Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The state of human beings in Hell

For Wright, the individual in hell through their continued idolatry have become ex-human. Interesting stuff. He writes;

When human beings give their heartfelt allegiance and worship to that which is not God, they progressively cease to reflect the image of God. One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what's more, you reflect what you worship, not only back to the object itself but outwards to the world around. Those who worship money increasingly define themselves in terms of it, and increasingly treat other people as creditors, debtors, partners or customers rather than as human beings. Those who worship sex define themselves in terms of it (their preferences, thei practices, their past histories), and increasingly treat other people as actual or potential sexual objects. Those who worship power define themselves in terms of it, and treat other people as either collaborators, competitors or pawns. These and many other forms of idolatry combine in a thousand ways, all of them damaging the image-bearing quality of the people concerned and of those whose lives they touch. My suggestion is that it is possible for human beings so to continue down
this road, so to refuse all whisperings of good news, all glimmers of the true light, all promptings to turn and go the other way all signposts to the love of God, that after death they become at last, by their own effective choice, beings that once were human but now are not, creatures that have ceased to bear the divine image at all. Tom Wright, Suprised by Hope

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rubber Ducks

Does anyone know why the primary rubber duck colour is yellow? My wife and I have been pondering this since our trip to the duck pond with our son this morning, as none of the ducks there were yellow.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What if Starbucks marketed like a church?

This is a great video. Watching it makes me realise how weird church can look to the outsider, and also how way off the mark churches can be in catering to the newcomer. It's also hilarious.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Going to the source first

If a church or Christian organisation wants to provide a list of books or articles to inform people of a certain theological issue, do you think they have a responsibility to show books representing all sides of the argument, or just the ones they agree with?

E.g. Mars Hill website gave a list of what they called "helpful books on Justification", which contained many polemics against the New Perspectives position. However, they do not provide any material from Sanders, Wright or Dunn.

It seems to me that that list should have been titled "Helpful books on OUR view of justification", or something like that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

FFcF#3 Sabotage

This film clip would've been so fun to be in, I love it. Possibly my favourite film clip of all time.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This is funny


When Doug first showed me this, I thought it was a prank done by some Sydney Anglicans. Turns out it was real, but it didn't mean wht I originally thought it did.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Something worth remembering

If you are reading about a biblical topic, chances are there is always someone who has done more reading than you. So be prepared to be wrong.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A missionary hypothetical

If you are a missionary overseas in a closed country and are just beginning to see real fruit in your ministry, yet also have an ageing single mother who can no longer look after herself, how would you put this verse into practice?

Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God
1 Timothy5:3-4

Assume you have no brooders and sisters, or they are all overseas as well, and there is no other family there to look after her. What do you do?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A forgotten yet dangerous evangelistic method?

When was the last time you used an evangelistic/church planting resource (outside the bible, of course) that promoted using good deeds to win over your friends? It may be a good thing if you haven't. I have been pondering over the Sermon on the Mount to try and work out what I think of using good deeds as 'method'.

"In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven"
Matthew 5:16

What I love about this verse is the context. The "In the same way" is referring back to not putting a bowl over a lamp. It causes us to ask "Why would you cover a lamp? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of using the lamp in the first place?" Yes it does. It is the same with our good deeds. They are meant to be so that men can see them, so that they might glorify God and turn to Christ. If you are hiding them, you are defeating their purpose. It seems therefore, especially in the context of 4:19, that we are to use our good deeds for the purpose of winning souls to Christ.

However, there is a very serious tension. Jesus says in the same sermon; "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven"

I know of a church who are very good at promoting their 'good deeds'. They have t-shirts and signs that speak about the 'good' they are doing in the community, and you see them as they walk around the streets doing it. But I think they've missed the point. I think there is a major difference between "Let your light shine" and "advertise", and what this church seems to be doing is advertising their good deeds. This is why I would probably sit uncomfortable with using good deeds as a strategy for mission, it has the very potential to produce hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is very much a salvation issue in the gospels. This is why it is a dangerous method, or why we should perhaps avoid using it as a 'method'; hypocrisy. We do good deeds because we are the light of the world and the salt of the Earth, and ultimately because we love God.

Perhaps a way of avoiding this 'method' language is by saying that it is not strategy, but it is strategic. Does that work?

So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven, just don't advertise them.

I still haven't worked it out. What are your thoughts, if you have any?

Friday, November 14, 2008

FFcF#2 - Just

The thing I love about Radiohead film clips is they usually are story. This one is their best and most original, with a killer punchline. If you haven't seen it, watch it. It's one of the best film clips of all time. Also, what do you think he says right at the end?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Aliens in the world, yet no longer alien

As I was riding my bike along the single-lane Redfern street today, I noticed bus coming up behind me quite quickly. So I stepped on it and pedalled as fast as I could so that I wouldn't be holding the bus driver up. It was pretty fun. As I got to the set of traffic lights, I noticed as the bus came up beside me the driver was opening the window to say something to me.
"Race ya!" he said with a smile
This was nice, we're about to have a small bonding experience. I laughed and was about to say something, when he gave this crude laugh and said "I'll race ya to her!", and nodded towards a girl walking up the street.
Dang. Suddenly I can't relate to this guy anymore. I found that kind of talk disgusting. I didn't know what to say, so I just moved a bit further on my bike, so I didn't have to look at him and converse any longer.

