Category Archive

Review: Welcome to Adulting

From the start of Welcome to Adulting, it’s clear that the author, Jonathan Pokluda (JP) has a heart for helping young adults navigate life in the 21st century. I heard about JP and The Porch, a ministry that he runs for young adults and singles on a podcast, and was keen to read his book as a result. This book is full of honest anecdotes about the lives of JP and his friends as he navigated teen years, and his twenties, before he found Jesus. As I read, I was hopeful that the life experience he spoke about, and the openness in which he shared on the podcast, were traits replicated in the book. Fortunately, this was the case and they help illustrate the life-changing differences that Jesus makes. 

The stories JP has selected clearly show the contrast between a life following Jesus and a life without him. But while powerful, the stories take up too many of the words in this book. I would have appreciated a different weighting between anecdotes and explanation directly from scripture. Many of the applications drawn are deeply rooted in a robust christian world view, but these weren’t clearly demonstrated from scripture. Often, references to the Bible appear to be used more as supporting statements, rather than the statements of truth themselves. This is a little concerning for me as someone trying to present the Bible to young adults as the authoritative source for guidance through life. 

These drawbacks aren’t all encompassing though. It is hard to write this review without mentioning the final chapter of the book. JP does an excellent job at presenting the gospel in a contemporary way, and it provides a great conclusion to the book. The way that this last chapter draws all the previous chapters together and points the reader to salvation and life in Jesus is compelling.  It’s just a shame that earlier chapters were less clear on their gospel-centeredness.

Another aspect of the book that I found helpful is that not every chapter is written specifically for someone in their late teens or early twenties. I’ve found this is often the flaw of books written for ‘young adults’, which then go on to neglect people who have finished education and entered the workforce, leaving them to grapple with what’s next themselves. Chapters on Conflict, Worry and Recovery, among others, speak well into the lives of people who have been ‘adulting’ for a while, but are still wrestling with following Jesus in their particular context.

If you minister amongst young adults (and singles!), this book is worth a read within your community. Despite its flaws, if read in a small group, and discussed together, it’s likely that you’ll find it helpful. There’s some great questions at the end of each chapter that would be ideal for discussion between 3 to 5 people. As the book points out on a number of occasions, there’s lots of things competing for the minds of people in their 20’s, so I can’t not recommend a book that’s going to help provide some clarity to young adults who really need it, and point them to Jesus at the same time.

If you would like to support my writing, please head on over to The Wandering Bookseller (if you are in Australia) or Book Depository (rest of the world) to buy this book – both with free shipping!

No Comments »

Review: Saving Truth

I first heard of Saving Truth on an episode of The Gospel Coalition’s podcast last year and was immediately captivated by the motives behind writing it. The author, Abdu Murray, described a society embracing autonomy and disregarding the notion of truth – a ‘Culture of Confusion’. For me, his description hit the ‘post-truth’ nail right on the head, accurately describing the changing landscape we see around us. As someone who has developed an interest in studying and dissecting worldview as a means of understanding people’s objections to the Gospel of Jesus, Murray’s analysis of the culture through a biblical lens was insightful and helpful in coming to grips with our fast-changing culture.

My first impressions of the book, as I began to read the opening chapter, was “Wow, this guy is smart, and I’m going to have a hard time getting my head around this!“. However, it became clear that Murray’s experience in communicating publically allows him to communicate complex philosophical ideas, in a concise and easy-to-understand way. The stories that Murray has collected from his time interacting in debate and discussion, particularly on university campuses across America, provide clear examples of the culture he describes – one he claims is caused by allowing autonomy, emotions and personal preferences to overrule truth.

Through 9 chapters, Murray provides a survey of the current post-truth culture, guides the reader through some topical issues, and then gently points the reader to Jesus to find clarity in the present-day confused culture. I was deeply affected by the second chapter where Murray reflects on how the desire for autonomy and personal preference over truth has infiltrated the Church. As I read the chapter, I thought of many situations where myself, or Jesus-following people I know, have fallen into the traps that entice, where we have subtly elevated self-preferences (and preservation) over the gospel. He helpfully lays out strong foundations, namely “integrity and courage”, for positively changing the often negative “perceptions of the church and the gospel it carries”. I could almost recommend the book on just chapters 1 and 2 alone, given the insight and challenge they offer for leaders in our Christian communities.

