Whose incarnation is it anyway?

Thought, Sola Panel

flickr: skycaptaintwoWithin the heart of the Christian faith is an astounding truth. God—who created and sustains the universe—became incarnate. The immortal and perfect Son of God shared our messy, sin-prone death-ridden lives of flesh and blood; he became human, walked with us, suffered with us, and subjected himself to our temptations. Ultimately, he died for us, satisfying God’s wrath, destroying death. While we all exist firmly and squarely on the ‘human’ side of the God-human divide, the incarnation means that we rebels can share in intimate fellowship with God himself through the Spirit of the risen Lord Jesus—now and for all eternity. (more…)

Are the Atheists Right about Christmas?


This Christmas the American Atheists have posted a large billboard in Times Square New York. It has two pictures: one of Santa Claus and the other of Jesus on the cross. The captions under the pictures are “Keep the Merry” and “Dump the Myth”. Apart from having the captions under the wrong pictures, the sentiment is one I agree with. (more…)

A son for sacrifice

Thought, Sola Panel

It’s nearly Christmas. My children read stories about lambs and donkeys visiting a baby, but the story I’m up to my Bible reading plan shows the season in a different light…

Rembrandt: The sacrifice of Isaac (detail)

How strange Genesis 22 has always seemed to me. Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son? What kind of Father asks another father to kill his child? Did Sarah know what was going to happen as her husband and son left that day? What psychological scars did Isaac carry into adulthood? (A very modern question, I know.)

What did it cost Abraham to take each step on that three-day journey? (more…)

Making the Most of Christmas

Everyday Ministry, Life, Sola Panel

Here are a few rough and ready suggestions I jotted up for our church about “making the most of every opportunity” (Col 4:5 NIV) for the gospel from the Christmas season.Musical Christmas Decorations XL


Matthew 1:1-17

Bible 101

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king… ”

At first glance the beginning  of Matthew’s biography of Jesus doesn’t exactly set the heart racing—but that is true of all genealogies when you don’t recognize the names. I know a little bit about my family tree, and for the most part it is deadly boring. But it’s much more interesting if you know, for example, that my great grand-uncle was Gregory Blaxland, one of the first Europeans to cross the Great Dividing Range west of Sydney. (more…)

→ Clumsy Christians


Speaking of Dave McDonald, he’s got lots of other great writing on his site. This piece, about ‘clumsy Christians‘, clicked with me and my stumbling efforts:

 My experience of Christians is that many of them – including me – are really quite clumsy. Not literally stumbling or falling over ourselves, but often doing the social equivalent. We put our feet in our mouths, we make others feel uncomfortable, we have a knack of saying the right thing at the wrong time, and vice versa.


Let me say this. I hope that none of my friends dismiss the Christian message simply because of my clumsiness. I pray they’ll put up with some of my mistakes, my awkwardness, even my selfishness, and hypocrisy… and look beyond me to Jesus.

I also appreciate his reflections on dealing with his lung cancer, such as this post on body image.

Custom-make your own conference

Everyday Ministry, Pastoral Ministry

This time last year I was enjoying the Geneva Push In the Chute conference in Melbourne. I gathered with others from all over Australia, young and old, from a range of denominations, to encourage each other in the work of planting new churches. In some ways, I was the middle-aged pinup boy, heading to the Top End to begin all over. It was exhilarating to feel the energy, especially from those who were moving to new places to reach out with the message of Jesus. I had the privilege of teaching on why we need to keep planting new churches, how to build ministry teams, as well as sharing our specific dreams and plans for outreach in the Darwin area. (more…)

Genesis 12:1-3

Bible 101

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonours you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’”

Many moments that change the world are self-evidently important because of their very scale, uniqueness, or impact: the moon landing; the 9/11 attacks; Nelson Mandela’s release; the dropping of atom bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Genesis 12 recounts for us a life-altering, world-changing, history-shaping moment, but if you were there at the time you’d be forgiven for missing it. Quietly, God made a promise to Abram. If you were with Abram at the time, near Ur of Mesopotamia, this promise might not have seemed like much, yet it underlies and shapes the plot of the whole Bible—the story of God’s people—from here on. (more…)

The devil made me read it?


Silencing Satan: Handbook of Biblical Demonology

Sharon Beekmann and Peter Bolt.

Wipf and Stock, 2012, 234 pp.

The Sam Freney who first came to know Christ was an arrogant young man in late high school, thoroughly self-assured, and convinced of the rightness of Western modernism and the superiority of reason above any kind of mysticism or kooky spirituality. In other words, a pretty typical white Anglo-Saxon Australian teenage male. (I like to think I’ve changed since then, at least a little. At minimum, I’m not a teenager any more.) (more…)

Doubting your doubts

Resource Talk

When did you last doubt the truth of Christianity?

Notice that I asked when, not if, because I’m assuming that this is one of the temptations that is common to man—the temptation to turn away from God, to doubt his goodness, his faithfulness, even his reality. (more…)

Why I read my children stories

Life, Sola Panel

illustration by Pauline Baynes

I stood under my favourite oak trees today and stared upwards, heavy dark branches and deep green leaves reaching into the blue of the sky. For a moment I was far from here, in the Enchanted Wood or Narnia or Middle Earth.1 (more…)

Modern healthcare: are we playing God?


There has always been a wide range of opinion and practice among Christians on the matter of medical technology. Soon after his conversion, my physician husband was taken aback when a woman in his congregation explained she was not going to visit a doctor to treat a thigh abscess, but was instead going to pray according to the instructions of James: