Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Turning into wolf-man

So far I've been reading water meters for 419 days. 418 days have been free from dog bites. Day 419... not so much.

Now, it wasn't much of a bite, more of a nip. A nip that barely drew blood and was only on my hand, but still... the bite free streak is over.

The only danger? Not rabies. Not dog flu. But the chance that i could now become a full-moon howling, hairy werewolf. Or i could become the next winger for Manly.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Job identfication

I was thinking about my time "between jobs." (read unemployed for three months early last year)

It was prompted by two things. First, I've been reading water meters for just over a year now, and second, i saw a discussion about the recession and losing your job on TV.

The guy on tele said that you lose a part of your identity when you are sacked. Why? Because of the identifying question we ask others...

The question? "Hi (insert name of person you have just met), what do you do?"

We identify people by the profession they have. We, even though we don't admit it, judge people by the job they have.

When God designed people He designed them with work in mind. He gave them a purpose and a vocation in the garden. And this was good. Our work adds value to our lives. But this shouldn't be the sole label that identifies us to others...

But, when you are unemployed... How do you answer the introduction question? More importantly, how do you answer the question and maintain face?

I don't have the answer. When i was out of work, i definitely didn't have the answer. But this blog isn't always about answers... More about questions. Ramblings, if you prefer.

Today aware or future focused

With the new shopping center quickly taking shape across the road from the church at Balgowlah i was reminded of the "eternal planning" that occurred awaiting it's construction.

Now, i don't want this to read as an attack on the church at Balgowlah, but it reminded me of the future plans that i encountered at many church interviews.

Quite often they were waiting on the completion of a "major event," be it their own building project or one "across the way."

The thing i wonder is... Can churches be to future focused? Can a church be waiting for the monument to be built, whilst treading water until that day arrives?

I think it can happen. All too often.

Too often churches "lift their eyes" to the big event on the horizon, but neglect what is at their feet, or the immediate next step in their own journey. Ministry opportunities are missed, or not fully embarked upon. Finances are tied up or decisions put off, while the "greater plans unfold."

The shame? How many people are not ministered to because they don't live in the new apartments, but a block removed? How much stronger would the church be (and be a better place in the future) if ministries flourished, not "kept afloat in the meantime?"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Womanly rant

Ok, I've still got a bee in my bonnet about women in ministry. Not that i ever wear a bonnet. But if i did, it would be full of the following rant. Overflowing even.


I'm not saying that every youth minister must be a woman. But having youth ministry teams devoid of females is stupid. Utterly foolish.


Simple. I haven't had my first period. Nor my first boyfriend. Nor had my "group" at school break up. Nor had to buy a formal dress. Nor... (Insert a further 1000 examples that happen in a young woman's life that blokes don't go through)

To deny a female member of the youth group leaders who understand (or at least more than a guy would) is silly. Foolishness, if you desire to properly care for the youngster relationally, socially and (i believe) spiritually to the best of your ability.

Please note... the bonnet is now full. Rant over...

Digger shakin

Last night i went to the RSL with Ange and Gavin and shook a few diggers hands. As i said yesterday, you gotta love diggers on ANZAC day.

But i wondered way i did it...

Was it to get the warm appreciation i received through the Digger talking me up to my wife later? No, that was an unexpected bonus.

Was it to make the old guy feel good? Partly.

Or, was it because he served in battle, and because of that, i (hopefully) will never have to? Absolutely.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Arr Rump Pa Pum Pum

I've said in the past that there is no Christmas without a viewing of The Little Drummer Boy.

As i trawled through the Internet with the ANZAC parade in the background (gotta love the old diggers!) i found this site ( This site gives plenty of chuckles...

One post talks about Christmas carols. In it, he give this thoughts on The Little Drummer Boy...

