291 episodes

Bigger Questions explores the big questions of life. It's is a fun and stimulating forum where a guest is interviewed on a particular topic or theme. We hear their story and their reflections on a short passage from the Bible and we have a few laughs along the way. Bigger Questions is an activity of City Bible Forum in Melbourne, Australia.

Bigger questions City Bible Forum

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.9 • 31 Ratings

Bigger Questions explores the big questions of life. It's is a fun and stimulating forum where a guest is interviewed on a particular topic or theme. We hear their story and their reflections on a short passage from the Bible and we have a few laughs along the way. Bigger Questions is an activity of City Bible Forum in Melbourne, Australia.

    What is the greatest glory? | Gavin Peacock

    What is the greatest glory? | Gavin Peacock

    Sporting success is described as the ultimate glory - but it can feel elusive. Can we find glory that will last? We hear from a premier league footballer who tasted sporting glory, but found it inadequate and we hear his story of finding something lasting and even more glorious.

    Our guest: Gavin Peacock. Gavin was formerly a professional footballer who played in the English Premier League. He scored 135 goals for Queens Park Rangers, Chelsea and Newcastle United amongst others in a career that spanned over 600 games. He now works as an associate pastor at Calvary Grace Church of Calgary, in Canada. He’s written several books including ‘A greater glory: from pitch to pulpit’ which is his story.

    See one of Gavin's most glorious moments (and him being interviewed) in this clip from a game he recalls in the show.

    Also see his FA Cup final shot which we talk about in the show.

    Invest in Bigger thinking for as little as US$1 per podcast on Patreon.


    Bigger Questions asked in the conversation

    You played professional football for multiple teams including Newcastle and Chelsea. When they play each other, who do you support?

    Smaller Questions

    So Gavin our smaller question to you today is about glory.

    Life as a footballer

    So, Gavin - football is often associated with glory - this book title had glory in it. There is a football team in Australia called Perth Glory, there’s a football magazine called Glory and it’s said that winning a title or a Cup brings glory - so why is glory so often connected with football?

    What was it like playing as a Premier League footballer?

    What was your most glorious moment in football?

    In the 1994 FA Cup final playing for Chelsea against Manchester United you hit the crossbar in the first half when the score was 0-0 - how many times have you replayed that moment in your head since that time?

    Nature of glory

    There is a quote, “The game only lasts for 90 minutes but the glory lasts forever” How do you react to that? Do you find it motivating?

    Gavin’s story

    So Gavin, you played at the top - achieved what many young boys aspire to, but you’ve been quoted as saying: ‘Football was my God as a youngster but it didn’t satisfy, I was empty.’ What did you mean by this, how could football be empty?

    Did your life change?

    Bible: God is the greatest glory

    Now Gavin, today’s big question is about glory and the Bible claims that God is the king of Glory, in Psalm 24:10, the Psalmist writes,


    Who is he, this King of glory?

    The Lord Almighty –

    he is the King of glory.


    So Gavin, the ‘king of Glory’, that sounds like a fairly egotistical title to give to someone. Do you think a footballer could write a biography, ‘the King of Glory’? Even someone like Sir Alex Ferguson was never described as ‘the king of Glory’. What makes the Bible describe God with such grandeur?

    The Big Question

    So Gavin, what is the greatest glory?

    • 27 min
    Are we addicted to achievement? | Justine Toh

    Are we addicted to achievement? | Justine Toh

    Are you an achievement addict? Our society seems obsessed with success and defining our worth by our school marks and getting a good job. We go from tiger parenting to examine our hearts and then discover something bigger which helps our achievement obsession.

    Our guest: Dr. Justine Toh. Justine is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Public Christianity, where she regularly speaks and writes about the Christian faith in the Australian media. Justine has a PhD in Cultural Studies from Macquarie University and admits to being a recovering achievement addict.

    Justine is the author of a new book: Achievement Addiction - check out the end of the podcast for a special offer on how you can get a signed copy of this book.

    Invest in Bigger thinking for as little as US$1 per podcast on Patreon.


