Monday, August 31, 2009

Church hope-spectacles

I keep finding that I'm a cynical, pessimistic chap (I'm looking forward to being a grumpy old man).

Expect (I hope) when it comes to the church...

A few weeks ago i was challenged to view the church through a lens of hope.

To look for the rays of light that exist amongst the pews. To search for the people who "get it." To celebrate the ideas and congregations that are thriving.


Because I want to see the church in light of God. That He works despite the negatives that exist within. That there are faithful saints who are worth "sticking around for."

I want to believe that the church actually makes a difference in the lives of its members and creates a positive change in the world.

Sometimes you just need to look past the negatives to the hopefulness...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Recording Homer

This afternoon i went to a nursing home with the husband of the family worker and our Senior Minister to video record Homer Simpson talking about his day for next weeks Father's Day service.

No, he didn't talk about his Dad Abraham Simpson.

This Homer is an old bloke from church...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sin loving and getting what's coming

Yesterday i was reminded of my first ever talk that went over two minutes. It was an assignment at college and was a youth talk on the topic "How far can we go?"

In the feedback i received, someone made the point that i should have mentioned that people enjoy sinning, or at least getting really, really close to sin.

That point popped into my head as my mind wandered abouts the parable of the Prodigal Son.

I reckon the prodigal son had a great time and sometimes we forget that.

Disobeying God can be quite enjoyable. Before he lost all his cash, the youngest brother would have had a wonderful time.

When thinking of those who have left the church, we should keep this in mind. Not in an envious manner, but at least aware.

But, i can't help but think that we sometimes become bitter like the brother who stayed behind. We secretly desire those who are sinning to "cop what's coming to them" (or am i just a jerk?).

In parts of us, the parts that we don't audibly say or acknowledge, we want God to make them hit rock bottom.

We wouldn't mind them getting arrested... Just once.

Or busted with the drugs that they are taking... Just a small amount.

Or have a near miss whilst drunk... or speeding... or cheating.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Four-legged rapture abandonment

With my musings about animals eternal destiny, the Internet (the source of infinite wisdom and truth) has thrown up another wonder.

Folks are concerned about their pets and what will happen to them once they are taken up in the rapture.

The solution?

Buy rapture insurance and be assured that your four-legged friend will be cared for by some responsible heathen. Check it out here...

Oddly, the first question on their FAQ page asks... Is this a joke? They say no.

My questions?

What happens if the atheist becomes a Christian? Do they have to report themselves to "head office" and be dis-barred? Will that be frowned upon? Will they themselves be sold insurance?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dot explosion

In the wild world if blogging, I'm a lurker.

I know... if you've ever met me... I'm sure you're shocked.

A few days ago i left my first comment on a blog ( The result? My visitor map has exploded with dots.

America has come alive, as has more of India, Pakistan and Malaysia.

Please, regulars and lurkers, accept my salutations.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Excuse me... Where's my church?

I heard an idea that i don't have the guts to do. I wish i did. I would be the weirdo they encountered in the street.

Quite simply, you interupt people within a two block raidus and ask where your church is.

You ask people having coffee. You ask people working at the local supermarket checkouts. You ask the old. You ask the young.

I wonder if many folk would know where my new church is, or if they were aware of its location, what the church did.

Jesus, all about... Huh?

I just tried to go to the Jesus, All About Life website.

The actual address is

But if you drop the au you go to an atheist website.


Do not go past GO, head staraight to a Counsellor

I just got back from a Jesus, All About Life youth ministry meeting which was pretty good.

One thing we discussed was the huge youth event that we are putting on at the end of October. It sounds fine with a few bands and a speaker... the usual gig.

But we did talk about follow-up and the use of counsellors (youth leaders kids can talk to who make a decision to come to faith or just need to chat) on the night.

My problem? The name. Counsellors.

Nothing seems worse to me then telling a teenager, who has just made a massive decision, that they should now go chat to a counsellor (even if it is just a term for a really cool, wise, mature, fun youth minister).


The term counsellor has negative connotations.

