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Father, Why do you Read?

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An Anecdote from Ibrahim Sharifi A son noticed his father reading the Bible. He said, 'You are a poorly educated man. Why do you read, when you won't understand 95% of what you're reading?'. His father thought for five minutes, then walked to the kitchen and found a large black dirty colander that was used to carry charcoal for their kitchen fire. He gave it to his son a...

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Steeplechase Living

I can imagine kids saying to their mum, 'One day, I want to go to the Olympics'. 'Oh, really', comes the reply, 'what would you like the compete in'. The answers to come thick and fast, 'Bobsled, figure skating, ski jumping'. All the glamourous stuff. Or perhaps: 'I want to run like Usain Bolt, swim like James Magnusson, play basketball with the Boomers'. What child aspir...

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What a Gem!

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Here's a good news story. Life was tough for Big LT. He lost a leg in a car accident and was finding it hard to make ends meet. One day, watching television, LT saw a Navajo Chief's blanket appraised on Antique Road Show for $350,000-$500,000. He owned a similar blanket that had been passed down through the family. Perhaps it might be worth up to $10,000. You never know. ...

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What matters

Randy Newman, in his excellent bookQuestioning Evangelism,outlines nine guidelines to help us be more effective in sharing the hope we have in Jesus. Take note: Don't criticize, condemn, or complain. Give honest, sincere appreciation. Arouse in the other person an eager want. Become genuinely interested in other people. Smile. Remember that a person's name is to th...

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Salt and Light

Jesus said to his disciples,'You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again You are the light of the world let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven'(Matthew 5:13-16). Christians are increasingly being marginalised and demonised in Australian society. Why must...

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Salt and Light

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again… You are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:13-16)....

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No way to live

Not all 'famous last words' are despairing, but consider the following: Frank Sinatra: 'I'm losing it'. Graucho Marx: 'This is no way to live'. Winston Churchill: 'I'm bored with it all'. Joan Crawford yelling at her housekeeper who was praying: 'Damn it! Don't you dare ask God to help me'. What a difference it makes to know Jesus. It makes a difference to life and death ...

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‘Jesus’ or ‘sin’

It may be a bit simplistic, and maybe I haven't thought hard enough, but I'm wondering if every question regarding the Christian faith can be boiled down to one of two answers. It's either 'Jesus' or 'sin'. Most people are mildly happy with those answers. Let's face it, everyone likes Jesus. He is a great religious teacher, a world changer, a man of peace. And most are ha...

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What is success?

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Every Monday Anna's workplace, the SAN Hospital, distribute a 'Monday Mission Message'. She shared last Monday's message with me and I thought it worth sharing a portion with you. Success is a most misunderstood term. Its Latin origin is from "successus" which literally means "an advance" or "a coming up." It seems that the intent was to communicate a journey, rather tha...

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All men created equal

The United States Declaration of Independence assertsthat'all men are created equal with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'. Let me take that last phrase, borrow from the Apostle Paul, and paraphrase the unstated life philosophy of so many.'And now these three remain, Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: bu...

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All men created equal

The United States Declaration of Independence assertsthat'all men are created equal with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'. Let me take that last phrase, borrow from the Apostle Paul, and paraphrase the unstated life philosophy of so many.'And now these three remain, Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: bu...

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A new word

I've discovered a new word. It's a beauty. I was reading'The Preacher His Life and Work'by J.H. Jowett with a friend when we came across the following sentence:'The absence of a sense of vocation will eviscerate a man's responsibility, and will tend to secularise his ministry from end to end'. Don't you love that word'eviscerate'.I can't wait to use it in a sentence, but...

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A new word

I've discovered a new word. It's a beauty. I was reading'The Preacher His Life and Work'by J.H. Jowett with a friend when we came across the following sentence:'The absence of a sense of vocation will eviscerate a man's responsibility, and will tend to secularise his ministry from end to end'. Don't you love that word'eviscerate'.I can't wait to use it in a sentence, but...

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God's love for me?

We're dog minding Matthias for a couple of weeks whilst his owners enjoy a holiday. He's big and black and quite a nice fellow; friendly and happy and mostly obedient. Moogie, our dog, is glad for the company. If you asked me whether I loved Moogie, I'd say, 'Of course I do. He's a big brown bundle of mischievous goodness'. If you asked me whether I loved Matthias, I'd re...

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God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year

Today (8thSeptember) I received a phone call from Doreen Watson, who 50 years ago answered the Lord's call to serve in Nepal with Wycliffe Bible Translators. She was strongly supported by Pennant Hills Baptist Church in this work. It was exciting to learn that on Sunday next a man named Karna Tamang will be inducted as the Pastor into a branch church in Katmandu Nepal wit...

