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 Unk words

1. Bunk - narrow bed, rubbish, play truant
2. Chunk - thick, solid piece
3. Clunk - dull sound
4. Dunk - dip into a drink
5. Funk - fear, avoid, coward
6. Flunk - fall below standard
7. Gunk - unplradant sticky, messy stuff
8. Hunk - large piece of something, handsome dude
9. Junk - old or discarded material
10. Punk - aggressive form of rock
(Prompted by nothing at all really)

10 Famous South Africans

1. Nelson Mandela
2. Charlize Theron
3. Christiaan Barnard
4. Elon Musk
5. Gary Player
6. Jody Sheckter
7. Desmond Tutu
8. J M Coetzee
9. Hugh Masekela
10. Miriam Makeba
(Prompted by my recent trip)

10 Left handed guitarists

1. Jimi Hendrix.
2. Paul McCartney
3. Kurt Cobain
4. Tony Iommi
5. Dick Dale
6. Coco Montaya
7. Ali and Robin Campbell
8. Albert King
9. Ben Howard
10. Iggy Pop

(This list was prompted by the recent death of Dick Dale)

Preview for tomorrow March 31 2019

Midweek Meeting March 27 2019

Ten of us were there on Wednesday to look at James 2 and to pray. The opening verses of James 2 deal with the subject of favouritism - not something most of us think we are guilty of but a proper exposure to Scripture will usually discover some failing in our approach. It was useful to distinguish favouring and favouritism. It was also good to be reminded of how unique Christianity originally was in its aim to establish an equal society where favouritism is unacceptable. Always matters to pray for. We were especially praying for a Bible study recently begun with mums.

Day Off Week 12 2019

It was a fairly typical day off in that I walked the dog, had a coffee and did newspaper puzzles. I also listened to music and managed to finish Respectable sins by the late Jerry Bridges (easy to read and very helpful) and to complete most of Norwegian Wood by Murakami (recommended only with much caution). Earlier I had completed a binge watch of The Missing prompted by watching the recent Baptiste series. I also took opportunity to catch up on Bible readings, which had fallen rather behind. Watched a bit of TV with Eleri at the end of the day. 

Lord's Day March 24 2019

We carried on last Sunday with Acts 19 in the morning and the parable of the virgins from Matthew 25. We were a decent number though by the evening we were down to around 11. In the morning we had a man there who had never been before. I'm not sure whether he got the sermon. He seemed to disappear at that point. Perhaps he was listening in the vestibule. In the evening we sang 19th century hymns as part of our church history series which will soon be complete.

The walker brothers - no regrets

Just heard of the death of Scott Walker. A favourite of my mother's back in the day. This is my favourite. Pop music at its over the top best.