Chapters 4 through 8 deal with some of the big issues of the present day. I imagine that Murray chose these topics (including Human Dignity and Science) based on the frequency he gets asked about these topics in his travels, but I would have been interested to see how his ‘Culture of Confusion’ intersected with additional topics. The topics he has chosen, he handles well, though I wish the middle topic on Sex, Gender and Identity had been broken into two smaller chapters to aid slow readers like me (I do admit that doing this would have been difficult).

Each of these ‘big issue’ chapters is written with a balanced understanding of the issue at hand from both sides of the Christian/non-Christian divide. Murray’s background as a former Muslim and as a lawyer have certainly aided in presenting the world-views of the people holding opposing positions. The previously mentioned examples of conversations from his travels, often used at the start of each chapter, also provide a good frame for identifying the ‘Culture of Confusion’ in the minds of the many people he’s spoken with. It’s with his understanding and these frames that we are skilfully shown how the Bible’s teaching on these issues, and biblical truth, presents a better, more wholistic alternative to the solutions the world offers.

If you are a person who is trying to make sense of living as a Christian in our quickly changing world, then this book is for you. Reading Saving Truth will help you unpack why the Christian life is the best alternative on offer, one that provides Meaning and Clarity and puts never-changing truth above fleeting personal feelings and preferences. Its present-day analysis of society is extremely helpful.

As a tool for apologetics, I’d recommend reading this book before giving it to a non-believer as it makes subtle assumptions that the reader is a Christian. Instead, it would make a great book to read together one-to-one – you and your non-Christian friend will probably both learn much along the way!

Finally, if you find that Murray doesn’t cover the topic you are most interested in, I’d suggest pairing Saving Truth with books like Joined Up Life (Andrew Cameron) or Think Christianly (Jonathon Morrow). Saving Truth will give you a solid foundation in understanding current culture, and exploring secondary sources will only help you add more topic-specific insight from other authors.

If you would like to support my writing, please head on over to The Wandering Bookseller (if you are in Australia) or Book Depository (rest of the world) to buy this book – both with free shipping!

No Comments »

Review: Caring for One Another: 8 Ways to Cultivate Meaningful Relationships

Caring for One Another is a short book, but one full of helpful insights into how to love and support your fellow congregation members in a local church context.

Through 8, easy to read, chapters – called lessons, Welch paints an aspirational image of what relationships could look like and provides some practical steps based, in part, on themes throughout scripture of how to work towards it. It’s also clearly based on Welch’s experience as a professional counsellor and academic.

What I particularly found useful in this book was the progression through the lessons starting at Humility through to looking at Suffering and Sin towards the end. This progression helped me to see my role in building Christ-centred community from both an internal and external perspective. Furthermore, discussion questions at the end of each lesson provided opportunity for reflection on how I could assist in caring for my fellow christian as we step towards the aspiration Welch tries to lead us to. 

There are many examples of how Welch sees this aspirational goal at work in community throughout the book. He writes of one such practical outworking, “When we hear about someone’s good relationships, we are blessed along with them. When we hear about hard relationships, we take notice, hope at some time to hear more, and ask how we can pray”. It is this give and receive approach that permeates much of the book – the understanding that we will all be able to offer support at times, and at other times require care. This symbiotic relationship, Welch successfully suggests, should be the natural position for people within churches.

Welch doesn’t give any advice on how to care for others in specific situations. He does however provide some substantial building blocks on which to form responses to a variety of issues, from simple to complex. It is these informed responses that could be applied in many different contexts.

In the preface, Welch suggests that this book is designed to be read in small groups or Bible studies. While I think this may be a helpful context for reading and discussing the contents, my experience of church life suggests that you would need key congregation members to model the attitudes and commitments in the book so they take root. For this reason, this book is a must for paid and lay leaders in any church.

But also, this book would be great to read as part of a one-to-one discipleship program, if your church is running one. Some of the discussion questions move towards quite personal reflection which could lend themselves well to being discussed with a close christian friend. This in-turn would hopefully lead to the relationship bearing the fruit that the book desires, and overflowing to others as an example of Christ-centred love and care.

With all this said, we know that this side of eternity we will fall short in loving and caring for our brothers and sisters. The discussion throughout the book is aware of that. Welch provides opportunities for self-reflection, assumably with the understanding that change starts from within – by the spirit.

