In honour of Origin tonight…

h/t @thepatjones

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They are building this down the road…

 

Artist’s impression of Castle Towers after development

 

The Hills are set for massive change, in lots of ways.

The train line, so long promised, is being built. The forecast is for 100 000 people to be moving in in the next 20 years or so.

And one of the stations will be down the road from the church where I serve, St Paul’s Castle Hill. Literally down the road – less than 1km away. It will incorporated into a massive redevelopment of Castle Towers, a shopping centre that is already huge.

This story, from today’s local paper, states that the completed redevelopment will mean a floor space of 173,683 sq m., and bring an estimated 2500 extra jobs into the region.

The redeveloped Castle Towers from Old Northern Rd.

The challenge before us a church is thinking into the future – what do all of these developments mean for St Paul’s? And how can we make the most of them for the future? We are working hard at these questions right now.

 

 

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Is parenting harder today than when you were a child? Take the poll

I am wading into the turbulent waters of ‘Parenting’ this Sunday at St Paul’s 10am church, as we begin a 3 week series on the topic.

As part of my prep, I am curious to know if you think the task of parenting has become harder over the years.

If you have a spare 10 seconds, you can anonymously answer the poll below to help me with some stats for this Sunday.

Thanks!

 

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Can you live without Twitter or Facebook?

I have long been a fan of Andrew Denton, ever since he was ‘Andrew the Boy Genius’ on the Uncle Doug Mulray breakfast radio show on Triple M in the 80’s (I know, right?!) He has always been a thoughtful comic, and the Tv he has produced has reflected that.

I’ve often wondered how a creative mind like his works, and so it was with interest that I read this piece he has written about his perspective on participating in Twitter and Facebook. He writes:

So why did I choose not to opt in? Partly a weird – even to me – Unabomber-type suspicion of leaving too many electronic footprints (ridiculous, I realise, in an age where the PRISM program knows both my thoughts). Partly because I am not, by nature, a social creature (hello ”unsubscribe”).
But mostly because … I. Just. Don’t. Want.The. Noise.
I believe in daydreaming; for me, the most fertile creative state. The simple act of allowing your brain to freewheel can lead to connections and solutions previously hidden in plain sight. In our second-screen lives, daydreaming barely rates a mention. But it should be on the curriculum of every school and university and encouraged in every workplace.

To daydream properly you have to actively seek silence. For most of us, that takes a real force of will. Think of your life right now.

Is your phone’s face the last thing you see before sleep? Your first friend in the morning? You may be interested to know that every message ping you get, your brain gives you a tiny squirt of dopamine as a reward – exactly the same as it gives gamblers when they bet on 23 black. The cumulative effect, as Chinese scientists have recently discovered, is that the brains of internet addicts come to resemble those of drug and gambling addicts.

It’s part of a longer article from the SMH.

It’s worth hearing as part of the conversation on who we really are as human beings, and what part social media is playing in that identity.

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A Leadership Masterclass

Yesterday a bunch of us from the SPCH staff headed up to Brisbane for a half day with Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago.

Some highlights:

– seeing and hearing someone who is 63 speak with such passion and energy about the lost and the church
– hearing a passion for training leaders, and discipling people, from a church that is often maligned as ignoring
– hearing leadership wisdom that was soaked in Bible, battle hardened and time tested
– having someone be humble to share of lessons learned from mistakes made

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A Hole in History…

If the coming into existence of the Nazarenes, a phenomenon undeniably attested by the New Testament, rips a great hole in history, a hole the shape and size of the Resurrection, what does the secular historian propose to stop it up with?… the birth and rapid rise of the Christian Church… remain an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the only explanation offered by the Church itself.

C.F.D.Moule (Cambridge), The Phenomenon of the New Testament

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Some helpful thoughts on the Resurrection of Jesus

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This weekend is Easter weekend.

Australians in general love it because it is a four day long weekend, a chance for rest and recreation.

Christians love it even more because it is the very foundation of real rest, the relief from having to wonder about our relationship to the divine, and the ultimate freedom from having to prove ourselves via competition from others (if you want to know how that works, I spoke on this last Sunday, you can listen here).

There have been some very helpful posts leading up to Easter this year, so I thought I point them out.

1. Resurrection and Science

One of the major objections to belief in the resurrection of Jesus has been the thought that is is incompatible with modern science.Dr John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, has written a piece on how a scientist can believe in a ‘miracle’ like the resurrection of Jesus. You can find it here.

2. Resurrection and Sources

Another objection to the resurrection of Jesus is that the accounts in the primary sources, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, found in the Bible, are incompatible with each other. The claim is that, since these accounts mention different things and different people,  they can’t be speaking about the one event, and so therefore they are unreliable.

Dr Peter Bolt, Head of New Testament at Moore Theological College in Sydney (and PhD in the world of the first century from Cambridge) has written a piece showing how the different accounts weave together to speak of one narrative. You can read it here.

[Peter will be speaking at St Pauls on Thursday, 15th May 2014, on the evidence for the historical Jesus, his life and actions – all welcome!]

3. Resurrection and Evidence

Finally, here is a helpful piece from Dr William Lane Craig that puts together the case for the resurrection of Jesus.

May you have a safe and meaningful Easter.

[BTW, our services at St Paul’s Castle Hill where I work are Good Friday: 8am & 10am; Easter Sunday 8 & 10am, 5 & 7pm]

He is Risen – He is Risen Indeed!

 

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How to make sure your community is strong

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In a Christian community, everything depends upon whether each individual is an indispensable link in a chain. Only when even the smallest link is securely interlocked is the chain unbreakable. A community which allows unemployed members to exist within it will perish because of them. It will be well, therefore, if every member receives a definite task to perform for the community, that he may know in hours of doubt that he, too, is not useless and unusable. Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of the fellowship.

… Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together [1954], tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 95-96 (see the book)

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Beauty, glory, and how to not end up empty

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“There is one more thing to say about God’s glory – it is his absolute splendour and beauty. The word for ‘glory’ in the Old Testament means importance, the word for ‘glory’ in the New Testament (the Greek word doxa) means ‘praise and wonder; luminosity, brilliance or beauty.’ 

Jonathon Edwards once said: ‘God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in.’ It is not enough to say, ‘I guess he is God, so I have got to knuckle under.’ You have to see his beauty.

Glorifying God does not mean obeying him because you have to. It means to obey him because you want to – because you are attracted to him, because you delight in him.

This is what C.S.Lewis grasped so well in his chapter on praising. We need beauty. We go to lengths to put ourselves in front of beautiful places, or surround ourselves with beautiful music, or hang out with beautiful people. But these will leave us empty if we don’t learn to see all of these things as mere tributaries and God himself as the fountain, the headwaters of it all.”

Tim Keller, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2013), 170.

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Razza in the local newspaper!!

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Here is Razza’s debut in the local news:

PUPPETS will present the real meaning of Christmas to children at Christmas in the Hills.

Keith Baker, the senior associate at St Pauls Anglican Church Castle Hill, and his puppet Razza will deliver a special message about Jesus and Christmas.

Mr Baker and his wife Rebecca have found spiritual teachings through puppet shows to be an effective way of helping children learn about Christmas and other traditions.

“We started doing puppet shows at Sunday school,” Mr Baker said.

“We did outdoor shows for the children and have been doing shows for 25 years.”

Read the rest of the article from the Hills News here.

Christmas in the Hills is on Wednesday, 18th December, at Bella Vista Farm, from 3pm. Tickets are $5 each or family for $15, and all proceeds go to supporting Woodbury School, Tallowood School and Lifestart – buy them here.

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