South Africa 2019

As you may know, I was in South Africa recently. I was there February 28 to March 12. The main reason for being there was to speak in African Pastors Conferences. I did something similar back in 2016.
The APCs were the idea of the late Erroll Hulse and Irving Steggles, pastor of Birchleigh Baptist Church, Kempton Park, Johannesburg. The idea is to gather African pastors together two day conferences where the main subjects are Reformed theology and pastoral practice. The conferences are aimed chiefly at black pastors with no Reformed background. Beginning in South Africa they have spread to several other African countries, including Swaziland, Lesotho, Kenya and Nigeria.
This time round I shared the ministry with Pastor Barnabas Olare from Mombasa, Kenya. There were four conferences altogether, two in Eastern Cape and two in Western Cape, over a three week period. As I couldn't be away three Sundays I missed the first in Mthatha, where Pastor Barnabas was joined by a Xhosa speaking Afrikaaner. The first conference turned out to be the best attended.
I flew first to Johannesburg, where I stayed with Irving. At lunch time I went with Irving and Peter and Gayle, members of his church who deal with the books and much else in connection with APCs. I led the usual midweek evening Bible study at his house the day I arrived, looking at James 1. I was sorry not to get to see fromer seminary students Thapelo Mpai and Sihle Xulu. The next day I flew down to coastal Port Elizabeth, about an hour away by plane.
There I joined the team, which consisted of Cabelo Makgabo, Sonwabile Gobololo and Pastor Barnabas. We drove back east to Grahamstown, Eastern Cape. Grahamstown changes its name to Makhanda soon. It is an early site of British immigration, sometimes known as Settlers Town. There are many donkeys there for some reason. It has the country's earliest Baptist Church (it was there long before us). This is where we held what was my first two day conference (Friday, Saturday, March 1, 2). I gave five papers and Barnabas four, They were all translated by a very capable pastor's wife. We also had a question and answer session with good questions on the Trinity, the Bible and Ephesians 4:11. It is the first time such a conference has been held there and the turn out was not overwhelming. The men were mostly from what are called Zionist Churches and they were keen to learn. We stayed in a nearby township home, which was okay except that there was a drought in the area so water was at a premium. The other problem with accommodation was that they did not know we planned to stay so long so we had to move out. We moved to another township home but there was something of a mix up so we had to hastily exit late at night and were thankful to find refuge in a local hotel. There was water there but no electricity at first.
On the Lord's Day we attended a township gathering in a marquee, where an archbishop was being ordained. I've attended a Zionist church before. They put a big African drum in the middle of the room with a group of youngsters with chairs around the outside for older folk and clergy types. There's a lot of singing and plenty of liturgical material. Most of the congregation wear a uniform (common in South Africa). The clergy like to dress in exotic clothing. I was given opportunity to preach a short message in translation (on Romans 6:23). It was a long service but we were taken to eat as it drew to a close. The beef was very tasty. I heard the animal was killed the day before.
In the evening we went to the Baptist Church. The congregation was a little mixed racially and contained mostly students from nearby Rhodes University. Three women led the worship which was rather drippy I thought. The church has two pastors but as they had been away with the students neither of felt up to preaching so they played a video instead - Steve Lawson on God's wisdom. The pastors (Dirk Coetzee and Brian Marx) seemed quite good sorts.
The next day we headed west for George. We were again accommodated in a township home, with a nice multi-generational family, which was fine. The conference (Tuesday, Wednesday, March 4, 5) was held in a wooden hut nearby where a Zionist church meets. Again this was a new venture and, sadly, numbers were very low. We dropped one talk and the question time. While in George we visited lovely Victoria Bay, which has a lovely sandy beach and is a haunt for surfers and fishermen.
Next day, Thursday March 6, we carried on west along the coast towards Cape Town. From just before George we were in tourist country and it was nice to see baboons on the road at one point and to realise there were several tourist attractions all along the way. We arrived at the township of Khayelitsha in the evening and were again looked after very well by a pastor and his multi-generational family. The trouble here was an excess of insect life but it was not too bad. As in other places, there was a large TV (everyone has a satellite dish) and it was always on. The two day conference was held at a very nice church called Goodwood Baptist Church in Cape Town itself. The pastor there is a South African called Martin Drysdale. He was very nice and definitely Reformed. Again only a small number came to the conference but these were all pastors with a good theological education and we were able to speak in English, which made things a whole lot easier. It was nice to meet an American professor from nearby Kalk Bay Bible Institute. We had a very good and lengthy question and answer time at the end.
On the Sunday we were again at a Zionist church in the morning. They met in a real tin shack but are trying to build a new building. Pastor Barnabas preached an excellent sermon in translation and we took communion. We were invited to the pastor's house following the meeting for lunch. Before that I was able to watch two programmes on the God Channel, one from the USA (Jerry Saville - probably more dangerous than Jimmy Saville) one from East London, RSA (youth pastor Brad Teberer spoke). The prosperity gospel is alive and well and being preached in South Africa. In the afternoon we did a little sightseeing in Cape Town, which was fun.
In the evening we were at Goodwood, where a good number gathered to hear deacon Jaco de Beer. A little band led the worship using Keith Getty type songs. Mr de Beer introduced Amos and it was a little Bible study like but he realised that and that counts for a lot. It was good to have fellowship after with the members and young people, including a Welshman and a man who lived in Cardiff for a year. Numbers in Cape Town were greater than in Grahamstown.
It then took us two days to drive back to Johannesburg, stopping en route in Colesberg. I was in good time to head back home late that evening.
1. RSA is very big, enormous
2. There is a lot of poverty
3. There is a measure of harmony and freedom there and great opportunity
4. There is a lot of evangelical religion but much of it misguided
5. The opportunities for good influence are vast
6. The APCs is one way this can be brought about
7. A feature of the conferences is the sale of good books at very low prices. This also has an impact.

