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.

Banner launch ebooks

The Banner of Truth Trust have just launched their first 10 books in e-format (kindle and epub). A nice option is that you can buy the book and the e-publication at a set price. Nothing being given away here but it's good progress ( I notice that here you can get the Thomas Case volume for 77p  here or for 1.95 here so be careful). See here.

Houdini and Newport

I happened to catch Eggsy of Goldie Looking Chain on Radio 4 this morning talking about Newport. He mentioned Houdini having visited the place. My grandfather saw him jump off Newport Bridge (not the Transporter).

This item gives the background (see here)
The famous escapologist Harry Houdini visited Newport on a number of occasions. The first time he met Newport police, in 1905, Harry Houdini ended up in jail. No crime had been committed - he was merely accepting their challenge to escape from a police cell. Of course, this was all good publicity for Houdini who was appearing at the Lyceum Theatre. He duly arrived at the police station, was stripped of his clothing, and double-locked into cell number 9. Five and half minutes later he reappeared fully clothed having escaped his cell, opened the adjacent one to retrieve his togs, and unlocked the door to the corridor where he met an astonished Chief Constable.
During a week long stint at the Empire Houdini announced to the audience he would leap from Newport Bridge with hands manacled and feet shackled. The Newport Council of the time promptly banned the jump. On 5th March 1913, Houdini's date for the leap, the Bridge was packed with onlookers and police. Knowing the police were planning to prevent the jump, Houdini created a diversion. While police apprehended a look-a-like, he emerged from a taxi in a bathing suit and having descended the bridge to a buttress below, leapt into the Usk. The crowd cheered as he dived in but were silenced as he disappeared under the water, only to cheer again as he emerged from the water to be picked up by an assistant in a nearby boat.
Newport Police would not let the matter rest there. Houdini announced to the Empire audience on the Saturday night that he had been served summonses to appear in court charged with obstructing the highway and holding a public entertainment on the Bridge. A packed Magistrates Court heard the case on 12th March. The police said that Houdini had given his word that he would not jump, Houdini strenuously denied this. The magistrates dismissed the case.

Lord's Day August 24 2014

I decided to preach yesterday from 2 Peter 1:16-18 and 19-21, so on Scripture and its integrity, New Testament then Old Testament. They are not easy verses to tackle but I did my best and hope I got through to most of my hearers. In the evening I explained accommodation, inspiration and inerrancy, using Ferguson, Carson and the Chicago Statement from a few years back. Numbers were down a little, being that time of the year, but it was okay. Four Romanians with no English turned up in the evening. Very hard to be any blessing to them. I must pray for them though and the others who were there.

Wolf Hall

A bit indulgent but to make sure I did both I went along to the Aldwych again last night, this time to see Wolf Hall. Bette organisation would have meant I saw them in the proper order. They are not really separate plays but a very long play over two nights. Wolf Hall begins with the dancing by the cast that you often see at The Globe (presumably based on some Shakespearean tradition) and ends rather abruptly with a reference to Jane Seymour. One could also characters like Mark and George being developed in Wolf Hall so that they made more sense in the second part. Anyway, having read both Hilary Mantel's novels it wasn't too much of a problem. This second one didn't get as many laughs and was slightly less sordid while including foul mouths that I do not recall from Bring up the bodies. The weather played a really big part in last night's production but I don't remember it being mentioned in the other one. I was impressed again both by Mantel's skill and that of Mike Poulton who has done the adaptation so well (call me Risely is completely erased I noticed this time). Ben Miles (above with Lydia Leonard; Nathaniel Parker is Henry VIII) reminds me of Roger Daltrey (did some wag say who?). London's a great place.
Footnote: Last Tuesday a respectable looking woman in her sixties with a French accent asked me for a pound to get home. I didn't give her anything as she did not seem genuine. Last night I saw her again. Again she was not drunk or high. I asked her what her real story was but she was reluctant to share. I wonder what the story is. As has been asked - all the lonely people, where do they all come from?

