Prayer fuel: News from around the world


Prayer FuelHere are a handful of news-bites from around the world included in the September issue of EN. May these encourage us as well as spur us on to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world facing severe persecution.

 

China: Canadian arrests

 

A Canadian pastor and his wife, who have lived in China since 1984, have been detained in China under accusations of theft of intelligence, it was reported in early August.
Specifically, Kevin and Julia Dawn Garratt are suspected of ‘collecting and stealing intelligence materials related to Chinese military targets and important Chinese national defence scientific research programmes, and engaging in activities that endanger China’s national security’. They were arrested in the border city of Dandong. Simeon, their eldest son, said that the allegations are false and their Christian faith and close proximity to the missionary community are likely to be the cause of the arrest.
Religion Today

Pakistan: radio work

 

FEBA’s partners in Pakistan are now using medium wave to reach one particular language group, it was reported in July.
Until recently broadcasts were only transmitted on short wave in a remote rural area of Pakistan. To make programmes widely accessible, FEBA’s partners have begun transmitting on medium wave, reaching many more people.
Fellowship of European Broadcasters (FEB) 

 

Russia: church wins

 

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in early August ruled against Russia in a freedom of religion case, in which a Pentecostal centre in Chuvashia, liquidated for alleged violations of educational, fire and sanitary regulations, won its case.
Liquidation as a registered religious organisation is not a complete ban, but makes it difficult to do much more than privately meet for worship and to study texts. Forum18

For more news and prayer fuel from around the world, visit our website of subscribe to EN for monthly updates.

Letter from America by Josh Moody: Meet the president!


Letter From America

(view original article here)

Josh Moody interviews David S. Dockery, the newly appointed president of Trinity International University.

This university in Illinois, USA, includes Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where Don Carson is a professor.

JM: What do you love about Trinity?

DD: I love the mission of Trinity International University, which is to educate men and women to engage in God’s redemptive work in the world by cultivating academic excellence, Christian faithfulness, and lifelong learning.

I love the stellar faculty members at Trinity who are committed to that mission. I genuinely admire their scholarship and their commitment to teaching, even as I love their dedication to students and to the work of the church. I love the staff at Trinity, the people who shape community, serve the students, and carry out the high calling of what I often call the hidden curriculum. I love the heart of the students at Trinity, both undergraduate and graduate students.

I am looking forward to getting to know all aspects of the university better. I love Trinity’s intercultural and international commitments, expressed in the institution’s investment in the life and work of the global church. The list of things and people that I love at Trinity is long, but I will stop there.

JM: What are the opportunities you envision for Trinity?

DD: Trinity’s numerous opportunities are tied to the institutional strengths. There are key opportunities to help shape Trinity’s expanding identity and influence in the world of Christian higher education. I think there are opportunities to help ensure Trinity’s ongoing commitments to evangelical faithfulness, to cultural engagement and service to the church.

I am excited to think about opportunities to help the divinity school focus on its distinctive calling, even as we work to strengthen and expand the work of the undergraduate programme. We have many opportunities, I believe, in the world of graduate programmes, including ways to help the Trinity Law School mature and develop. I think that there are great opportunities associated with three of the centres at Trinity, the Bioethics Center, the Carl Henry Center and the Jonathan Edwards Center; I believe that all three of these have incredible promise.

We will trust the Lord to guide our steps as we prioritise our efforts.

JM: What are the challenges that you see for Trinity?

DD: Trinity faces some of the same challenges that almost every other private college or university is facing at this time. These are things like the need for enrolment stability, revenue enhancement, finding the best and wisest ways to use technology, and other similar challenges that we share with our friends in the world of private higher education.

Trinity certainly has not been exempt from the enrolment and revenue challenges over the past five or six years. Now, Trinity must prioritise enrolment management, student retention, services to students, and resource development. Likewise, Trinity must continue to address matters associated with faculty and staff development in order to help us pursue Christ-centred excellence in all that we do each and every day.

Moreover, Trinity faces some unique challenges that are associated with its distinctive structure, a structure that includes a large divinity school, a smaller undergraduate programme, and underdeveloped graduate programmes, including the law school. In addition, Trinity has the challenge of serving and resourcing extension sites in South Chicago, South Florida, and Southern California.

