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.

Midweek meeting November 28 2018

We were 11 on Wednesday. Three regulars were away but someone was there who is often not and there was a visitor - an Irish believer working in the area at the moment. I'm glad he found us. Plenty of prayers after we had begun with James 1:12 again in this matter of finding blessing in the midst of trials. I tried not t be too long conscious that there was a church members meeting the next night.

Day off week 48

Rather a lazy day in some respects. I started off by wearing the t-shirt and jeans, which seems to help. I then took Alffi for a long walk to Highgate and got the bus back. My walking target was soon met. I listened to a recent In our time on Mari Antoinette, which I enjoyed. I like to take the fortnightly Private Eye but never seem to see it on a Tuesday. I managed it this time, however, and so hopefully that can be a pattern on alternate Tuesdays in future (although that reads Dec11 then 25!). I also read 10 chapters of a nice children's book I picked up in a charity shop yesterday. It is Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio (well translated some years ago by Emma Rose). I also read a bit more of my Christmas novel. I wanted to do other things but rather petered out in the afternoon. In the evening we had a visit from my father-in-law and Barbara and after they had gone we watched the first episode of the new drama Mrs Wilson.

Lord's Day November 25 2018

I travelled down to Pains Hill, Surrey on Sunday. I was in two minds about whether to go via the M25 or central London. It was the fact the car was facing down when I came out of the house that decided me. Andrew Saywell was preaching for me here in Childs Hill.
I was due to preach in Pains Hill Chapel morning and evening. Sadly, in the morning seven miles out I hit a traffic jam, following a crash and ended up getting to the chapel at some crazy hour. Thankfully my old college friend Jonathan had a sermon in his bag and so I only preached in the evening. I went to Genesis 49:10 and got on okay but I was so sorry not to have been able to preach in the morning to the small congregation. Had a good time with Jonathan and his wife, for whom life is not so straightforward at present.
Apart from completely missing a train once when in college once I have never been so late that I couldn't preach before. Strange day then but we remember that all things are under God's Providence. 

Wales beat South Africa

Wales beat South Africa 29-11 and so win their fourth of four this Autumn and complete a nine match run of victories, the most consecutive wins this century. Brilliant! Great game well reffed.

Bragg and Hope

I haven't been listening to In our time recently but yesterday's offering was on the interesting subject of Hope. Following the usual format, Bragg's experts took us helpfully through the subject from Hesiod through Aquinas and Luther to Sartre, Tolkien (only in the podcast) and modern times. Fascinating. Though unfamiliar with Locke, Kant and Heidegger I would guess your average well taught Christian would have thought much of this through already though not in the same way. The current link is here.

Day off Week 47

This week's day off was similar to last week. My main task was to read more of this big book on John Cennick that I am reading - I managed less than last week I'm afraid. I have received as a Christmas gift a boxed set of Jan Akkerman CDs and I made a start on listening to them with the first four albums (Talent for Sale, Profile and the two albums made with Kaz Lux, Eli and Transparental) - very enjoyable. I also took Alffi for a walk and had a coffee, of course. I also did some blogging and a little more work on a Christmas project I have in mind. Was up quite early this morning and so went to bed early reading a Christmas detective novel I have started slightly early.

10 significant figures in church history who never married

1. John Chrysostom
2. John Wycliffe (and Jan Hus)
3. William Tyndale
4. William (and Theodora) Cowper
5. Charles Simeon
6. Henry Martyn
7. Robert Murray M'Cheyne
8. Amy Carmichael
9. Corrie (and Betsie) ten Boom
10. John Stott (and Dick Lucas)

10 OT Prophets and their marital status

1. Enoch was married. He and his wife were the parents of Methuselah
2. Elijah appears not to have had a wife
3. Elisha would be the same
4. Isaiah was a married man. He and his wife had two sons with symbolic names. His wife may have been a prophetess herself.
5. Jeremiah was commanded by God to remain single.
6. Ezekiel was married but his wife died and he was commanded not to mourn her passing
7. Daniel appears to have been single (possibly a eunuch)
8. Hosea married a woman who he was told would become a prostitute, which she did though he was able to win her back
9. Tradition says that Jonah was married
10. John the Baptist appears never to have married