1 Peter is comforting for the Christian in these moments. The main theme is Christians living in an non-Christian environment, and Peter reassures us that we are aliens in the world (2:11), and our hope rests on the inheritance given through the resurrection of Christ. This enables us to rejoice as we persevere in suffering (Granted, for some that suffering is an awkward moment at traffic lights, but nevertheless...).

However, at the same time Ephesians encourages us that as Gentiles we are no longer aliens. Once we were cut off from the people of God, but now through the blood of the Messiah we are no longer foreigners to the covenants of the promise (2:11-13).

There is a 'now and not-yet' theme going on here. Ephesians looks at what we have received in Christ now, 1 Peter is urging us to focus on what we will receive when Christ returns in glory. We can take comfort knowing that we are aliens in the world, yet no longer alien.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Come to Moore

Inspirational...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Three Things

Sars and I did this cool little thing tonight that we found really helpful. We wrote down on a piece of paper three things that we loved about the other person, and then three things we would like to change about ourselves to better our marriage/family.

These are 2 aspects of communication we've found integral to relationships, yet have to make sure we put in the effort.
1) Making sure we regularly tell the other person what we cherish about them
2) Be self reflective about our own errors, and talk about them

Self reflection is key for anything I think, and guys generally suck at it. If you read this, why not come up with three things about yourself that need changing in regard to your relationships*.

And hey, why not tell that special person** 3 things about them that you really cherish.

*Don't write it in the comments section :-)
** Does not have to be spouse

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Film clip Fun - Regina's Samson

A total rip off of Dave's Friday foto. the first weeks clip is Samson by Regina Spektor. I loved this song from the first time I heard it. It's like an audio hug.

Does anyone think they can understand her artistic interpretation of the Samson and Delilah story? What new spin is she putting on the story?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl...

Went to the local pub to study church history tonight, ended up getting into a gospel conversation with a drunk who'd just won on the pokies. He urged me to ditch my bible and enjoy life. I told him this life would end and that he will end up in either heaven or hell (it's amazing how up-front you get with drunk people). I said some other stuff too of course. Maybe I'll see him again and we can continue the conversation, he volunteers at the fruit and vege co-op behind my church and lives in the high rise opposite my house. Please pray for Pete

Then I just spoke to one of the closest people in my life, and they told me they weren't a Christian anymore. They said it was too much to handle. Friggin' sucks.

It's a strange feeling when on the one hand you want Jesus to return so the pain would end, but on the other hand you don't because so many people you care about are perishing.

Pro-Life at the polls

There has been some serious lamenting in the Christian blogosphere over the election of Barack Obama. As always in the USA, the issue is primarily over abortion. Have you ever wondered why it is not the issue for Christians in Australia as it is in the USA? I personally have to admit it is not my only concern when voting, I consider other human rights issues as well, including immigration and foreign policy. So the election of Obama you would think would leave me feeling excited about the difference he might make to those struggling in poverty and war torn countries around the world. I'm not. Because I read things like this, that leave me feeling cold;

Obama has forcefully vowed that his very first act as President would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). FOCA claims a "fundamental right" to abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, and no government body at any level would be able to "deny or interfere with" this right. Even the pro-choice NOW readily acknowledges that FOCA would literally "sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies."
Taken from here


How much does abortion in Australia affect you when you go to the polls?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My man-crush

I love this blog. The stuff he comes up with is great, and always so succint and witty. You probably already know about it. If you don't, now you do, and I hope you read it regularly and enjoy it like I do.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sydney Worship must look like this



I'll be campaigning for it at St Saviour's...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Blogspot sucks. Is wordpress better?

My previous post I finished writing half hour ago, but because of all the formatting issues I had with blogspot, it took me half an hour to figure out how to get it right. I should have been in bed earlier. grrrrrr....

Carson on the problem of 'Limited Atonement'

A big thanks to Dave Miers for encouraging me to read Carson on this, as I've said before my difficulties in grappling with Limited Atonement. Carson says the problem lies in the language;

The label 'limited atonement' is singularly unfortunate for two reasons. First, it is a defensive, restrictive expression: here is atonement, and then someone wants to limit it. The notion of limiting something as glorious as the atonement is intrinsically offensive. Second, even when inspected more coolly, 'limited atonement' is objectively misleading. Every view of the atonement 'limits' it in some way, save for the view of the unqualified universalist. For example, the Arminian limits the atonement by regarding it as merely potential for everyone; the Calvinist regards the atonement as definite and effective, but limits this effectiveness to the elect.
Don Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, pg 84


I think Carson has correctly diagnosed why I feel uncomfortable with being '5 point Calvinist'. There is something about God not dying for the sins of the whole world that sounds wrong. Carson argues to distinguish instead general atonement and definite atonement over limited and unlimited atonement. He asserts that under the truth of election, one must conclude that when God sent his Son to the cross, the effect would be different to the elect than to all others. This is Definite Atonement.

