Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Choosing your widowmaker

Today Ange and i got pay-TV.

In reality, we were backed into a corner because our new unit doesn't have an areal. Let me tell you from experience... living with only two functional channels gets on your nerves.

Now we have lots of channels. Not as many as i used to have when i was living at home, but a boat-load more than two.

The most ironic thing? Ange was the one who came up with the idea to bring the Foxtel into our humble home. I knew that we would never be the couple who had a television-less household, but ideally we would not have our lives run by technology.

Now she may never see me again. Or at least never have a conversation where i will be totally paying attention...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Welcome to hell...

Sharp appearances

Private schools are on holidays at the moment and my dry cleaner is the loser. At private schools, the teachers dress well, and whenever I'm at a lunchtime group or a chapel service amongst them to feel like i need to step up my wardrobe.

I don't arrive wearing a tuxedo, but i do wear the equivalent of smart causal - good slacks (yes, i did just use the word slacks) and a crisp shirt.

For a youth minister this should be a big deal. Often i don't look like the stereotypical youth minister. They are sloppy and unkempt... and i will be like them, once again, for the next three weeks.

Until school goes back my dry cleaner will lose business. I hope he doesn't have to live off food stamps or dumpster dive.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Stripped bare

I just noticed that my visitors world map has been archived. My map now looks much more spartan.

But i assure you, I'm much cooler than my lonely red dots suggest.

Not that I'm insecure or anything...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lost, now Avatar found

A few years ago i had a dream. A dream involving prayer and Simpson's characters.

The dream?

Each kid and leader in the youth ministry would have an avatar created for them at the Simpson's Movie Website and then they would have a personal prayer journal.

The problem?

I moved on from that church and then forgot my ID to log in.

Today, knowing myself so well, i tracked down the website and hacked in. THE DREAM LIVES ANEW!

Girl power!

Happy new Prime Minister's Day!
We don't often get to have one without an election.

The result? We now have a female PM. A ginge no less.

This matches our lady Governor General.

And the soon-to-be-ousted woman Premier.

Sisters are doing it for themselves...

The only people i feel sorry for? Their man partners. I remember that pitiful sight of the husband of Helen Clark (former PM of NZ). He never looked comfortable amongst the spouses at the conventions of world leaders.

No man looks comfortable having tea with a bunch of middle aged ladies and holding local fauna.

If you died tonight...

Lots of you will know the punchline of this evangelistic tag-line... Would you go to heaven?

I heard it said at the scripture seminar i was at last week and read the same question on a church noticeboard (not a church i am connected with).

I always feel uncomfortable with this line.

First, it makes people think of their own death. Not a feel good moment for anyone.

Second, it sends the message that the good news of Jesus is like an insurance policy, cashed in at death. Useful for a later time.

The gospel is more than that. Following Jesus, and the eternal life that it brings, kicks in from the moment you believe, not just when you kick-the-bucket.

I think that this is a more effective evangelistic pitch, especially to those who (probably) have many more years of living to do.


This week i attempted to describe just what the Trinity is.


The topic, nicely summed up in my title, has been confusing Christians for around 2000 years. I'm not going to suggest that i cleared up all murkiness.

If you think about your best friend, and how well you know them, they are still pretty mysterious. They remain multifaceted and, at times, confusing. Perhaps it shouldn't surprise anyone that the precise nature of God will always remain a bit complex.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The hurt list

I've been thinking about some of the things i wrote in this post, spurned on by a bloke i can across who has a "hurt list." This list is all the ramifications of him failing in ministry. All the people he would hurt and all the pain he would cause himself due to the consequences.

My hurt list?

My wife, marriage stability, future children, family, current church, former churches, the people i worked with at churches, current and former church friends, youth group leaders, former youth group leaders, church kids, former church kids...

Then there is shame, guilt, pain, embarrassment, sadness, unemployment, uncertainty, financial strain and possible divorce.

I would probably need to change this blog. Or at least explain what has happened. I would need to go back to a job like reading water meters since my qualifications and work history would be pretty much useless outside of church circles.

And that is just off the top of my head... I'm sure there is more pain that i couldn't even think of.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Waitintg reason 4

The final reason that a believer hears when it is known that they aim to be a virgin till their married is... Doesn't this restrict the people that you can date?

My answer? It will and it will need to be a sacrifice that you are deciding to make. Man-whores would not be a wise to date... But, if your personal ambition is to be a virgin on your wedding night, it doesn't necessarily mean that you can only date other virgins.

Sure, it may be easier if you decide this and share that desire, but you're not forced to make that commitment.

If that person is willing to respect and honour your wishes, then it is fine to date them. This will be the other thing that thins out the field.

