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.

365 Albums 106-120

  1. Five Bridges The Nice 1970
  2. Trinity Ekseption 1973
  3. It's only just begun Solution 1980
  4. Hymns and sacred songs Leigh Nash 2011*
  5. Unforgettable Fire U2 1984
  6. Boof! Tony Remy 1994
  7. Pilgrimage Wishbone Ash 1971
  8. John Barleycorn must die Traffic 1970
  9. Ricochet Tangerine Dream 1975
  10. The Chieftains 7 The Chieftains 1977
  11. Rise Gabrielle 1999
  12. Instrumental Hymns Thijs van Leer et al 1996*
  13. Hergest Ridge Mike Oldfield 1974
  14. Trilogy Emerson Lake & Palmer 1972
  15. Lonesome Road Doc & Mere Watson 1977
(* Suitable for Sunday playing IMHO)

Blog of the Week 8

Micah Thomas 1778-1853

The first oil painting that I ever saw
Was of a man who had lived long before.
Micah Thomas his name, the people said,
Who for many years back had been quite dead.
Yet in his day, God's people he had led,
Serving as principal of a college
Filling young men's hearts with holy knowledge.
This blog is now here to elucidate
Who he was and why to appreciate
What he did on earth, his point of view,
One sev'n sev'n eight to eighteen fifty two.

As the above doggerel reveals the first oil painting I ever saw was of Micah Thomas. I must have been four. It hung in the main Sunday School hall of the chapel where I was eventually converted. You can see it on the blog clip. Micah Thomas was the principal of the Baptist College that preceded the one that later moved to Cardiff. I began the blog in 2012 It can be found here. There are 56 posts there. There have been a modest 5000 hits or so, 
Most popular post on the blog is the first part of an article by E W Price Evans in the Baptist Quarterly in 1951. You can find it here. .

Irving Steggles and Peter Golding

Death is a constant theme these days more than ever. In recent weeks I have heard from South Africa of the death of Irving Steggles. A Facebook page has been set up that can be found here. I myself have written

I count it a privilege to have known Pastor Irving Steggles. I only knew Irving in these more recent years when he was in South Africa, although I was aware of him from the time he began in the seminary and became pastor in Chippenham. He was a gentleman, a man of prayer and vision, a kind and courteous man of God, eager to see men and women of all backgrounds won to Christ. He will be sorely missed, especially in South Africa but also here in London and elsewhere in the UK. We should be thankful for all that the Lord did through him and pray that the work may go on even though God’s servant is now with his Lord, which is far better.

Peter Golding much older I would guess, was for long years pastor of Hayes Town Chapel and a member of the Westminster Fellowship, my main contact with him. He had been a Pentecostal in his younger days but had come to clearer views of the truth chiefly through Dr Lloyd-Jones, of whom he always spoke admiringly and warmly.
Faithful servants they have now attained to their eternal rest by the grace of God.

Lord's Day April 26 2020

We began with some hymn singing via zoom as is our pattern these days. We then listened to what I prepared on the previous Friday carrying on with 2 Corinthians. I decided to put headings up for the sermon's various points but didn't put the reading on the screen apart from the reference. The Youtube recording is about an hour and can be accessed here. An audio version is available here. In the evening it was again live on zoom and we looked at another psalm, Psalm 103. Again just a  prayer a reading and the sermon, followed by a little chat. We seemed to be down in number. I'm losing track but I think this must be the sixth Sunday of doing this so it's a habit now. Who knows when it will be over.

Midweek Meeting April 22 2020

We zoomed again last night for prayer and Bible study and it was okay. A friend from Spain joined us so that was lovely (once we managed to get his volume levels right). I took us to an obvious place - Philippians 4:4-7. I found some nice illustrations for joy and peace, which I will add at the end. We prayed as a group and that went okay. Need to work on the self-benediction at the end, however.

