From the keyboard of David Wanstall

Often we only read the bible in small bite size pieces. While, meditating on small portions of the bible is valuable, a bible binge can help us get a wider perspective.
Here is a recording of a sermon by Dallas in his home church from Christmas in 2007. There is a lot to ponder in this sermon.
In this series of blog posts, we will explore the theme of Temple throughout the bible, and look at four ways it can help us in our everyday discipleship.
We are encouraging people to watch/read the Easter accounts in the four gospels in the lead up to Easter.
I encourage you to reflect on 2020 and see if you can identify some spiritual bright spots. These will be simple practices you observed in yourself or others that had surprising benefits.
During July, I would like to challenge you to pray the Lord's Prayer three times a day - they can become pools of prayer that help us grow in the With God Life.
I hope this song will help embed the Aaronic Blessing in your soul. But more than that, I hope that for the rest of your life you will regularly bless other people with it.
This pruning is an opportunity for us to connect with God and reflect on our pre-shutdown lives. If we just spring back to life as it was, we may miss an opportunity for spiritual growth and greater fruitfulness.
This year we are encouraging everyone in our church to 'give up ignoring God' for Lent by using these 40 days to Cultivate a more Consistent Awareness of Christ with us.
In Matthew 10 Jesus gives his 12 disciples instructions before he sends them out on mission. In his usual vivid style, Jesus uses 5 animals to help them and us remember key points about how to approach mission.
We often get caught up in the tyranny of the next thing. But it is important and valuable to look back and to remember. I encourage you to look through this list of topics we have covered in Sunday sermons this year.
Psalm 119:58 says 'I have sought your face with all my heart' and to 'seek God's face' appears in Christian songs and prayers. It is a spiritual sounding phrase, and yet we probably haven't thought about how we might do it.
External pressures and internal vulnerabilities can conspire together to keep us from a life of real rest that leads to fruitful work.
I think praying about our own spiritual growth is something that we should do on a daily basis. Here are some reasons and some steps to take.
Some spiritual reflections from being out in nature on a recent holiday
God originally created humans to rule over the world (Gen 1). Humans' performance in this regard is mixed, but more than any other creature, we have the capacity to influence and shape this world.
God created humans in his image (Gen 1) and at a deep level we are carriers of Gods' image. But it only takes a bit of introspection to realise there are many parts of our lives that are currently not like God. However...
God's original intention for humans was that we would live with God (Gen 1-3) but we became disconnected. We can be confident that God will succeed in fixing this because the With God Life is a major feature of the new creation in Rev 21-22.
To grow as Christians, we need to grow in Content (what we know), Character (how we behave), and Competency (what we can do). Here are two podcasts that provide great content.
Some reflections on the biblical rhythm of Rest and Work along with a link to an article about "Why Being Lazy is Actually Good for You"
We often get caught up in the tyranny of the next thing. But it is important and valuable to look back and to remember. I encourage you to look through this list of topics we have covered in Sunday sermons this year.
Exaltation, Reflection, Adoration, Consummation, and Commission are five elements that can enhance our worship.
When we are Disconnected from God our Desires come to Dominate us. As we reconnect to God we need to Dethrone our Desires from that place of Domination. And that involves our wills and us making choices for good and for God with God's help.
The first step into a life without lack involves how we relate to God in trust and reliance. The next step into a life without lack involves how we relate to ourselves and it involves 'death to self'.
In Chapter 5 of Life without Lack, Dallas Willard looks at the story of Job and unpacks how Job’s faith develops through his experiences.
Psalm 23 gives us a picture of a life without lack. But if you are anything like me, you will ask - is that sort of abundant life really a possibility for me? in my complicated life? with all my issues?
If you want to get better at hearing God, the next thing to do is practice. We need to practice what we've learned rather than continually look for more information.
Humans communicate in a rich variety of ways. Obviously we speak to each other. But we also use lots of other modes. It is similar with God.
There are two reasons to get better at hearing God: God speaks to us about our relationship with God, and God speaks to us to for the strengthening, encouragement and comfort of others (1 Cor 14:3)
We see in Mark 1:11-12 that Jesus heard his Father - his Father affirmed Jesus' identity as His Son, and through the Spirit he was sent into the wilderness. So it follows that an important part of copying Jesus is learning to hear God.
I’ve been challenged by David’s idea of memorising an entire chapter of Mark this year. David has given us one idea of how to do it. There might however be some people who need other ideas for learning from memory.