At least it would have in my ears when i was a teen.

When you're broken, you go see a counsellor. When you're stressed, you go talk to a counsellor. If you're a murderous, whack-job loon, you're examined by a counsellor.

And, it turns out, if you have just decided to place your trust in Jesus... you're invited to chat with a counsellor.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


It only just occurred to me that I've been blogging for a year now (well it was on the 16th anyway).

Oh, what a year we've had...

This is my 341st post.

I've had 4,495 page views from 2,073 visitors (at 12:30pm).

My highest viewed day was on February 16th with 46 views.

My most popular month was March with 606 views from 230 visitors.

My most popular post, with 44 views, was this one...

People have found my blog through searching for - wing han tsang, twisted personality, ten commandments of youth ministry, 21st speeches, christian protection, types of dechurched, unchurched versus de-churched definition, vic hislop shark hunter, vic hislop radio, "cinema" "church" and (surprise, surprise!) christian whore.

Finally, I've had visitors from (despite what my world map thinks) - Australia, United States, Britain, Greece, Germany, India, Malaysia, Romania and Canada.

Now... Back to the rambling...

Existence of God

Over the last two weeks I've chatted with my scripture classes about the existence of God. Below are the points we worked through.

Sure, in most cases i actually argued the negative side of the discussion... but they only really got upset with me when i said the children with disabilities should be killed at birth.

So... Does God exist???

Here's the evidence... Not absolute proof... but the evidence that needs to be weighed up to see what the truth is.

Creation and Design - Buildings point to there being an designer of that building. They don't just fall into place. Why would it be any different with creation? How would something as intricate as the eye form by chance?

Life from Non Life - Never has life been birthed from something that is inanimate. At least not since creation...

Purpose and Meaning - Without God we are reduced to animals. Sophisticated animals, but animals none-the-less. Animals that should live by "survival of the fittest." Animals that (in the vast majority of cases) are born, live and die with no discernible impact on society at large, nor are remembered by future generations. Animals that are destined to be worm food.

Love - With no God, love is just a series of chemical reactions in your brain.

Suffering - Suffering is inconsequential. There is no reason to feel compassion or mercy. There is no right for justice in the world. Suffering is just an event that has effected another mammal.

Conscience - We have implanted into us a set of absolute values of what is right and wrong. In numerous cases society has gone in the face of the collective conscience but this is not something that we create, but an outside values system. Where did it come from?

Belief Systems - Every civilisation has had one belief system or another. Each society strives to answer the "big" questions in life. Each person has that "God shaped hole" in their being. Why would it be there if there was no God to fill it?

In fact, when you look at the history of the world, theists are in the minority. Shouldn't the onus be on them to change accepted beliefs?

Changed Life - The most compelling evidence that God exists is the way that it transforms the life of the believer.

As a Christian, the greatest single piece of evidence you can give that God the Father is real, that Jesus is the Son of God and that the Holy Spirit is alive and active is by showing how you have changed.

The evidence is the fruit of the Spirit growing in your life and displaying how living in obedience to God makes a positive change.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Go to this math thesis -

If you do nothing else, skip the math and just read the conclusion.

Turns out that if the undead decide to rise up and take over then we are all in big trouble.

See... Maths is fun.

Crowded heaven?

Over the last few weeks I've been asked about the option of animals in heaven. I was asked in scripture the last two weeks and then last Friday night.

In my head, i want to give a simple answer. Yes or no. Of course they do or sorry, nope.

But i can't.

As nice as it may seem, I'm not sold on the concept of our furry friends in heaven.

Firs of all, i usually respond with the question "can animals go to hell?" If you can only enter heaven by accepting God's offer of forgiveness through Jesus, can animals do that? Or, are they capable of rejecting God?

Another problem is the question surrounding whether animals have a soul? Or do they just posses a spirit? Is it the same as we have? Can animals ever be separated from God?

The Bible isn't clear on all the above questions. Unless you posses a massive amount of knowledge in Biblical Hebrew... And then you get a definite maybe.

