Monday, June 29, 2009

Ready, Steady, Hanna!

I saw Hanna on Ready, Steady, Cook today. Totally awesome.

Best. Episode. Ever.

I just envy those who were there live like Sarah and Karina.

Not that i watch or anything... I was with my Mum at the time.

She was watching. Not me.

Manly men like me don't watch cooking shows.

Anyway... It clashes with Parliament Question Time!

The X Commandments of youth ministry leadership

With Challenge Camp quickly approaching and my imminent start at a new church, I've had youth ministry on the brain. So... with an hour wait at Royal North Shore whilst my Dad was being discharged and a 90 minute wait with Ange at the medical centre... i thought this up.

The Ten Commandments of Youth Ministry Leadership...

WARNING: I have broken each of the following... So as one who has failed...

I - Love Jesus - If you don't love God, then you're wasting your time. Worse, if you attempt to fake following Jesus, you will be found out. Eventually the kids will catch on that you're life doesn't match what you teach. Don't be a hypocrite.

II - Love and Care for the Kids - Be open and genuinely interested in those you have been given the privilege to lead. Share with them your experiences and ensure that the youngsters are safe in your care. Guard them spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally and relationally from any dangers... either from outsiders, yourself or others in the group.

III - Be the Adult - It may sound obvious, but you are the responsible one. You, believe it or not, ARE the leader. It may mean that you feel like the killjoy at times, that great jokes go unspoken and that the amazing prank only happens in your mind... But be the adult, not the teen.

IV - Lead by Example - You can't take others where you yourself haven't been or aren't prepared to go. Lead from the front. If you want kids to put on shoes, then wear them yourself. If you want them to listen, then do it yourself first. Sometimes this will mean that you need to go outside of your comfort zone and take the first step, but that's ok.

V - Be Aware of your Co-leader - If you have the blessing to have a co-leader, use it wisely! Be aware of their strengths and limitations. Be aware of their fluctuating energy levels and the things that irritate them. Support one another. Work as a team (yes, this means communication!). Utilise each others gifts. Show your co-leader that you are thankful that they are there!

VI - Know what's going on - Know the program. Know where you and your kids need to be. Be on time. Know what is required prior and during the activities that you're all involved in. If you don't know the answers follow the next commandment...

VII - Ask for Help - There is no such thing as a super-leader. Don't be so proud that you will choose to make an easily avoidable mistake. Learn from others experience. Ask advice from those who have gone through similar experiences and actually listen.

VIII - Travel in a Pack - In each group there will the enthusiastic kids and the slothful kids. One teenager will always want to rush ahead and one will move at snails pace. Aim to have as little gap between speedy teen and slow-poke youth.
IX - Complain Up - If you have issues, do something about it that will move towards a solution. Don't let bitterness, anger or miscommunication fester. Avoid gossip at all cost.

X - Have Fun and Create Memories- Despite the imposing nature of much of the above points, take time to smile. Create times to laugh. God's people should not be known as stick-in-the-mud's. Do things that are a little crazy. Climb a tree. Have a food fight. Spend time together and joke will arise. Enjoy hanging with your kids... Usually the most teachable moments are the ones that are unplanned.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I just beat the computer 32-17 in boxes. Oh now it reminds me of 2 Unit maths... So many games of boxes... so little mathematics.

I think i have just worked out why i did not ace maths in year 12.

Oh well... Back to playing boxes.

Self esteem boost

It took ten minutes, but my blog clock broke.

Thus it has been removed. In its place... I can now litter the Internet (and visitors to my blog) with boosts to their self esteem.

Turns out I'm hot and unstoppable.

I know i feel better, despite my malfunctioning clock.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

New additions

I figured i should give you even fewer reasons to leave my ramblings.

So... as a means to an end... i added new gadgets to amuse, inform and further your procrastination.

You can now see where you are in the world when you look at my blog (not to mention where others have been). But note: The numbers are out of whack by a few thousand due to history of the site.

You can also see the time, in case gazing at the corner of the screen is too much to ask (unless you're an international guest).

Also, you can now indulge in a bit of poker (i won my first hand with three 8's) or boxes (i shamefully got smashed 44-5 in my first dabble).

Wrapping up... To anyone who is drawn away from important essay writing, exam studying, work or recreation, i apologise, but thank you for your patronage.

Theology of snogging

Today, while i was waiting to get my haircut, i wondered about kissing. I wondered... If a teenager came up to me and asked me if i thought about kissing, what would i say and why...

