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.

GBM Radio 4

It seemed to go off okay. It's a little naughty the way it's done - things missing, one thing added, first and last hymns swapped, etc. I'm sure they have slowed down Don Carson just a notch. It inevitably comes over slightly stilted. Lloyd-Jones must be turning in his grave. You can see a transcript here and it will be on iplayer soon.

Machine Gun Preacher

I got to see a preview of the new film Machine Gun Preacher in Soho last Thursday. The story of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing biker tough guy who makes a decision for Jesus and becomes a gun toting crusader for children in war torn Southern Sudan can't really be recommended because of the foul language. An action film for thoughtful people it's more machine gun than preaching but thought provoking  nevertheless. I've agreed to do a review for ET so I won't say more here except that this a reminder of the need for good theology. Movie Site here.

GBM Meetings

I have spent the day in Solihull at the Renewal Centre joining in the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Grace Baptist Mission. GBM usually has its meetings on a Tuesday in London but it was felt that a different approach would be appropriate this time and that was probably right. The missionaries and council have spent most of the week at Clovelly Hall hearing Don Carson, an old friend of GBM. DC was also the main speaker today.
The day was in four sections, two before lunch and two after. In the morning we kicked off with a 200 strong delegates meeting. Like much of the rest of the day it was done at a breathless pace and was much more of a rubber stamping process than usual. We then had a thanksgiving service in the main hall with 1400 present (plus 120 in the overflow). This featured interviews with recently retired missionary to Spain Pat Davies, David and Mavi Rivero now in Madrid and Sam Devenesam who gave a plaque thanking GBM on behalf of Christians in South India. Don Carson then preached from Matthew 25 (the talents) on how to wait for Jesus. That overran by about 20 minutes.

After finding a field to eat some lunch I headed back. Lovely to see lots of familiar faces and lots of unfamiliar ones too. Some are former missionaries. It would be nice to know what they do these days. The first part of the afternoon was a multi-media presentation with projected slides, video, music and choir items giving the history of GBM. A few hitches but not bad, if slightly airbrushed, which is understandable.
The final part of the day was given over chiefly to a service for BBC Radio 4 tomorrow. By using various missionaries to pray and read and a choir from Chertsey Street with Don Carson giving a twenty minute apologia for mission they managed to meet the BBC's craving for variety without losing much really. Trevor Condy is an amazing chairman. I couldn't have done that in a million years. We then had a proper message from Don (at a more human pace) on one of his favourites - Matthew 11 (Portraits - a depressed Baptist, a defended Baptist, an eclipsed Baptist).
After a few retakes for Simon from the BBC we were free to go. So a great day I guess. The one jarring note - no new missionaries. Hopefully we haven't taken our eye off the ball.
Do listen in on BBC Radio 4 tomorrow at 8.10 am or on iplayer in the coming week.

EL Strivens on the Parables

It's been such a busy week I haven't had chance to mention the Evangelical Library Lunch time Lecture last Monday. The speaker was Robert Strivens. We normally tackle historical subjects but this time the LTS Principal looked at the parables and very helpful it was. I won't say more as I think he's doing it with the students soon. We hope to have it online at the Evangelical Library website in due time. A recording is available from the Library. We were in double figures again attendance wise even though it was jalf term. Next one November 28 with Jeremy Walker on Hugh Latimer. Come along if you can.

New Ageist Policy

On the news today they are saying that the royal succession will no longer be decided by gender. It will still be decided on age though. It will be the eldest child that gets to succeed. This is clearly ageist. Why this arbitrary emphasis on age? Far better if the youngest succeeds, surely? And then  this thing about Roman Catholics. No mention of Satanists I notice. As ever, so backward looking.

Sikh Sikligar


No not Zig Ziglar. Global Prayer Digest here is currently focusing on Sikhs and urging us to pray that they will be reached. What needs there are in this world.
History can be cruel! There was a time when the Sikligar Sikhs were extremely successful as weapon designers and manufacturers. They are traditionally known as Lohars (ironsmiths or blacksmiths) and once ruled the weapon making industry with their elaborate swords, spears, shields, and arrows. What is known as Damascus steel, used in forming some of the best swords known to man, was manufactured by Indian Lohars and shipped off to other parts of the world.

