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.

Three Good Weeks

It's been quite busy here and there are three weeks f activity I wanted to write something about that have just gone by.
In the first week (May 12-18) we had people staying with us from New Zealand. I think I mentioned how Georgina from Wellington was here in London 26 years ago when she was given a tract by us on the street (she still has it). She came to church and within a very short time was converted. After five weeks she moved down to Crawley where she met her now husband, Graham. Things were not straightforward but their son Calvin was born about six years before they headed to New Zealand to live. They have been in Christchurch these last 14 years and as you will be aware these have not been easy years for that city. Further, Georgina now has stage 4 cancer and so it was a bitter sweet reunion. She is very positive about it while  being realistic and it was lovely to have them with us. On the Friday I had to leave for Cwmbran where there was a funeral for a man who had been a deacon in the church where I grew up, Derek Morgan. Derek's brother started the service. I thought it was just right when he began the service by saying that he had discussed what should be said with Derek and they were agreed to begin by saying Derek was a sinner and so are well but Christ saves sinners. I have not heard such a good beginning to a funeral. Pontrhydyrun minister Jonny Raine did well too and spoke very clearly to a very mixed company. It was good to see old friends, some of whom I have not seen in ages. We did not realise it at the time but that was a very special period in the seventies when many, many young people were saved. We are now scattered but some remain in the area.
The second week (May 19-25) was my birthday week and that was a lot of fun. That was on Wednesday. I had an phone and various other things. The best present came the next day, however, when we went to Heathrow to collect our on Gwion fresh home from his stint in America. True to form he arrived without luggage, prompting a wild goose change to Gatwick, where he should have come in originally. We were shattered by the end of the day. His suitcases have now been located and should arrive by the end of the week. On the Friday evening we all (Eleri, Gwion, Owain and I) headed out to Pizza Express for a celebratory meal. Great time.
I have spoken of how this third week (May 26-June 01) began with celebrations in church. On the Monday we headed off to Derbyshire, to Tibshelf (yes, it does have an M1 services but we are on the other side). We are staying in a lovely old farmhouse in the town for a family holiday. We have been up to 23 here plus Alffi the dog all told but one son and wife have headed back to Wales and a niece has flown off to Uganda where she is for the next five weeks with UFM. Meanwhile we have been enjoying the house and one another and one or to sites, including Hardwick Hall. There was also a further celebration as some of the boys had still to give me a gift. I was given a lovely book and a voucher for a night in a hotel. These are very easy and enjoyable days.

Death Richard Bewes

Well behind with this but I see that Richard Bewes has died aged 84. See more here.

I rode with him in an auto once,
only a hundred miles and a half,
Seemed like it took a couple of months.*

*An allusion to the Bob Dylan song Lenny Bruce is dead. RB spoke once at an eccentrics conference and he and I had a lift home to London from Paul Levy. RB did most of the talking and fascinating it was.

10 Seventies Acts I was never over-impressed with

1. Elton John
2. David Bowie
3. Pink Floyd
4. Rod Stewart
5. Bruce Springsteen
6. Black Sabbath
7. Bee Gees
8. Kiss
9. Alice Cooper
10. Billy Joel

10 Great Acts from the Seventies

1. Focus
2. Yes
3. Horslips
4. Tangerine Dream
5. Vangelis
6. Mike Oldfield
7. Free
8. T Rex
9. Roxy Music
10. The Chieftains

Lord's Day May 26 2019

I have recently turned 60 and so I thought I might preach a sixtieth birthday sermon last Lord's Day morning. I turned to Psalm 66:16 which says Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. So I spent a short time on Come and hear, and then spoke for a while about the fear of God. The final section was let me tell you what he has done for me where I spoke of God's providence to me in birth, life, call, etc. I feared that it might discourage any who felt their lives had been more difficult or thought it was a bit "me" centred but people seemed to appreciate my efforts.  After the morning meeting there was a cake and a happy birthday song, which was lovely. There was also a present - a coffee machine, which I have surprisingly learned to use quite quickly - the church are so kind. In the evening we were joined by some of the team in London for UBM's Christian Answer Weekend. The base church is West Kilburn but some sleep in our parlour and a few make it along to our evening service before heading back to WKBC. Always nice to see them. It meant we had about 22 for the evening meeting. I preached on my favourite text 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Some new books

