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"DAVID MIERS is reported to be in the top 10 cage fighters in Gosford. He has some serious dish washing skills and thinks that Elizabeth Bennet is hot. Although he thinks that his wife Rowena is hotter. David works in youth ministry for a great church. Likes to: speak in third person, watch and play soccer, eat food and surf the web. He has never watched Star Wars."

Prayer Friday #005 Friday, September 29, 2006 |

Welcome to PF#005. I hope that you are well and I appreciate your prayers. I'm keen to go to the Socceroos game vs Bahrain on October 11. Send me an email if you're keen. They will be playing with their full strength squad. The photo collage is called: my week. It's not exhuastive of my week, just the times I had my phone out to take some crazy snaps!

>Thank God for the growth in lunch time high school Christian groups
>Every Spiritual Blessing in Christ

>Youth group leaders would have refreshing time off during holidays
>Term 4 youth group planning
Around the web:
Funny Missionary Dating website
Brilliant: shows inconsistency of pro-abortion world view
This guy swears a bit much!

Competition: HUGE PRIZES ON OFFER!!! Guess where each of the 9 photos in the collage were taken...

Mark Driscoll on self-righteousness Thursday, September 28, 2006 |

"Self-righteousness has so seeped into American Christianity that being a missionary to one's neighbours is easily overlooked because of the sickness of our faith. How sick are we when the most popular books among American Christians are about how to get blessed by praying a small section of Old Testament Scripture like a pagan mantra, and about the Rapture, as if the goal of the Christian life were to get more junk and leave this trailer park of a planet beore God's tornado touches down on all the sinners? Only through repentant eyes will we see that God has a plan, by the power of the gospel of grace, to build a community of transformed people." (p.78 The Radical Reformission)

Appealing to felt-needs Wednesday, September 27, 2006 |

I would love to hear your comments on this topic... first go and read Josh Harris' post Summons of a Judge where he discusses a Mark Dever quote. It's a good quote and a good post.

My question (basically my comment on his blog):
Keeping in mind the "summons of the judge" do you think there's any place for appealing to the felt-needs of the hearer?

1) believing the gospel leads to 'no fear in death'
2) true 'happiness' is found in delighting in God
3) 'meaning' and purpose is in our creator

In Dever's 1st paragraph he seems to suggest that God can use them in convicting someone... but Dever seems to steer away from using them.

Ought we appeal to the felt-needs of our hearers at all? What do you think?

[Prize for guessing the name of the beach in the picture...]

Around the Web:
Blue King Brown: Come And Check Your Head
John Piper is bad - very funny! (h/t thebluefish)

Youth Ministry: Online Lectures Tuesday, September 26, 2006 |

Covenant Seminary (h/t CraigS) have youth ministry training as part of their MDiv. It looks like some really good gear. They have a whole semester class online for free. Today I listened to the introduction class and the first lecture (they even have the class handout online too). I appreciate the teaching from Mark Davis and plan on listening to the whole of the semester over the coming months. There's also a stack of online resources worth checking out.

In the first lecture it's interesting to hear again some of the history of youth ministry, and to hear how Mark became a Christian through the relational ministry of some young life leaders. The guys that helped to introduce Mark to Jesus were effective in getting him involved in church life. The challenge for para-church organisations like Young Life is how they can hook people into local churches. If para-church movements can't move people into churches they are ineffective if those students graduate from their program and Christianity.

Is anybody intersted in listening to these lectures with me?

Yes? Have a listen to the lecture 1 and leave your comments below...

No? Have you been involved in para-church ministry? What's your experience?

[If you're in the above picture and are reading this... leave a comment]

Humble Orthodoxy Monday, September 25, 2006 |

Young, Restless, Reformed: Calvinism is making a comeback—and shaking up the church from the September Christianity Today has recently been made available online. It's a great article with some great quotes from guys such as: John Piper, Al Mohler, Kent Hughes, Mark Dever and Joshua Harris.

