In my last post, The joy of service, I wrote about the need to serve practically when all you want to do is teach. Karen asked a great question: “Does it work the other way, Jean–when you’re good at (and often prefer) to stuff envelopes, stack chairs and wash dishes, but the thought of leading Bible study fills you with extreme terror?” Here’s The joy of service re-written (with apologies) for such a person. Because, yes, I have friends who lead Bible studies even though it terrifies them. And, yes, it works both ways. (more…)
The last person I heard speak to a group of Christians about raising money for ministry polarized the room. This was partly to do with how that person insisted on getting Bible references to support their ideas. As a result, it seemed to me that half the group couldn’t stop talking about what they saw as bad exegesis, while the other half were wondering why they weren’t taught this at theological college. So I approach this topic with some trepidation, because things you say on a topic such as this can sometimes lead people to tar you with a certain brush. (more…)
Tim Challies reflecting on Christian leaders who slide into gross moral or theological failure:
Did it begin with becoming a professional Christian instead of a man who communed with God day-by-day? Did it begin with allowing doubt to become a virtue and belief to become a liability? Did it begin with a desire to read the wrong books, to listen to the wrong preachers? Somehow, over months and years, he drifted away from the truth, he began to believe and then teach the lies. And then he followed those lies and celebrated them and destroyed his ministry.
Carl Trueman reflecting on how the English Anglican Synod’s rejection of women bishops is being cast as cultural suicide:
One of the key failures of the currently trendy Christian cultural engagement movement is that it takes the questions which the culture is asking too seriously. We often assume that it is the answers which the world gives which are its means of avoiding the truth. In actual fact, there is no reason to assume that the very questions it asks are not also part of the cover-up. ‘Answer my question about women’s rights or saving the whale’ might simply be another way of saying, ‘I don’t want you to tell me that my neglect of my wife and children is an offence to God.’
When a great one like John Chapman goes home, we struggle to express our appreciation and sense of loss. Words like warrior, champion and hero come to mind. (more…)
In many circles, especially those influenced by American evangelicalism (which seems to be everyone!), biblical inerrancy is a hot topic. Even if you haven’t come across the issue very much it’s still an important concern, as it goes to the heart of why we believe what we believe. John Woodhouse recently spoke on biblical inerrancy at a conference on Christian leadership; what follows here (and in a follow-up article next issue) is an edited version of that address. (more…)
John Chapman, our beloved brother in the Lord, who is one of Australia’s greatest evangelists, and did more than any to raise the standard of Bible preaching in evangelicalism in Sydney, has gone to be with the Lord tonight. So many of us are so glad we have his books still with us. But we will miss him so much. (more…)
This is a bit of a down-the-rabbit-hole reference: Andy Naselli tracked down a paper by Virginia Stem Owens that Tim Keller quoted in a sermon at TGC. It’s a fascinating insight into the effects of biblical illiteracy on those hearing Scripture:
Beyond that, however, I find it strangely heartening that, except for the young man who found the Sermon on the Mount a guide to good manners, the Bible remains offensive to honest, ignorant ears, just as it was in the first century. For me, that somehow validates its significance. Whereas the scriptures almost lost their characteristically astringent flavor during the past century, the current widespread biblical illiteracy should catapult us into a situation more nearly approximating that of their original, first-century audience.
One holiday I read a book entitled “What If…’. It contained a series of essays posing questions about the great turning points of history and asking the simple question “What if something different happened?” What if Alexander the Great had been slain in battle? Or what if the Spanish Armada had landed successfully in Britain?
At the base of this book is the great truth that the world as we now know it is the result of earlier decisions and actions. Our life and society is contingent on past lives and society. (more…)
I had the privilege to travel to Tanzania last November, courtesy of Compassion Australia, to observe the work ‘on the ground’ in that country. My family has sponsored children through Compassion for the last fifteen years, and it was wonderful to witness first-hand the ministry being done among children. (more…)
I’m no behind-the-scenes servant. My love is given to wordy ministries: the nervous plunge when I teach a group of women, the energy that sparkles in a small group, the light in a friend’s eyes when God’s truth sinks in. If I’m honest, I also love the recognition that comes with this kind of ministry. There: I’ve said it.
The humble roles, the practical roles, the self-effacing roles: they don’t come naturally to me. Setting up for a meeting, cooking for an event, serving food, running crèche, stuffing envelopes: these mundane tasks aren’t on my bucket list. I have to fight my inner whinger as I do them. I don’t like this about myself, but it’s true.
I know this isn’t good enough. (more…)
Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia John Anderson last night strongly criticized the level of public debate in Australia and Western society. (more…)
When I first arrived in Sydney in 1981 as a keen young curly-haired Christian from country NSW, I knew nothing about expository preaching or house-parties or quiet times or the importance of things being ‘helpful’, or any of the other commonplaces of modern evangelicalism. (more…)
As you may already know, money doesn’t buy you happiness. Professors Alan Krueger and Daniel Kahneman explain:
The belief that high income is associated with good mood is widespread but mostly illusory. People with above-average income are relatively satisfied with their lives but are barely happier than others in moment-to-moment experience, tend to be more tense, and do not spend more time in particularly enjoyable activities.1
The ‘happiness threshold’ in the US seems to be about $12,000-15,000 per year. Any less than that really means living hand-to-mouth, which is understandably quite stressful. Earning above that threshold, however, is not strongly correlated with more happiness. In fact, people who earn less than $20,000 are often happier and more satisfied than those earning more than $100,000. (more…)