12/29/2008 12:21:00 am

Lovin' Summer

Posted by Tom French |

I love this time of year. I love sleeping and reading and sunshine. I love not having to do much work.

At staff meeting the other week, Michael, our boss, gave us all the week off. No annual leave needed. Just "Have a week off". I'm going to take him up on the offer. At least some of it. I still have work to do. I'm preaching on Sunday. But I will work less. I'll relax. Tomorrow I'm off to the Gong to accompany Victor (and Co) on his first experience of Sydney's premiere sea-side southern suburb.

It's a Monday, but I'm going to the ocean. Spiffy.

12/24/2008 11:54:00 am

New Housemate

Posted by Tom French |

I got a new house mate called Oscar yesterday.*

His poor parents are a bit whacked I think. I drove them to the hospital yesterday at about 10am. He popped out many hours later. I picked up the Dad at around 2am so he could come back home to sleep. He'd had a long day.

I'm excited to have a new friend to hang out with.


*Actually it was at 12:07 this morning, but who's counting?

12/23/2008 05:59:00 pm

Movie Fun

Posted by Tom French |

I went and saw Twilight today with Lesley.

It was terrible. Like the book only worse. It was kinda like a cross between Thirteen and a Celine Dion music video with bad acting and a terrible script.

The vampire fighting wasn't very interesting and most of it was laughable. In fact I laughed a lot. I had a wonderful time. It was very fun.

It did however look a lot like I imagined it in the book so it didn't ruin my imagination movie too much.

12/22/2008 11:34:00 pm

Replace Me

Posted by Tom French |

I preached yesterday on 2 hours sleep. It was another Christmas message filled with judgement and destruction. That's two years in a row.

They announced my replacement in Church on Sunday. She's gonna be good.

It's true, I got replaced by a girl.

I've spent the last two days doing hand over work with her. Giving her history and advice and a breakdown of what's going on. It's hard handing your ministry on, but I can't stay.

Jo and Victor arrived today. The baby didn't.

Christmas is coming.

12/20/2008 01:13:00 am

The Youth

Posted by Tom French |

I had my last night of youth group tonight. We had the Christmas Party, which is always one of the highlights of the year for me.

We had lots of sausages and steak and bread and chips and drink. People swam and played pool and chatted and pretended to beat each other up.

Near the end we had the speeches. We thanked all the leaders and gave them claps and cheers.

I wanted to publicly thank the leaders because I love them all a lot, but I'm not sure I'm all that good at expressing it. I don't know how well I did tonight. But I hope they know that I love and value them.

Then is was my turn. The leaders had collected a bag of letters for me from the young people. So many people telling me they like my t-shirts. I knew I was good for something. I read all the letters just then on the couch. People are so kind, and I feel totally loved. I feel so humbled when people tell me I have made a difference in their life. Maybe in the future it'll give me a big head, but when you hear it for the first time you feel like there's this whole alternate reality going on. You hear of people's experiences of what's been significant to them when you were feeling entirely insignificant. You feel like you don't really deserve to have made an impact, the role should go to someone better, someone more inspiring.

I was also given a photo collage of photos from all the years of youth ministry I've had at my church. I love looking at photos of the youth group. I suspect that seeing my youth group brings up small amounts of similar feelings that parents have when they see their kids. I have such affection for all of them. I'll probably look at these photos even more than I look at the photos of the Hannahvan.

A few people spoke up and said nice things about me.

I had to make a response. I tried. It was difficult. I really wanted to tell people that the person following after me will not be me, but they will be good. There will never be another me that leads the youth ministry. That time is over. But God isn't wanting to use me or someone like me there any more. And the person who comes, if they tried to emulate me would fail. There are things that need doing, things that I'm not real good at, but things which the new youth minister can do. I'm excited because I love the young people, and the new person will be good for them.

I asked them to stay committed because change isn't always easy, so people need to commit to riding it out before it happens, just in case they don't like it. I'm not saying the changes are going to be bad, just that, chances are, not everyone is going to like them.

I really wanted to tell the young people how much I have loved serving them. They're a wonderful bunch of people. People have wondered about the extent of my commitment, why do I spend so much time doing youth ministry? I know that there have been lots of sacrifices I have made for this group of youth. Lots of nights spent out, lots of hours agonising, lots of stress, lots of angst, lots of loneliness, lots of hurt. But never have I felt ripped off by them. Never have I felt like it hasn't been worth it. I have never once resented giving anything up for the young people I have led these past six years. And it's not because I'm amazing, but because they are.

Ministry takes a lot out of you, but it gives a lot back. I've always felt privileged to have one of the best jobs in the world.

More than wanting the young people to know that I love them, I wanted them to know that Jesus loves them. I'm not sure how well I did this. But I'm hoping it's been clear over my time. I don't really care if they all forget about me in 6 months time. If they're all loving and serving Jesus then I'm happy. I want them to see that Jesus is everything. That he loves them and has given them more than any youth leader, any parent, any lover, any other person, could ever give them. I want to meet them in years to come and know that they're still following Jesus. And more than that I want to know there are other people following Jesus as a result of their own faith in Jesus.

When I finished talking I prayed for them and it was such a privilege.

Then it was time for presents.

I don't really feel like it's over. But what has sunk in doesn't make me feel relief. Right now I don't want to have to leave. I want to hang out with these guys forever. Leaving the youth is going to be the hardest bit of this whole leaving thing.

Happily though, I've not left yet. I'll see them all on Sunday! Yippah!

I thank God for everything he has let me do. I'm thankful that he lent me a bunch of young people to look after for six years. I pray he uses what I've done well. What I haven't done which I should have done, and what I shouldn't have done and what I should have done better, I pray he works despite that.

I'm feeling well loved tonight and I'm feeling much love in return.

12/17/2008 12:44:00 am

Slapped

Posted by Tom French |

I got slapped in the face by an old man on Sunday.

I was at McDonald's with the youth group for our end of term diabetes challenge, and there was an old guy there who started talking to me about jazz. He asked me lots of questions about what I did and didn't know about jazz. I didn't know much and had to admit that. I was pleased I could tell him I knew who Miles Davis was.

Anyway, at some point he asked me "Do you know Boston Reapo?"

"No" I said

"Shame on you" said he and then he slapped me in the face and walked off.

It was a little strange.

12/16/2008 05:22:00 pm

Woverine

Posted by Tom French |

I just watched the new trailer. I'm so excited.

12/14/2008 12:58:00 am

Getting it Right

Posted by Tom French |

"It's like using a Band-Aid to stem the flow after Darth Vader's chopped off your arm with a light sabre, dude. Hey, do you want to borrow my Star Wars collection? It's a special edition with . . ." - a mocking "quote" from a made-up techy in an article on net censorship in the Sun Herald.

How dumb. Everyone knows that a light sabre is so hot that when it chops off your limb you don't bleed because it quarterises (sp?) the blood vessels. Duh. If you're going to mock a nerd, at least get your facts right.

12/12/2008 09:44:00 pm

Goodbye Hannahvan

Posted by Tom French |

Serena on Plain.jpg

I sold the car to Steve in Oatlands for a good $200. Seeing as the car would have cost me about $700 to register it, I think I got a better deal. Plus the guy gave me a lift to the station. Sweet.

But still it's sad.

The van was a much loved van. It had been on many a youth group outing. It was a wedding car. It was a family machine. It was a Van of Love. It made me look cool.

She was my most loyal companion, going with me wherever I went from the time I learnt to drive.

Hannahvan fill up.jpg

Wherever she would go, she would draw a crowd.

Hannahvan Crowd.jpg

Whenever there was a roadtrip to be had, she was there.

Hannahvan full of people.jpg

Hannahvan inside.jpg

Whenever vegans needed her to save small animals, she was there.

Hannahvan Save Bird.jpg

She loved Westfield and Men in Ugly Pants

Hannahvan Westfield.jpg

She was loved by young and old alike.

Hannahvan loved.jpg

She was our Nissan Serena. And even if she goes for scrap she will live on in our hearts and in the hearts and engines of all the three other Serenas driving around Australia.

She will be missed.

Hannahvan in sun.jpg

12/12/2008 01:27:00 pm

Hannahvan Departing

Posted by Tom French |

I'm off to sell the Hannahvan.

The guy on the phone reckons I could get a "couplea hundred" for it.

That's a cheap price for a lot of memories.

Oh well.

12/12/2008 12:39:00 am

Glebing

Posted by Tom French |

I went and hung out with Ryan, Mil, Martin, Libby and some random girls tonight at Mil and Martin's house. I should have been at the cinema watching Twilight, as it came out today, but I resisted my inner-teenage girl.

I had a good night. Mil and I managed to solve the world's problems in the kitchen. Late night conversations seem to give you that ability. Ryan fell asleep in the couch.

I ate corn, chips and salad for dinner.

12/09/2008 05:08:00 pm

The Pile

Posted by Tom French |

So I've been thinking about the current state of my concurrent reading pile. I have a lot of books on the go, all of which I intend to finish, but some of them have been going for a while. I thought I'd list them all because I like the pretty book covers.

New Issues Cover.jpg

1. New Issues Facing Christians Today - John Stott

This is the book that has been going the longest. Four years or something. I bought it when I was in a Bible study group where we'd talk about ethics every week. I wanted to get a headstart on everyone else so that I could seem smart when we discussed the topics.

It used to be that the plan was to pick it up and read a chapter every time I finished a book. I forgot though. I picked it up the other day and saw that I'm actually pretty close to the end so I should finish it.

John Stott is pretty awesome and this book is full of good ethics stuff to chew over. Generally I agree with everything Stott says. If I could adopt another Grandfather (not a replacement one, because I like my current one), I'd adopt him.

I'll finish it one day.

Knowing God Cover.jpg

2. Knowing God - J.I. Packer

I started reading this one because I decided to find a book of accessible theology for Jem to read.

I'm currently up to a chapter on Grace. It's good stuff but not really interesting writing. People say it's a Christian Classic and I believe them. But really, it's not gripping. I think theology should hold your attention not put you to sleep.

