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, April 24 2016

Preparing two sermons for the Lord's Day is always demanding how ever long you have been at it and some week's you think you're not going to make it. Last week was a bit like that but we got there eventually. We looked at the second part of Revelation 19 in the morning and did the last in the short series on the Priesthood of all believers in the evening. Things went well. Our LTS types were away again but the congregation was swollen with visitors especially in the evening when we were up to thirty present, including a "character" from the area who I have mentioned before and made one of his rare visits. I was leading in prayer and praying for the area when I thought I smelt tobacco. When I opened my eyes there was my friend at the front. In the morning I gave a former Muslim friend a chance to report on gospel work in Paris. We had a bumper size Sunday School - almost in double figures. A really good day.

Midweek Meeting April 20 2016

A bit behind here but there were 11 of us last Wednesday (nine men and two women). We continued in 2 Timothy 2 coming to the third in the trio - the hard working farmer (having looked at the good soldier and the athlete). We spent a lot of time looking 2 Timothy 2:7 about reflecting on all these things and knowing insight from God. There was a time of prayer too, of course. It was a good time.

10 People from the world of entertainment who've died in 2016

1. Robert Stigwood Jan 4
2. Alan Rickman Jan 14
3. Terry Wogan Jan 31
4. Tony Warren Mar 1
5. Nancy Reagan Mar 6
6. Paul Daniels Mar 17
7. Garry Shandling Mar 24
8. Ronnie Corbett Mar 31
9. David Gest Apr 12
10. Victoria Wood Apr 20

10 People from the music business who've died in 2016

Prince is the latest then. At times they appear to be dropping like flies.
1. David Bowie Jan 10
2. Glenn Frey Jan 18
3. Paul Kantner Jan 28
4. Maurice White Feb 3
5. Paul Gordon Feb 18
6. George Martin Mar 8
7. Keith Emerson Mar 10
8. Merle Haggard Apr 6
9. Pete Zorn Apr 19
10. Prince Apr 21
(Lemmy died Dec 28 2015)

Last Monday's lecture on Meyer

Last Monday's lunch time lecture at the Evangelical Library on F B Meyer went off quite well. We had a good turn out and Steve Taylor our librarian had prepared a nice display of some of Meyer's many books. The lecture was recorded and I will try and find an outlet for it somewhere.
It began thus:
Our subject today is the pastor and author Frederick Brotherton Meyer (1847-1929). He gained the name Frederick from his father, the name Brotherton from the progressive liberal MP for Salford, Joseph Brotherton, a family friend.
Let me begin with two anecdotes to do with the man the Daily Telegraph dubbed at the time of his death ‘The Archbishop of the Free Churches’ and who was also known as the Christian Cosmopolitan, the ubiquitous Dr Meyer and, perhaps less kindly, the evangelical opportunist.
The first is my own. I had no Christian background but was converted as a young teenager in the 1970s. Our church ran camps for young people, proper under canvas camps, and when I attended my first one I bought a book from the bookstall. I am unsure whether I still have it but it was a green paperback called Paul, Servant of Christ by F B Meyer. It was the first Christian book I read. I did not know who Meyer was and I am sure I did not realise the book was seventy years old and the author had been dead more than 40 years, or if I did I guess I thought living writers were hard to come by.
Meyer was the author of some 75 books or more and they still appear to sell well. Spurgeon said of his writings, they are “Exceedingly good, not only spiritual, but also thoughtful, fresh, suggestive and thoroughly practical.” His author page on Amazon UK offers sixty titles and many of his works are also available online. The Library catalogue lists some 96 titles by Meyer, including some duplicates.
I few chiefly on two more recent books Bob Holman's If I had a hundred lives and Ian M Randall's Spirituality and social change. 

