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All articles in category Guest column

April 2014
Articles > Guest column

When he comes – Guest Column

The promise is clear, when the Holy Spirit comes, he will convict the world. About what? Jesus Christ says, about sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:8ff). The word translated ‘convict’ points to facts for which there will be ample evidence. What facts? By nature we are in the wrong. In particular we have wrong ideas of sin, righteousness and judgement. Where is the evidence, and what does it show? The Spirit of God convinces us about unbelief, Christ’s righteousness and the coming judgement. There are three places from which we can gather evidence: the Bible, history and experience. What do they teach? Conscience Firstly, when...

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March 2014
Articles > Guest column

What’s missing?

‘The fear of God’ is not a term heard often. It once was. Exactly when it fell out of popular use, no one can be sure. What seems more certain is that it no longer occupies a central place, even in the thinking of professing Christians! That is strange. Why? Because it should have a central place in our thoughts. One is inclined to say it should never be neglected. Three reasons may be given. First, the example of Abraham. When in Gerar, why did he fail to say Sarah was his wife? His explanation says much: ‘I did it because I thought there is...

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February 2014
Articles > Guest column

Guest Column – Why do we suffer?

Suffering is an everyday event. We turn on the news and hear of earthquakes and typhoons. We open our newspapers and read of murders and rapes. In the street we see emergency vehicles rushing to people in need. Our friends ask, ‘If God is loving, why does he permit suffering?’ God is love Three words are often used of God: he is gracious, loving and merciful. Grace is love to the undeserving; mercy is love to those in need. This is the solid ground upon which we build the answer to the question. In the midst of suffering, we are tempted to wallow in self-pity:...

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January 2014
Articles > Guest column

How to encourage the church

The incident of Peter preaching to the Roman centurion, Cornelius, is a prime example of the gospel being received, in the book of Acts (chapters 10-11), by Gentiles. But Acts 11:19-26 was probably just as significant for the gospel’s spread to the Gentiles. This reads: ‘Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the Word to no one but the Jews only. ‘But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord...

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December 2013
Articles > Guest column

Guest Column – The inside job

The movie Inside job tells the story of the banking crisis of 2008 from within the world of banking itself. Narrated by Matt Damon, it tells a story of greed from the world of bankers, regulators and ratings agencies. At the heart of the whole system is profound human fallenness, which can only lead to collapse and the devastation of countless lives. For some, there would never be recovery from the misery that this crisis brought into their lives. The scale may be different, but the same essential fault line is evident in every human life, not just the banking sector. Greed and selfishness flourish...

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November 2013
Articles > Guest column

Cold-hearted mission

We all know the story of Jonah — the reluctant prophet tasked with taking a message of good news to his nation’s enemies. A reluctant prophet who comes good in the end — except he doesn’t; not really. The book ends as it begins, with a rebellious prophet whose heart is not really in his calling. It is a small book, but one that poses large and significant challenges to us as we consider the ongoing mission of God to the nations and our own part in that. The call to mission cuts across our prejudices Jonah refused his commission because it meant divine compassion...

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October 2013
Articles > Guest column

The ‘yes-man’

Sometimes it’s good to be a ‘yes-man’. Let me tell you about one; his name was Arch. That’s his real name, and a few readers may have known him. He was a deacon and church secretary of the first church I pastored and one of the best men I have ever known. He was already elderly the first time I met him. I was visiting preacher for the day and he was there to welcome me. The tea and biscuits were welcome but not unusual; the warmth of his smile for a young stranger was.    A few months later I became pastor there, and he...

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September 2013
Articles > Guest column

How to avoid falling away

I was converted just a few weeks before going up to university 40 years ago this month. In my first week there, two Christian girls living in the same halls discovered I was a new Christian and made it their job to encourage me, integrate me into the Christian Union and a church, and make sure I didn’t slide during this very vulnerable period. I’m very grateful to God for them. After I graduated I lost contact with many of my student friends, including those girls. It was to be more than a quarter of a century before I had any news of them. By...

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August 2013
Articles > Guest column

August!

August: the month of school holidays (always), my holidays (sometimes) and sunshine (occasionally). It’s also the anniversary of my father’s death. He hadn’t been answering his phone all day, so I went across in the evening and found him. There had been no warning, no preparation; no prior illness, no indication that we were about to lose him.  Dad grew up in the mining area of South Yorkshire and, just like most males he knew, went ‘down t’pit’ at fourteen. Many years later, when I was at university, he took me down with him to see what I’d escaped.  I remember the cramped ‘cage’ that...

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July 2013
Articles > Guest column

Motherhood

  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a perfect child? Can you imagine a child who never threw selfish tantrums or scowled at the meal you set before him? But here’s a reality check — if you did have a perfect child, life as a mother would still be hard!       Mary had a perfect Son, but her life was filled with sadness. Like every mother, she still needed a Saviour to rescue her from the guilt and worries of motherhood. In her case, her Saviour was her Son.       I cannot think of a scene in Scripture that speaks...

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June 2013
Articles > Guest column

Christian community – seeking contentment without complacency

Christian reflection on community is often an exercise in romanticism. By viewing the early Christian community of Acts 2 through rose-coloured glasses, we imagine a homogenous cloister of haloed saints meeting all of each other’s expectations, living as one big happy family.   Buzzword   By projecting this inaccurate, abstract ideal on our own church context we are guaranteed to foster a spirit of disappointment and disillusionment, often leading some to desert the pursuit of community altogether.      Even outside Christian circles, ‘community’ has become a buzzword. Being so overused and having so many definitions, it ceases to mean anything. Thankfully, the Bible does offer...

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May 2013
Articles > Guest column

Scoping Apollos – nine marks of a healthy Christian

Most great pirate stories have one thing in common. At some point someone slides out their spyglass and focuses on an unsuspecting person, whose every movement is then seen in the black-bordered circular frame. The Scriptures are the Christian’s spyglass. Paul says, ‘Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us’ (Philippians 3:17). The Greek word for ‘keep your eyes on’ is the basis for our English word ‘scope’. In Acts 18:24-28 Luke helps us set our scope on an Alexandrian Jew named Apollos. Apollos is presented as a ‘Philippians 3:17 man’ —...

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