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Category: General

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 I read over 52 books; a goal that I’ve reached the last few years and have benefitted greatly from. This has given rise to a number of unique opportunities and aided in my spiritual development in myriad ways (for which I’m grateful) but perhaps in doing this good activity, I’ve missed out on what is best. Taking three months away from the blog at the end of last year, I took some time to think about what I would love 2019 to look like. I thought and prayed about my world in the usual concentric circles; me, my wife and children, my extended family, my local church, and my community. Seven days into 2019, and I think I’ve finished wording my resolutions—the things I’d love to be able to look back on in December and say “we’ve come a long way.”

Before we get started, it needs to be said: these aren’t simply resolutions for the new year; they’re life goals. And if you’re reading them, then you have permission to keep me accountable.

1. Resolved to Love the Lord with all my Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength

Key verse: Mark 12:30

Perhaps this one sounds obvious, but there’s no area of life that this one doesn’t—read shouldn’t—affect. Loving God with my heart means that I need to identify and smash all the other idols that vie for my affection. Loving God with all my soul means that I see him as my supreme treasure and my greatest delight and that I choose to immerse myself in things that glorify him, aggressively saying no to whatever doesn’t. Loving him with my mind means that I don’t seek a purely feelings- or experience-based Christianity, but that I meditate on his Word, that I study the Scriptures and work out this great salvation with reasoned, intelligent, yes even (gasp) academic thought. Finally, loving God with my strength means that I work. The Christian life is a battle, and it takes strength to fight. It takes fist-clenching self-control sometimes to not argue with angry family members about things that don’t matter all that much. It takes courage to say no to sin, and all the determination I can muster to get out of bed and read my Bible rather than cling to those last few moments of sleep in order to be more conformed to the image of Christ. This year, I resolve to love God in all of these things more than the year before.

2. Resolved to Love and Lead my Family Well

Key verse: Ephesians 5:25, 6:4

John MacArthur writes:

The Bible says a man is responsible to lead in his home, care for his wife, and provide instruction for his children. Those responsibilities are clearly spelled out in Scripture. When they’re neglected, the family will fall apart.

Being a Dad Who Leads, p15

My wife is a God-given treasure which I thank God for daily. She is also my greatest responsibility when it comes to teaching, exhorting, encouraging, and discipling one another in Christ. If I am to love her, nurture her, protect her, and see her grow in virtue and Christlikeness, I must be continually investing in her. More prayer with her. More prayer for her. Finding and facilitating more opportunities for her to use her gifts to grow others and flourish as she serves. Sometimes that will mean laying down something of mine so she can pick something up. That’s what I’m called to do.

Our youngest boys’ (currently aged 2 and 4) vocabulary is exploding. Lately there’s been so many new words that I’m feeling left behind by their progress. This is a terrific stage because now we’re starting to really get into conversations about God, creation, Jesus, sin, and where we fit in God’s Big Story. My wife has the stay-at-home advantage; she’s doing a remarkable job at teaching them, talking with them, and exploring God with them. My role is to encourage that, be involved in it, and lead (when I’m home) into deeper waters that cover the full counsel of God. Then there’s family devotions.

Here’s something I’ve come to realise, albeit better late than never. More important than how you do family devotions is that you do family devotions. I’ve become convinced that one of the biggest contributors to why I’ve not been able to get family devotions off the ground (because ultimately I’m responsible) is because I’ve expected too much, I’ve set my expectations too high, and I’ve lost sight of the fact that reading the Bible and praying is enough. Sure we could sing songs. We could go through a catechism. Maybe one day we will. But this year, five minute family devotions have begun with me in a much better headspace to lead, and if we miss a day, we keep going.

