Jesus’ disciples were worried about the future. They wanted to know what to look for as a sign that He was on His way back.
“For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet” [see Matt 24:5-6].
Wars and rumours of wars… We don’t have to watch too much TV to see graphic footage of wars in the Middle East and Africa. Nor to hear rumours of wars between the US and Iran. Are they signs of the approaching end?
Well, Jesus said, “Not yet.” But that doesn’t stop apocalyptic cults and doomsday preppers from preparing as if the end was tomorrow. And it doesn’t stop many Christians from being fearful of the end.
But the truth is, these wars are far away from most of us. But there is a war much closer to home; one we tend not to give much thought to; one that should concern us much more than armed conflict in far-flung corners of the globe.
Have you ever noticed that the Bible is book-ended by marriage? Gen 2 tells us about the first marriage in history, between Adam and Eve; “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” [Gen 2:24].
Rev 21 tells us about a bride adorned for her husband; “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God” [Rev 21:9-10, see also 21:1-2].
And in between, we see all manner of marriages; good ones and bad ones, and even surprising ones, like Hosea’s marriage to the prostitute Gomer [see Hos 1-3].
Marriage is a major theme of the Bible, but it is my guess that few people understand why marriage is so important. Continue reading
It’s a beautiful thing to watch your children grow up – and for Mel and I, to watch our grandchildren grow up. They learn so much, especially in the first 4 or 5 years of life.
They learn to recognise and respond to mum and dad; to crawl, then walk; to talk; to feed themselves, dress themselves, to read and write.
It seems only yesterday that we were caring for our infant children, and now they are all raising beautiful children of their own. We are justifiably proud of them.
How quickly it flashes past; how quickly they grow. One of the grandchildren has reached the stage where he doesn’t want to sleep in the cot anymore. He wants to sleep in ‘the big boy bed.’ And he no longer likes the highchair at mealtimes. He reckons he is grown up enough now for the ‘big boy chair.’
It seems he is in a rush to grow up. Pity so few of us adults feel the same way.
How shallow my prayers can often be. “I pray God’s richest blessings on you; I pray for traveling mercies.” What do those word even mean?
Do they mean anything at all? Or are they only Christianised ‘white noise’? Just filler and fluff, about as meaningful and helpful as ‘sending happy thoughts your way’?
I’m challenged and convicted when I read Ephesians 3 because my prayers are frequently little more than that sort of fluff.
Not so when the apostle Paul prayed.
In the brilliant 2007 movie ‘I Am Legend,’ Will Smith plays a Virologist in New York City trying to save mankind. A virus developed to cure cancer has instead wiped out 99% of the world’s population.
He alone is immune; the only other inhabitants have been turned into terrifying rage-filled nocturnal mutants. The movie is edge-of-your-seat thrilling and frightening in equal measures. I highly recommend it!
We all – each and every one of us – suffer from a disease. This disease will also kill all of humanity. There are no exceptions; this disease is cruel. Even Will Smith’s character won’t be able to find a cure.
Humans have been trying to find a cure since the beginning of time. All have failed. All will fail.
What is this disease that is killing us without mercy? Continue reading
The city of Melbourne is famous for its Yarra River – ‘the river that runs upside-down.’ The Yarra is, for the most part, a pretty safe and healthy river. It just happens to carry a lot of silt, which gives it the appearance of being muddy. All that silt gets deposited at the mouth of the river, as it has done from time immemorial.
I remember years ago the authorities began to develop the Docklands area of Melbourne near the mouth of the Yarra for commercial and residential use.
The story goes that they drove huge piles into the ground to support the weight of the planned buildings. Piles are piers designed to go below loose soil onto something solid and immovable, thus enabling the structure above to stand strong.
Apparently, they drove 14m (45′) long piles into the silt, which promptly disappeared. They drove another on top, which also disappeared. I don’t recall how many had to be piled on top of the previous one before they found solid ground, but it was plenty.
The point is that silt can’t carry heavy loads. Unless they could get the load transferred to something solid below the silt, the structure above would collapse in short time.
Not unlike our Christian faith… Continue reading
When was the first Twitterstorm? Anyone care to venture a guess? No cheating though, no using Google to search. A chocolate bar for the first correct entry (special conditions apply).
For those unfamiliar with the term, a Twitterstorm is “a sudden flurry of activity about a specific topic on Twitter.” Presumably, there are terms to describe similar trends on Facebook, Instagram and other social media.
A recent example of a social media storm is the online outrage that arose after Australian rugby player Israel Folau paraphrased 1Cor 6:9 on Instagram. He posted it as a warning that “Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolators” will face punishment in Hell if they don’t repent and turn to Jesus.
The fury from some quarters was predictable. Strangely though, I don’t recall that drunks, adulterers, liars and thieves were quite as outraged. They certainly didn’t storm social media in rage. Continue reading