In his book In God's Underground the Christian pastor Richard Wurmbrand from Romania who they put in solitary confinement in the sixties writes about joy like this
I found that joy can be acquired like a habit, in the same way a folded sheet of paper falls naturally into the same fold. "Be joyful," is a command of God. John Wesley used to say that he "was never sad even one quarter of an hour." I cannot say the same of myself, but I learned to rejoice in the worst conditions.
The Communists believe that happiness comes from material satisfaction; but alone in my cell, cold, hungry, and in rags, I danced for joy every night. Words alone have never been able to say what man feels in the nearness of divinity. Sometimes I was so filled with joy that I felt I would burst if I did not give it expression. I remembered the words of Jesus, Blessed are you when men come to hate you, when they exclude you from their company and reproach you and cast out your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! I told myself, "I've carried out only half this command. I've rejoiced, but that is not enough. Jesus clearly says that we must also leap."
When next the guard peered through the spy-hole, he saw me springing about my cell. His orders must have been to distract anyone who showed signs of breakdown, for he padded off and returned with some food from the staff room: a hunk of bread, some cheese, and sugar. As I took them I remembered how the verse in Luke went on: Rejoice in that day and leap for joy - for behold your reward is great. It was a very large piece of bread - more than a week's ration.
I rarely allowed a night to pass without dancing, from then on; although I was never paid for it again, I made up songs and sang them softly to myself and danced to my own music. The guards became used to it. I did not break the silence, and they had seen many strange things in these subterranean cells. Friends to whom I spoke later of dancing in prison asked, "What for? What use was it?" It was not something useful. It was a manifestation of joy like the dance of David, a holy sacrifice offered before the altar of the Lord. I did not mind if my captors thought I was mad, for I had discovered a beauty in Christ that I had not known before.

Helen Roseveare who served the Lord in the Congo in the fifties at the time of great unrest and many troubles wrote of a time when rebel soldiers were present and starting at one end of a large room, were taking women away one by one and bringing them back after they were finished with them. Her first impulse was to hide and try not to have to bear this humiliation again. Then she thought of Jesus. He put himself forward as a substitute for us. The fellowship of his sufferings - she moved to the front, to try to protect some of the other women from undergoing a new trauma they might possibly have escaped so far. She later wrote
Together we learned why God has given us His name as "I AM" (Exodus 3:14). His grace always proved itself sufficient in the moment of need, but never before the necessary time, and rarely afterwards. As I anticipated suffering in my imagination and thought of what these cruel soldiers would do next, I quivered with fear. I broke out in a cold sweat of horror. As I heard them drive into our village, day or night, my mouth would go dry: my heart would miss a beat. Fear gripped me in an awful vice. But when the moment came for action, He gave me a quiet, cool exterior that He used to give others courage too: He filled me with a peace and an assurance about what to say or do that amazed me and often defeated the immediate tactics of the enemy.
Don't miss that in Christ Jesus either. It is not your prayer or mine that ultimately does it but Jesus Christ alone.

Day Off Week 17 2020

The great news for all of us is that I have finally finished Hilary Mantel's mammoth third volume in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy The Mirror and the Light. It's a bit too long I guess (over 800 pages - imagine writing a book over 800 pages long! :-)). Spoiler alert - he dies. it all comes a bit suddenly near the end. May be there should have been some hints but then I suppose she expects us to know how it ends.  I am sure you can quibble with things in the book but on the whole .... review to follow, perhaps. I also made a proper stab at Dominion by Tom Holland, which has been hanging around since Christmas. It turns out to be quite different to what I expected. The art project went a step further forward. Might finish it next session. We also watched the last Julian Fellowes' The English Game on Netflix I think. (We also just finished his Belgravia). It's more melodrama than drama but works quite well. The crisis is allowing me to get things done I might have taken longer over I guess so I suppose there's some good in it.
PS I spot a theme here - meddling with history: Hilary Mantel and Julian Fellowes making slight changes to keep us entertained, me mainly in order to circumnavigate my limited skills and Tom Holland from the best motives trying to give us straight history in a quite popular form but inevitably getting things wrong at certain points (mainly because he is wedded to current scholarly opinion).

Banner Article Part 2

The second part of the Banner article on Proverbs can be found in the May issue.

Blog of the Week 7

Richard Bernard Puritan

A Puritan lived name of Bernard
A preacher he was, very learned.
He also wrote much
On pi'ty and such
But now by most people he's spurn-ed.