3. Resolved to Faithfully Preach the Word of God

Key verse: 2 Timothy 4:2

Before seminary, I knew exactly why I was enrolling. After graduation, the desire to see hearts and lives transformed by the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ has continued to grow and grow. It is true that the more we know, the more we realise we don’t know. It’s also true that knowledge of God, his attributes, his Word, and his ways doesn’t puff up (although, it can) but on the contrary, it serves to pour fuel on the fire of our worship—the more we know of God, the more we worship him and give him thanks. I love the work required of the preacher. I love the hours of careful, prayer-soaked study; the survey of the theological giants that have come before us; the crafting of words in ways that people will best receive and remember the glorious truths of the gospel. This circles back to the point I raised in my introductory thoughts; I’ve read a lot of books annually in years gone by, but this year I’m opting for fewer books and much more Bible. Included in this is to carry out an in-depth study of one book of the Bible each month, for the whole month, with as much time and energy and resources as I can muster. I’m looking forward to digging deep into the Word in 2019, and I’m looking forward to sharing these life-transforming truths as the Lord allows.

Soli Deo Gloria

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 Arthur. Called a female C. S. Lewis, I had no idea how much L’Engle has contributed to shaping Christian thought. I’ve learned a great deal from her through this biography about prayer, worship, reading scripture, breaking bread in community, and conversations with spiritual friends as a means to not only fight the darkness but let shine the Light so lovely.
  • Sola: How the Five Solas Are Still Reforming the Church edited by Jason K. Allen. This book is terrific. Every chapter is a wonderful, accessible primer for those who aren’t yet familiar with the five Solas of the Reformation. Each contributing theologian brought relevance for both the individual Christ-follower and the church. A quick read, and a worthy one.
  • The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield. It’s true we are creatures who learn from story. And Butterfield’s stories demonstrate the messy, costly, rewarding ins-and-outs of what ‘Radically Ordinary Hospitality’ looks like: 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.
  • Spiritual Gifts: What They Are and Why They Matter by Thomas Schreiner. Books abound on spiritual gifts. Some are clear and helpful; some are downright kooky. Schreiner’s is the former, and I’m deeply appreciative of his conviction, but also his compassion towards those who hold a different view. Pick this one up, or read my full review for more (if you like. No pressure).
  • Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot by Mo Isom. Isom writes with brutal honesty about her struggles with a distorted picture of sex, and the damage it wrought on her body, mind, and soul. But through this powerful testimony of her encounter with an even more powerful truth in the person of Jesus Christ the Redeemer, Mo calls on the church to not simply declare the “do not’s” of sex but to articulate a full, beautiful picture of the intimate and Christ-exalting image that sex is.

Podcasts

I subscribe to around 12-15 podcasts. These are mostly sermons from churches (including my own); lectures and chapel talks from seminaries; or thoughtful Christian takes on current events. I’m looking to branch out in 2019. For now, here’s two that I’ve enjoyed the most.

  • The Happy Rant. What can I say: these guys are a blast. We like the same things, we mock the same things; it’s a beautiful friendship.
  • Questions Kids Ask because kids ask tough questions, and I benefit from hearing how other people are nuturing their kids to love Jesus.

Movies

(I asked our eldest to contribute these recommendations for me. The Marvel bias has now been explained.)

  • Avengers: Infinity War. With character chemistry that is impressive (given the size of the cast) and action sequences that are visually fun without being messy, the Russo brothers made a superbly re-watchable film.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This is how feature superhero animation should be done. Stylistically, the comic-book visuals were terrific (and didn’t get tiresome); the hip-hop soundtrack perfectly suited; and the Spider-verse storyline stayed simple enough to be enjoyed easily by a wide audience.
  • Black Panther. Cultural commentary genius aside, this felt like part of the MCU while remaining a solid stand-alone film. Michael B. Jordan was a great villain. Also, Black Panther: The Album is a diverse, bold soundtrack that represents Wakanda’s identity perfectly.
  • Aquaman. A fresh take on the king of the seven seas which worked. Momoa fit the role (just don’t think too hard about Nicole Kidman as his mother? Really?) and the villains were convincing, without being over-balanced.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp. Every bit as funny as Ant-Man, this was a welcome light-hearted film after the devastation left after the events of Infinity War.

