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
Evangelism in a Skeptical World by Sam Chan

Have you ever found yourself sharing the good news of Jesus with a friend, when you’ve paused for a moment and thought - this seems completely unrealistic? Sam Chan addresses this exact thing in his new book “Evangelism in a Skeptical World: How to Make the Unbelievable News about Jesus More Believable”. He writes, “We have programmed plausibility structures that lead us to judge whether a story is believable or unbelievable.” (p.41). These ‘plausibility’ structures are formed, according to Chan, through community, experience and facts, evidence and data.

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Rachael CollinsComment
Evangelism in a Skeptical World by Sam Chan

Since the beginning, people have been storytellers. We love hearing a good story, sharing a story, watching a story. While over the decades, the mode of storytelling has changed, the fact that we love storytelling has not. As Christians, the most important story we could ever share is the story of the good news about Jesus. Yet it is the one I find that we get caught up on the most. We worry whether we are saying it right, whether we have all the details right and we worry how the person listening may respond to the story of God. Sometimes, the world even seems hostile to this story. So more often than not, we put this story on the shelf and instead of pulling it out to talk about, we hope that someday someone may see the cover of our lives and ask us to share the story with them.  

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Rachael CollinsComment
Mr Eternity: The Story of Arthur Stace

Arthur Stace wasn’t able to use his youth to serve Christ (he became a Christian at 45), but he certainly used his middle and old age. At a stage in life when many of us may be tempted to take the foot off the peddle in our service of God and others, by God’s strength, he was just getting started. 

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Rachael CollinsComment
Mr Eternity: The Story of Arthur Stace

‘Eternity! Eternity! I wish I could sound, or shout, that word to everyone on the streets of Sydney. Eternity! Friends, you have got to meet it. Where will you spend Eternity?’  - Evangelist John Ridley, in his sermon on 14 November 1932 at the Burton Street City Tabernacle.

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Rachael CollinsComment