Anyway it's a good book full of good stuff but it won't keep you up late.

Biblical Preaching Cover.jpg

3. Biblical Preaching - Haddon W Robinson

Another classic. It's good stuff this book. I'm not sure why it's taking me so long to read it. I started it in Guatemala and I just haven't got around to finishing it off. But it's worth reading. He's pretty clear, and I've been using what I've read.

Without Warning Cover.jpg

4. Without Warning - John Birmingham

This is one of only two fiction books in the pile. I think that's probably because I tend to finish fiction once I start instead of letting it sit around for ages, I want to get the story figured out. That said, this one isn't gripping me at all. I think maybe I don't care about any of the characters.

The book is about what would happen to the world if the USA disappeared. It's full of guns and fighting and stuff, but I haven't really been grabbed by any of the stories. I guess that's why I've been sidetracked by other books.

I do like JB though. He's fun even if this book isn't all I would like it to be.

Problem of Pain Cover.jpg

5. The Problem of Pain - C.S. Lewis

I started reading this book because I'd been working through the theology of suffering. But I stopped pretty quickly because I realised I had lot's of other books on the go. Still C.S. is wonderful and I fully intend to get back to it sometime in the next few weeks.

Koran Introduction Cover.jpg

6. The Koran: A Very Short Introduction - Michael Cook

I bought this along with a copy of the Koran because I've been meaning to read the Koran for ages. I thought an introduction might help matters along. And it is helping. The book is really interesting. I'm enjoying it, this is one of the three books I'm putting real effort into.

I can't say it's making me want to be a Muslim but I am enjoying the learning.

Comedians Guide cover.jpg

7. A Comedian's Guide to Theology - Thor Ramsey

This is another book in my search for accessible theology. It's not very good. The book is more about making jokes than explaining theology and everyone is a little poorer for it. The book is also written as a reaction against the Emerging church. I'm not really sure we should let out theology be defined against the theology of someone else. Sure we can write books about other people's theology. But if you're going to write a guide to theology I think it should be more than just "We don't think what they think."

It's also not very funny. I've laughed twice I think. I can't wait to finish this book, it's driving me up the wall.

Xenoxide Cover.jpg

8. Xenocide - Orson Scott Card

Yay! More fiction!

I'm listening to this on my iPod.

I've been working my way through the Ender Series again. I love this series. They get less brillant as you go along, but it's still heaps of fun; aliens, starships, new planets, ethics. It's great. Plus the whole audiobook thing means I can listen while I drive and wash up. I tend to polish my audiobooks off the quickest.


And that my friends is what I'm reading. It's a lot but I'm having a good time so I can't complain.

My thanks goes out to Koorong and Amazon from whom I stole most of the images. Go shop there because they have books and books are good. I hope they won't get me in trouble now.

12/09/2008 04:03:00 pm

Diet Coke and Mentos and Other Extravaganazas

Posted by Tom French |

On Sunday with was my last youth group on the oval. Next week will be my last youth group, and we're off to visit the people at the retirement home. But this week was the last oval week which means the last week of pre-planned silliness.

So seeing as this was the end I wanted to go out with a bang. I decided we'd have an afternoon of Diet Coke, Mentos, Cricket and Ice Cream. Really I just wanted to explode bottles of Diet Coke like this:



But alas, the afternoon did not hold nearly so much excitement. While I did get a good deal on bottles of Diet Coke, of the eight we bought only one exploded with any kind of mildly satisfying rocketness. The rest just kind of fizzed. Shame. People liked the Ice Cream.

Last night I went with a few of the the Youth Leader types to see the Christmas lights at the house of one of the guys in the youth group. It was pretty impressive. More impressive than the exploding Coke bottles.

Michael's House.jpg

You can vote for his house here if you want. You should, it'd make him happy.

12/06/2008 12:43:00 am

Men with Guns

Posted by Tom French |

I'm currently sitting in our kitcheny dining room thing on Howie's laptop because my internet has borked.

I did some Christmas shopping today which made me feel like a good person. This may be a poor month but at least I'm helping the economy. I'm all into social justice like that.

Last night (Thursday) a bunch of people came over to watch Rambo. I think the women folk were a little perplexed by the male (except for Martin) love for Rambo and his ultra-violence. Mil looked at us and said "Why do you like that?"

I didn't really bother to explain. I don't think I can. On paper there's nothing appealing sounding about watching an over-muscled Grandpa massacre hundreds of Burmese soldiers with a .50 caliber machine gun. But by golly, it's so enjoyable. Were I to watch it in real life I'd be entirely traumatised. But it's not real, it's friggin awesome. Bam-Bam-Bam. It rocks you too your belly. Rambo is a man. Rambo is made to kill. And when he's pushed "killin' is as easy as breathin'".

Rambo is like Jack Bauer (who was back on TV tonight!) but without saying nearly so much dumb stuff, because he doesn't really say anything at all, he just slaughters bad guys. If Jack Bauer and Rambo were in a fight, Rambo would just have to look at Bauer and he'd cry.

Happily, while we're on the subject, Jack Bauer is being arrested to stand trial for torture. Yes! I hope he goes to jail. He won't, he'll go rouge and save the United States from certain death at the hands of tricky, double crossing terrorists. But I hope he does. Jack Bauer is a bad man who does bad things really well.

Rambo is a good man who does bad things really well.

Speaking of men with guns, Clint Eastwood is back with a gun in Gran Torino. And he beats up gangstas. Awesome.

When I grow old I want to be like Clint Eastwood. Old and quiet, and able to beat you up with the butt of my rifle.

I'll probably end up like Wallace from Wallace and Grommet but without the dog and without the inventions. But I'll still be made of plasticine.

12/05/2008 12:45:00 am

Marks?

Posted by Tom French |

I have two envelopes unopened on my floor. They are from my college. They have at least two of the assessments I handed in last month in them. I haven't opened them because I don't want to know what I got. I tend to avoid finding out my marks on assessments. I think it's because I'm scared it's just going to be full of low marks and rude comments (both of which I deserve for my recent efforts).

Anyway, I'll probably open them eventually. But for the moment I'm happy not knowing.

12/02/2008 04:52:00 pm

Australia

Posted by Tom French |

Aust Crikey 2.jpg

I saw Australia today. It was better than I expected, but I didn't expect much.

The first 20 minutes were woeful. Nicole paraded around being some caricature of English aristocracy. While Hugh played the almost slapstick, handsome, buff, noble and rough drover, who's name happens to be Drover.

The whole film made Australia out to be some magical land, inhabited by the magical Aboriginal folk, where Aborigines and White people could all learn to get along if only the Aboriginals were aloud to drink with the Whites. As we all know giving grog to Indigenous Australians was probably the white man's greatest gift.

Anyway, the film isn't really about alcohol. It's about romance and adventure and cute half-caste kids who sing tunes from The Wizard of Oz because they're about "the dreaming".

Once Nicole stops being such a princess the film improves.

There's a good bit of droving where there's a lot of cattle and horses riding around fast. That's pretty cool. Except when the magical black kid sings to the cattle to stop them stampeding of a cliff. Dumb.

The whole magical Aborigines thing is probably the worst thing about the film. I read a reviewer over AICN saying that "the film turns Aboriginal culture into supernatural magic. The condescension in this film is unavoidable."

I tend to agree. Apart from the kid, the Indigenous people don't seem to be anything but trusty sidekicks or magical, friendly leprechauns of the outback.

Apart from all that, the film isn't terrible. The dialogue leaves a bit to be desired (Drover keeps saying "Crikey!"), but Hugh Jackman is always cool, even when he's hamming it up. There was one bit where Hugh was was trying to help some kids escape from the Japanese who are hunting them on an island. I was hankering for Wolverine to just breakout his claws and tear them all to shreds. Alas he didn't. He left his trusty black sidekick to die like Jesus while he and kids swam to safety.

Michael Bay should have been brought on as the Second Unit director to shoot the whole Darwin bombing sequence. I was really excited about that bit. We need a bit of WWII movie action in Australia. But Baz isn't an action director, and sadly the whole bombing sequence is lacks all tension, and doesn't use one of its many explosions well.

The film essentially tells two stories. One which is quite succinct for the first half, which could have easily been the film. And another in the second half which isn't nearly as well structured, but does have more explosions, planes and guns in it so it gets points for that.

As I said, it's not all bad. There's just a lot of stuff that's not very good. I wasn't bored for most of the time. The Northern Territory is a good looking part of the world and you get to see plenty of that. If do you go see it arrive 50 minutes late (that's counting for the ads before-hand) and you'll have a much better time.

12/02/2008 04:24:00 pm

Words

Posted by Tom French |

For one of you who was worried about the preaching blog/podcast being dead, it's not. I've put Sunday's sermon up there now.

The long absence was due to technical issues where sermons weren't recorded. But things have recovered now.

12/02/2008 12:11:00 am

Epic Long Lasting Lastness

Posted by Tom French |

I had my last Leaders' Meeting tonight. We debriefed five years of the current youth ministry model. I told them that seeing as I would be only hearing good comments between now and when I go, I need to do an honest debrief.

I think I needed it more than anyone else. I needed to get the good and the bad in perspective. Otherwise all I would be thinking about between now and when I leave is my failures. As much as people will say nice things about me, I'll ignore them and just think about how I've messed things up.

So tonight I got to tell the Leaders what I honestly thought were my, and our, failures, what were the negatives, what we did well and what were the positives. While the meeting started off a bit depressing it actually cheered me up. Maybe because it felt like I was confessing my sins. And when my leaders, who probably have the most invested in my ministry (not including God) heard and didn't tell me I was useless and didn't hate me, it felt better. I think I can go into the end of this job feeling happier now that I have a better perspective on my crapness.

The good stuff was nice too. I'm really happy about all that God has done in the youth ministry. It's been such a privilege to be involved and to see God do so much. And it's been nice to see that things we've aimed to do 5 years ago, we did. And while we didn't always get the results we wanted, we stuck to our values, and led with integrity.

I do have a wonderful bunch of leaders.

