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


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.