Category: Jody Bennett

Facing up to failure

Published October 2017

IN the last issue Challenge led with the Christian testimony of actor Chris Pratt. The same month, just after we went to press, the story broke that Chris and his wife, Anna Farris are splitting up. Rumour has it Jennifer Lawrence may be involved. While it is a credit to the pair that their spilt does not seem to be acrimonious, and they haven’t actually said they are divorcing yet, it is disappointing news.
Disappointing because as soon as someone “comes out” as a Christian, people expect perfection and are intolerant of any moral failure on their part.

However, as I heard expressed recently, if we expect to find sick people in a hospital, we should expect to find broken people in a church – it is a place where those who have acknowledged their own failures and their need for a higher power, are able to go to find forgiveness and healing. Church is not a place for perfect people and anyone who has had anything to do with Christians will admit that most of them are far from it.

So then, what is the good of faith? Well, it may not make us perfect (this side of eternity) to become followers of Jesus, but it certainly makes us better than we would be relying on our own resources. Many people CAN testify how turning their lives over to God has set them free from addictions, restored relationships, mended marriages and broken chains of the past. However, for most people these things do not happen instantly and each Christian is on a journey called sanctification that is taking us towards perfection and will continue our whole lives.

For those outside the church the failure of Christians to live up to their doctrines should be a powerful reminder that it is not Christians who should be idolised and worshipped, no matter how saintly or successful they may seem, but it is their God who should be worshipped … because the God of the Bible is indeed perfect, unchanging, completely reliable, absolutely trustworthy and morally incorruptible.

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Disappointment with God

THIS paper is filled with success stories about people who have found God, been set free from their addictions, been healed emotionally and physically, had their marriages restored and found a peace and joy that was previously unknown. As a result of this, you may be forgiven for thinking that giving your life to Jesus will fix all your problems and make your life rosy.

The truth is, though, that in the Christian life there will likely be deep disappointments and unanswered prayers.

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Our faith is not blind

WORLD SIGHT DAY is on the 13th of October, celebrating our physical sight – a wonderful gift and a vital sense that helps us interpret and evaluate our environment.

However, there are many real and important things that are not visible to us like energy, love, and gravity.

What about faith? An oft-quoted Christian phrase is “we walk by faith and not by sight” but is it really true that “faith is blind”?

Homicide detective J. Warner Wallace, in his 2013 book entitled Cold Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels, discusses how, as a religious sceptic, he investigated the death of Jesus Christ and the evidence for God in the same manner he investigates cold cases (unsolved murders of the past) in his job.

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Virtual reality can ease the pain

ACCORDING to a recent news report from The Atlantic: “The idea of using VR to reduce the distress of medical procedures was pioneered at the University of Seattle, Washington, where cognitive psychologist Hunter Hoffman and colleagues have developed a VR game called SnowWorld, to help patients endure wound care for severe burns.

“The researchers hoped that the illusion of being physically immersed in a three-dimensional computer-generated scene would move patients’ attention away from their real-world pain. It worked: Hoffman’s team has since shown in trials that SnowWorld reduces patients’ pain during wound-care sessions by up to 50 percent, as well as reducing pain-related brain activity.

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What type of father is God?

HAVE YOU HEARD people say ‘I like the Jesus of the New Testament (NT) but I don’t like the angry God of the Old Testament (OT)?’

According to Christianity, Jesus is God in human form. Jesus told His followers that if they had seen Him they had seen God.

Sometimes it seems to me though that we think they are two different types of gods: that the OT God is a stern, strict Victorian father who takes the strap to his children if they do wrong, whereas we imagine Jesus as a modern, fun parent who gives us lots of hugs and positive reinforcement.


But are either of these really the picture the Bible portrays?      

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Why does “bad” feel so good?

ISN’T it strange that we display bumper stickers that say things like “Bad to the Bone”, “10% nice, 90% naughty” and have skulls on them, but it wouldn’t be considered nearly so cool to have a sticker that said “Good guy”, “Noble and honest” or “I love my spouse”?

Good is “wicked” or “sick” and icons of evil, like demons, devils, witches and the grim reaper are put on our T-shirts and backpacks.Continue reading

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Jesus in Jeans 2 – The fancy banquet

 – a modern rendering of the parable in Matthew 22:1-14

There was a tycoon who threw a party at a swanky restaurant. He issued an invitation in the local press that “whomsoever” wanted to come was invited. The only proviso was that they had to be dressed properly in the dinner jacket that he provided. His Son had gone out and, at much cost to himself, bought enough jackets to provide for all possible attendees.

Well, the poor beggar man was only too pleased to exchange his raggedy coat for the fancy dinner jacket and go into the party. He was overflowing with gratitude and couldn’t believe his good fortune.Continue reading

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Weird gifts

What is the worst Christmas gift you have ever received? My colleague’s gran once gave him got a repurposed school blazer with the emblem picked off; and someone else I know got an empty wooden box! My mum was once deeply insulted when someone gave her loo freshener for Christmas!

A Christmas gift might reveal that someone doesn’t really know your tastes or size, or might show that someone only shops the sales. However, how would you like a gift that revealed that someone knew your future?

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After the rush — a bargain

Tips for Life

by Alan Bailey

I never cease to be amazed that so many people can spend money so freely after the expensive lead-up to Christmas. But the New Year Doorbuster sales, as they are often called, are a powerful temptation. People love a bargain. We see on TV hundreds of people breaking down doors and almost trampling others underfoot to get at the bargains in a department store. Once in there, the frenzy is on in earnest. People push and shove, fight and struggle to snatch up clothing, grab household goods and line up to pay for them. Some items are torn or damaged in the fray; some people are hurt.

A way of life

Shopping for the best price is a way of life among us. Who doesn’t check out supermarket prices, comparing stores and comparing products? Getting the most we can for our dollar seems the sensible thing to do. How many of us keep our eyes open for the cheapest petrol even if only a cent or two is involved.

Getting a bargain, or a series of them, makes us feel good. We feel like winners. No-one has taken us for a ride; we have used our heads and come out on top.

How deceiving!

It is amazing how we can go through life deceiving ourselves so successfully. We may get our detergent at a good price but then we lose badly elsewhere. Just through neglect most of the time.

What counts most? It is life’s values, its relationships, things of lasting worth. Many give scant attention to these. No wonder there are so many sad hearts and sad homes all around us.

We have preferred the things that don’t last and in the end don’t count for much. What a poor bargain we have struck!

A tough question

One of the most difficult questions ever asked goes like this. Will a person gain anything if he wins the whole world but is himself lost? Jesus asked that question. He also made it clear that ordinary everyday people are lost. Lost to God; lost forever because of our sin and neglect. Even to gain possession of the whole world (which is of course impossible) and remain lost, is to have an appallingly bad bargain.

The best of bargains

The greatest bargain of all concerns an exchange. If you like, a swap. We give our great load of sin to God; He gives us His own righteousness and forgiveness. No payment is demanded. The payment has already been made.

It was like this. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us (when He died on the cross), so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (1 Corinthians 5: 21). Jesus took our sin and paid the price it demanded. Now, forgiveness and freedom are offered to us as a gift. We are wonderfully brought into a right relationship with God, and the amazing thing is that we don’t deserve it.

Having Christ means everything.

His sacrifice is a free gift to us. Now that is a bargain!■

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