Saturday, February 26, 2011


A few days ago I had a mate help me move a fridge. Yes, Gavin, you are my hero.
I've also heard a lot about mateship in light of the New Zealand earthquake* and the assistance that Aussie rescuers have provided.

All the chatter made me wonder if followers of Christ should be especially linked with mateship. When i read the New Testament it reflects the similar ideas of mateship.

Self sacrifice.
Putting others before yourself.

If Christianity made this point louder, would it be more appealing to the average bloke who values mateship so highly?

Remember: Every time you hear "The magnitude 6.3 earthquake was devastating" in a New Zealand accent it is not funny...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Why bother with the Word?

I'll admit. I'm already behind my bible memorisation timetable. I haven't even printed out all the verses to begin reading them consistently.

Then again, you may have noticed that I'm behind in my usual blogging schedule this week.

And now I'm posting at midnight after a few crazy days.

But... I'm going to persevere with the bible memorisation.

Why? Because it's the first strategy against temptation that I've previously written about.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bible memorisation

Those who can spurt off appropriate bible verses off the top of their heads. Ugh!
I'll admit it... I'm jealous of them.
I look at them in green eyed awe.

Another of my aims this year is to memorise more bible verses or become more familiar with where the parts of the bible i often quote are located.

My strategy is to read some of the following verses on the days when i listen to a famous speech. With these in my mind I'll feel a little less insecure...

Genesis 1:1-3 Genesis 1:27 Genesis 1:31 Genesis 2:18 Genesis 50:20
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Deuteronomy 30:15-16
Joshua 1:9 Joshua 24:14-15
Judges 21:25
1 Samuel 15:22 1 Samuel 16:7
Psalm 1:1 Psalm 19:1-4a Psalm 37:4 Psalm 46:10
Psalm 51:7 Psalm 117:1-2 Psalm 127:1 Psalm 139:1-4
Proverbs 3:5-6 Proverbs 27:17
Ecclesiastes 3:11 Ecclesiastes 12:13
Isaiah 9:6 Isaiah 40:30-31
Jeremiah 29:10-11 Jeremiah 31:33-34
Ezekiel 36:25-27
Micah 6:8
Habakkuk 1:5
Malachi 2:15 Malachi 3:6

Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:19 Matthew 5:16 Matthew 7:7-8
Matthew 9:12-13 Matthew 11:28-30 Matthew 19:15-16
Matthew 22:37-40 Matthew 28:19-20
Mark 10:45
Luke 1:1-4 Luke 9:23 Luke 15:31-32 Luke 23:43
John 1:1-5 John 1:14 John 1:29 John 3:3 John 3:16-17
John 4:13-14 John 10:10 John 11:25 John 11:35 John 13:13-14
John 14:5-6 John 14:26 John 16:8 John 19:30 John 20:27-29
John 20:30-31 John 21:25
Acts 1:8
Romans 1:16 Romans 1:19-21 Romans 2:15 Romans 3:23
Romans 5:8 Romans 6:22-23 Romans 8:15-17 Romans 8:22
Romans 8:26 Romans 8:28-29 Romans 8:38-39 Romans 10:9
Romans 10:12-13 Romans 12:1-2 Romans 13:1
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 1 Corinthians 10:11 1 Corinthians 10:13
1 Corinthians 11:1 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 1 Corinthians 15:13-19
2 Corinthians 5:15
Galatians 3:28 Galatians 4:6-7 Galatians 6:7
Ephesians 2:8-9 Ephesians 3:20 Ephesians 4:26-27 Ephesians 4:29
Philippians 2:3-11 Philippians 4:6-7 Philippians 4:8 Philippians 4:13
Colossians 1:15-17 Colossians 3:23-24
1 Thessalonians 2:8
1 Timothy 4:12 1 Timothy 6:10
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:14-16 Hebrews 9:27
Hebrews 11:1, 6 Hebrews 12:1-2 Hebrews 13:8
James 3:10-11
2 Peter 1:3 2 Peter 1:16 2 Peter 3:14
1 John 1:1-2 1 John 3:16 1 John 4:1 1 John 4:18-19 1 John 5:13
Revelation 3:15-16 Revelation 3:20
Revelation 21:3-4 Revelation 21:6 Revelation 22:20

On face value, the list looks intimidating (at well over 100 passages). But realistically, a lot of the list is verses that are already loose in my mind, they just need to be better organised.