Below are a number of Josh Harris quotes from the article. On his first encounters with Calvinists:
"I'm sorry to say that they represented the doctrines of grace with a total lack of grace. They were spiteful, cliquish, and arrogant. I didn't even stick around to understand what they were teaching. I took one look at them and knew I didn't want any part of it."
On his understanding of Reformed theology:
The theological depth attracted Harris. "Once you're exposed to [doctrine]," he said, "you see the richness in it for your own soul, and you're ruined for anything else."
"If you really understand Reformed theology, we should all just sit around shaking our heads going, 'It's unbelievable. Why would God choose any of us?'" Harris said. "You are so amazed by grace, you're not picking a fight with anyone, you're just crying tears of amazement that should lead to a heart for lost people, that God does indeed save, when he doesn't have to save anybody."
I think that Joshua Harris is someone who has been gripped by the truths of Reformed theology and seeks to respond in humility rather than with spiteful arrogance. On the New Attitude site (recently updated) there is this description of something Josh calls Humble Orthodoxy:
Humble orthodoxy is a commitment to believing, living, and representing the truth with humility. We believe that God's truth in Scripture should not be redefined or reinvented to suit our own preferences or culture. Our role is not to change truth but to let truth change us.

It's not a revolution. It's not a movement. It's a group of people in local churches, passionate about rediscovering truth and recommitting to it. We stand on the shoulders of those who have followed God before us. So this is what we offer to the conversation:

Forget reinvention. Embrace a humble orthodoxy.
I've read a bunch of Josh's books, listened to a bunch of his sermons too (see here and here) and think that he's good value. Have a listen to his sermon on Humble Orthodoxy.

I've been guilty in the past of arrogance and a great ability to tell the truth without love. This is a great danger in churches like mine where we are concerned with teaching the truth and refuting error, that we neglect to love one another as we ough to love one another.

Watch your life and doctrine closely. 1 Tim 4:16

How are you (and your church) going with Humble Orthodoxy? Would love to hear your comments...

[The photo is of Sam Chan playing 2 recorders through his nostrils!! He gave a great talk on Sunday night]

Prayer Friday #004 Friday, September 22, 2006 |

Welcome to PF#004! Appreciate your prayers. I hope that you are well. Would love to know how to pray for you. No more soccer to advertise... but if you're going to the Mariners vs Jets game tomorrow night... send me an sms and we can maybe sit together? Have a good weekend.
>Good talk training with young leader this week
>The living hope we have through Jesus' resurrection

>That guys from our soccer team would come to hear Sam Chan speak at church this Sunday night.
>More opportunities with high school scripture
Around the web:
John Piper on the Pope and Christian response to Islam
Cool blog: this dude works with John Piper
There are two John's in my basketball team
Here's a Pipe(r) Organ!

Prize for guessing the name of the bridge behind Row...

Katie Noonan, Aron Ottignon and communication Thursday, September 21, 2006 |

Last night Row and I went to the opening of Jazz:Now 06 at The Studio (Sydney Opera House). It was a fantastic night out and we think it was a pretty sweet gift... so thanks Rachael. The line up for the night was the "Aron Ottignon Trio" and "Katie Noonan / Elixir Vitae".

I'm a huge fan of Elixir and Katie Noonan (I've seen george play live 3 times). Their set was very impressive. Her husband (Isaac Hurren) played sax and Steve Magnusson was a master on guitar. His diction was reminiscent of Jeff Buckley on Grace. Katie's lyrics, as always, were mesmerising. Most of the songs were Australian poems put to music. They even had a stab at Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

I'd never heard Aron Ottignon play before, but he is a genius! He is very much part of the avant-garde when it comes to Jazz Piano. You can check out some of the gear he plays with another project called Aronas here and here (they are playing at the Opera House this Friday night).

One of the things that impressed me with both sets was watching the way the musicians communicate on stage. The double bass player in the Aron Ottignon Trio, Cameron Undy (who looked like a cross between Oliver Kahn and Travis McMahon with a funny last name), was particular good at communicating with Aron on piano and Felix Bloxsom on drums.

Good Jazz needs good communcation.

I've been thinking today about the need to be a good communicator. I think that I'm an effective communicator when it comes to teaching (bible talk, bible study, scripture class etc...) but not as effective in other areas. I'm getting better at communicating with Row (though have a long way to go!). But there are areas that I need to be a much better communicator so that I can make better Jazz! Here's a few that come to mind:
  • Staff at church
  • Other key leaders at church
  • Those I lead in ministry teams
  • Youth group parents
  • My family
Communication, as shown by the Jazz musos, involves more than just words.

I want to be a good communicator so that I'm living a godly life and also better able to communicate the glorious news of Jesus.

What are you like at communicating? Where do you need to improve? Who are your favourite Jazz musicians?

Help us do our bit for the environment Tuesday, September 19, 2006 |

Avast, me hearties! (Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day)

I just went up to our local supermarket to buy a couple of things. There was a sign about bringing re-usable bags to help them "do their bit for the environment". I don't like these signs. Not because I feel guily for not bringing re-usable bags, but that the intention of the sign is to make me feel guilty. We recycle stuff. We have 3 bins to help. But the problem is that for general rubbish you are supposed to put it into bags and not straight into the bin. This means I would have to start buying gargbage bags instead of using the free ones they give me at the checkout. Maybe this is all a ploy by the garbage bag companies to make more sales??

What do you think?

If you don't have any thoughts on this topic - post your best Pirate Jokes in the comments...

Don't try and make any link between this post and the picture of my favourite (and only) apron... it's random and a bit postmodern.

1-1 Draw, 5-4 Loss on Penalties Monday, September 18, 2006 |

This photo was taken by Max. It's me in our penalty shoot-out. We had a 1-1 draw in our soccer GF, and then lost in the shoot-out. It was good fun. Max and Phil both have some great photos.

Fake Arminians |

Baptists are fake Arminians. Jude 24-25 proves the point:
"24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." Jude 24-25 (esv)
I grew up in a Baptist church and at the end of each church service we would sing the benidiction from Jude 24-25. Now I know there are many Baptists who are Calvinists, but many are Arminian.

Jude 24-25 is clear in proclaiming that God is the one who keeps the Christian from falling. Therefore when the "Arminian" Baptist sings this song at the end of church each week they are declaring that they aren't really Arminian! The Glory belongs to God and God alone and Arminianism tries to steel that glory but doesn't when it sings fantastics songs from Jude 24-25...

Do you get me? What do you think?

Prayer Friday #003 Friday, September 15, 2006 |

PF#001, PF#002... welcome to PF#003! Super-appreciate your prayers... and would love to know how to pray for you. Quick reminder that last week's Soccer GF was postponed and will now be played tomorrow. Come and cheer us on 3pm @ Fagan's Park, Point Claire.
>Good time reflecting on ministry at staff conference this week
>The young guys who ran the Christian groups in their schools this week while I was away.

>Row has had a big week. Pray she'd get rest this weekend and keep persevering in ministry.
>coast youth REVOLUTION tonight. Pray that teenagers on the Central Coast (and hunter) would live radical lives in response to the goodnews of Jesus.
Around the web:
Worst.Podcast.Ever - some mates from Carlo put out their first podcast... I'm sure it will get better!
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
Soul Revival Gymea
My brother is back

What are you up to this weekend?

coast youth REVOLUTION Thursday, September 14, 2006 |

Tomorrow night is our second coast youth REVOLUTION for 2006. We have Garage Hymnal coming to play and Paul Dale will be speaking on the topic If I were God I'd end all the suffering. It should be a great night. I'm excited that Hunter Bible Church will be joining us for their first REVOLUTION. Check out the website for more info. The main reason that I'm posting this is because I don't have the mental energy to post anything more profound.

Does anyone from from youth group read this? We've mentioned it on our podcast a few times... Are you a youth group blog reader??? Leave a comment.

To the left is a photo of Jason M who was in today's newspaper. He has a ridiculously large girl in front of him! And don't forget to come and cheer on our soccer team this Saturday 3pm @ Fagan's Park.

Church Staffing: Lawn mowing principle Wednesday, September 13, 2006 |

Over the past 3 days we have had our annual staff conference. It's been a good time. Because we so spent so much time using our brains, I decided to mow the lawn when I got home. This doesn't require too much brain capacity (just enough to keep your toes on!). However, as I was mowing I was reminded of an illustration I thought of yesterday to do with church staffing.

