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.

New edition of In Writing now available (132)

I should have mentioned before that the new edition of In Writing is now out. I haven't actually seen a  copy as I left London just before it arrived. It is around though I assure you and well worth reading. it cost £1.50 from the Library but is "free" for members.

Poor taste humour

I did mean to show you what they have done in the parish church St Peter's in Coggeshall. When I got to the church the other day I looked around for evidence of Owen and Sedgwick's time at the church there seemed to be none but then I went into the extension on the side of the church and there were several portraits including the two above on a staircase. I can't quite show you properly but what they had done (as a sort of joke I guess) was to place the two Puritans between a crucifix and a statue of Mary. I see the humour but it's in poor taste really, especially when you think of the way nonconformists suffered from 1662 on.

Napoleon and St Luke

de Tolly

In J G Lockhart's Life of Napoleon Buonaparte there is a reference to Marshal M A Barclay de Tolly and in a footnote Lockhart, a Scotsman, says "This officer had been born and educated in Germany. He was descended from an ancient Scottish family, exiled for adherence to the Stuarts, in 1715." I remember someone remarking that it was only Lockhart who mentions the Scots connection few other historians finding it worth remarking on. Lockhart was interested because of his own Scots; blood.
It is an interesting observation in light of Acts 6:5 where Luke tells us, with no comment on most of the others, that the last of the seven appointed, Nicolas, was a Gentile convert to Judaism from Antioch. Does that suggest that, as tradition maintains, Luke himself was from Antioch? The Expositors Greek Testament certainly says that "It was a notice of special interest to St. Luke if his own home was at Antioch".

Deja vu all over again

Cartoon found here

I was thinking about the fact that sharia means law and then I added these other fairly well known tautological phrases. (Some of them may actually be redundancies but I'm not getting into that - Tautology all the way forever!).

1. Sharia Law
2. Pita bread
3. Advanced warning
4. Tiny speck
5. HIV virus
6. PIN number
7. Close proximity
8. Forward planning
9. Free gift
10. Added bonus

Uxorious and diegetic

(This is from another blog of mine that I recently posted. See here.)
I learned two new words recently. First, uxorious which means having or showing a great or excessive fondness for one's wife. "He had always impressed me as home-loving and uxorious". It is something that Obadiah Sedgwick's enemies accused him of. The word is from the Latin for wife. Can't see anything wrong with being excessively fond of your wife, myself.
Then there was diegesis which I learned through my son who is studying film and TV. The word means a narrative or plot, typically in a film and is lumped over straight from Greek. The word my son actually used was diegetic sound (in connection with Ingmar Bergman). Diegetic sound is any sound presented as originated from a source within the film's world. Diegetic sound can be either on screen or off screen depending on whatever its source is within the frame or outside the frame. Another term for diegetic sound is actual sound.

Lord's Day October 28 2018

This last Lord's Day was rather unusual in that I am currently in Lebanon. I am here to lecture on Old Testament but on this last Lord's Day morning I was preaching at an evangelical church in Zouk Mosbeh, near Beirut in Lebanon, a 'Christian' area of Lebanon. About fifty of all ages gathered, including Syrian refugees. The same building houses a school for refugees during the week. I am sharing a flat with a retired Canadian pastor who is here to teach in the school while someone is away on maternity leave. See here. The service in the local Arabic was typical of our day in that we were led in singing for about half an hour with keyboards, drums, guitar and lead singer. Done very well as far as I could see. I was then welcomed and preached. I decided to go for that message I preached the other week on Lot and his daughters. It is a strange choice but I wanted them to see that the Old testament has things to say to us today and to show them Christ from what is a most unpromising story on the face of it. A young man translated for me. He did it very well. We had Turkish coffee to follow and I was able to speak with some. It is encouraging to see that here too God's kingdom is advancing. I am very thankful to Roger Lindie and Keith Berry who filled in for me back at home.

Obadiah Sedgwick


Yesterday evening in London you have heard Shai Lynne in ELT or Tim Keller in All Souls. or you coudl have heard me and others at the Strangers Rest Mission, East London. I spoke on  Puritan and Westminster Divine Obadiah Sedgwick at The Essex Conference. I was preceded by Norman Hopkins giving a presentation on the Huegenots and our host David Min on John Owen (Sedgwick's successor).  In the afternoon several had gone ona  walking tour. I started later then intended so had to be brief but that was probably for the best. The conference is new and probably needs better publicity and some streamlining. The whole thing is a three day event! I'll try adn out my paper online.

