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.

Al Mohler at London Seminary


It was good to have the opportunity of hearing Al Mohler wiht the students at London Seminary this morning. Dr Mohler specialises in looking at the world as it is and encouraging a Christian approach to it all. He spoke for two 45 minute periods broken by coffee and then opened up for questions, soemthing he does regularly on Youtube and which he did well today, answering questions on Islam, hell and witness. His clarification on the term Post-Christian (not post a period when everyone was a Christian but post a time when everyone accepted certain Christian tenets) was helpful. He also made a helpful point regarding Islam that it is more a way of life than a belief system as such.
Dr Mohler could come over a s name dropper as he has read so widely adn met with all sorts of people. It would be a mistake to think like that. No, here is a fine mind honed by Scripture and careful thinking about what those who oppose the gospelsay.
He quoted himself at one point, "The culture says you have an alien problem to be solved by an inner solution. The gospel says you have an inner problem that will be solved only by an alien righteousness.” That is very helpful. I believe that the quotation is from a message given a conference adn preached as “Preaching with the Culture in View”. See Preaching the Cross, Together for the Gospel (Wheaton, IL: Crossway 2007), p 81.a

Midweek Meeting June 21 2017


We were a good number midweek as we began on the teaching from Leviticus on infectious skin diseases. We tackled 13:1-46. I was eager not to be too long as I wanted to allow time for both prayer and a church members meeting. We did not do too badly althoiugh it was gone ten by the time we had finsihed everything. The reason for the members meeting was that we wish to baptise two people shortly and welcome two others already baptised into membership. (We did not absolutely insist on baptism by immersion but it is the norm here). We were all agreed on the way forward. It was a great privilege to hear these four testimonies. The way it works with us is that after speaking to the pastor candidates for membership are interviewed by two members either alone or with someone else who is applying. We seek to establish that they are converted and living the Christian life and how they might contribute to the life of the church. The first of the two baptisms will eb this Lord's Day, God willing.

10 Famous Argentinians


1. José de San Martín General
2. Ernesto "Che" Guevara revolutionary
3. Eva Peron first lady
4. Juan Manuel Fangio racing driver
5. Jorge Luis Borges writer
6. Diego Maradona footballer
7. Roberto de Vincenzo golfer
8. Guillermo Vilas tennis player
9. Lionel Messi footballer
10. Pope Francis

Westminster Conference papers 2016 published


The papers for the 2016 Conference last December are now available from the conference secretary, John Harris.
(Secretary the Westminster conference, 18 Nook Green Dewsbury West Yorkshire WF12 0BJ UK)

A week of mission

The above shows the team eating together one evening
There are arguments for and against a special week of mission in a local church. The chief argument against is that every week should be mission week and a special effort risks introducing an artificial and unsustainable note to the work that risks demeaning the regular efforts. On the other hand, a special effort can sometimes reach people otherwise unreached and, if visitors are invited in to help, can be a help to them as well as the church itself.
Missions have been rare here in Childs Hill. We have just had what must be the third or fourth in 34 years. As I begin to recover I thought I might briefly report.
We know Hicham from France well and he has led church missions and so we followed the pattern he is familiar with. This involved gathering a team to do formal evangelism chiefly Saturday to Thursday in the week June 10-15. Our team was a little on the small side - three full time and four more for the last two days plus two or three visitors on the Thursday with help from five or six members at various times, including me.
We started each day with breakfast in church followed by prayer and a short Bible study. We then spent 90 minute sessions morning and afternoon delivering leaflets and invites, door knocking or speaking to people in the streets of Golders Green, our nearest shopping centre. We ate lunch in the church and evening meal either there or in homes.
In the evenings we had excellent and well attended seminars on reaching Jews and Muslims on Monday and Tuesday; Wednesday was  our regular midweek meeting; and on Wednesday we had an evangelistic meeting with Mick Lockwood from Haworth.
on  the Wednesday morning the Mothers and Toddlers group had a bouncy castle and some of the team took opportunity to mingle. One young woman very helpfully gave a testimony.
We prepared 10,000 A3 leaflets containing testimonies, messages and information and gave away about half of these plus nearly a thousand postcards inviting people to hear Mick. We also had other literature to give away - Gospels, UQs, etc.
We were able to reconnect with several people we already know and some fresh faces. Some few came to meetings on the Thursday and Lord's Day. Some, such as the atheist who wrote to complain, and the people who saw us talking at length to the son of a rabbi, were not happy but generally speaking we did ourselves good. The feedback answered questions such as, say,  where most Jews and Muslims and Filipinos tend to be found, the fact there are Syrians in the area as well as Iranians and the fact some have little English.
It was a worthwhile effort. We are very grateful to the team who helped us and to Mick Lockwood and "Mr McH" in particular. Last time we had a mission we were unable to follow up the next year. I would hope that now we have a clear plan of approach we might try again next Junes or July.

