Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: A wasted year?

As i rumble towards 2009 I'm stuck wandering if this year was largely a waste.

If my aim was to be in youth ministry... it was.

I had my chance on the second day of the year, but i turned it down (man that seems a long time ago!). Since, I've missed out, or passed, on jobs at Pittwater, Manly, Belrose and Narrabeen.

Instead i occupied my self with the following...

As the ministry bandwagon was leaving i jumped on as a Challenge Camp team leader, preached four times and spoke at IMPACT...

Ange and i both got new jobs. I'm strutting about as a finely tuned water meter reader and Ange strolls down the corso to work...

We've flirted with leaving Balgowlah, but returned to the nest... I went to Norm Gibbon's and John Faulkner's funerals and the ENGAGE conference...

Sarah and the Gibson's departed...

I got my green P's, was recertified as a first aider, lost a mobile phone, finished my Period of Discernment, won text-2-win five times, packed Lifeline hampers and saw Manly win the premiership...

Cecil was out of action four times, i changed three tyres and got three parking fines...

Dad had more surgery, I lost my Grandfather and gained a niece (who i got to hold yesterday... so cute!)...

Did i mention i set up a blog???

A wasted year? Perhaps not a total waste.

How to avoid crap sermons

Last night i read a really good chapter in a book which made me think about the title of this post. In this case, it's not about giving crap sermons, but hearing them.

For me it's not to hard to drift out in sermons. If i think i know where the speaker is going, then i may tune out. If the delivery isn't on song, then i may tune out. If the possum wanders overhead, then I'll definitely tune out. As you can tell, my standards can be pretty demanding...

The chapter in the book was about listening and it had ten points.

1- Listen with a head-heart connection. Listen beyond the facts that are being presented. Listen for the deeper connection.

2- Listen with the intent of understanding. Listen with the desire to know what the speaker is trying to say. Aim to walk away knowing the main point and how it effects you.

3- Listen to the message and the message behind the message. Similar to the point above, but be aware of other messages that are intertwined. Feel for the reason why the speaker is giving these particular points. Is there an underlying problem that is trying to be addressed?

4- Listen for both content and feeling. Be attuned to the passion that is behind the message. Why are they passionate about it? Are you?

5- Listen with you eyes. What are they saying with their gestures? Do the pictures in the PowerPoint connect with the message?

6- Listen for other's interest, not just their position. I don't do this. If it doesn't connect with me, then I'll zone out. Instead, listen with the perspective of others, or at least reach to connect with the audience the speaker is attempting to target. It may not directly effect you, but it may one day. I'm not a single mother today, but who knows what the future holds?

7- Listen for the things they are saying and not saying. Does the speaker omit anything? Why? Remember, the aim isn't to download every facet of info from their research into your head. Thus, why did they leave the stuff they say in?

8- Listen with empathy and acceptance. Aim to identify with what the speaker is saying.

9- Listen for the areas where they are afraid of hurt. Listen for the areas where the sermon has touched their own life.

10- Listen as you would like to be listened to.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


At the moment Marion Jones is on Oprah. Marion Jones, the convicted criminal. Marion Jones, the drug cheat. Marion Jones, stripped dual gold medalist. Marion Jones, publicly shamed athlete.

She has talked a lot about consequences. If she knew the ramifications of her actions at the time, she would choose differently. No surprise there.

It's a true story that is told after failure. If they knew the consequences, they would go down a different path.

In my head, if you keep the consequences in the forefront of your mind, you can avoid a stack of trouble. If you're aware of the effects that committing adultery will have, you are more likely to avoid it. If you're aware of what a public failure in ministry will have, then you won't do it.

It hurts me when i see the consequences of the above two examples. Consequences that, I’m guessing, the person never intended or thought of.

The damage adultery does to the cheated on partner. The pain and mistrust that follows them into future relationships. The effect the breakdown has on any children and their future relationships. The strain it puts on the extended families. That the, often, short-term "pleasure" is greatly outweighed by the long-term pain.

In ministry, whatever the failure (if it fits into the above category or not) the ramifications are wider than, i'm sure, assumed. You damage, to some aspect, those you nurtured under your ministry. You damage those who sat under you in leadership. You damage the trust the church placed in you. You damage the reputation the church. You damage your family life and spiritual life.

And you damage it for years to come. You damage it for the next person and the way they can effectively ministry "in your shadow."

From what I’ve seen the consequences reach to milestones as well. You don't/can't come to funerals, no matter what relationship you had with the person in the past. You can't go to baptisms, confirmations or weddings. You don't go to birthdays and no-one contacts you on yours. You lose a faith community and (hopefully) join another one with all the baggage you bring with you.

The point of this ramble? I'm not sure it would work logistically, but i think those who are going into ministry should hear from those who have failed. Hear how it was effected them, their family and their former church. Hear their hurt. Hear the damage. See and hear the consequences.

Perhaps, once you witness the damage you could cause in the future, you would steer clear of traveling down a similar path.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The wait is over!

I just found out i am uncle to a baby girl, Erin Louise Woolford. Excellent.

About time i had some great news.

The induction baptism???

Another thing can now blog about, because time has passed, is a process i would have needed to go though to work at a church i interviewed with. They required me to be full immersion baptised to be a member of the church.

Would i have done it? Sure. But, i would have been known as the loser with no friends who is a orphan. Why? Because i wouldn't have invited any of my friends nor family.

Why should they come for a ritual which would have held minimal spiritual value in my mind?

To be a member of the church i would have done it. I would have done it to identify with the community of faith i would been joining and a public affirmation of my faith. These are all good things...

But a second baptism? I'm not so sure.

Through looking at their beliefs my position on full immersion, believer baptism was focused, but not to the extent that my history need to be rewritten. I'm also think that the Bible would be in my trench...

Weather talk

Lately it's occurred to me the uselessness of talking about the weather. No-body cares. I would rather silence than chat about the climactic conditions.

Thus, consider yourself warned. If you talk to be about the weather i will exercise my right to give you a verbal slap or pursue my preference for silence.

The service MC?

My mind has been on the role of the service leader. I can finally post this because i wasn't at church last week so i can't be talking about anyone specific (not that i am anyway).

In my mind the service leader can take two paths to achieve the role they perform. Primarily their role is to help draw people into the presence of God and prepare them to hear the word of God through prayer and the spoken word.

The first path to this is to just let the service flow, almost MC style and avoid any distractions which may draw people out of the presence of God. Do they pray? Sure. Do they lead the congregation in adoration and confession? Yes, but they don't necessarily have a specific point in mind to drive them.

The second path can be more problematic, but more effective. In conjunction with the sermon, the service flows with a united theme throughout. But the important word is UNITED.

If the service leader has a spiel that doesn't mesh with the sermon then i think it dilutes both messages. Either patches of both are remembered, or one overshadows the other.

