Monday, November 30, 2009


Last night Claire mentioned that she never gets mentioned in my blog. She is wrong.

I searched her name and it turns out and i have mentioned her in four posts. The same number of times that i have mentioned Nick.

But they are both dwarfed by my Ramblings that contain Liam (with nine) and Gavin (at at whopping 16).

Fortunately, Ange is ahead with 22 hits (I was scared that Gavin would have more!).

In case you're interested... and i know you are... I've mentioned sex on my blog in 14 posts.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Action day messages

On Friday's and Sunday's i hate it when my phone gets a message.

When my mobile sounds that familiar BEEP BEEP, the pit of my stomach fills with dread... An ominous feeling that something bad is about to happen.

Friday and Sunday are action days. You have youth stuff on a Friday night and Sunday is choc full of church services.

But hours before people pull out of an event you get a dreaded phone message... Hours before plans change you get a dreaded phone message...

Then again, it could be worse and i could get no message at all from a leader dropping out...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Church specific sins

My new church is quite security conscious. If you're not in the room, the door is locked. If you're caught not obeying this unspoken rule, then you'll be given a scowl of disappointment.

At my old church it was driving on the grass in front of the church. If you're sprung cutting across the turning circle, then you are pretty sure that someone will have a "quiet word in your ear."

In both occasions, the rules are there for a purpose (or reactionary to a previous situation), so there's nothing wrong them... Just no-one every speaks of them.

Until your busted breaking them just once...

Follower #2

I just noticed that my loyal followers have doubled.

Welcome Mitch.

Next time I'm at Manly and see you and Nick out together, I'll buy you both a beer and we'll have many happy Ramblings...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Safe, simple questions

Whilst at a training day yesterday we were talking about churches being a safe place. We noted that this should extend to people who are new to the church and how things happen inside their walls.

Thus, simple questions should be okay to ask.

Questions like... What exactly is this gospel thing that you all keep going on about?

Or... Why do you people meet together?

Even... What does God look like?

I think, at times, Christians give off a vibe that would roll-their-eyes-and-groan if they were asked "basic" questions at church by a visitor.

It's a shame really...

My favourites

This month the globe has finally taken notice of my small square of the blog world.

Already this month I've had visitors from Australia, United States, Great Britain, Poland, Indonesia, Singapore, The Netherlands, Canada, South Korea, Malaysia and Brazil (my visitor world map is lighting up like a Christmas tree!).

Since I'm getting so many new visitors, i thought now would be good to reminisce about my favourite posts from 2008...

Why i hate small dogs...

Am I a Christian whore?...

Cat walking freaks!...

Jesus is a friend of mine...

The preaching playbook...

The weird and the Brave...

Room Group leading for Dummies...

LEEP into ministry...

The E's unleashing a SHAPE for ministry...

I am the Original Penny...

The culture of leaving...

Changing the scene...

Roles of a minister...

Tribute to Pop...


How to avoid crap sermons...

Monday, November 23, 2009


Whilst walking the golf course with Gavin on Saturday arvo i took a seat beside the eigth tee.

The seat i sat on was dedicated to a bloke i used to go to church with.

It turns out that he also had his ashes scatted beside the bench. Actually, they were still there, neatly in a pile.

I'm fairly confident that i will be cremated eventually. It seems to be the done thing...

I just don't know where i'd be scattered or where my bench would be located.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Speaker bio

Over the last few weeks I've got a few speaker and convention advertising pamphlets.

It made me sad.

I could never be a speaker on the Christian conference circuit.

My bio would be almost empty.

I don't drink coffee. I don't have kids. I don't hang out in cafes nor play LAN games. I haven't been a missionary in a remote place. My favourite food isn't exotic nor have I represented my country in anything.

But i do have a darling wife. And a cat.

Land sharks and giant spiders

I wonder... How would our lives change if we weren't top of the food chain? What if we were hunted by land sharks or picked off by giant spiders?

I reckon our crappy days at work wouldn't be so bad. Who cares if the boss yells at you... at least you weren't devoured on the way home.

I wonder because i stroll into some pretty irksome places whilst reading water meters. If man eating spiders did exist, i figure i would quickly be consumed.

Nothing could beat death by paralysis, having my innards turned into goo and then hypodermic consumption.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Watch out Europe

If you're aware that i have a geographical stat counter on my blog (it's about four screens down on the right hand side... just above the self esteem booster - I was told i had great hair today) then you'll notice that I've had new spots appear in Canada and Indonesia over the last few days.

Fortunately, i get the inside scoop because the map is only updated every 24 hours.

So... Get ready... Poland is about to be lit up!

Scripture Exams

Today i was told by my scripture class that other scripture classes have exams.

DISCLAIMER: I don't know if these teens were confused with the subject Religious Studies, but nonetheless...

