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.

So New Zealand do it

So unsurprisingly New Zealand have beaten Australia 34-17 to win the Rugby World Cup again.  Well done! (It's been a great competition).

Sheldon e il sarcasmo

This piece of footage from YouTube may give you an idea why I find Big Bang Theory such fun. (The Italian subtitles are here as the straight version was not transferable).

Retro Album "of the week" 36 The Crossing

I tend to think of myself as seventies man when it comes to rock music though the truth is that there's plenty of seventies music I have no time for (Elton John for example). On the other hand, there is plenty of eighties stuff I like. Another example of that is Big Country.
The Crossing is their first studio album and was released in 1983. The album reached #3 in the UK and #18 in the US. It went on to be certified platinum in the UK and Canada. It contains the song "In a Big Country" their only US Top 40 hit single. The music has a pleasing Celtic feel (the band is Scottish). Apparently the guitar effects were achieved this through the use of the MXR Pitch Transposer 129 Guitar Effect. They also apparently used the e-bow, a device which allows a guitar to sound more like strings or synthesizer.
The album has been remastered and reissued on three occasions. The latest version released by Universal in 2012 in advance of the album's 30th anniversary includes (as is de rigeur these days) a second disc of previously unissued demos.
The chief genius behind the band was Stuart Adamson who sadly committed suicide in 2001.

10 Things people shout in sports and games

1. Mark. If a rugby union player shouts Mark as he catches the ball clean within his 22 he has a free kick.
2. Fore. A golfer should shout fore to warn of an approaching ball
3. Kabbadi. In Kabbadi a player shouts kabbadi kabbadi, etc, to show he is not taking another breath
4. Subs. In basketball substitutions are announced when the ball is dead by shouting subs
5. Snap. In snap the first player to shout snap when identical cards are laid takes all the cards laid down to that point.
6. House. In Bingo a player shouts House to declare all his numbers have been called
7. Mob 123. In the game mob when the player who is on it sees another player he shouts mob 123
8. Bang. In paintballing if a player is within 10 feet of an opponent he should shout bang not shoot
9. Marco Polo. In Marco Polo the person on it shouts Marco and the others shout Polo
10. Car. In street hockey when a player shouts car, all play stops

Midweek Meeting October 28 2015

We took a break from the tree theme last night as it is half term here and I wasn't sure who would be there - although trees still came into it as I wanted to look at the incident of the floating axehead in 2 Kings 6. I read the story again the other day and thought it would be good to go back to and an encouragement to those who were there. The passage encourages to see that God is concerned even about our seemingly smaller issues and we can go to him and seek help in Christ who rose up from the dead. There was plenty of time for prayer and most took advantage.

New James Bond Offbeat Suggestions

1. Prince Harry
2. Meryl Streep
3. Jeremy Corbyn
4. Harry Styles
5. Warwick Davies
6. Philip Schofield
7. Ant or Dec
8. Nicola Sturgeon
9. Jim Carter (of Downton Abbey fame)
10. Huw Edwards

Retro Album "of the Week" 35 Stratosfear

The instrumental album Stratosfear was first released in 1976. It followed Ricochet (also a great album). It is by the German group Tangerine Dream. Critics say it marks the beginning of the band's development away from their uncompromising early '70s synthesizer experiments towards something more melodic. It certainly must mark the band at its height with the classic line-up of Froese, Baumann and Franke doing their last album together. Critics also say it combines the band's acoustic and electronic influences more tightly than before. They instance, the deep piano/flute tune at the end of the last track, "Invisible Limits". The LP reached No.39 in the UK, in a 4-week chart run, and eventually reached silver status for selling in excess of 60,000 copies. Great cover. I owned the album but parted with my first copy as a joint birthday present for a school friend, the man who is now Bishop of St Asaph. (If someone has a google search on that phrase may be it will pick up. Hi Greg.)