Music

And to finish, here are five albums that I’ve given the most air time to in 2018.

  • A Legendary Christmas by John Legend. Christmas music that isn’t cheesy? You bet. Upbeat, brassy, feel-good tunes for the festive season.
  • Lab Experiments Vol. 2 by Cookin’ on 3 Burners. Fresh 2018 funk from Melbourne.
  • Worthy by Beautiful Eulogy. Possibly my most played album the year. These guys are master lyricists, poets, and musicians. Every word carefully crafted, every song a story. Do yourself a favour.
  • Songs for Space Travel by Caleb James. This album is everything I’ve been waiting for.

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. I hope it’s going to be really valuable for myself personally, for my family discipleship, and for my ministry to the church, but it requires carving out a chunk of time, so something’s gotta give.

Third, I’ve reached my reading goal for the year early (52 books completed). So, while I still have a number of books from publishers that are waiting to be reviewed, I’ll be limiting myself to posting those reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and I’m going to slow right down on writing/reviewing here for the months of October to December.

What does that mean for the blog? It means there’s not going to be any new content until Jan 2019, although I may drop in a post about Christmas—because that’s a fairly important event, y’know?—and perhaps a quick post on My Top Books for 2018 if other priorities permit.

There’s plenty to be done over the next 3 months, and our family appreciates your prayers.

See you in the new year!

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 Emmaus.

Probably the most valuable insight that I took away was that a responsible reading (and subsequently, responsible preaching) of the Old Testament text necessarily requires that we must first hear what Brevard Childs called the ‘discrete voice of the Old Testament’. It is so important that upon first reading an Old Testament text, we don’t move too quickly to seeing Christ in the text (a very easy danger to succumb to, as we naturally read the Old Testament with knowledge of the New Testament in front of our eyes). Rather, we should slow down and linger to see the richness of what Longman called the ‘cognitive environment’ of the original audience, in order to see how YHWH relates to his people, and the lessons to be learned therein. After this comes the time to do a second reading of the same Old Testament text, wherein we can now open our eyes to begin to see the biblical trajectories, Christological expectations, and the way in which Jesus often takes these texts and not only fulfils them, but imbues them with greater, fuller meaning and requirement.

Dr. Longman firmly believes that when it comes to preaching from the Old Testament, this is the most faithful method of study/delivery and that we should incorporate into our preaching time dedicated to drawing lessons from both the first and second reading in this manner. Further, he disagreed that allegory is an appropriate way to preach the Old Testament stories (Goliath does not represent your struggle with your broken toaster, and Daniel’s den of lions is not a picture of your difficult situation at work). He does believe that they contain moral lessons that carry forward to us today, but these are brought out through a proper treatment of their historical context first, and greater awareness through the lens of the New Testament second.

This was such a valuable lecture, and very timely given the current discussions around the importance of the Old Testament in the life of the contemporary Christian. There’s much more to say, but the reminder of the Old Testament’s utter relevance to the Christian today, and his methodology on how to faithfully apply the Old Testament were invaluable to me. I praise God for his gifting men like Dr. Longman with minds that can wrestle with these issues, and clearly communicate them in ways that I can understand.

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 the Old Testament. Yet, Pastor Stanley would rather new Christians not leave the faith because of a struggle with the Old Testament; instead, he has encouraged them to “unhitch” it as the New Testament church did.

Join me on Monday, 20th August at 7:30pm (North Pine Baptist Church) as we explore Stanley’s comments, and seek to answer the question, “Can you retain the Christian faith while rejecting the Old Testament?”

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 read a lot. I try to write a lot. Mostly about Christian-y things but I’ve recently re-ignited a love for fiction, history, memoirs, and other quality non-fiction works. Reading Writers is exactly what the name implies: Christian authors getting together to discuss what they’re currently writing, reading (and sometimes how movies ruined that) and how the joy of reading widely can help us as Christians in many and varied ways.

