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.

Newly released CDs

Two of my musical heroes have CDs out this month. First Jan Akkerman has a new CD of live performances in the North Sea Jazz Legendary Concerts series. This must be from 2011. It is nothing too special but gives an idea of Akkerman live as he is these days. I found it in mp3 form on Amazon UK for £5.99. Then here I see all of Marc Bolan's recordings at the BBC have been put together in a six CD set. Interesting.

Lord's Day August 25 2013

So back again in Childs Hill preaching again. What a blessing! We were a decent number morning and evening though there were several missing. We looked at the final verses of 1 Corinthians 7 in the morning and in the evening we considered Romans 3:24-26 (justification, redemption and propitiation). Of course, one regrets the relatively small numbers, the late arrivals and the apparent lack of unction but this is a great privilege and our only hope so we press on. We have a special week of outreach this week so we are looking forward to that. (I found the diagram here).

Protestant Anniversaries

Today is the anniversary of the Great Ejection of 1662, the day by which ministers unwilling to conform to the Act of Uniformity were required to vacate their churches. The term Black Bartholomew's Day is often used as that was the so called saint's day. See my blog on the subject here. The book on the subject is still available.
It is a double anniversary as this is also the anniversary of the massacre of Protestants in Paris in 1572 known as the St Bartholomew's Day massacre. See the Wikipedia article here.

Henry VI Part 2 at the Globe

Henry VI Part 2 has got to be one of the more obscure of Shakespeare's plays but I was free last night and that is what was on at the Globe so down I went. I chose another restricted view at first but it was worse than restricted so I went back and got a cheapy for the courtyard and coped with standing okay. This was a no frills production and with few laughs, which is fair enough. Perhaps this is where you see the bard's skill at its best. It's just a bunch of people talking in the end but what a picture he paints. The history is probably unreliable but the picture of humanity is pretty undeniable. Even an obscure play has well known lines ("The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" "Adam was a gardener" (Act IV, Scene II) "Small things make base men proud" (Act IV, Scene I) So a well acted though unremarkable piece. All three are on at the moment but I am unlikely to see them all. This is chronologically the first so a good start. Only moan was the disproportion either side of the interval, the latter part being much shorter than the former.

Josephus on Jesus

This is the sometimes disputed quotation from Josephus on Jesus
"At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders."

More on the Geoff Thomas Festshrift

Brief Lives

Dying young is a subject we have touched on here before. Abebooks often interesting avid reader site has a good piece here on the subject. It begins "What do the names Jimi Hendrix, Sylvia Plath, and Terry Fox have in common?" and mentions Stuart Sutcliffe, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin et al. No mention of Andrew Gray, David Brainerd, Robert Murray M'Cheyne, Jim Eliot et al, of course.
(See died young tag).

One man show

This is one of my eldest son's projects for this Autumn:
4:48 Psychosis
Aberystwyth-founded theatre company Run Amok present a radical re-telling of British dramatist Sarah Kane's 4:48 Psychosis. Showcasing the arresting talent of Aberystwyth graduate and actor Rhodri Brady as a one-man show, Run Amok Theatre Company aim to use Kane's text as an arch to explore our relationship with social media and network sites in relation to mental health issues in the 21st century. Be prepared to see 4:48 Psychosis in an exclusively contemporary context, by a fresh and exciting emerging theatre company.   Age 17+

