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Great story about someone's experience of Christians living out their life
When I grow up get to the nursing home, I want to be .....
Do you have a To Be List?
A key competency to learn - mission in mid sized groups
How can I 'Seek first the Kingdom of God'
Apologetics - it is not a cage match!
Weeds of the Flesh and Fruit of the Spirit
A key competency for disciples - relying on Kingom resources
Grow as a disciple
Suffering and Joyful confidence - an excerpt from Soul Keeping
Busy and Hurried are different (excerpt from Soul Keeping)
'Easy' is a soul word
When the soul lacks a centre - from Soul Keeping by John Ortberg
Keep your Soul by Speaking to it - an excerpt from Soul Keeping 
How to arrange your days - a quote from 'Soul Keeping'
I hope your Christmas is like the case of Stuart Little and the painting
Who was St Nicholas?
Embrace the Busyness, Revel in the Relaxation
Everyone starts running around in circles
The Soul Experiment
Soul Keeping: Caring for the most important part of you
Should a Christian ever think or act as if God does not exist?
Ancient Wisdom - beginning your spiritual life
Bible Memory passages revisited
In your spiritual life are you like a man going to the doctor?
Ancient Wisdom - Tests
Body Image vs Soul Image
Examples of the Five Fold ministries in the NT
Five Capitals - some introductory blog posts
Are you the missing piece of the puzzle
How would Paul and Tabitha go in the same church?
Five Fold Series
I don't trust myself to 'hate the sin but love the sinner'
Today is the only day we can follow God
Compound Interest
Do you tend to skip over these bible verses?
Restaurant vs home cooked food
Am I willing to disciple someone?
Smaller but not small
Get Caught up in the Cross
The importance of the Cross
Discipling our Children
My Problem with the bible - Brian Zahnd
Some reflections on our season of gathering
How is your super-superannuation?
The God of Covenant Relationships
Come with me to a quiet place - a season of Gathering
Encountering God and famous tennis players
The details of Christmas
Coming to a complete STOP
Integrating Faith and Life
Looking Back, Moving forward
Do not give up meeting together - reasons why, and how it can work
What about kids? (part two)
What about kids?
Stop and smell the Grace
Thoughts from an Organic Evangelism Seminar
Dinner Time Discipleship
You might hate journalling but do you track your Kairos?
God puts no cap on rotations
A fresh vision with the triangle
Encounter Baptist Church - our new name
Fivefold Ministry teaching series
Integrating Faith and Life - what are the questions and challenges
What does a gospel opportunity look like?
Are you Unbingoed?
Worry and Meditation
Chief Rabbi: atheism has failed. Only religion can defeat the new barbarians
Mike Breen blogs on Missional Communities
Connecting Christianity to your work place
Going beyond bible reading as a duty
What does it mean to Love God?
Why it is vital to think about what God is like
Introverts and Missional Communities
What if your prayer life was a little bit better?
How to see spiritual openness
Apps to help you with Bible memorization
Some Old Testament Readings in the lead up to Easter
Don't take Easter at the one speed
eBook:Discover your mission now
A Dallas Willard Conversation
When will you memorize some more Scripture?
Some important missional questions
Expect the Unexpected: Discovering the Wonder of God in Your Workplace
'Our Father' - unpacking the significance
Spiritual Lessons from our Cat
Preparation for the Partnership
3 simple things for our downtime
Abide and Obey
Exciting Partnership with Syndal Baptist in 2013
Christmas - are you too busy ending the year?
'I'm going through a busy period......'
Impromptu Discipleship
People cant' imitate intentions - Ben Sternke
5 features of Oikos
Web Wanderings - some interesting articles from the net
Don't let your God moments be momentary
A missional question for Christians
Some sermons on open homes
Practices of the first church
Lifeshapes - introductions
Missional Discipleship Questions - they are better than answers
Bono Interview: Grace over Karma
Renewing our approach to corporate worship
Discipleship - who is imitating you?
Living a Missional Lifestyle
Living from the source
Mike Breen - Mission to Movement
Is spending time with God the most relaxing thing you can do?
Discipleship for people who are not yet Christians
'One of' - excerpt on incarnational mission
Napkin Discipleship
Invitation and Challenge - the valley of discouragement
Invitation and Challenge
Living the Jesus life
Interpreting the images of Revelation - more or less!
Revelation and the Old Testament
Revelation and the 144,000
Developing Missional Communities in the real world
The place and importance of Revelation
The High Christology of the book of Revelation
A bit of the St Thomas' Sheffield storyWe have been greatly blessed through our connection with St T
Missional Communities and Discipleship Workshop - video links
An Overview of what God is doing
Simply Jesus
Thought provoking blogs on church, family, discipleship and volunteering
Christmas article in 'The Age'
Research on attitudes towards religion and Christianity in 21st Century Australia
Heresy and the Islamic view of Christianity
A Summary of various Heresies
Hearing God - Dallas Willard
Memorable Christian moments
How to love your neighbour as yourself
Different sorts of Heresy
Blogs I'm reading
The development of Heresy
Have you grown up on Paul's letters? - here are some videos from NT Wright
3dm's Core Discipling and Mission books now in ebook format
Heresy, Faith and Belief
Alex Absalom/Rivertree - Launching missional communities
What is heresy?
