Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Christianity killers 1 & 2

The first two possible explanations for Easter, aside from the events happening in the way they are described in the gospel accounts are these...


The trouble with this as an explanation for the resurrection of Jesus is that myths take time to develop.

The gospel are recorded when eyewitnesses are still living. Second Peter stays that the believers didn't create this tale, with Simon Peter first proclaiming them 50 days after they occurred (at Pentecost), where they occurred.

Furthermore, the biblical accounts at the tomb create problems for this explanation.

If i was making up the resurrection story i wouldn't have used women in my story. In first century Palestine their word was thought as useless and inadmissible in court. If i was creating the resurrection story i would have used more credible witnesses, like Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus.

Finally, and i will touch on this more in the third explanation, the disciples all suffered for their belief that Christ rose from the dead. Aside from John, who was an old man in exile when he died, all the Apostle died a martyrs death. You don't die for a lie... Particularly if you are the ones who crafted it and knew it was a massive deception.


This explanation is a stretch.

First, people of the day knew where Jesus' body was. We are told in Mark 15 that the women knew and the authorities obviously knew since they posted guards at the tomb.

If the ladies were mistaken then the claims of resurrection could easily be quashed by dragging the corpse (which would still be in the correct tomb) down main street.

I reckon we need to keep this last sentence in mind when thinking about the arguments against Easter. Tomorrow I'll have two more...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Christianity killers

The apostle Paul says this in his "first" letter to the church in Corinth, chapter 15...

... If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith... For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

Basically Paul is saying that if the events celebrated at Easter did not happen in the way they are described in the gospels then Christians are the most foolish people in the world because they have been deceived by a giant lie.

Starting tomorrow I'll begin to sum up the six popular arguments against the gospel accounts of Easter and see how much weight they hold...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Palm rituals

Between church services yesterday i learnt that the spouse of my senior minister had never made a miniature cross out of a folded Palm tree frond.

I was stunned.

It outwardly made me doubt her salvation.

Concerningly, i later discovered that there were others at church who had not partaken in the Palm Sunday tradition.

I knew i had no other choice.

I had to intervene.

So last night i lead the entire congregation in making Palm branch crosses.

If i had made Palm crosses ever Palm Sunday of my church life, then i wouldn't miss out this year.

Now that i have introduced this to a new church i can only hope that one day their young people will have to annually perform the ritual.

Then they could make small crosses in a medically induced coma like i probably can.

Pray or decide

I just read this blog post and i have to say that he says some really good things. I especially liked his fourth point about deferring decision making "to pray about it..."


It eats away at my insides when someone at a meeting says this.

Either... the decision is important and on the agenda (and everyone hopefully has prayed about the solution already) or the decision isn't REALLY essential.

Delaying a critical decision to "further discern the Lord's will" and come to a conclusion in a month is often needless delay.

What would happen if the next time someone wants to "seek God's face on the matter" you replied that the meeting should immediately pray and then decide. Technically, you are giving them what they want...

Surely God can speak in ten focused minutes of prayer just as clearly as He can over a month of disjointed petition. Yeah?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Praise or I-couldn't-do-that

This morning i preached at the morning service and went... ok. Nothing brilliant, just alright.

When i sat down i knew it was pretty average. At least by the standards i judge by.

But i was curious what others would think.

Would the congregation be supportive because they judge by a lower measuring stick than me? Would they be nice to be polite? Would they turn and cough if asked how the service was?

Everything was fine after the service (i didn't preach heresy after all!), but i did wonder if people praise the sermon delivered because what they said was genuinely amazingtastical, or if encouragement is given because they fear speaking in public and wouldn't do the same job.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thanks Gaga

I would like to publicly thank Lady Gaga for buying the drinks for myself and the Crusaders Youth ministry guy at the pub today.

We had a great lunch at Eastwood "networking" and "creating stronger links" between the local church and para-church organisations.

A meeting well worth going back to work late for... If anyone asks Tom, that's the story we're sticking too.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not as old as you think

Whilst chatting about suffering with the teens at church i referred to the "world-changing, memory-sticking" event of 911.

The conversation went as follows...

Remember 911, yeah?...
No? Just barely?... You were only 6 years old at the time?


Turns out teenagers aren't as old as i seem to think they are.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

500 later

With this being my 500th posts, i figured i should return to where it all started...

Blog post number 1 & 2...

It's weird that I'm now almost at the place where i wanted to be 499 blog posts ago.

I'm no longer reading water meters, about to work at a quality church (not that the church that I'm at now isn't!) where i envisage myself staying long-term and hopefully, about to start a family...

Setting the bar

Part of the reason i posted yesterday about giving people an opportunity to opt out of ministry involvement is because i want to set the bar fairly high for those who are involved.

I think it is to a ministries long term determent if this does not happen.

