The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) recorded 327 instances of discrimination and targeted violence against Christians in India in 2020, including five murders, at least six churches burnt or destroyed and 26 incidents of social boycotting, according to its yearly report published on 14 January.
How we listen to a sermon may have more impact on our spiritual growth than anything else. Since the sermon is the chief means appointed by God for the edification and blessing of his people, and since we can only participate in sermons by listening, HOW we listen must be critical. Yet it is something that we rarely consider. We are so grateful for the series on this theme that our pastor Tony has preached to us, and you can find that on our SermonAudio page under the title: Making The Most Of The Sermon. This article from Reformation Scotland is also warmly recommended.
As many are aware, a Democratic congressman in the USA ended an opening prayer to “the monotheistic God” on the first day of the new Congress by saying not simply “amen” but “amen and a-woman.” The phrase of course is a Hebrew word with no connotations of gender. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, a United Methodist minister, responded by saying that it was intended to be “a light-hearted pun in recognition of the record number of women” serving in Congress. Clearly it was a mockery of a prayer. But it certainly got people reaching for the definition of Amen as “so be it”. Yet few perhaps realised just how far it cheapened such a vital word. There is far more meaning to the word than we may realise.
What is providence? In this "Renewing your Mind" broadcast, the great Reformed theologian RC Sproul answers this question with his usual combination of depth and clarity. We commend it to you for your encouragement.
Visit our Nigeria page for the latest news from Port Harcourt
It is excellent news that communal worship can continue in the English lockdown provided the safety rules are followed. But some are saying that churches should be closed again by law. That is why we are asking you to contact your MP today, and say that public worship should continue.
Release International reports that persecution is rising in many places as dictatorial regimes use the Covid-19 crisis as a cover for their wicked treatment of Christians. However, in many places the churches are growing in spite of such trials. Visit our persecution page to find out more.
Read the latest news from the Christian Institute to be informed for prayer concerning some of the great challenges we face as our society continues to resist God and his laws. Let us do so in faith, knowing that the Lord is sovereign and he will work out his good purposes even through all the trials and persecutions of this age.
There are some things we do in church that go completely unquestioned—until they are. One such usually-unquestioned part of worship is preaching. You all know what preaching is. Preaching is basically a monologue where one person addresses the whole congregation at some length from a place of prominence. This has certainly been a conspicuous part of Reformed worship ever since the Reformation, and in fact, a part of Christian worship since the dawn of Christianity. But today its character and even its validity is being questioned. Click below to read the rest of this article by Sam Waldron from Reformation 21.
As we begin a new year, let us be much in prayer for the work of God in Kenya. So many exciting opportunities are opening up across the country and the January prayer diary encourages us to pray with understanding and zeal.
The great hymn, “Joy to the World” by Isaac Watts, sung frequently at Christmas is a hymnic presentation of Psalm 98:4-9. Verse 4 of the Psalm reads “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.” Yes, indeed, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” Read more about this wonderful hymn, and how it teaches us what Christ has done to overcome the curse, not only in the world at large, but even in our hearts.
As for many, 2020 has been a challenging year for our brother Miki and the church in Budapest. Yet the Lord has graciously kept him in his kindness, and there have been recent encouragements and baptisms, as can be seen in the picture. Read Miki's latest report and be moved to thankfulness and prayer.
Five Christian businessmen have been prosecuted by Chinese authorities in Shenzhen for selling audio versions of the Bible as part of the Chinese government’s ongoing policy to eradicate “illegal publications”.
Murungi Igweta writes: We praise and glorify the Lord, that in spite of the frowning cloud of providence which Covid-19 has brought, He has been at work ensuring that the Gospel continues to speed ahead. At TBC Nairobi, we have known God’s grace from many different angles. In this update allow us to especially focus on the various prospects of establishing new churches in different towns of Kenya. These open doors for church planting/revitalization work are indeed a gracious answer by God to your prayers for us. It is only fitting that as we sing a song of praise and thanksgiving to God for answered prayers, we also invite you to join with us in exalting the Lord for His kindness.
