Mirrors 20th April 2018

  1. Raj Gupta's blog about strategy and church growth
  2. The more I hear the case for a specialised use of 'saints' in Ephesians (to mean Jewish Christians) the less convinced I am. with on podcast — link to the episode here.
  3. My lecture sermon thing on 'Why Expository Preaching?'
  4. Priceless 3 part lecture series by Don Carson on Expository Preaching and biblical theology. So gold! Much teaching! Very inspiration.
  5. New bite-sized Australian Christian podcast: Holy Hacks
  6. What does the 'Perspicuity of Scripture' mean? What doesn't it mean? My sermon for the University Fellowship of Christians.
  7. I am now a David Robertson fanboi. An evangelist's evangelist. Great fun interview.

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Guest post: #1 Reflections on 10 on campus at Sydney University by Paddy Benn

I love praying for missionaries directly involved in creative and reflective evangelism. Not only do I get the joy of partnering with them in their work... but I get to learn from them and steal all their ideas that they share in the prayer newsletters! These little notes were sent out by Paddy at the end of last year. Bear in mind they are very much sketches of ideas sent out to prayer supporters, not fully-formed articles and arguments, so read them with that in mind. They are reprinted here with permission. You can support Paddy Benn

This week is Week 13 and another year is drawing to a close. It has been a full semester with many EUers meeting to read the Bible, be taught by God, and to work at living lives that bring glory to Jesus. Once again we farewell about 150 students who will graduate at the end of this year. We have also have started preparing for 2018 and the influx of (God­-willing) many who will be interested and committed to joining the SUEU next year.
The end of this year brings me to ten years of serving the students of the SUEU at Sydney Uni campus. I thought it would be a great time to write to you — my supporters — with some reflections on the last ten years, and also to say thank you for your support over this time. My plan is to send out three updates with each one covering a particular aspect of campus ministry and the changes and challenges of the last ten years. One of the key reasons why I was appointed to the role st Sydney Uni was not to be the evangelist but rather to affect the culture of evangelism within the SUEU. Ten years on is not a bad timeframe within which to consider how the culture has changed.
As best as I can conservatively estimate, when I arrived there were about 5–­8 people per year becoming Christians. Now (under God) we see about 30 people per year place their trust in Jesus. And these are just the ones we know of. In the last ten years, we have trained at least 750 students in personal evangelism, and have seen hundreds more investigate the claim of Jesus.
Similarly we started an E­Network which catered particularly for the 10–­15% of EUers who were really keen on evangelism. We have seen nearly 250 people come through this and be specifically trained, encouraged and supported in their passion for evangelism. Likewise we have attempted annual evangelistic activities across the entire SUEU ­ by using a variety of methods and programs, thus giving a well­-rounded experience to EUers during their four years with us. The SUEU is, according to the students, a mission taskforce, that seeks to reach the lost on the campus of Sydney Uni with the gospel of Jesus. The current evangelistic culture is one of biblical, thoughtful and intentional evangelism. A culture where the lost are captivated by the saving message of Jesus, where EUers invite and bring friends to hear the message of the gospel, and where we ask people to commit to following Jesus. Praise God for the way He has worked in the last ten years! I am so thankful to God that He has allowed me to be part of this great team effort over these last ten years. We do not know (humanly speaking) the ongoing and future impact that this input into the lives of these hundreds of students will have. I am overjoyed when I met graduates who point to their time in the SUEU as a formative one for shaping their attitude, convictions and skills in personal evangelism – I suspect and hope that there are hundreds more like them. As you pray for me and the ministry on the campus, could I please ask that you remember the many whom we have trained, and give thanks to God for the wonderful opportunity that we have had? Please also pray that we would continue to train and equip future generations of students for a lifetime of evangelism in their various contexts.
---- You can support Paddy Benn

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8 Useful Questions to Bring out the Full Force of a Text by Peter Adam

I heard Peter Adam deliver this material about 10 years ago (if not more) at some preacher's workshop or conference. It was a great articulation about how to make sure our preaching is more than just an analytical commentary of the concepts in the text. Boring and dispassionate preaching is not just lacking in extra-biblical methodology and technique... it is also sub-biblical, in the sense that it is not asking certain questions of the text itself. So then, here are Peter Adam's '8 Useful Questions'

  1. What result does God want from speaking this text? What is the text trying to DO?
  2. What lessons can I learn from the various contexts of this text?
  3. What is the structure of the text and how can I communicate it?
  4. What are the main points of the text and how can I communicate them?
  5. What are the emotions of the text and how can I communicate them?
  6. What are the motivations of the text and how can I communicate them?
  7. What are the illustrations in the text and how can I communicate them?
  8. What are the contrasts in the text and how can I communicate them?