I think I can agree with that

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Praise God for Hell

I've never really felt this way before, but when I read this article that told of the 4 people who were sexually assaulted in their apartment in Waterloo, it was my first reaction. I don't wish anyone to go to hell, because neither does God. But when I realise how sinful man is, sometimes I am thankful for justice.

While I was trying to type in the labels for this post, I started thinking of me. Now I'm thankful for Jesus.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A 35 hour week?

How many hours a week should a pastor work? If you are going to be a pastor how many hours a week do you expect to work? If you already are a pastor, how many hours do you work on a weekly basis? If you are not in this category, what do you expect of your pastor, or what would your preference be?

Include hospital visits, meetings, sermon prep, Sunday services, the lot!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Where the Hell is Matt?

This video from this website makes me smile and cry at the same time. It could make an alien think that Earth is actually a happy place. I'm totally addicted to his website too, and should probably quit and head to bed soon. Think I might read up on Chile first...

But seriously check it out, I'm certain you will love it.

Edit: PS. I wanted to have the youtube video on my blog, but I couldn't work out how. My sincerest apologies if you had to follow the link to the video, and then didn't enjoy it.

2nd Edit:


Thanks Matt :-)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Poetic justice

It's great when someones word will condemn themselves. Recently I was told I was quite careless. It may have been true, but it sure was great immediately pointing out to the accuser that their pants were on inside-out. It made me happy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Determining God's particular will

It's easy to know God's general will, it's revealed in the bible. Glorify God, make Christ known, disciples the nations etc etc. But how do you determine his particular will for your life? Missionary, church-planter, tent-maker, secular work, bible teaching, pioneering, youth, children, elderly... All of them are good, Godly things. How therefore do you make the decision(or, submit to God's decision)?

There seem to be different ways. A direct word from God (rare in my experience), or based on your spiritual gifts, your passions. Or perhaps you will go based on the need, or perhaps you choose based on the opportunity that came up at the right time. Which will it be for you?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Divorce

I was speaking to my sister-in-law's Lebanese boyfriend last night. He told me that he could not think of one Lebanese family he knew that was divorced. Compare that with how many families you know of your ethnic origin that have ended in divorce. What's the deal you think?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Discover your chief anxieties and ambitions

One of the best ways to discover a Christian's chief anxieties and ambitions is to study the content of his prayers and the intensity with which he prays them.
John Stott, The Message of Ephesians, BST

If this rebukes you as much as it does me, I hope you pray about it.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

"The era of American global leadership...is over."

US stocks fell by 7 per cent and more than $US1 trillion in value was destroyed as investors despaired. It was one of the biggest one-day falls on Wall Street..."The era of American global leadership, reaching back to the Second World War, is over."
The conservative American commentator (British political philosopher John Gray), one-time adviser to Ronald Reagan and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan agreed. Comparing the crisis to a devastating hurricane, he said it was "a Katrina-like failure of government, of our political class, and of democracy itself. The party's over. What we are witnessing today is how empires end."

From the SMH



It may be a little exaggerated, I'm sure. But I wonder if some turbulent times are coming for the West in general in the next 5 -10 years.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fexible Gospel Methods

Mrs Fan worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week developing photos. How could she ever hear the gospel if she was too busy and tired to come to any church activity?Mrs Fan needed someone to go to her and not just to be invited to come and hear.
Sharing with Mrs Fan was a challenge. sometimes there would be 10 interruptions in 10 minutes. Chronological Bible stories, which tell the salvation story from Creation to Jesus, were flexibleenough to cope with the interuptions. Mrs Fan loved the stories and would request another whenever she saw her friend. Gone were the days when I gospel conversation had to be initiated.
Taiwan's Working Class: A Prayer Guide


I love this story, not only because someone is hearing the gospel, but because of the initiative being used by missionaries in Taiwan to reach the working class with the message of Jesus. Things are not exactly the same in Australia (not many work 12 hours a day. God bless you, trade union movement!), but I wonder how flexible we are in order to reach those in our community with the gospel. What do you think some of the ways we need to be flexible in order to reach certain cultures with the gospel?

In Redfern sometimes I wonder if our church service would make many in the community feel uncomfortable. It is very ordered, people stand and sit when told, and are spoken to by a person up the front whose importance demands we be silent and listen. I was reflecting and the only other places this is normal for them is at school and in court, neither being a place they feel too comfortable. This raises questions of whether we should change the service, or work out ways of getting into the community. I.e., being incarnational in our approach to evangelism. Probably both.

Blogging revisited


so true, so true. Not gonna stop me though :-)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rockabye Baby Radiohead


Noah will one day be as excited as I was when he got this. It is never to early to start him off listening to the greatest band of all time. He'll be waking to this every morning soon.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Victims in Total Depravity?

As I read Ephesians it is clear that we were completely dead in our sins. Not only that, Christ has rescued us from our bondage to sin, freeing us from walking in the ways of the world. This implies we are victims yeah? We were born in to this death and Christ rescued us. It gets harder though when you realise that Christ didn't rescue everybody.

In his commentary on Ephesians Stott says we were subject to oppressive influences from both within and without, therefore no one can escape responsibility for their enslavement.

Leaves me with more questions than answers unfortunately...

Constructive learning

Is it better to learn by experience or by sitting under the experienced and watching it done? If you had a choice of one or the other before you went out and put it in to practice, which would you choose?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Blogging

I decided last week that I was going to stop blogging, because I have nothing worthwile to talk about, and I cringe every time I read them.

I've started again, and look forward to more cringe-worthy moments. Enjoy.

Ping Pong, self pity, and Taiwan

Ben France smashed me to pieces at ping pong today, 5 games to nil. It's amazing what can get you down sometimes, and then you realise self-pity is a sin...and then that gets you down too.

We played a game of doubles after that and won. I felt better then.

Sars and I also had a chat with a missionary from Taiwan today about the work being done over there. It was great and has given us more to think and pray about.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Toward a Prophetic Youth Ministry: Theory and Praxis in Urban Context

One of the most frustrating things about doing youth ministry in an urban context is the lack of resources. Most books and studies are written for middle-class youth ministry in the suburbs, which can make it difficult to deal with programming and conflict. Of the few books I've picked up regarding Urban Youth Ministry have been a little wishy-washy and focused on games. I remember one game was 'Pick up the butts', which was a game you could play at a bus stop. It was a race to see who could pick up the most cigarette butts in the allotted time...delicious.

So this is why I'm a excited about this book by Fernando Arzola Jr. that I picked up today. I don't normally buy a book unless I have already heard about the author, but this one looked good from the outset. He writes from a biblical and historically orthodox tradition rooted in the Bible and the ancient creeds, at the same time having the worldview of a 'Puerto-Rican American raised in the Mott Haven (??) section of the South Bronx as a life-long New York City resident'. It is published by ivp and the praise quotes for it are by good people. I've read a few chapters so far, and there are some really good things, as well as some things I'm a bit iffy about. I'll also write some summaries if I get around to it.

Incarnational Ministry in Taiwan

Phil Nicholson, currently directing a team of missionaries in Taiwan sent me a paper on how they do evangelism in working class communities. What he describeds it as is this;

OMF missionaries use another approach which can be described as "incarnational evangelism". This involves deliberately entering into a community with the aim of building relationships for the sake of the gospel. Rather than seeking to draw individuals immediately into our Christian group, we first enter into their community. The goal is to see the gospel implanted in their community leading to the establishment of a church (i.e. a new Christian community) amongst them.


It's a good model, applicable for the Redfern/Waterloo area in Sydney. We need to go to the people with the gospel, rather than expecting them to come to hear it in church. Where are they? They're on the streets,in the pubs, at the footy and in their homes. They highly value family and their communities to which they belong. We need to be there. We need to take Jesus to them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Watching the Jews put on trains

I don't like U2. It's unChristian I know. I don't like Bono much either, which means I like even less quoting him. But I was reading a devotional book on James by John Dixon which had this quote from him that is spot on. It was looking at James 1:27 (the devotional, not Bono's quote) and caring for the poor. During a world tour Bono spoke to church congregations about AIDS and poverty that claims the lives of 6,500 people a day. He said;
I think Judeo-Christian culture is at stake. If the church doesn't respond to this, the church will be made irrelevant. It would be like the way you heard stories of people watching the Jews put on trains during the Holocaust. We will be the generation who watched our African brothers and sisters get put on trains.

I think he is right. It's easy and so often we look back at Christians in past generations and think "How on Earth could they be Christian and do that?". I think in years to come Christians will look back at the church of the 21st century, with all it's access to technology and media that allows everyone to see the poverty that goes on around the globe, and see us buying our plasmas, our big houses, and our expensive holidays and not do anything about the poor. They will say "How on Earth could they be Christian and do that?"

He went on to say
'Love thy neighbour is not a piece of advice, it's a command...Christ talks about the poor and says "Whatever you have done to the least of these brothers of mine, you've done to me". In Africa right now, the least of my brethren are dying in shiploads and we are not responding'.

I think if we all examine ourselves seriously, we'll know that we are not responding as we ought, and that we are guilty of ignoring something so wretched. I know I am. The question is, what am I going to do about? What do you think we can do about it? Should I wear a 'Make Poverty History' arm band?

Monday, September 15, 2008

However, joining the institution still frightens me

Having said what I did in the post below, I am still concerned about becoming a candidate for the Sydney Diocese. A few of those reasons are;

1) Spending 4 years full time at college.
This seems a long time, and I fear that I will become too comfortable in Christian community and care more about reading books than interacting with people, especially non-Christians. I will care more about talking the doctrine rather than living and promoting the glorious doctrines of the Christian faith. I can actually see it happening already. I know I need to be patient, but I'm not sure if I see the 4 years as incredibly necessary

2) 3 years as an assistant
It's not that I don't want to be an assistant. I think I am actually more of a no. 2 guy. My gift is not as 'king' as Driscoll put it (I'm not an organiser or planner, basically). My fear is that I will be 2ic to someone I don't respect and will not learn anything positive from, only how not to do things. I want to sit under someone who I know I truly respect and can be committed to their leadership, who is innovative and actively seeking to grow the church and get into the community.