When the second path works it is brilliant. When it goes pear shaped, it can be dreadful. As a rule of thumb, i tend to stick to the first one, unless i can add something of substance heading down the second route.

I would rather someone remember the sermon a month later than what i said leading the service. Do i have an uneven perspective cause i preach? Maybe. But that's my 2c.

Bad habits

If i were to make New Year's resolutions i could ditch my three bad habits. But truthfully, I'd rather not.

In reality my bad habits aren't that bad.

I bite my fingernails... But at least i don't smoke.

I hog the remote... But i can watch three channels at once.

I horde... But at least i spew out a heap of blog ideas in one ramble-a-thon.

Comin back

While i was chatting to a minister last week he mentioned a good idea which i tried, but fizzled out. Simply, it was inviting people back to church.

In the case of this church it was ripped off an idea from England. Each year, they have a Sunday where they contact those who have dropped off attending church, or have contact via previous weddings/baptisms/confirmations and invite them to "plug back in." Each year they have a sack of people turn up (like 200,000 across England) and some stick around.

I wanted/tried to do something like this at Balgowlah.

The dream was to give each youth ministry kid from the past their old folder, choc full of memories, and invite them back to church.

It had a double edge. First, it was going to get rid of hundreds of old folders. Second, it may reconnect people to church, or the person who (hopefully) would give them their folder in person.

But... it never happened. Instead, i got to the stage where it could happen, and then it fizzled.

Still, i quite like the idea of having a special recruitment drive of people who have graced the doors of the church and then drifted away.

If William told you to jump...

Last night, before i went to the hospital with Ange for her cough, i was watching Braveheart.

I could watch that movie every day and be quite content with the world. The same could be said with The Shawshank Redemption or Forrest Gump.

But I'd feel sorry if i was a mother in the times of 'ol Bill Wallace.

Imagine the situation... You come home from an adventure with your mate Will and you're getting chewed out by your Mama... She's going off her nut and screams... "If William Wallace told you to jump off a bridge would you do that?"...

Well... If it was William Wallace? If, dying in my bed many years from now, would I be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance? For freedom?

Mama... Damn straight I'd jump.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The 2008 Ramble-a-thon

I noticed that on the 15th i said I'd go ramble crazy. Well... i haven't. Instead I've had job interviews, Christmas, watched cricket and waited to become an uncle... STILL WAITING!!!

If you read this after December 29th, then prepare for a stack of reading. Whilst the cricket commences the ramblings will go thick and fast...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Little Druming Outrage

I was just searching the TV guide for my favourite part of Christmas. The Little Drummer Boy. Preferably the old, kinda claymation one, but even the modern animated one would do. unfortunately it's been omitted from the viewing schedule. Instead the Muppets, Blikny Bill, Looney Toons and The Grinch get a run.

Outrageous. If i was the kind of person who wrote letters to the Editor or TV stations, then i would be cramming their mailbox full of my displeasure.

Christmas doesn't exist in my world without that little scamp playing his drum for him.... a-rum-pum-pum-pum... rum-pum-pum-pum... rum-pum-pum-pum...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The lonely buck

Last night, whilst out for Sara's 19th, i felt for Nick. At times you could almost feel his agony at being surrounded by such a flood of estrogen.

It reminded me of the later years of my discipling group. From around year 11 onwards, i was the only bloke. Beyond that, I've been in many a situation where I've been immersed in chatter about paper g-stings involved in hair removal, feminine hygiene or jerk men.

And people wonder why i was so keen to start a guys group???

Oh well... at least i was aware that Bianca had a nice clutch last night.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tribute to Pop

Yesterday i had my grandfathers funeral. It was a nice service, but seeing your family cry sucks.

At 86, he had a good innings.

To me, memories of Pop are good. They revolve around him smoking his pipe and sneaking me kit-kats as a kid. It's sitting with him on Boxing Day, watching the cricket or Sydney to Hobart over a beer. It's him doing the washing up after dinner each night.

He was a swell Pop. An excellent husband. A good bloke. The funeral showed that.

Man chairs

I just got home from shopping with Ange. This i have no problem with, in fact i quite enjoy encouraging her to impulse buy. But there was a disturbing incident.

Whilst Ange was trying things on in a store i was the awkward guy waiting outside.

And there was no man chair.

You know, the chair outside the change rooms that the poor chap would slouch in whilst his beloved tries on copious amounts of clothing.

So instead, i had to stand there like a smuck, getting weird looks form the other customers (all female) and staff. Oh the awkwardness...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ministerial disclaimers

You may have noticed that in the post below i included something to cover my ass. A ministerial disclaimer.

Simply, a ramble where you dissect any possible misinterpretation of what you have just said. The time when you diffuse any chance that the reader or listener could get annoyed at you (unless you want them to).

Sometimes i find it funny because they aren't needed. The writer/speaker will go to a tangent that no-one else thought of and plant a seed of questioning that would have gone otherwise unnoticed.

And they are usually easy to spot. It start like this... "Now don't hear me saying..."

Meanwhile, are they important? Yes. (I figure i should end with a disclaimer).

Church Awkwardness

Since I've missed, or will miss, a heap of church services over the Christmas period, I'm going to miss two awkward points in festive church services.

The first may only annoy me. The Aussie Christmas carol. To me, it just smacks of a desperate attempt to be included in the Christmas story. I find it odd that we can be annoyed when Americans try to splice everything to their culture, but are ok when we do a similar thing. Not to mention that the words usually identify more with Christmas in the 50's or in the plot of "the epic Australia," not my experience.

The second is a cringe worthy time all year around. The introduction and applause of visitors publicly.

Can it be done in a nice way? Sure. Does it make the visitor feel welcomed? I'm sure, on occasions, it may... But... It makes me want to crawl into a dark whole and cower in fear that i may be associated with churches (much the same way as crappy church noticeboards do).

When someone calls out the name of a person they just met, usually without their consent, would throw me as a visitor. Especially if i didn't wish to stand out or make a scene.

WARNING... ministerial disclaimer... Don't hear me say that either of these two church things should be stripped away from services and banished forever. Nor, if you enjoy them, should we have a heated argument which is resolved through violence. Do they service a point? Maybe. Do i have to enjoy them? Nope.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The temple

Yesterday, while i was at the folk's place, i took my blood pressure. It was near perfection... 127/81. It reminded me of a discussion Ange and i had a short whole ago.

In short... Smoking is a deal breaker. I need to trade my wedding ring for my Winnie Blues.

It added to the reasons i already had written down not to puff away (actually it was something i wrote to give to a kid who asks).

First... It's costly. It costs you... you gotta buy them. It costs your work... they gotta pay you when you have a smoko. It costs everyone... we gotta pay to help look after you when you get ill.

Second... It's unhealthy. LOOK AT THE PACK!