We certainly will need God’s help, blessings and favour for the days ahead.

JM: How can others pray for Trinity?

DD: We need God’s wisdom, help, grace, favour and blessings for the days to come.

Please pray that the Lord would grant to us a sense of coherence in our identity and work, a sense of collaboration across the campus that would result in a new synergy in our shared efforts, and a team of administrators, faculty and staff who are working together shoulder-to-shoulder to advance the wonderful mission of Trinity.

Please pray that the Lord would send us the right students, that he would expand our resources, and that he would grant us unexpected blessings for the calling that is ours. We must all come to a place of recognising anew our sense of total dependence on our good and great God for his provision for Trinity.

Please pray that we all would be found faithful in our leadership and our stewardship of the institution, working together to advance the gospel and a Christ-centred approach to higher education for the glory of God..

Josh Moody is the senior pastor of College Church, Wheaton, Illinois.

This article was first published in the May 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Anglican update: Token men?


Anglican Update

(view online version here)

Will there ever be a conservative evangelical bishop who believes in complementarianism in the Church of England again?

According to the Archbishop of Canterbury, there will. Justin Welby was explaining to members of Parliament’s Ecclesiastical Committee a previously-made promise to appoint such a conservative evangelical bishop ‘within a matter of months’.

He declared: ‘We have undertaken to approach the Dioceses Commission to see if we can… use a vacant suffragan see for the appointment of someone holding the conservative evangelical view on headship. This was promised long, long ago in various ways.

‘One of the things that both the Archbishop of York and I feel about this – as did the House of Bishops – is that if we are going to create a climate of trust… we have got to keep our word on everything we promise. If you stop doing that, people will not believe you on anything’. he said.

Fair and equal

The archbishop also suggested that changes could be made for the processes in appointing all bishops, stating: ‘There are some absolutely outstanding clergy in both the traditional Catholic and the complemen-tarian evangelical groups; and we are going to have to develop… processes and procedures to make sure that they are considered fairly and equally, to see if they are the most appropriate person for a given post’.

Justin Welby also described Synod’s provisions for those opposed to women bishops as ‘an expression of love and concern for those who struggle with it. We are a family, not a political party. We don’t chuck people out who disagree with us’.

This all raises a number of issues. Firstly, as a letter in The Church of England Newspaper pointed out, over the summer, there have been previous promises of this kind. It said: ‘In the course of the discussions about women bishops, we were reminded that a Synod called for conservative evangelicals to be made bishops seven years ago. In the light of the failure to fulfil this ‘promise’, it is clear that: 1. conservative evangelicals should be consecrated in significant numbers (at least 10?) before any women are. 2. General Synod should stop issuing reports criticising other people since it doesn’t act on its own reports.’

Secondly, even if the archbishops are quite sincere in what they say – as I believe they are – it is hard to envisage the current process of appointment resulting in such an decision, or the particular diocese where there would be enough sympathy for it to take place. And making changes to the appointments process could be tricky.

Finally, does appointing just one bishop holding complementarian views really do justice to the movement’s strength and vitality (both numerical and financial) within the Church of England? Many would see it as mere tokenism.

Meanwhile, in relation to the other great contentious issue of the day, the first clergyman to marry a same-sex partner is planning to take the Church of England to court after his offer of a job as a hospital chaplain was withdrawn when his bishop refused to give him permission to officiate. The Revd Jeremy Pemberton stated: ‘This is an area of law that has not been tested and needs to be’.

Courteous but firm

As the latest Church Society magazine rightly says: ‘There will always be challenges to faithful evangelical ministry in the Church of England, and contending for the authority of Scripture and Reformation principles is not a new struggle… [John] Stott’s call to maintain a faithful evangelical witness ‘courteously but firmly’ working within the structures of the Church of England remains as relevant as ever’.

David Baker,
rector of the churches of East Dean with Friston and Jevington, East Sussex

 

This article was first published in the September 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to EN for monthly updates

Prayer fuel: News in the UK


Prayer Fuel

Here are a handful of news-bites from around the UK included in the September issue of EN. May these spur us on to pray for our country and issues we all are facing.