The ideal of Meaningful Relationships is a great aspiration and one that is desperately needed in all churches as we seek to both care for one another, and be a light of love and faithfulness to those around us so that they would see Christ and come to know his love (Matt 5:15). We all endure imperfect relationships in this life, but this book helps us to take substantial steps towards nurturing relationships that look more and more like the perfect ones that believers will fully experience when Christ returns.

If you would like to support my writing, please head on over to The Wandering Bookseller (if you are in Australia) or Book Depository (rest of the world) to buy this book – both with free shipping!

No Comments »

Review: The Tech-Wise Family

My wife, Fiona, recently put Tech-Wise Family in front of me and suggested that I read it, and I’m glad she did. Andy Crouch has performed a great service in writing this book – one that is good for all people, not just families. It’s been helpful in exposing some of the problems that have been simmering away under the surface of our relationship (and that with family and friends) which we couldn’t clearly identify at first.

At the core of the book are ‘Ten Tech-Wise Commitments’ which Crouch (and his family) have tried to live out. The book begins with some research and commentary about how technology has infiltrated many (if not all) aspects of our lives and helpfully navigates the grey-space of technology’s benefits – identified as being both helpful and unhelpful depending on the context. This isn’t a book that says technology is all bad. It’s a book that helps us think through putting technology in its correct place so that it can be used without being a detriment to every day life.

Throughout the book, Crouch uses research from the Barna Group to highlight current perspectives and trends from American families. Some of these stats are quite surprising because, while there’s clearly issues arising from the pervasiveness of technology in homes, there are not that many resources available for thinking how to deal with them. For example, 24% of those surveyed strongly agreed that electronic devices were a significant disruption to family meals, but this is the first book I’ve come across that both identifies why time like family meals are important and offers some helpful strategies that have been tried at home for use by the whole family (not just for the kids). I expect that the stats offered in this book will be similar in the Australian context (as I also noted in my review of You Lost Me – another book using stats from Barna), but I’d be interested to see what Australian researchers have found.

Without giving too much away, most of Crouch’s argument is based around the premise that relationships and creativity are important and that technology (particularly smart devices of the modern day) are robbing us of both of these things. The 10 Commitments noted throughout the book are designed to allow for both to flourish at home. At the end of each chapter, Crouch provides an assessment of his own family’s living-out of the commitments and some helpful examples from other families when they’ve not been as successful as they had hoped. The honesty of these assessments helped me as a reader know that they’re not just aspirational goals – which are possibly in reach – but that, perhaps with some modifications for our context, could be very helpful. As Crouch also points out – they’re commitments, not commandments, so one probably would want to adapt them so that they are desirable and worthy of striving towards within each reader’s setting.

There are some points in the book where I think I disagree, or that a clearer distinction could have been made. This particularly applies to a discussion about leisure versus rest and in that some of the lines drawn on particular things. For example, in the rest category falls reading a fiction book, but in leisure falls reading the newspaper – and there are similar distinctions throughout the book. For this particular example, I would want to say that reading the newspaper could still fall in to rest – particularly the weekend papers that have long form articles and reviews which can be engaging, thought-provoking and imagination building. Ultimately though, these distinctions aren’t crucial to understanding the book, but do help the reader in forming a perspective on how one might live out the commitments, and so are important to think through.

Even with the small complaint above, I’d wholeheartedly recommend this book. Unconsciously, we’ve seen the fruits of some of the suggested actions coming from Tech-Wise Family in our own home. Even before completing the book, Fiona and I have recently had some great discussions, free from our devices, which have helped us in our communication and marriage. The chapter on commitment 7 and conversations particularly reinforced what we experienced (without us realising what was happening at the time!) Taking the time to sit, talk, and think, without consulting our devices (which, the book states, are ultimately distractions) was incredibly fruitful. In this light, I think some aspects of the book’s commitments could be helpfully applied in a share-house arrangement where relationships could be built and strengthened, likewise in a church community-group context. Furthermore, while Tech-Wise Family is deeply rooted in a Christian view of relationships and purpose it would be good for any adult to read, no matter what their circumstance. I’m hopeful that this book will continue to shape the way I conduct my relationships both in and outside the family – that we have real and deep relationships rather than superficial ones mediated and interrupted by the devices that we have with us nearly all the time. 