Midweek Meeting October 24 2018

There were twelve of us on Wednesday eventually, which is great. I did the last of this failry long series on Sodom adn Gomorrah - on Sodom in the New Testament. As is usual, we talked about what to pray and then prayed for twenty minutes or so. Then people chatted for a while. Back home at ten.

Day Off Week 43

On my day off this week I got into the car and travelled about an hour and a half east to the little town of Coggeshall in Essex. I am going to give a paper on Friday at the Essex Conference on Obadiah Sedgwick, one of the former incumbents there. It was good to see the parish church and the place itself. I discovered that next door to the church is an inn (the Woolpack) that was once a nonconformist church. I was also unaware of the martyrdom of Thomas Hawkes that took place in 1555. It was worth the visit, especially as the little library there put me on to a book I had missed. I also discovered another good connection. It beats me how a little place like that can have a proper little library while here in Childs Hill we struggle on with a voluntary arrangement where the Library is not open very much. I managed to fit in a spot of Leez Priory, open these days chiefly for private functions, where Sedgwick was sometimes entertained. En route I played some Focus albums from the box set I purchased a short while ago. Got through the first three albums. Back here I bought a new light fitting for the downstairs loo and started putting it in and watched some TV. Only the smallest bit of reading.

Calvin's Company of Pastors

On Monday I was at the Pastors Academy once again. Rather busy there as the Lloyd-Jones Library is being refurbished following a flood and the ThM  students were there for a module so the reading group ended up in the chapel. Seven of us, led by Brad Franklin, discussed Scott Manetsch's Calvin and the company of pastors. The book is absolutely brilliant and well worth getting hold of. See here. It is well written and yet scholarly with a large chunk of endnotes. It teaches you more about Calvin, which we need to know but going from 1536-1609 it partly fills in that haziness that takes us from Calvin to the Puritans. It scotches the Calvin and the Calvinist idea and is also full of nice anecdotes, which always helps. (eg Claude Griffat suspended for calling his dog Calvin; Calvin seizing a man who had pocketed communion bread during the Lord's supper, Jean Saddo who gave his minister his cow;s eyeball for soem reason, etc). It is very useful for thinking through pastoral work too. Geneva was sadly wedded to the church state ideas of the past but if you can see beyond that there is a lot to learn. Next time we plan to look at Archibald Alexander's Thoughts on religious experience, January 21, 2019.

Lord's Day October 21 2018

About 30 present in the morning as we carried on with Acts 15 and coming into Acts 16. A nice six point sermon disguised as a three pointer. No children's talk as there was only one child present. We sang happy birthday over coffee as we did last week too. In the evening we had communion. Only six present. Perhaps I should have flagged it up more boldly. There were 13 of us at the main meeting. I preached on the final verses of Matthew 21 enlisting the help of Kevin Keegan, Vincent van Gogh and a man in Sweden some years ago who found he had a masterpiece on his front room wall.

Day Off Week 42

My day off this week fell on a Friday as I was busy all day Tuesday at a committee and began with me putting on my old blue jeans, which helps set the mood. My main thing was to read a large chunk of Scott Manesch's Calvin's company of pastors for the Pastors' Academy reading group. I could do this any day but I was happy to do it on my day off as it is such an enjoyable book, full of brilliant anecdotes and so very well written. I also had to fit in a pastoral visit and complete my editorial work on the next In Writing magazine - again not ideal but you have to work around things sometimes. here was also dog walking, some lounging in front of the TV with Eleri and a nice chicken tikka masala take away style from Sainsbury's.

Midweek Meeting October 17 2018

Around 9 of us gathered last Wednesday, including our two newcomers and another fresh attender. At least two or three others were missing for various reasons. We looked at Old Testament references to Sodom and Gomorrah and then spent time in prayer. Among the many prayed for were two local Albanian background boys who wnadered in on Sunday - I think to shelter from the rain. It was good to be there.

Joel Beeke on Reformed Experiential Preaching

It was a great privilege to spend this morning and afternoon at the London Seminary once again. Dr Joel Beeke gave lectures to the students on Reformed experiential preaching. You can get a flavour of this from two articles here and here (for a download) Also see this piece by Paul Helm hereHe also has a new Crossway book due out today. See here

Dr Lloyd-Jones Lecture 2018

It was good once again to be at the London Seminary on Tuesday night to hear Dr Joel Beeke give the annual Dr Lloyd-Jones Memorial Lecture. He spoke on Reformed Piety - Covenantal and Experiential very helpfully to a good crowd.
One of the most interesting things he said I thought was this -  

While I was on active duty in the US Army Reserves, a sergeant laid his hand on my shoulder one day and said, "Son, if you ever have to go to war, there are three things you must remember in battle: what tactics you need to use, how the fight is going (which is usually very different from how it ought to go), and what the goal of the battle is." That sergeant gave me an experiential approach to fighting. His three points also provide insight into how experiential religion and preaching ought to go. When we preach we ought to be idealistic, realistic and optimistic a la ROmans 8, Romans 7 and the passages that speak to us of heaven.

