Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. 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.

Sunken Rags (Home demo)

Whipping Boy

The term "whipping boy" has been used by sportswriters to describe the bottom of the table team for decades.
The term was popularised by Mark Twain in his story, The Prince and the Pauper, the Times reports.
The story goes that Edward VI and Charles I could not be punished by their teachers, because of their royal status. Instead, they were taught alongside another boy, who would be whipped in the event of royal disobedience. It was hoped the royals would feel compassion for the boy, receiving uncalled for punishment, and amend their behaviour
The Times reports that these origins are backed up by sources like the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and a chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces. The BBC, however, removed the explanation from BBC Bitesize for children aged 11-14 after acknowledging it was probably invented by Samuel Rowley, a 17th century playwright, following a complaint about a lack of primary evidence.
Chris Skidmore, who wrote Edward VI: The Lost King of England, told the Times that there was no primary evidence of royal whipping boys and the role probably never existed.

10 Tips About Reading

Reading is an idle pleasure; pour a glass of wine, put your feet up on the sofa and drift through a novel. Not any more. That attitude is so 20th century. Nowadays, reading is about productivity. Do you do 20-minute reading sprints? How about readathons? Have you signed up to Victober, the online challenge to read as many Victorian novels as possible in October? What about your goals on Goodreads? Are you falling behind? There's an awful lot of anxiety about reading. "How could I read more books?" asks the BBC. Lifehacker will help you trick yourself into reading more. Huffpost tells you how to make reading more of a habit. Bookriot promises to boost your reading productivity.

Here are ten of our favourite reading tips from gurus across the internet, some helpful and some rather mad.
1. "Become physically fit, to give your brain more oxygen"
2. "Skip from the left hand page to the right hand page and back again … Somehow this tricks my brain into reading faster (perhaps it has to work harder to infer the meaning)"
3. "Take a book into stressful or high-pressure situations. I play badminton every week. About halfway through, I get jittery from the adrenaline and my play dips. So I started reading during break … Now I take a book into any competitive situation. Even if I don't feel much like reading, I have an extrinsic motivation"
4. "Always be reading multiple books to accommodate any possible mood"
5. "Buy cheap. Ninety percent of the time I use Amazon to purchase my books. I will even purchase a used copy if it's available. Having a larger budget for more books allows me to purchase more. Purchasing more books allows me to read more"
6. Read books while practising yoga
7. "Read in sprints. Some days my attention span is less than others. During these days, I set 20-minute timers and read in 20-minute sprints"
8. "Form a speed-reading team with friends"
9. "Get bored. My early life was very boring. Reading was a good way of filling in great tracts of tedious time"
10. "Rather than thinking that you need to sit down and read for an hour at a time, try to make use of small amounts of time. Read for 20 minutes while you are waiting for dinner to cook. Use every 15-minute gap"

10 Modern (Mostly) Women Authors

The Times observes that not so long ago, literary fiction was dominated by men: Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Kazuo Ishiguro, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan - the list goes on. But no longer. Now, women are well and truly in charge. Last year, nine of the top ten best-selling works of literary fiction were by women. Helped by adaptations of her novels for Netflix, Margaret Atwood came out on top. The only man on the list is Haruki Murakami, from Japan. Here's the list:

1. Margaret Atwood
2. Helen Dunmore
3. Sarah Perry
4. Naomi Alderman
5. Elena Ferrante
 6. Haruki Murakami
7. Ali Smith
8. Zadie Smith
9. Maggie O'Farrell
10. Arundhati Roy

Book Review The Art of Turning

I had meant to inclue this review which I wrote for EN towards the end of last year

THE ART OF TURNING From sin to Christ for a joyfully clear conscience
Kevin deYoung
40 pages. £1.00 ISBN 9781911272212
This briefest of books can be read in no time but its five short chapters are crammed with good things. It looks at the rather neglected subject of conscience.
It begins topically enough in this this anniversary year of Luther nailing the 95 theses to the door of the church of the castle of Wittenberg. We are taken four years further on to Worms and Luther's stand for the truth before Emperor Charles V. He famously said there that his conscience was captive to the Word of God, raising the question for all of us as to whether ours are too
Chapter 2 takes a further step backwards, to the Scriptures themselves, and especially to 2 Corinthians 1:12 and a dozen other places where Paul talks about conscience. Our author points out that Paul like Luther treasured his conscience and so should we.
In Chapter 3 we come to a definition: the moral faculty within human beings that assesses what is good and what is bad. We should recognise the role conscience plays both for the prosecution and the defence (or defense as it is here, the book uses American orthography). The chapter closes with an almost irresistible reference to Pinocchio.
Chapter 4 deals with misfiring consciences. It keeps to four examples only – the evil, the seared, the defiled and the weak conscience. It deals with these very cogently. The closing chapter is on the way to a clear conscience. It calls for repentance, faith and for Christians to live the life they were meant to live. The final point is to remember that conscience should be our friend.
The only possible slight criticism of the book would be that it may appear to give a higher position to conscience than the New Testament warrants. One would have appreciated more on the importance of love. In such a brief book, however, it is difficult to avoid some measure of imbalance. This really is a great little book, one that everyone should read.
Gary Brady Pastor of Childs Hill Baptist Church and author of Candle in the wind on the conscience

Book Review How to live as a Christian

A review based on this one can be found in this month's EN.