Lloyd-Jones on evangelism - 5 principles

The words below by Robert Strivens can be found here
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, minister of Westminster Chapel in London in the middle of the twentieth century, saw himself primarily as an evangelist.
In 1942, he spoke at a conference of leaders of the Crusaders’ Union (a popular Christian youth movement) on the subject of modern evangelism. What he said is still relevant and helpful.
Firstly, he urged his listeners to avoid two extremes – that of the ‘perfectly orthodox’ whose work shows no fruit, on the one hand, and those, on the other hand, who appear to obtain ‘phenomenal results’ which do not in fact last. He then laid down five core principles for evangelistic work, as follows.
1. The supreme object of this work is to glorify God. The first object of preaching the gospel is not to save souls. Nothing else, however good in itself, or however noble, must be allowed to usurp that first place.
2. The only power that can really do this work is that of the Holy Spirit ...
3. The one and only medium through which the Holy Spirit works is the Word of God ... The medium which is used by the Holy Spirit is the truth.
4. The true urge to evangelization must come from apprehending these principles and, therefore, of a zeal for the honour and glory of God, and a love for the souls of men.
5. There is a constant danger of error, and of heresy, even amongst the most sincere, and also the danger of a false zeal and the employment of unscriptural methods.’
The address was published as The Presentation of the Gospel (IVF, 1949). The above summary is taken from Iain Murray’s excellent one-volume biography of Lloyd-Jones, The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 1899-1981 (Banner of Truth, 2013), p. 242.

I won't be buying this here

You've seen this sort of thing before I know but it still staggers.

Bring up the bodies

Went to see Bring up the bodies at the Aldwych last night. I got a ticket that day for what they call the slips. The view is slightly restricted but it was no problem. I like the Tudor period since I was a  child and have enjoyed Hilary Mantel's two novels. This dramatic adaptation of the second of them is very well done. The subject matter is rather sordid at points but the interesting thing is the principal characters and how they act. Mantel seems to have got Henry VII well and probably Cromwell. As for Ann Boleyn one can see how a few changes to the script could make her much more  of a victim and even the Reformed Christian that some have argued she was.
Obviously the novel has more time to play with but because of the compression I got things that I hadn't got so clearly when reading. The play never misses a laugh either (although I found myself laughing at some things no-one else did). The biggest laugh was for an anachronism - when Stoke Newington was described as a pastoral idyl - I had to explain to the American next to me). The use of modern English makes it easier than watching Shakespeare. I'll have to get to see Wolf Hall soon (I think they must play alternate nights). Pity I will have done them in the wrong order. The Aldwych is a lovely theatre and I can go almost door to door from here by bus (though it takes a while).

Lord's Day August 17 2014

It was a great joy and a privilege to be back preaching again in Childs Hill. I have hardly preached in the last five months owing to illness, a two month sabbatical and some holiday. I preached on Ezekiel 11:19, 20 on a new heart and spirit (partly inspired by my recent heart problems) and 1 John 1:7 on walking in the light and the blood of Christ. I had a little sleep in the afternoon to make sure I was able to do both but I seem to have been okay. You realise again how difficult preaching is. What a joy nevertheless. I intend to put them both on my sermon blog, Preached Sermons, soon.

Aber Conference 2014 Paul Mallard

Paul Mallard on Psalm 90

Aber Conference 2014 Don Carson 2

This is Don Carson's second sermon - on Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1.

Aber Conference 2014 Joel Beeke 1

This is Joel Beeke's first evening message at Aber. He preached on For me to live is Christ and to die is gain from Philippians 1.

Aber Conference 2014 Don Carson 1

This is Don Carson's first sermon in the series of main morning conference addresses. He has decided to preach from Ephesians. This is from Ephesians 1.

Aber Conference 2014 Gary Benfold

This is Gary Benfold's opening sermon at the Aber Conference this year reminding us of what preaching is and does and what it can do under God. A great start to the week. Based on Jonah 3 it was called Aber's Vital Ingredient.

Family Celebrations


We've had two family celebrations this week. Yesterday we had a meal to celebrate the fiftieth wedding anniversary of my parents-in-law, Geoff and Iola Thomas. About 24 family and friends gathered at a nearby hotel. We ate a nice meal then there were some speeches and Joel Beeke kindly closed in prayer. Then today it was a more dressed down chip dinner for the extended family, including relatives over from America (my wife's youngest cousin, Gwennan, and her family). It was Gwennan and Keith's son Joshua's eleventh birthday. We must have been over 40 this time.

