For the first 15 years of my life, I thought of the Bible as bizarre, and I thought of Jesus as existing in the same realm as the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. God did amazing work in my life to show me how true the Bible is, but my old self lingers on. I find it particularly hard to make sense of the cultural foreignness of the Old Testament.
I have been reading through Genesis with my nine-year-old daughter for the past couple of months, and it’s been a lesson in humility. I come to Genesis with all of the questions of my old life: did the flood really happen? Did Abraham and Isaac really pass their wives off as their sisters, or did people just get the story confused and tell it twice? (I would have been a good liberal.) So it fascinates me the kinds of questions Anna chooses to ask.
Tongue-tied adj. unable to speak. Synonyms: aghast, amazed, astounded, at a loss for words, bashful, choked up, dazed, dumbfounded, dumbstruck, garbled, inarticulate, mum, mute, shocked, shy, silent, speechless, stammering, uncommunicative, voiceless, obstructed.
I know people who talk about the gospel in a relaxed, friendly, winsome way. I’m not one of them.
Recently, in our staff meetings, we discussed John Stott’s excellent book The Living Church: Convictions of the lifelong pastor. I say ‘excellent’ despite Stott’s fondness for citing former Church of England Archbishops—not all of whom were uniformly reliable guides to the truth. I must admit that Stott’s love of ‘balance’ reminded a colleague of the old joke
Q. Why did the Anglican cross the road?
A. To get to the middle! (*Groan*)
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).
It’s not so hard to steal another man’s wife if you’re a king:
And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, “To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring over all Israel to you.” And he said, “Good; I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you; that is, you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see my face.” Then David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, saying, “Give me my wife Michal, for whom I paid the bridal price of a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.” And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go, return.” And he returned. (2 Sam 3:12-16; emphasis mine.)
I put it to you that King David ended up as a nasty, sleazy piece of work because he always was (1 Kgs 1:1-4, 2 Sam 11). (more…)
Today we interview Peter Sholl.
Pete, how did you come to Christ?
I grew up in country New South Wales in a Christian household. As a family, we’d head off to church and Sunday school every Sunday without fail. I knew Jesus personally, and I trusted that he knew what was best for my life.
When I was 17, I moved to Sydney to study engineering at the University of New South Wales, living in New College. The first night I was there, an upper year student (who is now the rector of All Saint’s Petersham in Sydney) stood up and announced that a group was going to church and that anyone was welcome to come. This was a significant moment for me as my family wasn’t with me any more; I could do what I liked!
I went to church, and over the next four years as a student, was fed a hearty diet of Bible at church and in small groups. These were very important years for me; they gave me a great grounding for Christian growth as I moved into my 20s and beyond.
You read what you hear. Even with the Bible. You read what you hear.
Let me explain. Study leave got me to England in 10 inches of snow. Beautiful. Because it closed the airports, it almost got me to France. How would I have explained that to the college board? Then driving around a country other than mine just confused me; so many signs supposedly telling me what to do, but I didn’t have the right framework to assimilate them so that they could actually make sense.
Late last year, Gavin wrote about the importance of being faithful in the small things. I’ve been pondering Gav’s insights, and I’d like to offer a couple of further comments.
Jesus himself directly teaches the importance of faithfulness in small things:
Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.” But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply “Yes” or “No”; anything more than this comes from evil. (Matt 5:33-37)
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…)
Following my post on being generous to fundamentalists and not so generous with others, I’ve had some interesting conversations about its implications. A good friend asked me whether my suggested attitude towards non-evangelicals of ‘supping with a long spoon’ meant that certain authors should not be read. Should we have a book burning in the Moore College courtyard? And would my friend be a heretic by association if, for example, he found reading Karl Barth a stimulating and a positive experience, even though he disagreed with Barth at a number of points?
My husband Dave and I have three young children (6, 4 and 2), and one of the things we like to do with them at Easter is learn a memory verse together. This year, we chose to do Romans 5:8. (more…)
The training of a minister takes a long time. Once upon a time, length of time was no problem. It was a necessity that bred quality. (more…)
Last week, our Saturday post spoke about five people or groups that the Bible encourages us to look to as models: (1) God (2) Christ (3) the apostle Paul (4) Christian leaders (5) other Christians. This week turns to examine the implications of this thinking about Christian modelling for those in Christian ministry.
Today, millions of Christians across the globe will join together to celebrate the end of the world as we know it. I’m talking, of course, about Good Friday—the celebration of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This is an event of cosmic significance—an event in which the world as we know it came to an end and the new creation came into being. (more…)
On Saturday night, our family participated in Earth Hour. My eight-year-old daughter was very keen to do so. These are some of the thoughts I had during Earth Hour: