The single track by Jacqui Wright: A message to the church


A message to the churchDear church and church leaders,

Possibly, like you, I left my single life in my early twenties when I married a pastor and became busy with ministry and having a family. I did not think about nor understand the singleness issue for people in our congregation, as it was never raised for my attention.

Unwilling divorce

In God’s sovereign providence, when my life took a dramatic turn to receive the gift of a hard grace: an unwilling divorce and becoming a single parent of five children under nine years old, then the singleness issue started to become real to me. My circumstances changed from being in the centre of church life, being admired, accepted, and understood, to being scorned, rejected and marginalised, by those very same people. I felt like a divorced single parent ‘leper’, which was truly shocking and grievous to me. In the very time of my need, the ‘fat sheep’ in the church pushed out the sheep who served them that had become ‘weak’ (Ezekiel 34). Even more shockingly, I found this to be true in many churches that I tried to become part of across continents.

God wastes nothing of our experiences and suffering, it is always multi-layered, and so over time… (to read more click here)

Further practical advice can be found at http://www.singlechristians.co.uk/info/church_leader

Jacqui Wright is a single Christian, and single parent of five kids for the past 16 years. She was married to a pastor which ended in an unwilling divorce. She is an independent Speech and Language therapist with practices in Bedford and on Harley Street, London. She is the chair of Bedford Christian Singles friendship and fellowship group.

This article was first published in the May 2015 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

So you have no children?


Pastor’s wife, Tracey Richards, shares her story

No children

We had known much excitement in the week and a half of moving to Marlow.

It was October 1998. We had been married for three years and we were excited by the new opportunity to minister to God’s people in our first pastorate. All these joys and prospects were magnified by the fact that I was pregnant with our first child. We both wanted children very much.

Before leaving for our first church meeting I felt a sudden sharp pain in my abdomen. Hoping that the pain would pass I continued to get ready to leave, but the pain only became worse and more intense.

Life shattered

My husband, Evan, went alone to the meeting, which left us both feeling disappointed and sad.

On arriving home and discovering my worsening condition (to read more click here)

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

The single track by Jacqui Wright: Sex, love and singles


photo: iStock

photo: iStock

How do we rightly think about sex and love from a biblical perspective?

We need to start by understanding God’s covenantal love for us in Christ; that is his promise of unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness in Christ. From this unimaginable gift of grace we worship, love, trust and obey him first and foremost. He is the ultimate bridegroom and the one who satisfies all our deepest needs.

Ultimate unveiling

God has created sex and love as good gifts for us to enjoy in their rightful place in our lives. This is part of the pattern of covenantal love which is unselfish and promises commitment to the other in spite of feelings. Sex within a covenantal legally binding marriage relationship is the ultimate unveiling of oneself and selfless sacrificial giving which reflects the commitment to the other in all aspects of life. Sex in marriage is within a zone of safety and due to its committed nature, grows ever deeper. In contrast, our secular society operates on a … (to read more click here)

Jacqui Wright is a single Christian, and single parent of five kids for the past 16 years. She was married to a pastor which ended in an unwilling divorce. She is an independent Speech and Language therapist with practices in Bedford and on Harley Street, London. She is the chair of Bedford Christian Singles friendship and fellowship group.

This article was first published in the March 2015 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

The single track by Jacqui Wright: Hope for Christian singles


photo: Istock

photo: Istock

Who are Christian singles?

Christian singles are a diverse group: never married, divorced and widowed, across all ages of adulthood. Some are single by choice but many are not.

Those who desire to be married have a unique set of challenges on their spiritual journey. This series of articles aims to address this and help singles who struggle with their singleness.

One true love?

Will ‘one true love’ meet my needs? Our society places unhelpful pressure on singles to find their ‘one true love’ within a romantic experience. This pressure can also be present in the church. The ideal of being ‘a couple’ or in ‘a marriage’ as well as having ‘the perfect family with children’ leaves many singles feeling disappointed, disillusioned and mildly depressed.

They can respond with a range of reactions from a relentless drive to find that ‘someone’ to falling into despair at the thought of even trying. However, we know that … (to read more click here)

Jacqui Wright is a single Christian, and single parent of five kids for the past 16 years. She was married to a pastor which ended in an unwilling divorce. She is an independent Speech and Language therapist with practices in Bedford and on Harley Street, London. She is the chair of Bedford Christian Singles friendship and fellowship group.

This article was first published in the January 2015 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Not just a bad day?


Graham Hooper with some sage advice about recovering from failure

Not just a bad day

(photo: iStock)

‘Failure is not an option’ is the slogan posted on the wall at my local fitness centre.

But in the pursuit of fitness, as in life, failure is very much an option. We may fail in different areas of life, at school, at work or in our business. Or we may fail in our marriage, in bringing up our children or in our friendships.

