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Article

June 2019
Articles > World Mission

What in the world is happening to missions? Evaluation, accountability and priorities

This is the third in a series of four articles in which experienced missionary Will Niven asks some searching and important questions about the current evangelical approach to missions. In my previous two articles, I highlighted what I perceive to be some of the problems within the current evangelical approach to missions. I have discussed matters relating to volunteerism, finances, training and parachurch organisations. This month, I discuss some more areas of concern: evaluation, accountability and priorities. Evaluation: the tyranny of the success syndrome and its effects. A missionary to Morocco from my home church told me, before she died, of her family’s labours in...

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Article

June 2019
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Thinking it through… the wisdom of withholding judgement

Oh no. I dread phonecalls like this. It’s from a friend. Ian’s ringing to tell me that he and his wife have left the church they’ve been attending for the past twenty-odd years. It’s a sad story. They were pillars in that church, working faithfully, doing the jobs no one else wanted to do, supporting the leadership loyally:  until two years ago when the church called a new pastor. He came in and changed everything. Introduced all sorts of new ways of doing things. Pushed his favourites into the key positions in the church. Suggested to older folk like them that it was time to...

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Article

June 2019
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

A shrink thinks… Pastor vs psychiatrist?

Am I in conflict with myself? I am not referring to Romans 7 and wrestling with my sin, but rather to a potential role conflict. As both a serving elder with some pastoral responsibility and a practising consultant psychiatrist, do I experience a tension between these two roles? Do I find that my ‘psychiatrist self’ has a set of views and practices which are in opposition to my ‘eldership self’? I do not. But if you read my recent article on ‘Unconscious sin’ then you might respond that I am not best placed to answer my own question! For I may unconsciously be working as...

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Article

June 2019
Articles > Guest column

How I am is not who I am

Struggling for the right words, the prop forward tried to answer the question. Talking about his feelings obviously didn’t come easily. ‘I really loved my wife and children’ he said, ‘but then I started to have these urges – and I had to be true to my urges’. The BBC interviewer obviously approved – he did not ask why. The media believes ‘who I am’ is who I feel I am. And since my strongest feelings are sexual, I must define myself by my sexual urges. Not to act to gratify these urges is repression, a denial of who I am. But as Christians we...

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Article

June 2019
Articles > Comment

Online censorship in the name of regulation?

I wouldn’t blame you if it has slipped you by, but the government has released new proposals to regulate the entire internet. It wants to fine websites that fail to tackle ‘online harms’. It proposes to set up a new independent watchdog which will introduce a ‘code of practice’. What’s that got to do with us as evangelicals? Well, the scope of the new proposals is alarming. Everything on the internet will come under the plans – so that includes your church website, or the online content of any Christian organisation, or any pastor who has a blog. The definition of an ‘online harm’ is...

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Article

June 2019
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The Saviour from sin, not just from hell

Jesus Christ offers himself as the Saviour for sinners. As Christians it is our privilege to proclaim this glorious message to mankind. But it is important that all pastors, evangelists, and Christian workers propose salvation on the terms which Christ himself intended. I have a particular point to make in this article relative to the demands of the gospel. It is this: Christ offers himself not so much as the Saviour from hell as the Saviour from sin. In the first chapter of the New Testament, it was announced, prior to the Saviour’s birth, that he would save his people from their sins (Matthew. 1:21)....

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Article

May 2019
Articles > World Mission

What in the world is happening to missions? Training and parachurch organisations

This is the second in a series of four articles in which experienced missionary Will Niven asks some searching and important questions about the current evangelical approach to missions. Last time, in my first article, I highlighted what I perceive to be some of the problems with volunteerism and finances within the current evangelical approach to missions. This month, I discuss two more areas of concern: training and parachurch organisations. Training What are we preparing people to do? One of the most enlightening and at the same time crushing moments in my life was when I realised that I was largely unequipped for the job...

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Article

May 2019
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

THINKING IT THROUGH: Christians facing exams

Over a twelve-month period, we have invited Stephen Rees — an experienced pastor — to share his thoughts on various topics. Whilst his column may be edited for reasons of length or style, his views are his own and may not necessarily reflect positions held by the Evangelical Times. It’s exam time. Over the next few weeks most of the youngsters who attend the church I pastor will be sitting exams of one sort or another. SATs, GCSEs, A levels, university assessments, music exams: from early childhood into our twenties we face one daunting educational hurdle after another. And some of us then go back...

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Article

May 2019
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

A SHRINK THINKS… God’s gift of time

Time is egalitarian. On each new day we are all allocated the same amount of this precious gift from God. We receive our 24 hours. And we are all responsible every day for how we use this gift in his service. Of course, from a lifetime perspective we are allotted different amounts in this world since God ordains our days and gives each of us our own special portion of time. But the same truth applies. We are given our allocation of this ‘talent’ and are accountable to God for our use of it. We are taught to use our time wisely (Psalm 90; Colossians...

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Article

May 2019
Articles > Guest column

Christian liberty

In different ways the Christian has been set free. Supremely, we are free in relation to sin. Sin made us debtors to divine justice, but Christ has paid the price. Sin made us incapable of godly behaviour, but Christ has renewed our hearts. This liberation from sin is the heart of the gospel. But there is another type of liberty that belongs to the Christian. John Calvin wrote of ‘The liberty of the consciences of believers, which ought to be laid under no obligation in things that are not necessary’ (Institutes, III.xix.3). Of course, this liberty of conscience is not absolute. We are under Christ’s...

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Article

May 2019
Comment

A sacking on the other side of the world that should trouble us all

Unless you follow international rugby, you may not have heard of Israel Folau. He’s a super-star Australian rugby player who is also a Christian. But it looks like his career as a rugby player may be over. Why? He committed the ‘crime’ of expressing his biblical beliefs on social media, and the politically-correct elite were outraged. We should all be troubled by this development. But first, some disclaimers. I accept that his postings were rather blunt. I also accept that social media may not be the best forum for these things – I myself keep my own posting mostly to family news. And I accept...

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Article

May 2019
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Dr Lloyd-Jones was well equipped to write on spiritual depression: Part 2

Last month Geoff Thomas began looking at why Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was so well equipped to preach, counsel and write on the subject of spiritual depression. He said that Dr Lloyd-Jones was such a well-rounded, intelligent, and tender personality; he was also utterly committed to the faith of the Scriptures; and he was a man who maintained the disciplines of private devotion. Here is the concluding part. He was a man to whom people went for spiritual help. At the end of his services he retired to his room behind the pulpit, was taken a cup of tea and soon a line of people...

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