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Hidden In Plain Sight

AG:

My recent post on the ‘Reading the Bible in 3D’ blog.

Originally posted on readingthebiblein3d:

dolphinsby Albert Garlando

Having read the Bible through many times over many years in many different ways I’ve always been trying to improve my comprehension of how, if at all, the whole story fits together. And not just in a systematic or logical way, but in the sense of how it teaches me about who God is, why he acts the way he does and what, if anything, I’m meant to do in response. One can dismiss it as a haphazard sedimentation of religious manipulation collected to control the masses or pacify the minorities, but that doesn’t explain the impact it has had across diverse (and often opposed) cultures and social groups throughout history.

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Posted by on 28/03/2014 in General

 

The Revelation will not be televised

One of the quickest ways to start an argument, … er, um … lively debate, among Christians is to bring up the book of Revelation. For some reason great charity and flexibility is accommodated on a whole host of bible teachings and topics but if you step out of line with your view about this book, look out! Heretic! Liberal! Fundamentalist!

Most believe and accept that Revelation combines literary genres and most agree that apocalyptic is the major genre. But what is apocalyptic? For some Mad Max or Zombie Apocalypse come to mind and, sadly, that is usually reflected in how they teach the book. For others a more scholarly definition might be used where apocalyptic isn’t necessarily about a nuclear holocaust. It’s a story involving supernatural symbolism. Apocalyptic books (like Daniel in the Old Testament or works such as 1 Enoch and The Apocalypse of Abraham) gave a minority audience, under duress or persecution, reassurance to hang in there and anticipate vindication. The books rely heavily on symbolism and cultural allusion to get the point across. A close idea in concept today might be the way comedians use satire, innuendo and double entendre to ridicule politicians. In the West of course they aren’t subtle because they’re not going get crucified upside down or thrown into a colosseum and ripped apart by wild animals. But, in the first century, the way to get your point across that the little guy can stand up to the man, is via an apocalyptic narrative.

Revelation fits this method. It’s a story; it involves lots of cultural and religious symbolism; the recipients were facing constant danger; it uses coded satire and parody to portray oppressive authority figures who get their comeuppance. Reading it this way, instead of as a codified prediction of microchips, atomic bombs and bar code technology gave a sense to Christians in Asia Minor that the abusive intolerant Roman officials and sectarian Jews didn’t have the last say in how the world will turn out.

Today instead of parodying Rome the writer might have included media infotainment personalities and lifestyle reality show comperes. After all, these are the dominant figures that control the opinions and mood of the public. Today going against the tide of popular opinion as perceived and broadcast in mainstream media will result in ostracism, exclusion and derision. Don’t believe me? What’s your view on changing marriage laws? How about the solution to management of boat people? Now, what’s your real view compared to the one you “share” with your workmates? Well, of course they’re the same, aren’t they? You’re not a racist bigot after all, are you? Well, not so long as you stay quiet about the idols and altars of the MSM.

And behold I was seated in lounge and the TV came on and I looked into heaven and heard the introductory theproject_panel1_300fanfare and I heard the voice of the great host say, “Sit down and I will show you news, done differently, and you will know what to think about the things you have seen.” There was a panel in the centre of the vision with four great co-hosts each one beautifully styled and surrounded by a great audience. The audience clapped and cheered every time the co-hosts spoke. One of the co-hosts was a comedian who belittled the prime ministers and presidents of the world with his razor wit. Another, next to him had the face of a maiden and laughed at all the comedian’s jokes. The third was a special guest brought into the studio to be a foil for the fourth co-host. Night and day the fourth co-host asserted his dogmatic opinion. His opinion was superior to all others and no other opinions would be tolerated, not on his watch and not in his country. And the audience members all bowed to the wit and charm of the co-hosts and surrendered their will to those who sat at the news desk for the co-hosts are all-knowing and none dared disagree with them. Their words are all-powerful, just and true.*

Revelation is not about zombies with microchips in their foreheads. It’s a satirical parody of the infotainment masters of the first century. Their dominance of the ratings wars will not last and their coronation will not be televised.
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* Check out Revelation Chapter 4 to see how the original author did it.

 
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Posted by on 28/03/2014 in Bible, Culture, Hermenutics, Just for fun

 

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There’s no fire without Oxygen

Paul told Timothy, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God” (1 Tim 1:6).

The flame of passion, enthusiasm, perseverance, faithfulness, and integrity in Christian ministry needs have a fresh supply of “oxygen” to keep it alive. We know, as Bunyan aptly illustrated with the House of the Interpreter in Pilgrim’s Progress, that supply comes from God himself. The means God uses to effect that supply is, more often than not, other Christian practitioners provoking, encouraging and strengthening each other.

KCC’s Oxygen is an Australian national interdenominational ministry conference for anyone in Christian service. Their objective is to refresh those in ministry as they refresh each other and continue in the work of the gospel.

Don Carson is one of the key note speakers this year. Here’s a taster of what to expect if you go. Will you be going to Oxygen this year?

 

 
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Posted by on 26/03/2014 in leadership, ministry

 

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Pancakes, Lent and Jesus

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* A seasonal re-post *

Fat Tuesday” is the day before “Ash Wednesday” which marks a 40 day countdown to Easter Weekend. Got all that? Probably not, unless you were either raised in a liturgical Church or you live in countries where Fat Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday are a big deal.