10 Bible characters who were single for some time

1. Joseph (who later married an Egyptian priest's daughter)
2. Boaz (who married Ruth in later life)
3. Jephthah's daughter (probably because her life was cut short)
4. Jeremiah (commanded not to marry)
5. Daniel (who apparently remained unmarried)
6. Nehemiah
7. John the Baptist
8. Anna was married for seven years but was a widow for many years
9. Paul (who may have been a widower)
10. The Lord Jesus himself

Odo of Cluny

(Based on WIkipedia - Rather a mixed bag old Odo I'm afraid)
Odo of Cluny (French: Odon) (880 – 942) was the second abbot of Cluny. He enacted various reforms in the Cluniac system in France and Italy and is venerated as a saint by both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. His feast day is 18 November. There is only one contemporary biography of him, the Vita Odonis by John of Salerno.
Early life
Odo was the son of Abbo, feudal lord of Deols, near Le Mans and his wife Arenberga. According to the Vita the couple had long been childless, and one Christmas-eve, Abbo prayed to Mary to obtain for him the gift of a son. When the child was born, his grateful father entrusted the boy to St Martin. Both parents later joined monasteries. His brother Bernard also became a monk. While yet a child, Odo was sent first to the court of Fulk the Good, Count of Anjou; later he became a page at the court of William the Pious, Duke of Aquitaine, where he spent several years. Odo developed a particular devotion to Mary, under the title “Mother of Mercy", an invocation by which he would address her throughout his life
Church of St Martin, Tours
In the 9th and 10th centuries, the tomb of St Martin of Tours was considered one of the holiest sites in western Christendom. Aged 19 Odo was tonsured as a canon of the Church of St Martin, Tours, where he spent six years studying classic authors, the Church Fathers, poetry, and music. He would later say that the monks of the monastery of St Martin had been spoiled by all the wealth and gifts brought by the pilgrims, and had abandoned the Rule. He would later tell his monks that the religious at Tours no longer attended nightly Lauds for fear of getting their fine shoes dirty. His experience at Tours later led him to embrace the monastic reform movement. In 901 he travelled to Paris where he spent four years completing a course of theological studies, including the study of philosophy under Remigius of Auxerre. Upon returning to Tours, he adopted a disciplined and ascetic lifestyle. One day, in reading the rule of St Benedict, he was confounded to see how much his life fell short of the maxims laid down and determined to embrace a monastic state. The Count of Anjou, his patron, refused to consent, and Odo spent almost three years in a cell, with a companion, in penance and contemplation. At length, he resolved that no impediments should any longer hinder him from consecrating himself to God in the monastic state. He resigned his canonry and secretly repaired to the monastery of Beaume, in the diocese of Besançon. There the Abbot Berno admitted him to the habit. He brought with him only his books, which consisted of about 100 volumes.
Monastery at Beaume
Around 909 he entered Beaume, then under the direction of Abbot Berno. Berno had joined the Benedictine Order at the Abbey of St Martin in Autun, where Hugh of Anzy le Duc had introduced stricter adherence to St Benedict's Rule. Later, Berno was sent to the diocese of Besancon to restore the monastery at Beaume-les-Messieurs, which had fallen into neglect.
Bishop Turpio of Limoges ordained Odo to the priesthood, which Odo was obliged to accept under obedience. However, Odo was so depressed by this, that Berno sent Odo back to the bishop to visit him. Odo and the bishop talked about the evil condition of the church and all the abuses. Odo spoke about the book of Jeremiah, and the bishop was so impressed with his words, that he asked him to write it down. Odo said he could not do so without first getting permission from Berno, and the bishop then got Berno's permission, and Odo wrote down his second book the Collationes. Odo became superior of the abbey school at Beaume.
In 910 Abbot Berno left Beaume to found Cluny Abbey, taking some of the monks with him. It is not clear at what point exactly Odo left Beaume for Cluny. Berno had control of six monasteries when he died in 927, three of which he gave to Wido and the other three to Odo. The monks of Cluny elected Odo as abbot, but he refused on grounds of unworthiness. The bishop threatened Odo with excommunication if he continued to refuse, and thus he accepted the office.
