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All articles in category Ecclesiological & Pastoral

July 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Overcoming your doubts

Mr Doubtful couldn’t believe it! There he was standing at the entrance to the Celestial City. Was it all a dream? Had he really been summoned to live with Prince Emmanuel and his people? Were they all expecting him? Would he be welcomed or turned away? He stood frozen to the spot. Suddenly, the porter appeared with two guards. ‘Have you a summons?’ ‘Er, here it is, I think’, answered Doubtful, in a quivering half whisper. Out of his inside pocket he retrieved, hesitantly, a crumpled piece of paper. The porter turned towards the two guards behind him, ‘You may open the gates. The document...

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June 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Sleeping well

Insomnia is an unpleasant experience which can afflict us all from time to time. Our cat Sally never used to have any difficulty in sleeping. We humans though are not quite like that. It can be as though the whole world is peacefully asleep, but we are awake, tossing and turning. The anxieties of the day — and perhaps bodily pain — can prevent our falling asleep at night. Acts 12 relates a time when the apostle Peter was put into prison. Peter was a leader in the infant church of Christ. It was a period of church growth, with many coming to saving faith...

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April 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Smiles amongst sorrows

‘I’m pregnant!’ Two words I could not wait to shout to the world. Everything was moving along swimmingly in my life plan. I could tick off good results in school and university, a loving husband, a job, even a dog! Now, just like pretty much anything else, I had put my mind to do, I had gotten pregnant. Life was on track; everything was going according to my plan; and life was good. How easily we get on in life without God, when everything is ‘good’. Yet, how quickly we blame God, when everything goes wrong and bad things happen. In April 2014, my ‘life plan’ reared...

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April 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

‘The Lord led me’

We may often hear people say, ‘The Lord led me to this job’, or, ‘The Lord led me to marry this man’. In some cases, one cannot doubt the providence of God in the matter. However, there are times when people use this expression to justify sinful or unbiblical conduct. I heard someone claim the Lord’s leading of them when marrying an unbeliever, even though the Scriptures prohibit this (2 Corinthians 6:14). The argument was that the Lord led them to that person; they fell in love with them; and, as the partner did not openly oppose the gospel, it gave an opportunity to lead...

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A happy marriage
March 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

A happy marriage

Statistics show a total of 26,254 marriages registered in Singapore during 2013. But the total number of marital dissolutions rose four per cent — from 7,237 in 2012 to 7,525 in 2013. Here are some suggested helps for a healthy, God-centred marital life, in the midst of the mounting challenges facing many marriages. Nothing is impossible with God, but we must do our part too. 1. God’s blue-print for a successful marriage includes the headship of the husband and the submission of husband and wife to the Lord (Colossians 3:18-19). 2. The husband has the privilege and responsibility of loving his wife and being faithful...

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March 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

‘It takes all sorts!’

‘It takes all sorts!’ This expression was sometimes heard in the railway office in which I once worked. We were an exceedingly diverse work force. I used to sit opposite a Muslim lady, and we got on quite well. One or two of the work force weren’t long out of college, yet there was also an ex-army man who had ‘been there, seen it and done it’. One or two male colleagues were real railway buffs; their work was their hobby as well as their living. Another man kept reptiles. My main hobby was, as it still is, running. The colourful characters working for the...

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February 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Personal view: Should there be a dress code for Christian meetings?

Does how we dress matter? Dress obviously mattered to the recently elected executive chairman of Barclays Bank. On assuming control, he banished flip-flops and T-shirts from their Canary Wharf head office because, ‘It’s important that we present the right image’. Apparently flip-flops and high powered banking just do not mix! Dress also mattered to the missionary who was evangelising in an African village (and I have the story from an eyewitness). He insisted that the ladies be decently dressed for worship, so had some gourds cut in half, emptied and placed at the door of the church, so that all the ladies could ‘veil’ their...

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February 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

‘On this rock’ (2)

A fourth reason (continued from ET, January 2016) for not taking the Roman Catholic view that Peter was the first pope of Rome, is the rejection of this idea by a majority of the early Church Fathers. It is demonstrably not the case that everyone used to believe in the Roman view of Peter and the papacy, until those mischievous Reformers came along in the 16th century and upset the ancient apple cart. That would be a problem if it were true. Did Christ allow believers to be utterly deceived for 1500 years, and then up popped Martin Luther and the light finally shone? No sane...

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February 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Remember the prisoners

The writer of the New Testament letter to the Hebrews exhorts Christians to ‘remember those in prison’ (13:3). But how easy is it for UK Christians to do this? How can we possibly understand the suffering that so many of our fellow-Christians are experiencing? I believe it means firstly understanding what the ‘church’ is. We must grasp the church’s uniqueness. It is the body of Christ, a community of God’s blood-bought people, a gathering of saved sinners. It is a group of people who have this in common, that they are united in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We should also grasp that, though...

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January 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Mindless ‘mindfulness’

On 21 September 2015, during his visit to Britain, the Dalai Lama met with Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist representatives. This multi-faith occasion was sponsored by an organisation called ‘Action for Happiness’ of which the Dalai Lama is patron. Action for Happiness’s website claims it ‘has helped over 100,000 people take practical action for a happier world in their homes, work places, schools and local communities’. And it introduces us to its master-plan: mindfulness. It claims that: ‘Mindfulness changes your brain: an eight-week mindfulness meditation class [usually offered at around £90] can lead to structural brain change, including increased grey matter density in the...

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January 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Sad departures

The Banner of Truth Trust has just published A sad departure — why we could not stay in the Church of Scotland, by David J. Randall (216 pages, £7.50; ISBN: 9781848716612), on recent upheavals in the Church of Scotland. Its foreword, by Sinclair B. Ferguson, is edited and used here with permission. If you care at all about the Christian church you must brace yourself for a roller coaster of emotions as you read A sad departure. The title contains a double entendre. On the one hand it alludes to the departure from the Church of Scotland of about forty ministers and many members. On...

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The greatest of the great is come
December 2015
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The greatest of the great is come

In Nazareth, Mary was told that the child to be born to her would be a great person. He would have a great birth — the highest of all stooping to such a humble entry into the world. He would be great in his life, wholly free from selfishness, lust and greed. He would be great as a teacher. He would preach the Sermon on the Mount — Shakespeare never wrote anything as magnificent as that discourse! He would be great in the wonders that he did, displaying his power over evil, over creation, over disease and over death. He would be great in his...

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