Thursday, March 30, 2006

Laurel enters the Blogosphere

So this is how it starts...the slippery slope of kiddy consumerism.

I was out today with The Boy and The Girl running a few errands before travelling to DC for my defense. I went to the shops to get the essentials for the trip. At one point I paused in the middle of an aisle and tried to think about what else I had needed to get. Before a thought of my own could form I hear a little voice coming from the stroller that I was pushing say, “Elmo.”

I wasn’t sure that I had heard The Boy correctly so I asked him, “What did you say?”

“Elmo,” he replied. “Elmo.” Clear as day.

I looked around and sure enough, pictured on a box of biscuits there was the familiar ruddy visage of Elmo, with his falsetto voice and insidious laugh.

I was so taken by the way that The Boy had recognized Elmo and said his name that I just had to get the biscuits. He didn’t even ask for them. I think I dissolved into a blubbering puddle as I grabbed the box off the shelf. “Elmo! OhmygoodnessyousaidElmo! Yay! Let’s get a box and celebrate!”

I know, I know, I know. This must stop.

I can’t give The Boy everything he is able to say. What will I do when he says “kitten,” do I jump up and get him one? Or “dog,” or “pony,” or “jumping castle” or “small island in the South Pacific”? There is no way that I can fit a jumping castle in this apartment.

But then we went into Payless to find some inexpensive sneakers for The Boy. As I looked at the rather drab selection, once again The Boy said “Elmo.” And sure enough, lurking on the very bottom shelf and almost hidden from view was the most perfect pair of Elmo slippers.

“OhmygoodnessyousaidElmoagain!” I gushed.

However, I remembered that I was a bit too eager to buy The Boy biscuits just because he said “Elmo,” and so decided to only buy the slippers if they were really worth it.

“Are these real Elmo-fur slippers?” I asked the clerk.

He assured me that they were, indeed, made of genuine Elmo hide. I looked closely and recognised the unnatural sheen of the fur and the trademark way that it is supposed to look shiny, synthetic and flammable under florescent lights (in a way that imitation fur cannot copy).

“And what are the origins of the small, stuffed Elmo heads?”

Once again, the clerk put my fears at rest as he explained that they only source Elmo pelts from a farm in upstate New York. All Elmos are allowed to roam freely within the confines of the farm until they are humanely slaughtered (by tickling) and their pelts sold to Payless, who then pass them on to their cobblers.

Well, that sold me on the slippers.

We put them on The Boy right then and there in Payless and he didn’t take them off until he went to bed. Right now they are sitting at the foot of his bed and are ready for his feet to slip into them first thing in the morning.

But, the Elmo buying streak stops first thing tomorrow...just as long as he doesn’t say “Elmo” again.

Love, Laurel

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Better for your soul than a bagel ever will be.

I would like to announce two things:

1. That amongst The Boy's first 20 words is the word: Bagel. He says it 20 times a day, and especially at mealtimes. I just moved our young family to New York City. What have I done?

2. I wrote some Bible Studies for Lent for Christ Church NYC. For those who don't know about Lent, join the club. I had to Wikipedia it. Lent is big here in NYC. At Christ Church NYC, we wanted to explore Mark 10:1-16:8 as a ‘moment of pause’ leading up to Easter. Craig Donnelly – good man administering at Christchurch St Ives – has put them on the Resources/Study Notes page at St Ives. Can someone download them for me and see if they print OK? I’m not sure if the font is working. That would be a help to me.

They can be downloaded here.

This is for your -- or your Bible Study's -- consumption.
Better for your soul than a bagel ever will be.

Love, Justin.

PS The Pic was taken in Epping 6 months ago by The Wife. I had to share it with the world.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

16 verbs for a 21st Century Apologetics

Michael is a thoughtful person and a good friend.
He and his wife are Godparents to The Boy [Yes, that is The Boy at his Baptism].
His blog can be found here:

But this post has but one purpose.

To encourage you to read this excellent article on Apologetics:

16 verbs for a 21st Century apologetics posted on

For summary, here are the 16 verbs:

1. Begin with prayer
2. Listen carefully, attentively and intelligently
3. Study your culture of context
4. Engage in dialogue
5. See apologetics as not an end in itself but as clearing a runway for the gospel
6. Be intellectually flexible
7. Be a critical realist
8. Assume a basic natural knowledge of God
9. Build communities of grace and live authentic Christian lives
10. Critique the beliefs of others
11. Know history
12. Appeal to the imagination
13. Know your personal testimony
14. Seek points for intersection with the Bible
15. Allow the Bible to speak dynamically
16. If necessary, say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘good point’ or ‘I’ll get back to you’

For discussion in the comments:

Anything missing in this list that you would like to add?
Any stories of ‘apologising’ that you have that might be good for us to hear?