It effects you adversely... It effects every organ. Skin, Extremities, Lungs, Heart, Brain, Arteries, Vision, Throat, Gums, Stroke, Loss of taste and smell, Stained teeth, Kidneys, Bladder, Stomach, Pancreas, Breathlessness...

It effects others adversely... As a result of passive smoking.

It even effects the unborn adversely... Miscarriage, SIDS, Under developed babies.

Third... It's unattractive. Check out the effects above and add the look, smell (on you - skin, breath, hair - and your clothes), smokers cough, skin discolouration. Want more proof? People ask to date and live with... NON smokers!

Fourth... It's controlling. Nicotine is addictive... Der. More so, you can't smoke in pubs, clubs, public buildings, shops, playgrounds, cars, others houses, restaurants...

Finally... 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. THE TEMPLE!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The bitterness may be over soon

You may have noticed that i haven't posted much lately. When like kicks you in the guts, you vent less.

In five days i went from being confident about the two job interviews to two knock backs. On Wednesday my Pop went from a positive day in hospital to passing away three days later.

This week i have the funeral on Thursday, another crappy water meter readers meeting tomorrow and an interview on Friday evening.

But I'm on holidays at least... and the ramblings will continue... Possibly to a greater extent than ever to close 2008.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A bad day

Yesterday was a day without many highlights.

Firstly, i found out i didn't get the job at Belrose. Even though i "was an impressive candidate" they "decided to pursue other candidates." I hate that phrase.

Then Ange and i spent over three hours Christmas shopping.

Finally, i found out that my Pop had another stroke.

Some days have moments that suck.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bookless sermon prep

Starting tomorrow i get to begin writing the sermon for this Sunday evening. I'm behind schedule compared to where i would normally be, but with no work i should be fine.

With the time delay my mind recalled to a statement someone said at church once. The guy said that he would like to hear a sermon planned from prayer and personal reflection alone. Nothing else. No commentaries, no books, no pod casts.

Personally, i have a problem with that. First, I'm a pretty smart guy, but not so smart that i could go without the help of others. Second, i believe that the audience of a sermon deserve the best resources that the speaker can gather. Finally, we stand on the shoulders of the saints that have gone before us. To reject their insights would be plain stupid.

I also bring the point up because of a recent trend I've noticed at church. After sermons the person giving the talk promote the books they have used and point to further reading.

I won't be doing this on Sunday. Unless, you give a small gist of a books outline, why would you? Do people suspect that you have done research? They should. Do you need to prove it to them? I don't think so...

Good news, bad news

Today i went through the highs of water meter reading and the lows of a person looking for employment in youth ministry.

The high... I finally finished work for the quarter, meaning i can have a day off tomorrow for the first time in almost two weeks.

The low... I got knocked back from my favoured youth ministry job this arvo. D'oh.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm not a good person

It just occurred to me, that of my last few posts, i have pointed out to the entire world that I've broken at least two commandments.

Truthfully, it brings up a fear inside me.

Fear of the wrath of God? Not so much...

Fear of Ray Comfort meeting me on the street and asking me "Do i consider myself a good person?" Definitely.

Non Sabbathing

So you may have noticed that I've dropped off the pace posting-wise. The reason is simple. I've been working like a dog.

I haven't had a day off since last Saturday. Worse than that, I'm still two days away from holidays.

But, i will have read every water meter in Hunters Hill, Woolwich and Hundleys Cove. Not that that's a good thing...

Of the longing to obey the fourth...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

An interview pro

This week I've had two interviews for youth ministry positions. Truth being told, i wasn't to anxious about them. Yes, they are important, but what were they going to ask me that i haven't already asked in my head or answered on this blog?

Furthermore, I'm a veteran of the youth ministry position interview. So far I've been through at least ten of them. (in no particular order...) One at Linfield, Manly, Balgowlah, Beacon Hill, Roseville, Narrabeen, Pittwater, Belrose and two at Ryde.

I'm starting to wonder if I'm cursed, or if i should branch out into the exciting world of professional job interviewee. I could review search committees, tell them if they asked good questions, ect... I think it could be the next booming industry...

Breaking the tenth

Today, while working at Palm Beach, i broke the tenth commandment. I saw something of someone elses that i desired. Highly. From the street, i saw a matching Cecil parked on a front lawn. It was immaculate. Pristine. Shiny even.

And i wanted it.

Now, it's not the first time I've seen a matching Cecil. There's one in Seaforth, one around Hornsby and now one at Palm Beach. But it was different today.

Today was one day removed from my delightful Cecil's latest molesting of my wallet. This week i had to fix a slight problem. I was leaking brake fluid (even though I'm not mechanically inclined in the least, I'm fairly certain that you require brake fluid, or your chances of of dying behind the wheel increases).

So i coveted thine neighbours vehicle. Or at least it's ability to retain brake fluid, its original muffler, original alternator, undented rear panels, dashboard without warning lights, original tyres, original car battery, continually working brakes, unsnapped antenna, front headlight that isn't held on by gaffer and intact front bumper.

But i suppose these minor character traits are what separate Cecil from the others...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Laughing church

The interview i had this evening started in a very positive way. It began with laughter.

I liked this.

I think it should be a marker of the people of God. They should laugh when they are together. I sure associate this with Balgowlah.

It's a shame we often have the total opposite reputation outside of the church...

Stupid wise men

Yesterday i way trying to get Christmas presents at the Mall. I wondered why we give gifts at Christmas. Was it because of the wise men?

If so, it's fortunate they gave gifts and didn't do something more obscure. What would happen if they did a Jazz step class for Jesus crib side?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Power of the ask

Yesterday i was thinking about my times at Beach Mission and, for the purposes of the post, how i got there. The answer, in short, is that i was asked.

For a while i was against Beach Mission as a place to meet your future life partner and blow a week beach side. Then i was asked to go and i said ok...

The whole episode makes me wonder about how we often seek volunteers in church. Often we just announce that we need help and take anyone who obliges. We cast the net and we accept whatever we drag back in...

But i think that we would get better results if we ditched this policy and focused our volunteer recruitment to "the ask." First of all, this is way more personal and valuing to the person that is asked. Second, you are able to gain people who you are actually desiring to be a part of the ministry.

Sure, you can be surprised by red herrings who crawl out of the woodwork and turn out to be amazing. And sure, the people you are after could volunteer anyway... but why risk it?

Friday, November 28, 2008


Finally the Manly Daily has proved to be a useful source of knowledge!

Flicking through the local rag my eye was caught by the notification of a LifeLine bookfair.

I love bookfairs. Especially the first nights, with the other bookfair FREAKS! (Yes, Stefan is included)

I love the cheap books. I love the old Nana shopping trolleys people bring. I love the un-navigatable isles. I love getting in peoples way. I love the excitement before you head off...

I'm so glad i'm already married. Otherwise, if the above info got out, i'd never get a date.