In my mind, I'm not talking about pecks on the cheek with your Aunt, but snogging. Making out. Sucking face. Getting nookie. A Pash'n'Dash. Playing tonsil hockey...

Like many modern relationship issues, the Bible is relatively quiet. Kisses are referenced primarily between family members (and mostly between guys) or fellow believers in a non-sensual manner. The only exception would be the Song of Songs, but again, the scriptures are pretty spartan on locking lips.

Actually, the internet is also surprisingly quiet on the matter...

So... Is kissing meaningful? Should it be?

I discussed the topic with the person cutting my hair and she didn't really have an answer.

So... I'll vomit some musings... Plenty of things to think about.

Do you remember all the people you have have extended periods of time kissing? Were they all actually meaningful? Could you just snog and move on?

How is the equation of kissing meaningfulness changed if you never see the person again (or at least don't expect to)?

Can it ever be meaningless? Especially for believers...

Is the importance dependant on the individual? Does it depend on age, gender or sexual experience? Should it?

If kissing has little value, should you stick with a dud kisser? Or, if it is significant, should you dump them? Does it mean that much?

Should you think this much about kissing? Does it just create more pressure? Does it make a mountain out of a molehill?

Hmmmm... It's not like your becoming one flesh...

So... What do you reckon?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ministry lube

First of all i want to just say that i won't be chatting about the contraception that used to be about in the youth ministry office a decade ago...

Instead i want to spiel about a question i was asked today.

I was asked about administration. More specifically, if i was any good at admin in my ministry.

Initially, i just said that it was a necessary evil. You do paperwork cause you gotta.

But the more the question bounces around in my head, the more importance administrative duties became.

Why? Because it is the lube of ministry. Paperwork makes the functions of ministry run smoother.

What kind of things am i talking about?

Well advertised events and programs, with proper details and forewarning.
Adequate followup, collating of information and reflection.
Clear, meaningful rosters.
Leaders filling out the mandatory paperwork.
Kids filling out mandatory medical details.
Accurate contact details for kids and awareness of what means of communication works best with kids and leaders.
Methodical attendance records.
Transparent financial dealings.
Planning with an eye on events in the next week, month, term and year.

When administration runs more effectively your ministry runs at an advantage to one that doesn't.

You avoid problems that arise from a breakdown of communication. Problems with ministers, with parents, with leaders and with kids.
You can plan more strategically... building on the events just gone or on the horizon.
And, to some extent, you can plan with an attendance figure/audience in mind.

The point? Good admin = Smooth ministry.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Name chuckles

With Claire on mission i thought back to my college mission days and had a chuckle. Why? The name... YouthRUSH.

Whilst in Griffith, this was a suggestion for the youth event we would put on.

And what's not to like? It says that the event is for young people. It tells them what speed they are to roll up to the event. It's everything that you could ever desire in a title.

Until you say it out loud.

Go on... I dare you. Say YouthRUSH.

If you don't quite capture the point... have someone else proclaim the name to you.

The result? Youth Thrush.

Despite any positive messages the name might have conveyed, the fact that it phonetically had a STI in the title, confused the point.

Were we now promoting the dangers of free sex? Were we promoting abstinence or sharing diseases?

Oh, the confusion that would have run amok the street and in minds of the youngsters in The Griff.

But it could have been worse. While collating a group of ministry names i discovered a blokes ministry named The Tool Shed. I hope it's vastly different to the establishment that shares the same name on Oxford Street...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Awfulness to goodness

Yesterday i preached my worst sermon in living memory.

In the morning service i preached on David vs Goliath and it was a stinker. I rambled, I went WAY too long, my jokes died and my illustrations weren't well received.

I would like to say that i had excuses. I could provide them... My Dad is in hospital again and i visited him on Saturday. I lost a few days of prep through Ange and i going away on holidays. The night before i didn't get to sleep until 3:30, even through i went to bed at 12. And to top it all off, I experimented with shorter notes despite my lack of prep and rehearsal.

I was under prepared, under practiced and it showed.

Heck, as i was giving the sermon i even started to bore myself!

But yesterday i also preached a pretty good sermon.

In the evening service i preached on David vs Goliath. I was on point, I was entertaining, and my jokes and illustrations enhanced the sermon.

The difference? I rehearsed once more, left the pulpit and edited majorly.

Having notes that aren't word-for-word is fine, as long as you know where you are and are familiar with the transitions between points.

Rehearsing standing up was also a massive help. I used my props much more effectively.

Finally, i reworked the structure of the sermon. I cut much of the delivery time without losing content. And... it was much better. It flowed better. It was given in a much more conversational style. And... it had far superior follow up. Claire nailed her post-sermon spiel.

