The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘Conrad Mbewe

Elders and pastors

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I appreciated this post from Conrad Mbewe in which he seeks to give a brief defence of the distinctive use of the terms “elder” and “pastor” within an eldership. He concludes,

. . . let me make it clear that my goal was not to convince anyone who already holds to the position that all elders are pastors and all pastors are elders, and that, therefore, the terms should be used interchangeably. Because that was not my aim, I have not answered the usual questions that arise from the position I hold on to. Rather, my purpose was to simply show that those of us who see things differently do have some biblical premise on which we do so. We are not simply upholding unbiblical practice and tradition.

We believe that a healthy eldership in an already established church ought to comprise those who claim to have the call of God upon their lives to the preaching ministry and those who simply express willingness and a desire to serve as overseers. Whereas the Bible uses the terms “overseer” and “elder” interchangeably, it seems to leave the term “pastor” to those with a very distinct call to the preaching ministry—like apostle, prophet, and evangelist. I hope I have also shown that to argue that the Bible uses titles merely on the basis of what people do in a general way in the church would render other titles meaningless. And finally, please remember that the issue of titles is not a hill that I am willing to die on.

Personally, I imagine that – while I would hold that elders/pastors/overseers are the one office, with the names employed substantially interchangeably – in practice the distinction that I would make in terms of gift and function within the pastorate/eldership would put me substantially in the same place as my brother. Frankly, as long as the distinction does not lead to a downgrade in the responsibility and authority of those deemed “elders” as opposed to “pastors” I should hope that little if anything would be lost. However, I also recognise that the lack of a distincton can lead to a downgrade in responding to and embracing a definite and defining call from the Lord, endorsed by the church, to preach the word as a matter of vocation, and that would be tragic.

Read it all.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 19 November 2011 at 08:29

Some book bits

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I am giving a little time at present to editing what I hope will be a shortly-forthcoming volume from Reformation Heritage Books. American usage has dictated a very subtle change of title – “You better drop that hyphen if you know what’s good for you, punk!” – and so we are now working on The Brokenhearted Evangelist. In addition to John MacArthur’s kind commendation, Conrad Mbewe has also been kind enough to offer this endorsement:

Jeremy Walker’s book is in the tradition of the Puritan classic, Joseph Alleine’s Alarm to the Unconverted, but this is more Jeremy Walker’s Alarm to the Converted. It is a pleasant surprise, coming as it does from a part of our world where Christianity has largely entered a “garrison” (bunker) mode. The book, based on Psalm 51:13, is not meant simply to teach us about evangelism; it demands a verdict. He enlists the help of the great soul winners in history to reinforce his appeals. Even before I finished reading the book, I was already asking myself whether my heart was truly broken about the lost around me – and if it is, what am I doing about it?

Furthermore, there may be some assistance required – perhaps in the form of a competition – in selecting an appropriate cover for the book. More news on that as we get closer to publication, I hope.

Finally, I intend to finish the short reviews of pastoral books before long (and already have a couple more to add to those completed). Neither have I forgotten the promised competition in celebration of the initial completion of the list. Part of the delay is because I am waiting to identify and receive the prizes. So, please continue to watch this space, and we will see what we can come up with.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 25 October 2011 at 10:16

Zambia: Lusaka, the compounds and Kabwata

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Part one: arrival and first Lord’s day

Part two: Copperbelt Ministerial College

Part three: Lusaka, the compounds and Kabwata

All too soon, our time with the brothers in Ndola had come to an end. We headed out early Friday morning to catch our flight south to Lusaka for a last stint of work. The flight out was as good as the one in, with an exemplary landing. James Williamson, who had invited us to come for the work, met us at the airport. As he and his family had a houseful of young people from the church that day, we were invited to head out to a game park for the day, both as a break for ourselves and as a way of freeing up the Williamsons for their day’s work.