Lord's Day October 25 2015

The extra hour meant we were all a little bit less rushed than we can be I guess. We started with a small group looking at the doctrine of sanctification in our Bitesize series. Towards the end a young student living nearby joined us so we began to get to know him. He brought a Bible with him. I can't remember when I last saw someone arrive with a Bible in hand. We were about 40 in the morning and half that in the evening with a few away but some visitors in too. I preached on the letter to the church in Sardis in the morning and then on Gideon and in the evening. We had a prayer meeting before the evening meeting - we are continuing to meet about getting our children's work started. It seems as far off as ever.

Preaching at LTS

I was preaching at LTS on Friday afternoon. As well as daily morning devotions they have someone to preach most weeks (usually from the faculty). About twenty gathered and I preached on Ehud as an example of what preachers should be (I hope the message sunk in). My son was amused that after making a point about not making sermons too long I said "seventhly". It was good to be there. A nice lunch followed. Good old Giovanni. It is encouraging to think that there is a small but rising generation of preaches being prepared at the seminary.

New edition of Focus book

A new (third) edition of the book on Focus by Australian Peet Johnson arrived through my door the other day - Hocus Pocus: the strife and times of rock's Dutch masters. (See details here) Peet must know more about Focus than any man on earth and this new edition brings you right up to date with facts such as the version of Focus 3 done by Outkast and that by Guo Yue of House of the King (both in 1996). It's a bit expensive but hardcore Focus fans will go for it.

Registered rugby players

As we come to the rugby world cup semi-finals, there was a piece on the ITV News last night. They wanted to highlight Argentina's lowliness and chose to do so by noting that it has only 102790 registered layers compared with England's massive 1990988 (more than any other country). However, if you check on Wikipedia you will see that although South Africa and New Zealand the other semi-finalists are in the top five on this indicator, Australia who Argentina play against are down at 14th with only 42100 registered players (just behind Kenya) so it is not a helpful statistic. Wales, by the way, have 50557 registered players.

That Video Again

I looked at that video again (which is here) and noticed that in the non-live there is a left handed drummer at the front. Someone else pointed out that at 02:02 you can see (in the top left hand corner) one poor drummer retrieving his sticks after dropping them. This is about making the video.

John Knox Documentary

KNOX Trailer from Trinity Digital Film on Vimeo.
The November issue of Evangelical Times has a review of the documentary on Knox from Trinity Digital trailed above.

Knox is a documentary produced by Murdo MacLeod, marking the five hundredth anniversary of the birth of the influential Scots Reformer, John Knox, which occurred some time around 1514.

The documentary is presented in a manner that we have grown used to. Philip Todd, the film's youthful presenter (in dark jeans, loose narrow tie, open velvet collared Chesterfield coat and leather gloves) moves from location to location (Edinburgh, Perth, St Andrews, Stirling, Berwick, Geneva, etc) telling Knox's story from his birth to his death and beyond. This is interspersed with a number of talking heads (ministers and academics such as Rev Maurice Roberts, Professor John McIntosh and Knox biographer Jane Dawson), cartoon images backed with actors reading the actual words of Knox (Stuart Falconer) and others plus a sprinkling of other appropriate images ancient and modern. Throughout, music (Charlie Wilkins) and other audio is used to enhance the presentation.

It is all done to a high standard, although Amanda Aiken's cartoons are not really up to the standard one could desire. (This is the point where the senior youth group start to snigger, if they get to see it). The documentary has, understandably, a very Scottish feel, which may limit its use in some places. Far from being a hagiography, it seeks rather to give a rounded picture.

The chief aim of the documentary appears to be to give us clear and accurate history but from time to time some of the talking heads make statements that are no doubt intended to encourage true faith in Christ and to challenge believers today. Such instruction comes over in the quotations from Knox too.

In the final section the conviction is very clearly expressed that Scotland needs a new Reformation. The final words are those of Knox himself calling on us to know God, to be faithful and to seek blessing for Scotland. It is encouraging to know that such materials are being made.

Rugby and Tracts

Some of our members have been given out this Roger Carswell tract recently. That's one of my sons there. (He's got my coat on. If salvation were by works would I score anything for that?)

