Thursday, August 31, 2017

Consideration of Matthew 5:27-28

This is a summary of consideration of Matthew 5:27-28 NIV.  It was put together following some Facebook exchanges.

To the non-Christian reader: a "fuller reading" of the Bible is normative.  The church throughout time has come to many problems in taking too narrow a focus from attention to a single verse or verses.  All Christians are encouraged to read text in context with the Chapter of the book, in context to the themes of the book, and in context with the overall themes of the testament or Bible.

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

Style of reading
Literal reading
Married man; traditional marriage
Looking lustfully on woman not his wife, a man has committed sin.
Fuller reading in context of whole of Sermon on Mount
Love is first and foremost in Christ.  Christ is the model of love.
All love relationships are to requisitely be sound to the notion of Biblical acceptable relationships.
In the Sermon on Mount we see Jesus heralding in his kingdom.  It is a statement of the nature of the kingdom.  An orator does not use first glance oxymorons like “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” Matthew 5:5 NIV without good reason!  Jesus fulfils the Old Testament and makes it clear that he is lifting the standard.  The standard is lifted in writing commands upon people’s circumcised hearts.  While the standard is lifted, grace is lifted all the more (see Romans & Galatians).  It is in this that I see Romans 8:1 as one of the most wonderful verses in the whole Bible.  It is a verse I preach to myself daily.
[I use the expression first glance oxymoron as way of stressing that I know it not to be an oxymoron – only that it appears odd in the first blush.  In that sense the beatitudes are like mini-parables – that they are immediately counter-intuitive, but rich in the fullness of understanding].

I reference a German Lutheran theologian; Dietrich Bonhoeffer - most relevantly his book: The Cost of Discipleship

"And the Scriptures are very clear that the only appropriate venue
 for a truly loving and just expression of human sexual desire
 is within a monogamous male and female relationship."


Note: This blog post links homosexuality and idolatry.  This follows the point above that all love relationships need be Biblical acceptable relationship.

Psalms in the Christian Life

It was a joy to attend a Moore Theological College Centre for Christian Living event yesterday.  The event was titled Psalms in the Christian Life. The event was held at St Cuthbert’s Naremburn Anglican Church.  I was pleased to find five other congregants from my local church in the audience.  I also had the company of four from a previous church I attended.

To give you an idea of the event here is the sales pitch from the Centre for Christian Living:

“No book feels more personal than the Psalms, whose 150 songs give us unique words with which to express our joys and our sorrows before God. No book is more theologically rich than the Psalms, which Martin Luther called “a Little Bible, wherein everything contained in the entire Bible is beautifully and briefly comprehended”. The goal of this evening is to deepen our appreciation of the Psalms—as poetry, as a book, as a part of Christian Scripture—in order to deepen our experience of the Psalms as a crucial resource for Christian living.”

It would be quite a task for me to do any justice to reviewing the event in a short blog post - a huge amount was packed into the night.  The presenter, Moore College Old Testament lecturer Rev Dr Andrew Shead covered a significant amount of data.  Andrew's hands darted across two whiteboards and eyes were rushing from handout to artwork to overhead screen to whiteboard.  I am left to identify with some highlights.  I’ve kept myself to six highlights to concisely convey the night’s depth:

  • The Book of Psalms is itself a compilation of five books.  The books have common features and are each largely based on a single theme.  It is incorrect to think of the Psalms as solely the work of David and Solomon’s time as there also is Psalms of Moses.
  • There is some evidence that the Psalms were compiled from earlier sets.
  • Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 both play critical roles in establishing the setting and the readership of the whole of the 150 Psalms.
  • There are Messianic references throughout the Psalms.  There are clear identification of two members of the Trinity (God and Jesus).  This is thematic for me with my interest in preaching Christ in the Old Testament (refer this sermon on 2 Kings 7 or this on Zechariah 3),
  • Andrew had structured some interactive elements into the night – they helped illustrated how a reader is to go about meditating on the Psalms.  I most appreciated how we are best to approach the Psalms through each and all of song, art and detailed literary study. (I have tried some of the latter as evidenced through this link), and,
  • The Psalms have an interesting quality in that the cycle of lament to praise that is evident in the pattern of the whole book is often evidenced within each Psalm.