At Berno's death in 927 (Odo would have been almost 50), Odo became abbot of three monasteries: Deols, Massay and Cluny. Baume became the possession of Wido, who had been the leader of the monks that persecuted Odo when he was with them at Baume. Immediately following Berno's death, Wido attempted to gain control of Cluny by force, but Pope John X sent a letter to Rudolf, King of the Franks to intervene.
Cluny was still not finished construction when Odo became abbot, and he continued construction efforts but he ran into financial difficulties. Odo had a strong devotion to St Martin of Tours for most of his life. He continued to pray to St Martin for all of his and the monastery's problems. One story recounts how one year, on the feast day of Martin of Tours, Odo saw an old man looking over the unfinished building. The old man turned out to be St Martin himself. He said that if the monks continued to persevere that he would arrange for the money they needed to come in. A few days later, 3000 solidi of gold was brought as a gift to Cluny.
Odo continued to uphold the Benedictine Rule at Cluny just as Berno had done. Throughout Odo's rule of Cluny, the monastery continually enjoy protection from both Popes and temporal rulers, who guaranteed the monastery's independence. Many times during Odo's reign, Cluny's property was extended as gifts of land were added to it. During his tenure as abbot, the monastic church of SS. Peter and Paul was completed. Odo taught the monks that the blind and the lame were the porters of the gates of paradise. If a monk was ever rude or harsh to a beggar who came to the monastery gates, Odo would call the beggar back and tell him, 'When he who has served thee thus, comes himself seeking entrance from thee at the gates of paradise, repay him in like manner.'
The charity of Cluny was well-known. In one year food was distributed to more than 7000 persons in need.
Reforms of other monasteries
After Berno's death, the first monasteries that Odo reformed were at Romainmoutier, St Michael's Abbey, Tulle and the Abbey of St Géraud, Aurillac. He encouraged them to return to the original pattern of the Benedictine rule of prayer, manual labour and community life under the direction of a spiritual father. It was his usual saying, that no one can be called a monk who is not a true lover and strict observer of silence, a condition absolutely necessary for interior solitude and the commerce of a soul with God.
Odo would later relate a tale to his monks regarding two monks from Tours who chose not to wear their habits. On one occasion they were sent out on business. One wore his habit, the other dressed like a layperson. The monk dressed as a layperson became mortally ill and the other had a vision in which he saw St Benedict sitting on a throne in heaven surrounded by an army of monks. The dying monk was lying prostrate, asking for help. Benedict said that he did not recognise this monk's habit and that he must belong to a different order and that he could do nothing as he had no jurisdiction over those of another order. The dying monk despaired but his companion tore off his habit and wrapped it around the dying monk and Benedict then healed the dying monk of his sickness.
In 930, he reformed Fleury Abbey. At that time Fleury held Benedict's bones, brought there from Monte Cassino. However, by Odo's time the Abbey had lost its reputation for holiness and was filled with many of the abuses that were occurring in other places. The Viking raids had caused monks at Fleury, as in other places, to return to their villages for safety but when they returned to the monastery again, they didn't return to their old discipline but abused the Rule. Odo went to Fleury at the request of King Rudolf of the Franks. On arriving he found the monks armed with spears and swords, threatening to murder him. After a three day stand off, Odo rode towards the monastery on his donkey and the monks put down their weapons.
Odo then took over leadership on a temporary basis and reformed it. He encountered resistance to the idea of not eating meat. The monks would patiently wait for the supply of fish to run out in the hope that he would be forced to give them meat. However, he was consistently able to find a source of fish. A story from this time held that one day when he was at Fleury for Benedict's feast day, Benedict appeared to a brother who had fallen asleep and told the monk that since Fleury was founded, no monk there had inherited eternal life. Benedict then asked the monk if they had enough fish and the monk said they didn't so Benedict told him that they should fish in the marsh and not in the river. The monks went to the marsh to fish and made a huge catch.
