Friday, April 30, 2010

Odd connections

Yesterday this blog had the highest page views ever in a 24 hour period.

But the stats did cause a little confusion.

How do you get to my blog by searching "woman instantly killed iuka ms april 2 2010?"


Outcome determined

It doesn't matter how great the children's and youth stuff goes tonight. It could be the best youth ministry night in the history of the recorded church.

And it won't matter.

Today will be a sad day... For reasons i don't particularly want to go into, but I'm sure i will at some stage soon.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Leave it at the door

Whilst spending time with my niece yesterday, i think i embarrassed my sister.

To have Erin clean up her blocks (yeah, she's a girl, and we play blocks together...) i sang the clean up song. It's a simple tune - Everybody clean up, clean up, clean up. Everybody clean up and but the blocks away!

I sing, she dances and then we put a few blocks each into the container. Rinse and repeat until the floor is clean... from all 100 blocks.

The episode reminded me of a simple, but vital element when dealing with kids. Leave your awkwardness at the door.

Sing, dance, clap, make faces, be crazy... because they are kids... and they won't mind.

The last song

A couple of times over the last few days i have heard the song that was playing at the end of my Dad's funeral.

It's not getting any less weird... or sad.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sex reason 6

The sixth reason teens choose to have sex - They follow the examples of others.

Response - Are the choices of others worth following? How has that choice worked out for them in the long term? Would they make the same choice again?

Unprepared sex has damaged relationships because they weren't ready to take the deeper step that sex initiates and this increased connection exposed other issues.

You don't have to look far to find stories that attest to this. Your friends will have them and they are all over the media.

Shouldn't we learn from their examples, not follow them?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sex reason 5

Reason teens have sex #5 - The desire for connection and intimacy.

This reason actually bothers me because it makes more sense than any of the others, but...

Response -

Desiring close connections and intimacy with others is a natural, healthy thing to want. But, you can achieve this though more than just a physical act.

As a means to an end, the sense of intimacy with your partner will be increased if you sleep with them. This is how it was designed to work.

Having sex is the most intimate, naked, vulnerable thing that two people can do together. Sex was created to join two people, beyond physically, but emotionally and spiritually. Sex is way beyond a bodily function that involves a few people.

Your connection with the person you sleep with will increase. Your relationship will change. Things will (or at least should) get much deeper.

Unless you have a solid foundation to base this increased intimacy, then your relationship will be thrown off balance.

You will be as close as two people can be physically, but still way behind in other areas (such as emotionally).

Is it a wise choice to make this huge step now? Do you both want to take this step into a deeper level?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sex reason 4

Reason teens have sex 4: Girls have sex to keep their boyfriend.

My response to this reason...

First, is this reason based in reality? Will he really leave you? Has he told you so?

If so, do you really want to be with a guy who blackmails you? Who is emotionally abusive? Who doesn't respect your opinions? Who is totally selfish?
Is that a good reason to have sex? Really?

Do you want to reward this demanding behaviour? Will you do so again when he asks you to do other things that you're uncomfortable with? Do you want to base your relationship in giving into his demands at the cost of your own wants?

Perhaps this reason says more about the guy and your relationship, then your readiness to have sex...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sex reasons 2 & 3

Like i wrote when i started giving my responses to the reasons teens have sex, I'm just going to write what would come off the top of my head, so they may require a polish.

Reason - Sex gives a sense of maturity.

Over time the milestones teenagers pass on the road to adulthood have been eroded. For some teens, sex is still seen as a hurdle to leap on the path to growing up.

Partly, this would come down to the legal age that you can have sex.

I believe their is a valid reason that the government makes this age restriction. It has to do with the very reason of maturity. Sex is a mature act with some really mature consequences.

Unless you're willing to live out those consequences then you're probably not ready to do the deed. Pregnancy, STD's and the way sex changes the physical and emotional dynamics of a relationship are a big deal.

A teen may want to feel mature, but wouldn't be willing to pay the price or that choice.

This reason can be tied into the next one...

Reason - You have sex to be a "real man."

If you're going to have sex to prove you're a man then you need to change your view on being a masculine bloke.

If you have sex as a boy, you will still be a boy afterwards, just not a virgin (I'm reminded of the scene from Cool Runnings where the head of the bobsled team is talking to his coach. He is told by his coach that if you're not enough without the gold medal, you will never be enough with it).