5 Minutes in Church History

(run time: approx 5 minutes)
I took at least 3 church history classes during my M.Div, and left every lecture wanting more. Dr. Stephen Nichols helps to keep that hunger under control by throwing me 5 minute tid-bits that are packed full of value and interest about the people, places, and events of the church throughout history. I love this podcast because—like the intro says—for the Christian it’s not just a long list of disconnected things that happened in a different place and time, but this is our story, our family history. Learning from these episodes enriches my life, enlarges my understanding of God, and engages my worship for the great God who orchestrates history.

Word Matters

(run time: approx 20 minutes)
This is a very handy podcast wherein each episode Brandon Smith and Trevin Wax explore one of the most confusing passages in the Bible. I find this podcast helpful overagainst other similar discussions, because as well as working through a confusing or controversial passage, Brandon and Trevin discuss the popular interpretations (some right, some less so), offer potential solutions, and finish by talking through practical ways to teach the passage, which serves to help me not just in discipling others, but in proper practical application to my own life.

The Happy Rant

(run time: approx 45 minutes)
These are semi-serious conversations between intelligent people that aren’t too proud to laugh at themselves and their tribe, or rant about how Christianity intersects with culture, entertainment, and sports with varying degrees of success and humor. The Happy Rant always makes me laugh, makes me think, and gives me a break from the (often depressing) deluge of disasters and devastion that the world suffers through today. In short, Barnabas Piper, Ted Kluck, and Ronnie Martin cheerfully rant about things that don’t matter all that much and a few that do. They also have a coffee blend named for them, and I can personally attest that it is delicious.

Questions Kids Ask

(run time: approx 15-20 minutes)
This is a fun, easy listen with a different guest each week sharing about how discipleship looks with their kids, what the best parenting advice they’ve received has been, and talking out how they’d answer tough questions about God. Host Mary C. Wiley holds Bachelor degrees in Theology and English, and is pursuing a Masters in Theological Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Juggling studies with her role as Women’s and Kids Book Strategist at B&H Publishing Group, plus her 2 kids under 3 means she’s well-equipped to offer help with working out how to fit big theological concepts into packages that little minds can understand.

So there are 5 podcasts that are a regular companion in my car at the moment. Maybe you’re listening to something similar to these, or maybe you’re into something completely different. I’m always interested in recommendations, and I’d love to hear from you.

EVENT: God and the Transgender Debate

Can a boy be “trapped” in a girl’s body? Can modern medicine actually “reassign” sex? And what is the most loving response towards a person who is experiencing conflict between the gender they appear to be, and the gender they feel that they are?

The phenomenon of transgenderism raises many important questions and is full to overflowing with ontological assertions; the big idea being that people are who they claim to be, regardless of any evidence to the contrary. But is this conviction—that we are the sum total of what our feelings say we are—supported by biology, psychology or philosophy?

This Monday (21st May 2018) I will be examining the transgender movement in light of current scientific and psychiatric research, and showing how the gospel of Jesus Christ calls the church to respond to the transgender community in several unique ways, ultimately pointing them to the redemption and healing found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Questions? This 45 minute presentation will be followed by a time of open Q&A.

Monday 21st May, 7:30pm
North Pine Baptist Church
44-46 Ogg Rd, Murrumba Downs, Queensland

 

For the event, directions, and details see the Facebook event page.

4 Things I’m Enjoying Right Now

There are many things I’m enjoying in life right now. These things include quality coffee with my Aeropress; Avengers: Infinity War; being a dad and watching my younger kids (age 2 and 3) discover new things; my own (hopefully) journey of growth in understanding my wife more; learning new things about Jesus; Jesus himself (roughly in that order, ascending). But, here are four more things I’m specifically enjoying this week.

