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All articles in category Ecclesiological & Pastoral

January 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

In whose name?

In ET August 2016, ‘Teach us how not to pray’ looked at some bad ways people pray, putting their desires above their legitimate needs and not considering God’s will for their lives. But why do Bible-believing Christians behave this way? It comes down, I think, to at least two issues. One is fear, the other overfamiliarity. The fear issue is probably the simplest to understand. Although we might ‘have the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16), we, like Peter in Mark 8:33, do not always ‘have in mind the concerns of God’. There are times when our concerns appear so overwhelming that, rather than seeking...

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January 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Seeking, speaking and winning2

They will be missing from our churches next Sunday: that wide variety of individuals — the ‘down and outs’, ‘up and outs’, and all others in between. But one thing is for sure, whether up or down, they are most definitely ‘out’; the majority totally ignorant of the real gospel, living with a blatant disregard for God and his commands. And they live near you. So what? There may just be a Pharisee lurking within us, wanting to scold these ungodly people for not seeking the Lord in his house on his day. However, like Adam, they are cut off from the life of God,...

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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 > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Making sense of terrorism and tragedy

How are Christians to respond to recent tragic events in the UK? There have been bombings at Parsons Green and at the Manchester Arena. There was the attack in Westminster. And, barely had the police cordons been lifted in Borough Market and London Bridge, when another cordon went up around Grenfell Tower, because of its horrific fire. We all have firmly etched on our memories images of those and other horrific happenings. Yet these are not the first nor the last time such things will happen. Sadly, we know yet another tragic story will soon emerge and dominate the headlines. As Christians, it is vital...

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October 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Reformation 500: ‘Here I stand!’

On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 theses on the door at the Castle Church, Wittenberg, Germany. Thus began the Reformation. As we will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of his act this year, it is a good opportunity to reflect on why the Reformation was needed and what message it says to today’s church. Enslaving sins Although Luther is credited as being God’s man to start the Reformation in Europe, he was part of a process that had been going on centuries before him. Sadly, the church in the Middle Ages had lost its earlier purity. Ignorance of the Bible and...

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October 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The very practical Reformation

When people today think of the Reformation, they tend to picture Luther in monastic robes nailing a large amount of paper to the Castle Church door in Wittenburg. Or, they think of the wonderful ideas of the Reformation: justification by faith alone; Scripture alone as our supreme authority; salvation by grace alone. These ideas revolutionised the church, brought freedom to ordinary Christians living across Europe, and changed the world we live in today. But the Reformation was also an intensely practical movement. The great doctrinal discoveries of the Reformation meant change, not only for what Christians believe, but also how we do things. And this...

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October 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

North America and Reformation in the Netherlands

Perhaps the Reformation’s most lasting impact on the American church has come from the Netherlands. The Reformation came later to the Netherlands than Germany and England, perhaps because of extreme persecution. The German states retained some autonomy, but there was no such protection in the Netherlands. During the Reformation era, over 50,000 Protestants were martyred for their faith. When Philip II ruled over the Low Countries (Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg), he persecuted the Dutch, through his Spanish bishops and veteran armies. He also stripped the nobles of their power and imposed heavy taxes on the people, thereby solidifying the Dutch against the Spanish, politically, economically...

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September 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Christmas — an opportunity for the gospel

Christmas means a lot of different things to different people. For some it is a time of drunkenness, debauchery, and crime. Others feel lonely because someone forgot them. Some are weighed down under the burden of many activities and the pressure of shopping. Then there are those who are dismissive of the whole thing. They point out that Christ nowhere in the Bible commanded us to observe his birth. They remind us that many of the customs of Christmas, including that of setting up an evergreen in the house, are of pagan origin. A few go so far as to say that the whole business...

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