Category: Popular culture

We don’t wear signs

A WOMAN was driving in the traffic when she got stuck behind a very slow moving car. Just as she was getting annoyed, she saw a sign in the back window that said: Learning stick [shift], sorry for any delay.

Instantly she was more patient with the driver ahead.

It reminds me of another story I heard about a man on a train with his unruly kids, who were jumping around and causing mayhem until another passenger complained about the man’s lack of parenting.

The distracted father responded: “I’m sorry, we’re just coming back from their mother’s funeral.”

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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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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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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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Yin Yang

The Eastern symbol of Yin Yang, with its equal swirls of black and white, has become ubiquitous on clothing brands, computer games and in popular culture generally. This idea of a balance between good and evil, of an eternal struggle between the two, is played out in comics and TV shows, and is very appealing. We can identify that tug of war in the world around us and we feel the struggle within ourselves.

The concept of equal but opposing forces in an epic duel has even crept into Christian thinking. However, Biblical Christianity teaches a far different and more encouraging power balance than that good causes and is dependent upon evil, just holding its own in the struggle.

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Trauma cleaning

I am reading a fascinating book at the moment about someone whose job it is to “trauma clean” – she is the cleaner who goes in after a murder, suicide or bad tenant; the person whom the council gets to clean up for hoarders and wash down former methadone labs.

What an interesting, disgusting, daunting and slightly terrifying job!Continue reading

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Imagine a world without theft

Can you imagine a world in which there was no theft? I find it is almost impossible to do. Imagine not needing locks on doors, or cars? No security guards in stores, no pick pocketing or phone scams. We wouldn’t need safety deposit boxes or passwords because no one would steal online either.

If everything was paid for, stores wouldn’t have to pad their prices and the cost of everything would be lower. Insurance companies would lose a lot of work. If no one stole from the tax man, the government would have lots more money to make improvements on infrastructure and amenities.

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