Lots of folk point to the animals mentioned in the new creation or heavenly scriptures. Passages that refer to the "lion laying down with the lamb" can be explained as mere symbolic language...

But, my real sticking point is which animals get through the "pearly gates?" All of them?

Pets? Yep. Mammals? Sure. Insects? Maybe. Mozzies? Ummm

How about parasites that exist by living off other animals, causing them pain? There will be no pain in heaven, so how does that work?

I Dunno... In the end I sit happily in the knowledge of the following four things.

First, God is loving, just and infinitely more wise than me. He knows all the answers to the questions that bug me.

Second, if i say that there will be no animals in heaven and there are, then that's ok. I'm fine being wrong. It's not a salvation issue. Not even close.

Third, if i say that animals will be in heaven and they aren't, then I'll be in the presence of God (the real reason for heaven) and i suspect that I'll be getting by quite happily without them.

Finally, Ecclesiastes 3:21 says "Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?"

If the question troubled the Solomon-esque writer, then i will be comfortably confused.

Flamingo Insurance

I just read this fundraising idea at

Flamingo Insurance — Sell flamingo insurance to church members in various amounts which guarantee that their homes will not be the flocking ground of pink flamingo lawn ornaments. Place as many lawn ornaments as you can on uninsured lawns, and charge a service fee for their removal. To add even more fun, one member can hire a flamingo hit on another member by paying more than what that person bought their insurance for. Provide the opportunity for the insured to increase their insurance amount.

For some reason, i like it.

You could do a similar thing for garden gnomes. Cough up or they will encounter "unfortunate circumstances."

Actually, you could do the same thing with cars... or pets... or children. But that might get you arrested.

Sure, you'll raise a pretty impressive wad of cash, but you'll be in jail.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Positively, annoyingly, able

On Sunday night i preached my first sermon at my new church.

It went pretty well, thanks for asking, getting positive feedback (even extending into the church council meeting last night). From pretty much the start of the sermon i abandoned my notes and it made a massive improvement from what i was expecting to deliver.

So, whilst i was preaching "without a net," the final point i was making made a personal impression. We, at least it did over the next day or so...

I asked the congregation during church, if they viewed God the same way Paul did. A "God who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, by His power working within us" (Ephesians 3:20).

Did they come before a God who is able to be active and moving in a surprising manner? If people evaluated the petitions they made to God, what would it say about the God they were asking? Do they actually expect God to work in their lives, churches, schools, universities, workplaces, families and amongst their friends?

As i read water meters, i was struck with the reality that the God of the Bible is able.

Lately, I've underestimated the way that God will work in churches. Despite staffing, despite church histories and despite obstacles, God will still work... In spite what i might think.

It's positively annoying (meaning annoying... but in a good way) when your own sermon speaks to you...

Making a kids day

On Sunday night i got dinner at the local Greasy Joe's. Whilst there i dropped 5 cents by mistake and a thoughtful woman pointed out my currency folly.

I then picked up the coin, i walked outside and quickly discarded it again.

I was prompted by a memory from my time at Balgowlah and the five cent pieces that used to scatter the church front.

At that time, the then youth minister, would discard all his five cent pieces since, really, they are pretty worthless.

But, when your five years old, finding five cents makes your day.

I walked away, with my heart-clogging dinner, satisfied that i would brighten the day of a young whipper-snapper roaming the streets of Beecroft.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Growth through death?

Whilst I'm thinking about the conversation i had with the previous youth minister of my current church, i have thought about a joke i made and his response.

We were chatting about church health and growth and we mentioned how "oldies" of a church can sometimes hurt both.

I said... "That's ok, God will deal with them eventually. Some sooner than others."

Amazingly, he agreed and said that the church can actually move forward through death. Quite a Biblical consept actually... the whole life through death thing...

Now, i don't want to strike down all elderly members of churches. Most of them are fantastic and their death is a monumental loss to the body of believers.

But then there are others...

Not thanking Jesus

I stumbled across this blog...

First of all, no, i am not an avid NFL blog trawler, nor the New York Times.

Second, i loved the comment the last person made...