The meeting went about 45 minutes overtime and everyone was happy to stay.

And stay they did. We ended up still being at church at 11pm laughing at Fail Blog together. It was a fun night. And a satisfying one too. I feel like in the last five years we may have got a thing or two done and had a bunch of fun along the way.

12/01/2008 01:39:00 pm

Giving Drugs to Children

Posted by Tom French |

I had my last Scripture Assembly on Wednesday, which means I've finished all scripture. I met with my class of year 6s after the assembly and told them I didn't have their presents yet because they coming all the way from England (this is true). I couldn't get the present in Australia because the present is drugs (this is not true).

While I was pretty pleased with my joke I did have one of the girls from my class ask me at youth group on Saturday night "Did you really buy us drugs?" I had to clear that up with her.

I'm actually getting them a book, but don't tell them that.

11/29/2008 12:15:00 am

Pirates

Posted by Tom French |

With this current climate of Zombie, Pirate, Ninja excitement, JB is upset no-one except the Indian Navy is doing anything about our current Pirate crisis.

"Lord Nelson would be turning in his grave! And the only reason Cap'n Jack Aubrey and Midshipman Horatio Hornblower wouldn't complain about the interruption to their eternal rest is because they'd already be stomping around rattling the Pearly Gates, waving flintlocks and sabres at Saint Pete, demanding leave to return to this mortal coil to have at those cheeky blighters!" he says


JB knows how to say it right.

11/28/2008 11:56:00 pm

Bad Brother

Posted by Tom French |

So I called the people at Big Brothers Big Sisters today. As a Big I'm meant to do a check in every month. I hadn't checked in since August. Oops.

I rang and they were very pleased to hear from me. Perhaps because they were pleased to hear I wasn't dead. My check-in person was very kind despite my rather long absence, and she invited me to the Christmas party. How gracious. If one of my leaders didn't talk to me for a few months, even I, passive, non-confrontational I, would give them a bit of a shellacking. But I didn't get one, and that was nice.

I also rang my Little (the little brother). I haven't spoken to him since October. This is because I've been working every Saturday since mid-October. Tomorrow is no exception but I have time around the work, so I'll be able to fit in some Big Brother time. He also did not express anger at me for my absence.

I'm feeling rather let off. But that's nice. We might go to the Christmas party tomorrow. Hooray!

11/28/2008 12:50:00 am

Poker Face

Posted by Tom French |

I played poker the other night. I'm not really a good poker player. In fact I have no idea what I'm doing. I have a good poker face however because I don't know if my cards are good or bad. Although if they have pictures on them I figure I could be in the ball park for monies.

The great thing about putting poker games in movies is that they put music with it so you know if something good or bad has happened. When you hear the music you think "That was a good move" or "Oh no!" and then you think you know about poker, but all you really know about is music.

There was no music when I played the other night so I was crap.

11/25/2008 03:48:00 pm

Truth

Posted by Tom French |

I'm in an internet cafe an the guy beside me just laughed out loud then he wrote to all his friends on WOW "LOL". It's nice to see someone actually using the phrase truthfully.

11/24/2008 12:11:00 am

Nothing but Time

Posted by Tom French |

They say "There is this life and no other. We die and live; nothing but Time destroys us." - The Qur'an (45:24)

Not that I or the Qur'an endorse the view. I just thought it was a good line.

11/22/2008 12:05:00 am

Guess Who

Posted by Tom French |

I just watched Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, the original, not the Bernie Mac redo which was silly though I think it made me laugh.

I'd never seen the film before, but it was pretty special. The premise is simple, set in 1967 a white girl brings her brand new, black fiancé back to meet her "liberal" parents for the first time. As new people keep meeting the couple, everyone has a different reaction. It's rather funny, quite a bit 60s, and it has good things to say about people and their prejudices or lack thereof.

Every character was good. Except the couple acted a little silly sometimes. The writing was top notch and Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn are totally ace.

In the end I think the couple needed a good shellacking, not for being mixed race, but for meeting 10 days earlier and wanting to fly to Geneva and get married the very night they meet the parents. And Dr John is 37 and smart, you'd think he might think waiting at least a few months would be a good idea. But as Spencer tells us "The only thing that matters is what they feel, and how much they feel, for each other. And if it's half of what we felt, that's everything."

Love wins in the end. I wish someone had said, "love waits" but hey, it's still Hollywood. But despite that, see the film, it's quality. There's a priest in it, and he's funny, and honest, and wise, and loving, and when I get old I want be like him.

11/21/2008 02:16:00 pm

Thin Ice

Posted by Tom French |

I'm going Ice Skating tonight. I plan on coming out unscathed this time. But we'll see what happens.

11/20/2008 11:01:00 pm

Heartwarming

Posted by Tom French |

And who said there was no excitement in Newcastle.

11/20/2008 12:26:00 am

Bond and Rain

Posted by Tom French |

I went to see Quantum of Solace with Ryan tonight. I was a little concerned that I wouldn't be able to see it on opening night, but happily Ryan came to the rescue.

Here are the thoughts:

It was a good film. Not so funny as the last one. Lots of action which was cool. Still Bond villains. M continues to impress me as a character. And the Dame, well, she always rocks. Apart from some really silly location titles I really liked the look of this film, the production design was pretty spot on. Plus the film was dealing in politics for once (aside from the whole Cold War thing of most of the 60s,70s, and 80s, Bonds) and it was rather left leaning. The film did feel a lot like a sequel, it was a bit of a hodgepodge of action and bad guys squashed in together. The Aston Martin really is a nice looking car. The editing was way too Bourne for its own good. I like James' ability to kill people with his bear hands, but the editing means we can't really tell what's going on in much of the action sequences.

Anyway, apart from being a bit of a mess, it was it was cool. I'm happy I saw it, and it certainly rates a lot better than most of the middle Bonds.

Driving home tonight it rained real hard the whole way, it was way fun. Driving through big puddles, and not being able to see in front properly. If only all driving was that exciting.

11/19/2008 12:21:00 am

Over Qualified

Posted by Tom French |

After the wedding on Saturday I had a few people come up and tell me that after I get married I won't be able to do good sermons about marriage. And I especially won't be able to talk about sex.

I won't be able to talk about sex because everyone would know I was talking from experience rather than ignorance and then everyone would have dirty images in their heads.

And marriage because, the implication was, then I won't have such a lofty view of marriage. Probably this is because I'll be stuck in trenches of marriage, marriage will be about wrangling kids and negotiating schedules and mortgage repayments that I'll have very different things to say about marriage.

I think that's a bit sad. Perhaps we need single people around to idealise marriage for those who are stuck in the mechanics of it. On the other hand, it should be the people who are married who should be the greatest advocates of marriage. People who don't forget the big picture while dealing with the details. From where I am all I really have is the big picture. I can think about the details but it's all theoretical. But my big picture isn't. Marriages affect more than just the husband and wife. I have been both blessed and hurt by marriages. From where I am I can see marriages from afar a lot better than I can see them up close, and for all the stupid stuff, I still believe in marriage, and I still think it's great. But I'd rather married people told me that a lot more than I told them that.

11/16/2008 09:59:00 pm

Hope

Posted by Tom French |

I'm currently working on my last set of Scripture Seminars for this job. It's going to be a late one again.

I don't generally mind doing Scripture Seminars, in fact on the day I love doing them, but I really dislike making them happen. The recruiting of volunteers is unpleasant, and writing the material with the continual thinking of new angles to come at the gospel for a bunch of people who don't care, that's tiring.

On top of that right now I'm on day 12 of 13 days straight of work. I'm really not in the mood for doing stuff.

By the time I finish with these seminars I will not be missing the organising one little bit. I'll probably smile the smile of the free. I'll sadness for the school but none for those stupid green folders we carry. They're gonna be someone else's problem.

Tomorrow I aim to be home by 2pm for a good day and half off, before I'm back into it on Wednesday. Yes! I'm going to the movies!

11/14/2008 11:12:00 pm

Don't Tell

Posted by Tom French |

Don't tell the happy couple, but I'm about to start writing the sermon for the wedding tomorrow.

Never fear it's all in my head. It's about writing the greater love story together. Or something like that. I just have to get it down in binary.

The passages are from Song of Songs, so I've been doing a lot of reading on the Song of Songs this week. It's a special book which I think I would appreciate much more if I was married. The more I read about it, and understand what's going on, the more it just feels like erotic poetry, which funnily enough, I never read. Reading it is like being stuck in a room with a couple who are all over each other and it's starting to make you want to vomit or punch them. There have been many times I've gotten sick of it and felt the "Get a room already" well up inside me, before I remember they have got a room and I'm in it.

Anyway, as far as the sermon goes, and the wedding, I'm not feeling the same way. I always like weddings, and I do always love a bit of romance. I'm looking forward to the preach because I get to just pontificate about love. I love love.

But as with last time, preaching a wedding sermon as a chronic single does make me feel a little under-qualified. But I guess the advantage is, at least I'm still idealistic.

11/11/2008 11:06:00 pm

I am the PowerPoint King

Posted by Tom French |

We had Kid's Impact today. I did PowerPoint. My skills are phenomenal. I pressed the down button lots. That was pretty much my job today. They'd say "Stand by PJ 17" "Go PJ 17" and then I'd go. That was it. I'm amazing.

I'll do it again tomorrow night, except a little bit more and a little bit less complex.

11/10/2008 12:08:00 am

12,000

Posted by Tom French |

The 12,000 word weekend is over. Three essays, one preach, three barbecues, one breakfast, two church services. It was large.

Now my eyes hurt and I want to sleep. I think I may not get up till 11.

11/07/2008 11:26:00 am

I'm Back

Posted by Tom French |

I was up a little late. So I blogged. I'm going to post them now and back date them. I blogged in word because it was quicker. I'm sure you'll all be thrilled, because what's more thrilling than essay updates?

11/07/2008 06:47:00 am

Typing 7

Posted by Tom French |

All done!

I haven’t done bibliography or printed or read through for mistakes but there’s enough now. I’m going to sleep for a few hours.

