USE BY DATE?

(September 11, 2017) Dr Jim McClure, straight-speaking theologian, asks a pertinent question…

What’s the difference between me and a can of beans?’ The answer is that the can of beans carries a ‘Use by’ date while I do not!

So many products contain a ‘Use by’ date – and that’s good because it may prevent food poisoning.  It is also helpful to indicate the period in the life of the product when it is at its most effective. But when it reaches a certain age, it’s better to discard it.

However this method of consumer evaluation fails miserably when we apply it to people – especially to Christians in the life of the church.  When we become Christians, God doesn’t give us a ‘Use by date’! But it often seems that others do – and we can begin to believe that.

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WORDS OF LIFE (#G5) AMAZING GRACE – CHARIS (Part 1)

(August 29, 2017) Dr Jim McClure noted theologian, continues his series on selected Greek words… 

‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.’

These are familiar and well-loved words from the hymn written by John Newton.  What else did Newton say about grace in that hymn?  He wrote,

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.  …
Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.’

A transforming life-changing experience
Newton knew what he was talking about.  As a young man he was the ruthless and brutal captain of a slave ship.  But one night he discovered the reality of God, experienced his grace and was transformed from a cruel slave-ship captain into a preacher of the good news about Jesus Christ. Grace had made a dynamic impact on his life.

I believe that Newton understood something about the grace of God that we today largely fail to grasp.  We are confused about the meanings of the words love, mercy and grace in relation to the gospel.  We tend to think they all mean the same basic thing; but love leads to our acceptance by God,  mercy leads to our forgiveness by God, and grace, I believe, leads to a life-changing experience through God. (more…)

THE STING!

(August 12, 2017) Stuart Reynolds challenges today’s spiritual deception…

Some of us may remember the classic 1973 film set in 1930s Chicago and starring the strong acting trio of Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Robert Shaw. It tells the story of an elaborate con of a much feared criminal banker in retribution for a murdered friend.

The phrase – The Sting – refers to the moment a ‘play’ is completed, taking a target’s money. If successful, the ‘victim’ of the con does not realise what has happened and who has cheated him, until all are long gone.

Paul wrote about a particular ‘sting’ in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, ‘Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’

Ground of our deception!
‘Do not be deceived’ – If ever a warning text for our day, this is it! Among others, there is a two-fold implication to this command of counsel:

  1. The possibility that we can be deceived
  2. The protection that we need not be deceived.

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21st CENTURY CHALLENGES

(August 11, 2017) Missionary statesman George Forbes issues a relevant challenge…

Last century a group of sixty one Charismatic /Pentecostal leaders met in the United States to seek the face of God for the future. At the conclusion of this time in prayer, repentance and seeking the face of God, they made a statement about eight things they felt God was calling them to do.

I have chosen five for this article – believing they are even more relevant today in this 21st century!

1. God is calling us to transform society
I will attempt here to open the challenge they placed last on their list.

They agreed that western culture was becoming increasingly hostile to the Christian faith. That they must not run from their calling to transform culture but engage in a kingdom mission to effect change. They agreed that Christians for too long have viewed politics, education and the financial realm as evil, when we must see those arenas as mountains to claim for Christ. (more…)

NOT HOME YET – WORK STILL TO BE DONE!

(August 8, 2017) Maureen McQuillan encourages all who feel unappreciated …

There’s a tale that’s been around since my Sunday school days – an unsourced homecoming story that’s been told and retold over the years in various ways. Basically it goes something like this…

A missionary couple, old and wearied, was returning home to the States to retire after toiling many years in what we were told back then to capture our imagination was ‘Darkest Africa.’ Not overly successful in their missionary service they were unknowns compared to such ‘greats’ as Dr David Livingstone.

But they’d been faithful to their calling and had shared God’s love and the gospel of Jesus in many caring ways. They had reached to neighbours – strangers – not only to preach but to help in practical ways. And they would pray for the sick and needy and witness miracles – and over many years had known the joy of seeing several indigenous people accept Christ as Saviour.

