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.

9/14/2008 11:37:00 pm

Sermon Up

Posted by Tom French |

Just to conclude the community preaching saga.

If you wanna hear how it ended up with your input, you can listen here: 8am14-09-08.mp3 or you can just check the podcast if you're a subscriber.

Thanks for your help people. Apart from the good discussion, I think probably the most significant impact that came out of the whole process was the added discussion of not worshipping in a way that puts other people off.

I did consider going into the whole "body is a temple" deal. Or even into the "we are the temple" deal. But the passage talks about Jesus being the temple. And when you have 4 different temples flying around a passage, and three of those temples co-existing, it can get a little confusing.

Anyway thanks people. It was good fun. I should do it again sometime. Maybe next time I'll get you in on the planning level pre-draft, then it really would be a community sermon.

9/13/2008 12:13:00 am

Arrived

Posted by Tom French |

I'm now not homeless anymore. All moved in. Not quite unpacked. Minutes away from RSL, station, Westfield and kebabs. Happy.

Sharing house with Gowies. Goodness.

Thanks goes to the parents for letting me visit for the better part of year. And for letting me rent in their new one.

Thanks goes to God for providing continuing shelter.

9/11/2008 07:25:00 pm

Draft Two

Posted by Tom French |

I'm up to draft two of the community sermon. I'm doing a test preach tonight with a test congregation (my preaching class). We'll see how it goes.

If you want to see the second draft and add your comments before Sunday rolls on around, go click the link below.

I'm enjoying this. Thanks for your help peoples. I'm listening.

9/10/2008 11:24:00 am

Community Preaching

Posted by Tom French |

Here's an idea I just had. it might be a stupid one, but I'm willing to give it a try. Yesterday I finished my first draft of my sermon for Sunday. "Why so early?" you ask, well because I'm doing a preaching course and the guy who's running it wanted to see a draft. So I did it.

Anyway here's my thought, what if I opened it up to everyone in the entire world to edit, comment on and add to. It could yield some interesting results. Of course, I wouldn't necessarily use your additions, but it could be fun. Plus I'm sure if I just let anyone put words in my mouth I could speak more rubbish than I already do. Some people might even see this as desecration of the art of preaching. I hope not.

But if you're interested, I have posted a copy on Google Docs that anyone can edit. So if you want to have a bash at influencing 40 people on a Sunday morning, go have a look, add a little, correct a little, do what you want and we'll see what happens. I'll be adding my additions as I make them so you can see how things progress.

I think this may only be an interesting exercise for preaching nerds, but hey, it could be fun.

Check it out here: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddj4p7p3_54ctn8mrhs

9/09/2008 12:01:00 pm

Theologied

Posted by Tom French |

I had an exam today for Theology. Lucky I like theology because I really dislike exams, especially on my day off. As usual I didn't study at all. But if you ask me I wrote a killer essay on God and his timelessness. I even had four scripture references. Don't ever say I'm not an evangelical.

I was thinking about it. It's probably a good thing I'm always too busy to study for exams because if I had time I wouldn't actually know what to do. I never really learnt to study. All I knew that it's a good idea to read stuff. Maybe write some notes or something. So being perennially busy means I never have to confront my inability to actually work out how to retain facts.

9/06/2008 12:50:00 am

Killer Robots

Posted by Tom French |

I was thinking that if killer robots invaded Earth I'd sign up for the Army straight away, because I don't think my pacifist tendencies extend as far as killer robots.

9/03/2008 02:42:00 pm

Palindrone

Posted by Tom French |

I'm pretty sure someone thought up that witty pun before me.

It seems a bit dumb that the biggest issue people can think to talk about Sarah Palin is that her daughter got pregnant. Though I can totally understand why it's embarrassing. McCain should have done better vetting. On the other who really cares, her daughter isn't running for Vice President and I doubt her mum encouraged the conception.

I also think it's funny the President Bush got relegated to an 8 minute satellite address at the Republican convention. Wasn't he a hit?

Though none of it is upsetting me that much because I'm going for Obama.

9/02/2008 05:02:00 pm

Verandah

Posted by Tom French |

I'm currently sitting in an internet cafe in the city that used to kinda cool, kinda dingy. Now it's been spruced up with big screens, chairs that are classic gamer chairs. I'm not really sure what that is, but these certainly look like them.

I played a bit of Rainbow Six:Las Vagas 2 and I wasn't very good. But I had fun. I feel a little dumb playing games when I suck at them and I'm pretty sure that everyone around me is probably awesome. But what can you do.

This afternoon I went to the new house and sat on the back verandah and had my quiet time. It was nice. The sun is nice there and it was rather peaceful. I saw some birds.

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