Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More advertising ramblings

Today i saw an advertisement on a telegraph pole. Big deal you say...

It's not unusual to see slogans to "PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS AT WORK," or in this case, become a swinger (I'm serious!).

The ad today was posted quite a few meters (4-5) off the ground and it sent my mind racing.

Was there a swinger organiser up a ladder under the cover of darkness to put up the ad? Do rugged unionists shimmy up a pole to erect their placards? Actually... Are they hired by the people who put their shoes over the overhead cables?

Oh, i remember, these are the shoes of drug dealers. Barefoot drug dealers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A healthy freakin out

With camp only a few days away we had our last Team Leaders meeting at our place tonight.

After a productive meeting it occurred to me that there can be a healthy dose of freakin out prior to a big event. In fact, i think there can be a sign of danger if you're not partially having a quiet freak out.

If, before, be it a camp, or other event, you are totally calm, i suggest it points to the possibility that you didn't initially have lofty enough aims. If you have God sized aims going into an event, you should have some element of freak out... (even though God is good an faithful).

A quiet freak out can refocus you on God and place any success where it truly belongs.

Why Guy Small Groups are a Winner

While looking over my resume yesterday i noticed the amount of single sex small groups that i ran in the past.

Looking back, i remembered why I'm such a fan.

Firstly, i like the way that guys bond in the absence of the fairer gender. Blokes being stupid, or competitive together is a beautiful thing.

Second, guys can (accurately or not) get intimidated by chicks in a small group setting. As a generalisation, chicks seem to have it more together in the Christian world.

2/3 of the church is made up of women and they respond better to sharing their feelings and "opening up" (things we place great value in at small groups).

Third, some issues are best dealt with without the presence of the opposite gender.

Forth, i firmly believe that guys need a place for their maleness to be affirmed. We need to allow and empower blokes to be blokes, not pansies.

Finally, i think guys want someone to follow. Ultimately this should be Jesus. Along with him, i think a male youth minster (or leader of a guys small group), can help "show the way" for the others guys in the church. Showing that following God in a bold and manly way is a good role model.

Don't hear me say that single sex small groups should happen all the time, i don't think that. But for a season (perhaps a term a year) they serve a significant purpose.
And the same goes for chicks... Wouldn't they love to be free of smelly, loud, immature blokes?

Avertising demographics

Last night i couldn't get to sleep until around 4am. Don't know why... just because.

While up, i was thankful that they were showing a delayed telecast of the Brownlow Medal. Otherwise i would have been watching infomercials.

From what i observed, it's pretty clear who the television stations think are watching. Unfit people with pimples, who live with dirty floors and have limited storage space.

Actually, the same thing could be applied to those who have e-mail accounts. From the spam that gets sent... obviously those people need more credit, more dates, more erections and suffer from a chronic porn shortage.

But it makes you wonder... if you can't get an erection, what's the point of joining or watching porn???

Monday, September 22, 2008

An Exciting Day

Toady i investigated a new ministry position for next year.

From here on in the advertising for good, bad and extremely unappealing youth ministry positions increase dramatically.

But the question remains... Why do i want to get back into youth ministry? (i expect/hope i will get asked this a few times over the next few months)

For me, the answer is rather simple.

First, it come down to the role that God has in my life. We are placed in this world, as believers, to do two things. Live out the Great Commandment - love the Lord you God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbour as you love yourself - and the Great Commission - go and make disciples of all nations.

For me, with the talents and skills God has nurtured in me, i think these two things are best served in the sphere of paid ministry (please don't read this as saying that it should be for everyone, i don't think this is the case).

Secondly, i think I'm pretty effective in the role of leading a youth ministry (hopefully I'm not deluding myself!).

Thirdly, i have a passion for the job.

It sure kicks the hell out of reading water meters...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A New find and a New Problem

When changing my latest tyre I finally found the jack for my car. Trouble is, i can't get it unbolted from the boot.

I'm sure the solution isn't as complex as I think it is.

I can't wait for the day when I'm by the side of the road...
Cecil struck down by a flat tyre...
Graham all prepared with a new one...
Having to call the NRMA to free my jack from the boot... AND
Mr NRMA thinking I'm a freaking idiot.

Oh the happy day that awaits me.

A New Career

Another day... Another tyre change.

I think I'll go into the tyre changing business...