The Westminster Government is expected to consult soon on banning practices that seek to change someone’s sexual orientation – so-called ‘conversion therapy’. The phrase has been deliberately chosen by campaigners to impinge on the heart of the gospel, which is a call to all people to repent of their sin and be converted. As being proposed, such a law would interfere with the core activities of churches, limit evangelism and even affect what is taught to children in the home. Read the Christian Institute briefing for more information and let us be much in prayer about this rising tide of Christian persecution in our land.
Praise God for the continuing work caring for the children at House of Ants, Mozambique. Visit our Mozambique page for the latest prayer news and an opportunity to make a donation in memory of Liz Stredder, who loved these children so much - the work of House of Ants was very close to her heart.
Continue in prayer for this vital work, bringing clean water and sanitation to suffering believers in Nigeria.
Pastor Tony Flanders is chariman of the LRBF and he writes: We greatly value our fellowship with the churches of our region. The Lancashire Reformed Baptist Fellowship provides an opportunity for such fellowship in prayer and under the word of God. Take a look at the programme for 2021 on our LRBF page, and save these dates in your diary.
Over a hundred and forty years ago, J.C. Ryle wrote that “heart-trouble” is the most common thing in the world. He also said that no one is exempt from it, and that there is nothing that we can do to avoid it. The world has changed quite a bit since Ryle penned those words, but his observations remain true as ever. If anything, this past year has served to confirm them as the pandemic has prompted an upsurge of worry, fear, panic, anxiety, loneliness and other forms of heart-trouble. So how do we handle heart-trouble? John 14 provides some answers.
One of the current charges leveled against Christians (largely on social media) is that Christians are being selfish by insisting on worshiping even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. How do we answer that charge? Read this very balanced and helpful article from Reformation 21 and consider the case for continuing to meet for gathered worship.
Why did Jesus need the Holy Spirit, since he is fully divine as well as fully human in his own right? What role does the Spirit play in the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus? And how does this affect our own experience of God and his presence in our lives? Mark Jones helps us to understand in this very helpful article.
Why doesn’t God immediately take His beloved ones to Himself out of this world of sin and sorrow? It’s a real question that occurs to many at some time or other for various reasons. Why the affliction and troubles? Perhaps it is an abiding question for those who are lingering in this world when they would long to be out of it. Yet the Lord still has a purpose for their prayers and testimony however small they feel their contribution may be. Others are worn down and wearied with the constant reminders of sin and sorrow. What a world it is where this is brought before us wherever we look. Perhaps they mourn over the pitiful progress they seem to make in spiritual things. Wouldn’t it be best for them to be taken from this world? Yet it is Christ’s purpose for them to be here, He has prayed for them to be left in the world (John 17:15). He has eminently wise reasons for that. What are those reasons?
Read the latest Barnabas Fund Prayer Focus Update on our Persecution page using the link
Pray for our brethren in Kenya throughout December with the help of the updated prayer diary.
In the midst of much upheaval, many difficulties and temptations to discouragement is it realistic to expect us to give thanks? It’s easy to be worn down into a discouraged murmuring spirit. Yet, in spite of the difficulties we always have much to be grateful for to God. Thanksgiving can never be untimely because we are continually receiving good things from God, even if it is only life and breath. As we trust God’s wisdom in ordering all things for our good and His glory, we can give thanks (Romans 8:28). It is good to be able to thank God in adversity.
Read the latest news, and get your free December devotional written by faculty members to help you prepare for Christmas!
It is of the highest importance that men are trained well and rigorously for the work of the gospel in Kenya and Pastor Oliver Allmand-Smith gives us some insight into the training and context there. Alongside this, we discuss the importance of biblical Christian evangelism and the danger of the altar call. Is it important that we do evangelism according to scripture or can we just use any methods and practices that we like?
