Riverview College is accepting students for 2019

Could you spend 2019 developing the knowledge and skills you need for Christian ministry?

Riverview College is offering an accredited Diploma of Ministry (10574NAT), with leadership classes and internship opportunities giving you a hands-on experience of practical ministry in one of the church’s departments.

We’d love to meet you, share all the details and answer your questions at the information night: 7pm 5 December 2018. It’s free, but please register.

If you can’t wait, the Riverview College website has information about the courses, college life, and things you might want to know, so you can apply.

When the church doesn’t get the kingdom

Not sure what Jesus meant by his kingdom? We end up filling the gaps with things from our own culture.

Yesterday I visited another church and heard a nationally renowned speaker presenting via video. Among other texts, he used this one where Jesus defined our priority: Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).

The speaker did a good job of setting this verse in context. He explained that seeking God means much more than putting God first, and then adding other things to the same queue.

I was intrigued: his explanation simply ignored the kingdom bit. It was as if he thought Jesus had said, “Seek God first.” Continue reading “When the church doesn’t get the kingdom”

The Psalms in 5 minutes

If you ever struggle to grasp the Bible narrative as a whole, do yourself a favour and check out the free animated videos from The Bible Project.

Today they released a doozy on the Book of Psalms. How do you even explain how 150 Psalms fit together, let alone do it in 5 minutes?

Check it out. These masterful guys might even help you to see the Bible as the story of the Kingdom of God.  And don’t miss the details, such as the image of the tree in Psalm 1.

Psalms_TheBibleProject

Fresh language for Jesus’ kingdom

With other commitments, I won’t be posting much in December/January. Rest assured, I’ll still be pursuing my life-goal, seeking his kingdom.

The more I pursue this perspective, the more definitive it becomes as the framework that makes sense of everything. The whole Bible narrative fits together as the integrated, laser-focused story of God’s faithful kingship over the earth. We need fresh language to express this, language that communicates in our culture.

Continue reading “Fresh language for Jesus’ kingdom”

The king who heals creation (Exodus 15:22-27)

Open Exodus 15:22-27.

The euphoria of coming out from Pharaoh’s oppressive rule didn’t last long. The Hebrews soon discovered they were still in a broken world.

They had not returned to Eden’s Garden where the rivers of God’s presence gushed forth in all directions to water creation (Genesis 2:10-14). No, they were in parched wilderness, without water, for three days (15:22). Continue reading “The king who heals creation (Exodus 15:22-27)”

Using Logos Bible Software

Logos is the most powerful and efficient Bible study tool I’ve ever used. You can use it to like a Kindle app to read biographies on your tablet (iOS or Android), or you can use for PhD research of superbly hyperlinked and fully indexed academic resources on your computer (Mac or PC).

The new version released this week has integrated all the notes I’ve made in 10 years of using Logos — more than 7,000 annotations to my Bible, covering every book except 2 John.

It’s also telling me I’ve added 43,000 highlights to other books in my library. Top five: Continue reading “Using Logos Bible Software”

If you didn’t have to shop

Imagine if God did this miracle today:

Deuteronomy 29:5 (NIV)
During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.

How do you feel?

  1. Wear these things for 40 years? Can I shop for a different religion?
  2. Ah, those were the good old days. They don’t make ’em like they used to.
  3. Amazing, God. You just freed me up to provide food for many more people.

Update 2018-11-23: Here’s someone who really gets this idea:
New Jersey teacher wears same dress for 100 days to promote sustainable fashion

The significant song (Exodus 15)

Open Exodus 15:1-21.

What makes a great song? Lyrics that voice what you feel? Rhythm that moves you? Layers of rich harmony? Chord progressions that take you places?

A song rang out over the  MCG at the final siren on 29 September 2018. It was the song every Eagles fan wanted to hear. The right song in the right moment sweeps you up and carries you like a raft on a white-water stream.

The first song in the Bible was that kind of song — the greatest victory song you could imagine. We waited 65 chapters to hear it. There’s only been one mention of a song, a song Jacob turned down. After 20 difficult years, Jacob slipped away quietly, rejecting the party Laban offered with mirth and song pretending everything is okay  (Genesis 31:27). Our world is still full of escapist songs that don’t quite ring true.

Finally we get the true song, the authentic celebration. The song celebrates the moment they were released from serving Pharaoh to serve a new king. With his chariots on the sea floor, Pharaoh had no power to enslave them again. You can’t stop the music: Continue reading “The significant song (Exodus 15)”

When the threat of force sinks under its own weight (Exodus 14:15-31)

Open Exodus 14:15-31.

The Red Sea event proclaimed a definitive message: God made a way where there was no way — literally through the sea (14:21-23).

Even there, Egypt’s military power pursued them: “all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen” (14:23). In ancient warfare, chariots were the equivalent of tanks: a protective, fast moving vehicle, able to outrun an enemy.

But the pathway God provided did not support chariots. They bogged down in the sandy sea floor. That’s when the Egyptians realized they were up against a foe they could not defeat: “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.” (14:25).

When God’s people had passed through, Moses stretched out his hand again and the way through the sea closed. In this moment, the powerful chariots of Egypt’s mighty army become became junk on the sea floor.

Earth’s true ruler does have a way to release his world from the reign of evil and death. All the treacherous rulers and deadly weapons on earth cannot obstruct the purpose of the true sovereign, and his people.

The Red Sea event addresses the big justice question, “Can love defeat violence?” In YHWH versus Pharaoh, the power of love triumphs over the love of power.

The true ruler doesn’t need the power of an army to enforce his will. Nature itself responds to its true king. Even the sea. Even the uncontrolled places beyond human rule.

Continue reading “When the threat of force sinks under its own weight (Exodus 14:15-31)”

“Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13-15)

Open Exodus 14:13-15.

A friend was preparing to preach on this text: “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord!” He planned to say that salvation is the work of God. I can’t earn it. I can’t contribute to it. Regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit.

Great ideas, but is that what this verse is saying? I cringed, knowing I’d misused this text too. Quietists love it: all we need do is stand still and let God act, “let go and let God.”

But the context won’t allow us to use the verse this way.

Who spoke these words? They’re not a promise from God. They’re from Moses’ mouth. In a difficult situation, Moses contradicted what God told the Israelites to do. That’s why he received this mild rebuke: Continue reading ““Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13-15)”

When it feels like a dead end (Exodus 14:1-9)

Pharaoh’s pursuing army

Open Exodus 14:1-9.

Freedom! The Israelites are no longer Pharaoh’s slaves. They’re marching out of Egypt with a new identity: the people of YHWH! Their king is present in cloud and fire. He leads them south towards the Sinai Peninsula. There they will discover his character, and covenant with him to be his people.

But … there’s a problem. See that dust rising into the northern sky? It’s gaining on them. At chariot speed. The Middle East’s most powerful army is coming to take them captive again. Continue reading “When it feels like a dead end (Exodus 14:1-9)”