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.

10 Gareths

1. Gareth Bale, footballer
2. Gareth Edwards, former rugby player
3. Gareth Malone, choirmaster
4. Gareth Thomas, former rugby player
5. Gareth Emery, DJ
6. Gareth Thomas, actor, dec
7. Gareth Jones, TV presenter
8. Gareth Chilcott, former rugby player
9. Gareth Gates, vocalist
10. Gareth Southgate, football manager

Midweek Meeting June 29 2016

We were down to nine last night but it was a good prayer meeting, everyone leading in prayer, if I remember correctly. What needs there are - people with cancer, chronic fatigue, congenital palsy, eye problems, etc. That was quite apart from everything else. I spoke on 2 Timothy 3:10-13 and especially on the warning about persecution.
  • If you have never been persecuted then it is a fair question to ask, whether this is because you were never converted.
  • Anyone who wants to be a Christian must know that it is going to lead to persecution of some sort or another.
  • Of course, if we are persecuted we cannot assume that it is because we are Christians. It may simply be that we have made ourselves obnoxious. There is no comfort in this verse for such people.
  • If we are genuinely persecuted, even though it is merely being despised and ignored and overlooked, there is reason to believe that we are true Christians.

10 Brexit Observations

1. If you give the public a free choice they may not do what you expect.
2. London is in a bubble and has little clue about the rest of the country. There is even a petition for an independent London.
3. Many people do not understand how democracy works - the SNP being one example. They don't seem to realise that the vote was about the UK leaving the EU.
4. Another example is the people who have signed the petition to re-run the referendum.
5. Many people do not really understand what they are doing when they vote.
6. The best people understand democracy and look statesmanlike when they resign or accept reality. (Even George Osborne has managed to look reasonable for once).
7. Some people hate losing.
8. Not everybody automatically likes winning.
9. People (like the SNP, Sinn Fein, many Labour MPs and the BNP for example) are often quick to take advantage of the situation.
10. People will make any excuse for violence and abuse of others.

European visitor

Adding to the interest of last week's momentous events was having a new German friend. Stefan Beyer pastors a young man we have met when he has been in this country on previous occasions. Stefan came over for the Proclamation Trust's EMA in the Barbican Centre, staying with us either end of that time. It was great to get to know Stefan a little and about his church near Leipzig. I did get to the EMA for one day (the Wednesday) and was a little disappointed. I did enjoy Robin Weekes on contentment. It was a very warm and experiential message. At other times, the conference does seem to find it difficult to integrate doctrine and practice. There seems to be a veering from Hypercalvinism to Arminianism. Good people though and it was great to meet old friends.

England lose to supermarket chain

In a new low for English football, the England team lost 2-1 to Iceland. Their manager has understandably resigned. That leaves Wales to carry the flag for these islands. We'll see.

Lord's Day June 26 2016

We had good congregations morning and evening yesterday, which was encouraging. We were saying goodbye to someone again - to Sihle Xulu who returns to South Africa soon. Meanwhile, I was tackling Nehemiah 2 in the morning and how to begin a good work for the Lord and in the evening Matthew 9:9-13. It was especially encouraging to have unbelievers we are in contact with in to both meetings. The evening service was directly evangelistic but I was keen to  keep in mind unbelievers in the morning too. It was a good day. God is gracious.

LTS Annual Service 2016

It was the LTS Annual Thanksgiving in Finchley last Saturday. A large crowd gathered. It was my privilege to chair and it was good to hear the Principal's report and the testimonies of the leaving students, including my son Rhodri and Sihle Xulu from South Africa who has also been placed with us during his time in LTS. Rhodri is off to Aberystwyth and Sihle to South Africa. Some of the students are staying on for a third year. The preacher was Paul Mallard who preached clearly and helpfully from the letter to Smyrna in Revelation. It was a bit wet during the tea that followed, which is unusual. Some of us were keen to be away for the Wales game anyway.

