Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Spiritual

Read the Bible through

A person reading the BibleI supposed I knew my Bible
Reading piecemeal, hit and miss,
Now a bit of John or Matthew,
Now a snatch of Genesis,
Certain chapters of Isaiah
Certain Psalms (the twenty-third!);
Twelfth of Romans, First of Proverbs—
Yes, I thought I knew the Word!
But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do,
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read the Bible through. (more…)


Community and COVID-19

Expressing Church life in pandemic times

Four peole wearing masks greet each other by touching elbows during the COVID-19 pandemicThis post comes from Philip Nunn who lives in The Netherlands.

Now we are all concerned about the ‘second wave’. And we are told that other waves may follow. We are also told that once the vaccines arrive life will return to normal. But can these new intrusive vaccines be trusted? We hear that COVID-19 is not unique, that it is only a matter of time before other viruses will follow. We sense fear, also in Christian circles. For some time now governments have been restricting our free movement. Only last year we all thought that such severe restrictions could only happen in totalitarian states and never in our free democracies. We sense frustration and anger, also in Christian circles. Among some Christians I also sense a movement towards a comfortable self-centered existence. (more…)


Many battles at Megiddo

Arerial view of Tell MegiddoDuring the Bronze Age, Megiddo was an important Canaanite city-state and during the Iron Age, a royal city in the kingdom of Israel. The city was  located about 26 km (15 miles) east of the Mediterranean Ocean and about 40 km (25 miles) southwest of the Sea of Galilee.

The ancient city of Megiddo had a strategic location. It was at the intersection of two main roads and near a pass (Wadi Ara) through the Carmel mountain range. It was on the main route (the Via Maris) between Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and Egypt. (more…)


God and science

Is God obsolete? Has God been replaced by science?

Nobel prize medalNobel Prize winners

John Lennox noted that if science and God do not mix, there would be no Christian Nobel Prize winners. In fact, between 1900 and 2000 over 65% of Nobel Laureates were self-confessed believers in God.

The statistics were taken from Shalev (2005) and the number of theists may even have been higher still, as he records that just over 65% of the overall winners identified as Christian, whilst over 20% were Jewish and just under 1% were Muslim. Just under 11% of the winners had no belief in God (e.g. atheists and agnostics), although, interestingly, far more of them were in the field of literature (around 35% of winners), than in scientific disciplines (7% of winners in chemistry, 9% in medicine and 5% in physics). (more…)


Atheism and science

Atheism denies the existence of GodThe views of two scientists

Atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method. That’s the view of Marcelo Gleiser, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College.

He says that atheism is a statement that expresses belief in nonbelief. “I don’t believe even though I have no evidence for or against, simply I don’t believe”. Or “I deny something I have no evidence against”. It’s a declaration. But in science we don’t really do declarations. We say, “Okay, you can have a hypothesis, you have to have some evidence against or for that.” And, “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. (more…)


Memory loss

Did you forget some thing?Do you ever forget where you put your keys, phone or glasses? Have you ever gone into another room at home and wondered what you went in there for? We all forget some things and forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. We get memory lapses. Our brain doesn’t function as well as it used to.

Mary couldn’t find her car keys. She looked on the hook just inside the front door. They weren’t there. She searched in her purse. No luck. Finally, she found them on her desk. Yesterday, she forgot her neighbor’s name. She decided to see her doctor. After a complete check-up, her doctor said that Mary was fine. Her forgetfulness was just a normal part of getting older. The doctor suggested that Mary take a class, play cards with friends, or help out at the local school to help her memory. (more…)


The Niagara 2020 declaration

A new statement on religious liberty

The Canadian flagBackground

In Canada, as blessed recipients of the gospel of Jesus Christ for generations and heirs of the Christian Parliamentary tradition and English Common Law, we have long been able to take our freedoms and liberties in the faith for granted. Tragically, those days have waned, and we all share culpability for the declining situation and loss of the pervasive influence of the Scriptures. In our generation, with the undeniably radical cultural shift over the last sixty years, we are confronted with increased political, institutional, and legal opposition to the faith. Christians are facing an attack on our historic liberties and Charter freedoms. These include (but are not limited to) various persecutions in the form of media propaganda, speech and human rights codes, Supreme Court decisions regarding Christian institutions and end of life issues, municipal and provincial bylaws regarding sexuality and gender, indefinite emergency restrictions and lockdowns, and proposed amendments to the Criminal Code that could radically curtail the freedom of Christian leaders, churches and parents (cf. the federal bill to criminally ban so-called “conversion therapy”). (more…)


Entertainment trumps worship

Church closed becauese of COVID-19The COVOD-19 rules in New South Wales, Australia, favor public entertainment above public worship.