I would never have formal scripture exams. Quizzes for chocolate? Sure. Revision? Of course. But not genuine, stress inducing, tests.


Because i don't really care if the kids can recite all the answers perfectly. 100% on an exam won't get you into heaven and I'm not sure it is the measure of success for a scripture teacher.

Definitely give them the facts of the gospel, who Jesus is and how he lived, but surely the measure of a scripture lesson is about getting the kids to think about what they believe.

The aim should be to challenge their mindset about the world we live in (no matter if they are atheist, agnostic, theist or even Christian). To challenge them with life's big questions and give them the Christian perspective on who God is, what the point of life is and how people and the world fit together.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Truth in the face of a stinker?

Lately I've been wondering... What do you do when a co-worker at your church gives a rubbish sermon?

Not just a dull sermon, or an averagely presented sermon, but a outrageously crap drivel.

I'm torn, because I've been in the situation before and (almost certainly) placed others in the predicament.

I want to say that you tell them the truth. They could/should have done better... They tried to be too creative and lost everyone... They didn't connect with the audience... They offered a dry, dull, monotonous diatribe... They were just plain wrong in what they said.

I want to take a hard line because the results effect the church.

A rubbish sermon may turn those away who are church-shopping. Similarly, those who are turning to the church for answers will continue searching elsewhere once confronted with a non-scenically ramble.

Then again, there could be extenuation circumstances that contributed to the poor showing and maybe grace should be shown...

I don't always hit it out of the park...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Prayin in the name of...

On Sunday i preached in the evening service and at the end i said a prayer... Nothing really noteworthy about that.

Afterwards, a caring person brought to my attention that i didn't end the prayer "in the name of Jesus."

In truth, i don't always, and my reasoning is that the "name of Jesus" is not a magical incantation to make God respond.

Although Jesus does say that... I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it." (John 14:13-14) and... Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name (John 15:16) the "in Jesus's name" doesn't seem to be the huge deal in the Bible that we can make it today. The early church doesn't do it consistently (or at least not in a way to sign off praying) and Jesus himself doesn't include it when teaching the disciples what to pray (now know as the Lord's Prayer).

I think that you can pray in the name of Jesus without muttering the exact sentence. You pray in the authority of Jesus, of who He is and what He says about those who have put their trust in Him. It is because of Him that we can enter before the presence of God. We pray in the name of Jesus when our requests line up with the purposes of God in the world.

Nonetheless, i usually cap my public prayers with the sentence "in the name of Jesus (and usually adding the qualities of Jesus which apply to what i have said previously).


Because it is expected. Because (for well meaning intentions of not) forgoing the "in the name..." may distract people.

So i do it (or at least when i remember)... But not as a wondrous concoction of words that shoot my requests to God's inbox.

Verse of plausibiblty

Twice last week i referenced the passage of the bible that helps me make sense of the rest.

The passage is Genesis 1:1-4a... In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good...

These few sentences set up the rest of the Bible.

Simply, God exists and has from the dawn of time, which He ushered in. God is alive, active and gets involved in the events of the world, which He created by His spoken word. In doing so, God created order from chaos and deemed what He had made as good.

I think we should wrestle with the first few words of the bible.

If we do, and can find them to be believable, then that will shape the way you encounter whatever is written after.


Because IF God created the world and the order within it, then He can (at times) move beyond those normalities in what we would call miracles. IF He created life then He can restore life. Or heal the sick. Or part the Sea.

IF... Genesis 1:1-4a can be a passage that you can come to terms with then the rest of the bible, at best, becomes plausible.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Plan A... check booking... Plan B

God bless Plan B.

Over this week i have had my Plan A foiled twice.

First, i had planned to use a certain part of the church for my new young adult culture study.

Second, i had planned on using the prayer labyrinth of my old church next Sunday.

Turns out both things are already booked.

Note to self: Check booking first, plan second. The other way around can become problematic.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who said it would be easy?

At the moment I'm reading a book on Difficulties in the Bible and the author makes some really good introductory points.

Basically, the guy says that we need to take a breath and chill out when it comes to biblical difficulties. There are over 31,000 verses in the bible and we aren't the fountain of knowledge that we sometimes claim to be.

If you believe the bible is the word of God, and it reveals the character of God, what His purpose are for the world and how He is working out those purposes, then it's ok if we don't have an absolute grasp of every syllable.

Why would we be so surprised that some of the bible is difficult understand? Would we be more comfortable if there was a complete revelation about God and it was no great effort to understand?

Sometimes we need to admit that we are not God. He knows the answers, even if we don't.

Second, we need to know that difficulty doesn't mean that something is wrong or that there is not an answer. Just because i found 3 Unit maths difficult didn't mean that the answers were nonexistent.

