fourways

Four ways to God

Thought

I suppose it’s like looking at old baby photos, but over the past month or so I’ve been browsing through some of the classic early articles in The Briefing. I chuckled over some of the ‘Lead Balloons’ we ran in those early days, like the article that proposed we should build deliberately crummy church buildings from now on, so that when the next generation needs to rebuild them or tear them down in 50 years’ time, there won’t be any loud objections from the heritage lobby about the destruction of our beautiful architecture.

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Forgotten providence

Thought

We seem to have moved past needing to talk about God’s providence—we’re quite sophisticated these days. By ‘we’, I mean especially our modern, western, secular society, but also the church within it. We no longer tend to think of the sun suspended and directed by God in its course. Rather, we hurtle through a vacuum on a rock, directed by the seemingly inexplicable distortion of the space time continuum created by one lump of energy condensed as matter that then directs its motion towards another. (Or so my astrophysicist friends tell me, anyway.) (more…)

Silver bullet ministry

Thought

By all accounts I am a stereotypical, standard, plain vanilla, suburban church pastor. And that’s pretty much what the ministry is like at our church: there is absolutely nothing hip or cutting-edge about us. We’re not a funky inner-city church plant. We don’t meet in a disused theatre. (more…)

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The work of the Lord

Thought

1 Corinthians 15 is perhaps one of the most theologically rich chapters in the New Testament. Here Paul defends the resurrection of Christ and the future resurrection of believers. After holding out the wonderful hope that while we now bear the image of the first Adam, one day we will be conformed to the image of the last Adam—the Lord Jesus Christ—Paul gives a charge to his readers:
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Newton’s autobiography of grace

Thought, Sola Panel

This month, our church’s sign board reads…

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved

Grace is God’s mercy – especially when we don’t deserve it! My first memory verse says,
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jerusalem

The distant hope: Resurrection and the story of Israel

Thought

[This article is an extract from an upcoming Matthias Media book on the resurrection. We're excerpting it here as it's an excellent stand-alone article on a reasonably under-appreciated aspect of the New Testament accounts of the resurrection: Rory investigates why the resurrection of Jesus was unexpected, even to a Jewish audience, why it nevertheless fits the narrative well, and why it leaves us with a significant choice to make.] (more…)

How long can we flog this parson?

Thought

The second chaplain to New South Wales—Samuel Marsden—was born 250 years ago on 28th July 1764.1 He was slandered for most of his life, and the epithet ‘flogging parson’ has (sadly) stuck down the years and prejudiced thousands against a mighty man. Wise historians have recognized that standing so alone for Christ in a colony made up largely of soldiers and convicts it is no wonder Marsden was vilified.2 (more…)

Testing your faith in divine intervention

Thought, Sola Panel

In the last few tragic days, I received the following comment in my twitter feed from an Australian journalist.

AIDS researchers and a Catholic nun among #MH17 victims. If you believe in a god, this would seriously be testing your faith.

I replied,
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photo | Nicolò Bonazzi on flickr

Feeling God?

Thought

Do you ever wonder if there’s something more to the Christian life? Maybe you’ve heard of or know people who tell you about having some sort of amazing God-experience—whether it’s been intense feelings of peace and joy, some kind of ecstatic excitement, maybe even visions or voices—and you wonder if you’re missing out. You hear about these things and you think to yourself “I want more”. (more…)

grass
photo | Kris Krug on flickr

Off to the pub to pray

Thought

You’ve had this experience too, haven’t you? It’s a warm Sunday morning and you’ve managed to arrive at St Churchins early enough to be there for the start of the service. You’ve enjoyed seeing fellow Christians, and you got to sing something other than In Christ Alone. (Great song, but it’s had a nice decade-long run.) (more…)

manifesto

A ministry manifesto

Thought

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…)

An unspiritual church

Thought

‘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…)

bored

Growing through Christian history

Pastoral Ministry, Thought, Sola Panel

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.” [Source]

I think the same is true of our church life. As Christians we need to know something of our history. The basic deposit of our faith is the gospel of Jesus, in the whole inspired counsel of God in the Scriptures. (more…)