We form our sense of identity from those around us. But God always intended that the strongest source of our identity should come from our relationship with Him.
When we start thinking about a life without lack, we might automatically begin thinking about a life free from trouble, difficulty, or suffering where you always have lots of money, a nice house, a good car and a good job......
When I was a child, sometimes during church services I would look at the hymn book and count the number of words in the hymns we were singing. I don't do that any more but I still count when I go to church.
Some time last year I read an article on the web looking at the involvement of families in children’s sport in the USA and comparing it to church involvement.
Our theme at church this year is COPY. For us to live a with, like, and for Jesus life, we need to copy Jesus and copy people who copy Jesus. So this Lent we are encouraging everyone in our church to spend 40 days copying Dallas who copied Jesus.
We learn how to do all the important things in life by copying others. We copy how others tie their shoe laces, plait ponytails, kick footballs, shoot netballs, drive cars, and do brain surgery. It is no different in becoming more like Jesus.
Mark Chapter One is our theme bible passage for this year. It is like a beautiful diamond with many different facets. We are going to be returning to this passage across the year to unpack many of its riches.
We all like to meet important people first hand and if we can't we like to speak to people who have had the opportunity to meet them.
We are in a season of rest and abiding as a church. But it can sometimes seem to pass by so quickly and we don't feel like we have really rested or abided. In this post I want to explore the significance of stopping.
Since we will experience crises in our lives it is wise for us to do some stress testing - to think about what difficulties we might experience and how they could negatively impact our Christian lives.
One of the keys to becoming more like Jesus is cultivating thankfulness to God. To build a life permeated by thankfulness, we need to give thanks regularly. But what can we give thanks for?
When we read the poetry sections in Isaiah, we might be puzzled by the lack of rhyms that are much more prominent in English poetry. Rather than rhymes, hebrew poetry is typically structured around 'parallelisms',
This year, we are focusing on three words to help us in our Christian lives - WITH, LIKE and FOR.... half way through the year, here is a refresher PLUS a bonus exercise you might like to try
Last Sunday our church had a fantastic Brunch. It was an important time of togetherness over food. But it was also an opportunity for us to experience the genius of mid sized groups.
As we read and preach through the book of Isaiah, it might be helpful to keep in mind the following framework:
This week we are starting a teaching series on the Book of Isaiah. Our hope is that during this series you will gain a deeper appreciation for this amazing book and will recognize ways in which it speaks to us today.
Aaron Keyes leads a ministry called 10,000 Fathers. He gave a great talk at the 2017 Worship Together Conference and while it was delivered in a worship conference setting it is actually a great teaching about discipleship.
As we look forward to Pentecost this Sunday and we are asking God to fill us afresh with His Spirit, here is a reminder of 7 points about waiting on God from the recent sermon "The weightiness of waiting":
You don't hear this phrase of exasperation used as much anymore but maybe you can recall yourself or someone else using it when something silly or frustrating happened....
God wants us to encounter Him, He wants us to encourage one another, and He wants us to engage with the community around us. But sometimes we can get so caught up in encountering, encouraging, engaging that we forget to enjoy God.
A few days ago, one of our daily readings was from Psalm 42:5 - Why, my soul, are you downcast?...Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him. It reminded me of some advice from 'Soul Keeping' by John Ortberg about speaking to our souls.
One of the most widely read books about living the With God Life is "The Practice of the Presence of God". Here are some quotes that might inspire you to read the book.
Our 'With God' lives can only happen in our actual lives. If we wait until our lives are less hectic, more ordered, less painful, more successful, more simple, more dramatic, less dramatic etc etc - we could be waiting a long time
One of the most widely read books about living the With God Life is "The Practice of the Presence of God". Here are some quotes that might inspire you to read the book.
If all it took to help people become like Jesus was attending church services, our country would be full of people who are barely indistinguishable from Jesus!
Earlier this week, our daily readings ( included Acts 26:15-27. This reading is part of Paul's testimony before King Agrippa. Many rich reflections come from this short passage.
This year we are encouraging people to use three simple words to help them in their Christian life - WITH, LIKE, FOR.
As we start a new year it is always good to refresh and refocus. John 1:1-18 and Luke 10 are a great place to start.
Mary plays a crucial role in birth of Jesus. Her openness and receptivity to the work of God is remarkable and inspiring
In our always on, always connected, always moving to the next thing lives, it is easy to lose the art of true resting.
Worship is central to the Christian life. Understanding how we can progress through worship will help us become better worshippers.