We are blessed in Sydney to be immersed in intelligent and deep Biblical thought.  It was a joy to attend with fellow brothers and sisters to share God’s word.  Andrew has left me with a huge amount to unpack!

(And, they put on a great supper with strong coffee!)


Note: all links good as at 31 August 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A cackle of Dad's jokes

Dad’s jokes reach a crescendo on Father’s Day.  Father’s Day is celebrated in September in Australia.  A dad joke is defined as a joke that is not funny yet is groan worthy.  I’ve published a collection here that arose across a number of social media posts this last week.  I’ll add further to this list as opportunity arises:

- A neighbour just completed a structure on the line dividing our properties.  I found his behaviour o-fence-ive.

- Cows have hooves because they lactose.
- I flew business class the other day.  It was the worst class I’d ever been to.  I did not learn anything!
- Did you hear about the Doctor who got the sack yesterday.  He only performed appendectomies and someone determined he was only working on the side.

- I read in fashion news that there will be no change in men’s pockets this year.
- It is okay to love the New Zealand band Crowded House: It is only natural
- Why was Boaz angry? Because he was Ruthless.
- Police in Nigeria entered a man’s apartment after fearing he had died.  They found US2billion in cash.  It turns out that the man had been trying to give it away but no-one would answers his emails.
- Anyone who like meetings should be in charge of nothing.
- Boss to me at end of long meeting: “What did you learn in this meeting?”
Me in response: “That I can sleep with my eyes open”.
- Did you hear about the dyslexic agnostic?
He did not believe that there was a dog.
- A giraffe has a very long ….
List of Facebook friends.
- What do you call a snake that is exactly 3.1412 metres long?
A python.

- A computer programmer’s wife sent him shopping.  She said “Get me a bottle of milk and if they have eggs get me six”.  He came home with six bottles of milk”.

- “I call that a Bob Marley photocopier,  It is always jammin’

- “When can you tell that it is cold in Sydney? It is when lawyers have their hands in their own pockets.”

- “That British artist wrote a song about Norma Jean changing her name to Monroe Marilyn.  When he chose to call himself Elton John (rather than John Elton) he shouldn’t complain that people mix up other names”

- “I don’t know what all the fuss is about this Trump character.  I’m very happy for him to have US residency”

- “There was an accident on the M7 this morning.  A Goulburn jail van collided with a concrete truck.  Police are now searching the area looking for twelve hardened prisoners”.

- “When my wife gets angry with me during an argument she gets to a point where she is historical” You mean hysterical?  “No, historical, she tells me about everything I have ever done wrong”.

- “My wife and I have been married 25 years.  We’ve just accumulated 10 years of good marriage.  10 minutes here, 20 minutes there”.

- A pirate puts his appointments into a calendarrrrrrrrrr.

- How much do pirates pay for earrings? A buccaneer.

- Paddy turned to Mick and said “If you can guess how many doughnuts I have in my bag, I’ll let you have them both”

- Year 5 was the best three years of my life.

- One time in Australia you were sentenced to be hung if you took money out of a bank through a hole in a wall.  Now the banks have worked out how to charge us for this experience.
- Did you hear about how the librarian kept slipping over? She was in the non-friction section.

- This dad joke dates from the time before flat screen televisions: The other day Bob came over while I was watching a Swans game on television. My wife opened the door to Bob. As he entered the room Bob asked: "What is on television?". I responded, "Don't be silly Bob, it is a pot plant"

I was going to be a fortune-teller, but I couldn't see any future in it.

- Why is the ocean wet? Because the sea weed.

- Why will you never go hungry at the beach? Because of the sand which is there.

