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Author: Chris MacLeavy

34. ESTJ. Theology. Family. Marvel.

That’s a Wrap! (17/02)

Six Reasons Reformed Christians Should Embrace Six-Day Creation Although this is a rapid-fire response containing many ideas that are worth unpacking in greater detail, if you’ve ever wondered which side of the argument you fall on when it comes to the creation narrative, this One Stop Shop should get you thinking in the right direction. 29 and Single: When Life doesn’t go as Planned If marriage is your primary goal, then you are limiting God. You are limiting Him from pouring out blessings you will never know because your heart is set on something that the world is telling you should be a top priority. BONUS POST: From the ERLC, 3 reasons why God may be extending your singleness. When You Lose Your Temper with…

Reflections from Ash Wednesday

Yesterday I attended my first Ash Wednesday service at the Cathedral of St. Stephen, a few blocks from my office in Brisbane city. It was a remarkable, foreign, fascinating experience with which I found a number of resonances (not just off the Cathedral walls) and a few reservations (because hey, they’re Roman Catholic). Before I begin, you might want to read Four Thoughts on Lent 2018 to get a picture of where I’m coming from, before you decide to come for me. A few thoughts: A Time to Focus on Sin The opening words were a solemn call for repentance. The speaker highlighted that the world knows nothing of sin proper; they understand making mistakes, errors of judgement, and bad decisions (consciously, or in hindsight) but…

Write!

Arguably the thing that writers wish for more than any other (except perhaps a good publishing deal) is a distraction-free environment. It takes time and focus to get ideas out on the table, push them around, change their order or size, and arrange them into a carefully crafted piece of prose that somebody, somewhere might enjoy reading. Thankfully, there are ways to help us get closer to this Ideal Writing Zone; audible distractions can be reduced with noise-cancelling headphones, and visual distractions can be cut out by finding a quiet cubicle at a local college campus or library. But when it comes to technology, we live in a world of push notifications, constant connectivity, and the incessant demands of email, text messages, and social media.…

For Whom is God “Father”?

God is the Creator of everything. So, logically this makes him the father of all people, doesn’t it? Well, yes and no. Recently in my Christian Classics reading group, we’ve been taking a look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s exposition of the Sermon on the Mount, found inside his book Discipleship (Fortress Press, 2015). In Matthew 6, Jesus gives his companions a great gift in the form of a prayer; a prayer which contains many great and wonderful lessons that earnest disciples can find regarding how they are to pray, to whom they pray, and what this prayer reveals about who they truly are. Jesus begins his prayer in Matthew 6:9 with the words “Our Father”. Bonhoeffer observes that by the Holy Spirit, the disciples have been…

That’s a Wrap! (10/02)

Jen Hatmaker and the Power of De-Conversion Stories De-conversion stories are designed not to reach non-Christians but to reach Christians. And their purpose is to convince them that their crusty, backward, outdated, naïve beliefs are no longer worthy of their assent. A person simply shares his testimony of how he once thought like you did but have now seen the light. Eschatological Discipleship by Trevin Wax I’m an advocate for making disciples in a way that helps followers of Christ navigate the darkness of our contemporary age. As people who recognise they are living in the kingdom of God, our focus should be on bringing the values of the kingdom that is soon to be established in all its fullness to our world and issues today.…

The Soul-Soothing Rhythm of Sabbath

Biblical Sabbath is a 24 hour period where we stop work, enjoy rest, practice delight, and contemplate God. As my life gets busier I’ve come to realise that while the day of the week doesn’t matter, protecting the rhythm of regular routine does. The benefits are many, and there really aren’t any drawbacks to dedicating time to pause from hurry, unplug from time-consuming technology, and breathe knowing that the world continues to turn without you. But with deadlines to meet, plans to make, small children to care for, limited time for house and yard work, and the effort of preparing for another week, my plans to practice a regular biblical Sabbath can easily be thwarted. Strange as it sounds, I almost found myself needing to…

