5/30/2011 11:07:00 pm

Closer to Inerrancy

Posted by Tom French |

I was happy to see today that my most personally upsetting and perhaps the overall most critical translation error of the NIV has now been fixed by the NIV 2011:

NIV 1984

Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it.

NIV 2011

Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it.

Judges 3:21-22


The translators have put a smile on the face of God.

5/28/2011 12:28:00 am

Pro-Choice

Posted by Tom French |

Do you ever feel ripped off that no one asked you if you wanted to be born? Sometimes I feel like the responsibility of being human has been forced upon me. I exist, and I'm expected to love people, love God, obey the Government, and no-one one said "Hey, Tom, I've got a life for you, it'll be a bit of a responsibility, but it could be rewarding. Do you want it?"

Chances are, having had my options laid out, I would have chosen life. It's just that no one asked. It's my life, it would have been nice to have been consulted.

We should start a movement to get God to start giving pre-bodied humans the right to choose if they want to exist. If God acquiesced it'd totally stuff up the right to life/pro-choice debate.

Actually maybe God did give me a choice and then erased the memory. Maybe I exist of my own free will, I just don't remember it.

Anything is possible.

5/27/2011 11:48:00 pm

miPad

Posted by Tom French |

I have been thinking about getting an iPad for preaching.

I feel like there should be heaps of cool things you could do with an iPad while preaching. But it seems no. I did some research. Seems like the best thing you can do while preaching is read your notes off it. It works like paper, except it's about $800 more than paper.

Oh well.

I guess I won't get an iPad. Just as well probably.

5/25/2011 12:54:00 am

Equal Distribution

Posted by Tom French |

We had a bible study at work today on wealth and how we spend our money. I thought I might try and find out how much money there is in the world, divide it by 6 billion and then try and have that amount of money in my life. I thought perhaps that would be a good way to make sure I had only a fair share of the world's money.

But the internet won't tell me how much money there is in the world.

At least the first website I checked didn't tell me.

My plans have been foiled. Perfect logic failed by imperfect Google.

It's the story of my life.

5/19/2011 11:59:00 pm

Bathtub Sounds

Posted by Tom French |

Here's a fun thing I was fiddling with at work today. And, yes, this was work.

Mute the sound on this video and watch it while playing the video below it. When that's finished, watch the video again, but play the music on the second video from about 2 minutes 55 seconds in. Essentially you're substituting the soundtrack from the first video with the soundtrack from the second two.

The first time you watch the video it's a fun little piece about happy day in Sydney when everyone is having a good time, and a clumsy man even gets rescued from the sea.

The second time you watch the video it's about a man who almost drowns as the callous, self-absorbed world passes him by.

Niffty, huh?

Video



Music 1



Music 2

5/18/2011 12:00:00 pm

Guest Post: If Your Youth Minister Dies

Posted by Tom French |

This post has been writen by my friend and youth ministry blogging guru, Graham Baldock.

We tackle the big issues here.


If you type the question "What do you do when your youth minister dies?" into a search engine you get very little useful info. You read miscellaneous articles about ministers dying, but nothing really for those left behind (expect for this nifty app). So... this post will try to reply to the question no-one is obviously wanting to have answered...

What do you do when your youth minister dies???

In light of Tom's brush with McDonald's-related-criminality we are simultaneously going to try and navigate this worst-case-scenario minefield (you can check out Tom's answer on my blog) and thus become the world's foremost resources on the topic.

I'm going to start by assuming that the youth minister was suddenly killed, not the casualty of a drawn out disease. This event was totally unexpected.
So what do you do???

As a teen...

1 - Take some time to sit with this. Let it sink in a little. Give yourself some time and space. Stick close to those who love and can support you. Hug your family and find a soft kitten to cuddle.

2 - Feel what you're going to feel. Grief, shock, denial, anger... allow the emotions to come. That's perfectly normal.

3 - Equally, give others some time and space to process this. The way they deal with it may not be the carbon copy of how you deal with it. That's okay.

4 - When you feel comfortable, talk to someone. It could be a parent, a youth group leader or a counsellor. Chat about the things that are raised in point 2.

5 - Avoid making any massive changes or great risks. Routine is important.

If you are connected to the church (as the minister or a youth group leader)...

1 - Be aware that you will go through the same things as the kids. Do steps 1-5 from the list above. It's okay for you as well. Take time and create space to care for yourself.

2 - Be around. You may not have all, or even many answers, but sometimes your sheer presence will mean more than a I-got-this-off-a-website-answer. This should be especially true if you are the senior minister.

3 - Offer help. Wrangle up some cash and offer discounted counselling sessions.

4 - Understand that for some kids, this will be their first experience of someone they personally know dying. Especially a person who is not elderly.

