Sunday, May 31, 2009

Background tunes

With Ange getting a new boss at work her store has been plunged into eerily silence. Unfortunately the previous boss owned and controlled the prior tunes.

But it got me thinking about church and the importance of background music. Like many things at church, it's something you only notice once it's absent.

Before the church, during active prayer and after the service, silence (i believe) isn't the greatest choice. In fact music can enhance church. Putting people in the mood for worship, provoking people into God's presence and creating an atmosphere of community and relaxation.

But be warned... church music can go awry.

One, bad music doesn't do anyone any good. Boy bands or Spice Girls do not enhance church. Ever. Neither does rap. Nor country music. But western is fine.

And two, music must be on a seldom repetition cycle. The 4,812th time a church hears a song do not enhance church.

Lotto giveaways

With the defeat of Mug head behind me (I'm now back to being one of the beautiful people), i figure i should buy myself a Lotto ticket (I actually don't, but it does create a fair transition to my topic).

I wondered, what would i do if i DID win the Lotto and came into a stack of cash. Not a mere lazy million, but a serious wad of coin. Somewhere in the order of... I dunno... $20 million.

I posted a while back that i would tithe the government stimulus package, which i did, but would i do the same for a much larger amount?

And if i would, who would i give it to?

Please don't hear me saying that Christians must be legalistic tithers. I'm not convinced we this is the case. But 10% is a nice enough figure for this ramble.

So... If we go with the figure of $2 million... Should it go to the local church? Would that be best? Would the average church (with a budget of around $250,000) know what to do with such a large gift? Would they hope/expect a chuck of the winnings?

Or should it go to a non-church projects? But what?

I used to ponder this whenever college asked you for cash. If i threw a half million at college, would it solve all their issues (and I'm not picking on college, just using them as an example)?

If i look deep within my corrupted mind, my biggest concern is about the plaque. You know, the small brass notation of the gift that "was used for the glory of God."

How big would it be? What would it say? Does it have to be brass, or could i get a special one that glows in the dark or flashes?

Finally, what happens if i later went off the rails? Would my plaque be removed? Would i be erased from the archives forever?

Oh well... maybe winning the lottery creates too many hassles. I think I'll give it a miss.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mug head

I know, with all the paranoia around with swine flu, i shouldn't inject another debilitating sickness upon the world. But, as a public service announcement, i must.

My condition? Mug head.

What you ask? Well... I'll tell you the steps you go through to be diagnosed with mug head.

First, you have a ear which gives you mild discomfort. Not pain, but discomfort.

This discomfort, located on the head side of the ear, not internally, lasts a day or so.

With the assistance of your wife, you have a splinter removed from the offending area. Yes, when you stick your head in shrubs to read water meters, you can get splinter on the back of your ear!

You then think the whole ordeal is resolved.

You are wrong.

Instead, a few hours later your head looks like a car with one door open. Your left ear attempts to detach itself from the rest of your head whilst turning red.

Eventually, you are an abomination against God and your fellow man. You are a source of laughter and ridicule for all who see your deformed head and are thankful you wear a hat at work.

A day later the condition still remains, with your ear is still trying to flap away from its home, but it's losing the battle.

What does the future hold? Either a) your ear eventually drops off, b) your ear needs to be removed Van Gough style, or c) you recover fully. I'll update you as my condition allows.

Oh... Why mug head? Well a person with ears that stick out is rightfully called a trophy head (with two handles on either side), but in my present state, i only have one protruding handle (thus a mug).

So be warned. Mug head may sweep the world and i will be the outbreak monkey...

New tunes

I've been pondering music in church. Particularly new music.

I don't have a musical bone in my body and i don't pretend to. I can't play guitar nor piano. I wouldn't go near a microphone whilst singing. In fact, I'm so musically challenged, I'm starting to doubt my very salvation...

But i still wander about music, even in my ineptitude.

And as a hopeless wonder, i wonder how you introduce new songs? Especially if i was the poor guy stuck with leading the evening service (which may have been the case in one job description), how would I?

I ask because i can't imagine too many new tunes entering the evening service.

Too often churches lose their usual worship leader and are then lead by unnatural (or unwilling) worship leaders. So what happens? Do you just sing from the same song list for years? Do you only inject songs if there is an event like a camp or conference (and then it still depends on the musos getting it right)?

Again, no answers, just questions...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


My mind has been wracked with brothels. Illegal brothels especially.

And i am defeated. Oh how i tried to think of a good topic that incorporated illegal brothels (as Gavin requested)... But alas, i must wallow in defeat or stagnate in a flood of illicit brothels.

But, i did say i tried...

I thought about the brothel across the road from church. Turns out my father-in-law did the plumbing for the cool fountain... I wondered what they had to do to get their licence (i assume they have one). Did they inform the government that they are in a residential area, across from a church (Even Jeremy wondered this on the weekend)? Also, are they expecting an upturn in trade once the Totem opens? Will they have want ads?

Aside from my local brothel (i guess that's what i can call it?), i revisited the brothel in St Leonards. But it wasn't noteworthy... i just read their water meter.