Wales march on

Too busy over the weekend to record my sheer delight at the Wales win. It was not a great performance but it was enough. It's a shame it was an own goal but if the Irishman had missed it the Welshman next to him would have scored anyway. Bale's cross was brilliant. Belgium next, on Friday. There is no reason for us not to be in the semi-finals.

Chasing a Stork

End of year service at LTS 1983/2016

Gary Brady 1983/Rhodri Brady 2016

Midweek Meeting June 22 2016

Some 13 of us gathered on Wednesday to look at the opening verses of 2 Timothy 3 and to pray. 1 Timothy 3:1-9 talks about the terrible times that will come in these last days. We had a good time of prayer (longer than expected). It wasn't really about the referendum exclusively, although that is one of the things we prayed about. Rather, that combined with the idea of the danger of godliness being a mere form galvanised our praying somewhat. A blessing to be present.

10 forms of speech impediment

1. Stuttering
2. Cluttering [also called tachyphemia or tachyphrasia] (rapid rate making speech difficult to understand, erratic rhythm, poor syntax or grammar, and words or groups of words unrelated to the sentence)
3. Lisp
4. Dropping aitches
5. Hypercorrection (adding aitches)
6. Verbal tic
7. Speech apraxia (an acquired oral motor speech disorder affecting an individual's ability to translate conscious speech plans into motor plans)
8. Mutism
9. Selective mutism
10. Schizophasia (apparently confused usage of words with no apparent meaning or relationship attached to them)

Llyn Alarch (Swan Lake)

Swan in the Brecon Beacons

Magnificent Wales

Wales were amazing. 3-0. Looks like England have only managed a draw too. That makes Wales top! Well deserved.

Go Pumba go

I saw this picture in my newspaper today

Lord's Day June 19 2016

We were a good number morning and evening again as we started, in the morning, a new series on Nehemiah. A pastor from Germany over for the EMA has been staying with us so he introduced himself to the congregation. We know him thorough a young medical student in his congregation who has visited London in the past. We also had a Hungarian lady with us for the first time and friends from Nigeria so it was as international as ever. In the evening I began on Matthew 9 with the healing and forgiveness of the paralysed man. This was proceeded by communion. On the way home a Ghanaian lady we know approached me about why she walked out last week She is a troubled soul but has at least got to the point where she knows she needs the Lord and believes we can help her. I had wondered about preaching in light of the death of Jo Cox but I did not think it appropriate. Perhaps if we were in Yorkshire it may have been different.

10 In Store Clothing Brands

Test you out with 10 clothing brands used by major stores, mostly supermarkets. Name the store(answers below).
1 Cedar Wood State
2 Cherokee
3 Tu
4 George
5 Mini club
6 F&F
7 Nutmeg
8 Per Una
9 Goodsouls
10 Esmara
[10 Lidl 09 Littlewoods 08 Marks and Spencer 07 Morrison 06 Tesco
05 Boots 04 Asda 03 Sainsbury 02 Tesco 01 Primark]

It was not to be

So we lost in the end. England were the better side but they stole it only in injury time. I guessed we'd had it once they brought on Vardy. (Why they hadn't brought him on until then I cannot imagine). We are at least still in it and the man who scored the winner reads his Bible every day. It is the first time England have come back after going behind in major championship. Paradoxically, it would be great to see England win the competition. I can't really see how Wales can. We'll see.

Midweek Meeting June 15 2016

We finally got to the end of 2 Timothy 2 last night, looking at verses 23-28. These verses are ostensibly about dealing with opposition but more broadly they reveal the character of the minister and the ministry and what aim is. This applies not only to dealing with opposition but more generally to all efforts to reach out. We are seeking to see in opposers and unbelievers repentance, coming to their senses, knowing the truth and escaping from the devil's trap. We had a good prayer session too.