In Australia this hasn’t been the case so much until recently. Retailers can seize upon as a commercial opportunity and some Church and Community groups use it as a chance to connect and serve their members.

For many Christians, particularly the Catholic, Eastern and Liturgical groups, Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent. A period of sacrifice, penance or fasting in the lead up to the annual observance of Jesus death and resurrection.

Lent is a transliteration of a term with Germanic and Latin roots that means “lengthen” and was synonymous with the Spring season, as in, ‘the days begin to lengthen in Spring’. Thus the name, Lent. That’s all well and good if you’re in the Northern hemisphere, if not, it’s just a weird word.

What lent has come to mean and is now practiced all over the world, is a period of sacrifice or partial fasting. Sanctified weight loss programs exploit the vulnerable, as do anti-cigarette campaigners, alcohol prohibitionists seize the opportunity to get people to quit drinking and all manner of well meaning propaganda finds it’s way into our life. One year a Church leader tried the same angle with iPods. A friend of mine is doing a similar “fast” from Facebook and other social media. I might join him.

Just like Chicken Soup, there’s little harm from abstinence of a few luxuries. Take a break from your iPod if you must, leave off the chocolate and lose a kilo or a belt notch. So long as you beware the trap in thinking that your abstinence somehow makes you closer to God, more loveable to God, or more worthy of his forgiveness, grace and goodness.

Nothing less than Jesus can save you, give you God’s forgiveness and assurance that your heavenly Father loves you enough to send his unique Son to die in the place of sinners. Once Lent is over and Christians celebrate Easter Sunday, it’s not because they get to eat chocolate again. It is because Jesus has put an end to Satan, sin and death and is our sovereign and almighty Lord.

If staying off Facebook or your iPod helps you make that clear to your friends, please go ahead. I wonder though, if you’re not giving up anything for Lent, for whatever reason, how do you view those that do?

 
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Posted by on 05/03/2014 in Culture, discipleship, Jesus, Just for fun

 

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Little Treasures Playgroup in Marsfield

AG:

New playgroup in Northern Sydney

Originally posted on Little Treasures:

Little Treasures

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Posted by on 04/01/2014 in Family

 

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Regret, Repent, Resolve

Looking forward, looking back

Looking forward, looking back

I enjoy the annual reviews that media and news outlets publish each end of year. It is interesting to revisit and review some of the significant events of the past 12 months and reflect on the great achievements and losses of the past year. Many use the end of a year to plan their “New Year Resolutions”. 

If you think about it, resolutions, of this sort, usually have 3 steps. e.g. You resolve to lose some weight in 2014: “I resolve to lose 5 kg (& keep it off!)” – this comes with regret that you gained those 5 kg through lack of discipline in my diet and exercise, so you opt to repent of your bad habits and resolve to reverse or reform to achieve this resolution. The pattern that emerges is: 

  • Regret of past wrong doing (or lack of right doing)
  • Repent – reject and turn away from the past
  • Resolve to commit and achieve the future (and in the case of the Christian, trust God to enable you) in 2014

If you’re a Christian, why not consider some resolutions oriented towards growing in your knowledge of God and resolve to live more consistently and fully as a representative of Jesus. Pray, and ask God to give you insight on what areas of your life are lacking in godliness, or are outright sinful, or are hindering your effectiveness as or growth as a follower of Jesus. (Psalm 139:23-24, Hebrews 12:1-2)

Here are a few suggestions to start. May God bless and enable you to strive after him and see and experience his greatness, goodness and glory in 2014.

1. Read the Bible Through in entirety by Dec 31st 2014 (YouVersion has some great plans, if you’re not sure where to start)

2. OR Read the New Testament through in entirety by Dec 31st 2010 (great for brand new Christians – try the YouVersion plans)

3. Volunteer and commit to a service team for the entire year. e.g. Youth Group, Kids Church or Sunday School, Music, Media, Playgroup, a new opportunity suited to your gifts & talents etc.

4. Go on a short term mission trip (see me for details or check out the SIM list of opportunities in each country)

5. Host a “Simply Christianity” event in your home for 6 weeks during 2014

6. Lead a “Simply Christianity” event in yours or someone else’s home for 6 weeks in 2014

7. Talk to me about giving a small (5 min) talk in Sunday Service on your testimony

8. Loose some weight to be in better health to serve the Lord and your family in 2014

9. Start (and continue) giving a set amount of money to missions or a project in 2014

10. Decide (and stick to it) to increase your sacrificial giving to the general offering and operating expenses of Church in 2014

11. Pray with your family (out loud) at least once per week (not at Church & not as part of grace for a meal).

12. Read the bible out loud at least once per week with your family (again, not at Church etc

p.s. My resolutions for 2014 include spending more time with my wife and daughter, 1 on 1 catch ups with men in our Church, reading several books, reading and re-learning my Greek New Testament, and improving my fitness via cycling. What are yours?

 
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Posted by on 31/12/2013 in Culture, discipleship

 

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2013 in review – pretty quiet on the blog front this year

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,800 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 
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Posted by on 31/12/2013 in Blogroll

 
 
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