I wondered about the patronage of brothels.
Do they care about licences? Is it like a doctor... Do you want to see some credentials? How many people go to brothels? How do they stack up compared to church attendance? The Uniting Church has a +million members, would we beat them?

Finally, it occurred to me that i could attract some undesirables through this topic. Through the mystery of web-searches, someone has already been directed to my ramblings through "Christian whore" (i guess they were disappointed when they arrived here!). I going to guess that my use of "illegal brothels" will be a let down for someone in the future...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The professionals?

Lately I've been thinking about the short term results when a youth minister departs. Last night, whilst chatting to Sarah and Liam, i had an epiphany.

A youth minister, i think, isn't just the hired professional. Sure, they should have some training in the way to think theologically and the necessary skills. But when it comes to why one should be hired, i think the difference is made through dedication.

When a church is without a youth minster things fray due to the lack of dedicated attention.

Someone isn't there to plan, vision, pray and be accountable to the same extent as with lay people (as great as they are!). Someone, who has fewer vocational distractions, gives the ministry he attention it deserves and pastoral care to those who help in the ministry.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Contributions and ideas

OK, so I'm blogging less this month than normal (I've fallen below the average of one per day). But if i keep up my usual rate then I'll do somewhere between 300-340 posts a year.

So... i have an idea which I'm not sure will work.

I have two questions for you, my dear readers (both known and lurking on the web).

One - If you were going to do a guest post (which I may take you up on), what would it be titled?

Two - Is there anything you want me to post on (I assure you I can ramble on anything)?

I look forward to your replies...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Youth minister-less coin

In my mind i have stored the stat that the average time a church takes to find a new youth minister as around 12 months. From my vast experience of church interviews the time frame isn't too far off the mark.

Of course, it got me wondering... What does a church do with the cash they would have used to pay the youth minister?

Do they horde it or do they spend it on something else? And, does a church expect to be without a youth minster for so long?

I wondered because, in theory, a church should have a lazy $10-15,000 lying about. Money that has been budgeted to be spent on youth ministry.

In a perfect world (aside from being without a youth minister for only a month!), you would use it to support your lay leaders. Send them on conferences and further training. Use the cash to given them all the support they can require.

You could purchase resources that are normally offset because funds aren't available (laptops. projectors) or update the youth ministry space.

I don't personally know what should be done with the coin. But that is why I'm probably not on church finance committees...

What would i NOT want to happen? Nothing. The money just sits there. Worse still, the influx of cash is seen as a budget inflating, positive thing by the church.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Small group movie watching

I said that small group was more than just Bible study and that it should be about encountering God. To this end, i used to use a term of young adult small group to watch films and then chat about them the following week.

I figure, if i can help others view films with a lens of spirituality, then it would develop how they interact with the culture around them. Each term i would aim for a blokie film, a chick flick, an often watched film and a randomly watched movie.

Last night Ange and I watching "Angels and Demons" and i would definitely add this film to the list of small group viewings.

I liked it because, it didn't slam the church (actually i think we didn't come off half bad), it was a few hours of fun and it had good themes that could be drawn out of the film (like the balance of science and religion, amongst others).

Also on the list of films are...

Man of Fire (a blokie film where people blow up in a Denzel revenge fest)

The Breakfast Club (an 80's throwback to school culture and stereotypes)

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (the one where Anikin turns, dealing with temptation and choice/fate)

My Best Friends Wedding (a chick flick that deals with dating and whatnot)

Keeping Mun (a dark quirky film with murder and ministry families)

The Castle (a look at Aussie culture and cause it's funny... and it has dearly departed Bud)

The Shawshank Redemption (I just love the film...)

I'm sure there would be more, but these are the ones off the top of my head...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

When you're not spared the consequences

Over the last while, especially with some stuff in the media and my car accident, I've wondered how often the worst DOESN'T happen from a situation.

How often are we spared the awful consequences of our actions?

With Matthew Johns and Judge Marcus Eienfield, did they think how bad their situations have become? Both have gained great public embarrassment and lost their careers.

But, how often do people...
Drive home drunk and make it home safely?
Drive over the speed limit and not get wrapped around a pole?
Take drugs and not end up in hospital or worse?
Lie to the police and get away with it?
Be a jerk in a bar and not get in a fight?
Walk home after a night out without incident?
Be deceptive to their boss and not get fired?
Cheat on their spouse and not have it splashed all over the news?

Please note... these are not personal examples... But i imagine how many possible bad situations I've avoided and i shake my head in amazement.

I just need to remember... God doesn't always give us what we deserve. We avoid "worst case scenarios" all the time, despite our best efforts to get into major trouble.

When i look at the unfortunate situations played out in the media i have no choice but to say... There but for the grace of God go I...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pure lips?

I just heard about the "Virgin lips movement." You can also by doing a Google search or checking out this site...

The deal is that you have your first kiss on your wedding day. I'm not sure if it's your first kiss ever, or just with your spouse, but the whole thing makes me wonder.

One, if the deal is your first kiss ever, then you need to make the decision pretty early to avoid year 6 spin-the-bottle.