The Preaching playbook

This week I'm preaching at Balgowlah and i figured that now is as good a time as ever to say what steps i go through...

1. Pray

2. Read the passage (Hopefully you already have one) in the pew Bible (T/NIV) jotting down things/topics/ideas which jump out from the passage. Also skim the entire section from which the passage is found to put it into context.

3. Pray some more

4. Read the passage in alternate translation (NRSV, ESV, GNB, CEV, Amp, Msg), taking down more points, getting familiar with the passage and recognising any words which stand out or are different in various versions. Once thoroughly familiar with the passage and main ideas, illustrations and quotes from the media, books, my own and others experience will be sort.

5. Pray again (this is a continual trend… hopefully)

6. Read commentaries and books on the passage. Adding to the notes already taken, in an alternate coloured pen to distinguish what I started with (what my initial thoughts were). Here verse by verse exegesis of the passage would begin (unless the passage was longer than one chapter).

7. Search the Internet (eg,,, to find sermons on the topic/passage (but not longer than a few hours, again using a different coloured pen). This is to build on ideas or structure and pick up small snippets of information, not grab someone else’s thoughts. This is really helps to solidify your position about the message and anticipate any questions or objections.

8. Type/write out first draft in full

9. Practice delivering sermon, work on execution...

10. Make any amendments needed, space/bold document, create PowerPoint show, gather any required music, visual aids (cartoons, pictures, props)…

11. Execute Sermon

12. Edit sermon to match what was actually delivered, adding spur of the moment inclusions if worthy.

13. File the sermon under topic and Bible passage.

Bono, The Edge and the rest...

Over the last few weeks I've noticed that, no matter when, if you surf the popular radio stations, you will encounter a U2 song. Always.

In music magazines, musos always say of how special it is to hear yourself on the radio for the first time (or so i assume... i don't read them).

I imagine that Bono is pretty over it by now. Actually, if he heard "In the Name of Love" again, I'd think it would be tough for him not to drive into oncoming traffic.

When a meeting goes bad...

Not so long ago i said that my love for meetings has been rekindled.

Today, after a meeting at Milperra, my love has been crushed by UGL.

During the meeting i made a list of why it was so awful.

1) It didn't start on time. I'm not talking 5 minutes late either... try 40 minutes!
2) Repetition of what has been said in the past. This meeting was a cut and paste of the one we had 13 weeks ago, and the meeting prior to that and will be the same again in another three months time.
3) You leave uninspired (to match the feeling you have on arrival).
4) There are never any outcomes to the same old issues (although i will get a $3 a day pay rise!!!).
5) The EXACT SAME people raise the EXACT SAME issues each time. This only infuriates everyone else who has heard the spiel before. It would be easier if they just wrote it in an e-mail and saved us all the hassle of hearing them vent.
6) No investment in, or bonding with, the other people there. I arrived on time and spoke to no-one, nor recognised anyone.
7) The meeting wasn't worth the travel time. It took an hour and a half each way to get attend a two hour meeting. Never mention the half tank of petrol.
8) We heard a series of speaking-down-to lectures.
9) The only food provided was Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

So... What did i learn?

1) People's time is precious. Don't waste it. Start on time. There's no point in kicking off a meeting with people already cranky and looking at their watches.
2) Have an agenda which goes somewhere and has variety from the previous meeting.
3) Have some uplifting elements on the agenda.
4) Form a team who was a common goal and cares about the completion of this aim and the other team members.
5) Decide the worthiness of a meeting verses the inconvenience the meeting causes. If you need to travel far, make it worth the while. Every extra mile someone must travel, you should go in prep and execution.
6) Mix up the delivery of what is said. No-one likes being spoken to for two hours.
7) Provide food and drinks which will keep the team alert and willing to attend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When we try to be cool... We Suck

Yesterday i put a sign from some church as the background of the Seaforth office computer. The sign said "I Kissed a Girl and a Liked it Then I Went to Hell."
I found the sign both funny and saddening.

Funny because church signs are sometimes so crap. Somehow the church survived for centuries without huge noticeboards, now it seems like an impossibility. Now we must put catchy slogans on public display to get people through the door. Even worse, we display random, out of context, Bible verses that either speak of the love or judgement of God.

What's the point?