Clearly, we live in times of sexual identity chaos. Arguments that would have sounded unconscionable just a few decades ago are now plausible, and are defended, adopted, even pridefully celebrated. How did we get here? What seeds were planted that flourished into the modern thinking of sexuality as one’s primary or even sole identity? The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution is Carl Truman’s most recent release and may be one of the most significant books of 2020. Trueman goes back a few centuries to analyze the philosophical underpinnings that gave rise to modern thought, changing even the meaning of language. Join the Mortification of Spin podcast for an intriguing conversation about a topic that—as time passes—hits ever closer to home.
We thank God for his goodness in enabling the November classes to be taught by Oliver online. Read a brief report from one of the students on our Kenya page (scroll to the bottom of the page to find the link). Keep praying that each of the students will complete all their studies and be fully equipped for their ministry.
Read the latest report from MERF about how thousands of Arabic speakers are being reached with the gospel. Click on the link for the pdf, or visit the MERF page and website for more details.
What does Jesus mean when he says in John 10:30 that "I and the Father are one?" Are the words self-explanatory, or do we need the theological language of creeds and confessions to understand precisely what he means? And does it matter if we are not precisely clear on his meaning? In this very important article, Richard Barcellos explains what Jesus means, why it matters so very much and how valuable the language of our creeds and confessions can be.
View our 1689 page to see the flyer and book your place for these critical days of study on the doctrine of the church.
A group of church leaders has launched a claim for judicial review of the English and Welsh government’s unprecedented decisions to close churches during lockdown. 122 church leaders from different streams and traditions are pursuing legal action against the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care claiming that the decision to ban worship services during the current lockdown is unlawful. The leaders will also challenge the Welsh Assembly’s decision to close churches during its three week ‘firebreak’ which ended on November 9, but which could be in place again in the New Year.
Politicians continue to wrestle with how to deal with the “four harms” caused by COVID-19. These are: the direct health impact of the virus, impact on other health areas, impact on society and on the economy. They are profound issues, but spiritual harm does not register in public policy, except as a tiny aspect of society. Spiritual harm is not irrelevant to Christians, however. We need to think about it in general as well as the impact of COVID interventions. We need to think of it in the same terms as we do harms to physical health. Harming spiritual life is more serious but much more common than we have realised. In fact we do it all the time in ways that we barely acknowledge.
Oliver was due to speak at the Nigerian Reformed Baptist Conference in Port Harcourt later this month, but has not been able to travel. Please visit our Nigeria page to find the details and pray for our brethren as they meet for this important conference.
Watch this video to see Oliver give ten reasons why we should be free to gather for worship.
The Christian institute writes: We must keep urging the Government to think again on the closure of public worship. Churches operating COVID-safely must be allowed to reopen. Ask your MP to please support early day motion (EDM) 1089 tabled by Labour MP John Spellar. It calls on the Government “to reach a better arrangement” than closing places of worship during this lockdown period. It also asks for the Government to publish evidence to justify banning public worship to tackle COVID-19.
Jihadists behead more than 50 people in football pitch massacre in Mozambique
In the latest "lockdown", many social activities have been prioritised over gathered worship. How should we respond? Listen to Oliver being interviewed on TWR-UK.
“We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature…” Boris Johnson said at a recent press conference. This recognises the limitations of science and human ability; we thought we had nature under control. However, it is clearly easier to humble ourselves before a blind force rather than the God of nature. It doesn’t dent our pride nearly so much. Yet it ought to lead us to this. How indeed should our smallness in relation to God’s creation lead us to true humility before the Creator Himself?
Oliver joins Christian Concern on this discussion forum covering the issues surrounding the ban on church worship services and the silencing of Christians in the public realm.
A group of church leaders in has agreed to start a legal challenge of the government’s decision to close churches in the new lockdown set to begin this week in England.
Over 1,000 church leaders have called on the Government to reverse its decision to close church services during the second lockdown.