I'm confused... If the nation across the ditch is called New Zealand, then where is Zealand?

I know that there is a Wales to accompany New South Wales and a York to match New York... But Zealand?

Also... What kind of place is it? In the two above examples, the "New" is superior in my opinion. Therefore, how crappy is Zealand to be trumped by the Kiwis?

Confusion reigns.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Party Time!!!

Today also kicked off the party season. Long live the 25th!!!

Today is my second wedding anniversary...

One month later is Christmas...

Two months later is my birthday...

The dating begins soon

Today i got a call from a church, setting up an interview for a full time youth ministry position next year. It reminded me how dating and the rigors of getting a church position are similar.

First, you woo the perspective partner. You meet up with those you will directly work with, usually the minister. Here you're just feeling the water and getting info if you'll possibly mesh.

Second, you meet the family. You meet up with the interested parties in the ministry, usually a small youth team made up of leaders, parents and concerned others. Now you get more serious, you determine if you have a long term future together and ask the hard questions.

Third, you meet the extended family. You are introduced to the wider church or youth. Now you're neck deep. You should determine if it is time to hit the eject button or full steam ahead.

Finally, you get hitched together. You sign on the dotted line...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Church gorge or desert?

Lately I've been thinking about church and what happens if you go overseas to a country where you don't understand the language or know anyone. It doesn't surprise me that believers who travel to foreign lands struggle in keeping their faith vibrant long term.

In my mind it comes down to how you upkeep the individual spiritual disciplines and how church fits in to the whole equation.

Does you faith revolve around a Sunday gorge, or is your faith regularly fed on regular personal Bible reading/study and prayer? Is church the only place you get spiritual input, or is it the desert which supplements the "meals" you're having during the week?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Christian protection?

Today i thought about what i would do if two of my leaders were going out and she fell pregnant. First... Hopefully... It would be a nightmare, so I'd wake up. Second, i never resolved an answer in my mind (if you need an answer, push me for one and i may be able to squeeze one out).

But my mind further wandered to what i would say to a Christian guy who told me that he had slept with his girlfriend. In my mind, the context resolves around a repentant young chap (over 18), who has a long term missus.

I pondered if i would be happy that he used a condom. No, i don't hope they wouldn't, but why would he have one handy?

More importantly... Should he?

Should a Christian guy carry a condom with him just in case passions get the better of the two of them, or should he not have one and (if they don't abort) have unprotected sex? Hmmm... Self control should fix the problem... but that's too simple.

Again, I'm not totally resolved on the issue, but i remember that a box of condoms used to be available in the office when i was a kid in the youth ministry (When i took over the practice was abandoneed). It wasn't advertised or passed about but the idea behind it was that if they were going to do it, they should at least be safe. Furthermore, they need to go into the office to retrieve one... so you might catch them in the act and chat to them about the decision they are about to make.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nasal delivery technology

I was driving home from work today and heard an ad for nasal delivery technology. If you don't know what I'm talking about... you' re lucky. (insert disclaimer) I wasn't paying attention to the ad cause i need it, but the figure they quoted intrigued me. They said that over 1000 guys call for help each day.

That's a lot of guys.

Say they have the phones free on the weekends and two weeks for holidays.... This leaves 5 days a week for 50 weeks. That's 250,000 guys a year!

Worse... if the population of Australia is 21,490,143 (as shown on the ABS population clock when i posted) and just under half is men (49%)... that's roughly 10,500,000 chaps roaming this big brown land.

If one third of guys are under 17 or over 70, then that only leaves around 7 million guys who may call the hotline.

Why am i making a deal of this? Well, if a quarter of a million guys are calling an impotency helpline each year, then in around 28 years our whole nation will be shooting duds or needing nasal help to be ready.

The leaders prayer burden

It may just be me, but Ange and i were talking before praying together a few nights ago and we chatted about praying out loud. I mentioned the pressure that is placed on those in leadership to pray when leading a group.

It has only dawned on me now that I'm not in the leaders chair. I now have the option to not pray if I'm not moved to. Is it allowing the Holy Spirit to move? Possibly. Is it part laziness? Perhaps.

Sure, i know all the arguments why the leader should pray. Someone has to. You need to set an example if you're leading kids. You get the opportunity to pray for application for what you have been teaching.

Still... Not having the burden of having to pray... Not the worst thing in the world.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mistakes and Unplanned Memories

Today my mind wandered to the most memorable mistake during my years at Balgowlah. On the inaugural young adults weekend, a much hyped event, with an even larger hyped breakfast, i forgot the keys to the place we were staying.

This wouldn't have been an issue if we weren't over two hours from the keys location. But, alas we were.

As a result the breakfast didn't develop, nor was i around for lunch. Luckily, those who were there on time, had a lovely time playing with sheep (or at least that's what the photos suggest!).

The episode further cast my mind back to the old days of my discipling group and the random unplanned memories that were created. You don't plan for fart blankets or the creation of the term for the awkward silence after a good group laugh... a madoferin.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Over the last few days i've had a few conversations about events that they would love to repeat again and again. Usually it is a concert or sporting event you saw.

For me it is last years NRL Grand Final. It think i've seen the game, or at least a large part of it, six or so times. Truth be told, i think i could watch that game every day for the next six months and find that totally acceptable.


As i was shuffling chairs before church yesterday afternoon my mind was reminded of the difference between acceptable and excellent. I may have heard it from a famous footy coach, quoted by John Maxwell sometime or even mashed together in my own head...

It goes something like this...

The difference between acceptable and excellent is made up of 1%'s. The little things make the difference.

It's the PowerPoint slides and newsletter without typos. The clean church. Adequate lighting. Starting and finishing on time. Not having a buzz through the PA.

It's the details that influence the way others react.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How my preaching is helped by my Impediment

Most of you would know that i have a speech impediment. The more you are around me the less you tend to notice.

For me, the equation is simple. Avoid hard R's and L's. My daughter will not be called Laura nor my son called Larry.

Can i tame my impediment? Yes. If i focus and speak slowly. Do i bother? No.

When preaching i do two things to minimise the effects.

First, i know which phrases and words to avoid. I avoid saying the "glory of God" for example, instead i would talk about the majesty of God, or the wonder or the magnificence. The synonym feature in Word does most of the work for me. Also, I will never drop the sentence about the "little red race car that run around the racetrack."

Second, i work off a full manuscript. I may not keep to it as religiously as i did in the past, but planning what I'm going to say word-for-word, controls where my thoughts are going and draws me away from the entanglement of hard R's and L's.

I think the two things help. Firstly, it means i need to be more intentional in my prep. Second, i know fairly closely what i have said in the past and can pass that on or post it online (if the church I'm preaching at does this).

Blog stopper

In the book i mentioned in my last post it mentioned that it was vital for the church leadership to approve any new blogs (not necessarily the posts, just that a blog exists). It made me come to a potentially disturbing decision...