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God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year

Today (8thSeptember) I received a phone call from Doreen Watson, who 50 years ago answered the Lord's call to serve in Nepal with Wycliffe Bible Translators. She was strongly supported by Pennant Hills Baptist Church in this work. It was exciting to learn that on Sunday next a man named Karna Tamang will be inducted as the Pastor into a branch church in Katmandu Nepal wit...

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Thought from CS Lewis

C.S.Lewis was a great thinker and writer. He often takes my half-baked thoughts and distills them into simple clarity. Below is a fine example from his 1948 essay'Living in an Atomic Age'. 'If Nature when fully known seems to teach us (that is, the sciences teach us) that our own minds are chance arrangements of atoms, then there must have been some mistake; for if that w...

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Church Camp?

Every second-year we debate whether to organise a church camp. Won't it be too expensive? What about families? Who's going to organise it? What if nobody comes and it's a big monetary loss? Who should we get as a speaker? Where will we go? The questions pile up. Every time we've taken the punt. This year our church camp, at least in terms of numbers, was the best yet. We ...

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60 Minutes

The media drive me nuts. Everything is spun this way or that. Facts, data, and a balanced perspective are sacrificed on the altar of 'political correctness' or put out for slaughter in the colosseum of 'ratings'. Christians, and those issues important to most Christians, are portrayed as dangerous relics of a bygone era. Modern media moralism is incredibly intolerant of di...

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60 Minutes

The media drive me nuts. Everything is spun this way or that. Facts, data, and a balanced perspective are sacrificed on the altar of 'political correctness' or put out for slaughter in the colosseum of 'ratings'. Christians, and those issues important to most Christians, are portrayed as dangerous relics of a bygone era. Modern media moralism is incredibly intolerant of di...

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Whats your motivation?

The French aviator, author, and mystic Antoine de Saint Exupery once said, 'If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea'. Training is one thing. Motivation another altogether. It pays to begin with the end in mind, to have a clear vison of a preferred future....

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Darkness

Most weekday mornings Anna and I go for a walk. We leave in the dark of night and get home around first light. The stars shine brightly as we turn and make our way into Pennant Hills Park. Familiar scenes are now indistinct and shrouded in mystery "What was that noise?" "I'm sure this path is clear, but ?" "There are potholes ahead, I'll be careful no I'll turn my phone ...

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Two Ideas

I'd like to share two ideas from Christians brothers I respect greatly. First, my mate, Kel Willis. One day he asked how comfortable I'd feel walking into a TAB. That's easy. I did it once in New Zealand (ask me later). I haven't done it since. I don't plan to. The TAB is not my scene. It's foreign. I don't know the people who hang out there and, although I've got a gener...

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Be a introducer

Australian author, journalist, and radio personality, Kel Richards, has the following simple, some might say simplistic, definition of evangelism. Evangelism = Introducing People to Jesus. ''This definition",he writes,"makes our responsibility clear. And it also makes it clear where our responsibility ends". Let's say I have two friends, Craig and Fred. I say to myself,...

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Be a introducer

Australian author, journalist, and radio personality, Kel Richards, has the following simple, some might say simplistic, definition of evangelism. Evangelism = Introducing People to Jesus. ''This definition",he writes,"makes our responsibility clear. And it also makes it clear where our responsibility ends". Let's say I have two friends, Craig and Fred. I say to myself,...

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City on a hill

The 2016 Census results are in and, depending on who's reporting, it's either a cause for celebration or national mourning. The statistic I hear reported most often is this: 'Australia is losing its religion'. About one third of Australians now say they don't have a religion up almost two million from 2011. Furthermore, those who identify as Christian have declined in num...

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London bridge is falling down...

'London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down my fair lady'. It's just a nursery rhyme, but over the past few weeks it seems eerily close to the truth. Every day there seems to be a new report of some atrocity happening in the English capital. But it's not just London, war in Syria continues apace, school children in the Philippines are targeted by militants, ...

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Lemuel Haynes

Born in New England in the 1750's, Lemuel Haynes was abandoned by his parents as an infant and raised by a Christian family as their indentured servant. At the age of twenty-one he was granted his freedom whereupon he enlisted to fight in the American Revolutionary War, first as a Minuteman (civilian colonists who formed local militia) and then as a regular army soldier. ...

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Seasons of our lives

Only ten days till Winter Solstice. It's cold and dark. Some people prefer this time of year (I'm married to one), others can't wait for the heady days of summer. Winter in Judea, the land of Abraham and Jesus, is much the same as our winter we're about the same distance from the equator. For example, an average winter's day in Tel Aviv is 618oC, ours is 917oC. Winter m...

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A Conversation...

Earlier this week a friend of mine told me about a conversation he had with another friend of his. This person chose to make a decision detrimental to their health and well-being. In response, my friend responded in frustration, 'OK. You make your choice.may your gods go with you'. What I think he was trying to say was, 'I don't think this is going to turn out well. So wh...

