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.

Focus at The Scene Swansea 2016

I was able to catch Focus one again at The Scene in Swansea last night. The set list was fairly typical in that we started with the oldest material (Focus 1 with Anonymus and House of the King from the first album) followed by a very long and varied exposition of the Eruption theme (Eruption appears on the second album). We then had the famous Sylvia (from Focus 3) and (more unusually) excellent renditions of All Hens on Deck (from Focus X) and Hurkey Turkey 2 and Le Tango (from Focus 8 - the first not a track I recall being covered in a long while). We then had La Cathedrale and Harem Scarem (I am still not convinced about all that goes on under this heading but Menno Gootjes' violining was of a high order). We finished with Hocus Pocus, introduced by some excellent solo Bach flute. Pierre van der Linden appears to have another new  drum kit and somehow he was able to notch things up even further once again in an amazing solo that beggars belief. (How it happens that a piece surely made for the guitarist to show us his skills in becomes a drum tour de force I have complained about many times in the past). As so often in the past this was familiar but excellent stuff and certainly not a simple rehash of past glories. Several songs had been worked on afresh. I had never heard the recording of the bells of Strasbourg play as they were last night, for example. Thijs may not be able to reach the high notes any more but he gets deeper and deeper with those low notes as the years go by. For a 68 year old he is pretty remarkable. As ever he was a good showman and full of self-effacement in his presentation. It was good to shake his hand after the gig and get him to sign my copy of Focus 8.5 on sale at the gig. (I had bumped into Bobby the bassist earlier in the loos!).

Lord's Day October 23 2016

I expected small numbers today and was not surprised – about 25 in the morning and 15 in the evening. I was feeling a little discouraged but the first person I met asked me about baptism which gave me a little (though as it turned out misleading) encouragement (they have already been baptised). As the Autumn sunshine came through the windows of the chapel I tried to seek God and made some progress, perhaps. Given the circumstances, I chose two isolated texts to keep us going (reworkings of material used in the past) – in the morning Proverbs 24:15, 16 and in the evening Philippians 3:7-9. I think my major problem today was a lack of spiritual fervour, which you can't really blame on anyone but yourself. Hopefully I was able to do some good, nevertheless. God is very gracious.

Anniversary of Lloyd-Jones and 1966

An article on this matter appears here.
And another here

Amazon Bargain

You may have to double click this to see it. I know this is not so rare but it still azed=s me when I see it. It's the postage that is holding me back.

10 Fontein places in South Africa

A fontein is a fountain
1. Aalwynsfontein, Northern Cape (Alwyn's)
2. Bapsfontein, Gauteng
3. Biesiesfontein, Western Cape (Busy's)
4. Bitterfontein, Western Cape (Bitter)
5. Bloemfontein, Free State (Flower)
6. Jagersfontein, Free State (Hunter's)
7. Koffiefontein, Free State (Coffee)
8. Randfontein, Gauteng (Edge)
9. Stilfontein, North west (Silent)
10. Yzerfontein, Western Province (Yzer's)
Others - Bultfontein, Free State (Hill); Springfontein, Free State (Spring); Matjiesfontein, Western Cape (Matjie's).

Bad Moon Rising

I've always liked this song.

Blog 5000

My records tell me this is my five thousandth blog here.

5000 (five thousand) is the natural number following 4999 and preceding 5001. Five thousand is the largest isogrammic number in the English language. An isogram is  a word or phrase without a repeating letter.

