Posts

The Two-Hump Camel - Why Churches Struggle

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Every year, many pastors undergo a tradition as perennial and written into nature as a jacaranda’s bloom or a salmon’s journey home .  The tradition is the dreaded leadership drive. “We need more Bible study leaders!” “We’re losing a bunch of musos!” “Sharon wants to step down from Sunday school teaching next year because she’s doing her CA” “Benjie doesn’t want to do youth group anymore; he wants to give welcoming a try” “Can Leanne play the drums??” Panic sets in as the roster holes grow wider. How is it we have hundreds of members in our church, and yet so few people to serve? A framework for thinking about church ministry In The Vine Project , ministry trainers Colin Marshall and Tony Payne lay out a discipleship framework which they call the 4Es. The 4Es are a pathway of bringing lost people from non-Christian to Christian. They hold this out as a way for churches to think of doing productive gospel ministry. The 4Es are: Engage : This is when the church engages non-Christians th

The Failure Truck

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When I started my first job as a pastor late last year, I knew that one of my biggest challenges was going to be learning how to manage my time. However, I knew that the war wasn’t going to rage across the pages of my calendar, but it would be fiercely contested entirely within the confines of my own heart.  All my life, I grew up believing that I was lazy. From a young age, it was something that was reinforced within me and became a cornerstone of my identity as basic and immutable as my race or sex or place of birth. However, unlike my other descriptors, this belief was formed through the years, like a river carving a canyon. When I went to a specialized high school (selective school) but didn’t get As and Bs like my classmates, or take pre-med electives, or even show any academic interest, I told myself that it was because I didn’t have as strong a work ethic as my peers. I didn’t consider that I just did not fit into the Asian immigrant narrative. I was lazy.  Whenever my aunts vis

The Wise Old Mountain Man (Or Dan tells the immigrant story)

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  The wise old mountain man Far away on a lonely mountain in some distant country lives a wise old man. He never leaves his shack, he never comes down from the mountain, and he never invites anyone over to hang out.  But… if you should ever want to visit this man, he will welcome you into his home. And the legend goes that if you do find yourself a guest of this man, you can ask him anything about life, and he will give you the answer, because according to legend this lonely, wise, old man knows the secret of the meaning of life.  If you ever were to make this trip, you will have to take an airplane to this distant, exotic country. You will have to locate this mountain. You will have to learn how to mountain climb. You will have to spend a lot of money on climbing gear, food, a tent, really warm clothing, maybe like an ice pick or two. You will have to climb, and climb, and climb, until you don’t want to climb anymore, until you don’t have an ounce of strength left in your body. There

While You Were Sleeping - An Easter Reflection

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The Agony In The Garden, Andrea Mantegna c1455 When I first moved to Sydney eleven years ago, one of the hardest things for me to get used to was all the shops being closed by the evening. Growing up in NYC, I took for granted the whole "city that never sleeps" vibe. I always thought it was mostly just marketing and local bragging before I started living in a city that did actually go to bed at a reasonable hour. My parents didn't exactly live in a bustling or vibrant part of town, and yet if I got hungry at 1am, I was still within walking distance of a Taco Bell, Mickie D's, 7/11 ( buffalo chicken taquitos are sacred artifacts ), at least half a dozen Korean chicken and beer joints, and if I was truly feeling deplorable, a White Castle.  These burgers are the bomb, and I will die on this hill defending the (White) Castle That first year that I lived in Sydney, there were so many nights when I felt so alone and isolated. Not because I didn't have a lot of friends,

A (re)intro - Who I am

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G'day everyone, my name's Daniel. My dear wife Joanne has recently opened an Instagram account on my behalf to try to get this humble little webspace some more exposure. I thought I could do a little bit of an intro post so that you can get to know me better.   I'm an American, born and raised in NYC. I've been living in Sydney for the last eleven years, and I have a lovely wife and two beautiful kids.  I grew up during a distinct and particularly tumultuous period of American society, a period that saw rapid change in the way that you're supposed to wear baseball caps. I remember that it was cool for a while to keep the brim flat, and then later I heard that pre-bending the brim has made a comeback. For a while, you were supposed to keep the "New Era" sticker on the hat, and then the other day someone made fun of me because I still had the pricetag sticker on the underside of my Mets cap. Long story short, I don't know what I'm supposed to do anym

Found Family In The Marvel Movies

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“I look around at us, and you know what I see? Losers.”  Over a little more than a decade and across 23 feature films, the Marvel Cinematic franchise has reinvented the action genre, drawn universal appeal, and made almost 24 billion dollars along the way.  This unprecedented level of success makes us ask the question, what’s the secret sauce? How did they do what they do? How did Marvel turn comic book characters, which for decades was a niche subculture only of interest to nerds, into the cornerstone of 21st-century pop culture? Of course, you can’t really attribute their success to any one reason. They definitely benefited from favorable cultural winds that weren’t totally under their control such as the rise of nerd culture . But one powerful reason has to do with the kind of stories that Marvel movies tell.  Is there a narrative theme that threads through all the Marvel films? It’s hard to imagine that movies about a genius billionaire tech industrialist  could have anything in c

I Told My Daughter To Be Happy

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Before we can exist for the glory of God, we need to first believe that we can exist for any other purpose than to make ourselves happy. My daughter Abby has been going through some kind of funk lately. She used to love going to day care, but ever since she graduated from the "Tumbling Teddies" (ages 0-2yr) and entered the "Dancing Dolphins", she's lost her joy. Every morning (of the three days we put her in daycare), she will cry as we put on our shoes, cry as we pull into the parking lot, and lose it as we walk through the door. I am a weak dad. I have a tender heart for her, and I'm always tempted to give her the day off and let her muck around the house while I work from home. But I steel myself, and I try to offer words of comfort through her tears. "It's okay, sweetie! You'll love playing with your friends!" "You're gonna learn lots! You love your teachers!" "You're gonna have so much fun!" It's that la