- Where did Abraham come from?
[Person answering]: Er
That's right Abraham come from Ur.

• Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!
• How does Moses make tea? Hebrews it....
• England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool .
• I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.
• They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Typo.
• I changed my iPod's name to Titanic. It's syncing now.
• Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
• I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.
• I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.
• This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I'd never met herbivore.
• When chemists die, they barium.
• I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can't put it down.
• I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
• Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.
• I didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
• Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn't control her pupils?
• When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.
• Broken pencils are pointless.
• What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.
• I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.
• I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.
• Velcro - what a rip off!
• Don’t worry about old age; it doesn’t last.


Note: in its own little way this linked post is also a dad joke

Have you been to Lonny?

You have to love social media.  It brings together people who would never have the chance to talk.  Here is a humorous exchange that I had with a lady.  A few posts preceded these.  The early posts were keen to the thread topic.  The later posts went off on a tangent:



It is quaint for its assumption and assertion.  It was not enough for me to state that I was not the person she was thinking of – she instead needed to trigger my memory to the name of my alleged parents.



Sunday, August 27, 2017

Misuse of rake

An interview with Jack Knight, President of Australian Rake Society Inc. was hastily arranged this week after observing an odd use of a rake in Lane Cove.  The rake had been put to use outside a house's second story window.  It was serving as a flag pole.

Interviewer: "Jake, what is your view of rake handles being used as temporary flag holders?".

Jake: "Disturbing, most disturbing. We do not allow our members to use their rakes in this way.  Rakes are an honorable garden instrument that date back to the 17th Century.  There was some use of rakes as flag holders in the American Confederate Army days.  This is the first use I've seen in the 21st Century.  I hardly need to state this but rakes are for raking - you know, raking leaves and twigs and the like.  The average Joe has no idea how much engineering and design goes into creating a rake."

Interviewer: "So, you'd never advocate for a rake to be used as a flag holder?"

Jake: "It is most improper regardless of the nature of the flag or the message that the person is trying to convey.  Rakes are for use in gardens - not on second stories of houses.  We will be writing to the householder immediately.  Let them use a shovel handle or a broom handle; but not a rake handle."

Interviewer: "Do you have anything else to add, Jake?"

Jake: "It is a sure sign that the world is in decline.  You know the world is going to hell when you see rakes being used so badly.  Things will go down hill from here."

Interviewer: "Thank you, Jake".


Friday, August 25, 2017

Lots of Lots

"If he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment."

Lot was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless people he observed around him.  He was tormented day-after-day by the lawless deeds that he saw and heard.

For Lot's distress arose from adherence to a standard.  That standard was not found in the prevailing morality.  The standard was instead found in the perfect living Jehovah.  Lot knew that when everyone else has their own truth, then he was not insane to hold to the Truth.  The great prophet Jeremiah also knew this - evident by pleading the people not to stray to false gods.

And, many Christians find themselves tormented in the lead-up to the Australian postal vote on revising the definition of marriage.  They find themselves tormented by other "Christians' who post support for a 'yes' vote on social media.  The posts have thin to no Biblical reference - they instead sway to the prevailing morality.  Where they have Biblical reference the exegesis is often flimsy.  I've counted five such posts including a perplexing one that was ripe with contradiction to order of:

'I think that what they [homosexuals] do carnally is disgusting but
I believe that Christians should want them to marry. 
This is why I will vote yes.'

[I seriously doubt that the person who posted this appreciates the irony!]

Of course, there is also the 'non-yes' set on social media.  They can't bring themselves to say that they will vote yes, so they instead hop onto whimsy that questions the validity of a no vote.  They are at risk of betraying their maker, they risk harming their neighbour:

It is one thing for Aussies to speak in favour of same sex marriage, but when Christian leaders do so they are speaking against the faith that they have promised to uphold, and in turn they are doing the very thing that was problematic in Jeremiah’s day. We are not loving our neighbours by adopting this posture, we are hurting them. We are not pointing to the wonder of God’s love and grace in Christ Jesus, but are directing people toward some contemporary version of Baal or Athena.