Has anyone, ever, in the history of the church and written word, been prompted to enter a church building because of a sign like the one above? Unless they are advertising an event which will interest people, or telling people what they may encounter if they come on a Sunday, isn't it better to just leave them blank?

Sure, this may make the church feel like "they aren't using an evangelical resource," but some church signs do more harm that good. If a church is so insecure that they must fill the board with SOMETHING, then put on your contact details or service times.

More than anything, crap Christian signs sadden me. Saddens me in a way that that makes me want to go all Rambo on their asses...

Why should i look like I'm included in a bunch of uncreative, judgemental, losers? I can see no positive, redemptive qualities in the church sign above. Stupid Christians is all the sign makes think... AND I'M ONE OF THEM!!!

Who knows what a non-believer thinks.

For some reason, schools never put crap slogans on their noticeboards... Maybe there's a lesson there???

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wasted Talent?

Last week, Gavin and i were listening to a Red Hot Chilli Peppers tribute band (I'll pretend i enjoyed the experience).

The band themselves weren't to bad, but it made me wonder... Is the musical talent they have wasted in impersonating someone else?

I'm my twisted mind, it got me thinking about how we behave in church.

Do we, busily impersonating the outward faith of others, squander our own God given talents and gifts? Also, is the Body of Christ hindered by our mimicking of others skills, ministries or styles, at the expense of our own creativity and uniqueness?

The birds go... and the bees go...

Over the last few days the issue of sex talks have come up (i don't remember how, but they have).

Personally, i don't ever remember getting "the sex talk." Does anyone?

Thank God for Happy Healthy Harold. Without his trusty Life Education Van we'd all be screwed (no pun intended...).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The blindness of Pride

At the moment I'm reading a book called Faking Church. In the book the author talks about the fable "The Emperor's New Clothes" by Hans Christian Andersen (you can read the story at

He makes the point that we are like the ministers in the story. We fear being labeled incompetent and incorrectly compare ourselves to one another.

Truth being told, this was me all too often in ministry. At times i was hounded by the fear of being caught out. Eventually, i was sure that the realisation would hit everyone that i was unfit for my position.

Furthermore, i was sure that everyone else in my position was doing fine.

Now I'm not looking for a pat on the back or fishing for compliments. I also know that I'm not the only one in ministry who has ever felt these feelings.

If i go back into church work, I'm pretty sure the feelings will return at times. But, luckily enough, God still uses those who can identify with characters in 150 year old stories...

Some things annoy

After going 26 and a half years without changing a tyre, I've now had to change two inside a week.

This is particularly annoying when the offending tyre is brand spanking new.

But nothing annoys more, or makes changing a tyre in a hot afternoon more infuriating, then having the song "Jesus is a Friend of Mine" rolling through your head.

To the singers of that song... Damn you. Damn you straight to the scrap heap of the Eurovision song contest.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Christian Bubble

A few nights ago at small group we were discussing the Christian Bubble (where all you do is hang with believers, do Christian things, go to Christian places, say Christian things, buy Christian crap).

The conversation got me thinking about how it develops. I'm not convinced, moving from being a teenager to a young adult, that it can be completely avoided.

Naturally, as you get older, you choose the people you hang with more carefully. You can choose to not see the people from school/uni that you used to encounter each day. The randoms... gone. The people you don't get along with... gone. The people you're not overly close to... gone.

Over time, as you choose to draw particularly close to fewer people, will the Christian bubble develop? Perhaps.

You will have the most important thing in your life in common. If you go to the same church, you will see each other twice a week anyway.

Personally, I'm not a huge apologist for the bubble, but i understand how it happens.

Mmmm Beer

Lately I've been thinking about beer and making the switch to light.

This came up because of why i choose beer as a drink. Is it because of the flavour, or the alcohol?

If it is because of the flavour, then light beer isn't going to be an issue. If it is because of the booze, then as a professing follower of Jesus, then i should re-evaluate.

The results? Pass me the mid strength...

Jesus... Save me from THESE followers

Normally i don't put random things on here that I've encountered over the web, but sometimes you find things that are too good to pass over.

There's no wonder the world thinks we're a bunch of freaks!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How i've missed meetings

Tonight, this post is for Liam...

Tonight i had a Challenge Camp Team Leaders meeting which was really good.

All up this was probably only my fifth meeting this year (or thereabout) and, compared to previous years, is a drop of about 40.

