When a fellow believer is going through a tough time it is tempting to offer some sort of reassurance:
All too often that comes out something like; “I’m sure you’ll be fine” or “I’m sure the doctor’s got it wrong” or “she’ll be right”.
And to be honest I think most recipients of such “reassurance” have a strong feeling that what’s on offer here is really a platitude. That although the giver may have good intentions, he or she simply isn’t qualified to guarantee such a claim. Although in many circumstances this willful misrepresentation causes no damage and slides off the external veneer of the recipient – it can cause a lot of damage.
Case in point – what if God forbid the recipient didn’t get better? Wouldn’t the earlier reassurances sound like mockery – maybe even torment as the recipient already on their own roller coaster of despair has another “loop the loop” added by this “reassurance”. Continue reading
I’ve recently read a great old book, and I want to recommend it to you.
The book is by a guy called Athanasius it was written in the fourth century and it is called “On the Incarnation.” The writing of Athanasius is very good in itself, but the edition published in 1944 by St Vladimir’s Press has been additionally blessed by a wonderful little introduction by C.S. Lewis.
It is this introduction that I want to focus on because I think Lewis makes some astute comments with regards to our own reading habits today.
Lewis commented that there is an idea around that ancient books are only read by academics and the amateur should stick to modern books. I think this idea is still there (well in fact I know). I know because I have to confess I have just partaken in it myself. Immediately before I read this book by Athanasius I read one chapter from each of two church history books about the man himself – almost as if to gain some comfort about the man before I actually read his work. Continue reading
If there is one thing I see as being key to church, it is functionally believing that the Bible is the Word of God.
That is to say, in their heart of hearts actually believing that the scriptures are breathed out by God and useful for correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness so His people can be fully equipped for good works.
Of course pretty much every church you go to will say that they believe the Bible is the word of God. But there’s is a difference between saying it and acting as if you believe it. My take on the kiwi landscape is that sadly many churches functionally do not believe the Bible is the Word of God, nor for that matter do they believe that the Gospel is the power of God. This is the real reason why so many New Zealand churches are failing those whom they are called to love. Consequently they end up becoming enslaved to worldly philosophies as they engage in endless dialogue to develop “strategies” to bring new folk into church, rather than labouring like approved workmen to present the gospel in the vernacular to those whom they are called to love. Continue reading
This billboard in Napier is stirring up an awful lot of media hype. How ought we respond to this as Christians?
Here’s a pretty well reasoned response from Mark Keown from Laidlaw College.
Without even commenting upon the theology behind the billboard, I can see that this church is indulging in the style of tabloid media sensationalism with the aim of evoking a response. It certainly achieved this aim, but like Mark Keown I question the wisdom of it all. Continue reading
An observation of mine with regard to the internet age is that we have an awful lot of information at our finger tips. I’m not that old but I still remember the days before computers were widespread. We had a Pears Cyclopedia in our front room, that was always my first port of call for any reference matters. I thought it was amazing. Who could have imagined that within twenty odd years we’d have such things as Google and Wikipedia at our fingertips. Even more amazing. At the mere keying of a few words we have more information than we can wave a memory stick at. Fantastic!
One criticism of this revolution though is that although our knowledge is wide ranging thanks to all this information at our fingertips it tends to be quite shallow – simply because we have spread ourselves too thinly and don’t have the capacity to go deep.
Sadly Christian culture has not proved impervious to this and there appears to be a drift to a shallower sound-bite version of Christianity. The time demands of social media (Facebook etc), the blogosphere and Youtube have meant that the time to do the “hard yards” has been squeezed out.
One positive impact of the internet on Christians is that there is so much good stuff out there. Resources are extremely easy to lay your hands on. Sermons from top notch preachers are plentiful and online. For the discerning browser there are some gems to be had.
Yet on the downside I fear that in doing so we have entertained a “cult of personality” in the Christian scene. You know – what’s Driscoll or Keller or Carson or MacArthur got to say on this? Implicit in this is the risk that we don’t back our own local ministry to the same degree. I fear that as we do this we are putting the power of personalities over the power of the word of God. That scares me.
With that in mind I want to present to you an article written by Ian Nelson, a retired Anglican vicar here in Christchurch.
It’s a gem.
Not only does it rebuke me for falling to the classic “ad hoc” fallacy of thinking my generation was better than the last. But it lays before us the humble ministry of a Godly couple – Roger and Reena Thompson – a couple who had more impact for the gospel in Christchurch than Driscoll, Keller and such and a couple whom I personally thank God for.
I hope you find it as edifying as I do.