Midweek Meeting May 22 2019

I spent the evening of my birthday very happily leading the midweek meeting. There were 11 of us present. In light of the timing I thought I would take a break from James and look at my baptismal verse 2 Peter 3:13. That went well and we had a good prayer time too. We tried to pray for today's election but it is difficult to know what to pray.

10 People who died at the age of 60

1. David Livingstone (1873)
2. Theodore Roosevelt (1919)
3. Calvin Coolidge (1933)
4. Mahalia Jackson  (1972)
5. John Constable (1837)
6. Paul Klee (1940)
7. Leon Trotsky (1940)
8. Anne Bradstreet (1672)
9. John Chrysostom (407)
10. Keith Chegwin (2017)
(Also Stephen Jay Gould, Lev Yahsin and Syd Barret).

10 Fried chicken joints

Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana,
Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee
(no Kentucky for some reason)

Lord's Day May 19 2019

We were a good number again last Lord's Day. We used the upright piano which is on my left rather than the baby grand, which is apparently slightly out of tune. Some thought the upright a little quiet, but we got the lid up for the evening. Another great set of eight hymns. We have sung a lot lately for the first time and ut has been good, where the tunes have been well known. I preached in the morning on Acts 21. It was quite a long sermon on sharing and praising and persecution with a middle section on the whole question of what is a wise plan. I hope it was a blessing. In the evening it was communion followed, curiously by a sermon on the Last Supper. A Jewish man came in in the evening which is a rare event. He claimed to be more Buddhist than Jewish. In the morning a family was there who have been missing for a while and a Latvian lady who has been away. The Portuguese lady was missing but the Colombian was there yet again. The Pakistani lady turns out to be trying to deal with a crisis that has arisen due to her circumstances. I had a difficult day last Saturday somehow but God was very good, as he so often is.

Charles Bridges The Christian Ministry

It was good last Monday to meet wth the members of the Westminster Fellowship. Dr Ian Densham had been asked to present a paper on the 19th century Anglican minister Charles Bridge's The Christian Ministry. Like many present I last read it over thirty years ago but unlike others I have not had chance to re-read it more recently but it was good to be reminded of its contents. It can be found easily enough online or in print. One anomaly that Ian discovered is that the Banner version (the one most of us are familiar with) lacks the final sections of the whole work

