturer in doctrine and he it was who led in my ordination in Cwmbran in 1983. In subsequent years I knew him chiefly through the Westminster Fellowship and the Westminster Conference as well as on the LTS Board. As Guy mentions there was a certain shyness about Mr Harrison (I've never got out of addressing my LTS lectures by their surnames) and that made it difficult to approach him in some ways. He could also sound quite pessimistic and dour at times and was a Welshman to a fault, which I found a little difficult. We should be in no doubt, however, that a Prince in Israel has fallen, a stalwart of the faith indeed. See here for Guy's tribute.

Lord's Day May 19 2013

1 Corinthians 4:1-7 in the morning and most of Numbers 33 in  the evening, preceded by communion. There was a South African passing through in the morning, said he'd been baptised the week before in Durban. Fascinating. In the evening I tried to relate the stages of Israel's journey to the Christian life. I wanted to finish with a testimony of a Christian near the end and remembered the testimony I had read in Grace Magazine this month from Esther Childress who died last December at 14. The testimony is here on youtube. It was quite moving simply to read out such a testimony.

John Piper Sermons

I notice that all John Piper's sermons are now available on the ESV site. Go here and click the cloud above (bit Freudian, eh?) for available apps.

10 Famous portraits

1. Mona Lisa/Leonardo
2. Henry VIII/Holbein
3. Charles I/Van Dyck
4. Oliver Cromwell/Lely
5. Laughing Cavalier/Hals
6. Girl with the pearl earring/Vermeer
7. Blue Boy/Gainsborough
8. Berthe Morisot/Manet
9. Arrangement in grey and black/Whistler (Whistler's mother)
10. Marilyn Monroe/Warhol

(I have excluded self-portraits and paintings that feature more than one sitter) 

Lloyd-Jones Thesis online

You may be interested to know that John Brencher's 1997 thesis on Lloyd-Jones is available online here.

LTS Alumni

Principal Robert Strivens
Garry Williams of the John Owen Centre
Bill James speaking
The gathered alumni and present students
Today I was at the first meeting of the LTS Alumni. About fifty gathered with the present students and staff. Philip and Jenny Eveson were there too. We had lunch together and then Nathan Pomeroy chaired and we heard Irving Steggles (Chairman of the Board), Dr Strivens and Dr Williams. Bill James then spoke and we had a time of prayer and a cuppa. Good time indeed. I was the second oldest there (in terms of attending the college - I came in '81). Only Tim Burdon and Andrew Heron are senior. Someone said Mike Plant was there who beats us all but it must have been a flying visit. A bonus was seeing Miguel Pabalito from The Philippines and Clinton Stone (as well as Irving) from South Africa. of course, it was so brief that I didn't get to speak to all the people I wanted to. At least 50 people missing too.

Yes I've Seen All Good People Acoustic

This is nice too

10 Most Famous Paintings Ever

This is debatable, of course, but I'd say
1. Mona Lisa, Leonardo Da Vinci
2. Starry night, Vincent Van Gogh
3. Water Lily Pond (with bridge), Claude Monet
4. Girl with the pearl earring, Jan Vermeer
5. Nightwatch, Rembrandt van Rijn
6. Guernica, Pablo Picasso
7. The scream, Edvard Munch
8. The persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali
9. Bal du moulin de la Galette, Pierre-Auguste Renoir
10. American Gothic, Grant Wood
(The picture includes Whistler's mother and Magritte's Son of Man as extras)

10 London Art Galleries

1. National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
2. Tate Britain, Millbank
3. Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly
4. Wallace Collection, Manchester Square
5. Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House
6. Dulwich Picture Gallery, Dulwich
7. Tate Modern, Bankside
8. Kenwood House, Hampstead
9. Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace
10. Guildhall Gallery, City of London

Lord's Day May 12 2013

It was another good day yesterday in Childs Hill with lots to encourage, including several visitors, new people and people back who have been away a little while. We also relaunched our children's talk which has been in abeyance for several years now due to lack of kids. We had two 4 year olds a 5 year old and a 6 year old up the front. I have been keeping things going with an embryonic talk going through the catechism. It so turned out then that the talk was on do not commit adultery, not where most children's talk series begin but they do need to know all 10 commandments I'm sure. The main messages were on the end of 1 Corinthians 3 and on Numbers 32. In the morning I had a rather long introduction but once we got going it was fine. In the evening I focused on that wonderful part verse (23b) about being sure your sin will find you out.