Four Thoughts on Lent 2018

Every year as Lent approaches, I encounter mixed opinions in the Christian world regarding this season on the church calendar. Here are a few simple thoughts on why I embrace Lent as a season of anticipating the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and honour him by making space to examine myself as the one in whose place he died. Lent Reminds Me of Who I Am John Calvin wrote that true wisdom consists in two things: knowledge of God and knowledge of self. For Calvin, there could be no knowledge of self without first knowing God. Like the rhythm of a regular Sabbath, or unplugging from technology once or twice a year, Lent is an invaluable period in my calendar where time is deliberately carved out…

That’s a Wrap (03/02)

Love Your Neighbor Enough to Speak Truth Rosaria Butterfield knows exactly what she’s talking about. Having been converted out of a life of disbelief and lesbianism to a life found in Christ, she writes from a place of deep empathy and experience when she rebuts Jen Hatmaker’s position that you can have your LGBT relationship and Christ too. I agree that the church has a long way to go in order to love the LGBT community well, but what Butterfield says is also true: The cross symbolizes what it means to die to self. We die so that we can be born again in and through Jesus, by repenting of our sin (even the unchosen ones) and putting our faith in Jesus, the author and finisher…

What I Read in January

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You It became clear to me very quickly why this book made so many Best of 2017 lists. Chapters 1 & 2 were so convicting, but simultaneously so eye-opening that I felt like I should stop and go over them again. Doing an excellent job of evaluating these 12 Ways, Reinke does an outstanding job of remaining impartial; not ever being pro-phone or anti-phone, simply laying down the facts and observing the ways culture has changed for good or ill. Read my full review here. Batman/The Flash: The Button Batman finds on his cave wall the bloody smiley-face button of the Comedian, the iconic symbol of Alan Moore’s Watchmen series from the 1980s. The story-behind-the-story is set for the…

Contend for the Gospel

Recently I noticed a church saying “let’s be known for what we’re for, not what we’re against”. While this is a nice idea and appeals to a generation desperately clinging to positivity and acceptance, it’s unrealistic—and frankly negligent—of a church to not be willing to say what they’re against. This pervasive theme of compromising biblical truths, sometimes masked in ‘ecumenicism’, is resulting in a church unwilling to stand for biblical truths if it means being labelled ‘divisive’ or the ever-increasing ‘bigot’. Would the early church have been as effective in their faithful ministry had they not out-rightly denied early heresies like Arianism or Gnosticism? There is a responsibility upon 21st century Christians to stand for the gospel, and stand against that which seeks to attack…

That’s a Wrap! (27/01)

Seven Reasons Why Church is Difficult for those Touched by Mental Illness As a parent—but also as a person—I understand some of the challenges addressed here. Stephen Grcevich, MD (child and adolescent psychiatrist) writes: Evangelically-minded churches have made great strides in recognizing the struggles common among persons in the church with mental illness. Where we have much work yet to do is in connecting with individuals and families outside the church and formulating strategies for welcoming them into our worship services and including them in activities most critical for making disciples. Something Better than the Gospel Fred Sanders. He said it. An Open Letter to Christians who are Using Porn The biggest thing about secret sin is that it’s secret. Tim Thornborough succinctly writes that the…

Three Personal and Professional Updates

The beginning of 2018 has not been uneventful for the MacLeavy family. It seems that life is always full, and often when it rains it pours. But we know that there are people out there who love to both pray, and offer practical support in many other ways. So I thought it was time we shared a few of our happenings (both personally and professionally). We’re thankful to God for placing us in a community of loving, praying, supportive people and so here are three quick updates we’d like to share with you. House & Family: Well, it seems the house we’re currently renting was sold on the weekend. While we’re yet to find out any of the details, if you’re in our area you…

Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken

When it comes to the pain brought about by sexual sin, Jesus has come to renew both the wayward and the wounded, the sexually immoral and the sexually victimized. The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that his grace extends healing to those suffering in sin, and to those who have suffered because of sin. In order to rightly renew sexuality, David Powlison writes that first “we must have a vision for what it is intended to be, for what’s gone wrong, and for how to bring about transformation.” In Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken, Powlison presents that better way—a way where victims of betrayal or assault can live a better life than just “Survivor”, and those currently trapped…

That’s a Wrap! (21/01)

Engaging with the Bible Beyond Merely Reading Melinda Cousins (Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Tabor) writes of the wonderful, less practiced ways in which we can—and should—engage with the Biblical text. As someone who became a Christian as a teenager in the 1990s, I was taught to read the Bible in my daily “quiet time” as a private, silent, individual, and visual exercise. (And to feel quite guilty when I found this difficult or unexciting). Studying and teaching the Bible in more recent years, I have been challenged by the idea that this is not the only way to engage with God’s Word, and perhaps not even the ‘best’ way. It is certainly not the way most members of the community of faith throughout…

Why it’s Better to Dive than Water Ski

I work hard to be picky about what books get to sit on my nightstand. I follow bloggers and publishers whose opinions, works, and theological viewpoints I’ve come to trust over the years. This means that in general, even though I’m reading a high volume of books, I can also look back and say that I’m reading a high quality of books too (because honestly, life is too short for poor prose and dodgy doctrine). 2017 was a great year for books. The ways in which my life has been enriched through the theologians, biographers, story-tellers, artists, and authors of all kinds in 2017 are many. Although I still have a long way to go, my eyes have been opened and my worldview expanded, and the point…

The Listening Life

Possibly the most transformative book I read in 2017 is Adam S. McHugh’s The Listening Life. Every page was like looking in a mirror; the sentences revealing how little I knew about true listening. McHugh writes I got serious about listening when I realised I was missing things. Layers of meaning and opportunities for connection lurking near the surface of my relationships, but I wasn’t hearing them, even with those people I loved most. I was skilled at saying wise and empathetic sounding things; I was more skilled at holding people at arm’s-length. Whenever a conversation turned towards emotions, I started looking for an exit. One of the characteristics of a genuinely good book of this genre is the ability of the author to speak…

That’s a Wrap! (13/01)

Don’t be Content with Sloppy Christianity Josh Buice writes If we’re not satisfied with sloppy football, sloppy airplane pilots or flight attendants, sloppy lawyers, or even sloppy waste management services—we should not be content with sloppy Christianity within our local church. Publicly, We Say #MeToo. Privately, We Have Misgivings New York Times opinion writer and feminist Daphne Merkin shines a side light on the current hot topic of #MeToo. I appreciate her call for a broader, earlier prevention strategy which includes ownership by individuals, parents, and society-at-large. Evaluating your Life for Fillers and Drainers I thoroughly appreciate the depth to which David Murray has taken his exploration of a life which is balanced, healthy, and has room to rest. I’ve purchased his recent best seller…

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You

Self-criticism in the digital age is a necessary discipline. The way we live, the way we interact, our personal habits, and our desire for distraction have all experienced a radical shift since the emergence of mobile Internet, the smart phone, and the built-in camera. The results are that often the smart phone has become our instantly accessible non-pharmaceutical antidepressant; providing instant gratification, escape, or the temporary high of acceptance that briefly lifts us out of our mundane. While our smart phones can be a God-send, in many ways pulling the lever on the slot machine of random distractions is the devil. In his 2017 book 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You, Tony Reinke reveals how smart phones have created a new set of struggles, and…

Going Analog

I am unashamedly a child of the Internet age. I am the IT expert in my family and I work in IT. I always have my phone within 10 metres of me and I read about half of my books on an electronic device. As an extension of that I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I haven’t used a physical Bible in any significant way for almost a decade. Instead I have the YouVersion app on my phone which gives me access to every conceivable Bible translation in a few seconds. So why is it that I’ve just ordered a physical Bible? Firstly, I’m changing how I’m reading the Bible this year. In past years I’ve followed plans that will take me through…

