Thursday, September 29, 2011

JI Packer on the Sovereignty of God

“I do not intend to spend any time at all proving to you the general truth that God is sovereign in His world. There is no need; for I know that, if you are a Christian, you believe this already. How do I know that? Because I know that, if you are a Christian, you pray; and the recognition of God’s sovereignty is the basis of your prayers. In prayer, you ask for things and give thanks for things. Why? Because you recognize that God is the author and source of all the good that you have had already, and all the good that you hope for in the future.

…This is all luminously clear to us when we are actually praying, whatever we may be betrayed into saying in argument afterwards. In effect, therefore, what we do every time we pray is to confess our own impotence and God’s sovereignty. The very fact that a Christian prays is thus proof positive that he believes in the Lordship of his God.

Nor, again, am I going to spend time proving to you the particular truth that God is sovereign in salvation. For that, too, you believe already. Two facts show this. In the first place, you give God thanks for your conversion. Now why do you do that ? Because you know in your heart that God was entirely responsible for it. You did not save yourself; He saved you. Your thanksgiving is itself an acknowledgment that your conversion was not your own work, but His work. You do not put it down to chance or accident that you came under Christian influence when you did. You do not put it down to chance or accident that you attended a Christian church, that you heard the Christian gospel, that you had Christian friends and, perhaps, a Christian home, that the Bible fell into your hands, that you saw your need of Christ and came to trust Him as your Savior.

You do not attribute your repenting and believing to your own wisdom, or prudence, or sound judgment, or good sense. Perhaps, in the days when you were seeking Christ, you labored and strove hard, read and pondered much, but all that outlay of effort did not make your conversion your own work. Your act of faith when you closed with Christ was yours in the sense that it was you who performed it; but that does not mean that you saved yourself. In fact, it never occurs to you to suppose that you saved yourself.

As you look back, you take to yourself the blame for your past blindness and indifference and obstinacy and evasiveness in face of the gospel message; but you do not pat yourself on the back for having been at length mastered by the insistent Christ. You would never dream of dividing the credit for your salvation between God and yourself. You have never for one moment supposed that the decisive contribution to your salvation was yours and not God’s. You have never told God that, while you are grateful for the means and opportunities of grace that He gave you, you realize that you have to thank, not Him, but yourself for the fact that you responded to His call. Your heart revolts at the very thought of talking to God in such terms. In fact, you thank Him no less sincerely for the gift of faith and repentance than for the gift of a Christ to trust and turn to.

This is the way in which, since you became a Christian, your heart has always led you. You give God all the glory for all that your salvation involved, and you know that it would be blasphemy if you refused to thank Him for bringing you to faith. Thus, in the way that you think of your conversion and give thanks for your conversion, you acknowledge the sovereignty of divine grace. And every other Christian in the world does the same.

There is a second way in which you acknowledge that God is sovereign in salvation. You pray for the conversion of others. In what terms, now, do you intercede for them? Do you limit yourself to asking that God will bring them to a point where they can save themselves, independently of Him? I do not think you do. I think that what you do is to pray in categorical terms that God will, quite simply and decisively, save them: that He will open the eyes of their understanding, soften their hard hearts, renew their natures, and move their wills to receive the Savior. You ask God to work in them everything necessary for their salvation. You would not dream of making it a point in your prayer that you are not asking God actually to bring them to faith, because you recognize that that is something He cannot do. Nothing of the sort! When you pray for unconverted people, you do so on the assumption that it is in God’s power to bring them to faith. You entreat Him to do that very thing, and your confidence in asking rests upon the certainty that He is able to do what you ask.

And so indeed He is: this conviction, which animates your intercessions, is God’s own truth, written on your heart by the Holy Spirit. In prayer, then (and the Christian is at his sanest and wisest when he prays), you know that it is God who saves men; you know that what makes men turn to God is God’s own gracious work of drawing them to Himself; and the content of your prayers is determined by this knowledge. Thus, by your practice of intercession, no less than by giving thanks for your conversion, you acknowledge and confess the sovereignty of God’s grace. And so do all Christian people everywhere.