11/07/2008 05:44:00 am

Typing 6

Posted by Tom French |

Finished Essay 2! Theology done!

Now I just need to punch out Essay 3.

11/07/2008 05:17:00 am

Typing 5

Posted by Tom French |

The birds are singing and the sky is turning blue. I’m not feeling really tired but the birds make me want to get in bed. They’re saying “What are you doing? We’ve gone to sleep and now we’re awake and singing, go to sleep get ready for today.”

I am getting ready for today. Stupid birds. What do they know about assessments and typing? Nothing. Birds can’t even type. Idiots.

80% done on Essay 2

60% done on Essay 3

11/07/2008 04:10:00 am

Typing 4

Posted by Tom French |

55% done on Essay 2

50% done on Essay 3

Both over 50%, I should reward myself with a sleep or something. but I won’t. I think doing two essays in tandem is good. It means that if I quit and go to sleep I’ll fail with both of them. I don’t want to fail two subjects so I’ll just keep plugging on.

I should put on some music.

11/07/2008 03:45:00 am

Typing 3

Posted by Tom French |

Word just crashed but it’s back now and I didn’t lose anything. I’ve just been making up stuff about a missions camp I’m never going to run. It’s good because I can make up crazy schemes which I’d never actually do in real life but are a good idea on paper. Like I decided that the camp cooks are going to be cooking the different national dishes from foreign countries at every meal to help educate people about other countries. In real life the cooks would probably hate the idea and just refuse. In my assessment they love it because they love Jesus, the love mission and they love me.

55% done on Essay 2

30% done on Essay 3

11/07/2008 03:05:00 am

Typing 2

Posted by Tom French |

Now I’m flagging. I’d like to go have a snooze. I wonder if it’ll help. Probably not. Arrgh.

55% done on Essay 2

15% done on Essay 3

11/07/2008 01:30:00 am

Typing 1

Posted by Tom French |

Now might be the time to say that I’m feeling optimistic about the essay writing road ahead. I’ve managed to accomplish almost nothing since I started work here at 8pm-ish. Well not much essay work. I did manage to interact with Facebook deeply, send out a Bible study, get depressed, skim a number of theology text books, consider quitting, try and have a sleep and download an audiobook.

But now…now I’m on a second wind (actually probably only first seeing as every other wind before this hasn’t really been in aid of the work). I’ve put on Damien Rice and it’s going to be fun. I might bake some muffins soon.

I’ve finished Essay 1.

I’m 20% done on Essay 2.

I’m 15% done on Essay 3.

I can do this. It’s just like the Twenty-Four 24, yet with less guns and less friends.

11/06/2008 11:57:00 pm

As Promised

Posted by Tom French |

I'm doing assessments. No end in sight. I love the Bible.

11/05/2008 11:15:00 pm

Office

Posted by Tom French |

I'm at the office still. I'm working on an assessment, it's due in on Friday. You may wonder why I'm working late on something that's not due for over 24 hours. You might think I have changed and become conscientious!

Never fear my friends. This is just assessment one of three which are due in on Friday, two of which are late. So I'm working now, because I'll be working late tomorrow night too, and I'll probably be working early on Friday morning. I'm still a slacker, in fact I've be slacking extra hard to have three all due in at the same time on the same day or risk certain failure.

They call me Mr Academia.

11/05/2008 04:26:00 pm

Facebook loves Obama

Posted by Tom French |

Obama Win Facebook.gif

I hope this doesn't break privacy or something.

11/05/2008 03:31:00 pm

Obama - Mr 44

Posted by Tom French |

I'm so happy to see that we now have a new President.

Well not us exactly, but it kinda feels like that.

Yay for history making Presidents. I hope he can change the world.

11/04/2008 10:58:00 pm

Go Obama

Posted by Tom French |

!

11/04/2008 11:42:00 am

Super Tom

Posted by Tom French |

Sam made me this video. It makes me look even more awesome.

Yeah!

11/03/2008 08:55:00 pm

Racing

Posted by Tom French |

So it's Melbourne Cup day tomorrow and Election Day on Wednesday! I'm so excited about both! Actually, I'm not that interested in the Cup.

But according to tradition I must give you my pick for tomorrow. So here it is:

I'm putting my pretend money with - SEPTIMUS (No. 1)

While there has been some doubt about whether Septimus will be scratched due to a hard track, it's looking good for tomorrow's race. Being the second favourite to win, and with Damien Oliver riding the five-year-old mare in the purple and white, I see no reason why Septimus can't come through with the goods!

11/03/2008 04:03:00 pm

What I Have Learnt

Posted by Tom French |

Yesterday I learnt that shaving while using a CD as a mirror isn't particularly practical. I did a bad job at shaving, and I didn't get a good look at myself in the mirror. Plus it was a bad CD. Poor effort all round.

11/02/2008 03:56:00 pm

Too Long, Tom

Posted by Tom French |

I'm preaching tonight and the sermon is 24 double spaced pages long. Or 5,403 words. That's too long if I want to fit it in 25 minutes. I'm going to have to do some cutting. Sad, it's all gold! The only thing that comes out me is gold!

10/31/2008 10:08:00 am

How the Public Have Turned

Posted by Tom French |

So all I wanted was a little equality in the blogosphere, a few comments to help my failing self esteem.

But now Lesley has mounted a campaign against us. A campaign with no end in sight. A boycott with no desired outcome. She has no exit strategy.

Mil has now said that she won't comment for at least a week or until we stop asking for comments.

Even my Mum supports the campaign even if she still reads my blog.

Well let me say, I give in. I bow to the demands of the public, even if I'm not sure what the demands are. I give in. The boycott has worked. Please don't comment on my blog unless your spirit whispers "Comment". Listen to your heart. Don't let my feelings get in the way of your actions. I'll be ok.

I give in to this boycott in the hope that all boycotts around the world will be just as effective. I give in in the hope that Lonely Planet will stop telling people to go to Burma. I give in in the hope that Cadbury's will start buying fairly traded coca beans. I give in the hope that Proctor and Gamble will stop worshipping the devil. Actually I think we might have given up on that boycott in the 80s.

I give in for the people of the world.



On a side note, it turns out my comment counting thingy is a little faulty. My comments are still at 4199 but clearly you've contributed comments since the last count. So it seems this whole thing was started from something which was broken in the first place. Is that irony? Lesley?

10/30/2008 11:56:00 pm

Tax

Posted by Tom French |

I did my tax return today. It was most enjoyable. E-tax brings me joy, I love pressing those buttons, typing those numbers, paying for roads and schools and hospitals and fighter jets (but only ones used peacefully). Plus I'll get some money back. I'm hoping I actually save this return. Savings is not my middle name.

10/30/2008 10:11:00 pm

C'mon peoples, show some love

Posted by Howie |

Comment here

10/29/2008 11:40:00 pm

4212

Posted by Tom French |

We just checked Howie's total blog comment numbers, it's 4212, as opposed to my 4199. Anyone care to lend a guy a hand?

Say "G'day", tell me your favourite quote, write a recipe, gossip about me, get me at least 14 more comments and you'll save me from having to go through my archives and comment on long dead conversations. Plus if you meet me in person I'll even let you get your photo taken with me. I'm a man of the people.

Oh and don't comment on Howie's blog for a while, just so I can get ahead.

10/27/2008 03:10:00 pm

Arrogance

Posted by Tom French |

I was driving along the other day (I think I may have been with Ryan) thinking about how humble I am. And while resting in the warm glow of my inner humility, I figured the most humble thing to do would be to work out if, and how, I might have a hint of arrogance in my life. Because how much more humble can you get than admitting you're arrogant? What a winner! I decided that if there is any place where I am likely to be arrogant it's in regards to theology.

I know most people don't think about it, but in some Christian circles we have a high degree of theological arrogance. I think Bible College is especially good at breeding it in people though it's not exclusive to Bible College. There are lot's of places it can be found, usually among the Bible literate.

I think it might be generally due to the fact that when we theologically align ourselves with different camps where there are plenty of people around to give you theological support and agreement giving you a feeling of superiority to everyone outside your camp. But the arrogance then gets honed and sharpened when you diverge from your dominant theological camp, giving you theological superiority over the people in your primary theological camp, as well as all the others. You become the person with the best theology because you've found exactly the right balance.

For example theologically I fall into the reformed evangelical, charismatic, social justicey groups*. Meaning all of them have their separate camps but I borrow from all of them. My primary camp would be the Reformed Evangelical camp. But because I have a bit of charismatic leaning, I'm obviously better versed on things such as gifts of the Spirit and miracles, etc. But then I'm also into the social justice thing a bit too (if only as a badge, rather than much actual involvement). So when you add it all up, not only do I have a correct view of Jesus, the Bible and the Holy Spirit, but I'm a good person to boot. I'm pretty much theologically perfect.

Theological arrogance is kinda fun. It's really enjoyable to sit around and pick someone apart because of their bad theology. Not only do you come out feeling superior, but you look superior too because you've been able to display your astute knowledge of the Bible and/or of a particular doctrine or two.

But in the end theological arrogance leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Theological discussion and debate is, for people like me, generally rather fun. But theological arrogance gets boring because there's never a chance of you being bested (at least in your own eyes), and there is never a chance that you'll learn anything new, because you already know everything anyway.

I found a blog yesterday written by a woman who wrote over 4000 words (I counted) because the youth pastor of her church was going to a conference using church money that encouraged some Catholic contemplative practices. She was complaining that he shouldn't be going to a conference teaching such dangerous ideas. She had a problem because the guy thought he might be able to learn something from the theologically bankrupt emergent church. The guy should really find someone with good theology and learn from them.

This woman seems to be at the more extreme end of theological arrogance. So much so that people with divergent theology shouldn't even be engaged with, except maybe to angry blog about them. When I see that I tend to be encouraged to head in the other direction. There is too much out there to write off everyone who doesn't see eye to eye with you theologically. Disagreement, exploration and discussion are too fruitful to only stick to your preferred doctrinal flavour.