Moving to a new rhythm of church
Books to stretch our thinking - Heresy
The Paul we think we know
Discipleship in our whole life
Discipleship is a vital core of missional communities
Pilgrimage 2011 audio recordings
Living out the Bible today
Those Days, Those Ways
Picking and Choosing
The Bible as Story
Bible Reading Short Cuts
Some articles about Harold Camping
Thinking about the bible
Being Human and the importance of relationships
Resurrection in the Old Testament
Church success and failure
The Cross that Morphs - from JesusCreed
1 Cor 11:17-14:33 Gatherings
Our first Learning Community
It all begins with 'Our Father'
Worship is Astonished Reverence
Discipleship Statistics
Loving God with all your mind
Good stuff about missional communities from Mike Breen
What Church is, What church isn't
Christmas and Theology
Missional Communities - video clips
Missional communities - genuine friends
Missional Communities - getting involved
Missional Communities - Discipleship
Missional Communities - Spaces
Stand Outs in the Gospel of John
Missional Communities - Alex Absalom
Giving and receiving encouragement
The Gospel of John
Keeping it Real-ational
The fourth 'R'
Working towards a greater vision for your children
Do you have a greater vision for your children?
Why Philip is an inspiration
Another way to use the psalms
Does your life prevent deep and abiding friendships?
Understanding the Psalms - Ps 88
Reading the Psalms
Simplicity leading to diversity
Spiritual Questions
A reflection on Pilgrimage 2010
Character and Power / Accountability and Risk
Thoughts on Loving your enemies - part 4
Thoughts on Loving your enemies - part three
Thoughts on loving your enemies - part two
Thoughts on Loving your Enemies - part one
Leadership Lessons from the dancing guy
Real learning and maturity
The power of habits
 Consuming 'Church' without change
Don't be robbed of your Burning Heart Birthright
The Resurrection
Reading the Gospels - Mark in 2Q10
Atheist convention follow up
Response to the Global Atheist Convention
Our Strategy
The Christian Life and AFL
Christianity and Sport
Reading the Gospels
Some more food for your mind
A sermon on the incarnation from Dallas Willard
The blessing of the same old Christmas
Jesus and Abraham
Doing nothing with God
Mark 16:9-20 discussion - condemnation
Mark 16:9-20 discussion - signs.
Escaping the Christian Ghetto - If I can anyone can!
Next time you see an advertisement ask yourself, “What vision of life is this trying to create in me
'One more question' - the power of learning from and sharing a Kairos
An inspiring story of local mission
The trouble with images
The Joy of Obedience?
The dark side of bible reading
John Ortberg Video
Discipleship Triangles
Overcoming Evil with Good
Parenting is Simple
Octagon - the mission Lifeshape
The Tangible Kingdom - four practices
Do you treat contempt with contempt?
The Tangible Kingdom
Breakout - Holy Spirit and Revival
Breakout - mission shaped communities
Was Jesus ever angry?
Mission Focused Groups
Father Abraham song
 Personality or Character (part 2)?
Personality or Character?
Knowledge, Belief, Commitment and Profession
Sheffield Conference 2009
Spiritual Gifts - one or many?
A new link to Floyd McClung's blog
The riches of the Lord's prayer
A blog with entries about lifeshapes
N.T Wright on the Resurrection
Bible - big picture and the detail - what have you been reading?
Lily Allen and Ecclesiastes
Some articles for Easter
Invitation to a Journey - part 5
Love and Desire - confusing language
Those with no religion are fastest growing group in the US
Invitation to a Journey - part 4
Familiarity and Contempt
Invitation to a Journey - part 3
Practical Wisdom
  40 days of prayer and fasting from 25/2-4/4
Invitation to a Journey - part 2
 Recovering the power of Laments
Invitation to a Journey - insights from a book on spiritual
 An interesting article on Christianity in Africa
Jesus and the Father
 12 Words of Christmas
  Drive Through Christmas
Head, Heart and Hands
  Here is an interesting article from Mark Sayers
The four big questions and the Lord's Prayer
Christian Hope in a Confusing World
A prayer for filling with the Holy Spirit
What is eternal life?
My prayer for each of you - Dallas Willard
Discipleship Deferred?
Everything Jesus Said to Do - reflections on some specific a
A short prayer for Christians in a consumer society
Theology and Race
The Power of the Cross
Generosity in an economic downturn?
Discipleship Geometry
10 Tips on Mission from Matthew 10
Top 7 Christian websites
Do people really believe these verses?
Australia's folk religion
Consumerist Spirituality
Hyperreality - not just an issue for young adults
An 11:14 meeting - ideas for the missing middle!
Exploring the richness of the Psalms
Reggie McNeal talks about the future of the church
The missing middle
Stop Look Listen - reflecting on on the first half of 2008
Sheffield Conference - day 4
Sheffield Conference - day 3
Sheffield Conference - Day Two
Sheffield Conference - Day One
Hopes for Sheffield conference
The next step
The hiddenness of god
4 Ways the Spirit Fills Us
Lifeshapes - why and what?
Discussing Difficult Bible Passages
Rethinking the beatitudes (part 2)
Rethinking the beatitudes - what are they all about?
A real relationship with jesus (part 2)
A Real relationship with Jesus
A critical condition for growth - being real
Dallas Willard Resources
The circle lifeshape - learning from life
Worship God All week long
Worship Wonderings
Everything Jesus Said to Do
3 steps to abiding in Christ
I'm back for 2008 - January recap
Unwinding Song Lyrics
The eleventh commandment
Church at its Best
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David Wanstall, 01/05/2015