Ed Joel Beeke
Evangelical Press
116 pages. £5.99 ISBN 9781783971923

A collection of 36 short articles that originally appeared in The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible this book was written by 28 different authors under the editorship of Dr Joel Beeke. The helpful articles cover many practical aspects of the Christian life, from being Assured and persevering to Worship and the means of grace. Some subjects covered are basic and obvious, such as Reading the Scriptures, How and why to pray and Fellowship with believers.
Others are perhaps less obvious or more neglected – How we regard ourselves, Godly contentment and Using leisure time well. It was a pleasant surprise to see, alongside articles on being a Christlike husband or godly wife, on raising children and on honouring your parents, one on Being a Christian grandparent. The chapter on How to kill pride is potentially redundant next to the one on Humility.
The style is very concise and the best contributions make a series of numbered points. For example, early on seven points are made on The fear of God – respect and reverence God as holy, worship him as he instructs, hate and flee from sin, live out of the forgiveness promised in Scripture, be spoiled and ruined as far as this world is concerned, long to commune with other God fearers and always desire to know God better.
Half way through the book we find another nine points on coping with criticism. We are urged to consider its inevitability, source and timing and our prayers (wait 24 hours before responding if possible), Consider also - yourself, the content, Scripture, Christ, love and eternity.
This book would make a fine resource for a new or young Christian but would also make for valuable reading for those more mature in the faith or a pastor looking for help on what to include in a course on Christian basics. All Bible quotations are from the KJV.
Gary Brady Pastor Childs Hill Baptist Church, London

Lord's Day January 21 2018

I thought we might be down in numbers as two were preaching, one couple were visiting another church, two have flu and three have left us recently. As it turned out these were all away plus at least eight more I expected to see. Nevertheless, there were a number of visitors (someone new to the area klooking for a Reformed church, an RC Filipina from Spain, an African born Greek invited by one of my deacons and a Chinese Christian dog sitting for a relative). I was glad that my first sermon point was that like the church in Antioch we should be welcoming to all. We were in Acts 11 and the wonderful description of the Antioch church there. We were with one of my deacons for lunchwhch was nice. In the evening at communion I welcomed into membership the former Muslim I baptised near the end of last year. I preached on Matthew 16:13-20 to a decent sized congregation. They all sat on one side of the church which made it look better. At the end of the morning service a local chaaracter fropped in. He embarrassed a member of the congregation asking her to roll his cogarette for him. I was busy helping someone who feared they had blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Busy day.

10 Girly Musems

And in the same vain ... Are you a fan of the fan museum?

1. Victoria and Albert Museum, London
2. Fashion and Textile Museum, London
3. Fashion Museum, Bath
4. Dolls House Museum, Ealing
5. Lace Guild Museum, Bristol
6. Garden Museum, London
7. Florence Nightingale Museum, London
8. The Fan Museum, Greenwich
9. Jane Austen's House Museum, Hampshire
10. Makeup Museum, online presence

10 Museums for Blokes

This sexist stereotype list came to mind following my visit to the V & A . Apologies to all including myself. Another 10 to follow next post.

1. Royal Airforce Museum, Hendon
2. London Motor Museum, London
3. Churchill War Rooms, London
4. Imperial War Museum, London and Duxford
5. National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham
6. National Railway Museum, York
7. National Football Museum, Manchester
8. National Coal Mining Museum for England, Overton
9. Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds
10. London Transport Museum, London

Winnie the Pooh at the V & A

Gwion and I got down to the V & A this week for their exhibition on Winnie the Pooh. We enjoyed seeing it. It's on until April 8. More info here.

Midweek Meeting January 17 2018

The seminary students are all back and so we were almost back to full strength on Wednesday. We were mostly men. One of them Reuben, took an extended trip to the far east with his family adn so after I had very briefly said something on Romans 8:32 he reported to us on his time in The Philippines and especially the work of the Cubao Reformed Baptist Church including its CCM work among street kids. It was good to be reminded of this stirling work. We had a very good prayer time almost everyone praying and the prayers flowing as one always longs for but sometimes don't get. We had a church members meeting the next day so I finsihed promptly.

Lord's Day January 14 2018

As is often the case it was "a game of two halves" last Lord's Day in terms of turn out. We had a good number in the morning but by the evening for various reasons we were barely into double figures. In the morning I preached from the first half of Acts 11 and in the evening, following tea together in the parlour, from Matthew 16:5-12 warning against false teachers. It is an interesting question as to whether one should name names in sermons. I decided to do so and had T D Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer and the Pope in my firing sights. I hope it helped. At least one person present was nervous about attacking Ms Meyer.

Midweek Meeting January 10 2018

Somehow I forgot to do a midweek meeting report last week. Anyway, we did meet and we looked at that wonderful verse Romasn 8:28 and we spent time in prayer too. We were not a great number as some are still away.

Lord's Day January 7 2018

First Lord's Day of the year though seven days in the year already seems a little familiar. I decided to go straight back to our systematic studies in Acts and Matthew having been out of it for a while. Lots were away due to illnesses and several travelling but the morning service was fairly well attended as five extra family members of ours were there and one or two visitors including a Zambian lady. We began with communion. I then preached on Acts 10, also speaking to the children on prayer. In the evening  I preached from Matthew 16:1-4. Quite a difficult Sunday in some ways. It is easy to be discouraged.