Two good days at the John Owen Centre

It is a privilege to have the John Owen Centre so near at hand and once again this week I was able to take advantage of what is on offer there. First there was the regular reading group (called the Theological Study Group) - one of the oldest elements in the centre's history. This time around the set book was Bondage of the will by Martin Luther. As it turned out, the person originally slated to lead us in discussion had to drop out and several others were unable to make it for various reasons and so I was leading a group of just three. That limited things a little but not over much and it was good to learn the impressions that others had gained. We were all glad to have read it, knowing its significance. We agreed that it is not an easy read (though the Packer translation clearly is a great help) and that Luther's style would be very unusual today. It was good, however, to see how he slices through Erasmus's semi-pelagianism so effectively.
The TSG is free and if you are interested in joining us next time in October, do let me know. We will look at Sinclair Ferguson's new book or John Piper on Scripture.
As it turned out, there was a Greek study day the next day led by my fellow elder Robert Strivens. These are always good times when we expose ourselves to the original text under the expert guidance of someone who knows what he is talking about. This time around we looked at Philippians, a great epistle and about the ideal length for such a session. Some 10 of us gathered. A diverse group we were made up mostly of pastors. Just great stuff.
Robert is stepping down from this role and in future such days will be led by Flavien Pardigon, the Centre's new tutor in biblical studies.

A useful resource

Following his message at the recent Grace Assembly, Stephen Rees's comparison of the 1689 Confession and the 1966 Affirmation is now available in pdf form here on the Assembly website.

Lord's Day June 12 2016

By arrangement with the church I usually preach away for four Sundays in the year.  Yesterday was one of those Sundays. I was down in Surrey, preaching at Pains Hill near Oxted. The congregation is small but committed and it is always a joy to be with them. One of the bonuses is that I usually get to see my old college friend Jonathan Avery and his family. They have three girls so it is quite a different vibe to our own in some ways. Very refreshing. I preached on Isaiah 57:15 and the storm on the lake in Matthew 8. Back here Sihle Xulu from LTS preached and it all went very well I understand.

Lollard Conclusions

In 1395 a set of conclusions were affixed to the doors of Westminster Abbey and St Paul's and presented to Parliament. Written in Middle English the twelve conclusions are ones that most evangelical Christians today would be broadly sympathetic towards.
First conclusion: state of the Church
The first conclusion asserts that the English Church has become too involved in affairs of temporal power, led by the bad example of the Church of Rome.
Second conclusion: the priesthood
The second conclusion asserts that the ceremonies used for the ordination of priests and bishops are without scriptural basis or precedent.
Third conclusion: clerical celibacy
The third conclusion asserts that the practice of clerical celibacy has encouraged sodomy among the clergy.
Fourth conclusion: transubstantiation
The fourth conclusion asserts that the doctrine of transubstantiation leads to idolatrous worship of everyday objects (the communion wafers).
Fifth conclusion: exorcisms and hallowings
The fifth conclusion asserts that the exorcisms and hallowings carried out by priests are a sort of witchcraft and are incompatible with Christian theology.
Sixth conclusion: clerics in secular offices
The sixth conclusion asserts that it is inappropriate for men who hold high office in the Church to simultaneously hold positions of great temporal power.
Seventh conclusion: prayers for the dead
The seventh conclusion asserts that prayers for the souls of specific individual deceased persons is uncharitable, since it implicitly excludes all the other blessed dead who are not being prayed for, and that the practice of requesting prayers for the dead by making financial contributions is a sort of bribery that corrupts the Church.
Eighth conclusion: pilgrimages
The eighth conclusion asserts that the practices of pilgrimage and the veneration of relics at best are ineffectual for spiritual merit and at worst approach idolatry in their worship of created objects.
Ninth conclusion: confession
The ninth conclusion asserts that the practice of confession for the absolution of sins is blasphemous, because only God has the power to forgive sins, and because if priests did have that power it would be cruel and uncharitable of them to withhold that forgiveness from anyone in the world, even if they refused to confess.
Tenth conclusion: war, battle and crusades
The tenth conclusion asserts that Christians should refrain from warfare, and in particular that wars given religious justifications, such as crusades, are blasphemous because Christ taught men to love and forgive their enemies.
Eleventh conclusion: female vows of continence and abortion
The eleventh conclusion asserts that women in the Church who have made vows of celibacy are having sex, becoming pregnant, and then seeking abortions to conceal the fact that they have broken their vows, a practice which the text strongly condemns.
Twelfth conclusion: arts and crafts
The twelfth conclusion asserts that Christians are devoting too much of their energy and attention to the making of beautiful objects of art and craft, and that people should simplify their lives and renew their devotion to godliness by refraining from unnecessary endeavors.