Lost for words

For some time now I have been planning with many others to put together a sort of Festschrift in honour of my father-in-law Geoff Thomas. It is now nearing completion and will be out on October 15. It will be called The Holy Spirit and Reformed Spirituality and will contain two biographical essays (one by me and one interviewing men now in ministry who have sat at Geoff's feet in the past) plus a number of biblical, theological and church historical contributions including the following
  • Carl Trueman, “The Spirit and the Word Incarnate: John Owen's Trinitarian Christology.”
  • Sam Waldron, “The Relation of the Righteousness of God and the Spirit of God in Romans 1–8.”
  • Joel Beeke, “The Illumination of the Holy Spirit.”
  • Fred Malone, “The Holy Spirit and Human Responsibility.”
  • David Jones, “A Gracious Willing Guest: The Indwelling Holy Spirit.”
  • John J. Murray, “Professor John Murray and the Godly Life.”
  • Ian Hamilton, “Romans 7:14–25: Life in the Spirit This Side of Glory.”
  • Derek Thomas, “John Owen and Spiritual-mindedness.”
  • Iain D. Campbell, “‘The Spirit of God in the People of God’: A Celtic Spirituality"
  • Stephen Turner, “The Holy Spirit and the Call to the Ministry of the Gospel.”
  • Conrad Mbewe, “The Empowering Work of the Holy Spirit.”
  • Austin Walker, “The Supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ and Apostolic Ministry”
  • Robert Oliver, “An Elizabethan Cameo: The Ministry of Edward Dering.”
  • Gary Benfold, “Passion and the Spirit’s Sovereignty in the Thinking and Evangelistic Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones.”
That looks to me like a book worth reading regardless of any Geoff Thomas connection. Any way during the conference I presented him with the book (actually a dummy copy). He was "lost for words" and told me he would never trust me again, which is fair enough. Thanks for the photo Miska. Thanks to EMW too for the opportunity. The book is to be published by RHB.

Aber Conference 2013 The Whole Thing

Aber is much more than the morning and evening addresses and even the mini conference at the beginning, of course.
I mentioned that I was at the Alistair Begg seminar on preaching. There were at least two other seminars (one with Roger Hitchings on dementia and a history one on R M M'Cheyne with Paul Yeulett) which I would love to have attended.
I led one of the daily prayer meetings this year and I felt that went very well on the whole. Between 80 and 90 of us met in the cinema each morning and after a brief devotional intro we got into prayer and about thirty different men and women led in prayer. There are some acoustics problems with the venue but most of the praying could be heard and was of a good standard. It made a great start to each day. I especially appreciated it as I seldom get to the prayer meetings usually and have distant memories of much less satisfying ones in the past.
Seminars are also organised for the young people and older age groups. I was not involved in any of that this year but some of my sons went to Extra Time and my sister-in-law and her husband ran the Tome out sessions and that all sounded very positive and worthwhile. Who knows how much good is done in a week like that.
Oh yes, it was also good to see my wife's cousin Gwydion and his wife Catrin on the stage being presented as the new wardens of EMW's centre Bryn Y Groes, Bala. There was also another presentation. More of that in another blog.
Of course, on top of that there is the interaction with so many people more informally. Keith and Janice Hoare kindly invited us to their flat once again to catch up on things. I had plenty of chats with others too and caught up on various bits of news. Great stuff. Don Carson next year with Joel Beeke, Paul Mallard and, presumably, another two Welshmen.

Aber Conference 2013 Evening Meetings

The five evening meetings at Aber were arranged this year as a sort of Celtic sandwich. At the centre was Vaughan Roberts, technically a Welshman but a quintessentially Anglican evangelical. He spoke well on Habakkuk 3. No evangelistic content but heart warming for those who heard. At the top and bottom of the sandwich were two Welshmen ministering in Wales. Pembrokeshire born Bernard Lewis now in Newport via London and Papua New Guinea preached manfully, asking the question whether we love Jesus. Cardiff born Ian Parry of the Bay Church did better in some ways on John 20:21. I suppose we must have Welshmen preach but it is not easy to be yanked out of your church of 80 or a hundred and face a thousand and more.
The speaker on Tuesday and Thursday was Highlander Iain D Campbell who gave us theological preaching of the highest calibre. Taking the phrases But I and But Christ he basically summarised Romans and then Galatians before launching into rich expositions of Romans 7:14 and Galatians 2:20. Not everyone is used to this sort of preaching and it was good to have the morning messages alongside these but such God exalting preaching was a joy to experience.

