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.

Bobby, Nobby, JJ and Randi

One thing I like to try and do each day is to read the obituaries in The Times. Most often they are people I have never heard of or only know vaguely of. Even these can be interesting. I read a short while ago of a Gwilym Roberts (not that one) - outstanding civil engineer who helped design football stadiums after Hillsborough and gave Baghdad a modern sewerage system - including how when working on Cairo's sewerage system a problem arose with holes in the concrete, which he discovered was caused because workers would spit their date pips from lunch time into the cement mixer.
Anyway recently there have been at least four names I recognised well - two sportsmen, a comedian and a conjuror and sceptic.
1. Nobby Stiles was a member of the World Cup winning England side in 1966 and the Manchester United side that beat Benfica in the European Cup in 1968 (United were my dad's team). With his dentures out, his shin pads off and his no-nonsense tackles, he was a character, very much of his age. Not many of the '66 team left now.
2. J J Williams was one of a galaxy of Welsh rugby stars that made the Welsh rugby team in the seventies almost invincible. Four triple crowns and two grandslams in thirty games is seismic.
3. Bobby Ball with Tommy Cannon was part of one of those northern double acts that were so popular at one time. (Bobby died of covid like Sid Large, a similar kind of comedian). My parents saw Cannon and Ball more than once and were fans. I remember seeing them in panto in Cardiff in 2002. Most interesting in the case of Bobby Ball is that he appears to have become a genuine Christian at some point. I do not know the details (newspapers are quite ignorant about these things generally and simply refer to finding religion and so on).
4. James Randi is the name you are likely to be least familiar with but I saw a documentary on him a few years back and so was very familiar with him. He was a conjuror and sceptic in the Houdini mould. Interestingly he was set on his way at the age of 15 when in church. Some charlatan tried to pull a fast one, claiming a hotline to God and Randi saw right through it. He later exposed Peter Popoff and Uri Geller among others. I love sceptics like this, they are real allies, but sadly they tend not to know where to stop and I have no reason to suppose Randi believed in the supernatural at all - until now, of course.

Day Off Week 44 2020

I spent most of today reading. I was given the above book the other Christmas by one of my sons. I started reading with enthusiasm but put it down, as so often happens. Anyway taking it up again on Tuesday I've really enjoyed reading more of it. It takes a random approach to history moving on from subject to subject psychologically rather than chronologically. The book has arisen out of an ongoing podcast series, worth checking out. It's quite a big book (over 400 pages) so although I read a big chunk there's still a way to go. In also watched a bit of TV.

Where is God in a coronavirus world?

I meant to mention before this little book by John Lennox, which may still be useful to pass on. I am not familiar with John Lennox's writings but I am aware of his faithful witness in the world of academia. This little book simply deals with the problem of natural evil but with special reference to the corona virus, It includes some interesting info. I'd not realised, for example, that most viruses are good things. Some of the phraseology I would not use but it' fine on the whole. It is a small book worth reading, worth passing on.

Pastors Coping With Criticism


Like proverbial London buses, first no books then two at once. I refer to the subject of the criticism of pastors. Until these recent two I am not aware of any. It was Mostyn Roberts book that I came across first. I then noticed that Joel Beeke had written with Nick Thompson on the same subject so I got that on kindle. Both books have their strengths and weaknesses. Mostyn's book is very brief and focuses tightly on the matter in hand, giving sage and biblical advice. The Beeke book is longer and aims wider and so can be more diffuse and is sometimes guilty of stating the obvious. It is helpful to have such items to help us through this important subject. Both books are warmly commended.

The Art of the Forger

It's a strange thing with books, how they can hang around a long time before they are read. The Art of the Forger by Chris Wright was first published in 1985 (a staggering 35 years ago). I'm not sure when I bought my copy but a long time ago. Anyway the other day for some reason I plucked it off the shelf and read it. It's not a long read and has lots of illustrations. It's chiefly about a painting called The Fortune Teller. Wright takes us through the story if how he eventually came to believe it is not by De la Tour the renaissance artist but is a fake from the early twentieth century. He believes it is an example of several from the same hand. With a walk on part for Anthony Blunt the whole story is fascinating and raises as many questions as it answers. Art history is a strange world open to abuse and sometimes rather murky.