The advent of contemporary weaponry hit their economy and lifestyle very hard. They spend most of their time roaming about in small groups, selling small handmade wares such as knives, buckets, toys, and betelnut cutters. They are illiterate and do not own land. Today, most Sikligars are very poor and some are dependent on others’ aid.
They show their devotion to Sikhism by their dress and social customs. For example, they put their newborn children through a special dedication ceremony with relatives and friends gathered. They are some of the most seriously dedicated Sikhs despite the fact that they are routinely despised and overlooked in the provision of aid that is given to other poor classes. Sikligars are said to be some of the happiest, most positive-minded Sikhs.




Pray that the Church will not also overlook the Sikligar Sikhs. Pray that their physical, as well as spiritual poverty would be broken.

Pray for Slovenia

Carmina Burana


We went last Saturday to see Carmina Burana performed at the Royal Albert Hall. It was brilliant. With six percussionists and four hundred voices what more could you ask for?
Details: ROYAL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA with ROYAL CHORAL SOCIETY LONDON and PHILHARMONIC CHOIR plus ENGLISH CONCERT CHORUS and THE SOUTHEND BOYS' CHOIR. Andrew Greenwood conductor. Soloists - Rachel Nicholls soprano Christopher Turner tenor and Richard Morrison baritone (very comical). Stephen Disley played the organ for the Saint-Saens third symphony which we also had along with Berlioz' Rákóczy March from The Damnation of Faust.
We drove down. Did you know that you can park right outside the Hall at that time? Amazing.

Seven Billion or less

Everyone is talking about this seven billion figure at the moment. Check out this website here to see what the world population was the day you were born. On the day I was born (in 1959) the global population was approximately:

2,896,134,547

The fastest growing country that year was Western Sahara.
Also check this site, especially if like me you are over fifty (scientifically inaccurate but funny).
By the way I think a grwoing populationis good news not bad and if someone reads this post in fifty years time I predict we'll be on our way to seventy billion by then and it will be quite a different world to the one we know now - a whole lot better and a whole lot worse (unless the lord comes before then, of course).

Francis Wareham

In Samuel Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial there is an entry that reminds me of that phrase damning with faint praise. In the section on Middlesex he comes to Hendon, which more or less where I live. He says

HENDON Francis Wareham, MA Of Bennet Col. Camb. A man of great natural wit, of polite learning, of great pleasantness in conversation, and a very practical preacher, but unsuccessful.
He was put into this living by the parliament, in 1650.

I guess my fear is that it might be my epitaph too.


Philip Henry and Baptism

Here's an interesting quote from the father of Matthew Henry, Philip Henry. Henry was a noncomformist but not keen on separatism. He says

"If I were an Independent, I must be an Anabaptist, for if Baptism be the door into the Christian-church & I am no church-Member till I embody in that way, then I must come in by that door."
(Diaries and Letters, 277)

Spot on, Phil.

TTRMOMG 02 Sterry

Both sets of grandparents used sterilised milk. Ideal in the days before refrigeration was common.
You don't often see it these days. I never did like the taste but a sniff might stir some memories.

Eight Types of Providence

God's “most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions” (as the catechism call it) unfolds in various ways.
2 Kings 8:1-6 includes eight types. Categorisation helps us see providence is everywhere.

1. Extraordinary
Elisha knew a lot about this; we know little, if anything. God can make rivers part, corpses rise, loaves multiply, iron float. Some reject miracles as too extraordinary. Deny extraordinary providences and you will soon reject ordinary ones.

2. Coincidental
Coincidences are fascinating. Gehazi talks of Elisha raising the Shunemite's son, when who enters but the very people! It is not a miracle but it is remarkable timing. Gone seven years, they reappear that very moment! What is the probability?
Coincidences are common but striking. Years ago in a rather remote Indian village with another young man, we bumped into a fellow student of his. Neither had realised the other would be in India that summer!
In 1930s Detroit, Joseph Figlock was walking down the street when a baby fell from onto him from above and he broke its fall. Both survived. Amazing in itself, a year later, exactly the same thing happened again!
Do coincidences prove anything? No, but they make you think. Perhaps God grabs our attention with them to show us that every event is part of his providence.