Great story about someone's experience of Christians living out their life

book cover

This is an article that was published on The Age's website:

Dave O'Neil: It's not cool - don't judge a book by its cover dude

It describes his experience of coming across an unlikely group of people who turned out to be followers of Jesus and what happened when they offered to pray for him.

David Wanstall, 15/04/2015


When I grow up get to the nursing home, I want to be .....

zimmer frame small

What sort of person do you want to be when you get to the nursing home?  Many of us think about what we want to be or do when we grow up, but one day, if we get old enough we will find ourselves in a nursing home (or its equivalent).  So, what is your vision for when you get there?  Many of the go to answers don't apply:

  • I want this sort of job ....... you will be retired
  • I want to have more children ..... highly unlikely
  • I want to travel the world ..... you will be less able to do that
  • I want to meet lots of new people ..... that will probably tire you out
  • I want to have a nice garden ....... only if others do the work
The answer to this question has to be framed much more around the sort of people we are rather than the sorts of things we do.

I have thought a bit about this question and here are some of my thoughts:

I want to be a person:
  • who has a strong and constant awareness of God being with me
  • who has a rich and effective prayer life that helps those inside and outside the walls of the nursing home
  • who is full of joy even in the midst of difficult situations and declining health
  • who is able to consistently show love and care to other residents and staff so they feel like they have been blessed
  • who is able to share with people of a variety of ages some of the wisdom I have gained from following Jesus through my life.
So I guess I had better cooperate with God now on those things because I won't be able to flip a switch and turn those qualities on when I get there.

