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Hard and worthwhile is better than easy and pointless

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One of my favorite stories in the Bible concerns the Apostles and Christians in the early church. In Acts 5, word of this new religion was starting to spread like wildfire across the city of Jerusalem, and the gospel was gaining more attention by the day. This caught the attention of the religious establishment. Feeling threatened by the growing power and influence of these “Jesus followers”, they decide to arrest a bunch of the church leaders in a show of force and throw them in jail as a way to intimidate and scare them. But not even one day into their imprisonment, an angel of God breaks them out and they are back in the temple courts, proclaiming the gospel right in the face of the very people who arrested them! Not knowing what else to do, the high priest’s people arrest them again, and this time put them on trial. They had the Apostles flogged and then released, warning them not to go around talking about this “Jesus” guy ever again. As they limped out of the court that day, bac

Two stories about gastronomical disappointment

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My first year of doing ministry apprenticeship in Australia consisted of a lot of following Euge around and listening to him teach here and there. One Saturday he picked me up from home and told me that we were going to go down to Stanwell Tops where he would be teaching a seminar on something something (it was a while ago and I can’t remember). He said on the way down we’ll swing by the Maccas and grab some dinner.  Something that people in Australia often get wrong about the U.S. is that we don’t like nicknames as much as you guys do. The truth is, we are just as lazy as you are and we also feel the need to shorten everything in order to try to save time and mouth energy. The only thing is, we’re not as good at it. And so our nickname for McDonalds was another three-syllable term, “Mickey D’s”. Net time and effort saved: Zero.  And so because of that, I had never heard of this Maccas before. I was so excited. I had only been living in Sydney for a few weeks and I was still thirsty fo

An unbroken chain of faith and calling

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About ten years ago I went to Bali to attend the CCCOWE conference, a summit on evangelism and church missions for the Chinese diaspora. It was awesome. I got to try Kopi Luwak coffee (it tasted exactly like any other coffee). I heard Christopher Wright give the keynote talks. I read both The Mission Of God (well, more like skimmed and cherry-picked passages) and The Mission Of God’s People , and they’ve deeply shaped my missiology and ecclesiology. And I met the Reverend J. Hudson Taylor. The fifth. James Hudson Taylor V (apparently nicknamed JT) was the great, great grandson of the legendary Hudson Taylor, British missionary to China and founder of China Inland Mission, which is today called OMF International . For almost two hundred years, the Taylor family has been serving the Chinese people through an unbroken line of descendents, each of whom bore the name of their patriarch. The Taylor I met and briefly chatted with served as the main interpreter at the conference and it woul

Train to be fast

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Dear friends, last week, I had hoped to start a series on the Metaverse and the Christian life. I discovered that I was more ambitious than I realized, and I haven't had the time to do the thinking and reading that I need to provide another installment. In the meantime, here's a lighter piece containing another subject that's been on my mind.  Last Monday during the Super Bowl, the L.A. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw a pass that made the entire NFL world’s jaws collectively drop.  A tiny bit of context for non-gridiron fans. One of the most well-established principles of throwing a football is that you need to align your front foot in the direction of your target and square your shoulders so that your upper body is pointed in the direction that you want to throw to. In the screenshot I snagged from Youtube below (please don’t sue me NFL) you can see that Stafford’s (red circle, bottom center) posture clearly indicates that he wants to throw to the slot receiver (r

Metaverse and the Christian life part 1: An inkblot test

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A couple of weeks back, I wrote a post sharing my frustrations about doing church on Zoom . "Why is it so hard to explain why physical is better than virtual?" If I could sum up my problem in a nutshell, it would that we all agree  on the basic idea. "Physical things are better than virtual". Almost all of us would rather be having a coffee with a friend in a real cafe than drinking homemade Nespresso over a Zoom chat with someone behind a computer screen.  But it's hard to articulate why. We struggle to explain something that we already know by instinct. "Because physical is just better!" doesn't really tell you more information.  My friend replied to my post asking me a question, "What do you think or how does it apply to ministries trying to reach those in the Metaverse?" The Metaverse, for those who missed it, is an ambitious new initiative by Mark Zuckerberg to take the idea of social media to the next stage of evolution. Instead of

Keepy Uppy

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Reflections of a fearful man coming off vacation and looking for rest The rules of Keepy uppy could not be easier to understand. You inflate a balloon, choose an arena, find an opponent, and serve. Each player takes turns tapping the balloon to keep it alive, and person who allows it to touch the ground loses. Last year, some grownups turned this kid game into an official tournament with its own World Cup . This highlight is insane.  Abby loves playing Keepy uppy. She was introduced to it through the Australian cartoon that took over the kid’s world in the last couple of years. Here, click this link and give it a go yourself and ruin your productivity for the rest of the day. Pro tip: If you play on an iPad, you can tap the balloons with with both thumbs and last way longer than on a computer with a mouse.  When Abby and I play, we aren’t in competition. Naturally as a kid, she plays as if we’re on the same team with the same objective. Every time we play, she works himself into a mi

Why is it so hard to explain why physical is better than virtual?

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The other night I was part of a meeting for the children's ministry committee at my church. As we planned for the start of the school year we faced a thorny issue that many other churches across the city have been tackling: Should we run Sunday school in-person or over Zoom ?  To be fair, for many churches this is a no-brainer for one reason or the other. Since the vaccination rate for NSW hit over 95% at the end of last year many churches have reopened normal physical service and never looked back. But there are also plenty of churches who still meet primarily over Zoom.  My church falls more into the latter category. Currently as I write, only two of our six Sunday services is meeting physically, while the rest are still operating fully online. Let me say that my purpose in sharing this is not to make a judgment on whether churches should fully open up or stay online. If I had a general opinion on that, it would be that no one should generalize such a complicated issue and certai