Lord's Day, April 17, 2016

It was a typical day in Childs Hill last Lord's Day, I guess, typical in that it wasn't predictable at all. A lady who has come before came again, which was good. She had a new partner with her called Mohammed, who she is keen to introduce to Christian things. A Spanish lady also came for the first time and seemed quite enthusiastic but that guarantees nothing we have learned. An African lady who has been before was back but no sign of another African lady who has started to come lately. Meanwhile most of our Filipinos and Iranians seem to have disappeared. A man came in the evening who was glad to be there but I'm not sure how often he goes to church. He reminded me of the man who came last week looking for a church. He was not there this week. There were plenty of people missing for one reason or another too but at least one visitor who we know.
I preached on Revelation 19:1-10 and again on the priesthood of believers. We had communion in the evening. We were very few.

Lovely Wedding last Saturday

It was our great joy to be at a wedding last Saturday. The son of former members was marrying. John Barns left us (for Sidcup) when he was only 13 and now works on a farm in Hertfordshire but we have kept up with the family and it was very kind of them to invite us. We went down the night before with a friend and stayed in Poole the night. We then went on to Bere Regis where the wedding took place in a tiny Congregational Chapel (see here). Jim Morris, the pastor led the whole service. Thankfully, he was more or less over recent serious ill health.
We then repaired to a school in Corfe Mullen which was an ironic venue as John and his new bride Carina are from Christian home schooling families. In fact there were two or three other large homeschooling families present. It's always nice to see them all, although I can never remember whose who with nine or names to choose from in each case. There was loads of food, good speeches (especially from John's brother Tom who compared doing well in marriage to the best ways t win a three legged race) and then dancing with a very competent ceilidh band whose name I did not catch. John had picked the pig for the hog roast. I don't recall ever having been to a hog roast. The meat was perfect.
I'm still never sure what to do at weddings. I don't dance and with plenty of food on offer it is easy to just eat. With conversations it is often slightly awkward as you assess at what level to speak (metaphysically I mean not audibility). Anyway very enjoyable and we weren't home too late. Congratulations John and Carina. May God bless you in every way. Credit to Rick and Sheila and to Carina's parents too for bringing up two such lovely people, eager to serve the Lord.

10 People at a wedding

There's  a lot of talk of weddings this month with us. It made me think of the different parts.

1. Bridesmaid - maid to the bride (originally of marriageable age)
2. Maid of honour - Chief bridesmaid
3. Matron of honour - Chief bridesmaid if married
4. Flower girl - Girl carrying flowers
5. Pageboy - Boy playing similar role
6. Ring bearer or coin bearer - Pageboy playing a more specific part
7. Bridesman - Male Bridesmaid
8. Groomsman (US) or Usher - Responsible for showing people to their seats
9. Best man - The Groom's friend
10. Best woman or Groomsgirl - Female Best man

Banner of Truth Conference 2016

Faithful followers of this blog will have noticed that it has been quiet for a while and that there has been no mention of this year's Banner minister's conference in Leicester. My apologies for a lack of communication,. What happened is that I managed to arrange things so that I headed off to a wedding the Friday night of the conference and was giving a lecture (on F B Meyer) on the Monday after preaching here in Childs Hill on the Lord's Day 9reports to follow). This meant I was rather distracted with trying to get myself prepared for the preaching and the lecture. I'm sure that if I had been a bit more organised I could have done something.
Anyway, I arrived late owing to arrangements at home with my mother-in-law being looked after by my good wife and so missed the opening message from veteran Ted Donnelly. Ted very kindly joined a group mainly of Welshmen to share with us. He has been very ill in recent years and it is a joy to know he was able to preach as he did (standing in for Ian Hamilton who had a funeral).
I did catch the rest of the conference. David Campbell spoke for three evenings on the seven sayings of the cross. I thought this was handled very well and was one of the highlights of the conference. David is a Scotsman but has been in Carlisle, Pennsylvania the last 14 years. I enjoyed his preaching and a little chat during which I managed to insult him with my ignorance about his published works. See here.
We had a surprisingly large number of biographical slots this year (replacing the usual sharing and discussion I guess). We looked at three Johns in church history. Ian Hamilton took us to John Owen and his book of the glory of Christ; George Curry to John Charles Ryle and Iain Murray to John Elias and his experience of revival (see my Elias blog here). These were all excellent papers but George Curry seemed some how to make the whole thing come alive in a striking way.
We also heard good messages from David Vaughn of France (on Christ's Lordship and on mission), Phil and Graham Heaps (the former on Romans 1 and the latter giving us top quality exposition and illustrations). Mark Johnston closed the conference very helpfully, taking us to the end of the whole book and drawing out some of the points there in a very helpful manner.
Of course, Banner is more than the messages. The chance to chat at length with many different men was also a great joy, as ever.
The bombshell, of course, was that future conferences cannot be held in Leicester and so next year we will be in Yarnfield Park (see here).
For a fuller report from Stephen Dancer see here. Also Guy Davies here.

