VOTE // BEST GOAL #WORLDCUP 2014

#CAHILL

Brazil 2014 has been a great World Cup so far, great goals, great matches, lots of drama. The round of 16 has just been completed and there are now 8 teams left. I picked 7 of the 8 teams. I’m looking forward to 2 full nights of sleep before the quarter finals start! I thought it would be fun to vote on the best goal of the tournament so far. It won’t take long…

SCANDALOUS: THE CROSS AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS // D.A. CARSON

#SCANDALOUS

I spent the last weekend with our Soulies Team considering Cross-Shaped [Youth] Ministry. It was a fantastic weekend and a joy to spend lots of time together learning about the centrality of the cross in the message of the Bible and the impact it should have in our ministry. A number of our team will be meeting throughout the next month or so to discuss together John Stott’s magnum opus, The Cross of Christ.

Another great place to plumb the depths of Christ’s love shown for sinners at the cross is D.A. Carson’s book Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. Here is a blurb from the book:

“How are Christians to approach the central gospel teachings concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus? The Bible firmly establishes the historicity of these events and doesn’t leave their meanings ambiguous or open to interpretation. Even so, there is an irony and surprising strangeness to the cross. Carson shows that this strange irony has deep implications for our lives as he examines the history and theology of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection.”

I’m looking forward to hearing Carson preach at Oxygen 2014! This book was based on 5 talks that Carson gave in 2008. Videos of all 5 of them are embedded below.

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CROSS-SHAPED [YOUTH] MINISTRY

#CrossShapedMinistry

Apart from during the FIFA World Cup, ABC 4 KIDS is the number 1 TV channel in our household. Mister Maker is one of our favourite shows. It’s made in England and features a zany host, Mister Maker, who makes all sorts of different crafty items. One of the repeated segments, in an attempt to teach little ones different shapes, is of a few people on screen dancing in circle, triangle, square, and rectangle costumes.

This is what they sing:

“I am a shape… la la la la. I am a shape… la la la la. I am a circle. I am a triangle. I am square. I am a rectangle.” I know this song because it has been repeated countless times by my kids… la la la la!

Now that’s using the word ‘shape’ as a noun. But a definition for ‘shape’ as a verb is “Determine the nature of; have a great influence on” (Oxford).

WHAT’S YOUR SHAPE?

When it comes to your youth ministry:

What determines its nature?
What are the significant influences upon it?
What is its shape?

All youth ministries are shaped by something. It might be the needs of teenagers in your area. It might be the desire to engage in culturally relevant ways with young people. It might be shaped by the expectations of Christian parents.

Of all the different influences on your ministry, what has the greatest influence?

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LEADING ON THE FRONTLINES // ACTS 29 AUSTRALIA NATIONAL CONFERENCE

The newest sponsor on this blog is the upcoming Acts 29 Australia National Conference – Leading on the Frontlines. Here’s the conference blurb:

Thousands of leaders are being called to the frontlines of gospel ministry. Leading in churches, organisations, universities and in the home with a mandate to share the good news of Jesus Christ. In August this year, Acts 29 will be hosting their very first national conference which will inspire and equip these leaders to take the gospel where Christ has called them.

The conference will feature world-class teaching from pastor, author, speaker and Acts 29 President, Matt Chandler. Joining him will be Acts 29 Global Director and co-author of the book Total Church, Steve Timmis, along with City on a Hill’s Lead Pastor, Guy Mason and Leonce Crump, Lead Pastor of Renovation Church and Acts 29 Board Member.

We look forward to joining you at the conference in August and on the frontlines in the years to come.

Check the website for the rest of the details.

I’ve heard Chandler, Timmis and Mason preach before and value their ministry. There are lots of great Christian conferences in Australia this year, and this one is no exception!

The early bird discount finishes today (June 30). Get on it!

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? // MY LIFE SUCKS COMPARED TO EVERYONE ELSE ONLINE

‘Facebook can be depressing because everyone else’s lives are better than yours… But are they really?’

This short film by Shaun Higton is excellent in revealing one of the problems with social media and living life online. We are comparing our mundane, ordinary and dissatisfying lives with what we perceive to be amazing, extraordinary and fulfilling lives of those we are connected to online. As I quoted in my post on selfies:

“One reason we struggle w/ insecurity: we’re comparing our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.”