If i get a job at a church next year (here's hoping!!!) and the senior minister isn't ok with me blogging, then... the ramblings will cease (sob, sob). My ramblings will have to be contained in my head once more and the Internet will be a duller place for all...

I've created a monster!

I feel that i will soon have to issue another official apology to my first girlfriend due to the new term that is catching on like wildfire. The term is a Penny. In short, it it the awkward, short term relationship you had in your past. Either you have a Penny, or you were someones Penny. Technically it should be called a Graham, because i was her Penny, but whatever.

In a book i just finished on blogging and ministry it said that the "word of the year" for 2007 (turns out an award is given for that!?) was blog. I hope that Penny doesn't become the "word for 2008."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Deadline ministry

Tonight I'm speaking at IMPACT, the Friday night youth group I used to be a part of. I'm excited to go back and hopefully will see lots of productive changes and heaps of new faces.

On the back of this I'm also doing the sermon at the evening service. Again, I'm looking forward to this, as this week is the closest I've come to working a youth ministry week.

Whilst thinking about this, i decided that i enjoy the deadlines that are attached with ministry. Sure, at the time, as the hours draw closer to the event, be it a scripture lesson, youth group, evening service, big event... whatever... it's not always fun, but it has it's positives.

Come Friday or Sunday, what you've done by the deadline, is what you have to go with. If nothing else, this demands that you get some definite boundaries and efficient time management.

Also, the results are only temporary. If you do a smoking sermon, and aren't poached during the week, or woeful scripture lesson, and don't get sacked in the next seven days, you need to back up again the next time. Once you perform on the ministry horse, the carnival arrives again on Monday and the race begins again...

Summer offically begins

Today i drove through a bush fire. Not a real one, but a fireman controlled, helicopter encircled, caution "hazy driving conditions ahead" one.

Every though they cause heaps of damage... the smell of a bush fires makes my mind spring to summer...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

PowerPoint Preaching

I just finished my PowerPoint presentation for Sunday 's sermon and I've noticed that the trend of using a slide show with the sermon has gone out of favour at the evening service.

I would like to say that i use slides because they help the audience retain the information they are receiving... That i find inspirational pictures to convey the audible message i am giving... Or that the visual stimulus appeals to the visual learners and visually wired blokes. But really, my reasons aren't that deep.

I use PowerPoint to keep me on track.

In preparing the sermon i can tell if my points make sense and are in the correct order. During delivery i can use the slides, and focus less on my notes. Finally, it means i get lost less if i turn two pages of notes at once (no-one likes the preacher who fiddles with his notes).

Starting on the big stage...

Today i was wondering if i would want to go to the new church I'd work for on Christmas day. I'm not totally sold on the idea, but it may be growing on me.

Here you should see their A-game. Their musos should be on... The sermon should be smoking... Everyone should be at their cheeriest... The church will never be more packed. What better day to check out the church than the biggest morning of the year?

Still... I don't think I'd want to be introduced or anything of that nature... It should be about Jesus after all.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wing special

I'm not sure if i have or have not mentioned that musical talents of Wing Han Tsang. She is amazing on a level that amazing can barely be quantified... AND she is having a special!

For the price of a CD (US$15), and a small fee of US$3, Wing will sing for you down the phone on your birthday! That screams class! That screams bargain!

If you haven't had the chance, go to and let the music move you... Maybe you will be inspired to get someone a VERY special birthday gift.

Theology on the streets

Today at Lindfield i saw a young lass walking at great speed holding a theology text book.

It sent my mind racing... Was she a Christian book thief? Was she a college student rushing to a study session? Was she just a street theologian going door to door?

Either way... I wasn't prepared to start an awkward conversation.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Century

This post is very exciting... my 100th.

It only seems like 85 short days ago that i began... 687 views... 356 visitors ago.

Barefoot church

Tonight i noticed that there were a lot of bare feet at church. I like going to a church that doesn't enforce the wearing of shoes.

I was reminded about some controversy that was stirred up when someone once preached barefoot. I don't remember the exact details, but it became law to wear shoes if your going to speak the Word of God.

Next week I'm preaching at church... I'll be wearing footwear.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Roles of a minister

One of the questions i had to answer in my MASSIVE short answer application form for a job had this question... What do you believe is the role of a minister?

I think i gave a killer answer... It went like this...

"I believe the role of a minister is sixfold.

First is evangelism. A minister must introduce people to the message of salvation through Jesus.

Second is discipleship. A minister must teach the Word or God accurately and effectively.

Third is pastoral care. A minister must nurture those God has entrusted into their care.

Number four is empowerment. A minister must help a believer find their God given ministry within the Body of Christ and equip them to do this in the most dynamic manner.

Fifth is being an example. A minister must be able to say, like Paul... Follow me as i follow Christ (1 Cor 11:1).

Finally, a minister must be a servant to those in church."

Friday, November 7, 2008

Two questions

Yesterday on Sunrise i saw a story on some chap talking about job interviews, especially on the importance of the questions you ask.

For me, i go out of my way to ask two questions in particular. Both, hopefully, reveal what the churches value...

First question: If the person you hire is exceeding expectations in six months, what would they be doing?

This should show what the churches view as success. Is it all numbers based? Is the growth of faith mentioned at all? Do they desire innovation? Are they satisfied with the status quo?

Second question: What is your church known for in the community?

This should reflect what the church thinks they do well. Also, it could show what ministries they have to nonbelievers.

For me, if the person/committee, give satisfying answers to these two questions... then they go along way to stirring my interest.


Today i worked my ass off at Lindfield, done by 3:30.

Really, it all boiled down to the inspiration that was waiting for me at home... KFC and cold beer. The thought of these two spurred me on all day.

I'm sure the IOC has the combination on the banned substances list. If not, they should. It really boosts performance.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Changing the scene

With my wife and (hopefully) me changing jobs shortly, my mind was stirred to change. More importantly, how to go about change in a new workplace/church.

From what i have come up with, there are seven ways...

1 - Slash and burn #1 - John Maxwell says that when you enter a failing company, you should fire as many people as possible. The idea is, if they could do the job well, they would have already. Also those left behind would be stained by the previous leadership.

2 - Slash and burn #2 - Not as harsh as number one, but starts from scratch using the resources and people that already exist. When i shifted the after school, single year, discipling groups at Balgowlah to a combined Friday night youth group i used this method. We shut everything down over the holidays and relaunched with the same leaders (who were never the problem anyway).

3 - Incremental change - With a final destination in mind, the leader makes changes over a period of time. In youth ministry, this would work over a term or two. My most obvious example is back when i was at Big W. Over a month or so they would do a refit of the entire store in segments.

4 - Tweaking - Used when the incumbent leader is ok with what exists, he/she tweaks what already exists, adding their individual fingerprint to what already works. For me, this was my first few years at Balgowlah. I moved the furniture around for a while, but the structure remained the same.

