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 Evil women in the Bible

1. Lot's wife – who turned back when the family fled from Sodom
2. Potiphar's wife – who tried unsuccessfully to lure Joseph into adultery
3. Cozbi – The Midianite princess who was killed by Phinehas because her evil influence was the source of a plague among the Israelites
4. Delilah – the Philistine who betrayed her husband Samson the Judge
5. The witch of Endor – To whom Saul went in his despair to consult Samuel
6. Athaliah - Queen of Judah during the reign of King Jehoram, and later sole ruler of Judah for five years
7. Jezebel – The pagan wife of King Ahab who plotted Naboth's death
8. Herodias – Illegitimate wife of Herod who hated John the Baptist and caused his death
9. Sapphira – Conspired with her husband to lie to the Holy Spirit and was struck dead
10. Job's wife – unnamed woman who urged her husband to curse God and die

10 Evil men in the Bible

1. Cain (Genesis)
2. Achan (Joshua)
3. Doeg the Edomite (1 Samuel)
4. Nabal (1 Samuel)
5. Ahab (1 Kings)
6. Gehazi (2 Kings)
7. Manasseh (2 Kings, 2 Chronicles)
8. Judas (Gospels, Acts)
9. Ananias (Acts)
10. Alexander the metal worker (1 Timothy)

Eccentrics Conference 2018

I like the Eccentrics Conference for several reasons. Firstly, the name appeals. These men are clearly not taking themselves too seriously. Secondly, it's in Wales and I seem not to get to Wales as often as I might wish. Three, I can get to see relatives usually. Four, there are always good speakers, unrecorded and slightly off guard, including Paul Blackham, always worth hearing. Five, it's now a local church based event (Mount Pleasant Swansea). Six, Steve Levy (for all his faults) is a great guy. Seven, the people who go are generally reformed pastors working hard at home. Eight, I get to meet people I might not otherwise. Nine, it has a relaxed friendly atmosphere.
This year's conference was up to usual standards despite the disappointing no show of Stuart Olyott. John Tindall took his place and gave us two helpful self effacing messages from 1 Thessalonians 1 and Acts 20 (with some final thoughts on Ephesians). We also heard Mez McConnell, who is always worth hearing, spoke from John 18 and Steve himself kicked us off from Psalm 2. Paul Blackham was very stimulating as ever looking at how the Bible speaks to us not across the hermeneutically divide but much more directly. It was nice to hear someone else (apart from Peter Masters) say that the Bible is NOT like any other book. We also did some singing (including two unaccompanied psalms - it was like being at Banner a bit!) and we prayed and there were two more open sessions answering questions and some confession of regrets and as ever there was bags of food.
I snuck off on the Monday night to join my sympthetics Phil and Sheila Davies and family as my son Dylan was across with their daughter Cat to celebrate his birthday. They kindly put me up for the night. So more fellowship. My oldest son was at the conference as was my father-in-law and a more distant relative. All being well I'll get to see my third son and his wife before getting home.
Long term viewers of this blog will be glad to see that the pics of Paul B and Steve L above are leading us back to the previous low quality of the past. Enjoy.

Lord's Day January 28 2018

A day of two halves once again. Loads in, in the morning, including a Spanish speaking family (three generations) and a Ghanaian lady who, despite myself, I expect to see again plus loads of others and some missing as ever. Two members were back who have been ill for weeks. So seven for the children's talk (we are on prayer at the moment). I preached most of Acts 12. Then in the evening we were down to a bare 10 as we looked at taking up the cross and following Christ. I enjoyed bothe services. Brilliant hymns in the evening (Immortal honours, Sometimes a light, etc).My wife glimpsed and address list of church members for 2015. We have lost 15 members (by death, transfer or desertion) since then (half the membership) and gained only five new ones. Tough days.

Almost a victory ...

Newport drew 1-1 in the end against Spurs (FA Cup fourth round) having led for most of the game after a goal at the end of the first half by Irishman Padraig Amond. Harry Kane got the equaliser late in the game. So replay in Wembley soon. Great stuff Newport. By the way Newport are currently 71 places below Spurs.