We spent the balance of that Saturday in the stunning surroundings of Chaminuka Park, taking an open bus around the reserve, going on a horse ride, touring a lake in a small boat, taking a stroll through the bush, and enjoying a meal. We also got to meet the owners of the park on account of my being the spitting image of a younger friend of the lady (we rich, gorgeous, high society types often get mistaken for one another!). We saw all manner of antelope, hyenas, giraffes, ostriches, elephants, pied kingfishers, locusts – God’s marvellous work in the world was evident on every side. After a fairly full week we were both glad for the opportunity to kick back for a few hours and enjoy the blessings God has given us. I think both of us rather wished we could have shared the day with our wives.

Toward the end of the day, James arrived once more to take us home, where Alan and I were bunking together in another outbuilding, just round the corner from Katryn Belke. Katryn, who blogs at Ndazyoka, is out in Zambia working primarily with orphans in the compounds, the shanty towns that are found in all too many places around Zambia. Kat had been in Alan’s congregation some years before, and he had already spent a little time seeing her work. Both of us, while in Ndola, had actually had the opportunity to travel out into the compound where the church there has an active interest. Kat and Maureen, who – together with Megan Williamson – undertake this orphan ministry in Lusaka, had travelled up during our week of teaching in the college to meet up with Lister, the lady who runs the show in Ndola. They kindly took us out (one trip each while the other was teaching) to see some of the work that they are doing. We hear a great deal about ‘compassion fatigue,’ but it was instructive to remember that in all the gospel records we never fail to see Christ being “moved with compassion” by the genuine suffering of men and women around him. Sin and its effects ought always to move our hearts, and it was painfully evident as we moved from family to family around the compounds, handing out blankets that churches had provided, passing on Bibles from sponsors in the UK, giving out sweets that had been purchased to give these children a treat. The level of need was staggering, the basics of life so hard to come by, the threats and dangers on every side all too evident. I went away profoundly sobered, newly mindful of how much I have been given and how little thankful I am for it and how slow I am to use it for the good of others. Another problem is not so much compassion fatigue as compassion blindness: it is very easy to see and feel the evident and pressing needs ‘over there,’ but I was reminded of how many needs there are close to home. It is too easy to applaud these faithful women from a distance, to visit and grieve as I indulge in a little light compassion tourism, and then to come home and forget the different but no less real miseries and sorrows and poverties just around the corner in my own town.

With all this already in mind, it was good to see Kat again, and I was beginning to look forward to the Lord’s day. With the evening already booked for Kabwata Baptist Church, where Conrad Mbewe is a pastor, James has given me the opportunity to go out and preach in one of the compound churches in the morning. He had asked one of his students at the Lusaka Ministerial College (a younger brother to the Copperbelt training system) if he would be willing to have me preach, and I had been accepted. Feeling somewhat out of my depth, I requested a travelling companion, and so a delightful brother by the name of Andrew turned up to accompany me. We hopped into a taxi and started moving out through the city, through the parts that could have been any city in the world, then out past the quarries on the outskirts where women crouched breaking rocks into various sizes with handheld hammers, past the massive soft-drink factories, past the open-air markets full of loud haggling. We turned into the compound and threaded our way through crowds of people down to the church to meet Pastor Nsongu Phiri of the Living Gospel World Mission Church. Their building is simple, a long single room that they divide into classrooms during the week. The singing had already begun as we made our way in, and it continued for almost ninety minutes, as various groups in the congregation took it in turns to sing praises to God.

Evident poverty had not stopped these saints breaking out their Sunday best, and they gave their all in worship, sometimes quite literally. There were a series of offerings: the first Lord’s day includes a pastor’s offering, where all manner of practical helps are given for the minister and his family, including clothes to wear and food to eat. There is also a hope to build a larger building, as well as other regular giving and works of mercy. After these opening elements, I was invited to preach. With Pastor Phiri my interpreter (for most of these brothers and sisters did not speak English sufficiently well to follow me alone), I preached from John 5.24: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” To preach such eternal riches to those so poor in the world was a great privilege, even though I had to adapt a little. So used were they to responding “Amen!” that I had to point out that my double “Amen!” in explaining Jesus’ words was not an invitation for affirmation, but a phrase to be found in the text. The Spirit blessed Pastor Phiri and me with an immediate rapport in the translation, and the congregation listened attentively and eagerly and responsively. Afterward I stood at the door while the whole congregation filed past, shaking my hand and taking the next place, until everyone had shaken everyone else’s hand. I was then ushered into the office (an unfinished brick building) where a feast was awaiting me: a meal the likes of which I was persuaded few in the congregation would enjoy. Receiving hospitality was joyfully done, but one rather holds back when one suspects that anything left over will be devoured by hungry children afterward. They even paid me: I received a chicken in a plastic bag (not just a kindness in itself, but a symbolic token of warm appreciation and heartfelt generosity) and an envelope full of notes quickly and quietly collected after the sermon. These were the smallest notes in the Zambian denomination. These warm-hearted saints, having already given and given, gave again so that I might take away with me about £8 ($10) as an expression of their thanks. I have often received far more, but I do not believe I have ever been given as much. All of a sudden, the widow and her two mites seemed very near at hand.