You can grab Tech-Wise Family on Book Depository (and in the process, support my writing by using this affiliate link to purchase it – thanks!)

No Comments »

Exodus 3 and Christian Worship

This post was originally written in the form of an essay for a ‘Current Issues’ assessment as part of my study at Christ College

In 2008, the Catholic church, along with Protestants alike, debated the use of the name Yahweh in their liturgy and music1. Meanwhile the Jewish church has not used this name for centuries2. In light of the revelation of God’s name in Exodus 3, and other pieces of scripture, this paper will attempt to explore how this unique name for God could be used in the modern church, today.

I have previously argued that the name Yahweh, as revealed to both Moses and us in Exodus 3 carries significant weight throughout the whole Old Testament, particularly for the nation of Israel. It conveyed the entire character of God, describing his work in creation, in creating covenant with Moses’ patriarchs, and in keeping his covenant as he bought the nation out of Israel and into the promised land. Protestant theology acknowledges that “in both Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ”3 and therefore we should acknowledge the relationship between God and his people best described by the name he gave Himself. This is the same relationship which was supremely ratified in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Both Christian worship music, and Christian-inspired secular music, use references to Yahweh. For example, secular band U2’s album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb has a track with Yahweh as it’s title, but makes no intelligible reference to the God of Israel or His character4. Then, in the Christian worship context, we have both traditional and contemporary songs referencing Yahweh directly by this name.

Bono from U2 performing in Sydney in 2010

So, should we take the approach of removing the use of God’s unique name in corporate worship, and if not, how should it be used?

Interestingly, in one hymn book5, there are 5 hymns attributed to our Exodus 3 passage, but only one of them calls the church to sing of I AM. It certainly seems, then, that in more traditional worship contexts this removal may already have been, perhaps unconsciously, done.

From scripture, it would appear that there is a model for worshiping God using his holy name. For example, Isaiah 12 elicits Israel to ‘call upon his name’ (v4) and to ‘sing praises’ (v5) to Him because of the character displayed by his acts – which his name also conveys. Similarly, Psalm 150 inspires us to create music to praise Him for his mighty deeds, according to his excellent greatness (v2). Rendered in English, this psalm transliterates the holy name of ‘the LORD’ 3 times. I believe these examples, amongst others, certainly provide an opportunity to use this name in our weekly gatherings.

However, I do believe we need to exercise some caution when using this name. Service and music leaders in contemporary churches should be careful to avoid the trap that Bono, the lead singer of U2 and the band’s main lyricist, fell into. It would seem that many of the lyrics of contemporary worship songs, where the name Yahweh is used, treat it more as a poetic device than a way of describing the Lord. But if a purpose of music and liturgy in corporate worship is the teaching of God’s word, then a more robust approach must be taken6.

The key to this approach is ensuring that the name is correctly put in a context that explains or expresses the significance of it. Exodus 34:6 provides a wide-ranging description of God’s character, as defined by God himself, starting with the repetition of his name. Indeed many of the times that the term is used as a descriptor for God in the Old Testament, it is accompanied by a qualifier that has echoes of the description within Exodus 34. It would seem appropriate then, that we should follow a similar pattern in the use of the name in our modern context. The benefit to us, today, in following this pattern is for the average congregation member. They may not have a full understanding of the significance of what God’s name meant to Israel and Jesus’ contemporaries and so reciting it as part of liturgy or song should also express and teach us about how great the character of God is.

The way in which we worship, both in the words we speak and the songs will sing, will continue to adapt to be appropriate for the context of the modern church. However, the God of the Bible never changes, and a proper understanding of his character empowers those who put their trust in Jesus to know and love him better. Therefore, I think it is helpful that we use the name Yahweh, when appropriate in our corporate worship, to aid us to recognise and see the greatness of the God who authored the salvation story across the whole Bible.

No Comments »

Church News at St. Faith’s – Part 2

This post continues after the first post on Church News where we discuss why we’re doing it. If you haven’t read that, I’d recommend you go back and read it before you read on!
Church News Part 2

How we do Church News

There’s a lot of different aspects to the how of planning, shooting, editing and distributing Church News. I’ll try and summarise the important things and do more detailed posts on some of the following topics in the future.