1. Writing

Lately I’ve found myself spending more time with pen and paper. I’m not a neat writer or a fast writer either, but I’m still particular about the tools I use. Being left-handed I can’t tolerate pens that pool ink or take too long to dry, and I don’t like cheap notebooks with paper that bleeds through or binding that can’t handle a little bending. So when I pull out my moleskine notebook and Uni-ball Vision Elite Rollerball Pen (which is the greatest affordable pen in the world) I have confidence in the tools, which means I can write with less distraction and put more focus into carefully crafting sentences. I’ve been writing more lately (even if no one else will ever read most of it) and reading more about becoming a better writer too. Finally, paper and pen bring the added benefits of being Internet-free (no pop-up notifications), and they don’t require a power supply.

2. Night Walks with my Dog

What began as an obligation to the new four-footed member of our family has fast become a routine that I’ve not only tried hard to maintain, but have come to take full advantage of. After our 2 young ones are in bed, I head out with our puppy (who is almost 12 months old) because he is frustratingly nocturnal and gets his biggest energy boost after the sun has gone to bed. But these walks under star-filled skies with only my thoughts and my dog have come to be a time to debrief the day, think and pray through lessons learned, and re-center myself. Mornings are for to-do lists and making appointments; night walks have become a chance to theologically reflect on the day, and listen for ways I can become better for tomorrow.

3. Productivity Apps

I have a terrible memory. Thanks to apps such as Todoist (which I talk about here and here) I’ve managed to build scaffolding around this weakness and make my way through life without disappointing everyone who I’ve made a commitment to in one way or another. Unfortunately, my iPhone was broken recently and my employer issued me a Samsung phone to replace it—which incidentally you’ll find at number 1 on my ‘5 Things I’m Decidedly Not Enjoying Right Now’. Despite this setback, Todoist still plays an integral part in nudging me to run those errands, pay that bill, and pray for that person. I’m grateful because it gives me freedom to fix my active attention on the things that matter most, while not forgetting the things that still need to be done.

4. Bandcamp

Lately I’ve been living in Bandcamp’s Jazz>Big Band section. I love the trumpets, the fast-moving keys, and the women whose smoky, full-bodied voices take you back to the swing and jazz of the 1920s with all the quality and clarity of an album produced in 2018. I’m also enjoying discovering bands I’ve never heard of like Moonshine Rhythm Club (Nashville, Tennessee), Hot Sugar Band (Paris, France), and Joe Smith & The Spicy Pickles (Denver, Colorado). There’s no ads, I don’t have to tolerate ‘suggestions’ of other artists mixed in with my songs of choice, and yet I can still try whole albums before I buy, and buy cheaply to boot.

What have you been enjoying lately?

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. Being writers at heart, the creative team behind Write! are perfectly placed to develop a writing app which is clean and encourages focus, while capturing all the features I need in an uncluttered interface.

All the Mod Cons, and a Kitchen Sink

Write! has all the modern conveniences that we’ve come to expect from an app of this kind: full cross-platform, multi-device support; frequent auto-saves to cloud storage, so everything you write is safe and sound; multiple workspaces for different areas of your life, each containing as many tabs as your writing requires; and not only is there a multitude of font and text-formatting options, but everything is tucked away so that literally all you see is your next masterpiece (or the next blog post, if you’re less ambitious, like me) in a borderless user interface.

How I Use Write!

By far my favourite feature is Focus Mode. Activating this feature gives you the option to fade out all surrounding paragraphs except for the one you’re currently working on. I also appreciate the custom right-click drop-down menu containing the font, style, and colour options at a click, and without having to search through toolbars. The other neat thing I’ve come to love is the productivity boost provided by the plethora of shortcuts for text and paragraph formatting which (once you commit a bunch to memory) help to make better use of whatever writing time you have, especially when coupled with autocomplete and the spellchecker for those long or often misspelled words.