I returned to the Williamson’s home clutching my chicken. Sadly, I had no chicken-sized sunglasses with which to try and smuggle my bird through customs and on to the aeroplane, so I was forced to kiss my chicken goodbye (not literally, of course, that would be distasteful) and ask Megan to ensure it found a home where it would do good (probably in someone’s stomach).

A pleasant afternoon followed before we headed out in the evening (the brothers there meet earlier in the day than I am used to, gathering for evening worship at about 4pm and eating afterward – a nice arrangement) to Kabwata Baptist Church. Conrad Mbewe had left for Togo, and I was filling his rather substantial shoes. The evening congregations in Zambia, like many of those in the UK, are far smaller than the mornings, but there were still a couple of hundred people present in this growing church. I preached from the experience of Lot in Sodom, seeking to draw lessons for bringing the gospel to those around us, and it seemed to be well received. Afterward I met a couple of friends from the Ndola module again (who had travelled up from Lusaka) before heading back to the Williamsons’ friendly home for a bit of late night snack and banter, before finally heading for bed.

Alan and I slept soundly, got up early, and headed to the airport with James for our respective flights home. It was, for both of us, a delightful, stirring and instructive introduction to Africa generally, and to Zambia in particular. I have kindly been invited to return next year to preach at the national youth conference of the Zambian Reformed Baptists, and am already looking forward to doing so, if arrangements can be made.

I came home freshly conscious that any (post-)colonial arrogance that Westerners may entertain toward brothers and sisters in other parts of the world is grievously misplaced. We have much to learn from each other. I hope that in the future I may again “be encouraged together with [them] by the mutual faith both of [them] and me” (Rom. 1.12), returning home with lessons for myself and for the church which I serve in the UK, and with a renewed sense of the advancing kingdom of Christ across the globe.

Part one: arrival and first Lord’s day

Part two: Copperbelt Ministerial College

Part three: Lusaka, the compounds and Kabwata

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 3 June 2011 at 11:50

Zambia: Copperbelt Ministerial College

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Part one: arrival and first Lord’s day

Part two: Copperbelt Ministerial College

Part three: Lusaka, the compounds and Kabwata

As mentioned in part one, Alan Dunn was in Zambia to teach the doctrine of salvation, and I was there to introduce the Gospels and the Acts. We began on Monday morning, enjoying a slightly slower start to allow the men travelling a distance to arrive. They began to trickle in, and slowly we reached the point at which we had enough present to begin. After singing and praying, we got down to business.

I was first up, with three morning sessions, in which I gave a brief introduction to introduction, before looking at the intersection of the three cultures – Roman, Greek and Jewish – which created the God-ordained environment of the New Testament. Then we headed straight into Matthew’s Gospel. As we came toward the end of the allotted time, the excellent college administrator, Katongo, slipped me a note: “No food. Keep going.” I did, enabling me to get ahead of the game for the first morning. When the food arrived, I had finished Matthew’s Gospel, giving me a good start for the week. After an excellent meal (you could not fault the quality, only the timing), Alan got to grips with soteriology, hogging the blackboard with a diagram of such intricacy that I felt it would be churlish to wipe it off and make him re-create it every day. He managed three of his four planned sessions before the day drew to a close.