5 - Change the culture - This one takes a little longer. Over time you transform the thinking, expectations and demands of the group as you explain and groom your vision.

6 - Change the focus - Change those who attend. The example of this is when pubs go "up market" and turf all the riff-raff that used to attend. Exhibit A: Brookie Pub.

7 - Leave - Drinking from the fountain of John Maxwell again... The "Law of the Lid" says that a ministry or organisation will only rise as far as the leader can take it. His/her ability and vision will put a lid on how far they can go. I got to this point on a few occasions... even to the point where i said to the Chapmans that i was going to resign the next morning. They talked me out of it...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Handsfree shells

Today, while driving home, i saw someone talking on their mobile whilst driving.

Surprisingly enough... it got my mind wandering...

Talking on your mobile must be illegal because you don't have both hands on the wheel. It can't be because you are distracted by the conversation, or you couldn't use handsfree sets or converse to passengers.

If this is the reason, then would putting a shell to your ear and listening to "the sound of the ocean" be illegeal whist driving as well???

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The perfect Sunday

Today, once i read the papers, my mind wandered to what my perfect Sunday would include... Imagine a day consisting of...

10:30am - Wake Up
10:30-12:00 - Bible Reading/Study
12:30-3:00 - Read both papers cover to cover
3:00-5:30 - Watch the cricket at Manly Oval with Gavin over a couple of beers
6:00-9:00 - Church... with a really good sermon
9:00-11:30 - Out at the Brighton with the Young Adults



Over the last few days I've been chased to help someone out in a JP capacity.

I've been a Justice of the Peace since 2006 and i don't understand why all youth ministers aren't JP's. The process isn't too complex and the duty is quite useful. All you need to do is show due cause on a professional or communal level, get signed off by your local MP and take the oath of office.

As a youth minister, you are called upon a few times a year (be it for uni, child protection/drivers declarations) and it is useful for a wider use in the church (statutory declarations, witness forms).

Finally... It adds more letters to the end of your name! Why wouldn't you?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Testing and Tempting

Today i read a bit in Exodus where it said that God tested Israel whilst they were in the desert.

This made my mind jump to James 2, where it says that God doesn't tempt believers.

God tests His people and this is a positive thing. It refines their faith, gives an opportunity for obedience and strengthens their belief.

Satan, on the other hand, tempts Christians into drawing away from God into sin and weakening their faith.

I think there's a significant difference in the two terms which we don't always acknowledge or recognise when the two unfold in our lives.

An annoying office

In the DVDs we are currently watching at small group the guy keeps saying that he does a stack of prep at coffee shops. This exposes him to nonbelieving coffee shop workers... (What happens if they do believe? Do you leave and find another store?)

Personally, if i worked in a coffee shop this would annoy the hell out of me. I would hate having this guy sit in my store for hours on end, working away on a laptop or doing sermon reading.

For the amount of time that you are in the cafe, compared to the amount of coffee that you order, they are on the losing end of the equation...

Trick or Treating freaks!

Yesterday, being Halloween, there were odd pockets of Trick-or-Treaters out and about.

This annoys me.

First, we are not American. This is not a Christian rant against the pagan ritual that is Halloween... rah, rah, rah... but an issue of culture. Halloween is not a part of our heritage. It should stay that way.

Second, due to the first point, many people are unprepared for kids to arrive on their doorstep and demand chocolate.

Finally, how many kids will perform a trick if you call their bluff?


I love my wife. She's so wise and knowledgeable.

When my ipod died my darling wife said that it would come good once it dried out. She was right.

It's the greatest resurrection since Easter...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The weakest reason to leave

After writing yesterdays rambling on youth ministry drop outs another occurred to me.

Not a drop out point for kids, but a drop out point for leaders.

Get ready... This rant is going to be a goodie...

The WEAKEST, LOUSIEST, WORST time to leave is during a transition of leadership. I think youth group leaders can see the loss of a youth minister as a prime opportunity to "step down from leading."

This sucks.

Firstly, it weakens the leadership if no immediate replacement if found (not to mention the message it sends to the kids).

Secondly, it creates unnecessary disruption for the new person.

The new person steps into a new position having to deal with issues he/she know little background with people he/she barely knows. In too many occasions the fact-finding missions can be an avenue to gossip about the person who has "jumped ship."

Finally, leaving when the youth minister departs shows a lack of maturity and commitment to the ministry. Were you there because you liked the guy up front or because you enjoyed serving God through ministering to these kids?

Was I a little harsh? Maybe... maybe not.

Moist ipods

Today at work my ipod died. The reason? It got moist. Working in the rain, it was inevitable.

I enjoy the word moist. It's like ointment. It makes you feel all creepy just saying it. Moist ointment... what a great combination.

Due to my technological impairment I'm wondering about two things...

First, I wonder how much time i will save at work over the next few days. I always was curious exactly how much time i wasted by having to stop and adjust my ipod periodically. This little thing could make a lasting impression on my speed. I always thought that the same thing went across many fields. For example... How much procrastination time would you save if you disabled solitaire and minesweeper from your computer? How much more would you pray on public transport if you didn't have games on your phone? How much more work would i have done if my old office wasn't beside a pool table and i stopped to play every half hour???

Second, whilst i was working in the silence of my thoughts i became aware of the quiet beeping sounds my work phone constantly makes. Over the last six months i had forgot that this quiet beeping followed me all day. Today i realised just how much we miss because we are plugged into technology...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The culture of leaving

Over the last few days I've been thinking about the "drop out points" in youth ministry.

In my mind they are... End of year 6/start of year 7. Year 9. End of year 12. First year uni. Moving out/getting married.

The first two surround changing schools or social circles. In year 9 you start to encounter the pressures of sex, drug and alcohol, which again come to the forefront in year 12/turning 18. By the time you leave school you have the issues of moving away from your church due to lifestyle change or financial nessesity.

Of course the issues are more complex, and i only glossed over them, but i think there is another, underlying problem (the title of this post should give it away!).

It may sound simple, but if the expectation of the leaders or kids (spoken or unspoken) is that you up and leave at one of the drop out points, then you will more likely to find the exit door at some point.

It's a tough nut to crack. Some kids will leave. As they mature and "find themselves" they may think that the "whole Christian thing" isn't for them. That's their choice.

I think it's sad when kids/young adults walk away from church when a better offer comes along.. be it new friends, sex, drugs, the pub...

Sad, because loosing kids suck. Sad, because kids follow the example of those who go before them. Sad, because on many fronts youth ministry will never compete on a level footing with many other Friday night alternatives. Finally... Sad because it doesn't change until someone decides to take a stance and stick around.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Why I said no

As the year draws to a close i want to say why i turned down the church that offered me a full time position at the start of the year, since I've informed my reading public of why i left a perfectly fine ministry placement.