3. Dark
Some providences are delightful, some dark – famine, war, earthquake.. Here, Elisha warns of a long famine, no doubt because of Israel's sin. We do not always know why troubles come and rarely how long they will last.

4. Strange
This godly woman lives among godless Philistines. Some situations we would not choose - living with unbelievers, living in a certain city, a certain country. We must think twice about such situations but sometimes the unusual is right. This woman had good reason to live there.

5. Judicial
Human justice is part of providence. “There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13). If treated unjustly we should usually not hesitate to seek redress. It is not failing to trust God but using the relief he supplies. It is right to help wronged believers.

6. Advisory
Without Elisha's warning, what might have happened to the woman? Several proverbs urge listening (12:15 ... a wise man listens to advice). This applies to sermons. Listen to the preacher.

7. Historical
What happened in the past affects us. This woman's past kindness led to Elisha's concern. Elisha's past miracles made the king determined to get her justice. Try to learn from history. Its influence is pervasive.

8. Favouring
The king helped the woman not just because she had a good case but because Elisha raised her son. That impressed itself on him so he made sure she got justice. Favouritism can be bad, the Bible warns against such. However, for reasons good and bad, we favour one over another. We must recognise the part it plays in life today, under God.

In 1658 Obadiah Sedgwick wrote of the need to depend on providence rather than worrying. He urged patience and contentment in general. In dark providences we must show acceptance. We must not be complacent but stir ourselves up to doing good. Always remember, God is in control.

Carson on the three friends

Faithfulness is not dependent upon an escape hatch. They choose faithfulness because it is the right thing to do, even if it costs them their lives.
The courage we need in this anti-Christian age is courteous and steadfast. It never apologises for God. It joyfully believes that God can do anything, but it iscprepared to suffer rather than compromise hearty obedience.

Christopher Ash Hearing The Spirit

It was great to be with over 40 others this morning hearing Christopher Ash of the Proclamation Trust outlining his recent book on Word and Spirit. These are the chapter headings:


1. The Spirit, the Word and His words
2. The Spirit, the Word and the Cross
3. The Spirit, the Word and His Apostles
4. The Spirit, the Word and the Bible
5. The Spirit and understanding the Bible
6. The Spirit and other spirits
7. The Spirit at work in the world and the church
In chapter 1, mainly from the fist half of John’s Gospel, we are going to think about Jesus the eternal Word (as John calls him in John 1:1-3) and the words He spoke. We shall see an intimate connection between the two, and see how Jesus made the Father known by words.
Chapter 2 is also mainly from the first half of John’s Gospel, and focuses on the weakness of Jesus’ words and His paradoxical failure effectively to reveal the Father until after the Cross and therefore until the Holy Spirit was poured out on God’s people. This will highlight for us how vital is the work of the Spirit.
Chapter 3 explores the vital provision Jesus made for the continuation of His words through the Spirit-led teaching of His apostles.
Then in chapter 4 we draw the line from the words of Jesus, through the words of His apostles, to the words of the Bible, both New Testament and Old Testament. We ask the question, ‘Where do we find the words of Jesus today, since Jesus is no longer physically on earth?’ It is all very well saying how wonderful were His words, but that does us no good unless we can still hear them. We shall see that every Bible word is Jesus’ word, and that we cannot and must not separate Jesus the Eternal Word from Bible words. This is a vital link to establish, for – if it is true – it means we have access to Jesus’ words today, and the Father can be made known to us too.
Chapter 5 is a harder chapter. You may prefer to omit this on first reading perhaps and come back to it later. It builds on the argument of chapters 3 and 4 to ask what principles ought to guide us in interpreting the Bible so we understand it aright.
In chapter 6 we think about why it matters to be Bible Christians. We shall see that there are plenty of spirits out there just waiting to put on the Holy Spirit’s clothes and pretend to be Him. It is an important cautionary study.
Then in chapter 7 we take a good look at the wonderful work the Holy Spirit does both in the non-Christian world and in the Christian church.
Finally, in conclusion, we ask how we today can listen to the Spirit, and how this relates to the Bible. In all our study, we must remember that knowing the Father depends upon these truths.