So... all up... an interesting day. What began crappy, turned out alright.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Whining about wine

With Ange and i coming back from wine country i have been pondering, without much resolution, about having wine for communion.

It was first raised at the evening service and has been bouncing around my head even since.

I should clarify that i think the issue isn't one that ought to cause division. Really, the importance of communion is uniting a body of believers together with each other and what God has done in an act of remembrance.

But still... Wine or Juice?

I trawlerd the net and didn't find any solid answers, just the two sides of the arguement. Some said it must be "fruit of the vine" to stick with the manner that the Lord's Supper was instituted and that wine is a powerful Biblical symbol.

We are to be attatched to the vine. Wine was a sign of God's blessing and a gift from God to be enjoyed. Wine is a superior symbol of the sacrafical blood of Jesus.

But, as long as you have communion with the propper mindset, is grapejuice acceptable? With people who struggle with alcohol consumption, the administration of communion to children and those with various allergies, why not use juice? Why bring up potential obsticales to those people partaking in communion?

Personally, i only choose wine on special ocassions such as Easter or Christmas. Partly because it is at these times they are garunteed to be offered, but also because we particularly focus on the central gospel message. Wine seems to focus me more on these seasons and theis significance.

Do i really think it matters? Not really... As long as the sacrament serves as a reminder of what Jesus did and connects you to the local and wider church and it's mission.

But, would i go so far as replacing wine with Coke? No way...

Monday, June 15, 2009


Tomorrow Ange and i go away for our first holiday in over two years... Excellent.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Marriage prep

It seems the seasons of engagements are upon us again. First it was Katrina and Dave, who had their engagement party yesterday, and next it was Liz and Mark.

It got me thinking about the mental checklist i went through prior to proposing to Ange (all of which she was unaware of).

First, I wanted to have over $5000 in the bank, excluding the cost of the engagement ring. Really, this wasn't too difficult due to saving my loose change and $5 bills over a couple of years. Ange and i still do this and you save a couple of grand annually.

Second, I decided on a location. I knew 9 months in advance where the event would take place. How? Ange just mentioned in passing that it was her favourite place in the world. You just need to be alert...

Third, I sort advice from other guys. I had a chat to blokes who had solid marriages and were wise chaps. In my case they included my former youth minister, my minister (and soon to be boss), a mate who got married a year earlier, my college dean and a former Challenge Camp room group leader.

Finally, i looked closely at what the Bible had to say about being married and being a husband. And what can i say? This was by far the most scary step. When you enter into a covenant relationship, cleaving to your wife, leaving your family, loving and sacrificing for her like Christ does for the church... Damn... that's a serious deal.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Wanna feel tough? Kick in a door.

How do i know? Yep... this morning... i kicked in a door.

Why? Was i turned away from reading a water meter and i went all John Rambo on their fence? No. Did i get all Chuck Norris on a store that wasn't open when i came by? No.

The circumstances are much more domestic, for it was a door inside our own home.

Let me spin you a yarn...

Over the last few days the doorknob of the spare room has been detaching from the rest of the door. No problem. Usually, you just reattach it after voicing your disgust at the malfunction.

Not last night.

Last night the doorknob broke away from the door. "Argh" i exclaimed. But this time a piece of metal few from the door... a piece of metal that enables the doorknob to turn... and thus open. Important? You bet.

Why? This morning the door was closed and the door couldn't be opened.

The problem i faced? My work phone was on the other side of the door and i needed it to work.

The solution? Freak out.

Then, after determining that there was no other way to enter the room, kick the door in. Channel your inner Steven Segal-Jackie Chan-John Rambo-Chuck Norris-Bruce Lee-Jean Claude Van Damm and unleash a furious kick.

The result? One open door. In addition... One broken door frame and one broken light switch.

Now i strut around with the rest of the house quivering with fear. No lock will ever dare to get in the way of my work ever again. Why? Because I'm tough and can unleash the fury...

Actually, i wish i caught it on camera. I would send the footage into TV execs and surely land a part on Law and Order. I would bust down all kinds of doors on Law and Order: Obstacles Causing Inconvenience.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rolling with the gifts

It was pointed out to me that i mentioned that i said that, during my ramble about tongues, the gift of speaking in tongues was a role in the life of every Christian.

I should (at least attempt to) clarify. There is a difference between a gift and the ordinary role in the life of a Christian (you can either read the whole diatribe or skip to the gist at the end).