If you're trying to impress your peers by having sex then you need to find better friends. Are they really worth impressing if their judge of masculinity isn't courage, leadership and character, but "getting laid"?

Work on becoming a genuine man first, not impressing a bunch of fellow boys.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sex reason 1

I said that i would tell you my responses to the most common reasons teens give to have sex.

I'll try to give the answer in the same vain that i would in person. Saying what would come off the top of my head...

Reason - Sex feels good.

Response -

True, sex is enjoyable.

One day Adam and Eve weren't hanging in the garden, accidentally discovered sex, found that it felt good and thought it would be a swell idea to keep it from The Almighty.

In the eyes of God sex is good (very good even!). An excellent gift given by God. A gift designed by God to feel great. He could have chosen any way to transfer DNA from male to female. He chose sex.

But just because it feels good, doesn't mean you have to do it as soon as you can and at the core of this reason, Christian teens fear that God is holding out on them.

He's not. But He does give guidelines on how sex works best. This guideline is within marriage.

If the only reason you have to have sex is because it feels good, get a better reason. You're not an animal that must feed a desire.

Cocaine is meant to feel good at the time... are you keen to try that?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reasons to have sex?

During my weekly Internet trawl i found this blog post looking at some of the reasons why teens have sex.

This caught my attention because of a question i asked to my new youth group leaders over the weekend.

I asked them when the last time they talked to the kids about sex.

I posed the query because of a belief that one of my college lecturers held. Simply... You should chat to the kids in a youth group about sex, dating and relationships every six months.

Why? Because teenagers will constantly be exposed to various views on sex, some particularly skewed and damaging.

The reasons that the blog stated, steaming from the messages that teens are exposed to were...

- It feels good.

- A sense of maturity.

- Guys feel pressure to be a man and "get laid."

- Girls feel pressure to have sex to keep their boyfriend.

- Teens desire connection and intimacy.

- Poor examples of those who have gone before them and are held as people to emulate.

Over the next few days I'll share what i would tell a young person considering having sex for the above reasons.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The biggest example

I was inspired by the finale of the biggest loser last night.

Inspired enough to eat an entire chocolate Easter bunny.

I'm certain I'll be on the show next year. Especially since I'm no longer reading water meters and walking 15km a day...

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Whilst going through the youth ministry office that I've inherited i found TWO copies of The UnGame.

The UnGame? It's a 1970's emotions sharing game that has no end point (and that's making it sound cooler than it actually is! The box states that it is "A cooperative adventure in communication").

With two in my possession i think i hold the largest stockpile of The UnGame in the world.

These are the kinds of stockpiles that need to be dealt with alongside nukes.

30 Day aims

I'm currently sitting in my new office at church and i want to advertise my aims for the first month (maybe that way I'll try REALLY HARD to keep them!).

1on - Keep the office clean.

2wo - Remember the names of the teens who are regularly there on a Friday night, at the evening service and in my scripture classes.

3hree - Establish two days off and book in my holidays for the year.

4our - Meet with as many local youth ministers and make early connections.

If you've been aware of my previous workplaces (I knew where everything was!) or seen me flounder at your name/been called the wrong name by me then you will know the first two will be a huge challenge.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Advertising Checklist

To get ready for next terms mail out i tweaked this from an old form that was floating around my previous church...

Is the event named? Does it give you an idea of what it actually is?

Is the event adequately described? Do you get a mental picture? Is there a website?

What age are you after? Is it clear?

Are the days and dates clear AND accurate?

Where is the event to be held? Where will we meet – event or church?

Does the advertisement say how many people will be there? Other churches? Local, state, national event?

How are we getting to the event? Driving – drivers declaration, directions, leaders/parents, convoy? Public Transport – timetable, cost?

What time does the event start and finish? Are parents picking them up? Is this different from normal?

Is the event catered? Will they need to eat before/after?

How much does it cost? Is it clear?

Are their early bird rates?

When do you have to pay? Pay all up front, part deposit or on day? How do they get the money to you and by what method – eft, cash, cheque?

Will they need to bring extra money – food, travel, bookstore?

Is the RSVP date clear? Is there time to realistically save the cash or fundraise if required? What are the consequences if you cancel?