Let me be clear... They offered me the job and i said no.

Let me be even more clear... I said no well before the start of the year.

In the corner of my foundations of ministry PowerPoint printout are the words...

For me, these are the priorities for my ministry life.

The equation is simple. God is first... Everything else is secondary.

My wife is my next priority... All else is will be put on the back burner for her welfare.

As you can probably tell, my family will come before ANY church i work for. My wife before my family and my God before my wife.

Anyway... back to the start of 2007.

I turned down the position because they called my bluff. Due to the living arrangements and the future plans that Ange and i have, i either had to withdraw my priorities for ministry, or exercise them in this difficult decision.

My thinking was pretty straightforward. I will, hopefully, be married for many more years than i will be in ministry. If i had to sacrifice one, to the advantage for the other... church is the first thing on the chopping block.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Why I left

With (hopefully) multiple job interviews in my not-to-distant future I'm going to answer a question i expect be asked in each interview... "Why did you leave your last church?"

I moved on from Balgowlah for multiple reasons.

Firstly, my life had changed significantly over my three and a bit years. I got married, moved out, learnt to drive and my Dad got cancer.

All these influenced my decision to move on. Any church i was going to work at would need to be a place i could settle down for at least the next five years (remember that my first principal for ministry is longevity). At this church i would start a family. This was not going to be the case at Balgowlah (nothing against them). I had already been there for over a dozen years, all my Christian life, and it was time to branch out.

Both personally, spiritually and professionally, this was the right choice at the time. I needed to live and work outside of the Balgowlah bubble that i had grown up in.

Secondly, i had three aims when i applied for the initial position in 2004. Develop a stronger young adult ministry. Develop a reinvigorated youth ministry. Contain the fallout from losing Neil.

Looking back at my years at Balgowlah i think i achieved my goals. Through the birth of IMPACT and the expansion of BUYA i don't look back with any regrets and am proud of what i did.

Thirdly, i thought me moving on would be a positive for Balgowlah. Please don't read this as saying that i was disappointed that Liam got the job... but i felt that Balgowlah needed someone new in the youth minister chair. After thirteen years of Neil, and then three years of me, a fresh perspective was in order. With IMPACT off the ground, the timing (i felt) was right.

Even with a year out of ministry i know that the choice i made at the time was the correct one. I don't regret the decision that i made... because with the same set of circumstances... i would still make the same choice.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why i give

After my rant on giving like an adult a few days ago i figured i should say why i give...

Because I’m made in the image of God, who gives generously to us.
Because I’m told to give and obedience pleases God.
Because I'm able… I have $.
I can be an example to others.
To support the work of the church.
Because I can mix it up. I can give in a variety of methods.
Most importantly... Because it shows my heart for God.

Guilty stomachs

Today, after a rainy, wind swept day of reading water meters, i dropped by KFC. As i was ordering i noticed their newest fundraising initiative.

KFC and Pizza Hut and raising money for hunger relief overseas (you may have seen their ads).

I was intrigued at the amount people had given. Unsurprisingly, the containers were full of coins... mainly silver... and one five dollar note.

After ordering copious amounts of fatty food, it turns out a few coins will sooth your conscience.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Missing the best parts

Today i saw someone do something that made me want to slap them. No, they weren't walking a cat. Instead, they were getting into the back seat of a cab.

Not so strange you wonder... but the odd thing was that the front passenger seat was vacant. Stranger still... we weren't in America.

The reason i wanted to inflict bodily damage on this unfortunate soul is because of the consequences of their actions. This woman missed the best part of a cab ride... Talking to the driver.

More than that... Asking the driver the same questions that they are asked by each passenger.

The typical cab ride goes like this...

"G'Day mate"
"x thanks"

Insert short time of travel...

"So... How's your day/night been?"
"Had a busy day/night?"
"What time do you knock off?"
"Where have you gotta take the car back to?"

End conversation.

By now I'm pretty certain taxi drivers must keep track of these conversations. You know the machine next to the driver that constantly beeps and squawks at the cabbie? We think it's alerting him to fares. No. Actually it registers these repetitive conversations.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You wanna be an adult?

Today i was thinking about young adults becoming members of the church. I thought of this in the context of how young adults are thrust into, or invade on their own, various meetings and deciding forums in a congregation.

Now, i think that young adults should be empowered and encouraged to get involved... but I'm not sure it shouldn't come without a challenge.

Quite simply, the young adult should be asked if they are willing to give to the church like an adult.

It's no secret that those of my, and the previous generation don't give to the same extent as those prior. A reason could be that they aren't challenged to give in the mainstream church. They aren't told that maturing as a Christian stretches to their wallets, not just their dedication to service or Bible reading.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Falling away decisions

I was thinking about backsliding today. I got to thinking about the choices someone makes as they slide further from their faith.

I wondered... What is the final straw?

Is it getting drunk? Taking drugs? Changing social circles? Having sex? Not feeling guilty about doing any (and more) of the above?

I haven't come to a conclusion... but i think having sex is a fair indicator. When you consciously decide to step over that threshold without reservation, i think it is a fair indicator where you stand with God.

Will my fond feelings last???

I'm aware it has been a while since i last posted the exciting happenings in my world...

I was meant to mention this on Friday... but life got in the way.

While in the backstreets of Cromer a guy approached me and asked about Cecil (my car for those not in the know). The, admittedly weird, guy said that he himself owned a Cressida in the past and mentioned two things that i never asked to hear.

His Cressida was the best car he ever owned...And he now owns a Merc.

It got me thinking... Will i be mentioning my beloved Cecil to random people when I'm wandering the streets in middle age?

Will the passionate love i hold for Cecil still be aflame in decades time?

Sadly... and with mild hopefulness... I'm thinking it won't be the case.

Every car i have in the future will be better than Cecil. They won't break down and they won't be lit up with warning lights.

More importantly, i hope i never stop people to talk to them about my worn down, beat up Cressida.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blokes and their tomfoolery

Yesterday at small group it was mentioned that when guys get together in a youth ministry setting they turn all macho and generally "throwing a ball at you head"y.

It made me think of two instances that warmed my heart...

First was the birth of what became known as "the game." One afternoon, years ago at a discipling group, it was just myself, two guys in the group and my youth minister at the time. That afternoon we spent hours just whacking a nipple ball at each other with hockey sticks. Needless to say... it was awesome.

Secondly, a night that my stomach will never forgive me for. One night at the guys small group we decided, in our infinite wisdom, to have a batter sav nite. For the uninitiated, battered savs are like the hotdogs of the seafood world. That evening the guys split a dozen of the slimy critters. Needless to say... it was awesome.

In ministry I believe there is space to just be silly. To do stupid things that will create memories together, no added agendas. Just plain shenanigans...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I just got a whole lot busier

I remember a while ago Liam and i had an animated discussion that ended in us scheduling a time in the week to pray together. In the end, if i don't set a time for something in concrete, the chance of it going undone is greatly increased.