Midweek Meeting March 20 2019

Eight of us gathered last night and I reported back on my recent trip to South Africa and the Affinity Conference before giving a short devotional from 2 Timothy 4:6-8. We then shared things to pray and most of us prayed. It is good to be getting back into the run of things. Always plenty to pray about.

Day off Week 11 2019

So it was back to the day off this Tuesday. I got up early and dressed in jeans and trainers eager to make the most of the day. It was the usual mix of dog walking, coffee, newspaper quiizzes, reading adn TV. I managed to read Peter J Williams Can we trust the Gospels? picked up at kast week's conference. It is is not only an excellent apologetics book but is full fo all sorts of others good things too. I enjoyed, for example the brief chapter on contradictions, where he lists any number from John. His quotation from sceptic Bart Ehrman make the latter look pretty shallow in the light of what is said in the rest of the chapter. Not that this is a points scoring exercise. Williams simply wants us to see that there is every good reason to trust the Gospels. In the evening I enjoyed the last episode of Shetland with my wife who had been out working. Yes, it is not ideal for her to be out when I'm having my day off but it hard to see a way round it. No-one else is at home at the moment. The rest of the day I was busy catching up on the blogging front.

Stacey Grove

Mad Marc at his best

Midweek Preview for March 24 2019

Good to be back

It's good to be back in Childs Hill

Evangelical Library Lecture on the three Os

We had a good number for the lecture on Monday at the Evangelical Library. Dr Ian Densham gave us another in his series on Systematic Theology. This time we looked at the three Os or omnis, omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience. It was quite  abit to squeeze into less than an hour but it was worth hearing. I liked these quotations
From Calvin
For even if the Word in his immeasurable essence united with the nature of man into one person, we do not imagine that He was confined therein. Here is something marvellous: the Son of God descended from heaven in such a way that, without leaving heaven, He willed to be borne in the virgin's womb, to go about the earth, and to hang upon the cross; yet he continuously filled the world even as he had done from the beginning.
From Thomas Watson

The same power draws a sinner to God, which drew Christ out of the grave to heaven. Eph 1:19. Greater power is put forth in conversion, than in creation. When God made the world, he met with no opposition; as he had nothing to help him, so he had nothing to hinder him. But when he converts a sinner, he meets with opposition. Satan opposes him, and the sinner's heart opposes him; a sinner is angry with converting grace. The world was the "work of God's fingers." Conversion is the "work of God's arm." In the creation, God wrought but one miracle, he only spoke the word. But, in conversion, he works many miracles; the blind man is made to see, the dead man is raised, the deaf man hears the voice of the Son of God. Oh, the infinite power of Jehovah! Before his sceptre, angels veil and prostrate themselves, and kings cast their crowns at his feet!

Lord's Day March 17 2019

It was slightly strange to be back preaching in Childs Hill. I am not used to being away for two Sundays at this time of the year. Straight after my return from South Africa I was at the Affinity Conference on worship, which involved chiefly thinking about our Sunday worship. I came to the conclusion that more preparation would be a good thing and that there ought to be an order to the service. In practice it was good to be a little better prepared than perhaps in the past but some things simply do not "follow on" from one another (eg a reading from Psalm 1 followed by the collection and a prayer of thanks and then a children's talk on Elijah on Carmel). Anyway, we had a good number present morning and evening. One oddity in the morning was that a new couple who had phoned while I was away turned up only to leave by the second hymn (I presume we were not what they were looking for).
Nearly everyone was there (I can only think of two missing) but people have come while I was away but not returned. Everyone present was glad to see me and I was glad to see them. I preached from the first bit of Acts 19 in the morning on ignorance of the Spirit and the need to go on being filled (though not for a so-called second blessing) and in the evening on the last bit of Matthew 24 about the Second Coming. We also had communion before the evening service.