Midweek Meeting October 21 2015

Unsurprisingly we were a few less this week than the week before. We took another tree and looked at it - this time the olive tree, focusing on Zechariah 4, Matthew 25:1-12 and Romans 11. We sang "Give me oil in my lamp" which I just about got away with. Again, we were fairly interactive, which I think is good but I was overlong once again and probably didn't leave enough time for prayer. Such things involve a lifetime of fine tuning. We used to finish at 9.30 pm but I've reined back to 9.15 pm, which is good but it means I need to manage the time better. Do you know why some olives are green and some black? I didn't until yesterday. How about green grapes and red? I've known that for years.

Retro Album "of the Week" 34 - Upstairs at Eric's

What happened to the retro album of the week feature asked no-one. It's tailed off rather. The original idea was to do one a week for the year. We sometimes got behind and then on 33 we stalled. What I will try to do then is try to do two a week until the end of the year and see if we can catch up.
I begin with Upstairs at Eric's the debut of electronic duo Yazoo. (The reference is to the studio where it was recorded). I've long had a minor penchant for electronica (Tangerine Dream, OMD, etc). The sound can be a bit tinny so when Vince Clarke left Depeche Mode and joined up with Alison Moyet I was willing to be drawn in. This is one of those albums I bought in vinyl back in the eighties some time. I probably heard the superb single Only you first (it preceded the album) and perhaps Don't go. It's an excellent pop album (except for i before e - such experiments never really work). It came out in 1982. The album did well.
The cover was tasteful, an early work by photographer, Joe Lyons.
Thirty years on Clarke said "Part of the charm of that album is a naivety. There really wasn't a profound concept that was running through the recording. I didn't really know what I was doing in the studio and Alison hadn't much experience of being in a recording studio, so everything was new. We'd make one sound and we'd think it was great and just stop there and wouldn't make any more sounds. It wasn't like we were continually honing or over-producing songs because everything at the time sounded fresh. That's why a lot of the tracks only have eight or nine elements to them."

Flavel Redivivus?

I've been a bit slow with this but if you follow this link there is a very kind review of the new book at Helm's Deep. Thank you so much Paul.
It begins (excuse my lack of modesty in reproducing this, the professor is obviously being very generous)
"Gary Brady is a present-day John Flavel. Like Flavel the Puritan, a minister in Dartmouth, Gary has been the pastor of an urban church for many years, and as Flavel became used to the ups and downs of such a life so no doubt has Gary. He has been pastor of Childs Hill Baptist Church in north west London since 1983. And like Flavel he is a considerable author, with five books already, and now a sixth, Candle in the Wind – Understanding Conscience in the Light of God’s Word. (EP Books, 2014, 242 pages). This post is by way of a modest celebration of it, and of Gary’s gifts as an author on this great but neglected topic. ..."

Lord's Day October 19 2015

There were only three or four of us for the Bitesize Theology at the start of the day - Union with Christ though, a great subject. In the morning I preached on Thyatira the next of the seven churches. I decided to take a break from the catechism with the children and spoke about David and Samuel anointing him. A few went off to Twickenham in the afternoon to give out rugby world cup tracts.
In the evening there was communion, where we were thinking about Christ's tomb - in the rock, costly and especially borrowed. Spurgeon said
"He who had no house of his own, and rested in the habitation of other men; who had no table, but lived upon the hospitality of his disciples; who borrowed boats in which to preach, and had not anything in the wide world, was obliged to have a tomb from charity. ... It was a borrowed tomb; and why? I take it, not to dishonour Christ, but in order to show that, as his sins were borrowed sins, so his burial was in a borrowed grave. Christ had no transgressions of his own; he took ours upon his head; he never committed a wrong, but he took all my sin, and all yours, if ye are believers; concerning all his people, it is true, he bore their griefs and carried their sorrows in his own body on the tree; therefore, as they were others' sins, so he rested in another's grave; as they were sins imputed, so that grave was only imputedly his. It was not his sepulchre; it was the tomb of Joseph."
No deacons around it turned out so I served communion myself. Everybody says thank you (some people wouldn't like that. I think it's okay). We began to look at Gideon in the main meeting and that went okay. Decent numbers morning and evening but people missing as ever. Loved singing Immortal honours at the beginning of the main meeting.