365 Albums 286-300

  1. Crises Mike Oldfield 1983
  2. Five Miles Out Mike Oldfield 1980
  3. Tyger Tangerine Dream 1987
  4. 10000 Clowns Jan Akkerman 1997
  5. Short Stories Tall Tales Horslips 1980
  6. Horslips and the Ulster Orchestra Live at the Waterfront Belfast 2011
  7. Geluckig is het land Thijs van Leer, Louis van Dijk & Rogier van Otterloo 1980
  8. Rubycon Tangerine Dream 1975
  9. Le Parc Tangerine Dream 1985
  10. Amarantine Enya 2005
  11. The Belfast Gigs Horslips 1980
  12. Pergamon (Quichotte) Tangerine Dream 1980
  13. Canyon Dreams Tangerine Dream 1991
  14. Earth Moving Mike Oldfield 1989
  15. Sunshower Joachim Kühn Band 1978

A Dutch Ten

In English several phrases contain the word Dutch. These phrases are not always obvious in meaning.
  1. Dutch treat/go Dutch - an outing, meal, or other special occasion at which each participant pays for their share of the expenses/To pay one's own expenses on a date or outing. (Dutch treat can also be used for a marijuana strain).
  2. In Dutch - In disfavour or trouble
  3. Dutch auction - A type of auction in which the price on an item is lowered until it gets a bid. The first bid made is the winning bid and results in a sale, assuming the price is above the reserve price.
  4. Dutch courage - Strength or confidence gained from drinking alcohol
  5. Dutch uncle - An informal term for a person who issues frank, harsh or severe comments and criticism to educate, encourage or admonish someone (opposite to avuncular)
  6. Dutch barn  - In the UK a barn that has a roof, but no walls. (the term is used differently in the USA and differently again in Canada)
  7. Dutch cap - A woman's lace cap with triangular flaps on each side, worn as part of Dutch traditional dress (but also used for a type of contraceptive)
  8. Double Dutch - Language that is impossible to understand; gibberish (in the USA used for a skipping game that uses two ropes)
  9. Dutch angle - Also known as Dutch tilt, canted angle or oblique angle, this is a type of camera shot which involves setting the camera at an angle on its roll axis so that the shot is composed with vertical lines at an angle to the side of the frame
  10. Dutch barge - a traditional flat-bottomed shoal-draught barge, originally used to carry cargo in the shallow Zuyder Zee and the waterways of Netherlands.
{Also note Dutch braid, Dutch toast, Dutch hoe, Dutch elm disease, Dutch pan or oven (a cast iron casserole) and Dutch disease (the apparent causal relationship between the increase in the economic development of a specific sector and a decline in other sectors.)}
As Jan Akkerman might say Thank you very Dutch.

Evangelical Library Annual Lecture 2020

Last Monday was the annual lecture of the Evangelical Library. Normally it is June but this year we held it over hoping that by now we could have had it at the Library as we would have. That proving impossible we went for the zoom option, kindly organised for us by Dr Ian Densham. The subject was Fanny Crosby and some of her contemporaries and the lecturer was Stan Evers. It was excellent. Although Stan struggled slightly with the technology as he tried to give us visuals he was very relaxed and the medium suited his calm seated style. A lot of research went into this but everything was put over very simply and clearly. Without hiding her Arminian beliefs or the problems she faced in life a warm portrait was composed of a woman who did what she could. We hope to publish the text soon in In Writing and recordings are available through the Library.

Lord's Day October 25 2020

It was the old game of two halves last Sunday I thought. Surprisingly, it was with the New Testament section in the morning that I came a cropper in the chapel rather than the Old Testament one in the evening on zoom. I expounded the passage from 2 Corinthians 10:7-18 okay but there was something lacking somehow. Joshua 13 went much better I thought but who am i? Decent numbers am and pm.

Midweek Meeting October 21 2020

At last we're through 1 Chronicles 1-8 and on to Chapter 9 and more easily navigable territory. So we had  a good teaching session and then an excellent prayer meeting, helped by a good attendance and the willingness of people to pray. All on zoom still.

Day Off Week 43 2020

I had week 42 on a different day visiting family and then this week's day off seemed to go rather badly. A sort of gloom settled on me that I couldn't easily shake off, The pile of part read novels pictured did not help.

I could never understand
The wind at all
Was like a ball of love
I could never never see
The cosmic sea
Was like a bumblebee
And when I'm sad
I slide

Spencer Davis Group - Gimme Some Lovin'

Spencer Davis who grew up in Swansea has died. Born 17 July 1939; died 19 October 2020.

Lord's Day October 18 2020

Sunday was one of those red letter days that come from time to time. We had our first baptism in a while. This was someone who git in touch with us during the lockdown and despite the difficulties has come to a real faith in Christ even though having a background where Christian faith is actively discouraged. This is the second person with that sort of background to join us, which is encouraging. Of course, the logistics were slightly difficult but I donned rubber gloves, a facemask and visor and I don't think we transgressed any rules. I preached from Acts 8, somewhere I often turn when a baptism takes place. I prepared an entirely fresh sermon, which wrote itself and preached very easily. I hope it will have some impact. (It should be on the website soon). In the evening we zoomed again for the last message on Isaiah 55 (verses 7-13). We then did something I can't remember doing before but people were given opportunities to ask questions. We had a whole raft of good questions  - Why wouldn't Mordecai bow to Haman? What about Christian conspiracy theories? What is the difference between hope and faith? In what sense were Adam and Eve's eyes opened when they ate the fruit? Etc. Good questions I hope the answers were of some use.

Midweek Meeting October 14 2020


I forgot to write up last Wednesday - back to bad habits. Anyway, our zoom meeting went very well. We looked at 1 Chronicles 8 and then prayed. I'm getting the hang of these long lists of names slowly. I tried to finish in good time as we had a church members meeting on zoom the next evening. That went well too, on the whole.

10 marks of the presence of the Spirit in the soul by J C Ryle

1. The Spirit quickens men's hearts. All who have the Spirit are quickened by Him, and made spiritually ALIVE. He is called in Scripture, "The Spirit of life." (Rom. 8:3.) 
2. The Spirit teaches men's minds. All who have the Spirit are taught by Him. He is called in Scripture, "The Spirit of wisdom and revelation." (Eph. 1:17.) 
3. The Spirit leads to the Word. All who have the Spirit are led by Him to the SCRIPTURES. This is the instrument by which He specially works on the soul. The Word is called "the sword of the Spirit." Those who are born again are said to be "born by the Word." (Eph. 6:17; 1 Peter 1:23.) 
4. The Spirit convinces of sin. All who have the Spirit are convinced by Him of SIN. This is an especial office which the Lord Jesus promised He should fulfil. "When He has come, He shall reprove the world of sin." (John 16:8.) 
5. The Spirit draws to Christ. All who have the Spirit are led by Him to CHRIST for salvation. It is one special part of His office to "testify of Christ," to "take of the things of Christ, and to show them to us." (John 15:26; 16:15.) 
6. The Spirit sanctifies. All who have the Spirit are by Him made HOLY. He is" the Spirit of holiness." (Rom. 1:4.) 
7. The Spirit makes people spiritually minded. All who have the Spirit are SPIRITUALLY MINDED. To use the words of the Apostle Paul, "those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit." (Rom. 8:5.) 
8. The Spirit produces inward conflict. All who have the Spirit feel a CONFLICT within them, between the old nature and the new. The words of Paul are true, more or less, of all the children of God, "The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh - so that you cannot do the things that you would." (Gal. 5:17.) 
9. The Spirit makes people love the brethren. All who have the Spirit LOVE others who have the Spirit. It is written of them by John, "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren." (1 John 3:14.) 
10. The Spirit teaches to pray. Finally, all who have the Spirit are taught by Him to PRAY. He is called in Scripture, "The Spirit of grace and supplication." (Zech. 12:10.) The elect of God are said to "cry to Him night and day." (Luke 18:7.)
(From Old Paths J C Ryle)

Compel Them To Come In

Whitefield and Spurgeon, great evangelists both, were strong Calvinists. Some seem to forget that. This little hard back from Christian Focus by Dr Donald Macleod, who always writes so well, is on the free offer of the gospel and is well worth reading wherever you may stand on this issue. Beginning with a sermon by C H Spurgeon on compelling them to come in, which is reproduced as an appendix the book, it deals with arguments against the free offer from man's spiritual bondage, predestination, limited atonement and divine security but then goes beyond that providing chapters on delivering the free offer, knowing where the fish are hiding and on the messenger himself. The latter part of the book I found particularly stimulating. We need books like this.