3) I will become lazy
Man, the coin for a Sydney candidate is sweet. It's like an 80, 000 a year package . I don't want to become the minister who only preaches on Sundays, does weddings and funerals, and makes sure everyone in his congregation is happy and enjoys a comfy lifestyle with no sense of urgency or hardship for the gospel.

I know all these things don't happen because you join an institution. I'm sure wherever you are you could have a bad attitude, or not have a good leader. It will most often come down to your character. But it seems to me you will not always be challenged, and the temptation will be great.

These are just some fears I have, they are not set in concrete conclusions.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The institution can't be all bad

I have been reflecting a little about effective church since Mark Driscoll came and gave several helpful talks on church planting and contextualisation. Mark had a lot of valid points that have left me feeling with thoughts like; "Is the Anglican system really beneficial for anything then? Should I join it?". I think it is (not that I should join, necessarily), and I don't think effective church is by any means negated by belonging to an institution such as the Sydney Diocese. The reason being is that I came from a Sydney Anglican Church of 1300 strong which was incredibly contemporary and committed to contextualisation, and did it well! My mate is also the youth pastor of a Syd Ang church that has gone from 40 to 400 in ten years. Furthermore, I think of places like Bethlehem Baptist under Piper (8000) and Redeemer Presbyterian in New York (5000). Jesus still uses them.

The other thing about an institution like the Sydney Diocese, is that they do not micro-manage. As a rector aren't you given a fair amount of autonomy once you're in? I have a feeling that if Mark Driscoll were put in a Sydney Anglican church he'd be able to do similar of the amazing things he has done with Mars Hill in Seattle (under God's sovereignty, of course :-) ).

I know he made valid criticisms, but I think my initial feelings were wrong about our institution.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Arrested Develpment - The movie

If anyone hasn't seen the television series, let me know and I'll lend it to you (as long as I know you well enough not to be a thief). It's the funniest and the most clever show to come out in a long time. The critics raved about it, but it never quite took off on TV so it was cancelled after 3 seasons, and it wasn't until it came out on DVD that people took notice of it and saw how good it is.

Now they're making it into a movie. Can't wait!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Noah gets funky with MGMT

I love the little guy...

Bring it back

Do you remember before climate-change was trendy, people did things to like sponsoring children and going in the 40-hour famine to feel better about their rampant consumerism? It was all about AIDS and starving children in Africa. These days all you need to do is recycle and turn your lights off for 1 hour a year.

Bring it back I say, it probably saved more lives.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Must all church be self-sustainable?


I'm talking monetary wise. No one pledges to give money to a church plant indefinately. The idea is that as the congregation grows so to will the offetory and outside funding becomes redundant. The reason I ask the question is because I want to be involved in church-planting, but I want to be involved in ministry to the poor. So for instance if someone was to slam 50,000 dollars on the table and say "you've got 2 years to make a sustainable church in Tregear", it ain't gonna happen.


The reason I find it slightly disheartening is because the best church planting seems to be done outside the current institutional structures that are in Sydney (if Driscoll et al. is correct), yet low socio-economic environments need these structures because they've got the coin to support it. So it leaves me in a dilly of a pickle. On the one hand, I want to be involved in some progressive church-planting, and get trained and all that, but the reality may be that I need to go with the Anglicans or Pressies (and I don't think it would be the end of the world to do that, I just think there are some downsides) to be able to have the backing of structures that have the coin.


What to do, what to do eh? any ideas?

How do you reach these with Jesus?


A friend of mine took this photo that is the view directly from my front door step. This is one of the many gian public housing apartments that make up Redfern and Waterloo. They are pretty horrendous. As you walk by you notice many of the windows are broken, and the insides are full of graffiti and vandalism. After he took the photo, he said "How do you reach that?"
The majority of succesful evangelism in Sydney has been out in the suburbs, to white middle class families. They are the people who make up the majority of our churches. I wonder why it is different with those living in apartments. Is it the demographics or their social environment that has made it difficult to reach?
How do we reach these?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Jack Handey

If your bored and laugh at what I laugh at, you'll enjoy reading these;

One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. "Oh, no," I said. "Disneyland burned down." He cried and cried, but I think that deep down, he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.

Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.

Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: "Mankind". Basically, it's made up of two separate words - "mank" and "ind". What do these words mean ? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind.

The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.

If you define cowardice as running away at the first sign of danger, screaming and tripping and begging for mercy, then yes, Mr. Brave man, I guess I'm a coward.

I bet one legend that keeps recurring throughout history, in every culture, is the story of Popeye.

When you go in for a job interview, I think a good thing to ask is if they ever press charges.

To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other.

We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we can't scoff at them personally, to their faces, and this is what annoys me.

