Politics: a mucky business


One of my enduring memories from my early days of politics at university is a Christian mate of mine saying to me: ‘You need to give up on all that politics. It’s a mucky business’.

A mucky business. Many people of all faiths and none wouldn’t trust a politician as far as they can throw them just for the simple fact of their vocation, no additional information required. Why? At least in part their failure, perceived or actual, to deliver on their promises. To stick to their word. Manifesto after manifesto has come and gone, leaving those that voted for them hollow and disillusioned. The current Brexit negotiations are a case in point.

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Simpo’s stress-busting tips


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Christmas is still one of the best opportunities for presenting the momentous news of the Saviour born on earth.

I’m astounded by the numbers of people who fill our church buildings and offices each year, and how easy it is to invite friends and neighbours to hear the gospel spoken and sung.

For church music groups this can be the most stressful time of the year because of high expectations, but quite often we create the pressure ourselves by trying to do too much. If we feel we have to start rehearsing our Christmas music in October or even September, we might have bitten off a bit more than we can chew.

However, we want to do a good job, so here are a few tips that might help take some of the stress away.

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New converts


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Nothing encourages a church like people becoming Christians.

When genuine conversions are happening, the whole of church life seems to be reinvigorated. Our worship becomes more passionate because we know God has been at work. Our fellowship is stimulated because the church is growing – new babies always bring a warm glow to a family. Our evangelism is given new momentum – we feel that the our outreach is making an impact. Christians moving into the area and joining is fine, but it is nothing like as good as seeing salvation.

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Is The Church under judgement?


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Where is God? That is a question that needs to be asked in the midst of the present situation.

God does not appear to be at work in the church. The number attending church is in steep decline. Christianity is being marginalised and held up to ridicule by many. Efforts are being made to stem the tide. Schemes are drawn up to reach out to the churchless masses in our nation. Special prayer meetings are held for revival. But it seems that the heavens are as brass. There is a spiritual dearth in the land.

What can we do about it? To some this is not a matter of concern. They believe that God exists for man’s convenience. He provides a salvation which is to be had for the asking. The growth of the church is in their hands. For them, pragmatism is the order of the day.

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An extraordinary birth


The events surrounding the nativity remain some of the best known and most distorted Gospel stories.

Christmas cards, school plays and hit songs serve both to remind and confuse our culture regarding what really happened 2,000 years ago.

At the heart of the story is the virginal conception of Jesus, popularly called the virgin birth. Even theologians can be quick to dismiss the historicity of the event. Bart Ehrman notes that only Matthew and Luke record the virgin birth and points out: ‘It has always struck scholars as odd that the tradition – which surely would be an important thing to know! – isn’t attested anywhere else in our earliest sources.’

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Uganda: preserved by God


Pastor Umar Mulinde, a highly effective evangelist in Uganda who survived a horrific acid attack in 2011, said in September that he escaped another attempted assault by Islamic extremists.

Following a one-week evangelistic event in Mubende, Pastor Mulinde was driving the 90 miles back to the Ugandan capital of Kampala on 25 September when a band of men blocked a road. He managed to maneouvre around them.

They followed him to his home in such a way that he did not detect them, he said, and broke in later that night.

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Where now for Asia?


The court’s decision on the future of Asia Bibi on 31 October was never going to provide a peaceful ending, whichever way it went.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court decided to release her, rejecting calls for the death penalty for the mother, imprisoned for over nine years on a false charge of blasphemy. Unsurprisingly, this led to unrest in Pakistan, then government capitulation to extremists, and the innocent forced to flee the country.

Over the years groups of Christians holding vigils – to ensure no-one forgot the woman imprisoned because she dared to offer some Muslim women a drink of water – have remained quietly constant.

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