Finally, just because you may choose to not date everyone, doesn't mean that you need to be a social leper or have to shun those who you wouldn't date.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


It has been a while since I've had to post one of the questions that we've been looking at with the teens on a Friday night (mainly due to the last few weeks being mash-ups of stuff I've already posted). This week... What makes Christianity unique compared to all the other religions?

At the core of every religion is the answer to five fundamental questions.

What is God like?
How did everything begin?
How did the world get to be in the state that it is now?
What happens once you die?
Why does suffering occur?

The thing that makes Christianity stand apart from the other religions is the answer to these questions being found in the person of Jesus.

No other belief system speaks of a God who cares enough for humanity to become incarnate and deal with the issue that divides God and humanity (namely sin).

Every other founder of religions has a recorded death, but Christians hold firm that Jesus rose from the dead. The resurrection sets Jesus apart. Jesus defeats death in a way no one else has said they could.

Jesus shows that God personally knows what it is like to be human and is intimately aware of of what we go through, including the bad things in life.

The main thing that separates Christianity from any other religion is not a thing, but a who. Jesus is the core of Christianity and His life, teachings, death and resurrection make it unique.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Waiting reason 3

If enough time passes, as a Christan, you will probably hear this question posed to you... Are you only remaining a virgin because a book (the bible) says?

The trouble with this being your reason for remaining a virgin till your wedding is if it was your single reason. This is dangerous because the reason solely hinges on your prolonged obedience. Obedience to a point that you may struggle to put biblical chapter and verse beside.

Nowhere in the bible is the phrase "do not have sex before marriage" ever written, but the principal is certainly there. The scriptures only ever speak of prohibitive sex within the bounds of marriage. This is where Christians get the idea from, not an verbatim sentence. The decision should be an internal one, not external lip service.

If all a believer is holding onto is a verse, then i think they should delve deeper as to WHY God has given the boundaries that they are trying to follow. This will hold them with a much better chance of staying faithful (and answering this question).

God created sex to something special and to be expressed within an atmosphere of love, safety and commitment. This is why He has instructed sex to be used within the context of marriage. This is for our long-term benefit.

This is a better reason to not have sex then chapter-and-verse and more likely to be successful till your wedding day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Waiting reason 2

So... Don't you want to have sex with as many different people as possible? Why would you just want to settle with one person?

This reason to have sex really hinges upon your view of sex.

If sex is about having the whole set of possible sexual partners, one of every shape and nationality (like you're on a personal collection of a sexual Noah's Ark), then this question is almost valid. You're aim should be to try all the sexual fruits. Search out the sexual safari and conquest as much as possible.

But this speaks nothing of love. If this is highly valued in your view of human sexuality, and this is certainly the case that God makes for sex, then that will shape how you express it.

Will you be curious about others? Maybe, but it doesn't mean you must act upon that impulse. And, again, this is only a genuinely plausible argument if you remove the element of love and commitment from the equation of sexuality.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Waiting reason 1b

The classical reason given to have sex before you settle down with your life partner... You don't want to be crap in bed. And of course, quality must come through experience.

My instant rebuttal is that it assumes that everyone is rubbish the first time they have sex. This may well be accurate, but trouble is, people keep doing it after their first time! If being crap initially was a massive problem then lots of people would quit pretty quickly.

Also, if you're not experienced at having sex, and neither is your partner, then is there really a problem? If so, isn't it one that you would solve over time with joint experience? If you are going to be married till you die then you will have A LOT of time to get "good."

Third, sex isn't (or at least isn't designed to) be a competition. There isn't a medal given out if you put in a great performance. Sex is an expression of your love and commitment for your spouse. You shouldn't be aiming to crack out the chandelier swinging moves to solely impress anyone.

Finally, if sex is an expression of love and more than a merely physical exercise, then wouldn't this override any lack of prowess?

SD header

It happened at my first church. It happened at my last church. It happened on Sunday.

"You speak too fast for the older folks in the congregation to understand every word you say."


Worse still, i normally have a reminder to slow down, but it slipped my mind last week.

Normally, at the top of each page of my sermon transcript i write the letters "SD." The aim is to be reminded to speak slower and allow what I'm saying to sink in.

Additionally, with the length of my evening sermons lasting an amount that may leave some morning ears short-changed, elongating the presentation isn't a bad thing.

Next time Gadget. Next time...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Waiting response 1a

Once you're dating someone long-term it is almost assured that you will hear this question... Why don't you just have sex.

At least once... Just to find out if you're compatible.

One member of my marriage was actually asked this when we were dating (by a family member no less!). The response i would give?