The situation is not what it seems to be. For it is not true that some Christians believe in divine sovereignty while others hold an opposite view. What is true is that all Christians believe in divine sovereignty, but some are not aware that they do, and mistakenly imagine and insist that they reject it.

…On our feet we may have arguments about it, but on our knees we are all agreed.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We like 'quick', God is OK with 'slow'

I found this a very interesting and helpful perspective.  While he comments from an American perspective, his comments ring true in Oz as well.   Dale Ryan, part of the Fuller School of Theology faculty since 1993 and director of the Fuller Institute for Recovery Ministry on spiritual tIransformation in a society addicted to speed.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Backyard Bard

I had never come across this organisation before but this is excellent.  You can check out there range of presentations her at the website:

I have only watched this one, 2 Timothy, but if the others are a similar standard, well worth looking at.  The text is delivered with passion and insight that brings it alive for the listener. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Whenever we have to go and purchase a car or some latest IT gadget from Harvey Norman, it is almost always an opportunity to reflect on my response to the apporach taken by the salesperson (usually men).  The aggressive, in-you-face types just don't do it for me - I firmly reject their advances and tell them I am 'just looking' in the hope that they will leave me alone. If they do drop back, I inevitably seek them out and ask for advice - if they push harder, I am likely to just leave the store altogether. In the devloped world there are always other options!

The worst examples are, of course, the real estate salesmen who seem to stalk you through a house inspection, following you from room to room, pointing out what they consider to be the salient features of the house that make it a must-have for your family even though they know nothing about you.

I find myself asking if this is just a personal preference or do others feel this way?  Is it simply that my personality/style prefers a more laid back, 'can I be of help' style of sales pitch?

What got me thinking along these lines was a post by friend Andrew Finden about Mark Driscoll's latest Facebook post where he says: "So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you've ever personally witnessed?"   At last count the post had generated nearly 700 responses (no - I have not read them all) many of them aggreived at the tone and nature of the post. 

My mind went back to another recent tweet from another darling of what some call the neo-Calvinists, John Piper when, in response to Rob Bell's new book 'Love Wins', he tweeted, "Farewell Rob Bell".

On the other hand, I was fascinated to read in Christianity Today a Q&A session with Francis Chan and CT editor Mark Galli.  Both  Galli and Chan have written books in response to "Love Wins".  While taking on Rob Bell's arguments, to me they have done so with humility and grace rather than the in-you-face style of Driscoll 

I owe much to the reformed tradition in my own faith journey - I would affirm that theologically, I remain attuned and aligned even with the emphasis on God's grace, on the priority and importance of Scripture and the atoning work of Christ. 

But increasingly I find myself repelled by the strident nature of the commentary by some of the neo-reformed proponents - the salesmen if you like of the neo-reformed movement.  I find myself wanting to move away and try a different 'store'. 

On the other hand, I find Tim Keller a most winsome and winning advocate of key aspects of the reformed tradition.  I have not read any of Francis Chan's works but the interview referred to above carries the same sense of humility that I find attractive.