This blog seeks to present material on the lesser known Puritan Richard Bernard. I began it in 2007. I can't remember the circumstances. Certainly Bernard's book on conscience was the first that made me aware of him.  It can be found here. There are just over 80 posts there, almost all from the early years when I began.  There have been over 50,000 hits. Again, I probably need to give it a little more attention than I do. 
Most popular post on the blog (over 4000 hits) is one on the Puritans. You can find it here. There a few links and things of general interest regarding the Puritans. Most of the links are still working but some are broken It's hard to keep up.

Lord's Day April 19 2020

Preparations were a minor nightmare but the recorded service that went out for Sunday morning seems to have gone okay and can be accessed on Youtube via our website. I preached on 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 which may be the start of a series. A bit longer than of late (36 mins). I was a little too close to the camera at times. There seem to have been a good number of hearers. Before that we got together to sing. In the evening we zoomed and I tackled Psalm 4. I also listened to the recorded service from Aberystwyth at 5 pm.

Midweek Meeting April 15 2020

We zoomed again this week and, as in the recent past, we probably had more people involved than in a normal meeting. I spoke from 2 Chronicles 7:13-16. This is a passage often mentioned at times like this. In the prayer time we decided to split into two groups (break out groups) which worked okay but needs work.

Day off Week 16 2020

I did have a sort of day off again this week. The main thing was reading more of Mantel (nearing the 700s now) and enjoying and some of Defoe on the plague, which is remarkably like our own times in many ways. I also worked on an art project I have in mind. We watched the first two episodes of Quiz. We ended up watching the live one on my computer which had buffering issues so not ideal. I saw the third and final one later and can say that it was interesting but sitting on the fence as it did, it was a little frustrating. A funny day really.

Recent celebrity deaths

There are times when it seems there are more celebrity deaths than unusual. We seem to be in such a time, although I suppose it's who you know. Most of the deaths are people of a good age. Some have been from Covid-19. I am thinking of people like Kenny Rogers, the country singer, in March. I remember buying his record Ruby as a child and miming to it with friends in a school concert.
Then there was singer and composer Bill Withers and Bob Andy of Bob and Marcia reggae fame. Bill Martin was not a name I thought I knew but martin and Coulter wrote Puppet on a String and Congratulations and much else. Also Eddie Large as he was known, the comedian. I'm sure he was hilarious although I had a fruitless search on youtube looking for evidence. Also Honor Blackman, the actress.
More recently, Tim Brooke Taylor has died. He used to live around the corner I'm told. The Goodies show was purportedly based in Cricklewood and I've often seen Bill Oddie round here. Brooke-Taylor, a very witty man was one of the writers of the famous four Yorkshiremen sketch. There was also Stirling Moss who I grew up to have the highest respect for. To give you an idea, the back of one of the tabloids had "F1's Ali and Pele". The obituary in The Times suggests he was a rather immature man but a great racing driver. Then there was Peter Bonetti, the Chelsea goalkeeper and a massive hero of mine as a child. More obscurely, the Dutch pianist Louis van Dijk has died. I am aware of him from his collabarations with Thijs van Leer from time to time.
These are the celebrities but many others are dying too such as veteran preachers and other men of God. Derek Prime, John J Murray and Norman Wells I trust you know about. All very sobering.

Weird Banner Givewaway

See link here. I presume this is genuine.

Latest Five Minutes in Church History

Useful five minutes on the current crisis and a past event from Steve Nicholls (in fact this is a series beginning with the fall of Rome and moving on to plague in Luther's time. The link is just to the site not any specific podcast).

Blog of the Week 6

J Gresham Machen

John Gresham Machen
Nicknamed Das (as in Madchen)
Thought that the liberals were sin'ster
And so started Westminster

There once was a teacher called Machen
He must have been blessed with quite thick skin
When his name they'd abuse
For anti-modernist views
He carried on preaching salvation

This blog seeks to round up material on J Gresham Machen, founder of Westminster Theological Seminary. I began it in 2008 after a week studying Machen at the London Seminary. It can be found here. There are about 150 posts there at the moments and getting on for 6000 hits. I probably need to give it a little more attention than I do.
Most popular post on the blog (getting on for 3000 hits) is the one on how to say the man's name. You can find it here.