First, we are not computer software. It's not as though having sex is like trying to install Windows on a Mac. To some degree you will be compatible, at least in the bits-and-pieces.

And if you're not compatible (in frequency, adventure or enthusiasm) in drive then getting married won't be the time when that is first encountered. You will get a good idea what their physical needs are well before you walk down the aisle.

Sure, you could discover that your spouse is a missionary only, lights off, no sounds, monthly, selfish, cold fish in the bedroom, but there will be signs before you get married if you are honest with one another and have practical conversations about sex prior to the ceremony. If it is a mega issue, you will either deal with it then or decide that being absolutely parallel in sex drive isn't the most important thing in the world.

And... even if this worst ease scenario eventuates then you may choose to put aside some of your own needs, mindful that your partner should come into the marriage willing to do the same.

The bible says that a husbands/wives body is not purely their own (1 Corinthians 7:4). They are to be honoured, respected and, yes, shared. With this mindset, i believe that compatibility could be (at worst, somewhat) overcome.

23 and unprepared

I read this post yesterday and I've been giving the whole idea of youth ministry leadership and age a bit of thought.

I hate to admit it, but this guy is right. Giving 23 year olds, or those even younger, leadership of an important, emotionally amped (you are dealing with people kids and the stuff they go through) part of church can be a recipe for disaster. Even if you're church is great, you know the lay of the land and have supportive staff and lay input structure, you're probably not adequately prepared to deal with a whole bunch of stuff that youth ministry throws at you.

I wasn't when i started out.

I didn't think anywhere near responsibly enough or plan enough. You learn that over time and experience.

I didn't relate overly well with kids parents and, absolute truth being told, i still feel weird about it. Over time, you gain understanding about what their concerns are and the questions they need answered.

I was occasionally out of my depth in meetings since i hadn't been on councils for decades. I would "go in with my gun slinging boot on" when i didn't need to or tread less carefully than i could have. With age this rash need for input decreases. You learn to listen more.

I totally agree with the blogger that, despite any of their youthful indiscretions, God can and does work through young youth ministers. They relate you the teens amazingly, engage them at their level and are a great example.

Maybe they just shouldn't be running the whole show.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Unplanned dancing

Yesterday, whilst giving the sermon, i danced in church. Twice.

I was describing an Old Testament story and when i was explaining the scene i had an open debate. I debated weather or not i break out and dance. In my notes i was just going to tell the story, show the connection and move on. No exhibitions of dancing were to be displayed.

I knew that as soon as i wondered if i was going to dance i backed myself into a corner. So dance i did.

And i think it helped the point i was making.

Hardly any of my sermons are delivered the precise way i type them or exactly how i practice. I'm now comfortable with that. When i started preaching it bothered me.

Now, an impromptu moment will regularly arise. it may be a joke. Or a connection to something that happens during the service. Yesterday, it was dancing.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Waiting reasons

Last night i we talked about relationships/dating/sex with the older teens at youth group.

As i thought about the topic, and looked at the stuff that i have written on this blog, i noted that I've not said a lot aimed at young adults. Sure, the basic principals of sexuality and how it is best expressed carries over, but i think there is more to be said.

As you get older the pressure to have sex increases, especially if you are in a long-term relationship (or even short term!) or you have friends (or family!) who are wondering why you don't just take the plunge.

So... Like i did here, i want to give my responses to the four arguments people gave me, and are pretty common, to have sex once they are dating/or considering dating.

- How will you know you are both sexually compatible/don't you want to be "good" at sex for your partner?
- Don't you want to have sex with a bunch of different people, not just one till you die?
- Is the only reason you're a virgin because a book says you should be?
- Don't you limit the number of people you could potentially date?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Swinging Google

I often hear that people can't find my blog via search engines. I've even tested this slander against my Ramblings and it can be, admittedly, tricky.

Unless... you punch in "christian swingers."

Every month people find my blog by punching this into Google. So i tried it.

If you search for "christian swingers blog" I am the 6th result of 767,000.

The oddest thing is that the blurb states that... The following article will prove to be a great disappointment.

And i disappoint creepy lurkers every few weeks.

Those who see your green eye

I just finished a book which made a good point about those we envy.

We are envious of those we identify with and those who have reached, or are heading towards, what we value.

I think this is absolutely true. I am usually jealous of people who i could actually be. Not necessarily the minister of a mega church with a thousand teens, but the local youth minister down the road or a bloke who was in my year at college.

I find myself being envious of people who are at my desired end-point, or going in that direction much quicker than i am.

