Jump to content


Member Since 27 Feb 2014
Offline Last Active Mar 06 2014 07:08 AM

Topics I've Started

In the chaos

04 March 2014 - 08:36 AM

I have two small children. For my house this means lots of chaos. It feels like a never ending battle bringing order to the house. It feels like after 5 minutes of the children being awake or coming home the house is in complete chaos.


The Bible starts with a picture of utter chaos. For the early Israelites, the picture painted in Gen 1:2 is one of fear coming out of chaos. The first thing is the darkness. Today it is hard to be outside and in complete darkness. There are lights everywhere but for the early Israelite, the darkness represented danger. There were also sorts of animals or people that could attack you from the dark without being seen.


The second thing is deep waters. The Israelites weren’t comfortable with deep water. Think about Jesus’ disciples. Some of them were fishermen, brought up with the water, but when a storm comes, they suddenly fear for their lives (Lk 8:22-24). And this is the ones who were the most comfortable with water. In fact, for this reason, in Rev 21:1 the picture of the new earth is one without sea!


To go with this darkness and deep waters is the fact that the earth is without form. There is nothing firm to which you can stand or even hold. How terrifying is that picture?


(I wonder, if you were going to start a religious book, is this the first picture you would paint? Why does God start with this story?)


By the end of this first story in Gen 1, God has turned this frightening chaos into a beautiful picture of order. From the midst of terrifying disorder, God creates a safe environment in which people can live. The chaos isn’t just removed, it is brought into order. The big picture message of this story is that the God of this book (the bible) can bring order from any mess that we might find ourselves in. He may not do it instantly or in the way we want, but he has the ability and the desire to help us bring order into our lives - especially when the disorder is caused by sin.


Whenever I see the chaos created by my children, it always makes me think of the God who can bring order to Chaos. It makes me wonder, what other chaos has been created in my life? Have I invited God into that Chaos? Have I looked to find his way to bring some order into the chaos?

Peace on Earth?

02 March 2014 - 06:10 AM

As I was reading and thinking about the Christmas stories, I thought about the phrase, ‘peace on earth’. It makes me think of an old U2 song by that name. The song is a reflection on a bombing in Northern Ireland and how that relates to the idea of ‘Peace on earth’. The song asks, ‘So what’s it worth, this peace on earth?’


The last blog looked at the difference between saving from circumstances and saving from sin. The problem with the song’s premise is that it falls into the save from circumstances idea. The peace that was coming was not an absence of war. In fact, about 70 years after Jesus’ birth Jerusalem was flattened by the Romans in a terrible war against the Jews.


So what is meant by peace? In John’s gospel, in Jesus’ last talks before he goes to the Christ, he discusses peace a couple of time. In John 14:27, he says he leaves his peace, which is not what the world calls peace, but a peaceful heart. Later in John 16:33 Jesus contrasts between his peace and the troubles people will have in the world. Their circumstances won’t be peaceful but their hearts will.


Perhaps the best example of this is Job. In the book of Job, Job losses everything – his wealth, his family and then finally his health. Understandable he gets angry with God. He wants to have it out with God and much of the book is Job and his friends discussing whether or not Job deserved what happened to him.


Then God shows up. God doesn’t answer any of Job’s questions. Rather he speaks of his own character. The encounter with God settles Job’s heart. He now has peace. At first his circumstances don’t change, but his heart has.


What does it mean that Jesus saves us from our sins? One simple way of understanding it is that it means that we can have that encounter with God and settle our hearts.

Jesus saves us from

27 February 2014 - 08:57 AM

The other day in church I was listening to yet another altar call. The preacher was telling us that Jesus saves. If we have problems with loneliness then we should come to the front because Jesus saves us from our loneliness. If we have problems with anger that is destroying our families then come to the front because Jesus saves. If we have problems with addictions then come to the front because Jesus saves.

As I was sitting there I started thinking about the concepts of Jesus and salvation. I had recently been studying the Christmas stories in the early chapters of Luke and Matthew. Jesus was born in interesting times. The Romans had control of the area and ruled through their patsy king Herod. Neither was particularly popular and the Jewish masses were hoping for a Messiah to come and save them from the situation.

The religious experts taught that their scriptures prophesised for a Messiah to come and lead their people to world domination. With the uniqueness of the Jewish people and the religious stubbornness these teaches were known throughout the Roman world. There a number of people who rose up and claimed to this Messiah. In Acts 5:35-37 Gamaliel speaks of Theudas and Judas the Galilean rising up, gathering men yet ultimately coming to nothing.

So when Jesus, the real Messiah came, many people didn’t get it. They were looking for a military leader to save them from their circumstances. What they got was a religious teacher who saved them from their sins. This made them so angry that the masses turned on Jesus and called from the Romans to kill him as a political agitator.

As I thought about the altar call, I wondered about the message being given. The message was Jesus saves but I’m not sure it was really about Jesus saves us from our sins. It seemed to be,’ Jesus will save you from your circumstances’. I’m not saying that churches shouldn’t be helping people overcome difficult circumstances. Churches should be in the business of loving people! But what is the message about Jesus that churches really give?

 I reflected on a number of people I knew who had come and gone from different churches. What Jesus did they know? What Jesus did they want? Was he the saviour of their sins? Or did they rather want a saviour of their circumstances?