Love, Justin.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Friendship and Church

Just to let you know: we are making some good friends here. We miss our friends in Australia. But we are making some new ones here in NYC.

The picture above is one of The Boy's new friends. Her mom (and dad) lives near us and her mom is having a great time with the Wife!

So this is good.

However, my thought for the day...

We were walking with someone about a month ago in Times Square, and we made the observation that our new church is small.

[But, interestingly, larger than the average American church - don't let the mega-churches fool you. We are at about 100 (+/-) people who we would consider regular. We are growing each year, and for that, I thank God.]

Anyway, our Times-square-walking-partner said: "That's a small church - and you are kind of stuck there - are you sure that you will be able to make any significant friends? Ones that you actually want to hang out with? Someone with common interests? People who are on your wavelength?"

I understand the question. It was harmless enough. Everyone wants to make a friend at church. No one wants to be friendless. People leave churches all the time saying: 'I tried to make friends and I didn't.' And it’s great when you have someone who you feel safe enough to confide in.

All this I get.

However, I just finished spending time in Ephesians. And it struck me that ‘friendship’ is not the unifying feature of church. Jesus’ blood is. So a necessary outcome of the gospel is this: that, in Christ, Jew and Gentile are friends and therefore learn to be friends. They do not go to church looking for a friend. They are friends already because of Jesus, and therefore this needs to be expressed.

I can imagine in the early church, a Jewish believer saying: ‘I hope that I can find a significant friend who is like me’. And I can imagine a Gentile believer saying: ‘I hope that I can find someone with whom I can have a bacon and cheese burger on Saturday afternoon.’

But for Paul, being in Christ means that you necessarily [and deliberately] spent time with people different to you: people who you might not have naturally been friends with. The Dividing Wall of Hostility has broken down, and in Christ the Jew and Gentile stand together with common access to God. And this therefore needs to be expressed in the Church.

Said here: Ephesians 2:11-22, which necessarily leads to here: Ephesians 4:1-6.

The upshot of this in my mind is this [at least this is the theory]:

When I come to Church, I do not go looking to find the person who is most like me. I look for the person most unlike me and learn to express the unity that already exists by our common access to the Father.

I don’t go to Christ’s church looking to make some friends.
I make friends because it is Christ’s church.

If you do this, you will of course surprise yourself by making some surprisingly good friends.

We have already.

Very Bonheoffer, without the eloquence.

Love, Justin.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


We had our first Sydney visitors to NYC this week: TK and SK came by.

It was the kind of visit I envisioned: friends genuinely interested in our church and what we are doing, and in our home and in our family. Less wanderlust, more faith! -- Church on Sunday; Breakfast on Tuesday (and a touch of the city as well).

Enjoy Toronto.

Love, Justin.

PS TK took both shots.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Risky Things to Do and Say

I said that I’d occasionally put up bits of a sermon. And here is my first.

I explored Mark 2:1-12 on Sunday. Take a read.

I noted that Jesus does not deny this man’s ‘felt need’ [to walk], but he does not restrict him to his ‘felt need’ either [he needs his sins forgiven]. There was obviously more that I said than that, for the story is ultimately a conflict story leading to two opposing groups plotting this Son of Man's death in Mark 3:6. But here is a part of the talk:

“Question! Which one of these two statements is easier to say to a man in a wheelchair? Is it easier to say, ‘your sins are forgiven’ or ‘stand up, fold your wheelchair, and walk out this door?’

What a Question!

Both are tantalising possibilities.
Both are potentially cruel.
Both are risky things to do and say.
One seems presumptuous, the other preposterous.
Actually, they both seem presumptuous and preposterous.
But if either could happen, it would be a beautiful miracle.

So what’s the answer?

  • It could be: Neither is easier [and neither is harder]: In fact you could say both very easily. I said it just now when I read it. I did not find either particularly difficult to say.
  • It could be: Saying “your sins are forgiven” is much easier because no one can know right then if it has or has not been achieved - whereas everyone will know you are a fake within seconds if the man is not healed. More seems at stake saying to a paralytic, ‘stand up’.
  • It could be: Both are impossible to do. In fact, on your own, you have as much chance of being forgiven as a paralytic does in walking out the door that day.

While you are battling with your head to answer the question, Jesus undercuts all your brain power with an astonishing display of grace and power:

10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic— 11 ‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’

However you answered his question, Jesus is powerfully and graciously demonstrating: I can do both.”


Love, Justin.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

From Desire to Grace

Above are the many faces of the Human dilemma.

These faces go from Desire ["I must have"] to Grace ["I must serve"]?

Romans 2:4

All this from The Boy moving from one extreme to the other in a matter of minutes...

