Who I Am, and Why I’m Here

Cartoon Profile PicI have to confess, talking about myself doesn’t come naturally. One of the earliest pieces of advice about Christian ministry I ever received (so early that at the time I didn’t know exactly what it meant or why it mattered so much) was this: ‘The best Christian leaders are the ones who tell you about Jesus, not about themselves.’ That simple tip has stuck with me and, I hope, served me well. I feel like I’m about to break that rule.

Still, I suspect it will help me – and perhaps some of my readers – to be clear on why I actually spend time blogging. And my WordPress blogging tutorial says I’m supposed to do it. So, this is me:

First and foremost, I’m a Christian. This is slightly old-fashioned of me, but I believe the Bible is God’s word to his world. I believe that every word of the Bible is true, and that what it says about Jesus is true – namely, that he is the one and only way that rebels like me (and you) can be reconciled to the God who made us. I believe that through his death in my place, and through his bodily resurrection, Jesus secures the forgiveness I need, he offers a certain hope that transforms my life now, and he has granted me an eternal inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. Wanna know more?

Second, God has blessed me with a beautiful wife, Liz, and three lovely children – Johanna (9), Will (7½) and Tom (almost 5). Trying my best to be a godly husband and father teaches me lots about life, more about my own shortcomings, and even more about the incredible grace of God.

I was born and bred in Sydney, but now live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I trained at Moore College in Sydney from 2004 to 2007, have pastored churches in Sydney and Christchurch, and currently have the privilege of serving as Staff Worker with the University of Canterbury Christian Union. I get to help lead and serve a fantastic group of students by teaching them the Bible in a range of settings, and partnering with them as we seek to reach our campus with the Bible’s life-changing news about Jesus. It’s an awesome job, and one that I hope and pray will be of great strategic value in seeing New Zealand (and maybe even the whole South Pacific region) reached with the gospel. (CU is also part of a terrific national movement called TSCF, which in turn is connected to an international student ministry called IFES.)

I also spend some of my time as a freelance ‘commissioning editor’ with Matthias Media, helping to shape and edit a range of books and Bible studies. And if you’re interested in this kind of thing, I also love the Chicago Bulls (and all things NBA), The West Wing (see below), reading, board games, and finding any way I can to spend time with my family.

So, why exactly am I here? Why spend precious time blogging when there are so many ministry opportunities on campus and so many other good ways to use my time? When I first started pondering this question, I was tempted to answer like this:

But then, I figured, there must be some actual reasons that I spend time working on all this. Here’s what I came up with – I think the first and last reasons on this list are the most important.

To help you take every thought captive
The name of this blog comes from 2 Corinthians 10:5 and summarises a big part of my goals for almost everything I write: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” I’m not claiming I can personally do all that, but perhaps ETC can make a small contribution. In every part of life (not least the time we spend online), we’re bombarded with ideas that take us away from God’s word, or that tempt us to segregate our Christian faith to the fringes of life. But God cares deeply about everything we say, do, or think – and every sphere of life presents an opportunity to serve and glorify him. If this blog can help people to think a bit more clearly about what that might look like, it’s well worth the effort.

It fits my background
You might not be able to tell, but before heading off to Bible college, I trained as a journalist and worked in the media for several years, including four years as Journalist (and later Editor) of Southern Cross. It makes sense to keep my hand in at writing, and to keep trying to use my training and experience in a useful way.

The more I preach, the more I want to write
When I first started preaching semi-regularly (about 12 years ago), I had to work very hard to make sure my talks weren’t just articles being read aloud. I had spent years writing almost every day, and transitioning to the spoken word took real effort. Now, a decade later, I’m engaged in regular public speaking almost every week, and it comes much more naturally. But I don’t spend nearly as much time writing these days. Frankly, I just want to keep my hand it at writing, and blogging is an obvious way to do it.

The marketplace of ideas
So many of us (in particular, the university students I live and work amongst) spend an awful lot of our time online. In many ways, it’s the 21st century marketplace of ideas. True, it’s a very noisy, distracted and confused marketplace, with a million ideas fluttering past every day, clamouring for their piece of your consciousness. I’m just one little voice tucked away in Middle Earth. But if the gospel about Jesus is the one idea that can change the world far more than any other, it needs to be proclaimed as often as possible. As one of my heroes, Toby Ziegler, once said: “The world can move, or not, by changing some words.” That’s absolutely true, but Toby wasn’t even talking about the most powerful words of all – the very words of God.

It’s heartbreaking to see how few Kiwis and Aussies appreciate the rich Christian heritage that continues to underpin their society and provide them with safe, prosperous lives. It’s tragic to see the (sometimes willful) ignorance that unbelievers have towards Christianity – assuming they know what it says, assuming they can safely reject it (‘my friend read some of the Bible, and she told me it was stupid’) while really having no clue what it’s about. But perhaps the greater tragedy is when Christians drink the same secularising Kool-Aid and lose touch with the Bible’s rich resources for every part of life. ETC is my attempt to provide one tiny voice calling people back to Jesus, back to the Bible, back to the one true source of hope for a desperately needy world.

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