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The Question To Ask Before You Give Someone Advice

Mark Altrogge gives some wide advice about giving advice:

A few years ago I shared a challenge I was having with one of my children with a friend of mine, CB, who helps care for our church. I so appreciated his first response.  He asked, “Mark, how are you doing?”

Before you start giving advice to someone, ask how they’re doing.

CB could have begun making various suggestions of things I could do with my child. He could’ve shared pertinent parenting Bible verses. But as a great pastor, he first cared for my soul.

Yes, there was a time for advice and talking about how I should approach the situation. But that came later.

Before you start giving advice to someone, ask how they’re doing.

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Mastering The Golf Swing Of Life (via Mark Galli)

Mark Galli compares the biomechanics of the golf swing with sanctification and the ethics of Christian life at Christianity Today.
In the course of his article he writes:

We are in the bad habit of thinking that ethics is a REAL SERIOUS BUSINESS, that our welfare and the welfare of the world depend on its proper execution. Not quite. The gospel is the end of ethics in this sense. In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself. The welfare of the world is a settled issue. Someone has already won the Masters. The key question for believers is not “What are you going to do to earn God’s blessing, or to attain a good life, or to thank God for all he has done for you, or to make the world a better place?” No, it’s “What are you going to do now that you don’t have to do anything?”
The wonderful thing about the gospel is that it takes ethics away as duty and gives it back as joy—precisely because we don’t have to do it anymore but get to do it in freedom. We golfers don’t look forward to spending four or five hours on a course hoping that, if we play perfectly, we’ll finally enjoy ourselves. No, we step onto the course with a sense of joy because we already love the game, even though we’re going to fail 97 out of a hundred times over the next few hours! Similarly, we don’t try to live the perfect life because, once we do, then we’ll be able to relax and enjoy life. No, it’s because we now can relax and enjoy life—thanks to grace—that we try to live the perfect life. Ethics is the golf swing of life.

Read the whole post at Christianity Today.

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Footy Tips AFL Round 14 / NRL Round 17, 2012

Welcome back, for those who are following.

AFL (75/108)
Round 14
West Coast
North Melbourne

Round 17
New Zealand
Saint George

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The 10,000 Who Ticked ‘No Religion’

As I mentioned the other day, the data from the 2011 Australian Census has begun to be released.
Again, below are the figures for religious affiliation for our local area: postcodes 5290 and 5291.
At first glance we might be tempted to respond ‘Yay Presbyterians! We’re still number four!’ Even though we know those figures are a historical legacy, they do provide our denomination with a profile which can be useful while it lasts.
In times past we might have focused on the figure of 2,199 people who indicated an affiliation with Presbyterianism. We might have determined to get out and try to reclaim them all.
But the figure I want to focus on is that of the 10,296 folk who indicated they had no religion at all. We can’t limit ourselves to old friends, or people with Scottish ancestors, or those who we think would fit in.
Our hearts, and the hearts of every Christian and church in Mount Gambier and districts, should simply be that all of those people have the opportunity to know who Jesus is and to hear about His invitation for them to receive His friendship and salvation.
That’s why we need more churches in this city.
Some Christians are afraid that their churches will grow too big, or that they’ll change in some way that might make those people feel less comfortable, or that things may not be the same as they’ve always been.
If you meet any Christians from around town who express these understandable fears, just ask them “What about the 10,000 who ticked ‘No religion’?”
Surely all of these other concerns fade away when we consider the tremendous privilege and responsibility which we have in sharing the Gospel with these dear folk.
And in doing so we’ve clearly got a lot of room for those of our 2,199 local Presbyterian folk who need to get back into touch with Jesus as well.
That’s nearly 12,500 people (and a few more besides). How can we help them to meet Jesus?

Religious affiliation, top responses
5290, SA
South Australia
No Religion 7,830 31.4 448,524 28.1 4,796,787 22.3
Catholic 5,276 21.2 317,957 19.9 5,439,268 25.3
Anglican 2,581 10.4 200,441 12.6 3,679,907 17.1
Uniting Church 1,981 8 142,429 8.9 1,065,795 5
Presbyterian and Reformed 1,556 6.2 20,335 1.3 599,515 2.8

The most common responses for religion in 5290, SA (Postal Areas) were No Religion 31.4%, Catholic 21.2%, Anglican 10.4%, Uniting Church 8.0% and Presbyterian and Reformed 6.2%.

Religious affiliation, top responses
5291, SA
South Australia
No Religion 2,466 28.8 448,524 28.1 4,796,787 22.3
Catholic 1,705 19.9 317,957 19.9 5,439,268 25.3
Anglican 1,017 11.9 200,441 12.6 3,679,907 17.1
Uniting Church 830 9.7 142,429 8.9 1,065,795 5
Presbyterian and Reformed 643 7.5 20,335 1.3 599,515 2.8

The most common responses for religion in 5291, SA (Postal Areas) were No Religion 28.8%, Catholic 19.9%, Anglican 11.9%, Uniting Church 9.7% and Presbyterian and Reformed 7.5%.

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The First Rule Of Bible Club

Bible study is on again this morning.
What makes this cartoon more ironically humourous is that I don’t think any of them would know where this pop-culture reference comes from.
But you never know…

From The New Yorker.

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Henri LeChatNoir

Who’d know more about domestic existential ennui than a cat?

I think I like Henri more than Maru or even Simon’s Cat.
And I hope my friends have found their lost cat.

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How A Presbyterian Church In Another Country Handles Their Election For Moderator

Although more theologically akin to the Uniting Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA) shares a similar governmental structure to the Presbyterian Church of Australia.
Steve Salyards provides his usual thorough and insightful examination of the nominees and election of the Moderator (and deputy Moderator) of this year’s General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) here.
Of interest is the background booklet on Candidates for the office.
If you ask about this sort of material in Australia you might get met with the sort of uncomprehending stare that wonders why on earth you might want it.
Apparently if you really want to know who the nominees are, what skills they have, and what sort of calling they sense about three years representing the Presbyterian Church of Australia, you should go out and discover it for yourself.
Otherwise, shouldn’t you just know?