The missing jewel
I praise God for all he has accomplished through the contemporary worship movement. Like thousands of others, I’ve benefited enormously, not least in the way contemporary songwriters have introduced me to simple love songs to Jesus. But while I thank God for gifted worship leaders, Les Moir’s article (‘The missing jewel’, May) raised some concerns for me.
In my local church, we hardly ever sing any of the great traditional hymns, largely because our worship leaders don’t know them. I think we’re impoverished as a result.
Also, much of our present-day song content leaves a lot to be desired. The issues highlighted in Derek Walker’s stimulating article ‘6 lies our worship songs tell us’ (February) were spot-on.
Finally, having lived in South Asia, I have sung translations of many of the best songs written by Western writers in the last 30 years. Les rightly thanks God that many songs by British writers are being sung in lots of different countries. But could there also be a kind of Western cultural dominance involved here? I love indigenous Indian worship, using meters and instruments that express worship in an Asian way. I remember worshipping in the mountains of Papua. As a Westerner, the music sounded to me like deep wailing (!), but to the Yali people it was genuine worship from the heart.
Let’s pray for the continuing development of local indigenous worship for the glory of Jesus our Lord.
Honesty on healing
I want to applaud Rob Parsons for his balanced article ‘Sorry to be awkward, but we need to talk about healing’ (April). The column is a welcome encouragement to healthy practice.
No one is suggesting that the issue of healing is simple. Faith is not certainty; indeed, certainty is the opposite of faith. We attach our faith to the person of Christ, not to a predicted outcome.
Too often we are in danger of trusting in prayer as a formula, and not in the working of Christ himself. The only thing we can guarantee in the healing ministry is that we will pray with compassion, as we pray faithfully in Jesus’ name. God does not need us to promise any more, in order to protect his reputation.
In this light, and with all due pastoral considerations, we are encouraged, even commanded, to pray with, and for, those who are sick. After all, the idea originated with Jesus in the first place. Wes Sutton, Acorn Christian Healing Foundation
Thank you, Rob Parsons, for being brave and grasping the nettle, but no need to apologise. I imagine all Christians have, like me, asked God “why?” when healing doesn’t happen.
You’ve done all the right things, you prayed in faith and you have hoped. But hope can be the hardest thing. As has been said, “I can take the despair, it’s the hope I can’t stand.” Faith says that God has a purpose in it all. But hope says little. It just dies a bit.
Being a Christian doesn’t insulate us from the sadness, the confusion, and the raw emotions of unanswered prayer.
So, Rob, thank you for your nettle-grasping. I for one have not gone potty with you.
As I read the article about fake news ‘Would I lie to you?’ (April) I must admit that I had some feelings of guilt. I wonder how many of us have made exaggerated statements over the years in order to try to convince people about the truth or power of the Christian message?
I was a missionary for many years and know that in order to keep the support coming in it was easy to make exaggerated statements about how well things were going so as not to disappoint the supporters.
There are also many instances of sugar-coated gospel messages: Christianity Lite, overemphasising the blessings and ignoring the difficulties of the Christian life; the infamous Prosperity Gospel, with unrealistic promises of economic recompense; exaggerated claims by faith healers; massaged statistics of mission results, etc.
In the Church we need to be completely honest and transparent, and trusting the Lord for our ministries. The fact that we feel we need to massage the facts shows ultimately that we are putting our trust more in ourselves than in the Lord. Father, forgive us!
Rev Bob Short
Our Christian heritage
I thought Heather Tomlinson’s piece: ‘Rethinking politics’ (May) was an interesting and wellbalanced debate, with good arguments on both sides.
I did, however, disagree with Greg Boyd who says: “the whole governmental structure is predicted on sin.” He clearly doesn’t know that historically, many of the UK’s Acts of Parliament are the result of social action by Christian organisations and individuals who could not stand by and watch injustice happen. If our governmental structure was “sinful”, then the Children Act, the Modern Slavery Act and many other laws never would have been passed.
I was disappointed to see Jackie Hockley refer to RT Kendall’s article as a “horrible negative rant” (‘Feedback’, May). Actually, I think it is an incredibly important and exciting message preparing us for a great move of God – something I hope most of us would be praying for and wanting to see.
RT’s article contained important challenges to take God and his word more seriously. And if there is any book I would recommend to Christians hungry to see God move at the moment it would be RT’s Prepare Your Heart for the Midnight Cry (SPCK) – it is a key word for our times.
@ancresbyjacq Listening to @Christianitymag podcast. Love combo of trad Christian views & Evangelical Charismatic, where I’m now after you inspired me.
@SamBuck335 @Christianitymag so good to see the mid faith crisis article this month. Much needed and much appreciated.
@KarenLouiseGray @Christianitymag Ruth Jackson sets a good example in “In My Opinion”. Whilst disagreeing with Tim Keller, she doesn’t try to demonise him.
@DavidACBennett Great interview with @samhailes in @Christianitymag where I explain the story of meeting Jesus. Grab a copy!
@kdwaiting Challenging points from @DrRTKendall in @Christianitymag. 10 signs of a sleeping church!
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you”, says Jesus in John’s Gospel, King James Version, and I had my own experience of dramatically answered prayer only this week when I arrived at church and our projector had broken. Inevitably, I thought that this would mean we would be forced into the only correct action; namely, using the old hymns books and singing ‘Abide with me’, but instead it was apparently decided that we should sing one line again and again repeatedly. It sounded not unlike when the needle gets stuck on my The Best Ancient and Ancient Hymns in the World... Ever album, only without the spiritually uplifting music. That decision was made, I suspect, largely because the Hymn Book Cupboard no longer has any books in it, but instead is full of extension leads. I note an article in your recent issue about the fact that maybe the Church should get rid of some traditions. Of course not! What nonsense! Traditions are vital. How on earth will God bless a church without appropriately named rooms? It’s called ‘The Hymn Book Cupboard’. How on earth you cannot have any hymn books therein is beyond me. I have always called it that and always will, but now the name of it doesn’t match the contents! How is this progress? This reminds me of that first disappointing trip I made to buy some wellingtons from what turned out to be a high street chemist.
Rev Roger D Votional
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