What about you?

photo credit: Ghost Zimmer via photopin (license)  

David Wanstall, 08/04/2015


To Be List

to be list

Many of us have TO DO lists.  Some who are more organised will have detailed lists with priorities and due dates.  Others will  freely move from one task to the next one that comes to mind.  However there is something more iimportant than a TO DO list and that is a TO BE list - a list of the sort of person you want to become.

A TO BE list is more important and more powerful because:

  1. A TO DO list is limited by the circumstances around you, the resources available etc.
  2. A TO DO list is always focused on things that are temporary - the house you build will one day fall down, the hair you do will get messed up by the wind, the money you make will be spent or inherited by others.....
  3. A TO BE list isn't limited by the circumstances around you
  4. A TO BE list is focused on who you are becoming for eternity.
1 Corinthians 13 is a powerful contrast between a TO BE list and a TO DO list.

What is on your TO BE List?  We all have one, even if the only item on it is - I don't want to be anyone in particular.

Don't make a big long list - keep it short so you can keep focused.  You can always add items later.

I want TO BE permeated by love
I want TO BE consistently joyful in GOD
I want TO BE full of contentment

Then remember that making progress on your TO BE list always starts continues and ends with God: God's presence, God's grace, and God's action in your life.    Ask God for help and then humbly cooperate with what God says and does paying particular attention to the moments and events of your own life - that is where you will find God at work.

photo credit: To Do List Chalkboard via photopin (license)  


David Wanstall, 01/04/2015


A key competency to learn - mission in mid sized groups

mission rapids
Becoming like Christ involves growth in knowledge of the CONTENT of the Christian Faith, the CHARACTER of Jesus,  as well as the COMPETENCIES of  Jesus.  This area of competencies is often overlooked but the gospels are full of them.  One of these competencies is being able to mission in mid sized groups (these are often called missional communities).  Jesus doing mission in this way is described in Lluke 8:1-3

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out;  Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

You will notice

  • there was at least 16 of them (mid sized groups are typically 15-40)
  • they were on mission - not just hanging out together
  • the group was made up of all sorts of people
  • people made different contributions as they were able
If this sort of mission was important to Jesus and the first disciples, it must be important for us as well - these verses aren't just fillers between the incident in the Pharisee's house (Luke 7:36-50) and the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4ff).

So how can we learn this competency:
  1. Read books and articles about missional communities (mid sized groups on mission)
  2. Talk to people who know about missional communities
  3. See if you can join a missional community for a period of time (or at the very least visit one).  This is a vital part of learning - just like an apprentice plumber or surgeon will accompany an expert plumber or surgeon and not just rely on reading books or attending lectures.
  4. Think and pray about a missional vision that God might give you and others and start your own (make sure you are connected to a larger group for accountability, training and support)
  5. Have a go, continually reflect on how you are going - what works and what doesn't- and then make adjustments.   Its is how you get better at anything!!!

photo credit: IMG_1274 via photopin (license)

David Wanstall, 24/03/2015


How can I 'Seek first the Kingdom of God'?

seek first

When Jesus is teaching his disicples about not worrying (Matt 6:25-34) he tells them to seek first the Kingdom of God.

But how do we do that?  I think Col 3:1-4 breaks that down into some clear steps:

1.  Since you have been rasied with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

It always starts with what God as done - being raised with Christ.  Then we need to set our hearts to be in alignment with God's reign as revealed in Jesus Christ.  To set our hearts means to set our wills, or in other words to determine that we are going to make choices that align with what Jesus Christ wants.  The best place to start is with the next choice you make - the next task at work, the conversation you are about to have, the way you drive to the shops .....  Then move to the next choice.

Look to develop a habit with all your choices. This habit will probably take some time to develop, so one thing you might like to do either just before bed or first thing in the morning, is to think through your activities for the day and ask God to help you align your choices with His kingdom.