10 Actresses having alliterative appellations

1. Barbara Bach
2. Brigitte Bardot
3. Claudia Cardinale
4. Courteney Cox
5, Doris Day
6. Diana Dors
7. Deanna Durbin
8. Farrah Fawcett
9. Keira Knightley
10. Marilyn Monroe

10 Popular singers with alliterative names

1. Big Bill Broonzy
2. Carlene Carter
3. Gloria Gaynor
4. Janis Joplin
5. Joe Jackson
6. Joan Jett
7. Kris Kross
8. Loretta Lynn
9. Shakin' Stevens
10. Tina Turner

10 Pop Bands with alliterative names

1. Adam and the Ants
2. Beach Boys
3. Bellamy Brothers
4. Culture Club
5. Counting Crows
6. Duran Duran
7. Foo Fighters
8. Franz Ferdinand
9. Sister Sledge
10. The Ting Tings

Lord's Day June 18 2017

It was hot yesterday, of course, but our building is not too bad. By the evening we had set up some fans.
As is most often the case we had a large morning congregation and a small evening one. In the morning we had at least two visitors responding to our leaflet distribution - one professing faith, one not. I was on Stephen's sermon in Acts 7, not the easiest place to start, perhaps. I did make a mistake in having such a long reading. I should have dropped the consecutive reading (the Witch of Endor) and taken Acts 7 in two bites. What I did in fact was to have us sing one verse of our third hymn after the reading and then prayed before the final two verses. Many people missing but some visitors and some of the missing had returned. We had communion in the evening. I read from 1 John 4. I preached on the parable of the net.

Reply to an irate atheist

We have had a mission this week delivering leaflets door to door and on the streets. One irate atheist wrote a long e-mail to me complaining. I wrote back with this e-mail.

Dear Sebastian (not his real name)
Thank you for your long letter. It is always good to get a response even if it is a negative one. You say that you received a ‘Come Take a Look’ leaflet through your door from our “organisation”. I should explain that we are just a little group of local people with plenty of links to others and getting some help this week but not part of some big organisation in the accepted sense.
I note your vehement objection but I do not see that we have been shameful or wasteful. Your use of the word “foist” is highly contentious. We simply offer leaflets. No-one is being forced to read them. You helpfully mention reasons for objecting to our ‘evangelising’. They turn out to be pretty flimsy as far as I can see.
The first point makes no sense. I can only assume there is a typo. Your second point shows a lamentable ignorance of British history. If you care to do a little research you will discover that Baptists were fiercely persecuted in earlier times. That came to an end in 1689 but we were still subjected to various disadvantages for our faith, including being effectively barred from the universities until the 19th century. Thankfully, we live in partly more enlightened times and we have the right to go on to the street and let people know what we believe. Long may that right continue.
I do know that the Golders Green area has a large Jewish population. Having said that, it is still only 15% in Barnet, meaning that 85% of the people we are likely to meet are not Jewish. We are not cynically or provocatively trying to foist Baptism on anyone. You would be surprised, perhaps, how slow we are in fact to baptise anyone. (By the by are you aware that the Jew themselves have miqvot all over the area where they happily get baptised on a regular basis?). Again, your ignorance is letting you down I fear. Have you ever come across Messianic Jews? These are Jews who have become Christians. True Christians tend to be more respectful to Jews than most.
The only person being provocative here is you with your suggestion that you are going to report me and the church to the council! Have you done that? I have not heard from anyone. Perhaps you have rethought it – why give them all that free publicity, eh? What exactly would be “appropriate action”?
If you are aware of any hungry or homeless people in the area, please let us know. Our resources are small but we have been able to help people in the past. Another point, you seem to think we are fundamentalist Christians. Now we certainly take a firm stand on the fundamentals but we probably fall short of the accepted definition. As for “bothering people with religion” we are with you on your apparent opposition to religion. It was religious people who were largely responsible for Jesus's death and religion has clearly been responsible for many ills in this world. No, we are not peddling religion. If that is the impression we have given then I am sorry. We are talking about a personal relationship with God himself, something he brings about not us.
As you are perhaps aware, atheism is not a philosophically tenable position. You do not know everything and so it may be that one thing you do not know is God. If you would care to take a look at one of the many books on the resurrection of Jesus you will find that it is a well established historical fact. The virgin birth is not susceptible to the same sort of demonstration and so it is a matter of faith. As for the immaculate conception we are totally agreed – utter nonsense.
You are rather dismissive of the Bible. I wonder if you have actually read it. I think you would be much less dismissive if you knew it better. I would be happy to provide you with a copy or even help you read through it if you wish. I am a graduate in English literature and have a history degree too and I can assure you that a knowledge of the Bible will open up real vistas if you have any interest in these areas. Your self-confessed failure to see how a book that was written some 2000 years ago (well over that in the case of the Old Testament) can be applicable in the modern world is most understandable. It amazes me too. However, once you see that the New Testament lays down principles applicable in any age and culture it all begins to open up.
Your antipathy to creationism is no surprise. There is nothing nonsensical about it. That adjective could be applied more appropriately to evolution. You say that science has disproved the young earth idea but that is only true if you accept the theory of uniformitarianism, which cannot be proved. As you probably know, the reliability of carbon dating and radio isotopes is hotly debated. Having said that, if the Bible is wrong on creation then that undermines the whole thing, as you say. Hey, that's something else we agree on!
Your advocacy of keeping religion private is the mantra of the day and I am well aware of the desire many have for our types to shut up. But then if you believe what we believe there is no way you can go private. Anyway, why should we be quiet when someone like Richard Dawkins grabs all the publicity he can get? Hardly fair. How about if you keep your atheism to yourself? You say that you believe that I have every right to follow a religion if I so choose but I believe I ought to let people know what I believe.
I love your list near the end of your letter - subservient, non-questioning, irrational, hypocritical, and utterly disconnected from the realities of modern life. I cannot think of anyone in the church who fits such a description. Okay, may be we are a bit hypocritical, sometimes.
I see that you have checked out the scientific evidence on whether prayers do anything at all. The evidence is pretty poor you are right. It is a very difficult thing to examine scientifically. Your idea of prayer as a selfish act is most interesting. I suppose that you are just thinking of one sort of prayer, supplication. There is also confession, praise and thanksgiving. As someone who tries to pray often I can assure you that feeling good is not the usual feeling that prayer produces. I agree that there are selfish prayers but everything in the Bible encourages the very opposite attitude.
Your conclusion that “religion, all religion, belongs in the dustbin of history” has often been said but so far has proved hollow.
If you let me have your address I will do all I can to avoid bothering you with further leaflets. As I said at the beginning we are not a large organisation so I cannot totally guarantee that it will not happen again. If it does, just bin it.
Gary