Higton’s film goes further to suggest that the highlight reel portrayed online, may not even be that accurate.

What’s on your mind?

What’s on your mind? How should we answer this question? Better yet, where should we answer this question?

Online community is not enough. It’s probably unwise to share all your deepest secrets and struggles via your social network accounts. Hashtagging your life is not the answer. I think the answer is offline.

It’s more than just looking up. All people need to be part of an offline community where you have permission to be broken, to share your struggles, to be real, and where you don’t feel the need to photoshop your life. These offline communities also need to be a place where you can be loved, accepted, and find healing.

Does your offline Christian community allow the authenticity that online communities fail to provide?

LIFE UNDER GOD // CONCISE THEOLOGY

#LIFEUNDERGOD

The following is a blurb I wrote for our news sheet for Arvo Church last weekend.

Today is the last part of our LIFE UNDER GOD teaching series. I’ve personally found it to be a stimulating time considering some of our core beliefs from God’s word.

If you have enjoyed thinking through these topics and are keen to think through more theological issues, J.I. Packer has a fantastic book called Concise Theology. The book is divided into different doctrines and each section is short with lots of scripture references you can look up for more information.

You can purchase easily enough from Christian bookstores or online retailers, but all the articles are also available online for free. I have linked to the articles here: www.miers.co/packer-theology

My prayer for us is that each time we consider what it is we believe about God, that in response the Holy Spirit would transform us to live all of LIFE UNDER GOD.

SOULIES.NET RECEIVES FACELIFT SURGERY

#SOULIESYOUTH

Not long after I told a bunch of youth leaders how to get their ministry online, the website of our youth ministry crashed! There was some bug in the theme, and while the content was safe, the look/feel/vibe of the site was dead and buried. We then put a temporary (and ugly) template online in its place.

After 6 months of that ugly template, we have finally given the site a more permanent facelift. Check out the new site and the launch video here.

I really like it. The new www.soulies.net theme is simple and with responsive width design it’s much better for viewing on mobile devices.

It’s from Studio Press using the Genesis Framework (those are affiliate links, so I get a couple of dollars if you purchase anything with Studio Press). The current theme and framework on my blog, launched October 2013, is also adapted from Studio Press.

ZOE’S STORY // WHERE LIFE BEGINS & ENDS

When Helen Thomas was 19 weeks pregnant she was told that her baby was ‘incompatible with life’ and was advised to abort, but she and her husband decided not to have an abortion. Helen spoke to Simon Smart about her reasons for not having an abortion and the remarkable story of her daughter Zoe.

An extraordinary story from The Centre for Public Christianity.

DEAR @SOCCEROOS, WATCH THIS VIDEO OF @NEDZELIC FROM 1991 AND THEN BEAT THE DUTCH AGAIN. LOVE FROM AUSTRALIA

#GOSOCCEROOS

Dear Socceroos,

In 1991, Ned Zelic scored two goals to beat the Dutch and qualify for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The second goal was one of those “wonder goals”. Some of you may not remember it because you weren’t yet born. I remember it, I was 11 years old. We watched replays on BTN at school; and we tried to mimic Zelic at soccer training. In case you missed it, here’s a video:

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LEARNING TO PRAY // DR MICHAEL SPENCE

I’m really glad to see that the address from last week’s Sydney Prayer Breakfast is available online. Dr Michael Spence’s talk was moving and a great challenge to pray. It’s worth taking 15 minutes to watch the video above or read the transcript.

As Vice-Chancellor of Sydney University, Dr Michael Spence is the University’s principal executive officer with responsibility for promoting its interests and furthering its development. He took up the position in July 2008 and is the University’s 25th Vice-Chancellor.

Michael speaks about prayer, and reflects on his own experience during his wife’s illness and after her death.

You can also read the full transcript over at The Bible Society website.

10 REASONS TO ATTEND #OXYGEN14

#OXYGEN14

Oxygen 2014 conference is coming up in August. It’s an interdenominational national Christian ministry conference. The following are 10 reasons why it’s worth attending:

1. 4-days of preaching on the uniqueness and supremacy of Christ
2. Encourage other Christian leaders
3. Get trained in practical skills by experienced practitioners
4. Connect with people and share ideas
5. Meet with people in similar roles
6. Six high-caliber elective streams
7. Two topical (and much needed) roundtables
8. Hear sermons that you aren’t preaching!
9. Team building
10. Benefit others

Read a short description for number 1-5 and for number 6-10.