Authorised by a privilege of Pope John XI in 931, Odo reformed the monasteries in Aquitaine, northern France, and Italy. The privilege empowered him to unite several abbeys under his supervision and to receive at Cluny monks from abbeys not yet reformed; the greater number of the reformed monasteries, however, remained independent, and several became centres of reform. Cluny became the model of monasticism for over a century and transformed the role of piety in European daily life. The monastery claimed its heritage traced, through Berno and Hugh of Anzy le Duc, all the way back to St Benedict of Nursia. In later years he also reformed many other monasteries including St Martial's and St Augustine's monasteries in Limoges, St Jean-d'Angely in Aquitaine, Jumièges Abbey in Normandy, St Peter Le Vif in Sens, and St Julian's in Tours. These monasteries, however, would go on to also reform and found other monasteries. The Cluniac observance, as established by Odo, became the model of monasticism for over a century.
Many monasteries in Italy were deserted, because of continual attacks by Huns and Muslims who would often deliberately seek out monasteries to plunder. The lands of monasteries were often seized by local nobles. Between 936 and 942 he visited Italy several times. Odo first came to Rome in the year 936 and took the opportunity to use Alberic II of Spoleto's support to reform and revive monastic life in central Italy. Several Roman monasteries were rebuilt. Odo restored St Paul's Outside the Walls, which became his headquarters in Rome. The palace on the Aventine where Alberic was born was transformed into Our Lady on the Aventine. The monasteries of St Lawrence and St Agnes, were restored and reformed. The monks of St Andre's on the Clivus Scaurus resisted a return to the Benedictine Rule, and so they were expelled and new monks put in their place. The monastery at Farla, where the monks had completely abandoned the Rule and murdered their own abbot, was also brought under control.
Odo sent his disciple Baldwin to Monte Cassino to restore it, because it had also been left to lie waste; the nearby Subiaco Abbey also knew his influence. Odo became involved in reforms as far as Naples, Salerno and Benevento. In the North, St Peter's, Ciel d'Oro in Pavia was also brought under the control of one of Odo's disciples. St Elias' monastery in Nepi was put under the control of one of Odo's disciples. These monks resisted the rule against flesh meat and Odo's disciple struggled to keep up a constant supply of fish for them to eat. When Odo visited the monastery, a stream miraculously flowed from a nearby mountain and fish were in the stream. Alberic fought a war with his stepfather Hugh of Lombardy and Odo was twice called in to act as a mediator between them. A story holds that one time Odo was crossing the Alps in deep snow and his horse lost footing, causing both him and his horse to fall over a cliff, but he caught a tree and held to its branches until help came.
Another story held that one time 40 robbers attempted to attack him on the road but he went on singing psalms as usual. One robber said, 'Let us leave them alone for I never remember having seen such men before. We might overcome the company, but never their armour-bearer, that strenuous man. If we attack them it will be the worse for us.' The others insisted that they would succeed so the first robber said, 'Then turn your arms against me, for as long as I am alive, no harm shall come to them.' The robbers debated among themselves what to do, and Odo continued unmolested. The first robber who spoke later became a disciple of Odo.
In 942, peace came to Rome once again between Alberic and his stepfather. Odo fell ill, and sensing his approaching death, decided to return to Gaul. He stopped at the monastery of St Julian in Tours to celebrate the feast day of St Martin. He developed a fever and after a lingering sickness died on November 18. During his last illness, he composed a hymn in honour of Martin. He was buried in the church of St Julian. The Huguenots later burnt most of his remains.
Pope Benedict XVI notes that Odo's austerity as a rigorous reformer tends to obscure a less-obvious trait: a deep, heartfelt kindness. "He was austere, but above all he was good ..." His biographer, John of Salerno, records that he was in the habit of asking the children he met along the way to sing and that he would then give them some small token.