My 10 Favourite Artists

1. Hieronymus Bosch
2. Pieter Bruegel the elder
3. Jan Vermeer
4. Joseph Wright of Derby
5. Henri Rousseau
6. Vincent Van Gogh
7. M C Escher
8. Salvador Dali
9. Edward Hopper
10. René Magritte

In Writing 122

The latest edition of the Evangelical Library organ In Writing is now out. it goes free to all Library members. The main item is Ian Hamilton's piece on Old Princeton from last June. See here for the Library website .

Courtauld Gallery

Last Tuesday I was at the Courtauld Gallery in Somerset House, another gem tucked away in London's teeming streets. It was another trip with the History of Art Class I've been with this year at the King's Cross Working Men's College. It's normally £6 to get in at the Courtauld but worth it. The current exhibition is Picasso 1901. It's good to see paintings all from one (crucial) year. The paintings are hung in two different rooms and there is certainly a noticeable difference between the two as Picasso explored different styles. The main gallery has this famous Manet which we enjoyed spending time on and several other paintings mostly of the impressionist and post-impressionist schools but plenty of Rubens and others too. More here.

Radio Interview on What Jesus is doing now

I am being interviewed live (by phone) about my book What Jesus is doing now tonight on the Janet Mefferd show at 7 pm (BST). The blurb says
Prominent GOP donors have launched a new effort to give big bucks to Republican candidates who support so-called homosexual marriage. Janet will get reaction from Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. And who are the Alinsky-type radicals helping to move immigration reform forward? Janet will talk about it with Dr. John Fonte, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Also: What is the work of Christ after the ascension? Gary Brady, Pastor of Childs Hill Baptist Church in London, will join Janet to talk about his book, “What Jesus is Doing Now.” Plus: How should Christians respond to growing anti-Semitism around the world? Janet will get some thoughts from Dr. Jim Showers, president and executive director of Friends of Israel. That and more – join us! 1-800-343-9282.

Lord's Day May 5 2013

As usual we began the month with communion. I then preached again from 1 Corinthians 3, this time on the church as a building. In the evening we considered the subject of giving as we looked at the rest of Numbers 31. We had decent numbers morning and evening (when we get about half as many as in the morning). Some were missing but there was a new family from eastern Europe there who I hope will join us. We had a nice gathering back here as we often do between services. It is a privilege to preach the Word.

Our nearby canal

As it was bank holiday we got the bus and tube down to Little Venice today where they had their canalway cavalcade and then walked along the canal to just before Regents Park and caught the bus home, stopping of for a late lunch en route. Great weather.

Newport County back in the league

I must confess I haven't given the team from the place where I was born much thought over the years but the idea they are back in the league is brilliant. My uncle Ray will be chuffed. They beat Wrexham 2-0 in a play off. More here.

Good news bad news

Do you remember those good news bad news jokes that were popular a few years ago? My trip to the GBA was a good news bad news thing.
Good news - I was able to drive there and back in the car, which was recently fixed
Bad news - I couldn't get the air conditioning or the radio to work the five hours I was travelling

Chelsea 3 F C Basel 1


Went with the boys to see the Chelsea game last night, the Europa Cup semi-final. A rare treat. The first half wasn't up to much but Chelsea's three second half goals were more than enough (they were already 2-1 up). We were near the fanatical Basel supporters who cheered, clapped and sung throughout, letting off fireworks at the end. Having been a Chelsea fan of old I was able to join in the chorus of Blue is the colour that was sung at the beginning. It's amazing what will stick. The final is in Amsterdam.

