Freedom For Faith in Melbourne

For my review of last week’s  Freedom for Faith Conference in Melbourne, go to The Gospel Coalition Australia site –



Van Gogh is Coming to Melbourne

French impressionism and Melbourne are a perfect match, like truffle and risotto, or Debussy and the piano.

40 paintings and 25 drawings by Vincent Van Gogh will be displayed in a special exhibition at the National Art Gallery of Victoria next year.

Bring on Winter 2017


For details

Is this Melbourne’s best Milkshake?

For this rainy Sunday afternoon I have a very different post. Two Saturdays ago the family visited Neil Perry’s new Melbourne food venture, the ‘Burger Project‘.


The burgers and chips were enjoyable; not spectacular but not too shabby either.

The milkshake, on the other hand, is worthy of many repeat visits.

The shakes are unlike those idiotic viral drinks which require a straw as thick as a toilet roll, so stuffed with marshmallows, sprinkles and other diabetic inducing treats. These were simple, delicate, and exactly how a real milkshake should taste.

Between our family of 5 we shared both strawberry and chocolate milkshakes. The strawberry was fresh and yum, but the chocolate was perry delicious.

Valrhona is Perry’s chocolate of choice, one of the world’s most luxurious cacao extracts. It is smooth, deep and rich, and with just the right portions of milk and ice cream, this chocolate milkshake is worth all $7.50.

I give 5 milkshake glasses out of 5!


Christmas Carols with Chill/i

So it’s a stinking hot morning in Melbourne today. 34º degrees by 7:30am. I reckon that must be close to a record for a Melbourne morning.

News is, the cool change is heading our way and will be sweeping across the Bay by 1-2pm. That’s great news for emergency services and home owners out bush and in outlining parts of Melbourne. It’s also great news for everyone who love Christmas Carols.

Even if the heat persists Mentone Baptist can keep make the auditorium as cold as Montreal on Christmas Eve, and we can even add in the snow…maybe not.


For Christmas singing, lights, something for the kids, fun, BBQ, and a message about the joy God can give, join us for this wonderful  Christmas tradition.


Starts 6pm and will finish around 7pm

Everyone around Mentone, the Bayside and beyond are very welcome

Oprah in Melbourne, Star Wars, and Jesus

By the sounds of it, Oprah Winfrey’s show in Melbourne last night was even more painful and pointless than anticipated. I simultaneously laughed at and felt sorry for Neil McMahon as I read his review on his evening at Rod Laver Arena with Oprah.

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In his summary McMahon mentioned some highlights from Oprah’s two hour sermon (and who ever said that preachers in church should preach less!):

“My heart is my brand.”

“Anything is possible if you keep your vibrational energy high.”

“The intention is why you’re sitting here tonight.”

 “Many of you here are frustrated and sick and stalled and scared and maybe even just tired … It doesn’t matter because you’re still here. This is your second chance.”

“Take your glory, Melbourne. Take your glory and run!”

I’m not sure if Oprah sounds more like Joel Osteen or the Dalai Lama, but one thing is sure, such empty bravado ain’t going to help anyone.

It ought to stand out to us how outside the Oprah bubble, media are today reporting important and often dreadful stories, including another mass shooting in America, Boko Haram kidnappings, ISIL, Syria, asylum seekers, and violence and tragedy in Melbourne itself.

On stage with lighting,  music pumping, a smiling face and winsome voice, Oprah’s pithy and pseudo-spirituality may enthuse her loyal fans, but in the real world such words are empty.

If I want to be entertained I think I’ll go and watch the new installment of Star Wars. The world needs solutions that have weight to them.

Melbourne, please don’t look to Oprah for life advice, just as I hope people aren’t listening to those blood-sucking, money draining, soul-black hole tele-evangelists who are bizarrely still being shown early Sunday morning television.

Instead, I am reminded of another preacher, and his  words were not greeted with mass cheering, but they have nonetheless stood the test of time. They are words with weight to them; words that don’t offer glib promises or shallow triumph. They are words which have made the most powerful uncomfortable, and the wisest look foolish. And they are words that have given peace to the most vulnerable, and joy to the hurting.