We may fail to achieve what we want to achieve. We won’t always come out on top, get the job we wanted or achieve our business or personal goals. Or we may ‘fail’ to become the people we want to be. We like to portray an image of a strong, respected, faithful, loving person, but the reality somehow falls far short.

More importantly, we all fail to be the people God wants us to be. ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3.23). It’s a universal experience.

Gateway into knowledge

Failure can be very humbling and painful, but it can be a great teacher if we are willing to learn, and it can be the gateway into … (to read more click here)

Graham Hooper,
consultant and former senior executive with a global Infrastructure company.

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

Waiting on God


Waiting on GodLet’s be realistic and honest: waiting is a difficult and frustrating test in life.

But there are ways to cope and grow in testing times. Knowledge apart from application falls short of God’s desire for his children. He wants us to apply what we learn so that we will change and grow. We grow as our understanding of God’s Word increases, and as we apply what we have learned.

We tend to replace waiting on God with hurried attempts at pursuing growth on our own. We use chemical fertilisers in our gardens to force growth. So we settle for shallow roots destined to yield only mediocre growth. We have grown so accustomed to fast food restaurants that they are a way of life. We graft this attitude of hurry into our pursuit of God and it stunts the growth of our inner being. Trees that grow slowly are stronger and their annual rings are more densely compacted.

Biblical examples

God told Noah to build the ark in preparation for a great flood. Enduring his neighbour’s derision and perhaps his own doubts, Noah waited 120 years before that rain finally came.

Job lost his family, his wealth, and his health. One by one the physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual supports for his faith were removed. But Job chose instead to wait on the Lord.

Abraham

At the age of 75, a very prosperous and settled Abraham left his native land. He was guided only by God’s promise to make him a great nation. Abraham waited on God a long time before the fulfillment of that promise became evident.

These ordinary people became spiritual giants because they chose to wait on God. If we are to grow in spiritual stature we must learn to wait on God. That stretches us.

Joseph endured 14 years inside a dark Egyptian prison cell for a crime he didn’t commit. But rather than withering and dying, he waited on God and trusted in his sovereignty.

Moses

Moses, the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, was well educated. But at the age of 40, he killed an Egyptian and was forced to flee for his life. For the next 40 years this leader lived alone in a desert learning to wait on God. It was a time when Moses learned to replace trust in himself (to get things done) with trust in God and waiting.

Paul was one of the greatest men the religious system of the Pharisees could produce. He zealously led the persecution of Christians. But Christ had other plans for Paul and intervened in his life on the Damascus Road. Paul spent the next three years alone, growing in his knowledge and understanding of his Saviour.

The Lord Jesus

Just before Christ’s public ministry began, Satan offered him all the kingdoms of the world if he would only worship him. Jesus endured three tests. Satan tempted Christ to receive glory and power in a way other than God’s way, which was to be through the cross. Christ, however, was willing to wait, to endure suffering, and to become the sacrifice for our sin, before exaltation.

Waiting is the rule

Waiting on God is the rule instead of the exception. When there are no open doors, we try to force the locks. All of us have a natural tendency to make waiting on God the exception and trusting in our own wisdom the rule. This seems to be our default mode. But we need to re-programme our settings to conform to God’s ways. Waiting requires confidence in God that is based on an understanding of who he is. Let us trust him in the silence and darkness.

We must learn to accept the fact that, in many areas of our lives, waiting will be the very process God uses to mature us.

Waiting on God is resting, not hurrying. The difference between waiting and worrying is focus. When we are truly waiting on the Lord, our posture and attitude are like Mary’s (the sister of Martha) as she sat at the Lord’s feet, giving him her undivided attention. When we worry, we’re more like Martha, who, although busy serving the Lord, was distracted and anxious. We may feel trapped and we may be hurting but we can join Mary at the Saviour’s feet at any time.

Scripture counsels: ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4.6-7).

There are times when we must wait for God to direct our steps. We need reminding of this when we feel our hearts beginning to grow restless. Trust God to provide for your needs. Our greatest strengths can also be our greatest weaknesses. This is especially true when it comes to trusting God to provide for us. We’re only too happy to lift up needs in the areas of our weaknesses. But when it comes to the areas of our strengths, our needs are reluctantly lifted up, only after we have exhausted all our skills in trying to provide for ourselves.

Waiting is not easy. It seems unnatural in a world where everything is expected immediately. So we need the supernatural grace of God to help in such times of testing. We grow strong through waiting. ‘They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength’ (Isaiah 40.31).

Two ways to wait

There are two ways to practise waiting. First, we can wait in silence. Some of the best times we may ever spend in prayer are the ones when we stop talking and simply listen. These are times when we meditate upon the things of the Lord through his Word. During these times God may bring to mind a needed truth or something to be thankful for, or a practical application of his Word that we had been missing.

Secondly, we wait with hope and confidence. A student once asked a teacher if there was a course he could take that was shorter than the one prescribed. Many of us, while waiting on God, have asked a similar question. Lord, isn’t there a shorter, less difficult route I could take?