GBA 2013 Thursday Morning 2

Our final session at assembly was with Phil Heaps who took us to the end of Matthew's Gospel and instead of doing what we might have expected exactly encouraged us to focus on greatness. He had nine great things for us to focus on altogether - the great God himself, Christ our great Lord, the great saving event of his death, the great possibility opened up, the great standards of obedience expected, the great task, the great sphere of activity, the great promise and the great promise.
It was a fitting end to an excellent conference and assembly.

GBA 2013 Thursday Morning 1

It was a delight to hear Jeremy Walker giving us the life of that great man of God Andrew Fuller. Jeremy was quite moved when he came to the death of Fuller. Among the quotations was Spurgeon's letter to Fuller's son following the publication of the biography.
"Venerable Friend,
I thank you for sending me your Andrew Fuller. If you had lived for a long time for nothing else but to produce this volume, you have lived to good purpose.
I have long considered your father to be the greatest theologian of the century, and I do not know that your pages have made me think more highly of him as a divine than I had thought before. But I now see him within doors far more accurately, and see about the Christian man a soft radiance of tender love which had never been revealed to me either by former biographies or by his writings.
You have added moss to the rose, and removed some of the thorns in the process.
Yours most respectfully,
C.H. Spurgeon."
His friend Robert Hall Junior wrote (and this was quoted in part)
"... I cannot refrain from expressing in a few words the sentiments of affectionate veneration with which I always regarded that excellent person while living, and cherish his memory now that he is no more; a man, whose sagacity enabled him to penetrate to the depths of every subject he explored, whose conceptions were so powerful and luminous, that what was recondite and original appeared familiar; what was intricate, easy and perspicuous in his hands; equally successful in enforcing the practical, in stating the theoretical, and discussing the polemical branches of theology: without the advantage of early education, he rose to high distinction amongst the religious writers of his day, and, in the midst of a most active and laborious' life, left monuments of his piety and genius which will survive to distant posterity. Were I making his eulogium, I should necessarily dwell on the spotless integrity of his private life, his fidelity in friendship, his neglect of self-interest, his ardent attachment to truth, and especially the series of unceasing labours and exertions, in superintending the mission to India, to which he most probably fell a victim. He had nothing feeble or undecisive in his character, but, to every undertaking in which he engaged, he brought all the powers of his understanding, all the energies of his heart; and if he were less distinguished by the comprehension, than the acumen and solidity of his thoughts; less eminent for the gentler graces, than for stern integrity and native grandeur of mind, we have only to remember the necessary limitations of human excellence. While he endeared himself to his denomination by a long course of most useful labour, by his excellent works on the Socinian and Deistical controversies, as well as his devotion to the cause of missions, he laid the world under lasting obligations.'
A quotation from Fuller himself would be this one (writing to Rippon at the Bristol Baptist College)
"I earnestly wish the students may steer clear of the ditch and the quagmire. It is of vast importance for a minister to be decidedly on the side of God, against himself as a sinner, and against an apostate world. Nor is it less important that he have an ardent love to Christ, and the gospel of salvation by free grace. I wish they may so believe, and feel, and preach the truth, as to find their message an important reality, influencing their own souls, and those of others. Let them beware of so preaching doctrine as to forget to declare all the counsel of God, all the precepts of the word. Let them equally beware of so dwelling upon the perceptive part of Scripture, as to forget the grand principles on which alone it can be carried into effect."