 

Majority sidelined

 

Proposals to allow three-parent babies will be pushed forward by the government, despite more than 60% of people opposing the plans in a consultation, it was announced on July 22, as the responses to a 12-week government consultation were released.
Figures showed that, of 1,857 responses, 1,152 opposed the idea of three-parent babies, while 700 ‘expressed general support’. The remainder did not come down on either side. The Christian Institute

 

New for the Cornish

 

Cornwall now has the Bible online, it was reported in late July.
The New Testament and Psalms are available in Cornish as a downloadable app. Translators say it makes the Bible ‘really accessible’ for people, who can now get it on their smartphones. There are an estimated 500 fluent Cornish speakers and a further 3-4,000 who can hold a conversation in Cornish. Bible Society’s Newswatch

 

EA wins

 

The Evangelical Alliance’s complaint about an offensive advertisement by the gambling organisation Sporting Index, which was published in June by City AM newspaper, was upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in August.
The ruling, published on August 6 on their website, found that the June 10 advertisement, in which the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil was digitally altered, breached three sections of their code. The image of the statue was graphically altered and shown to be holding a bottle of booze in the right hand with the left arm around a bikini-clad model over the caption: ‘There’s a more exciting side to Brazil’. Evangelical Alliance

For more news and prayer fuel from around the UK, visit our website or subscribe to EN for monthly updates.

Editors commentary: Be a pirate preacher!


 pirate-preacherWEB(view original article here)

A new generation of preachers is being trained.

There is a stream of advice that young preachers should only preach dazzling sermons which are all their own work. They have to be completely original.

I beg to disagree. I feel that this advice is not only unhelpful to these men but is actually damaging churches. I am not calling for plagiarising sermons from the internet or books, by-passing any preparation. But I do believe that sparkling originality can be an unnecessary burden.

Reasons for disagreeing

First, even the writers of Scripture copy one another sometimes. 2 Peter and Jude are almost word for word identical in large sections. Who uses whose material? Isaiah quotes from Micah. Or is it the other way around? We don’t know. Theories of how the Gospels were written posit common material which originated we do not know where – except that the Holy Spirit used it in the work of more than one writer.

Second, the emphasis on originality in all their pulpit work can easily foster a preacher’s pride rather than humility. And while unspiritual hearers always desire to hear ‘some new thing’ (Acts 17.21), it is preachers who are keen to be innovative and novel in their interpretation of their texts that are most prone to straying from sound doctrine.

Third, feeling they must come up with unique insights and brand new ways of handling a Bible passage means that some young ministers spend their whole week in the study. Other essential pastoral duties like visiting the flock and spending substantial time in prayer, get neglected. Or if they do give time to these duties they find they can only possibly produce one sermon a week. This is leading to the downgrading and even the closure of evening services. I know of one church in London where the morning service is simply repeated in the evening. If ever there was a signal that said, ‘Don’t bother to be in church twice on a Sunday,’ this is it. In some places the evening service is reduced to a cup of tea and a discussion. The Puritans would have gone nuts!

Something peculiar

This ‘originality’ advice is, in some ways, peculiar to the contemporary scene. To assist young preachers the great Anglican Charles Simeon published Helps to Composition; or six hundred skeletons of sermons; several being the substance of sermons preached before the univer- sity. The university he refers to is, of course, Cambridge and the work became popularly known as Simeon’s Skeletons. He defines the skeleton of a discourse in the following way: ‘It should be not merely a sketch or outline, but a full draft, containing all the component parts of a Sermon, and all the ideas necessary for the illustration of them, at the same time that it leaves scope for the exercise of industry and genius in him who uses it.’* Simeon looked for young preachers to use his sermon headings and ideas so as to learn the art of exposition and to mature as preachers. Similarly, when C.H. Spurgeon published his voluminous work on the Psalms, The Treasury of David, every exposition ended with ‘Hints to the village preacher’.

It’s fine if you have original ideas. But equally, dear preacher, if something from another writer or preacher has blessed you, then pirate it for the good of your congregation. You are not called first to be original but to be helpful.

* A helpful booklet on Simeon is advertised at www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zRl6JA2RWU

John Benton

This article was first published in the September 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, check out our on-line version of the paper or subscribe for monthly updates.

