11/29/2010 11:54:00 pm

We're Back

Posted by Tom French |

For all those of you who were fans of Podcasting with Howie and Tom, we'll be back. But live on the computer screen. Streaming video right to your computer.

8pm AEST, 25th December 2010. Right here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/howie-and-tom-live

It'll be better than all your crap presents, but not nearly as good as your good ones.

11/28/2010 11:27:00 pm

Me and my Salvation

Posted by Tom French |

Samuel and the fire.jpg

I was doing my Bible reading this morning, and I'm currently going through 1 Samuel because we're doing it in youth group. Today I read 1 Samuel 12 where Samuel gives his farewell speech. And it's not what you'd expect - "It's been so good leading you all, I love you lots, God bless" - Samuel lays into them and gives them a history their sin, right up until they choose a king and rejected God as their king. Samuel then says God is going to send a storm to prove they have done evil, and he does, which is a pretty awesome endorsement of your speech if you're Samuel.

Israel feels pretty convicted by the thunder and lightning and says: "Pray to the LORD your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king." (12:19)

And Samuel replies with, "Do not be afraid. You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own." (12:20-22)

That struck me. Firstly because I feel like I regularly get confronted with my sin. And I think "Oh goodness, now I've done this, on top of all my other sins." So I know how the Israelites feel.

But then Samuel gives this great reply. He doesn't say "Oh don't worry about it, it's nothing. God will forgive you." And he doesn't say "Sucks to be you, God is going smash you guys so hard!"

He says "You have done all this evil". He doesn't pull punches. But having done evil their response should be to try and escape his wrath, to get away from him. But Samuel counsels them by saying "Do not be afraid" and "Do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart." Just when they should be running away he says come closer. Serve God. Do not be afraid. Why?

"For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own."

God is going to forgive and not destroy the Israelites because God's name is made great when he forgives sinful people and when he looks after his family. It's not because Israel is amazing, or God is fond of their cuteness, or they'll make it up to God. Israel are safe from God and God will forgive them because it glorifies him. For God saving and forgiving is all about glorifying himself.

And that gives me great comfort. I know I have done evil. And I'm not sure why God would want to forgive me. But God doesn't forgive me because there is anything particularly special about me, he forgives me for the sake of his great name. And there is no point where God will give up on me, not because God can't live without me, but for the sake of his great name. I am saved for God's glory. And I am safe for God's glory. Which means, it's not about me.

In my self-centredness I can get all caught up on why would God save me? I'm not good enough, maybe God will stop loving me if I keep letting him down, how much longer will he put up with me? I should work harder to please God. And really it's not about me. But God's not saving me because of how good or bad I am. He's not getting me in his kingdom because I'm a great asset with all my Christian skills, or because he saw me and thought "That guy really needs help." God has saved me, and keeps me saved, because it's an expression of his character and a testament to his greatness. God's not going to stop loving me, or drop me from the team, because I'm here to glorify him. Saving me, and sanctifying me and making me his child, that glorifies which is the primary reason I am saved. My salvation is not about me, it not reliant on me at all, it's not predicated on how good or bad I am, it's about God, who is love, doing what God does best.

It's not about me.

I was an object of wrath, I am a trophy of grace, because I am the glory of God and the glory of God wins every time.

Hallelujah.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. - Ephesians 1:3-6

11/27/2010 10:32:00 pm

Sailing

Posted by Tom French |

I'm speaking on a sailing camp again in about two weeks. It's the same camp I did this time last year.

Today they had a sailing training day and I thought I'd go because I don't know anything about sailing and I feel dumb sitting in boat not being able to help. Today my plan was to feel less dumb. I may have succeeded.

It was a lovely day for sailing. At least the sun was out and hot. But the wind was up which was fun but made beginners sailing not so good.

I started the day in a small boat with a guy who taught me a few things about sailing. Like a rope attached to a sail is a sheet. That seems a little odd, you'd think the sail would be the sheet, but it seems not. He told me lots of stuff about sailing into the wind and luffing jibs and halyards, but I didn't really understand it all. I was given the job of steering and he'd tell me when it was time to tack or jibe and I'd do what I was meant to do and inevitably stuff it up because you have to steer the boat, watch where you're going, swap sides and try not to get hit in the head by the boom. It's too many things to do at once. I find parking my car a complex manoeuvre so doing all these sailing things is too hard for me.

After lunch I was put on a catamaran with a different guy. The wind had picked up a bit more by this stage and my only job was pulling on a rope. We went pretty fast and it was good fun. At one point he let me steer and I capsized the boat. Oops.

We spent a bit of time trying to not drown and right the boat, and after that it was time to come in.

It was a fun day, but I'm pretty sure I won't be leading sailing expeditions any time too soon.