GBA 2013 Wednesday Evening

In Tim Mills' second message he took up the question he raised at the end of his first as to whether initial faith is the same as the faith we are to go on with. He answered the question by going back to Habakkuk 2:4 and noting that word live.
He identified from Habakkuk three dangers
1. The Lord's people themselves because of their sins (1:1-4)
2. The Babylonians (1:5-2:20)
3. God himself (3)
He then took us to the three New Testament references to the Habakkuk reference in Romans 1, Galatians 3 and Hebrews 10.
Hebrews 10:38 asserts both that Christians are justified and that there is danger and if we continue in sin it will be a disaster. The sin in view is hearing God's Word and saying no to accepting it and doing it. Those who trust in Christ can get through the dangers if they look to Christ.
Galatians 3:11
Backsliding is nothing less than leaving God. What should you do when the anchor is slipping - trust urgently in Christ.
Romans 1:17
We spent the bulk of the time here and were taken over several chapters, powerfully making the point that we, though justified, are tempted to act in our strength, something that God hates. Those who are already justified live through the danger of saying one thing and doing another as they believe urgently in Christ.
He confessed in closing to feeling tired (not just physically) but in all sorts of ways - praying, singing, etc, etc. The answer is not to look at your faith as such but to fix your eyes on God and on Christ with urgent and clinging faith.
It was a privilege to hear this thorough and well thought out message.

GBA 2013 Business and Reports Sessions

On the Wednesday afternoon we had our business meeting, chaired by Graham Field. Some 61 churches have registered though 25 were not represented. Jack Jenner stepped down from committee and David Last and Richard Lambert joined.
In the five o'clock session we had a series of encouraging reports from several men including Phil Heaps from Westerleigh/Yate (13 baptisms and a new location); Derek Sewell from Thamesmead; Jack Jenner from Ulverston; Graham Field from Leytonstone now working in Halstead; Mark Kennick from tiny Chapel Town, Sheffield; Philip Tait from Stockton on Tees; John MacDonald from GBM; Keith Johns from Caterham; Harold Gamston from Abbeymead in Gloucester;  Vivian Thrower in Ipswich and Malcolm McGregor's much improved health; Timothy Reynolds from Borough Green (a couple back to church after a 50 year hiatus).

GBA 2013 Wednesday Morning 2

The second session of the morning was led by Paul Brown and was on homosexuality. It was one of the best presentations I have ever heard. The message is worth getting hold of. He began with three propositions.
1. Homosexuality acts are sinful and deserve God's judgement
2. God is willing to have mercy on all who repent and believe no matter how wicked they are
3. Christianity is not a psychotherapy that offers an instantaneous or easy cure to every problem
he then expounded these briefly.
1. It is the act that is sinful. The act is serious sin as is clear from Leviticus. Such acts are also against the God given and natural order. Such sinful behaviour deserves God's judgement even though this is often denied today.
2. We believe there is mercy but sometimes our attitude is not in line with this when it comes to homosexuality. There is a need for sensitivity.
3. We tend to assume a change of sexual orientation is easy. It often is not. The gospel calls us in some ways to a harder existence than that outside Christ. He quoted from an article by Betty Vivian to show how hard it can be to live (see here).
He then went on to talk about homosexuality in the UK today. How many are there? Is it 5% or 6%? The latter figure would mean 3.6 million!. The actual figures for lifetime homosexual feeling are much lower. Civil partnerships have been taken up only a small percentage of the undoubtedly low figures. Candidates for same sex marriage would no doubt be even smaller.
He then went on to talk authoritatively of the high levels of mental disorder that have been found among homosexuals. This is usually put down to society's disapproval but could well be due to damaging childhood experiences that have led in that direction.
He also spoke of change. He mentioned a recent reference to being post-heterosexual (see here). If there can be such a thing why not post-homosexuals? We cannot assume such a change will be easy. We are not all called to be married though celibacy is necessary outside marriage, which is not easy for some whether they are homosexual or not.
There were some helpful things on sin and its power to disorientate. At the heart of sin is a rejection of God's authority. Like Eve, however, part of the problem too is how attractive we find sin. Other notes struck were the need for humility in preaching, the need to see sin as the real problem, and the fact that we are all disabled in one way or another due to sin.
He helpfully rejected the Gay community/heterosexual community distinction, warning that it is nowhere near so simple. A whole variety of sexual perversions and tastes exist. He quoted Rosaria Butterfield's striking statement too "I believe that the Lord is more grieved by the sins of my current life than by my past life as a lesbian" and remarked on the extraordinary survival capacity that sin seems to have.
His final remarks noted how difficult homosexuals are to reach. However, we evangelicals are well able to sympathise with their sense of marginalisation. There ought to be some prepared to engage with them as individuals. In counselling such people we need to know our limitations. Some are converted and we need to do all we can to help such in positive ways.