But it’s only by waiting on him (trusting, praying and resting) that our roots will go deep enough for us to be as solid as an oak. Waiting involves trusting. How can I exercise greater trust this week? Waiting includes praying. How seriously have I poured out my heart to God? Waiting implies resting. Am I anxious, tense and worrisome? In what areas can I practise resting this week?

We need to confess our shortcomings in approaching our situations and ask God for help in being still. Ask him for the wisdom to wait. Daily duties continue while waiting on God. Difficulties may increase while waiting on God and so we can become impatient. Delays do not mean God will fail to come through. Never question in the dark what God gave in the light.

Take the advice of the psalmist: ‘Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!’ (Psalm 27.14). Let us be faithful while waiting. Let us expect God to come through in his time.

Kieran Beville is a Baptist pastor in Ireland and visiting professor at Tyndale Theological Seminary, Amsterdam.

 

This article was first published in the September 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
http://www.e-n.org.uk 0845 225 0057

How prayer impacted my life


How prayer impacted my life 1The speaker was adamant: ‘I don’t believe in God because I have never seen or heard of anyone who has experienced answered prayer’.

He was an atheist who prided himself in his ‘evidence based’ scientific approach to life. I was next in turn to speak and basically ripped up my prepared speech to begin by simply responding: ‘You have now’. As a Christian for over 35 years and a minister for over 25 you would of course expect me to believe in prayer — or rather to believe in the One who answers prayer. Over my life I have experienced many answers, questions and responses to prayer. I have wrestled, struggled, practised and denied prayer. But of one thing I am certain — I am able to write this today because of answered prayer.

Pool of blood

In October 2011, I collapsed in a pool of blood outside my church after conducting a wedding. Although spectacular it was not considered to be too serious — a couple of bleeding ulcers should have been easily dealt with by a routine endoscopy procedure. Except that from this point on nothing was routine. Three endoscopies could not stop the bleeding and my lungs almost drowned in blood. I have little or no recollection of the several weeks I spent in the Intensive Care Unit in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, but I have since been told that three times I came close to death. The inability to breath, e-coli of the lung, numerous infections, a haemoglobin rate of 4, and finally pneumonia all threatened to end my life.

My family at one point were told that there was nothing that the hospital could do, that I was unlikely to make it through, and that it was now all up to me. Little wonder that my wife was incredulous — up to me?! I was comatose and unable to move, communicate or do anything. Thankfully it was up to someone else.

People praying

Of course my family were praying. As were friends and the church. Apparently even in my delusional state (brought on by the drugs that had to be administered) I was asking for prayer. At one point I even wrote that people should be called to fast and pray between 3.00 and 4.00 pm one particular afternoon. I guess I figured that people could manage to fast for one hour!

But people did pray — and then some. There are three extraordinary aspects of this that stand out in my mind. Firstly, on one particular Sunday the whole Free Church were asked to stop what they were doing and pray at 12 noon for my recovery.

Secondly, I have received many reports from people to the effect that they would be woken in the middle of the night with a strong urge to pray for me and could not go back to sleep until they did so. It seems as though God gave the burden for prayer and then answered the prayers he inspired.

Thirdly, I am reminded of Augustine’s prayer, ‘O Lord, command what you will, and give what you command’.

What to pray?

Sometimes it was difficult for my family to pray. What could they ask for? How could they express what they felt when they saw me agitated, in agony and at times in great spiritual and emotional turmoil? There were no words. Except there were. God’s words. And especially those given to us in the prayer book of the Bible — the Psalms. They were so precious, real and emotional. We used them every day. Psalms like Psalm 91 were read or sung to me every night. In fact, the whole time I was in hospital I did not go to sleep at night without a Psalm. And, as a Presbyterian brought up in a tradition that prayer should be un-rehearsed and generally not written down, I was surprised at how helpful I found the prayers in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

And the prayers were answered. One night lying in the High Dependency Unit I knew that I was going to get better and that God still had a role for me on this earth.

How Prayer impacted my life 2God wins every way

Since then I have lived every day grateful for life and for the particular answer that was given to myself and so many people in answer to prayer. I say particular because, of course, there could have been other answers. As my son, Andrew, pointed out: ‘If Dad dies then that too will be an answer to prayer’. And so it would have been. The atheist cited at the beginning of the passage, upon hearing this, stated that that was not fair because then God wins every way. Indeed he does. And that is totally fair. As a Christian I believe that God works all things together for the good of those who love him — even illness and death. ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints’ (Psalm 116.15, KJV). One day I will die — until then I will live on this earth thankful to God that I am living proof that prayer does indeed impact lives.

This article is a chapter from How Prayer Impacts Lives: 41 Christians and their Conversations with God, edited by Catherine Mackenzie and recently published by Christian Focus (ISBN 978 1 781 911 310, £7.99), and is used with permission.

David Robertson

 

This article was first published in the September 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.

http://www.e-n.org.uk 0845 225 0057