Are there any that you think i should add to the list?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A century of dialogue

A while back i downloaded the "100 Greatest Speeches of History" app into my phone.

At the start, i was underwhelmed. It, quite simply, didn't work.

Then... This morning... It sprung to life.

My new aim is to listen to one of the speeches each morning i have off. This should hover around three or so a week.

This morning's speech? Slotting in at the number one position?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Story trumps theologian

There is little said during a sermon that makes me inwardly groan than the preacher quoting a theologian.

Particularly if they are their favourite and quoted frequently.

Especially if the bloke is really obscure.

And lived in the middle ages.

I would much, much rather hear a story then hear a theological quote.

In my mind, one injects life and flavour whilst the other draws oxygen out of the room life a vacuum. One adds layers of depth and insight into the life of the preacher whilst the other exposes a historical footnote.

I know which one I'd rather hear.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

You don't have to be a Uni student

You don't have to be a Uni student for this to ring true...

I'm a Uni Student... from Campus America on Vimeo.

The good words #2

Firstly, Tom you are not only a man of immaculate hair, but you also made a good comment on my previous post. If you don't know Tom, check out his insightful musings at

Now, to resolve the cliffhanger ending...

Why do i normally tell what the Gospel is during my sermons and give a chance to respond?

One - Because any sermon should, whilst accurately explaining and applying the text, point towards the life-giving message of Jesus. The response should be to place your trust in Him, either for the first time or anew in greater obedience.

Two - Despite how long they have been "warming the pews" you can never be sure where they are at with God. Even though they may have been at church for ages, they may never have actually given God control over their life.

Three - I remember an animated discussion that occurred during a small group once about the uselessness of Ephesians(?) 1. On face value, Paul writes about the gospel that the readers should have already been familiar with. But, upon further thinking, i see the value in allowing those who are believers to hear the basic truths again. The same can be said for Christians in the modern church.

Four - People know what they are going to get when they invite someone to church. They won't be confused whether their guest will hear the core message of Christianity (hopefully the reason they invited them in the first place!).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Win stories

I just read this article about telling stories (I never said that everything i read on the web was riveting).

Points four and five jumped out at me. Especially the application for the later.

Tell stories at the start of meetings, not just give updates.

I think the staff meetings at most businesses and churches would be far better off if they began with a story that detailed person who represented a win for each.

The good words

Coming out of last Sunday night's sermon, it was mentioned that my gospel presentation was quite similar to one i did last year and is normally woven into most sermons i give.

Initially this didn't surprise me, since this particular sermon was the extension of a talk that i did a few months back. I may have used similar words due to an earlier crossover of the previous talk and another sermon.

It also didn't shock me since my basic gospel presentation doesn't change greatly.

It simply states that everyone needs God since they fall short of His perfect standard. That God became man and dealt with the God-humanity division caused by our failure. In response, we need to place our trust in what Jesus did for us upon the cross and what it achieved. He tore down the separation between us and God. We need to trust in that and place God as the number one thing in our live.

Additionally, i openly acknowledge that i normally say what the gospel is during any sermon i give.


I'll tell you tomorrow... Oh, what a cliffhanger!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Message > Delivery

I know, I'm behind the rest of the world. They have been fuming for days over the way that Christina butchered the US National Anthem at the Superbowl.

I can only imagine the outrage if someone was singing the Aussie national song and said that "our land was surrounded by sea." If you removed the word "girt" we would demand nothing short of a public hanging!

Christian's excuse? She was caught up in the moment. She was so swept up in spectacle that the execution of the words slipped her mind. "Oversouling" some people have called it.

It reminded me of bible readings in church and church a few weeks ago.