365 Albums 271-285

  1. Jan Akkerman Jan Akkerman 1977
  2. Jan Akkerman Live Jan Akkerman 1978
  3. Can't Stand Noise Jan Akkerman 1983
  4. White Eagle Tangerine Dream 1982
  5. CU2 Live in Tokyo Jan Akkerman 2009
  6. Fromage a Trois Jan Akkerman 2006
  7. The Orchestral Tubular Bells Mike Oldfield David Bedford 1975
  8. Blue Joni Mitchell 1975
  9. Focus Con Proby Focus 1978
  10. Focus 8.5 Beyond the Horizon Focus and Friends 2016
  11. Golden Oldies Focus 2014
  12. The Complete Guitarist or It Could Happen to You Jan Akkerman 1982
  13. North Sea Jazz Legendary Concerts Jan Akkerman 2013
  14. Forcefield II Forcefield 1988
  15. White Ladies Trace 1976

Lord's Day October 11 2020

Yesterday was an interesting day. The morning was difficult in some ways. The pa seemed to be echoing and at what point (in the prayer sadly) we had howling feedback. A local character who joins us sometimes also instituted a conversation about Newport's failure to win yesterday while I was mid-sermon. On top of that it was a difficult passage in 2 Corinthians 10:1-6. Anyway the Lord helped us and we were a good number, including at least one visitor new to most of what we have to offer. It was easier in the evening and it perhaps flowed better from Isaiah 55 on Zoom. We also had James Tredgett from London City Mission give a presentation. James is a young man full of enthusiasm and it was a breath of fresh air. What opportunities there are in London. Good day then.

We are a grandfather once again

Late last Saturday night we heard that our newest grandson had been born in the last hour of the 10/10/2020 (nice memorable date). We are so pleased for Dylan and Cat on the birth of their first child. Our other three are Rhodri's. This is Gruffydd Cameron Brady (the first name reflecting his Welsh heritage, the second his Scottish and the third his long lost Irish ancestry). He'll be known as Gruff (pronounced Griff). He was 6lb 15ozs (in old money) and is doing okay in the main. We look forward to meeting him. God is very good.

Flying Start

Nice quirky song from the past

Domestic Abuse

There have been other Christian books on domestic abuse. This well written one from Christian Focus was prompted by Christians who have suffered abuse. The book begins with the global picture but soon narrows down to individual testimonies, which are quite shocking, although I think I recognised one or two of the cases documented. The final section of the book gives guidelines and suggestions for dealing pastorally with such situations and adds helpful practical chapters on marriage and divorce. It is an obvious book to turn to if anyone is dealing with anything of this sort but I thought it was a good book for all Christians to read especially pastors as it raises awareness of what is clearly a problem, perhaps a growing problem, and is an example of how to think the problem through biblically. One little phrase I appreciated especially, talking about wives submitting was this about when a basic disagreement exists between a man and his wife "Ephesians 5 verse 21 applies either in the husband deciding not to go ahead without mutual consent or the wife submitting to the husband's leadership, though she may be unhappy with the decision." I think that's how we live but it was nice to see in print.

Evangelistic Materials

When I was a young man it seemed to me that all the evangelistic books I saw were by Anglicans. That's no longer the case and here are two excellent tools by two Welshmen both Calvinists and who both happen to be members in the same nonconformist church in London. I know them both. The first item is a booklet by Geoff Thomas called What is true religion? (RHB). This basically expounds what Jesus says about new wineskins and patching up old garments and one or two other Scriptures to give a powerful and very readable call to faith in Christ. Alun Ebenezer, the headmaster of Fulham Boys School, is the author of the second item The heart of the problem (EP). This is more of a book than a booklet, a little longer and more detailed,  but is still very short. Under the conceit of a medical condition we are given the problem, the diagnosis, the prognosis, cure and something about the doctor himself. Again, lots of great stories to help things along. Do get hold of these items and use them

The Beatles - Help! ft John Lennon b 09/10/40

John Lennon would have been 80 today. From my youngest days I loved to see and listen to him.

The Christian and Technology by Fesko

There are a few of these about. This one is a hundred pages long and considers screens, social media, cars, books, V R and the evil and unpleasant side of the Net. His stance helps - neither pro not anti. He also avoids quirkiness and coming up with rules and has the right balance of information and comment. It probably helps that these chapters were originally prepared as devotionals for chapel in a theological seminary. Good for passing on to younger people but suitable for all. An EP title, it is the fifth or sixth Fesko title I've reviewed on this blog. He is quite prolific.