Any spiritual gift, tongues or another listed in the bible, has the potential to be used in the life of a believer. If you have put your faith in Jesus, the bible says that you are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Paul says that the Spirit gives the gifts, and thus, any Christian is capable to exercise any spiritual gift in the ordinary role capacity. During their life they may not do them all, but the potential is there.

As believers, we are called to have (and this is not a complete list) faith, intercede for others, evangelise, serve, give, exhort, lead, teach, be hospitable and even (if the need warrants) perform any of the "supernatural gifts (speaking/interpreting tongues, performing miracles, healings or exorcisms)."

But a gift is different to the ordinary role a gift may have in the life of a Christian. A believer will have the spiritual gift if they have the special ability to exercise any of these roles. This will be evident because they will be used more often, more efficiently, more passionately and with more enjoyment. The reason (and this is HUGELY important)? To build up the body of Christ.

But, no gift is more or less important than any other. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12, one part of the body cannot elevate itself above another. The nose can't downplay the importance of the eye, nor the hand to the foot.

But what if you don't exercise a spiritual gift, even if you are capable to perform it as a role? Well, the reasons aren't up to me. The Spirit decides what, when and where spiritual gifts are used and believers lives played out.

But, I'm pretty sure that during your lifetime, you don't need to do every spiritual discipline. You may never perform some of the gifts, or do so seldomly. That's ok. Some will not fit with who you are or where God has placed you.

Your gifts are determined in connection to your personality, background, talents, opportunities and (remembering the reason in the first place) the needs of the body of believers you are connected to.

Keeping it short...

The Spirit lives, dwells and moves through Christians.
The Spirit gives gifts and empowers believers to exercise them.
All Christians have the potential to do any of the gifts, even if they may not.
A gift is the special ability to perform the ordinary role in a Christian lifestyle.
Why? To build up the body of Christ.

I'm pretty sure this clarifies anything, but it gets it out of my mind...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The first two chapters were good

I'm reading a book at the moment that is much better than i thought it was going to be when i first picked it up. The book is called "Why Guys Need God." I originally expected it to be the usual, guys are rubbish... wah, wah, wah.

But i, so far, have been surprised.

The things that have jumped out at me...

First, the author is correct when saying that we all too often jump straight to Genesis 3 in the bible. When we think of things like sex, work and relationships, we look at the results of the Fall. But all these things existed prior to the Fall and humanity was still deemed to be VERY GOOD.

Adam and Eve were told to procreate (did anyone else notice that Graham said that "Christians are pro creation" on Sunday?). They were to "fill the earth." And this (shock!) meant sex!

Also, God instructed Adam to tend the garden. He had work to do, not just sit around and do the above.

And, despite what we think of them now and how they are seen in society, creation was rubber-stamped in the positive.

The other thing the author noted was the thing guys are searching for in relationships. Not with women, but in general society.

Guys are searching for a father to follow and a brother to be beside. A bloke to look up to and knowing he is not alone in the search for life's meaning.

Here the Godhead is so good. God gives us a Father to look up to, gives us Jesus to follow and resides in us by His Spirit to assure us that we are not alone.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Egg timer notices

I don't know if many people noticed, but we made a change to the evening service a few years ago. Not the start time... Not the band members... But saying notices in church.

Previously the notices would appear in a slide show before the service began.

Why do i bring this up? I was reminded of the prior practice on Sunday.

I have been guilty of hosting a lengthy diatribe of miscellaneous notable events and happenings. And i have sat through plenty of them in my time. And truly, i am starting to be sick of them.

My solution? Notices by egg timer. If you can't announce all the important events that are going on in under two minutes, you should be slowly boiled alive at the front of the sanctuary.

If the aim of church is to draw people into the presence of the Holy Spirit and have them encounter the Living God, why do we waste 15 minutes telling people things they're probably already aware of, or could be informed about afterwards? This is one sixth of the average service! It is usually given more time than prayer!

Now i know that some things do have to be announced. It is a necessary evil. But, surely, we can do them more efficiently. Can't we?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

This isn't a church...

Yesterday i made a mistake at work. For a couple of hours i had the date wrong. In my mind the date was the 7/5/09, not the 6/6. This meant that for a dozen or so "I couldn't read your water meter" forms, the date was incorrect.

Sure, not a huge mistake, but one i had to go back and rectify later in the afternoon.

But i reminded me of a similar error i made whilst i was new to ministry.

As a community service and to exercise our care over nature, we used to do a huge cleanup. As a change of pace, we sent out thousands of flyers, instead of door knocking for a few weeks to fund raise.