My task, in my fantastic humility, is to pay attention to what other people have to say; To take what's good, leave out the rest, and love the people. Chances are the person loves Jesus even if they love him differently to me. And I need to acknowledge that even those people I profoundly disagree with, even the people who I worry might not even be Christian, are probably many times smarter than me and could kick me around the theological paddock till the cows come home.

That's not to say that good theology isn't important. Paul tells Timothy "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." Theology saves. At least correct theology and lifestyle does. But how we meet with and speak about those we think are incorrect is also important. Not everyone can be right, but that doesn't mean everyone can't be loved.

"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." I think the key is to have knowledge and love. Because because being puffy and loving sounds best, kinda like a marshmallow and everyone loves marshmallows, at least in concept if not in taste.


*I realise that while I may want to put myself in the Reformed Evangelical, Charismatic, or Social Justice camps, I probably wouldn't be allowed in by the hardcore gatekeepers of any of them, I'd be too watered down for all of them. Oh well.

10/26/2008 09:36:00 am

24 - 10

Posted by Tom French |

It's all over. I'm at work now. I drove here straight from the McBennett's and fell asleep on my office floor for two hours. Now I'm up, showered and ready to go for a brand new day of ministry excitement.

The climax was a little bit of a let down. It may have been because it was only reaching me through a thick fog of weariness. Still I survived on zero energy drinks so I'm happy with that.

I should probably go to work now.


Killing Final Score Card
Hour 24

Good Guys - 80
Bad Guys - 162 plus nuclear meltdown with unconfirmed casualties.

Energy Drink Count - 10

10/26/2008 05:58:00 am

24 - 9

Posted by Tom French |

The sun's coming up. The day is looking nice. We're almost done. Had a snooze for an hour after some tricky work so we could have larger break. I feel pretty gross. It's hard to feel excited about anything much, except when the lesbian assassin got punched in the face by Black Jack.

Almost done.

6am-7am is waiting for me.


Killing Score Card
Hour 23

Good Guys - 80
Bad Guys - 162 plus nuclear meltdown with unconfirmed casualties.

Energy Drink Count - 10

10/26/2008 01:45:00 am

24 - 8

Posted by Tom French |

Argh. Getting tired. Had a nap for about 10 minutes out of a 40 minute shut eye. Dreamt about 24 the whole time.

There's a new President now, and he's stupid. And there is a lawyer from Amnesty who came and stopped CTU from torturing a suspect and in doing so held up the good guys in their hunt for the missing nuclear warhead. Still Jack found the guy and tortured him anyway. It's interesting how everyone who is stupid and weak in the show is against torture and all the strong ones are fighting for freedom!

I love 24.

Killing Score Card
Hour 19

Good Guys - 75
Bad Guys - 152 plus nuclear meltdown with unconfirmed casualties.

Energy Drink Count - 10
Torture Count - 7 people
Innocent people torture count - 4
Jack Bauer Angry Eye Squint Count - 85

10/25/2008 10:28:00 pm

24 - 7

Posted by Tom French |

Matt and Beck just left. Our first pikers. But good on them for hanging around for so long.

Air Force One may have just been shot down. I'm nervous maybe the boring pasty faced President is dead. I want President David Palmer. He was black and could win against any other head of state in a street fight. This guy just sits on Air Force One and get's up dates.

Two people so far have been stabbed in the back of the neck. Jack does it better.

Killing Score Card
Hour 16

Good Guys - 70
Bad Guys - 71 plus nuclear meltdown with unconfirmed casualties.

Energy Drink Count - 9

Courtney wants you to know that we've gone through three bags of rubbish and one cupboard of recycling (who measures recycling by the cupboard?)

Nathan wants a mention. He's good with a remote. Sam's being well behaved. Tim is excited. Anmol is generous. Anika is taking over the world. Johnny turned up late but he's fitting right in and we've forgotten he's a blow in. John dropped by. That's everyone I think.

10/25/2008 08:43:00 pm

24 - 6

Posted by Tom French |

Dinner was fantastic. Jack still kills people with awesome efficency. I'm yawning. Should have slept more than five and a half hours last night. The blu-ray player pauses at every chapter.

Now for a guest appearance from Johnny and Anika.

Tom: So Johnny, how are you enjoying the Twenty Four 24?

Johnny: It's action packed.

Tom: You came late you dirty slacker. What's up with that?

Johnny: I'm a busy man. I had important things to do.

Tom: Like what?

Johnny: They were really important alright.

Tom: Fine. I'm talking to Anika. Anika, how are you enjoying the extravaganza?

Anika: It's awesome.

Tom: Good.


Killing Score Card
Hour 14

Good Guys - 56
Bad Guys - 67 plus nuclear meltdown with unconfirmed casualties.

Just for those who are wondering the kill count is for the number of people each team has killed. So the good guys have killed 56 people. The bad guys have killed 67. Some have been bad guy suicides, which we've counted as bad guy kills because they have benefitted the bad guys.

Energy Drink Count - 8

10/25/2008 06:20:00 pm

24 - 5

Posted by Tom French |

I'm feeling remarkably chipper after 12 episodes of 24. Watching with people has meant I have people who can laugh at Jack Bauer with. I think it helps.

Not much has changed in the plot. Sam's getting upset the the nuclear symbol is upside down.

We're on dinner break. Matt and I went for a walk earlier and saw a lizard.


Killing Score Card
Hour 12

Good Guys - 43
Bad Guys - 59 plus nuclear meltdown with unconfirmed casualties.

10/25/2008 03:20:00 pm

24 - 4

Posted by Tom French |

Tony turned out to be an alcoholic, but he's still good with a gun. There's a nuclear reactor melting and 5 more to come. What's going to happen?

Matt's falling asleep but everyone else is looking awake if a little depressed. The energy drinks are about to make their first appearence. Jack isn't doing much talking so I'm not too annoyed at him. I'm having a good time.

We're powering through at the moment to give us a good dinner break. It's not quite in the spirit of things but I'll get thai.


Killing Score Card
Hour 9

Good Guys - 36
Bad Guys - 55 + Plus Nuclear reactor meltdown

10/25/2008 01:48:00 pm

24 - 3

Posted by Tom French |

Tony Almeda just turned up and we all cheered. I'm falling asleep a bit. Some nuclear reactors are about to melt down. I'm worried.


Killing Score Card
Hour 7

Good Guys - 36
Bad Guys - 53

Good guys are coming back

10/25/2008 11:42:00 am

24 - 2

Posted by Tom French |

Lunch time. Jack's about to play chicken with a guided missile save his girlfriend and her dad who happens to be the Secretary of Defence. It could be tense.


Killing Score Card
Hour 5

Good Guys - 4
Bad Guys - 46

10/25/2008 09:44:00 am

24 - 1

Posted by Tom French |

We just finished episode three. Jack Bauer just snapped and has decided to rob a service station. He's only killed two people so far, but it's early days yet.

Personally I'm feeling optimistic that Jack can do it. I'm feeling a little sleepy. I didn't get much sleep last night. I was too excited about the prospect of today coming. Now that we've started I'm trying to stay awake. Only 21 hours to go.

Killing Score Card
Hour 3

Good Guys - 2
Bad Guys - 45

10/24/2008 02:19:00 pm

Censorship

Posted by Tom French |

The Government is planning on getting an internet censorship thing going at an ISP level. I've been reading a little bit about it over the past few days. The idea is that they'll block illegal websites at ISP before it get's to us. There will be two levels, the one that makes the net "child safe" (ie no porn or violent material), and the one that only blocks illegal sites. You can opt out of the child safe one but not the illegal one.

Personally I'm not much of a fan. As a good Christian I feel like I should be supporting any plans by the Government to block porn and illegal material from our computers. But I don't really feel that way. I think filters are a good idea. And if people want to install their own filters they should go for it.

But I don't really want the Government deciding what I can and can't access. Not because I think we should be free to access everything. I think some things should be blocked because they profit from the abuse of innocent, non-consenting people, especially children. But blocking access to illegal material won't actually stop people from getting their hands on it. There are always going to be ways around the safeguards. Blocking access isn't going to cut demand and it's not going to make people better. To me it seems smarter to put resources into tracking down the users and creators because I doubt putting filters on everyone's internet will stop the people they're actually designed to stop.

I also think it sets up a dangerous precedent. The problem for governments with the internet is that they can't control it. They can't decide what people do or say. What's great about the internet is that it is the most pure form of free speech we have. It democratises communication. Now people can say whatever they want, to everyone they want, and there isn't much anyone can do to stop them. If we allow the Government to have a say in who says what to us, conversely we are beginning to let them decide what we can and cannot say to other people. Of course at this stage I doubt there is much I want to say or do on the internet that the Government would want to block. But I'm not sure that's the point. I'm into minimising the potential abuse of power rather than realising too late that they can do what they want and no one stopped them.

Ultimately you can't legislate people into being good. You can't make laws that will change people's hearts or desires. Censorship like this just seems to be a clumsy attempt at making the people moral.

10/24/2008 10:52:00 am

Stupidity

Posted by Tom French |

Tomorrow I am going to the Twenty Four 24. This is twenty four hours of season 4 of 24. We're going to watch every episode from 7am on Saturday to 7am on Sunday, starting each episode at the correct time. It's going to be kinda nuts.

Anyway, I just thought I'd let you all know that's what I'm doing, because I knew you'd all be interested. I'm going try and blog during the day. I've been trying to watch season 3 lately but Jack Bauer annoys me so much I've only made it through four episodes. Who knows if I'll survive twenty four hours with the infuriating man. But it'll be good. A story to tell the grand kids... like they'll care.

10/23/2008 07:12:00 pm

Life Verse

Posted by Tom French |

I've heard a few American's talk about "life verses" recently, and it's not something we talk about much here in "Aussie". In fact I didn't really know what people were talking about till I Googled it and then I decided I don't want one. But at college today I decided if I did have a life verse, it'd be this:

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" - Mark 9:24

But I don't want a life verse so I'll just let this one be special. Special like many others.

If you wanted a life verse, what would it be?

