Growing Yourself Up by Jenny Brown

What was the moment for you where you were just like a kid again on your summer holidays? I don’t mean in a gloriously liberated way, I mean in a totally immature way. Where you lost it and said things you shouldn’t have said. Or when you stayed silent and agreed to go along with a plan while inside you were seething. Or where you were confronted with the relationship that always stays in the same pattern of unbalance and awkwardness, leaving you frustrated that things aren’t different. What were the moments you wish you could snatch back? The words you wish you could reel in and undo. Or the words you long to have the courage to say. Keep those moments in mind then as we open this book together.

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Rachael CollinsComment
The Good Life in the Last Days by Mikey Lynch

As I sat in the pew, silently praying for one of our link missionaries along with the ex-missionary who was leading from the front, I was feeling fairly peaceful. I was finally coming to terms with the idea that my husband and I were just not called to the mission field or to full-time ministry, and that was ok. It didn’t mean we were second-rate Christians. After all, there are people right here in Sydney who need to hear the gospel, aren’t there? Our own families, to name a few. So God is calling us to stay here and raise our family and work at normal jobs. Fine. Good. The prayer finished, but before she left the front, the ex-missionary suddenly chimed “But you’ll never, never know if you never, never go!” In an instant, all my doubts & insecurities, guilt and discontentedness came flooding back in. I was a second-rate Christian after all!! Not brave enough, not passionate or sacrificial enough. Not really doing anything important.

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Rachael CollinsComment
The Good Life in the Last Days by Mikey Lynch

What a great time of year to be reading this book! January – after holidays have been enjoyed and we’re well and truly unwound and less scheduled. It’s a great opportunity to harness the optimism of a new year and make resolutions, plan for new ventures, re-think priorities. For our family, last year was pretty much a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of experience, so we’re trying hard to head into 2019 with more intentionality. But the task of navigating it all feels more than a bit overwhelming. How are we going to shape our time this year in a way that is God-honouring and is in line with what He is doing? What will discipling our kids look like this year? How can we do a better job of stewarding our resources? Should we step up and take on more ministry responsibilities at church? The list of possibilities goes on. Given the cacophony of questions that’s swirling around inside my mind, Mikey Lynch’s discussion of godly priorities is a calm, confident voice affirming that within the complexity of life, it is possible to live well in the ways that really matter. 

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Rachael CollinsComment
The Good Life in the Last Days by Mikey Lynch

What a great time of year to be reading this book! January – after holidays have been enjoyed and we’re well and truly unwound and less scheduled. It’s a great opportunity to harness the optimism of a new year and make resolutions, plan for new ventures, re-think priorities. For our family, last year was pretty much a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of experience, so we’re trying hard to head into 2019 with more intentionality. But the task of navigating it all feels more than a bit overwhelming. How are we going to shape our time this year in a way that is God-honouring and is in line with what He is doing? What will discipling our kids look like this year? How can we do a better job of stewarding our resources? Should we step up and take on more ministry responsibilities at church? The list of possibilities goes on. Given the cacophony of questions that’s swirling around inside my mind, Mikey Lynch’s discussion of godly priorities is a calm, confident voice affirming that within the complexity of life, it is possible to live well in the ways that really matter. 

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Rachael CollinsComment
The Biggest Story: How The Snake Crusher Brings us Back To The Garden

It’s that time of year: Carols, gingerbread, wreath. Making the Christmas fudge twice because the first batch failed. I’ve got my Names Of Jesus Advent Calendar strung up on the stairs and my present pile has ebbed and flowed as I’ve been able to give away gifts ahead of December 25. But there’s still room and still time for a few more thoughtful purchases.

Here then, is something that I think is truly special for a child aged 3-12. A gift that ties it all together.

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Rachael CollinsComment
The Bible in Australia by Meredith Lake

Have you ever come across the term ‘theological ethics’, and found it mighty daunting? As though two words consuming so many syllables could only be the interest of scholars? Or perhaps this is the first time you have heard that phrase, which could be sparking a range of feelings about what’s to come– trepidation, intrigue, disinterest, or all of the above. But what if I told you that even if you’ve shied away from it, or never heard of it at all, if you’re someone who reads and seeks to understand the Bible regularly, you have probably engaged in theological ethics? Among many influences the Bible is shown to have in the third part of The Bible in Australia, one is in the capacity of everyday Christians to think ethically about the world around them and the decisions in front of them.