11/26/2010 11:54:00 pm

Lasers

Posted by Tom French |

I went to laser tag again tonight with my youth group guys. But because they're boys, we invited our friend Dan along, because he works for a secret government organisation (unless you watch Border Patrol) to teach the boys a few things about how to clear a room. Seeing as the stuff he teaches for work is classified, he said he couldn't teach us that. But still the boys had fun learning how to work as a team two or three and enter a room without getting shot by a laser gun. I'm guessing they don't show you the lasers on Border Patrol because they're classified.

As training, we got them to clear the downstairs of the church. I think all groups but one died. I got to play a bad guy hiding in the girls' toilets. I'm pretty sure I was terrorist.

Once we had completed basic training we took them to laser tag where they forgot to use any of what they'd been taught, and got totally whipped by the leaders. But then again, winning is understandable because we had Dan on our team and he works for secret government organisation, teaching people how to take down complex space stations filled with masses of young boys armed with laser guns. Australia is in safe hands.

11/25/2010 11:55:00 pm

Mo

Posted by Tom French |

I love Movember. I love seedy mos. One day I hope to participate and scare young children for 31 days of late spring.

But I can't help but think that Movember is more about men loving having the chance to look dirty for a month more than it is men making some great sacrifice for men's health. I rekcon you could have Movember raising money for bottle-nosed hampsters and men would still be up for it. I don't know how many man spend a lot of time worrying about men's depression and testicular cancer. I rekcon there are a lot of men who think often about getting a tash happening. There is something attractive about being able to look disgusting and get away with it. Much more attractive than rasing money for men's issues is.

But if you love the mo more than you love the cause does it really matter?

11/24/2010 10:51:00 pm

Jesus Pooped

Posted by Tom French |

My current talk at primary schools is a Christmas talk because every primary group wants to talk about Christmas. So today I was doing the talk and I said "Jesus was just like any other baby. He did all the same things normal babies do. He slept, ate, and cried."

And then some kid in year 1 called out, "And pooped!"

It was awesome.

That kid has his incarnational theology right. Jesus pooped.

11/23/2010 10:45:00 pm

Dead God

Posted by Tom French |

"Here’s how it is declared in Colossians 3:5, “Greed is idolatry.” Is that clear? Greed is idolatry. And see, a lot of people right now, they’ve not dealt with a greed problem. That’s why they’re grieving. See, we worship as a collective people, the god mammon. Jesus calls money “mammon”, a false god. We worship mammon. Now mammon has died. And people are grieving, “Our god died. I lost my equity, my retirement’s down. My portfolio is not as good as it used to be. I’m getting ready to graduate and I can’t make as much money as I would have five years ago. I can’t even find a job that is what I was hoping for. Argh! I’m so grieved! My god has died!” And everyone is secretly waiting for a resurrection. “When will our god be back? When will our god be back? Are home prices on the rise? Is unemployment down? Is our god stirring yet?” Greed is idolatry. You don’t need more wealth. You need more wisdom. You don’t need your idol to come back from death. You need God to be the object of your affections."

- Mark Driscoll, speaking on the Parable of the Rich Fool

11/22/2010 11:02:00 pm

Hello Again

Posted by Tom French |

I'm aware that my blogging efforts of late have been rather poor. I have reasonable excuses. But my promise to you is this. I will blog every day between now and next Monday. If I don't, I will take you all out to dinner. A dinner of rice. And you may only get a few grains, but it'll be rice none the less.

Tonight I probably won't say anymore I have stuff to do.

But while we're waiting, on a question that came up at Bible study tonight, do you believe in the physical resurrection of Christ? Why or why not?

11/17/2010 12:02:00 am

(Almost) Typing Fail

Posted by Tom French |

I was writing an email to the Dad of a girl from youth today. His daughter had been part of the group we took to Tumbarumba on the weekend. I wanted to write "It was great to have her along". Unfortunately I wrote "It was great to have her alone". I only picked it up in the second read through. I don't always proof read well (as you would know dear readers) so I'm very pleased I did this time because that typo could have got me a very angry father.

11/12/2010 12:14:00 pm

Firework

Posted by Tom French |

This video is really disturbing. All those poor young people spontaneously combusting everywhere. I worry for their safety.

"Baby, you're a firework..."

11/12/2010 12:13:00 am

Gay Old Mess

Posted by Tom French |

I just started following this Ivanhoe Grammar thing.

The story goes Hannah Williams at Ivanhoe Girls Grammar invited her girlfriend, Savannah Supski, to the year 11 formal. Unfortunately Hannah was told she couldn't take Savannah, but she could bring a boy. This made Hannah angry. She told her friends, her parents, and the Equal Opportunity Commission. Somehow this made it to the papers, and now it's a big thing. Unfortunately for the school, they've kinda stuffed up their PR on this one.