Brave Wales Pipped

Wales gave of their best but sadly giving away too many penalties finished us. 23-19 to South Africa.

Preaching in Trafalgar Square again

There was an opportunity to preach in Trafalgar Square again today. Things have changed a lot since we began doing this. We are now down to three hours and don't get use of the plinth. They'd kept the protesting doctors to a spot outside the square at least, however. We had the prime spot. We probably need more powerful speakers. We are competing often with people outside the national gallery. I preached first and Roland Brown, Peter Bell and others followed. It was cold but dry and lots of tracts and Bibles were given out.

Rolling by Kaz Lux

This Randy Newman song came up on my ipod the other day and I really enjoyed it. It's a great song. If your sceptical go to 2:10 when the choir comes in and see if that helps. (PS I'm not touting the sentiments expressed in the lyrics, which are probably ironic anyway).

Midweek Meeting October 14 2015

Well, who'd have predicted? There were 17 people there last night. We usually have 10-12 I guess. I'm sure it wasn't because they knew I was going to speak on fig trees! I think it was just a few things coming together at the same time. Anyway, I did pursue our current project of looking at trees by turning to the fig. The fig plays a lesser role than the vine I guess but we looked at Jeremiah 24 and the parable in Luke 13 and especially the cursing of the fig tree in Mark 11. Fruitfulness was once again the main call but with other nuances too this time. We also had a very good time of prayer, seeking the Lord's face. Funny thing, my wife made me a fig and goat's cheese for lunch yesterday, so the theme of the day was figs, perhaps.

Opportunities for intake last week

Gavin Peacock, Highgate Rd Chapel
The opportunities to hear others ministering last week were so many that it has taken me until now to write things up.
We started off last Monday (4th) in Westminster Baptist Church listening to Paul Yeulett from Grove Chapel speaking to the fellowship on Stress in the ministry. He began with some more general remarks on the subject of stress before narrowing down to stress in the ministry going to the Psalm and 2 Corinthians before finishing with some practical suggestions such as the importance of things such as rest, variety and delegation. It was a helpful paper and although our chairman was rather disappointed by the number present (about 16) it seemed none to bad given the subject and the day. I must say that although the folk at Westminster Baptist Church are extremely welcoming and kind, the building is not a great draw aesthetically. Such relatively superficial considerations do weigh with some.
The Westminster Fellowship was originally the brainchild of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and on Tuesday evening it was the Dr Lloyd-Jones Memorial Lecture that I went off to at the LTS. This normally takes place during the annual John Owen Centre Conference but as the lecture is intended not to be only for ministers a shift of timing was felt desirable. A good number attended this year's lecture which was from Old Testament specialist Dr Iain Duguid. He spoke on The Song of Songs, on what love is and on marriage and singleness. He helpfully argued that marriage involves  a threefold bond - legal, affectionate and sexual. He spoke of marriage as friendship on fire. He closed with an appropriate focus on Christ and the cross. See here for a similar paper given at Westminster Theological Seminary.
Besides this public lecture Dr Duguid lectured to the seminary students on the Song. On the Wednesday afternoon  there was an opportunity for others to be present when we turned to another of the wisdom books Proverbs and how to preach it. Dr D made some helpful remarks on the subject and gave an example or two of how to go about it. It was good to be present for that too.
As if all that was not enough, there were three further opportunities for intake on the Saturday. The LTS was having an elders day with Garry Williams, Robert Strivens and Ian Fry (a minister and Director of Youth and Children’s Ministry Training at Oak Hill Theological College) [LTS here] and next door the Kensit church had a morning conference on reaching Muslims with Amjad Mahand. We opted for Gavin Peacock with is wife Amanda at Highgate Road Chapel, following up the Song of Songs work with a well attended day conference on biblical manhood and womanhood. There are difficulties when a group focusses only on one matter but it was good to look at the subject again with some very clear messages and an opportunity for questions at the end. More from cbmw here.