Aber Conference 2013 Morning Meetings

The main conference speaker this year was the US based Scot Alistair Begg. He has a wide ministry and is at ease and at home in a hall of over a thousand. His irrepressible wit did not seem to spoil his addresses at all but added to the ease with which they could be listened to. Pastor Begg clearly works hard on his material and is more concerned to be pastorally helpful than convince you that he has the last word on how a certain passage should be exegeted. What he did on this occasion was to look at four passages (John 3, Mark 4, John 4, Luke 24) under the heading "In Christ's school of evangelism and discipleship". Lots of very helpful things were said about these matters. Perhaps it was the passion and commitment that came over best and this was of an infectious kind that both held interest and will hopefully have an effect in the lives of those who heard. On the first morning we had several quotations (Iain Murray, Baxter, Spurgeon) and finished with Spurgeon's conversion (perhaps he wanted to reassure us of his reformed credentials) but that pattern was not repeated subsequently (perhaps there was no need). I also enjoyed his frank take on being a minister in the seminar on the Tuesday afternoon.

Fish Chip

Spotted this fish shaped chip in my supper the other week

Swansea Connection

1. My wife was born in Swansea
2. When I was about 11 my father seriously considered taking a promotion to work in Swansea but didn't in the end
3. The only city I have seriously considered ministering in apart from London is Swansea
4. My parents-in-law lived in Swansea the first year they were married
5. On the first Sunday we were married we went to church in Swansea
6. We were in Swansea when we celebrated my parents in law's 25th anniversary using a tier from our wedding cake
7. My son has gained a place at Swansea University to study history

8. In 2016 another son was engaged to a young lady from Swansea (perhaps we'll get to 10 yet)

Lord's Days August 11 and 18 2013

I'm rather behind with the blogging as I was busy last week with the Aber conference, which included this year leading a morning prayer meeting. Then towards the end of last week I was smitten with severe toothache - hence no blogging for a while.
Yesterday and last Sunday I was away from the Child's Hill pulpit, where Andrew Lolley was the preacher. On the first Lord's Day I was in Bethel, Aberystwyth with hundreds of others to hear my father-in-law preach on conference Sunday. The next day I also took my usual role as chairman, introducing him briefly before he gave the third address in a series on the intercession of Christ in heaven. He began with the ascension and moved on to Christ's Kingly reign and then his High priestly work. He brought out several good points and made reference to my book on the subject. (He also pointed out that three of us Aber graduates have written on the ascension - me, Derek Thomas and now Tim Chester [with Jonny Woodrow]). Conference Sundays is always great - seeing so many people, especially old friends. A woman came up and gave me a hug. "You remember me?" she said. Thankfully I did at the last moment. She's been living in Africa for 20 years  or so and that's a long time. The previous night I had tried to introduce one of the seminar speakers and his wife, a  man I see regularly, to someone and utterly failed to capture their names. Embarrassing.
I could have heard Maurice Kinnaird and Mike Leaves elsewhere and I thought about going but I always go to hear Geoff.
Then yesterday we were still in Aber but as I was so unwell with toothache I stayed at home with the toothache. I think that is only the third or fourth time I have had to miss a service since I became a Christian over 40 years ago. Perhaps it is good to get the experience. Geoff prints out his sermons beforehand these days for the deaf and those whose English is limited, etc, so I was able to read that and one of my son's wrote down the hymn numbers for me to look up on his return. I was told about who was there (conferees still in town, holiday makers and some new people, etc) and that Ben Ramsbottom admired Geoff's children's talk. Geoff was giving his 214th sermon on Luke and rounding off a six year project looking at that wonderful Gospel. I was able to get out in the evening and enjoyed hearing the sermon on the end of Romans 9 and meeting plenty of people old and new. One of the church's oldest members, a former deacon who has children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in the church will be buried tomorrow. Ron Loosley was 92 and had been suffering with dementia several years. There is chiefly joy at this release but inevitably some sadness too. It was nice to meet some students still around, including a Nigerian Londoner.