Christians are a people of truth.  They are set apart from the world.  They have rest in heaven.  Their King allows them choice and also has expectations of them.  He spoke of lust in a way that gives us to understand that anything beyond natural relationship between man and wife is to be put aside in favour of pursuit of God (Matthew 5:27-30). 

Paul, in his prayer for the Philippians, sees discernment through love, knowledge and insight.  The more the love + knowledge + insight the more the ability to embrace and pursue excellence:

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
(explained by Pastor John Piper via this link

In this, there is a standard.  Christians can "Take heart. Real marriage is not for sale" (From Reverend Peter Jensen).


Note: all links good as at 25 August 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017


** an earlier post on literary devices in the Psalms is linked here **


I am excited to be attending an event The Psalms in the Christian Life as presented by Moore Theological College's Centre for Christian Living.  The goal of the event "is to deepen  appreciation of the Psalms—as poetry, as a book, as a part of Christian Scripture—in order to deepen our experience of the Psalms as a crucial resource for Christian living." (source:
The Psalms have always been fascinating to me theologically and as literature. Many literary devices are used in the Psalms.  Four literary devices are found in Psalm 1 alone. Hyperbole is another literary device that is utilised in the Psalms.  Hyperbole is use of exaggeration for emphasis or rhetorical effect.
In Psalm 3 we see this:
“Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies
on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.”
The exaggeration is in the notion that God breaks the teeth of the wicked.  God does not literally do such a thing.  God metaphorically does break the teeth of the wicked in that in God’s judgment of the wicked, God offers the wicked no right to testimony against a righteous person.  Striking of the wicked person’s teeth: a removal of the ability to testify.

We know it to be an exaggeration from an understanding of the full context of the Psalm.  It is only a short Psalm of eight verses.  The writer is under stress from enemies yet identifies God as a shield.  In God, the author finds glory.  While the writer is anguished by that which he experiences around him, he knows that God will ultimately conclude the power struggles of the day.
The hyperbole achieves its aim through exaggeration.  The teeth of the enemies are broken in that God offers the author peaceful carriage through judgment.  It is a peaceful carriage in that his enemies are silenced at that time.
Note: all links good as at 24 August 2017

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Church double standard

Bonheoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship discusses cheap grace – grace that is thrown around without regard for the cost of that grace.  It seems that cheap grace is being offered abundantly.

In an article published in Melbourne’s The Age, and on the pastors own blog post, a Baptist pastor proposes voting yes in the same sex marriage postal vote.  His support includes this statement:

“Asking them [homosexuals] to be other than who they are as sexual beings
would be asking them to deny their very selves".

Now, there are a few problems with that statement.  Prime among them is that the Christian life is one of denial.  A Christian must first come to a point of denying that they are king (John 3:3) so that they may accept Jesus as King.  A Christian must then continue to deny self each day instead taking up the cross of Christ (John 16:24).  So, presumably the pastor has established a twin standard:

  • Heterosexual Christians are to deny themselves daily,
    paired with
  • Homosexuals need not deny their sexuality yet may still have life to the fill in Christ.  That is, there identity is not in Christ alone but in their sexuality and in Christ.
It is an insidious twinning.  It creates a lower standard for homosexuals than it does heterosexuals.  It gives homosexuals a wide road and wide gate entry to the kingdom (Matthew 7:13-14).  It is insulting to heterosexuals.  It risks a revolt of mainstream church-goers.  It is cheap grace cast to the prevailing wind. 
As sad as the show of double standard from the Melbourne pastor is, I’ve seen it before.  In a devastating blow, at a North Shore Anglican Diocese of Sydney church, I also observed double standard.  In that instance, the listener was to accept the lower standard for homosexuals as they were ‘born that way’ (teaching that I hold contra to the relevant Diocesan doctrinal statement).  In responding to a question about lust from Matthew 5:27-30, the speaker granted that churchfolk need to acknowledge homosexuals their lust if the church is to welcome them.  So, I cannot cast a lustful eye on my neighbour’s wife yet two homosexuals can be as lustful as they like – I don’t think so!

