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.

Lord's Day August 30 2015

It was good to be preaching in Childs Hill again yesterday. I decided to preach on the sovereignty of God in the morning - a subject we are always in danger of neglecting. I expounded Psalm 135:6. It seemed to me that a good balance would be to preach in the evening on human responsibility. For that I decided to go to 2 Corinthians 5:10 which speaks of the judgement day. It was very stimulating to preach on these texts and I hope that it was a blessing to those who heard. Quite a few were away but there were visitors too. An Iranian man has begun to attend and we are seeking to get to know him. Numbers were rather low in the evening.

Midweek Meeting August 26 2015

Almost forgot to note my first midweek meeting back here in Childs Hill. People are still away so there were not a vast number present but we had a good time of sharing and praying preceded by a message from 1 John 3:1-3 reminding us that we are already God's children and in the future we will see Christ and be like him What an incentive to purity in our lives. What a great thing to meet with God's people.

i thank You God for most this amazing day

i thank You God for most this amazing day:
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky;
and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;
this is the birth day of life and of love and wings:
and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any - lifted from the no of all nothing –
human merely being doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake
and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
e.e. cummings 1894-1962
I don't know much about old e e cummings except his penchant for small letters. I like this poem though. (Everything in me wants to change that first line but that is what he wrote). See here too.

10 Words for water

1. Aqua
2. Adam's Ale (wine)
3. Council Pop
4. Aqua Pura
5. Wet stuff
6. The universal solvent
7. Tap juice
8. Aitch Two O
9. Dihydrogen monoxide
10. Hydrogen hydroxide

Lord's Day August 23 2015

I'm a bit behind with this but I was sat listening again this last Lord's Day. We were in the Cardiff area after the wedding and stayed with relatives and so we went to their church, Emmanuel Baptist in Gabalfa, Cardiff. The preacher for the day was Dave Norbury who gently and winningly encouraged us from Scripture - from Psalm 78:19 in the morning and from Acts 6 in the evening. The first was a reminder of what God can do and the second a call to follow him. We also had a brilliantly told children's story in the morning. Dave Norbury has a background in education and Beach Missions and until recently was General Secretary of the EMW. In the evening my wife's brother-in-law interviewed him. I believe he is currently a member in Llanelli  Free Church.

Lovely wedding in South Wales

I was in South wales last Saturday for the marriage of Bronwen Curnow and Tom Roberts. I know Bronwen's parents and she has been coming to us whilst up in London doing midwifery. Tom is a member at Litchard Mission, Bridgend and they met on an EMW Camp (which is where they are now, would you believe?). The wedding was in Tabor, Llantrisant, where the Curnows have settled more recently (having been in St Mellon's before that). There was a  cake reception over the road after the service which I led and at which Tim Curnow preached. After that we headed for Peterston- Super- Ely where the excellent sit down meal and evening twmpath took place. In the picture you can see the happy couple with the Childs Hill representatives and a Cardiff couple based in St Briavel's who we sat with and had a very good time. The church we learned is the one used for an episode of Gavin and Stacey (a group of tourists arrived there during the afternoon). Great day.

Diguised guitarists quiz

These guitarists are in disguise. Can you recognise them (going from easy to hard)
1. James Hendericks
2. Pierre Olive
3. Henry Mervyn
4. James Apprentice Squire
5. Geoffrey Stream
6. Johann Agricola
7. Throw Fruit
8. Burn
9. The Boundary
10. Mighty Might
Answers - Jimi H/Peter G/Hank M/Jimmy P/Jeff B/Jan A/Chuck B/Slash/The Edge/Brian May - Brian means strong

Retro Album 33 - In Another Land

In Another Land is an album recorded by Larry Norman and released in 1976. It is apparently the third album in a "trilogy". It contains some of the most well-known work by the controversial American artist. Norman claimed it was censored by the "mother company" which insisted on removing any music they felt was "too negative" or "too controversial." Commercial pressure forced him to remove four songs as they believed that Norman had included too many songs, and that the deleted songs could be released on his next album.
One of the songs on the album is The Sun Began to Rain. "Knocked out ... in just over a minute" it involved the British comedian Dudley Moore on piano. Righteous Rocker #3 is a reprise of a song which originally appeared on Only Visiting This Planet. The album also contains a souped-up version of Why Don't You Look Into Jesus, another song which made its first appearance on Only Visiting This Planet. In the later version the controversial second verse from the original ("Gonorrhea on Valentine's Day/You're still looking for the perfect lay," etc.) is conspicuously absent. Song For A Small Circle Of Friends is a piece written for Norman's famous friends in the music industry. The song includes allusions to Randy Stonehill, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney. He only knew Stonehill.

