Supporting families during lockdown

So what’s it like at your place during the lockdown? Too quiet? Too noisy? Bored kids? Angry adults? Binged the whole series already? Missing friends? Missing income?

The goal is to keep safe at home, but home is not a safe place for everyone. Our tensions are stretched by fear. If your place is fine, spare a thought for those who are struggling. One in four Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. For men it’s about one third that rate. So, if your church has 200 adults, 33 of them will have experienced partner violence. Know who are they are? How are they doing? Continue reading “Supporting families during lockdown”

Discovering church while there’s no church

What can we do while we can’t go to work, can’t go to church, can’t go to the gym, can’t go out with friends? It’s not just the activities we miss; it’s the meaning we find in sharing life. So, what meaning can we find while we can’t get together?

Continue reading “Discovering church while there’s no church”

Lament and hope: when life feels patchy

Honest prayer lifts us to the one who can help.

There was a time when people turned to God in disasters. “How can God allow this?” they asked, sometimes in anger. Now technology lets us recognize the wave before it hits, so people place their trust in medicine and governments to save us. Technology is useful, but it isn’t our security.

Let’s encourage each other to look higher: Continue reading “Lament and hope: when life feels patchy”

Kingdom lifestyle: submitting to each other (Ephesians 5:21)

The gospel calls us into an alternative world.

Some of my friends struggle with “Submit to each other” (Ephesians 5:21). So many people have been subjected to abuse, humiliation, and injustice that subjecting them to anything further feels like more grief.

Other friends find submission natural. God is the authority, with all authorities under him, so of course Christians must be submissive.

How do you feel about this command? Continue reading “Kingdom lifestyle: submitting to each other (Ephesians 5:21)”

Fear of Christ? (Ephesians 5:21)

Is he scary?

Fear of Christ is a phrase found just once (Ephesians 5:21). It’s the generic word for fear (phobos). Many translations render it as “reverence” or “respect”, but that isn’t strong enough. In a kingdom perspective, fear of Christ displaces every fear.

Continue reading “Fear of Christ? (Ephesians 5:21)”

Happiness without harm (Ephesians 5:15-20)

When do you feel alive? I can understand people wanting to use substances to drown their sorrows, but sorrows turn out to be good swimmers.

If you’re looking for an alternative way to come alive, how about this:
Do not get drunk on wine … Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

This isn’t random advice. It’s part of a bigger story of how people who feel like the walking dead can come alive in our resurrected king (Ephesians 2:1-5).

The one thing that overpowers our pain is the life-generating work of the Holy Spirit bringing us to life in Christ. He’s establishing a whole new society where our feelings of alienation are replaced with the music of life — Spirit-inspired songs of gratitude for the rescue that’s underway, the restoration of humanity in the leader God has given us.

So, c’mon: God is calling us to let go of the brokenness and participate in being truly human together:

Ephesians 5:15–20 (NIV)
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why raise this contrast at this point of the book? Why wine specifically? Is there anything in the Bible’s larger narrative that would suggest this contrast.

Continue reading “Happiness without harm (Ephesians 5:15-20)”