Lord's Days March 3 and 10 2019

Before I write up on last Lord's Day I want to try and catch up with March 3 and 10 when I was away in South Africa (report to follow). Steve Mitchell (as mentioned) was here the first Sunday and two students from the seminary the second. As for me, the first Lord's Day I was in Grahamstown (sometimes known as Settler Town and soon to become Makhanda) Eastern Cape, and the second in Cape Town, Western Cape.
On March 3 in the morning we attended a gathering in a township somewhere near Grahamstown where the ordaining of a Zionist Archbishop was taking place. A marquee had been raised to accommodate the folk from several different congregations had gathered for this occasion. Zion involves a strange mix of high church dress and a formal liturgy combined with the singing of spiritual songs to the beat of a big African drum. Everything was in Xhosa but we had some idea of what was going on and I was invited to preach a short sermon (from Romans 6:23) towards the end. We were then invited for food, which was very tasty as the cow had been killed the previous day.
In the evening we attended what was for me a more regular church (and made up mainly of white people), Grahamstown Baptist, the oldest Baptist church in the country (older than Childs Hill). There three ladies (two with guitars) led us singing songs I mostly did not recognise and then as the pastors had taken the young people away there was a video instead of the live sermon - Steve Lawson on the wisdom of God. We enjoyed chatting after with the pastors Dirk Coetzee and Brian Marx from Zimbabwe.
On March 11 I had a similar day only in Cape Town, Western Cape.  We began at another Zionist church in a township. This was a more regular service but included communion where 24 took part. I don't think I have had wafers before, though I have had port or whatever it was. Typically, the pastor kindly asked us back to his home to eat. Very kind. Again, in the evening we attended the BU church - Goodwood Baptist Church. The pastor there is Martin Drysdale and the preacher that night was Jaco de Beer. A little band led the worship using Getty type numbers. He introduced Amos and it was a little Bible study like but he realised that and that counts for a lot. It was good to have fellowship after with the members and young people, including a Welshman and a man who lived in Cardiff for a year. Numbers in Cape Town were greater than in Grahamstown.

Strawbs - Lay Down

Seventies pop music, eh?

Summer Conference

I thought you might like to know about the conference being held in August down in Clerkenwell.What disitinguished company. I am looking forward to being involved. More details here.

10 Music Queens

1. Queen of folk Joan Baez
2. Queen of rap Missy Elliot
3. Queen of new age Enya
4. Queen of Latin pop Gloria Estefan
6. Queen of jazz Ella Fitzgerald
7. Queen of country Loretta Lyn (or Reba McEntire or Dolly Parton)
8. Queen of soul Aretha Franklin
9. Queen of disco Gloria Gaynor (or Donna Summer)
10. Queen of gospel Mahalia Jackson
Bonus - Queen of funk Chaka Khan and Queen of heavy metal Lita Ford
(Too many Queens of pop and soul to mention)

10 Music Kings

1. King of jazz Louis Armstrong (or Paul Whiteman)
2. King of swing Benny Goodman
3. King of soul Sam Cooke (or Otis Redding or James Brown)
4. King of surf guitar Dick Dale (slide guitar Elmore James)
5. King of rock and roll Fats Domino (or Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry or Bill Haley or Little Richard or DJ Alan Freed. Carl Perkins is King of Rockabilly.)
6. King of folk (or folk rock) Bob Dylan 
7. King of skiffle Lonnie Donegan
8. King of the blues John Lee Hooker (or B B King)
9. King of pop Michael Jackson
10. King of zydeco Clifton Chenier
Bonus  - King of reggae Bob Marley, King of Motown Smokey Robinson

10 Musical Godparents

1. Godfather of soul James Brown
2. Godfather of punk Iggy Pop (also Joey Ramone, Lou Reed and Pete Townsend)
3. Godmother of rock and roll Sister Rosetta Tharpe
4. Godfather of grunge Neil Young
5. Godfathers of French house Daft Punk
6. Godfather of shock rock (and Glam rock?) Alice Cooper
7. Godfather of Britpop Ray Davies
8. Godfather of heavy metal Ozzy Osbourne
9. Godfather of rap Gil Scott-Heron
10. Godfather of folk Ewan McColl (also Pete Seeger)