DISCLAIMER: I am not setting the bar at perfection. Please do not read this...

If people know what the expectations of them are going in, then it can't be a bad thing.

To start, tell them that it is expected that they be actively growing in their relationship with God. This would be shown through attendance at church services and a small group.

There should be a spoken awareness that you will be at the meetings of the group that you are serving at (or at least give plenty of notice if you will be absent), you will be prepared for the group and will contribute to any meetings before or after the event.

You should have a willingness to learn, be open to correction and, if warranted, discipline that the church leadership deems necessary.

Finally, if you think you are struggling in any of the above points, or any other area which would damage your effectiveness or integrity of your ministry, then you should tell the leader.

These expectations seem pretty fair and should be laid out to those who are looking to volunteer in any ministry BEFORE they get involved. Then everyone goes in with their eyes open to what is expected of them.

To not do so can cause problems in the future...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Annual ministry amnesty

I think that serving in some ministries are for a season of time, not an indefinite period. A single ministry doesn't have to last a lifetime.

But, i feel (at times) those involved in volunteer ministries, feel that once they begin serving at church, they are locked in for life. Or at least they may hear that communicated non-verbally by the church.

Why? Because there are few ways out.

Once you're in, your in... forever. Week in, week out. Term in, term out. Year in, year out...

What would happen if there was an annual ministry amnesty?

An opportunity for those who didn't want to be involved any more, or didn't have the continuing passion any more, or those who desired to serve elsewhere, to be able to get off a ministries bandwagon?

Would this strengthen a ministries leadership in the long term?

If, as a leader, you knew that everyone serving beside you actually WANTED to be there and actively CHOSE to do so yearly, wouldn't that be a positive?

Wouldn't it also open up an avenue for people to jump on board once a year?

Sometimes these times naturally exist, like the start of the school year, we just don't advertise them. Maybe the church should...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Monkey awkwardness

Tonight at youth group, in a combined game with the children's ministry, i am dressing like a monkey to be hunted in a safari.

But every action has a consequence. In this case, a very awkward series of consequences.

First, there is nowhere at Warringah Mall to purchase brown tracksuit pants. No luck at Lowes, Best for Less, Big W or Target.

Correct that, there is one. Some cheap girlie store that had them on a "2 for $10" rack.

So i went in awkwardly...

Then, i had to ask if they had them in any larger sizes than 8. Awkward point number 2.

They did, and I left quickly, my wallet six dollars lighter.

Finally, I required brown stockings to create a monkey tale.

Don't enter a supermarket that you are unfamiliar with to buy brown stockings if you are a bloke.

You need to eventually ask where they are.

Enter awkward moment number 3.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The dream ministry partners

If these people actually existed in the same church then they would have one happy youth minster...

  • A supportive senior minister who has teenagers who will give open, honest feedback and be a solid soundboard.
  • Supportive parents who are not on the ministry team, but still provide the aforementioned support.
  • Quality office workers, who you can give a task to and be assured that an excellent job will be done on time.
  • Smiling oldies who pray for your ministry, give you a warm smile each Sunday and, whilst giving you a firm handshake, will genuinely be interested in how things are going.
  • Someone who will keep you accountable and not be scared to ask you the questions that you don't want to be asked (but need to answer).
  • Someone who you can just hang around with and they will make you laugh.
  • Someone who owns their own printing company/costume store, who can do quality web/graphic design at a moments notice, with a pool that the youth group can use, as well as a couple of holiday houses which are near conferences that you frequent and are constantly available (if you know this person then you MUST introduce us!).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Christian swingers

I hope the title of this post gets noticed on search engines. The following article will prove to be a great disappointment... Just like this post.

Church on Sunday night i felt like a swingers club.

We did a foot washing exercise and held hands (I could think of fewer things that would make the average guy or off-the-street visitor freak out more...).

And we were told to "let go of your inhibitions." To "get involved" and "the more do throw yourself into it, the more you will enjoy it."

I don't want to say that these things shouldn't happen in church, or that they hold no value, but if you just heard the audio of what was going on...

Redefining Egypt

As of 12:53pm yesterday i am finished reading water meters.

Hopefully, i will never have to do it again.

Unless things get bad.

Real bad.

In fact, UGL (the company i
technically used to work for) will become my new personal Egypt.

Whilst the newly established Hebrew nation wandered in the desert there were grumblers who would demand that they turned around and return to Egypt (seemingly forgetting how bad it was back there) whenever things weren't peachy.

In the past my Egypt was Big W and whenever i had a really crappy day i would pine for the "good old days" back in the layby department.

The co-worker at my original church had his own Egypt. BP.

You could judge a day by the amount you desired to return to Egypt.

Now i am torn. Do i keep the old number of my boss in my phone? He said i would be welcomed back.

How quickly do i throw out my old uniform? (Don't even mention that i get to keep the old clothes... TOTAL DODGE!)