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Mirrors 6th April 2018

A small week this one:

  1. There are curious parallels between rollerblading and Christianity. This is the blading equivalent of a piece written for the newspaper at Easter
  2. Paul Worcester tweets: "Pumped to share my new ebook with leaders on making the most of our most valuable resource. TIME!" Interesting book, because it comes out of his experience of planting and leading a parachurch while his wife had serious health issues.
  3. My new book The Good Life in the Last Days is pretty cheap on Kindle.

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Commendation by Chris Watkin for The Good Life in the Last Days

I asked Chris Watkin (author of Thinking Through Creation: Genesis 1 and 2 as Tools of Cultural Critique) to read  and consider writing a commendation for my first book The Good Life in the Last Days: Making Choices When the Time Is Short. I was pretty amazed and flattered when this is what he sent back:

If you are a Christian with a pulse in today’s world then you will almost certainly feel the pull of competing responsibilities. God, ministry, family, work and leisure all place claims upon us that can easily leave us with feelings of frustration and failure. There is no shortage of books addressing this near-universal condition of modern life, but few of them can match the combination of biblical wisdom, practical roadworthiness and suspicion of easy answers that we find in Mikey Lynch’s The Good Life in the Last Days: Making Choices When the Time is Short.

Lynch  provides a valuable service by showing us the inadequacy of many of our current models for coping with multiple demands. Surely the answer is to erect a hierarchy of obligation with God first, spouse second, work third, isn’t it? Not so, argues Lynch. Such a neat schema fails the test of real-life complexity. Let’s try another one. If we feel beset with competing duties, then perhaps we simply fail to realise that they are united in the one overarching obligation to love and obey God. To be sure, Lynch agrees, God’s demand on us not simply one among others, and in all our duties we are serving God. But that neat theological move does not solve all our Monday morning questions or tell us how to respond to the latest email. How about this one: If we really believed the gospel, surely we would spend all our lives evangelising, wouldn’t we? Lynch takes this idea and other like it—ideas that circulate widely in evangelical circles and that hold a prima facie common-sense plausibility—and holds them up to the light of the Bible, unfolding a response that begins with the disarmingly circumspect but insightful observation that “God's Word does not quite put it that way”.

This book’s persistent suspicion of evangelical commonplaces is a helpful corrective for thinking Christians, but  The Good Life in the Last Days is not just about questioning received wisdom. In the final three chapters Lynch offers his own biblical, practical advice for ordering our lives, following the eminently memorisable schema of understanding who we are, when we are and where we are.

Lynch’s approach is not only biblical but also well-read. According a clear priority to the direct witness of Scripture he also draws deeply from the well of Christian tradition, always wearing his erudition with a welcome lightness. Readers will encounter a broad range of theologians and writers, from contemporaries such as Christopher Ash, Oliver O’Donovan, John Piper and Stanley Hauerwas, through Lewis and Chesterton to Augustine, Aquinas and John Calvin. The book is not short on popular cultural references either, drawing on films such as The Martian and La La Land. As he weaves in and out of these different references, Lynch brings his own distinctive note of reflective, biblical balance, careful to weigh alternative views before arriving at his own conclusion and mindful not to let any single biblical truth detach itself from the context of the whole of Scripture. This exemplary mode of argument situates Lynch in that great tradition of evangelical thinking epitomised in the writing of John Stott.

Lynch’s own experience as an AFES staff-worker ensures that his writing is never far from the coalface of day-to-day ministry,  and it is evident on every page that the author of this book is not a “desk theologian” but a “field theologian”. The Good Life in the Last Days is full of wisdom for ministers and lay Christians alike.

Dr Christopher Watkin, Senior Lecturer, Monash University.