Two, how do you bring this up with a potential partner? If you're with someone who isn't a committed believer, bringing up chastity is difficult enough... but kissing?

Three, how would you explain your motives to a partner? There is nothing in the Bible to say that you cannot show affection through kissing.

Four, I think the whole thing is birthed out of an unrealistic wariness over showing appropriate affection. Sure, have appropriate boundaries, but if you're going out with someone and (importantly) can stop at kissing, then why not?

Finally, how would you feel if, after waiting years for a kiss, you have your first one in front of all your family, friends and other wedding attenders? Do you remember you first kiss? Would you choose an audience of hundreds for that moment?

Ange and i were surrounded by heaps people when we first kissed. But it was the Steyne dance floor. Classy, i know...

Monday, May 11, 2009

A new name

Today i went though the trials of driving/owning a new car.

I locked the keys in the car. But Mr NRMA broke into my car in under 8 seconds (very reassuring!).

I freaked out when my speedo went from 80 (the speed i was doing) to 0 and then oscillated between the two extremes (very reassuring!).

I can't get my insurance claim processed due to the hassles the soon to be bankrupt, already insurance rejected, on her P's, high-range drink driver has (very reassuring!).

Finally, it took me 30 minutes on the phone, being transferred through three people and four sessions of droning hold music to find out the my above predicament (very reassuring!).

Oh... and the new name?

My car... The piece of cra... never mind.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Small group > Bible study

In the post crash hecticness of the week i forgot to post about the small group i lead on Thursday. I thought it went ok, but with the structure i set up, it couldn't go too wrong.

In short, i opened an avenue for people to hear from God.

The reason for this were threefold.

First, I believe the God of Christianity is the Living God. A God who desires relationship with humanity, and as a part of that, communicates with His people.

Second, I think words shape your thinking, and small group is a much better term than Bible study. Small group is much more than just the "mere" study of God's Word. Small group should also encircle pastoral care, friendship and fun.

And third, I think the aim for Christians meeting together in a small group (not to mention in church) is TO HEAR FROM GOD. That doesn't have to happen in the context of Bible study alone.

On Thursday all we did was read the Bible or pray in Time Alone With God after a short spiel to help guide them.

In a hectic week, i know i was grateful for the opportunity. If each week all we did was get a short guide and given time to be with God, would be any worse than doing a 12 week study? Hmmm...

Saturday, May 9, 2009


This arvo i got a new 1990 Commodore VN to replace Cecil.

Oh, she is a marvel of technology.

Her odometer doesn't work... Nor does the air con... Either does the de-mister... The passenger-side side mirror doesn't move... The panel under the steering wheel is loose... Some of the seals around the doors are shoddy... The radio is missing... and... there is a complex sequence of steps involving the rear drivers-side door to lock the car. (And this is only what i noticed on the way from Warriewood to Manly!)

And she is all mine! All mine i tell you.

A car with plenty of... character. No name, but plenty of character.

Unworthy of the temple

Yesterday my cat became a eunuch. He could have impregnated so many other cats... but no more.

The worst thing? Now he is unworthy of entering the temple.

Poor Percival.

Monday, May 4, 2009

$20 vs 5c words

You know you've had an easy day when you stumble over a blog about making successful speeches and you think a good point is made.

That point?

Don't use a $20 word when a 5c word will do.

Truthfully, i see this a lot. Especially in churches. Particularly with ministers.

They love to use words they used/learnt in college. Words that people don't use. Anywhere. Ever. Words that other Christians don't understand (even though they may pretend that they actually do). Words that sound to non-believers like gibberish.

In most communication, simplicity is a vital key. If you're not understood, what's the point?

Sometimes i think that over-education of ministers harms effective communication.

The Monday after

So... you're car is written off and you have to take today off work to deal with the fall out...

What do you learn?

1) The first time you call your insurance company they are utterly useless. You regret that you decided to wake up at 9am to call them.

2) You quickly realise that having comprehensive car insurance is a good investment. An investment you did not make in the past.

3) Accident reports (turns out) are quite illegible when being deciphered unsuccessfully by policeman.

4) It is very useful to have a sister who used to work at a legal firm.

5) When she calls your insurance company, she gets somewhat fulfilling replies from the person on the other end of the phone line.

6) It takes half an hour to get through to your CTP insurance provider, only to be transferred twice and then dealt with in two minutes.

7) Hugs from your niece help after a crappy morning.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The death of Cecil

It is with a heavy heart that i write this post. Cecil, my beloved car, is officially dead. And i wasn't even behind the wheel.

Cecil didn't even have the dignity of dying by the side of the road, worn out by mechanical defect. Instead, Cecil was cut down in the prime of his life whilst innocently parked in Manly.

How you ask? Ploughed into by a drunk driver. The back smashed in. The front similarly so. Makes for a lovely set of photos, which I'll endeavour to post soon.

Time of death... 11pm, Saturday 2nd of May, 2009.

I would like to say that he has gone to a better place. But he now sits, awaiting to be crushed, in a tow truck holding facility.

Goodbye friend...