One of the neat tools I’ve got in my Bible-study-leader’s kit bag is getting people to represent a passage visually on a big blank sheet of paper. It’s a particularly useful tool for the epistles, where there is often a tight chain of logic we need to tease out if we’re to read and understand the passage properly. (more…)
October 2013 saw the Strange Fire conference—and some ensuing controversy—take certain portions of the online evangelical world by storm.
Taking its name from the unauthorized offering to the Lord by Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron (Leviticus 10), John Macarthur of California held the conference to address what he sees as similar abuses of worship of God in pentecostal and charismatic Christianity.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
My younger sister and I have never had much of a sibling rivalry. I suspect it was lack of imagination rather than anything else, but mostly we were pretty good to each other. Apparently I once made some comment about taking all the good genes and leaving her the dross—which she continues to remind me of—but nothing really major went on. (more…)
Over my years in Christian ministry I have fielded more questions on the theme of predestination than any other—from Christians, at least. Does God choose me? Does that mean I’m just a puppet, or a robot, or otherwise uninvolved or irrelevant in the whole process? Isn’t that unfair? And when we look at what the Bible has to say about God’s election, surprise is the most common reaction. We find it’s a reason to praise God, not to be embarrassed by or confused about what he’s said and done. (more…)
It is only on rare occasions in the history of Israel that its monarchy was not a debacle. Certainly the initial period was less than ideal: although Saul was physically impressive (he was tall and handsome) and capable as a military leader, he ignored God, disobeyed his commands, and ended up being an unmitigated disaster as the leader of God’s people. (more…)
THE INTOLERANCE OF TOLERANCE
DA CARSON, EERDMANS, 2012, 186PP.
You might have noticed a strange kind of double-speak going on around us. If you dare to hold a different opinion to the broader culture on a contentious issue, whether on marriage, sexuality, God or something else, you have a reasonable chance of being told to keep quiet because you’re being intolerant. I’m not talking about sanctioning or acting against those with whom you disagree; just holding a different position. If you dare to point out that perhaps your alternative views ought to be tolerated—well, heaven help you. (more…)
As a way of masking my disappointment that certain terrible trends come back around again, I remind myself of the wisdom of Solomon: there’s nothing new under the sun. What has been done will be done again—like fluoro and neon colours coming back into fashion recently, after a reprieve of a couple of decades. Fashion, as with many other trends, is cyclical, self-referential, even parasitic. If you freeze your wardrobe today, you’ll be cool again in 30 years time. Everything is a remix so calm down about it already, Sam. (more…)
Many years ago, I led a Bible study group that appeared to me to be made up of clever, enthusiastic young people who were periodically stripped of the ability to speak. Chatting before and after about a whole range of things was fine; but during the study, any question I asked the group about the Bible passage—even the simplest comprehension question—was met with stony silence. It was like a verbal game of chicken: whoever speaks first loses. (more…)
[Prayer] is probably the most distinctive Christian contribution to the political process. We can vote, act, speak out and protest in much the same way as our non-Christian neighbours. But we can do something they can never do: Pray to the God of the universe. Your most important contribution to the political process happens not when you step into the ballot box, or when you write a letter to your MP, or when you take part in a peaceful protest march. It happens on your knees.
Chris Little, minister out at Albury Bible Church, writes about the perfect disgrace of our Lord, and what that disgrace means for our evangelism.
The whole Bible shows God’s concern for the whole world.
The first three quarters of the Bible maintain focus on one people: Israel. The final one quarter is where God’s word goes out to all, freely offered to all cultures, languages and people.
Why the difference? And what made the change? A short passage in Hebrews powerfully captures the switch. It tells me that God spent great effort establishing a system of imperfect honour so that he could trump this system with perfect disgrace.
Good stuff. Go read the whole thing.
Australians are going to the polls soon to elect their national representatives. In light of this, Geoff Robson is posting up a series on how Christians ought to think about politics. For readers outside of Australia, read on too, and squirrel it away for May 2015, or November 2016, or whenever you’re next called on to vote.
My goal over these five posts is simply to provide an overview of how Christians should think about politics. I hope to cover:
1) An introduction to Christians and government
2) Christians and interacting with our government
3) How not to vote
4) How to vote (NOT who to vote for!)
5) The limitations of government
As well as addressing the specific topic, I have another goal in mind. Too often, Christians segregate their faith from other parts of their life – including their views of politics. We can completely divorce our faith in Jesus from our voting patterns. Or we can connect the two – but in a superficial way. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul says that Christians are to “take every though captive to obey Christ”. At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, in the Great Commission, Jesus says that ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him – meaning he has total authority over every single part of our lives. We may confess these things to be true and important, but the reality of sin means none of us acts or thinks as though they are really true. While these posts will only scratch the surface on one area of thought, I hope that thinking about these issues goes some way towards helping us all see that the Lordship of Jesus has to impact and transform every single aspect of our lives, without exception.
Last weekend I had the privilege of preaching at a friend’s church on chapter 13 of John’s Gospel, in particular these verses:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) (more…)
Sam Freney: Your new book Stepping out in Faith is a compilation of stories from people who have left the Roman Catholic church as they’ve sought to follow Jesus—a journey you’ve taken yourself. What prompted you to collect stories like this? (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…)
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)