I recently received this email and link from a friend in the USA. Be encouraged in these challenging times! Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, As we await the results of our nation's presidential election and wonder anxiously about the future of our country (regardless of which man becomes president), I would encourage you to take 5 minutes out of your day to watch the link below. The kingdoms of this world are, at best, shifting sand. Kings and kingdoms (and presidents) rise and fall all the time according to God's sovereign decree. But there is one King who shall ever endure. His kingdom will never be marked by scandal. He will never resign. No one will dispose Him, though millions upon millions have tried, but all in vain. His kingdom is the only one that will endure. He is the superlative King above all kings, and the superlative Lord above all Lords. He is the blessed and only Potentate, and of His kingdom there shall be no end. So, with that in view, I truly think that viewing the link below may be the very best thing you will see today on any media outlet.
With another shut-down of churches threatened by the government, it is imperative that we make clear the priority of worship under the call of God. Please follow the guidelines given by the Christian Institute and contact your local MP today.
Listen to this mind-stretching and God-exalting discussion about the doctrine of God that ties in so well with our current studies.
Paul calls us to pray for those in authority over us, but often we neglect this duty. He also shows us HOW we ought to pray and WHAT we should be praying for. In this article, Fred Malone helpfully encourages us to pray and directs us according to the scriptures.
Find out about the work of SGA, reaching out to the Slavic people of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Far East Russia.
While we enter the early stages of suffering for our faith in the West, the experience is all too immediate and terrible for so many of our brethren across the world. Read about the experience of Christians in China and pray that the Lord will keep them in his mercy.
The subject of this episode is simple, we speak about God. It is crucial for Christians to testify that "God Is" in this age where the world openly confesses that "God is Not", he is not in our lives, he is not in our government and he is increasingly ignored in more and more of our Churches. Listen to this episode and be encouraged to study the Triune God of Holy Scripture in your life so that you may develop a rich and deep communion with our wonderful creator.
The Welsh Assembly has ordered churches in Wales to close their doors for the second time this year. Read about the action being taken by Church leaders urging the Assembly to reconsider.
What is at stake if abortion law discriminates between different kinds of human beings in the womb? What is the effect of having different rules for different babies based purely on the number of chromosomes in their DNA? Nothing short of eugenics and discrimination on the basis of value-judgements concerning the worth of different human beings. That is why we support this case against the UK Govt being brought by Heidi Crowter, a courageous & intelligent young woman who is fighting for the very survival of a category of human being whose worth to us all can only be imagined.
October 31st is REFORMATION DAY. Prepare with these special offers from Banner of Truth.
Repentance is not a small work in the Christian life; it IS the Christian life. Martin Luther said, "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, 'Repent,' he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance." John Calvin taught, “Repentance is not merely the start of the Christian life; it IS the Christian life." Read this challenging article from Reformation 21 on the need for men to lead the way in repentance.
As churches in Wales are ordered to shut their doors once more and seats are empty on the Lord's Day, what are the implications for freedom of religion? Have we forgotten the battles that had to be fought over many centuries to secure the freedoms that we are now so willing to surrender? And what are the implications for freedom of religion across the world? This article by Christian Concern helps us to consider what is at stake.
Read the latest news about the work of MERF in North Africa by visiting our MERF page in the overseas missions section
Please read this latest update from the Christian Institute and continue in earnest prayer that our nation might yet bow the knee before our sovereign Lord in true repentance for all our sins.
In a court of law, we understand that stating part of the truth can be a clever way of deceiving others, why is why the witness must promise to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Every error that comes into the church and causes so much damage begins as a part-truth and ends up being a full-blown deception. In this article, our colleagues at Reformation Scotland helpfully show why being committed to the whole counsel of God as defined in a confession of faith guards against this danger.
In this podcast from IRBS TS with Dr James Dolezal, the question is asked: How is it possible for us to comprehend a God who is beyond our comprehension? Dr Dolezal helps us to see that while we can never comprehend God comprehensively, nonetheless we can know God with assurance and be confident that our understanding is right. He also shows us why the reality of God's infinite and transcendent glory is the reason that eternity in heaven will always be satisfying as we seek to fathom the depths of an unfathomable God.
