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Posts from the ‘Gospel’ Category

Citizens of Heaven

On Sunday I concluded a two month class on Philippians with a discussion of Philippians 3:20 and what Paul might mean when he referred to the church as “citizens of heaven.”  This is one of those passages that has been badly misunderstood at various points in the history of the church and which continues to be misunderstood today.  More often than not, I think, this passage has been taken to mean something like “this earth/this body are a kind of necessary evil that I must endure until I get to my real home which is heaven.”  Simply put, I think this is wrong. Read more

Preaching

I preached this morning—something that is still taking some getting used to.  Over the last decade or so, I’ve grown accustomed to preaching once or twice a year, at special events, or as a guest in another church.  The idea of preaching regularly (in my case, once a month or so) still feels like strange, uncharted, fearful, and exciting territory to me. Read more

Problems with the Problem: What’s the Atonement For?

Part of last weekend was spent at a conference at ACTS Seminaries dealing with the nature of the atonement. Among the questions under discussion were: How is it that the work of Jesus actually saves? What does Jesus save us from? For what purpose does Jesus save us? These seemed like very appropriate questions to consider as we move toward the Easter season and beyond. Read more

Kingdom Values

It seems that Mike finds himself busier than expected these days and will be unable to contribute directly to the discussion we’ve been having over the last couple of weeks (part one, part two, and part three).  I thought I would wrap up the discussion by addressing one final element of George Soros’s piece that struck me in connection with how I understand the gospel. Read more

Kingdom Living: Dynamic Disequilibrium

What follows is part three of an ongoing conversation between Mike Todd and myself about the economic theory of George Soros and the nature of the kingdom of God. Read more

Reflexivity: A Response

As promised, here is Mike’s response to the previous post. Read more

Reflexivity and the Gospel: A Conversation

A few weeks ago I received an email from Mike Todd (a friend made during my time at Regent College) who was wondering what I thought about an article by Hungarian financial speculator George Soros.  Now those who know anything whatsoever about me will undoubtedly consider this a somewhat strange request.  What on earth could I possibly have to say about an article on market theory?  And you would not be alone in your curiosity—the request caught me off guard as well.  To say that economic theory is not a body of knowledge with which I am well-acquainted or competent to discuss would be an exercise in spectacular understatement. Read more

An Inspired Outburst

A wise man (and a good friend) once told me that the main job of a pastor is to look for God in the ordinary, everyday events of life and to help others find him there too. This has easily been the most rewarding part of the seven months I have now spent wearing the “pastor” hat. I have met a lot of people in a lot of different situations and I have almost always come away with a renewed sense of admiration for how God speaks in the various contexts his people find themselves in. Read more

At Home

I had an interesting conversation this morning where I was asked the following questions: “When people look at Christians, what should they see that sets us apart?  Are we just a club of “nice people?”  There are lots of nice people in the world, after all—Buddhists, atheists, Hindus, and many more.  Why become a Christian rather than some other option?”  It was one of those moments where you think you should have something profoundly insightful to say based on your years of study and unusual sagacity and clarity of thought, but where what comes out of your mouth doesn’t exactly qualify. Read more

New Year’s Prayer

I’m not one for breathlessly optimistic pronouncements and predictions at the outset of a new year—a pessimism realism born out of too many unrealistic and unrealized ideas and intentions over the years, I suppose. Nonetheless, another spin around the sun does represent a good time for reflection, a good time to pause and think about the year to come. Read more

Christmas Giving Redux

Well, it’s now a mere ten days until Christmas so I thought I would thrown out a brief reminder of the challenge I issued last month.  I won’t go through the whole spiel again, but I would like to once again encourage you to find creative ways to give ethically this Christmas season and to let the rest of us know about it as a comment on this post if you are so inclined. Read more

Happiness

I’ve come across references to this study twice in the last week, and have thus interpreted this as a divine sign that I am to blog about it (just kidding, in case you’re wondering!). Last week, the Boston Globe ran an article entitled “New Reason to be Happy: It May Go a Long Way” citing the work of Nicholas Christakis (Harvard) and James Fowler (University of California, San Diego). The researchers have, apparently “discovered” through social network analysis that people tend to be happier when those around them are happier. Happiness, as it turns out, is kind of contagious. Read more

You Are All One

Yesterday was another one of those interesting days for one new to the pastoral guild.  In the morning I was down in Victoria preaching and leading a discipleship class at a church in Victoria.  It is a very interesting church comprised, I was told, mainly of well educated white-collar types.  The worship service was formal and highly-structured; there was a strong sense of reverence and propriety.  There was beautiful artwork throughout the sanctuary and a high degree of musical skill evident in the singing time. Read more

Used Up All the Words?

A while back a film/book came across my desk via the MB Herald called “Lord Save us From Your Followers” (my review for the Herald can be found here).  It’s the brainchild of Oregon film-maker Dan Merchant, and asks the question, “Why don’t Christians in America look more like Jesus?”  Merchant travels around the USA in a bumper-sticker/Jesus-fish clad set of coveralls in order to generate dialogue with people who don’t think like him—to challenge the confrontational, antagonistic, and polarizing nature of religious discourse in America. Read more

Who is My Neighbour?

Today I went out for a “pastoral visit” to an elderly couple who came to church this past Sunday.  They hadn’t darkened the door of a church in at least a decade, and came now mostly, I think, because they are just really lonely people who don’t have a lot of human contact.  They have no children, no living siblings, no nieces and nephews that they are in contact with, no friends at the senior’s centre, no… anything.  There were no pictures of family on their walls, no mementos, no heirlooms, nothing.  Just two old, frail, lonely people existing in the same space without anyone to care about them in any way. Read more

Christmas Challenge

Mid-October may be a little early to start thinking about Christmas, but it will be upon us before you know it (and I figured I’d get a jump on the Christmas marketing machine!).  Every Christmas I am simultaneously dismayed by and a somewhat reluctant and hypocritical participant in the orgy of consumption that seems to characterize the season here in North America.  Read more

When Wouldn’t I Forgive You?

In my previous post I admiringly reflected upon my son’s instinctive willingness to forgive and wondered what the world might look like if more people adopted this strategy. One commenter justifiably inquired as to the limits of forgiveness—if it really ought to be as “reckless” as I was recommending. His challenge to me was as follows: Read more

Time and Reliability—Reflecting on “A Fine Balance”

I’ve just finished Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance this week and thought I would post a few thoughts provoked along the way (the book was highly recommended independently by two trusted friends so I was able to overcome my customary aversion to reading anything from “Oprah’s Book Club”).  The book is brilliantly written—a really well told story in every way, one that presents you with the full spectrum human experience from the most abject misery and suffering to the heights of joy. Read more