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.

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