My job was to read the passage twice. Once before the sermon and then again after.

At the start i cocked up. I read the wrong part and only caught on after around 10 verses. Bonus bible i called it (good cover!) before giving the proper reading.

One point from the sermon was that the passage should really stand for itself.

Later, I read the start of the Sermon on the Mount and i did a mighty fine job of it.

But i wonder if my dramatic reading actually contradicted the point of the sermon. If i drew focus away from the words that i was saying and towards myself.

How often do those in church stand up and think they need to jazz up the scripture passage?
Would it be better if the only instructions a bible reader is given is to read in a way that trusts the words will speak for themselves?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Safe, Fun, Christian

At the moment, coming out of some conversations i had over the holidays and the Vision...ating Friday a few weeks ago, I've been tossing about a possible vision statement for the youth ministry of my church.

The things which i heard people wanting us to stand for and be known by was "a safe place," "fun" and "Christian."

The pieces started to fall into place this morning. This is how they stand right now...
"A safe place, that values fun, and aims for young people to encounter and grow in the life changing Gospel of Jesus."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Solutions and balances

I would like to say that I'm your typical guy. In that respect, i like to solve problems.

If you tell me about how bad things are at work, or what difficulties you are having at church, then i will view them as problems to be resolved.

The trouble? Everything isn't a problem. Everything doesn't need a solution. Some things are tensions.

Tensions need to be balanced, not solved.

The trouble? Working out which is which...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Open and close fisted

today i heard a really, REALLY good answer to tricky theological conundrums. In this case it was about how he would handle the topic of tongues in a scripture setting.

His response?

Some issues are open handed and some are close fisted.

Some things are non-negotiable. That a personal God exists. The deity of Jesus and His resurrection. Salvation by grace not works. THE BIG ISSUES.

Other issues are open handed. They are not so clear. They are determined upon interpretation. Tongues would fit into this category.

As a rule in scripture classes, stick to the topics that unify and are affirmed by the majority of mainstream Christianity.

We're #1...

I just read this report about Australia being the "most sinful country on Earth."

It may be the patriot in me, but I'm disappointed.

Sure, we topped the overall list, but how is Australia meant to compete with Iceland in the category of sloth?

If i lived in Iceland, i have a stack if sickies as well. When you have the word "ice" in the title of your country, it must be tough to drag yourself out of bed and go to work.

So... my fellow "sin-prone" Aussies... have a sickie. Cause we're number one!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fail conference

For some reason, this conference really appeals to me.

The idea of a conference without the gloss of the "superstars" and the glow of "successful ministries" sounds refreshingly different.

I found out about the event through this blog and it makes some really good points. I especially agree with the opening quote from John Ortberg.

I've grown more in ministry over the last year, amidst the disappointments, crisis and transition, then i've done the previous half decade.

The vibe of influence

This morning i was on a panel at a local school which was discussing the topic of influence during their weekly chapel service.

I only found out that i was going to do the event the night before (not that I'm complaining!) so i skimmed through various books I'd read that deal with the subject and reminisced about the times when I've mentioned influence on this blog.

The things i learnt/remembered about influence?

Influence shapes your worldview and the decisions that you make.

Everyone is effected by influence. You live amongst it. You are influenced by your culture, the media, events in your life and the people around you.

Influence can be either positive or negative. You are fed both every day.

Each of us wield the power of influence. Influence comes through connection so, if you're aware of it or not, you influence those around you everyday.

The influence that others have on you displays how intertwined our lives are and how our actions never solely impact ourselves.

Influence rises with relationships and these are cultivated with time, significance and vulnerability.
You have greater influence with increased presence with another.
You are allowed greater influence in anothers' life with shared moments of significance.
Influence expands the more you get beside and open your life with someone else.

The bible isn't silent on the topic.
Influence is mentioned from the birth of the Hebrew nation and how they will interact with their neighbours in the Promised Land. I posted on this here.
Influence is seen through men like Samson, Solomon and Ahab, like i wrote about here.
The authors of the book of Proverbs and the Psalms tell of the importance of those you are friends with and the company you keep.
Jesus and Paul both warn against the dangerous influence of others. They use the example of yeast infusing and affecting dough as an analogy of influence.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Acting like you want to become

There are a lot of small churches out there. And that's okay. Not every church needs the aim of having the term "mega" as a prefix.