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Mirrors 30th March 2018

  1. A clever little video 'Give Nothing to Racism'
  2. An article insightful and alarming... But also disappointingly one-sided and unsatisfying.
  3. Bill Hybels accused of sexual misconduct :-(
  4. David Mitchell: what my son's autism diagnosis has taught me.
  5. Powerful and important article by Andy Crouch: It's time to reckon with celebrity power.
  6. Annoying clickbait title but awesome podcast episode from
  7. This interview with Peter Jensen about Billy Graham from The Pastor's Heart is also priceless.
  8. We've started reading Paul Tripp's A Dangerous Calling with our staff and it's been kind of annoying me. These Reformation 21 and Themelios reviews captures my negative reactions well.
  9. Children's ministry installs bin outside church building for kids craft :-P

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Book Excerpt: Blessing in the Christian Life

An excerpt from The Good Life in the Last Days by Mikey Lynch The psalmists appeal to the Lord in the midst of their suffering and confidently ask for blessing. In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we see that this was a pattern of suffering-before-blessing, which foreshadows what the great suffering king Jesus would experience. So Jesus experiences the suffering of the psalms (for example John 13:18 and 19:24) and their hope of blessing is fulfilled in him too (for example Luke 23:46 and Acts 2:21-32). What does that mean for us as Christians? Firstly, we are blessed because of Jesus’ death for us.Jesus’ suffering had greater meaning than that of the psalmists, because he suffered on behalf of his people, as a substitutionary sacrifice.1 Because our king has suffered for us and has now been blessed in his resurrection and ascension, we enjoy the great blessings that flow from this. In particular, the blessing of peace with God, the guarantee of eternal blessings and the ability to enjoy these blessings are all ours by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Romans 5:1-11). We have the best blessings of all in Christ! Secondly, just as the pattern for Christ was suffering before glory, so also for Christians, we expect to suffer in this life, with the sure hope of eternal blessing in the age to come. This is our Father’s good purpose, so we can rejoice in the strange blessing it is to suffer for the sake of Christ and grow in our faith through suffering, as we explored in chapter 4. As Peter writes:

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Pet 2:21-23)
Because true blessing is a ‘full package’, Christians look for the blessing that comes from a right relationship with God. And since he has revealed to us that these are the last days, we want to enjoy blessings in line with being a part of his purposes: even though this brings with it struggling and hardship. The promises of physical blessing, like those given to Israel in the Sinai covenant, are not offered to Christians in this life, as if the normal Christian life will be one of physical health, economic prosperity and political triumph. Rather the pattern of the Christian life, like that of Christ’s, is spiritual blessing together with physical suffering in this life, followed by physical blessing at the final resurrection. Thirdly, this doesn’t mean we won’t ever enjoy good things in this life, or that we shouldn’t. In a few places, Psalms is quoted to talk about the physical blessing that Christians can enjoy in this life. In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul quotes Psalm 112 and applies it to Christians:
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures for ever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Cor 9:8-11)
Christians can normally expect to receive good gifts from God—both physical and spiritual—that we can use in generous service of his kingdom and love of others. In the same way, the apostle Peter quotes the promise of blessing found in Psalm 34, reassuring his readers “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?” (1 Pet 3:9-13). The blessing of the psalm still applies to Christians, according to Peter, and this remains true even though, as Peter and his readers know too well, Christians often suffer all kinds of trials. Straight after suggesting that no harm will come to them, Peter goes on to say, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed” (3:14). It is true that the new covenant doesn’t have the same promise of abundant physical blessing in this life that the Sinai covenant had. But even in the ‘last days’ we find ourselves in, the blessing we have in God is so good and the hope we have in him is so sure, that when we experience any blessing and joy from the Lord, we are experiencing things the way they should be—and one day will be. It is good and fitting to suffer now, but this is not because suffering itself is good, but because this is the right thing in the last days. It is good and fitting for us to use the things of this world lightly, not because the things of this world are bad, but because this world in its present form is passing away. When we suffer and do without, we are recognizing that this world is fallen, cursed and passing away. But when we enjoy good things, we are recognizing that this fallen, temporary world is still God’s creation and will one day be made new and enjoyed more wonderfully than Adam and Eve could ever have done.2


1. It’s curious on first reading how many psalms about the personal suffering of the king end not just with hope for personal blessing for the king, but expectation of blessings for God’s people and God’s land and even the whole world (e.g. Pss 22:25-3151:18-1969:34-36). This is because when God’s king is rescued and blessed he can bring blessing to those he rules over. Unlike Jesus, however, their suffering itself is not a mechanism that brings blessing to others.