Britain's Best Crisps

We did a test last Friday at our young people's club to see who produces the best ready salted crisps in the UK. We tested 10 products available in the immediate area and rated them on texture and taste. These wee the results:

1. Pringles (introduced in 1968 they are made by Diamond Foods, once part of Proctor & Gamble. Pringles are legally not crisps as they contain only 42% potato).
2. Walkers Extra Crunchy (Walkers began in the 1948 and is now a subsisidiary of Pepsi Cola. Their crisps are the most popular in the UK).
3. Walkers Crinkles
4. Walkers
5. Hula Hoops (introduced in 1973, they are made by KP snacks)
6. Real McCoys (UK's third biggest brand in the bagged snacks market, made by United Biscuits)
7. Kettle Crisps (founded in 1978 and America's biggest potato chip brand they are now owned by Diamond Foods. Their UK base is in Norwich.)
8. Seabrook Crisps (Bradford based company founded in 1945 by C[harles] Brook)
9. Slovakia Chips (from the local Polish shop)
10. Tesco's Finest

Lament

Was it the fall of Adam and that early calf injury?
Was it the role of Rolland (he must be French that referee)?*
Was it Warburton's "we care" (that red card it made us so sick)?
Was it the hook by James Hook, he slipped at the penalty kick?
Was it Leigh Halfpenny's miss that was just a ha'p'nny too short?
Was it a drop kick dropped out Stephen Jones by a Frenchman caught?

No, time and chance they touch us all,
We've been bounced out like a rugby ball.

(* French father it turns out)

So it was not to be

I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

TTRMOMG 01 Coal fires

Thought I might try a little series on things that remind me of my grandparents. Both sets lived in Newport (Crindau and Corporation Road) until the males died and the nans were moved into sheltered accommodation. Back in the old houses there were coal fires, though the Bradys abandoned their at some point. I was always getting in trouble for poking the fire or burning newspaper in it.

10 countries with no coast

1. Afghanistan
2. Austria
3. Bolivia* 
4. Ethiopia
5. Hungary
6. Malawi
7. Paraguay
8. Swaziland
9. Switzerland
10. Zambia


*Bolvia is interesting as it used to have a coast but it gave it up to Chile. The Bolivian navy sails rivers and Lake Titicaca.

SS3 A Shared Heritage

This post first appeared on the Sola Scriptura blog back in May

It is a reason for great joy that in our day the Reformed Baptist faith in its various forms, and particularly as articulated in the London Confession of 1689, is coming to more and more people around the world. It was my privilege recently to travel to Nairobi, Kenya, where a conference, attended by around 50 men, mostly ministers, was taking place. I was the main speaker and I endeavoured to bring before the men the wonderful but often misunderstood reformed doctrine of regeneration.

Also speaking was one of the pastors of the sponsoring church, Trinity Baptist Church, Nairobi. British born Keith Underhill was instrumental in planting the church and establishing the conference. He has now worked in Kenya for over 30 years. He also gave a number of messages at the conference, including one on the background to the history of the 1689 Confession.

As he did this, and in fine form I might add, I began to have a little twinge. Why do African pastors have to be exposed to all this? Why do they need to know, let’s face it, often difficult to follow, English history? Americans, yes I suppose. Ours is, in many ways, a shared heritage. Some naively optimistic Brits even see our little disagreement of a few years back one day being resolved by an American climb down! (Some hope I guess.)

But Africans? Yes, their history has become somewhat intertwined with Britain’s in the last 150 years or so but we are talking about 1689. Why would 21st century Africans need to wade through this stuff? (And let me add that for all its gelatinous properties the paper made it all seem remarkably straightforward).