Midweek Meeting June 14 2017

We've had our mission this week so I've been extra busy. Let me just mention our regular midweek meeting. We were supplemented by members of the team and I wanted to allow plenty of time for prayer so seeing that the next chapter in Leviticus (12) was a short one I thought I'd press on even though it was purification rites in connection with child birth. Part of my thinking was that no-one in the room had heard a message on Leviticus 12 before and no-one was likely to hear one again any time soon. So we got through it just about. The only fly in the ointment for me was the fact that a Spanish lady who has come the last to or three weeks failed to show and we may have inadvertently caused the problem by leaving a door shut too long. I hope we see her again. It would be especially ironic if we unintentionally snubbed someone in the midst of making great attempt to reach others.

Lord's Day June 11 20017


This Lord's Day was a bit different in that this week is a week of mission for us in Childs Hill and so that was much in mind. We started on Saturday and continued Sunday afternoon, preceded by a fellowship lunch together and followed by a fellowship tea.
The team is very small and only four are with us so far - three from France and one from Ulster. We also had a Korean visitor and a man from Middlesborough who we have seen before. Lots of Iranians and others missing again, however.
It was nice to have lunch together and begin to get to know the team. I preached on Stephen, a hero for our times, from Acts 6 and The pearl of great value from Matthew 13.
Among conversations today was one with a member concerned about a relative who just won't get a job. What to do? Another had been glad to witness to people in Golders Green but still gets overwhelmed at God's goodness to him.
Good day.
(One thing I forgot to say was that a young man we know wandered in. He was high on something I fear. He still understood what was said. He appeared t think wehave trouble ahead if we persist with such ideas.)

Phil Arthur on Luther at the Library

I've not yet taken opportunity here to say what a good time we had on Monday at the Evangelical Library when our annual lecture was given by Phil Arthur from Lancaster speaking on 1517 and Martin Luther.
With such an excellent speaker and topic I could have wished for a better attendance, though we must have been around thirty and pretty much filled the room. We were also quite on the grey side, it is true, but it was pure joy to see three generations from one family all represented on the front row.
Phil simply took us through the early part of Luther's life - his upbringing, conversion and the beginnings of the Reformation. As a trained historian he knows this material very well and was able to put it across in a manner that was very easy on the ear. I was rather tired for some reason but my attention kept up throughout.
A recording of the paper is available from the Library and I hope that in due time that we will publish a written version of the paper in In Writing (I am conscious that the paper from last year on J C Ryle is still outstanding but I will get to it). Even as I write, Phil is busy correcting the manuscript for the press. He has had ill health for a little while and now has to use voice recognition software to get things down. If you have ever used such software you will know that errors can easily creep in and he wants to iron these out before publication.
It was good to spend a little time with Phil, who is currently on sabbatical from Lancaster but will begin again, part time, in September.

No voting for you, sonny

So we - my wife, my son and I - headed off to our local school to vote. It must be exciting voting for the first time but we live in Barnet and so, unsurprisingly in some ways, my 18 year old could not do so. He had registered online within the stipulated deadline but Barnet, without letting him know he needed to send it, had not had his proofs of identification. So no actually he didn't vote. As he himself observes "so when they talk about the lack of Young voters maybe they should think about the system being broken rather than trying to figure out what's wrong with British youth?" Like his dad he enjoys a good rant, but how much better to have been voting, like his friends in Camden.

10 useful Bible texts for this year

I've been reflecting on events this year so far and these texts have come to mind. They are worth considering.
1. 1 Timothy 5:24 The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgement ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.
2. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
3. 1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
4. Romans 7:1, 19 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.
5. Proverbs 28:26 Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
6. Ecclesiastes 9:3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterwards they join the dead.
7. Isaiah 2:22 Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?
8. Psalm 118:8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans.
9. Hebrews 12:2a fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
10. Matthew 16:18a I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

New Double Issue of In Writing


The latest edition of In Writing is now out. It is a double issue containing the content of the lectures given at the Reading John Owen conference at the Library last September.

Lord's Day June 4

We began, as usual at the beginning of a new month, with communion. In the morning I preached on the first half of Acts 6, drawing out seven principles, which I labelled using the names of the seven "deacons". In the evening we looked at just one verse - Matthew 13:44 and the parable of the buried treasure. There seemed to be lots and lots of people missing (no Iranians) and in the evening we were down to 14, which doesn't sound too bad but we were all spread about. In the morning there was a lady who had married in the church 60 years before and since buried two husbands and lived in Idaho. It was part of a trip down memory lane.
I heard the news of the London terrorists only in the morning and did debate briefly whether to preach a special. It seemed wiser to carry on as intended, although in praying about it I was relaying news to some. I probably should have referred to it at the beginning of the meeting. It is always difficult to know what is on whose mind.
We seem to be through our present cycle of new faces and are back to our where are they phase. That is how it seems to go in Childs Hill, Frustrating.

