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CHRIS MACLEAVY Posts

Afraid of All the Things

For as long as she can remember, Scarlet Hiltibidal has been an anxiously-wired person. I’m not talking about the usual trepidation of making new friends at school or the fear of making the right fashion choices. Oh, no. In Afraid of All the Things, Scarlet speaks at length about her fear of tornadoes (and firenados—yes, they exist); death by random sinkholes; infectious diseases and exploding internal organs; and being away at length from the safety of cities that have easy access to hospitals and police, and the option of a quick escape from threats via the ubiquitous taxi. The message that makes Scarlet’s book the kind that everyone should read is succinctly captured in the subtitle: Tornadoes, Cancer, Adoption, and Other Stuff You Need the…

Spurgeon’s Prayer for Reading Scripture

When it comes to spending time reading the Bible, C. H. Spurgeon stands in the company of great men and women who held a high view of Scripture. He (and they) reminded people that the Bible is not simply a group of words that teach us how to live as faithful disciples of Jesus, but its the book through which we actually encounter the living Christ. Recently I’ve been immersed in the writing of men such as John Piper, Martin Luther, and (a new book on the works of) Karl Barth; men who knew that Scripture was the primary means of grace through which we could see and savour the preeminent, living Christ. When it came to teaching his people how to approach the pages…

Books Worth a Look (January)

For the past few years, I’ve read a ton of books each year. They’ve been (mostly) the helpful, funny, fascinating, growing kind that you’re glad you invested your time in. However, quantity isn’t always quality, so I’m shifting my focus in 2019 to read fewer books; better books; books which grow me; and also intentionally reading much more of my Bible. So this year, I plan to re-read a small pile of books that have been particularly transformative for me. The Books Worth a Look series will be a monthly post sharing highlights from my deep dive into these books that I think are super helpful. Being a Dad Who Leads by John MacArthur Launching 2019 with a focus on how to be a better father (and husband) seemed like…

4 Albums I’m Enjoying Right Now

Crescendo by Jackie Hill Perry Released on Jan 18, 2019, this is the newest addition to my playlist, so I’m still getting the full feel of it. It boasts solid lyrics; is easy listening; and is (in my opinion) what realistic, Scripture-rich worship looks like. In a recent interview, Miller said: The Psalms have been my daily bread. The realness there of men who weren’t afraid to give a voice to their hurts.” I think Jesus is honored in that kind of honesty and that’s probably where some of the most beautiful worship comes to life.”  The Perfect Love of Christ by Immanuel Nashville This album isn’t new (2016) but I recently discovered it when the title track featured at Together for the Gospel in…

Pastor Appreciation Month

Every October, churches across North America pay tribute to pastors and their ministry. They take time to write notes, give gifts, and creatively express their gratitude for the ceaseless love and investment that their pastor makes in their spiritual growth and general well-being all year long. While I have previously discussed my mixed feelings towards Australians adopting various U.S. holidays (like Halloween or Thanksgiving), I hold no such mixed feelings towards the non-official Pastor Appreciation Month. In fact, I’m waiting to greet it with cake, streamers, and much adulation. Management and leadership icon Peter Drucker was recently quoted saying: Over the years I have made a career out of studying the most challenging management roles out there. After all of that I am now convinced the…

What Matters Most

Some people scoff at making resolutions. Others simply give up on goal-setting before they begin; pessimistically acknowledging that it always peters out by March or at best, May. I’m not a pessimist, but I’m not—I hope—legalistic about making and meeting goals either. Rather, I appreciate a milestone moment such as the transition to a new year as an opportunity to evaluate the year that was, and re-focus on what matters most. This past Sunday, the first Sunday of 2019, our people were encouraged to take this step with regard to choosing a Bible reading plan. I’m continually grateful to be part of a local body of believers that places such high value on intentional discipleship. So I’ve been thinking about what matters most. Last year…