The first two days of our four away we spent in King's Lynn, which it turns out is six miles from Sandringham, where the queen has one of her residences set among 7000 acres. It is very difficult for some of us to grasp how very rich indeed the Royal Family is. It is clear just from the evidence on show at Sandringham that they are fabulously wealthy. All very interesting, nevertheless and it was good to put some context to a well known place.


My wife and I have been having a few days away this week in King's Lynn and Hereford. En route between the two we saw a sign (in keeping with our trip to the Cromwell museum in Ely) for Naseby and checked it out, as seen here. Naseby is a little village in Northamptonshire. The battle just outside was decisive in the English civil wars or Wars of the three nations. 

Wolsey and Pygot, Martyrs

William Wolsey was a Constable at Upwell, near Wisbech. He was deprived of his office when one of the Justices noticed that, although Wolsey was a regular worshipper at the parish church, he used to absent himself at the Mass. He had obtained a smuggled New Testament in English and by reading it had become convinced that the Roman doctrine of the Mass was erroneous. In Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, John Foxe records that Wolsey was told that as a layman he should not meddle in the Scriptures. John Fuller, Chancellor of the Bishop of Ely, lent him a book by Thomas Watson, Bishop of Lincoln. Wolsey took the book and read it, marking his disagreements in the text. Fuller asked him to ‘rule his tongue’ and he would see that he was let off. However, Wolsey declared that he must speak and be witness to the truth.
Robert Pygot was a painter from Wisbech who was summonsed for not attending church.
He and Wolsey were sent to prison at Ely to face the commissioners who could try them for heresy. On 9 October 1555 they appeared before a Commission comprising Dr Fuller and the Dean of Norwich, John Christopherson. When questioned about the Mass they made the following answer: “The sacrament of the altar is an idol and the natural body and blood of Christ are not present in the said sacrament.” They refused to recant their denial of the sacrament, believing this was not heresy, but the truth, and were condemned to death.
A week later, on 16 October, they were executed by burning on the Cathedral Green at Ely, the same day Latimer and Ridley were martyred at Oxford. The sentence of condemnation was read and a sermon preached then they were led out to the stake. With them were burnt copies of the Bible in English, and Wolsey and Pygot seized copies of these, reciting Psalm 116, and imploring all present to say, ‘Amen’. And so, records Foxe, they ‘received the fire most thankfully.’
(Taken from here)


We are away for a few days and en route we noticed we were in Spurgeon country. We couldn't find the place where he was baptised (which we have been shown many years ago) but we saw that we were four miles from Ely and paid a visit. We enjoyed seeing the cathedral and Cromwell's house. The tiny plaque to the martyrs is a reminder of how real Christians tend to be remembered as opposed to the establishment. The music is Bach as played by Jan Akkerman on Focus in Time.


When I was a boy growing up in South East Wales there was hardly anything up in Welsh and now everything has to be in Welsh as well as English - not as easy as it might seem. I grew up in Hazel Walk which they have dubbed Rhodfa Helyg which is not right (should be Rhodfa'r Gollen). There are plenty of examples. This one here in Dunelm Mill, Newport has used the word for Poles, the people and so says Polish curtains (should be polion llenni). See here.

Chariots of Fire-ony

This poster with the words Chariots of fire caught my attention. When you look at it you find it is nothing to do with Eric Liddell (or Elijah) but is announcing a sponsored cycle run for a charity called ssafa. And the irony? The run is on the Lord's Day, September 22.

Blog on Blogg

Henry George Blogg GC BEM (6 February 1876 – 13 June 1954) was a lifeboatman from Cromer on the north coast of Norfolk and the most decorated in Royal National Lifeboat Institution  history. Blogg of the Cromer Lifeboat Station is referred to as "the greatest of the lifeboatmen".  From the rescue of the crew of the Pyrin and then of half of the crew of the Fernebo in 1917, through to his near drowning in the service to the English Trader in 1941, he was awarded the gold medal of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution three times and the silver medal four times, the George Cross, the British Empire Medal, and a series of other awards. (See here)