Hey Hay



Somewhere in the midst of quite a busy week last week I headed down to Cardiff to stay briefly with my son Dylan (and Cat briefly). We then spent much of  the day in Hay-on-Wye beginning at the showground where the thirtieth Hay Festival was in full swing and moving on to the town famous for its second hand bookshops.
I've only been to Hay once or twice before and as before I found that although one starts off quite excited that slowly wears off and at the end you are glad to be gone. The reasons for the frustration is the narrowing down pretty much just to books, the sheer volume of these and, above all, the almost non-existence of a bargain. All the books are carefully priced so much so that even the bargain books at £1 yield nothing you might actually want. This leaves a bad taste in the mouth in that part of the frisson of secondhand books is the thought of a bargain. I you were looking for a long lost title I can imagine the experience being rewarding but for bargain hunters l like myself  ...,
Having said that, it was a lovely sunny day and it was good to be with Dylan. We enjoyed chips at lunch time and a nice Shepherd's ice cream, I was a bit tired driving back but happy. 

William Perkins Videos

The videos from the Perkins conference are now available on Youtube.
See here.
One seems to be missing at the moment.
They are well worth listening to.

Wednesday May 31 2017


A little ,ate with this again but we had a good turn out on Wednesday, even though it was half term and some were away. A new lady from the area was there. She wants to get to know the Bible. I arrived late which is never a good start but I did recover and was able to speak on Leviticus 10 and led a good prayer time. Most people prayed. Leviticus 10 is an interesting chapter. We have recently looked at Acts 5 and there are definitely parallels there.

Reminiscing again

Just love this track. Is there a young band like this on earth today?

A couple of days in Bala




Eleri's cousin and his wife run the EMW's residential centre in Brynygroes, Bala, in North Wales. One of the advantages of this is that they can invite the whole extended family and one or two others over when it is not otherwise in use, thus filling up the already quite busy programme and spending some quality time with their nearest and dearest. Such a gathering took place recently somewhere between May 28 and 30. There was some fluctuation but at its height I think there were well over thirty around (that still leaves 18 not there but it's still a big and varied number). We played games, ate, talked and talked, played games (codenames is our current favourite), celebrated the eightieth birthday of Eleri's Uncle Keith,etc, etc. I enjoyed dipping into some Thomas Charles and doing some drawing. It is wonderful to belong to such a varied family (ages nought to eighty; monoglot Londoners to those more at home in Welsh; ministers, teachers, housewives, artists, medics and a police community support officer) where so many have trusted in the Lord.. Great time.

London life


Life in London is not exactly the way some may imagine it.

Lord's Day May 28 2017


It was a good day yesterday again. I enjoyed the hymns once again. We sang tunes by Holst, Sibelius and others which gave a nice edge to things. There is a hymn in our book that was originally set to a well known piece of film music. The music does not appear in the book due to copyright issues and as we do not know the alternative tune given I thought we would have to go for an older hymn tune and drop the chorus.. Anyway, I explained this to our pianist for the morning who appeared not to know much about the subject (although I recall now that he was very much involved in creating the hymn book we use). After I had explained all this to the congregation he played the famous tune anyway out of his head (you have to admire such skills) and we enjoyed singing it.
As ever there were a lot of people missing but some visitors too, including three German young men from somewhere near the Staffelsee on holiday in London. A lovely couple in out church kindly looked after them for the afternoon. We also have a Dutch couple in the church who unsurprisingly turned out to have very good German. (At one point I pointed out the German boys to our Dutch friend and said they were from Bavaria. He said he had never heard of Bavaria. I said you know as in BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke). Well, then he knew where I meant.)
As for the preaching we went through most of Acts 5, which was good. In the evening we did the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast. UBM have their Christian Answer weekend in London this weekend and so there were a few extras in the evening congregation, including an old friend I have known since boyhood. People seemed quite laid back today and ready to stick around for a while - probably because it is a bank holiday weekend.

An interesting Saturday


I got everything done here that I needed to do to be out in good time for a trip into London. I popped into the Co-op to buy a cold drink and who should be there but my wife chatting to a neighbour about keeping fit. Both Eleri and I have had problems with our debit cards recently and she offered me cash in case I was short but I said I was fine.
It was as the bus pulled in that I realised that without a debit card I wasn't going to be able to travel. Anyway the bus driver was very nice about it and let me ride free the six or so stops to the place where I get the notices photocopied.
Having competed the photocopying, I enquired at Finchley Road what I could do. A very nice man called Stuart explained to me that a day travel card for Zones 1-6 is £12.30 and so even with the £3 deposit an oyster proves a cheaper option for what I wanted to do. It almost cleaned me out cash wise but eventually, after he had disappeared for 10 minutes to rejig the machine, I got myself sorted and on my way to Trafalgar Square. I tubed to Charing Cross via Baker Street and was surprised how quick I was.
In Trafalgar Square things were in full swing with young James Powell preaching. A few others preached in the sunshine while people enjoyed themselves in the Square, mostly sensibly, though one girl did decide to enter the fountains (and later on some anti-fascists turned up making a noise). I had opportunity to preach near the end - on John 5:39, 40. Early on a middle aged woman shouted at me that the Bible was rubbish so I fixed her eyeballs and asked her if she had read it, which she hadn't - so I pleaded with the crowd that she was being unfair. A few others were listening.
One young man listening quite intently turned out to be an evangelical, Lars from Dresden, just about to return to Germany after a few days in England with family. He was pleasantly surprised to hear us preaching there in the Square. I also met Nigel and Rebecca Graham and family and several church members up in London for a day trip from the Grace Baptist church in Warboys. They insisted in plonking me in the middle of their group photo.
Anyway I left shortly before 3 pm and going home I walked past New Zealand House the site of the Carlton Hotel at one time, as I usually do. I am aware of the blue plaque there marking the fact that Ho worked in the kitchens of the Carlton in 1913. I was especially aware this time round as I am reading a book at the moment (a birthday present from my wife) called A Curious Guide to London by Simon Leyland. I was on the very page that treats of Ho's stay in the city! Before I left central London I spent my last few pennies on a coffee and checked out the interesting section in the book on Trafalgar Square itself.
Before I got to the train I met a very keen vegan, part of a team out in force in Piccadilly Circus. On Friday evening I spoke to two girls in club who are vegetarian and very aware of the issues. I'm not sure they are entirely wrong in their instincts. Animals I am sure do not have souls but some of the things that go on do appear rather barbaric. It is no surprise that many are drawn by the moral arguments and the idea that it is a healthier lifestyle. The jury appears to be out on whether dairy is good or bad for you.
Back here in Childs Hill I bumped into a local character mentioned on this blog before now. I was keen to walk together as we were headed in the same direction. He was just back from a few days in Clacton and anticipating the F A Cup final (he is a big Chelsea fan). Anyway as we came along, there was a smart 'phone in a leather case lying in the middle of the road. I picked it up. It was pink, so I guessed it belonged to a female. I took it home and with my son's help I sought to establish who was the owner. A little investigation suggested it belonged to someone in one of the high rise flats nearby. I went over and was able to return the phone to the grateful owner. She was a lady in her sixties I would guess and when I said who I was she expressed an interest in coming along. I hope she will. (There was a lady who wondered into the chapel yesterday during our club for young people. She is interested in coming too. Let's see.)
After all the excitement, I was worn out. I enjoyed watching the cup final with one of my sons. A rare treat we had our tea in front of the TV like real working class types.Sadly, Chelsea lost as I thought they might.
Saturday is not over, of course, but that is enough for one day.