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Rachael CollinsComment
The Bible in Australia by Meredith Lake

Have you ever come across the term ‘theological ethics’, and found it mighty daunting? As though two words consuming so many syllables could only be the interest of scholars? Or perhaps this is the first time you have heard that phrase, which could be sparking a range of feelings about what’s to come– trepidation, intrigue, disinterest, or all of the above. But what if I told you that even if you’ve shied away from it, or never heard of it at all, if you’re someone who reads and seeks to understand the Bible regularly, you have probably engaged in theological ethics? Among many influences the Bible is shown to have in the third part of The Bible in Australia, one is in the capacity of everyday Christians to think ethically about the world around them and the decisions in front of them.

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Rachael CollinsComment
The Bible in Australia by Meredith Lake

If you’re a Christian in Australia today, it could be easy to pick up Meredith Lake’s The Bible in Australia and assume that its pages contain something of a eulogy. We feel the place of the Bible in our country’s cultural conversation shrinking, with it viewed as irrelevant or even harmful. So surely any history of the Bible here would ring of its imminent end, save for a persistent presence in the hands of only niche fundamentalists?

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Rachael CollinsComment
The Bible in Australia by Meredith Lake

When you’re at a juncture, reaching a point of resolve soothes the worrying mind. Landing on a resolution brings us clarity, whether over little decisions like what to wear to a job interview, or big things like whether to take that job and change the course of your career. Resolve, courage of convictions, being decisive, knowing who you are and what you stand for – these are so often cast as virtues. But isn’t resolve a double-edged sword? For the Christian, to have such courage of conviction that your commitment to God’s word never wavers is commendable. But without interrogating our resolve and convictions in light of the Bible, aren’t we also in danger of acting upon a resolve that should never have been reached in the first place? This double-edged sword is what struck me as I read through part one of The Bible in Australia, “Colonial Foundations”. As Meredith Lake canvasses the Bible’s infancy in Australia, certain stories of resolve stood out to me. Some for revealing the use of the Bible as the weapon of an agenda, others for highlighting the dedication of everyday believers to the cause of the gospel, and of God’s word becoming accessible throughout Australia.

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Rachael CollinsComment
Living Life Backward - How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us To Live in Light Of The End

My family has recently become obsessed with the Netflix show Lost In Space. Two episodes in and I’m trying to get up to speed. We pause, family members explain complicated back stories. What I learn is this: this is easy to follow. I might need to close my eyes when they are battling eels under the ship or stealing the identity chip out of someone’s arm. It might be set years in the future and they might be thousands of light years away from earth (and Alpha Centauri - where they were hoping to reach). But it turns out all the problems of married life, parenthood, dealing with danger and people being people are all exactly the same. Even the robot just wants to belong and attempts falteringly to do his best to become part of the Robinson family. To my surprise, Ecclesiastes is still a helpful book for understanding Lost In Space. And it’s still a helpful book for understanding this life, ‘under the sun’.

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Rachael CollinsComment
Living Life Backward - How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us To Live in Light Of The End

I didn’t realise then how Ecclesiastes-like my Father’s words were, spoken soon after my brother’s death. “So you’ve embraced the theory of randomness,” he said to me quietly. “What?” I spluttered,  “No, I haven’t - I think God has a plan - I…” I’d just given a testimony at my daughter’s baptism. My daughter who came into this world just as my brother was leaving it. I didn’t expect my testimony to go there but big moments have a way of travelling off to that point, the sore painful point at which an essential branch was broken off our family, far too green. I frantically rewound my testimony in my mind. I’d said, “I don’t know why…”, “We can’t know…”. It felt foggy even then. I can remember the feeling of it but not exactly what I said. I felt worried for my Dad. I couldn’t hash things out well. I knew about the stages of grieving and I knew we were all in one but I didn’t know which one anybody was in.

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Rachael CollinsComment
Living Life Backward - How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us To Live in Light Of The End

 If you’ve never thought of your life as brief, you must know this picture - it’s you on your birthday. Let’s take a look. There’s those people you love gathered around, someone has thoughtfully whipped a camera out to take a photo of you blowing the candles out. Puff! You look so funny - lips pursed as your breath hits the flames. Thin trails of smoke float off the tops of the candles.  Another year’s gone. Whoever came up with that ritual was extremely wise. For that is how our lives are described in the book of Ecclesiastes. Gibson explains that the Hebrew word Hebel (translated as ‘vanity’ or ‘meaningless’ in our Bibles)- actually means breath, mere wind, the thin trail of smoke on a skinny birthday candle.  “Hebel, hebel, everything is utterly hebel.” says the preacher. And he’s onto something right? This life is temporary. It’s a breath. We celebrate birthdays because deep inside we know life is short. So what are we going to do with it?

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Rachael CollinsComment