As you’ll quickly discover, it takes a lot of people to make this happen monthly. If you’re interested in attempting to do this at your church, make sure you gather a team of people around you. We certainly wouldn’t be able to do it without the great people we have behind the camera as well as in front.

We shoot once a month and capture content for each of the weeks for the following month. Each month we’ll have different talent in front of the camera, who will do all of the notices or introduce or tail promotional videos for events that have them.


We’re fortunate enough to have someone in our young adults community who’s just finished a degree in film production. Nick is responsible for liasing with Ben (our pastor responsible for our family and night congregations) and collating a list of events that are coming up in the two months ahead and then developing a script. We try and do this in the week before we shoot.

Ben is also responsible for finding and co-ordinating the talent. We typically try and switch out the type of person we get each month, in age, gender, congregation and personality. This has helped, I think, to keep things fresh – but we’re looking at experimenting with having two people in front of the camera in future months to mix things up further.


Church News Shooting

A typical Church News shoot setup during the first few months

Production for the whole month’s worth of video typically takes about two hours including setup, the shoot and pack down. However, we’ve been able to build up a ‘set’ that involves minimal setup more recently, which cuts about 45 minutes off this time (more about our setup in a future post). Ideally, we’ll have the talent plus two behind the scenes team members – one to look after the technical side, and the other to ensure we’re covering all the content.

We use a two point lighting system, one light at 45 degrees either side of the subject, typically one as a soft fill, and then one as a slightly more directional key. We’d like to do some key lighting from behind, but haven’t been able to source the equipment to do that well, yet. For audio, we’ve been using a highly directional mic on a boom, but since the shoot for May we’ve switched to a lapel mic. We’ve found that in the room we shoot, we get a lot of ambient noise (reflections off the hard surfaces in the room) which hasn’t been helpful in making the speech tracks clear to understand which we’re able to minimise by using a lapel mic. It doesn’t look as nice, but makes the whole process much easier.


I’m responsible for piecing together the video segments, animations and anything else together. I use Final Cut Pro for editing, and Motion for doing our “mid segment” graphics. We’re also fortunate to have another young adult at church, Dan, who’s great at motion graphics who did all our intro, and transition, animations. Typically, it will take me an hour or two to prepare all the segments for the month, which involves syncing the audio and video (we usually record these separately), cleaning up the audio and colour correcting the video, where necessary.

A couple of helpful tips when it comes to being efficient at editing:

  1. Make sure as much of your video content is in the same format and frame rate as your primary source. In our case, any videos I source from external parties (promos for events etc) I’ll run through MPEGStreamClip and export out at ProRes 422, at 25 frames/sec. This avoids having to re-render the video after every edit in Final Cut. I probably lost a few hours of time waiting for content to render over the first few months!
  2. Create a template for the month – that you can use for all the weeks. For me, this involves embedding the intro animation, audio bed track (and automating the volume so it sits below the segments). This saves about 5-10 minutes per week (so around 20 minutes total)

Here’s a video screen capture which I’ve sped up, of editing church news for May. (We recorded audio straight in to the 5D or this month, so you won’t see the process of syncing the audio to the video.). I’ll post some more detailed notes about the whole process that’s in this screen capture in a future blog post.



Once the edit’s finished, I’ll send it to Compressor and use a custom droplet that I created based off Vimeo’s settings for HD video uploads. It works well, and usually results in a file that’s around 100MB. I’ll export it straight to my public Dropbox folder, and then email the public link to our ministry staff (so they can review the video and make sure it’s all OK), and to an email account we have dedicated for the computer that does vision at church – so that the operators can grab the file.

You can download our Compressor settings for distribution via Dropbox and Vimeo here.

As I’ve hinted at a couple of times, once we’ve refined our process a little more, I’ll post some more detailed posts on specifics of some of the stages of the process we go through. We’re still trying to figure much of this out, and trying to streamline the process as much as possible. Now we’re in our 6th month, it finally feels like we’re getting the hang of it! Feel free to hit me up with any questions you’ve got in the comments!

No Comments »

Christian Action on the Budget

HashTag Social Justice

Off the back of some great Take Love projects that happened through our church youth community over the weekend, I found the article ‘Where Did the Christians Go? Conservative Complicity after Budget 2014‘, from a few weeks ago very interesting – particularly as someone looking from the inside of the moderately conservative christian culture, to our secular world.