How do you register? Form – included? Internet, verbal?

Do you need medical and transport forms to go on the event? Included in mailout?

Is there a “what to bring” list? Do you need a “not to bring” list? Climate? Themes?

Is there a speaker? Can you hear them/get more info on the web? Theologically aligned? Good communicator? Why were they invited?

Will there be music at the event? Can you hear them/get more info on the web? Why were they invited?

How can parents get more info? Are your contact details on the form? Email, phone, facebook, blog, website?

Are the flyers quality? Graphics, wording?

Are there typo or grammar errors? Independent proof reader?

Is Jesus, the gospel and the church clearly included in the advertisement? Bait & Switch?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Forkin the Body

Last week Ange dropped off communion bread to our old church since she had just discovered a recipe for gluten free bread which doesn't taste like cardboard.

The only problem was that i had to draw the curtain to a not-so-well-guarded-secret of the church world.

Pierce the underside of the communion bread with a fork if you are going to be tearing it in two. Do this and the bread will part perfectly every time...

Whenever i tell someone this trick i feel like I'm the bloke under the mask of "Magic's Greatest Secrets Revealed."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Church excuses

When you work for a church long enough you discover the seemingly random, once-a-month-but-never-two-weeks-in-a-row, attendance of many families to church services.

Based on the normal year the Sundays are spent as follows...

Missing church because...
The week before and after Christmas due to family commitments (2)
The Sunday after New Years recovering (1)
The week before and after Easter to avoid family commitments (2)
The Sunday nearest to Australia Day with friends (1)
It would be unAustralian to not be with mates on ANZAC Day! (1)
The last Sunday of the school year the kids need a break (1)
The first Sunday of the school year the kids need to prepare (1)
Attending Family reunion (1)
Attending family weddings or funerals (1)
Wedding Anniversary (1)
Sickness... when one member of the clan goes down then we all must stay in (3)
Parent Business trip (1)
Family vacations (3)
Children's sporting commitments (6)
Father's television sporting commitments (3)
Unexpected guests who we couldn't kick out by Sunday (2)
Time changed due to daylight saving (2)
Bad weather - heat, cold, rain, wind, dust, snow, flood, cloud (3)
Slept in (3)
Personal reason - read... i wasn't "in the mood" (2)
Family reasons - read... another family member wasn't "in the mood" (4)

At church... 8 Sundays.

Unless something comes up.

The gospel with Big Kev or Moyra

I have a problem...

A small part of me wants a Steam Mop or Swivel Sweeper...
A sizable portion of me as amazed at what ProActive Solution can do to clear up your skin...
A big chunk of me thinks i require a Snuggie... And one for my cat...
My mind is filled with dreams of owning a Sham Wow...

And, after watching the advertisements for 15 minutes, i would rain down apocalyptic fury upon anyone who got in the way of me getting Zumba.

I wonder what would happen if the church was sold via infomercial. Glossy product placements during morning shows, delivered by cheery hosts having friendly chatter and sprinkled with happy, satisfied, customer endorsements.

Would it be more successful that what is happening now and would the church get a better or worse reputation?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mid week feed

At the moment I'm reading a book for ministers when they arrive at a new church (which will be be next week!) and one of the commandments for a new minster is to take care of yourself.

One point reminded me of an e-mail that i have erased over the last week.

A few years ago i posed a question to the regional youth ministry advisor about local, quality mid week church services (i couldn't track one down).

The book suggests that church workers should seek out a regular church service (not necessarily weekly) that they go to to be fed spiritually, without the burden of being "at work."

I think all those in ministry should look for places where they only receive input, or at most, are on minimal output. In the long run, it creates healthier ministers and ministries.

Perhaps special church services should be established just for ministers, with no expectations that they will do anything but be refreshed and fed.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Zombie attack plan

In the past the Internet has informed me that i will become the undead in 80 minutes once bitten by a zombie (check it out here).

Well now i know how i will encounter the aforementioned zombie. I thought teaming up with the ex-cop at the shopping mall would be a good idea. Turns out it doesn't end well...

You can find out how you will encounter your friendly zombie here.

More hour wasting

I started today with 993 emails in my sent folder.

I now have only 46 wordsmith masterpieces worthy of keeping.