Heading back to our lodgings, we got ready to head out to the home of one of the church families. These were delightful evenings, and this was the pattern of our week. Each night one of the families invited us into their home, hosted us graciously, spoke to us kindly, and fed us splendidly. We would arrive back at the Phiri home afterward, negotiate the guard dogs, and get fairly soon to bed.

The next morning would begin with us up at around 0600 or 0630. I would head for the bathroom, and do laps round the bath, dashing repeatedly under the cold shower to allow for lathering and rinsing. Meanwhile, Brother Dunn would prepare a boiled egg or four. I would emerge gleaming, we would partake of some cereal and eggs, and I would clean up while he performed his ablutions. Then we would be about ready for the day. Picked up promptly by one of the young ladies from the church who lived nearby, we drove through Ndola to the church building, to be met by our eager students, who realised by day three that we intended to start on time unless genuinely providentially hindered. After a brief devotional time of singing and prayer, we would forge ahead, alternating mornings and afternoons on the two topics, and generally getting in about eight hours of fairly intense lecturing every day.

[You may need to click through to see the video if you are reading this on an RSS feed]

I honestly could not think of forty men in the UK who would gather for such a week four times yearly, and give themselves so intensely and earnestly to study, their main complaint at the end of the week being that insufficient time had been given to the teaching and subsequent discussion. Each day closed, where possible, with a brief question and answer session, in which the questions demonstrated that these blokes were really wrestling with the material.

As the week drew on, Pastor Kabwe Kabwe of Grace RBC, Northrise, arrived back from leave, and it was good to meet him. Lazarus Phiri dropped in a couple of times to give us the once over as we taught. Toward the end of the week, the Phiris invited us back to their home, with a special guest for the evening: Conrad Mbewe was passing through (heading for the wedding which he discussed here), and he and Lazarus Phiri go way back. So we enjoyed an evening listening to these two men reminisce and banter, and chatting about all manner of things.

On Friday, we arrived for our final two sessions each, and both of us dropped a couple of lectures from the planned fifteen, having had to manage our material around the late and occasionally extended lunches. The men gave us some splendid gifts – sandals for our wives, and chitenge shirts for us (Alan’s was zebra print, mine adorned with calabashes) – and expressed warm appreciation. We ate our last meal together, and posed for a few photos.

Alan and I then headed back to the Phiris once more, taking a couple of hours to get our stuff together before spending our final evening in Ndola with Kabwe Kabwe and his family, an enjoyable and relaxing end to the week before heading down to Kabwata on the Saturday. Of that, and of life in the compounds, more will follow . . .

Part one: arrival and first Lord’s day

Part two: Copperbelt Ministerial College

Part three: Lusaka, the compounds and Kabwata

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 27 May 2011 at 16:44

More on “A Portrait of Paul”

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For those not yet bored rigid with the topic, we continue to make progress with A Portrait of Paul (more information).

Monergism Books are now offering it, in addition to Reformation Heritage Books, Westminster Bookstore, Christian Book Distributors (CBD) and Grace Books International.  No news yet on a British co-publisher or distributor.  Perhaps a case of no prophet being accepted in his own country!

People I did not even know would read the book are now endorsing the book, which is encouraging.  Here is Conrad Mbewe‘s assessment:

When I first sensed God’s call to the preaching ministry, I did a study of the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. And, oh, what a study that was! It opened my eyes to the difference between ministry in the New Testament and what is in vogue today. Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker have now brought all those truths that I saw into this one volume. I, therefore, commend this book to all who want to take God’s call to the work of ministry seriously. For, in these pages is the heart and experience of a true minister of the new covenant.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 13 May 2010 at 09:26

“A Portrait of Paul”

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It seems that the time has come to break cover and shuffle into the foetid pool.  The book mentioned a few days ago is now available in the US for pre-publication orders from Reformation Heritage Books or Westminster Bookstore or Monergism Books or Christian Book Distributors (CBD) or Grace Books International.

Amazon.co.uk and Evangelical Press are now stocking the item.