However, just once I’d like to hear an inductee say during his speech: “I’d like to point out that Jesus Christ nor any other religious figure or group had anything to do with my success in football. I succeed to the point of being voted into the Hall of Fame because I worked my butt off on the field, and in the weight and film rooms. I had great coaches and great teammates and they helped me become a better player. That is why I’m in the Hall of Fame today, not because of Jesus.”

I wonder what the fall out would be? My bet is nothing. It may make the news. The local news.

I don't think i wouldn't be hearing about the controversial NFL Hall Of Fame speech.

So, mentioning Jesus in an acceptance speech, in or out? I'm in the middle of planning my Oscar/Grammy/Emmy/Tony/Logie/Nobel Peace Prize/Balgowlah Boys High "By Effort We Achieve" Award speech. I'm not sure if Jesus would get a mention.

Actually, i kind of cringe when people blab on about Jesus during speeches. I wouldn't want to add to that moment.

But I'm just a wuss... And please... Don't quote Matthew 10:32-33 or Romans 1:16 at me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Standing in God's faithfulness

For our churches next sermon series we are looking at various characteristics of God. I'm kicking off the series on the faithfulness of God and it reminded me of something the former youth minister of my current church said.

When we met last week, he mentioned that he would often pray that God would be faithful to the prayers of the past.

It struck me.

Previously i have called for the church to pray for the current youth ministry and the future youth ministry. But i had never made the connection that those prayers would be answered in such a manner that you could expect to be living and ministering in the answers of prayers offered years or decades ago.

It's not unusual for me to say that those in ministry stand upon the shoulders of those who have gone before. Usually, it is said in academic terms. Those who have gone previously pass done teachings and lessons that we can learn from.

But now the saying takes a new twist.

We also stand upon the prayers of the faithful saints of the past. We are a part of the out workings of God's answering those prayers.

And consequentially, we can influence the future of the church (because of God's faithfulness) by praying earnestly for God's blessing to be upon it, both now, and in the years to come.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Single exposure

In the book I'm reading about church transitions and change, the author brought up the idea of church comparisons.

It got me thinking hypothetically... How would your view of church change if you only were only exposed to one type of church?

If you're home church, no matter what you currently think of it, was the only one you have ever experienced, would you value it more?

Would your appreciation of the preaching at your church change if that was all that you had ever heard? No Discoll. No Piper. No McManus.

Would you value the worship more if you had never heard a worship CD? No Hillsong. No Planetshakers.

Would your expectations of church growth change if you had never heard of a mega-church? No Mars Hill. No CCC. No Fellowship Church.

Hmmm... Would the local church have been healthier in the minds of the congregation prior to the days when you were aware of all the innovative, creative, growing, successful and dynamic churches in the next town, across the country or around the world?


On Sunday i was struck by something the minister said after the Bible reading.

He simply asked if we had any questions.

To my shame, i was stunned, because i hadn't paid enough attention to prompt questions in my mind.

Never in the past have i been asked to actually interact with the text prior to the sermon.

And... I think it's a bloody good idea. Even better... it would be an awesome culture to infiltrate a church.

Hello India!

The continent of Asia has lit up!


Monday, August 10, 2009

Who let the dogs out?

On Sunday morning i did the kids talk with help from my mate Sam.

Sam is a four foot high stuffed dog who has lived at my parents house for years.

But be warned. When at a new church, you anounce that you have a large dog in the church... and will go get him... people get a concerned look on their faces.

IT'S (another) NEW CAR!!!

On Saturday, Ange and i welcomed a new member to the family. He is awesome.

Let me spin you the yarn of how Gerald became Big Red.

It all began with a trip to Mitchenbury.

There, we were spotted, wandering the car yard... CarCity... by Eddie.

In my gut, I'm pretty sure Eddie was kind of dodgy. He noticed that we were eyeing off a low-kilometer, shiny, red Hyundai Lantra.

I took a test drive and must have had that "I'm gonna buy" look.

Enter Gerald.

