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All articles in category Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Article

April 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

‘Spiritual abuse’ and the threat to religious liberty

‘Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men…’ (Psalm 140:4). The torrent of examples of abuse and inappropriate practices or behaviours within and without Christ’s church fills the heart of any observer with shock, compassion for the victims, and anger at cover-ups and institutional failures. There are…

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Article

March 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Don’t trust your memory

We moved from North Wales when I was seven years old. But my memories of life there are very vivid. Plodding to school through the snow during the winter of 1963. Climbing the oak tree in the fields behind our home. Playing the third king (‘myrrh I bring’) in a nativity play and refusing,…

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Article

March 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Faithfulness in the little things where we are called

Henry had a derelict father who distracted himself with fishing and hunting. Lazy and irresponsible, he sent young Henry off to boarding school, left him to be taken in by the headmaster, and came to sign his letters ‘Uncle’ instead of ‘Father’. And yet for Henry Francis Lyte (1793–1847), who would grow up to…

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Article

February 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Personal holiness essential for leaders

I was recently invited to a ministers’ lunch at Grace Baptist Church, Dunstable. The speaker was Rico Tice from All Souls, London. Around forty people had gathered as Rico spoke on the subject of ‘Personal holiness in leaders’. I was reminded of some basic truths: the reason I am a Christian is because the…

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Article

February 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Speaking up for God’s name

It’s a dilemma. I’m talking with a non-Christian acquaintance, a neighbour whom I chat with from time to time. We’re not talking about anything in particular – the weather, how the children are doing, whether man-made climate change is a reality, what we make of the election result. He knows that I’m a minister…

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Article

February 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Depression: a wimp of a word

William Styron was an award-winning US novelist, who is most well-known for Sophie’s Choice and The Confessions of Nat Turner. I haven’t read these. To me, he is the man who wrote lucidly about his depressive illness in his short book Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness. Based on an ancient Greek theory of…

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Article

February 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Humble yourselves like little children

In Matthew’s Gospel chapter 18 the disciples come to Jesus and Peter asks, ‘Who is the greatest?’ Ever since they had come to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, they had been eager to share in the glory of the kingdom. That is not wrong of itself. The…

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Article

February 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Orderly worship as a witness to the world

Walking into an unsupervised toddler nursery is enough to overwhelm most people. It’s chaos. The children might be screaming, fighting, throwing toys, holding their hands over their ears, or doing any number of other things all at once. Children need unstructured play time or ‘free play’ for their development, so it’s not necessarily a…

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Article

February 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Look at the birds, are you not of more value than they?

In his wonderful ‘Sermon on the Mount’ Jesus Christ was encouraging his disciples not to worry or fret about materials things, such as what they would wear or eat. I like to think that these men to whom Jesus was speaking were showing signs of concern at that time about how they were to…

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Article

December 2019
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Truth, lies and Santa Claus: What shall we tell our children about Father Christmas?

It’s not a problem now. Our children are that bit older. But for years we had to threaten them with dire penalties as Christmas approached. They mustn’t say it. They mustn’t even hint at it. Whatever anyone said to them, they mustn’t let it slip. They don’t believe in Santa. I well remember the…

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Article

December 2019
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’

Outside the snow has just fallen. It looks so lovely and white when it first falls to the ground. But I can also see that it is not pure on the street, for it mingles with the dirt and grime and becomes a mushy mess. Many years ago, a young lady saw in her…

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Article

December 2019
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Christmas jumpers

What would Christmas be without Christmas trees, Christmas dinner, Christmas carols, Christmas cards or, more recently, the Christmas jumper? Christmas gives us the opportunity to wear clothes we would never normally be seen dead in. What other time of the year would we wear to work an elf’s outfit or a jumper which lights…

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