Lord's Day November 18 2018

A good day at the church face. One or two families away in the morning plus others but a decent turn out on the whole. Two neighbours tuned up out of the blue. I've told them about the church but they had not realised I was the minister. Ah well. Another man turned up who we haven't seen in ages so I hope we see him again soon. I preached on Acts 16:16-24 and the demon possessed girl, which comes between the conversions of Lydia and the jailer. It's an unwieldy passage but I think we got somewhere.
We were 14 in the evening having been seven for communion (three of those present normally come in the morning only). I preached from the next part of Matthew 22, the question of the Sadducees. We also covered the ninth century in our church history series. It seems to get murkier as we go along and it will good to have a little break now until next year. We sang a fascinating hymn of the period which I've reproduced below

1. Son of the Highest, deign to cast
On us a pitying eye,
You who repentant Magdalene
Didst call to joys on high.

2. Your long lost coin is stored at length
In treasure house divine,
The jewel from pollution washed
Doe now the stars outshine.

3. Jesus, the balm of every wound,
The sinner’s only stay,
Grant us, like Magdalene, to weep
In this Your mercy’s day.

4. Absolve us by Your gracious Word,
Full fill us with Your love,
And guide us through the storms of life
To perfect rest above.

5. All praise, all glory be to You,
O everlasting Lord,
Whose mercy does our souls forgive,
Whose bounty does reward.

(Translator Edward Caswall alt)

Convincing victory over Tonga

The scoreline could give the wrong impression. Wales and Tonga were 24 all at one point. However, the final score of 74-24 shows what a commanding performance Wales were able to put in eventually. Apart from Biggar this was virtually a second team. Three wins from three then with South Africa to play. Wales played in black by the way. (Shame about the soccer last night).

International Presbyterian Church, Ealing

It was good to be at the opening service at the new building in IPC, Ealing this morning. A packed auditorium enjoyed the service led by the pastor Paul Levy. It included a brief summary of what has been nine years of effort to redevelop the site. The new building is an excellent facility and one hopes it will be a real asset. The preacher was Sinclar Ferguson who took us to Matthew 16 and made several helpful points. There was  alight lunch to follow and that was good too. It was good to be there and chat with various friends.

Midweek Meeting November 14 2018

Ten of us gathered Wednesday night for the second instalment on James, looking at Chapter 1 verses 4-8. It went so well last week it was difficult to repeat that but it was okay and we had a good prayer time too. Most of us were conscious of the political situation, which has been unfolding more obviously since. It is hard to pray on such matters when there are such sensitivities, however.

Day Off Week 46

This week's day off went better as I was a bit more organised. My main task was to read a hundred pages of a book on John Cennick I am reading - I managed about 80. I also took Alffi for a walk and had a coffee - should have taken a longer walk. I also did some blogging and worked on a Christmas project I have in mind. Did some research for one of the blogs in the evening.

New Focus Album - Focus 11

My autographed copy
I have had opportunity now to listen to the new Focus album several times. It is difficult to review a Focus album early on as their stuff usually repays many, many plays and it is often not until the umpteenth play that the full subtleties of a recording are sometimes appreciated. So far one is very positive certainly.
There are appropriately 11 tracks on the album. As usual, most tracks are entirely instrumental but with one vocal track. This time it is How many miles? a sort of pop song with fairly juvenile English lyrics but a good track. Two tracks were previewed on the previous stop gap album Focus Family - Clair-Obscur and Winnie. I think they are exactly the same as on the previous album. The other retreads are the opening track Who's calling? a reworking with a nice opening riff of the final track on the 1985 album called Focus and featuring Akkerman and van Leer. The second track, Heaven, will be familiar to some as a reworking of the original version of My sweetheart. This track is on the final Focus Akkerman album Mother Focus but first saw the light of day coupled with Love Remembered in 1974 at a concert in Japan.
The other seven tracks appear to be brand new. The stand out at the moment is Focus 11, the closing track, which keeps up the strong tradition of excellence those tracks all have. All the tracks on the album are van Leer compositions except for Mare Nostrum by the new bass player Udo Pannekeet. Palindrome appears to be a musical experiment that might well have come off. Mazzel is a rare reference to things Jewish. In general, the tracks feature the usual mix of bass, drums, guitars, organ, flute, lots of piano and some occasional vocalisations from van Leer.

Lord's Day November 11 2018

We began, of course, with the two minutes silence. On this occasion I pointed out the two plaques in the church in connection with the Great War 1914-1919 (sic) - one in memory of those who served an one put up by a group of Belgians from Antwerp who found refuge in the church during the war. Sadly, our memorial for those who served in the Second World War never got put up properly.
I preached on the next part of Acts and the conversion of Lydia. We were a good number with various visitors. A good number stayed for a lovely lunch after the meeting. There seemed to eb a lot of children around. I spoke to them about what the church is.
We were about twelve in th evening when I preached on Matthew 22 and the question about paying taxes to Caesar. About twelve of us were there. We've now reached the eighth century in our little series on Church history.

Wales 9 Australia 6

This is ancient history now but I would have put it up had I not been so busy last Saturday. It is an excellent result. Hopefully we can beat Tonga and South Africa over the next two weeks and end the Autumn with four wins out of four. There's then a two month break before we play France at the start of the Six Nations.