He also warned against antinomianism, legalism, hyper-covenantalism and hypercalvinism. Great stuff.

Busy days

These are rather busy days and it is proving difficult to keep up. On Monday evening The Bible Preaching Trust met. This is a small funding agency for Reformed ministers in financial need. I then spent most of Tuesday at London Seminary as I sit on the board there. Once again it was a full day with many matters on the agenda.
Links here and here.

Stan Evers on John Berridge the eccentric vicar

We had another lunchtime lecture at the Evangelical Library on Monday. Stan Evers from Welwyn gave us an excellent power point presentation on the life of the eccentric vicar of Everton in Bedfordshire. It was good to have Nigel Pibworth present too who has written a biography of Berridge (now oop) and published an edition of his letters. There were a good number present (all male and over 35 I guess, which is no ideal). The next lecture is on December 3 and is on another John, John Cennick and is by yours truly. I should say that a video is available as well as an audio recording of this lecture. Apply to the Evangelical Library.

Lord's Day October 14 2018

Another good day last Lord's Day with quite a few visitors in the morning, especially people from the Philippines or connected with Filipinos (although seven of our regular ones were not there in the morning, though a family of three joined us in the evening as they were unable to be there in the morning as usual). In the morning I led us in publicly giving thanks for a nine month old boy who was brought for the first time last week. The parents (Filipino and Indian) are unmarried but we are thankful for the little boy, nevertheless. The morning sermon took us back to Acts and to Acts 15, which had its difficulties but we got through okay I hope. In the evening it was the parable of the tenants in Matthew 21, which again went okay. Lots missing as ever.

Day off Week 41

Last week's day off fell on Saturday, as we wanted to join Eleri's father celebrating his 80th birthday down in Cardiff. We travelled on Friday night and were pleasantly surprised at how straight forward it was for a potentially stormy Friday night. We stayed with Eleri's younger sister. I spent half of Saturday morning catching up on my Bible reading journal - behind again. I then discovered that I had brought no change of shirt and so had to head into Whitchurch, which only has a Peacocks when it comes to men's shirts (I don't buy clothes from charity shops). I nearly bought a trartan shirt but went for the black denim in the end. Geoff's daughters and thers had worked really hard and so we had an excellent get together in the church where two of our sons now worship with their wives. (In fact one pair now live in a bungalow right next to the church so it was good to visit them for the first time in their new home beforehand) About sixty family and friends turned up and we sang happy birthday, etc. Lovely time. It was nice to be with some of the family after the party before we left, getting home around 10 pm. The only sad note was missing sons - one in America and the family who couldn't get down from Aber because of the flooding.

Wedding blessing

While many others were busy watching some other wedding last Friday, I was with a family I know well, blessing the newly married bride and groom in their home. We were a small number - just four or five from her family, two from his, them and me, but I read from Deuteronomy and Genesis and Psalm 126 and preached on Genesis 2:24 before some snacks in another room. I was glad to be involved. Congratulations Martha and Chris! Every blessing for the future.

Midweek Meeting October 10 2018

We had a bumper turn out last night - 13 of us - chiefly to three visitors. Typically, I had decided to tackle the incident at the end of Genesis 19 where Lot gets drunk and commits incest Anyway, I am committed to exposition andit was well worthwhile to look at these verses full of warnings and a hidden encouragement if you look (hint The Moabitess). We also had a good time of prayer - sometimes difficult with visitors but  ot on this occasion.

They Shall Not Grow Old - Official Trailer (2018)

This really is quite an achievement

Lord's Day October 7 2018

We began with communion - not many there for that but good attnedances morning adn evening otherwise. Lots of Nigerians and Filipinos. I like to preach a harvest message and have us sing harvest hymns once a year and that is what we did this last Lord's Day. I had never tackled 2 Corinthians 9, probably because it is about giving. Glad to look at the subject again, however. We also gave hanks for a new born in the morning. I like to do that as although we do not baptise babies we do not want to give the impression that we are not onterested in them. That's one of the reasons I speak to the children too. We're back on the catechism again at the moment. In the evning we have reached the wonderful fourth century in our church history slot so we sang a hymn by Ambrose (Great old fashioned hymns today) and I preached from Matthew 21 on the parable of the two sons. Part of every Lord's Day is hearing news, especially from members and this week there were two lots of more bad and nore good news. Lots to pray for.