Or, could the above be signs that I'm keeping the flame of Egypt alive?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Water meter countdown continued

After working yesterday (yes, i did work on a SATURDAY!)...

Water meters still to be read: 222

HOURS to be worked: Approx 4.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Church in the buff

I find this kind of disturbing... Naked church.

I don't imagine me preaching nude would be honouring to the Lord. Where would i look? Where the heck would the congregation look?

If it wasn't warm i would seriously consider staying home.

And you would want to keep the same seats every week. Unless there was more than one service on a Sunday morning.

Ewww... warmth from the person before you...

Fire Evac

This morning my scripture class was evacuated, along with the whole school, due to a chemical fire.

It was a shame.

I was just up the the point of the lesson where i was going to give my evidence that God exists. They had given me their evidence that love, oxygen, history and their brains existed.

Oh well.

They just have to work to out for themselves now...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Water meter countdown continued

Water meters still to be read: 427

Days left to work: 2 easy half days.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Water meter countdown

Water meters still to be read: 632

Days left to work: 3 easy half days.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Web gems

When i originally gave my preaching playbook, the final preparation point before putting pen to paper (or more accurately, fingers to keyboard) was to check out a bunch of websites to see what others have said about the passage i am preaching on.

A few years ago i would have a bank of about 50 sites that i would look at, to varying degrees of usefulness and quality.

Now i have about 4-5 that i will look at.

Keep in mind, the aim is to see what others have said and the structure they have used, not go on a plagiarist pilgrimage. 95% of my sermon has already been written. Usually, the benefits arise out of discovering opinions that i didn't even consider or disagree with.

The sites i normally check out, and why, are... - Useful, if nothing else, to copy the passage or any other quoted verses into the sermon transcript.

Two sites that have a stack of sermons and, more importantly, commentaries (I only wish that my bookshelves could contain many of these volumes!)... and

Three church websites, all with different slants. One from a well known, conservative - - One a local church that i like the preaching of in the US - - and an Aussie Uniting church (which is useful to get both a national and denominational angle) -

Sure, if a passage is an especially tricky one or quite obscure (like the year of Jubilee!) then i may also take a glance at, but the influx of 100's of sermons on Ephesians 3 can be overwhelming.

Finally, i also check out for PowerPoint backgrounds.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Today i can officially announce that i have accepted a new youth minister position, which i told both church congregations today (having informed the youth and young adults a week ago).

The new job seems very exciting, especially being half the travel distance, two thirds more hours (with the real possibility that it could be increased in the future) and knowing the senior minister previously.

I'll still be at my current church until the 11th of April (i officially hand in my resignation this afternoon) and should (hopefully!) be in the saddle at the new place shortly thereafter.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I'll get in trouble for saying this...

Last week, whilst preaching on Leviticus, i uttered the title of this post.

There are some passages in the bible that leave you with no other option, but to say what the text says. This can be difficult to say, awkward to hear and possibly get you in some trouble afterwards.

But this doesn't make the hard to hear things any less true...

Or that the truth of how God call us to live any less required to be proclaimed.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Suffering irony

Is it ironic that I'm having a terrible time trying to track down a file about why God permits suffering?

I know it's somewhere...

Conference blowoffs

As per Tony's request...

It is pretty unusual that i attend a whole conference.

Normally, at least one session (originally planned or spur of the moment), will be kicked to the curb.

I've ditched Q&A's in Katoomba, talks in Adelaide and keynote speakers at the Hillsong conference. Each time it has been worth it and each time a pub is usually involved.

Am I a raging alcoholic? No.

The reasoning is that you're not only at a conference to hear from a bunch of talking heads.

You're also there to get to know the people you came with better and dissect the things you have already heard and see how they will/may not work in your specific context.

Some of the best conversations I've had at a conference is when I've wagged a session.

Sure, it can get you into trouble (it has for me!), but sometimes you need to stop, process and just have some good times over an ale.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Self identifying soil

I was thinking about the parable of the sower that Jesus tells. It's here if you're not familiar with it.

I pondered, do people who walk away from their faith, recognise which type of soil they are?

Do they say... I was the shallow soil that had my seed of faith scorched!

Or, do they acknowledge... My belief in God was choked as the thorns of life crept in.

I wonder, would it be a positive thing for the person to see this is the case. And, would this stir the desire to change your standing before the sower?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You have the power!

I don't have bloggers block, but I'm sick of sitting on half-baked ideas.

So my solution is to give you the power.

Here are a few possible blog topics.

What would the 18 year old Graham think of the Graham of today?
Are young people reached or inoculated to the gospel by bad ministry?
Blowing off conference sessions and going to the pub.

What would you like to read about? Any of the above or something totally different?

I'll give you 36 hours to comment your answer (note that i will be posting in the meantime).

Comment away...