EMW Aberystwyth Conference 2014

The messages at Aber this year are not only being streamed but (the evening ones at least) can be accessed on youtube (eg here)

Aberystwyth 2014

The EMW Aberystwyth Conference is in full swing by now. The conference traditionally begins with a mini conference on the Sunday and Monday morning where local pastor Geoff Thomas usually preaches three messages to some of the early arrivals at the conference. To accommodate the swollen crowd the services are not in Alfred Place but across the street, usually in Bethel but this time in Seion, Baker Street. Geoff looked this year at Genesis 1-3. Thus we covered a large number of  vital subjects in short compass. The first message did not labour the creationist position but made clear the obvious of themes of the first chapter of Genesis. From Genesis 2 we considered the Lord's Day, the creation of man, serving God and enjoying him, etc. The message on Genesis 3 was the longest and perhaps the most searching. What an excellent start to the week.
The conference meetings are being streamed this year.

10 more fictional addresses (literary)

1. Paddington Bear - 32 Windsor Gardens, London, UK
2. Leopold Bloom - 7 Eccles St, Dublin 7, Ireland
3. Dr John Dolittle (Doctor Dolittle series of books) - Oxenthorpe Road, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, Slopshire, England, UK
4. Phileas Fogg - 7 Savile Row, Burlington Gardens, London, UK
5. Harry Potter - The cupboard under the Stairs, 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, UK
6. Reginald Iolanthe Perrin (The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin) - 12 Coleridge Close, Climthorpe, London, UK
7. Vimes family (Discworld novels) - Ramkin Manor, Scoone Avenue, Ankh-Morpork
8. Mr and Mrs Banks (Mary Poppins) - 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London, UK
9. Sweeney Todd - 186 Fleet Street, London EC4, UK
10. Bertram Wooster - Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London, UK

10 more fictional addresses (TV)

1. Mr Benn - 52 Festive Road, Putney, London, UK
2. Boswell family (Bread) - 30 Kelsall Street, Liverpool, UK
3. Hyacinth and Richard Bouquet - 117 Blossom Avenue, Eddleton, West Midlands LK6 4PQ, UK
4. Tony Hancock (Hancock's Half Hour) - 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam
5. Dr Frasier Crane and Martin Crane - Apartment 1901, Elliott Bay Towers, Seattle, Washington
6. Huxtable family (The Cosby Show) - 10 Stigwood Avenue, Brooklyn, New York City, NY, USA
7. Victor Meldrew (One foot in the grave), 19 Riverbank, Mudeford, Dorset, UK
8. The Brady Bunch - 4222 Clinton Way, LA, CA, USA
9. The Partridge Family - 698 Sycamore Road, San Pueblo, CA, USA
10. The Simpsons - 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield, USA
(Wallace and Gromit - 62 West Wallaby Street, Wigan, Lancs, UK)

10 Fictional Addresses of 10 Fictional Superheroes

1. Avengers Mansion (Headquarters of the Avengers) - 890 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, NY, USA
2. The Fantastic Four - The Baxter Building, New York, NY, USA
3. Xavier Institute for Higher Learning (X-Men) - 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, New York, NY, USA
4. Clark Kent (Superman) - 344 Clinton St, Apt 3B, Metropolis, NY, USA (later 1938 Sullivan Lane, Metropolis)
5. Bruce Wayne (Batman) - Wayne Manor, Gotham City, NY, USA
6. Peter Parker (Spiderman) - 20 Ingram Street, Forest Hills, Queens, New York, NY, USA
7. Tony Stark (Iron Man) - 59th Street and Broadway, Manhattan, New York, NY, USA
8. Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum -177A Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, New York, NY, USA
9. Hal Jordan (Green lantern) - 22 Sea View, Coast City, California, USA
10. Eric Wimp (Bananaman) - 29 Acacia Road, Nuttytown

10 Fictional Addresses of 10 Fictional Detectives

1. Sherlock Holmes, 221B Baker St, London W1, England (Arthur Conan Doyle)
2. Hercule Poirot, 56B Whitehaven Mansions, Sandhurst Square, London W1, England (Agatha Christie)
3. Miss Marple, Danemead, High Street, St Mary Mead, England (Agatha Christie)
4. Jules Maigret, 132 Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, Paris, France (Georges Simenon)
5. Sam Spade, 891 Post St, San Franciso, CA, USA (Dashiell Hammett)
6. Philip Marlowe, #615 Cahuenga Bldg, Hollywood Blvd, LA CA, USA (Raymond Chandler)
7. John Rebus, 17 Arden Street, St Leonards, Edinburgh, Scotland (Ian Rankin)
8. Lord Peter Wimsey, 110A Piccadilly, London W1 and Bredon Hall, Duke's Denver, Norfolk, England (Dorothy L Sayers)
9. Brother Cadfael, Shrewsbury Abbey, Shrewsbury, Salop, England (Ellis Peters)
10. Albert Campion, 17a Bottle St, Piccadilly, London W1, England (Marjorie Allingham)

A boy's adventure

I recently cast eyes on a kukri or Gurkha knife. There used to be one in our house. All my dad's brothers were in the army or similar (they also all drove lorries at some point - my dad did neither) and I guess an uncle in the Welsh Guards came across the knife and brought it home for my dad. It's really an ornament but obviously could do damage and on one occasion I remember my dad using it to cut down a tree or branch.
I must have been five or six (we had not long moved house I recall). Anyway, my mother wanted a clothes line prop. This was a fairly long bit of wood with a V at the end. Now understand that I am a real townie and my dad never took me fishing or hunting or anything like that (although he may have done some such at some point when he was younger). So one Sunday morning I accompany him down to the woods. There are still plenty of wooded areas in my home town (Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran) although there were more then and I think the place where we ended up has now been built over (Snowdon Court?). I don't remember much but we went into the woods and found what we were looking for. My dad hacked into the required prop and then (best bit of all) we carried it home between us (at least that's how I remember it, I was probably not contributing much) to my mother who was delighted at her new line prop. That thing lasted for quite a while until new ideas like rotary clothes driers and so on came in. My dad has been dead a few years now and my mam much longer but it's fond memories like that one that keep their memory alive for me. Barely a day goes by without me thinking of them and all sorts of things can trigger a memory such as the knife above. How God blessed me giving me two parents for so long.

Nottage Nonconformity

I read that Nottage was one of the earliest centres of Nonconformist activities in Wales. John Myles (1621-1683) a trier under Cromwell and the founder of Wales's first Baptist Church in Ilston, 1649, who went on to found Swansea, Massachusetts, preached in Nottage in 1657. After the Declaration of Indulgence, 1662, two licences were issued in 1672 by Charles II allowing Walter Cradock (1606-1659) the founder with William Wroth (1576-1642) of Wales's first Independent Church in Llanfaches, 1638, and a supporter of Cromwell and Howell Thomas (in William Andrews' house), a Baptist, to preach. Howell Harris (1714-1773) in 1743 formed a Methodist 'Society' in Nottage. Baptists leased a cottage on the site of the present chapel and were received into the Association by 1789. Differences over doctrine divided the Baptists, and the church became Unitarian.
(I'll be putting a similar version of this on my Great Ejection blogsite).

Fun on Ffynnon fawr

Near to we are staying at present is the site of a well with an ancient history. It forms one of a line of wells which follow a fault line extending from Porthcawl breakwater to St David's Well. Ffynnon Fawr played an important part in providing the old village of Nottage and the new town of Porthcawl with water.
The date of the present well-house is uncertain, and may be from the early nineteenth century. The rectangular well house is in grey stone and is a Grade II listed building.  There is a camber-headed doorway with an iron gate, and steps down to a vaulted cistern. To the left there is a stone step (or seat?). On the right hand side a plaque has inscriptions in Welsh and English

Y Ffynnon Fawr"
Mae Dwr Yn Fendith Angenreidol
Rhoddes Duw Inni Ar Lawr;
Cofiwyn 'Awdur Pob Daioni'
Wrth Yfed Dwr O'r Ffynnon Fawr

Water Is A Necessary Blessing
Which God Has Given Us On Earth;
Let Us Remember 'The Author Of All Goodness'
As We Drink From Ffynnon Fawr.

The site is of historic interest as one of a few surviving ancient wells in the area.

Also nearby is Nottage forge.

Preached Sermons - Numbers etc

My Preached Sermons blog here now has a complete set of my sermons on Numbers. I have also added a message I gave recently in Aberystwyth.

Lord's Day August 3 2014

Another week, another church. We are in South Wales at the moment and so we attended Free School Court Evangelical Church, Bridgend. I know the minister, Stephen Clark, and one or two of the members a little. The building is a large modern one with chairs. Some songs were from the hymn book (the old Christian hymns) and some were projected on to a screen. Some were accompanied by flute and acoustic guitar. It was encouraging to see so many present, even in the holiday period, especially with only a small drop in numbers come the evening service. Stephen preached two contrasting sermons - one expository sermon chiefly for believers from Jonah 4:5 and part of a series and one more loosely based on Romans 1 and 10 chiefly for unbelievers called "Don't die of ignorance". After the morning meeting there was communion, conducted by Iwan Rhys Jones, one of the elders.