Some quotations
This sacred office is administered by agents, Divinely-called through the medium of lawful authority, and entrusted with the most responsible and enriching blessing; rendering the highest possible service to their fellow men, because that most nearly connected with the glory of the Saviour.
As to spiritual qualifications, we would be careful neither to lower, exceed, or deviate from, the Scriptural standard.
It is not easy to overcome our natural love of ease, our indisposition to self-denying devotedness, and our false tenderness in flinching from the declaration of unpalatable truths.
When we see the most "able Minister of the New Testament" that the Church has ever known, deeply penetrated, and indeed well-nigh overwhelmed, with the sense of the "necessity laid upon him" — we may well be ashamed, that with qualifications far inferior, our sense of obligation should be less accurate and constraining.”  
Except we realise a high estimation of the Church, the constraining influence of the Saviour's love, and the upholding prop of Almighty grace, what is there to preserve us from sinking in despondency?
Covetousness is far more specious than worldly conformity. It has much to plead under the cover of necessity, justice, prudence, and economy.
In the Church he " transforms himself into an angel of light" — exhibiting either the attractive idol of self-righteousness — or that most inveterate form of antichrist — the dependence on the profession of a pure doctrine.
What a large share of humility, what unceasing supply of Divine grace, is needed to resist a temptation, that falls in so powerfully with the selfish principle of the natural heart!
No one attains remarkable eminence or success, without a resolute and habitual self-denial in subordinating every secondary point to the primary object.
The kindness of the world is far more formidable than its enmity. Many, who were prepared to stem the torrent of its opposition, have yielded with compromising indulgence to its paralysing kindness.
The contempt also of the Sabbath — the predominant character of pleasure, dissipation, and the general inattention or opposition to religion in the heads of the parish — too often present a hostile front to our course of effort and instruction
Thus our whole course is a struggle against the mighty current of sin — flowing out of that restless bias of the natural heart, which upon the highest authority is declared to be "enmity against God."
The Church is the mirror, that reflects the whole effulgence of the Divine character. It is the grand scene, in which the perfections of Jehovah are displayed to the universe.
If a young man has capacity; culture and application may make him a scholar, a philosopher, or an orator; but a true Minister must have certain principles, motives, feelings, and aims, which no industry or endeavours of men can either acquire or communicate. They must be given from above, or they cannot be received.
Thus discouragements, properly sustained and carefully improved, become our most fruitful sources of eventual encouragement while love to our work bears us on above all our difficulties.
The revelations made to the Church — the successive grand events in her history — and, above all  the manifestation of "the glory of God in the Person of Jesus Christ" — furnish even to the heavenly intelligences fresh subjects of adoring contemplation.
the Divine call to this sacred office will be evidenced by a supply of competent qualifications for its discharge.
In considering "the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus," we witness a most harmonious combination of seemingly opposite characteristics. The Ministry of our Lord was distinguished by the dignity of God, and the sympathy of a man and a brother — by the authority of the commissioned delegate of his Father, and yet by the humility of a servant, who " came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.

Ps I'm speaking at the next Westminster Fellowship on July 1 on Proverbs

Day Off Week 20

I decided to spend the day trying to complete a history of the local church here that I am trying to write. Still not sure if that is enough of a break. I did get out with the dog, of course, and had a coffee. I also watched some back to back to TV with Eleri until quite late.

In Writing 133 Now available

The latest copy of the Evangelical Library's In writing magazine is now available. It is free to members and costs £1.50 to buy. Do note the back cover

Blog Link for Old fashioned humour

I was reading some William Jay recently and came across these unexpected qotations to be found on one of my many blogs here . Enjoy! 

Lord's Day May 12 2019

Late with this but we had a good day on Sunday with around 40 in the morning and about 15 in the evening. In the morning I preached again from Acts - five snapshots from ancient times. I should have made more, perhaps of Paul's willingness not only to suffer but to die if necessary for Christ. We had tea at 5 pm - a decent crowd despite many being away. For a combination of reasons we decided to wheel the upright piano from the parlour to the chapel and used that instead of our struggling baby grand. One advantage is that the upright and the PA ended up on my left hand side, where as normally we need one person on the PA to my far left and one person on piano to my far right which spread out what is usually a pretty thin congregation. This way we ended up with all 15 or so present on 24 chairs to my left. I also moved the communion table from where I preach across. We'll see how it goes. One thing I noticed that I might not have otherwise was how female we are in the evening these days. Only 20% of the congregation was male. Enjpyed the hymns today as ever. We sang another two resurrection ones and one or two we'd not sung before again. People misisng as ever. Where are they?

Preview Meeting May 12 2019

Midweek Meeting May 8 2019

We were a good number last Wednesday. We looked at the second part of James 3 on two sorts of wisdom. Now we've moved to a more interactive style of presentation it was hard to keep that up. The text didn't lend itslef to that approach. We had planty of time for prayer. I think may be we are starting a little later each week.