The school principal, Heather Schnagl, said in defense of the school's decision: "I don't think it's appropriate they feel discriminated against, and I'm very upset they feel that... If we opened it up and said girls could bring another female they would all bring females; the policy is trying to create an event where boys are invited. We are a school that has an all-girls environment, and they are meant to invite guests, not partners."

She then goes on to give a second reason for not letting the girl take her girl, "It's an event for year 11s and the student's guest was in year 10."

This is an absurd thing to say.

From what I know of teenage girls, if given the opportunity to have a dinner dance event and they're told they can bring a partner, I cannot think there is any group except perhaps the Teenage Lesbians Alliance (if one exists) where all the girls would bring girls instead of guys. And I'm sure the girls who opted to bring no one were not told they must bring someone as they would throw out the girl:boy ratio.

The other issue is that the school also wants to say the problem is the students age, year 10s are not allowed at the year 11 event. This is a much better argument and the one the school should have stuck with the whole time, because age discrimination is encouraged and necessary in a school. And Savannah's age has nothing to do with her gender or sexual preference. Unfortunately for the school they didn't stick to that argument or to that rule, and they allowed boys at the event who were in year 10.

What is interesting is that same-sex couples are allowed at the year 12 formal, which means that the school's argument for not allowing a same sex couple to attend a year 11 formal holds even less water, unless the event really is for the girls to meet boys. This does seem terribly old fashioned as if girls at all girls schools have no way of finding boys. Girls and boys know how to find each other. I'm pretty sure they don't need a school to help them, but it's nice that the school would try.

I'm not sure but there may be something going on here with the faith of the school. The school doesn't seem to have said it publicly but it may be that because it is a school built upon Christian foundations (according to the website) that's why they don't allow the gay couple to attend. But I have no idea how Christian the school is. Probably not very.

Whatever is going on, this feels to me like a case of teenage outrage (which is a fact of life when you're a teenager, I encounter small scale teenage outrage on a regular basis) exacerbated by a school unable to find (or at least articulate) a good reason not to allow a same sex couple to a dance.

Oh, and now a whole lot of fuel has been added to the fire by the media's love of all things gay, especially lesbians, especially, especially pretty, teenage lesbians. Freakin' SMH.

Whatever the case it got me thinking about what I would do. If I was the school principal, I'd probably allow the couple to attend. If my only real reason for not allowing the student to attend was because she was a girl, I'd let it slide. If I hadn't been consistent in enforcing the rules I was referring to I'd know I didn't really have a leg to stand on, so I'd have to allow them to go together.

If there was a lesbian couple who wanted to attend my youth group, I reckon I'd let them. If my youth group was having a formal (as youth groups do from time to time) and a girl who attended youth group wanted to bring her female partner, I'd probably let her. If the girl said she was a Christian, then I reckon there'd be other conversations to be had first which were bigger than whether or not she could bring her girlfriend along.

I know this isn't what the story is about but it gets me thinking about the church. I'm sure that over the next 10 years Christian organisations are only going to face more and more issues with discrimination of people with a same sex preference. The Church is going to have to find the best way forward to be loving and welcoming without compromising on it's beliefs. But even then it'll probably still get hammered.

The recent issue with the Brethren campsite that didn't allow a gay support group to meet on its site is probably indicative of what's to come. The problem was that the Christian organisation didn't want to have its facilities used for the promotion of something that they felt was immoral. Unfortunately the Brethren were running a corporation, which is legally obliged to provide the same services to anyone regardless of their sexual preference. And so they lost the case on anti-discrimination grounds, despite the fact that they are clearly Christian.

People seem to feel like whenever Christians express a view about homosexuality that it's motivated by bigotry and homophopia. Except that for many Christians it's not an issue of bigotry and homophobia*. How they feel about homosexuality comes from a respect for and desire to obey the Bible. Christians aren't out to make the life of gay people hard, they're out to live their lives as an act of worship in obedience to the God they see revealed in the Bible. Rightly or wrongly the choice to do that has to be as acceptable in society as being gay.

It feels like the bias at the moment is leaning towards legally forcing Christian organisations to let all people do everything. But I'd say forcing the Church to be endorsing homosexuality as a valid lifestyle choice is as discriminatory as forcing gay people to believe that following Jesus is the only valid lifestyle choice.

I guess what I'm saying is that freedom of religious expression should be just as valid a right as freedom of sexual expression. And just as we should allow people people the right to have whatever sexual lifestyle they choose (within the context of non-abusive, consensual behaviour) and the right to advocate for that lifestyle, I also think Christians should have the right to hold different views, to publicly state those views and expect a certain type behaviour from those who want to work within the structures of the Christian community. If the Christian community wants to waive that right, so be it, but it should be their choice not one forced upon them by those who hold different values and beliefs.