5 - Realise some of the that questions will be raised by members of the congregation. The youth and leaders may wonder about God's fairness. How someone who served God could be killed.

6 - Consider hiring a new youth minister slowly. Don't rush into a new appointment. Weigh up the candidates and be honest in your dealings with them. Nothing would be worse than making a selection that doesn't fit or having the person stumble into a mess they weren't expecting.

5/17/2011 11:57:00 pm

Moving

Posted by Tom French |

I moved out of my place in Artarmon. When my housemate came home and found me using his razor to shave my bum I knew it was all over.

That's not true.

I moved because my lovely friends Chez and Johnny invited me to move in with them and work at living intentionally as in a more community like way. We're not going to be a "Community House", not yet, just a friendly, welcoming house and we may work out way up to the title of Community House.

Also they want to live closer to my work.

So I moved out of my place on Friday and Saturday. Now I'm technically homeless again. But I'm living with my parents till we find a place to live. And my parents now have Bluray and wifi so it's a good place to live.

I'm looking forward to the new adventure. Chick peas, tea, community and all that. Johnny's a poet and Chez is a vegetarian. How Newtown. But we're too hipster for Newtown, we're too hipster for the inner-west. How Newtown.

Macquarie Park here we come!

5/11/2011 11:57:00 pm

Wisdom

Posted by Tom French |

I was listening to an interview with Tim Keller the other day. He talked about how sometimes the issues for mature Christians are not about right and wrong but more wise and less wise. There are decisions we have to make and neither option is sinful, but one is better than the other and we need wisdom to figure out which is best.

I liked that. I feel like I spend a lot of time having to make those types of decisions. Sometimes trying to work out the answer you feel like if you pick wrong, it'll be sinful. But often it won't be sinful, just less wise.

I'd like to be wise.

5/08/2011 11:13:00 pm

Armed Robbery

Posted by Tom French |

I was up at Maccas after church tonight with the young adults. There were 12 of us. I was eating a salad because I was still full of sake and Japan food from Mother's Day (Happy Mother's Day Mum!). It was Seared Chicken Caesar in case you're wondering.

About two thirds of the way through my salad, there was some shouting at the back door of Maccas. I thought "Oh a fight, I hate fights, they make me nervous." Then I saw the manager and thought "Oh good the manager is going to break it up." I moved my head so I could see better and saw that there wasn't a fight instead two guys with balaclavas had come in the back door. One was holding a large kitchen knife and the other a small axe, a hatchet if you will, with a shiny red bit on it. It looked new. They were both wearing black and one of them was holding a small bag.

I thought "Oh good, it's not a fight. Must be a practical joke. Halloween isn't for a while. It's not a very funny joke. Whoever they're friends with on the Maccas staff is gonna be pissed."

They kept shouting. It occurred to me when they shoved the manager behind the counter and the people nearest the back door got up and ran out that it wasn't actually a joke but this was a real armed robbery.

We were seated at the other end of maccas, far from the counter and far from the doors. I had a view of all the doors and the counter. I was pretty pleased to be in such a good spot. The guy with the hatchet ran behind the counter to deal with the staff, who kinda stood there looking stunned, while the guy with the knife hung around to deal with the customers. He waved the knife and swore at all of us telling us to stay where we were. It wasn't that helpful. Every time he turned his back another group of customers would run out the nearest door.

The group of Christians behind us, closer to the action looked scared and one started praying loudly to Jesus. It's to be expected if you rob a maccas on a Sunday night that someone is gonna start praying. I didn't pray. I'm guess I'm not even a Sunday Christian.

As one group of people ran out the door the guy with the knife chased them out shouting about how they should stay where they were. At that point the Christians hopped up and ran out too. They had a small girl with them. It was probably the best thing to do.

The poor robber, on the other hand, couldn't keep control of his charges. I knew how he'd be feeling, it's the same feeling I used to get every week teaching scripture. You think you're big and scary and then everyone just ignores your threats and runs away. He was hemorrhaging potential hostages like an amateur. Should have watched Heat. Had he promised us all chocolate to stay and watch his robbery I'm sure we would have been more obliging, they don't do that in Heat, but it's probably a good tactic.

Anyway, my group, we stayed. Probably within 30 seconds of the guys coming in we were the only customers left in Maccas. It felt a little special having the restaurant to ourselves. Kinda romantic perhaps, like the empty ice rink in Rocky. If it wasn't for the guys with weapons, I might have proposed to someone.

As we sat there we looked around at each other and the general consensus seemed to be that we should stay where were. We were too far from any doors to get out quickly. It never really occurred to me to leave. I saw other people leaving and I thought "That's brave. They might get stabbed." I figured sitting still and doing what you're told was probably the safest option. Plus if we left I wasn't going to get to see what happened and how often in your life do you get to witness an armed robbery?

