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All articles in category Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Article

June 2014
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Reflections on a reunion

In November 2013, about 70 church members ‘freely, joyfully and solemnly’ covenanted together to form a new church in Shepshed; a union of the Belton Street Baptist and the Free Evangelical churches in the town. This was the culmination of a seven-year journey. When we set off, we had no idea how long and testing the expedition would be, but we always believed and trusted that the prize at the end was more than worth the price. As we stood together on that Lord’s Day morning, we praised God for his grace and faithfulness in guiding us and helping us along the way. Why had...

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Article

June 2014
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Child trafficking

Imagine you are in another country; somewhere you don’t speak the language and know no one. What would you do if you had an emergency and desperately needed help? Who would you turn to for advice and support? Now imagine that you are a teenager sent abroad to work to pay off debts owed by your parents to criminal gangs. The only people you know are the people who have brought you from your home.       Your passport is taken away and you are constantly threatened with violence if you run away. They bully you, warning of dire consequences for your family if you fail...

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Article

May 2014
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Thoughts on the Lord’s Supper (1)

Today there seems to be a growing crisis over the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. A couple of years ago the author was visiting Britain and was surprised by the casual way it was celebrated in a church he attended. He knows of one family with young children who were obliged to attend another place of worship, because their church started to distribute the elements to everyone in the meeting, including the children. If one believes in baptismal regeneration, this could be justified, but hardly in an evangelical church that believes, theoretically anyway, that conversion is through the work of the Holy Spirit in the...

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Article

May 2014
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The anointing ! (2)

During my days in the Jesus People movement, when we really did see miracles, I never heard or experienced anything like the ‘miracles’ described by Rodney Howard-Browne or Paul Cain. These ‘miracles’ they attribute to their ‘anointing’ (see ET, April 2014). However, I have had conversations with those involved in eastern spiritual practices that sound very much like Howard-Browne’s anointing. These are of an occult nature and similar, in particular, to Kundalini. In Wikipedia, Kundalini is described as ‘an indwelling spiritual energy that can be awakened in order to purify the “subtle system” and ultimately bestow the state of Yoga, or Divine Union, upon the...

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Article

May 2014
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Zeal for God

Complacency is an enemy that can attack any one of us in our Christian faith and hamper a fulfilling relationship with God. Merriam-Webster defines complacency as ‘a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to make them better’. Though many of us may acknowledge God on a daily basis, this can be done without strong conviction. But the Bible says, ‘Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord’ (Romans 12:11). Stagnation  Our faith should be seen as real commitment. We must avoid the pitfall of ‘convenient faith’. Algae, bacteria and parasites are more abundant in water...

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Article

May 2014
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Spiritual check-ups

Every six months or so, I need to go to the dentist to have a check-up, to see if my teeth are fine or any remedial work needs to be carried out. Some people need to go regularly to the doctor’s surgery for a medical check-up. Believers should be carrying out spiritual self-checks regularly. The morning is a good time to seek the Lord and his counsel and support, and ask for opportunities to enjoy and glorify him in the day. The evening is the ideal time to review the day, assess events, give thanks and ask for forgiveness (Psalms 5:1-3; 6:6-7; 119:55, 62). There...

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Article

March 2014
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Prepare to be an amazing old person!

Like it or not, if you continue to live, you’ll get old. As you look around at all those ancient people in the grocery store, golf course, retirement village and nursing home, don’t be smug — you’ll be there soon enough! It will do you well to prepare to make those years the best they can be, for the glory of God.  It’s not uncommon for God to use older people. Take Caleb who fought giants as an octogenarian. Or Moses, who led a cantankerous people up to the promised land at 120. Remember Anna, the widow, who served God with prayers at the temple...

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Article

February 2014
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Fresh expressions – engaging with context or theological liberalism rebranded?

With continuing claims of declining attendance in churches across the UK, it is commendable that some within the church are not only saddened by these statistics, but also moved to respond to them. One such movement is ‘Fresh Expressions’ (www.freshexpressions.org.uk). This movement is largely maintained and championed by Bishop Graham Cray, and came out of Cray’s work in his seminal Mission shaped church report which was published in 2004 (London: Church House Publishing). Cray’s findings in this report helped to shape what has now become the Fresh Expressions movement. Here are a few findings from that report. Smaller groups Setting out a basis for a...

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Article

January 2014
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Be still

Anxiety and the believer This article is for the faint-hearted. There are some people who always remain calm when faced with the prospect of a challenging situation, be it a school or college exam, a hospital or dental appointment, or a summons to an employer to discuss ‘your position’. Having experienced all of these scenarios, I confess to sometimes becoming somewhat stressed — symptoms include a nervous stomach, irregular sleep patterns and heart arrhythmias. A mature Christian friend recently wrote, ‘I can really sympathise with you. I hate going to the Dr and Dentist — glad to know someone else with the same problem. We...

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Article

January 2014
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The Amish (4) – anachronism or Example

Though the Amish have left the gospel preached by their Anabaptist forefathers (see the October 2013 ET), much of their lifestyle had its origins in biblical teaching and is, therefore, still a challenge to those who love the Lord and want to keep his commandments (John 14:15). We noted some examples of this in November’s ET. In this final article we look at their dress code and also sound a warning. Rules In each congregation the ‘ordnung’ (rules for Amish living) lays down the style, colour and type of material to be used for each item of clothing. The width of the brims and bands...

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Article

January 2014
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Hope in suffering

‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him’ (Job 13:15). Life is hard for every one, but God’s people too need always to remember that, irrespective of salvation, they live in a fallen world, where everyone suffers. Suffering is part of the fallen order of the universe. It is a given and ordained experience and reality, just as much as love and joy are. It was not so in the Garden of Eden, but it is so now and will continue to be so until this old order of creation is ended and the new order begun (Romans 8:20-23). Job Job was a godly...

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Article

November 2013
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Worshipful worship

Discussions about the form of worship are often polarised into opposition between services dominated by music on the one hand and the fear of formalism on the other. The word liturgy makes most evangelicals shudder as it suggests deadness and smacks of Anglicanism. Saying ‘our church has no liturgy’ hides the fact that we do have one, made up of ‘slots’, often led by solo performers: prayer – hymn – prayer – reading – children’s talk – hymn – message and so on. It’s a predictable mix, sometimes laced with unsingable songs, and we may legitimately wonder if this is what worship should be. Come...

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