And then I started to think straight. These byways in history may have occurred on English soil but the history itself is the heritage not just of British Baptists but of every Reformed Baptist the world over, whether in England, America, Africa or the far east for that matter.

When we learn about early church councils in Asia Minor or of Augustine preaching in North Africa; when we think of Luther in Germany or Zwingli and Calvin in Switzerland; when we think of Obadiah Holmes in America; of Carey in India or Judson in Burma – we don’t say “ah, that’s nothing to with us. Those places are far from where we live”. We don’t do that any more than when we read in our Bibles of things that happened in Egypt or Palestine or Rome, do we say that’s nothing to do with us. No, we embrace our heritage wherever it may accurately be traced.

What a joy it was then to be with these Kenyan pastors in the African heat considering things that happened long ago in Westminster and London and that are part of the wonderful heritage that all Reformed Baptists share the world over.

Creation and the Apostle Paul

A bit behind again but I do want to say that we had an excellent time last Saturday with Steve Lloyd, pastor at Gravesend and speaker for the Biblical Creation Ministries. We were between 25 and 30 present altogether, including folk from other churches, which was great. Steve gave us two sessions, the fiorst arguing the case for creation from the New Testament teaching about Adam and death. He then covered more traditional ground talking about Genesis and the flood and evolution, etc.
I also want to say that I was at the TSG at the John Owen Centre last Monday where we were considering the new book by Jeremy Walker an Rob Ventura A Portrait of Paul which is chiefly an expositon of Colossians 1:24-2:5. What made it very special was having Jeremy himself there. That meant to say that where had niggles he could usually explain why that was the case. Overall we were happy with the book but would like the print slightly bigger, clearer indications of who wrote what and slightly briefer quotations. Some felt that the book didn't quite take off in the first three chapters adn they were apparently written ina different way and there was no time to revise. Some didn't like the use of the AV not just because they don't like the AV but because they thought it jarred with the style elsewhere. Anyway we meet again in 2012 looking at a book called Is God a moral monster? Making sense of the Old Testament God by Paul Copan.

Pray for Romania

Aneirin Glyn

Apologies for being a bit slow with this but last Sunday afternoon I stepped slightly out of my comfort zone on two fronts at a time when we went down to the Welsh Anglican Church of St Benet (nothing to do with Phil Bennett apparently), near St Paul's in the City of London to be at the licensing service for Aneirin Glyn.
I say on two fronts because  the service was both an Anglican one and partly in the Welsh language. The Welsh language wasn't an issue as I have some Welsh and being an Anglican service it was all written out (and translated).
The service was led by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres. I did have to look at him for a short while to remember where I'd seen him last - speaking at the royal wedding! We again had a 10 minute sermonette that you couldn't really object to but that you weren't entirely sure of the meaning of either.
The service itself was okay with lots of nuanced evangelical statements but other things that made you a little nervous. Even the bishop thought it a little ludicrous that Aneirin had to swear allegiance to the Queen, rather than that being taken for granted. I could probably cope with the dressing up and some of the other pantomime elements but the episcopal nature of the arrangement wouldn't sit well with this particular nonconformist I must confess.
Being licensed obviously includes some caretaking duties as a big thing was made of giving Aneirin the key to the building. As it turned out when he tried to get in with it there was a problem and he had to ring the church bell to get back in again. ;-)
There were about fifty people present and we all had our picture taken afterwards before enjoying some food and drink. We knew one other couple there visiting and one of the main families in the church through the school. Eleri had also been in school with the organist. The newsreader Huw Edwards was sat in front of us. I also had a brief chat to William Taylor from St Helen's, where Aneirin has close connections, who I know by sight but had never spoken to before. (I don't think the St Helen's crowd are quite aware that there are other Welsh speaking churches in London - at least 10 - and some have evangelical input. See here.)
I think it will be an uphill task to cut though the layers of churchiosity that mask the gospel in a situation like that but the gospel is powerful and who knows what might happen if it is unleashed. 
Demand to learn Welsh in London is certainly on the rise. There were 60 places available on the most recent course at the London Welsh Centre in King’s Cross; it was oversubscribed and the number of places on the next course has been expanded to 75.
An article appeared in the Times recently (here) which you may be able to access.
There Aneirin says “London has a large Welsh community and I would love St Benet’s to be the place where they can hear the great news about Jesus in the language in which they are comfortable. ....  I think for some people in London, Welsh is the language in which they think and speak. We want to meet people where they are. Some people ‘feel’ Welsh, so if that happens then we will gladly welcome them and share the Gospel in Welsh.”
The church website is here.
The other thing about St Benet's is that this is where Thomas Adams was the minister before the Great Fire.