Registration and more info here.

AMERICA, IT’S TIME FOR #GUNCONTROL

#GUNCONTROL

I’m not sure if “America” will read this blog post, but I do know that there are regularly Americans who read this blog. So if that’s you, please pass it on to the rest of your country.

Whatever your opinion on the politics of former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, his bold leadership on gun control in 1996 is an important legacy. In the wake of the Port Arthur massacre, when 35 people were killed, Howard brought in sweeping gun reforms. These reforms have changed Australia for the better.

It was good to hear that US President Barrack Obama mentioned Australia’s example in being tough on guns after another school shooting in the US. I’m saddened with every new report of more school shootings in the States and baffled by how easy it is to get a high powered gun. Just get rid of the Second Amendment from the Constitution, amend it out of there! I hope and pray Obama has the bullets to stand up and lead.

I’m not sure if you’ve seen these 3 videos, they were shared around via social media last year, but they are worth watching. John Oliver compiled them for The Daily Show, and they show how government-mandated gun control actually can work. He highlights the political leadership of Howard (as well as Tim Fischer and Rob Borbidge) in bringing about the changes.

See below for the 3 part series:
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KAKÁ RESPONDS TO BEING LEFT OUT OF THE #BRAZIL2014 #WORLDCUP TEAM

He helped lead the Brazilian National Football (Soccer) team to the 2002 World Cup Championship. Over the last 12 years he has played on two more Brazilian World Cup squads, was considered the best professional player in the sport (2007), and on multiple occasions worked to overcome serious injuries just to get back into the lineup. He played with no fear.

With the 2014 World Cup games to be hosted by Brazil it was time for this soccer legend to return home and bask in the spotlight. But Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, commonly known as Kaká, would not get that moment. Still battling injuries, and for reasons known only by the Brazilian coach, Kaká was left off the 23-man squad for the 2014 Cup.

What is Kaká’s response? Discouragement? Controversy? Devastation? Uncertainty? Or something else?

From I Am Second.

“DROP THE NAME OF JESUS FROM YOUR TAGLINE” // WHY I’M GLAD COMPASSION IGNORED THIS ADVICE @COMPASSIONAU

in-jesus-name

I love the work that Compassion do in “releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name”. I’ve just heard that the fundraising project I’ve been spruiking for the last couple of months has made it to $12300!! Blog readers gave $5000 and the rest has been raised by a church and a generous Compassion supporter.

One of the reasons that I love the work of Compassion is that they are unashamedly doing what they do “in Jesus’ name”. I was alerted to the following quote from Mark Hanlon the Senior VP of Global Marketing for Compassion International. I read about it in an advance copy of David Chalmers‘ (see my post about him here) new book about his work with Compassion.

Here’s the quote:
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NIKE FOOTBALL: THE LAST GAME // FT. RONALDO, NEYMAR JR., ROONEY, ZLATAN, INIESTA & MORE #BRAZIL2014 #WORLDCUP

Did you miss my videos last week to get you warmed up for the World Cup? Go check them here. And above is another one. Nike Football are known for producing excellent videos, especially at the time of the World Cup. This one is great.

Disclaimer: soccer is good, but not God. It used to be the other way for me. But the message of some of these Nike football videos is a message that could easily apply to Christians. “Risk Everything” is something Christians should do for the sake of Jesus and His Kingdom! He is someone worth losing everything for. Play every game as if it’s the last game? Live every day as if it’s your last (see # 52).

Sorry for the spiritual content on this World Cup post. Actually, #SorryNotSorry :)

CITIZENS ALBUM IS FREE ON NOISETRADE

citizens-citizens

Citizens are one of the most exciting bands making music for Christians to sing as they gather. Based in the local church, Mars Hill, many of their songs have grown out of Bible teaching in their church and make much of Jesus. Creatively they are producing a distinct, yet singable sound.

I’ve posted 3 of their films clips here, here and here. I recently recommended one of their songs in a post on newish songs to sing in church. And I included their Christmas EP as one that doesn’t suck. It’s safe to conclude I’m a fan :)

You can now download their debut album for FREE from via Noisetrade.

(If you’re young and cash-less… go crazy on the “free” part! If you’ve got cash, I reckon the album is worth a tip)

The Free download is for a limited time only.