Friday, September 7, 2012

Being part of a church but not wearing its badge

This letter was submitted to a monthly periodical Southern Cross, a publication of the Sydney Anglican Diocese. 

Dear Editor,

I enjoyed reading Paul Grimmond's feature article "Light in Darkness" SC September 2012, however, it depicted the worst of a cancer that needs to be excised from the Sydney Diocese.

"Mel" we are told "is a Sydney Anglican serving in an AIDS health ministry in central Africa". Note how Mel is foremost a "Sydney Anglican".  Note how Mel is still identified as a Sydney Anglican while worshipping on another continent.

I hope that Mel identifies herself foremost as a 'Christian'.  Mel may tell locally of how she is a 'Christian who was sent to serve from the Sydney Anglican Diocese'.

'Sydney Anglican' is an expression that has clearly had its day.  It is no substitute for "Christian".  Let's be very clear about that which we boast.

When you become a Christian you join a church that is greater than just what you see in your local parish or Diocese.  Why belittle by adopting a local title when a globally acknowledged one is more significant? A widowed pauper who marries a Prince, then finds the Prince crowned as King, does not deny herself the title of Queen.  Neither should anyone who is with Christ deny themselves the title of Christian. While Sydney and its Anglican church will pass away, Christ will never pass away.  Who then are the Sydney Anglicans to so prominently push their brand?  Why deny a missionary in Africa her royal title?

Of course there is irony in how I live in Sydney and attend an Anglican church.  I can be sheep-like in another way without adopting the “Sydney Anglican” tag.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Three week Bible Study on Names of God

Free for you to use with your own Bible Study group or for self-study. I prepared this study in February 2012 and shared it with a Bible Study Group over February 2012 and March 2012. I understand that the Jewish people have 70 names for God. For this study we chose to examine nine names.

Week 1

El-shaddai/The God Almighty
Read Genesis 17:1-9
1. What was Abram's response to God's declaration? Genesis 17:3
2. What is the significance of Abram receiving a new name?
3. What did El Shaddai expect of Abraham to ensure that Abraham benefited from the covenant?
Read Psalm 91
4. How does the Psalmist amplify the benefits of the covenant? Psalm 91:9-12
5. How does God's command of angels allow God to fulfill his covenant (see also Hebrews 1:14)
6. Are you in awe of God and his mighty works?

Jehovah Nissi/The Lord is my banner
Read Exodus 17:8-15
7. What do armies march under today that takes the form of a banner?
8. Why did the Israelite army not need a psychical banner?
9. Do people know the banner that you hold fast to?

Jehovah Rapha/The Lord who Heals
Read Exodus 15:26
10. What diseases had been bought on the people of Egypt? (see, for example, Exodus 9:8)
11. Would memory of the diseases of Egypt be fresh in the mind of the Israelites? Would they wish to avoid the diseases bought upon Egypt?
12. In what sense is "heal" being used in Exodus 15:26 (see also Exodus 23:25-26)?
13. How is the notion of healing generally used in the NT (see Mark 6:13)?
14. Does God want us to suffer disease/illness/pain?  What use does God make of disease/illness/pain?
15. How has God healed you or a member of your family?

Week 2

Yehovah Rohi/The Lord is my Shepherd
Read Psalm 23
16. What shepherd-like qualities are ascribed to the Lord in Psalm 23?
17. How had God been a shepherd to Israel (Genesis 48:15)?
18. What claims does Jesus make of himself as shepherd (John 10:11,14)?
19. Do you allow yourself to be shepherded?  How?

El Roi/The God who sees
Read Genesis 16
20. What gives Hagar faith to return to Abram's house?
21. How direct and personal is God's message to Hagar?
Read Psalm 139:1-5
22. How does the Psalmist perceive that God sees him?
23. Do you live your life as if God sees everything you do?

Jehovah Jireh/The Lord who provides
Read Genesis 22
24. How did God provide so powerfully for Abraham?
25. How is Genesis 22 a precursor for what God did for us in Jesus?
Read Hebrews 11:17-19
26. Do you have the same faith that Abraham had that God will provide?
27. Do you put your trust in God's provision?

Week 3

Jehovah Shalom/ The Lord is peace
Read Judges 6:24
28. What peace did the Lord bring to Gideon and the Israelites?
29. What was the root of Gideon's faith (Judges 6:13)?
30. Which prophesy did Isaiah have that was fulfilled in Jesus in respect to peace (Isaiah 9:1-4)?
31. Do you find a genuine and deep peace in God?

Immanuel/ The Lord is with us
Jesus/The Lord saves
Read Isaiah 7:14
32. In fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah how did God permanently instal himself amongst men?
33. How does the presence of Jesus differ from the various forms of presence that God took in the OT?
Read Matthew 1:23-24
34. Through Jesus do you feel both with God and saved by God?