2. “The great difference between Stoic and Christian renunciation is this: for the Stoic, what is renounced is, if rightly renounced… not part of the good. For the Christian, what is renounced is thereby affirmed as good—both in the sense that the renunciation would lose its meaning if the thing were indifferent and in the sense that the renunciation is in furtherance of God’s will, which precisely affirms the goodness of the kinds of things renounced: health, freedom, life. Paradoxically, Christian renunciation is an affirmation of the goodness of what is renounced. …In the Christian perspective… the loss is a breach in the integrity of the good. That is why Christianity requires an [end time] perspective of the restoral of that integrity” (Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1989, p. 219).

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Mirrors 23rd March 2018

  1. Great blog post about the history of campus minsitry at the University of Arkansas. But check out those 1983 outfits and hairdos!
  2. At Citywide last Thursday, there was a question about answered prayer. In this sermon, that I delivered at Campus Bible Study in UNSW last year, I explore this question — from 26 minutes.

  3. My recent sermon on the introduction and epilogue to Proverbs

  4. There is a God, he is personal, he is inter-personal and he speaks to us (plus Q&A)

  5. Living in the Light of the End: 4 sermons on 1Corinthians by me from MYC 2017 in Tasmania

  6. "In Christian ministry our ‘Values’ are central to the goal of our Mission and Vision... In our preaching each week we get to establish our Values, so we don’t depend on catchy Values Statements". Andrew Heard on strategic documents.

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Mirrors 16th March 2018

  1. @managertools community’s list of recommended business books
  2. Rory Shiner's little (and overdue) review for @TGC_Au of the @collinhansen edited book Our Secular Age: Ten Years of Reading and Applying Charles Taylor. 
  3. Great sermon on Christian marriage by my older brother
  4. @TonyJPayne interviews Kara Hartley on Domestic Violence on the @C4CL podcast
  5. Good public speaking tips, especially for those whose public speaking voice is unnatural.
  6. You can read a sample of my book online in a PDF viewer here
  7. Great idea from @citybibleforum ’s Wil Longbottom: do a Google-autocomplete event: Does Jesus…, Is the Bible… 

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Mirrors 9th March 2018

  1. Free Cru eBook for fostering student leadership.
  2. Something very Christian in this admiring review of The National's latest album. Nikki and I were blessed to be able to go and see them play at the Sydney Opera House a few weeks ago. 'Consistency is not boring. Consistency is a miracle, a small act of defiance against entropy.... There’s a reason anniversary cards say things like “All these years later, I still love you.”’ It’s because the miracle isn’t in the “love,” it’s in the “still.” The National offer testimony to something we don’t often celebrate: Enduring is a superpower of its own.'
  3. My seminar on "pushing on when growth is slow" from @genevapush #multiply16
  4. Gospel Coalition Australia's review of Chris Watkin's Thinking Through Creation
  5. A great story from a good friend about experiencing mental illness and supporting those who struggle 
  6.  @kevindeyoung7 on writing Christians books and getting published
  7. What's your favourite nickname for the 'commercial at'?

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Adulteress in Proverbs: agency, invitation & the eros of learning

I preached on Proverbs 1–9 at our Uni Fellowship of Christians Pre-Season Conference last week and it got me thinking about the recurring warnings against the adulteress. It's a major theme in Proverbs and jars against my sensibilities. Why is the woman being blamed for sexual sin? Aren't men to blame? Aren't men more to blame?

A couple of thoughts:

Proverbs is a feminine book... so the adulteress fits this theme

Although the main speaker and listener is a father and son: the teaching of Proverbs frames its vision of wisdom around feminine character. Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly are women. The epilogue presents us with the Wife of Noble Character (who is possibly the image of a home and a life built with Lady Wisdom). In this sense, it fits well to cast other characters as women. 