    Bigger questions asked in the conversation

    Smaller Questions

    Now to kick off Bigger Questions we like to ask some smaller questions - just to get us thinking. Today we’re asking Dr. Justine Toh about achievement. So Justine for our smaller question today, I’m going to ask you about tiger parenting - a strict, authoritative method of parenting which is meant to raise high achieving children.

    Achievement in our culture

    So Justine, you actually talk about the Tiger Mum, in your book, ‘Achievement Addiction’, is this a stereotype of Asian high achievers?

    But the connection of achievement to success is not just an Asian, ‘tiger mum’ thing though is it?

    Addiction to achievement

    So you’ve written a book, ‘Achievement Addiction’, is it too much to describe achievement as an ‘addiction’?

    So what’s the problem with achievement? Are you saying that achievement is wrong?

    Justine, you claim to be a recovering achievement addict - what does that mean?

    Why are we addicted to achievement?

    Why do you think our culture is addicted to achievement?

    Is there a solution?

    The Bible’s reflection

    Now Justine, in the Gospel of Matthew - one of the four biographies of Jesus’ life we have - Jesus shares a parable about workers who were hired to work in the landowners vineyard. They were hired at different times in the day and all agreed to work, in the end for the same pay - one denarius. At the end of the day, when they’re paid some weren’t happy. It says in Matthew 20:11-12,

    When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. “These who were hired last worked only one hour,” they said, “and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.”

    So do you appreciate their disgruntlement? It seems a bit unfair doesn’t it to pay the same for one hours work as a whole day?

    Jesus then answering them by saying,

    “I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?” ‘So the last will be first, and the first will be last’

    So Justine, how does Jesus’ answer speak to our world focused on achievement?

    So does this mean that Christianity denies human achievement? A commenter on Reddit once claimed that Christianity is evil and anti-human because, they claimed,

    All of the amazing and good things that humans have done mean nothing according to Christianity. At best, such accomplishments are laughably inadequate attempts to overcome the burden of sin with Earthly works; at worst, they are hubristic challenges to God’s infinite glory. Nothing humans do can ever satisfy their creator.

    Does the Christian faith and even the appeal to grace, deny and undervalue human achievements?

    What difference has the Christian faith made for you - as a self-confessed recovering achievement addict?

    The Big Question

    So Justine, are we addicted to achievement?

    • 30 min
    How can we thrive in anxious times? | Nicky Chiswell

    How can we thrive in anxious times? | Nicky Chiswell

    Our age has been dubbed the Age of Anxiety. This thoughtful conversation offers some practical tips and profound wisdom to help us thrive in challenging times. An important conversation with RUOK? day just around the corner.

    Our guest: Nicky Chiswell. Nicky works as a psychologist where she has a special interest in supporting people facing mental health and relationship issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, and relationship problems. She has also written numerous songs and musical albums and she has been playing, writing, and performing for many years.

    Check out her website here.

    This conversation was recorded in partnership with St Augustine's Anglican Church in Moreland.

    Invest in Bigger thinking for as little as US$1 per podcast on Patreon.


    Bigger Questions asked in the conversation

    Nicky, you’ve written many songs and albums, have you ever gone gold or platinum?

    Do you ever worry that people won’t like your songs?

    Smaller Questions

    To kick off Bigger Questions we like to ask some smaller questions - just to get us thinking. Today we’re talking with Nicky Chiswell about thriving in anxious times - so Nicky in today’s smaller questions, we’re asking how much you know about books on anxiety

    Anxious times

    So on Pete Townshend’s website it says about his book, ‘What could be a more apt description for the time we are currently living in than the Age of Anxiety.’ Yet even before the Coronavirus pandemic our culture was described as anxious - even as far back as 1947 - with the publication of WH Auden’s poem. Do you think it’s too much to describe our modern culture as the Age of Anxiety?

    We see rates of diagnosed anxiety rising even before Coronavirus, and yet the pandemic and lockdowns have heightened and worsened the feelings of anxiety. Has the pandemic heightened our anxiety in already anxious times?