From "I like that Camera"
To "Can I have that camera?"
To "I must have that camera."
To "Why won't you give me that camera?"
To "OK, thanks for letting me at least touch the camera."
To "Hello little sister, can I give you some affection?"

Love, Justin.

"You have only two things to do in life, Boy"

I've told The Boy that he has only two things he needs to do in life:

1. Love Jesus
2. Take care of your sister

This picture above is him doing both.

He is reading Max Lucado's "You are Special" to his sister.

Three things [I'll think of a fourth by the time I'm done, I'm sure.]

1. Anyone else read it? And found it helpful even as an adult?
2. If you wish to hear a summary of the book [and therefore why The Boy is doing both things], then ask me by posting a comment.
3. Can someone please forward this link with thanks to Rhea Harding? She gave us the book.

And, yes,
4. For the record, he can't read. But he will one day, I can feel it... I can feel it...

Love, Justin.

PS I've updated a pic from a former post:
Its the boy learning Point 2. "If you go out in the snow and, in anger, you rip off your gloves, socks, shoes, beanie and protective plastic stroller cover, you'll just get more angry. It's a fact."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

You must have mirth or you will have madness.

Hi all.

Two video links that are worth a look at…

[Of course, I got them sent to me three weeks ago, so no doubt they have landed in your inbox a while ago!]

For anyone serious about their Calvinism...

And also for German speakers [Is Tori Robson out there in Cyberspace?]...

I shall be speaking this Sunday on Mark 2:1-12 . So I shall put up something more serious next week. Maybe a section of the sermon to debate.

But in the meantime, as G.K. Chesterton once said:

"Life is serious all the time, but living cannot be. You may have all the solemnity you wish in your neckties, but in anything important (such as sex, death, and religion), you must have mirth or you will have madness. "


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Eight things The Boy has learnt

The Boy!

Yes, that's his name on this Blog. See my previous post.

Eight things that The Boy has learnt in the last little while:

1. How to ask a question. You point at something, anything, and say: "Huh-Daa?" And you do it about 50 times in a row, moving your finger in a semi-random way.
2. If you go out in the snow and, in anger, you rip off your gloves, socks, shoes, beanie and protective plastic stroller cover, you'll just get more angry. It's a fact.
3. That if you hold your breath, and tense your neck and hold out your arms with a deep intensity, you are communicating simply: "I want, and I want now..."
4. That every button should be pressed, every lid should come off, every key has a keyhole, every door should be open, every book off it's shelf, and every phone has someone on the end of the line to 'talk to'.
5. That you can easily and meaningfully talk with no syntax, no verb, no subject or object. In fact, no grammar whatsoever. And at this stage in life, no one will correct you. Sweeet.
6. That a smile can cover a multitude of sins. Apologies to the Apostle Peter: 1 Peter 4:8
7. The value of TV early in the morning. [Homer: "See Marge, you knock TV and then it helps you out. I think you owe someone an apology."]
8. How to turn off the TV. ["Good Boy"]

If you read this Blog for the first time, post a message. Let me know that you are here! Or even if you've been here a few times.

Love, Justin.

PS The Pic of The Boy sleeping in the Cot is taken in the middle of the night. It was taken with a flash in the total dark.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Eight things that The Girl has learnt

The Girl!

Yes, that's her name on this Blog. See my previous post.

Eight things that The Girl has learnt in the last little while:

1. Smiling at someone makes them smile back.
2. Being calm makes everyone else calm.
3. That not all red-heads have a temper.
4. If you keep your eyes open, you end up seeing more.
5. That if you shakily hold out your little arms and hands, you at least have the potential of grabbing something.
6. You can't spit out your dummy and keep it in your mouth at the same time.
7. That true contentment is eating one meal, the same meal, over and over, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, morning tea, afternoon tea, AND midnight shnack, and still be happy.
8. That love trusts all things. With thanks to the Apostle Paul: 1 Corinthians 13:7

Post a message if you swing by this blog. Even to say Hi. Let me know that you are here.

Eight things the Boy has learnt is coming up on Monday! Check back in then.

Love Justin.

"The Boy" and "The Girl"

We've been talking to someone here in NYC, and they reckon that its good not to name your children on your blog here in this city. Not sure why, but a parent's blood is 1 part parent, 1 part paranoid.


So from now on, our son will be "The Boy" and our daughter "The Girl". So if you want to say something about our son, you post your comment like this: "The boy is looking cheekier and cheekier every day." Or something of the like. And if you want to post a comment about the little girl, you say: "The Girl couldn't be cuter."

Thats the deal on this blog, otherwise your comment goes to the cutting floor! :)

Eight things that the Boy and Girl have learnt to follow...

Love, Justin.