It’s a great joy that many churches are growing.
Some are growing rapidly. In our own congregation, starting around a year ago, we have seen substantial blessing and along with folk being saved we have had many applying for baptism and church membership – Soli Deo Gloria!
But when a church grows, as Ray Evans says in his excellent book Ready, Steady, Grow, the culture of the church inevitably begins to change. Communication within the church becomes far more complicated, not least because the number of possible conversations between larger numbers of people increases almost exponentially. There is far more room for misunderstandings, hurt feelings, etc.
With this in mind, questions concerning the management of the church by its leaders rightly come onto the agenda.
Many images of the church are used in the NT. But when it comes to the management of the church by its leaders… (to read more click here)
Following the Commons’ decision on 2 December for RAF airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria after the terrorist atrocity in Paris, there is a new recognition that the UK is at war. Our security forces are thwarting many planned attacks, but there may be reprisals meted out on us. The question is: how can Christians be praying in a biblically sensible way?
Of course we need to be balanced towards Islam. Many Muslims are civilised people of peace and we need to honour them. But with Hilary Benn’s speech to Parliament the penny seems to have dropped that those supporting Islamic state are as much fascists, seeing themselves as superior beings willing to liquidate all ‘inferiors’, as the Nazis. The West is now engaged in a Third World War. So, how should we pray?
Facing extremism is nothing new for God’s people. For example, Nahum’s prophecy is addressed to wicked Nineveh, capital of Assyria, infamous for cruelty. You can still see stone reliefs in the British Museum of the Assyrian army impaling victims on poles and suchlike after the battle of Lachish. Nahum pronounces God’s vengeance (Nahum 1.2) on these extremists, which came to pass as Babylon and the Medes formed a coalition against them.
Nahum suggests three lines of prayer at the present time which will keep us balanced.…(to read more click here)
Open Doors celebrated 60 years of missionary work on 14 November.
An event was held at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Birmingham.
In 1955, Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, followed a prompt from God to visit Communist Poland to bring ‘greetings’ to the church there. Now 2,300 friends from all over the world flocked to the ICC – an incredible thing to witness having begun with just one man on an adventure.
Brother Andrew began smuggling Bibles into Eastern Europe in 1957. Today Open Doors missionaries are supporting the persecuted church in over 50 countries.
The 60th anniversary edition of God’s Smuggler includes photographs from Brother Andrew’s travels and an exclusive interview with him about his more recent adventures in Gaza and the Middle East, China and Africa, as well as his thoughts on the challenges facing the church today.
Brother Andrew had always sought after some great adventure. His boyhood was mischievous and his years in the Dutch Army were wild, though none of it would match the things the Lord had planned for him. He had searched for an adventure and all he found was vanity – until he found Christ.
He made a decision to be a soldier for the Lord on the frontlines of the growing struggles of the persecuted church, starting in Eastern Europe. Prayer was his shield and faith his sword.
We read over and again of God’s faithfulness to Brother Andrew and the church, and we bare witness to this 60 years on – generations later. By grace the Open Doors ministry is able to... (to read more click here)
When we read the news about the Middle East there is not much to rejoice over.
There are wars and rumours of wars and many displaced people. An example of this situation is the country of Yemen.
Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East, with a population of around 24.5 million. However, it has also been the home for many Somali and Ethiopian refugees over the last 20 years. Since March 2015 there has been prolonged fighting and bombing in the country. The political situation is complicated as Houthi rebels fight pro-government forces. Furthermore, a Saudi-led coalition which supports the ousted president is regularly bombing key targets in the country.
One of these has been the city of Aden, due to its location as a port and being the main city in the south. Buildings and homes have been devastated and many civilians have lost their lives in the fighting. There is no electricity, no water, no fuel – and no food, as nothing is grown locally and the humidity and temperature is unbearable. The situation is desperate… but here is a story from earlier this year of God’s amazing rescue.