Oprah’s words feed the ego, which is perhaps one reason for her popularity. Jesus’ words, on the other hand, both cut the ego and restore the soul.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:19-21)

Come to Melbourne and Discover Coffee

I just finished reading an article in the Washington Post that is all about Melbourne coffee. That’s right, one of America’s most celebrated newspapers has published a piece featuring “Melbourne’s coffee obsession”.


It was kind of nice to see our American allies acknowledging that someone can do something better than they. When visiting Washington DC two years ago, I managed to buy one coffee that was almost drinkable; we had more success in New York where there are a burgeoning number of decent homes of coffee (yes, they are largely run by Aussies). It is no wonder that they flew across the Pacific, bypassing Sydney,  in order to find the place to write about coffee!

It is true that Melbournians demonstrate a proclivity toward believing we are the best at everything: we are the sporting capital, fashion capital, cultural capital, university capital, and capital of everything else of Australia, except the nation’s capital (although we did hold that title for a short period!). Humility isn’t one of our esteemed virtues, and truth be told, we have be known to exaggerate some our ‘qualities’, however when it comes to coffee, the Post has measured us with the precision any decent barista will hold in making my order.

My local coffee roaster is amazing. Freshly roasted to order every time – Five Senses

And here are five of my favourites Melbourne Cafes right now:

  1. Hash, I love their house blend
  2. Market Lane , their milk is truly special & I like the fact that they refuse to serve skim milk
  3. St Ali , because the food and coffee is alway amazing
  4. Brother Budan,  because I like drinking coffee where the chairs are hanging from the ceiling
  5. Hendriks, because it’s close to where I live & they serve Five Senses


Leaving aside a certain God-phobic Government and some serious social problems writer, Will Hawkes, was pretty close to mark,

“It’s hard to be unhappy for too long in Melbourne. Life in this blossoming Australian city, it seems to me, can rarely have been so good — especially if you love coffee.”

Why we send our people to Ridley College

I am often asked what I think of different Theological Colleges in Australia, and where we send our people to study. There are certainly many colleges across the country; Melbourne alone has no fewer than 9 Protestant Bible Colleges.


I thought I would take an opportunity to talk about where we have been encouraging our people to study.

For sometime our preference has been to send students to Ridley College. This does not mean that there are not other suitable colleges, and this doesn’t mean that we agree with everything that takes place at Ridley, but it does mean that we have a confidence in the college to help equip our people for Gospel ministry.

Here are 8 reasons why we choose Ridley College (I appreciate that some of these points are true for others college as well):

  1. Ridley is an Evangelical College in the Reformed tradition. Sending people to liberal colleges is a poor investment and will likely cause them spiritual harm.  Sending students to colleges where theology and Bible subjects are not core is also a poor choice. It is exciting to hear students wanting to learn about ministry, but without proper theological foundations they’ll practice poor ministry.
  2. Ridley is located in Melbourne (we want to encourage local training, and we are conscious of the fact that students need to develop local networks with other like-minded Gospel workers).
  3. I need to trust the Principal. Principals have the unenviable job of leading the college through all manner of changes and challenges. The Principal needs to be a godly man with deep evangelical convictions and Gospel vision. I have a high regard for the Principal, Dr Brian Rosner, as I have for his predecessor, Peter Adam, who worked tirelessly in growing the college.
  4. Baptists are welcomed. Ridley College has trained baptist pastors for many years and will continue to do so in the future.
  5. Not only are baptists welcome, but students of a reformed and complementarian persuasion are also made welcome and respected.
  6. They exercise Gospel generosity. Several faculty have given their time and skills to help us at Mentone in different ways and times.
  7. Ridley has an excellent online Correspondence Course that can serve local churches well in training lay people.
  8. Ridley offers useful academic and pastoral courses for pastors seeking to continue their education beyond their basic degree.

There is no perfect institution for theological training, and any college doing its job  is one working closely with the local churches. We value the relationship we have with Ridley College, and we commend the college to others who are considering training for Gospel ministry.