10/21/2008 11:58:00 pm

Pashon

Posted by Tom French |

I got my hair cut today. And then I went to see Louie Giglio and his band of Merry Singers at Passion Conference tonight. It was pretty good. We did a lot of singing, and a bit of praying and we heard some talking. They never turned the house lights on so it was a little strange singing in the dark, and they preached with the house lights down too. In fact the message started and I didn't realise, I thought it was Louie about to introduce the next section, and it was only when I realised that the illustration about TV was going on a little too long for it to be a segue that I tried to pay more attention.

None-the-less Louie was inspiring.

People kept saying "I'm convinced God is raising up a generation for himself." It gets to me a tiny bit when people say that. Not because I don't think God is raising up a generation, but it implies that God is acting out of the ordinary. I think he is continually raising up every generation to do his work and to make him famous. The very fact that we are here telling the story of Jesus 2,000 years later is a testament to the faithfulness of God's continual generation raising. But I'm happy to be part of this particular generation, playing my part in this little bit of the story, so I shouldn't really complain.

I did actually have a good time, and I was moved and affirmed in my devotion to Jesus so I think they may have done a good job with me.

10/20/2008 05:46:00 pm

Did Much

Posted by Tom French |

Had an action packed weekend. I want to blog it just because I'm so impressed with myself for being so interesting and diverse. I will make a list of everything I did because lists are good.

1. Went on a Road Trip 1 - Friday Night

For youth group on Friday night we had a mini road trip where the youth decided where we would go by voting at major intersections on Left, Right or Straight Ahead. We ended up at Fox Stuidos (via Lindfield, Chatswood, Cammeray and North Sydney), where we sat in Love Sacs, and I sweet talked our way into a bar. I have to be the coolest Youth Minister in the world taking a bunch of 14 year olds to a bar. We drank Coke and at Beef Burgers and were almost the only ones there. Amazing. We ended the night with a violent game of spoons back at church. I'm inspired to play more spoons with my friends who I have more liberty to assault in the name of victory. Damn child protection.

2. Watched too much West Wing - Friday Night to Saturday Morning

I watched the end of season 4 and beginning of season 5 and never found out why Zoe was actually kidnapped. If only Aaron Sorkin hadn't left a plot hole that big wouldn't have been left gaping. I fell asleep on the couch and woke up at 4:30am still disappointed that I don't know who took Zoe and how the FBI found her.

3. Movies - Burn After Reading - Saturday Morning

I went with Lesley to see this little gem. It was most enjoyable and very funny. Cohen Brother strike cinematic joy again!

4. Wrote a Script - Saturday Arvo

I wrote a script about Teen Male Pregnancy and watched some more West Wing. Both were inspirational.

5. Shot a technical pilot for a TV show - Saturday Arvo

I don't know how much I can say. But I'm involved in some Christian Television brilliance, showcasing my own, and others, comedy genius. Anyway we shot the pilot on Saturday arvo and I wasn't as funny as I would have liked, but it's early days yet. This could be the start of a Christian Television revolution.

6. Went on a Road Trip 2 - Saturday Evening

I picked up Martin and Jem and we drove to Wollongong to meet Mil, Ryan and Jess so we could all go see Michael Franti and Spearhead. We ate fish and chips on the way down without any fish.

7. Danced All Night - Saturday Night

Michael Franti and his mates were excellent fun. We danced with an energetic, a bit drunk and a bit high crowd. Highlights included watching the Bourbon and Coke Boys grind with Ryan and getting whacked in the goolies by the drunk bald man. The sound was terrible, but the music was fun none-the-less and Michael "keeps rockin till the early mornin'" almost.

When it was all over we drove home and I went to bed eventually.

8. Went to Church and Stuff - Sunday Morning

I was remarkably sprightly at church on Sunday morning. I gave my boys their teen male pregnancy script to do and there was much funnies and silliness. I think it'll be a good little piece of absurdity.

I also managed to have lunch, watch more West Wing, have a meeting and a snooze all before youth group. Special.

9. Played Ultimate Frisbee - Sunday Arvo

We had an excellent game of ultimate frisbee under the gathering storm clouds for youth group yesterday arvo. It was high energy, high scoring and I'm not sure who won. But we did sweat a lot so I think it was probably productive.

We had hot dogs for dinner.

10. Went to Church - Sunday Night

Stephen and the Six30 Team gave us their vision for 2009. It made me sad I'm not going to hang around next year because it's a good vision. But as my moving on seems to be part of what God is doing at St Stephen's I doubt I could stay and help the vision anyway. So if I believe in the vision then I need to go. Not that I was reconsidering, but I guess it makes me happy that I'm playing my part in the growth of the church by leaving the church if that makes sense.

11. Watched More West Wing - Sunday Night to Monday Morning

Howie visited me while I was watching my second episode because he couldn't sleep. I think he went to bed too early. We chatted for a while while watching the menu screen once the episode finished. It was kinda like old times but I was fully dressed.

And that was my weekend.

10/18/2008 02:54:00 pm

Why I don't like Season Five

Posted by Tom French |

This young man is asking for freedom. It's what this country was built on. Everyone's from somewhere else, some place less free. That's my argument. - CJ Cregg on why a North Korean man should be allowed to defect to the US.

10/16/2008 03:15:00 pm

Good God

Posted by Tom French |

I was talking to Peter yesterday and we were discussing the fact that our understanding of God only comes from God's revelation of himself. That means God controls the airwaves, and so God is obviously going to portray himself in a good light. And while I believe in the goodness and truthfulness of God and his self-revelation, it did lead to the question: If you found out that God wasn't as good as he said he was, would you still follow him? Would you try and live out the teachings of the old, false but good God, or the new, real but not so good God?

It's a question that I know lots of Christians would find uncomfortable to even consider. I think it's because when it comes to things the Bible says people often don't like to hypothesize, especially when it involves God's works or character, and this involves both. It seems somehow blasphemous.

But I think it's a question worth asking. Not because I believe it's a possibility, but it does challenge us to consider whether we're spiritual pragmatists or idealists. Are we following God because he's God, or because he's good? Are we in it for the salvation or the righteousness?

If we would keep following God because he's God, what does that say about our morality? Maybe we are only striving to be good, loving people because that's what God wants of us and we don't really own the requirement for love ourselves. Does love then become essentially selfish? Or at the very least, no longer selfless?

On the other hand, were we to follow God only because he is good, doesn't that imply that we need God to fit in with our own value system? That means that we have arrogantly put ourselves in the position of judging God. Isn't that a rather dangerous thing to do, even if God isn't as good as he led us to believe?

So either way we're a little bit stuffed. I don't even know what the right answer is. I think I'd probably keep following not so good God, because I'd rather be safe and compromised, than idealistic and in hell. But I think that's just me being selfish.

The good thing is that the Bible never forces us to have to make a distinction between goodness and God. All good things come from God, God is love, love comes from God. When we trust in love and goodness, we are trusting in the character of God. When we trust in God we are trusting in love and goodness. In God ultimate pragmatism and idealism meet. That's pretty good if you ask me. Though, I'm still wondering, what would you choose?

10/15/2008 03:31:00 pm

Disappointing Rocky

Posted by Tom French |

I made a new mix for my running last night which was timed so that I would know from the songs when I needed to finish. I had the theme from Rocky ending right when I wanted to arrive home. This was followed by "Your Body is a Wonderland" and "Love is in the Air" to punish me for not making it home by the end of Rocky. I was so excited about the mix last night that I couldn't sleep. Which meant that I woke up this morning and almost didn't run because I was tired from being up so late imagining me running to the new mix in the morning. But I did run in the end, the excitement won over the sleepiness.

I'm sad to say, I didn't finish when Rocky finished. In fact I was two minutes off my desired time. As I ran along, listening to Rocky I had images in my head from the montage of Rocky running fast through Philadelphia, Rocky running fast along the docks, Rocky running fast up those stairs. And here was I panting along the Pacific Hwy, making "heerrmmp" noises with every breath, two minutes slower than I wanted to be, and I could help but feel like I was disappointing Rocky. I should have put on the slow Rocky music from the first montage where where runs slowly. Then I wouldn't have been so disrespectful to the legacy.

I'm hoping to make Rocky happy in the future.

10/13/2008 07:55:00 pm

Running Up That Hill

Posted by Tom French |

I've started running again, now that I'm in a settled location and what I've discovered is that everywhere west of the highway around my house is on some kind of hill. It's very annoying. My plan is to run 6km but it's all hill, and very tiring. I try and stay off main roads because traffic and traffic lights slow you down. I time myself when I run and I don't like variables out of my control stuffing up my times.

In Enmore I could be having a really good run, on track for my best time, and then a batch of bad traffic on the Princes Hwy would just stuff me up. So now I have to choose between running up hills or letting lights stuff my times. I've decided to go for the hills because that'll be good for me, I'll get massive calves. People will be scared of my calves they're so big and hill strong. I'll get teased for my calves, till people realise that I can crush then to death be just flexing my lower leg. It'll be great.

10/10/2008 11:51:00 pm

Journey into Manhood

Posted by Tom French |

Tomorrow my father is coming over to teach me how to drive a manual. I did once get a few lessons from Jem but I got frustrated and annoyed. I think I was even tempted to be mean to Jemma even though she's one of the nicest people I know, so I decided it was best to stop.

But tomorrow my Father will take me on this last stage to becoming a real man (except for jumping naked over a cow and killing a lion with my bare hands). I know lots of girls can drive manuals (we're borrowing Jenny's car), which is kinda why it feels so unmanly not to be able to "drive stick".

Though that logic doesn't always work. Girls are in general more likely to be able to sew, but it's rare that you meet a guy who wants to be able to sew, because "if girls can sew then it's unmanly if he can't". If he sews we'll all tease him and and make him drink Breezers at our man barbies. So it's probably the fact that it's a car. Natural law dictates that men should be generally more advanced at car things than girls. The only time a girl should be be better at car stuff than guys is if she can burp and fart better than a guy too. Then she gets respect.

As you can see my image of manhood is pretty well rounded, it's all about cars, beer, barbies, burping and farting and those things pretty much sum me up.