10 Protected Welsh Foods


Some 65 foods from the UK have gained PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) or PDO (Protected Designation of Origin)  status from the EU. Here are some from Wales

1. Welsh beef (PGI 2002) Limited to products from cattle born and reared in Wales. Products must come from cattle that have not bred.
2. Welsh lamb (PGI 2003) Limited to products that are produced from lambs born and reared in Wales.
3. Carmarthen Ham (PGI 2016) Limited to hams cured in the Carmarthen areas as designated on a map.
4. Pembrokeshire early potatoes/earlies (PGI 2013) Limited to potatoes grown in Pembrokeshire. The product must be planted in early February and harvested between May and late July.
5. West Wales coracle caught salmon (PGI 2013) Limited to Atlantic salmon that have been caught in specific tidal areas of the Rivers Tywi, the Taf and Teifi. Products must be caught using traditional coracle fishing methods.
6. Anglesey sea salt/Halen Môn (PDO 2014) Limited to sea salt prepared, processed and produced in the Menai Strait, using traditional methods.
7. Welsh wine (PDO 2011) Limited to wine produced in Wales from grapes grown in the designated area, using prescribed methods. Products must use grapes from vines growing at a height below 220 m above sea level. The product may be vinified outside of the designated area provided it is contiguous to Wales and prior authorisation has been granted from the FSA. The product must conform to restrictions regarding alcohol content, acidification and sweetening.
8. Welsh regional wine (PGI 2011) Limited to wine produced from grapes grown in Wales, although production does not have to be within a certain area. The product must conform to restrictions regarding alcohol content, acidification and sweetening.
9. Laverbread (PDO 2017) Must be made from Welsh Laver (seaweed) gathered or plucked from the coastline of Wales and must be processed within the country of Wales. All the specific steps in its production must take place in the designated area ie collection, washing and draining, cooking, mincing or chopping, etc, including packaging where required.
10. Conwy mussels (PDO 2015) Limited to mussels caught within a designated area within the Conwy Estuary using the traditional method of hand raking.

10 defeat words beginning with V

1. Vulnerable
2. Victimised
3. Vexed
4. Vitiated
5. Vicissitudinated
6. Violated 
7. Vanquished
8. Vandalised
9. Vaporised
10. Vermiculated (in the old sense of worm eaten)

Wales - what goes wrong

The Times carries an obituary today of R K S Wood a world authority on plant pathology. Wood was born in the Rhondda and loved to sing along with the Welsh anthem when Wales were playing rugby. Like so many, however, he lived most of his life in England. When he decided to apply to study at Imperial in London his school was none too helpful. The news that he had won a place to study botany at Imperial did not thrill his mother. “Wales not good enough for you, Ronald?” she asked. He never forgave his school for trying to limit his horizons and later refused to return as an honoured old boy at prize-giving. No wonder he quickly lost his Welsh accent once he got to London.
The Welsh may not like having a huge and brilliant neighbour always cramping our style but it is surely better to get used to it and show more grace.
Not that Wood himself was much better. On one occasion, seeing waiters bearing salvers filled with flutes of champagne at a smart reception, he insisted on loudly ordering brown ale. He believed that his general rudeness to those in positions of influence was the reason why he was never honoured by the state for his work. The Times article also describes him complaining to his son about a restaurant meal with a leg of lamb at £14! You can take the boy out of the valleys ....

10 Negative adjectives beginning with V

1. Vain
2. Vile
3. Viperous
4. Vicious
5. Violent
6. Villainous
7. Vituperous
8. Venomous
9. Vindictive
10. Vengeful

Pastoral Friendship Walks


I went for the first time today on what my friend Andrew King from Highbury calls a pastoral friendship walk. (I think there have been two before this one). We met at Hampstead Heath Station, walked across the Heath in glorious sunshine, stopping for refreshments at Kenwood House, and ending up at Gospel Oak. There were about seven of us. The idea is that sedentary men who can easily be loners get out in the fresh air, and do a little exercise and talk to each other. It is not aiming incredibly high then but you would be surprised how revolutionary sometimes the simplest ideas can be. I certainly enjoyed the walk (which I try to do anyway) and the chat. Thanks Andrew for getting us organised.