10 Puns in the Bible

1. Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed a man [Hebrew: adam] from the dust of the ground [Hebrew: adamah] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
2. Genesis 2:25/3:1 The man and his wife were both naked, [Hebrew: arumim]and they felt no shame. Now the serpent was the most cunning [Hebrew: arum] of all the animals that the LORD God had made.
3. Genesis 40: 13, 19, 20 In all three verses the phrase lift up your head is found but not always with the same meaning
4. Judges 15:15, 16 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men. Then Samson said With a donkey's jawbone I have made donkeys of them With a donkey's jawbone I have killed a thousand men." This could be with the jawbone of a donkey I piled many piles [Hebrew Bilchi hachamor chamor chamorasayim]
5. Jeremiah 1:11, 12 The word of the LORD came to me: "What do you see, Jeremiah?" "I see the branch of an almond tree," [Hebrew shâqêd] I replied. The LORD said to me, "You have seen correctly, for I am watching [Hebrew shâqad] to see that my word is fulfilled."
6. Jeremiah 20:3 The next day, when Pashhur (the name means spread with  nobility) released him from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, "The LORD's name for you is not Pashhur, but Terror on Every Side.
7. Hosea 1:4, 5 Then the LORD said to Hosea, "Call him Jezreel, [Hebrew God will scatter] because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel's bow in the Valley of Jezreel."
8. Amos 8:1, 2 This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. Amo 8:2 "What do you see, Amos?" he asked. "A basket of ripe fruit," I answered. Then the LORD said to me, "The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.
9. Micah 1:10-15 Tell it not in Gath; weep not at all. In Beth Ophrah roll in the dust. Pass by naked and in shame, you who live in Shaphir. Those who live in Zaanan will not come out. Beth Ezel is in mourning; it no longer protects you. Those who live in Maroth writhe in pain, waiting for relief, because disaster has come from the LORD, even to the gate of Jerusalem. You who live in Lachish, harness fast horses to the chariot. You are where the sin of Daughter Zion began, for the transgressions of Israel were found in you. Therefore you will give parting gifts to Moresheth Gath. The town of Akzib will prove deceptive to the kings of Israel. I will bring a conqueror against you who live in Mareshah. The nobles of Israel will flee to Adullam.
(“Beth-le-aphrah” means “town of dust” so Micah says “in Beth-le-aphrah roll yourselves in the dust.”; In “Pass on your way, inhabitants of Shaphir” the name Shaphri is very close to the Hebrew word for fair or beautiful, a “fair town.”;  the inhabitants of Za-anan (“going out”) will not be able to go out. Beth-ezel (“Standton”) will have its standing place taken away; In Maroth (bitter land) they wait anxiously for better things, but it will not come; for Jerusalem, the city of peace, misfortune and disaster is coming. No peace is coming.; Lachish - “Chariotsburg” - is addressed in reference to the chariots that were stored there.; Moresheth Gath: “betrothed” - the city is promised to another: “Therefore you shall give parting gifts to Moresheth Gath.”; Achzib - “Deceitville” shall be a deceitful thing; Mareshah - (possessor or heir) - will have a new, foreign heir.)
10. Matthew 6:16a When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure [Greek
aphanizō] their faces to show [Greek phainō] others they are fasting.
(Also see Matthew 3.9 and Mark 4.26 where it is claimed that the Aramaic behind the Greek involves punning))

Mary Jones Walk

I wore myself out yesterday doing a section of the Mary Jones work that the Bible Society have put together. See here. I only went as far as the Cross Foxes Inn as I had to walk back to collect the car. It's about 10 miles, though I got lost once or twice so took longer. It was a beautiful day. I'll have to do the rest of it some time.