365 Albums 91-105

  1. Profile Jan Akkerman 1972
  2. Focus in Time Jan Akkerman 1996
  3. Uam Julie Fowlis 2009
  4. Life in a paper boat Kate Rusby 2016
  5. Introspection 2 Thijs van Leer 1975*
  6. Planxty Planxty 1973
  7. Focus Jan Akkerman & Thijs van Leer
  8. Focus 3 Focus 1972
  9. Brainbox Brainbox 1969
  10. Ommadawn Mike Oldfield 1975
  11. Springfever Joachim Kuhn 1976
  12. Lent to Maunday Thursday Page CXVI 2014*
  13. Good Friday to Easter Page CXVI 2014*
  14. Love Beatles 2006
  15. Chieftains Tears of Stone 1999
(* Suitable for Sunday playing IMHO)

Lord's Day April 12 2020

Thankfully I'm not a great one for the church calendar as on Good Friday I was busy preparing and preaching my Easter Sunday sermon on Luke 24:45-47 and the resurrection. For the first time I did it with a visual as well as audio. See here for link. I didn't feel it had gone too well but when I listened on the Lord's Day it wasn't so bad. So it was the usual pattern 10 am singing some resurrection hymns then from 11 listening to a recorded morning service with an evening zoom at 6.30 pm when about 20 of us tuned in for our evening meeting when I prayed and read and preached Psalm 121. We also had a Junior Church on Saturday morning. Still wondering who I'm missing.

How to preach in a plague

... Neither can I acquit those ministers that in their sermons rather sank than lifted up the hearts of their hearers. Many of them no doubt did it for the strengthening the resolution of the people, and especially for quickening them to repentance, but it certainly answered not their end, at least not in proportion to the injury it did another way; and indeed, as God Himself through the whole Scriptures rather draws to Him by invitations and calls to turn to Him and live, than drives us by terror and amazement, so I must confess I thought the ministers should have done also, imitating our blessed Lord and Master in this, that His whole Gospel is full of declarations from heaven of God’s mercy, and His readiness to receive penitents and forgive them, complaining, ‘Ye will not come unto Me that ye may have life’, and that therefore His Gospel is called the Gospel of Peace and the Gospel of Grace.
But we had some good men, and that of all persuasions and opinions, whose discourses were full of terror, who spoke nothing but dismal things; and as they brought the people together with a kind of horror, sent them away in tears, prophesying nothing but evil tidings, terrifying the people with the apprehensions of being utterly destroyed, not guiding them, at least not enough, to cry to heaven for mercy.

Daniel Defoe A Journal of the Plague Year 

Midweek Meeting April 8 2020

So we zoomed again for our midweek meeting. Again numbers were good. We were rather slow to start as people logged on but because there is no travelling home time with this set up you can goo on a bit longer. I spoke on the closing verses of Isaiah 26, as these verses have been spoken about a bit in connection with the virus. Of course, Isaiah is not talking about our specific situation but the verses do highlight the way our current situation is a picture of how we need to stay indoors with Christ, hide in him we more often say, until the evil passes and judgement comes. The prayer time was fine too. Most of us also met the following night (Thursday) for our annual and regular church members meetings. Zoom allows you to put documents up and even correct them online so that was useful. SO we are getting through these strange times and learning to cope.

Game Of Love Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders

We had this single at home (on the Fontana label!). Always liked it.
That's Eric Stewart (later of 10cc) on guitar.

Day off Week 15 2020

These strange days continue and I tried to keep yesterday as a day off which meant reading another chunk of Hilary Mantel. I am now beyond the first 500 pages. Spoiler alert Jane Seymour is dead and the search for a new wife is on. I have enjoyed the Tyndale thread and much else. It is interesting to note how in recent pages the whole idea of social distancing is there (because of fear of plague).  I also read a little more of the Calvin book and the newspaper, of course. There were one or two other things that needed to be done and I did a bit more tidying and clean, which we are doing a lot of in this lockdown. Then in the evening we watched the film Vice about Dick Cheney. The film comes with heavy bias but didn't seem overly unfair. US policy in the middle east has been a mess for aeons I fear.

Banner Article

You may be interested to know that I have an article in this month's Banner Magazine called Christ the Bride: A Brief Introduction to the Book of Proverbs. See here.