Our church is not staffed based on the congregational model, but on what I think is a better model of staffing the different areas of church life. So that means we have someone who champions each of the 5 areas of church life (magnification, membership, maturity, ministry, mission) and other staff who look after the lifestyle ministries (children, youth, young adults, breakfast church). In order to not let people fall through the cracks I think that people need to overlap in their ministry areas... a lot like mowing the lawn. To make sure you don't miss whole strips of grass, you mow over a quarter of that strip that you have just mown. (If you've mown a lawn this will make sense... if you haven't ask someone to draw a picture for you!). The M people need to overlap with other M people and also those working in the lifestyle ministries to help them think about their M.

Guessing competition: Which 2 staff members were the biggest cheats in our game of sic-nuts last night?

September 11 - 5th Anniversary Tuesday, September 12, 2006 |

My brother is back in the blogging world after being absent for a couple of months. Go over and check out his blog. He has some very insightful posts (he's the one with the brains in the family... but hey at least I can play sport!) and some great photographs. If you like what you see leave some comments and he might post more often!

Today he had some reflections on the 5th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 11th September 2001. They are very good. Go and check them out here. Here is some of what he said:
I remember the feeling of guilt that I was so shocked at this one event, when people die horrendous deaths that go unreported all the time, and the media puts an earthquake killing tens of thousands on page 7 of the paper, while this event that killed comparatively few has occupied so much front page space and prime-time air time over the last 5 years. But I think the shock was that it brought the reality of death and terror to a place much closer to home. It wasn't my city, it wasn't my country. But it was so close to where I'm at. Office workers turning up to work in their sleek city skycrapers, thinking it's a day like any other. That's what I do every day.
This Friday night we are having our combined youth event (coast youth REVOLUTION) and the theme of the night is: If I were God I'd end all the suffering. I'm planning on making a slide show with photos from the past few years of terrible suffering including wars, disasters and the like. I look forward to hearing Paul Dale speak on what God has done to put an end to suffering.

After my short article last week on Mary J. BLING, Time magazine has decided to run a follow-up article on the prosperity gospel.

The art of Jowling Monday, September 11, 2006 |

(h/t to Big Sam for this post)

Here is a description of jowling from www.jowlers.com

1. Loosen all the muscles in your face.
2. Try to keep your mouths and eyes open
3. Shake your head from side to side as quickly as possible
4. Take a photo

I had a quick scan of the website and there's some pretty funny photos.

This week's challenge: get a photo of you jowling and put a link to it in the comments.

Prayer Friday #002 Friday, September 08, 2006 |

Last week was PF#001 (see here). This week is PF#002. Appreciate your prayers. Feel free to pass on any prayer points. It's our soccer Grand Final tomorrow. You don't have to pray that we'd win... but we'd love you to come and watch. 3pm at Fagan's Park, Point Claire.
>The stimulating time at the Theology of Youth Ministry conference (today is day 2)
>That Jesus came to serve and give his life as a ransom (Matthew 20:28)

>For the Vinks in Tanzania (pictured) as they prepare for home assignment in Australia.
>That ccecyouth would be a ministry that equips teenagers to live counter-culturally
Around the web:
A fan of our podcast
Funny kid
Only place I go for fonts

Have a good weekend! HEY... BY THE WAY... THIS IS MY 100th POST!!! Feel free to congratulate me...

Mary J. BLING Thursday, September 07, 2006 |

The following quote is from here

Mary J. Blige says she has found religion, but she makes no apologies for her earthly materialism. In fact, she says God has willed her to wear bling.

“My God is a God who wants me to have things,” the singer tells May’s Blender magazine. “He wants me to bling. He wants me to be the hottest thing on the block. I don’t know what kind of God the rest of y’all are serving, but the God I serve says, ‘Mary, you need to be the hottest thing this year, and I’m gonna make sure you’re doing that’.”

I don't think Mary and I serve the same God. What do you think?

School Ministry: people tried to get Jesus stoned Wednesday, September 06, 2006 |

Today has been a great day in the two high schools I teach scripture and run Christian groups. In the first school we had a great time during year 9 scripture. There were about 10 students and they were all engaged in reading Luke 22-23 and the events leading up to the death of Jesus. To kick off I asked them what their last request would be if they knew they were going to be executed the following day. This was an interesting kick-off because you can imagine the answers that some year 9 boys are inclined to give! The rest of the lesson was simple. We read through the text, stopping to work out what words meant and summarising along the way. One of the key things that we reflected on was the way different people responded to Jesus. This all culminated in the different response from the second criminal who recongnises that he himself is guilty, that Jesus isn't and then asks (in his last request) that Jesus would remember him as he comes into his kingdom. It was great to be able to talk to the students about how they will respond to Jesus and the how to be brought into paradise with Jesus.

