Resident Aliens

Resident Aliens

Mark Johnston
The first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism has resonated with generations of people familiar with it. Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death? A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid...
Public worship can all too easily feel lacklustre and mundane, not just for a congregation, but also for the one entrusted with leading it. This is not some new phenomenon. It has been a challenge for the church throughout its history. Indeed, it was at such a low point in the history of worship,...
Reformation Day is drawing near. It provides an annual opportunity for Protestant churches worldwide to fulfil the exhortation of the letter to the Hebrews: ‘Remember your leaders’ (He 13.7). It reminds us that, without in any way falling into the sin of venerating mere men, it is good for us to...
The much-loved hymn, ‘I greet thee who my sure Redeemer art’ – included in the Strasbourg Psalter of 1545 and attributed to John Calvin – contains the lines, Thou hast the true and perfect gentleness, No harshness hast Thou, and no bitterness These words have often drawn comment, or been quoted...
How little we appreciate the privilege and blessing of prayer. That we, sinful mortals as we are, should have access to God beggars belief. That he should even consider us, let alone countenance our requests is astounding. Yet he calls us to pray, he has opened the way of access in Christ for us to...
Back in 1959 a short book appeared under the title The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner . It was the fictional account of a troubled teenager who took up running to deal with his inner troubles and it was later turned into a movie under the same title. I have often wondered if there might be...
Church was never intended to be the spiritual equivalent of a spectator sport. Yet, somehow, this is how it has come to be treated, not only by many Christians; but by their pastors as well. Those who serve as ministers of Christ can easily approach their calling as though it is their job to please...
The book of Ezra is notoriously difficult to read, let alone preach; but it is there in the canon of Holy Scripture to edify and equip the saints (2Ti 3.16). Whereas, at one level, it provides a crucial link in the chain of God’s redemptive dealings with Israel, it is ultimately vital to our...
How easy it is for us to become frustrated over our carelessness in prayer and, indeed, the way it all too often ends up with prayerlessness and damages our walk with God. Like Jesus’ disciples, again and again we need to say, ‘Lord, teach us to pray!’ That is, not merely that we need to learn...
There are more than a few places in the Bible – frequently in the Old Testament, but also in the New – where we find long lists of names, sometimes bound up with numbers. And, when we find ourselves in such territory, we often wonder why they are in the sacred record and what are we supposed to...