10 famous Norfolk folk

1. Horatio Nelson
2. Robert Walpole
3. Fanny Burney
4. Anna Sewell
5. George Borrow
6. Edith Cavell
7. Bill Edrich (cricketer)
8. Henry Blogg*
9. James Dyson
10. Roger Taylor (Queen**)
* See more next blog
** Born in King's Lynn from where I write - six miles from Sandringham, home of the Queen!)
(List prompted by a visit to Norfolk)

10 People who use/used green ink

1. Financial auditors
2. Pharmacists
3. Heads of the British secret service
4. Do gooder educationists marking assignments (red can upset children)
5. Printers marking up galley proofs
6. Legal clerks correcting a document for the second time
7. US Navy pilots logging combat flights
8. The poet Pablo Neruda
9.  E M Forster writing early drafts of Passage to India
10. Conspiracy theorists writing to British newspapers
(This blog was prompted by learning from a pharmacist in the church that they always use green ink. Plenty available elsewhere on the net about this but no list like this one).

London Culture 02

After the Courtauld I got myself south of the river to Shakespeare's Globe for the first time this summer. The play was sold out but I thought I'd try the returns queue and had a choice of three tickets. I opted for the first time to sit down. They said the view was restricted because it was next to a camera filming the performance - but it was a front row fine view (I was glad to be under cover though there was very little rain).
Midsummer Night's Dream must be the first Shakespeare I ever encountered around 14, though I don't recall seeing it performed at all. It is quite hard to follow in some ways as the Titania Oberon elements assume a number of things. You can't help liking Bottom and the mechanics though, especially when played as well as they were by Pearce Quigley and co. Fergal McElherron was a ringer for Bobby Ball at times. The scene with the wall at the end was milked for every legitimate laugh and was genuinely funny. Every time I get to the Globe I enjoy it and I'm just sorry that (mainly with my art classes) I've not been until now this season. More here.

London Culture 01

I had quite a cultural day in the nation's capital yesterday. First I got myself down to the Courtauld Gallery (its half price on Mondays). There is a summer exhibition at the moment on Gauguin. Most of the artefacts are on permanent display but the exhibition (of five paintings, a sculpture, some prints and a few other things) is done well. See more here.

Lord's Day August 4 2013

I am often not in London on the first Sunday in August so it was good to be preaching here. Numbers were down a bit in the morning but not too bad. I carried on with 1 Corinthians 7 (17-24) and the matter of guidance. God's work in our hearts is the radical thing. Otherwise we should be pretty conservative. In the evening I did the last of my series on heavenly crow looking at the Crown of glory mentioned in 1 Peter 5:4 and the similar reference in 1 Thessalonians 2:19. We enjoyed having lunch in the garden with one of my deacons and his family.

Of Mice and Men

I took opportunity while I was away to do some reading, of course. I wanted to read Steinbeck's Of men and mice because kids read it in school these days and I was curious. So I now know why it has the title it has (not just the Burns reference) and I'm familiar with the basic story. It's a good story, well written but as it is only a novella it works at a fairly superficial level - great for kids starting on serious literature. I've never seen any of the movie versions. I started The grapes of wrath once may be I'll have another go.


It's hard to believe that a week ago we were all in Brittany. This blog makes no attempt to give a blow by blow account of things but I felt I ought to mention my first time in that part of the world and how much we enjoyed it. We had such a nice place and such great weather that we didn't do much exploring but I'm glad that we at least did a little. It was good to see Mont St Michel after often hearing about it. We also enjoyed Combourg and Dinan. The French seem to do Mediaeval very well. The Breton traditions of crepes and cider, etc, were in evidence but hardly a hint of the language where we were. General impressions of France - useless toilets and vast arable farming - are no doubt similar to those of others.


I discovered this song through my sons. Called unbelievers it is by Americans Vampire Weekend. Still not sure what the lyrics, which talk about being born again and hell and sinners, are saying but certainly this is what many unbelievers are like - young, handsome, artistic, clever and asking questions. They are clearly not excited (indeed desperate not to be) even though they should be.