2.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things

Our minds are made up of our thoughts and feelings.  If we just try and align our wills with God's will while leaving our existing patterns of thought and feeling in place, we will quickly fail.  We need to ask God to help us think and feel about the situations in our lives, the way God thinks and feels about those situations.  When we think about people, possessions, difficulties, lack, abundance the way God does, we will find it much easier to make  choices aligned with God's kingdom.  Again the best place to start is with the next situation you are going in to.  Ask God to help you think and feel about the situation the way He does.

Sometimes we can be unsure about how to think and feel about a particular situation, and in those cases it can help to read more of the life of Jesus in the Gospels or ask a Christian who you think might have some insight into that area.

3.  For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Embrace the fact that seeking first the Kingdom is a whole new way of life, not some minor adjustments to our current lives.  It is a life that is more concerned about internal and eternal realities rather than external appearance.

4.  When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

It is a life freed from the need to seek our '15 minutes of fame', or the passing glory of success or approval.  It is a life filled with the joy and peace that comes from basking in the radiant glory of Jesus.


David Wanstall, 17/03/2015


Apologetics - it is not a cage match!


In 1 Peter 3:15 it says 'But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.'

This year we are encouraging people to grow in three aspects of Discipleship:

Content: Our knowledge of the Bible, theology, Christian History
Character: Being the sort of person Jesus was
Competency: Being able to do the sorts of things Jesus did.

One area that comes under the Content and Competency is the category is apologetics.  Content because we need to know how to explain Christianity and help people with difficulties and questions.  Competency because we should seek to address the content issues in the manner of Jesus, Peter and Paul.

Apologetics is about helping people resolve issues of doubt.  As such it is for everyone - Christians and non Chritians, young and old.  It isn't just for the academics and philosophers.  We need to learn to 'lovingly address - even welcome honest doubts and questions'.  If we just try to avoid the doubts and questions, they won't go away.

A great place to start is by acknowledging and beginning to work through (with others as required) our own doubts and questions as they arise.  That gives people permission and provide models for working through their own doubts and questions. 

An important next step is to access the wisdom and experience of those who have wrestled with many of the same questions as us.  This can be through personal contact and through reading other's writings.  We don't have to start from scratch.


In the preface to Dallas Willard's book "The allure of gentleness: defending the faith in the manner of Jesus", Rebecca Willard Heatley writes:

Today apologetics has become something of a cage match revolving around proofs of God's existence and involvement in the world.  it has become a harsh battleground for the intelligent design-versus-Darwinism debate and other hot button religioun-versus-science arguments.  What's lost in today's "apologetics" is to gently and lovingly address - even welcome - the honest doubts and questions that burden believers' faith.

Here are three quotes from Dallas's book that I think can help us from falling into a cage match (a reference to professional wrestling) mentality:

When we do the work of apologetics, we do it as disciples of Jesus - and therefore we are to do it in the manner in which he would do it.  This means, above all, that we do it to help people, and especially those who want to be helped.  This is how all of Jesus's work is characterized in scripture.  Apologetics is a helping ministry......

What does it mean that we are to be characterized by gentleness?  To begin with, it means being humble.  Love will purge us of any desire to merely win as well as of intellectual self-righteousness and contempt for the opinions and abilities of others.....

So the call to "give an account" is, first, not a call to beat unwilling people into intellectual submission, but to be the servant of those in need....

May we learn to engage in apologetics with both the wisdom and spirit of Christ.

photo credit: What's the point? via photopin (license)

David Wanstall, 11/03/2015


Weeds of the Flesh and Fruit of the Spirit

weeds fruit

The Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 are well known to many - Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness .....etc.  But what is not often recognized is that in many of the places in the New Testament where positive characteristics of Christlikeness (Fruit of the Spirit) are mentioned, Weeds of the Flesh are also mentioned.  These include Galatians 5, Colossians 3 and the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.

Gardender know you need to do two things to have a sustainably fruitful garden - Remove the Weeds and Nurture the Fruit.  It is very hard to grow good fruit in a garden overrun by weeds BUT it is also easier to keep the weeds down when  a garden is full of healthy fruit bearing plants.

