Giving up on Jesus

14329298961_da63af3bfc_bI have a great job. I work for the Christian Union at the University of Canterbury (in Christchurch), teaching the Bible to students, talking to people about Jesus, and discipling and training young Christians. I love it. But sometimes ministry hurts. Sometimes, Christian ministry leaves you feeling like you’ve been kicked in the teeth.

Among the (relatively few) negative things about being a full-time, vocational gospel worker, there is one thing that, for my money, is far and away the worst: seeing one-time followers of Jesus give up on their faith and give up on Jesus. It just sucks.

Part of the reason I say this is that I once tried it myself. Continue reading

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31 Days of Prayer: Day Seven – Pray Like Jesus

Bethsaida“Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.” (Mark 6:45-46)

Down through the ages, Christians have (unsurprisingly) looked to Jesus’ practice of prayer for guidance on how we ought to pray. Just a couple of months ago, Mark Dever (one of my favourite Christian authors and preachers) published a brief, insightful essay over at The Briefing, looking at prayer in the life of Jesus. Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day Two – God is willing

Child KnockingIf you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matt 7:11)

In Mark 9, Jesus meets the father of a boy possessed by an ‘impure spirit’. The man desperately wants his son healed, but is unsure of Jesus’ ability to help: “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us,” he begs. Jesus replies “‘If you can’?” Jesus then heals the boy with a simple word – he is more than able to meet the father’s request. “All things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27) Continue reading

God and Caesar: On the limitations of government

JFKWe Christians are a strange, motley bunch. Part of the glory of the gospel – and part of the joy and the challenge of life together in this world – is that God draws us together as his people from such diverse backgrounds. When we come together as his people, united as brothers and sisters in Christ, we bring with us an enormous range of quirks and weaknesses, experiences and strengths.

This wonderful diversity in the Christian community also means that we bring with us all kinds of passions and commitments. Sometimes, sadly, trivial matters can become our consuming desire, and yet we might remain coolly indifferent to things that really should put fire in our bellies. Sometimes, however, it’s just a matter of personal preference; the things that excite one person leave the next person unmoved, and that’s okay.

Where does politics fit into that mix?

Continue reading

The Gospel And Who To Vote For – Part 1

Part One of a five-part series on how to think biblically about our governments, and about our vote 

DenariusThey do say you’re not supposed to discuss politics or religion in polite company. In this series of posts, I’m going to boldly (or maybe foolishly) attempt to do both at once! And I can guarantee you I feel unqualified to talk about this – at least about the political side of things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m interested in politics and I think it’s vitally important – even if much of what I’ve learnt about it comes from The West Wing. But it’s not my specialty. And who could ever do justice to two areas of thought that are so profound and so varied? Continue reading