Gerald is my old, crappy, broken, money chewing, fuel guzzling, few-to-many character flaws Commodore. Gerald is the car we drove to the car yard. Gerald is the car we took to get traded in...

When my mate Eddie saw Gerald, he thought "his boss" may give me two-grand for him. "His boss" thought otherwise. He said 750 bucks.

I tried to haggle. I wondered for a while... I pondered aloud about 1500... or 1200... or 1000...

My haggling failed. I took $750.

So, with emptied bank accounts, credit extensions granted and a touch-and-go eftpos transaction i drove away in a new car.

I traded (along with a few thousand dollars) a 1989 Commodore for a 1996 Lantra Sportswagon.
I traded a car without a radio for one with a fully sick system.
I traded a car without a drivers-side door lock for a fully functioning car.

The only down side? I could have got a whilte Cressida. Another Cecil.

But my wife said no. No way in Hell.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Boozy church ads

Today i rang around local churches to get contact info for their youth ministry. Whilst in the process, a disturbance was felt in the force.

I was on hold, being transferred to a youth minister, and i endured listening to ads.

One advertisement was for a bottle shop.

I'm pretty sure they have no control on what is heard whilst their callers are on hold, but I'm suspect about the potential message it sends.

This church... proudly sponsored by Dan Murphy's.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Many of you would be familiar with the church sign that says - DON'T LET WORRIES KILL YOU, LET THE CHURCH HELP.

I found another slogan that made me chuckle.

The catch phrase is for a stewardship campain. I don't know if it's actually true, and i don't really care if it isn't.

It says... “I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.”


End time meetings

Today we reached the mid-way point of the water meter reading quarter... And i shuddered with fear...

Why? A mega meeting is now half way upon me.

In approximately 2 months i will have a meeting that will drain my soul.

At the end of each quarter i endure a painful water meter readers meeting (I've posted how bad they are before) and, the next meeting will be brutal. It will involve the usual repetitive drivel AND multiple (unenthralling) presentations on sun-protection and OHS issues.

But the wost thing? It will be an extended meeting. A meeting which has no fixed finishing time.

Surprise, surprise... It got me thinking.

We should always give the start AND end time of the meetings we hold.

First of all, it will show people we value their time. A definite finishing time gives others a chance to plan their days effectively. No more... once the meeting ends I'll rock on whenever...

Secondly, it focuses those in the meeting. Either the items on the agenda will be completed in the allotted time or carried over. No exceptions. Important things will get preference over the secondary issues.

At worse it will cut down the waffle that clouds meetings... and who wouldn't love that!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Travel times

Over the last little while some well-meaning people have been concerned about the 40 minute drive i have to get to my new church.

My response is that it's not a huge deal, especially compared to the rest of the working world. The majority of workers travel AT LEAST 40 minutes to get to work. Why should i be so different? Am i really that precious, or ill prepared?

But over the last two days i would have killed for a 40 minute commute.

On Sunday, i left home at 9:15am to get to church. I arrived nearly 5 hours later!

Why? One broken fuel pump, a 60 minute wait for the NRMA, two ill-directed tow-truck drivers and a 150 minute wait for a tow.

Then, today, i had to catch public transport home from water meter reading at Ryde. I wound up at four in the arvo, but didn't walk through my front door till 6:30.

Gavin welcomed me into the world of a "normal" worker...

But then again, SOME PEOPLE, had a holiday today... sleeping in... eating KFC for lunch... even though they don't actually work for a bank! Those people are jerks!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

War stories and challenges

On Friday night we had a cosy "getting to know one another" night.

How? Tell us a war story and give us a challenge.

Each year, once the kids return from the out-trip at Challenge Camp i fill in leader's time off with these two questions, and without failure, they have always resulted in good laughs and passing time.

Why? Well, everyone has a great story of how they got their best scar, or worst injury they've ever witnessed. More so, everyone can do something freaky that repulses the entire group.

Note to self...

Note to self...

When promising the guys small group hot chips, check the closing time of the local chicken shop.

If you leave at 7:42pm to get chips and it shuts at 7:30pm, you walk away very disappointed.