Are Christians free from the law? This age-old question has often been answered in two wrong ways. The error on one side is often described as ‘legalism’—the idea that Christians are bound by some or even most of the Old Testament law. This might mean that Saturday should be our Sabbath (on which no work is done), or that circumcision or other Old-Testament-style rituals are necessary to salvation, or that certain foods or forms of clothing are out for Christians. (more…)
Perhaps some of the most famous words ever spoken on the topic of holiness by a pastor came from Robert Murray McCheyne. He said,
Something really significant is going on beneath the surface of conversations that are properly anchored in Christ. Not just the content is different. Much more significantly, the attitude we bring with us is different as well. You see, if our lives are anchored in Christ then we’re free to respond to hostile questions without either striking back (one of the most common fear responses) or checking out (physically or emotionally). (more…)
Because ministers are the recipients of congregational giving they are hesitant to raise the issue of money. It is a hesitancy felt by both the congregation and the clergy.
Some ministers are concerned about church budget and press the issue too often and too hard. Others feel the apparent self-interest of raising the issue and so avoid it altogether. Some congregations are never taught about giving and others feel bombarded about money every time they come to church.
However, this tension confuses the subject of our giving with the object of our giving—or the gift of giving with the recipient of the gift. It confuses the questions of why, what and how we give with the issue of where best to direct our giving. It is the confusion of the long-term principle of gracious giving with the short-term immediate need for financial assistance. (more…)
I’m no Job. The words I used to sing so blithely, with such theoretical appreciation of their beauty, such bland conviction that I’d sing them whatever came—“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21)—don’t, apparently, spring to my lips when suffering comes. My lips are sealed, silent. (more…)
For most of us, our names have particular significance and meaning, but aren’t all that descriptive. For example, my namesake is the prophet Samuel of the Old Testament, but my parents didn’t call me Sam because of any special divine intervention. My daughter is named after one of our very good friends, but we’re actually not 100% sure what her name means—to us, it’s just her name. (more…)
I’ve been wondering: should I get a tattoo? At this moment, it seems like a pretty important question to me. I’m pretty sure it’s a question for others too. I’m a church pastor, and I’ve just entered my fortieth year of life. And my question is specifically for those who are also pastors (or ministry leaders) and who are at a similar stage: is it time for you to go and get a tat? (more…)
I was suggesting last week that the Bible is not written from an alien, different world, but addresses the world we live in. But there is something that stands as a divide between us and the Bible; something that prevents us from grasping hold of the Scriptures and applying them rightly to our lives. (more…)
Chris Stedman is an atheist, an ex-evangelical, and an assistant chaplain at Harvard. He’s written some advice to Christians who are wanting to talk constructively with atheists about faith:
As someone who lives in the tension of my evangelical past and atheist present, and as someone who maintains abiding and mutually inspiring relationships with Christians, I understand that many of my Christian friends are trying to discern how to navigate these swiftly changing times. And I definitely empathize with their frustrations over the less productive exchanges that often occur between Christians and non-Christians.
I’d like to humbly suggest six ways Christians might have more constructive conversations with non-Christians.
I’m not with him every step of the way, but it’s a fascinating insight into how these kind of conversations are perceived and how they might proceed. Worth a read.
(h/t Nic Swadling)
Deep darkness is punctuated by the flash of a thousand cameras; rumbling bass rattles through my bones. Throughout the arena I can hear the burbling, surging, building crescendo of music ready to erupt—and then, with a synthesizer burst, lights erupt throughout the stadium, only to be extinguished just as quickly.1 (more…)
I’m compiling a reading list for the bookstall on our church conference (camp, house party or whatever you call it!) on the topic of holiness and santification. (more…)
Euthanasia is being pushed again in NSW. There’s a lot more that could be said, but here’s what I’m sending to my local MPs… (more…)
To be frank, putting this issue together was tough. That’s largely because the main article, written by yours truly, is in places fairly critical of others and their ministry—with good reason, mind you, but the point still stands. Despite what you might think, calling others out is not something that comes easily to me, nor do I enjoy it.
In a good quality book manuscript recently submitted to us at Matthias Media, I came across the following sentence: “The world of the Bible is not our world—its context, language, customs, knowledge, beliefs and social systems are far from those we experience in the twenty-first century. It is in many respects an alien world, where it is easy to become lost or confused.” (more…)
I published yesterday’s post a little precipitously – one of those moments when you click on the “Publish” button and realise what you’ve done a little too late. So I am going to do what you must never do, and change yesterday’s post, adding an extra point that has been running around my head over the last few days. Here it is: (more…)