Book review: Unpacking forgiveness


Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical answers for complex questions and deep wounds
Chris Brauns
Crossway, Wheaton, 2008. 240pp.

She approached me with her daughter after the Sunday night meeting. I usually love questions from listeners—especially if they are related to the sermon. Her question was, but only obliquely: she asked me whether I thought she ought to forgive her husband who had been systematically violent towards her for years and years. I knew straight away I was way out of my depth. I also knew that the answer I gave her was probably going to ring in her and her daughter’s ears for a long time. How on earth can you prepare for pastoral situations like this? (more…)

On casting stones and sinning no more

Life, Sola Panel


Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. He also said, “Now go and sin no more”.

Keen Bible readers will know that Jesus said both things on the same occasion. (See John 8:3-11—especially verses 7 and 11 respectively.1) My question is how do we hold and communicate both truths together to a society that denies the second statement’s relevance and does not think we Christians believe the first?


A bad case of mother guilt

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel


I’ve been feeling pretty guilty recently. What have I been feeling guilty about? I’m a mum, so you shouldn’t have to ask! Like so many mothers, I feel guilty because I’m not doing enough for my family. I’ve been trying to juggle too many things, and I’m worried I’m neglecting my children. (Actually, I don’t think I am when I’m thinking logically; if anything’s neglected, it’s only the dust balls. But guilt doesn’t think logically.) (more…)

Engraved on God’s hands

Up front

The Lord asks his people in Isaiah 49:15, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?” How would we, his people today, answer that question, I wonder? (more…)

Is it easy to love our neighbours?

Everyday Ministry

We’ve been reading the Sermon on the Mount around the dinner table over the last week or so, and it’s made for great discussion and interesting questions. (“Dad, why would someone want my tooth?”) A couple of nights ago, we were talking about the issues Jesus raises concerning loving your neighbours and praying for those who persecute you. The discussion went something like this:

Fallen short


Psalm 19 is famous and rightly so:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.


Dread, joy and Morning Prayer

Up front, Sola Panel

Standing on the 5th tee at St Michael’s in Sydney’s East, the golfer experiences a mixture of nervousness and dread. Here (with some translational notes for non-golfers) is what it’s like. (more…)

Wreck-conciliation or reconciliation?

Up front

Reconciliation is a hot topic. It always has been and it always will be. In the first century, Paul wrote about reconciling Jews and Gentiles (Eph 2:11-22). In the 20th-century, the nation of South Africa created the ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ to deal with the atrocities of apartheid. The Australian Government is only now ‘reconciling’ with the indigenous population. (more…)

Conflict resolution

Up front, Sola Panel

Sometimes it’s better to just overlook it when someone sins against you.

Matthew 18:15-20 is such a helpful passage when you feel someone has sinned against you. It encourages you to talk to them in private to point out the sin or offence. (Maturity now makes me realize that when you do this, there’s also the possibility of hearing another side to the story, which may make you reconsider.) Then, if there’s no repentance, you involve a couple of elder-type Christians. Only in the face of continued defiance would it finally become a public matter for discipline in the church. Notice there’s no room for gossip or whingeing to others! Churches would enjoy improved relationships if we could follow these principles. (more…)