The Embassy of Cambodia

I read Zadie Smith's short story The embassy of Cambodia today. It appeared in The New Yorker a little while back. I've not read any Zadie Smith but I am aware of her as a local girl and wouldn't mind reading NW. This one is interesting enough and strikes some useful notes that transcend the Willesden setting. Worth a read.

Thomas Jones Pencerrig 1742-1803

When I was in Llandrindod Wells yesterday I noticed this statue of Thomas Jones. I did not know who he was but I have learned that
He was born in Trefonnen in Cefnllys, Radnorshire, near Llandrindod, the second of 16 kids in 1742. Formative years were spent on his father's estate at Pencerrig near Builth Wells (hence the distinguishing epithet). He was educated at Christ College, Brecon, and later at Llanfyllin, Montgomeryshire, before going to Jesus College, Oxford in 1759. He dropped out in 1761 and began to pursue his preferred career as an artist, moving to London and enrolling at William Shipley's drawing school in November 1761. Despite attending the life class at St Martin's Lane Academy, he lacked confidence in his ability to draw figures convincingly, and in 1763 persuaded the leading landscape painter of the day (fellow Welshman) Richard Wilson to take him on as a pupil. A high-spirited youth, he recorded in his journal that he and two rowdy fellow pupils were once rebuked by Wilson with the words, "Gentlemen, this is not the way to rival Claude".
In 1765 he began to exhibit at the Society of Artists (forerunner of the RA). From 1769 onwards his landscapes began to adopt the "grand manner", becoming settings for scenes in history, literature or mythology. A frequent collaborator was John Hamilton Mortimer, who painted the figures. One of his best-known works from this period is The Bard (Cardiff), based on Thomas Gray's poem. The 1770s were a successful period; he was elected a fellow of the Society of Artists (1771) and served as the society’s director (1773/4). This period also saw the beginning of his unconventional habit of producing small landscape sketches in oils on paper for his own amusement.
He embarked on an eagerly anticipated trip to Italy in September 1776. The works produced there departed significantly from the example of his master, particularly in his watercolour paintings, where he developed a distinctive palette of varying shades of blue. Jacob More, John Robert Cozens and Thomas Banks were among the fellow expatriate artists with whom he was friendly. His first commission in Italy was a landscape entitled Lake Albano – Sunset for the Earl-Bishop of Derry, who became Jones's most important patron. He made his first visit to Naples in September 1778, staying there for five months. He returned to Rome for a time and took on a Danish widow called Maria Moncke as his "Maid Servant" in April 1779, eloping with her to Naples a year later. Then Italy's largest city, Naples promised more opportunities for patronage than Rome, and he sought the patronage of the British Ambassador Sir William Hamilton in particular. Maria gave birth to two daughters, Anna Maria (1780) and Elizabetha (1781).
On hearing of his father's death in 1782, Jones, who after six years in Italy was becoming restless and homesick, returned to Britain. He set off for London with Maria and the two girls in August 1783. He arrived the following November only to find many of his possessions destroyed by damp, including all his painted studies from nature. In London he attempted to revive his career as a painter, but he had less impetus to do so as an annual income of £300 was left to him by his father. Although he exhibited 10 works at the RA 1784-1798, by 1785 he felt that his artistic career was over.
In later years he felt increasingly drawn back to Wales, especially his beloved Pencerrig. He inherited the estate in 1787, on the death of his brother Major John Jones without issue. With his new-found financial security he finally married Maria on 16 September 1789 (though his devout mother also influenced the decision) at St Pancras Church, London. He took an active interest in his estate, using his sketchbook to record new agricultural developments. In 1791, he wrote a poem entitled "Petraeia" about his love for Pencerrig. That year he also became High Sheriff of Radnorshire.
He died in 1803; the cause of death was angina pectoris. He was buried at the family chapel at Caebach, Llandrindod Wells.

Keswick in Wales

I went with my father-in-law yesterday up the road to Llandrindod Wells to the Pavilion where the Keswick in Wales convention has been taking place this last week. The main speaker has been John Tindall and we heard him very helpfully on the woman who anointed Jesus at Simon's house. After a nice meal at the Metropole and a wander around Llandrindod we heard Ben Thomas preach on the end of Romans 8. Again, it was very good (although I nodded off at one point tired from yesterday). There must have been about a hundred there, most of them unknown to me though I had nice chats with the few I do know. Nice day.