Sometimes we want to grow in the Fruit of the Spirit - say Love or Joy, but we forget to cooperate with God in the removal of weeds that limit or prevent that fruit.  It is hard to be loving when you are full of anger and contempt.  It is hard to be joyful when you are full of envy and greed. 

But it is also true that when we have the fruit of joy, the weed of envy is also much less likely to grow.

Growth in Christlikeness is a process of SUBTRACTION AND ADDITION.

If you have just focussed on nurturing a particular fruit, ask God to show you how this can be enhanced by removing specific weeds.

If you have just tried to eliminate certain weeds, ask God to show you how this can be enhanced by nurturing specific Fruits of the Spirit.

photo credit: Dandelions via photopin (license)


David Wanstall, 04/03/2015


A key competency for disciples - relying on Kingom resources


In the feeding of the 5000, Jesus challenges the disciples to give the crowd something to eat.  Now giving people things to eat is a normal, everyday activity that most of us can accomplish (with varying degrees of culinary expertise).  In this instance, Jesus was trying th help the disciples learn that when they are seeking the Kingdom of God first,  in the midst of ordinary activities, they could rely on Kingdom resources to bring outcomes incomensurate with the human input.

Here is a great quote from a book about Dallas Willard:

I'd left my office frustrated beyond belief from trying to transition from my beloved Compuserve account to Microsoft Outlook.  No matter how I configured Outlook, it didn't work.  I was in tears.  I packed up my recording gear and headed to Casa Willard (Becky Heatley's name for Dallas and Jane's house).  My editor had instructed me to specifically ask this question: What does it mean to be "ravished" by the kingdom of God?  When I asked, Dallas spoke of the availability of the kingdom of God right here and now.

Then he paused and drew a picture for me with words:  "Let's say I'm a plumber going to clean out someone's sewer.  You stay attentive to what you're doing at the moment.  You ask, How will I do this as Jesus would do this?" (I knew he did his family's plumbing so I could picture him clothed as a plumber.)  Another pause.

"If you encounter difficulties with people you're serving, or with the pipe or machinery, you never fight that battle alone." (Now I could see myself in my front yard looking at a hole in the ground with a broken mainline water pipe, almost in tears.)  "You invoke the presence of God," Dallas said.  "You expect to see something happen that is not a result of you!" Another pause.

"If you train yourself to thank God when these 'coincidences' happen, you'll see them as patterns in your life.  The crucial thing is to be attentive to God's hand, not to get locked into thinking: It's me and this pipe!  Never do that." Another pause.

Then he gave me one of his intense looks and said, "It's never just you and the pipe, Jan."  I repeated back, "It's never just me and the pipe."  In my mind I continued, It's never just me and Outlook.

From Eternal Living: Reflections on Dallas Willard's teaching on Faith and Formation (edited by Gary W. Moon)


David Wanstall, 24/02/2015


G.R.O.W. as a disciple

three leg stool

Recently we have been reflecting on being deliberate in seeking to grow as disciples of Jesus this year.

There are three areas we need to grow in:

Content: Our knowledge of the Bible, theology, Christian History
Character: Being the sort of person Jesus was
Competency: Being able to do the sorts of things Jesus did.

God wants to grow us in all three areas this year.  But you may identify one area which may require specific focus, where one of the 'legs' is shorter.

I encourage you to think and pray about specific goals for each area this year:

Your goal might be to read some of the books in the bible you haven't read before, or to explore some of the core theology of Christianity, or to read some Christian history.......

Your goal might be to become less angry, more joyful, less judgmental, more gracious ......

Your goal might be to learn to disciple the way Jesus did, or to learn how to go on mission the way Jesus did, or to learn how to pray for people who are sick.....

Whatever your goals, the G.R.O.W. acronym will be helpful:

God is the source - all growth starts from God, is enabled by God and is sustained by God.
Recognize opportunities to grow as a disciple through events in your life or through resources that you access.
Open yourself to the truth of God's kingdom - not just intellectual recognition of truth but a heart decision to let it impact your life
Walk and begin to live in this truth and expect God's Spirit to be with you enabling you to do it.


David Wanstall, 17/02/2015



Hi I'm David Wanstall
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