And then, another North Shore Anglican Diocese of Sydney church welcomes a theatre company to perform a play into their church hall that presents the homosexual lifestyle.

Cheap grace cheapens the gospel.  It cheapens the gospel because it adds to the gospel.  Christ paid dearly to achieve the grace.  The church should not ever forget that.


Note: all links good as at 22 August 2017

Note: I did try to address my concerns of false teaching at that North Shore Anglican Diocese of Sydney church yet I was met only with curt email responses.  No-one ever cared to address the matter through dialogue.  A Senior Minister of another Anglican Diocese of Sydney church did discuss the message with me. He left me with the awareness that ‘despite its best attempt to keep up appearances, the Anglican Diocese of Sydney is not monochrome at all on homosexuality’.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


** an earlier post on literary devices in the Psalms is linked here **


I am excited to be attending an event The Psalms in the Christian Life as presented by Moore Theological College's Centre for Christian Living.  The goal of the event "is to deepen  appreciation of the Psalms—as poetry, as a book, as a part of Christian Scripture—in order to deepen our experience of the Psalms as a crucial resource for Christian living." (source:


The Psalms have always been fascinating to me theologically and as literature. Many literary devices are used in the Psalms.  Four literary devices are found in Psalm 1 alone.

Psalm 19 is wonderful for its inclusion of a double personification.  A personification arises when an object is identified to a human form.  Psalm 19 verse 5 (NIV) is:


In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.


An understanding of verses 1 to 4 helps explain the personification.  Those verses identify how nature – the heavens, the skies, the earth – all declare the glory of God the maker.  With this setting the author then turns to the sun.


The heavens are said to be a “tent for the sun”.  The focus on the sun is in its role as a created object that is essential to the life of man.  The sun visibly attests to God as it sweeps across the earth and provides for every creature  “Nothing is hidden from its heat” Psalm 19:6 NIV.


And, the sun is personified:


  • As a bridegroom coming out of his chamber – representing the sun’s daily emergence from the distant horizon, and,

  • As a champion rejoicing to run his course – representing the sun’s daily and persistent track across the sky.


Paul adopts the verse in Romans 10:18.  Paul identifies that it is the gospel preachers that have been a voice to go out to nourish the world.  That is, they like the sun were providing sustenance.  Interestingly, Paul also perhaps uses the running champion personification in his writings as he speaks of persisting to the end of the Christian race.




Note: all links good as at 15 August 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

Dribble and noise

The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey - a poor backwater cousin to a referendum or plebiscite - has generated a flood of dribble and noise on social media.  You do not need to look far to see lots of froth and bubble.  I've listed some examples.  I hasten to add that none of these are my own.  Nor have they arisen in response to any of my comments - I've simply concluded a crude survey across available sources:

> 'How can you hate homosexuals but eat shellfish or wear clothes of two fabrics?' (an old chestnut of an argument that seemingly treats the Old Testament as a standalone book separate from the whole of the Bible).

> 'It is time for separation of church and state' (which was originally all in capital letters, and which betrays the person's understanding of the long separation of church and state)

> 'God is a god of tolerance, he loves everyone, he wants gays to marry' (which takes a secular view of tolerance).

> 'I pray that you will stop campaigning hate and listen to your own preachings: love everyone. Except some of you take it too far and rape children and cover it up. So don't do that please.' (which is comical in that the contributor clearly recognises that there needs to be moral boundaries yet denies the church any role is establishing those boundaries).