A Portrait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ

Rob Ventura & Jeremy Walker

Blurb: What does a true pastor look like, and what constitutes a faithful ministry? How can we identify the life and labors of one called by God to serve in the church of Jesus Christ? To address these questions, Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker examine how the apostle Paul describes his pastoral relation to the people of God in Colossians 1:24–2:5. By discussing these essential attitudes, qualities, and characteristics of a faithful minister of Christ, A Portrait of Paul provides gospel ministers an example of what they should be, and demonstrates for churches the kind of pastors they will seek if they desire men after God’s own heart.

Chapters:

  1. The Joy of Paul’s Ministry
  2. The Focus of Paul’s Ministry
  3. The Hardships of Paul’s Ministry
  4. The Origin of Paul’s Ministry
  5. The Essence of Paul’s Ministry
  6. The Subject of Paul’s Ministry (sample)
  7. The Goal of Paul’s Ministry
  8. The Strength of Paul’s Ministry
  9. The Conflict of Paul’s Ministry
  10. The Warnings of Paul’s Ministry

Endorsements:

John MacArthur: The apostle Paul has always been a hero whom I look to as a model for my ministry. His unrelenting faithfulness in the worst kinds of trials is a remarkable example to every pastor and missionary. In the midst of suffering, hardship, and (in the end) the abandonment of his own friends and fellow workers, Paul remained steadfast, dynamic, and utterly devoted to Christ. This invaluable study of Paul’s life from Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker is a wonderful, powerful, soul-stirring examination of Paul’s self-sacrifice and his unfaltering service to the church. It will both motivate and encourage you, especially if you’re facing trials, opposition, or discouragement in your service for Christ.

Geoff Thomas: For the first two decades of my life as a Christian, I had an abundance of role models who seemed to enflesh for me how a minister of God should live. I realize now that I even took their presence and consistent example for granted. I looked forward to the future under the protection of their mature lives of patience, wisdom, and many kindnesses. The labors of most of those men have come to an end and today I face another situation. There are now numbers of fine younger men in training and starting out on their own ministries. What grace and zeal they have, but there appears to be less role models than the company with which I was favored. What Walker and Ventura have done in this splendid book is to return to the fountainhead of Christianity, to the apostle Paul with the authority the Lord Christ gave to him, his wisdom and compassion, and examine the apostle’s relationship with one congregation, how he advised and exhorted them concerning the demands of discipleship and their relationship with fellow believers. Paul became Christ’s servant and mouthpiece to them and he has left us with a timeless inspired example. He exhorted his readers more than once to be followers of him as he followed God. With a refreshing contemporary style, and with humble submission to the Scripture, these two ministers have given to us a role model for pastoral life. This is a very helpful book and a means of grace to me.

Paul Washer: This work on the Christian ministry is a clarion call to true devotion and piety in the pastorate. The theology is pure and the language is as powerful as it is beautiful. I pray that every pastor and congregant might take up this book and read it. It will hold a place in my library beside Baxter’s Reformed Pastor, Bridges’ Christian Ministry, and Spurgeon’s Lectures. I will refer to it often. It will serve as a great antidote against all that might cause my heart to stray from Christ’s call.

Conrad Mbewe: When I first sensed God’s call to the preaching ministry, I did a study of the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. And, oh, what a study that was! It opened my eyes to the difference between ministry in the New Testament and what is in vogue today. Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker have now brought all those truths that I saw into this one volume. I, therefore, commend this book to all who want to take God’s call to the work of ministry seriously. For, in these pages is the heart and experience of a true minister of the new covenant.

Steven J. Lawson: The greatest need in churches today is for godly men to shepherd the flock of God. To be sure, no church will rise any higher than the level of its spiritual leaders. Like priest, like people. To this end, Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker have done an exceptional job in providing a model for pastoral ministry, drawn from the extraordinary example of the apostle Paul. This book is built upon careful exegesis, proper interpretation, penetrating insight, and challenging application. Herein is profiled the kind of minister every church so desperately needs and what every true minister should desire to become.

Derek W. H. Thomas: In this dual-authored portrait of Paul as a minister of the gospel, Ventura and Walker have captured the very essence of ministry. On every page, we are forced to reflect upon the dimensions of apostolic ministry and urged to comply. Packed with exposition and application of the finest sort, these pages urge gospel-focused, Christ-centered, God-exalting, Spirit-empowered, self-denying ministry. I warmly recommend it.