Probably the earliest flyswatters were nothing more than some sort of striking surface attached to the end of a long stick.

If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.

The memories of my family outings are still a source of strength to me. I remember we'd all pile into the car - I forget what kind it was - and drive and drive. I'm not sure where we'd go, but I think there were some trees there. The smell of something was strong in the air as we played whatever sport we played. I remember a bigger, older guy we called "Dad." We'd eat some stuff, or not, and then I think we went home. I guess some things never leave you.

If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I'd say Flippy, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong, though. It's Hambone.

If you go parachuting, and your parachute doesn't open, and you friends are all watching you fall, I think a funny gag would be to pretend you were swimming.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Can Jesus Weep Over What He Wills?

In light of my little heretical piece below, Desiring God blog has a great post on what is part of my struggle with election and the sovereignty of God.

Check it here; http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1379_Can_Jesus_Weep_Over_What_He_Wills/

Let me know what you think.

Friday, September 5, 2008

On Hell

I find the concept of eternal conscious punishment in hell intolerable and do not understand how people can live with it without either cauterising their feelings or cracking under the strain.
John Stott, as quoted in Gagging of God. Don Carson


I'd agree. I haven't thought about hell in a while, but my struggle with hell is the biggest challenge to my Christian faith. It really stings to think of friends and family suffering in eternal conscious pain.

I think we ought to be horrified about the concept of hell. How do we weep after Jerusalem as Jesus did and then not be mortified by what will happen to those we are weeping for who reject Christ? Yet, at the same time we need to rejoice in judgement. I was walking with a very respected friend of mine who is now a minister, and we saw in the distance a man who had been verbally sexually assaulting some of the girls on our ministry team. "Praise God for hell, man" he said to me. Ouch. But was he being biblical?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Day 4

This is day 4 of my no wheat, meat or dairy detox diet. I was told today would be when I would start getting headaches and feeling dizzy. Awesome.

I miss meat.

Only 6 days to go!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Which person do you preach in?

After preaching last Sunday I was given some feedback about the person I preach in. I've always preached in the second person as opposed to the second. I'm not sure where I've got this from, but I will say "You are sinful" against "We are sinful". I think in the context of preaching this is better, and in a bible study or one on one situation speaking in the 1st person is preferable. However, the criticism came because it was in the context of being sinful and identifying with Israel. Because I was saying "you are sinful, you are like Israel", it was suggested that it may be wiser to say 'we', as I too am sinful and like Israel. I don't agree, as I think it penetrates the listener's heart more effectively, and I'll just hope they don't think I'm claiming to be perfect.

Which do you do, and why?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Is this Calvinism?

Let’s say I choose to build a house for my 8 children. It is going to be a beautiful, perfect house that has all the facilities needed for my children to live in to make them happy and completely fulfilled. However, the house is only going to be beautiful and perfect on the condition that my children behave themselves, and if they don’t behave, I am going to put snakes in there which will bite them and eventually be the source of their painful destruction. Now, before I put them in there, I am aware they are going to misbehave, in fact I want them to misbehave, for reasons which I will explain later. So I put my 8 children in there, and lo and behold, they start misbehaving. “You naughty children” I say, “because of your misbehaving I am going to put these snakes in your house that you cannot escape from, that will cause all of you to die”. So that’s what I do, and they suffer incredibly. However, I am a loving Father. Before I put all my children in the house, before I had even made the house for them, I had a plan. That plan was I would go in there to save 2 of them, and take on the snakebites for them so that they might not have to anymore. I did that, because I am a loving father. Why these 2 children? No reason, they were just the ones I had chosen. Why did I leave out the other 6? It is because it is for my glory, and because they misbehaved. Aren’t I a loving Father?

Well to me the Father in that analogy isn’t loving at all. So what’s wrong with my analogy?

Mission and families

Recently at Moore College Mark Driscoll made a passing comment that it would be better to be single on the mission field in a closed country. I'm not sure if I agree with him, and I think his comments may have been unhelpful.

When I was in the Middle East on a short term trip 3 American missio’s were shot in the head because someone wanted to ‘cleanse’ his religion. There were many there with families, but they had a motto; “When you’re saved, anywhere is safe”. I gather it’s point was that God is powerful enough to keep you safe no matter what country you are in, so if the gospel calls you there, go! Mark’s comments may seem logical but might be a slap in the face to many of the faithful families who have taken their families to dangerous countries because of their trust in the sovereignty of God. Many in history have buried their children, but I don’t know if I’d say to them it would have been ‘better’ to be single.

Having said that, I was reflecting today how much I value what Mark Driscoll said at Moore, and agreed with almost everything he said. I also heard him speak about Fatherhood and husbandry (is that a word??) last night, and it was gold. Absolute gold.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Preaching the need for redemption

Ths Sunday I will be preaching on Exodus 14, the exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Sea of Reeds. It teaches us among other things that God is redeemer of his people. What I am struggling with, and always have, is how to convince people they need redeeming.

How do you do this? Not of redemption in Christ, but that they need redeeming in the first place.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Too late for a personality change?