A great start for Wales

Great start for Wales in their first major championship since 1958 against Slovakia. 2-1.

10 Popular songs that you may not know the composer of

1. Here comes my baby The Tremeloes (Cat Stevens)
2. All the young dudes Mott the Hoople (David Bowie)
3. Manic Monday The Bangles (Prince)
4. I wanna be your man The Rolling Stones (Lennon/McCartney)
5. Without you Harry Nilsson (Pete Ham Tom Evans)
6. Islands in the stream Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (Bee Gees)
7. The Mighty Quinn Manfred Mann (Bob Dylan)
8. Blinded by the light Manfred Mann's Earth Band Blinded by the light (Bruce Springsteen)
9. I go to sleep The Pretenders (Ray Davies)
10. And I love you so Perry Como (Don McClean)

10 Popular songs to play while thinking about the referendum

1. Don't leave me this way/Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes
2. Stay/Hollies
3. Can't live if living is without you/Nilsson
4. State of independence/Donna Summer
5. Go your own way/Fleetwood Mac
6. Movin' out/Billy Joel
7. Fifty ways to leave your lover/Paul Simon
8. Never can say goodbye/Jackson 5
9. Goodbye my lover/James Blunt
10. Making your mind up/Bucks Fizz
For the songs try here on Youtube

10 Things to say about communion

1. It is good if people can sit near to each other rather than being spread out.

2. If you sing hymns choose chiefly from the section on Christ's death, Church ordinances – communion or the section on Union with Christ.

3. I always like to sing sitting down (it is a supper) and unaccompanied (as would have been the case at the last supper).

4. Always include a message to direct people's thoughts when sitting down to communion.

5. Scripture readings can come from the appropriate places in Matthew, Mark and Luke or anywhere from John 13-20. Other obvious places are 1 Corinthians 11, Philippians 2, etc. Don't forget the Old Testament – Genesis 22, Exodus 11, 12, Psalm 22, 23, Isaiah 53, etc.

6. I try to break the bread before distributing it, as Jesus did.

7. Like most churches we eat the bread separately and drink the wine together. We come to the table as individuals and as a body.

8. Churches should avoid lengthy discussions on what sort of bread or wine is used and how much and in what receptacles.

9. We are free to decide how often we have communion together. Four times a year or less is probably not enough, once a week may be too often. Twice a month is probably about right for most churches.

10. There are good arguments for detaching the service from the main meetings. The one snag is the opportunity to bear witness in that way.

10 Biographical pieces by J C Ryle

1. Wyclif
2. Rowland Taylor
3. Ward
4. Baxter
5. Manton
6. Gurnall
7. Toplady
8. Berridge
9. Venn
10. Wesley
(Each name links to the article in pdf [except the last one in another format])

J C Ryle Resources

I notice that there are J C Ryle items all over the internet. Ryle wrote many tracts and many of these were combined to form books. It can be confusing sometimes to know what is where. Among his many writings are those that deal with church history, mainly in biographical form. perhaps the best two items I have noticed are Ryle's Light for old times and many other titles of his in mobi and epub format here on this page (look for Ryle) and this long list of tracts and other things (187 or more) with a link to his books on Amazon here.

