photo | babasteve on flickr

Vocation? What’s that?


In the last issue of the Briefing, we began a little quest to understand what God has to say about work. And, perhaps strangely, we ended up spending a whole article speaking about the creation mandate (God’s command to humanity to multiply, fill the earth and subdue it). Whether you found this helpful or frustrating will probably depend on two things. (1) Are you a big picture person or a details person? and (2) What were you expecting to hear? (more…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

photo | discosour on flickr

God’s plan for work: The cultural mandate


It’s lunchtime. A young mother sits on the bench, painting her eight-month-old’s face with food—that mouth is hard to find. With her spare third eye she watches her toddler negotiate the finer points of park etiquette with the oversized gorilla who isn’t interested in sharing the springy rocker thing—he’s four! For just a moment she gives herself permission to dream about being the council worker digging a trench on the other side of the park. What a life! (more…)

God’s gifts in suffering (2) Suffering reminds us that we are part of this fallen world

Life, Sola Panel

This is part 2 in a series on suffering, in which I reflect on some Bible passages and how God is keeping his word in my life as he uses suffering to transform meHere’s the first thing God has been teaching me.

1. Suffering reminds us that we are part of this fallen world

Flickr: ulisse albiati

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Rom 8:22-23)

Deep down, in some hidden part of me, I think I’m exempt. I’m convinced that life isn’t meant to be this hard. That God owes me healing. That he owes my son relief. That the fact that I pray, “Heal my son!”, and he wakes up sick, calls God’s goodness into question.

I am astonished! dismayed! horrified! that God hasn’t stepped in and taken this away. (more…)

God’s gifts in suffering (1) Introduction

Life, Sola Panel, Sola Panel

flickr: Sadness by SashaW

Suffering. You don’t know it till it’s grabbed you by the neck and held you down for weeks, months, even years.

It drives out every subterfuge and scours out every illusion. It chases you into every corner and steals every illusion of control. It empties you of every vanity and robs you of every trace of self-reliance.

If you’re stubborn like me, this takes some time. (more…)

This, then, is how you could pray


After you said you feel unable to lead in our family prayers, I wanted to put down some thoughts about leading in prayer that will, I hope, be helpful. While they’re nothing particularly profound, here they are. (more…)

A cry of hopelessness

Life, Sola Panel, Sola Panel

What I’ve written here is not all that can be said about suffering: far from it. But I’ve published it, somewhat hesitantly, because I think suffering will drive all of us to this point sooner or later.

flickr: Pink Sherbet Photography

I sit there stony-faced, staring out the windscreen, driving in automatic, lips pressed together. I’ve had enough. I don’t want it any more: this struggle and these doubts and these unanswered prayers. I’ve had enough. It’s been a long week – a long year! – and there’s nothing left. I’ve had enough.

My 12-year-old son sits next to me. (more…)

→ New Directions in Assisted Reproduction: A Brave New World


Trillia Newbell has interviewed Megan Best about issues covered in her new book, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, specifically on assisted reproductive technologies (ART).


Christians face many dilemmas, some more obvious than others, with new methods of reproduction. Best acknowledges that the Bible does not specifically address ART, so Christians must look instead at what the Bible does address—human life.

If you can get to the Gospel Coalition conference, her seminar would be well worth attending.

The secret of training

Everyday Ministry

What is so special about Wayne Bennett? Wayne Bennett, for the uninitiated, is one of the most successful rugby league coaches of all time. Before Bennett, St George were a talented collection of chronic under-achievers. With Bennett, they became a team, won the minor premiership in the first year, and won everything the year after that. (more…)

A Mini Christian Bookshop

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel

There is no longer any Christian bookshop in the city I live in. But not everyone can, let alone will purchase books online. To generalise, this is particularly true of older generations and of the non-tertiary-educated. (more…)

“What do you saw when…?” Office small talk

Everyday Ministry, Up front

It’s Monday morning. Another working week begins. You walk through the office hallway, thinking about the tasks you need to get done today. You make eye contact with a colleague, and throw out a casual, “Hey, how was your weekend?” He looks tired, and he stares blankly into the distance and replies restlessly, “My girlfriend walked out. She’s been sleeping with my best mate.” Do you automatically respond by wondering what the office boundaries are for over-sharing? Are you filled with compassion or judgement for your colleague? Or do you feel just plain uncomfortable, and blush? What words, if any, do you reply with? (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…)

→ 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.