Lord's Day August 16 2015

Once again I was not preaching and once again I was listening to my father-in-law, Geoff Thomas. Back in Alfred Place there were still a few people still in Aber after the conference. It was nice to meet Derek Sewell and Jeremy Bailey and others. In the evening I met a man from Cwmbran who always stays on for the Welsh conference and had a good chat with a man from Newport who had come north to see the meteor shower and had been "abducted by Christians" and taken to conference meetings. He was thinking seriously about the gospel.
As for the preaching Geoff is in the midst of a series in the morning from Acts 17. He spoke of the need to seek God - with our minds, our souls, our bodies and in the Word of God. In the evening we had a golden oldie - Galatians 2:20 and what is a Christian. Five answers were given - a human being, who has an exalted view of God, who applies theology to his daily life, who has assurance that God has saved him and who is "practically omnipotent" (!).


I recently travelled from Aberystwyth to Chepstow and back and on my journey I came to the little village of Devauden (Dyfawden). It has a lovely green with a bilingual noticeboard and a bust of John Wesley explaining that this was the first place where Wesley preached in October 1739. The relevant entry in the published journal says
Monday, 15.—Upon a pressing invitation, some time since received, I set out for Wales. About four in the afternoon I preached on a little green at the foot of the Devauden (a high hill, two or three miles beyond Chepstow) to three or four hundred plain people on "Christ our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." After sermon, one who I trust is an old disciple of Christ, willingly received us into his house: whither many following, I showed them their need of a Saviour from these words, "Blessed are the poor in spirit."
16. In the morning I described more fully the way to salvation—"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved"; and then, taking leave of my friendly host, before two came to Abergavenny. ...
18. When we were at Devauden on Monday, a poor woman who lived six miles off, came thither in great heaviness. She was deeply convinced of sin, and weary of it; but found no way to escape from it . She walked from thence to Abergavenny on Tuesday, and on Wednesday from Abergavenny to Usk. Thence in the afternoon she came to Ponty-pool; where between twelve and one in the morning, after a sharp contest in her soul, our Lord got unto himself the victory: and the love of God was shed abroad in her heart, testifying that her sins were forgiven her. She went on her way rejoicing to Cardiff, whither I came in the afternoon.
The noticeboard reveals that this woman was Ann Lewis (nee Rosser) who with her husband set up a Methodist Society in their cottage. This led to the establishing of the small Earlswood Methodist Chapel in 1754, one of the earliest purpose-built chapels to survive in Monmouthshire. They say the chapel was built with stone from the nearby quarry some being carried by owmen in their aprons! It is claimed to be the oldest Methodist chapel in Wales. Ann travelled widely on foot to raise funds, including many visits to Bristol via the ferry from Black Rock at Portskewett.

10 Paris

1. The Paris of the west – Denver, Detroit or San Francisco, USA or Montreal, Canada
2. The Paris of the east – Bucharest, Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Hanoi, Shanghai, etc
3. The Paris of the north – Tromso, Norway
4. The Paris of the south – Asheville, N Carolina, USA
5. The Paris of America – Cincinnati
6. The Paris of Africa – Abidjan, Ivory Coast
7. The Paris of the prairies – Saskatoon, Canada
8. The Paris of the plains – Kansas City, Missouri
9. The Paris of Siberia – Irkutsk
10. The Paris of South America – Buenos Aires, Argentina

10 Genevas

1. The Geneva of the north – Bolton, England or Emden, Holland
2. The Geneva of the south – Richmond, USA or Canberra, Australia
3. The Geneva of the east – Hangzhou, China
4. The Geneva of the west – San Francisco, USA
5. The Geneva of Scotland – Dundee
6. The Geneva of Wales – Bala
7. The Geneva of America – Sausilito, California
8. The Geneva of Africa – Arusha, Tanzania
9. The Geneva of Canada – Port Arthur
10. The Geneva of South America – Santiago, Chile

10 Venices

1. The Venice of the north - Amsterdam, Bruges, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Manchester, St Petersburg or Stockholm
2. The Venice of the west – Bristol, England or Nantes, France
3. The Venice of the east – Dhaka, Srinagar, Basra, Manila, Bangkok, Hanoi, etc, etc
4. The Venice of the Cotswolds – Bourton on the Water
5. The Venice of Africa – Ganvie, Benin or Makoko, Lagoos, Nigeria
6. The Venice of America – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
7. The Venice of Ireland – Monasterevin
8. The Venice of South America – Recife, Brazil
9. The Venice of Scotland – Kirkcudbright
10. The Venice of the sands - Palmyra

10 Romes

1. The Rome of the west - St Louis, Missouri
2. The Rome of the east – Goa or Mangalore, India
3. The Rome of the north - Trier, Germany or Salzburg, Austria
4. The Rome of the south - Lecce, Italy or Buenos Aires, Argentina
5. The Rome of South America – Lima or Cusco, Peru
6. The Rome of Africa – Carthage
7. The Rome of England – Bath (or Canterbury)
8. The Rome of Ireland – Armagh
9. The Rome of Wales – Bardsey (Ynys Enlli)
10. The Rome of Scotland – Iona (or St Andrews)

10 Athens

Prompted by a question on a recent University Challenge
1. The Athens of the north - Edinburgh
2. The Athens of the south - Nashville
3. The Athens of the east - Madurai
4. The Athens of the west - Lexington, Kentucky
5. The Athens of Africa – Cyrene or Fez
6. The Athens of America – Boston or Philadelphia
7. The Athens of South America - Bogota
8. The Athens of Asia – Gaza
9. The Athens of England – Norwich
10. The Athens of Ireland - Belfast

Aber 2015 Last Session

Our final plenary session at Aber featured Paul Gamston preaching on Luke 13. He sought to apply the principles of the passage to those of us at the conference and hearing him there or online (as I had had to be with one of my sons in A & E following the football - he's alright). It was especially good to hear a clear gospel appeal, something that has not been so prominent as in the past, perhaps.
It has been a good conference on the whole. I have not attended any of the extra time or prime time sessions or prayer meetings or anything like that but I did get to the three afternoon seminars - David Meredith on contemporary evangelism, Phil Hill on backsliding and (best attended of the three) Paul David Tripp on relationships. The first two included helpful discussion.
Of course, it is also good to meet various folk. I might have mentioned our meeting up with three other couples, most of whom had been contemporaries with me at University. There was also a family celebration one lunch time with a large number of relatives most of whom have been at the conference. We had lunch today too with a former assistant at Childs Hill and his family and this afternoon I had coffee with a Facebook friend keen to meet face to face.
So a great week. The EMW Youtube Channel seems a little erratic at present but some of the messages are up and running and presumably they will all be eventually (as are the 2014 ones).

Aber 2015 Evening session 04/Fourth morning sessions

So we are coming to the end of the conference and the main speakers have already spoken. Paul David Tripp spoke on Thursday evening from Psalm 27. He told us at the beginning of the conference how ill he has been recently and that this was his first engagement since that. Speaking these three times and in other meetings has been quite draining. I liked the way he ended urging us to start the day by gazing on God, then remembering who we are (no identity amnesia) and resting in God alone before acting in the day.
This morning (Friday) David Meredith gave his final message from Joshua, from Joshua 18 (chiefly) speaking of a day that was good, fair but dangerous and a day of promise. These have been fine expository messages in a book that we may easily be tempted to neglect. What a privilege to be there.