GBA 2013 Wednesday Morning 1

Our opening session was on that ever popular verse 1 Corinthians 9:22 and the speaker was Stephen Rees. It was very helpful.
He began by giving examples where people have used the verse to argue that
1. We must adopt our message
2. We must adopt our methods
3. We must also apply the principle to the structure and worship of our churches
Without expressing his opinion on the conclusions drawn, Stephen contested the use of 1 Corinthians 9:22 to support them. Paul's point rather is that although you may have the right to do a thing that does not mean that it is right to do it. Paul uses himself as an example of a man who has curtailed his own freedoms in order to serve others, especially those he is seeking to win to Christ. He is not saying he changes the message or method or does nothing in worship that will offend the Jews. Rather, he is talking about personal lifestyle. When he is mixing with Jews, he keeps the Jewish rules and when he is with Gentiles he does not. He refuses to maintain his personal preferences. He is not therefore willing to do anything. He is free not to have a wife but he is not free to be polygamous, say. In Paul's case he is a missionary and so he is thinking of not offending the unbeliever. In the case of the Corinthians the chief concern is fellow believers. Today, we have to think of both sorts when we make lifestyle choices.
1. Issues where the danger is that a Christian is tempted into doing what is against the other's conscience (eg inviting certain people to drink alcohol or watch a video)
2. Issues where the danger is that your lifestyle tempts other Christians to unhelpful reactions (eg rich people being ostentatious or the poor making the rich feel bad)
3. Issues where the danger is that a wedge is driven between you and others in the church (eg Facebook or non-Facebook)
4. Issues where the danger is that cultural differences become a cause of tension
1. Issues where the danger is that the unbeliever's sin is condoned
2. Issues where the danger is that your lifestyle choices produce in unbelievers unhelpful reactions
3. Issues where the danger is that a wedge is driven between you and the unbeliever
4. Issues where the danger is that cultural differences become a cause of tension
Taking Paul's words seriously is going to affect every decision we make. it is not easy.
As for the message, we have to preach the gospel however offensive it may be (cf Christ urging the Jews to eat his blood, Paul preaching Christ crucified).
As for the method, again Jesus and Paul are willing to be countercultural at many points (cf Christ putting others above his family, eating the Passover with his friends not his family; Paul not cutting his hair at Corinth and working as a tentmaker)
Notice too that Paul was happy to be counter-cultural in many ways, eg no female leadership, no frenzied worship, slaves and masters on equal footing.
What should we aim at? Obeying God's commands. That covers a lot but not everything. Man is created in God's image and all cultural practices are to be judged as to whether they are Godlike. Our aim is to be as like God as we can not as like the world as we can.

GBA 2013 Tuesday Afternoon and Evening

I'm afraid I arrived here in Swanwick for the 2013 Grace Assembly late and missed the first session at which David Ellis spoke. He and Barbara are our hosts this year.
At 5 pm Bill Hughes spoke. Having ministered for 35 years in Scotland, he has been ministering in Florida these last 12 years but has now moved back to the UK and so he was invited to give some reflections of the American scene. As he himself said, he was not able to say very much that was original but it was good to have this informed assessment of the situation, which is mixed and confused.
Then after supper Tim Mills spoke of justification by faith from Habakkuk 2:4, which he called Habakkuk's greatest statement. He urged us to go back to that initial moment when we first believed and to recognise the layers involved. He listed these as
1. Belief in the big facts about the Bible and God
2. Dependence on God
3. Confidence and certainty about God and his promises
4. Emergency and desperation to escape sin and judgement
At the close he simply raised the question of whether this initial faith is the same as the faith we are to go on with.