Books-at-a-glance… and some other great links.


Links Worth A Look

Enjoy the following links!

Future Perfect / Present Tense – D.A. Carson on the god of open options

Gospel Partnerships – What to do if you think you may be called to do more ministry for God?

Kevin DeYoung – When Christians suffer from depression

CBMW – How to talk to your kids about bad news

Tim Challies – Books at a Glance – learn more in less time!

Childcare and family life


Childcare and family life(view original article here)

Are recent government policies actually good for our children?

A number of factors have led us to where we are.

We are living in a culture where it is now considered normal and, by some, desirable for mothers of quite young children or even of babies to go out to work.

Many are driven to do so, often reluctantly, for financial reasons. Single parents have little alternative. Also, expectations of what constitutes an acceptable standard of living have increased in recent decades. House prices and mortgages are determined, to some extent, by the assumption that there will be two earners in a household; that in itself establishes a vicious circle when it comes to the need to earn.

Feminism and its desire to eliminate any distinction between gender roles has been a powerful influence. Many wives do not want to be financially dependent on their husbands or partners. And it is very understandable that when a woman has worked hard to gain a qualification she wants to continue to put it to good use after the arrival of children. In any case, days full of potty training, toddler tantrums and first steps in teaching a child how to read may not seem that attractive. There is considerable peer pressure too from the sense that others will look down on a stay-at-home Mum.

Child benefit

The government is also making it very clear that ‘working mothers’ is the desirable norm. Child benefit rules now discriminate against many one-earner families. And recently it was announced that financial help towards childcare costs will be increased.

From October next year the state will contribute up to £2000 per child, tax free. Initially this will only be for children up to five years old but within a year it will be extended to children up to 12 years.

In announcing this, David Cameron said he ‘wanted to help all families’. Churchill might have called this a ‘terminological inex-actitude’! He should have added ‘except those where a parent chooses to stay at home to care for their own children’. To add insult to injury, only those who go out to work are called ‘working mothers’! But caring for children and looking after the home on your own for the greater part of five days out of seven is surely not for slouches. How dare they imply that such Mums are not workers!

Costs of the policy?

The costs of government policy and these relatively new cultural norms are likely to be high and are already being evidenced. Are not many of our problems with older children and teenagers often, although by no means always, related to a lack of a strong bond of love with their parents and the lack of the security that a loving, stable home provides.

The head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, says that children should be sent to school-based nurseries from the age of two because so many start school lacking basic literacy and numeracy skills. But may not a large part of the problem be that mothers are not at home and, among many other things, teaching their pre-schoolers these basic skills?

A group of academics and other professionals have warned that Sir Michael’s policy would be catastrophic for children’s mental health. Moreover, it would further undermine family life and parental responsibility and open the door further for the state to indoctrinate our children. Do not a good many marriages break down because both husband and wife are under too much pressure from their employment responsibilities and have too little time and energy left for each other, let alone their children ?

Sometimes you have to

None of this is intended to place a burden of guilt on Christian families where both parents go out to work. In many cases it is a necessity which they would love to be without. Nor of course is it to suggest that every home where the mother chooses to stay at home produces well balanced, well behaved young people! But child rearing is a huge privilege and responsibility. There are few greater ones. Many a Christian biography bears eloquent testimony to the influence of a godly mother in the early years of life.

Counter cultural family

In this area of life, as in every other, Christians are called to be counter cultural and to keep their priorities constantly under review. The Lord Jesus said his followers must take up their cross daily and deny themselves. For some that may mean, for example, going off to an inhospitable place to be a missionary. But for some parents it may mean choosing, out of love for their children and love for Christ, that the wife be a stay-at-home mum for a number of years.

For most this will involve considerable sacrifice, not only financially but in terms of feeling fulfilled and of enjoying kudos amongst some of her peers. Husbands should recognise this, support and encourage them in every way possible, positively accept a lower standard of living than what might otherwise be possible, and repeatedly affirm that their wives work at least as hard as they do – but without any of the perks. PCHS

This article was first published in the May 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit us online www.e-n.org.uk or subscribe to en for monthly updates.