Thursday, April 30, 2009

What Steve said...

In regard to my post below, I think Steve sums up my thoughts well;

What I have (and what I suspect you have) is a retrieval ethic that says "we want to minimise the damage sin and its consequences can do to people - particularly the innocent." That still doesn't mean you're "for" something.

Gay marriage and adoption aren't ideal, but in this sinful society, which is also democratic and pluralistic, ensuring justice for all is essential. I'm not sure how to do it, and I was just thinking it through and putting it out there for discussion. I hope I didn't put anyone off by my previous post, and I hope people have the grace to know they were just half-baked thoughts, not a position I'm going to die on.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Evangelical for Gay Adoption

It's me, i think. If there is surplus of children who are either orphaned or in abusive and unsafe situations, I would prefer them to be in the care of a loving gay couple than not.

If I had a choice between Noah and Amelie living on the streets or with 2 homosexual persons who would feed, clothe and ensure they get an education, I would choose the latter.

Why I try to write shorter blog posts

Basically because I don't think I'm worth taking more than a minute out of a persons day. If they are going to spend a decent amount of time reading something, it should probably be something worthy of publishing.

Of course, there are always exceptions...

Those guys are worth reading for longer than a minute. But generally, you should probably pick up a good book.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Green Bible reviewed

Ben's thoughts on The Green Bible. A bible which highlights all the passages which speak about God's concern for the environment. He is rightly skeptical. Two good quotes:

“The Green Bible presents us with a curious kind of natural theology: We start with things we know to be true from trusted sources – Al Gore, perhaps? – and then we turn to Scripture to measure it against those preexisting and reliable authorities. And what a relief to discover that God is green. Because we already know that it’s good to be green – what we didn’t know is whether God measures up to that standard.”

and (quite hilariously)

Perhaps (for a different niche market) we should also produce The Arsonist’s Bible, with verses highlighted orange wherever God burns, scorches, or blows shit up. “Because with 1134 references to fire and burning, and only 158 references to salvation, the Bible carries a powerful message for those who enjoy destroying things.”

The Pastor need only ONE ability

According to Paul in 1 Timothy 3, at least. I met with one of my old students I used to lead, who was considering coming to College in order to be a pastor. We sat down in a cafe and read 1 Timothy 3 together. The most interesting thing is, that in the whole list of things Paul gives as essential for being an overseer, "being able to teach" is the only required skill. Everything else is about maintaining godly character.

So my advice to this young upstart? Get to know Christ more and get all the experience you can in teaching the bible.

Is that too reductionistic?

Do you believe that Jesus makes a difference in the life of people today, and do you preach like it?

I haven't been. I've noticed in all the evangelistic youth talks I can remember giving of recent the primary focus of my talk has been eternity. Little or no emphasis on the benefits of receiving Christ in this life were touched on.

How ridiculous. The life of Christ has amazing consequences in this life, how could I possibly ignore such blessings?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A reason we might not be reaching the working class*

Based on what I've noticed areason seems to be because neither like displaying weakness and showing vulnerability, and most churchy things involve that. Think about it; going for coffee, after church staying around and having a 'chat', one on one evangelism, singing, etc etc. These are very middle class things to do that require a certain 'knowledge' of how to behave acceptably in these situations. If you don't know how to behave, it is awkward, and feeling awkward in public is a sign of weakness. Why would you want to go to a place where you are going to feel like that?

If we want to be loving to those different to us, we need to go to their turf with the gospel. Can the trivia and movie nights, and go to the pub and watch the footy and see what happens from there.

Some of this is probably the same for men as well, no matter what their socio-economic status may be. Men don't like feeling weak, and often the akwardness that comes from a one on one conversation can bring that. Don't get me wrong, i think they need it, but we can't force it on them. First things first.

PS. These are just my thoughts, I could be very wrong. But something seems to be amiss, why are our churches so middle class?

*For lack of a better word. I don't know if 'working class' is a good description these days.

2 Player Settlers

Tired of trying to find that 3rd or 4th person so you can play a game of Catan? Sick of getting out the Chess board with your spouse because there are no decent 2 player board games? I bet you are. Then check out these 2 player Catan rules.

I just know you're all as excited as I am to find these.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jaywalking Power Plays

Some people seek to show their power over others by making it big in the corporate world, others in politics, and some even in churches and community groups. In Redfern, people seeking power plays dordle across the street. It's both interesting and frustrating at the same time. Someone will be walking across the street, see a car, and slow down in order to make the car slow down. This is either followed with some form of gesture to tell the approaching car to "just wait a little" or some profanities.

The more I think about it the more it seems to be power plays by people who don't have the money or social status to have exert power over others...well at least others who have the money to afford cars. I'm not having a crack at the poor, nor saying it's only poor people who do it. If what I'm sayin is true it's quite understandable in one sense. People who feel trodden on will try and tread on others. It's just that I notice it Redfern a lot, and I'm trying to work out why it happens so much here and not as much in other places I've lived.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Could this be why blogging is viewed as a nasty affair?

