Doing good for others is a way of life which Jesus lived, and encouraged in his followers (Mathew 25:40). The well known parable of the Good Samaritan applauds kindness towards our ‘neighbours’, which includes people we don’t know. The Bible teaches that Christians should bring the kindness that Jesus demonstrated towards us to everyone that we interact with. But is this the way we live?

Research reveals that Australians are not only willing to help strangers in need, but acts of kindness far outnumber acts of violence. For every act of violence to a stranger, there are 38 acts of kindness towards fellow Australians. 86% of Australians say they have helped a stranger in need, while 27% or 4.68 million say they show kindness every day and a further 29%, several times a week. That’s more than the population of Sydney! The most common acts of kindness are: help with shopping, help in an emergency, helping a stranger to gain access or mobility, comforting a stranger, and help with money. We even help those who don’t need help! 61.5% Australians say they have done something nice for a stranger “just for the sake of being kind” – not because they were in any obvious need. Most of these (90%) said they would look to doing something nice for a stranger in no particular need in the future.*

Jesus held nothing back, not even himself, which he gave for our freedom on the cross. Mark 10:45 says “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus tells his followers that : ‘… whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40. Paul goes so far as to say, ‘the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love’ – Galatians 5:6 This is an emphatic statement, which shows the importance that God places on the way that we live out the love that he so generously gave to us. If Christians seek to be like Jesus, then these verses challenges us that even people that we see as ‘the least’ are valuable in Gods sight and should be treated well.

Do we seek to ‘do good’ as the good Samaritan did?

That’s what I’ve been thinking about. What do you think?

* McCrindle Research Pty Ltd, The Heart of Australia, p10


As Christians, how can we know what is ‘dodgy theology’, and what is good? Every day, we are bombarded from all sides with teaching about God and the Christian life – from books, podcasts of sermons, websites – and all claim to be right teaching. How can we be sure?

The same question of truth and authority was around for the first Christians. Paul speaks about “no longer (being) infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” ( Ephesians 4:14).

Paul instructs Timothy that, “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing”. (1 Timothy 6:3-4). If what is said does not agree with what Jesus instructed us in the Gospels, it can be counted as false.

Furthermore, Paul refers to his own writings as a guideline in knowing the truth, saying to Timothy, “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (2 Timothy 1:13-14). Paul tells Timothy that “the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

Paul’s advice to Timothy is to “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4) It is the Bible which is our sound foundation, the “holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)

That’s what I’ve been thinking about. What do you think?

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Posted: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 in Uncategorized
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For many years, faith and community groups have tried to shoot down the mardi gras in Sydney, labelling it as unhealthy and ungodly. Why? And where does God stand on homosexuality?

We know from the Bible that God loves all people, and wants us to live in relationship with Him. He created us for a purpose, with a plan in mind, and has given us a unique set of skills and abilities. He also gave us free will and the ability to make choices that will define who we are and what we do with our lives. We can choose God, or choose to live apart from Him and His plan for our lives.

The Bible makes it clear that homosexuality is not part of God’s design for human intimacy and life long relationships (Genesis 2, Matthew 19:4-6, Ephesians 5:31, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:18-27). When we move outside of God’s design for our lives in any area, we commit a sin. The Bible is clear that we all move outside of God’s design in many areas of our lives, that makes us all sinners. (Romans 3:22-24)

The thing to note here is that while we are still in our sin, God loves us. The Bible tells us that while we were sinners, Christ died for us – and this is a demonstration of God’s love (Romans 5:6-8).

That’s what I’ve been thinking about. What do you think?

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Is the Christian faith a religion, or a relationship with God? Is this a distinction worth thinking about?

Many would insist that Christianity is a religion. defines religion as, ‘a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs’. Christianity does revolve around a belief in the Creator God, and the Bible does set out a way of life, including a moral code, to which Christians seek to adhere. In the New Testament, the Christian faith is referred to as religion by both Paul and James (1 Timothy 5:3-4; James 1:25-27).

On the other hand, it can be said that there is nothing religious at all about the Christian faith. Jesus himself condemned adherence to ‘ritual observances’ by the religious leaders in his day, pointing out that God desires ‘mercy and not sacrifice’(Matthew 9:12-14; Matthew 12:6-8), and that God is not interested in those who honour him with their lips, but whose hearts are far from Him, who are concerned with teachings which are but rules taught by men (Matthew 15:8-9). The emphasis of the New Testament is on a relationship with God through Jesus, and not ‘ritual observances’. It is a relationship, where God speaks, and we respond by speaking to Him in prayer, rather than adhering to traditional rituals or ornate buildings.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about. What do you think?

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How should we read the Bible?
So often we are encouraged by a single Bible verse, on a little card, or as a quotation. But is this the best way to get input from the Bible? We can also look up topics and find relevant Bible verses for them – anger, disappointment, suffering, joy – the list can continue. Is this how we should find meaning in God’s Word?
When it comes to a novel, a text book, or poetry, we are familiar with how to read them and get meaning from them. But how do we approach the Bible?

The Bible is a whole, God’s Word to us. It is also made up of a collection of books which are different types of literature – they each have a particular genre. So, as with any book, perhaps the best way to access the meaning of the Bible is to take into consideration the genre of the book – for example, the Psalms are Hebrew poetry; the Gospels are ancient biographies of Jesus’ life; the books written by Paul are ancient letters.

In addition to this, the separate books are also drawn together as a whole, into the Bible. This must be important to the message of each book; how do they fit together? And what is the background and framework for each of the verses we read? What was the intended meaning for the readers to learn and understand from what was written?