Carl R. Trueman: This deceptively easy to read book consists of a series of reflection on Col.1:24 to 2:5 by two experienced pastors. In an age where there is much focus on technical aspects of ministry, Ventura and Walker analyse the topic in terms, first, of call and character, and then of the existential urgency with which the great doctrines of the faith are grasped by those called to the pastorate. Intended not just to be read but to be a practical guide in helping churches think through the role of the pastor, each chapter ends with a series of pointed questions, to Christians in general and to pastors in particular, which are designed to focus the minds of all concerned on what the priorities of the pastorate, and of candidates for the pastorate should be. This book is a biblical rebuke to modern trends, a challenge to those who think they may be called to the ministry, and a reality check for all believers everywhere.

Joseph A. Pipa Jr: Ventura’s and Walker’s A Portrait of Paul Identifying a True Minister of Christ makes an unique contribution to the literature on pastoral theology. Rather than approach their subject topically, they unfold Paul’s heart for and practice of ministry through an exposition of Colossians 1:24-2:5.  The authors balance careful and experimental exposition with challenging application–addressing both fellow Christians and pastors.  All serious Christians, as well as pastors, will profit from this book; it is intellectually satisfying, experimentally challenging, and practically stimulating.

Philip H. Towner: As the diverse churches of the world have demonstrated throughout history, there is no better place to turn, when confronted with the complexities of pastoral leadership, than the Scriptures.  Each church in each generation must revisit this resource and view it anew through its particular historical, theological, cultural and political lens. The authors of A Portrait of Paul engage precisely in this task. With Colossians as their main laboratory, they probe the text and engage Paul in a conversation about pastoral ministry—its priorities, foundation, and potential—and a profile of pastoral mission and leadership emerges.  All who read this book will discover an invitation to join this rich conversation and take away numerous fresh perspectives to challenge and shape their thinking.

Sam Waldron: What is A Portrait of Paul Identifying a True Minister of Christ? It is, first, the effort of two young pastors to teach themselves and their churches what it means to be a true minister of Christ. It is, second, an exposition of Colossians 1:24–2:5 which attempts to understand how Paul’s ministry gives them and their churches a paradigm of faithful ministry. It is, third, biblical exposition of Scripture in the best historic and Reformed tradition with careful exegesis, sound doctrine, popular appeal and practical application. As such, it is a very challenging book to read as Rob and Jeremy lay before us, for instance, the selflessness and suffering true ministry requires. It is, however, a good, useful, and profitable book to read. It can, and I hope it will, do much good!

Robert R. Gonzales Jr.: Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker’s A Portrait of Paul is biblically sound, pointedly practical, and sagaciously simple. In addition to an exposition of Colossians 1:24-2:5, they provide the reader with a host of citations from other pertinent texts of Scriptures as well as judicious quotes from past and contemporary authors, all of which help to trace out the contours of Paul’s life and ministry. Each chapter concludes with practical applications directed both to fellow pastors (or aspiring pastors) and also to fellow Christians. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who would seek to imitate Paul as Paul sought to imitate Christ.

Pre-order in the US at RHB or WTS.

Further information to follow as it becomes available.

Christian weddings

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Conrad Mbewe provides some interesting perspectives on Christian weddings in Zambia.  While there are clearly cultural nuances to be taken into account, the fundamental principles seem to be widely applicable:

It is clear to me that today’s young people need to address themselves to the issue of how they bear witness to their relatives and friends during their weddings. As long as they want to be as worldly as possible, they will not make their non-Christian friends and relatives see how real their Christian faith is. They will lose a vital opportunity to show them the difference that Jesus has made in their lives. A previous generation fought its battles and bequeathed to them their liberties. But I fear that today’s young people are using the liberties won for them by their predecessors to indulge themselves in worldly pleasures. I tremble to think of the kind of Christianity this generation of young people is passing on to their successors. Judged by the little I have seen at recent wedding receptions, the prospect is frightening!

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 19 January 2010 at 09:11

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