Things to Click (13)

Greetings. How are you? Good? Whatever your answer is, I hope your day gets “gooder” by clicking on some of the links below.

But let’s start with an appeal: if you’re a Christian, please try to read more. The church needs its members to uphold and defend a Christ-centred worldview. In these changing times it simply isn’t enough to let the minister and the elders hold the ground – it has to be the concern of every Christian. But it can’t happen if everyday Christians don’t know their Bible, or how the Bible applies to the cultural challenges of our day. That’s why at our church we do a bunch of things to try to encourage people to read more. Here are some of the ways we do this:

(a) We have a small but helpful church library where good evangelical/reformed resources are available to you free of charge.

(b) We have periodic book offers where a good Christian book is offered a significantly reduced price.

(c) We print a helpful monthly article which covers a relevant topic from a Christian perspective – we call this our Monthly Mind Matter. It’s available in the entryway of the main church building.

(d) We have this blog to help connect you with some good Christian resources and videos.

(e) We have 5 mid-week Bible study groups, called Home Groups, which meet to study the Bible and see how it applies to life.

(f) We encourage people to join together in 1-to-1 Bible reading prayers, and prayer triplets. These can be especially helpful for people who struggle to be part of a Home Group.

(g) We have a Twitter account that is chock full of thought-provoking quotes and links to articles.

(h) We promote good devotional apps for people to use on their phones.

So basically, we’re doing what we can get Christians reading their Bibles and also engaging with other reading that will stimulate them to think about what they believe, and why it matters.

For now, here are a couple of quick links for you to check out:

  1. The Western world needs a re-energised Christianity to survive. Here’s a really great article that I know you’re going to enjoy.
  2. Radical new abortion laws were recently passed in New South Wales. This blog post from Akos Balogh surveys the central issue in question.
  3. Reflections from an incident in Scotland where a student was disciplined for speaking his mind. It’s a lesson in the reason for, and dangers of, conformity.
  4. First Things is a top-shelf, academically rigorous source of reflection on religion, politics, and culture. Look around and you’ll find an abundance of deep thinking on a whole range of topics.

That’s all for now.

May your internet usage be a blessing to you, and bring glory to God.

Soli Deo gloria.

 

Matt

Things to click (13)

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Hi there. I hope you’re doing well. Here’s another potpourri of various links for you to check out. Grab a coffee, sit back and find yourself some interesting food-for-thought.

 

I do the ‘link finding’ so you can enjoy the reading!

 

1. Faith. According to the late George Michael, it’s something you’ve gotta have. He was right. But what role does faith play in the Christian view of salvation? Does God ‘provide’ salvation and wait to see if anyone wants it? Is faith just a passive receiving of a free gift of God? Is the faith that God asks of us something we ‘do’? This link explores the fact that the Bible teaches that saving faith is in some sense a gift of God. Find it here.

2. Missiologist Mike Frost makes some great points about how many evangelical Christians are driven by fear and dislike of other views (and the people who hold them).

3. Here’s an interesting story about the mental health issues related to abortion.

4. Australian Presbyterian minister and theological lecturer John McClean argues here that we’re living in a “post-post Christian pagan” nation. What do you think?

5. Sexual orientation. We’re told you’re born with it. You’re ‘born that way’. Even if that’s true, does that mean you’re stuck with the orientation you believe you were born with? Recently a judge ruled that it was ‘irrational and illogical’ to think that sexual orientation is something that can never change. Check it here.

6. Christian apologist Akos Balogh responds to an advertisement on our national broadcaster’s children’s channel which promoted and celebrated the Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.

That’s it. I hope your¬†clicking is frequent and fruitful! ūüôā

Matt

Things to click (10)

As I write this, a rainbow band adorns the top of my WordPress interface. It’s all about supporting Same-Sex marriage. That’s the topic of the hour here in Australia – especially since the national postal survey is being distributed right now. It’s all about giving everyone a say in whether marriage should be redefined.

At our church, we are determined to make sure that our message focuses on Jesus Christ. Our message is about the real redemption and inner transformation that comes when people give over control of their life to the King who died and was raised to life.

HE changes people. Not moral laws. Not legislation. Jesus. And whatever happens in Australia with marriage our message is, and will always be about presenting Jesus to everyone in word and deed. It’s not easy to do. But it is something that we’re compelled by love to do.

There is obviously much in the media about this whole SSM thing. Here are some of the more interesting posts I’ve seen in the past week or so. Feel free to click them. Or not.

(1) This link is a word from Christian minister and blogger, Stephen McAlpine, entitled “Progressive Christian: Where art thou?”

(2) Here’s an interesting and provoking post entitled “Biology is not a social construct.”

(3) For long and well-thought-out views about how the church should be approaching the whole topic of gay marriage, go to Pastor Nathan Campbell’s blog. Have a look around. You won’t be disappointed.

(4) Here are some thoughts on affirming heterosexual marriage, from the Sydney Anglicans.

