Archive | October, 2012

Freedom of religion and thought

31 Oct

[This post is courtesy of Sandy Grant, posted on The Briefing 18th September 2012.]

The theologian and social critic David Wells suggests that we have seen a significant rise in the language of victimhood in both society and the church. He suggests ‘playing the victim’ comes from being overly sensitive to individual rights. We often excuse our behaviour by noticing every insult or injustice that comes from others. Wells warns that when everyone is a victim—as it seems many feel—it trivialises real victims.

I want to apply this insight to the question of freedom of religion. Many nations around the world recognise freedom of religion as a fundamental human right. Article 18 of the United Nations’ famous Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. Continue reading

“When I feel most alive”

30 Oct

[This post is courtesy of Youthworks, posted on 15th August 2012.]

Does this video reflect your experience of public worship with fellow Christians?

Why do you think this might be?

We’d love to shear your thoughts and comments under this video.

Band of Brothers

29 Oct

Ordinarily what happens on Band of Brothers stays on Band of Brothers. But let’s make an exception. Last weekend 18 guys from Church in the Bank got away up the mountains to Katoomba for the Band of Brothers Weekend.

The TV miniseries, after which the weekend is named, follows the journey of a company of WW2 soldiers banding together as they face many adversities, whether physical, mental or moral. As they do so this group of men evolve to become a band of brothers who encourage and build up one another, confide and confess to one another, and keep each other accountable and disciplined as they continue engaging the enemy.

You can see then why ‘Band of Brothers’ is an appropriate name for a weekend that aims to foster the same attitudes in the lives of the Christian men at Church in the Bank. Continue reading

Hearing Sermons (part two)

28 Oct

Yesterday I reflected on some thoughts of Richard Baxter writing 350 years ago to help us see how we could work at accepting preaching as the word of God and not men.  Here are some more of his thoughts:

1. Meditate on what you hear when you come home.

When God has spoken to us we would surely do well to keep considering his words and to seek to grapple with the implications of what he has said.

 2. Inquire, where you doubt, of those that can resolve and teach you. It showeth a careless mind, and a contempt of the word of God, in most people that never come to ask the resolution of one doubt though they have pastors that have ability, and leisure, and willingness to help them. Continue reading

Hearing Sermons (part one)

27 Oct

A lot of time and thought goes into every sermon preached.  Many books have been written on preaching and how to do it well.  However, very few books have been written about the other – more important – side of the coin. Most of us will never preach a sermon and so the more pertinent question for every Christian is not ‘how to preach a sermon’ but ‘how to hear a sermon’.

When we listen to a sermon we are listening to God speak.  This fact more than any other should shape our attitude to a sermon.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians:

“We also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thess 2:13).

It is well worth us asking what it looks like in practice to accept preaching as it actually is – the word of God.  In thinking on that question I read a book written in 1673 by Richard Baxter, and even though he wrote 350 years ago he has a lot to teach us.  Here are some of his thoughts (in italics): Continue reading

Reading for Christ

26 Oct

Much of the battle to stand firm in the Gospel and live a life of godliness is fought in the mind.  The Bible tells us this in Philippians:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Sadly, if we are not proactive this will never happen.  Especially in our modern world we are constantly bombarded with unhelpful Continue reading

Submission – 1 Peter 2 & 3

25 Oct

The word “submission” has once again brought the Sydney Anglican church to the front pages of the Herald. In an August article journalist Julia Baird says:

“And does it matter, in a broader cultural context, that there is a deep strain of misogyny in Anglicanism, and women are still described as subordinates? Is it just a private matter of belief? Or just arcane, irrelevant and even risible? The reason it does matter is because there has been a slow, intense creep of anti-women sentiment in Sydney since 1992…”

I had to do some searching of the dictionary to understand some of those words!  Misogyny means “a hatred of women, as a sexually defined group.”  Arcane means obscure and risible means ludicrous.  Is that us?

Altogether it’s a pretty offensive comment on who we are and how we live! Continue reading