That's not to say that all the characters are women: we meet the drunkard, the sluggard and the mocker and others who are male characters. But it is to say that there is a certain genre logic to a major female characters throughout.

Adultery becomes a vivid case study of all temptation

Within this frame, adultery is not focussed on as if it is the worst sin. Rather, the adulteress is a vivid case study of the nature of all tempation. Ryan O'Dowd writes:

I readily acknowledge that Proverbs is interested in issues of human sexuality. But I’m concerned is that many readers have never understood the larger role of the feminine motif and the way it imbues the whole book with what we might call the eros of human learning—becoming wise means orientating our deepest human desires to a particular way of loving and learning. The man’s sexual impulse serves as a metaphor for learning as a whole.

I think that's really helpful, don't you? It encourages me, as the preacher, to also apply much of the extended descriptions and warnings about adultery in Proverbs to other "lusts":

  • of romance and intimacy - but with the wrong person
  • the temptation of drunkenness or drugs
  • or the delicious pleasure of gossip and meanness
  • or the lust for power in the in-group, the Dean's List, the HD, the student union politics
  • greed for money, travel, food, clothes, freedom
  • the pride in knowledge, being sophisticated

All of these can be alluring, attractive secretive, seemingly free of consequence... and yet all of them draw us away from godly contentment and into ruin.

Men are responsibly for not accepting the invitation of the adulteress

It is also worth pointing out that the warnings in Proverbs are not written to rebuke would-be adulteresses and prostitutes. Proverbs is a book that often talks about women... but addressing men. Even the Wife of Noble Character is first of all presented to us as one that men should praise and trust in. 

And so here, the warnings are for men to not sin by accepting the tempting invitations of the adulteress. Men are the responsible ones for their own desires and sins. They can't blame their sin on her looks, clothes, scent or wily words. They are responsible. They should avoid her. They should focus their sexual passions in the right place.

And yet at the same time, Proverbs also demonstrates feminine sexual agency... include sinful agency:

Agency, invitation and victimhood

The adulteress has power. The power of sexual desirability and persuasive words. She has the power to harness male sexual desire to her own ends and to their ruin. In this sense is active, full of agency and responsible.

Her agency here is the agency of invitation. And where this invitation is accepted with her consent she is complicit in the sin. Even if there are also larger social structures at work, social structures rarely totally remove our agency and responsibility. They mitigate, but don't erase our moral culpability. So this is not a case of 'victim blaming'.

If a man is the initiator and the sexual advance is unwanted (or the extent of the sexual advance is unwanted) then he is to blame. He deserves not only the rebuke of the one who engages in adultery, but also the rebuke of the 'violent man'. We could go further and recognise that where there is lack of clarity about who is to blame, we must not default to blaming the women — because of her sex, her clothing or anything else.

The risk of unintended invitation (..?!?)

A final issue that Proverbs indirectly rasies for us is a very muddy one... and should not be considered without regular return to the previous paragraph (beginning "If a man...").

But Proverbs portrays the power of sexual invitation and the various things. Consider for example chapter 7:

6 At the window of my house
    I looked down through the lattice.
7 I saw among the simple,
    I noticed among the young men,
    a youth who had no sense.
8 He was going down the street near her corner,
    walking along in the direction of her house
9 at twilight, as the day was fading,
    as the dark of night set in.

10 Then out came a woman to meet him,
    dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.
11 (She is unruly and defiant,
    her feet never stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the squares,
    at every corner she lurks.)
13 She took hold of him and kissed him
    and with a brazen face she said:

14 “Today I fulfilled my vows,
    and I have food from my fellowship offering at home.
15 So I came out to meet you;
    I looked for you and have found you!
16 I have covered my bed
    with colored linens from Egypt.
17 I have perfumed my bed
    with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
18 Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning;
    let’s enjoy ourselves with love!
19 My husband is not at home;
    he has gone on a long journey.
20 He took his purse filled with money
    and will not be home till full moon.”

21 With persuasive words she led him astray;
    she seduced him with her smooth talk.
22 All at once he followed her
    like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer[a] stepping into a noose
23     till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
    little knowing it will cost him his life.