So my questions are:
  • Is it just me or do others feel this way?  Is it a personality issue rather than a theological one?  While clearly some are attracted to Mars Hill of Driscoll fame, others are attracted to Mars Hill of Bell fame!
  • What is the impact of this sort of internal critique and carry on both inside and outside the church?  Doe it really help to promote the gospel and the kingdom or just the profiles and empires of the various protagonists?
  • Is this a feature of American evangelical debate in particular - the home of individualism and celebrity?  My spiritual hero John Stott (English), while never backing away from an opportunity to present a biblical perspecte on any issue, never seemed to indulge in the sort of vitriole that now seems to characterise much of the debate.
  • And finally, is it somehow related to the new world of the blogosphere - a place where you can say anything, anytime about anyone without fear of real retribution, hiding behind the relative anonymity?  These couple of paragraphs on a David Nilsen's guest blog at Rachel Held Evans site  captured some of this for me:
If I were not privileged to be in these relationships, it would be easy for me to demonize or belittle people who hold theological beliefs more conservative than my own. But when the person who holds some doctrinal position diametrically opposed to my own is sitting across the table from me eating chicken wings while we watch football, laughing at the joke I just made, it becomes a little harder to start a flame war with him online. We're friends, so when we find ourselves stuck between parting ways or talking out differences, we've so far been able to choose the latter.

You will not always like the people who disagree with you, and you will not always be able to have civil disagreements with them. But if you can start and maintain relationships with Christians who see things differently than you do, you'll discover they are real human beings who care about other people. When they think a lot of the same things are funny, and when they like a lot of the TV shows you like, you'll have a harder time calling them (and people like them) Pharisees or Heretics or Nazis or whatever else you are tempted to call the people with whom you disagree.

I know that there is more at stake here than the purchase of a new house or car ... just wondering though ...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book review: John Stott - a portrait by his friends

Product DetailsKoorong have finally sent my copy of "John Stott - a portrait by his friends", edited by Chris Wright.

What a treat!  Chris Wright has pulled together 35 personal accounts written by UncleJohn's friends over the years.  As always, others with greater insight and skill than I have written excellent reviews. 

Some dot point impressions from me!

  • The consistency and discipline of Stott's personal life have been incredible
  •  His committment to the centrality of the cross and the need to encounter Jesus have been unflagging
  • The sheer impact of a life totally dedicated to a cause (in his case Christ) is amazing
  • His love of birds and his genuine care and affection for young children make him human!
I loved this book but then, I am a great fan.  It is wonderful that this book was published for his 90th birthday.  Many will be inspired by the tributes his friends have written.  As Chris Wright wrote in the final chapter:

"When I find myself saying, 'I simply could not be like John in personal devotion and detailed regular prayer for so many friends', my heart answers, 'Why not?'  It is not that I could not, but that I do not.  So at the very least, the exemplary life of John Stott is a challenge, a question, a rebuke, an encouragement, an inspiration, all in one." 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Books I want to read

Here's a list of books that keep popping up in my surfing/reading that I want to read at some stage - listed here so (a) I don't forget them, and (b) I can get them at cheap prices as they become available.

More Than Matter?: Is There More to Life Than Molecules? - Keith Ward
God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist? - David Lamb
The End of Evangelicalism? Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission: Towards an Evangelical Political Theology (Theopolitical Visions) - David Fitch
The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind - Mark Noll ($27.95)
King's Cross - Tim Keller ($17.95)
The God I don't understand - Chris Wright ($9.95)
The Language of God - Francis Collins ($19.95)
Cross-Examined - Mark Meynell ($11.95)
Africa Bible Commentary ($42.95)
John Stott - a portrait by his friends - Chris Wright ($16.95)
Hearing God's Words - Peter Adams ($19.95)
The Cross of Christ - John Stott ($10.95)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The King's English in 100 phrases

Very clever and a tribute to the impact of the dear old KJV on our culture and language.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book review: "Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions"

Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions

I've been following the blog of Rachel Held Evans (LINK) for some time.  I cannot recall how I came across the site but have appreciated her honesty and insight in relation to her faith journey.  She, like me, has found herself on the 'wrong side'of orthodoxy in a number of debates that rage within evangelical circles - e.g. women and ministry, evolution/creation - and her blog gives expression to that struggle and the need to (a) be faithful to the scriptures, and (b) be Christlike in her responses and attitude to those who think differently,

I'm not intending to write a detailed review of EMT - you can find some excellent ones HERE, HERE and HERE

Some brief comments/observations from me:

  • I read the book in just 48 hours - for me that makes it a real 'page-turner'! I have this bad habit of not finishing books because I lose interest or find another one that gets my attention ('bright shiny lights' as my friend Lamond says).  I could not wait to get to the end of this one and it did not disappoint.
  • I am amazed that someone who is only about 30 years old can write with such depth of insight, piercing honesty and self-awareness. 
  • I appreciate Rachel's ability to maintain her faith despite an ability to see the glaring inconsistencies in doctrine and practice that she identifies in the evangelical church - reminds of Peter's response to Jesus along the lines of, "To whom shall we go Lord?"  She seemed to have a real understanding of what was 'baby' and what was 'bathwater'.
  • The writing itself is just beautiful - there are so many sentences and paragraphs that capture the thought perfectly and I found myself saying, 'yes, yes, yes" (or even 'Amen').
This is a book I would love to pass around but I think I would have to be very careful - people open to questions and shades or grey would find great comfort and resonance.  Folks who want/need a more black and white faith may find it too challenging, too edgy, too unsettling.

Here are a few quotable quotes to give a bit of the flavour of the book:

  • "We are not saved by information. We are saved by restored relationship with God, which might look a little different from person to person, culture to culture, time to time...When we require that all people must say the same words or subscribe to the same creeds in order to experience God, we underestimate the scope and power of God's activity in the world." (p. 132)
  • "The more committed we are to certain theological absolutes, the more likely we are to discount the work of the Spirit when it doesn't conform to our presuppositions." (p. 155)
  • "I would tell them that the idea of a single, comprehensive biblical worldview to which all Christians can agree is a myth and that it's okay to ask questions about people's interpretations. I would tell them that this doesn't diminish the beauty and power of the Bible but rather enhances it and gives Christians something to talk about." (p. 185)
  • "The Bible is perfection crammed into imperfect language, the otherworldly expressed in worldly ways, holiness written down by unholy hands, read by unholy eyes, and processed by unholy brains...In truth, the Bible represents a cacophony of voices. It is a text teeming with conflict and contrast, brimming with paradox, held together with creative tension." (p. 189)
  • "The Bible doesn't exist in a vacuum but must always be interpreted by a predisposed reader. Our interpretations are colored by our culture, our community, our presuppositions, our experience, our language, our education, our emotions, our intellect, our desires, and our biases." (p. 192)
  • "Perhaps our love for the Bible should be measured not by how valiantly we fight to convince others of our interpretations but by how diligently we work to preserve a diversity of opinion." (p. 194)
  • "My interpretation can only be as inerrant as I am, and that's good to keep in mind." (p. 195)
  • "But it seems to me that if evangelical Christians were the only ones to have God all figured out, then they would be the kindest, most generous people around...Most Christians I know are only interested in winning arguments, converts, and elections." (p. 201)
  • "...But most rejected Christianity because they thought it means becoming judgmental, narrow-minded, intolerant, and unkind...Most weren't looking for a faith that provided all the answers; they were looking for one in which they were free to ask the questions." (pp. 203-204)
  • "In fact, I am convinced that what drives most people away from Christianity is not the cost of discipleship but rather the cost of false fundamentals. False fundamentals make it impossible for faith to adapt to change." (p. 207)
  • "In a way, we're all fundamentalists. We all have pet theological systems, political positions and standards of morality that are not essential to the gospel but that we cling to so tightly that we leave fingernail marks on the palms of our hands." (pp. 208-209)

Friday, May 13, 2011

A provocative and very challenging Christmas poem - not the usual stuff

are you flesh of our flesh, bone of our bones
It's hard to get beyond the glitz of Xmas and the sentimentality of the stable and manger. But at the warm, beating heart of the Christmas story is "the word becoming flesh". In a Christmas meditation, Martin Wroe thinks aloud about the body and God.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A powerful piece of writing

A Humble Obituary for Osama bin Laden
by John Harris, Christian Peacemaker Teams
Osama bin Laden, organizer, crusader, defender, soldier, terrorist, son, husband, and father has died last night at the young age of fifty-four.  He was assassinated by the US military at a compound in Pakistan after being on the most wanted list for some twelve years.  He will be remembered primarily for his attack on the World Trade Center and US Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Surfing the blogsites - what does it all mean?

