Bluefin or Flathead

April 10, 2014 — Leave a comment
Thanks @willy_mcnee for the photo from instagram

Thanks @willy_mcnee for the photo from instagram

I’ve given this advice before, but I feel inclined to put it in a blog and distil the idea a little further. We all have the ability to go fishing. Grab a line, buy some tackle and head down to a large body of water with fish in it. In Sydney there are plenty of good places to fish so it really isn’t a hard endeavour.

Most of the time you fish of a jetty or a marina which means your choice of fish is limited. Most of the time you fish for flathead. It’s a decent fish that lives on the bottom of the ocean eating whatever manly decaying things lie in it’s way. It doesn’t have big eyes but has a great sense of smell to sniff out nasty rotten stuff.

You might even get lucky and land a big one, instagram it and let people see the big ‘ol ugly fish you landed. They can get big, but I wouldn’t say it is really an impressive feat. Catching flathead is something that takes very little effort and very little time. You can take your kids flathead finishing and maybe you get a couple of likes on instagram.

Bluefin Tuna is a different subject. To catch one of those you need to charter a boat. You need a crew

Donna Pascoe

Donna Pascoe

and you need to commit a couple of days to being out at sea to land a Bluefin. You might have to wait a long time to catch a 600-pound Tuna. You might be lucky enough to hook one, fight it for hours in the hope of landing it and have it break the line 6 hours into a battle.

To fish Bluefin you need to prepare, you need to have a game plan, you need to be patient and you need a little luck. Bluefin Tuna is a trophy fish, something that you mount and put on your wall. Bluefin Tuna is prized as an epic fighting fish and makes for amazing sushi. Nail a big one and you can sell it for thousands of dollars. It is the kind of fish that if you land people will be jealous, stories will be told and legends can be made.

Bluefin is a challenge, it requires effort and energy and few people will land one, because few people are willing to invest the effort. Many of the challenges in life are a little like making a decision to fish for Bluefin or for Flathead. When it comes to relationships, you can fish for flathead, or you could go for bluefin. You can pick up a flathead anywhere, but Tuna is going to take much longer and will be much more difficult.

Rather than take the easy option and skate through life perhaps we need to make the harder decision the one challenging audacious decision and hunt Bluefin. We can live safely in a simple faith and a reduced gospel. Or we could live audaciously in our faith under an audacious God and a transformational Gospel.

Hunt the Bluefin.

Do you remember the last time we had boot camp (National Conference) in Australia with Acts 29? December 2009 it took place, I have no clue what happened I was in the USA church planting. Perhaps somewhere in there is a lesson in patience, with no clear directive for church planting in Australia my family chose to learn abroad only to have them bring it out the following year…Acts 29 ahead of the curve!

Lesson Learned!

This time it’s back. After the dust settled and churches were launched, I was excited to learn that we are bringing our National Conference (Boot Camp!) back to Australia. This time I’m in the country, part of the network and excited to get down to bootcamp.

If you are not sure what National Conference is, here is a quick lesson. If you are thinking about church planting or wanting to get involved/be supportive in the process then you should make this event a priority. While part of the event is dedicated to assessing potential planters who would like to join the network, a major portion is designed to equip, encourage and challenge leaders and innovative people to the necessity to church planting.

Replanting, missional, community groups, mega churches whatever the approach to reaching people with the Gospel Acts 29 has the breadth and depth of leadership to help speak wisdom into that conversation.

Leading on the Front Lines is the national conference (aka the BootCamp) and it will be in Melbourne August 29-30. Guy Mason from City on a Hill in Melbourne is hosting the event and we have both Matt Chandler and Steve Timmis coming to speak at the event. Not to mention Leonce Crump II and Guy Mason! Here is the little teaser video they put together.

So why Acts 29? Well for a Global Network of church planters who work locally with multiple denominations across multiple socio-economic groups I’m hard pressed to think of a better crew. Not only that they work well with other groups like City to City and The Gospel Coalition. I was attempting to find the statistic but the A29 network has planted something like 650 churches globally. Theologically reformed there is a great deal of stylistic diversity in the association.