This couple had grown old together as they laboured on despite many difficulties, opposition from demonic forces, misunderstandings from locals including other ministries, and even lack of meaningful prayer and financial support from their church back home. (more…)

SO – BE QUIET!

(August  6, 2017) Tim Edwards brings a timely word based on 2 Kings 2: 1-8…

Sometimes life is tough. Sometimes in all our lives there are moments, days, weeks or even lengthy seasons where we struggle to understand what is going on, what to do about it.

As a pastor I have many conversations every week with a variety of people (and not only from my own church) – guess what I am seeing at the moment? Some tough times. I’m very aware that there are large numbers of people who are currently walking through difficult times.

Yes, life can be tough!
The reality is that that life can be tough, is tough, even for great Christians! And I am more and more convinced every day that we as humans, on our own and in our own limited capacity, have no answers at all to help us through the messiness of life.

Our search for purpose, meaning, security, stability, relationships and love is just not found in the things we as humans tend to value and count and attempt to accumulate – money, possessions, power, position, politics, business or anything else for that matter. None of it helps. (more…)

DISCOURAGED MISSIONARY DIED WRONGLY THINKING HE WAS A FAILURE

(August 6, 2017) Mark Ellis shares a legacy about thriving churches discovered hidden in the jungle 84 years later:

In 1912, medical missionary Dr William Leslie went to live and minister to tribal people in a remote corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After 17 years he returned to the U.S. a discouraged man – believing he failed to make an impact for Christ. He died nine years after his return.

But in 2010, a team led by Eric Ramsey and Tom Cox World Ministries made a shocking and sensational discovery. They found a network of reproducing churches hidden like glittering diamonds in the dense jungle across the Kwilu River from Vanga, where Dr Leslie was stationed. (more…)

DON’T GIVE UP – KEEP FOCUSED!

(August 6, 2017) Robert and Maureen McQuillan encourage renewed confidence and not quitting…

Confidence – typical dictionary definition:

  • Quality or state of being certain;
  • Feeling or consciousness of one’s powers;
  • Faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way.

How we yearn for abundant confidence when challenged to do something new, especially for the Lord and in church life. And how we can feel so disappointed when things don’t work out, or we feel – even wrongly believe that we’ve missed it, we’ve failed – and unfortunately are not aware of, do not discover what we have achieved because we were determined to be faithful no matter what price we had to pay.

The reality is that in our limitation as humans we’re unable to visage the ultimate bigger picture’s ongoing and end results. We’ll never know all we’ve achieved when we even willingly offer a mere glass of water in Jesus’ name… but as the Message Bible says, ‘Count on it that God will notice’ (Mark 9:41). (more…)

A TALE OF TWO KINGDOMS

(August 3, 2017) Dr Jim McClure, renowned theologian, challenges churches to their responsibility to alert people to the demonic activity around them that is cloaked in what appears to be ‘nice.’

In 1859 Charles Dickens wrote a book that he called, A Tale of Two Cities.  It is set in the conditions that led to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror and the two cities are London and Paris. It begins with the famous sentence: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.’ (more…)

PENTECOST POWER FOR SERVICE

(July 23, 2017) Charles Gardner shares how an Arabic message in tongues confirmed calling for Jewish vicar…

A Jewish follower of Jesus was having second thoughts about being ordained into the Church of England ministry when he got the surprise of his life.

A message in tongues ( A New Testament phenomenon foretold in the Tenach  [Old Testament] – see Isaiah 28.11, Acts 2.4, 1 Corinthians 14.21) was given during a home meeting which Ralph Goldenberg immediately recognised as Sudanese Arabic.

Challenged by that message in tongues
Having grown up in Sudan with the ability to speak several languages, he knew exactly what it meant. And it could not have been a clearer confirmation of his calling –

Allah be’hebak – Inta min al dam beta Ibrahiem – Al Angiel fi fomak’ translates as: ‘God loves you. You are from the blood of Abraham. The gospel is in your mouth.’ (more…)