Dr Olivia Doll

I spotted a fascinating story in the paper yesterday. The basic story is how a sceptical scientist got his dog onto the editorial board of various science journals. Eschewing use of the dog's picture he provided this snap of Kylie Minogue in glasses for this one above. Full story here.

10 Writers who knew only posthumous fame

1. Emily Dickinson
The first collection of her poetry appeared in 1890 (four years after she died). While some critics scoffed, her lines received immediate popular acclaim. Later editions followed, then interest faded until 1924, when she was enthusiastically rediscovered. Her work has been praised ever since. Today many critics would agree that her poetry was "perhaps the finest by a woman in the English language."
2. Gerard Manley Hopkins
His posthumous fame was established by Robert Bridges putting him among the leading Victorian poets. His manipulation of prosody (particularly his invention of sprung rhythm) and his use of imagery established him after his death as an innovative writer of verse. Nature and religion were the two major themes in his poetic works.
3. Sylvia Plath
Plath is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry and is best known for her two published collections, The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel. She also wrote The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel published shortly before her death by suicide in 1963. It was only in 1982 that she won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for The Collected Poems.
4. Anne Frank
German-born diarist. One of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust, she gained fame posthumously following the publication of The Diary of a Young Girl (originally Het Achterhuis; English: The Secret Annex), in which she documents her life in hiding 1942-1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. It is one of the world's most widely known books and has been the basis for several plays and films.
5. Franz Kafka
Many of his works remained incomplete and unpublished when TB killed him, aged 40, in 1924. After years of tortuous efforts to "begin my real life" and to describe a precise statement of his soul, Kafka considered his efforts a failure. In a last request, he asked his friend Max Brod to burn his papers and manuscripts. Brod refused, saying that if Kafka had really wanted that he would not have given the task to Brod. Thus Kafka's best-known novels, prophetic of the nightmare state of fascism, were first published in Germany 1925-1927. The Nazis soon banned the books but translated editions surfaced elsewhere. Kafka's reputation has steadily grown since the 1940s, and today the works of his critics and interpreters far outnumber his own.
6. Edgar Allan Poe
Associated with Gothic tales of mystery and the macabre, the author of the haunting short-stories "The Raven," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Pit and the Pendulum,” "Murders on the Rue Morgue" and “A Cask of Amontillado” despite his popularity now, Poe's contemporaries better knew him as a literary critic and struggling artist. For much of his life, he tried to make a living through writing but never overcame his financial difficulties or career challenges. His death at the age of 40 is surrounded by mystery.
7. Stieg Larsson
Karl Stig-Erland Larsson was a Swedish journalist and writer. He is best known for writing the Millennium trilogy of crime novels, which were published posthumously and adapted as motion pictures. Larsson lived much of his life in Stockholm and worked there in the field of journalism and as an independent researcher of right-wing extremism. In 2008 he was the second best-selling author in the world. The third novel in the Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, became the most sold book in the USA in 2010.  By March 2015, his series had sold 80 million copies worldwide.
8. John Keats
Keats was an English Romantic poet and one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets, along with Byron and Shelley, despite his works having been in publication for only four years before his death. Although his poems were not generally well received by critics during his lifetime, his reputation grew after his death, and by the end of the 19th century he had become one of the most beloved of all English poets. He had a significant influence on a diverse range of poets and writers.
9. Herman Melville
Melville did know some early success but Moby Dick and other works were not commercial successes. His death from cardiovascular disease in 1891 subdued a reviving interest in his work. The 1919 centennial of his birth became the starting point of the "Melville Revival". Critics discovered his work, scholars explored his life, his major novels and stories have become world classics, and his poetry has gradually attracted respect.
10. H P Lovecraft
An American author who achieved posthumous fame through his influential works of horror fiction. He was virtually unknown and published only in pulp magazines before he died in poverty, but he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre. Among his most celebrated tales are "The Call of Cthulhu" and "The Shadow over Innsmouth" both canonical to the Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft was never able to support himself from earnings as author and editor. He saw commercial success increasingly elude him in this latter period, partly because he lacked the confidence and drive to promote himself.

New Seminary Principal announced

The London Seminary announced today the name of its new principal. Bill James is the fourth principal and immediately follows Dr Robert Strivens. Previous to that Philip Eveson was principal and before that it was Dr Hywel Jones. Before that there was no principal. The annual service will be on June 24 and the speaker (on the fortieth anniversary) will be Al Mohler. The official communique says

Dear Friend
I'm delighted to inform you that the Board of London Seminary has appointed Bill James, Pastor of Emmanuel Church, Leamington Spa, as the next Principal of the Seminary. Bill will take up the post in January 2018. You can find more information about the appointment on our website here. Please pray for Bill, for the church in Leamington Spa, and for the Seminary during this exciting time of change.
Robert Strivens

Steady Blessings at Holbrooks

In the course of preparing last weekend I came across this tremendously encouraging article from Coventry on the FIEC website. I think we can all be encouraged by this. I know Ben Holmes to speak to. He's a lovely bloke. Steady Blessings.

