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Showing posts in 'Top posts of 2013 Series'

Top posts of 2013: #1 - Six ways to look godly while not growing your faith in 2013

Carl Laferton | 1 Jan 2014

I know these ways are effective because I have fallen, and still fall, into all of them, and need prayer that I will battle against them every day of 2013.

1. Regularly go away for the weekend and go to a different church

You’re still in church each Sunday. It just happens that no one church family gets to know you well enough to be able to challenge you where and when it’s needed. Being away once a month should do the trick; twice will make sure of it.

2. Be too busy doing ministry to pray or read your Bible daily

This way, you can look busy and godly to everyone around you, while growing more and more self-reliant and self-congratulatory, and never needing to be disciplined in working on your relationship with the Lord.... continue reading

Top posts of 2013: #2 - True Love

Helen Thorne | 31 Dec 2013

It's that day again. The heart-bearing cards, with mushy poetry, have been filling the shelves of shops for weeks. The advertisements on TV have been encouraging us to book that romantic break, organise that sumptuous meal. All to show that special someone how much they're loved.

It's fun. There was certainly a flurry of excitement in my home when an unexpected Valentine's card landed on the doorstep. Intriguing to say the least! But it's fake. Not because couples don't genuinely care about one another - many do. But because, as a BBC article suggested recently, the phenomenon of February 14th capitalises on a fictional notion of romantic love, rather than true love. It fixates on the rush of emotion, the lie that there's a soulmate out there somewhere who will make life simply wonderful with all other problems melting away.... continue reading

Top posts of 2013: #3 - Porn, the battle women face

Helen Thorne | 28 Dec 2013

It's a subject that's taboo. A reality that many find shocking. A fact that some would prefer to deny. But the truth is out there: women use porn too.

Accurate statistics are difficult to source but a quick trawl of the web seems to suggest that about a quarter of those who visit internet pornography sites are female. Some pages suggest that up to 60% of women have used porn at some point in their lives. And while we might prefer to think otherwise, it's fairly safe to assume that some of those surfing such sites will be Christians who are confused, ashamed, addicted or desperate. Indeed over the last decade I've had quite a few Christian sisters confide in me - each convinced that they are the only one. Far from being a solely male pastoral issue, porn is something that affects women too and those involved in women's ministry need to be addressing the subject proactively.... continue reading

Top posts of 2013: #4 - Steve Chalke and gay couples

Carl Laferton | 28 Dec 2013

Prominent Christian leader Steve Chalke has declared himself in favour of accepting homosexual couples who are in committed same-sex relationships. In an article to be published in Christianity magazine Chalke says that after a long struggle, he has decided to announce his support for faithful same sex relationships. What are we to make of this?

If you’re reading this and you’re in (or would like to be in) a gay relationship, we’re so glad you’re here—and you could be forgiven for being a bit confused. Not about your own feelings, but about the church’s feelings towards you, and (much more importantly) God’s feelings towards you? Does He love you, or hate you?

So, before I begin responding to the Steve's announcement, and his article where he states his support of long-term same-sex relationships, here’s what, if you’re gay and if you’re wondering, you need to know about what God thinks.... continue reading

Top posts of 2013: #5 - Four thoughts on the first atheist church

Carl Laferton | 24 Dec 2013

Britain has its first atheist church.

It’s in north London, drew over 300, erm, worshippers last Sunday, and offers the chance to sing songs like Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now and Stevie Wonder’s Superstition.

And the “Sunday Assembly” has its own mantra, too: “Live better, help often, wonder more”.

Here are four thoughts, and then over to you for yours in the Comments section:

1. Everyone is religious. We long to belong to a community of fellow believers, with a code for living, and a purpose for our lives. Romans 1 v 25 tells us that humans are wired to worship something—it will either be the Creator, or created things, but it will be something.... continue reading

Top posts of 2013: #6 - John Calvin

Carl Laferton | 21 Dec 2013

Who: John Calvin
When: 1509-1564
Where: Geneva, Switzerland

So what?

John Calvin is the Marmite of church history – people tend either to love him or hate him. The bare facts are: he was brought up a French Catholic… studied to become a priest and then a lawyer in Paris… became a convinced Protestant… wrote a letter to the King of France to defend Protestants from the charge of being rebels, and attached to it a book about Protestant doctrine (the famous Institutes)… and ended up as a pastor in Geneva with some influence, then great influence, over the church in that city-state.... continue reading

Top posts of 2013: #7 - Five things to pray for your new baby

Carl Laferton | 19 Dec 2013

At number 7 is another post by Carl Laferton, first posted on July 23rd 2013.
 