When we get a clearer vision of those who are commonly in the sights of our envy i think we can get a better grasp on overcoming our jealousy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Timefilling segments

In an ideal world i would fill eight time-segments a week at work. Even though I'm hired for 20 hours, I would happily work roughly 24 hours a week.

Everyone else in a church is expected to work a full week and then put in around church, so I'm fine with putting in more than my payslip entails.

Breaking it down, each day is divided into segments (9am-noon-3pm-6pm-9pm-12) and i aim to work 8 three hour time-blocks. 2 mornings, 4 early afternoons and two evenings.

Last week i failed. I ended up working 45 hours.

This week I'm hurtling towards another blowout. I'm scheduled to be working 11 time-blocks.


This week at youth group we will be talking many things relationships/dating/sex and haven't advertised in advance.

To be clear, none of the questions that i have been answering have been publicly known since they were chosen by the teens at the start of the term. But... I wonder if we would have had more kids if they did know what the topic would be this week.

Should our group have sex-vertised?

Can sex sell a youth group and is that a good thing?

I love chatting about this topic because i think it is important and teens should know what God/the bible has to say. Teens should be provided with the answers to the questions that their friends (not to mention hormones!) are asking.

Maybe popping a big number, providing the Christian perspective of relationships, isn't the greatest evil in the world.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Aims revisited

When i started my new ministry position i had these as my aims.

How am i going (mindful that it has been more than 30 days)?

Clean office? Almost. I got a new computer last week, have two large boxes of rubbish to be disposed of and all my files still need to be put away (equivalent to a four-draw filing cabinets worth), but i can see a lot of carpet.

Names? Youth... Check. Evening service... Nearly. Scripture class... Dreaming (but i have missed two of seven weeks).

Days off? Established (Monday and Saturday). Holidays? Locked in.

Network? I've meet with three other youth minsters and made connections in the four local high schools. My to-do-list has had the task of trying to organise a "local youth minster hang" on it for the last fortnight. Maybe i will get to it... next week.

What-not-to-do examples

We all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. In some cases this is a great thing. Those who have gone before us are giants of integrity and solid foundations whom we can build upon.

But... Sometimes bad can also be good.

Poor preaching or organised youth ministries can become a positive.

Pent up frustration at church leadership can prove to be helpful in the long term.


You desire better when you are let down by others.

I would love to say the present church has been strenghtened, despite the failings of its members in the past. It would be awesome that those who rise into leadership use the examples of those who have gone before them to impact the way they minister, learning from the past.

All too often the future leaders of the church leave and don't use their poor past experiences to make the future brighter.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bible chunks

I think the current bible we have is pretty swell. It's in a language that people can understand, it's more accurate than ever before and with chapters and verses we can find passages with relative ease.


Are the chapter and verses training people to think of the Bible in small, sometimes unhelpful, chunks?

It would have been more difficult to quote the bible out of context prior to the inclusion of the small numeric assistants.

How would preaching be transformed if the only option was to split up books into thoughts, not the encompassing chapter divisions (which aren't always helpful)?

No, I'm not on a crusade to have the chapters and verses removed, but it's something to ponder a life without them.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Today i was thinking about what things people weigh up when they decide their level of perceived inclusion at a church or within a ministry.

The results?

A sense of belonging and acceptance.
Feeling they can contribute.
Being encouraged and uplifted by being involved.
Growing due to what is being offered for them.

Yes Attitude

I just had an informal meeting and one of the things that struck me was a desire one of the guys had for this particular ministries members.

In short, he wanted people to have a mindset that will not automatically shoot down suggestions.

He wanted people to have an attitude that starts from a position of positivity. Begin from a point of "Yes, let's try it." Start from a place where you will be willing to experiment.

He may well be onto something...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fixing the now

I don't seem to fit easily into the conference world of my denomination.


I would rather see (amongst other things) churches invest their time, money and energy into making their current church services and ministries better, not throw a stack of coin towards "fresh" expressions of church.

Sure, the church can be assisted in this area and has a lot to learn about reaching the un-churched.

BUT... If we invested the same mind-space to making our current structures better, would we be worse off?

Not every church has the resources and people power to run a effective "emergent church" experience, but they all have a service that they are currently running. What if our aim was to make this better and more appealing to outsiders? To change to what we have now, so that it is more engaging and relevant?

I sometimes feel that we strive for the next "big thing" with little focus on what we are doing week in, week out.

Just a brain-fart that i don't hear tossed about very often...

Check caller ID

As a wonderful, devoted wife Ange usually rings me when she is on her way home from work.

Last night, around dinner time, i answered my phone "Hey baby" without looking at the caller ID. I just assumed it was Ange.

Luckily, it was.

But one day...