Midweek Meeting October 7 2020

1 Chronicles 7 it was Wednesday on Zoom, looking at various tribes including Dan not mentioned 9I forgot that Zebulun is also not mentioned - oops!). It is hard to draw lessons out but we tried. We had a very good prayer meeting to follow too.

Day Off Week 41 2020

I did the jeans and T-shirt trick again and made a good start to the day. I didn't bother with a to do list as I was clear in my mind that I wanted to get some reading done. One of many character flaws is that I prefer short books and so I read Mostyn Roberts' little book on Coping with criticism in the ministry and John Fesko's The Christian and Technology which I will endeavour to review at some point. I also read a chunk of Hedden Evil by Eryl Davies, a much bigger book (though not very big) which I started last week. I also watched a bit more Scandinavian Tv from Channel 4 and went out for a coffee. I also got one or two other things done.

Lord's Day October 4 2020

First day of the month and so we began with communion in the new style we have now adopted. I read from Matthew on the crucifixion and two hymns. We were a small number. In the main service we got up to nearly 30. Several joined us on zoom. I was on giving again as we came to 2 Corinthians 9. I also noted the harvest as 2 Corinthians 9:6 is a very harvesty verse. We listened to Great is Thy faithfulness from Aber but I couldn't find any harvest hymns suitable for playing (IMHO). It was wet out and so we talked together inside a while, masked up and socially distancing. In the evening we looked at Isaiah 55:2, 3. We also had two readings and there was a hymn, which we have not done before. After that there was an opportunity to hear from Philip Amos who works with CWI. That was good.

Looking for Love

I got round to reading Looking for Love the story of Debbie Smith (as told to Grace King) last night. It is just a 40 page little book and if you want a copy you can get one here - from the Hope, West End church. It is gratifying to see it in print as I was involved from early on in the London Inreach Project that led to the formation of Hope West End and I guess my basic hope was that people like Debbie would hear the gospel and be saved. If only there had been more. There is nothing inevitable about Debbie's conversion - indeed it looks highly unlikely all the way to the end and yet God has saved her. Hopefully the book will be a means of stimulating interest in the unconverted an encouragement to the converted. This is now a second biographical piece from the Project's history. Michael Toogood's striking biography Mission to Soho is available here. (Retitled less subtly I notice). I read Debbie's book on a day when several websites were carrying news of someone also involved in the project at one point with a very different story. How sobering.

Midweek Meeting September 30 2020

On Zoom again. 1 Chronicles 6 this time - more names, all Levites this time. The people were quick to pick up the hints about Christ our High Priest I gave and to pray. Good to be there and a decent number.

Day Off Week 40 2020

Really threw myself into this one, wearing jeans and a T-shirt and making a to do list (yes, mindset and order I've found is important even on a day off - it is also not a good thought to think I've got all day, I'll do my devotions later - which I managed to avoid thinking this tine). I got a number of little jobs done and did some tidying and sorting which is always important to keep up with. I also had a coffee, did a little blogging, watched some TV, read a bit more Moby Dick and completed a church history item for a journal. Remembered to out the bins out - unusual! In the evening Eleri and I watched the second part of a disturbing fact based drama Honour.

365 Albums 256 to 270

  1. Night of Doom Rick van der Linden 1978
  2. Old Friends New Friends Rick van der Linden 1995
  3. Solo Rick van der Linden 1981 (I notice now that I chose this before. Consider it replace by van der Linden's 1978 album GX1)
  4. Julie Fowlis Live at Perthshire Amber Julie Fowlis 2011
  5. Mar a Tha Mo Chridhe (As My Heart Is) Julie Fowlis 2007
  6. The Beauty of Bojoura 1970
  7. The Beatles Live at the BBC The Beatles 1994 (recordings 1963-65)
  8. CU Jan Akkerman 2004
  9. Finnegan's Wake Tangerine Dream 2011
  10. Oil in the Family Jan Akkerman 1981
  11. Swung Vol 1 N van der Steenhiven, B Jacobs and P van der Linden 2014
  12. Into the Electric Castle Ayreon 1998
  13. Magical Mystery Tour 1967
  14. Islands Mike Oldfield 1987
  15. The Seer Big Country 1986