Why I (almost completely) quit Facebook, and why you probably should too

FacebookTrashHaving recently hit the big 4-0, I’m starting to have more and more days where I embrace my inner grouchy old curmudgeon. Picture me with arms flailing wildly as I yell at pesky kids to get offa my lawn. Moaning about the noisy students next door, wondering whether 9.30 is too early to call the Council to complain about the music, and wishing at least they’d play some Springsteen or U2 instead of the endless doof-doof. But every now and then I catch myself thinking that way and wonder, ‘When did this happen? How did this happen?’ I’d rather hoped to stave off being a cantankerous middle-aged git for a few more years yet. And I’d rather hoped to avoid slightly stuffy old man expressions like ‘I’d rather hoped’.

In the fight to stay young, one effective strategy to assure yourself that you’re still hip, still with it (whatever the heck ‘it’ is these days), is to embrace the newest technology. Today, that obviously means embracing social media. Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, the Twitter, Snapcrap – being relevant seems to require being plugged into it all. Shouldn’t a Christian be leveraging these technologies to spread the gospel just a little bit further? Shouldn’t a normal, caring citizen of the world in 2017 be keeping up with people via his ‘socials’ in as many ways as possible? At the very least, don’t go posting something on your blog where you rail about the evils of technology. That’s the surest way to cement your reputation as an out-of-touch killjoy. Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 26 – The glories and ironies of the Lord’s Prayer

AUSTRALIA-PARLIAMENTA brief look at the prayer that changed the world

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:9-13)

It’s the most important, precious prayer ever uttered – a lesson in prayer from the master, an intimate guide from the perfect Son on praying to the perfect Father. Just 57 simple words,* but words that have changed the world in untold ways. Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 23 – ‘Relenting Wrath’ and the sovereign God

David Platt“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.” (Phil 1:18-9)

We’ve spent the last several days circling around a big topic related to prayer: How does the importance of prayer coexist with the sovereignty of God? As we’ve put the pieces together, my hope and prayer for you is that the sovereignty of God won’t undermine your determination to pray. Rather, I’m praying that it will be just the opposite: because God is in complete control, and in his sovereignty he graciously chooses to act in response to the prayers of his people, we should be moved to give prayer a far greater place in our lives, both individually and corporately. Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 22 – Is prayer the gaping hole in our lives?

Torn Sail“You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” (2 Cor 1:11)

There’s a beautiful line I heard some years ago. I’ve never verified its accuracy because, frankly, if it’s not true, I don’t want to know. But it fits with the life and character of the man who supposedly said it – a Bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, a wonderful man who died some years ago now. This Bishop is supposed to have told his ministers: “If you spend two hours every morning praying for your church and praying for your people, you can have the rest of the day off.” Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day Eight – The simplest reason to pray

Romans 12“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

Through the first week of ’31 Days of Prayer’, I’ve managed to avoid maybe the most basic reason why Christians ought to pray: God tells us to.

It might seem the most natural, obvious thing in the world – habitually asking our all-powerful heavenly Father to act in our lives and in the world should be a no-brainer. But just because something is good for us doesn’t mean we naturally want to do it. Do children (and not a few adults) need to be told to eat their vegetables? Do sinful human beings need to be told to pray?

We’ll come back to some of these verses in later reflections throughout the month, but take a look at these biblical commands to pray: Continue reading

John Piper on Game of Thrones and growing in godliness

Watching TVOver the last few months, I’ve written a couple of posts encouraging Christians to think more deeply about their ‘entertainment choices’, especially with reference to shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, or films like The Wolf of Wall Street. In my view, it’s an urgent issue facing Christians everywhere. So I was really pleased to come across these reflections from John Piper – 12 Questions to ask before you watch Game of Thrones.

It’s an article packed with great insights and quotable quotes. Among my favourites: “Jesus has blood-bought power in his cross. He died to make us pure. He ‘gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession’ (Titus 2:14). If we choose to endorse or embrace or enjoy or pursue impurity, we take a spear and ram it into Jesus’s side every time we do. He suffered to set us free from impurity.”

And as one who has written about the violence in a show like Breaking Bad, Piper gives me food for thought by noting that, unlike murder or other forms of violence, nudity cannot be faked: “Violence on a screen is make-believe; nobody really gets killed. But nudity is not make-believe. These actresses are really naked in front of the camera, doing exactly what the director says to do with their legs and their hands and their breasts. And they are naked in front of millions of people to see.”

It’s well worth taking five minutes to read the whole article. It may very well help you to grow in godliness.