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The Prodigal Son

Jesus tells a story: A young man demands half his father's inheritance. It's a shocking request met by shocking agreement. In quick time the young prodigal spends everything and finds himself bereft. Out of desperation he decides to return home in hope that he will be accepted, not as a son, but as a hired servant. It's a risky plan, but it works. His father, seeing his s...

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The Prodigal Son

Jesus tells a story: A young man demands half his father's inheritance. It's a shocking request met by shocking agreement. In quick time the young prodigal spends everything and finds himself bereft. Out of desperation he decides to return home in hope that he will be accepted, not as a son, but as a hired servant. It's a risky plan, but it works. His father, seeing his s...

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Walk by Faith

He stood on a thin white platform that was shaking in the wind full of cocky self-assurance, screeching at the sun above. Below were ten meters of space and a hard rock ledge. One false step, one structural failure and surely, he would drop like a stone. But he cared for nothing; fearless despite the perils of his circumstance. I watched on in awe and fear No I didn't! I...

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Walk by Faith

He stood on a thin white platform that was shaking in the wind full of cocky self-assurance, screeching at the sun above. Below were ten meters of space and a hard rock ledge. One false step, one structural failure and surely, he would drop like a stone. But he cared for nothing; fearless despite the perils of his circumstance. I watched on in awe and fear No I didn't! I...

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Smelling Good Fruit

For the next two weeks, whilst I am on leave, I'd like to share some excerpts from Andrew Turner's blog sacredagents.net (he's the 'Fruitful Church' guy). This one is on smelling good fruit. When occasionally I'm tempted to despair, I find myself repeating this little phrase from Jesus over and over: "They don't pick grapes from thornbushes. They don't pick grapes from th...

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The Gospel of John

'The Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart'(Hebrews 4:12). 'All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped f...

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Unmarketable

Christmas is a marketer's dream. It's all there: the infant, his mother, the wise men, their gifts, the stable, angels, peace on earth, good will to all men, and the hope of better things to come. Most people don't believe the Christmas story any more than they believe in Santa Clause, but most people, I suspect, would like to believe the Christmas story. It complements th...

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Unmarketable

Christmas is a marketer's dream. It's all there: the infant, his mother, the wise men, their gifts, the stable, angels, peace on earth, good will to all men, and the hope of better things to come. Most people don't believe the Christmas story any more than they believe in Santa Clause, but most people, I suspect, would like to believe the Christmas story. It complements th...

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First Impressions

'You never get a second chance to make a first impression'. So goes the adage and it's true. At a job interview, networking at a business function, when you walk into a shop or a church, the opinions formed in the first thirty seconds carry far more weight than those formed over the following minutes or hours. Today is Palm Sunday, the day we remember the first impression...

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A Fruitful church

On Monday afternoon Anna and I waved goodbye as our son Adam drifted through the departure gates, off to a new life in Japan. It was sad and left us both feeling empty. We miss him. But it was also good. We didn't raise our son to live at home, be dependent on us, and keep us company. We raised him with the hope that he would one day be independent and make a positive con...

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Attitude to prayer

I have been skiing once - a long time ago. I was not very good at it. I fell over a lot. It was expensive. I needed to hire special gear that was cumbersome and felt uncomfortable. It took a lot of effort to get to the snow. It was crowded. I had to queue. I haven't been back. Of course I would love to ski. It looks like enormous fun. You get to spend time in the great ou...

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Trusting God's word

John's gospel is different to the other three. It has more direct theological reflection, less narrative, and is perhaps more abstract in its major themes. Liberal scholars used to suggest this was clear evidence John's gospel was written by church leaders in the second or third century, after the church had sorted out its major teachings. More conservative scholars argue...

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Trusting God's word

John's gospel is different to the other three. It has more direct theological reflection, less narrative, and is perhaps more abstract in its major themes. Liberal scholars used to suggest this was clear evidence John's gospel was written by church leaders in the second or third century, after the church had sorted out its major teachings. More conservative scholars argue...

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Fragility of Marriage

I well remember a conversation I had with a good friend a few years ago. He, like me, was in Christian ministry and I held him, and still do, in high regard. We were talking about our marriages and the considerable merits of our respective wives. We were both immensely grateful to God for the gracious, seemingly miraculous, gift of our spouse. Then he said, 'But you can n...

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Bible Society

The Bible Society, formed on the 7thMarch 2017 at Australia's first Government House (todays Museum of Sydney), has been operating longer on these shores than any other organisation. Much has changed over the course of two hundred years. Back then, the Bible was widely viewed as the bread of life and essential spiritual sustenance that contributed to both the private and ...