Over at Giraffe Pen one commenter wrote;

I don't come here to attack you. Like I said before, I read everything you write. I only comment when I disagree or need some clarification because I like to discuss things. Simply saying, "I agree" doesn't create a discussion, and thus, it doesn't really interest me. I know that's an odd personality trait but it is what it is.

There is nothing wrong with disagreement and discussion of course, but I think blogs could do with some more hearty "amen!"'s and affirmation. Especially Christian ones. I think some of us may feel commenting is worthwhile only if we can critique or add some profound intellectual statement, or that blogs are only intended for the purpose of discussion. I don't see why this has to be the case.

More Amen's, please!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Recession linked to child abuse

An article in the SMH claiming a link between the economic crisis and child abuse.

That sucks.

I think we need to be careful as Christians if we are going to say that the recession is a good thing because of reasons such as people coming back to church etc. It might lead to some positive outcomes or cause us to do some thinking over poor decisions, but it is not inherently a good thing.

Is that the same with all suffering? I think so. Suffering isn't good in itself, but it may lead to good. In fact for the Christian we are promised it will lead to good (1 Peter 1:6,7).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

TV Host Fail

This video had me in stitches. If you haven't subscribed to FAIL Blog, I highly recomend it. They have new pictures and vids up daily, and it takes about 3 seconds out of your day to watch, but can sometimes give you laughs a plenty.

Anyway, enjoy the vid.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The absurdity of using historical method to validate my faith

A sermon by Kim Fabricius on the the resurrection and the problem of using historical method to determine its validity. A good quote:

As sure as (Easter!) eggs is eggs, the resurrection happened, but that it happened is disclosed – Jesus makes his presence known – and it can be known only in faith, which does not answer to historical method but is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

I need to hear these words because so often when I'm going through a phase of doubt, I resort to the historical arguments put forth by people like Strobel and McDowell to confirm in my heart that my faith is valid. It seems a stupid thing to do, because although my faith is grounded in the resurrection, it is not grounded in the work of historians.

When you're going through a periods of doubt (I'm assuming we all do...right?), how does your mind work to make you feel better about your belief in some peasant dying on a cross in a small middle eastern town 2000 years ago? Do you resort to Reason?

Friday, April 10, 2009

"Lest the Cross be emptied of its power"

Chris Swann writes an excellent and biblical piece on ensuring there is good emphasis on rhetoric and imagination in our proclamation of Christ, and attemps to dispel the fallacy that truth is to be preached plainly (I've interpreted this to mean boringly) My favourite quote:

Plain style is still a style

Check it out.

Athiests can sometimes preach better than Christians

If you ignore the platonic dualism present in his thinking, there's some good stuff for here for Christians. In fact it was these words by an athiest that spurred CT Studd to an all out commitment to Christ:

"If I firmly believed, as millions say they do, that the knowledge and practice of religion in this life influences destiny in another, then religion would mean everything to me. I would cast away earthly enjoyments as dross, earthly cares as follies, and earthly thoughts and feelings as vanity. Religion would be my first waking thought, and my last image before sleep sank me into unconsciousness. I should labor in its cause alone. I would take thought for the morrow of eternity alone. I would esteem one soul gained for heaven worth a life of suffering. Earthly consequences would never stay my hand, or seal my lips. Earth, its joys and griefs, would occupy no moment of my thoughts. I would strive to look upon eternity alone, and on the immortal souls around me, soon to be everlastingly happy or everlastingly miserable. I would go forth to the world and preach to it in season and out of season, and my text would be, "what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Do Christians really grasp the concept of hell?

I imagine for Christians the worst fate for anyone would be hell. But do we really behave as though our family and friends were about to have the worst fate imaginable befall them? How could we possibly sleep at night?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ditch the Hummer, here comes the PUMA

Awesome. Not very practical if you have a wife and two kids. But awesome nonetheless.

And it's not a bunch of university students experimenting, but an actual product from General Motors. The market is preparing for the arrival of Peak Oil, perhaps.

Taken from SMH

Should we stress the importance of an anti-works doctrine in evangelism?

While on mission preaching and speaking in conversation the gospel I noticed myself always focusing on the doctrine of justification by faith as antithesis to a doctrine of works. I always stress "It's about your faith, not your works" (in light of the cross, of course), but I wonder if I am simply answering 16th century questions, not 21st century.

Don't get me wrong, I uphold justification by faith and will preach it, but I wonder if by continually stressing the mantra "it doesn't matter how hard you try to do good, it's not good enough for God", I'm answering questions 21st century non-believers aren't even asking?