I have a mate with whom I have been having challenging theological debates for decades.  I regularly send him bits and pieces from the various blogsites that I monitor - some from the solid reformed tradition, some from the emerging 'tradition'.  In response to one item I sent him (TIME article entitled "Is Hell dead?) he sent these questions:

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    A flying visit from Prince William

    OK, I think it is sad that I am even posting this but here goes ... I thought this blog as getting a bit too serious and needed an injection of nonsense ... so here goes. 

    The bloke waving at Jenny (taking the photo) is in fact, soon-to-be-married Prince William. 

    I am on the other side of the street trying to capture the royal moment from the other side because that is the side I saw him get into the car earlier in the day!  How unthoughtful of him to swap sides without asking!

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Professor John Lennox being interviewed on ABC radio

    Here's a transcript of a short interview I came across that Professor John Lennox did for the ABC Religion Report back in January 2009.  It covers quite a bit of territory in a short interview.

    What I really liked was the 'tone' of the interview - I have never read anything from Lennox but I felt there was a certain humility in his comments and analysis.  Nevertheless, he provides a strong and compelling defense of Christian belief in my (humble) view. 

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    The Radical Disciple - John Stott's final book

    After visiting All Soul's Langham Place last year and realising the enormous debt I owe to the ministry of John Stott, I was moved to support the work of Langham Partnership International - the organisation charged with continuing the legacy of John Stott's ministry.

    In response to my modest donation, I was sent a little package of information (leaflets, brochures and bookmarks) as well as a copy of John Stott's final book, The Radical Disciple.  What was really exciting was that John Stott had signed it!!  Well, at least a sticker placed inside - still very special though.

    I will not provide an extensive review of the book - that would be somewhat arrogant and you can read a really good one here.

    Suffice to say that it is a privilege to read what are the reflections on discipleship of arguably the most outstanding evangelical leader in the last 50 years.  'Uncle John's' eight characteristics of disciples are:
    •  Non-conformity
    •  Christlikeness
    • Maturity
    • Creation-care
    • Simplicity
    • Balance
    • Dependence, and
    • Death
    I particularly enjoyed reading the final two characteristics.  Given that JS was 88 years old when he wrote these chapters, they are especially poignant.  Here are a couple quotes to whet your appetite:

    p.100 "... life is a pilgrimage between two moments of nakedness ..."

    p.112 "I sometimes hear old people including Christian people who should know better say 'I don't want to be a burden to anyone else.  I'm happy to carry on living so long as I can take care of myself, but as soon as I become a burden I would rather die.'  But this is wrong.  We are all designed to be a burden to others.  You are designed to be a burden to me and I am designed to be a burden to you.  And the life of the family, including the life of the local church family, should be one of 'mutual burdensomeness'.  'Carry each other's burdens, and this is the way you will fulfil the law of Christ' (Galations 6:2)

    p133-134  "If life means Christ to us, then death will be gain.  Indeed the life to come will be 'far better' than life on earth.  For example:
    • If worship with God's people on earth is profoundly satisfying (which it is), then worship with all in heaven will be more thrilling still.
    • If our heart burns within us whenever the Scriptures are opened to us, all truth will be even more moving.
    • If the glory of a sunset stirs us now, what will the beauty of the new heaven and earth be like?
    • If cross-cultural fellowship moves us now, the great crowds from every nation and language will cause us to rejoice when we finally come together.
    • If sometimes we have known what is is to 'rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory', we shall expect it more often where there will be neither sorrow nor tears.
     Do you get the sense of a man looking forward to heaven?  Praise God for the ministry of John Stott!