Publish to WordPress

As a regular blogger, this feature (added in Jan 2018) was the icing on top of an already impressive-looking cake. For all the features that I’ve come to love; the quick keys, the shortcuts, the unlimited Ctrl+Z (even after I close and reopen the app), the seamless, pain-free integration with my WordPress site is a thing of beauty. Just enter the specifics, and hit publish. There are so many reasons why Write! is the best app I’ve come across for writing of all kinds.

 

 

This post has been sponsored by the creators of Write! via a free license for review. I was not required to write a positive recommendation.
Check out Write! Here

 

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 can probably expect a call from us in the near future requesting moving boxes. Our lease doesn’t run out for several months, so finding out whether the house has been sold to investors or owner/occupiers in the first step. Also, if you’re local, you may have noticed that we bought a new car recently. While it makes sense to upgrade from our 2004 model to a shinier 2011 model, the main reason is actually much more exciting. We’re expecting another baby in August, and we’re going to need more room. Buying a third baby seat for the car was a little bit daunting, and we’ve also decided not to find out the baby’s gender. So over the next few months, we’ll be working towards a new place with extra space!

A New Theology Project: Recently I was invited to be part of a new initiative that will be launching soon in 2018 at North Pine Baptist Church. Running a couple of times each term, we’ll be holding some adult theology classes. With the aim of discussing topics that are more easily addressed in a class-style environment, these talks aim to be much less formal than a Sunday sermon, and include a generous time for Q&A at the end. I’ll be teaching a few of these classes, addressing a range of contemporary topics from a Christian worldview. It’s going to be exciting!

Career Questions: There have been a number of internal restructures within the company I work for recently, and this continues to cause a low-level anxiety in most of the staff who remain. While I’m fairly confident that my position is secure, as the sole income earner for our family of five I’d prefer to know for sure. With another restructure looming on the horizon, please pray with me that I would have wisdom to manage what God gives our family, and have trust in his sovereignty to not only meet our every need but orchestrate every circumstance for our good and his glory.

 

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 reviewing this book. It has been instrumental in shaping—and expanding—my worldview with regard to sex, identity, homosexuality, and the psychology of conditions like gender dysphoria.

2. Christless Christianity (May 2017). Horton’s book continues to be relevant in his critique of a Christianity which displaces pursuit of Christ for a more palatable set of beliefs. Ben Smith provided this pointed summary.

3. Know Christ’s Love (July 2017). A good reminder that God isn’t interested merely in intellectual assent, but an all-in love expressed in and through community.

4. How to Love Those Who are Hurting (January 2017). Furman taught me a great deal about how to love people walking through pain and suffering; including what not to do or say.

5. Sing! (October 2017). Singing with the gathered body of believers is one of my favourite ways to worship. The Getty’s biblically rich exhortation to think deeply on this expression is wonderful and relevant to every Christian.

6. Lessons in the Art of Giving Away Your Life (June 2017). Ever wanted a clear picture of what someone living as part of God’s kingdom looks like? Look no further.

7. Give Up Lent for Lent? (March 2017). Part of me enjoys writing posts like this to poke fun at Christians who think it abhorrent to adopt practices that aren’t specifically mentioned in the bible. But I deeply appreciate and look forward to the opportunity for refocus that Lent provides each year.

8. Betrayed by my Own Body (February 2017). Still a terrible runner. Still running.

9. What Makes a Missionary? (March 2017). Plenty of folks have adopted the title “Missionary” over the years. These are my thoughts on whether you may (and should) lay claim to the title, or not.

10. Justification is Not ‘Just-as-if-I’d Never Sinned’ (July 2017). This year I’ve come across so many Christians leaning precariously on comfortable clichés that I’d like to see dropped from our vocab. Oh, here’s one now.

There are some big things on the horizon for 2018 (and some that may still fall to the cutting room floor, depending on other commitments) but from me to you, thanks for reading!