10 Doctors of the church

1. Doctor of Grace (Augustine of Hippo)
2. Doctor Angelicus or the angelic doctor (Aquinas)
3. Doctor Subtilis (Duns Scotus)
4. Doctor Invincibilis (William of Ockham)
5. Doctor Mellifluus (Bernard of Clairvaux)
6. Doctor Profundis (Thomas Bradwardine)
7. The heavenly doctor (Richard Sibbes)
8. Doctor Voluminous (John Gill)
9. Doctor Squintum (Whitefield)
10, The Doctor (Lloyd-Jones)

Six nations Grand slam

Almost the icing on the cake

Scotland made an amazing come back from 31-7 to almost beat England. It was a 38-38 draw. Extraordinary game. (Strangely more exiciting than the Wales win). Highest scoring draw in international rugby history.

Wales win grand slam 2019

With an amazing win 25-7 Wales have taken the Six Nations Championship. Well done!

Affinity Study Conference 2019 Final Day

On our final day in Northampton, Stephen Clark gave a final paper on worship and culture and then there was opportunity to ask questions of the speakers. Still disa[[pointed at the lack of reference to angels but there we are.
Example quote from Stephen Clark:
It is surely significant that for all its many words, the Bible does not contain one musical note. In his messages to the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, Jesus makes no reference at all to the quality of their singing or of their music. He is concerned with their faith, repentance, love, obedience, humility, patience, or the absence of these things. It is here that the emphasis has always been placed in God’s Word, both in the Old and in the New Testament.
Very helpful conference then. Good to meet old friends.

Affinity Study Conference 2019 Day 2

Thursday was the main day of the conference. Three papers were given by Robert Letham, Graham Beynon and Ray Evans.

Bob Letham spoke provocatively on aesthetics, focusing on praying and singing and Graham Beynon took us on a very quick tour of Christian writings on the affections ending, obviously, with Jonathan Edwards. Ray Evanss, in typical style looked at where we are at today.
All three papers were very helpful.
Example quotes
In the church, Calvin says, voice and song must spring from the heart or it has no value or profit with God. He strongly commended it. It exercises the mind and heart and keeps us attentive. The tongue was designed for this. Music was created to proclaim the praises of God, mainly through the assembly of believers.88 Singing was an ancient practice going back to the apostles. In it the godly mutually edify one another. Singing, with gravity, lends dignity and praise, kindles our hearts to an eagerness to pray. Our ears should be more attentive to the meaning of the words than to the melody. It is a holy and salutary practice.
Edwards sees a parallel with preaching: God’s word must be preached rather than only read in books because,

…although these may tend as well as preaching to give men a good doctrinal or speculative understanding of the things of the word of God, yet they have not an equal tendency to impress them on men’s hearts and affections.

... the church is still the church when we are living for God on Monday – it is the church scattered, not gathered. Without getting into the debate whether “worship” is a “Sunday meeting thing” or an
“everything we do” thing (the one tends to devalue the rest of the week, the other the actual gathering for “vertical” worship on Sundays), it seems to me that it is a both/and not an either/or thing. We leave church worship to go into a time of worship – living for God’s honour during the rest of the week in all that we do.

Affinity Study Conference 2019 Worship Day 1

I've been away and there are a few gaps to fill but I have come straight to the Affinity Study Conference and want to report on that before I do anything else.
Good to be here once again at the King's Park Centre with the usual crowd plus or minus a few. We kicked off with papers from Mark Johnston and David Kirk, one an Ulster man in Wales the other an English/Welshman in Scotland. Mark opened up with a biblical theology and David gave us a New Testament study. There was some overlap in treatment but no obvious disagreements. The format is that we have been sent all six papers beforehand and the speakers are given five or six minutes to summarise them. Questions are then asked in plenary session before dividing into small groups. We then reconvene for further discussion.
Example quotes
Johnston (quoting Michael Morales Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? Nottingham: Apollos, IVP, 2015, 39-74).
The seventh day is not only the first to be blessed, and the only day mentioned three times, but it is also the first object ever to be set apart as holy by God. Moreover, the seventh day is the only object of sanctification in the entire book of Genesis; “he sanctified/made it holy” is the book’s only verbal use of the root qds.
Kirk: Gathering is not primarily for practicing a defined set of rituals; it is the fundamental context for the expression of the common life of the members.