Grieving Friday to get Sunday

On Sunday night i went to my new churches evening service and during the interactive Passion recount there was a station where you remembered someone who has died.

Not surprisingly, with my Dad passing away three months ago, this part was quite meaningful.

But the point that was being made was also really good.

Without identifying with the grief that the followers of Jesus felt, you can't adequately travel with them to Easter Sunday.

I find that we skip straight from Good Friday, often glancing over the injustice and brutality and fly directly to the empty tomb.

This exercise helped me stop on the Saturday.

And that's a positive thing.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tenebrae reflections

The wost i have ever felt after a church service was post a Easter Sunday service four years ago. For some reason the church i was working for decided to not hold an evening service (with the rest of the staff members departing on holidays). I overturned this and organised an impromptu tenebrae service.

I thought it was awful (everyone else thought it was pretty good, even quite moving).

From my point of view, i knew the descent into darkness happened out of order. I knew that one of the readers went before they should have. I worked a 13 hour day and it caught up with me.

Afterwards i just wanted to cry.

This year, i gave it another go.

It went much, much better.

I was more organised and gave the readers individual instructions. I went through the entire service multiple times to ensure that everything would be in order. I printed out the readings, having collected them in advance.

But, when i do it again it will be further tweaked.

The instructions to the readers will include a spiel about adjusting the microphone and waiting until the lights of the previous person are extinguished before getting up.

To add length to the service I'll look to include communion (which is in the original service that i base it on).

I'll be aware of emergency exit lights in the church building (a darkened sanctuary has the mood killed by a bright fluorescent green sign) and cover them (OHS won't mind!).

Finally, I'll make sure i don't take a short cut with the sound. With the intimacy of the service we just used a microphone into the guitar amp. The problem? This is not hooked into the hearing loop and when you are alerted to this midway through the second reading it is too late (sorry Mavis!).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rejecting Easter

Over the last few days I've listed the excuses people throw up when faced with the resurrection of Jesus.

They were... The Easter story is a Myth, the women went to the Wrong Tomb, the body of Jesus was Stolen, all the witnesses who was Jesus Hallucinated, the body on the cross wasn't Jesus and that Jesus just passed out, not died on the cross.

The real reason i feel that people reject the resurrection of Jesus is that they are just living out their non-belief in God, so they must explain the event away. Their rejection of Easter is not based on history, but philosophy.

Everyone knows... The dead do not rise. They stay dead.

This is true and without a belief in God, the resurrection of anyone is silliness.

But... If God exists, then AT WORST, the Easter events become plausible (I argue the existence of God here).

If you can believe that God is powerful enough to create everything, from nothing, then God bringing life from death isn't impossible. It isn't even all that tricky.

When compared to the other options that explain Easter, the choice that Jesus actually rose from the dead is AT LEAST as probable then the other options...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Circum... WHAT!

I stumbled over this post whilst meandering through the web...

It made me wonder about the time when God first instructed Abraham about the sign of the covenant that he was going to enter into with him and his decendants.

Just as the father in the blog had the awkward job of telling his son what circumcision was, i'm curious if the same thing happened between God and Abe.

Do we miss an important chunk of Genesis 17?

I imagine the conversation may have gone...

GOD: This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised.

Abe: Ok. What does that mean?

GOD: The nation that will be from you will make a covenant of the flesh that will be everlasting.

Abe: Sure. How?

GOD: They will remove the skin from around the tip of their penis.

Abe: Huh? Really?

GOD: It will represent the seperation that will happen if this does not occour.

Abe: Oh. When will this happen?

GOD: To all males when they are eight days old.

Abe: Then i'm off the hook.

GOD: No.

ABE: But i'm 99 years old!

GOD: So...

Abe: Does it apply to anyone else?

GOD: It will apply to you, your desendants, as well as every male in your household.

Abe: They will be easily convinced...

GOD: This is the covenant we are entering into.

Abe: How about something else? A tattoo? Shaving our heads? Cutting up some animals? Removing something else? A foot perhaps?

GOD: No. Now gather the blokes and fetch your flint knife.

I imagine that Abraham was stopped in his tracks when he was told, at the age of 99 he would be losing a bit of his... never mind.

Christianity killer 6

My final popular explanation for the resurrection of Jesus, aside from them actually happening as they are described in the gospels, is by far my favourite.


The theory says that Jesus did not die upon the cross but just swooned (he fell unconscious), later woke in the tomb and escaped.

Now... let's think this through...

Jesus, after being beaten for a few hours and executed, somehow survives. In doing so he convincingly fools the guards who checked that he was deceased, those who prepared his body for burial and his disciples who mistook him as resurrected.

First, the Romans were proficient at executing people. When they tried to kill you, you died. At no other time has there been a case where execution was unsuccessful.

Second, those in the first century weren't idiots. They knew the difference between death and life. Breathing would be a pretty convincing clue!

Third, Jesus had to escape the tomb, even though it was blocked by a large stone and two guards. If Jesus channelled his inner John Rambo it would still be REALLY TOUGH to push a boulder when you're been beaten, nailed to a cross and speared in the side and then fight your way past Roman guards (who were fighting for their lives if he successfully got past them!).

Fourth, Jesus then had to convince his disciples and all the other witnesses to the "resurrected" Jesus that he wasn't a bloke who just scraped past death, but was in a risen body. If you're beaten to a pulp, groaning in agony and urgently requiring long term medical aid this will be a REALLY TOUGH sell.

Fifth, If Jesus did convince people he was alive, he then disappeared. It's a lot of effort to drift away into obscurity.

Finally, is this really plausible? I'm pretty sure "MythBusters" would chuckle and deal with this one fairly quickly.

Tomorrow I'll give the real, fundamental reason i think people reject the events of Easter...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Christianity killers 4 & 5

The next two possible explanations for the events of Easter, aside from them actually happening as they are told in the gospels are...


We are told at the end of the gospels and in Paul's epistles (letters to the early churches) that the risen Jesus appeared to a bunch of people, up to 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15).

The theory that all these people just had a vision of Jesus doesn't fit is that the explanation doesn't match the nature of how hallucinations work.

You don't get collective visions. They are individualistic.

Whenever i try to show this to a scripture class i ask them to have a vision of an animal entering the classroom. When quizzed, their animals don't match. Then i instruct them to see a unicorn gallop into the class and write the colour of the unicorn. Again, their answers don't match.


Another possibility that explains Easter is that Jesus was never crucified. but another was substituted in his place.


Those who arrested Jesus knew what he looked like.
Those who were at the crucifixion knew what Jesus looked like (His mother was there!).
Those who prepared the body for burial knew and followed Jesus (Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus).

If someone killed a bloke you personally knew for a few years, or your own child, wouldn't you catch on if it was actually an impostor?

Sometimes we need to remember that those in the first century weren't stupid. Tomorrow that will be useful to keep in mind...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hour wasting

Imagine the following... You have seven hours to waste between your final scripture class and the Tenebrae service you are running at church.

The solution... Reduce your e-mail inbox from 362 to 78.

Hours fly past.


Very slowly.

Christianity killer 3

The next possible explanation for Easter, aside from the events happening in the way they are described in the gospel accounts is...


If the body of Jesus was stolen, there are three primary suspects... The Jewish authorities, the Roman authorities or the Disciples of Jesus.

The case against each suspect is pretty shaky.

Neither the Jews nor the Romans had reasonable motive to steal the corpse of Jesus. They wanted to STOP any suggestion that Jesus could rise from the dead, not encourage one! Both parties instructed the new followers of Jesus to stop proclaiming the events of Easter. It would have been vastly more effective displaying the corpse of Christ and killing their claims instantly. This did not happen.

Also, the results of the guards letting the body be "stolen" would be dire. Neglecting their duty would result in capital punishment. I'm not sure i would have been alright with that outcome if i was one of the poor guards!

As for the disciples, they were in no mood nor capable of snatching the body of Jesus.

They were to busy pooping their pants, cowering in guilt and fear to mount a rescue mission. If they could have fought their way through the guards you would have thought they would have put up a better fight in the Garden when Jesus was arrested!

Finally, the disciples do not act like men who conspired a great big ruse. Witnessing the resurrection of Jesus transformed these men from untrained, uneducated fishermen into preachers and resulted in each of them getting killed. You don't act this way (at least not for decades or under prolonged threat of fatal torture) if you're behind the deception of Easter.