Midweek Meeting October 3 2018

There were eight of us last night and most of us were men. One person told me he'd been offered  Tottenham Barcelona ticket (Wembley is not far from us). he declined in favour of being with us. Wise choice (although they had a cracking game in Wembley I gather). We nearly all prayed and before that I took us briefly through Genesis 19:27-29. I ended with this Samuel Prime story from the 1858 revival

I must tell you one thing in regard to the power of prayer. I believe much in prayer for particular cases and particular individuals. I have seen it to result in the salvation of souls in many cases during the last winter. But the case I wish to speak of is the following:
A brother pastor, who laboured near me, was on his death-bed. I knew him well - knew all about his habits of prayer. When he was dying, some one of his brother ministers asked him how he felt in view of his departure. 'Oh!' he said, 'I feel happy, and assured of my salvation, as a poor, lost sinner saved through a Saviour's precious, atoning blood.' But still there seemed to be something weighing upon his mind. So one of us inquired,'My dear brother, is there any thing that is now a cause of anxiety to you?
The dying minister put his hand under his pillow, and drew out a piece of paper, on which were written twenty-five names of men, unconverted, leading men in his parish, and, with tears in his eyes, he said, “Yes, there is one cause of anxiety, and here it is: it is the salvation of these twenty-five men. I have prayed much for these twenty-five men, name by name. If I could know that these men would be converted, I could then say, 'Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.'” This was the great burden upon his heart, and so he died.

At a recent meeting of our ecclesiastical body, when the conversation on the state of religion was being held, and the successor of that departed minister was giving in his account, I asked the moderator if I might, through him, ask the brother about those twenty-five men, for we all knew about the case. The clergyman heard my inquiry, and for some time was unable to speak. Then, with the tears flowing down his cheeks, he said, 'Brethren, every one of those twenty-five men has been converted.' We believe they were converted in answer to our deceased brother's desires and prayers - perhaps in answer to that burden of desire which he had for their conversion in the dying hour. Long had he borne them on his heart as the burden of prayer, and all of them, we think, will be stars in his crown of rejoicing in the great day.

Day off Week 40

Yesterday's day off didn't quite go right somehow. Not sure where I went wrong. I did have a project that needed to be finished so that cut into my time, I guess. I didn't do much of a walk either although it worked well in that I was in for the parcels that arrived, including new shoes, before heading out to walk the dog and for coffee and newspaper puzzles.  I think the main thing was that I decided to finish reading a novel I'd started and it was longer than I had expected and so I was not able to get on to the next thing I wish to read. The novel is by Patricia Highsmith, one of her later ones People who knock on the door. Highsmith has over 20 novels and I have read half of them now. In my opinion she is not Division 1, if I might put it that way, but she is high up in Division 2 and her books are always interesting. This one I bought just because I want to read them all and was interested to find that it deals with the subject of abortion and the moral majority and religion. She shows no great insight into the subject (or of US alcohol laws) and is a little confused on some things in this Reagan era novel. She puts forward an attempted pro-abortion, anti-religion story that is highly unconvincing. At one point she gives the gist of an evangelical sermon on marriage and highlights well how it might sound to a feminist such as herself. As ever, Highsmith is unusual as a detective novelist in that there are no detectives present until the book is almost over. Watched a BBC drama with Eleri before bed.

Stephen Lloyd Adam and death

It was good to be at the Westminster Fellowship again yesterday. There was a good turn out to hear Stephen Lloyd on creation issues. The bones of what he had to say can be found here. This article has now been produced as a booklet called Adam or death: which came first? tpehen Lloyd is always worth hearing. he is constantly thinking over these issues with a theological adn scientific apporach that is both accessible and thought provoking. For more on such matters see here.

Lord's Day September 30

We were rather slow gathering yesterday morning and we were down to ten in the evening, with several away and no visitors. We had two viitors in the morning adna  lady who came the other week who we have not seen for a while returned revelaing that illness had kept her away. I preached the final sermon for now on Luke 15, considering the father in the parable of the lost sons, and on  Matthew 21:23-27 on By what authority.