Words, clothes, perfume, food, timing... all of these things are powerful cultural and biological forces which can attract and tempt. They can be deliberately used to draw someone into sin. They can be deliberately used to draw someone in with the promise of sinful pleasure and then to manipulate them in other ways.

And they can be somewhat accidentally used. A woman might foolishly or na├»vely send off cultural and biological signals that could be misinterpreted as an invitation. Because these 'signals' can have an meaning contrary to the intention of the woman. It is good for us all be aware of this for any number of reasons, including:

  • men must be wise and sensitive to the fact that these nonverbal signals can be misunderstood and so not make assumptions,
  • women can be more alert to accidentally sending nonverbal signals and so spare somethemlves some misunderstanding.

But of course it remains true that the path of adultery is wrong anyway: whether a man is right or wrong in reading the signals, he shouldn't go down that path. If a woman is considering deliberately giving an invitation she should not. And of course, if a man wrongly interprets the signals and pursues a perceived invitation against the consent of the woman he is doubly guilt, both for adultery and for violence.



Tricky stuff : keen to hear your thoughts?

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Strategically taming the madness of an impossibly busy season

I'm on the bring of our student leaders day and Pre-O-Week Conference (Pre-Season Conference), following by our huge O Week Mission. Added to this some big family events, a laptop and shower head that needs to get fixed, a staff member who twisted their ankle, the launch of a new not-for-profit association (New Front Door: The Church IT Guild), and a few other major fundraising grant proposals: there's a fair bit on! 

So how do you wrestle the chaos into control in these kinds of intense seasons that make you feel like you are drowning and kind of going mad, even before they've begun?

Firstly, procrastinate by watching the Winter Olympics, and writing a blog post about it.

Secondly, drink a bit less coffee to manage the anxiety, make sure you breath and walk slowly and read the Bible and pray and sleep and exercise.

Thirdly, in terms of the actual logistics, here is something of my process:

1. Start Planning Early

I'm always fully of bewilderment and pity for those who start planning and working in earnest for the new church/Christian Union year in January... or even in November. We really start planning and working towards these busy seasons 6 months out. Anything that can be done mega-early will bless you later.

2. Out Of Office Reply

I set up an Out Of Office reply on my email, telling people I will be probably slower in responding than I'd like to be. This takes a bit of pressure off my mind, feeling like those emails piling up, that I'm not getting to, I don't feel crushed by it. I know that they know that there'll be a delay.

3. Cancel the things that can be cancelled

I can't do everything, so I need to figure out what stuff I can, at least temporarily, not do. This is not the time to major on principled consistency. A few weeks won't hurt. So things like regular staff 1:1 meetings, other regular appointments, committees I'm not really needed on. Also, with family, we do our best to look at our schedules and figure out what can give. Thanks to Nikki and the kids for bearing with me!

4. List out the main projects

In some ways the next few steps are just David Allen's Getting Things Done on overdrive... I kind of pluck out of my more global system, a little emergency system for the short term.

So I scan through my paper inbox, email, TODO software (I use Asana) and try to pull out: what are the projects and TODOs that really must get done in this period of time. I list them out, so I can see all the hats I'm wearing:

  • Family
  • New Front Door
  • Home Church Welcome Team
  • Campus Patrons
  • Sermons
  • Evangelism Team
  • Fundraising
  • O Week Mission
  • Support Raising

There are some small TODOs that also must get done that aren't tied to a project, so I put them in the second list.

5. List out all the TODOs that have to get done

Then I list out all the actions associated to these projects, as well as other floating once-off TODOs that really have to happen between now and the end of the O Week Mission season. Things like

  • Can Xavier's BeIn Sports subscription
  • Announcement email
  • Blurbs for sermon series
  • Reference check for new staff applicant
  • Bookmark Elvanto Forms on iPads
  • Reminder for Welcome Team
  • Alumni Fundraising Drive email
  • Reply to Campus Patrons email
  • Reminder for Welcome Team meeting
  • Plan O Week contact tables for gaps when staff aren't there

And on and on and one.

6. Write down due dates and estimate time they will take

Then I mark each with when they need to be done by and how long they will take. Some things will only take 15 minutes. Some will take 2 hours.... I rarely estimate in less than a 15 minute incremenet, because in this way I make space for procrastination and unexpected stuff that will inevitably come in as well. 