Focus at The 100 Club November 2018

A memento of the recent concert

Conference on Singleness

George Chris
Keith Andrew

Saturday's conference at Highgate Road Chapel on singleness was a worthwhile effort. Some 90 people gathered (60 women and 30 men) - mostly singles I guess but not exclusively by any means. It was good for singles to meet and for all of us to look at the subject and simply to meet other Christians. Most present were fairly local but some had travelled a little distance (Southport, Wolverhampton,  Portsmouth, etc). We are grateful to the organisers for putting this on.
George Platt from Highgate Road started us off with a biblical theology of singleness.
There probably isn't a biblical theology of singleness but there may be one of marriage and so one is able to extrapolate. George, a good Baptist, appeared to want to emphasise discontinuity between the Testaments more than most of us. It is difficult to be positive about singleness (which we should be) without sounding slightly negative towards marriage.
Chris Bennett spoke on the gift of singleness taking the view that not all people who are single have this gift. Chris is very persuasive (from Matthew 19 if not from 1 Corinthians 7) but the view is fraught with difficulties. One wonders what married people who lack the gift of being married are to do, for example. We would prefer the view that sees singleness itself (like marriage) as a gift from God.
We men had a good session with Peter Law and Neil Richardson (while the women had a session with Vicki Gardner and Christine Sherwood). I liked Peter's frankness about his singleness. This session could have been longer. There was no real time for discussion. Keith Berry was also very helpful from Philippines as was Andrew King on singles in the church.
We finished with a question panel. Again, all very helpful.

Click for detail

Jam packed two days

This last Saturday and Sunday has been jam packed and would normally take up at least five posts in their own right so what I'll do is give you the highlights and then we'll see what else I get round to doing.
Saturday began nice and early with a trip to Tesco's for breakfast items. Five of us gathered in the chapel at 8.30 am for a men's breakfast and a discussion of Chapter 6 of Disciplines of a godly man by Kent Hughes. It was good to discuss reading and related issues.
My wife then gave me a lift over to Highgate Road Chapel for their day conference on singleness. Some 90 people were there for what was a useful day of teaching and sharing.
That finished around 4 and I was back for tea around 5. I then headed into town and meandered through the rain to a the home of a good ministerial friend in Soho. Providentially I arrived just as the Wales match was coming to a close and so I saw Australia draw level with a kick and then Wales take them in the end with a final penalty. So 9-6 and o far so good for Wales. The game I think was a tense but grim battle.
We then headed out the the 100 Club on Oxford Street. There we heard a Finnish vocalist and blues guitarist Erja Lyytinen who was worth hearing but nothing compared with the mighty Focus who once again blew us all away (including my friend who I was glad to see suitably impressed).
Seeing Focus is always a joy but as an added bonus they also chose to release their new album that day and so I now have a signed copy (the first really in six years).
It was midnight before I was home but I got off to sleep quickly enough. I don't like late Saturday nights as I am always afraid it will interfere with the Lord's Day but I had prepared well in the week and things went fine - although I did doze in the afternoon. It was Remembrance Day, of course, and we had lunch in the church - more on that anon.
I kept the new Fous album for today. It's sounding very good.

10 Words for stream

1. Beck
2. Bourn or burn
3. Brook
4. Creek
5. Gill
6. Rill
7. Rivulet
8. Run or runnel
9. Stream
10. Watercourse
(The Welsh is Nant)

A Week in the Lebanon


I had meant to write this up earlier but there has been some catching up to do. I spent last week (October 27-November 3) near Beirut in Lebanon. The main reason for my visit was to give a series of lectures on Old Testament introduction under the auspices of Carey Outreach Ministries. This is the first time I have worked with them. I lectured to between 13 and 25 people from Lebanon, Iraq, etc, over five nights, working our way through the 39 books of the Old Testament and ending with an exam and leaving them a project to complete on Christ in the Old Testament. I have no Arabic and so everything was through a translator (thank you Sara and others).
I left London on October 27 on a direct MEA fight to Beirut. There I was picked up, after ages coming through Passport Control, by Elie and his wife Micheline, who looked after me for the week. I was accommodated in a state of the art apartment owned by the church in a Maronite area called Zouk Mosbeh. I shared with a lovely retired Canadian pastor called Bruce, who is doing a two month stint as a substitute TEAFL teacher in the school the church runs, mostly made up of Syrian refugees. The lectures took place in a lecture room next door to me.
On the Sunday morning we were in the old church building (they hope to transfer operations to the new one this month). I preached on a difficult passage as reported in a previous post. See here. I think my efforts were appreciated.
Later that day I was taken to Byblos, which is a fascinating place to see, full of history. There is a fish fossil museum there. I had an interesting discussion with a young student not used to meeting creationists. There was opportunity to see one or two other tourist spots during the week and to dine at Lebanese restaurants but much of the time I was left to my own devices. There was plenty to do. The excellent wi-fi was a help.
On weeks like these you earn more than you can possibly teach and it was privilege to be there in a Middle Eastern setting, to hear people praise God in Arabic and to know that the gospel is slowly moving forward in Lebanon, despite opposition, as it is here.

