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By In Counseling/Piety, Family and Children, Theology, Wisdom

Like turning a container ship

One of the most striking and unexpected lessons I’ve learned over the last decade or so is that repentance is hard.

Very hard.

Initially this came as something of a surprise. Like most people, I used to cling to the instinctive idea that we’re basically in control of our lives, that we can make rational choices about which of our desires to follow and which should be resisted, and so on. But a few years of experience – both of helping other people to deal with their sinful, foolish and destructive habits, and in dealing with my own – have kicked that idea firmly into the long grass.

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By In Culture, Politics, Pro-Life, Theology

Abortion and moral schizophrenia

Last Saturday here in London, UK, we read about the heartbreaking case of the youngest victim of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Logan Gomes. The child of Marcio and Andreia Gomes, Logan was as yet unborn when the fire struck. His mother Andreia was taken to hospital following her escape, where doctors discovered that poisonous fumes from the blaze had claimed the life of the unborn child. Logan was born while Andreia was in an induced coma, and Mr Gomes was faced with the unthinkable task of breaking the news of his youngest child’s death to his wife and the couple’s other daughters, Megan and Luana.

Just a few days previously, we read that “the UK’s largest doctors union”, the British Medical Association, “has called for the complete decriminalisation of abortion and for women to have access to terminations on demand.” The article continues, “If the BMA gets its way, medics would not face criminal sanctions for providing, or women for procuring, an abortion in any circumstances, at any stage in a pregnancy.”

That is to say, the largest union of doctors in the UK is calling for the legalisation of the deliberate killing of children at precisely the same stage of life as young Logan Gomes. The BMA (an association of doctors – people with the job of saving lives) wants the law make abortion legal for any reason whatever, at any stage of pregnancy, right up to birth.

What are we to make of this?

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By In Family and Children, Theology, Wisdom

How to fail in the pursuit of godliness

I want to say a few words about a common way in which we often fail to grow in godliness. As it happens, parents also sometimes make a similar mistake in raising their children, with the result that their kids go off the rails as they approach independent adulthood.

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By In Family and Children

Having fun with little children

A guest post by Nicole Jeffery.

I was recently asked by a friend what I filled my days with when my kids were small. Like many other mums, she’s convinced that she’s in the best position to raise her daughter ‘in the discipline and instruction of the Lord’. But being at home all day long with tiny kids can be a bit of a crunch in the gears when you’ve been used to pursuing a career elsewhere. And when all those new mums you’ve been getting to know start cheerily heading back to the office and you’re left all alone in the park with your baby, life can feel pretty directionless. Just a single day can feel long and empty and, if we’re honest, a curious mixture of dull and stressful.

My friend’s question got me thinking, so I started digging back into some of my old notes, books and photos.  What follows is a fairly random selection of some of the things I did with our kids in those precious early years. As a family we certainly didn’t get everything right. And even the things that worked out well for us may not all suit you. Some may be impractical where you live or with your particular children. But hopefully they will encourage and inspire you to make the best use of these fleeting early years.

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By In Theology, Wisdom

Selecting men for ordination

There are a couple of different situations in which a church (and in particular the Minister and Elders of a church) might find themselves needing to train and select men for ordained Eldership. Perhaps there’s an older man in the church who looks (and lives) like the kind of guy who could serve as an Elder. Or perhaps there’s a (younger?) guy in the church who aspires to serve as a Minister, or an evangelist, or a missionary, or some other role in the body of Christ for which ordination is normally required.

In both cases, the initial reaction from the existing Elders and the congregation should of course be great enthusiasm, great encouragement, and so on. For even if the guy is currently not ready for the role, it’s nonetheless a fantastic blessing to have people either growing towards the grey-haired maturity that makes ordained Eldership appropriate or aspiring to the life of Christian service that makes ordination necessary.

However, it needs to be emphasised at the outset that the role is a demanding one, and that (especially in the case of those aspiring to any kind of teaching ministry) a great deal of training is likely to be required.

In order to clarify the nature of the demands upon a man’s lifestyle, understanding, orthodoxy, and so on, it can be helpful to have some questions to think about, both for the man himself and also for discussion among the existing leadership team and the broader congregation.

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By In Family and Children

A Proverb for Dads…

… whose wives are at home raising babies or chasing toddlers or teaching teenagers, and who sometimes (naively) long to arrive home after a long day at work to a spotless and peaceful home, but are instead greeted by a chaotic riot of squealing kids, paintings drying on the sofa, science experiments spread across the kitchen, cookery splattered all over the walls, and large holes in the lawn where someone thought they’d just check in case there’s gold in these hills too:

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
(Proverbs 14:4)

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By In Family and Children, Theology, Wisdom

Raising Expectations

A few weeks ago, the young people at Emmanuel Evangelical Church in North London organised a conference to share with the wider church their own aspirations to stop thinking of themselves as overgrown children and instead to grow towards greater maturity in Christ. The conference was called Raising Expectations, with talks on The Myth of Adolescence, Godly Ambition, Motivation, and Taking Risks, and the videos are now online below.

(Click here for audio recordings only.)

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