Little Drummer Boy - Alright, major bone to pick here. I've read the accounts of Jesus' birth numerous times, and guess what? THERE WERE NO DRUMMERS AT THE MANGER. Apparently within the past century or so, some bozo just came along and decided to write a song about a kid banging a drum while the Virgin Mary was giving birth. How did this junk get popular? This has no basis in historical reality. Had a drummer been there, Joseph would have beaten the crap out of him, like any responsible husband would. Tell me, you Dads out there, what if your wife was in labor and some kid shows up in the delivery room parum-pu-pum-pumming while your wife is pushing? You would feed him his drumsticks. This "carol" is the single worst song ever written.

I wish to clarify. I think the STORY makes Christmas (aside from Jesus), not the song held within.

And he's right. Joseph would kick his weak armed, small drummed, girlie ass.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tainting revelation

I've been wondering about sin.

If it was revealed to you that i had slept with a chick before i was with Ange, and consequently had her get an abortion, would you think any differently of me? (just so you know, it didn't happen)

I've been wondering because, in truth, we all hide skeletons in our lives. Some small, some huge. We know all of our skeletons, but not in the closets of others.

And when we catch a glimpse of a huge skeleton of someone else, does it taint how we see them in the future? Do we see the sin more than the person we saw prior?

I would like to say that it doesn't happen. That we are understanding. That we are a bunch of people who leave the past in the past.

Truthfully? I'm just not sure it's always the case...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Experienced expectations

This week I've been busting my hump at work. The work hasn't been all that hard, but I've had to work lengthy days to get it all done. But, i knew what was ahead of me going in because I'd read the routes in previous quarters.

It reminded me of something one of the more experienced water meter readers mentioned once. He said that you shouldn't work really hard to finish a days work if it will take more than the prescribed seven hours. Instead, you should tell head office that it can't be done and hope it will be reduced in the future.

But I'm not that bothered and work through the package.

My point you wonder? Well it has to do with hours.

By the time I'm reading a route for the second time, and definitely the third, i can finish 600+ water meters in a day, even if it took me longer the initial time.

But here the downside of experience kicks in for the new guy. I can do a days work that I'm familiar with, whilst a newer reader will take significantly longer.

The same thing goes for church work when they allocate hours to a position. (An understandable thing that churches do, but something I'm not a huge fan of.) As time goes on the expectations on a church worker will stretch to the output that person produces (or worse still, the person preceding them).

For example, if someone is paid for 20 hours, but actually do 25 hours, then this gives the church a false expectation of what paying 20 hours will get you.

Similarly, with experience, someone who has been in a position a lengthy period will produce a disproportionate amount of energy due to familiarity.

Do i have an answer? Not really. It comes down to churches being aware what they want and how long things actually take. Also, it comes down to church workers either a) not going over their allotted hours, even if things need to go undone or b) honesty about the overtime they put in and inform the church.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Buna ziua

This a note to the Romanian visitor who swung by earlier today. Buna ziua!

For those who aren't bi-lingual in English and Romanian, it means hello.

Dear visitor... whilst you are here... may i thank your great nation for adding the word goulash to our vocabulary.

Jesus the alien?

Today i wondered about the resurrection and how i was meaning to post about the possible "alternate explanations." Oh well... next year. But surely, there are more crazy explanations than the normal ones bantered about.

Example? Jesus was an alien who "went back to the mother ship" whilst in the tomb. Also, the star at his birth, was really a spaceship.

So i decided to search the web. Sure enough... the truth is out there.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Peter... umm no

On Friday i was reminded of my remembrance of names... or lack of.

In my case, it was the new kid a youth group, that random girl at camp or scripture child.

The twisted tale of forgetting kids names goes as follows...
STEP 1: The kid is introduced as "Susan."
STEP 2: I hear "Susan" with my ears, but hear "Susie" in my mind.
STEP 3: Susan is disregarded from my mind and the kid is forever known as Susie.

Sure, i know the importance of remembering names. It gives value to the kid, helps build relationships and aids in discipline, but when you have 60 kids over the week of scripture you can be forgiven for messing up the blonde Anna, with the blonde Annabele. Or the brown haired Kirsty, with Kristy or Cassy.