That’s what I’ve been thinking about. What do you think?

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As we look at our lives, what do we place value on every day? What would you say your ‘treasures’ are?
Are you running out of space? Is your home overflowing with ‘things’? The self storage industry began from scratch in Australia in the late 1970’s and today there are more than 1000 self storage facilities nationally with many being independent operations. The industry grew in 2009 by almost 20% and it is far from a mature market. In the US, 1 in 10 households rent a self storage unit while in Australia it is not yet even 1 in 25 households.*

What does this say about what we treasure in life? Have we become a so concerned with storing up material possessions, that we find it easy to forget that we should also be concerned with eternal possessions?
The Bible reminds us that everything that we have will pass away and only our relationship with God will remain. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21). Are we storing up for ourselves things on this earth, like the parable of the rich fool, or are we being rich towards God? (Luke 12:13-21). Perhaps Jesus’ reminder that life does not consist of ‘an abundance of possessions’ is a timely for our society.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about. What do you think?

* McCrindle Research Pty Ltd, The Heart of Australia, p 5

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What will Heaven be Like?

Posted: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

Pearly gates, white fluffy clouds, golden harps cascading beautiful melodies, white winged angels with cherubic faces, a friendly grandpa-like God smiling a welcome…? This is an appealing image, but is it accurate? What can we know about heaven, and what it will be like? And does it really matter?

The Bible tells us that heaven is God’s home, the place where his throne is (Ps 33:13-14, Matt 6:9, Ps 2:4). Jesus says that the way we can get to heaven is through him (John 14:5-6), and that heaven is a place where we will be with Jesus forever (John 17:5 and 24; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). It will be a place where we won’t suffer anymore, where there will no longer be any tears, death, mourning, crying or pain (Revelation 7:13-17; Revelation 21:1-4). This is part of the glimpse of heaven which we can get from the Bible.

But is the more important question, ‘how can we make sure that we get to heaven?’ rather than ‘what we will it be like’ once we are there?

That’s what I’ve been thinking about. What do you think?

What do we do with regrets? We are rapidly moving into a new year. Do regrets from last year, or previous years, still weigh heavily on you? How can we deal with feelings of regret?

Many people we come across in the Bible must have grappled with feelings of regret, just as we do. How must Moses have felt, bringing Israel to the borders of the Promised Land, but not being able to enter because of his disobedience and sin? (Deuteronomy 32:48-52). What about King David (the man after God’s own heart!), who chose to sleep with another man’s wife, and then arranged for her husband’s murder?( 2 Samuel 12:8-10) In the New Testament, how would Peter have felt, when he realised he denied Christ three times in his hour of greatest need, when he swore that he would never desert him? (Matthew 26:74-75) Or Saul (aka Paul) when he realised that in persecuting Christians, he’d been working against God’s purposes all along, and actually persecuting Jesus? (Acts 9:1-6; 1 Corinthians 15:9-10).

How did these people of God deal with regret over what they’d done? They discovered the grace of God, and experienced his forgiveness, which they knew they didn’t deserve (1 Corinthians 15:9-10). Psalm 51, David’s prayer of repentance, shows us how David dealt with his regret. He acknowledged his error, his sin to God; and he asks for God’s forgiveness. He realises that making a sacrifice to God will not make up for his mistake. He knows what God really wants is a broken and contrite spirit and heart. He is confident that God won’t turn him away. David asks God to give him a clean heart, a restored joy in God’s salvation, and a willing and steadfast spirit.

Grace. Repentance. Forgiveness. A new heart, a new spirit. Perhaps these will help us deal with our regrets?

That’s what I’ve been thinking about. What do you think?

Do you know anyone who makes New Year’s resolutions? Resolutions for improved habits, behaviour or achievements in 2011. Do you make them for yourself?

Where does the idea of a new start and fresh resolutions sit in the Christian life? When we come to know Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, our lives take a massive U-turn, an about face, as we repent of our previous self-directed existence and start again with a God-focused direction. There are many Bible verses which speak about a ‘former way of life’ (Ephesians 4:22; Galatians 4:8; 1 Corinthians 6:11)

Is this new start the be-all and end-all? What about recurring new starts, such as those which New Years resolutions imply? The Christian life can be seen as a continual process of gaining ground, making resolutions, and with God’s Spirit working to transform us, becoming more like Jesus. Paul says, “we … are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Christian life requires discipline, like any sort of training we do to improve ourselves. So we read, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8), and “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Even if we are weak in keeping our resolutions, or have a bad track record, God himself desires change in our character, and he is strong and faithful to bring that change. In seeking to keep our resolutions, we could pray as Isaiah did, “LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning…” (Isaiah 33:2)?

That’s what I’ve been thinking. What do you think?

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What is the impact of pornography on society? On the individual? Is it related to the issues of sexualisation and objectification of women, underage sex, exploitation, unhealthy self perception, prostitution, mistrust, cheating, divorce, family breakdown? What insight does the Bible give on this question?

Can pornography be seen as essentially a battle with lust? Jesus teaches us that looking at others with lust is a serious problem. He uses very strong imagery to emphasise the lengths we should to go to avoid lust – ‘if your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell’ (Matt 5:28-29).

Something else to consider is that the word ‘pornography’ comes from the same word in the New Testament which means ‘sexual immorality’. Paul urges Christians to live in order to please God, and highlights that it is God’s will that ‘you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God’ (1 Thess 4:3-5, 7). In addition to this, Paul teaches that we should ‘flee from sexual immorality’, and that ‘your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit…You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body’ (1 Cor 6:18-20).

That’s what I’ve been thinking. What do you think?

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