Lord's Day April 10 2016

We had a very good day in Childs Hill yesterday. Some Sundays, you just feel that the people have been praying for the preaching and it all seems to come together. It seemed that way yesterday even though it was disappointing that people were missing, especially in the evening. My parents in law are around at present so it was nice to have them present along with two distinguished men en route to the Banner Conference in Leicester (one who runs a publishing house in Romania and one a trustee from America). We had lunch together and the turn out was good and that is always fun. I forgot to arrange to interview someone as I often do. I should have been more organised.
I preached from Revelation 18, on Babylon again, in the evening and on the priesthood of all believers in the evening, beginning with 1 Peter 2 but covering many Scriptures in what was really a twelve point sermon (though I tried to disguise the fact).

Masaaki Suzuki in London

My esteemed father-in-law took us to a lovely concert last Saturday in the Barbican. The Bach specialist Masaaki Suzuki was conducting the Bach Collegium Japan. We began with suite number 3 and the double violin concerto and in the second half they did the magnificat, a fairly short choral piece. I am one of those odd people who prefers instrumental work to choral but I very much enjoyed the second half. This was only one segment of a very full series of events over a 26 hour period. It was good to have at least tasted this bit. A bonus was bumping into a number of people we knew. Part of the attraction to Suzuki is that he appears to be an evangelical believer and a Calvinist to boot. See this theologically ill-informed Spectator article about Suzuki here. It is headed Does the great Bach conductor Masaaki Suzuki think his audience will burn in hell? It quotes Suzuki ‘With the help of His disciples, God left us the Bible. Into the hands of Bach He delivered the cantata. That is why it is our mission to keep performing them: we must pass on God’s message through these works, and sing them to express the Glory of God.’ The article ends with the correct observation that The lady in the fifth row may smile at the felicities of Bach’s counterpoint; but one day she will either join the company of the saints or, in the words of Cantata 115, ‘be covered in the sleep of eternal death’.

Karine Polwart Trio 2009

Midweek Meeting April 6 2016

Well, we were a very select number last night - only four of us (and all but one of those were Bradys). It so happens that all the other church officers are away at present and even some who might have been there were ill or otherwise engaged. I cannot complain as I was away last week on holiday and hope to be at the Banner Conference next week. I pressed on with 2 Timothy, talking about the Christian as an athlete. As there were only four of us we prayed in turn rather than waiting on each other.

Lord's Day April 3 2016

I was again surprised at such decent sized congregations, even with so many away as it is holiday time. Being the first Sunday of the month we began with communion as we do. I then preached on Revelation 17, which was really against worldliness. I was slightly unsure about leaving worldliness largely undefined, although I think we live in such a diversified world that I think it is hard to get down to specifics. I agreed that a list of rules does not really work but what do you do then? I think it really is a matter of constant self-examination. In the evening we went to Jude 20, 21, a revival of a golden oldie, which went quite well. People sometimes ask what are the great texts of Scripture. That certainly is one of them.

10 Unpopular things that I believe in

It is easy to feel isolated and unpopular to some extent. I suppose some of us should expect this considering what we believe. Here are ten unpopular things that I basically line up with. Not many of you will agree with me on all ten, I guess.
1 The inerrancy of Scripture
2 Six day creation
3 The independency of the local church
4 The baptism only of believers
5 An educated ministry
6 The sanctitiy of the first day of the week
7 The priesthood of all believers
8 Male headship in the home and the church
9 The preferability of a republican state government
10 The disestablishment of the Church of England