10/10/2008 12:51:00 pm

That's More Like It

Posted by Tom French |

I just started reading Without Warning by John Birmingham. After Twilight it's a blessed relief.

In the first 50 pages 300 million people are killed and various planes, boats and cars crash in some freak occurrence, and on page 51 a female assassin kills two evil pursuers in about three seconds using just her bare hands and a scalpel. That's more like it. This book should make up for the last one's criminal lack of action quite well.

10/10/2008 10:39:00 am

Ripped

Posted by Tom French |

I'm pretty sure I won't ever be fully ripped. But I'm thinking about wearing muscle shirts and a bum bag* all the time just to pretend I am.


*Otherwise known as a fanny pack. Heh heh.

10/09/2008 10:40:00 pm

Darknight

Posted by Tom French |

I went to see The Dark Knight again last night. I think I'm more prepared to make a final judgment on the film now. Well maybe not final, but at least more thoughtful.

I think I liked Heath Ledger's performance even better this time. Before I was wary of getting caught up in the post-death fuzzies. But he really did do a fantastic job. The Joker is probably one of the best film villains ever. And while most villains have things to say which are meant to be insightful, but are pretty dull, the Joker seems to have this wonderfully astute perception, even if he is crazy. And Ledger pulled off what was a well written character and just added whole new layers of depth to him. He's funny, he's scary, he's quite insane but quite brilliant. It's great.

Harvey Dent is a good character, but Two Face is a little bit of a leap. The transition from Harvey Dent to Two Face happens too quickly and isn't all that rational. I like the addition of Two Face, but they could have done that better.

Batman is cool as always.

I think the biggest let down of the film is the technology. While the technology in Batman Begins isn't too far fetched, the stuff in this film is just dumb. Like who could get a fingerprint off a shattered bullet? And as if you could turn all the phones in a city into sonar devices and then rig up a 3D rendering of the city from it. Dumb. The whole technology thing just seems lazy. Because the two pieces of technology that are vital to moving the plot along are unbelievable the whole film seems flimsy at the seams. Had they worked harder the film would have been a lot better.

My favourite scene in the film has to be the one with Batman and the Joker in the the interrogation room. It's beautiful to watch. The Joker just dismantles Batman without laying a finger on him. Special.

I did like that this was a darker film, with no happy ending. But all up I think Batman Begins was a better film. It's tighter, more believable, and more consistently cool. Parts of Dark Knight are brilliant, better than the first film, but as a whole it doesn't hold together. Still it's a damn good film, so I'll pay that.

10/08/2008 04:00:00 pm

Mayer Wisdom

Posted by Tom French |

I'm in a good place, I've paced myself pretty well at 30.
I've seen some cool stuff, made a lot of stuff happen for myself.
I made a lot of stuff happen for myself, right?
That's a really cool sentence when you're in your 20's.
I mean, "I MADE IT HAPPEN FOR MYSELF", right?
But all that means, is that I've somehow or other, found a way to synthesize love.
- John Mayer from Where the Light Is

Doesn't John Mayer have a publicist to say "John, don't say that, it makes you sound like an idiot"? They didn't even edit it off the CD/DVD.

Still as always, he plays excellent music, and that's what I listen for. That and to laugh at him a little.



Thanks to L'angostino for whacking the lyrics on their blog.

10/07/2008 11:14:00 pm

Twilight

Posted by Tom French |

I just finished reading Twilight. It's that vampire romance that girls like to read. I read it because most of the girls in my youth group love it, so I thought I should check it out.

I can understand why girls like it but it really didn't do it for me at all. I'd read Jodi Picoult over this any day.

The story is about Bella, a 17 year old high school student who falls in love with Edward a 17 year old looking vampire.

The biggest issue is that through out the whole book there is almost no violence. If I'm reading a vampire book I'm expecting a bit of action. There was almost nothing. I had to wait till the last four chapters before anything remotely actionish happened at all. Then when the action did happen, the main character was unconscious for it, and seeing as it's a first person narrative, we never hear about it. There was only one scene where blood got sucked but it was to save someone's life and it was just out of a hand. What's up with that?

Second I can't see why no one else seems to find it creepy that the vampire is 104 years old, while the girl he is in love with is only 17. Just because he looks young doesn't make it ok.

But the good thing is, even if he is 104 years old, he has the wisdom of a 16 year old and emotions to go with it. He seems to spend most of the book brooding, giving dark stares and having flashes of anger. He keeps saying things like "I need to leave you alone, but I can't. All the time I spend with you I put you in danger, so I'm guess I'm being selfish." You think? You would hope that for a good vampire who is 104 years old he would have figured out by now that just because something makes you feel good it doesn't mean it is good. On the other hand, humans tend to have an ability to be exceedingly selfish all their lives, especially when it comes to love. So I'll give him that. I just don't think it's romantic.

Third Bella is rather annoying. It seems like every time he looks at her or touches her, she forgets how to breath. Literally. It's not even a dumb figure of speech, she actually stops breathing. At one point he's so wonderful when they kiss, she passes out. One feels that maybe you're not ready for a serious relationship if you can't manage to maintain the most basic of human functions in the presence of your love interest.

Consider these genuine quotes:

"He was right there, his face so close to mine. His beauty stunned my mind-it was too much, an excess I couldn't grow accustomed to.
...
He took my face in my hands again.
I couldn't breath."
- Pages 246-247

"He pressed his cool lips delicately to my forehead, and the room spun. The smell of his breath made it impossible to think... His fingers traced slowly down my spine, his breath coming more quickly against my skin. My hands were limp on his chest, and I felt lightheaded again. He tilted his head slowly and touched his cool
lips to mine for the second time, very carefully, parting them slightly.

And then I collapsed.

"Bella?" His voice was alarmed as he caught me and held me up.

"You… made… me… faint," I accused him dizzily."
- Page 279

"Edward's hands lingered at my neck, brushed along my collarbones. I gave up trying to help him and just concentrated on not hyperventilating." - Page 314

You see what I'm saying? At one point they kiss and her heart literally stops beating.

Anyway, I'm glad I read the book. Now I know what the fuss is about. I don't really have a problem with people reading it. But I doubt I'll be picking up the sequels anytime soon.

10/06/2008 11:04:00 am

Bugged

Posted by Tom French |

One of my favourite things on my computer is when a program crashes and then the program that tells me that the program has crashed crashes. It makes me smirk.

10/04/2008 09:35:00 am

In and Out

Posted by Tom French |

I'm back from camp and totally famous!

And now I'm at Black Stump. I'm not actually at Black Stump. I'm at home. This is the first time in about 15 years I'm not camping. But I'm doing the Black Stump thing. I'm going call it a camp though, just so I can say I went straight from camp to camp.

Last week's camp was much fun. I did enjoy myself, the leaders were quality, the campers quality, and there was plenty of laughs so I'm happy.

That could be about in depth as my debrief of camp gets. Probably because it's a whole weeks worth and most of it's not that interesting if you weren't there.

Yesterday however was a tad remarkable. Mainly because it was full. I packed up a camp, had a beer, visited the Pa (Happy Birthday!), drove to Stump, did tech for the Breakthru' show (I was DVD man, "Play,pause,play,skip,pause" in that order) then was calling the next Breakthru' show. The second show was 8 acts long and I was meant to be in the sound and lighting desk on coms telling the lighting and sound guys what to do and when. This was a little stressful because 1) I've never seen the show before, 2) I've never called a show before, 3) I was so tired I was having difficultly stringing sentences together.

In the end the CD of all the music for the show got lost, so the show became 3 pieces long, rather than 8. While this is sad for the Breakthru' people, from my standpoint I was rather relieved. I'm calling the show again today, but I at least am feeling a little less tired.

I did find that getting to Black Stump and being surrounded by a whole new bunch of people, made me miss the ones I was surrounded by for the last week. I guess that's a good response to have to the camp. It probably means I liked the people.

I also found that getting to Black Stump and feeling stuffed made me rather grumpy. I was having difficulty being positive. Hopefully today will be better.

I should probably put some pants on now and get ready for being an amazing tech guy.

9/28/2008 05:24:00 pm

More Camp

Posted by Tom French |

I'm currently on Camp.

Not right now. Right now I'm in my church office. But I was on camp up until about 2 hours ago, and I'll be back there tonight.

I'm on a week long youth camp, as the speaker. Being the speaker definitely has its perks. I've been put this week in the best speaker's accommodation I've ever had. I'm in a unit on site with a bedroom, bathroom, full kitchen (with fridge and microwave), a lounge, a dining table and a TV and video.

It's sweet.

It's very tempting never to come out of my unit.

The odd thing about this camp is that they've brought daylight saving forward by a week. This means that everything is happening an hour earlier then we think it is. It's like we've created a whole different timezone on camp. Plus they've taken all the campers watches and phones from them so a lot of them don't know that last they lost an hour's sleep.

Right now they're probably just finishing up dinner and it's only 5:30. It's nuts. But a rather good idea.

Anyway, I should get back to doing work, I didn't leave just to leave. I have a few things to attend to.

9/24/2008 11:36:00 pm

Bags and Grace

Posted by Tom French |

So my van as a little problem. The backing on the inside of my boot has come off and has this whole exposed glue section. In the old days the glue used to get on things. But I tested it on Friday and it didn't come off so I figured it was fine.

Anyway, coming home I packed my van carefully so that nothing was touching or would fall onto the back of the the boot.

Then just after I've packed the car a few more people come along and give me a whole bunch more bags, so I re-pack. And I think I've got it alright, but I didn't really look as hard the second time.

I get back to Sydney, open my boot and find one bag, just one, has fallen onto the boot, and the bag just happens to be a pink Country Road bag. Being a tiny bit in the know I understand that a Country Road bag, isn't just any old bag. It's a special, $60, "in" bag. And the bag isn't owned by someone who goes to my youth group, it's a visitor's.

Realising what I've done, I start feeling rather bad. I consider pretending I didn't see it and hope it doesn't get noticed till later. But I figure that's probably bad.