10 Actors who have portrayed Churchill

1. Darkest Hour (2017) – Gary Oldman
2. Churchill (2017) – Brian Cox
3. Churchill's Secret (2016) – Michael Gambon
4. The King's Speech (2010) – Timothy Spall
5. Into the Storm (2009) – Brendan Gleeson, for HBO
6. Allegiance (2005) – Mel Smith
7. The Gathering Storm (2002) – Albert Finney, for HBO
8. Churchill: The Hollywood Years (2004) – Christian Slater
9. Young Winston (1972) – Simon Ward
10. Robert Hardy has played him twice in the theatre and six times on TV including Agatha Christie Marple, The Sittaford Mystery (2006) Bomber Harris (1989) War and Remembrance (1988) Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981)
(A number of these have also acted in Harry Potter)

Darkest Hour

We went to the cinema this week to see Gary Oldman as Churchill in Darkest Hour  During the early days of World War II, Neville Chamberlain is out of favour and so a new PM is needed, namely Winston Churchill, who many people are not sure about. He must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler or fight on against incredible odds. You know what happens but this film will give you some new insights into the whole thing, perhaps. What we have here, of course, is what they now call "dramatic truth" rather than very much you will find in a history book. The secretary featured in the film, for example did not start work until a year later. It is true that Churchill often disappeared from Downing Street or the Cabinet War Rooms and appeared somewhere in London to talk to the public and find out what they were thinking but what we get in the film is pure imagination. As a young man such things woud have bothered me but I now see what we want is an enjoyable film that gives you the gist of what happened. That's want this film does. It is a reminder of the wonderful providence of God towards this nation all those years ago. Let's not forget it.

The Polka King

I recently saw on Netflix the film The Polka King starring Jack Black. Black is a brilliant comic actor and he is excellent in this biopic based on the life of a Polish immigrant to the USA called Jan Lewan(Dowski). Like The Wizard of lies (Starring Robert de Niro) the film presents a character who engages ina Pnzi scheme that eventually unravels and leads to a prison sentence. The previous one is full of swearing and other unhelpful material, sadly, but this one is a lot more user friendly. In both cases, we see a charming man full of good intentions but just below the surface an evil willingness to deceive.

Midweek Meeting Wednesday January 24 2018

We went back to Leviticus last night. We had broken off near the end of last year at verse 18 of Chapter 19. I hoped to finish the chapter last night but I felt I needed to recap on approach adn so in the end we only did verses 19-28. It confirmed to me again the usefulness of the threefold division of the law as a hermeneutical tool. Not that all difficulties then disappear but at least one can see ways to apply the equity of laws that have clearly now passed. I wasn't too long adn we had plenty of time for prayer and all present prayed. Glad to be back in Leviticus.

10 Pop songs where words are spelled out

1. D-I-V-O-R-C-E - Tammy Wynette
2. L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. - Noah and the Whale
3. L-O-V-E – Nat King Cole
4. 'A' bomb in Wardour Street - The Jam
5. I'm a man – Bo Diddley
6. Respect - Aretha Franklin
7. Gloria - The Them
8. Mickey Mouse Club Theme – Anonymous
9. Lola – The Kinks
10. Kalamazoo - Glenn Miller Band adn the Modernaires

Gal in Kalamazoo

They don't write them like that ...

Sunken Rags (Home demo)

Whipping Boy

The term "whipping boy" has been used by sportswriters to describe the bottom of the table team for decades.
The term was popularised by Mark Twain in his story, The Prince and the Pauper, the Times reports.
The story goes that Edward VI and Charles I could not be punished by their teachers, because of their royal status. Instead, they were taught alongside another boy, who would be whipped in the event of royal disobedience. It was hoped the royals would feel compassion for the boy, receiving uncalled for punishment, and amend their behaviour
The Times reports that these origins are backed up by sources like the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and a chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces. The BBC, however, removed the explanation from BBC Bitesize for children aged 11-14 after acknowledging it was probably invented by Samuel Rowley, a 17th century playwright, following a complaint about a lack of primary evidence.
Chris Skidmore, who wrote Edward VI: The Lost King of England, told the Times that there was no primary evidence of royal whipping boys and the role probably never existed.

10 Tips About Reading

Reading is an idle pleasure; pour a glass of wine, put your feet up on the sofa and drift through a novel. Not any more. That attitude is so 20th century. Nowadays, reading is about productivity. Do you do 20-minute reading sprints? How about readathons? Have you signed up to Victober, the online challenge to read as many Victorian novels as possible in October? What about your goals on Goodreads? Are you falling behind? There's an awful lot of anxiety about reading. "How could I read more books?" asks the BBC. Lifehacker will help you trick yourself into reading more. Huffpost tells you how to make reading more of a habit. Bookriot promises to boost your reading productivity.