But back to Friday... At the bar a guy loudly exclaimed "Peter!" to another chap as he extended his hand. The response... "Umm no... Graham." (another guy who shares my name)

Giggles were had by all who heard.

Decent signs

I know I've written about crappy church signs before, but today i actually saw one that i thought was particularly good.


Sure, the sign wasn't funny, but it still liked it. And true, the sign didn't make some witty remark about culture or the news, and yet i liked.

Why? Because it got my interest. I would want to hear the sermon that matched this title. As a believer, it didn't drive me away, unlike many other church signs.

More so, if i wasn't a Christian, i would be interested. After Easter i imagine a heap of people would be interested in the answer to this question. You say Jesus is alive... now what?

But, it was only a sermon title. And it made me think, if the title of your sermon wouldn't interest people enough to turn up, is it worth giving in the first place?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Stimulated by Uncle Kev

Please, don't contact your mandatory reporter about my admission of abuse...

If you're an overseas reader, take note...
The Priminister of Australia is Kevin Rudd. Thus Uncle Kev...
The government is dishing out economic stimulus packages to folks like me... Thus the stimulation.

The result? My bank balance has exploded by $900.
Too bad I've already spent $1200... (Oh, the treasurer would be so proud!)

Noteworthy... Not really... Happenings

I don't normally write what has been going on in my life. You know, the details of what i have actually did, not the (usually) inarticulate thoughts that plague my mind.

The past few days have been quite good, noteworthy, but not really...

On Friday... I finished work at noon around Hornsby.
Noteworthy: Because i finished early.
Not really: Because I've only worked beyond 2:30pm once this fortnight and not worked a weekend in months.

On Friday night... I went out with Gavin in an early night.
Noteworthy: Because no-one spat in our food.
Not really: Because the week before the Kebab man spat in Gavin's tray-of-meat.

On Saturday... Ange and printed out photos our our lovely cat.
Noteworthy: Because now we can begin to decorate our unit with Percy images.
Not really: Because it replaces the pictures that came with the frame about our TV.

5am, Sunday morning... Ange banished the cat from the bedroom.
Noteworthy: Because this was the first time we enabled the kitten to stalk us during the night. Ange removed the cat because it was clawing my face.
Not really: The kitten's claws were retracted at the time.

Today... Ange and i went to the Easter Show.
Noteworthy: Hand-feeding baby animals. Showbags. Winning toys. Now owning a Superman mug. Watching wood chopping.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Coins 200 years in the making

I imagine the good folk (not to mention convicts) on the first fleet wondered what would become of the fledgling nation that they had "discovered" and how it would be marked in history. The answer? A large silver coin contained in a flimsy cardboard booklet.

It turns out that Ange still has her Bi-Centennial coin that we got in 1988 whilst at school. I was in year one so i probably lost it on the way home and ate the cardboard.

But my darling wife is sitting on our future retirement nest egg.

By now it must be worth... almost a dollar.

Imagine... in 50 years it's value will balloon up to... $2.50.

Maybe. If we bump into a collector. If he's having a really good. And he thinks it's something of greater value.

Or... If we melt down the coin into it's singular components and the price of cheap metals rise dramatically.

Communion Awkwardness

Over the last few weeks there was a lot of communion about. After all, it was Easter...

I realised two potential moments of awkwardness.

First, the line up. You know, when the church members head up the front to receive communion. When do you go to line up?

If you go up first, you're eager, or in a rush. If you're near the end, what's the delay? Or, how short does the queue need to be before you step up? Can you speak in the line? Do you smile to those going back to their seats? Finally, do you let those on the isle go before you so you don't need to shimmy past? Or do you let those on the outside go first and follow, so they don't shimmy after taking the sacrament?

Second, the wine/juice drink timing. If the church is new to you, and it isn't announced prior, do you assume that you all drink together? If not, what do you do if you consume too early? Do you pretend to go with your empty cup again in unison?

Oh communion, you quagmire or potential awkwardness...

Selling the bricks and morter

Over the last few days I've read the water meter of quite a few scout halls. Like churches, they seem to be everywhere and apparently own a stack of land.