I’m excited to have Steve Timmis come out, who is the author of Total Church and the Global Director for A29 and a fountain of wisdom, he has also worked quite closely with Geneva Push to help encourage and support their network. We are excited to have him out again on our shores and speaking at the national event. Leonce Crump leads renovation church in a tough area of Atlanta. He is cool in his own right because he has wrestled Brock Lesnar! Matt Chandler leads the Village Church in Flower Mound and has been a great source of wisdom and insight! Guy Mason is a frantic church planter from our local shores and always has great wisdom and insight leading City on a Hill in Melbourne.

I have done 4 church planting assessments and Acts 29 is by far the most theologically rigorous and confronting assessment I’ve been through. If your serious about church planting and humble enough to let Godly men and women speak wisdom into your life this is a huge advantage for any would be planter.

I’ll be there!

Last time this happened in Australia we ended up with a bunch of new A29 affiliated churches from a bunch of different denominations all over Australia. I’m excited for the same thing again! Gospel driven churches reaching the community for Christ wherever they might be!

Not only that it is $109 for two days! Best. Deal. Ever!

You should totally sign up now….

There is an idea that has been percolating in my mind for a little while. It relates with our attitude towards circumstance and response in light of God and his plans made perfect in Christ. In a well know parable the Sermon goes overtime because in typical fashion Jesus is preaching like the best communicator on earth. Concerned for the bellies of the crowd the disciples point out the problem with the message is it left everyone hungry.

In light of the circumstance the disciples who are starting to learn pose a solution. Send everyone away a let them get some food. Jesus’ response is ‘feed them yourselves’ the issue is that the circumstance doesn’t allow them to do that. So everyone’s lunch is collected and it is the exception that creates a moment of perfection.  It is a brilliant parable in Matthew 14 that teaches us something profound.

Five Loaves and Two Fish are the exception. In light of the circumstance Jesus uses it to create a miracle teaching moment. There is a similar story in the old testament with Elijah 2 Kings 4:2 speaks to a moment of need where the exception creates a moment of perfection.

“Your servant has nothing, except a small jar of oil.”

When the conversations are done, the debts are paid and there is provision for the future.

It isn’t what you are lacking that the Lord leverages. With more time, resources and talent we might accomplish more. It is the exception that God seeks to use to breed moments of his divine perfection.

Both stories speak to a truth,

“I would do more for Jesus, except <insert excuse here>.”

…perhaps it is the insertion of your excuse that is the exception that God will use.

Only the Brave.

March 4, 2014


I wonder if we entirely miss the point about Bravery and Courage. It isn’t the absence of fear that makes an individual brave. It isn’t fearlessness that makes a person altogether courageous. If fear is the line in the sand that separates the brave and courageous from the fearful and anxious then it is our ability to assess the fear and overcome it.

Instead of absence it is assessment. The brave and courageous look at fear and decide to step over the line. They make a decision to push through the barrier of fear assess the risk and do something that regular folks perhaps wouldn’t do.

It isn’t fearlessness. I am convinced that brave and courageous people feel fear. It is their ability to assess what makes them afraid and walk right past fear. Christians aren’t called to live a life of fear. We also won’t lives lives that are absent of fear. Our decision to walk is made in light of Christ which allows us to cross over the line of fear and find that we too can be courageous and brave.

Paul encounters fearful things, but it is his understanding of Christ that allows him to move forward in the face of fear. Paul isn’t fearless but he is courageous.

To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that.  Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I.  Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.  Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.  Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea;  on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;  in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?     If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.  The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. – 2 Cor 11:12-21 (ESV)

You may not live with the absence of fear. Live with the right assessment of fear. God is greater.

The Vanguard of Mission

February 14, 2014


Not being a military expert I had to do some research on this. Essentially the Vanguard is the forward assault team in a battle. They go on ahead of the main body to do a number of things. The scout the terrain and the area. They look for suitable lodging for the army that follows. They kill off any would be potential scouts. In some instances they function like an early assault and are primarily

made up of battle hardened soldiers.

The Rear Guard is designed to protect the flank of an attacking force. They are also charged with the duty of protecting the main force when they are in retreat. Essentially they prepare the way for a speedy exit in case of eme

rgency, in the meantime they make sure there are no surprise attacks.