In particular, these two quotes struck me, and challenged my thinking as someone who lives in the electorate of Tony Abbott, but is disenfranchised with both political parties’ stance on a few key ethical issues including foreign aid, people who are seeking asylum here in Australia, and supporting people living on a low income.

Could it be that the church is more worried about losing our government benefits than about Australia’s most vulnerable losing theirs?

Indeed, if measured by the urgency and effort of our political engagement alone, our Christian value system might be summarised as: “It’s fine if Australians live in poverty, as long as gay people can’t get married.”

As Christians, our response to the Gospel of Jesus should be, in part, a desire to see those sick, in poverty and under oppression, cared for. As I read the article, I thought to my self, “am I doing anything to present a Gospel-centered perspective to those in our parliament who design policies that affect millions of people locally, and abroad”.

I’d highly recommend both this article, and this slightly-tounge-in-cheek article by Chris Bedding, if you’re interested in recent articles relating to politics and social justice from a Christian world view.

No Comments »

Free Citizens Album and Eventide Plugin

Free Stuff - June 2014

Mars Hill Church band, Citizens, have their new album available for free on NoiseTrade. We’ve done a few of the songs off this album at church at youth and our Sunday night service and they’re great! Many are old hymns – including some of my favourites – done in a new, contemporary, style with new arrangements or melodies. If you like what you hear, NoiseTrade allows you to tip the artist a few dollars too.

Secondly, for the new few weeks, Eventide, who make some great hardware and software audio effect plugins are giving away their new UltraChannel VST plugin. If you’re a recording engineer, or a musician and use any software that supports VST plugins (like MainStage, which I use for creating and playing tones for our Sunday night church band, Legitified), download it now! It’s got a couple of compressors, a 5 band parametric EQ and some other nice extras. After early July, it will go on sale for about AU$300 – so it’s very much worth getting it for free while you’re able. As someone commented on Facebook, ‘Free Eventide is good Eventide!’.

No Comments »

Citizens Conference Recap – Afternoon Sessions

Note: This post follows on from my Citizens morning session recap.

Both the sessions I attended in the afternoon at Citizens were presented by Tim Chaddick. As someone who is only a couple of years older than myself, I was greatly encouraged by his heart for the Gospel, for his passion for bringing it to people in his context, and his knowledge of the scriptures.

Workshop – Reaching a City

Tim’s workshop started with a short talk based from his experience planting Reality LA. This was followed by a Q&A panel with John Dickson, Mike Paget and Julie-Anne Laird.

1. We need to listen to our City

Listening to the city will point us to identifying the idols of the city, which blind non christians to the truth of the Gospel. When we understand the idols, we’ll be able to reason with people (like Paul in Acts), identify road blocks to the Gospel, and be moved with compassion for the city.

Tim identified common idols as career and acceptance among peers in his context in LA. In the context of the workshop, idols were defined as things that people find their ultimate significance and identity in, and in turn stop people seeing the reality of who Jesus is, and the work he’s done for them on the cross.

2. Ask Hard Questions

Once we’ve got a grasp of the idols our cities hold high, we need to help people see the idols for themselves. Christians need to challenge people to think about their idols and why they put their hope in them. The Gospel exposes our hearts, and changes us, and so helping people question if their hope is in the right place will provoke them to consider the Gospel truths.

We need to avoid superficial questions that dance around the idols of our cities and instead, confront them head on.

3. Provide a Framework

Evangelism isn’t about changing the topic, away from the idols we see around us. It’s about bringing the Gospel to the topic, showing how it comes to bear on the topic.

Tim used an example from Acts 17 where Paul spoke at the Areopagus as they were worshiping idols and false gods and showed people that:

  • They’re dependant on God
  • They’re accountable to God and;
  • We’re alienated from God

and then provided clarity of the problem that sin isn’t just the actions of our hands, but that it’s the motives of our hearts.

4. Share the Gospel

We need to remember that the Gospel is a gift of grace and Jesus is the solution for sin and the effects of it! If we are moved to compassion for our city, we should want to share the solution to the cities real problems.

5. What Should We do?

Just believe that God will transform our cities! Jesus’ tomb is empty and so we have news to tell!

Talk 3 – Why Would Anyone Listen?

In the final session of the day, Tim spoke from Ezekiel 37, where God tells Ezekiel to prophesy over a valley of dry bones.