Another nice video

Lord's Day October 11 2015

Somehow, this Sunday seemed to go better than the week before. Not sure why. We started with a Bitesize Theology Class on Adoption.  A decent number turned up. it's a fairly straightforward doctrine and one that Christians instinctively sense is right. Just before we finished a man turned up who we'd never met. From the moment he told me that he was not asking for money I knew that he was asking for money. He said his name was George and that he came from Moldova. Anyway I listened to his story which, as is often the case, was rather convoluted but boiled down to the need for money. Anyway, I wasn't convinced and I told him frankly there was no money and so he decided to move on. Subsequent enquiry suggests he was a conman.
Anyway such things can be disconcerting but a speedy resolution meant that I was not distracted for the morning meeting where we looked at the church of Pergamum from Revelation 2. A good number were present though some were missing as ever. In the afternoon we had tea together. We tend not to make best use of these opportunities but this time we had a brief review of biographies available in our little library and some reports from meetings in other churches the day before. I then preached on the Song of Deborah to a decent sized evening congregation. A good day, I hope.

Fun Video

I saw this on TV tonight. (See belowfor what I saw). Lots of fun.

10 Bible Mnemonic Acronyms

1. The first five books of the Bible
Gentle Eskimos leave numerous daughters
(Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
2. Jacob's sons
Repentant Sinners Love Jesus. Do Not Give Anyone, In Zeal, Jewish Books (Muslim Either)
(Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph Benjamin [Manasseh, Ephraim])
3. The Ten plagues
Big fat gnats fly low,
Boiling hot lava drips flow,
(Blood, Frogs, Gnats, Flies, Livestock, Boils, Hail, Locusts, Darkness, Firstborn die)
4. The Ten Commandments
First I Must Remember How Mothers Add Steel Lined Covers
(Put God First, Have no Idols, Don't Misuse God's Name, Remember the Sabbath Day To Keep It Holy, Honour Your Mother And Father, Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not lie, Do not covet)
5. The Cities of refuge
Girls race boys to the east
Kids shoe horses in the west
(Golan, Ramoth, and Bosor on the east; Kedesh, Shechem, and Hebron on the west)
6. The Kings of Judah (and one Queen)
Readily Available As Jellied Jam,
All Are Jewish Amazons
Unless Jolted And Headed Manfully
Amid JeJune Ju-Jitsu Zebras
(Rehoboam Abijam Asa Jehoshaphat Jehoram
Ahaziah Athaliah Jehoash Amaziah
Uzziah Jotham Ahaz Hezekiah Manasseh
Amon Josiah Jehoahaz Jehoiakim Jeconiah Zedekiah)
7. The Minor prophets
How Jolly Amateurs Obediently Made Nutritious Haggis,
Zealously Hugging Zipped Melons
(Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk,
Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah, Malachi) 
8. The Twelve disciples
Peaceful Androids Judge Jewish Philanthropists
Before They Make Jammy Judges Smash Jugs
(Peter, Andrew, John, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Jude, Simon, Judas)
9. Paul's Letters
Run CedriC, Go Eat Pop Corn TarTs (and ToasTed Peas)
(Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians)
10. The Seven churches of Revelation
Every small person that sings prays loudly
(Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea)
[Some old, some new, some borrowed, none blue]

Midweek Meeting October 7 2015

I seem to be rather our of sync with these midweek reports. This one is late and I didn't do one last week because we had only a prayer meeting as part of our week of prayer meetings. I appear to have given nor report the week before either (September 23). That was on the cross - a tree of death and of life. Anyway I went on this week looking at the vine, considering Isaiah 5, Ezekiel 17, Psalm 80, Matthew 21 and especially John 15. It was more interactive and more of a Bible study this time round than usual. We had a good turn out and a good time of prayer. What an oasis these midweek meetings can be.