    Why do you think this age is so anxious?

    So how can someone thrive amidst these anxious and challenging times?

    Nicky’s story

    Now Nicky, this discussion on anxiety is not simply a professional interest for you - this has been something that you have encountered personally, do you mind sharing some of your story?

    Anxiety: trust in God who is at hand

    The issue of anxiety is confronted in the New Testament part of the Bible by the Apostle Paul in the book of Philippians, where he writes in chapter 4, verses 5 and 6,

    Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

    So Nicky, how does this help? Surely just saying to someone who is anxious, ‘don’t be anxious’, isn’t particularly helpful advice?

    The Big Question

    So Nicky, how can we thrive in anxious times?

    • 27 min
    Why advocate for social justice? | Tim Costello

    Why advocate for social justice? | Tim Costello

    There are many social injustices and challenges in the world today. How do we react to desperate human suffering? We hear from someone who has witnessed countless human tragedies and been at the forefront of advocating for social change. What motivates his compassion and care? A powerful and at times confronting conversation.

    Our guest: Rev. Tim Costello. Tim Costello is one of Australia’s leading voices for social justice. He has previously worked as mayor of St Kilda, a baptist pastor, CEO of World Vision and is presently executive director of Micah Australia. Tim is a frequent media commentator, an author, speaker, former Victorian of the Year and was also named a ‘national living treasure’ and he joins me now.

    This conversation was recorded in partnership with St Augustine's Anglican Church in Moreland.

    This podcast episode will be available on our Monday night Facebook Premiere.


    Invest in Bigger thinking for as little as US$1 per podcast on Patreon.


    Bigger Questions asked in the conversation

    Tim - you’re apparently a national living treasure. How do you feel about that title?

    The list was created to honour Australians who have made a substantial and enduring contribution to Australian life. There are a lot of sports people on the list, not so many church leaders - what do you think this list says about what Australians value?

    Smaller Questions

    Tim, our smaller questions today are about poverty and income inequality in the world today.

    What is social justice?

    So Tim is there perhaps a paradox in the world at present? Over a billion people lifted out of poverty since 1990, yet the rich are richer than ever before - is the world more or less just than in 1990?

    Is inequality the driving force behind social justice issues?

    Advocating for social justice

    Tim you’ve been an advocate for social justice for many years, for many years you were the face of World Vision - how did you feel going into disaster areas?

    You’ve seen so much suffering firsthand - how do you process that?

    Was there any situation which particularly moved you?

    Tim’s Story: a faith that motivates

    What convinced you that the Christian faith was worth believing?

    What drives you to advocate for social justice? Is it your faith or something else?

    The Bible’s answer: God cares for the poor

    The Old Testament book of Micah was written in the 8th Century BC to the nation of Israel who had disobeyed God and God was threatening judgement. In light of the situation of the people of God, In chapter 6 Micah writes about the response God desires. He does not want ritualistic and legalistic sacrifices, instead he shares what he wants in verse 8,


    He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

    And what does the Lord require of you?

    To act justly and to love mercy

    and to walk humbly with your God.


    Tim, how do you react to the exhortation, ‘act justly’?

    Many of the similar themes are found in the Old Testament wisdom book of Proverbs in Proverbs 31:8-9 says,


    Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,

    for the rights of all who are destitute.

    Speak up and judge fairly;

    defend the rights of the poor and needy.


    Do you think this captures a Biblical vision for advocacy?

    How is biblical justice distinct from secular forms of justice?

    The Big Question

    So Tim, why advocate for social justice?

    • 29 min
    Why would someone trust God in the face of suffering? | Andy Prideaux & Bryn Weightman

    Why would someone trust God in the face of suffering? | Andy Prideaux & Bryn Weightman

    Why do bad things happen to good people? Is God trustworthy?

    Bigger Questions host Robert Martin has an honest and authentic conversation about the difficult topic of suffering with Bryn Weightman (apprentice at Melbourne University Christian Union) and Andy Prideaux (senior staff worker with the Christian Union at Melbourne University).