I also felt kinda like leaving was the wrong thing to do. Like if we ran away we were abandoning the Maccas staff to their fate alone. Of course I'm sure they didn't feel like they needed us there for support, but we were all in this together. I think perhaps the same reason that I often stay behind at events and help pack up is the same reason that I felt like I should stay behind in Maccas. Bailing early isn't right.

That said, I've never considered the ethics of being a bystander (or bysitter in our case) in an armed robbery. And probably escaping is just as valid option as staying.

Anyway, once it was clear to knife dude that he'd lost control of everyone except us, he headed over to the counter to help hatchet dude. They shouted a lot about giving them money and nothing else seemed to be happening.

I found the whole thing fascinating. I didn't really freak out or even get nervous. I was hoping no one got stabbed but only because I felt like that would complicate things more than I wanted them too. I also spent time wondering what was going on behind the counter, but a lot of my thoughts were just something like "Oh yes, so this is what an armed robbery feels like." I worried a little for my fellow church friends. Some of them were freaking out a small bit. I hoped no one did anything stupid. I also spent a while trying to figure out if the robbers would get angry if I kept eating my salad. I'm not sure what I decided. I think I might have snuck in a few bits while their backs were turned.

After a bit more kerfuffle behind the counter the two guys ran out the back door they had come through. The whole thing would have taken less than two minutes. There was a momentary lull in action as everyone tried figure out if it was over. Then a bunch of us jumped up and went to the counter to see what happened, people pulled out phones to write a Facebook status update and a bunch of the patrons who escaped came back in the door, presumably to pick up the food they'd left behind, no one wants to lose those last two nuggets. I pulled out my phone and thought about doing a Facebook status update but couldn't think of anything witty to write so I put it back in my pocket and went back to eating my salad.

I think there was a little bit of discussion about calling the cops, I'm not sure if anyone did. We were all too busy on Facebook.

Suddenly there was a whole bunch of debriefing going on. We found out that no one was hurt and the guys had only gotten $200 because the safe was on a time lock.

The next 15 minutes was spent debriefing, talking about what we saw, how we felt, making jokes. The adrenaline meant that everyone laughed louder. It was prime time to tell jokes cause it made you feel like you're really funny. It was just the chemicals in the brain laughing, but who cares, you gotta take what you can get.

Eventually the cops turned up, none of them had their sirens on which was disappointing. They took our details, told us to wait for the detectives, and then when they found out all we saw were two guys in masks, told us we could go.

I stayed a little bit longer, finished my salad, thanked everyone for sharing the bonding experience with me, then went home.

The salad was pretty good, in case you're wondering.

5/03/2011 12:22:00 pm

Bin Laden

Posted by Tom French |

It's been interesting watching everyone's reactions to the death of Osama. It's rather distressing to see scenes of Americans waving flags and rejoicing in the death of another human. I take no joy in the death of anyone. I have no feeling that justice has been done.

How does shooting and killing Osama make payment for the thousands of lives he took? Death seems too easy. He deserved worse.

However I do feel like his death is an inevitable consequence of a life lived at war with the most powerful nation on earth. I have no dreams of the US capturing him and locking him up and reforming him. The US could not change his heart. They could not bring back the thousands who he killed. They could only take his life. They could only execute their role to be "agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." It was justice done man's way.

Messy problems require messy solutions.

But this isn't really a solution, is it? Terrorism will go on. War and violence will continue. Atrocities will continue on both sides. No one will win.

With this in mind, once again the violence and tragedy of this world points me to the God of this world, who brings justice not through a gun but through a cross. The life of one evil man cannot atone for the lives of the thousands of people he killed. But the life of one innocent God-man can, and does, atone for all the terror and atrocity done and to be done. The killing of an infinite God is justice for the sins of a finite race. And those who put their trust in this cross are put to death with Jesus, that they might also be given new life in the risen Jesus. It's a mercy undeserved through a death undeserved.

But justice does not just come through the cross. And Jesus will come again, and he will wield the sword. He will not let the unrepentant escape with just a simple death. Evil will meet its match.

One way or another the evil will be put to death, either at the cross of Christ, or at the sword of Christ. Justice will be done. Fear will end. Pain will cease. Life will reign. Goodness will prevail. God has won.

But until that day, I will not celebrate the death of the wicked at the hands of the wicked because I know that I too am wicked, and I too deserve a death worse that of being killed by a gun.

I will work for peace in this world. I will seek to do no violence and I will not encourage violence to be done in my name. But when evil is done, and terrible solutions are sought, I will look forward to the new and better world to come.

A new day is coming. God has won.