1. We need God’s Perspective

“When we see the Spiritual reality of our cities, it moves us to a place that says, ‘God, only You know'”.

We can’t do evangelism without Him

2. We need God’s Promise

“The cure can’t come from mere human words”

We need to remember that people need to hear God speaking, and that as his word goes out, he changes hearts. We need to keep telling the Truth to people.

3. We need God’s Power

Nothing will happen without God’s power. Renewal, resurrection and life all come from God, through us, speaking his Word.

The simplicity of the Gospel breaks people.

Through the Gospel, the power that raised Jesus from the dead works in us! We have hope where there only seems to be despair. We can see where people need the Gospel even when we don’t think they’ll come to Jesus. We are visionaries – seeing where life can be found. We are pioneers, compelled by the Gospel to take the good news to the people.

We need to root our confidence in the Gospel, not in ourselves, or our ministry results. Doing the latter, if we are successful, only will make us proud and when we fail, we’ll be discouraged. We’re already accepted by God, because of the work done by Jesus on the cross!

We are secure in Christ, so go take some risks!

No Comments »

Citizens Conference Recap – Morning Sessions

Tim KellerCitizens was a one day event held by City to City Australia, at Luna Park on the 29th of March. Tim Keller was the main speaker and delivered two addresses in the morning, followed by some breakouts in the afternoon and a closing address by Tim Chaddick (who I hadn’t heard of before learning of the event) in the afternoon.

Unusually, I took lots of notes during the day. Unusual, because I rarely take notes! However, I wanted to make the best of the opportunity presented on the day to consider, learn and think about what it means to be citizens of heaven but also citizens of earthly cities that we live in now. Below are some of short snippets of what I though was interesting on the day.

Talk 1 – Gospel

The first session of the day from Tim Keller was loosely based on Colossians 3, although the majority of the time was spent discussing the Parable of the Lost Son, which was the topic of his book, The Prodigal God.

As Citizens in our cities, Keller told us that we need to be people who:

  • Are able to admit they’re wrong
  • Stop handling things with self-pity; and
  • Don’t look down on others

These 3 points came out of the truth that a full understanding of the Gospel should make us humble. The Gospel also allows us to fail, and repent, because we’re all sinful. As a result we shouldn’t need to seek the approval of others but in the same way, we shouldn’t lord our ‘righteousness’ over others.

Talk 2 – Movement

One of the first things that Keller spoke about that I found encouraging in the 2nd session was the reminder that God’s still at work in all situations – not just the big movements we know about that have been recorded in history. I think this is important to remember when we feel like nothing is happening.

Most of the talk was spent identifying the characteristics that Keller has found in successful Gospel Movements.


Keller noted that the Gospel wasn’t changed in the early church, and in fact the apostles kept an eye on what was being preached. However, the people spread throughout the world just preached and communicated in new ways. The content remained consistent but the methods changed.


When denominations hold onto their vitamins (the term Keller used to describe the things they hold dear and try and do well almost exclusively to everything else), and attack others for doing doing well the things they’re not, revival won’t happen.

Keller believes that while differences matter and can be good (when not on core doctrinal issues), revival happens across different Gospel believing denominations (in which it can be assumed that God blesses them) and so, perhaps,  that the differences between them aren’t insurmountable. We need to learn as much as we can from our brothers and sisters.

New Things Happen

Keller found that there are a few things that happen when a movement is making progress:

  • Church Planting
  • Ministries are developed for particular demographics of people (particularly applicable for international cities with immigrants from all over the world)
  • Christians, in the name of Jesus, should be working together for social justice
  • Christian Professionals band together to work out how they can use their skills and organisations to advance the Gospel. Leaders of businesses, need to be friends!

Extraordinary Prayer

Finally, Keller said that we can do everything in our power to clear the way for renewal and a Gospel movement to happen, but we ultimately need God to set it alight. Keller thinks that while revival in our cities is a big thing to ask for, God may be pleased that we’re asking for it, and bless us in doing his work. We need to pray with boldness, asking for God to do big things in and through us, for revival to happen.

Incidentally, there’s a sermon by Keller based on the passage which was read on the day from Acts which covers more of the biblical foundations for what was discussed available for free on the Redeemer website.

I’ll sum up the afternoon workshop and session, both delivered by Tim Chaddick, in my next post.

1 Comment »