Sadly, the more important the action, the less likely it is to be scheduled (it is important after all... How can i forget!).

Yesterday Ange and i put two things in our diaries, which are important, and thus, haven't been regularly completed.

In my diary now is a permanent date night and another night where we will pray together before we go to bed.

So far it hasn't happened yet, but there can be nothing but positives from spending more time with my lovely wife...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A not so great day

So far today i haven't had the best of days. It hasn't been awful, just not good.

I couldn't get to sleep until around two in the morning last night. Thus i woke up late. Thus i was in a rush to leave and didn't take spare socks.

The traffic to Hornsby was crap. The travel time doubled today compared to yesterday.

It rained today. Constantly. This made the change of socks much needed... (please note that Gavin should head to drought effected areas to curse rain upon them as he did to me yesterday)

While at work i had crap phone reception and my phone fogged up causing me to stop around 2 (the silver lining to this cloudy day), but meaning i will probably need to work half of Saturday (the cloud to the silver lining).

Finally, the weather turned good by 4, too late for me...

A Dream or Premonition

My random question of the day...

If you have a dream where you sleep in, and then wake up late, did you have a dream or a premonition?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Decision making

In the book I'm reading by John Maxwell he had a chapter on decision making and it reminded me of a system that I've had in place over the last few years in deciding major (or not) choices...

It's the eightfold test... Used to decide everything from whom to date, when to marry or where to work...

I should say that not every test needs to come back in a positive manor to proceed in the affirmative, but it may point you in the right direction.

INTELLECT: Simple... Does it make sense?

Remove all emotion and just consider it rationally. Are you going to be living 150km away fro the person you wish to date and don't drive? Will this job result in a pay drop which sends you broke?

HEART: Simple... Are you passionate about it?

Remove all intellect and go on your feelings. Are you in love with this thing/person? Are you passionate about the profession? Will this get you energised in the morning?

GUT: Simple... What does your gut say?

I believe God gives us our gut feeling for a reason and it makes sense to listen to it sometimes. That queasy feeling you have may exist for a reason. It's the vibe man...

SEXUALITY: Simple... Are you attracted to them?

Doesn't apply in all cases, but our sexuality is a strong motivator in life, so it deserves a say.

GOD: Simple... What does God say about the choice ahead of you?

What does the bible say? Is there a teaching for or against the decision? Is there an underlying principal that can be drawn upon, even though your specific situation isn't mentioned? When you pray, what do you hear God saying?

OTHER CHRISTIANS: Simple... When you ask other Christians for advice, what do they say?

God speaks through his people and we are to filter what we think we hear God saying through the wisdom of his followers (1 John 4:1)

INFLUENCER: Simple... What does the most influential relationship in your life say?

What does you spouse/long term partner or parents think? These people should want the best for you and may bring a perspective that you haven't considered.

NON CHRISTIANS: Simple... What do your non-Christian friends think?

Firstly, you should have some. Second, they can be smart, wise people, even though they don't believe in Jesus. Third, they can bring a point of view which you may be blinded to.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Getting old

Gavin and i were watching the cricket at the pub last night and talking about women between overs. Obviously, we are both comfortable fitting into the stereotype which states that Aussie guys only ever drink beer in a dirty pub (it was the round bar) chatting about sheilas.

We were debating if a thirty year old would be too old for either of us (pretending that i wasn't married of course). To our horror we came to the realisation that we aren't 21 anymore (or even mid twenties) and thirty year olds aren't as old as they used to be.

Anyway... forty year olds are totally out of the question.

Maybe... At least for now.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A public appology

Over the last day or so I've been pondering my dating history. Truth be told, it should have been a short ponder. In my entire life life I've been in a committed dating relationship (aside from the women that became my wife) for a grand total of around three months, encompassing one woman.

I owe a lot to her. In fact, i think my wife owes her more...

In short, the woman deserves a public apology. From around December 2002 to February 2003 i dated a co-worker from Big W. Because it was around the Christmas and going-back-to-school rush we saw each often. Most days in fact. Just not alone and not on a date. In our time together we went on four things which could be called dates.

I don't think i called her ever.

Strangely enough... she dumped me. Over the phone.

In response to this, i was single for nine months and then treated my next girlfriend a thousand times better then the previous sheila in my life.

To Penny... wherever you are... i apologise. As Timbaland would remind me... It's too late to apologise... it's too late...

I sucked. I see that now and openly acknowledge it. But we all suck at our first relationship. I fumbled through it and generally made a meal out of the whole thing.

My now wife should take you out for dinner, buy you a few drinks, take you shopping and give you a hug (actually, the two of you hanging out would freak me out, so just pretend). She gained the benefit from the neglect i put you through.

The three E's unleashing a passionate SHAPE

On the back of yesterdays question, i should probably state my aims in ministry.

Simply stated they are the title of this blog... (aside from introducing people to the gospel and having them respond by having Jesus be the Lord of their life)...

My aims are to Engage, Equip and Empower those in the church. Engage them so they will learn. Equip them so they can serve. Empower them so they can have a ministry of their own.

With this, a follower can be unleashed to make an impact on their world, using the unique makeup God has designed them to have. From looking at their Spiritual gifts, their History, their Abilities, their Personality and what Excites them, you can see what they are passionate about and the area they are called to be used by God (i ripped this off Rick Warren... ta).

Christianity, at the core, is about following Jesus with a PASSION. Ministry should be about cultivating a culture where this is ok and making avenues where passionate followers of Jesus can do what God has called them to do. NO MATTER WHAT IT IS!

With proper discernment, through the Bible and the affirmation of the church, if someones field of calling is left-handed golf ministry, then my role is to wholeheartedly encourage and support them in that endeavour. Simple really.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Foundations for ministry

As the year comes to an end i suspect that more of my posts will start to sound like answers to potential job interview questions. Today... What will you base your ministry on?

For me i have four traits that i aim for...

LONGEVITY - 1 Thes 2:8 - Ministry gains in leaps and bounds the longer you stick around at a church (I blogged a little on this yesterday). In looking for a position my mindset begins with the aim of staying for no fewer than five years. Over time and shared experience you build trust, gain influence (both with the kids and the wider church).

EXAMPLE - 1 Cor 11:1 - In ministry we must show in integrity, both personally and professionally, and servanthood (Mk 10:45).

EXCELLENCE - Col 3:23 - God's people should be known for producing quality. This doesn't necessarily mean that perfection is the minimal requirement, nor that failure isn't an option, but if you don't strive for excellence you won't hit it. This will require the needed effort and planning along with a strong dose of the following...

PRAYER - Psalm 127:1 - On my own strength i can do ok... for a while. Maybe a week. I achieve Graham sized results and goals. With dependence on God i do much better. God sized results and visions are much bigger than mine...