Aberystwyth 2015 Evening session 03/Second and third morning sessions

As tends to happen I've gotten a bit behind with my reports but let me rectify that. Since the report we have had Paul David Tripp's second evening message. This one was from Mark 8 and Jesus walking on the water. The Tuesday night was amazingly good I knew that the next night couldn't come with the same impact and it didn't. I was also feeling rather tired, which didn't help.
Meanwhile in the mornings David Meredith has been pressing ahead with Joshua. On Wednesday morning he looked at the Gibeonite deception in Chapter 9 and this morning (Thursday) at the daughters of Zelophehad in Chapter 17. Both were good solid expositions from the text with application. Wednesday's burden was for us to be discernment, to show integrity, to choose carefully and to remember grace. This morning it was the need to realise that people suffer, to find relief from suffering in God, who has a special place in his heart for his people for his people who suffer and noting that even when a person suffers and it is his own fault there should be compassion.
He gave a striking quote from Robert Murray M'Cheyne (it's quoted in Francis Chan's Crazy love which may be the source)
"I am concerned for the poor but more for you. I know not what Christ will say to you in the great day. I fear there are many hearing me who may know well that they are not Christians because they do not love to give.
To give largely and liberally, not grudgingly at all, requires a new heart; an old heart would rather part with its life-blood than its money.
Oh my friends! Enjoy your money; make the most of it; give none away; enjoy it quickly for I can tell you, you will be beggars throughout eternity."
So we are being well fed here and our responsibility to act on what we have heard is growing by the minute.

New Book Now Available

The book has arrived in Aber at least and has been spotted in the EMW Bookshop near the Great Hall and at the AP Bookshop down in town. What are you waiting for?

Retro Album 31 32 - Guitars, Guitars

I'm not sure how many guitarists have produced albums called Guitar or Guitars but I have two albums called Guitars in my collection.
The most obscure of these is Guitars by the Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine. This came out in 1975 and is a nine track Jazz album with songs mostly composed by Catherine himself. I was only aware of the album because it came out shortly before Catherine became guitarist for Dutch rock band Focus. In fact, this album includes the delightful Sneezing Bull later recorded by Focus and part of the largely disappointing Focus Con Proby album. Live versions are also about. It took a little while to get into but is an album I still listen to and is worth checking out. Catherine has had a long career. His web page is here.
Less obscure is Guitars by Mike Oldfield, which came out in 1999. This is a very enjoyable album in and of itself. What adds to that enjoyment is not only that Oldfield plays all the music on the album himself, as usual but that he also only uses guitars of various types (strummed, plucked, struck, sampled, etc.). The most remarkable usage is that of his Roland MIDI-equipped guitars, which he uses to trigger drum samples and produce string-like sounds. Guitars used include the following (as pictured on the accompanying packaging of the CD: José Ramírez Classical guitar
Fender Stratocaster, salmon pink (1962)
Martin O-45 Parlour Guita
PRS Custom 24 with Roland synth pickup
Fender Stratocaster, sunburst (1972)
PRS Custom 24
José Ramirez Flamenco guitar
Wal 4 string bass guitar
PRS McCarty Thinline

Town full of puns

Opportunites for evangelism abound

I came across a young man wearing this t-shirt today. I saw it from the back first. It's difficult not to say something. He wasn't sure what a sinner was. His girl friend thought it was a criminal. I explained that we are all sinners and need God's grace. I should have gone further.

Aber Conference 2015 Evening Session 2

This evening (Tuesday) we had Paul David Tripp giving the first of three evening addresses. He spoke on the latter half of Romans 8 and it was superb. This is my first exposure to Pastor Tripp and it was just wonderful. He spoke of grace, God for you. He spoke of uncomfortable,  intervening, unstoppable, providing and undefeatable grace. It is settled he told Christians, now rest. God is not making spontaneous redemptional decisions. See here.