1. The feeding of the 5000 (ie men) was accomplished by Christ with five loaves and two fish. The miracle is reported in all four Gospels.
2. Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia is the current world record holder for the 5000 m (2004) an Olympic sport since 1912. Six of the top 10 record holders are Ethiopians.
3. Tirunesh Dibaba, also Ethiopian, is the women's holder (2008). The top four women record holders are again Ethiopians. The women's port has only been an Olympic event since 1986.
4. Terror from the Year 5000 (UK title: Cage of Doom) is a 1958 American science fiction film directed by Robert J. Gurney Jr. starring Ward Costello, Joyce Holden, John Stratton, Salome Jens and Fred Herrick.
5. Formula 5000 (or F5000) was an open wheel, single seater auto-racing formula that ran in different series in various regions around the world from 1968 to 1982.
6. The Ford 5000 is a blue and white tractor that was produced from 1964 to 1979 by Ford. It was a mid-range tractor, suitable for European farms.
7. 5000 Volts is the name of a British disco recording act that achieved success throughout Europe during the 1970s. The group consisted of vocalists Tina Charles and Martin Jay, with a changing group of session musicians.
8. The adjective phrase five thousand can mean having the intent to leave a place or situation quickly and promptly; it comes from the phrase "I'm outtie" which sounds like "I'm Audi" from which follows "I'm Audi 5000" (as in the car) which eventually became simply "I'm five thousand." See also "outtie" and listen to the outro of "Straight Gangstaism" by the Geto Boys for an example. 9. Five Thousand Dollars on One Ace is a 1964 Spanish, Italian and West German Spaghetti Western film directed by Alfonso Balcázar.
10. The American $5000 bill features the President James Madison.

Provinces of South Africa plus Lesotho

1. Eastern Cape (Capital B[h]isho, largest city Port Elizabeth)
2. Free State (Bloemfontein)
3. Gauteng (Johannesburg)
4. KwaZulu-Natal (Capital Pietermaritzburg, largest city Durban)
5. Limpopo (Polokwane (Pietersburg))
6. Mpumalanga (Nelspruit)
7. North West (Mahikeng (Mafikeng), largest city Rustenburg)
8. Northern Cape (Kimberley)
9. Western Cape (Cape Town)
10. Lesotho (Maseru) an independent kingdom landlocked by South Africa

The 10 countries of Southern Africa

1. Angola
2. Botswana
3. Lesotho
4. Malawi
5. Mozambique
6. Namibia
7. South Africa
8. Swaziland
9. Zambia
10. Zimbabwe

Midweek Meeting October 19 2016

Seven of us gathered last night for our midweek meeting. I simply reported back on my trip to South Africa, which I hope was edifying. I put together four little films, which I hope to put on Youtube soon. These were a fair reflection of the experience I hope - lots of time on the road, some fun times, plenty of singing and one or two unusual meetings. We had a good time of prayer to follow. There is always a lot to pray about. (The above picture was taken in Mooi River and features a ewe and a two week old lamb. One of my subjects at the conferences was The pastor as shepherd).

Wigmore Evangelical Free Church

On Tuesday night I was speaking at Wigmore EFC in Rainham, near Gillingham in Kent. It was the second of two rallies held annually (the next will be next Spring) by the Wigmore Church (pastored by Timothy Wood) along with Waterford House, Strood (Norman Hopkins), Aenon Baptist Chatham (Paul Relf) and I think Grays Grace Baptist (Grays Baptist indeed) where the minister is Kevin Felix- Hollington (who I have met but had trouble recalling I'm afraid). It was great to see around eighty present - mostly older people but a liberal sprinkling of younger people too. I preached the sermon on faith that I preached up in Yorkshire in September (and in South Africa too this month). I think it was appreciated. I was thankful too for the hospitality of Tim and Susan Wood and their family as well as to see again retired ministers and wives, Robert and Glenys Winston (Tim's in-laws) and Geoff and Christine Gobbett. A lovely evening.

The Whole Christ

We had a bumper turn out (quite a contrast to last time) for the latest reading group gathering at The John Owen Centre. It was especially good to have three Americans present (having three Welshmen there is also good, it goes without saying - and the Englishmen, of course) especially as two of them have had visa problems recently. The book this time was Sinclair Ferguson's The whole Christ his study based on the Marrow controversy, the Marrow men and Thomas Boston. It is not a history book but a work of pastoral theology of the very highest quality. It deals with antinomianism, legalism and assurance; is well written and the footnotes are packed with information. We all liked it, although it is safe to say that some of us were more enthusiastic than others. Our (probably) best read group member was only positive, nothing more. Anyway, I do urge you to get a copy and read it. I want to read my copy again and drink in all the gems scattered about within.