So I find the bag's owner, fess up, and feel bad. I offer to replace it, but she's being kind and telling me not to worry about it.

I still feel bad though. I considered taking her at her word and not worrying about it, but I did ruin a Country Road bag. So I kinda stewed in my own guilt for a while.

On Monday morning I headed off for the shops to find a new Country Road bag, I found them but couldn't find one the same. So I worried if I bought the wrong type I probably wouldn't fix the problem.

Then I started having images of me turning up to school and giving this girl a brand new $60 bag and everyone wondering why Tom the Scripture Guy is handing out expensive presents.

So I thought through other options, I checked the Country Road website, but there are no bags there (at least not the right ones) and there is no online shop.

I decided to sit on the issue for a day or two so yesterday I worried about it.

This morning I came up with the brilliant idea of a gift voucher. That solves the problem of ugly bag, strange presents and delivery (I can post a gift voucher).

I arrived at work, decided just to ask Rach's advice to make sure that she also thinks my idea is brilliant, and just as I turn around in my office to go over and talk to Rach, and I see on the floor, $60 with a note saying "To Tom, 1x Country Road Bag".

How odd. I couldn't really figure out who knew I was stressing about the bag so much that they'd want to pay for it.

It's strange. On the one hand I'm feeling way loved that someone would know how stressed this has made me that they'd pro-actively help out and pay for the whole thing.

On the other hand I got a little miffed that someone else is going to pay for the bag. I don't know who gave me the money so I can't give it back or say "Thank you". And they gave me the money for the bag so I can't spend it on anything else. So now I'm stuck with someone else paying for my mistakes, and I thought I'd solved them myself.

I've decided not to stew on it and feel loved, because it's a lovely thing for someone to do. Plus, it's also a rather fitting lesson for me about my own desire to earn my redemption. I should just be thankful but instead I feel annoyed that I can't do it myself. Gosh I'm dumb.

Isn't it amazing how you think you're doing fine, then someone does something loving and gracious and kicks you up the bum.

Tomorrow I'm off to Country Road to buy a gift voucher, and I'll thank Jesus for restoration of relationships and for people who teach me lessons and do really wonderful things at the same time. If the person who gave me the money was around I'd thank them too.

9/24/2008 11:18:00 pm

Weekend

Posted by Tom French |

The Weekend was good. It was important in light of the previous post. Going on camp with the youth group was significant as I knew it would be my last.

Leading up to camp had been rather stressful. Trying to write talks, and figure out numbers. In the end we had about 15 less young people than we normally have on a camp. This was mainly due to the fact that we stupidly put the camp right in the middle of year 11 exams.

Anyway, the lack of people, along with the lack of commitment from our highly non-committal young people, (Though I generally quite like this trait because it also means spontaneity, and if you plan of people being last minute, it's good. When it comes to camps though usually it costs about $80 per person who doesn't turn up. So commitment is helpful to gauge numbers.) meant that I was feeling a little stressed. Even in the last 24 hours I had two people pull out and three people join up, and one person pull out and join back up again.

But as the time for camp drew near, calmness came upon me and I went into cruisy, Tom mode. And from that point on I was perfectly happy and un-stressed. Everything ran late, but I didn't really care, because I wasn't stressed, it was great.

We made it to camp late, sat down, had the rules, people laughed at me a bit (as is usually the case at these types of things) and then I had to tell them I was leaving. It was hard, I was stalling most of the night, I was very nervous. When I started talking I choked up a bit. I thought I might cry. I didn't but it was the closest I've come to crying in years. While I don't really want to cry, at least I know I'm not as cold hearted as I could be.

There were a few tears from the youth, a lot of shocked faces, a few people telling me I can't go. I kinda felt bad doing it. I know that the hardest thing about leaving will be leaving the people I minister to. So telling them you're going doesn't make much sense. When I'm with the youth group, I generally see no reason to leave.

But I am leaving, so I told them, and then we had supper, a bed time story and people went to bed.

Saturday was less intense. We had two talks, from me, about the kingdom of God. I did the "I'm leaving I can say what I want thing", so I told them all to keep being Christians.

We played a rather awesome three way game of capture the flag, involving water bombs. These games are always good fun. If people didn't get too competitive they'd be perfect, but alas you can't have every things.

The weather was amazing. The hottest day this half of the year. Special.

At night we played a murder mystery game. I played a sleazy Prince Charming who was actually Elvis. All the campers had to come in and interview me in groups about the murder. I did enjoy myself. I'm not sure I was all that helpful though.

The night finished with a camp fire with one big "In the store..." sing-a-long and peoples' testimonies. It was oh so very Christian but lovely and moving none the less.

Sunday was more talk, lots of packing up, a debrief and some warm and fuzzy letters.

That was camp really.

It was a pretty easy camp. Mostly stress free. No big injuries, no body got in trouble too much. It was the way I would have liked my last camp to have gone. So I'm happy.

Coming home I did manage to stuff things up a little. But that's another story for another post.

9/23/2008 02:39:00 pm

Heading Off

Posted by Tom French |

I announced to my church on Sunday that I'm going to be leaving them at the beginning of next year.

It had pretty much been a week of such announcements. I told my leaders on Monday night, my small group on Wednesday night, my youth group on Friday at Camp and then the church found out on Sunday.

I've been making the decision for about year. At least it was in September last year that I told Stephen that I might not be around for 2009 so they should start thinking about options.

It was a big decision to make. I've spent a lot of time praying and talking to people, trying to figure out what was right. I love my church very much. It's been a wonderful place to work, full of lovely, supportive people. And I really like the young people in my youth group. I really do reckon being a youth minister is one of the best jobs in the world, because teenagers are awesome.

But as many people know I am planning on going to the US in 2010. So I had to think about leaving my church at some stage. Having the new minister arrive this year has meant that next year will probably "vision" year. The year he starts the church he wants it to take for the next few years. It makes sense for me to go, and for someone else to come in for vision year, so that they can be better placed for long-term execution of the vision.

Plus next year, I really want to take a year off ministry to do work which isn't too demanding with people who aren't Christians. Living in my Christian bubble is lovely, but you get a little out of touch. Spending all your time talking about evangelism but rarely having opportunities to practice it seems a little hypocritical.

The other reason is that I want a break. I'm pretty tired. Not sleepy, but 6 years of ministry as a single guy takes it out of you. This church, and the youth ministry especially, have been my priority this whole time. It's taken up my weekends and many of my weeknights. And I have no regrets about this, it's been great. But you find that soon there is little outside your job that you're committed to, or able to commit to. I'd love to be able to spend some more time with friends and family. I'd love to be able to be part of my local community. I'd love to be able to leave my work at work. I'd love to be able to have my God not be my employer for at least a year.

I have no plans to leave ministry for good. I still plan on speaking and preaching in 2009 if people want me to. I'm just taking some time off. In fact, I'm pretty sure having a year of will make me a better kingdom worker rather than a worse one.

From here I don't know where God is leading me. I pretty sure I'm still called to ministry work but I don't know what type. But I guess we'll have to wait and see.

For the moment, I need to work hard at finishing well.

9/22/2008 10:36:00 pm

Returned

Posted by Tom French |

I got back from camp yesterday. It was good, pretty laid back, and rather important.

Shall blog the news later.

9/19/2008 03:03:00 pm

Gone Camping

Posted by Tom French |

Two and a half hours till I go on camp.

Who would have thought trying to write talks and organise a camp at the same time wouldn't be easy? And trying to do it on to of scripture seminars, moving house, preaching and running the rest of the youth group. I thank God that I've got this far.

Yay for the Camp, but I can't wait till Monday.

9/18/2008 02:32:00 pm

Robot Love

Posted by Tom French |

Here's my next lunchtime conundrum: If you found out that your husband or wife was a robot, would you divorce them? Or is love love, no-matter what the object of your affection is?

9/17/2008 01:37:00 pm

Soup

Posted by Tom French |

I was just reminded at lunch of my regular conundrum. How does my body know how to process soup? How does it figure out if it's a liquid or a solid? It must be very confusing.

I'm so glad I am not my body or that would cause me many headaches.

9/16/2008 02:31:00 pm

Room for Doubt

Posted by Tom French |

I've been thinking a little bit lately about doubt and families with super-spiritual parents.

Over my time in youth ministry I've come across a number of young people who have been struggling with doubt. Some of them have super-spiritual parents who love Jesus. These young people often feel too scared to tell their parents how they're feeling. Sometimes it's because they're worried how much they'll hurt their parents when they tell them. Sometimes it's because they don't want their parents trying to convert them. Sometimes it's just because they don't think their parents will understand.

Sometimes doubt can be such a lonely place.

I think it's great that there are parents out there who are so into their faith that their kids can't see any doubt in them at all. On the other hand I wish parents could find a way to allow their kids to be real about where they're at. How can parents make sure their kids know they're going to be accepted and loved, wherever their at? And how can parents be people who are able to help, and encourage, and comfort in times of doubt?

I've not really figured this out, I'm not a parent.

As a youth minister I know that when young people of faith share their doubt with you, it's both special and painful. Special because they have trusted you with something that is very personal. Special because my job is faith, so to tell the youth minister you're not sure if he's got it right means that they feel probably safe from getting judged. It's painful because you don't want people there. You want people to be able to believe and trust in the love and promises God. It's painful because you know that apart from prayer, talking and listening there's little you can do. You can't grow faith in others, it's God who gives faith and God who takes it away.

I assume that for a believing parent, to hear about doubt from their kids, is probably bitter/sweet on a much greater scale. But it's gotta be better to be involved than to be kept out all together.

9/16/2008 12:40:00 am

Grand

Posted by Tom French |

I've been watching a bit of Grand Designs lately. I'm pretty sure it's not what the youth of today a watching, a show about building homes, but I love it.

I've pretty much figured out how the show goes. Kevin McCloud introduces us to an impressive house, he meets the couple who are going build it, he tells us they're mad for even considering such a plan, then they build the house, things go wrong, then Kevin visits the house when it's built and talks it up. That's the show. And I love it.

Better than Pimp My Ride any day.

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