EMW Article 5: Progressive sanctification

They were giving out copies of the Evangelical Magazine at the conference today. It includes the fifth article on 1 Thessalonians. It doesn't really make clear that the article is on parts of 1 Thessalonians 4. It reads more or less as follows:
Christians are sanctified (separated to God) the moment they believe. As Temple vessels were holy (set apart for special use) Christians are set apart to God's use. This positional sanctification, like a full stop, takes a moment. Progressive sanctification, like a drawn line, goes on throughout life, incomplete until death. Paul writes of the latter. God's will is that we be increasingly set apart to him, ever more holy to please him.
We need God's instruction. Paul never assumed that conversion leads automatically to holiness but taught people how to please God with letters full of teaching. He wanted not only to evangelise but … make disciples ... teaching them to obey everything ....
Some holiness is almost spontaneous. Interestingly, Paul also says they lived that way already. As with brotherly love, God had taught them. Paul was aware of their love, their tendency to please God. It is difficult to trace where we do good because taught and where it flows from faith and love. Why am I reading this? Because taught not to neglect Christian instruction or because instinctively seeking God? Who knows? Some good is almost spontaneous.
Avoid complacency. No resting on your laurels! As with love, Paul urges more and more holiness. However far you have gone, there is room for progress. You do few obviously sinful things but what about words? You say little that is evil but what about thoughts? You avoid doing bad but what good replaces it? Onward and upward is our motto.
Further, it is God's will that you should be sanctified. Do not oppose him. Paul reminds them that God punishes for all such sins. Why would we want to do things that bring God's wrath on the disobedient?
For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. God did not call you with the idea you would stay as you are. Do not lose sight of his purposes.
Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. God's commands cannot be rejected. Paul subtly adds that God does not expect us to act alone. I say “lift this weight”, nothing happens. I say “lift this weight; I'll help”. That is different. This is what God does. “Be holy” he says. “Obey”. He also sends his Spirit. Paul pleads in the Lord Jesus. He gave instructions originally by Christ's authority. It is all about him – justification, sanctification; beginning, going on.
Avoid sexual immorality; learn self control
The call to sanctification has implications. Paul highlights avoiding sexual immorality. Our appetites vary in strength - person to person, time to time. A desire for intimacy, for sexual pleasure is not wrong but must not reign. This is often difficult. Today temptation is ubiquitous with the rise of the Internet. Paul says each must learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, ignorant of God. Avoiding sexual immorality entails self-control. Passion cannot reign. Paul is probably in Corinth where hundreds of sacred prostitutes left the temples nightly to ply their trade. A Christian must flee prostitutes and pornography, either remaining celibate or confining sex to the marriage bed - not always easy. We must learn to control all our appetites. Pagans, ignorant of God, unsurprisingly disregard God's rules against adultery, homosexuality, etc. We who know God must be self-controlled, treating our bodies in holy, honourable ways. The (slightly cryptic) warning against wronging a brother or taking advantage in this reminds us that others are often involved. We must both control our bodies and avoid causing others difficulties. How goes it? Is your body under control, avoiding passionate pagan lust? Are you taking care not to create problems for others?
Brotherly love
The mention of not wronging a brother leads to a note on brotherly love. Paul does not need to write on this as they almost spontaneously love each other. Yet he urges more and more. Perhaps your fellowship is similar. You evidently love each other. Nevertheless, do so more and more. Work at it. We can always do more.
Careers advice for holiness seekers 1
Verse 12 may seem unconnected. The Thessalonians must obey so their daily lives will win the respect of outsiders and so they avoid dependence on anyone. It is about relationships – insiders, then outsiders. In reverse Be holy to win the respect of outsiders; avoid dependence. Progressive sanctification is necessary also because of its effect on outsiders. Holiness can repel unbelievers but if we live as described, Christianity is attractive. The Thessalonian letters reveal a growing problem in the church. Some poorer members felt that as Christ was coming soon, richer members should finance them and they need not work. It is a little like Christians today living on state handouts and evangelising on the streets. Paul strongly opposes such thinking. He wants them not to be dependent on anybody. As for brotherly love, there is a balance. Think of the contrast Carry each other's burdens … each one should carry his own load (Gal 6:2-5). We must help each other and ourselves.
Careers advice for holiness seekers 2
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. Should Christians be ambitious? Yes and no. Their ambition should be to have none. Live a quiet life. Do not seek adventure. As a rule of thumb, stay as you are. Married? Stay married. Single? Do not seek marriage, though it is no sin. Dead end job? Fear not; move up if you can. Stay in the same place, the same job; keep the same friends, if possible.
Mind your own business. Similarly, do not delve into other people's business, volunteering here and there, offering help to all. May be God will expand your horizon of influence but do not seek it.
Work with your hands. Greeks despised manual work, a view Paul opposed by precept and example. If you can, do an honest job for an honest wage. Eldership is noble but be slow to assume God wants you. Holiness is not by way of a monastery but getting on with mundane sometimes drudge-inducing lives, working hard, unambitiously minding our own business, which includes sanctification. God wants you to please and obey him. Be holy. Shun sexual immorality, learn self control, practice brotherly love, lead quiet lives, mind your own business, work hard. This is how to live.