Favourites of 2018

Rather than subject people to yet another “Top Ten Whatevers of 2018”, I thought I’d simply contribute a compilation of my favourite things from the year that was. So whether you enjoy podcasts or pictures, perhaps there’s something in this list of recommendations for you to enjoy. Books It’s a predictable place to start, but I read a lot of books. Books for pleasure, books for growth, books to rest with, and books to equip me to be a better husband/father/employee/disciple/friend. For a longer list of what I’ve read (and what I enjoyed reading the most) head to my page on Goodreads. Here are a few highlights. A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle, Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Sarah…

A Blogging Sabbath-of-Sorts

I‘m going to be taking a break from regular blogging for the remainder of 2018. There are a couple of really good reasons for this: First, our family of five will be moving house in late October. While we hope that this will be a good thing for us in the long term, it does mean that while we’re busy searching for our next property our lives are slowly being packed into boxes, and we get to experience all the fun that goes with that. Second, I’ve decided to take on a major learning project for myself (the details aren’t important), and I so wanted to free up other self-imposed deadlines in order to make space to read, write, and focus on this specific thing.…

What I Read in September

September has seen me reach my 2018 reading goal of 52 books for the year. I’ve read some formative theology, some quality comic books, a few great biographies/memoirs, and even found a few fiction authors I’m going to get more of. Reaching this goal means I’ll be taking a break from posting what I’ve read for a while (more on that in my next post) but for now, here’s what I read in September. Spiritual Gifts: What They Are and Why They Matter Dr. Tom Schreiner has written an important book discussing the spiritual gifts, and whether or not those gifts have continued into today in a form that is consistent with the New Testament. His book is conversational, compassionate to those who hold a…

The Expulsive Power of a Greater Affection

All of us who have committed our lives to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ know that we are called to be distinct from the world. Maybe we looked the same as the world when we first encountered the saving love of God, but God doesn’t love us ‘just the way we are’ without also loving who he sees us becoming through Christ. Think about the Sermon on the Mount: the Beatitudes; our calling to be salt and light; increased prohibitions against things like anger and lust; and the call to love our enemies, and give to those in need. Every New Testament author writes of how inward transformation leads to outward transformation, and that the world will always find this peculiar. Perhaps the…

Spiritual Gifts: What They Are and Why They Matter

Cessationism is the belief that certain spiritual gifts in the New Testament—namely the more miraculous gifts—have ceased. However, far from concentrating on controversy Dr. Tom Schreiner’s approach is conversational, compassionate to those who hold a different conviction, and compelling in his unpacking of the Biblical text. Schreiner seeks to remind his readers that while he holds a nuanced cessationism (a term he fully explores in the book) this is not a first-order issue; we are not discussing the person of Christ or justification by grace alone through faith alone. At the same time, I appreciate the seriousness with which he approaches the matter of spiritual gifts. There are many churches today that either seek to quench the Spirit through a strict liturgy that allows little…

What I Read in August

The Gospel Comes with a House Key It’s true we are creatures who learn from story. As Butterfield recounts stories without end that demonstrate the messy, costly, rewarding ins-and-outs of what ‘Radically Ordinary Hospitality’ looks like, you will find yourself constantly convinced that hospitality is indeed the cornerstone of the Christian life. Sure, it means changing your budget to allow for extra meals for people, unexpected guests at your table, or taking care of a neighbour’s pet while they’re out of town. But it also serves to reveal Christ’s redeeming purpose in the world: making strangers into neighbours, and making neighbours into family. This book will leave you thinking more deeply about what Christlike hospitality might look like in your home, and how you might…