My mistake? I put on my work contact details. The wrong details. On thousands of flyers the phone number wasn't for the youth ministry office. It was for Big W (where i worked before Balgowlah).

It was the only time i didn't desire a response from something that we did.

Why? Because of the following conversation...

Caller: Hi, may i please talk to Graham Baldock.

Big W: Who?

C: Um... Graham Baldock.

BW: Ok... What department does he work in?

C: Youth ministry, i suppose.

BW: I don't think he works here.

C: Are you sure? I'm calling about the up coming clean-up.

BW: The what?

C: You know, Operation S.T.R.I.V.E.

BW: Huh?

C: The thing you advertised about through the flyer.

BW: Are you talking about our catalogues? What page is this Operation S.T.R.I.V.E.? Is it a toy?

C: No, i don't think it is a toy.

BW: Well. How can i help you?

C: Is this the number of a church? I want to give my life to Jesus. I want to become a vibrant member of the church. I want to change the world and do powerful things for God.

BW: No, this is not a church. Goodbye.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tongue Ramblings

For the last few days I've been pondering Kim's request to talk about tongues.

Truthfully, i was in a bind.

Do i research the topic? Do I look over my spiritual gifts notes, checking out sermons and diving into books? Or, do i go off the top of my head and ramble incoherently and sound not nearly as smart?

My answer? The later.

Why? Well, if i was asked in any other format than via a blog comment, i would have no resources but my vast intellect and worsdsmithness (let's all pretend that's a term). Be forewarned.

To begin i should say that i have never actually spoken in tongues. And honestly, it doesn't greatly bother me. Sure, sometimes I have wondered what it would be like, but if it never happens, I'll be fine with it. I'm ok with not having that spiritual gift, and so far, not exercising the role.

As for tongues itself, i have no option but to say that they exist. It is one of those things that the Bible includes that I cannot deny. Like miracles or healings, I may not totally understand them and I may not be absolutely comfortable with them, but the Bible leaves me no space to reject their existence.

Off the top of my head, i can think of a few Bible passages that are relevant. The first is the record of Pentecost from Acts. Then there is the part where the Spirit will intercede with goans when we don't have the words. Finally, Paul has a stack to say about tongues in 1 Corinthians.

I don't think that you need to speak in tongues to be saved. Just because it happens at conversion on some occasions in Acts, doesn't mean it must always happen. In fact, the instances a new believer does not speak in tongues outnumbers the times they do.

Tongues can be in the form of known dialects, like those at Pentecost, or unknown languages (which you more commonly hear in charismatic churches).

In my mind, tongues has a role to play in both the individual and corporate christian lives.

Individually the we can pray in tongues when our feeble words will not suffice. This is purely between us and God.

Corporately, i think tongues have the role described in 1 Cor 12 and 14. But, as Paul notes, it is dependant on someone to interpret what is said. This can come in the form of a divine message of encouragement or warning.

Also, i don't think that you're meant to be constantly speak in tongues. It is momentary communication of an immediate nature.

Closing my rant, i should mention that i wasn't completely in agreement with what was said on Sunday night. I think Graham did a good job, but I don't think that learning a language in another culture is the use of the gift of tongues. Missionary? Sure. Hospitality? Possibly. Knowledge or teaching? It's a stretch. But tongues? I'm not so sure.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Count the positives

Something that I've held on to whilst in the ministry wilderness is the mindset of "counting my blessings."

The reason I've done this is because I, and I suspect it's not just me, can tend to dwell on what is NOT happening, instead of the positives that are. I can overlook the blessings of my wife, family, cat, car (despite what i have written), job, friends, church and lifestyle. Why? Just because I'm not in the exact place i desire to be vocationally.

In the book I'm currently reading it made a great point. It said that we can focus on the no's of God and not the yeses. In Eden, it was focusing on the singular no that God set down, not seeing the uncountable allowances that God permitted Adam and Eve that got them in trouble.

I think we just need to open our eyes and see the true picture of our lives.

Are they perfect? Not really. But they aren't really that bad.

Can we do whatever we desire? Not absolutely. But, just because God places boundaries on certain things, that shouldn't obscure the great things God does give us.

The car that keeps on giving

Note to self... My car is vengeful when you sell it to someone else.

Since i brought Gerald, the name i am flirting with for my new car, he has brought nothing but pain to his previous owner. First it was a parking fine. Now it is a toll violation.

The lesson i take away from?

First, don't think you can do whatever you want the day before you sell your car. It will catch up with you.

And second, make sure your car isn't under a gypsy voodoo curse. It will also catch up with you.