10 religious facial hair decisions

1. Sikh uncut
2. Jewish corners uncut
3. Amish married man should wear a beard but have no moustache (too soldierly)
4. Rastafarian corners uncut (as do the Jews)
5. Greek Orthodox tradition for priests t be bearded
6. Muslim common but not obligatory
7. Muslim henna dyed often to mark having gone on pilgrimage to Mecca
8. Hindu common among sects that take a vow of poverty and so cannot own a razor
9. Pagan a beard can help the look
10. Mormon and JW leaders not a rule but beards are seldom seen

Lord's Day May 21 2017

Although I got back quite late from Cambridge on Saturday night I think considering William Perkins for a day or two before preaching was a good preparation for the Lord's Day and I was able to preach what I hope were two helpful and effective sermons. We were in Acts in the morning and I am glad that rather than simply preaching on Chapter 5:1-13 I began back in Acts 4, focusing on the normal first before the abnormal. A challenging message nevertheless. In the evening we were looking at that great parable, the parable of the weeds. Full of instruction. The evening service was preceded by communion. No new people today and quite a few missing all told but decent numbers. Loved the hymns today.

William Perkins Conference Final Paper

Our final paper was from Greg Salazar, currently studying for his PhD in Cambridge. He had four main points and spoke on
1.The Puritan defence of the sole authority of Scripture as against Roman Catholicism
Here he touched on the centrality of the Bible, the Catholic assault on the sole authority of Scripture and the Puritan response.
2. The Puritan defence of the centrality of preaching against conformists
Here he touched on attempts to supplant the centrality of preaching by emphasising the sacraments and reading Scripture and prayers
3. The Puritan defence of  the pursuit of holiness against antinomianism
Here he spoke of the Puritan pursuit of holiness and the influence of Emmanuel College, prophesyings, lectureships, etc. He also spoke of the assault on this position by Tobias Crisp, John Saltmarsh and others and the counter response from Samuel Rutherford.
He made four final applications
1, Be zealous for the authority of God's Word and on guard against supplemenetal authorities
2. Be convinced of the centrality of preaching and the folly of alternative forms of grace
3. Look for God's smiling face in frowning providences
4. Pursue disciplined holiness in community and be on guard against antinomian tendencies
(Sorry not to have posted this final report earlier) 

William Perkins Conference Penultimate Paper

It was nice to meet J Stephen Yuille today and to hear him give the penultimate paper on Perkins as a Contender for the faith. Observing that although he is called the father of Puritanism Perkins is a Reformer rather than a Puritan, He was an apologist both for the truth and for the Church of England. He gave us 15 reasons why we should read Perkins and these points were something similar to what follows
1. His unwavering commitment to the truth of Scripture in contrast to ancient and modern scepticism
2. His exegetical method which puts the lie to other accepted but flawed methods of interpretation
3. His conviction that the principal work of the Holy Spirit is to illumine what is in Scripture rather than to mystically bring about some immediate knowledge of God within
4. His emphasis on preaching as the thing that we should emphasise - an excellent corrective again to some of the ideas that are prevalent in our present time
5. His plain style of preaching which provides a glimpse into the Reformed conviction that Scripture both informs and transforms and delivers us from ceaseless homiletical innovation
6. His experiential preaching which addresses the matter of Scripture and so provides a paradigm for preachers who want to bring the mind into contact with the real meaning of Scripture. (He was careful to distinguish law and gospel throughout Scripture and to preach both).
7. His detailed description of the doctrine of predestination and his preaching of the gospel which is a corrective to those who say they admire him but fail to show the same balance. (Unlike some of his successors he never lost sight of the free offer)
8. His delight in Christ as an all sufficient Saviour which is a great tonic for those who say that Christ is the answer but do not believe it and offer all sorts of alternatives.
9. His portrayal of Christ our righteousness which provides relief to the sinner aware of his sin and of his need of a Savour.
10. His handling of the doctrine of justification and sanctification which brings light to the current and recurring debates over the relationship between the two.
11. His realism as to the difficulties of the Christian life which is a refreshing cordial to those trapped in the false teaching of a two tier Christianity.
12. His theological acumen provides a great theological, exegetical and philosophical example to us of how to handle doctrine in a balanced way.
13. His repudiation of the Spirit/matter dualistic view which is the answer to the temptation to follow a disembodied pietism.
14. His view of theology as the science of living blessedly forever which is a great antidote to enlightenment ideas that make theology a mere academic exercise. (Perkins quotes Psalm 144:15 again and again)
15. His defence of the wholesome doctrine of love speaks to a church that still struggles to harmonise faith and love, etc.

Emily Dickinson


I have mentioned Emily Dickinson before now and how I discovered her in University. She wrote 1800 poems in her life time but only had ten or eleven published. She has been brought to mind again by two media events. first, I persuaded Eleri to join me in the Phoenix, East Finchley to see A Quiet Passion the other week. I think her comment at the end  "That's two hours we'll never get back again was a trifle harsh but it is fair to say that the life of Emily Dickinson of Amherst, New England is not the stuff of movie blockbusters and so despite valiant efforts the film struggled to keep the interest up. More recently, on Radio 4, Melvyn Bragg has had some exerts in to do an In our time on her. (See here). This was a much better format for looking at this interesting woman. I found the suggestion that not all her first person poems are about her a new angle to explore. Here is an example of her simple genius.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers - 
That perches in the soul - 
And sings the tune without the words - 
And never stops - at all - 

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard - 
And sore must be the storm - 
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm - 

 I’ve heard it in the chillest land - 
And on the strangest Sea - 
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

Rhodri Morgan Anecdote

It has been sad this week to hear of the death of Welsh speaking Welshman Rhodri Morgan, former Welsh first minister. He was the man who gave one of my sons his degree when he graduated (Cledwyn Hughes gave me mine, Cled the Red). I like the anecdote that tells how Tony Blair once stayed at Mr Morgan's house. Apparently Tony Blair was up early in the morning and so was Morgan's mother-in-law. When she came into the kitchen an saw him she blurted out "I know who you are, You're that Lionel Blair"!. Morgan confirmed the truth of the story in an interview with David Frost some time.

