This article is an edited transcript of a talk given by Phil Colgan at the 2014 Nexus conference in Sydney, written up and edited by Sam Freney. Personal references throughout are therefore applicable to Phil, not Sam.
Back in issue #1 of The Briefing, in 1988, the feature article was entitled ‘Have Evangelicals lost their way?’ With this being our final edition ever, readers may be wondering: “Has The Briefing lost its way? Is there nothing left to say?”
My university graduation featured an address by a speaker who told us he intended to be “aspirational, inspirational, and motivational”. Sadly, he was none of those things, but was a rather dull speaker who trotted out the standard tropes of such occasional addresses: work hard; act well towards your colleagues and clients; persevere towards a better tomorrow. (more…)
Ezekiel is full of terrifying words from God. For the prophet Ezekiel, they often have a double edge to them: not only are they awful words of judgement on Israel for their rebellion and apostasy, but he is charged with speaking them to a stiff-necked people, hard-headed and hard-hearted, who do not want to listen to God’s word (cf. Ezek 3:4-7). God grants Ezekiel a hardness of his own to match that of his hearers, but this is still one of the toughest jobs around—Ezekiel here must warn God’s people of his impending judgement, so that they might turn away from the evil they’ve been doing. (more…)
Regular readers of The Briefing will be familiar with the ways that the publishing industry has changed over recent years. Reading habits have altered, in no small part driven by exploding digital publishing and low-cost worldwide book distribution models. Furthermore, in the almost three decades The Briefing has been running, the marketplace of ideas has also changed. There was a time not too long ago when it was hard to get access to good quality, Reformed-evangelical articles and essays of the kind that The Briefing has always published; these days there are plenty of quality articles about Christ-centred life and discipleship all over the internet, most of them available for free. (more…)
“Why do you seek the living among the dead?
He is not here, but has risen.”
Even for the women who had known Jesus well—who by now must have been accustomed to apparently tangential answers and statements from the lips of Jesus—I guess that on the scale of unexpected questions this would be about a nine. (more…)
“Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”
Poor Ezekiel. I can’t think of a biblical character I feel more sorry for, more often. Charged with the unwelcome job of speaking God’s word to Israel—the nation who in God’s own estimation are a rebellious, stiff-necked people who do not listen—he gets some of the worst gigs in prophetic history. He’s required by God to not just tell people what they’ve done and what is about to happen, but show them as well (because if he simply told them, they wouldn’t listen). (more…)
I think my daughter is a better evangelist than I am. She’s five years old.
Largely it’s because she hasn’t yet learned the unspoken rules: that other people might find what you believe to be offensive; that it’s just not ok to discuss religion or politics in polite company; that you must simply conceal, by whatever means necessary, any suggestion that you are part of, attend, or are in any way associated with church. (more…)
And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed
It’s a fair bet that most Christians would see prayer as a vital component of our relationship with God. We can bring our worries and troubles to our Father, we can ask for anything in Jesus’ name, we can be confident in our approach to God because of the blood of our saviour—these are all things we affirm and love. (more…)
Other religions seem to have the edge over us when it comes to looking ‘spiritual’ with regards to prayer. Long strings of colourful flapping flags, or giant wheels that you spin, or rituals in which you face a monument several times a day—Christian prayer seems rather ordinary in comparison.
But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
What do you look for in a leader? When it comes to election time, in addition to policy platforms do you look for any attributes in particular? Israel certainly had something in mind for the leader they wanted to replace the aging judge Samuel:
Church of the Triune God: Understanding God’s work in his people today
Edited by Michael Jensen, Aquila Press, Sydney, 2013, 224 pp.
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…)
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…)