I've had a few of those 'wow, I really am a jerk' moments lately. Things I've said in public that really just reveal to me (and everyone) the depths of my immaturity and indiscretion of word choice. We all have these moments, and I honestly think such self reflection is a good thing if it leads to repentance (2 Cor 7:10). But how do we actually effect change in our character? I'm not talking about certain sins we might be struggling with necessarily, but more deeply rooted characteristics in our personality such as laziness, rashness of toungue, irresponsibility, unreliability and a natural self-centeredness. Is there an answer that is more specific and applicable than pray, read your bible and let the Holy Spirit do it's work? (not that these are not essential!)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sinful baby Augustine

I've begun to work my way through 'The Confessions of Saint Augustine' (I don't need to let you know that I'm reading it on the toilet). As a father of a one year old, I found it amusing yet thought-provoking on how he viewed himself as a baby. He writes;

Thus, little by little I became conscious of where I was and began to want to express my wishes to those who could content them. But I could not express them because the wishes were inside of me, and they outside; nor could they by their senses enter into my spirit. So I flung about at random, limbs and voices, making the few signs I could and such as I could, like - though in truth very little like - what I wished. And when I was not immediately obeyed, my wishes being harmful to me or unintelligible, then I was indignant with my elders for not submitting to me, with those owing me no service, for not serving me, and avenged myself on them by tears.
Confessions, Book 1

This was Augustine's interpretation of himself through observation of infants (obviously not his memory of himself!). The older Noah gets the more Sarah and I see that he, like the rest of us, is under the curse of the fall. He is completely egocentric, and I'm sure as he gets older this quote will continually come to mind. Having said that, Noah is a wonderfully well-behaved baby whom we both delight in very much, and this in no way a complaint about his behaviour!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Luther on the Kingdom

The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the kingdom of Christ; he wants to be aomgfriends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devoutpeople. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared?


I love friends, and they are so much easier to be with than the unsaved.Bonhoeffer is quoting him here in the beggining of a chapter on Community. Wemust not take it for granted that as Christians we have the privelege of livingwith other Christians. Bonhoeffer says this is because Christ lived in the midstof his enemies, and at the end of it all even his disciples deserted him.Therefore we too, must live 'in the thick of foes'.

It scares me. It scares me because I love my friends, but also because I fear what Christ will say to me if I meet him face to face as one who has sought relationships not with the bad people, but only the good. What am I for the kingdom?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Savages

A great movie. Go see it.

Must Christianity be Counter-Cultural?

In Church History we have just looked at Constantine and seen how he brought in the beginnings of Christendom in the Western World. The church dramatically went from being a persecuted minority to people with social and political privileges unprecedented for Christians anywhere before. Suddenly to be Christian was a matter of fashion rather than fear.

Although the persecutions subsided, the counter cultural aspects of Christianity were non-existent.

Is Christianity still Christianity when it is no longer counter-cultural? I think for the Christians facing persecution at the time of the arrival of Constantine would have had an immense feeling of joy and relief, but was it at too much cost to the gospel? You can see the reverse thing happen at private Christian schools. When students leave the comforts of where it is 'cool' or accepted to be Christian, suddenly the desire for acceptance, money and sex becomes more important than the gospel.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Blessings of the New Covenant

During bible study tonight we spoke about infant-baptism. This is of interest to me as we have not formerly decided to baptise Noah just yet. I'm of the reformed position that believes that because Sarah and I are members, my children will receive the blessings of the New Covenant. However, the discussion went beyond baptism and to what it actually means to receive the blessings of the covenant. Some were strongly maintaining that children do in fact receive the blessings of the covenant, but that that does not include salvation. The blessings are love, prayer, and a biblical upbringing (among other things), but definitely not salvation.

I have to admit it makes me a little confused. I don't understand how one can receive the blessings of the new covenant and not have salvation. This means they do not actually know Christ. This seems to me to be the biggest and most fundamental blessing we receive under the new covenant. However, how can children receive salvation in Christ yet fall away when they are older? That has implications that my theology does not seem to coincide with either.

Much thinking to do over this one.

Decluttering

Sarah and I are in the process of getting rid of stuff that takes up space for no reason. I've just finished putting all my CD's into a super large CD wallet I bought today, and now I'm going to get rid of those pesky plastic covers. Do we really need them?

We also got rid of an unnecessary coffee table and cabinet today. There will be more throwing out of things these holidays.

Decluttering excites me. I dream of a clutterless world.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You forgot about the grace part.

A disciple can be forgiven if he does not have great mental ability. He can be forgiven also if he does not display outstanding prowess. But no disciple can be excused if he does not have zeal. If his heart is not aflame with red-hot passion for the Savior, he stands condemned.
William McDonald, True Discipleship

I am thankful that this statement is wrong. Upon reflection I realise that words such as these, although at the time when I read them were extremely challenging, actually take away from Christ's atoning work on the cross. I am forgiven for my lack of zeal. I am forgiven for everything. It's a good read, but in missing the grace factor actually misses what 'true discipleship' is all about.

