Reaping the whirlwind: my two cents’ worth on the US election

gettyimages-621864782My two cents’ worth on the US Presidential election:
1. If you’re looking for reason for optimism today, look at the post-election speeches delivered by President-elect Trump (that was my first go at typing that), Secretary Clinton, and President Obama. All three speeches were gracious and positive, all looked to a peaceful transfer of power, and all give reason for (a limited amount of) hope. If you believe that the right words spoken at the right time can make a real difference, then be thankful for these words. Sure, they’re ‘just words’, but it’s a very positive start. Thank God for America’s Founding Fathers, whose theology led them to reject tyranny and establish a system that would allow for a peaceful transition between leaders, even leaders who oppose and dislike each other. What’s more, thank God for the Founding Fathers who were so opposed to tyranny that they carefully installed checks and balances, and the separation of powers, which we now hope can control (or at least mitigate) Trump during his presidency.

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As convention season ends, God announces his nominee for highest office in the land

One Vote MattersIn a low-key announcement intended to reassure nervous voters, God has announced that his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, will once again be his 2016 nominee for Messiah, Saviour of the world, and Ruler and Judge of the universe.

Sources have confirmed that Jesus will once again be the only nominee for the position.

As the only eligible Voter, God announced that he intends to cast his vote early on the morning of November 8th, meaning that Jesus will once again be elected unopposed after receiving 100% of all votes cast.

He is currently serving his 496th consecutive term, and has maintained a 100% approval rating from the Voter during his time in office.

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The double standard of non-discrimination

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Photo Courtesy: NBA

The NBA, which I love, has just made a big decision. It has announced that it’s moving its 2017 All Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina, as a direct, specific response to North Carolina enacting law HB2. Known as the ‘bathroom bill’, HB2 says people must use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate. The NBA regards this law as discriminatory, and is taking a stand by removing its showpiece event from the state. The NBA is being widely praised for this move; key figures have described the decision as ‘[a] stand for inclusion and respect’ and ‘extremely poignant’. Continue reading

America crowns first ever Preaching Idol

Golden MicrophoneLouisville, Kentucky – In an enthralling finale watched by more than 24 million viewers, Chicago native Nathaniel Adams has been crowned the winner of the inaugural season of Preaching Idol, receiving the honour in front of a raucous crowd of more than 17,000 preaching fans gathered at the KFC Yum! Center.

Adams triumphed over Boston’s Dallas Brown in what host David Mathis called “just an incredibly close public vote, in the providence of God”. Continue reading

Marriage in the Trenches

Old HandsOver the years, in my roles as a Christian pastor and university staff worker, I’ve helped to prepare a lot of young couples for marriage. When it comes time to do formal ‘marriage preparation’, I usually ask the couple to complete an online questionnaire. Once they finish, we sit in my lounge room to discuss the results and share some real talk about what it’s really like to be married. It’s a fun, important and sometimes eye-opening way to help people get ready for marriage.

But over the last few months, I’ve seen the limitations of this process. You see, there’s only so much marriage preparation you can do by sitting on the couch with a cup of tea, a bikky, and a series of coloured charts that claim to capture your mutual strengths and ‘growth areas’ (we’re not supposed to call them weaknesses).

Sometimes, I think the best way to prepare a couple for marriage would be to drive them to a local hospital. I’d take them inside, find a quiet spot out of the way, and ask them to watch silently as an elderly wife spoon-feeds her dying husband. Continue reading

Recovering the scandal of amazing grace

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Photo Courtesy: NEWS Ltd

Over the last couple of days, my Facebook newsfeed has been filled with people commenting on the final hours of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (the convicted drug dealers executed in Indonesia on April 29). In particular, what seems to have caught people’s attention the most is that Chan and Sukumaran went to their deaths praising God, maybe even looking forward to meeting their Maker.

The response to this has provided a fascinating contrast. My Christian friends have celebrated the fact that these men embraced the hope and forgiveness offered by the Christian message about Jesus, even singing Amazing Grace and 10,000 Reasons in their final moments. But for some of my non-Christian friends, these reports obviously seemed strange – perhaps even perverse. I mean, how could anyone be hopeful, how could anyone sing, in the face of such a horrible death? And why would these men, of all people – convicted drug dealers, the scum of the earth – be looking forward to meeting their Maker? Continue reading

Houston and Homosexuality in a world of Sound Bites and Tribalism

Brian Houston
Photo Courtesy: Christian Post

I’m not a huge fan of Brian Houston (if you want to know why, ask me about the sermon on Matthew 21 where he encouraged listeners to ‘loose the donkey’ in their life). And I’m not a huge fan of Hillsong, a movement that has welcomed and endorsed people who are “widely recognised as false teachers and deniers of key doctrine”.

Yet over the weekend, I noticed a number of people (including some of my friends) getting very worked up about comments Brian Houston made on the topic of same-sex marriage and homosexuality. You can read a transcript of his comments, a couple of the subsequent reports, and a clarification issued by Hillsong. You can also listen to the audio of the press conference here. Continue reading

Free eBook – Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor

9781433501999Anything by Don Carson is worth reading. His books are always biblically sound, theologically rich, practically relevant, and pastorally insightful. A good many people regard him as the finest New Testament scholar in the world today.

So what could be better than a book by Don Carson? How about a FREE book by Don Carson?!

Carson’s Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor (about his father, Tom Carson) is currently available as a free download from Crossway Books. If you serve in full-time, paid Christian ministry, I’d regard this as almost compulsory (not in a ‘You’re not a real pastor until you read this book’ kind of way, but more in the ‘Why would you not read this book?’ kind of way). Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 31 – Time to Pray

PrayWe made it – 31 days of prayer, done and dusted. If you’ve been here throughout the month, or if you’ve just dropped in occasionally, thanks for being part of it!

Actually, let’s not kid ourselves. Thirty-one days of blogging about prayer is hardly 31 days of prayer. My lingering suspicion – based largely on my personal experience – is that it’s far, far easier to talk about prayer, read about prayer, or think about prayer than it is to pray. Anyone with me?

So as we finish, let me recommend this short article from Don Carson, ‘Lessons from the School of Prayer’, as a way of helping you take specific action. This originally formed an Appendix to his magisterial book on prayer, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, but has now been reproduced in this abridged form with his permission. Continue reading