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

I pile my belongings on top of the car wash counter. One hot glue gun, two packets of multi-coloured paddle pop sticks and a little black book. The lady processing my payment eyes my hot glue gun, my two packets of multi-coloured paddle pop sticks and my modern looking book on death. “Oooooh, creative.” She touches the cover of my book, “What’s this one about?” “Um,” I scramble, having only just bought it, and searching for my wallet at the same time, “Thinking about the fact you’ll die, so that you can live life better - It’s in the Bible.” I smile. She gives me a look, “How do you want your free coffee?” she asks. Her eyes darting back to the safety of the glue gun and the paddlepop sticks.

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Rachael CollinsComment
Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson

We have seen in the first two parts of this review how Humble Roots points us to see humility not as a way we feel, but as an understanding of our creaturely dependence on God. The bulk of the rest of the book looks at how this humility plays out across a variety of aspects of life. Anderson tackles our bodies, our emotions, our intellect, how we steward our gifts, make plans and face suffering and death. There is much to be challenged by and reflect on in each of these sections, but I thought I’d share with you just two that stood out for me.

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Rachael CollinsComment
Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson

I wonder if, like me, you hear someone tell you to “just seek God and let him take care of the rest” and feel your blood pressure start to rise even higher! Here is yet another thing you are failing to do right, and not having that sense of rest feels like an indicator that you are failing to truly trust God. Anderson is quick to inform us that telling a person who feels this way to ‘just seek God’ is not actually helpful. The book will go on to flesh out ways that we can trust Jesus for rest and how he frees us from our burdens by calling us to rely less on ourselves and more on him. How he frees us by calling us to humility.

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Rachael CollinsComment
Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson

We know as Christians that we are called to be humble. But what does it mean to be humble? If you surveyed your average congregation I wonder what kind of answers you would get. Perhaps being a doormat? Or how about having low self-esteem? Perhaps being modest and deflecting praise? I’m sure you’d hear at least one person quote the classic C.S. Lewis line that humility is not thinking less of ourselves; rather, it is thinking of ourselves less. It is humility that author Hannah Anderson sets out to examine in her book Humble Roots.

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Rachael CollinsComment
Evangelism in a Skeptical World by Sam Chan

In Women’s Ministry at my church, we are currently planning our evangelistic women’s Christmas event. After reading Evangelism in a Skeptical World by Sam Chan, thoughts of how can we connect with our culture and share Jesus are forefront in my mind. So, we know that we need to be authentic, we need to be building relationships and not relying on ‘events’, yet bringing a non-Christian friend to a Church event could be an important step in helping them meet more Christians and hear and meet Jesus. If that is the case, then how do we go about planning a talk or event like this?

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Rachael CollinsComment