Enjoying Aber

Aberystwyth Conference 2015 First am session

This morning we had the first of our morning sessions with Scotsman David Meredith. He preached a fine expository sermon from Joshua 1 looking at the strong promises, everlasting presence, dominating precept and united people as found in the chapter. He had some nice illustrations including unused restaurant vouchers being like neglected promises and one I've heard him use before about his son turning orange due to a surfeit of carrot juice (though he didn't really press home the application - getting filled with the Word). People really appreciated this ministry. See here for recording.

Aber Conference 2015 Evening Session 01

The opening session of the week at Aber featured someone who is something of a blast from the past for many of us. Phil Hill had just completed his work with UCCF in Wales when I first became aware of him. Many years on he is now a lecturer in WEST and living again in Wales. He took us to John 21 and the restoration of Peter to enter a plea to the backslider to return and to his fellow believers to help him in the process. He said a number of interesting things about the passage and from the passage. Of course, it raises all sorts of practical questions as to how you facilitate such restoration but as an expository sermon it was commendable and something we all need to hear. You can listen to the sermon and indeed the whole service on Youtube here. Hymns this year are all on screen (hymn books available to those who want them). It would be good if they indicated when we had come to the final verse as some systems do.

Aberystwyth Conference first weekend 2015

We are pursuing our traditional policy of attending the EMW annual conference here in Aber. That week begins with Sunday preaching. The "official" preaching was in Capel Y Morfa where Dave Gobbett (the new minister at Highfields, Cardiff) and Chris Rogers, now in Carmarthen preached. We, of course, went to hear my father-in-law in Bethel, the larger church across the road from Alfred Place used on this Sunday year by year. An exhibition in the basement meant there was no relay but at least it wasn't hot and sticky as it often is.
Geoff decided to look at the seven words of the cross, which is a great subject but meant that the two Sunday sermons, which looked at Luke 23:34 (Father, forgive them ...) John 19:26–27 (Woman, behold your son ...) Luke 23:43 (Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise) and
Matthew 27:46/Mark 15:34 (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?) John 19:28 (I thirst) and John 19:30 (It is finished) each came in three 15-20 minute bursts rather than a sustained look at a single topic.
The final saying (Luke 23:46: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit) was kept for Monday morning when people gathered again to hear the last in the series. As is tradition I read and prayed then Geoff preached. It's good to be here and already there has been opportunity to meet with friends old and new. We look forward to the week ahead.

Christmas Evans and John Elias contrasted by Owen Jones

Christmas Evans … there was in this eminent preacher a strong tendency to light humour. He often sent his audience into convulsions of laughter, which bordered at times on indecorum in the house of God. It is a question of interest how far this is allowable in the pulpit. There is a quiet kind of humour which is perfectly becoming with the sublimest and loftiest themes. But the droll and the laughable are certainly unbecoming, and unworthy the dignity of the high message of God to man. John Elias never was known to say anything with such a tendency in the pulpit, and he condemned it severely. Henry Rees was the same. Daniel Rowlands and Robert Roberts, Clynnog, never descended to anything bordering on the comic before the congregation. Williams, of Wern, was somewhat inclined to it in the first year of his ministry, but soon abandoned it for ever. John Jones, Talsarn, gave reins to his humour at times when preaching. But Christmas Evans did so more than any other. It is possible that Christmas Evans had a greater natural tendency to this, arising from a keener sense of the ludicrous; and that it required a greater solemnity and a greater insight into the purposes of God in order to hold it in check. We believe that this was the case with him. When God is present there is nothing more discordant than frivolity of whatever degree. They repel each other. Think of the great sermons of the New Testament; the atmosphere around them is so fine and attenuated that these cannot exist therein. …
John Elias was wanting in humour. At least, we have been able to see in him but few traces of that noble quality. His mind was altogether bent to the solemn aspects of truth; his eyes were turned to the stern realities of the other world; with difficulty could he turn his eyes to the imperfections of this earth. He was like another John the Baptist, who had spent his time in the wilderness without having seen much of the beauty of nature. He was as if he had spent much of his life on the rugged sides of Snowdon, or under the overhanging rocks of Eryri; as if he had been cradled and nurtured on the slopes of the everlasting mountains, without ever having seen the lovely glens and valleys, the green fields and the lilies. But, if he had not seen these, he had seen the great ocean, and delighted to look at the mighty billows that wash the feet of these everlasting mountains; and he often left the rugged slopes for the level shore and the loud sounding sea. It was the great and grand, the awful and sublime, that he made his home with; the pleasant, the delightful, and the lovely he had no eye for. His house was built on the rocks of law, justice, and eternity, in sight of the ocean of everlasting love. But, if he did not delight his hearers with his humour, &c., he brought into their bosoms joy unspeakable and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding. There was abundantly more of the pleasant and delightful in Christmas Evans and Williams Wern; and they were greatly his superior in the possession of the quality of humour.