It would seem that the way we have been conducting mission is like the Rear Guard of a battle. With an ever shrinking population of Christians the mission from the church has been one that functions like a Rear Guard. Protect the remaining body of the army, keep our backsides covered and work on an orderly retreat.

Is the Gospel in retreat? Is the Kingdom of God being removed?

So why function like the Rear Guard? The Rear Guard are there in case of emergency they point the way to the fastest exit. Thoroughly aware of surrounds they are purely designed to play defence. It is important in a military conflict but not for sharing the Gospel of Jesus.

The Vanguard function like entrepreneurs almost. They are unaware of terrain, territory of climate. There mission is to go forward and prepare the way. They have to be bold, they have to deal with the unknown. There is no option to just play the ‘wait-and-see’ card, the Vanguard is on the move.

Do we herald the Gospel or do we announce its retreat? I wonder if our church has a thousand good points ready to defend and make a speedy retreat. We’ve become the hedgehog of society. Cute as a baby but utterly forgettable in the animal kingdom.

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. – Matthew 11:12

We have plenty of people
No longer is the Church societies moral compass glued to the True North of Christ. Instead we are moral radicals pushed to fringe of society. This is where the Vanguard operates best. It is a matter of perspective, decline doesn’t necessitate retreat. Especially if the Gospel only has one direction to move, play Rear Guard, but we are missing a strong Vanguard. The mission of the Gospel requires us to develop the ability to proclaim and live the gospel in a new culture, new context with a new political and social climate.

The Vanguard of Mission requires that we approach this conversation with a new headspace. We herald a Gospel that is moving forward, inspired and moved by the power of the Holy Spirit. Love and Truth are our weapons of choice. Humility and Grace our artillery. The Vanguard is confident in the unknown because they area prepared for the mission. Our faith is the unexpected armour that shields us.

It isn’t that the Rear Guard isn’t important, they are there for emergencies but we are moving forward, so they are a long way from the action.

Big thanks to Kyllum Lewis who is the Lead Pastor at LCC for giving me an opportunity to speak.


This was the 4th Week on the Series 20/20. It was an Australia Day message on Reconcilation.

The Great Reconciliation

Accidentally Racist

January 25, 2014


It’s confession time. A couple of weeks ago Aldi which is a discount supermarket chain in Australia released some Australia Day wear.

It was quickly removed on the heels of a Social Media outcry regarding how racist it was.

Honestly I was confused and then realised that somewhere in my education I had become accidentally racist. History taught me at school that Australia was settled by Captain Cook in 1788 when he sailed the first fleet to Australia and called the land empty and set up a British Penal Colony. So we celebrate Australia Day right because it was the day Governor Arthur Phillip sailed the first fleet and arrived in Sydney Cove.

Yet we didn’t become a Federation until Jan 1st 1901. We didn’t apologise officially to the mistreatment of the Aboriginals until Kevin Rudd did in Feb 2008. Which seems to suggest the history that I’ve been taught is quite racist. Sure Australia Day seems to have developed a little more to extend beyond the celebration of the First Fleet to include all things Australia. Sadly I still find myself accidentally racist.

Do you celebrate Australia Day even though it falls on a day reflecting over 200 years of racial abuse? Do you celebrate Australia Day conditionally based on the good qualities of Australia making mention you’re not celebrating the First Fleet Settlement? If I don’t acknowledge the First Fleet Settlement then am I really here? Do we remember the first time someone other than an Aboriginal spotted our Island, in which case was it a Portuguese Guy, a Dutchman or an English guy?

Where are we at with Reconciliation, by the very nature of the topic we cannot return to what we were before, but a new and different future. One that seeks equality and fairness for all. It left me in a place this week really questioning my schooling because it seems like I’ve been accidentally racist all along. Even now I’m not entirely sure stubbies, beer and a BBQ is the right response for tomorrow….although it will be delicious.


This was a second Guest spot at St.Columba’s. It was on the move of a church from being to Mission to becoming a Mausoleum.

Mission to Mausoleum

This is the 3rd week in our 20/20 Series. On Ephesians 2

The Myth of Neutrality