Five "Christian" islands

Here is a list of five islands currently known in English by the name  of a traditonal Christian festival

1. Candlemas Island
A small uninhabited island of the Candlemas Islands in the South Sandwich Islands. It lies about 2 miles from Vindication Island, separated by the Nelson Channel.

2. Easter Island (Rapa Nui: Rapa Nui, Spanish: Isla de Pascua)
A Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people. It is a World Heritage Site (as determined by UNESCO).

3. Ascension Island
An isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic, around a thousand miles from the coast of Africa and 1400 miles from the coast of South America, ie roughly midway between the horns of South America and Africa. It is governed as part of the British Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, of which the main island, St Helena, is around 800 miles to the southeast. The territory also includes the "remotest populated archipelago" on earth, the sparsely populated Tristan da Cunha archipelago some 30 degrees farther south - about half way to the Antarctic Circle.

4. Pentecost Island
One of the 83 islands that make up the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. It lies 120 miles due north of capital Port Vila

5. Christmas Island
A territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean, it is located 1600 miles northwest of the Western Australian city of Perth, 220 miles south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta and 606 miles East North East of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

10 countries with no rivers

1. Bahrain
2. Kiribati
3. Maldives
4. Marshall Islands
5. Monaco
6. Nauru
7. Tonga
8. Tuvalu
9. Christmas Island (dependency)
10. Easter Island (dependency)

The gift the church hasn’t been given

My attention was drawn to this on the Amyand Park Chapel website for September 26.

The gift the church hasn’t been given.
We have a gift missing in our church which if it were present would do a great service to the saints of God. It’s not a gift found in the Bible. It is the gift of the raspberry blower. Just think of the possibilities. Here are two believers griping, complaining and spreading discouragement. From behind comes the sound of a particularly large, ripe, wet raspberry. They turn but no one is there. The conversation comes to an abrupt end and we all share in the blessing. Just a thought.

Not the BBC news

This report from the Christian Institute can be found here

Almost 70 per cent of Britons identify themselves as Christian, according to the latest official figures.
The same report also confirmed figures from last year which revealed only 1.5 per cent of people say they are homosexual or bisexual.
Responding to the figures, Simon Calvert of The Christian Institute called on the Government to reassess its drive to redefine marriage so that homosexuals can wed.

Shock

The results come from the Office for National Statistics’ annual Integrated Household Survey, which collects the views of 420,000 people in the UK.
It showed that fewer than a quarter of those asked about their religion said they had none and only one in twelve identified with religions other than Christianity.
Simon Calvert, of The Christian Institute, said: “These figures must come as a shock to the BBC and the political class. It is about time that this reality, that people want to be identified as Christian, was reflected not only in the output of our major broadcasters but also in the policies of the Government.

Reality

“Ministers are still barrelling along with enforcing civil partnerships in churches and redefining marriage. We can only hope that the reality will catch up with them and give them pause for thought.”
The number of Britons identifying as homosexual is far lower than previous estimates used by the Government to calculate how much public money should be used to advance pro-homosexual policies.
Researchers have previously claimed that between six and ten per cent of the population have had homosexual experiences.

Politically correct

The figures on Christianity in Brtain may add to criticism of the BBC after it emerged this week that some programmes had dropped the terms BC and AD and replaced them with the “religiously-neutral” BCE and CE.
The BBC’s religion and ethics department stated: “As the BBC is committed to impartiality it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians.”