Lord's Day April 5 2020

We followed the a similar pattern to previous weeks. At 10 am several of us gathered on Zoom to sing hymns. That went well for us but I'm not sure how it is if you are on your own. Then around 11 we tuned into the audio service available on our website. As we would normally be sitting down to communion on this Sunday I decided to preach from 1 Corinthians 11:26. It is one of the hundred texts that I have spoken of often enough here. I'm not sure when else I might have preached that sermon. In the evening we zoomed again and I preached on another psalm, Psalm 23. I think I found it easier this time (technically speaking). The sermons can be found here and here.
Last week we found time to hear my son in Aber twice as well as all that but this week we were tireder and somehow and his morning sermon was recorded not live as previously.
We are also having Junior Church on Saturday mornings and I have started doing a verse of the day on our whatsapp group. I also had a a Zoom officers meeting (and a fraternal) this week so we are doing what we can. Keeping busy then. It was good to have one or two around today that we have not had so much but still lots missing.

Blog of the Week 5

Benjamin Beddome 1717-1795

A Baptist there was, name of Beddome
He wrote down his sermons then said 'em
He also spent time
on Christian rhyme
They're good - I should know cos I've read 'em.

Benjamin Beddome
A saved Son of Adam
For 55 years preached in Bourton,
The blast from his trump not uncertain.

This is one of my biggest blogs. I began it in 2007. It can be found hereThere are over 400 posts there at present and there have been over 80,000 hits. It collates material concerning the 18th century  Particular Baptist Benjamin Beddome. The blog has been the means of putting me in touch with more than one person I would not have known otherwise and in part led to my contribution to a book on Beddome that came out a short while ago.
Most popular post on the blog is Beddome's hymn on the mercy seat. You can find it here.

Midweek Meeting April 1 2020

We met via Zoom once again. We were a good number and I gave a full message from Proverbs, from Proverbs 24:10. Towards the end I said

1. How are you doing? Have you found yourself feeling weak at this time of crisis?
How have you been doing? Perhaps you are embarrassed by the question. Yes, you know that as a Christian you should be strong and standing firm but it has all rather knocked you back. Well. don't be surprised. That is what is to be expected. People do falter in times of trouble. They may do very well when the waters are calm but come the storm, like the disciples, they begin to panic. We shouldn't worry or panic but if we have been doing that then it reminds us of how weak we really are and, as Paul says, when I am weak then I am strong. Those feelings of weakness are reminders that we need to rely on the Lord.
2. What do you see around you? Are people faltering in this time of trouble?
I don't know about you but I have seen more people in tears on the TV screens and more people crying phoning into radio stations than I have for a long time. Some people have really been hit for six by this. I am thinking of people in government and in the caring professions who are overwhelmed, people whose schemes are in tatters because of the changes, people stuck the other side of the word, people in quarantine on their own, parents trying to do their work from home and dealing with their children home from school, quite apart from those worried that they have the virus or might catch it or whose relatives have gone down with it.
Yes, plenty of people are faltering. It is not unusual. If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!
3. How are you doing? Now is the time to be strong, now in this time of crisis.
The other thing that is right to say from this proverb is that if we take the right attitude we can be strong even in this crisis. The house is still being built, the rooms are still being filled. Now, perhaps it is more difficult to build as we ought to, to find those rare treasures that will suit best. But is we look to the Lord we will go on, we will stand firm. Many have remarked on how it is like being ina war this coronavirus crisis. Well at such times Surely you need guidance .. and victory is won through many advisers. So let's got to God's Word - to psalms like Psalm 46 and 91 and 23, let's go to the Sermon on the Mount and Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 13 and every place else we can find help. Let's strengthen each other with Scriptures and with other encouragements by means of word and deed. if we look to the Lord there is no reason why we cannot come through this.
I then went to the end of Isaiah 40 and Hebrews 12:1-3 an closed with a nice Spurgeon illustration.

Day off Week 14 2020

Another common or garden one reading (Mantel and new book on Calvin edited by Derek Thomas and John Tweeddale and later watching TV (Liar). Also managed to glimpse the last Private Eye.

Not Manchester United

My youngest son has just finished his latest PBN project. Wolves, of course.