I'm not the leading authority in the attendance of cubs/scouts/ventures/brownies/guides, but i don't imagine the buildings being packed to the rafters. Colour me biased by my days in a scarf and woggle, but i just don't see it...

Now imagine what the scouts could do if they merged many of the ill attended, dwindling, struggling divisions and sold the excess land. They would be loaded. They could use that to... umm... well, I'm not sure... but they could do a lot. Buy rope i guess...

The same logic could be applied to the church. Imagine the potential impact the church could make. It would be massive! There must a dozens of dying churches near other churches. Dozens of buildings that could be better used when sold and used for mission. Dozens of crappy manses that fall into a similar category.

Disclaimer #1 - I'm not ringing the death bell for the smaller church. Just the ineffective churches that will be dead in a few years, they're members just aren't all in the ground yet.

Disclaimer #2 - I'm not saying that we combine all churches until there is nothing but mega churches dotted about.

BUT, imagine what could be done with the MILLIONS of dollars that would come in from the sale of disused or run down buildings.

The buildings that remain could all be brought up to date. Churches could be adequately staffed with people who are properly paid. Training facilities could be properly resourced or established. Overseas missions could be supported and instigated.

But no, lets keep the empty manses from the 1930's...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Theologically off base?

Today i got the news that I'm back on the ministry job merry-go-round since my latest hopeful option fell through.

The reason? My responses to a theological Q&A didn't mesh with their church or leadership in regards to prayer, predestination and women in ministry.

Below is what i wrote... Am i so off base?

WARNING: Lenghty quote below. I've made the type smaller so it doesn't feel so much like an essay...

4. What is prayer?

Prayer is the dialogue between God and man. We are given the privilege to talk to our Father and, even greater, hear from Him. Prayer gives us the opportunity to offer up adoration, confession, petition and thanksgiving to God. Here we also get the chance to have our hearts meet with our Maker and develop a desire to share in the things which move his heart.

8. What’s your understanding of the role of women in ministry and specifically leadership?

I don't have a problem with women exercising the gifts God has given them. In fact, I think the church should be all for it. This is one of the things which I value about the Uniting Church.

If this means up front ministry, so be it. If they are good at it, even better. Just like any member of the church, male or female, this ministry area should be encouraged if the gifting and passion are evident.

I think the bible is pretty clear, when it speaks in Joel 2 about the Holy Spirit being poured out to both genders, and men and women ministering in the Spirit. This, along with the value Jesus gave women during his ministry and the role they played in the early church, particularly in the last chapter of Romans, paint a compelling picture.

Personally, I feel that you should start from the position that both genders should exercise ministry freely in a church, and you need to be theologically argued away from that position, not vise-versa (women are excluded until you are convinced otherwise).

Beyond this, logically, it's self defeatist to exclude women.

First of all, the majority of churchgoers are of the fairer gender. Why would you choose to exclude 2/3 of your congregation? When you want to equip and empower all people to have an active, purposefully ministry, why would you not give them an opportunity to have one? And, why would you not give them examples to follow and look up to?

12. What does predestination mean?

Predestination speaks, primarily, of the knowledge of God. Beyond the constraints of time, God can see all of history in a glimpse. Thus, he knows what will happen at all times, at the same time. This omniscience of God doesn’t eliminate our personal choice to receive the gift of salvation that God offers to all people, but God knows who will accept this gift of grace.

Easter day off

Today my Mum asked why i worked on Easter Monday instead of having the day off. I figured, why should i have the day off?

Good Friday is significant. Easter Sunday is significant. Easter Monday though... Not so much.

Lets face it, on Friday Jesus was crucified. On Sunday he was risen. On Monday Jesus... Wondered what a rabbit will have to do with the future remembrance of the previous days events.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Singing and what-not

Over Easter I've had cause to ponder about singing.

Church is one of the few places guys are expected to sing. Well... there, sporting events and the pub. Actually, i can add weddings to the list. Awkward, awkward weddings.

Especially Christian weddings.