Here are ten of our favourite reading tips from gurus across the internet, some helpful and some rather mad.
1. "Become physically fit, to give your brain more oxygen"
2. "Skip from the left hand page to the right hand page and back again … Somehow this tricks my brain into reading faster (perhaps it has to work harder to infer the meaning)"
3. "Take a book into stressful or high-pressure situations. I play badminton every week. About halfway through, I get jittery from the adrenaline and my play dips. So I started reading during break … Now I take a book into any competitive situation. Even if I don't feel much like reading, I have an extrinsic motivation"
4. "Always be reading multiple books to accommodate any possible mood"
5. "Buy cheap. Ninety percent of the time I use Amazon to purchase my books. I will even purchase a used copy if it's available. Having a larger budget for more books allows me to purchase more. Purchasing more books allows me to read more"
6. Read books while practising yoga
7. "Read in sprints. Some days my attention span is less than others. During these days, I set 20-minute timers and read in 20-minute sprints"
8. "Form a speed-reading team with friends"
9. "Get bored. My early life was very boring. Reading was a good way of filling in great tracts of tedious time"
10. "Rather than thinking that you need to sit down and read for an hour at a time, try to make use of small amounts of time. Read for 20 minutes while you are waiting for dinner to cook. Use every 15-minute gap"

10 Modern (Mostly) Women Authors

The Times observes that not so long ago, literary fiction was dominated by men: Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Kazuo Ishiguro, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan - the list goes on. But no longer. Now, women are well and truly in charge. Last year, nine of the top ten best-selling works of literary fiction were by women. Helped by adaptations of her novels for Netflix, Margaret Atwood came out on top. The only man on the list is Haruki Murakami, from Japan. Here's the list:

1. Margaret Atwood
2. Helen Dunmore
3. Sarah Perry
4. Naomi Alderman
5. Elena Ferrante
 6. Haruki Murakami
7. Ali Smith
8. Zadie Smith
9. Maggie O'Farrell
10. Arundhati Roy

Book Review The Art of Turning

I had meant to inclue this review which I wrote for EN towards the end of last year

THE ART OF TURNING From sin to Christ for a joyfully clear conscience
Kevin deYoung
40 pages. £1.00 ISBN 9781911272212
This briefest of books can be read in no time but its five short chapters are crammed with good things. It looks at the rather neglected subject of conscience.
It begins topically enough in this this anniversary year of Luther nailing the 95 theses to the door of the church of the castle of Wittenberg. We are taken four years further on to Worms and Luther's stand for the truth before Emperor Charles V. He famously said there that his conscience was captive to the Word of God, raising the question for all of us as to whether ours are too
Chapter 2 takes a further step backwards, to the Scriptures themselves, and especially to 2 Corinthians 1:12 and a dozen other places where Paul talks about conscience. Our author points out that Paul like Luther treasured his conscience and so should we.
In Chapter 3 we come to a definition: the moral faculty within human beings that assesses what is good and what is bad. We should recognise the role conscience plays both for the prosecution and the defence (or defense as it is here, the book uses American orthography). The chapter closes with an almost irresistible reference to Pinocchio.
Chapter 4 deals with misfiring consciences. It keeps to four examples only – the evil, the seared, the defiled and the weak conscience. It deals with these very cogently. The closing chapter is on the way to a clear conscience. It calls for repentance, faith and for Christians to live the life they were meant to live. The final point is to remember that conscience should be our friend.
The only possible slight criticism of the book would be that it may appear to give a higher position to conscience than the New Testament warrants. One would have appreciated more on the importance of love. In such a brief book, however, it is difficult to avoid some measure of imbalance. This really is a great little book, one that everyone should read.
Gary Brady Pastor of Childs Hill Baptist Church and author of Candle in the wind on the conscience

Book Review How to live as a Christian

A review based on this one can be found in this month's EN.

Ed Joel Beeke
Evangelical Press
116 pages. £5.99 ISBN 9781783971923

A collection of 36 short articles that originally appeared in The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible this book was written by 28 different authors under the editorship of Dr Joel Beeke. The helpful articles cover many practical aspects of the Christian life, from being Assured and persevering to Worship and the means of grace. Some subjects covered are basic and obvious, such as Reading the Scriptures, How and why to pray and Fellowship with believers.
Others are perhaps less obvious or more neglected – How we regard ourselves, Godly contentment and Using leisure time well. It was a pleasant surprise to see, alongside articles on being a Christlike husband or godly wife, on raising children and on honouring your parents, one on Being a Christian grandparent. The chapter on How to kill pride is potentially redundant next to the one on Humility.
The style is very concise and the best contributions make a series of numbered points. For example, early on seven points are made on The fear of God – respect and reverence God as holy, worship him as he instructs, hate and flee from sin, live out of the forgiveness promised in Scripture, be spoiled and ruined as far as this world is concerned, long to commune with other God fearers and always desire to know God better.
Half way through the book we find another nine points on coping with criticism. We are urged to consider its inevitability, source and timing and our prayers (wait 24 hours before responding if possible), Consider also - yourself, the content, Scripture, Christ, love and eternity.
This book would make a fine resource for a new or young Christian but would also make for valuable reading for those more mature in the faith or a pastor looking for help on what to include in a course on Christian basics. All Bible quotations are from the KJV.
Gary Brady Pastor Childs Hill Baptist Church, London