I read this book about 6 years ago, and thought it was a must-read for everyone in this pew-warming age we live in. Though we still need kicks (many kicks) up the butt in this area, it's interesting how views can change. Hopefully it's a sign that I've grown :-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Imitating the Incarnation

John 1:14

"The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us"


Jesus came to the world as flesh, full of grace and truth in order to save it. Through the incarnation we have seen his glory and can become children of God. It is an astonishing example of lengths God has gone to in order to redeem his people and shows the extent of his love for us.

I currently live in Redfern, where for the past few years I have been involved in the local church trying to bring the message of Jesus to those living in this vibrant community. What Sarah and I have noticed significantly is the difference it has made living in the community. We live amongst those we are trying to love, and it enables us to build trust and further our relationships. Hopefully by living amongst them we can somehow become one of them (though we will aways be different), and through this they may recognize Jesus as the light of the world.

I believe this is a good model for living the gospel, as it is the model God used to save us.

I have more thoughts on this topic which I will post about later hopefully.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Reading Carson has become frustrating

I bought 'Christ and Culture' by Don Carson today after enjoying what I understood of his lectures at Moore earlier this year. I've read a few of his books before, but now I'm finding I read him like he lectures, and I hear his voice as I do it (kind of like in the movies when someone reads a letter from someone else). If you've heard Carson lecture before you'll understand what I am talking about, and why this is not a good thing.

Don't get me wrong, I think Carson is great, I just wish he spoke a little slower. It would make reading him much easier.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

gossip

"...there is as much wickedness in believing a lie as in telling it, if we are always ready to believe it"

Charles Spurgeon, God Will Bless You



Not too long ago I was humbled and rebuked when I realised I was guilty of partaking in gossip. I was not the person who spoke words about someone behind their back, but years ago was on the receiving end of some seriously incriminating words about a friend of mine. I kept these things to myself, until recently when speaking to him about a seperate issue I brought it up. His reply was, "Who told you that, and why the HELL did you believe them?"

His words hit me so hard. I was ashamed. What made it even harder was I was trying to rebuke him! For several years I had believed the slander spoken against him, and although I had not told anyone else I allowed it to form my opinions of him and I'm certain our relationship would have suffered because of it.

Gossip sucks, and unfortunately I am continually guilty of it, and not just by being a passive listener. I don't know what it is that makes partaking in gossip so tempting for us all. For me, perhaps it is the desire to know others are just as bad, or even worse. This would probably spring from my own insecurities. I'm not sure, but thank God I am saved by grace.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Are we really pro-life?

My understanding of the pro-life view amongst conservative Christians is that the fetus is human life, and therefore is worthy of the right to life as any human being.

But do we really believe this? I’ve heard the estimations for abortions per year are at about 70,000. The response of Christians is generally through seeking new legislation, the odd protest (though I don’t see them that often) and through counselling services for pregnant women and so forth. But would we react the same if we knew that 70,000 unwanted children between the age of 0 and 2 were being murdered each year through clincis sponsored by the state?

My assumption is that Christians would not react the same way as they do to abortion. I imagine we would be MUCH more horrified and seek to take matters into our own hands in order to save these children, even to the extent of using voilence.

Why do we not do a similar thing for a fetus? It is either because we see a clear distinction between the value of an unborn child and a human being, or we are not morally outraged enough at the slaughter of innocent human beings to follow through on our convictions.

Or have i missed something?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Scum of the earth, the refuse of the world

I love this passage of scripture. I was able to share it with my first year group at Moore today. It is from Paul as he rebukes the Corinthian church for their arrogance, and I find it both encouraging and a staunch rebuke at the same time:

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the
procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a
spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for
Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are
honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are
in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own
hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when
we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.


I wonder what this ought to look like in my own life. How am I to be this type of person to the world? I ought to be thankful that it is what Jesus did on the cross that makes me his disciple, not my attempts at being like Paul and Jesus. However, I am still rebuked by the life of faithfulness and humility that this passage represents, and desire it for my own life

Lazy or not my gift?

I struggle to work hard at the desk. I just can't sit down for long. I get fidgety after ten minutes and want to talk to someone or do something. I have the concentration span of a puppy. 1st Semester of a 4 year degree and I think I've had enough. I spend more time on the ping pong table than I do studying while I'm at colllege (I know it's a worry when I'm thinking more about the ping pong player I'll be at the end of four years than the theologian).

I'm wondering if it is because I am lazy or studying is just not my gift. I'm probably lazy, and just need to put my head down and hit the books. I don't desire to be an acedemic, nor do I think I'm capable, but I think it's time I quit procrastinating and just do my work.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My First Post

This blog could either be a huge waste of time, or somehow fruitful. I'm hoping the latter, but my gut is telling me the former.

It is my second attempt at a blog. The first one lasted twenty minutes until I realised I have nothing of value to say that isn't already being said elsewhere. What's changed? Nothing. Why then am I blogging? See above

I'm actually hoping it will help me to communicate my thought better, something I struggle at both verbally and in written form. We'll see how it goes.