Awkward because a stack of the people at the wedding aren't believers and thus don't know the songs nor believe the words. And awkward if the song has a clap.

Why? Because some Christians will clap. Very few. But some.

And they will stand out.

Not in a good way.

What's more awkward than a handfull of people clapping in time (or at least nearly) and everyone else wondering why. Or the slow decline it takes when they realise that it is awkward. Worse? When they don't desist, but persevere through the seven repetitions of the chorus.

Even worse? Actions. The song has actions...

The only way out? Man actions. When you do the actions of a song in miniature. The parameters? No actions that can't be made my moving your elbows from your side or your legs. Hands only... end of story.

Belting up like a man

On Saturday night i was chastised by Gavin for for way i do up my belt. Turns out i do it in a womanly fashion. I tuck the leftover section of my belt into my right belt hook first. Poor form I'm told.

So, falling in line, i changed my belt there and then. Was it done in public? Yes. Did that make me feel odd for the rest of the night? Definitely.

It reminded me of something that was touted as a way to remind yourself of God's presence. In short, you would change a routine and thus have an avenue to be reminded to pray.

Normally, it would be the way you tie your shoes, the wrist you wear your watch on, your phone ring/message tone or the hands you hold your knife and fork. Well i have a new item to add to the list... the way you tighten your belt.

Stuff Christians Like

I found this blog called Stuff Christians Like at

I'm amazed by a few things...

First, this guy is up to #519 after only 16 months.

Second, it makes my "Things Christians do..." topic look pretty measly. To reach the massive number of 519 i would need to blog for approx another 915 months (or 76 and a quarter years!). If he stops his list now then i will be level when I'm 103 years old...

Third, i can identify with hundreds of the points.

Finally, i spent HOURS trawling though this site.

If you also want to have half a day disappear before your eyes then check it out!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Church wear

Lately I've been thinking about church and what you wear. It partly springs up because Gavin wore a suit to church (due to I'm coming straight from work) and partly because of a statement i saw on a churches website.

The church answered the potential question that visitors have about attire and worship. It said that as a bloke you would fit in with jeans and a collared shirt, and as a women... they wisely skirted around giving an answer.

With Easter approaching, i wondered if i should dress up for church. But i don't know how it would go over.

I don't think Balgowlah is a place that demands its attendees wear their "Sunday best." Definitely not in the evening service. You don't even have to wear shoes. In fact, if you did, you would stand out most weeks.

But it makes me wonder. What answer would i give if i was asked what someone should wear to church?

My first suggestion would be to wear something comfy and non-offensive.

But what message would the church send if i said to dress sharp. After all, you are coming into the presence of the Creator.

Maybe the clothes we wear could further draw us into the presence of God and enhance our worship. Perhaps...

Millennial deception

I have a confession... I tried to deceive you all. My devout readers, and lurkers who I'll never hear from nor know, you were going to be a part of a ruse. But alas, technology has let me down and given you a reprieve...

The plan was for the 1000th visitor to be photographed holding an ale, fooling you into thinking that i brought it for him, and he was finally getting his just reward.

The reality? Alexander Charles Hoffman was indeed snapped with ale. An ale i did not purchase for him. It was a nice photo as well...

But my phone has magically begun receiving photo messages. Before, if i was set a photo i could access it via the net, but no more.

So... no photo. No sneaky deception.

Anyway... now you know that Hoffy won. If you want to be jealous, you may now proceed...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Death or life?

Yesterday Ange was sharing with me her disappointment at only being able to go to the Good Friday service over Easter (due to work).

It got me thinking about Easter and how we explain what the gospel is. Regularly, Christians say that the gospel is "that Jesus died for your sins."

This is true, he did die for our sins. But when we celebrate Easter, we celebrate the resurrection.

Therefore, shouldn't we tell people that the gospel is that Jesus rose from the grave? It's not as though you miss the death to get to the resurrection...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Elligible or picky?

I wondered about my years of youth ministry leadership, prior to by years as a youth minster, and i wonder how i got picked.

