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December 2017
Articles > Evangelistic

How one Iranian became a Christian

Q. Mark [name changed], what was your life like before you were a Christian? Mark: Actually, my life had a lot of ups and downs, but any happiness was very short-lived. I always believed in God. Looking back, I can see that I was a sinner — and still am. One summer, I was very happy because I had managed to obtain an Iranian passport. I travelled to the UK and really enjoyed my time here. But soon afterwards my sister died. Two years later, my mother died; and, two years after that, my father died. I wasn’t the same after that; I began to realise that...

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December 2017
Articles > Evangelistic

We don’t need to guess

News is out that a certain celebrity has come to town. But why has he come? No one is quite sure. So, everyone’s guessing — one suggesting this, another suggesting that — until someone comes up with the really bright idea: ‘Why not just ask him?’ So they do. And he tells them! It’s now Christmas and lots of people are talking about Jesus. How he came from heaven to earth. How he was born in a stable in Bethlehem and laid in a manger. What a very special person he was, God’s own Son. But the big question is this: why did he come?...

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December 2017
Articles > Evangelistic

The danger of the manger

Gary Clayton examines some of the supposed ‘magic’ of Christmas. A friend once produced a thought-provoking Christmas card that showed an illustration of the traditional Christmas tree decked in tinsel and baubles, with presents down below. This was then followed by an image of a mighty wind stripping the tree of its trappings and partially unwrapping the parcels below. The final drawing showed a denuded tree, its branches in the shape of a rugged cross, the gifts beneath now unequivocally revealed as gold, myrrh and frankincense. ‘The true meaning of Christmas: Immanuel, God with us’ was, I think, the simple greeting that followed, along with...

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December 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Mary’s Magnificat; Rachel’s lament

For many families at Christmas, traditional imagery can be heartbreaking, rather than heart-warming. ‘Christmas is all about family’; ‘children make Christmas special’; ‘it’s such a joy to see the little ones’ faces on Christmas day’. We’ve all heard these perfectly natural sentiments expressed by parents and not just secular parents. Christian parents often put more into their seasonal celebrations because of their children. In one sense, they’re right. It is lovely to be surrounded by family and excited children, opening presents or singing carols or taking part in nativity plays. And of course, it reminds us of the virgin Mary, whose obedience to God’s will,...

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December 2017
Articles > Evangelistic

If I were a wise man…

We don’t know very much about them. Matthew’s is the only Gospel to make mention of them, and they appear and disappear in just twelve verses. But I’ve always had a soft spot for the mystery men from the East. One carol goes like this: ‘We three kings of Orient are, One in a taxi, one in a car, One on a scooter, blowing his hooter, Smoking a big cigar’. That, of course, is the unofficial version; although the real thing isn’t a whole lot more accurate. The Bible nowhere tells us that they were kings, nor even that there were three of them. That’s...

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December 2017
Articles > Evangelistic

Just an old book?

The circumstances surrounding someone’s conversion to Christ may vary widely, but it seems to me that there are five elements common to all: conviction of sin; repentance; hearing (or reading) the gospel; the exercise of faith in the finished work of Christ; and a subsequent, evident change in lifestyle. My own conversion occurred in 1973, when I was 29 years of age. I had at that time been married for five years. I had no religious convictions, nor any history of church attendance, except for a handful of visits to Sunday school as a child. My career as an environmental health officer in local government...

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December 2017
Articles > Evangelistic

Changed from the inside out

What was your life like before you were a Christian? About the age of four, I made a ‘confession of faith’ in Jesus Christ and was baptised. ‘So that was that’, I used to think growing up. I said the right things and prayed every so often. But as I grew up, there were thoughts that nagged my mind. While it was true, I thought, I wasn’t going to hell, why had I ever been going there in the first place? Surely, even though I was a sinner like everyone else, I wasn’t a really bad one. Surely there were lots of people worse than me?...

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December 2017
Articles > Evangelistic

A good grief — a personal testimony

Death is the one thing that all people in this world have in common. Death is inevitable for us all, irrespective of our status. And death is the one subject we all try to avoid, but eventually have to face head-on. Only a Christian can look death in the face with a smile. But, watching a loved one gradually leave this world is never easy. Hospice In April 2017, I visited a number of times, along with my wife, the hospice where my dear mother-in-law, Jean, was to spend her last few days. She had been diagnosed with cancer, and, just nine and a half...

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