At the present time, great emphasis is placed upon the preservation of the body, and that is certainly important; but isn't the soul even more important? Jesus points the people of his own time to Lot's wife as a lesson in what happens if you concentrate 100% on preserving the body and neglect the soul; the outcome is not good for either body or soul. The writer of this excellent article challenges us to be counter-cultural at this time and give greater priority to the needs of the soul than the needs of the body.
How easy it is to allow our minds to be overwhelmed by modern media: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, TV etc... Although there are exceptions, so much of what we read and see there is unprofitable, profane, godless, superficial and even deceptive. It would do us good to tune out and read the Puritans. This article explains why and shows us where to start.
Following the entrance of our dear sister Liz into the presence of her Lord and Saviour, we now have the opportunity to reflect on her life and testimony. View the Love From Liz page to see the hymns we sang, the memories we shared and the scriptures we read on that memorable day; also listen to the messages we heard from the word of God. And remember in everything that all the glory belongs not to Liz, but to her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Our culture views having children as a choice and a sacrifice but seldom as a responsibility and a blessing. The Bible sees things very differently being pro-child, pro-procreation and pro-conception. We need to be counter-cultural in our view of the womb and its fruitfulness.
Latest prayer update from JP & Fiona with news on the work of Open Air Mission
No-one can fail to have noticed that there is an election coming up in the United States. In this article, we are helpfully reminded of the priorities that should direct such voting. Let us seek to be biblical and God-honouring in all things.
SIX-YEAR-OLD AMONG VICTIMS OF FULANI MILITANT ATTACK IN NIGERIA; RELEASE INTERNATIONAL PARTNER’S LIFE THREATENED IN UNITED STATES
Communist party officials in China have rewritten one of the Bible’s most powerful accounts of Jesus Christ’s grace and divinity by blasphemously claiming the Saviour stoned to death the woman caught in adultery in John 8.
In this episode Keith Underhill, a former missionary to Kenya gives his experience of God's providence in mission work. We explore why it is critically important for the local Church to be at the heart of supporting missions and for servants to go out into the mission field and preach the gospel in all parts of the world. May God lead us to pray for his work in these countries & for local Churches to send out men to give the gospel to the unreached.
During the Covid-19 crisis, many churches have made it possible to "worship" online. The question now being asked is whether or not folk will ever return to worshipping in person? Carl Trueman and Todd Pruitt discuss this vital subject and encourage every Christian to return to worshipping in their local congregation as soon as they are able.
Kenya Prayer Diary October 2020
At the heart of assisted suicide and eugenics is the belief that some lives are worth more than others. In this interview with The Christian Institute, bioethics expert Calum MacKellar exposes the terrible inequality that arises from this view. He powerfully and concisely advocates the dignity of all human life based on the biblical truth that we are all made in the image of God.
Read some very important articles about marriage, divorce, relationships education, abortion and transgender issues in relation to teenage girls. It is so important that we are informed of what is really happening regarding these critical matters, and you will not find this information on the BBC or Sky News or most of the media outlets. Keep revisiting our latest updates page to keep up to date for prayer and action.
Uncertainty is nothing new but the coronavirus crisis has taken this to more extreme levels. There is even a degree of uncertainty about facts, numbers, transmission, symptoms and science. No doubt there may be times and places that have experienced more uncertainty but for many this is at a new level. Disruption and uncertainty have impacted most aspects of most people’s lives. All these unknowns are personal as well as social and economic. We do not know how long the impact of the crisis will last and this creates fear and anxiety. How should we respond?
The proposed Hate Crime Bill in Scotland will open the possibility for people to be charged for having a Bible on their person or believing basic biblical truths. In this podcast, we discuss the proposed bill with Pastor Ali McLachlan, of Grace Baptist Church Edinburgh.
At least 58 people were killed and 17 kidnapped when Muslim militants attacked two villages in the mainly-Christian north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo in early September. Please pray for these Christian communities.