Jabi came to Yemen as a refugee during the Ethiopian/Eritrean war in the 1990s. He served as a member of the Ethiopian navy. The ship he was on ended up being scuppered along the Yemeni coastline. The Yemeni government in their kindness took these naval seamen and allowed them to be refugees in the country. The United Nations High Commission of Refugees had a camp in the foothills around Taiz where many of the seamen started their new lives in Yemen. Jabi moved to Aden to look for work after being in the camp for some time. While in Aden he became very unwell with typhoid and malaria and was close to death. Two of his friends shared with him about Jesus but he just ridiculed them and laughed at them. However, unknown to Jabi,.. (to read more click here)
Experiencing awe and intimacy with God
By Timothy Keller
Hodder & Stoughton. 321 pages. £16.99
ISBN 978 1 444 750 157
This excellent book is for the ordinary reading Christian.
It is excellent, ﬁrstly because it is comprehensive. Unlike nearly all the other works on prayer, it is theological and experiential and methodological. Keller freely acknowledges that many writers have done better than he on different aspects of the subject, but we all need an up-to-date book that covers all the ground.
Secondly he deals fascinatingly and satisfyingly with the balance or tension between the mystical/emotional and the intellectual in prayer. Quite a bit of time is spent examining different approaches and evaluating them. Contrary to what some anti-Keller websites have suggested, he is not a mystic in the sense of undervaluing the mind and the place of the word of God in prayer. He comes out more or less where John Owen, John Murray and J. I. Packer do: ‘wordless prayer is not the pinnacle… but the periodic punctuation of verbal prayer’ (Packer with Nystrom).
Thirdly he links praying with listening to God as he speaks in his Word, and gives useful advice. Prayer is ‘fellowship with the personal God who befriends us through speech’. In this connection he gives plenty of advice on how to meditate on the Word, some of it drawn from Martin Luther’s great little letter to his barber on prayer. It’s in the same vein as George Mueller’s famed advice on integrating Bible reading and prayer.
He also distinguishes helpfully between prayer as fellowship with God and prayer as … (to read more click here)
pastor of Wilton Community Church, N. London,
and lecturer in Preaching and New Testament at London Theological Seminary
Each Monday evening, for the last 12 months or a so, a small group has come together to pray.
They were praying for the provision of a centre which could provide a strategic base for gospel witness amongst young people in Yorkshire and beyond. On 24 February God answered their prayers in a remarkable way. To understand the story we have to roll back around three years.
While working at The Oakes Holiday Centre, a Christian camp centre in Sheffield, Andy and Hannah Peace started to pray that God might open the door to start a similar work further north. It was a big idea. With no team around them, or money to get them started, it seemed unlikely.
But God stepped in. He supplied the people and finances to get started and in faith they ran their first camp in Easter 2013. Spurred on by a great time and delighted parents, Yorkshire Camps was up and running.
Yorkshire is quite spiritually barren. Less than 1% of the population have contact with a church. Most churches have small or struggling youth groups, which makes it difficult. However, to bring groups together not only makes it possible for Christian young people to be encouraged, but allows non-Christians to be reached for Christ.
Since that first venture, Yorkshire Camps has run over 16, hiring centres in West and North Yorkshire. Most have been full and some young people have professed faith. Older campers have returned to help out younger campers. Over the past two New Years, two groups of teens came together for three days. Reflecting on these Andy said: ‘Watching young people see in a New Year with their Bibles open, hearts soft and minds attentive to what God was teaching them, was thrilling!’
As good as these were, however, Andy and Hannah’s vision was for something much greater:… (click here to read more)
Here are a handful of news-bites included in the March issue of en. Please use these articles to spur your prayers, personally or in regular prayer meetings, as we pray for our country and issues we are all facing.
Pray if you want (UK) – A Bill allowing local authorities to include prayers in their meetings if they so choose, successfully passed through the House of Commons in mid-January.
Designer baby? (UK) – The House of Commons passed government proposals to make the UK the only country in the world to allow the creation of ‘three parent children’ on 3 February.
Bosnia: a first – The Bosnian Bible is the ﬁrst translation of the complete Bible into standard Bosnian, it was reported in January.
China: no sex selection – China announced in January that it will tighten controls on illicit sex testing of unborn babies in efforts to curtail sex-selective abortions.
Here are a handful of news-bites from around the UK included in the February issue of en. Please use these articles to spur your prayers, personally or in regular prayer meetings, as we pray for our country and issues we are all facing.
The government has made a ‘climbdown’ in response to concerns around the independent school standards of September 2014 which resulted in Ofsted downgrading faith schools, or threatening them with potential closure.