In the lead up to Christmas I have been reflecting more on the life of Jesus and how he expertly balanced the three relationships - with his Father (Up), with the disicples (In), and with the world around him (Out).
The second season in the life of this church changed their world. We are aiming to follow their example.
On our equip Sunday in October we ran training tracks to help us with our Christian lives. Here are some resources from those tracks.
Chris and Peter are two members of our congregation who have had long journeys with illness. I have asked them to reflect on a number of questions about non-healing and their answers are below.
Below are some thoughts about how we should respond to the healings that people received in our service last Sunday. The focus of these thoughts is on the healings and the importance of us responding to them in significant ways.
As we recognise, name and express gratitude for the good things in our lives, we are recognising how God's grace has been active in our lives. (grace is much more than forgiveness although it wonderfully includes it)
Over the last few weeks I have been regularly reading and reflecting on Revelation Chapters 4 and 5. These chapters provide a glimpse of what it is like in heaven 'at the moment'. They describe worship of God in vivid imagery.
Have you ever noticed our humans almost always tend to gather together in teams.  It appears to be a deep human trait..... Communities that have purpose outside themselves have a depth and richness that communities without that outward focus usually lack
I think most Christians understand that is important for Christians to be engaged in mission of some sort. However, it is something we tend to outsource to others - overseas missionaries, visiting evangelists, paid ministers, or church programs.
I think the church has sometimes defaulted to a classroom mode of developing people through sermons, classes and courses.  In the process we have often settled for the TRANSFER OF INFORMATION and fallen short of the TRANSFORMATION OF LIVES.
I think we sometimes unconsciously change the phrase 'PERSONAL relationship with God' to INDIVIDUAL relationship with God'. We live in a culture that prizes individuality and autonomy and so 'personal' often unconsciously translates to 'private'.
I think one of the great hinderances to growth in our Christian walk is BEING BLASÉ - being indifferent in our responses to the ways we encounter God and the ways God speaks to us.
Over the next few blog posts I will be looking at six questions about our Christian lives that are good for us to think about regularly. Reflecting on them can help provide shape and direction to the three dimensions of our Christian lives.
In my sermon from Romans 8 titled 'Nothing can separate you from the love of God' I referred to stories from two books. These stories illustrated the two ways we can be convinced of things - information and personal experience.
Discipleship and Mission can sometimes seem to be difficult and complicated. That is why I am always on the look out for simple and repeatable practices that can be a great help.
In direct correspondence to the 10 plagues, the books of Exodus and Numbers, record 10 instances where the Israelites put God to the test by not believing what God had said, by being disobedient, and by grumbling and complaining.
From these verses and the example of Jesus, From the bible we learn that discipleship should happen in the regular events of life. We shouldn’t rely just on services, programs or even training events.
One category of Psalms, that aren't often referred to are Psalms of Lament. But since our lives are full of downs as well as ups, it is important that we become familiar with these Psalms.
We think it is important that as Christians we follow the words, works and WAYS of Jesus. When we look at the Gospels, we see a vital part of what Jesus did was have meals with people.
On our site, we regularly publish blog post and sermons but when you look for a particular topic, they might not be as easy to find. So we are in the process of adding relevant links to the 'Grow' section of our website.
Christians often talk about having a relationship with God. ... this can sometimes seem a bit confusing and it has the potential to become a 'stock phrase' which we can sometimes struggle to explain.
Here are some short videos by Alex Absalom. They are full of practical tips to help us be on mission with Jesus in our everyday lives. (We will add more as they are released!)
I think there is a danger that if we transfer this flattening out to Easter we miss the richness and the depth of these universally significant events. So this Easter try not to treat every day the same.
In our relationship with God, we are usually either moving closer to Him with greater openness, or moving away from him either slowly through distracted drifting or more quickly through hardening of our hearts
Last week there was a major scientific announcement that Gravity Waves had been detected for the first time. I find the science fascinating but in this post I want to link it to goodness and joy.
Effective discipleship or apprenticeship needs both information and imitation... Too often in discipling new Christians we have just relied on conveying information and omitted imitation.
The gospels record the first disciples going to ask Jesus to explain these parables on a number of occasions. Therefore it is quite natural that we should also have questions about how we should understand the parables.
The section 11:20-12:14 surrounds the famous 'come to me all you who are weary ...' verses in 11:28-30. This section as a whole can help us understand these verses in a clearer way.
Looking at Matthew 5-9 to learn from the Words, Works AND Ways of Jesus.