I just had to work at getting the answers or ask someone else smarter than me.

When it comes to the bible, sometimes we need to acknowledge that we don't posses the answers, but others do. That's ok. I'm humble enough to recognise that i don't know it all (no matter how confidently i may crap on!).

Actually, I'm ok with passages that give me trouble. It gives me something to think about. Something to chew over.

Otherwise this whole Christian gig could, potentially, become boring. Especially if you're planing on doing it for the rest of your life.

Then again, some famous theologian once said (something like) that it's not the passages of scripture he couldn't understand that bother him, it's the ones that he could.

Maybe he has a point.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sweetening the deal

This Sunday i have a child protection training day and (I'll admit) I'm using bribery to assist people in deciding to attend.


When you arrive, your favourite chocolate will be waiting for you.

Actually, the idea stems from the motivation to make meetings worth the time and effort to those who chose to attend. You should make the meeting useful and worthwhile.

If chocolate helps achieve those aims... then chocolate will be served.

Or Coke and Tim-Tams.

That's what i would give to Nick to be at Youth and Children's Team meetings.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery

I just finished reading a pretty average book about preaching and caring for your voice.

One thing that i noticed was a point that the author made about bad preaching.

In short, he said that that you should listen to it, be annoyed by it and learn from it.

When you see bad communication, endure it and swear to never repeat the same mistakes.

Exhibit A: Bernie Fraser.

Death by spider

Over the last few days a large huntsman spider has been creeping around my car.

I first spotted it on Saturday arvo as he scurried across my bonnet as a did 80km/hr.

He reappeared on Sunday night, scampering across my windshield after church and then later when Ange was driving Big Red.

Fortunately, he seems happy to reside on the outside of my car.

But if i die a fiery death in an automobile accident, it will be the spiders fault.

And I'm sure he will escape the flaming wreckage of Big Red unscathed...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Audience perspective > Ministry perspective

On Sunday we had our post camp debrief.

Next Friday i will have a debrief about the Jesus, All About Life youth event that my kids and leaders went to.

Neither event was perfect. Nor would it ever be.

At camp we made the usual number of mistakes. Some large, some minor. As a result, some things will change, some will become a part of camp.

At the youth event, the speaker wasn't what we/i expected. I felt the message was to get people motivated. I was. Just motivated to follow my dream, not follow Jesus.

The thing that struck me is that for both events the teenagers had little idea that mistakes were made and left feeling that everything was fine and dandy.

I wonder, do those in ministry, or at least those with a view "behind the scenes," make a big deal out of things which weren't obvious to the target audience of the event?

If the program was out of whack because of the weather, but the kids were fine with it, was it a major issue?

If the speaker didn't say the exact things that you would have wanted, but kids still responded... does "all's well that ends well" apply?

Sure, learn the lessons. Make things better and avoid the mistakes that happened behind the scenes. Continue to aim for excellence in what you do, especially if it is for the purposes of God.

Actually, I do a similar thing when i hear someone preach. I critique the way the message is said, or presented, and wonder how i would have given the sermon. To the standards i set for preaching, average is hard to swallow and less than outstanding is often cringed at.

Usually, when I'm less that enthusiastic about a sermon, many others find it to be perfectly acceptable.

Maybe those in ministry need to take off the "ministry perspective" glasses and view an event through the eyes of a participant.

Perhaps we would chill out and enjoy church a little more.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I would rather sing "Jesus is a friend of Mine"

This. Is. So. Wrong...

Whatever you do, don't follow the link to clear up your confusion from "Experiencing Agapic vertigo" (No, I don't exactly know what that means either).

If you dare follow the link, may i give you a warning.

You will encounter the "Campaign Against Triclavianism" (even after reading their spiel, i don't exactly know why this is a big deal, much less warranting the need for a Anti-Triclavianist Logo that i would put on my blog).

I would rather have this song stuck in my head again... Enjoy...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Modernly over-rated?

This is a dangerous thing to say... but here goes... I find Clive Staples Lewis over-rated.

Sure, you may know him as simply C.S. but I'm no fan, so it's purely formalities between myself and Mr Lewis.

I've just finished reading The Screwtape Letters again and i must say that I'm underwhelmed. A similar thing happened when i re-read Mere Christianity a while back.
I know, i should hand in my Christian membership card.

I fond the books distractingly dated (but that can't be helped since they were written over a generation ago) and they just don't seem to have the "classic" feel to them that everyone bemoans that they posses within their pages.

Sure, they are alright, but not more. I even gave them a second chance after five years and have not changed my opinion.

I wonder if modern day classics will be belittled by future generations as "just average."

I'm soon going to re-read Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. If all goes to plan, my opinion on that book will have a similar transformation. When i read the book at college i was unimpressed. Now i may see the illuminated genius that everyone else sees...