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Book Review: "How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership"

    Personally, I am not sure that I have ever changed my mind about women in leadership.  I was raised in a conservative rural Baptist church and my Dad came from a brethren background so it was a given that women did not have leadership roles within our church and there was never any mention of women pastors etc.

    I left these safe environs in 1972 and headed to DDIAE (now USQ) where with three other (female) friends we started a small Christian fellowship group.  They were exciting times as we shared together how best to witness for Christ on campus.  It never occurred to me that there might be a hierarchy in our leadership - we laboured together.  Much of my spiritual growth and development in the following years took place with the para-church setting of Scripture Union where, thank God, women exercised leadership and had a heavy influence on me - women like Betty Benn, Ruth Armstrong, Glenys Palmer and many others.

    So for many years, while I understood that I was in a minority with my 'liberal' views on women in leadership, the issue did not bite until recently when at the church I attend, we decided to invite Greg and Ruth Peckman to out church as pastors.  Without going into a blow-by-blow description, suffice to say that a number of folk left the fellowship over this issue.  Suddenly it became real and not academic - suddenly I knew people with strong feelings on both sides of the debate!

    I loved reading this book - it is not a theological book (though it does deal with the theological issues very well); it is not vitriolic book (though there is much passion and emotion in many of the stories - Tony Campalo does state his views with typical robustness!) - it is a book filled with 'eyewitness' accounts of what it has been like over the past 50 or so years to deal with this issue; to be branded as rebellious, liberal or unbiblical to hold a more inclusive view.  I felt sometimes saddened and mostly heartened as I read the stories.

    Here is a taste of the various stories of how different leading evangelicals changed their mind on this topic

    In the introduction (page 13), editor Alan Johnson writes:

    "I was struck a few years back by a statement from the distinguished News Testament scholar, Dick France [who wrote that] ... 'he knows many evangelicals like himself who have changed their minds about women in leadership and pastoral ministries from a more restrictive view to an inclusive view. but he has never met an evangelical who has changed their mind in the opposite direction.'"

    Chapter 2 was very moving.  Ruth Haley Barton describes her journey from a brethren style background and in a few short pages she describes both the journey and gives a succinct overview of the relevant biblical teaching.  While she did not directly deal with the 'difficult' passages relating to women in ministry, I appreciated her explanation of why not:

    "One of the hermeneutical principles that I allowed to guide me ... was the idea that we are to look at the broad themes of Scripture and look at difficult passages in light of those great themes [such as] ... freedom for all who are oppressed ... when we require women to pay over and over again for Eve's transgression with their silence and submission, we negate the full redemptive power of the gospel.  Rather than becoming an example of relationships that have been redeemed, we model the curse ... I learned that an examination of Scripture's themes reveals that 'more than a hundred passages in the Bible affirm women in roles of leadership, and fewer than half a dozen appear in opposition,' and I was shocked to realise that we as Christians have built an elaborate system of belief and practice on only a few difficult passages.  These passages have loomed so large that we have allowed them to colour everything else we read."

    I was particularly struck by her gracious approach.  I loved her concluding comment:

    "By God's grace, I rarely find myself in settings these days where women are not received as equals in ministry, and this is a great blessing.  I have chosen not to speak on these issues anymore, nor do I even argue the point.  I have become convinced that it is much better for me to just do it - ministry that is - as God leads, and to do it to the best of my ability." (Page46)

    A number of the authors, no doubt due to the fact that most come from an American background, draw a comparison with abolition of the slave trade.  Stanley N. Gundry (Chapter 7) explains how, during his doctoral research on American church history, he noticed that many church leaders opposed abolition stating that, "The defenders of slavery within churches all claimed the Bible as their starting point, and all developed their defense by appealing to Scripture ... With one voice Southern churchmen defending slavery charged that to reject slavery as sinful was to reject the Word of God."