In this post I would like give an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) as it is authoritative teaching from Jesus about Character.
The two big themes of the bible are highlighted in both Genesis and Matthew
One thing that can make it easier to understand these books is to understand who wrote them and when they were written.
The 'Minor Prophets' are actually the last 12 books of the Old Testament. And the only reason they are called 'minor' is the length of the books when compared with the 'major' prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
?Temptations to do the wrong thing or NOT do the right thing are common to all of us. They can sometimes be difficult to overcome. In other areas of life, when we have a problem we usually go to an expert for help.
As we seek to follow Jesus in community with other people, we usually start using words that have biblical and theological significance. Sometimes we think we know what these words mean, but if we were asked to define them we might struggle.
In the last two posts I have looked at the importance of focusing on the Goodness of God in Creation and Salvation. In this post I want to look at the importance of recounting the particular goodness of God in our personal lives.
There are parts of creation that we don't experience as good - disasters, sickness, and the sin and evil that occurs between humans. This is where appreciating the second source of God's goodness is vital
Last Sunday we looked at the importance for our spiritual lives of knowing, understanding, recognizing and appreciating the Goodness of God.
Memorising verses are valuable for adults as well as children. When was the last time you memorised a bible verse?
On Sunday we looked at how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He gave them information about prayer in Luke. The Lord's prayer is the foundation of that information and such a rich resource for us today. However he continually gave them ....
Many times we can be struck by the need to be more like Christ in our Character or Competency - through reading the bible, a sermon, a converstation or even just observing someone who is like Jesus. But often we take the thought no further.....
To become more like Jesus in our Character, we have to feed the fruit of the Spirit in our lives but we also have to weed out sin. One of the important things we have to get better at is dealing with temptation - because temptation comes to all of us...
A number of years ago I was privileged to attend a two week workshop with Dallas Willard. I was recently going through some notes and thought I would share a few of them here: Spiritual Life is the life that integrates us with the Life of God...
At our church we encourage people to follow the Moravian Daily readings ( Recently Psalms 62 and 63 have been in the readings. These Psalms describe God as being psalmist's Salvation, Stronghold and Satisfaction. These aren't just ...
Here are some great blogs from various people connected with 3dm around the world.
Psalm 37:4 "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Until recently, I didn't think about delighting in God. I loved God, was committed to God, followed God, and had joy in my life. But this verse has inspired me....
This is an article that was published on The Age's website. 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....
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.....
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....
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....
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....
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.'...
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 ....
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)....
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: ....
This excerpt is challenging especiallly for those of us who may be facing great suffering now and I don't want you to experience them as harsh or condeming in any way. The first paragraph holds out the possibility of meeting God in your suffering....
Dallas pointed out to me once that there is a world of difference between being busy and being hurried. Being busy is an outward condition, a condition of the body. It occurs when we have many things to do....
Here is another excerpt from 'Soul Keeping' by John Ortberg: The Soul needs rest. In the Bible, God never gives anyone an easy job....
As I mentioned earlier, the New Testament book of James uses a fascinating word to describe this condition. It's often translated "double-minded," but the Greek word is dipsuchos - we might think of it as double souled ...
The formation of the soul is the most important process in the universe. John Keats wrote, "Call this world if you please 'The vale of soul-making.'" in our day, we talk a lot about self-talk. Apparently, that's a really important part of the human...
John Ortberg was experiencing frustration at work. He went to Dallas Willard for some advice. I think the advice applies to all of us, whether we are pastors or not because all of us are influencing people as Christians - people at church, family, ...
At Christmas six years ago art historian Gergely Barki reluctantly turned the children's movie "Stuart Little" to appease his bored daughter. Hanging on the wall in one of the scenes he saw a long lost avant-garde painting - Sleeping Lady with Black vase
Link to an online article
The next two months are often months of great contrast. December can be unusually busy with projects needing to be finished, school years coming to an end, end of year functions for work, school and a kaleidoscope of other groups, presents to purchase...
Have you ever been to an end of year concert for a dance school or a days worth of games at a local soccer club? In both places you will see beginners - usually young - running around in circles.
Here is another quote from John Ortberg's book, Soul Keeping. I am recommending this book for summer reading. We will have several copies available at church. You can also purchase kindle versions from Amazon.
This is the title of a recent book by John Ortberg. I found it really helpful and would recommend it. It seems we don't speak much about 'soul' these days - we are much more likely to talk about 'self'. I think we need to redress the balance.
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