What Was Said Concerning Himself:
Dr. Tremper Longman III

Last night I had the privilege of attending a lecture delivered by renown Old Testament scholar Dr. Tremper Longman III, where he discussed the importance of understanding how to responsibly read the Old Testament as a Christian. Understanding the theological relationship between the testaments is a crucial area for Christians to grasp today in their reading of the whole Bible as the inspired word of God. Dr. Longman demonstrated masterfully through two specific examples of biblical trajectories (the tabernacle, and God as warrior) how the contours of expectation roll through the pages of the Bible until they reach Jesus, and that the resurrection is the hermeneutical key with which to interpret all of Scripture; just as Jesus demonstrated in Luke 24 on the road to…

Two Testaments, One Bible:
Responding to Andy Stanley’s call to ‘unhitch’ the Old Testament’

What is our relationship to the Old Testament? Aren’t the Jewish scriptures simply an interesting historical backstory? What was the foundation on which the New Testament church was built? It wasn’t any book. There wasn’t one. It wasn’t the Bible. There wasn’t one. And it wasn’t the Old Covenant because that didn’t tell the story of Jesus. The foundational event was the resurrection of Jesus Christ; so Moses is out, and Jesus is in. Christianity doesn’t need propping up by the Old Testament, so shouldn’t we feel free to “unhitch” it from our faith? This declaration, preached by Pastor Andy Stanley in April 2018, should ring alarm bells for Christians everywhere. After all, Jesus and the apostles were absolutely convinced of the supreme authority of…

How My Bible Reading Changed
(and why that’s a good thing)

Off the back of finishing John Piper’s Reading the Bible Supernaturally (a book which was so helpful that I listened to the audiobook and also read the Kindle edition) I have been challenged to thoroughly re-evaluate the way that I approach not only my reading of Scripture but to overhaul the way in which I structure my devotional times. Typically, we are taught to read the bible and pray. Read the bible, then pray. This has been my practice for a long time, only changed in recent years to praying both before and after reading. But Piper’s book has turned that upside down and inside out in a remarkably helpful way; it’s one of those experiences where you can’t possibly understand how you were doing…

What I Read in July

July seemed to be a month of revisiting the fundamentals of the faith. With contributions from old theologians and new, these books were a valuable read and likely to be oft-referenced resources in the future. Being a Christian Allen writes with a love that comes from his head as well as his heart about how the Christian life extends into every area of our existence. Containing chapters about the gospel and marriage, money, work, rest, the church, and more, Being a Christian is equal parts convicting and encouraging.   Mere Christianity With a very secure position on my ‘Top 10 Books Every Christian Should Read’ list, I was amazed at how much of this book was already familiar to me. Familiar because—as one who has…

Knowing Love from Love

If you’ve ever read The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis (or, more recently, Jen Wilkin’s excellent 2018 book In His Image) then you’ll be aware that in spite of popular opinion love isn’t love. Lewis (who wasn’t the first to clarify this distinction, but popularised it) wrote of the four Greek words for love, providing helpful categories in which we can place the ambiguous, indiscriminate, and unhelpful ways that we use ‘love’ today. I love my wife. I also love pie. Having one word in English to capture such a broad linguistic use is surely problematic, and perhaps especially so for the Christian life. Arguably, we could use more words to better define what we’re talking about, and lately I’ve been reading Scripture with…

6 Things to Look for in a Church

One Sunday. It’s not like I was gone for weeks, and yet I sorely missed not being able to join my family as they left me at home sick that Sunday morning. Perhaps that’s strange to you, or maybe it seems a bit extreme to experience sadness from missing church just one time. The body of Christ isn’t an added extra for me though; it’s not another club I’m part of that gives me something to do or keeps me entertained for a few hours on Sunday. I need to go to church. I have an ache inside for the presence of God, the radiance of the saints, the authority of the gospel. I don’t go to church out of inertia or custom. I go…

What I Read in June

Growing Down I enjoyed this latest work from Michael Kelley, and would absolutely recommend adding it to your library when it comes to thinking about discipleship, as well as your own posture towards walking in the obedience of faith. I took some quality highlights away but at the same time it felt like The Curious Christian and Do More Better (which are both excellent) got together and had a baby; it had its own personality and new things to offer but it seemed quite obvious who the parents were. The central idea is that in order to become more Christlike, we need to become more childlike—that is, dependent. The book is thoughtful, engaging, easy-to-follow, and definitely unpacks a necessary change in thinking when it comes…