5/03/2011 12:45:00 am

Never Say Never

Posted by Tom French |

Never Say Never.jpg

While Navy Seals were busy killing Osama Bin Laden, I went to the cinema to watch Justin Bieber. I was completing my challenge. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who has taken me up on my challenge, but that's ok, I guess I'm just the only brave person who reads my blog. That's fine, you pansies, that's why I have a hairy chest and you don't.

I went to Event Maquarie. The first step was to go buy a ticket. I decided to go to the earliest session of the day. I figured 10:30am on a Monday was the time I was least likely to be stuck in a cinema full of Beiberised 12 year-old girls.

I lined up and spent the entire time in the line trying to figure out whether to ask for a ticket to just plain Never Say Never or to say something ironic and witty. I couldn't think of anything ironic and witty but I couldn't bring my self to call the movie by it's proper title just like I refuse to ask for a Brekky to GoGo at Boost juice. I ended up asking for "One to the Bieber movie."

I was expecting the woman to mock me or something but, like a true professional, she just gave me my ticket and asked where I'd like to sit. I said the middle, not that I was planning on sitting there. I had designated seating.

I took my ticket but no 3D glasses as I had my 3D glasses already in my pocket. Prepared like a scout, you wimps!

The next obstacle was getting past the ticket collector without being laughed at or jeered for being a grown man going to see Bieber in concert on a screen. The ticket collector, she was also very professional, didn't mock me once. I suspect it was all her experience collecting tickets for people going to see things like The Hottie of the Nottie and Sex and the City 2 which stopped her from grabbing her walkie talking and informing all her fellow staff members that there was creepy bearded man off to watch a tweenie girl's movie in 3D.

As I stood there embarrassed by my situation I realised that there is no ironic way to have your ticket ripped.

My last challenge was to make it into the cinema undetected. Happily I'd arrived late so the lights were already down and I could sneak in. As it turned out there was only one other person in the cinema. They were sitting right up the back. I pretended not to notice them and they pretended not to notice me. We had an unspoken agreement. We were like next-door neighbours passing in a porn shop.


Despite the rigmarole, I actually quite enjoyed the movie. I wasn't sure what I'd think of the movie. I never thought it'd be terrible. My embarrassment at seeing the movie had nothing really to do with the quality of the movie or Justin Bieber as a performer. It was only really that I was doing something that I really shouldn't be doing. I was doing something made for girls who are somewhere in-between ponies and vodka cruisers not for men who are somewhere in-between balding and a mortgage.

Anyway, it was an interesting movie. It gave me a good insight into Justin Bieber and what he's all about. From a youth ministry perspective it helped me understand teenage girl obsession a bit too. Also from a youth ministry perspective I left feeling pretty worried about what this life must be doing to the poor kid. To be literally worshipped by millions of girls must screw with the young man's head. From what I could see in the film, he has a solid bunch of people around him who keep in generally grounded. There seem to be some strong Christians there including his mum, so I'm hoping they work on him to keep him humble.

Bieber's music is pretty bland, but he is clearly pretty talented. The film itself is part concert film, part documentary about his rise to fame. The documentary bit was pretty interesting, the concert got a tad boring. I was ready for the film to end after about an hour.

Perhaps most interesting, and most embarrassing, is that the film did make me a tad emotional. Actually not a tad. I cried. Real tears. I know, it's terrible, and that's why I'm writing this so late in the post and hoping everyone has stopped reading by now.

There's a scene where Justin sings One Less Lonely Girl. During the concert the production team pick one girl out of the audience and invite her on to the stage with Bieber. She sits on a stool on the stage and he sings to her and gives her a bunch of flowers and dances around her. The scene in the film becomes a montage of girls getting given the chance to get sung to by their idol Justin Bieber, there is a lot of screaming and tears. And somehow, somehow in all that emotion, music, and in the joy of seeing all these young ones have their dreams come true, I got a lump in my throat and a few droplets of salt water trickled down from behind my 3D glasses into my lap. It was embarrassing and lovely all that same time. So emotionally confusing for a man like me.

I learnt then that there's no ironic way to cry during a Justin Bieber movie.

When the film was done, I left. I tried to sneak out without running into a cinema worker who might notice my puffy eyes. I think I was successful which is lucky, because despite all their professionalism and training I'm not sure they could have let that breach of manly conduct pass without out some public humiliation.

So did I learn from the experience? Yes I did. I learnt a lot. I learnt about Bieber. I learnt about the people who love Bieber. I learnt about facing your fears. And I learnt that if Beiber ever picks me out of the crowd for One Less Lonely Girl there is no way I'm going to be able to hold it together. I'm gonna be a blubbering mess.

5/03/2011 12:39:00 am

Donny's Intro Video

Posted by Tom French |

The next post I write will be about Justin Bieber. So to avoid having two Bieber posts in a row, is the intro video I made for Donny Jaffa at Soul this year. Mum, you'll love it.

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