Here are five things to ask God for, guided by Ephesians, as you look at the small, precious miracle of creation lying peacefully crying unstoppably in your arms…

Heavenly Father, please give this little one…

1. Faith in Christ.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” (Ephesians 1 v 18). More than anything else, your baby needs to know the certain eternal hope of a future with Christ. This is the most important thing you can pray for them. You probably know this, but it’s so very easy to pray for health/happiness/a good night’s sleep instead.... continue reading

Top posts of 2013: #8 - Homosexuality: Two ways forward

Carl Laferton | 19 Dec 2013

At number 8 in the top 10 of the most-read blog posts in 2013 is a post from back in January by Carl Laferton.
 


Sometimes, timing is everything.

And so it was that last week, in the same week, two things happened. First, Sam Allberry wrote a blog:

Jesus is more than worth it, even with all it entails for gay people... Homosexuality is an issue I have battled with my entire Christian life. It took a long time to admit to myself, longer to admit to others, and even longer to see something of God’s good purposes through it all. There have been all sorts of ups and downs. But this battle is not devoid of blessings, as Paul discovered with his own unyielding thorn in the flesh. Struggling with sexuality has been an opportunity to experience more of God’s grace, rather than less.... continue reading

Top posts of 2013: #9 - Five things to pray for pupils

Carl Laferton | 17 Dec 2013

At number 9 in the top 10 of the most-read blog posts in 2013 is a post from Carl Laferton, first posted on 4th September.
 



‚ÄčIt’s back-to-school week in the UK. Some children are starting a new school; most will be going into a new class or form. Some will have been looking forward to it; others dreading it. All of them need our prayers—so here are five things to pray for a child (or children) in your family, or your church family, as they return to school, based on James 1 v 17-21:

1. “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (v 17). Give thanks for this child, for the gift from God that they are. And pray that they would grow in thankfulness to God over this academic year, not taking the good things they have and enjoy for granted.

2. “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth…” (v 18). Thank God that there is a word more precious than any of the ones any child will learn or look at in school this year. Thank God that he gives new life through faith in his Son, who we meet in his word. Pray that your child will come to faith, or grow in faith, this year—and pray that you would want this for them more than any educational achievements or qualifications.

3. “…that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (v 18). Pray that your child, if they belong to Jesus, would speak and act differently to those around them at school, because they belong to God’s new creation. Pray that in them, others would see how great it is to know Jesus. Pray that they would be willing to stand out, and if necessary to miss out, in order to live as part of God’s people.

4. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (v 19). Pray that your child: would be a caring listener to classmates, noticing and giving time to those who are hurting or lonely; would speak words which point to Jesus, not to themselves; would respond to being wronged (and let’s face it, playgrounds can be horrible places at times) with love and forgiveness, not anger and revenge.

5. “Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, and humbly accept the word” (v 21). Pray that the word would have more influence on your child than the world. And pray that your child would not believe the lies of the world—either the obvious ones (“Your happiness is all-important”, “Porn is harmless”, etc) or the less obvious ones (“Good grades are all-important”, “If you work hard and obey well, then you are a good person”).

Five things to pray, and five days in the school week. Why not use one of these five Monday to Friday, to pray for a child/children’s school life? And could you share these prayers with others at your church, so that your church becomes a church which prays hard for its children as they head off into the world this week, and every week?

Top posts of 2013: #10 - Five ways to talk about porn with teens

Helen Thorne | 17 Dec 2013

In the last few days of 2013, we're going to repost our 10 most-read posts of 2013. Here, at number 10, is a post from the end of April containing some helpful hints on how to broach the tricky subject of pornography with young people.
 


"We know from the facts and figures the average age of starting to watch pornography is about 11." So runs a sentence in a recent BBC article.

Of course, not every 11 year old is watching porn. But it seems some are. And as children progress through their teens, it is more and more likely that they will engage with pornographic material. There's so much out there - in magazines, in books and, above all, on the internet. No longer are our adolescents having to sneak mags off the top shelf and hide them under their beds, there's a whole world of explicit material just a click away. And - unless internet accountability systems are put in place - a simple "clear browser history" manoeuvre often hides the evidence from the responsible adults of the house.... continue reading

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