> A person who responded to a Christian by suggesting that they were both 'cognitively impaired and spiritually blind' (which perhaps tends a case of blind leading the blind, and which perhaps is a foretaste of how Christians may one day be thought to be mentally impaired).

and, I could go on...

It is all like white noise.  It is the television screen when programming ceases.  It is babble.

I expect that the forth and bubble and will continue unabated right through the postal vote.  It will all take form of the statements above and a whole lot of other statements.  In the whole, it will not be based on consideration of external objective truth but instead be based on selfish opinion.

It is a shame to the nation that this froth and bubble faces anyone who wishes to offer a Christian opinion.  We are in Babylon where shouting down an opinion is the norm.

I encourage both pro-SSM and anti-SSM commentators to have a thick skin and to think three times before posting any material.  For Christians, we need to be aware that we are being assessed even as we engage in debates and that our love for Christ should:

i) determine when to contribute, and,

ii) determine when to lose and walk away, and,

iii) determine whether your contribution is simply enlarging an over-egged debate.


Note: all links good as at 14 August 2017

Note: a credible sermon on homosexuality is linked here.  The sermon is long, at nearly an hour, yet anyone who takes the time to listen to it will most likely grant that the duration is right for the subject material.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Anointing with oil

First-time occurrences are often very special. A first-time occurrence that I experienced this week bought a rush of uncertainly and mixed feelings.


During the week, after the conclusion of a lunchtime Protestant church service, a gentlemen who I chatted with turned the conversation spontaneously to his need for healing. In seconds he had reached into a leather man-bag and placed a small container of oil into my hands.  The oil was purchased for him by another in Israel.  It was a fragrant oil with a rich colour.  The gentlemen asked that I anoint his forehead – applying the oil with the sign of the cross - then to have him stand.  Once standing I was to place both of my hands on different parts of his upper torso.  He asked that I pray as the Spirit leads me.  His only specification was that the prayer identity the malady.


I was comfortable in the moment, but had a rush of uncertainty and mixed feelings afterwards.  It was a most odd mix of feelings – being comfortable at the instant but being wracked with concern afterwards.  My unpreparedness was evident within the awkwardly mumbled prayer.  I suspect that the patient recorded an unsatisfactory experience; much physical touch clammy.  The moment was served perfunctorily.  The ambiguity abundant.  The prayer was sound, but not dutiful or experienced to the task. It was a moment that perhaps was too mechanical for the patient’s liking.  Yet, it perhaps satisfied the patient in that it was an venture of his initiative.


The concern afterwards was twofold.  Firstly, ‘what the heck was I doing?’ and secondly, what path is the Lord God taking me on?.  The former needs to be addressed now, the latter is best left for the joy of discovery.


The ‘what the heck was I doing?’ was manifold:


  • It was accompanied with thoughts: ‘I am of long Anglican upbringing, Anglican’s do not do this, it is for Pentecostals to do’ – which is ultimately a doctrinal limitation or doctrinal snobbery,
  • It bore the guilt of completing something for which I had zero experience,
  • It drew questions around the source of the oil and the wonder of using a patient’s own oil rather than one of the healer,
  • It questioned the spectacle of being in a relatively public place,
  • It bore heavy concern of not praying ahead of time in contrast to the spontaneous response, and,
  • James Chapter 5 is instructive, yet how does James 5 apply in such immediacy as I experienced.  James 5 is far more ordered and planned than taking an opportunity to fulfil a pressing request.

What I was not uncertain of was that God does heal in this day.  Justin Peters, a preacher who is affected by cerebral palsy, argues that point well.  Peters is quite balanced in that the healing is neither concluded at all times, nor is always complete.  The message of the healing of the paralytic in Luke 5 is significant in that Jesus clearly puts the priority on healing from the suffering of sin, over physical healing.
There is much to think about.  Jesus would have been quite certain about his own healing touch and most direct in his practice.
Note: all links good as at 11 August 2017

Note: I did include within the prayer a request that Jesus heal at a sub-nuclear level.  See this linked post.