The Cross Indicator

I believe there is a place for the church to influence society for good. Yet sometimes the judging tone from the pulpit and in conversation can feel like the complaints about food quality at a restaurant as the guests grumble to each other, but then when the waitress comes to check how things are, everyone smiles and mumbles nice words. Why complain to each other?

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Fourth Dimension of the Gospel

God wants to be our Father. A good father is not primarily concerned with the performance levels of his child. He will deal with sin out of love for the child, but the primary concern should be the state of the child’s heart. God’s grace does empower us, but if we see grace as the power for us to perform for the celestial evaluation panel, then we are missing the abundant wonder of God’s grace.

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Non-Cafeteria Theology

We used to talk about “cafeteria theology” when I was in Bible school. Cafeteria theology is where you walk along with a tray and select the bits you like, making a personal theology . . . do we have a free-will? When will Christ return? How accurate is the Bible? Which attributes do I like? Etc. But the reason we used to talk about it is because we were starting to discover how a choice in one area brings with it some theological elements elsewhere.

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Unity

Is the profound sense of unity that we feel really the fruit of agreement in the primary issues and graciousness in the tertiary? Is our unusual sense of unity based on agreement on secondary issues? In reality the three-part scale doesn’t seem to be a helpful road map to the unity we feel, even though it may have some value as we move out into different settings.

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Sanctified Sin

Bible teaching is not really helping if our goal is to facilitate independent functioning on the part of those who hear. If they are being equipped and encouraged to live independently in their newfound personal holiness, then what is the teacher achieving? Is this really helping people?

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One Bible, Three Roles

The Bible is not honored as an end in itself, but as a gift from a loving Father. This can be dressed in traditional religious forms and liturgy, or in a highly contemporary feel. The logic is simple: the Bible is a personal revelation of God the Father in the person of His Son by the work of the Spirit, that calls for response for the sake of relationship.

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That Low?

We know the basic idea of this historical battle, but perhaps our mental image falls short of reality. Maybe we don’t quite grasp how radically different God is to what we might expect. God is God and there is no other. Absolutely. This is no eternal tussle between equal and opposing forces. The “god of this age” has never been and will never be a peer of the eternal God, high over all. We are dealing with two very different beings.

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Shortcut

Too many of us assume that shaping a life in pastoral ministry, or parenting, or whatever, is about shaping the behaviours and actions. So we head there. Pressure to conform, lots of printed rules, etc. After all, this is where a life shows what it is, for good or for ill, so go for good!

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Follow

The gospel itself is what God has done in Christ, and the focal point of that is the cross. Paul trusted in that work, not in his own rhetorical brilliance to manipulate or bring about response in his listeners. So he simply preached Christ, because Jesus is the good news; and Him crucified, because that is centre of gravity for what God has done in Christ.

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Crucifixion Billboard

The gospel itself is what God has done in Christ, and the focal point of that is the cross. Paul trusted in that work, not in his own rhetorical brilliance to manipulate or bring about response in his listeners. So he simply preached Christ, because Jesus is the good news; and Him crucified, because that is centre of gravity for what God has done in Christ.

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Popcorn?

Popcorn kernels are placed into hot oiled pan, the temperature rises, then suddenly they start popping. Quick, easy snack. But not every kernel will pop. Some become teeth breakers. The heat boils the moisture within until the kernel explodes and is transformed from the inside out. Some only solidify.

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Synthetic Repentance

I’ve been intrigued by a few features of Luke’s account of John the Baptist’s ministry. Luke tells us that John was “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Nothing so surprising there, prophets of God have always been advocating the turning to God with the change of heart which constitutes biblical repentance.

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Les Miserables and Life Giving Grace

Valjean saves the life of Javert and the legalist is undone by undeserved mercy. Unable to admit his need, accept equality with a convict, or face a world confused by grace, he chooses to end it all. This weekend I have read through Leviticus in my read through – what a contrast. God’s Law reveals His character of care and concern for the downtrodden. Yet in Javert we see the deadly effect of the law when grace is not in the picture – the letter kills.

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Growing Each Together

At the start of Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians he makes a comment that catches my attention. He begins with “we ought always to thank God for you, brothers, as is right . . .” and then gives two reasons for his gratitude for them. First, because their “faith is growing abundantly.” The sense here is of a faith that is continually growing greater.

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