From Monday 28 September 2020, entertainment facilities including theatres, cinemas and concert halls across NSW were able to increase capacity up to 50%, to a maximum of 1000. Alternatively, entertainment facilities may allow one person per 4 square meters on the premises, with no maximum capacity. 

If a place of public worship has multiple buildings at a single location, each building can have as many people as allowed under the 4 square meter rule, up to a maximum of 100 people or 150 people for a wedding. (more…)


Converting ancient secular dates to biblical dates

There are two main explanations of the earth’s geological history. One (Biblical) is based on recorded history in the Bible and the other (Uniformitarian) is based on assuming that the present (processes today) is the key to the past (ancient processes) and on the hypothetical geologic time scale. The biblical explanation allows for catastrophic events (such as the flood of Noah), whereas the Uniformitarian explanation minimizes the role of catastrophic events (because it has a preference for gradual events). The biblical explanation mainly involves rapid processes over short periods of time, whereas the Uniformitarian explanation mainly involves slow processes over long periods of time. (more…)


Faith in the family

Brown family reunion - October 2001Family reunions bring relatives together to celebrate and share memories. I gave this message at a church service during the reunion of the Brown family at Bedgerabong, near Forbes in New South Wales, Australia, in October 2001.

When reading through the Brown family history, I noticed the following instances of Christian faith amongst our forebears. (more…)


Une nouvelle chronologie biblique

Comment lire la Bible dans l’ordre chronologique

Le gouvernement chinois a l’intention de réécrire la Bible pour «refléter les valeurs socialistes». Cette ordonnance a été proposée en novembre 2019, lors d’une réunion tenue par le Comité des affaires ethniques et religieuses du Comité national de la Conférence consultative politique du peuple chinois, qui supervise les questions ethniques et religieuses en Chine. Les nouvelles éditions de textes religieux ne doivent pas aller à l’encontre des croyances du Parti communiste. Toute partie jugée erronée ou contestée par les censeurs sera réécrite pour correspondre aux valeurs communistes. Ils affirment que cela empêchera les «pensées extrêmes» et les «idées hérétiques» d’éroder le pays. Dans cet article, nous examinons le contenu de ce livre «hérétique». (more…)


Two ways to live

Raod sign - Our way or God's new wayThe choice we all face

The message at the heart of Christianity can be outlined in a few pages. It’s a message from the Bible about God and His Son Jesus that’s about life and death, and the choice we all face. In “Two ways to live” the message is summarized in contemporary language in six points (Appendix A).

This post is based on a blogpost by Tony Payne that proposed updating the “Two ways to live” booklet (Jensen and Payne, 2007; Payne 2020). (more…)


Coronavirus politics

This is an appeal for calm. The number one command in scripture is “Fear not” (33 times in the ESV Bible). But there is a lot of fear. A lot of what’s happening right now in Australia, especially in Victoria, and in the world, is driven by fear. And I think that the political response is also being governed by the fear that people have. Both of those things are not helping us.

This post is based on a message by Martyn Isles of the Australian Christian Lobby.

Martyn Isles, Australian Christian Lobby - The truth of itLock-down

Victoria has the toughest lock-downs we’ve experienced at Stage 4 in 31 local government areas in Melbourne. That’s over 5 million people! There are only four reasons to leave the house: necessary work, necessary goods and services, medical care and compassionate reasons, and exercise. But exercise is limited to one hour per day within 5 km of your home. Shopping is limited to one person per household per day, within 5 km of your home. A curfew applies between 8pm and 5am, which is astonishing in a free country. And it’s the usual stuff with non-essential businesses closed. And most who still have jobs are working from home. But as a result of these measures 500,000 workers have been stood down with more to come. All this is done to save lives. But I wonder whether there is more harm being done than good? Whether we are creating fear where we shouldn’t be? (more…)


There is no racism in heaven

Bookworm Claudette Colvin had two dreams when she was young. The first was to marry a baseball player. The second was to become President of the United States. Lofty dreams indeed for a teenager from the poor side of town, but she was an A-grade student and determined to make something of her life.

The thwack of a curveball rocketing over a baseball diamond or the patriotic stirrings of a big brass band on the lawns of the White House must have seemed impossible that one Friday in March, when the smart and pretty 15-year-old was hauled into a courthouse. She’d been yelled at by students, kicked three times by police and then taken across town crying and humiliated in a patrol car by the same officers, who made lewd comments about her appearance. (more…)


Experiencing God’s peace in the storms of life

Here’re four steps that will help you experience God’s peace in the storms of your life. (more…)


Crazy times!

Communal singing is prohibited in church in NSW, Australia!Singing prohibited!

