No perfect holiday

Life, Sola Panel, Sola Panel

We’re just back from a far-from-perfect holiday. There were many lovely moments: winter’s wind blowing spray backwards from the waves; the golden lights of evening on the harbour; sampling the world’s best coconut ice cream. (more…)

Identity

Life

“Hello, my name is Bill, and I’m an alcoholic.”

So goes the usual opening of testimonies at Alcoholic’s Anonymous. The willingness of Bill, to accept and openly testify to the fact of his addiction to alcohol is a great step forward in addressing his problem. But is Bill telling the truth when he says “I’m an alcoholic”? Is that his true identity or should he be saying “I’m a human who is addicted to alcohol”.

Are there bad children or only children who do bad things? Are there liars or only people who tell lies? Are there thieves or only people who steal? Do we punish criminals or crimes? Does God love the sinner but hate the sin? (more…)

God made me this way

Life

The nature/nurture debate is as endless as the determinist/freedom dispute.

The safe position to adopt combines both nature and nurture. Yet that doesn’t end the debate; it simply moves the discussion onto the character of the combination.

Scientific research will not bring a resolution. Not simply because the question is large and complex and the research is narrow and detailed, but because the reason for the debate is the implications of its outcomes. (more…)

eden

Satan’s lies about prayer

Life

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…)

Is Jesus Lord of your (Easter) Holidays?

Everyday Ministry, Life, Sola Panel

Friends, is Jesus Lord of your holidays? For many of you, the answer is yes!

Jesus says the two great commands are to love God and to love your neighbour. So I see people making Jesus Lord of their holidays, when they continue to read the Bible and say their daily prayers while out of regular routine in relaxed mode. Or when they take the chance to read and reflect on a solid Christian book they’d not normally get to. (more…)

lordsprayer

Learning to pray with the Master

Life

If there is one practice which seems to many to be the opposite of authentic spirituality, it is saying set prayers. Prayer, we easily feel, ought to be spontaneous, heart-felt, uninhibited. Surely repeating old phrases runs the risk of losing these things. Surely someone else’s words cannot best express my uniquely individual thoughts and needs. Surely this would turn prayer into a hollow religious ritual. (more…)

cross

Prayer in the life of Jesus

Life

The journalist Ambrose Bierce once defined praying as asking “that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy”.[1] (more…)

God’s Word is Powerful – Psalm 61

Bible 101, Life, Sola Panel

The birth of your first child is always momentous. For me, it was also scary. We were expecting twins, and the labour did not proceed well. Karyn was wheeled off for an emergency caesarean, with me running alongside. I was then left standing at the thick red line by the nurses’ station. And the door closed. (more…)

God’s gifts in suffering (8) Suffering teaches us to number our days

Life, Sola Panel, Sola Panel

You can read the previous posts in this series here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6 and part 7.

flickr: Robert Couse-Baker

All our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away…
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Ps 90:9-10, 12)

When you’re young, life seems long and full of promise. A young woman told me she hopes Jesus doesn’t come back till she’s experienced career, marriage, children. I remember thinking the same when I was eighteen. Life stretched ahead, and I wanted to see and do it all. Can you recall it? Standing at the brink, ready to plunge in? (more…)

God’s gifts in suffering (7) Two unchanging things

Life, Sola Panel

You can read the previous posts in this series here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6.

flickr: mikeyskatie

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…)

Life in a dark place: Doubt in the Christian life

Life

At the start of 2013, at a conference in Christchurch in New Zealand, I saw something simple but profound: the power of talking about things. There were a number of interviews where people spoke frankly about some difficult issues they had lived with, or were living with, as Christians. (more…)

Do You Want More This Christmas?

Life

We are a society that wants more. More money, more gadgets, more food, more fun. But strangely, wanting more often leaves us feeling dissatisfied. We finally get the thing we longed for, and yet all too soon it is broken, or the batteries have run down or it isn’t as good as we hoped. (more…)