Parenting: an Example of Grace

If there’s one surefire way to bring sin to the surface and show me who I really am, it’s being a parent. Nothing shines a huge spotlight on my selfishness like a kid crying in the night. I always thought I was a fairly patient person—up until the time when none of my kids are doing the right thing, and all of my kids are refusing to listen. It’s been said that kids are like mirrors: they show you who you truly are by reflecting your less desirable mannerisms back at you, but also by revealing what’s being drawn out of your heart in your reactions. My behaviour in those moments is also an indictment of just how nonchalant I can be towards sin because every…

5 Podcasts I Recommend

Brisbane traffic can be a long, slow roll at a third of the speed limit, especially at peak times. I’ve got nothing against having a little quiet time—in a house of 3 boys, there’s not exactly a surplus of silence— but I like to make the most of my time on the commute. To that end I have around a dozen podcasts that I listen to regularly. These include sermons (Grace to You, North Pine Baptist Church), Christian Ethics & Engagement (Countermoves, Al Mohler’s The Briefing), Conference Addresses (The Gospel Coalition, Together for the Gospel), and others of various kinds. Here are five specific podcasts that I’m really enjoying at the moment, and maybe you will too. Reading Writers (run time: approx 25-35 minutes) I…

How to Ruin Your Life

More often than I care to admit I come across a book that seems like it was written just for me. I say that I don’t care to admit that because these aren’t books about winning at parenting, nailing a solid devotional life, or cracking the secret to my Best Life Now. No, I’m talking about the books that light up the biggest areas of sin in my life like a glowing neon sign. Eric Geiger’s How to Ruin Your Life: And Starting Over When You Do illustrates from the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) the ease with which I can bring ruin to my own life. David was called a man after God’s own heart. He gave us wonderful, timeless Psalms…

Christian Classics: Round 5

The Christian life is meant to be lived out in community. Rather than doing our best to “work out our salvation” in isolation from other believers, intentionally spending time with and learning from our brothers and sisters in Christ is richly rewarding… actually, I’d say it’s required. On this shared journey towards Christlikeness, we work together to deepen our understanding of God through the means of grace (scripture and prayer) and the church community is the crucible in which we learn how to better apply the teachings of Jesus to the way we live our lives. In addition to regular church attendance (also required for Christians), I’m part of a group that meets together regularly to read, discuss, and learn from the writings of great men…

What I Read in May

Just Open the Door Jen Schmidt calls hospitality a cornerstone of the Christian faith. It isn’t the responsibility of those specific few who possess the ‘gift’ of hospitality, nor is it all about having the perfectly set table and immaculate house. Schmidt seeks to reframe our understanding of Christian hospitality through taking a look at Jesus (who, as our model of hospitality didn’t even own a home). Her book is full of wonderful, heartfelt stories and practical suggestions, but most of all she shows that demonstrating Christ’s love in our everyday is no more complicated than simply opening our door. Kiss The Wave Dave Furman knows a thing or two about disability, depression, and dark nights of the soul. His latest work is a real,…

You and I Are Barabbas

When it comes to reading ourselves into the great stories of Scripture, many of us would like to think that we’re David—the unlikely underdog who was victorious at conquering the giant in his life—or perhaps Job who went through immense trials but due to his continual clinging to God came out with great blessing and restoration. We often read Scripture in this way as a means of encouragement that although the Christian life is hard, the Bible has good news for us ‘weary Christian soldiers’ that the blessing is worth the battle and God is indeed for us. In his 2018 book Kiss the Wave Dave Furman points out that you and I are in fact a character in the central story of Jesus Christ…