Midweek Meeting

There were only six of us last night and we were rather slow turning up. However, it went well. I decided to start a series on James, just looking at the opening three verses. He mentions various trials we face and so several of my prepared prayer points wove their way into the exposition, which calls us to count it pure joy when these trials come. Having mentioned physical illness, floods and persecution, others added mental illness and other things in the prayer time. There was plenty to pray about and we had adequate time. There were encouraging things too, such as a successful women's meeting the day before and news of young people being baptised from a family we know, as well as  acoming induction.

Day Off Week 45

This week's day off didn't go too well I felt. I think the problem was that even for a day off you need plans and aims, which I lacked. I did finish the book by Simon Garfield Timekeepers which as an excellent book on watchmaking, recorded music, film, time management, etc. Only an unbeliever could write a whole book on time and fail to mention eternity. He mentions death but not eternity. I also started a big new book on the history of 17th century Dorchester which looks hopeful. I also took the dog out and had a coffee, of course. Should have walked a bit further. I also got one or two other things done, including starting something I want to get done in preparaton for Christmas. We have Amazon Prime at present so I watched two episodes of Homecoming with Julia Roberts. Looks to me like a dud. File it next to ITV's recent Strangers which was an effort to watch through to the end and yielded nothing satisfying in the end. Golden age of TV?

GT on Dr Lloyd-Jones

It was good to be at the Westminster Fellowship on Monday where we had a bumper turn out to hear my father-in-law speak on the fellowship's founder,the late Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Geoff spoke very openly and helpfully, his advantages being a personal acquaintance with the Doctor adn the length of time since his death. It is now more than 35 years since his death. Geoff spoke very admiringly of his godliness and his preaching power. he spoke clearly on his doctrinal oddities - his view of Romans 7, his belief in baptism being best administered as effusion for believers, his Congregationalism and lack of elders, etc. It was a treat to hear this description of such a significant servant of God. It was good too to have opportunity for discussiion. There was no official recording of the proceedings.

Come sinners to the gospel feast

In The Methodist hymn book, illustrated with biography, history, incident and anecdote George John Stevenson says of the Charles Wesley hymn Come, sinners to the gospel feast based on Luke 14:16-24.
This is one of Charles Wesley's finest compositions, offering to all a free and full salvation. It was first published in 1747, and forms No. 50 of "Hymns for those that seek and those that have Redemption in the blood of Jesus Christ;" a tract of 68 pages, containing 52 hymns. The original has 24 stanzas, only nine of which Mr Wesley has selected, and of these he has made various alterations in four of the verses, some of which are undoubted improvements. Mr James Nichols printed an edition of this hymn, with notes from the author's MS in 1842. The first edition of the Redemption Hymns appeared in 1747; the fourth edition in 1755; the seventh edition in 1765. The hymn which immediately follows this in the original tract is the well-known Pilgrim's Hymn, "How happy is the Pilgrim's lot!"
The tune here affixed (Invitation) is that used in the "Great Festival Hymns," by Mr Lampe.
Early in the year 1879, a chair of historic interest was presented to the Preachers' Meeting at Boston (in the United States of America), belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church. Three years previously, the great historic elm tree on Boston common was blown down during a heavy storm; the Boston preachers and their friends resolved to have a large arm-chair made of some of the wood of the tree, to be preserved as a memorial of the introduction of Methodism into Boston, in July, 1790, by Jesse Lee, who, finding all church buildings closed against him, borrowed a table of someone living near the common, and, carrying it himself to the friendly shade of this huge old elm, mounted it and began singing lustily that grand old invitation hymn of Methodism - "Come, sinners, to the Gospel feast, Let every soul be Jesus' guest," and thus struck the key-note to a new Gospel to Calvinistic New England.* On this occasion between two and three thousand persons assembled in his congregation, and at the close he announced himself to preach at the same place on the following Sabbath. On that occasion a much larger congregation assembled. The chair constructed from one of the large spreading branches of this famous tree is large enough to comfortably accommodate any bishop; it is constructed in the most substantial manner, and elegantly carved by hand. The back panel contains a representation of the tree, beautifully carved, and faithfully representing the appearance of the tree the day before its destruction. On the day of its presentation to the Preachers' Meeting, an able historical paper was read by Dr W F Mallalieu, and an historical poem by Rev W S Studley, DD
Sarah Baker, of Culmstock, Tiverton, lived more than forty years ignorant of God and unconcerned about her soul's salvation. In the year 1799, she was going one Sabbath afternoon to church. Mr. Rouse, a local preacher, was preaching in a house on her way; from curiosity, she stayed to listen at the window, and it pleased the Lord to apply the word spoken with power to her heart, and to give her to feel the need of a Saviour. As the preacher was giving out the words of the hymn - "This is the time, no more delay," etc she resolved to accept the offered mercy; she sought the Lord, and found Him, to the joy of her heart. She never lost her confidence in God ; and, though poor in this world's goods, she was rich in faith, giving glory to God. In great peace she fell asleep in Jesus, 29th June, 1838, aged 82.

