Of all the addictions, one of the worst is gambling. Most chemical addictions are stopped by unconsciousness, but gamblers know no stopping: there is always one more throw of the dice, one more hand to play, one more person to borrow from. Their lives are filled with expensive thrills and deep desperation. (more…)
The prophet Ezekiel says some awful things about idolatry and its similarity with prostitution (Ezekiel 23). Israel is described as a whoring wife for worshipping other gods. Surprisingly, in an age when pole dancing is a hobby, I suspect his language would still manage to offend modern sensibilities. It made me wonder what the 21st-century prophet of humanist individualism might say… (more…)
History ‘from above’ is apparently appealing to those who want to be better than others. It is a pity it is based upon a lie. (more…)
I was listening to a sermon the other day, in which the preacher said, “Christianity is not about morality. It’s not about right and wrong. It’s about a relationship.” It’s not the first time I’ve heard that phrase, or something like it, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I know what it’s trying to say. I just can’t help feeling that we’ve got the right argument for the wrong moment in history.
I’ve been thinking a bit lately about contextualization—not so much the contextualization of language (‘charms’ and ‘calms’ and so on), but the contextualization of lifestyle: becoming “all things to all people” (as in 1 Corinthians 9:22).
My thoughts were sparked by an evening we spent with our next door neighbours recently. As Dave and I were clearing things away at the end of the night, I reflected on the evening and the way that I’d approached it.
Before our guests arrived, I had chosen an outfit that approximated the style of clothes my neighbour wears, I made an extra-gourmet salad and I bought a couple of fancy cheeses. Over dinner and afterwards, I spent a lot of time talking about mortgages and extensions and consumer products. I had also talked a lot about work—the work I used to do (before kids)—in an instinctive effort to establish the kind of education and career credentials that might be taken more seriously than my current job as a full-time mum. And finally (this is the killer one!) I found myself squirming in my seat, wanting to change the subject, when they asked my four-year-old daughter what her favourite thing in the world was, and she answered, “Jesus”.
All this got me wondering what’s the difference between contextualization (or whatever word you want to use to describe doing what it says in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23) and chameleonization (or whatever word you use to describe not doing what it says in Matthew 5:13-16)?
When I hear the word ‘abomination’, a vivid image comes to mind. Perhaps it was from a comedy sketch on TV. I see a man dressed in old-fashioned black clothes, with a black hat and, in reference to some aspect of modern culture (perhaps homosexuality), he declares in a slow, but passionate voice, “It is an abor-min-ay-shon”.
‘Abomination’ is not a nice word. It reeks of censoriousness and wowserism.
But then Jesus had to go and say this: “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).
There seems to be a restlessness—an unease—among younger evangelicals. Something is wrong with the way we do church. How can we fix it? (more…)
For those not up with the Australian swimming scene (i.e. about 99.9% of the world’s population), the name Nick D’Arcy is probably meaningless. But he’s a big name in the local papers. Why? Well, about a year ago now, in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics, D’Arcy was out partying with friends when he king hit one of his teammates, and left him with fractures to his jaw, eye socket, hard palate, cheek bone and nose. The police charged him, and he pleaded guilty. He was ruled out of the Olympic team, and has spent the last 12 months in the wilderness, so to speak. This week, at the Australian swimming trials, he broke his own national record for the 200m butterfly, and booked a place in the Australian team for the Rome world championships. The only hitch is that the judge will sentence him as he’s been convicted of grievous bodily harm. (more…)
In Briefing #366’s first feature article “Do not judge”, Stephen Liggins points out that while judging others is condemned in the Bible, discernment is encouraged. But how do we go about gaining it, and how can we encourage our fellow Christians to grow in it too? With a little help from Jonathan Edwards, Archie Poulos investigates. (more…)
Now that we’ve had a look at judging others, discernment and what the two entail, how do you put these things into practice? For example, how do you figure out whether or not you can work with someone? Guan Un finds some answers in the Gospel of Luke. (more…)
I find myself drawn back to 1 Corinthians 4 like a moth to flame. I’m like a small child watching the scary parts of the movie from behind his mother’s skirts, afraid to look, but unable to look away. (more…)
There is an insidious and dangerous teaching that I’ve noticed creeping into my church, threatening my Christian hope, and stifling my evangelistic effectiveness. Up to this point, it hasn’t had a catchy title.1 But I want to correct that. I’m going to call this teaching ‘nowism’, from the English word ‘now’, meaning ‘the present age’. (more…)
At the Last Supper, Jesus warns his disciples that there will be constant conflict between those who are his and those who are of “the world”. He reminds them through his prayer that “the world has hated them because they are not of the world any more than I am of the world” (John 17:15).