But there are lessons that smaller churches and ministries can learn from their larger brethren.

Especially if growth is one of their primary aims.

If a church or ministry wants to get to the next level, or beyond, then it is wise to begin acting like they want to become.

Develop leaders like those they want to become.
Treat visitors in a similar manner to those they want to become.
Strive for quality like those they want to become.
Communicate like those they want to become.
Advertise like those they want to become.

The purpose is not to become a carbon copy, but to have the structures in place to achieve and manage the time when they start to reach their goals.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fun is not the enemy

A great part of my job is that it is fun. Teenagers are fun. Challenging at times, but fun.

Coming out of Friday's vision...ating, fun was one word that kept popping up.

And i think that's a good thing.

Sure, if all a youth ministry had going for it is enjoyment, then their would be some significant problems. But... fun is not the enemy of spreading the gospel. You can do both. In fact, i think you should do both do the later more effectively.

Fun and laughter should be markers of the people of God. Belief and a sense of humour should not be polar opposites, but happy partners.

Any youth ministry that does not have the aim of fun in its mission statement seems, to me, to be missing a vital element.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Visionating a new name

An old saying, poorly remembered says, "if you have no target to aim for then that's exactly what you'll hit, nothing."

Last night, along with some of the senior high teens from church, we spent some time vision-ating.

Over five pizzas, three different coloured post-it notes and 90 minutes, we looked back on 2010 and looked forward to this year.

We began by asking answering the question "if you could describe what we did on a Friday night in one word, what would it be?"

Then we answered the same question, but the one word was about what we would want this year to be known for. The one thing about the youth activities that make what we do uniquely us.

Ideally, this would give us the direction that we want to head in 2011.

Finally, we started to plot the course for a new name for you youth group. This was, by far, the most fun.

The lessons?

1 - The name should reflect something about the group and the purpose for the meeting.

2 - The name should be pronounceable in public. For example you don't go with the name YouthRUSH or Friday Night Live (FNL). You need to imagine yourself saying "come with me to my youth group called..."

3 - The name needs to be clear. If your name is some little-used Hebrew word that makes no sense to outsiders, then it creates one more obstacle that needs to be overcome. Explainable trumps obscure.

4 - Your name needs to be more than cool. If not, then every youth ministry would be called Megatron.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What'll get you through

I've previously written about my 10 Commandments of Youth Ministry Leadership and my expectations of a leader, but at the start of the year i made things much easier for my new leaders.

For my youth ministry leaders to remain healthy i gave them three words.

Input - Do things so that you aren't solely on output. Be a part of a small group and/or attend church. Make sure you are getting fed.

Attend - Be a part of what is going on and tell everyone if you can't make it.

Blog - Read my blog and chat to me about what you read. This should give you an idea of what bounces around my lead and lay a platform to discuss youth ministry, church and leadership.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rice bubbles behaviour

Years ago someone in church spoke about the "Rice Bubbles Principal" before a time of confession. If you have ever washed up day old breakfast you'll be able to identify.

Put simply, the concept is seen when cereal gets progressively more stuck to the bowl with time.

If you clean it straight away, it is quickly and easily dealt with.
If you wait until that night, you can get the bowl clean, but it will take more work.
If you leave it until the day after (or worse!), the cereal will feel like concrete and moving it will take a lot of effort.

The point? Deal with the things that get between you and God ASAP, the longer they infiltrate your life, the harder they will be to remove later on.

I was reminded of the concept this morning in regards to scripture.

If you address discipline matters early, the simpler they are to deal with. The longer the issue is allowed to progress, the more implied consent is given. The further time travelled, the louder your silence will speak.

Ultimately, the behaviour may become worse and the distance needed to get back on track will become exponentially greater.

Helpfully, i drew a diagram with the idea.