Rob Buckingham's Blog

Religion: True or False

I used to love true or false questions at school.  Even if I didn’t know the answer I could still take a guess and have a 50% chance of being right!  But, when it comes to religion, it doesn’t appear to be that easy.

In research that Bayside Church conducted last year, those that were outside of the church saw the word “religion” as a mixture of positive and negative.  Some used positive words such as “faith, diversity, hope, community and strength” to describe how they felt about religion, while others saw things differently: “strictness, fanatical, divisiveness, war and politicised.” 

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Gluttony: Our favorite sin

One observation I’ve had over the duration of my Christian life (over 30 years) is the ability that many people have to categorise sins.  We’re probably all guilty of this to some extent.  There are the things that are REALLY wrong, you know; murder, adultery, stealing and the like.  Then there are the things that are tolerated – the okay sins; the “surely that’s not really wrong” sins.

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Another Hit For Religious Education

Over the past couple of years there seems to have been an all-out attack on Christian Religious Education (CRE) in schools.  Some of the problems have come because of unfortunate use of language by Access Ministries Chief Executive Evonne Paddison at a church conference in 2008 where she said:   "In Australia, we have a God-given open door to children and young people with the Gospel, our federal and state governments allow us to take the Christian faith into our schools and share it. We need to go and make disciples.”  

Access Ministries Chairman Bishop Stephen Hale said “despite Dr Paddison's comments, Access Ministries was not proselytising students to the Christian faith.”

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People Before Theology

Theology comes from two Greek words – theos meaning “God” and logos meaning “word” or “message.”  So theology in its purest form is the message about God.  In a broader sense it is the study of all the major truths of the Christian faith – truth about Jesus, salvation, the church, the future and more.

I want to state right at the outset that I am theologically conservative.  I cling strongly to the central beliefs of the Christian faith which are outlined on our website

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Born Believers

What I have believed and taught for years has been backed up by research – children are born believers!

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The Purpose of the Law

The danger with truth is that when you push a truth too far it slips into error.  That is true when it comes to the belief that Martin Luther reinforced through the Reformation – that faith alone, apart from the law, was necessary for salvation.

During Luther’s time there were those who pushed this truth too far by teaching that the law was unnecessary and all one had to do was believe in Jesus.  The way a person lived didn’t matter; it was unnecessary they said, to hold to any moral law.  In response to this, Luther coined the term “antinomianism” (taken from the Greek words meaning “against law”).  

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Intolerant Tolerance

Tolerance is the new buzzword.  Google it and you’ll get 138 million results in 14 seconds!  

There is a modern myth that holds that true tolerance equals agreement – that the tolerant person occupies a place of complete impartiality where each person is permitted to decide for himself. No judgments allowed. No forcing personal views.  But that is not what tolerance is all about.

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The Hunger Games

First it was Harry Potter; then it was the Twilight series.  Now The Hunger Games Trilogy is the latest international teen sensation.  

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When the Sun Dies

On our recent trip to Africa at the place we were staying near Johannesburg, there was an astronomy lesson given one evening.  I’ve always been fascinated by the universe and so I took the opportunity to go along.

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I love spending time alone. My whole life is devoted to serving people; I love people.  I work with people – I live with people.  For most of my day I’m surrounded by people!

But I also find myself – from time to time – getting to the stage where I feel like I’m overdosing on people contact.  It’s at those times that I love to get away and spend time by myself – reading, praying, relaxing, thinking and walking.  Time alone energises and refreshes me so that I can give my best to people.

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Easter Possums

We’ve all heard about the Easter Bunny and most of us love Easter eggs, but what can we learn from possums at Easter?

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Australia’s Retail Dilemma

There’s been a lot in the news recently about the dilemma of falling sales being experienced by Australian retailers.  This is blamed in part by the GFC that rattled people’s confidence and made us save more.  The other contributor to this dilemma is said to be the increasing number of purchases being made online.  In the face of these claims the inconvenient truth is Australia’s retail sales are currently experiencing 4.5% growth.

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The Religion of Atheism

The religion of atheism will once again be preached at the 2012 Atheist Convention coming up in April in Melbourne with an impressive lineup of preachers including Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett.  Christopher Hitchens was also supposed to […]

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The Season of Lent

Every year at this time the Bayside Church community commits to 40 days of prayer and fasting based loosely on the tradition of Lent.  So, when did Lent begin and what is it all about?

There is clear evidence that a period of fasting before Easter was practiced at least during the second century, and that by the fourth century there was a widespread practice of a 40 day fast. The reason for 40 days is found in the biblical significance of that number in the lives of Noah, Moses, Jonah, and Jesus.

Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance.  It’s a time for reflection and taking stock.  In the early days of the Church it was used to prepare for Easter, as an act of rededication to Jesus as well as to prepare new converts for baptism.

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Donate Life

This week is Donate Life Week, Australia's national awareness week to promote organ and tissue donation, and is part of the Australian Government's National Reform Agenda to increase organ and tissue donation rates.  This awareness campaign is essential because right now only one in 10 Victorian adults are registered organ donors – and many of those never have their final wishes fulfilled because grieving families often block the wishes of the deceased.

Currently about 1,700 Australians are waiting for organ donations.  Last year only 309 donors gave organs that saved 931 recipients.  So, what is a Christian view of organ donation?

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To Smack or Not To Smack?

Smacking is back in the news – again. This topic is like a common cold … it comes around about three times every blinkin’ year; this time it’s been raised by Dr Gervase Chaney the head of Australia’s leading paediatric body. Dr Chaney said it was no longer okay for parents to argue “it never did us any harm” – and called on colleagues to stand up for children’s rights. Dr Chaney said the current position opposing the use of physical discipline as “ineffective and unhelpful”, did not go far enough.

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The Moral Police

Many people have a completely wrong idea about Christianity and what it means to be a Christian. The sad fact is often they get this wrong idea from Christians themselves!  Let me explain…

Many people I speak with think that being a Christian is about being a “good” person and living a “good” life.  This message is communicated when the church takes on the role of moral policeman for society – thinking that its main role is to say what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour for everyone – even those who don’t consider themselves to be Christian.

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Rules and Relationship

Christie and I were watching World’s Strictest Parents recently.  We enjoy this program, as we love to see the transformation that happens in these young people who were totally out of control.  In every case the transformation happens because of the introduction of two things that were previously lacking – rules and relationship, and both of these ingredients are totally necessary.

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Knowing God’s Will

The most often asked question that Christians have of their faith is: “How can I know God’s will for my life?”

Many Christians bind themselves up believing that the will of God is very constricting, but it isn’t.  God has called us to freedom – in fact the first three words God ever spoke to a human being were “you are free” (Genesis 2:16).  But you can’t have true freedom without boundaries!  That’s why God told the first humans they were free to eat from ALL the trees in Eden accept one.

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Tithing: Putting God First

As we approach Christmas time, I’d like to remind you of the well-known story of the Magi who followed the star to find the Christ child. “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts” (Matt 2:11).  This story emphasises a strong Biblical principle:  the worship of Jesus is usually accompanied by giving.  In the Bible, giving starts with tithing.

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