Over the last year or so, my husband Dave and I have been thinking about the connection between evangelism and hospitality. We’ve become more convinced that while evangelistic events and other strategies have their place, they can’t be a substitute for real relationships with non-Christian friends. And hospitality seems to us to be a key part of creating and maintaining those relationships. (more…)
The Higher School Certificate (HSC) is a strange beast: apparently it is the biggest test you will ever face in your life. Whoever got that rumour going among the high schools has obviously never tried to understand a mobile phone contract. But the rumour lives on, and it can be used to generate pressure on the students—sometimes a pressure that is too great for them to bear. It is sad to see such high hopes placed upon an exam. It is even sadder to see those high hopes end in tragedy.
One of my favourite movies of all time is Finding Nemo. Okay, so I’ve got kids, and it goes without saying. But there is one moment in the film that causes many knowing chuckles in my household: it is when Dory turns to Marlin and says, “What is it with men and asking for directions?” Apparently, so I’ve been told told, it is possible for me to be like this on occasions. Who would have thought?
Last millennium, I got ordained as an Anglican minister, and Jean Penman, wife of Archbishop David Penman of Melbourne, presented each of my group of candidates for ordination with a copy of John Stott’s excellent book I Believe in Preaching. David had died suddenly, but the note from Jean said that David had originally intended to present this book himself. It was a great idea to have a book entitled I Believe in Preaching, especially as, quite frankly, most of us didn’t—including the leaders of the silent retreat that all the ordination candidates were invited to attend.
It is good sometimes to know that there is nothing new under the sun. The issues of risk and reward, sense and abandon, have always been with us. And God has always been asking us the hard questions. Here is a word from 1999 (Briefing #235) that could well have been written for this week. (Actually, it’s a word from about 30 AD that could have been written for this week!)
Well, after a rather sluggish start, the other Sola Panellists seem to have gotten on board the credit crunch boat (and, in fact, Lionel stole the content of one of my intended posts—grrrrr!) So I am not sure how much further to push this topic. However, given that it was my idea in the first place, and that Peter is up to #4 while I am only up to #3, I am going to continue with my present set of ramblings about a Christian response to the credit crunch.
Okay, so they were quick to jump on his mathematical ability, but, despite the little thanks Russell Crowe received, his Aussie fans know that he almost solved America’s financial crisis for them.
Is God a mystery? I think my answer is “No”, “No” and “Yes”.
No, God is not a mystery in the sense of being a mysterious force, an overpowering Other whom we encounter primarily in the realm of feeling through mystical techniques and experience. We do not merge with the mystery of God by exiting our consciousness or by being absorbed like a drop into his ocean. We can get to know him as a person because that is how he graciously relates to us—person to person, through speaking to us and listening to us.
In the last few weeks, the world has witnessed a rather extreme example of what may be dubbed ‘social justice’—an attempt to make the world a better place for all (or, at least, an attempt to prevent the world from being quite so bad a place as it might be). Following the lead of the USA, many world governments have made bipartisan decisions to pledge billions of taxpayer dollars to prevent the collapse of major financial institutions. This will, it is argued, prevent serious damage to national and international economies, and so will protect individuals in society (particularly those who are weak and vulnerable) against the serious consequences of economic collapse. It seems that most (but not all) economic commentators agree that this sort of intervention is required, and that it will be effective, at least, to some extent.
I was reading a poem recently by Gwen Harwood that went like this:
In the Park
She sits in the park. Her clothes are out of date.
Two children whine and bicker, tug her skirt.
A third draws aimless patterns in the dirt.
Someone she loved once passes by—too late
Many errors in Christianity arise because people identify a legitimate problem, but provide the wrong solution. This is often a recipe for disaster for (as any doctor will tell you) the wrong solution to a legitimate problem often makes things worse.
Last time I wrote, things looked bad. On Friday they hit rock bottom. The major governments of the world have ridden in like knights in shining armour, and Monday saw the biggest one-day bump in shares on Wall Street since 1939. However, I don’t think the problem is quite at an end yet. The reality is that the whole nature of the economy has changed. Big questions are being asked about about the fundamental viability of the ‘free market’ and, like it or not, in many parts of the western world we have just nationalized significant parts of the banking system. It is still a moment for Christians to be speaking about the obvious failure of the ‘gods’ of the modern world.
Older women are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5)