That’s a Wrap! (05/01)

Must I Join a Church to Be a Christian? This old chestnut pops up every year (or more). Jeff Robinson says it better than me. On the evidence of Scripture, to claim to be a devoted Christian and yet disclaim Christ’s church seems a little like saying, “I want to drive a nice car, but I’d rather not have an engine.” Or “I love to eat, but I despise food.” Meeting God in Depression In this episode of the Hills Church podcast my friend Matthew Bell shares the reality of the Dark Night of the Soul, provides some practical suggestions on regaining hope and restoring joy, and reminds us of the encouragement we find in knowing that God walked in our shoes in the person of Jesus Christ.…

What I Read in December

Norse Mythology This was a birthday gift, which just happen to be the day before Thor: Ragnarok came out in cinemas (and we had tickets for opening weekend). An excellent book full of fascinating stories told masterfully, and I found myself wishing the book was longer. Original stories of the beginnings of Oden, Loki, Thor, Sif, Surtur, and of course the end of Asgard: Ragnarok. Thoroughly enjoyable tales of myth and legend, and a welcome change of pace. A Wrinkle in Time This is one of the classic books that’s always been on my “I really should read that one day” list. The additional nudge that I needed was Disney’s promised 2018 movie adaptation. The short version? It is clear why this story is still…

The Most Read Articles of 2017

Writing blog posts isn’t a walk in the park, and without anyone to regularly fact-check, quality-control, or contribute content it can be hard to produce regular material that will invest value in your readership. There’s no magic formula, and (just like preaching) sometimes the posts you put the most work into fall flat, and the ones you weren’t so sure about publishing get more hits than you ever expected. I’ve tossed and turned over whether to keep an eye on the statistics of the blog (because it could easily become an idol), but I enjoy seeing what actually gets clicks, and that helps me craft my content. Here are the top 10 articles of 2017. 1. God and the Transgender Debate (September 2017). I loved…

Wednesdays on the Web (20/12)

5 Tips for Establishing a Devotional Routine with Your Toddler Just like the time and the content, so the strategy is actually best when kept short and simple. Even if you just read these 5 headings by Jared Kennedy, you’ll be on the right track. And if (like me) you’ve struggled more than once to find something that your kids can really get in to, perhaps the key is here. 40 Most Spiritually Charged Songs of 2017 I haven’t finished working my way through this list yet, but I’ve got to say how much I appreciate artists who carefully weave good theology into their craft. My favourite mention goes to Worthy by Beautiful Eulogy; I’ve listened to this album since it came out, and still…

Unending Joy

Could it be that many of the pursuits that pervade our magazines, cover stories, and current affairs today are simply differently sized and shaped searches for real, lasting joy? Of all the gifts that we can receive at Christmas, perhaps the most meaningful for our world today is joy. Few would deny that amongst shining pockets of hope that dot the landscape like lonely Christmas lights, the world is mostly getting worse. Wars, slavery, abuse at an all-time high, and many people powerless to the machinations of world leaders that no longer seem to hold to a system of ethics that aligns with traditional Christian values. So on this, the third Sunday of Advent it’s more timely than ever that we remember that Joy has…

Wednesdays on the Web (13/12)

Is the Pope Right about the Lord’s Prayer? I must admit I was fascinated to hear that the Pope has done more than simply recommend that the Lord’s prayer be amended for clarity, but that he’s actually given permission for his clergy to begin using his updated phrasing. To a certain extent, language shifts (or expands) over time, and words can take on a broader semantic range. So is the Pope on the right track here? UPDATE: Al Mohler weighs in on the discussion. Why Invest in the Men? The church should never lose focus on its goal to fulfill the Commission to share the good news of the gospel with those who haven’t yet heard. But the church’s ministry is two-fold, the other side…