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All articles in category Ecclesiological & Pastoral

June 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Mornings

‘I hate people who sing in the morning’, muttered Snoopy the dog. Perhaps Charles Schulz got the idea from Proverbs 27:14, which says, ‘He who blesses his neighbour with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing’? Mornings. They can be a thermometer of where we are at. The older we get, the slower we can be to get going in the morning. And, if we have ever suffered from depression, we will know that mornings can be difficult. It takes an act of will-power to get out of bed — mind over matter, and mind over mattress! New day...

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June 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

‘Why do good men sin?’

A question that perplexes and confuses most of us is, ‘Why do good men sin? We see a man we have always respected and admired make a mess of his life and commit some terrible sin. We find it unbelievable and it confuses us. It almost shakes our faith and we ask, ‘How could this happen?’ It seems to defy reason. The answer is found in the words of Jesus, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good, except God alone’ (Luke 18:19). Jesus was constantly challenging his audience to reconsider their ideas of holiness and goodness. Sometimes we expect too much from...

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God’s amazing love
May 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

God’s amazing love

Imagine John, the last of the apostles, now an old man in his 80s, and close to death. He has not lost the wonder of God’s undeserved love; it still fills him with amazement. He says: ‘Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us…’ (1 John 3:1). It is years since John walked in Galilee and Jerusalem with God the Son, and stood at the cross and saw the empty tomb. Nevertheless, he is still overcome with wonder as he thinks about God’s love. Christians are loved by God This love is a divine gift The Father bestows it on us. He...

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May 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The ‘doing-business-with-God’ prayer meeting

Last month, I was taken aback when on different occasions three separate people, each of them stable, mature Christians whom I admire, said the same thing about the church to which they have each belonged for years. They are fully involved with their churches and, as far as I know, walking with the Lord. But they, in different settings, shared that they are going to church out of a sense of duty, with no sense of delight or expectation that the Lord will meet with them or speak to them. They sense that their church appears to be on a downward spiral and it hurts...

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May 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Church-planting – the right way

Church-plants are breathing life into many unreached parts of Britain. But what happens when these plants conflict with existing ministry? Reports of church-planting have multiplied, with concerted efforts among organisations and large churches to revitalise gospel ministry across the UK. Acts 29, Co:Mission, the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) and others are busy helping church-planters. Last year, London Seminary launched ‘Plant’, a course aimed at those preparing to plant and grow healthy churches. Earlier this year, Robert Strivens, seminary principal, wrote, ‘I’ve taken a call from a pastor looking for an evangelist or church planter to help in his church. I receive at least...

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April 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

‘What is truth?’

It would be accurate to say that more and more people are asking this kind of question these days. Most Christians will know that it was the first century Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, who posed this question to Jesus during a private interview with him at the Lord’s trial. The apostle John records the account in John 18. Sadly, the question was not put to Jesus because Pilate had a humble heart and was seeking to know about ultimate truth. If anything, it was a sneering response from a hard, cynical man to what the Lord had just said to him. And what...

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March 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Hindered by Satan

Paul makes an amazing statement in his first letter to the Thessalonian church: ‘We wanted to come to you — I, Paul, again and again — but Satan hindered us’ (2:18). Can Satan hinder the work of God? Let’s note some other Scriptures. Before Paul had good news from Timothy that the believers in Thessalonica were progressing well, he expressed the fear that Satan might have tempted them and his work be in vain (1 Thessalonians 3:5). In Revelation 2:10, Jesus (through John) tells the Christians at Smyrna that Satan will put some of them in prison. After Paul’s amazing visions he was given a...

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March 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The single Christian and romance

Stuart Burgess responds to Trevor Baker’s Evangelical Times (January 2017) Personal View of his book, God’s way for romance: getting back to biblical courtship, published by Day One (112 pages, £6.00; ISBN: 978-1-84625-497-0). I am not surprised that Trevor Baker disagrees with my book God’s way for romance, because he takes a very different approach from me towards courtship. It is helpful to clarify our contrasting positions because the review misrepresents my book. I take the position that courtship should be a means to an end (to investigate marriage) and not an end in itself (to have a relationship with physical intimacy). In contrast, Mr...

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February 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

‘Countless things women can do’

‘I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, Here am I. Send me!’ (Isaiah 6:8).When the prophet Isaiah encounters the glorious holiness of the Lord, he is humbled, aware of his complete sinfulness. But God cleanses Isaiah and calls him to take the Lord’s message to the nation of Israel, and promises to bring men and women into his kingdom as a result. The same is true of Christian women who respond to God’s call to serve him in their family and community, in the UK or overseas. We need to know...

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October 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Contending for the faith (2)

Continued from Contending for the faith (1) The church in the eighteenth century suffered from the attack of atheistic philosophers, but in the nineteenth century there was an even more subtle attack that came from within. Higher Criticism and the theory of evolution cast doubt upon the accuracy of the Bible. So-called Christian scholars, particularly in the Free Church of Scotland, thought they could accommodate these views with continued evangelical belief. Deception Their approach came to be described as the ‘new apologetic’; they thought they were providing a basis for faith more stable than ever before. The result was that they were the unconscious instruments...

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October 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Harvest expectations

‘And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart’ (Galatians 6:9) When it comes to Christian service, I wonder what our expectations are. Do we have great expectations? Do we eagerly anticipate a great outpouring of God the Holy Spirit? Do we really believe that souls will and can be saved, even through our own feeble efforts? Low expectations If we are constantly harbouring thoughts of doubt in our minds, then we will continuously be disappointed. Why should we expect someone to be delivered from darkness to light, if our expectations of...

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September 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Contending for the faith (1)

When we view the situation in some of the historic denominations in the United Kingdom, we see how they are dominated by false teachers. Ministers and elders can hold the most outrageous opinions and yet no action is taken against them. Trials for heresy seem to have become a thing of the past. We are living in a day when such matters have ceased to concern the evangelical church. Professor Thomas C. Oden has said: ‘The very thought about asking about heresy has itself become the new heresy. The arch-heresiarch is the one who hints that some distinction might be needed between truth and falsehood,...

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