Talkin’ ’bout my generation (part 3): On giants’ shoulders

Pastoral Ministry

This is the third post in this series; you can read part one, and part two.

There is a famous phrase about intergenerational dependence: that ‘we stand on the shoulders of giants’. It reminds us that whatever we have we owe to those greats before us. But let me remind you of Isaac Newton’s specific use of the phrase: “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. In other words, the upshot of standing on a giant’s shoulders is that you tend to have a better view than the giant himself does. As we build sensibly on the greats of previous generations, we also have the privilege of seeing better than they.


Bible reading with kids

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel

I was asked for recommendations for resources that would encourage parents to read the Bible with their kids, especially in the six-to-ten-year-old age range. I can think of several, most of which my family has tried.


Talkin’ ’bout my generation (part 2): Stepping aside (not out) so others can step up (not in)

Pastoral Ministry

This is the second post in this series; you can read the first post, Unassuming generations.

It can be very tempting as an elder (in whatever context: family, school, youth group, church, denomination, organization, committee, etc.) to just do things yourself; you’re more experienced, more capabable, and can get things done quicker. And as time goes on and you keep doing things yourself for those very reasons, those reasons become self-perpetuating: you are more and more experienced than anyone else will ever be because they are never given a go.


Talkin’ ’bout my generation (part 1): Unassuming generations

Pastoral Ministry

There is a model of ‘intergenerational theological decline’ that has been doing the rounds of late, and perhaps you may have heard it: the first generation wins or establishes the gospel in their context, the next generation assumes the gospel, and the third generation loses the gospel.


Kids and idolatry: a spot I had to do at church

Everyday Ministry

For some reason, I’ve been asked to do a regular ‘culture watch’ segment for the kids’ spots at the beginning of church.

I’m not sure I even believe in watching the culture, but someone clearly did at some stage in the history of our kids’ talks, so here we are with me doing a ‘culture watch’ spot. My basic strategy has been to work on a topic or passage from the Bible, and find a YouTube clip with the faintest of connections to something that may possibly illustrate the bit of Bible I want to talk about, but is at least funny in a ha-ha kind of way.


Working with clowns

Everyday Ministry

The movie Real Men is at best a guilty pleasure. A womanizing super-agent teams up with a wimpy suburban family man to save the world, one long dad joke after another. For me, the scene which captures the style of the movie best is when the protagonists are attacked by a bunch of rogue CIA agents… all dressed in clown suits. It begins with the line “Who are those clowns?” and finishes as the last clown standing looks around and says (and if you couldn’t see this coming when the scene began, you should hang your head in shame) “I’m working with a bunch of clowns”, before running away.


Disproving God

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel

I’ve been thinking about the problem of evil. Not so much the very pressing and existential problem of my own evil, but the classic three-part gotcha argument that every half-baked neo-atheist trots out these days with a smug smile. It usually goes like this:

An all-powerful God could eliminate all evil and suffering.

An all-good, all-loving God would want to eliminate all evil and suffering.

Given that evil and suffering are everywhere in our world, the all-powerful, all-good, all-loving God does not exist.


The atonement


The Atonement: Its Meaning and Significance

Leon Morris

Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, 1984. 219pp.

It’s likely you already know if you’re ever going to pick up The Atonement: Its Meaning and Significance, just from reading the title. When you come across a word you don’t completely understand, such as atonement, you’re either intrigued or asking “Why on earth would I read an entire book about a word which I don’t know?” If the title put you off, a brief scan down the contents page probably won’t help. There’s no getting past it, The Atonement is a book about difficult words. The “great words” which author Leon Morris covers are: covenant, sacrifice, the Day of Atonement, the Passover, redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, and justification. The unifying concept behind these words—apart from having at least three syllables—is the significance of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross. (more…)

God’s agenda

Life, Sola Panel

Is God on your to-do list, or is he helping you accomplish those goals? Tony Payne shares the secret to keeping the church/God/Bible ball in the air. (more…)

The unconverted Christian


“Since you have taken off your old self…” can be a troubling verse for those who have always been Christian. Tim St Quintin goes searching for the old self in the believer from birth. (more…)

Consistent with the Bible

Resource Talk, Sola Panel

Consistency has never been one of my strong points. “It is the bugbear of small minds”, I breezily say as I am caught out doing the very thing for which I have berated the kids not five minutes previously (take your pick from: eating high-spill-potential food in the good room, flicking between channels constantly on the TV, or leaving every light on in the house). (more…)

Union with Christ


Paul describes Christians as being ‘in Christ’, but what does that mean? Rory Shiner explores where we are, who we are, and why it matters where we are with now that we’re in Christ. (more…)

WordWatch: Skin of our teeth

Word Watch

It’s a cliché that turns up in bad journalism and badly written TV and movie melodramas: “It was a very close shave, and they only escaped by the skin of their teeth”. (more…)