Lord's Day January 21 2018

I thought we might be down in numbers as two were preaching, one couple were visiting another church, two have flu and three have left us recently. As it turned out these were all away plus at least eight more I expected to see. Nevertheless, there were a number of visitors (someone new to the area klooking for a Reformed church, an RC Filipina from Spain, an African born Greek invited by one of my deacons and a Chinese Christian dog sitting for a relative). I was glad that my first sermon point was that like the church in Antioch we should be welcoming to all. We were in Acts 11 and the wonderful description of the Antioch church there. We were with one of my deacons for lunchwhch was nice. In the evening at communion I welcomed into membership the former Muslim I baptised near the end of last year. I preached on Matthew 16:13-20 to a decent sized congregation. They all sat on one side of the church which made it look better. At the end of the morning service a local chaaracter fropped in. He embarrassed a member of the congregation asking her to roll his cogarette for him. I was busy helping someone who feared they had blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Busy day.

10 Girly Musems

And in the same vain ... Are you a fan of the fan museum?

1. Victoria and Albert Museum, London
2. Fashion and Textile Museum, London
3. Fashion Museum, Bath
4. Dolls House Museum, Ealing
5. Lace Guild Museum, Bristol
6. Garden Museum, London
7. Florence Nightingale Museum, London
8. The Fan Museum, Greenwich
9. Jane Austen's House Museum, Hampshire
10. Makeup Museum, online presence

10 Museums for Blokes

This sexist stereotype list came to mind following my visit to the V & A . Apologies to all including myself. Another 10 to follow next post.

1. Royal Airforce Museum, Hendon
2. London Motor Museum, London
3. Churchill War Rooms, London
4. Imperial War Museum, London and Duxford
5. National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham
6. National Railway Museum, York
7. National Football Museum, Manchester
8. National Coal Mining Museum for England, Overton
9. Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds
10. London Transport Museum, London

Winnie the Pooh at the V & A

Gwion and I got down to the V & A this week for their exhibition on Winnie the Pooh. We enjoyed seeing it. It's on until April 8. More info here.

Midweek Meeting January 17 2018

The seminary students are all back and so we were almost back to full strength on Wednesday. We were mostly men. One of them Reuben, took an extended trip to the far east with his family adn so after I had very briefly said something on Romans 8:32 he reported to us on his time in The Philippines and especially the work of the Cubao Reformed Baptist Church including its CCM work among street kids. It was good to be reminded of this stirling work. We had a very good prayer time almost everyone praying and the prayers flowing as one always longs for but sometimes don't get. We had a church members meeting the next day so I finsihed promptly.

Lord's Day January 14 2018

As is often the case it was "a game of two halves" last Lord's Day in terms of turn out. We had a good number in the morning but by the evening for various reasons we were barely into double figures. In the morning I preached from the first half of Acts 11 and in the evening, following tea together in the parlour, from Matthew 16:5-12 warning against false teachers. It is an interesting question as to whether one should name names in sermons. I decided to do so and had T D Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer and the Pope in my firing sights. I hope it helped. At least one person present was nervous about attacking Ms Meyer.

Midweek Meeting January 10 2018

Somehow I forgot to do a midweek meeting report last week. Anyway, we did meet and we looked at that wonderful verse Romasn 8:28 and we spent time in prayer too. We were not a great number as some are still away.

Lord's Day January 7 2018

First Lord's Day of the year though seven days in the year already seems a little familiar. I decided to go straight back to our systematic studies in Acts and Matthew having been out of it for a while. Lots were away due to illnesses and several travelling but the morning service was fairly well attended as five extra family members of ours were there and one or two visitors including a Zambian lady. We began with communion. I then preached on Acts 10, also speaking to the children on prayer. In the evening  I preached from Matthew 16:1-4. Quite a difficult Sunday in some ways. It is easy to be discouraged.

Carey Conference 2018 Day 3 Last two sessions

Our conference finished with papers from Matthew Bingham and Bill James. Matthew rounded out his previous historical paper with many quotations and three conclusions. 1. An affirmation of the truth of believers baptism 2. An encouragement to pursue meaningful church membership 3. A warning against becoming overly zealous in pursuit of congregational purity. These two papers were very good and helpful. The fact that most evangelical churches today do act as independent churches that require only believers to join ought notto be overlooked. My only fear was that one could feel rather smug and look down on Presbyterians and especially Congregationalists. No doubt we Baptists have our blind spots and inconsistencies too. 
The final paper was given by Bill James, our conference convener, on salt and light. He took us through the material in Matthew 5, speaking first of the picture of salt and then light and rounding it out to present a vision of believers making an impact on the world today. He mentioned and quoted  passages fom Rod Dreher's Benedict Option but felt this was not the way forward.
It has been good to be here. Next year's conference uis due to be January 8-10.

Carey Conference 2018 Day 2 Sessions 2-4

The rest of the day was taken up by talks from Robert Strivens and Luke Jenner and a lively question session with most of the speakers present. Lots of people wanted to talk about conscience as raised by John Benton but plenty of other subjecs were usefully covered under the chairmanship of Bill James
Robert Strivens offered a powerful plea for associations of churches quoting the 1689 Confession and John Owen. It was reminiscent of a paper by David Kingdon many moons ago.
In the final session of the day Luke Jenner, who has recently become a father once again, gave an impassioned plea for a full recognition of union with Christ and, in particular, of our church union with Christ. Stirring stuff.

Carey Conference 2018 Wednesday Session 1

Ray Evans gave another helpful paper in the first part of the morning on growing a believers' church. He made seven main points.
1. Equipping for a 'whole life' service not just service
This included commendation of Mark Goode's books, Thank God it's Monday and Fruitfulness on the frontline.
2. Equipping for a whole of life evangelism not just church evangelism
Acts 16 a suggestive blueprint. Inviting people (go and tell) is the easiest and most effective means of reaching people. Others need to be reached through caring for them and servng them. Thirdly, going to people to tell them is important too.
3. Equipping for organic go and tell evangelism
This questionnaire was commended as found for example here
People should be encouraged to know how to share their story (life adn witness must, ofcourse, match)
4. Encouragiing the exploring of space and time
Too often (says Mark Greene) mission becomes "to recruit the people of God to use some of their leisure time to join the missionary initiatives of church-paid workers".
5. Understanding journeys to faith
Patience and impatience, etc
6. The power of example, the difficulties of choices and the cost of mobilising the whole church
7. Colossians 4 - another blueprint

Carey Conference 2018 First Evening

It is good to be here in Swanwick, Derbyshire once again. We have had three strong papers to start us off. Dr Matthew Bingham gave us an excellent historical paper outlining in this first session why it was that the early Reformers were so wedded to the idea of paedobaptism and the idea of a national church. Paedobaptism was accepted nearly universally before the Reformation and the state idea of the church was widely accepted by most. The idea that England was a new Israel was a third element driving pre- and post-Reformation theology. What drove the Particular Baptists, it was suggested was not simply their reading of the Bible, which says nothing of infant baptism, but also their realisation that the idea of an internal and external covenant was an untenable position. The paper was very helpful.
We then had Ray Evans on leading a believer's church, looking at most obviously at Acts 2 and then less obviously at Acts 6. He added three other useful points - settling for either/or when it should be both/and (including reference to the way time is a tyrant); a diagram on the pastor as prophet, priest and king like and something on consulting members plus something on staff and members. See this page here for a very interesting insight.
We also had John Benton, like Ray a Carey stalwart, on freedom in the church, looking at Romans 14:1-15:13. After summarising the situation Paul is speaking of, he pointed out the six principles there (the Lordship of Christ, the way of love, the priority of the Spirit, the example of Christ, the necessity of writing and the goal of praise) and made these applications - Paul gives principles not a formula, we must avoid both legalism and licence, we must preach on self-denial and judgement and the importance of relationships, etc.

Lord's Day December 31 2017

Our last Lord's Day of 2017 was noa jam packed affair though there were plenty in the morning. Though several are still away we had one or two visitors - family members, etc. One couple Iknow are looking for a church to settle in. We will see. In the morning I preached from Romans 12:1. That is our text for the year. In the evening I preached from 2 Peter 3:8, an appropriate text for the turn of the year. The evening servie was preceded by communion (held over from the 17th). We were very few for that. We had only one reading in each service and so both services were only just over the hour each.

Holiday Books

Pointless History of the World, Laurence Rees on The Holocaust, Mark Forsyth's Etymologicon, Short Poems, John Knox, Welwyn Esther and George Eliot's Clerical Life -All Christmas Gifts

Two Holiday Snaps

My son and grandson crash out
The family in MacDonalds in Cardiff before heading home