    Andy shares from 20 years of reflection on the Old Testament book of Job and Bryn reflects on a significant personal experience. We ask Bryn and Andy some bigger questions on suffering.

    This episode was recorded live in Melbourne (at Melbourne University) in September 2017.


    Help us keep asking Bigger Questions. Support the show for as little as US$1 per podcast on Patreon.


    Bigger questions asked in the conversation

    Smaller Questions

    The smaller questions were about 'how much you know about Job? (including a question on Jobe Watson)

    Andy’s reflections on Job

    Andy, the book of Job, it’s a little different to Jobe Watson’s career. Tell us a bit about the book - it’s pretty big, 42 chapters long, you’ve wrestled with it for 20 years. What happens?

    Now there was a difference between the biblical Job and the Essendon footballer Jobe Watson wasn’t there? The biblical Job really was blameless, whereas Jobe Watson was - well ambiguous shall we say. What was the particular challenge biblical Job had to deal with?

    Andy is this why the book of Job deals with the big question of why someone would trust God in the face of suffering?

    Bryn’s story

    Now the big question of why someone would trust God in the face of suffering, was an important for you. Can you share your story?

    Surely this tragedy would push you away from belief in God? Many people reject God because of the suffering in the world. Why wasn’t this you?

    What was it about God that you knew you could trust him?

    The Bible reflection

    In Chapter 10 of the Old Testament book of Job, the character Job reflects on his experience of suffering and says in verses 1 and 2,


    “I loathe my very life;

    therefore I will give free rein to my complaint

    and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.

    2 I say to God: Do not declare me guilty,

    but tell me what charges you have against me.


    Why is Job so bitter?

    Job continues and raises the problem of evil in verse 3 where he writes:


    Does it please you to oppress me,

    to spurn the work of your hands,

    while you smile on the plans of the wicked?


    So how does Job approach this problem where he asks God ‘does it please you to oppress me’? It seems like God is the source of the suffering?

    The book concludes with God speaking to Job in a series of speeches in Chapters 38 to 41. What does God say to him?

    The book concludes with God speaking to Job in a series of speeches in Chapters 38 to 41. What does God say to him?

    Job then replies to God in Chapter 41,


    Then Job replied to the Lord:

    2 “I know that you can do all things;

    no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

    3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’

    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,

    things too wonderful for me to know.


    Is this an unsatisfying way of resolving the reasons for Job’s suffering?

    But how is it that he can still trust God amidst his suffering?

    The Big Question

    So Andy and Bryn, why would someone trust God in the face of suffering?

    • 27 min
    What wisdom is gained from mountain tops? | Simon Angus

    What wisdom is gained from mountain tops? | Simon Angus

    What do you enjoy about a mountain walk?

    Is there something special or significant about mountain tops? People have “mountain top” experiences, go to the top of mountains to get perspective and focus, or go to mountaintop gurus for wisdom?

    What wisdom is gained from mountain tops?

    We ask this question to scientist and lecturer Dr. Simon Angus. It's a conversation about science, mountains, wisdom, Jesus, and the meaning of life.

    This episode was recorded on the top of Mt Dandenong in December 2016.


    Help us keep asking Bigger Questions. Support the show for as little as US$1 per podcast on Patreon.

    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
31 Ratings

31 Ratings

BBlackwo ,

Helpful and interesting

I really enjoy listening to this on a Sunday evening.

shaquana flame ,

Cultural Christianity

A fantastic example of cultural Christianity, teetering on the edge of dangerous progressivism. Some brilliant talks, some really thought-provoking stuff, and some good laughs, but some of it is a bit concerning for the discerning Christian, and seems to have a slight essence of wokism.

Takyn ,

Thought provoking and fun!

A fascinating insight into people’s lives and diverse fields of expertise showing how their faith shapes the answers to questions that everyone shares. Highly recommended if you’re tired of shallow sound-bite answers and want to hear more meaty discussion that is fun and authentic.

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