Thinking about this, I've discovered my rekindled passion for meetings. Whilst in ministry, meetings were sometimes the thorn in my side, but absence makes the heart grow fonder. Whilst thrashing out vision, spit balling ideas and delegating solutions, what more could you ask for?

A meeting where you go, contribute and walk out with a still vacant to-do list...


Today i got my haircut and the experience got me thinking (as everything seems to now-days).

As a guy, when i walk into anywhere to get a snip, that's the only think that I'm there for. No talk, all haircut.

I think it comes from the place i got my haircut as a kid. The barber was a smelly guy who would silently cut your hair, steer your head with the palm of his hand and eventually pay you off with a lollipop.

This created some things to look forward to.... The days the other guy would cut your hair (Mario, not Luigi). The first time you get to actually sit in the chair, not on an uncomfortable plank of wood across the hand rests. Finally, no matter how old you were, still getting the lollipop.

Ah... great memories from Romeo's barber...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mood swings

Toady, after being cautious for the last 10 weeks to avoid a parking fine at work, i got one on the first day of my holidays. Not so strangely, this soured my mood considerably.

I was at my parents place to do my quarterly car clean out. In the process of doing so i found a shoe horn (probably saying something about how infrequently and poorly i have cleaned my vehicle previously). With this hidden gem in my possession my mood became much more peachy.

If the shoe horn is valued at $81 i will come out even.

Father-son bonding

Yesterday, being Fathers Day, i spent some quality unplanned time with my Pa.

On my way to work i had a flat tyre and together we changed the flat. For the first time in my life, and with my Father doing the majority of the work, the latest burden of Cecil's was amended.

The whole episode reminded me of the games of snooker my Dad and i used to have. On the back of receiving a pair of snooker cues for my 21st, beating my Dad at snooker became a routine i enjoyed thoroughly.

Firstly, i enjoy playing snooker. Secondly, beating Dad is always fun. Finally, hanging with Dad, is better then my first two points.

As a Father i want to have a similar relationship i have with my Dad with my kids. On Fathers Day (pretend i wrote this on Sunday) I'm not sure i could give a better compliment.


Yesterday at Mosman i saw the unthinkable. A woman was walking a cat. Yes, a cat! Leash and all.

Now the cat was understandably looking less than impressed by the entire experience and it has since prompted me to make the following community service announcement...

If you walk your cat, like you would a dog, stop. Immediately. Instead, invest the time you spend tormenting your cat in getting a life.

If you know someone who indulges in the practice of walking their cat, call the RSPCA and have them locked up for animal cruelty. In the mean time, while waiting for the crew of RSPCA Animal Rescue to arrive, stretch (I don't want you to strain something in the process of performing a community service) and then unleash a slap upon the freak. From the depths of your very being, slap the cat walking fool.

Then do it again.

They deserve it.

If Darwin was correct, and natural selection is alive and well, then the people who walk their pet cats should be the first ones to be eliminated from the gene pool.

Friday, September 5, 2008

What do you learn in senior high?

I've been wondering lately, how much did you learn in years 11 and 12 that you still regularly use?

I figure, if you know what you're wanting to do beyond school, you should almost exclusively study all the things that would apply to that goal. In the senior years of high school you may cultivate passions for subjects (such as history or English), but the specifics that fill your mind are basically without everyday use (aside from the odd trivia night).

Sure, with math or science, you may use them in your profession, but when else? I'm pretty sure my three unit maths know-how hasn't been unitised since the last millennium.

Another Cecil!!!

Today at Seaforth i saw another Cecil.

For the uninitiated, Cecil is the name my car has. It is named after the old guy whom i brought the car off and matches the car perfectly. What better name could an old man brown, 1980's car have?

But there is another. Same make, same model, same COLOUR!

It made me wonder... Is the driver of the car being badgered because of mistaken identity? Is he seen as a reckless, negligent, careless, thoughtless, selfish driver? More importantly, is my Cecil's reputation being smeared by an impostor?

For the first time in my life i now want to drag race. My beaten, battered, war torn Cecil vs impeccably clean and well cared for Impostor Cecil.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Just a legal ceremony

I was wondering about non Christians and marriage.

From my point of view, marriage is a covenant made between a man and a woman, before God and a cloud of witnesses, to be lifelong partners. Both leave families to be joint together, as one flesh.