I managed to get to the cinema this week with two of my sons to see the new version of Macbeth. It was quite a good production with plenty of gore. The decision to roll the scene back to around a thousand years AD in a wild Scotland is understandable and made for some rugged scenery. This meant though that the Shakespearean element was overlooked. For some reason children featured prominently as did fire. The witches were also given more of a role visually. Some few scenes were cut. Surprisingly, Lady Macbeth's part was not emphasised as it often is. The focus on Fleance at the end was interesting as it made a little suggestion as to how the future might unfold following Macbeth's death. Perhaps it is why the film begins with a funeral. The Burnham wood to Dunsinane was done rather poorly, I thought. People say that Fassbender and Cotillard (the lead actors) were compelling and magnetic but that sounds to me like overstatement.

10 Words often misused

1. Enormity
Does not mean: Enormousness
Does mean: A profoundly evil or immoral act
2. Instant
Does not mean: Very quickly, with lightning speed
Does mean: A specific point in time
3. Less
(Bit pedantic this one)
Does not mean: a smaller number of items
Does mean: a smaller amount
4. Infinitesimal
Does not mean: very many
Does mean: extremely small
5. Chronic
Does not mean: Severe or intense
Does mean: A condition or state that lasts for a protracted period
6. Historic
Does not mean: happened in history
Does mean: significant in history
7. Unique
Does not mean: rare
Does mean: the only one of its kind
8. Panacea
Does not mean: A cure
Does mean: A cure-all, as in a medication that would cure a wide variety of ailments
9. Plethora
Does not mean: A great amount of something
Does mean: An amount in excess of what is necessary
10. Ironic
Does not mean: Something very bad or funny that happened to you
Does mean: An occurrence that is the opposite of what you’d expect

How politics apparently works

Tonight's news reports that David Cameron said in his speech at his party conference
“Thousands of words have been written about the new Labour leader. But you only really need to know one thing: he thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a “tragedy”.
Right then, you think "I want nothing to do with him." But, of course, the comment is quoted out of context. Jeremy Corbyn said it was a tragedy Osama Bin Laden had been killed rather than being arrested and put on trial.
Commenting in 2011 on the killing of Osama Bin Laden he said:
“On this [the killing of Osama Bin Laden] there was no attempt whatsoever that I can see to arrest him, to put him on trial, to go through that process. This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy. The World Trade Centre was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy.”
Perhaps it is fair to say that thousands of words have been written about the Conservative leader. But you only really need to know one thing: he thinks people are stupid and will believe a soundbite and not check it out for themselves.

10 Kiwi International Rugby Coaches

1. New Zealand - Steve Hanson
2. Wales - Warren Gatland
3. Scotland - Vern Cotter
4. Ireland - Joe Schmidt
5. Canada - Kieran Crowley
6. Fiji - John McKee
7. Georgia - Milton Haig
8. Tonga - Mana Otai (grew up in Auckland)
9. Austria - Philipp Stevenson
10. Singapore - Casey Mees

Cranford Meeting 2015

It was good to be inn Cranford once again with Robin and Muno Asgher for the annual meeting. The situation continue s to be one of vast opportunity among Asian people of Christian, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu background. About 40 of us gathered. The preacher was Gerard Hemmings from nearby Amyand Park. He preached very helpfully from 2 Corinthians 11 and 12. I chaired. It is a privilege to be involved in this work. Do pray for the work.

Lord's Day October 4 2015

A new month is here so we started with communion as usual. I spoke from Romans 5, a bit briefer than usual I think. Despite a good start, I didn't seem to get on so well with the preaching (from Revelation and Judges). It wasn't disastrous but I was a little long and not as easy to follow as I would like to be. People were tired in the evening. The children's talk went okay on the tenth commandment. There are bound to be Sundays like this I guess. Two members who have been ill were back so that was good but others were ill. A long lost Filipino re-appeared. We had visitors in the morning - couple from LTS, and in the evening a man who seems to have seen through the prosperity gospel by God's grace but the next move will not be easy for him. Three members were out preaching (one only in the evening). Not sure where other members were.

Week of Prayer

Last week we had a week of prayer meetings. That's why I didn't report on the midweek meeting. We had a prayer meeting that night (Wednesday) and the night after and other prayer meetings - one Sunday evening, two early morning ones, one mid-morning and one with breakfast on the Saturday. Seven in all, it was good to have a reminder of the centrality of prayer and to pray. We try and have these weeks twice a year.