Owen Jones on John Elias

His mode of ascending the pulpit was peculiar. Watch this in the case of any preacher - it will not be difficult to say whether he has a message from God or not. John Elias ascended the pulpit with the gravity of a man that had just come from immediate communion with God. He was a man that always felt the solemnity of his position. The remark has been made, and it is true, that every preacher should have an atmosphere of reverence around him, which should make frivolity impossible in his presence. If any man lived in this atmosphere of reverence, John Elias did. He was always grave, but that gravity assumed greater solemnity still in the pulpit. He never condescended to tell any amusing anecdotes; he always avoided everything which would tend in any way to put the people in a light mood. All lightness and laughter, frivolity and vanity, withered away under the blighting influence of his presence.

Wales lose to Ireland

Not a great performance from Wales today. Important not to peak too early, eh?
In other news, Australia beat the All Blacks. Interesting.
The rugby world cup starts on September 19.

Midweek Meeting August 5 2015

It was another one off last night as a good number gathered to pray and to look at the Scriptures. We went to Luke 22:31, 32 whih is a unique adn interesting place in Scripture where sveral things come to light about Satan and his opposition and Christ and his intercession for us. A good listening and a good prayer time Many of us had been together the day before for the funeral of our dear friend and brother Cliff Osborne. That went off well with lots of his neighbours present to hear one last testimony.

Some books

Recent reading has included these books:
1. One forever, Rory Shiner. This is a nice little book in a series of Guidebooks for life by Matthiasmedia. Seven brief chapters on union with Christ, it is full of good material. I picked up at the Affinity Conference earlier in the year.
2. A little bird told me, Timothy Cross (Focus). This book on everyday expressions from Scripture was a little disappointing in that it doesn't really go into etymological questions. Good fun though with 52 expressions covered, from "The apple of my eye" to "The half has not been told".
3. Jesus the Son of God, Don Carson (IVP). This little three chapter book is typical Carson in  that it is very thorough explanation of the biblical idea of Son of God that later goes into the question of how it should be translated in Muslim cultures.
4. The creedal imperative, Carl Trueman (Crossway). This 2012 book is a well written and convincing argument for the use of creeds and confessions.

Lord's Day August 2 2015

A new month arrives and so we began with communion. I am away for the next three Sundays so I just wanted to do one offs today so I went for Daniel 6 and Acts 3, wonderful chapters that are full of good teaching. (I'd decided on Daniel 6 before I knew lions were going to be in the news). I was unusually long am - 42 minutes (I haven't preached over 40 minutes since March. I dropped our second reading again so the service wasn't overlong). Lots of good things in both chapters, some of which I hope I brought out (see here). Although some were away there were visitors present so we were a decent size am and pm. There were people missing I had hoped would be there, however, and so that is always disappointing.

Death of Cilla Black

If your my age and at all interested in popular culture the death of Cilla Black is bound to have struck a chord somewhere. I really enjoyed the recent drama portraying her early life and remember some of those early singles and so on. As a young teenager her BBC TV show was a staple in our house. I remember being amazed when T Rex were on there. Not only did they sing a song (Mad Donna) but there was the cheesy duet too. Great moment as the sixties and seventies met.