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Bible Society

200 years ago, on 7thMarch 1817, a group of men, including Governor Lachlan Macquarie, gathered to form an auxiliary branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society in the colony of New South Wales. Their vision was to assist in "distributing the word of God the Bread of Eternal Life to the poor perishing souls of our fellow creatures". One month later these same men met...

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Walking in the rain

Last week, interspersed amongst some stinking hot days, we enjoyed two days of solid rain. On one of those mornings Jeff Dillon and I went for a walk along the bush gully behind the pony club. It was hardly ideal conditions. We took umbrellas and fully expected to come home with wet shoes and socks. Jeff's socks were in fact quite wet when he got home, blood red wet, thank...

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The president

There's a new president in the United States. Maybe you've heard. Despite his boasting of ungodly behaviour and despite his lack of any Christian convictions, he has been courting the Christian vote very effectively. On 2nd February, President Donald J Trump attended his first 'National Prayer Breakfast'. It received considerable media attention. During President Trump's ...

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Hear, Believe and Obey

The first priority in our 'Towards 2020' Church Vision is that we continue to remain and even grow as a healthy church. In pursuit of our vision we have decided to have a church health theme for every calendar year. Last year our theme was'Exiles Fit for Mission',encouraging us to see our entire life as a mission endeavour as we wait for the coming of Jesus.This year our t...

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Stealing From a Child

She walked into church looking for the Pastor. 'Yes, that's me. Can I help you?' She handed over a rainbow coloured book, a gift from the Christian Democratic Party and Australian Christian Lobby. I said 'Thank You' and wondered what the heck all this was about. I often get given books. Some I'm glad to read, others not so. There is only so much time and I prefer to set m...

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A visit to the Ballet

We live in an age that celebrates individualism and self-expression. Be yourself. Don't let others define you. Stand out from the pack. Shine! Social media has become a significant platform for expressing individuality. Facebook pages, Twitter and Instagram accounts lets the world know who we really are: the real me, not a manufactured one no one would be so shallow so a...

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Paid in Full

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large g...

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Our lives as history

Last Sunday night I began a new series in the book of Exodus and, as always, I felt both excited and daunted. Excited because I haven't spoken on this part of God's Word before and I'm looking forward to unearthing new treasures. Daunted because I know it's going to be hard. I'll be dealing with weighty matters, difficult passages, truths pertaining to life and death, an...

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Year ahead

February 1. The silly season is now officially over. We mourn its passing. Time to get back to work, into routine, nose to the grindstone. Stress and competition, traffic and queues, early moring, late nights, meetings, projects, deadlines and agendas until 2015 comes to a close and the silly season returns for another brief respite. Is it really that bad? The pessimist i...

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Being a Peacemaker

It's been a tumultuous week in our city. The peace we all assume as normative was brutally disrupted by a crazed gunman who caused enormous disruption and the sad loss of innocent life. It should not be so. We all long for a world where peace is normative.The Hebrew word for peace is 'Shalom'. To be in a state of shalom, for the ancient Hebrew, was much more than the absen...

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Are you a peacemaker?

It's been a tumultuous week in our city. The peace we all assume as normative was brutally disrupted by a crazed gunman who caused enormous disruption and the sad loss of innocent life. It should not be so. We all long for a world where peace is normative.The Hebrew word for peace is 'Shalom'. To be in a state of shalom, for the ancient Hebrew, was much more than the absen...

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New Structures

Last week we launched Elvanto, our new church database. It should be a great blessing to our church, providing us timely information, helping us establish effect processes, and offering a central local for such things as event planning, calendars, and rosters. A church database is not ministry, but Elvanto will help us create structures to facilitate more effective ministr...

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Playgrounds

I remember when our kids were small, days out, even holidays were often planned around the location of playgrounds. If the kids were happy, we were happy.Anna and I got to relive this experience a few weeks ago. We were out with some friends on the Central Coast when their kids spotted some humble play equipment, just a slide and climbing bars, in a small, non-descript par...

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Happiness is..

I remember when our kids were small, days out, even holidays were often planned around the location of playgrounds. If the kids were happy, we were happy.Anna and I got to relive this experience a few weeks ago. We were out with some friends on the Central Coast when their kids spotted some humble play equipment, just a slide and climbing bars, in a small, non-descript par...

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A time away

On Monday, after 12 years at Pennant Hills, with the encouragement of our Elders I bit the bullet and set off for a three day retreat. I took my Bible, the Church Directory, a couple of books and made plans to spend the bulk of my time in isolation before God reading, praying and reflecting. I was apprehensive - three days along - just me and God - I'm really not wired th...

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a Retreat...

On Monday, after 12 years at Pennant Hills, with the encouragement of our Elders I bit the bullet and set off for a three day retreat. I took my Bible, the Church Directory, a couple of books and made plans to spend the bulk of my time in isolation before God reading, praying and reflecting. I was apprehensive - three days along - just me and God - I'm really not wired th...

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