• Keeping Balance

    I entertained the other day a young New Zealander who had never heard of Dan Carter’s groin and had no interest in the Rugby World Cup. There are, of course, a few New Zealanders who will tell you they have no interest in the Rugby World Cup, but the fact that they need to tell you betrays their insincerity (and have you ever noticed how people who affect no interest in the things that others are excited by always do so with a nauseating air of moral superiority?) But this guy, quite genuinely and simply, was not interested.

    I know this, not because he told me so in condescending tones, but because he is only four weeks old. He is very interested in his mother, who is my daughter-in-law, and in various other things that stop him from crying, but so far Dan Carter remains a non sequitur in his life.

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  • The Gospel and the Land of Promise

    In a seminar at the end of October, Eden Community Church and Laidlaw College are addressing the question of how the land of Israel and its people relate to Biblical prophecy and modern day politics. Is the church the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham, or does that distinction belong to the Israeli community? Can God change his promises? Whose is the land?

    These and other related issues are discussed in a book of essays edited by Philip Church, Peter Walker, Tim Bulkely and Tim Meadowcroft. The book is the background to the seminar. Entitled The Gospel and the Land of Promise and published by Pickwick Publications, Oregon, it considers how the Bible seems to regard the land we call Israel and the people who live there, and asks how we might view them too. Its themes have implications for our theology, our charity and our relations to the world around us.

    Questions about Israel are not academic. Middle-eastern tensions, militant Islam, the nuclear state of Israel, influences on US foreign policy, the influence of Christian Zionists — all colour the world we live in. The vexed question of a Palestinian homeland is affected by an understanding of whether God sees the people as needy refugees or greedy usurpers. Christians who want to be God’s people are called to be thoughtful about his purposes. Eden Community Church and Laidlaw College seek to assist good thinking on central topics of faith and civics, and the book they are using seeks to open a consideration of the broad questions. I hope their efforts will be fruitful for many. Enquiries about the seminar and the book may be made to rlittle@laidlaw.ac.nz

    — Ken Edgecombe


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  • Help for Preachers

    Three daylong Kiwi-made Preaching forums are planned for October. Each forum will comprise 25 Questions designed to provoke preachers to think more deeply about creating sermons. Every one of the 49 ‘Question-askers’ nationwide is someone wrestling with preaching in the New Zealand context. The forums will occur in Auckland on October 25, Waikanae on October 27 and Christchurch on October 29.

    “We are looking to nurture an indigenous biblical preaching movement in Aotearoa-New Zealand”, says Paul Windsor who has been coordinating the Kiwi-made Preaching website (www.kiwimadepreaching.com). Each forum will open and close with a session from Dr Chris Wright (International Director, Langham Partnership International) who is coming out from the UK to journey through the week with participants.

    The forum is open to everyone. However the hope is that local churches will gather their preachers and send them together to a forum, spreading out to ensure maximum coverage of the Questions on offer, before returning home to discuss the implications for the preaching in their own church.

    Langham Partnership (NZ) is working with Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship (TSCF), Carey Baptist College, and the New Zealand Christian Network to bring the forums to preachers all around New Zealand.

    For further information (and to register): http://kiwimadepreaching.com/2011-forum/


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  • Growing in your knowledge of God

    Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.
    — Ephesians 1:15-17

    The Apostle Paul had a very special place in his heart for the city of Ephesus and for the Christians there. After all, he had spent three long years in that city and so much had happened during that time. He and his good friends, Aquila and Priscilla, had patiently taught God’s word there, in spite of considerable opposition from both Jews and Greeks. It had been hard going right from the start, for Ephesus was a city renowned for its sorcery; it was also the stronghold of the Greek goddess Artemis, and her supporters were not likely to give up easily. At least once he landed up in prison in Ephesus, and even suffered the threat of being taken out to the Great Roman Theatre to face the lions there. Things went from bad to worse and eventually there was a riot, stirred up by a man called Demetrius and his silversmith colleagues, who were understandably upset that they might be losing trade as a result of Paul’s preaching. On this occasion he barely escaped with his life, but such was his conviction in the importance of the task given to him that he never worried about his life anyway.

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