The lunchtime Christian group was a bit crazy today at the first school... but the exciting thing is that a yr7 girl that has recently started coming to the group and to youth group keeps bringing different friends each week. If praying, pray that they would keep coming and that they would put their trust in Jesus' death and resurrection.

At the second school we had an interesting time as we continued reading through the Gospel According to John. Half way during lunch time there was a student (who I have invited to come to the group every time I teach him in scripture) and 10 of his friends who showed up to the group. We were just about to start reading the Bible... as they walked in I thought that I needed to change the passage that we were about to read to make the most of the opporunity. Since they were a little bit rowdy... after meeting them all I said in a loud voice: "Today we are going to be looking at a part of the Bible where people tried to get Jesus stoned!" This certainly got their attention. It only took about 5 seconds for one of them to realise I was probably talking about rocks and not drugs! The kick-off question was what types of thing do you think people would have been stoned for 2000 years ago. We then proceeded to read the latter parts of John 8 and reflect on why the Jews wanted to throw rocks at Jesus. This was fun to work through as we talked about what it meant when Jesus said "I am" and we even had one of our visitors give a blow by blow history of Moses (based on his recent viewing of the Prince of Egypt!). We concluded with thinking about how we ought to respond to Jesus if he is God.

What do you think of my play on words to get the attention of the group? Clever? Or dishonouring to Jesus?

Praise God that many non-Christians heard the good news of Jesus today. Thanks for reading this far... I think it's my longest post ever!

Steve Irwin, Passion and Jesus Tuesday, September 05, 2006 |

Steve Irwin was passionate. Steve Irwin was a nut. It could be said that Steve Irwin was a passionate nut! However, what ought to be most striking to the Christian about Steve Irwin was that he (most probably) didn't have his trust in Jesus. Knowing this we ought to be even more saddened over his death and everyone else who dies without knowing Jesus. On this week's episode of On the Poddy we talk about him and some reflections from the Bible.

Listening to Steve Irwin sound clips last night on the radio, I was reminded of his exuberance, enthusiasm and energy for that which he was passionate. It's reported that his passion was genuine and that what you saw on camera was what you got.

There are many things that people are passionate about: animal rights, human rights, politcal views, favourite sporting team, holden or ford, pc or mac, food, other people, etc... Even Christians are passionate about a whole variety of things. What I struggle with is the lack of passion that I observe Christians have for Jesus and the gospel of His death and resurrection. I'm not pointing the finger at other people any more than I am pointing the finger at myself.

Why do you think we are often not as passionate about Jesus than we are about other stuff? How ought we express our passion?

John Piper: A Challenge to Young People Monday, September 04, 2006 |

This comes from a sermon by John Piper entitled Holy Ambition: To Preach Where Christ Has Not Been Named. The talk is from Romans 15:18-24. Piper turns his attention to the children during the talk. H/T to the boys from www.therebelution.com

You can read, listen or watch the entire talk here . By the way, the www.desiringgod.org website has been updated with even more sweet stuff.

What do you think? What's your Holy Ambition?

Prayer Friday #001 Friday, September 01, 2006 |

18 months ago I sent out a prayer letter. Issue 2 has yet to come out!! Everytime that James & Anita post on their blog they have prayer points. Another friend Marty sends out a couple of brief prayer points every two weeks via email. These are both easy to maintain. Therefore.... let me introduce you to....... Prayer Point Friday. My aim is to have a couple of prayer points each Friday. That means if you are not interested in reading what I write from Monday-Thursday but would like to pray for us... you can easily do it here. Also if you want to leave any brief prayer points in the comments section... we'd love to pray for you...
>Row's health better since finding allergies (she's 26 tomorrow!)
>The encouragement of our growth group

>David's sermon this Sunday night on Matt 22
>That we would boast in the cross (Gal 6:14)
Around the web:
An Emerging Church Primer by Justin Taylor
Post-everythings by Tim Keller
Youth ministry tip by David Miers
Brilliant tool by ESV

Guessing competition: where was the above photo taken?