Evangelical Library Annual Meeting

Here Lee is presenting the Library with two Ryle
books recently published for Church Society
The annual lecture of the Evangelical Library is always a special time and last night was no exception, when the 2016 lecture was given by Lee Gatiss, Director of Church Society. About 30 or so were present. This year, of course, sees the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of J C Ryle. Lee helpfully took us through the details of Ryle's life, which for most of the time was spent in small rural parishes but that closed with his sudden elevation to the new see of Liverpool. He spoke of his churchmanship and evangelism, his church history writing and his tracts, his illustrious offspring, none of whom, sadly, appears to have shared his faith.
Perhaps the best parts of the paper were where Lee let Ryle speak for himself. He was endlessly writing tracts and his one on what we owe to the Reformation ends stirringly like this:
"Work, everyone, both publicly and privately, for the defence of Christ’s truth and the maintenance of Reformation principles. But work together in an organized and systematic way, or else you will do little. Associate, unite, organize, work together, keep together, and much may be done.
Things look black in every direction, I freely admit. But there is no reason to despair. The day is not lost. As Napoleon said on a memorable occasion, “There is yet time to win a battle.” Come what will, let us not desert our position. Let us not please our enemies by spiking our guns and marching out of our fortress with- out a fight. Rather let us stand to our guns, like Latimer and Ridley, and in God’s strength show a bold front to the foe. The Church of England has done some good in days gone by, and the Church is still worth preserving. If we fall in the struggle, let us fall with face to the foe and colours flying; but, like the gallant sentinel of Pompeii, who would not stir when Vesuvius was in eruption, let no man leave his post. My own mind is fully made up. I say the Church of England had better perish and go to pieces than forsake the principles of the Reformation, and tolerate the Sacrifice of the Mass and Auricular Confession. But whether she is to perish or not depends, under God, on the action of her members."

Lord's Day, June 5 2016

We began with communion as we always do in a new month. I read from John 15 and focussed on Jesus's friendship towards us. I preached another text from Isaiah in the morning - Isaiah 57:15. It is a good text and I hope I made it clear. In the evening we looked at the final section of Matthew 8 and considered the demoniacs Jesus delivers at that time. Our numbers were up from last week though some were still absent. I made a mental note to myself that I must focus on who is there not on who is not there. The latter is counter-productive. I was also convicted about my lack of prayer - in general and in particular with regard to the meetings. Prayer is no doubt a large part of the battle.

Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) meets the Beatles 1964

The 6.30 pm BBC TV News devoted the whole of its programme to the death of Muhammad Ali. If you weren't around in the sixties you may not realise how big Ali was. This video may give you an idea.

J L Carr

I was in my local Waterstones a while back when I saw a table of novellas. I had read some few and some few were knew to me. I noticed one of them was How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers won the F A Cup by J L Carr, whose name meant nothing to me, I thought. Anyway about a week ago I bought this novella. I think the recent Leicester City success had an influence. Being a short book I had it read in no time and enjoyed it immensely. A book like this writes itself but the author shows good skills in telling his story.
Being a little obsessive and having noticed that Carr also wrote A month in the country, a title that rang a bell with me but not a loud one (it was made into a play and a film) I decided to look out for that one. Well, I was in Belsize Park and I noticed Daunt Books so I went in and found they had a copy of A month in the country. It is only 84 pages so I had that read even more quickly. It is even better than the other one and indeed a real classic.  Set in 1920, it is about a man who restores murals in churches. This set up allows Carr to give us a simple but multi-layered story over the month he allows himself. These are the fourth and fifth novels of the late writer's eight novels. Perhaps the others may be worth reading.
The introduction to the Steeple Sinderby book reveals that he gave up his job as a headmaster to produce little booklets under the Quince Tree Press logo being on poets and artists, etc. I remember buying some of these in the past. I'm not sure where they are at the moment.
Oh yes

itunes won't open in Windows 10

If you have problems opening itunes in Windows 10 try right clicking on your iTunes icon and choosing "troubleshoot compatibility". Work through the menu then choosing "troubleshoot program" and "don't know" (for which version of windows?). It worked for me.

Dave Swarbrick

I was sorry today to hear of the death of Dave Swarbrick the fiddle player.

Midweek Meeting June 1 2016

There were 12 of us on Wednesday for our midweek meeting looking at 2 Timothy 2:16-19 and spending time in prayer. We were not short of matters to pray for. The needs seem perhaps greater than ever. We do look to answers to these prayers as we seek to avoid godless chatter and take in the comfort and challenge of the words The Lord knows who are his and Everyone who  calls on the name of the Lord must turn from wickedness.