Truth being told, i feel a great deal of it had to do with age and availability.

Sure, i believed in Jesus... i was old enough... and i didn't have anything else on. But, if i went to a larger church, would they have picked me?

Same situation for camp...

I wonder, because i didn't really face that challenge once i was at Balgowlah as youth minister. I could be relatively picky when it came to leaders. I had a large enough selection pool to choose from and could select those passionate about youth ministry.

If i were to work at a smaller church, would i still be picky or take anyone willing?

The ultimate solution lies with solid discipleship and raising up mature believers. They will eventually be the leaders of the future. But prior to then, do you "stick it out" with fewer, but better leaders? If so, do you hinder the ultimate solution?

Also, what about those who aren't great to begin with, but get better with the opportunity? After all, that was me...

Responsive awkwardness

It occurred to me once again how the things we say in church services lose guests.

I say once again, because i first recognised it when attending the morning service on my own. At the start i had little idea what exactly i was meant to do and when... and i was meant to be in the church loop!

I had no idea what to say during communion. I couldn't "sing the eternal hymn." Who knew that you had to stand during hymns, or that you could stand prematurely? I didn't know to recite "thanks be to God" after "this is the word of the Lord..." I didn't know to say the "and also with you" to the minister when he informs me that the Lord is with me. I was fortunate if i could mumble the Lord's Prayer! Worse... who decided that you stand after the offering and sing a song which we're all magically meant to know!

Well, I've noticed it again... Liturgical awkwardness.

The moment when visitors, or people new to church, have no idea what's going on.

People mumble words in unison at seemingly random points. No words on the screen, no warning that it may be happening.

Do i have an answer? No, not really. When you go places for the first few times, stuff is different.

When you go to the RSL they turn to a torch each evening and recite a poem. Seems odd to an outsider.

Places have unwritten customs, church isn't immune.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Who noticed...

I'm fortunate that this blog isn't under extreme scrutiny.

If so, someone may have noticed, like i only did today, that i posted about women in ministry on April 1st.

Why does it matter? Well i said that women are OK for ministry. It could have been an awkward April Fools post.

Luckily, it was not the case...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ministers with teens

Over the last few days I've been giving a bit of thought to the benefit i had from having a senior minister with a teen in the youth ministry.

Now, i understand that in some instances the combination above can be one fraught with disaster and conflict, but not on my case. In my case, the partnership had numerous positives.

First of all, the guy in charge wants you to do a good job and succeed. He has high stakes involved... his kids!

Second, you get the perfect spitborad. You can pitch potential ideas and events to him and he can give you feedback as both a co-worker AND a parent. If you have an honest relationship, you can be told if the idea needs more work, or if the event has some bugs to iron out.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Women in ministry

I'm currently thinking about the role of women in ministry. I'm expecting an e-mail from the minister i met on Monday to discuss (potentially) vocationally important theological standpoints.

I figure the question of women and ministry will come up.

Truthfully, i don't have a problem with women exercising the gifts God has given them. In fact, i reckon the church should be all for it.

If this means up front ministry, so be it. If they are good at it, even better. Just like any member of the church, male or female.

I think the bible is pretty clear, when it speaks in Joel about the Holy Spirit being poured out to both genders and men and women ministering in the Spirit. This, along with the value Jesus gave women during his ministry and the role they played in the early church, particularly in the last chapter of Romans, paint a compelling picture.

For me, i feel that you should start from the position that both genders should exercise ministry freely in a church, and you need to be theologically argued away from that position, not vise-versa (women are excluded until you are convinced otherwise).

Beyond this, logically, it's pretty stupid to exclude women.

First of all, the majority of churchgoers are of the fairer gender. Why would you choose to exclude 2/3 of your congregation? When you want to equip and empower all people to have an active, purposefully ministry, why would you not give them an avenue to have one? And, why would you not give them examples to follow and look up to?

More so, why would it be ok for a women to lead/teach children or teenage guys, but not adults? Are we that precious? And what message does it send when woman can teach other lasses, but not blokes?

Seems quite silly really...