William Perkins



The enterprising American Joel Beeke is currently publishing the complete works of William Perkins in 10 volumes (we've reached volume 4 so far). Meanwhile the Library at PRTS has been christened the William Perkins Library (a prize exhibit is apparently a set of Perkins writings owned by Spurgeon then A W Pink who made extensive notes in them). As part of this drive he has brought 55 mainly Americans and Canadians to Britain for a short tour that includes this conference in the historic Round Church in Cambridge to which there has been a general invite (free of charge!).
As it turns out I have a niece who lives in Histon near Cambridge (her husband is a PhD student) so I was able to come and stay with them last night and they have just treated me to a meal out. So not only am I getting to see them but I am also enjoying what so far has been an excellent conference.
On Friday night Sinclair Ferguson spoke on Perkins as a Plain preacher making four points - his influence (including a fascinating anecdote from South Korea in the nineties); his understanding of preaching; his emphasis on the plain style and his grids (as described in the Banner paperback edited by SF The Art of prophesying).
Joel Beeke opened this morning on Perkins the largest case of conscience,which is assurance. Dr Beeke is an authority on this subject and he helpfully told us about what Perkins had written and why.. Like Dr Ferguson he began with some biographical background material stressing Perkins' powerful influence. He then explained his doctrine of assurance, itemising his several writings on this subject and finishing with a summary of Perkins little book A case of conscience, the greatest that ever was: How a man may know whether he be the child of God or no (6 folio pages). You can access this here.
In the second part of the morning my esteemed father-in-law Geoff Thomas spoke on the pursuit of godliness in the ministry of Perkins. He highlighted 1. How Perkins pursued godliness (Through conversion, stud, following providential leadings [for example among prisoners] and by becoming a minister) 2. How preaching encourages godliness 3. Three essential marks of godliness (the faith that saves [knowledge, assent, trust – with which there must be a right beginning, credible fruit and a life of trusting the Lord] the repentance that saves and a new saving obedience, which includes an outward and inward obedience and a seeking to promote better affections).
So good stuff. Numbers have been good too with the 55 swollen to perhaps twice the size.

10 people who died at the age of 58



Around this time of year we like to do this. It keeps us humbled and sane(ish).

1. Machiavelli, Niccolo writer (58 years 50 days, June 22, 1527)
2. Dickens, Charles novelist (58 years 122 days, June 9, 1870)
3. Baker, Chet jazz musician (58 years 142 days, May 13, 1988)
4. Flaubert, Gustave writer (58 years 148 days on May 8, 1880)
5. Warhol, Andy artist (died of complications from gallbladder surgery 58 years 200 days, February 22, 1987)
6. Burton, Richard Welsh actor (died of cerebral haemorrhage 58 years 269 days, August 5, 1984)
7. Harrison, George Beatle (died of cancer 58 years 277 days, November 29, 2001)
8. King James I [VI] (58 years 281 days, March 27, 1625)
9. White, Barry singer (58 years 295 days, July 4, 2003)
10. Kepler, Johannes astronomer (58 years 323 days, November 15, 1630)
[Also, Joyce, James Irish writer (died of a perforated ulcer 58 years 346 days. January 13, 1941)

Spurgeon on Clarke, Doddridge and Gill

The recent shot of Augustine between books on Catholicism and Protestantism reminded of a remark Spurgeon makes (in his Commenting on Commentaries). It concerns High Calvinist John Gill and the Arminian Adam Clarke (I'd misremembered it as a reference to Wesley and Toplady). Spurgeon says
I have placed next to Gill in my library Adam Clarke but as I have no desire to have my rest broken by wars among the authors, I have placed Doddridge between them. If the spirits of the two worthies could descend to the earth in the same mood in which they departed, no one house would be able to hold them. Adam Clarke is the great annotator of our Wesleyan friends; and they have no reason to be ashamed of him, for he takes rank among the chief of expositors. His mind was evidently fascinated by the singularities of learning, and hence his commentary is rather too much of an old curiosity shop, but it is filled with valuable rarities, such as none but a great man could have collected. Like Gill, he is one sided, only in the opposite direction to our friend the Baptist. The use of the two authors may help to preserve the balance of your judgements. If you consider Clarke wanting in unction, do not read him for savour but for criticism, and then you will not be disappointed.

Midweek Meeting Wednesday May 17 2017


There were 15 of us on Wednesday! Had someone told them we were going back to Leviticus? Actually, what it was partly was four visitors - a couple from the west country up in London for the day, an old member back visiting her parents and an Iranian lady with limited English living in the area checking us out. Having said that more could have been there but the rain and whatever kept them away. Leviticus 8 is the ordination of Aaron and his sons. Parallels can be made to Christ and to his people. We had a good prayer session again.

Library Lecture on Anne Steele


There was another chance to give my lecture on Anne Steele this week - at the Evangelical Library over the lunch time. We had a decent turn out and I was able to get over the story (you can hear the Bulkington version here). I hope to put a transcript of the lecture on the Evangelical Library website very soon. She is a fascinating subject and her hymns are well worth checking out. My headings - Stories, Setting, Scene, Strict Baptists, Schooldays, Sicknesses, Sylvan repose, Social circle/supporters, Spirituality, Suffering, Success, Spiritual songs, Sadnesses.