Maybe I'm wrong, perhaps you can only preach justification by faith by stressing that your works don't cut it. Paul did it, but wasn't he primarily answering a specific form of Judaism?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This Jar of Clay

This is the link to my first guest blogger, Nathan Lowery.

Always logout of google reader...

The previous post is from Nathan Lowery, which is meant to be for his blog. I jumped on his computer and signed into google reader, and didn't logout. He didn't know this, and wrote a post for my blog instead. I think I'll leave it.

On the positive side I now know Nathan Lowery has a blog

Reflection on Mission

Ok, so I've been hanging out on mission all of last week then all of a sudden its over and I've got all these thoughts & ideas running round in my head. This year was my second MTC mission and I'd be happy to say that it was the better of the 2 that I've been on. This is why:

Partnership with the church:
This year we had 2 members of the local church give up holidays and get involved with our ministry to the local community as well as a few who did things every now and then - for me, this was a great encouragement as it really felt like we were partnering with the church.

Pushed me out of my comfort zone:
last year was fairly easy - i did a lot of school scripture and the only 'difficult' thing for me to do was a short talk at the local skate park. This year i knocked on doors of complete strangers & had people reject the Gospel in not uncertain terms.

Organising Kids group:
By complete accident i volunteered to look after organising the Thursday arvo kids club. I dont think I'm gifted and certainly dont feel keen on kids ministry, yet things came together really well and the leader of the kids club thought we had done pretty well!

I cant wait to see how i will be challenged next year on MTC mission #3!

Rethinking Apologetics

From today's SMH, thanks to Gordo, who got it from Lucy;

MORE than four in 10 Australians who do not consider themselves "born again"' still believe Jesus rose from the dead, while one in 10 does not believe he existed.

We really need to get out of this mindset that if we can just convince people of Jesus resurrection, they will see that he is God and become a Christian. Even though it might be logical, it's silly to think so. People aren't reasoned into a relationship with God. Any apologetics we do must not be done in a way"convince" people to the faith, but rather our defense is more of an invitation to come partake in the true bread of life.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My brush with fame today

While playing Oz tag with the youth group boys down at Redfern oval today, a man was watching us play and then asked me over for a word or two. He asked me who we were, where we lived and that he liked what we were doing, and he told me that we would have to register with the Rabbitohs if we were to use this oval each week. I subsequently introduced him to the guys as someone who "works for the Rabbitohs", and then realised I hadn't got his name so I asked. "Peter, Peter Holmes-a-Court "...."Oh" I said rather embarrassed, "boys, this guy owns the Rabbitohs". He then played with us for a while and at the end gave us a little speech, and introduced me to some other guy from the Rabbitohs. He said he wanted us to register because he thought we were on to a good thing and would like to see it continue.

I felt pretty chuffed. That was my brush with fame for the day.

Exams vs Assignments

As I sit here trying to digest all this verbal aspect nonsense for my exam coming up, I realise how much I prefer assignments over exams. The problem with exams, I find, is that you spend so much time memorising content that does not require memorisation. Con's book will be great to reference as I exegete passages in the future, and I can always have it nearby for such purposes. So why spend all this time memorising it other than to pass an exam? I'm still not sure

What about you, do you prefer exams or assignments?

Is doorknocking culturally insensitive?

When I was in the Middle East missionaries were culturally sensitive in order not to put up barriers for gospel work. Women would wear the burka, men would wear long pants, they would not shake hands with their left hand, and married couples would refrain from public displays of affection such as hugging and kissing. The missionaries may not have agreed with all these cultural practices, but why would they offend on such matters, when it should be the gospel that offends?

I think here in Australia we ought to ask whether door-knocking is culturally insensitive and therefore question its validity in mission. The primary reason is that for many Australians their privacy is their God. People have fences and like security apartments for a reason - they don't want to be bothered. People make fun of Jehova's Witness and Mormons for a reason, do we want to be made fun of for that reason as well?

My observation is that this is mainly the case with middle class Australians. When I was door-knocking in Merrylands those most receptive to door-knocking were those living in housing commision, and immigrants. For the immigrants I was able to be of service because the church ran ESL classes, of which they were very thankful. I think we can tap into this some more.

Anyway, This post is long enough as it is. I'm not against doorknocking, I'm actually going to do it soon in Redfern. It's just some thoughts I had on mission after we woke a sleeping mother and embarassed a man coming to the door in his pj's. Both weren't happy about it, and neither was I.

When God swore...

My Queenslandian friend Dannii has started a blog, you should check it out. MTC 2nd year students may find it interesting because he is focusing on covenants in the Old Testament and their place in the meta-narrative of the bible.

Friday, April 3, 2009

What to do with all this money?

Does anyone feel they have any extra responsibility with the money they are receiving from the government? You know, like you owe Rudd or something...

I wonder if it would be unethical or irresponsible to give some of that money to an orphanage overseas.