But from a nonbelievers point of view it should be little more than a lavish legal ceremony. You join bank accounts. You combine superannuation status.

With all the stress involved in planning a wedding (or at least Ange told me it was stressful), why would a non Christian bother? Especially if it involves exchanging vows before a God you don't think exists.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Christian Fish... Why?

I followed a car home part of the way from work and its decoration caught my eye. The car, a Cressida none the less, had a Christian fish on the back windshield.

The whole episode made me wonder... What's the point?

Is the symbol meant to be an evangelistic device? Are people meant to pull up beside you and ask you to tell them the gospel?

Is it a device to keep you honest? Are people meant to watch you extra closely because you're a follower of Christ?

Is the sticker meant to keep you on your best behaviour? Doesn't the Holy Spirit do that?

Either way, does it just annoy people like "Baby on Board" signs? Not making a difference how you drive, nor making a difference to other motorists.

I know i wouldn't put a Fish sticker on my car. It would kill the re-sell value. It would plummet from $1000 to $990. I need the ten bucks.

Suffering and Jesus

I'm sure there is an answer to this... i just couldn't think of it today.

While slaving around Hunters Hill my mind wandered to the answer i give to the problem of suffering (because i think my answer should feel as scripted and rehearsed as possible). A part of my answer includes the incarnation and how Jesus can sympathise with our sufferings (a true point).

But i wondered how this fits with the omniscience of God. If He knows all (which is true), wouldn't he already know what suffering felt like? He suffered when humanity turned away from Him prior to God breaking into human history two thousand years ago. Furthermore, He gave us the emotions that we feel when we do inevitably suffer.

All this hasn't changed the answer the answer i give to suffering, but i may wonder internally how it all exactly fits together. Deuteronomy 29:29 i guess...

What a Little Army Man has to do with God

You may not know that i carry around a little army man in my wallet. He's a centimetre tall and is the last of (i think) a couple of hundred i used to have as a little kid.

The reason i carry the little guy around is simple. He reminds me of my childhood. Both physically and spiritually.

Physically, he reminds me to pray for my parents. Spiritually, he reminds me that i am an adopted child of God.

I'm a big fan of creating reminders in life that continually point you to the things of God. Aside from my wallet, my other reminder occurs in my phone.

In my phone i have a continual note that simply says "Do you still love Jesus."

As a believer, this is the question that needs to be before me continually and answered daily.

Monday, September 1, 2008


It was pointed out to me that i make a significant number of generalisations on my blog. In review... this is indeed true.

So it needs to be said, if you don't fall into one of the sweeping assumptions that i make then the problem is obvious.

I'm normal and you're not. Simple really.

Am I a Christian Whore?

Over the weekend the word whore was bantied about in my direction. This was in response (and even prior) for divulging that I've kissed 8 women in my life (aside from family members or innocent pecks on the cheek).

Searching the Internet, to the best of my findings, the average Aussie has had 6 sexual partners in their life by the time they are 30 so I'm not hugely over the average.

So can a Christian be a "whore" even if they don't go "all the way" and only suck face? And is the number 8 over the threshold to be called a strumpet/trollop?

I don't feel like a whore...

30 minutes max...

Over the weekend i was at a conference where the speakers spoke reguarly for an hour straight. One of the speakers held your attention much better than the other and it got me thinking about how long i aim to preach for (especially since i'll be doing it again in a fortnight and am already thinking about it).

I once read (i think by John Maxwell) that to hold an audience for an hour you must be a phenominal communicator. At the conferences case, the first one was. To hold an audience for 45 minutes you must be very good. 30 minutes... you gotta be good.

But determining how long you can hold someones attention goes beyond how well you can get your point across.

You also need to consider how well you know your content and how relevant or useful will be to your listeners.

With these in mind i usually aim to limit myself to around half an hour or less. Firstly, i'm not convinced i can hold anyones attention beyond with meaningful results. Secondly, i'm less than convinced that i can mine a passage for adequate content to fill half an hour.

So... why does it matter?

It matters, baceause if you're going to communicate the gospel most effectivly, i think you should be realistic of whatyour limits are. If you are aware that your audience can't stand a 45-60 minute diatribe, then don't give them one. Furthermore, if you can give a better message in 30 minutes, then why wouldn't you?

25 minutes of quality has gotta be better than 45+ minutes where you lose those you are trying to serve.