*Of course sometimes it is and I ain't down with that.

Update: I accidentally deleated a paragraph before posting about bigotry and homophobia. I have added a sentence because I can't remember the paragraph, just to make sense of the paragraph a little better.

11/10/2010 10:24:00 pm

Organisation Nation

Posted by Tom French |

On the weekend I'm leading a group of 15 fifteen people on a trip to Tumbarumba (where I went this time last year). 9 of them are youth in my youth group.

This has meant I've been sending mountains of emails, making phone calls, planning time tables, organising who's doing what while we're away, talking to parents, writing a drama, planning a youth ministry seminar, and somewhere in there, sleeping.

At the same time I'm trying to get my HSC Opening Party organised, but that's going rather slowly.

And then add to that planning and writing talks, emailing chaplains, organising schedules, doing invoices and writing resources, which I do while at work, I feel like my whole life is administration at the moment.

What is good though is that, at least as far as the mission trip goes I'm feeling relatively on top of it. I feel like the years of being a youth minister is coming into play. I may also be getting mildly gifted in administration. I don't know. Not majorly gifted. I'm still organising a bunch of stuff at the last minute, but things are coming together.

I bagz having the gift of relaxing. How about right now! Yes. I'm going to bed.

In other news, I put my finger in someone else's pus today. Not good.

11/06/2010 12:57:00 am

Things I've Learnt from Footballers this Week

Posted by Tom French |

Don't pretend to have sex with your colleague's dog. It'll only end in tears.


That's a contrast to the last post.

11/06/2010 12:48:00 am

NIV 2011

Posted by Tom French |

For those of us who use the NIV on Bible Gateway, it quietly changed itself up a few days ago.

The new translation of the NIV (the NNIV perhaps?) has been dubbed NIV 2011, but it'll probably just be called the NIV. It won't be out in print till next year but on Tuesday it quietly arrived online. The first I noticed was when I was working on my sermon on Wednesday night and was surprised by the gender inclusive language. It said "brothers and sisters" instead of just "brothers". I thought that perhaps that was just a abnormal translation for this verse that I'd never noticed, and thought nothing more.

But then I found out that it's a new translation. It's odd because it's the NIV but then suddenly it slips a word in your weren't ready for. For instance in youth group tonight we were doing Philippians 2:1-11 and when I was expecting the boys to read this:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
- Phil 2:5-6 (NIV 1984)

But instead they read this:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
- Phil 2:5-6 (NIV 2010)

I think it's a better translation, but it jars the ears because you're expecting NIV but you get NNIV. And especially there it jars because you want to sing "Highest Place", that song with too many words per bar, in your head, but you just get thrown out. I'm so used to the NIV and now it's not the NIV and nobody warned me.

I assume they did it to compete with the ESV. Just like Coke brought out New Coke in 1985 to compete with Pepsi. But while you can't improve on Coke's formula, you can always get a better translation.

Anyway as far as I can tell it's a better translation. The language seems more accurate and less clunky. The gender inclusive language is good, and it saves people from having to add it themselves. And as far as I can tell, the translation from the greek is more accurate, but I'm no expert on that.

The NNIV is set to replace both the NIV and the tNIV next year. And it won't be called the NNIV, that's just me being stupid.

If you're interested 60.55% of the NNIV's verses are the same as the NIV. While 8.25% of the NNIV has something completely new from the NIV. If you want to track all the changes you can go here. It's pretty interesting if you're a bible nerd.

11/04/2010 05:42:00 pm

Be Here Now

Posted by Tom French |



If this wasn't an ad for a phone and it was just a public service announcement, it'd probably be perfect.

11/02/2010 12:50:00 am

Melbourne Cup Pick

Posted by Tom French |

As is my sometimes tradition, let me tell you my pick for the Melbourne Cup. I think I might be in staff meeting tomorrow during the Cup. Perhaps we'll stop for the race that stops the nation. Or maybe we'll ignore it. Perhaps I'll suggest we pay attention as a matter of OH&S. I found out today that at every staff meeting there should be a time set aside for OH&S, I'm pretty sure that's the time for watching a horse race.

Anyway, I'm getting distracted.

This year I recommend: Shocking

I know everyone's believing in So You Think, but Shocking is gonna bring it home for trainer Michael Rodd. In my view Rodds having an excellent year, and So You Think's recent form leaves me questioning whether there's anything left for a Cup victory. The smart money goes with Shocking.

You just watch. I'm an expert. I know what I'm talking about.

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