Devon and Cornwall Police have told a Christian pastor that if he offends the LGBT community he could be breaking the law after he posted a comment on a social media thread that welcomed the cancellation of a local gay pride event. Pastor Josh Williamson, 34, of Newquay Baptist Church, was warned by police to keep his views in a ‘safe environment’ after being targeted by a wave of anti-Christian abuse – including threats of violence and calls for his church to be burnt down.
"We humbly confess that we deserve Thy chastisement, because of our many national sins. But spare us, good Lord, according to Thy many mercies. Deal not with us according to our sins. Withdraw from us this grievous plague, and restore health to our people. Above all, stir up amongst us true repentance, and increase true religion in the land. We ask all in the name and through the mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory. Amen." A prayer by J.C. Ryle in the 19th Century amid the Cattle Plague.
Murungi has recently been on a trip to West Kenya and has written a prayer update alongside the prayer diary for this month. Read and pray.
The model of Puritan family life was powerful enough to establish joy in a household where eight children died in infancy, the father had to bury eleven out of his fourteen children, there was almost unremitting sickness and massive personal problems, as attested by Samuel Sewall and his family.
Carl and Todd are virtually visiting the beautiful state of Georgia, sipping some peach sweet tea with Rev. David Hall. David is the senior pastor at Midway Presbyterian Church in the Atlanta area, the hot spot for a yearly conference on reformed worship emphasizing the simplicity of worship and the centrality of preaching. Due to changes in state guidelines, this year’s event was canceled, so David chats instead with our heroes about the newest social phenomenon: Puritanical perfectionism.
At issue, the emergence of a secular kind of absolute morality, which punishes violators to the fullest extent of “woke” standards, leaving the perpetrator without any chance for redemption or forgiveness. Is this “new morality” a good thing for society? David reviews the “Five Points of Neo-Perfectionism,” discussing each in light of their social implications.
Read the latest of how God is using MERF for his own glory & in the Beirut disaster
We discuss the bombardier beetle, irreducible complexity & "Wonders of Creation"
A massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital, Beirut, early on Tuesday evening (4 August 2020), causing utter destruction in the port area of the city and damaging homes up to six miles away. It was followed moments later by a blast wave that knocked people to the ground. At least 135 people were killed, about 5,000 injured and hundreds of thousands made homeless.
Read part 3 of Oliver Allmand-Smith's article on the Puritan family. "In any organisation, a worthy goal is not sufficient to ensure success; there must also be an agreed means to get there. The Puritans were no different, and they held up biblical love as the fundamental means in reaching their shared goal of God’s glory. In their view, such love had to flow out from the marriage that lay at the heart of the family."
When some deface statues of abolitionists in an effort to speak against racism, while others defend the past by keeping it under a veil of comfortable silence, we wonder what happened to sound reason. To resurrect reason, we need a serious commitment to honesty, humility, and hope in our study of history—and in how we present that history to our children.
The latest edition contains articles from our friends in Kenya, Keith Underhill & Oliver Allmand-Smith.
Pray for the brothers and sisters in Kenya as they seek to glorify God in their labours. Please pray for these friends.
Video footage has revealed the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) illegally posting abortion pills to a woman who said she wanted to terminate her pregnancy because she didn’t “want to look pregnant on holiday.”
Read about the glorious doctrine of adoption into God's family.
Cultural Marxism has infiltrated the West and is increasingly showing it's ugly face in culture, the media and most worryingly, the Church. Melvin Tinker helpfully guides us through how the West was "lost" to this philosophy, what their anti-God agenda is and where it will guide our country in the future. Churches and Pastors must be prepared to take up their cross and stand for the truth of the gospel, even if this means suffering and oppression. We have a gospel of hope and salvation, but it is useless if we remain silent. Listen to this special podcast episode to find out more.
Read this article by the Christian Institute on this dangerous bill. Please pray that freedom to preach the gospel may remain.
We don’t have to sweep tricky phrases from Scripture under the carpet, says Christopher Ash. In many cases, Bible scholarship can help us make sense of them.
Please pray that God would bless their labours, that their witness on English streets would bear good fruit.
Some thoughts on the recent death of J. I. Packer.