Lord's Day October 19

It was good to be back in Childs Hill last Lord's Day. We were rather down in numbers for various reasons (my family were away in Aber and I was very appreciative of the offer of lunch from some members). Just seven of us were at the Lord's Table in the evening (we had grown to 11 by the time of the service). It was good to meet someone who started coming when I went away and that gives me hope. I did two one offs. In the morning I gave my annual harvest message looking at Luke 9:61, 62 and in the evening we looked at Isaiah 41:10. It is a well known verse I think but I did not know it. I had seen it on a passing lorry somewhere. That evening sermon is only 24 minutes long so if you want to check it out it's here. I was encouraged that after one of my members asked me about Christ being forsaken on the cross, a subject that we had almost touched on - I was encouraged because it shows someone is thinking biblically and theologically. I should perhaps have gone into that.

What the Bible says about health and wealth conference

Last Saturday we had a conference at the chapel on health and wealth. I spoke on tithing and Robert Strivens spoke on the central theme of health and wealth. We were joined by Nigerian Akin Owalawale who was once on the inside of the movement and was able to share both experience and teaching. It was a good conference but we were only about twenty (about half and half church members and outsiders). We had hoped to attract people inside the prosperity movement itself but we seem to have failed in that. The messages are available on our church website (here)

Bunyan on the Lord's Day

Have a special care to sanctify the Lord's Day; for as thou keepest it, so it will be with thee all the week long. Make the Lord s day the market for thy soul; let the whole day be spent in prayer, repetitions, or meditations; lay aside the affairs of the other part of the week; let thy sermon thou hast heard be converted into prayer. Shall God allow thee six days, and wilt thou not afford him one? In the church be careful to serve God, for thou art in his eyes, and not in man's.

John Bunyan's Dying Sayings

Lord's Day October 9 2016 Plus

Today I preached in Queenstown Baptist, South Africa, where Michael Watson is the minister. The church is a modern building and the congregation was around sixty, a good mix age and ethnicity wise. The worship group (synthesised piano, acoustic guitar and drum kit with two voices) was louder than what I had experienced the previous week but not over the top (the drummer could keep time too). We sang five or six numbers projected on to the screen. I knew none of them but the words were quite acceptable. Apart form one or two extras the only other element was my preaching. I chose to preach on 1 John 3:1-3 and it seemed to go well. It was nice to meet some of the congregation over coffee afterwards.
I then headed out into the country with my host here to Lady Frere and the Zionist church there, where a special service was in full swing. The Zionists like to dress up and to use the big African drum and to do a sort of dance. Despite that many of them appreciate the truth and when we finally got through all the rigmarole (all in Xhosa) we had a testimony from my friend Sihle Xulu and a sermon from Nico Van Zyl that was excellent and much appreciated. After that my host and I prayed over the sick and needy (not something I have ever done before).
The Sunday before I had been in Mooi River Baptist Church where Clinton Stone is the pastor. They again had a praise band first (two acoustic guitars and an electric piano). Someone led, including a prayer, and I preached. They also chose a good hymn to finish with. I preached on Isaiah 57:5 and that went okay too.

More from South Africa

I do hope to give a full report in this trip to South Africa when I get back to London. Meanwhile, I am currently based in Queenstown where I have been speaking at an APC (African Pastor's Conference). The two days went well with good attendance, good messages and a good question time. I am preaching in the Baptist Church tomorrow. We then head off to Bloemfontein for the final APC I'm doing here on Tuesday, Wednesday. The previous conferences were in Estcourt (one day) followed by preaching in Mooi River and East London (three days) where the numbers dipped a bit. Picture shows me with Sihle Xulu and a man who has just received his certificate at Estcourt.

In South Africa

I am currently travelling around South Africa preaching to pastors in APCs (African Pastors Conferences). I arrived on September 30. Do pray for me. I am here until October 13.

Flying low

A strand in my life discussed really only by my family is embarrassing and futile conversations I have had with non-native English speakers. I will have to tell you another time about the pronunciation of Suchi adn the dead centre of Oradea. Anyway I saw this man the other day with his flies down. I knew he wasn't a native English speaker. I should have just left it but it seemed to me that here was an opportunity to do a chap a favour and teach him a useful English phrase. So I started "Do you know the expression flying low?" I explained it to him and mentioned the fact we were in the midst of a current crisis. At this point I'd imagined him rectifying things. But no. So I tried again. As a veteran of such encounters I now know when t leave well alone and I did. Whether he grasped what I was talking about at any level (no pun intended) I don't know. I doubt it.