In 1624 a cathedral Dean wrote: “No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” which ends with the famous lines “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
The relationship of the individual with the community is one of the ongoing tensions of life. To what extent is the individual sovereign and how much is the community sovereign?
To what extent should the individual enjoy the freedom to live as the ‘master of my fate and captain of my soul’; not just in the stoic acceptance of suffering but as the motto of life’s action. To what extent is life doing it “My Way”, or as the new Academy Award song would have it “let it go… no right, no wrong, no rules for me. I’m free”? (more…)
We had a talkfest here in Sydney recently called ‘The Festival of Dangerous Ideas’, at which participants could experience the frisson of discussing daring and explosive concepts with a soy latte in hand. Most of the ideas were in fact rather conventionally dangerous in a green-left sort of way, although gay activist Dan Savage received special marks for his dangerous idea that abortion should be made mandatory for 30 years to make a dent in the worldwide population problem. (The audience, having escaped the womb safely themselves, felt confident to clap.) (more…)
Cancer has become the leading cause of death in Australia and almost every other country, according to a major international World Health Organization (WHO) study (link to report). Everyone knows someone who is impacted. Sadly too many! And—to state the obvious—not everyone gets better from a cancer diagnosis. (more…)
In this occasional series, Bruce Linton and I (Gordon) look at some principles of leading children’s ministry. Bruce has been a children’s ministry leader for nearly 20 years. For some of that time, I have followed him around with a camera, a sound recorder, a laptop and three daughters, in an attempt to document and imitate some fine gospel ideas. (more…)
Forgive me, for I’m going to talk briefly about The Hobbit. I watched the second movie just the other day—let’s just say I enjoyed it more than the first one. For someone who loved both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (I read them approximately once a year growing up) I thought the mood and the setting of Middle Earth was captured wonderfully. It is, however, considerably different from the book. (more…)
‘Spirituality’ is a term of great confusion today. Both inside and outside Christianity, people use the word in ways quite different to the Bible. This not only confuses Christians in what to expect from the Spirit of God but also confuses non-Christians about the work of God’s Spirit and the teaching of Christianity. For when Christians, in our confusion, misrepresent God’s word it is no surprise that non-Christians do not understand our message.
Non-Christians today commonly describe themselves as being ‘very spiritual’ while having nothing to do with organized religion or Christianity. This spirituality is a way of saying they are not materialistic atheists but it rarely has any theological content other than a vague mysticism. If it has any intellectual content it tends towards an anti-rational experientialism—feelings, experiences, awareness, asceticism, ascetics, pantheism, meditation and miracles. It also tends towards tolerance inclusiveness of all religious experiences and intolerance towards any theological propositions or exclusive claim to truth. It is naturally quite hostile to Biblical Christianity with its clear expression of theological truth claims about the uniqueness of Jesus and his way of salvation. (more…)
If the Bible’s all-time favourite passages were ranked, I suspect this verse would make the top three. From t-shirts to sandwich boards to The Simpsons, “John 3:16” has appeared almost everywhere. That John 3:16 is famous seems beyond doubt. Whether the awesome implications of this passage are appreciated, however, is perhaps harder to gauge. (more…)
You can read the previous posts in this series here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy! …
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope.
(Psalm 130:1-2, 5)
There’s something about certain Christian books on suffering that bugs me. I’m just going to come out and say it. The writer tells you how suffering deepened his feelings of closeness to God. How a sense of God’s presence never really left her. They imply, and sometimes even promise, you’ll feel the same. I’ve finished paragraphs like that with tears running down my cheeks, longing for what I’m reading about, angry at God for failing to deliver, wondering what’s missing in me. (more…)
Where do you go to worship God? Muslims face east in prayer, and may go on the Hajj (The Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.); Jews might go to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem; you go… to church? (more…)
Matthias Media Publishing Director, Tony Payne, explains what the “Six Steps to Loving Your Church” course is trying to do, and how it can help your church or small group… (more…)
One of the most popular Briefing articles ever was The Ministry of the Pew, written by Col Marshall, and published way back in March 1994. (more…)
If the number of conferences and books addressing an issue is any indication of the level of interest or importance of a matter, then ‘leadership’ is the flavour of the moment, both in the secular world and in Christian circles. This interest is, of course, not just theoretical. Many people share a deep desire to improve, shape, strengthen, critique or replace the leadership we have—whether it be secular, sporting, political, Christian or whatever. (more…)
I have the privilege of preaching at the Ordination of Deacons (35 of them) in St Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral tomorrow morning in Sydney. I’d be glad of your prayer for them. (more…)
Language is a funny thing. We’re all expert users of it, but quite what language is and how it works remains a mystery to most of us. (more…)
One of the quotes that stayed with me from last year said this about historians:
“Without them, our civic life would be a wasteland of forgetfulness, a cultural desert.” [(more…)