Day Off Week 19 2019

One of the many things in ministerial life hard to judge is what to do with Bank Holidays. Bank holidays are there for us all but if you take  holiday nothing gets done. Anyway, ever inconsistent the other week I took the bank holiday and my day off the next day - I was jet lagged - but this time I counted the bank holiday as my day off. This was partly because I was in London Seminary all day Tuesday (and a little of Wednesday too). Anyway one of my sons and his wife were still round and so we met up with my father-in-law and his wife in nearby Chiswick Park for a little walk and a nice al fresco lunch. Not the warmest of days it was a lovely three generational get together that we all enjoyed and were refreshed by.

Lord's Day May 5 2019

This last Lord's Day was an encouraging one. An Indian gentleman contacted me the day before. He was in London on business and was catching a plane back to the US that afternoon but wanted to enjoy some fellowship before departing. Born in Kenya and brought up in Nigeria, he had spent some time in the Kilpauk Baptist Church in South India, before moving to live in Fremont, California, where he attends a Reformed Baptist church - I assume it is this one here although I may have that wrong. He joined us for communion and most of the morning service. I was preaching from Acts again on the Christian ministry. After the morning a lady asked me about membership and baptism. At least two others are considering so that is good. In the evening we had the son of one of my deacons visiting with his wife and a local lady from Namibia who we had not met before. One of my sons was visiting also with his wife at both services, so we were 14 or 15 in the evening. I looked at Matthew 26:1-5, sometimes forgotten verses. I was pleased to discover on the Sunday afternoon that the way I planned to preach these verses had been done before (by a man called J A MacDonald who I know nothing about).

Death of Warren Wiersbe 1929-2019

We hear that the prolific Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe has died aged 89. Some years ago Gary Benfold gave this helpful quote from the commentary on 1 Peter, Be hopeful.

This miracle [the new birth] all began with God: we were chosen by the Father (Eph. 1:3-4). This took place in the deep counsels of eternity, and we knew nothing about it until it was revealed to us in the Word of God. This election was not based on anything we had done, because we were not even on the scene. Nor was it based on anything God saw that we would be or do. God's election was based wholly on His grace and love. We cannot explain it (Rom. 11:33-36), but we can rejoice in it. 'Foreknowledge' does not suggest that God merely knew ahead of time that we would believe, and therefore He chose us. This would raise the question.'Who or what made us decide for Christ?' and would take our salvation completely out of God's hands. In the Bible, 'to foreknow' means 'to set one's love upon a person or persons in a personal way.' It is used this way in Amos 3:2: 'You only have I known of all the families of the earth.' God set His electing love on the nation of Israel. Other verses that use 'know' in this special sense are 1 Corinthians 8:3, John 10:14, 27; Matthew 7:23; and Psalm 1:6. But the plan of salvation includes more than the Father's electing love; it also includes the work of the Spirit in convicting the sinner and bringing him to faith in Christ. The best commentary on this is 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14. Also, the Son of God had to die on the cross for our sins, or there could be no salvation. We have been chosen by the Father, purchased by the Son, and set apart by the Spirit. It takes all three if there is to be a true experience of salvation.

Preview Meeting May 5 2019

Midweek Meeting May 1 2019

Nine of us gathered to look at the tongue in James 3. A few missing then. We looked at the first twelve verses. These are pretty easy verses to understand due to the excess of illustation James uses. Very convicting, however, as we see how impossible it is to keep our tongues from sin. As usual we spent time in prayer also.

Two more

Route 66

One delight of the recent trip to America was to find ourselves on the historic Route 66 at one point. The route took you all the way from Los Angeles to Chicago. It was made famous ina  ong recorded by Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, etc.

Day off Week 18 2019

The way it turned out this week I took Monday off, the more traditional day for ministers. What happened was that someone agreed to paint our front room (a long overdue job) and so Eleri and I spent much of Monday clearing the room so be could start on Tuesday. We also watched a bit of TV in the evening. Not much reading done.