* Shame he expresses himself in that way

10 Fictional Professors

1. Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters)
2. Henry Jones Sr (Indiana Jones)
3. Abraham van Helsing (Dracula)
4. George E Challenger (Conan Doye stories)
5. Charles Xavier (X men)
6. Digory Kirke (Narnia)
7. Henry Higgins (My Fair lady)
8. Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter)
9. Cuthbert Calculus (Tin Tin)
10. James Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes)

Lord's Day November 4 2018

It was good to be back in Childs Hill last Lords' Day at the beginning of a new month. We began with communion and then I preached from Acts 16. In the evening were in Matthew 22:1-14 on the parable of the wedding banquet. Decent turn out at both services, although in the evening we were down to ten. Enjoyed the hymns as ever, including All the way my Saviour leads me, Great is Thy faithfulness, Jesus Thy blood, Stand up and bless the Lord and Charles Wesley's wonderful
Come, sinners, to the Gospel feast;Let every soul be Jesus’ guest.Ye need not one be left behind,For God hath bid all humankind.
Rather neglected by us and maybe others. I was a little tired having been away in Lebanon all week but I was okay.

10 Camera Makes

1. Nikon
2. Leica
3. Canon
4. Olympus
5. Pentax
6. Minolta
7. Kodak
8. Praktika
9. Polaroid
10. Fujifilm

Reformation Boise Conference - 2018

Thought you might like to see this as it not only advertises a conference in the church where my son currently attends but he had a big hand in putting the video together (look out for the young man in the green hoody). For more info see here 

Article in new RT

The picture shows part of the Library. Sadly, the Library has since suffered water damage but has now been restored.

If you get hold of the current RT, RT 286, you will find that alongside articles on Augustine I have an article on the Dr Lloyd-Jones article at London Seminary. Do have a read.

Wales beat Scotland

Wales beat Scotland 21-10, first time we've won an opening Autumn game in 16 years.
Australia next.

10 famous chocolate brands

1. Godiva
2. Lindt
3. Guylian
4. Côte d'Or
5. Suchard
6. Green & Black's
7. Montezuma
8. Ghirardelli
9. Thornton
10. Cadbury

10 well known pen makes

1. Parker
2. Lamy
3. Pilot
4. Staedtler
5. Waterman
6. Paper Mate
7. Faber-Castell
8. Montblanc
9. Uni-ball
10. Sheaffer

10 famous watch makes

1. Rolex
2. Omega
3. Tag heuer
4. Longines
5. Patek Philippe
6. Tissot
7. Breitling
8. Blancpain
9. Hublot
10. Seiko

Ayreon - Valley Of The Queens

This is good (Dutch band, of course)

10 Retronyms

Retronyms are new names given to things after something similar but newer has come into being.

1. Steam train (after diesel train)
2. Black and white television (after colour tv)
3. Corn on the cob (after canned corn became popular)
4. Hot chocolate (after chocolate in bars came in)
5. Live music (after recorded music became popular)
6. Hardback book (after paperback books came in)
7. Silent films (after talking films began to appear)
8. Asia Minor (after we began to call the continent Asia)
9. Acoustic guitar (after the electric guitar)
10. Handwritten (after typewritten became possible)