    He goes in to say that, "I had heard this reasoning before ... I was appalled and embarrassed that such an evil practice had been defended in the name of God and under the guise of biblical authority ... it slowly began to dawn on me that I heard every one of these arguments before ... to defend heirarchialism and argue against egalitarianism ... it hit me like a flash.  Some day Christians will be as embarrassed by the church's biblical defense of  patriarchal hierarchialism as it is now of the nineteenth century biblical defense of slavery."

    The strength of Cornelius Plantinga's chapter (15) is his defense of the hermenuetic used by egalitarians to develop their position.  His explanation is based on a comparison with the hermeneutic used to defend the abolition of slavery.  Two relevant quotes will suffice, the first from FF Bruce:

    "In general, where there are divided opinions about the interpretation of a Pauline passage, that interpretation which runs along the line of liberty is much more likely to be true to Paul's intention than one which smacks of bondage or legalism." (p194)

    "Alongside the pain and humiliation it visits on women, besides the dminishments it brings to churches that drain or dam half their talent pool, the policy of exclusing women has become deeply embarrassing.  Males discuss somberly whether we ought to 'allow' women into church offices.  The discussion sounds so much like that of parents trying to decide whether their adolescents are ready to assume adult responsibilities.  It sounds so much like the majorities dithering over whether they ought to invite minorities into their club. It sounds like the church belongs to males." (p195)

    All in all, an excellent read and one I would commend to those on both 'sides' of the debate.  Frankly, I found the theological arguments presented compelling (but then again, you would some would say!).  But more than that, I found the overall graciousness and humility of the various stories humbling and very encouraging.  For those who use this issue as some sort of test of Christian orthodoxy, please read and listen carefully! 

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Learning to read with purpose

    I have always enjoyed reading widely.  Unfortunately (a) my busy lifestyle in responsible positions and (b) my other love of watching sport on TV (often as a means of relaxation), and (c) lack of self-discipline has meant that I have probably not benefited as much as I could from this past time - particularly the more serious tomes.

    Since commencing retirement from full-time senior management, I have been determined to read more widely - and after 5 months I have been doing quite well.  I have read a few novels and read/partly read many more non-fiction titles.  It is a chance to read for enjoyment and also to bring together some of the thinking that has impacted on me over the years.

    This little post declares my intention to try and wring more benefit from this activity by:

    (a) trying not to have too many books on the go at once but to actually finish some of them!
    (b) to write a reflection on each book that I read with an emphasis on how it has affected me.

    In terms of (b), I would not describe what I am doing as a book 'review' - lots of other people will have read the books I get into and will have done a far better job of it.  When I find one of these that I think is particularly helpful my intention is to reference it.  My focus will be on how the book has impacted on me and why I would/would not recommend it to friends.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Colossians 'Wordle" - what was Paul thinking?!

    I am been asked to do the introductory session on the book of Colossians in early March at TCBC.  I came across this idea - a 'wordle' from Quaerentia.  What a great way to get a sense of the emphasis of the original author.  Guess it would be even better if you could do it in Greek!

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Thank God for the New Atheism - Alister McGrath

    Alister McGrath is publishing a series of posts on the New Atheism on the ABC website - one every two weeks. Here is the first in the series:

    Thanks to "Jack Lim" for the tip off!!

    Travelling across the Grand Canal - Venice

    This is a favourite photo from our overseas trip - speeding across the Grand Canal at sunset (James Bond style boat), I managed to get the sun just right!

    Conflict Looming - thoughts on Luke 5:17-39

    Over the Christmas season, our church (Toowoomba Community Baptist Church) engaged in an advent series based on Luke 1 and 2.  Three things struck me at the time as I put the series titles together:

    "The Bible of Training"

    Recently I attended a Certificate IV Training and Assessment Course during which the trainer, referring to a particular VET website commented, "This will become your bible of training."