7. Schedule the week

Then I schedule out all the TODOs into my actual week. And God-willing there's enough space for it.  If not, I have to do some last minute delegation, cancelling, culling, simplifying and panicking.

I also work on the basis of where my energy is at its highest, and adopt a schedule, where possible, that can trade off that. In my case, I'm a morning person, so wherever possible I will try to plan for early bed-times and stupidly early wake up times.

In this process, I need to actually figure out where the 'breather' places are. Even in mad crazy seasons you need to plan to stop and breath and reast and walk in the sunlight. Can I carve out an even slightly slower morning? Or a half hour break one afternoon?


So there you go. Hope that's helpful? What's your system? Anything I've missed out? Help! Please! :-)

By the way, this is also the kind of process you want to go through with staff who might work for you, who are starting to feel overwhelmed and want to drop things. Rather than simply complying with whatever things they say they must drop... instead this process helps work with them in a more systematic way that you can collaborate and guide a bit more.

Now I have to stop delaying that process by blogging about it... and start DOING it.

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Mirrors 9th Februrary 2018

  1. Do we need a video like this for "Am I running a church or parachurch?"
  2. Churches: support fewer missionaries at a higher amount. It builds relationship and accountability, frees up their time from visiting heaps of churches so they can focus on the work  says Mark Dever. Of course this means that the missionary is more vulnerable if you pull your support.
  3. Mark Dever on the reality of privilege, the sins of past Christians and much more
  4. Great warning not to assume the only moral vote is a single issue vote... and how the black community has learned that historically. Starts around 15mins
  5. A good analogy for silly science over-reaching about ethics and religion. If your science says The Beatles are average, maybe you're science if wrong?
  6. Lots of intriguing stuff from @MarkDever on discipling. Pastors explain people need to work around our schedules sometimes and forgive our unavailability. Look for both hungry and teachable people. Curiously: Dever says paid staff shouldn't do 1:1 during work hours. Rathey they should model it as a part of ordinary Christian life. Also curious: Dever invites people he'd like to disciple to come and 'hang out and read a book in my study' why he's working on a message, so that they can chat during mental breaks. 
  7. ""The Christianity Richard Dawkins objects to is the Christianity a smart 13 year old boy objects to." Jordan B Peterson

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Mirrors 2nd Februrary 2018

  1. Abortion doulas: This makes me feel so sad, and sick in my stomach. What a dark strangeness. 
  2. What does the Screwtape Letters have to say about flippant jokes at the expense of rollerblading?
  3. I use Relax Rain (and just discovered Relax Sea) to sleep on planes and other power nap situations. But then @lookupANDY showed me this. Something soothing about knowing your coworker is killing it next to you on their laptop, so you can zone out. 
  4. How fast do you type? Are you a T Rex, a Tortoise or an Octopus? Quick online test.
  5. Carl Trueman on the parachurch
  6. Kevin de Young and Ryan Kelly’s positive case for the parachurch 
  7. Lots of gold in this little workbook on how to lead church leadership teams and committees 

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Review: The Tony Payne Collection

Matthias Media sent me a copy of The Tony Payne Collection to review late last year. It was a great Christmas present! I spent the summer break reading it and tweeting some of my favourite bits (http://twitter.com/mikey_g_lynch). It's a great little collection worth getting hold of.

Tony was one of the people who discipled me. Not that we met up and read the Bible or anything like that. I didn't even have a face to face conversation with him until last year. But in addition to those who met with me in person, one of my mothers in the faith, Jo, gave me her backlog of The Briefing—all the way back to the black and white #1 issue—and I binge-read them the way I binge-watched Stranger Things 2 recently. Along with other favourite authors like Don Carson and John Stott, Tony Payne helped form my Christian mind and ministry.

So it's great to have to have a Best Of anthology to put Tony's articles back into circulation. I know The Tony Payne Collection is going on the list of books we give away during the year to students at the University Fellowship of Christians (we give away 2 different books a month to one guy and one girl). It would also be great to dip into to read and discuss with a ministry team or an individual you are training. The articles are varying sizes, on a vast range of topics, so that you can cover a series of great, biblical ideas that suits the occasion.