(5) Why opposing same sex marriage isn’t like racism.

(6) A piece about a gay couple who oppose same-sex marriage.

(7) On an unrelated issue, here’s something by New Testament scholar Michael Bird on the necessity of gambling reforms in Australia.

 

Happy clicking!

Some Christian Thoughts on SSM

Same-sex marriage is all people seem to talk about in Australia at the moment. I guess it’s good to thrash this issue out. More and more people are asking for a change to how we define marriage. It seems that the majority of secular, post-Christian Australia is in favour of it. And some fairly conservative Christians I know are in favour of it too. So yeah, I guess it’s a great thing to be thinking through.

A quick google search will uncover a host of different perspectives on this issue. If you want to find out what people are saying (on all sides), then just ask Dr Google.

However, if you want a really good analysis of the issue, check this blog post by Aussie Christian apologist Akos Balogh. He raises some good points from a biblically-grounded, clear-thinking Christian perspective. Of course, not everyone will agree with what he says. ¬†But whatever you think about this topic, it’s worth a read.

Trick or Treat?

Last night small bands of children roamed suburban streets here in Brisbane, dressed in a variety ghastly costumes. Ah, Halloween. While traditionally Aussies have never really celebrated this occasion, it’s becoming more popular. Why? A few reasons come to mind: the significant influence of the USA on¬†our culture, the commercial incentive as retailers see¬†an¬†opportunity to increase sales in the lull before Christmas, boredom, and the fact that our individualistic society teaches us that our identities are something we create for ourselves – hence, it doesn’t matter if “Australian culture” has never really celebrated Halloween. If I want to celebrate it, I can. I will.

Oh, and another reason that Halloween is popular is that it’s official currency is ‘lollies’ (or ‘candy’, according to my children). And who doesn’t like ‘candy’? Ask my dentist.

As far as I can see, it all looks like a bit of fun. The kids get dressed up, socialise, and get exercise. Nothing wrong with that.

I’ve seen some Christians getting concerned about the dark overtones of Halloween. That it’s about Devil worship. Evil forces. Hence, it’s something to be grumbled about.¬†

As a Christian, I understand that concern. Surely there’s enough death and evil in the world, without teaching our children to think it’s fun!

But I think that misses the point.

The history and meaning of Halloween finds its roots in the church. I suggest you go to¬†this article to get a better understanding of the religious roots of this unusual celebration. But whatever the history, the observance of Halloween has been largely emptied of any Christian content. And in that sense, it’s just like Christmas and Easter. The Christian truths behind the Christmas and Easter stories have been meshed with ancient pagan practices (like egg hunts, Christmas trees, etc) and more modern themes to create the holidays we know today.

Hence, while some people are celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus, many people will celebrate the Easter Bunny and give eggs as gifts; and while some are celebrating the birth of Jesus, people will erect pointy trees, wreaths of (plastic) holly, and wait for Santa. In both cases there is a clear Christian kernel which has been appropriated and changed for a variety of reasons. The same applies – at least in my opinion – to Halloween. It seems to have started within the Christian context, and has spread and taken on a non-religious life of its own.

I recently saw a thread on Facebook where a bunch of Christians were expressing their concerns about this dark festival. One well-respected minister replied that everyone should stop their whining. He said instead of grumbling about it, we should use the opportunity to connect with other people in our community, and remind them of the Christian heritage of this festival. Like Christmas and Easter, let’s be people who show the reality of the Jesus in how we engage lovingly and thoughtfully with others, despite the secular and pagan overtones.

Let’s be people who show that the light isn’t scared of darkness.¬†

Here’s a clever spoken-verse piece about Halloween which will reward careful listening.

Halloween: Trick or Treat? from 10ofthose.com on Vimeo.

Things to click (8)

It’s been a while since we posted anything, so I thought it would be good to hit you with another short list of some interesting links. Check them out . . .

(1)¬† ¬† To start with, here’s some disturbing news about the mass jailing of pastors in¬†Vietnam. It’s something that’s definitely worth praying about.

(2) ¬†“Love is love” – it’s a catchy little phrase used by advocates of gay marriage to suggest that if two consenting adults love each other and wish to marry, they should be able to. At first glance this sounds pretty fair and reasonable. But you soon realise that “love is love” is really a slippery slope that obliges our society to celebrate all kinds of aberrant¬†relationships – like incestuous ones. Find one such case of this here. (p.s. we don’t endorse all of the content on¬†this link).

(3) At one time in the West, the opinions of conservative Christians were fairly respected, and protected. Not so any more. Presbyterian pastor Tim Keller has some thoughts about that.

(4) Australian-born New Testament scholar Michael F. Bird has some things he wants Christians to know about the Bible. Definitely worth a read.

(5) Another New Testament scholar, Craig Keener, has shared his journey from atheism to Christianity.

(6) Finally, here’s a short post about “why giving thanks gives you an edge.” Who would’ve thunk it?!

May God bless your internet meanderings!