When to jump ship?

Pastoral Ministry, Sola Panel

Anyone in a mainline denomination infected by liberalism, or some other divergence from the evangelical faith, will have faced the question of when to stay or when to go? How bad does the denomination have to get before you decide to abandon ship?


Teasing the toothless tiger


The devil is our enemy, but how do we find out about him, and what can he do to us? Peter Bolt takes a walk through what the Bible says about Satan to determine what we need to know and how we are to treat him. (more…)

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.


Lies, lies, lies!


I was talking to a friend lately who struggles with eating issues, and she told me that one of the techniques she is using to combat her anxiety is something called acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). If I’ve understood her correctly, ACT is when you try to keep your thoughts focused on the present instead of allowing them to drift off in all sorts of unhelpful directions. So, for example, when she gets a craving for a cookie and starts to think that she couldn’t possibly get through the afternoon without one, she acknowledges that she’s had that thought, points out to herself that what her brain is telling her is a lie (i.e. that she can get through the afternoon without a cookie, and she knows that because she’s done it before), and then moves on with the rest of her day.


The shock of disunity


Christians regard unity as being of primary importance, reflecting a theme that runs through the Scriptures: unity is where God bestows his blessing (Ps 133); Christian unity testifies to Christ’s identity and his love for his church (John 17:23); unity in the church glorifies God (Rom 15:5-6); and we are commanded to be united because there is one body and one Spirit (Eph 4:3-6). In fact, unity in the faith is the goal of Christian ministry and edification in the church (Eph 4:11-16). (more…)

Dealing with inner demons

Everyday Ministry


The distresses of the human soul and ‘inner world’ can be many. Sometimes people speak of having to deal with their ‘inner demons’. Most of us can cope when this is simply a vivid metaphor. But what happens when we realize the struggler is speaking literally—that is, they think that their inner distress is due to real demons at work in their soul?

Okay, that’s freaky—so medieval.

Unfortunately not.


Animism, alive and well

Life, Sola Panel

I worked with a group of southern Sudanese pastors to help them to develop a discipleship training program for their churches. Remembering my own experience, I suggested that the starting point be a study explaining the nature of grace. “Yes”, they agreed, “after we have taught about witchcraft”. It seemed extraordinary that ‘Discipleship 101’ in Sudan should begin with a study on witchcraft. But as I talked with my Sudanese friends, I came to appreciate that to understand grace, we must first realize that God is sovereign over all creation and that our world is not controlled through curses and spells. True grace cannot be understood properly by those trapped in an animistic worldview.1

What the Sudanese church is learning, we are unlearning. We walk around towns and claim them for God; we seek deliverance from family curses; we release Christians from spirits of anger; we refuse to live in places where bad things have happened. Many Australian Christians share the belief of our non-Christian neighbours that evil clings to places and has to be cleansed or it will threaten the future occupants. (more…)

In defence of doctrine

The whole business of doing ‘doctrine’ has become quite unfashionable in the Christian world. But, as Michael Jensen argues, nothing is more important and essential because the gospel itself demands it. (more…)

An abominable word

Up front, Sola Panel

When I hear the word ‘abomination’, a vivid image comes to mind. Perhaps it’s from a comedy sketch on TV. I see a man dressed in old-fashioned black clothes, with a black hat and, in reference to some aspect of modern culture (perhaps homosexuality), he declares in a slow, but passionate voice, “It is an abor-min-ay-shon”.