Personally, I even found it refreshing for me to check back in on some core ideas that matter to me in life and ministry. A reminder about what things I might be in danger of assuming and forgetting to explicitly teach.

The Tony Payne Collection is also a fun historical artefact. Many of the articles are editorial pieces responding to the issues of the day, and even the more 'timeless' pieces bear the marks of particular issues, errors and fads of Australian Christianity in the last 30 years. It was surprising to me how little this large collection of articles manifested some of what I consider to be the fair critiques of the 'conservative camp of the Sydney Anglicans'. Tony wrote positively and openly about emotions, for example; about doing church well even in aesthetic matters; and his critiques of other movements struck me as even-handed. There are of course other criticisms of thef 'conservative camp of the Sydney Anglicans' that I don't consider to be criticisms at all, and this volume probably gives further fuel to those who would be critical. It is interesting to note that the issue of women in ministry is absent, although there are a couple of articlces on manhood.

The one thing that is curious in retrospect is the sheer amount of energy put into clarifying whether or not we should call what we do on Sunday 'worship'. Although I agree with the guts of the argument, the amount of energy that is expended on it stirkes me as a little quaint now.

So grab a copy and buy another one to give to someone else. It really is a great volume!

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Mirrors 26th January 2018

  1. Have trouble sleeping? Or power-napping? Try an hour of rollerblading skating and grinding noises. Can be downloaded off iTunes/Stitcher etc too.
  2. Scroll down and check out the Virtual Tour. What do you think?
  3. Have you thought how to make attending and serving at your church accessible to those with disabilities?
  4. Sandy Grant on domestic abuse by Christian ministers 
  5. Origin of expression 'going gangbusters'
  6. Gotten back into a @managertools binge. So good. Don't email for urgent things, bad news, building relationships or to follow up on emails already sent...
  7. My year in podcasts, films, blogs and books

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The horribly confusing and archaic epexegetical ‘even’ in the NIV

This came up in staff Bible study time yesterday, as we looked at Acts 3. There's plenty that's interesting about Acts 3, including the last verse—when is Peter referring to? Jesus' earthly ministry, his resurrection appearances or his coming through the apostolic preaching? But one thing that caused some confusion for us was verse 20:

and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.

Not only our Nepali staff member who speaks English as a second language, but even our native speakers were confused. What does the 'even Jesus' clause MEAN? It doesn't mean flat and smooth, or divisible by 2... but it doesn't work as an adverb of emphasis, because what verb is it qualifying? 

I said I thought it was the more rare meaning of 'even' that translates as something like 'namely' or 'that is'—an epexegetical 'even', you could say. So the verse can be translated something like:

and that he may send the Messiah who has been appointed for you—namely, Jesus.

Immediatley one of our staff said: "So is THAT what is going on in Ephesians 1:10?

to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

Big Aha Moment follows. So this verse isn't a parallel text to 1Cor 15:28, saying that all things, including Christ, will be brought together under one head. After all, the rest of Ephesiasn emphasises that Christ is the Head. No the one head is Christ—'namely, Christ'.

I knew this was a rare and clumsy, but I didn't realise quite how rare. Most online dictionaries don't even mention this definition at all! And the Oxford English Dictionary lists it as 'archaic':

(under "even" adv 8a) says: Prefixed to a subject, object, or predicate, or to the expression of a qualifying circumstance, to emphasize its identity. Obs. exc. arch. Also in 16–17th c. (hence still arch. after Bible use) serving to introduce an epexegesis; = ‘namely’, ‘that is to say’.

So what's an archaic use of 'even' doing in the New International Version? Thankfully the NIV11 has removed the 'even' in Ephesians 1:10... but oddly kept it in Acts 3?! It's even stranger, because this clusmy use of 'even' doesn't even reflect any word in the Greek of either passage:

So they didn't even need to find a more common adverb like 'namely'. They could have just used a comma! It's not like Galataisn 6:10 which possible has a (rare in Greek) epexegetical 'kai', which the NIV84 uses the archaic 'even':

Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God. (see interlinear here)

Although interestingly the NIV11 swaps out the 'even' here for an em-dash. So peculiar. Anyway, the moral to the story is: if in doubt: check the Greek. If you don't know Greek, check the Greek interlinear, or just check the Holman and ESV.

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