You must read this book

I am struggling to find reasons to avoid reading a few things, including a small pile next to the bed, and a larger pile shoved inside a cupboard next to the bed, and a pile on the desk at work.


Evaluating truth

I spent two days last week at a writing conference. It was a great couple of days, and I learned many things about the art of writing. (Like, apparently you need to know something about grammar! Who would have thought? [If you listen carefully, you can hear me exhaling loudly and rolling my eyes. Actually, the person leading the sessions who raised the issue was exactly right to do so. I think I am just frustrated that we have come to the point where that point needs to be made.]) All joking and then serious reflection aside, I learned heaps (like the fact that ‘learnt’ is an archaic form that is passing out of use, and I should always use ‘learned’). But I was also reminded of the rather strange relationship between words and meaning in the (post?)modern world.


Christian ministry and normal Christians

I count it one of the privileges of my life to have grown up in a time and a place when so many people have accepted the challenge to go into full-time Christian ministry. Historically, it has been quite extraordinary: since the mid-1980s, here in Sydney several thousand gifted young men and women have abandoned jobs, careers and lucrative futures in order to give their lives to gospel work—as student workers, pastors, evangelists, youth workers, missionaries, and more besides. MTS-style apprenticeship training is now a standard feature in many churches. Moore College and SMBC are bursting at the seams.


An interview with Jean Williams

Today we interview Jean Williams.

Jean, how did you come to Christ?

It’s not an exciting story, but in some ways, it’s the most exciting of all! Like Timothy, I knew the Bible from infancy (2 Tim 3:15). I was brought up by faithful, godly parents who read the Bible and prayed with us, who trained us to live God’s way, who talked about Jesus during the day (Deut 6:6-7), and who loved, disciplined and cared for us. They never talked down to us, and were always willing to discuss difficult doctrines like the Trinity, predestination and judgement, as well as God’s love and grace. I have no idea why we prefer dramatic conversion stories to the profound blessing of being brought up in a godly home where we’re faithfully taught God’s word; this is just as great a miracle!


Guilt-edged pages?

While ploughing my way through The Shack1 recently (and it was a matter of ploughing my way!), a thought occurred to me about the dynamic at work in our culture and in our sinful hearts—the dynamic that generates books like this one and makes them such big sellers.


It’s nearly Christmas!

It must be nearly Christmas time. How can I tell? My letterbox is overflowing—not with cards from friends, but with colorful invitations to spend my money at a myriad of local retailers. Fortunately, it’s not just for the local Westfield’s; I can spend my money on some worthwhile Christian material too. So just humour me for a minute, and answer the following question: which of the following products didn’t appear in the latest Christian catalogue I received?


The enemy of the best

One of the most confronting sayings by Jesus can be found in Luke 9:57-62:

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus [1] said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”


A Christian view of entertainment

Just the other day, I heard the story of a massive donation of Shakespeare manuscripts and later versions to the Globe Theatre in London. Was this bit of news interesting? It was okay. Was it life-shattering? Not really. Was it a challenge to my Christian living? Not at all.


A truly reformed pastor

The word ‘pastor’ comes from the word ‘shepherd’. Someone is considered a good ‘pastor’ if they are skilled and compassionate in dealing with the issues facing Christian believers. That is, the job of the pastor is primarily to care for Christians.


Getting practical on abortion

I was really glad that my colleague, Dr Michelle Gajus Read, successfully gave notice of motion on the topic of abortion at the recent Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney to which I belong. I was especially pleased because it was Michelle’s very first time at our Synod, and it takes some courage to get up and speak in front of 500 or so Synod reps. As it turned out, in the end, I had to move the motion in Michelle’s absence, since the matter came up for debate on the last day, when she was unavoidably absent due to family concerns.


It’s too much like home

I’ve got a confession to make: I really love being at home. I love wearing my daggy clothes and not having to care. I love lying back on my favourite recliner and talking with my wife. I love playing board games with my kids. I love retiring to my little haven and pretending that all of the problems of the world don’t exist (well, at least until some fresh battle breaks out amongst my offspring). I love being at home because it is safe and comfortable and, well … because it’s home.


Engaging with Barth

Many years ago (correction: many, many years ago), I thought it would do my soul some good to enrol in a Masters degree in theology. Whether or not this was a good idea is something that I will leave for discussion between God, my wife and a succession of long-suffering employers who are convinced to this day that it was worth their time to push me on in that direction. (more…)

The five-word antidote to grumbling

This story has been passed onto me second- or third- or possibly fifth-hand. Who knows how accurate the details are, or whether the words were spoken exactly in this way? But from my knowledge of the man in question, it is entirely believable. In fact, if it isn’t true, it’s the kind of story that would almost be necessary to invent.


Comfort in good times and bad

Sometimes we all need a little bit of comfort. Comfort comes in all shapes and sizes for different people. Where do you find comfort in life? In playing a sport? In getting a hug? In eating a particular food? In the presence of friends and family? In drinking a cup of coffee? In your relationship with your spouse (Gen 24:67)? In receiving forgiveness from a brother (Gen 50:21)? In a good long sleep (cf. Job 7:13)? In a tidy house?