Fine print of mortgage terms and conditions

Terms of Engagement

Now, if I was Creator God, I would have set things up differently in the Garden of Eden. It seems like a bad arrangement from the start: why even put the tree there, in the middle of the garden? Everyone knows that if you don’t want your kids to eat the treats, you hide them out of sight, up high in the cupboard, or you don’t buy them at all. You certainly don’t leave them out in the middle of the kitchen bench.

I would have arranged it differently. It would be less risky, I’d have less chance of being rejected. It would be safer, more controlled, more… robotic. But, of course, that’s not real relationship. Love requires the possibility of being rejected, and so the choice to disobey is offered to Adam and Eve.

In eating the fruit, our first parents weren’t just disobeying a rule, they were pushing away from God. The underlying thought goes something like “I can’t trust God to guide me in life… I know better… I can decide for myself what’s good for me… I’m going to make up my own life separate from you God”.

Turns out, you don’t know better, and your own life separate from God is full of hurt, shame, and ultimately death.

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child smiling behind trifle with 1/2 candles

She did what she could

One of my favourite traditions that we’ve developed as a family is celebrating half-birthdays. There’s no party or presents, just cake and candles, the family singing “happy half-birthday”, and a girl grinning in surprise because she hadn’t done the math herself. 

I love making cake almost as much as I like eating it, so usually the effort to make it happen isn’t onerous. But on this occasion the mental load was high and the emotional reserves were low, so I did something that old Maja never could have: I just bought a thing. No hand-crafted cake for this girl’s half-birthday, it was a short-dated trifle that I grabbed from the supermarket in between running errands. While she was out of the room, we whipped it out of the back of the fridge and I hastily (and badly) stuck in some pre-used candles. 

Not a thing of beauty, and I couldn’t eat a spoonful, but she loved it. 

As a recovering perfectionist, that crappy trifle was a sign of real personal growth for me. And, believe it or not, it was prompted by my reading of Mark 14:3-9 that morning. 

Yes, your devotional reading of Scripture can guide your dessert choices — this is practical theology. 

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close-up of Michelangelo's statue of Moses


When I was in my final year of high school (way back when we called it “form 7”), we were all encouraged to complete a career aptitude test. It was a computerised quiz that asked us a bunch of questions and then spat out some suggestions about what kind of careers might be a good fit for us pursue. It was good for a laugh.

20 years later, I thought I’d try it out again. Turns out I should reconsider retraining as a Forestry Scientist, Economist, Zoologist, Landscaper, or Obstetrician — no, no, nope, maybe, no way.

There is some merit in them I’m sure. It’s worth figuring out if you have an aptitude for a vocation before you pursue it… kind of.

If you think about the kind of person who was taking on the role of public speaker and leader of a nation, there are a few personal aptitudes that it would be helpful; not least the ability to speak fairly well. After all, it’s a public speaking role.

But then there’s Moses.

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children's book picture of Martha angrily baking

Martha, Martha

I often feel that Martha gets a bad rap. After all, she’s just trying to cook up something amazing for Jesus. But she turns into a stressed-out hostess, trying to make sure it’s all perfect, but poisoning the atmosphere with her grouchy attitude… that sounds a lot like me in the hours leading up to a daughter’s birthday party. If you haven’t witnessed that scenario, firstly be thankful, and then secondly (re)acquaint yourself with Luke 10:38-42.

She works hard, she gets grumpy, she complains to Jesus, and Jesus tells her to chill out.

Anyone else identifying with Martha here?

I hear the rebuke, the redirection towards peace and connection, but I’m still left wondering, What about dinner? Who’s going to take care of that?

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Jesus feminist

There are some bits of the bible that you trip over when you’re reading, thinking, “hmm… that’s a bit weird”. And then stumped you think, “oh well, better move on”. But if you sit with them a bit longer and exercise some patience, eventually some other things slot into place and a glimmer of insight appears.

One of this tripping points for me was this moment in Luke 11:27-28, where Jesus has been teaching the crowd and doing his miracles thing, when a woman cries out, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” 

Now that’s a weird heckle.

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Love is patient

You know how when you’ve read something too many times it starts to lose all meaning? Just pick a word and write or speak it out repeatedly and very soon you’ll find yourself wondering if it is even a word at all, the letters and syllables have dissolved into nonsense.

The most familiar passages of Scripture get a bit like that too. They’re just words – our eyes glide over them, they slip past our ears – and while we might murmur our assent at their familiar tones, their meaning doesn’t touch our heart.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 has got to be one of the most often repeated Scriptures. Hands up if you had it at your wedding, or if, like me, you purposely didn’t have it at your wedding because everyone else did. It was like Pachelbel’s canon in the 90s, poor overused and under-appreciated Pachelbel.

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Adam meeting Eve C12 art

“Flesh of my flesh!”: Seeing yourself in the other

Often my academic theological work can seem (note the emphasis) kind of, well, useless. When you’re spending your days speculating about the future resurrection, you’re quite open to the accusation of being “so heavenly minded that you’re of no earthly use”. And I’m the first to admit that it’s a luxury to live in a society where this kind of work can be deemed “work”. But often the insights are profound and meaningful for everyday human life. So I’m pushing pause on my work this morning, to share this thought prompted by Bernd Wannenwetsch’s writing.*

In Genesis 2, when Adam first meets Eve, he joyously cries

“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”

Genesis 2:23

While he doesn’t look so thrilled about it here, no one seemed to be very happy about anything in Byzantine art. They all had a serious case of resting bitchy face, God included.

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