Two weeks ago the Catholic church launched a petition for the limit on attendees at churches in New South Wales (NSW) of 10 people to be increased to the 50 person limit that applied to pubs and clubs, cafes and restaurants. This increase was granted on 1 June as the restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19 are relaxed slowly. Now a maximum of 50 people (adults and children) can attend a religious service at a place of worship. But there are other requirements to fulfill like:
– People attending a religious service at a place of public worship will be required to provide their name and contact details when they enter so that they can be used for contact tracing, and
– Communal singing is prohibited! And singing with facemasks is not a current alternative.
And there is confusing advice about how many people can be in a room (Appendix A). We’re going through crazy times! (more…)


Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut

Sledgehammer and smashed nut. COVID-19 control measures are like using a sledgehammer to crack a nutDrastic measures have been taken by governments around the world to control the spread COVID-19 disease. They are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Or making a mountain out of a molehill. The measures are more stringent than are really necessary to solve the problem. They seem to be driven by fear and hysteria (Appendix A).

The control measures are justified by the saying that COVID-19 is caused by a deadly virus. But is this true? (more…)


God and COVID-19

Biblical answers to five common questions

This post comes from Philip Nunn who lives in The Netherlands.

Is COVID-19 a warning from God?This corona crisis affects all of us in different ways. Some are feeling tired of being quarantined or are losing patience with their bored children. Others are in hospitals, struggling themselves or helping those who find it difficult to breathe. Where is God in this crisis? What is an appropriate way to talk about our experience with COVID-19? We can learn from how the Lord Jesus dealt with a family disaster as described in John 11. Lazarus had died. When Jesus arrived, Martha went out to meet Him. “Lord” she said, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (11:21NIV). What follows is a theological discussion that ended with a deep revelation: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (11:25-26). Then Mary arrived. She fell at Jesus’ feet. She expressed her pain and frustration with the exact same words as her sister Martha (11:32). Towards Mary the response of Jesus was different. “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” And then, “Jesus wept” (11:33, 35). That is what Mary needed to see: the tears of her Master. Which is more important: the theological or the pastoral approach? Clearly both are. But we need sensitivity and the Lord’s guidance to know which approach is needed in each situation. (more…)


Coronavirus lockdown

A video by Philip Nunn, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
“Making the best use of time, because the days are evil”
Ephesians 5:16ESV

 

 


Grief & loss during the shutdown

Stay at home to control the spread of COVID-19Grieving with hope

We’re living in unusual times. In order to control the spread of COVID-19 we’re staying home as much as possible. People are working from home and some businesses are closed.

Some people have lost their jobs and are now unemployed. There are travel restrictions. Social activities and celebrations are cancelled. There is physical (social) distancing. We have less freedom. It’s almost like wartime. There’s economic gloom with the possibility of a depression. These are unprecedented times for us. (more…)


What does the Bible say about a major disaster like COVID-19?

What does the Bible say about COVID-19?The disease COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the world. By 11 April 2020 over 103,500 deaths have been attributed to the virus and secondary pneumonia.

What does the Bible say about a global pandemic like COVID-19?

This post is based on an article by the US theologian and author, John Piper. (more…)


There is hope

The COVID-19 pandemic is an extreme situation facing the whole world at the same timeThe headline didn’t shout. It didn’t need to. This wasn’t a slow news day. It read, ‘In one week 10% of Australia’s workforce have lost their jobs’. In India, a nation of 1.3 billion people were given four hours notice to lock down inside their homes for 21 days. People found outside afterwards were subsequently beaten.

Always, in the world somewhere, there’s an extreme situation – a flood, a famine, a war. Less frequent, though, are situations involving the whole world. The COVID-19 pandemic is such a time. (more…)


Three lessons from COVID-19

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)The disease COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the world. By 4 April 2020 over 58,900 deaths have been attributed to the virus and secondary pneumonia. Governments have introduced stringent measures to combat it, which are having negative social and economic impacts.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus. It is contagious in humans and is the cause of the ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that was designated a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) in January 2020 and a pandemic in March 2020. (more…)


War on Coronavirus

South Korean soldiers spray disinfectant at Dongdaegu railway stationA message from Europe

The world is at war against the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19.

This post comes from Philip Nunn who lives in The Netherlands.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. They have been causing problems for a number of decades now. The new version we are currently fighting was first transmitted to humans in Wuhan, China, towards the end of 2019. Since then it has remained in the headlines of all our newspapers and news bulletins. Last month the World Health Organization gave this coronavirus disease the new name COVID-19, and five weeks later declared it a pandemic. Presidents, Prime Ministers and others in authority are now busy closing national borders, events, shops and schools. They are imposing restrictions on our freedom of movement which have never before been used in peacetime. You may still think it is all fake news, you may think the restrictions are too strict, or far to slow and too lax. Like it or not, the world is now at war with this coronavirus! How are you reacting? Are you fearful or frustrated? Is your faith in God strengthening you in this time of worldwide crisis? Perhaps with a little more time on your hands, it may be worthwhile taking some time to consider what the Bible has to say about the spreading of bad things. (more…)