Assessing Christian election guides

Life, Sola Panel

I certainly won’t be telling you how to vote here.

But as a complement to Geoff Robson’s series on Christians and voting, here I assess various ‘voting guides’ produced by Christian groups in the lead up to Australia’s federal election in September 2013. (more…)

→ Don’t waste your vote


Geoff Robson has been writing a series on voting as a Christian—a topic particularly relevant for Australians at the moment, but for many of us around the world. He’s concluded the five parts with four ways to vote, and a broader reflection on the role and limitations of government:

Where governments can pass laws to protect people and restrain evil, they can never change the heart. But Jesus can. Jesus changes his people from the inside. He doesn’t just give us an example to follow: by dying to make us his people and pouring out his Spirit, he gives us new hearts so we actually can consider others better than ourselves. We can begin to love God and live for him. We can love our neighbour as ourselves, even using the privilege of our vote for the sake of others.

The whole series is well worth reading. If you missed it, the first post is on how God thinks about government, and is an excellent place to start.

→ When you feel resentful about homemaking


Jean Williams, with 5 reasons she’s identified that leave her feeling about her role as a homemaker, and 6 practical suggestions:

Last week I shared my friend’s question with you:

I was wondering if any of you have any advice, or could recommend a talk or book, that could encourage me in my role as homemaker.

I have been becoming increasingly irritated and resentful about doing all the housework lately (as well as finances, admin, handy man stuff etc). I’m also the one who is training the children to do it. Maybe I need to share it with my husband more, I don’t know.

(My friend has several young children, and every week she has 2 child-free days that theoretically free her up to do housework. She says, “I am hesitant to add more to my husband’s workload when I have ‘extra time’.”) Here’s my response, with a few suggestions from mutual friends scattered through.

→ The Temptation of Jesus Is Not about Your Battle with Sin


This is a great reflection on the temptation of Jesus in the desert by Byron Yawn, and a worked example of how to mis-apply Jesus’ actions to ourselves, and in so doing domesticate them entirely.

Seriously. What’s the assumed application of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness? By assumed I mean – What have we been told (over years of preaching) this event is about? Is it not usually offered as a set of “principles” on how Christians can resist temptation? Or to put that another way, it’s about us. But honestly, is this really what’s happening at this moment? Is Jesus really offering an example how we can personally resist the temptation of the devil? Is this a tutorial for daily living? Of course not! A “how to” on resisting temptation is a secondary application at best if not tertiary. He’s not telling us to do anything. He’s actually doing it for us. There is something much greater under way in this moment. More importantly, do we need to be standing within view of the actual site to realize how misguided our take on it is?

Satan’s lies about singleness


I’m single. I live in Sydney’s east with my two flatmates and my cat. (The crazy-cat-lady litmus test is that you know you’ve become one and you don’t care.) I’m in my late thirties. Many of the struggles that surround singleness are my struggles too: tossing up between living on my own (and being lonely and possibly broke) or living with flatmates (and regularly having to find and get used to new ones); turning up to things on my own all the time; feeling the unvoiced wonderings of friends, who think I’m too fussy, or gay, or weird; feeling surprised and disappointed that I’m not married by now, and wondering what’s wrong with me. I tire of all of those things. (more…)

God’s gifts in suffering (5) Suffering shows us what we truly fear to lose

Life, Sola Panel, Sola Panel

Sorry this post has taken a while. Sometimes you’re too close to something to be able to write about it. By God’s grace, here it is. (You can read my previous posts here: part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

flickr: mark sebastian

I’ve been listening to my fears. I’ve been imagining dire possibilities. Every medical article, every story of hardship, every description of suffering, seems a pointer to our future, a list of what-might-be. There are times when I lie face down on the carpet, sick to the gut, held down by a blank, black dread. I knew that I would cry, but fear? It seems a strange accompaniment to sorrow.


→ The gospel and who to vote for (2)


Geoff Robson is continuing his series on thinking politically as a Christian, following up his original post with part 2 of “The gospel and who to vote for“, and “Don’t waste your vote“.

[Prayer] is probably the most distinctive Christian contribution to the political process. We can vote, act, speak out and protest in much the same way as our non-Christian neighbours. But we can do something they can never do: Pray to the God of the universe. Your most important contribution to the political process happens not when you step into the ballot box, or when you write a letter to your MP, or when you take part in a peaceful protest march. It happens on your knees.

Both posts are a good read, especially the suggestions in the second of how not to vote. The final two parts should be up in a few days’ time.

Challenging the rushed ministry decision

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel

Every person involved in leading or organising a church or Christian ministry activity will have had the experience of a member dropping out at short notice, leaving sudden gaps to fill, even gaping holes at times. (more…)

The Amalekite genocide


One of the standard ways that the New Atheists attack Christianity is by using some of the Old Testament war passages to argue that God is violent and petty. One of the favourite passages for this is the so-called Amalekite Genocide of 1 Samuel 15. But difficulties with passages such as this are not restricted to atheists. In 2009, the popular website Ship of Fools ran a feature called Chapter and Worse. 1 Readers were invited to submit their least favourite Bible passages, and an evangelical acquaintance of mine submitted 1 Samuel 15:3.

Thanking pollies

Life, Sola Panel

I’ve written plenty of letters to our parliamentarians regarding particular policy issues, sometimes quite critical of positions they’ve taken. But have I taken time to thank them. Here’s my attempt at the end of the current term of our federal Parliament… (more…)

→ The disgrace of Christian outreach


Chris Little, minister out at Albury Bible Church, writes about the perfect disgrace of our Lord, and what that disgrace means for our evangelism.

The whole Bible shows God’s concern for the whole world.

The first three quarters of the Bible maintain focus on one people: Israel. The final one quarter is where God’s word goes out to all, freely offered to all cultures, languages and people.

Why the difference? And what made the change? A short passage in Hebrews powerfully captures the switch. It tells me that God spent great effort establishing a system of imperfect honour so that he could trump this system with perfect disgrace.

Good stuff. Go read the whole thing.

An evergreen strategy for Bishops!

Pastoral Ministry, Sola Panel

Multiply the workers. Deploy the workers aggressively. Remember, the work is evangelism! Remember, evangelism means Christ!

The detailed tactics must change in a different time and place, but well over a century later, I reckon this is still a pretty good strategy for reaching a large urban diocese where the vast majority are un-churched.

→ The Gospel And Who To Vote For


Australians are going to the polls soon to elect their national representatives. In light of this, Geoff Robson is posting up a series on how Christians ought to think about politics. For readers outside of Australia, read on too, and squirrel it away for May 2015, or November 2016, or whenever you’re next called on to vote.

My goal over these five posts is simply to provide an overview of how Christians should think about politics. I hope to cover:

1) An introduction to Christians and government

2) Christians and interacting with our government

3) How not to vote

4) How to vote (NOT who to vote for!)

5) The limitations of government

As well as addressing the specific topic, I have another goal in mind. Too often, Christians segregate their faith from other parts of their life – including their views of politics. We can completely divorce our faith in Jesus from our voting patterns. Or we can connect the two – but in a superficial way. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul says that Christians are to “take every though captive to obey Christ”. At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, in the Great Commission, Jesus says that ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him – meaning he has total authority over every single part of our lives. We may confess these things to be true and important, but the reality of sin means none of us acts or thinks as though they are really true. While these posts will only scratch the surface on one area of thought, I hope that thinking about these issues goes some way towards helping us all see that the Lordship of Jesus has to impact and transform every single aspect of our lives, without exception.

Read the whole thing here.