12/29/2009 08:28:00 pm

Lizzie and the Zombies

Posted by Unknown |

Pride Prejudice And Zombies.jpg

I finished listening to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies today. I've been listening to the audio book as I work.

I think this is the ideal way to read the classics. First you don't have to read them, second you get all the goodness of the classics, third you have zombies. What more could you want in your literature education?

For those of you who don't know the book, it's Pride and Prejudice the classic novel, with zombies inserted. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy are both accomplished zombie hunters. And every now and again the zombies pop up in the book and a bit of zombie slaying goes on. But aside from that the plot and much of the original text is unchanged.

So it was good fun. I'm sure some people will feel that this makes a mockery of Austin and her work. But I'm inclined to feel like it's just a tribute. Or perhaps making something good even better. To be perfectly honest, I was more interested in how Darcy and Lizzy would get together and what would happen to Jane and Bingley then I was enjoying the zombie fights. But the zombie fights were cool. As were Lizzy's duel with ninjas. Sweet.

They're going to make a film of it with Natalie Portman. I hope they get Danny Boyle to direct it. He'd be awesome.

Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that Pride and Prejudice is a much better romance book to be reading than, say, Twilight. As far as I can tell (and I have read a bit of the original) it's funny, well written, and neither Lizzy nor Mr Darcy are perfect in any way. That's three things Twilight doesn't have.

But perhaps best of all is when you add the zombies, because there is little that can't be improved by the addition of zombies (except perhaps I am Legend).

12/28/2009 12:31:00 am

Church Going

Posted by Unknown |

You can tell it's a public holiday tomorrow, I went to the cinema tonight and it was full of Christians there for some post-Church filmic fun.

How did I know they were Christians? It was their Holy Spirit aura, their non-offensive hair cuts, and their "Two Salty" t-shirts. That, and I know 1 in every 10 Christians in Hornsby.

12/27/2009 11:54:00 pm

Three Times Once a Year

Posted by Unknown |

Christmas Picnic.jpg

I do enjoy Christmas. It was good this year. I think I enjoy it more again now that I've moved past the stage of needing to get awesome presents. And I've moved past the stage of it needing to be the most exciting day of the year. These days Christmas is a good chance to hang out with friends and family and get a bit of loot on the side.

And it was a pretty good year for loot.

Perhaps the most exciting present this year was that I'm getting new shoes. New shoes shouldn't be that exciting, but this is my current daily foot wear:

Old Shoes.jpg

So you can understand why I'm excited that I'll soon be trotting around in a new pair. Preferably shoes with magical powers.

I also got money, t-shirts, a cd, a subscription to Time magazine, and a bunch of DVDs (which I bought with the money I got).

But probably the highlight was getting to see a bunch of people I love.

Christmas Eve was dinner with the Fam, Grandpa, Valentina and Auntie Lys. Christmas Day we went to Cremorne Point for a picnic with a many people who aren't my blood family but but are some of my favourite people in the world. Boxing Day was in the Gong with all the cousins from Dad's side of the family. It's pretty special packing all these important people into three days of Christmas.

Perhaps it was most special though remembering that Jesus is with us. I know that's the sort of thing I should be saying, but it is special. God came to us, to live like us and with us. And not only that, he grew up to be someone amazing and to do something universe changing, all out of love. In my book that's gotta be worth celebrating by hanging out with the people you love and getting new shoes.

Christmas Fun.jpg

Photo evidence that Christmas is fun. (Thank you iPhone)

12/24/2009 11:31:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

I've been thinking a little bit about how Christmas is often a time of year that many people get lonely, yet it's exactly the time of year that reminds us that God has not left us alone.

12/23/2009 10:59:00 pm

Nothing is Any Good if Other People Like It

Posted by Unknown |

I was sitting on a roof today, painting, minding my own business, when I thought to myself, "What's the time?". I was hungry for lunch. I pulled out my phone and it was off. "Odd," I thought, "I had plenty of battery left." I pressed the power button. My phone vibrated, it was a text message from my friend Chris. It said "Are you free this afternoon? Please say yes".

Then the text message faded before my eyes. And with that, my trusty old Nokia was dead.

Totally dead.

Dead as Mozart.

I realised without a phone, life gets difficult to organise.

So I went up to the shops tonight to get a new phone. I was tossing up between a new contract or buying the cheapest crappy phone outright. I decided to go with whatever option would give me the most cash right then. I had presents to buy.

As it turns out I could have got a phone outright for $39. But I could get on a new plan and pay nothing right now. So I signed up to a $1400+, 24-month plan, to save $39 tonight. If that's not good economics, I don't know what is.

The phone I got is an iPhone. It's pretty depressing. I was hoping to avoid the iPhone, but it seems it's pull is unavoidable. Steve Jobs seduced me like a busty, adulterous, Jewess, calling to me in the twilight.

My main issue is that everyone has an iPhone. I want to be unique. I want a cool phone that no-one else has. I want my old, crappy phone back which could do nothing except make calls and text but had the retro cool of an old man on a school bus*.

But who am I kidding? I'm a slave to pragmatism. The iPhone was the cheapest, good phone option. At least, cheapest, good phone that didn't mean I'd have to learn a whole new way of using a phone. So now I have an iPhone, and you can all judge me because I'm a conformist, just like you. That's right, you, you're probably reading this on your iPhone right now.

Anyway, I am now enjoying playing with it. And really enjoying updating my contacts in Google and having them automatically updated on my phone, that's way cool. I'm sure I'll get over my depression soon if this Google-Apple marriage keeps the magic going.

However if I'm friends with you, and we have known each other for less than 12 years, or you've changed numbers in the past 12 years, chances are I don't have your phone number. Many phone numbers didn't make the jump from old, dead phone, to new, hip phone. So I'd love it if you could email me your phone number an I'll update you in Google, which will update my phone and I'll praise God for synchronisation.

Actually while you're at it, send me the number of any friends we have in common. Or any friends we should have in common. Or any busty, Jewesses you think I might like to meet.

Now I should go to bed. I have to wake up early in the morning and regret selling my soul to Optus once again.

*That's a fun, friendly, old man, not a creepy, dirty, old man. My phone was never creepy.

12/22/2009 10:49:00 pm

Battle Studies

Posted by Unknown |

I did some Christmas shopping. Managed to buy myself John Mayer's new album. There are three people not getting Christmas presents now, but sometimes we all need to make sacrifices don't we? Bloody whingers.

I love John Mayer.

I'm just about to set fire to everything I see
I want you so bad I'll go back on the things I believe
- Edge of Desire

12/18/2009 05:57:00 pm

Land Ho

Posted by Unknown |


I'm home from the camp of sailing goodness.

I'm not really much of sailor. I went sailing once as a young lad* and remember there was a bed on board the boat. And that's my entire sailing experience.

As you also know I was a little ill equipped for sailing adventures before leaving having no hat that attached to my clothes, no woollen jumper and no rashie. However Valentina did kindly offer me this hat, and I visited K-Mart before leaving for camp and bought myself a rashie which I intend on using approximately zero more times in my life.

I was also a little perplexed how I was going to get to camp as I had a wedding to go to on Saturday morning (which was lovely thank-you-very-much, but I missed lunch, damn it) meaning that I would miss the first few hours of camp, and all the lifts to camp.

But Ryan kindly drove me to camp so we could bond as the kilometres drifted past as we lazily made our way an hour up the Central Coast. Then he drove home alone. He's a good friend Ryan. As is Lesley who lent out her car again for the trip.

So I arrived at camp feeling happy to have solved a few of my issues and a little apprehensive as to what camp with a bunch of unknowns would be like and what my lack of sailing skills would do to my camp enjoyment.

But as it happens both turned out fine. The people on the camp were lovely, campers and leaders, and I didn't die while sailing once.

Admittedly I only sailed twice, and both were on the most stable boat of the fleet. I spent another day on the rescue boat filming for the camp video guy. It was a windy day so I just spent most of the time filming capsized boats and injured campers.

The second time I went sailing all the boats had a race around the lake. My boat was chock full with 11 people, competing with other boats who had around 5 or less people (except one which was the same as ours with 12 people although they were almost entirely year 7 kids who we all know about are about a 3rd of the bulk of a normal sized human). On my boat, Noah's Ark, there was Tom (the captain), Tom (the speaker) and 9 of the girls. It was like sailing with people smugglers. In an attempt to lighten our boat for the race we devised a cunning scheme, to throw the children overboard, and the speaker too, and then send our boat off to race with a lightweight crew off five.

So just before the race began, we slipped quietly into the water like Navy SEALs. Sadly the other people smuggler boat noticed and threw many of their children overboard too. Soon there were more bodies in the water than boats.

Still the plan seemed to be working. Noah's Ark was in second place for the first lap. Soon race officials turned up though and told us that we'd have to join our boat as it came around for the second and final lap due to safety requirements. When Noah's Ark came around all 6 of us who were in the water hauled ourselves back into the boat in less than a minute, Noah's Ark kept going and we managed to maintain second place. It was a magnificent piece of seamanship, a rapid boarding of which even Somalian pirates would be proud.

We ended up coming in second but being disqualified because we had dumped our crew. I'm told that in official racing rules a boat must finish a race with the same number of crew that it crosses the start line with. We finished with an extra six. Had the race officials not told us to join our boat I think we could have mounted a good argument for holding on to second place. But The Man doesn't like innovation and so we were kicked out because we broke convention.

If all sailing races involved jumping overboard on a 36°C day and just hanging around in the water, I reckon I could do the sailing gig. But sadly, I think most racing teams aren't looking for people to join their crew just to jump overboard at the start line.

Perhaps my favourite activity was helping people get out of the water into the rescue boat and Noah's Ark. I think I liked it because it was a role that made you feel a little like you were rescuing people. You'd either pull them up by monkey grip or by gabbing them by the strap on the back of their life jacket and hauling them into the boat. The latter option was the most preferable because it felt more like rescue work probably due to the utilitarian nature of the boat entry and it's reliance entirely on my hauling power. Seeing as I spent the rest of the time sitting on the boat being rather useless it was good to be needed a little bit.

Apart from all my aquatic adventures, the camp was still good fun. The campers were friendly and well behaved as were the leaders. My talks seemed to go well. References to my talks regularly popped up during other parts of the camp, so I at least knew that people were paying attention. One popular line was "I'm angry enough to die", though my particular favourite were the multiple references to my "lady friends", perhaps only because I feel it's important to propagate the myth that I'm a player.

Aside from that there were a number of people who indicated they wanted to become Christians, so you can't complain about that. (Well I'm sure many people could, but no good Evangelical can, and that's what I am.)

I did notice once again that relationship building in free time on camps is not in my skill set. Free time tends to mean that I go and read my book or have a sleep. I think it's the introvert in me coming out. Being faced with unstructured hanging out where you need to go and just relate to people you don't know all that well, kinda scares me. Books and sleeping on the other hand are personal favourites of mine.

All up, I did have a good camp. I used to dream about being a camp speaker, back in the old days. I used to think camp speaking was like the pinnacle of preaching, because you were good enough to get asked to do five talks in a row and you were a little bit of a celebrity to 50 young people for a week. Having achieved this particular, low-end dream, it's not really like that. But it is certainly a privilege, very enjoyable, and I love the chance to hang out with a whole bunch of excellent young people. Plus I love getting free food for a week.

I reckon I'll keep doing camps as long as I keep getting asked though I'm not sure if I'll sail again any time soon, though I'll practice my hauling skills just in case.

*I need to stop using the phrase "young lad" around teenagers because they think I'm talking about when I was younger and I had a rat's tail, a bum bag, short shorts, and Nike cap put badly on my head.

Photo by: Januz Leszczynski

12/12/2009 08:54:00 am


Posted by Unknown |

I'm about to head out on a camp for a week. It's a sailing camp. I was waiting to get an email to tell me what I needed to bring. Turns out I got it two weeks ago. Oops. And now there are things I need which I don't have, like a rashy that goes to my elbows, and a woolen jumper, and a hat that attaches to my clothes. I don't even know what sort of hat attaches to clothes. A hat is clothes as far as I'm concerned, so I guess as long as I classify my hat as clothing it'll always be attached to my clothes.

Anyway, I need to sort this out. And go to a wedding. And go on camp. Sometimes my lack of preparation hinders my performance as a world class person.

Where's my PA?

12/10/2009 03:14:00 pm

Soul in the City Promo

Posted by Unknown |

So I worked on a video a little while ago for Soul Survivor to promote next year's Soul in the City. It's finally made to the Tube. And this is it:

This is one of three versions of the same video I made. The other two should be on the Soul Survivor Channel. They're pretty much the same but with Geldo saying different things in the middle, and a little bit of different footage over the top.

If you're wondering, I shot about a third of the footage, and I edited the video and made it look pretty (in youthy kinda way).

If this video doesn't go viral and get 30,000 people to Soul in the City, I don't know what will.

12/09/2009 09:37:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

At Bible Study lately I've been running a series of studies on The Sermon on the Mount. I've been really enjoying it.

I love the Sermon on the Mount because Jesus just kicks arse. It's like he says, "You think you're good? Your good ain't good enough. I'll show you what good is." There's a lifetime of work just in the Beatitudes. If you take Jesus seriously and the Sermon on the Mount doesn't change your life then you probably don't take Jesus seriously.

Anyway, this week was on loving your enemies, last week was on this passage:

"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. - Matt 5:33-37

Before I prepared the study on this passage I didn't expect it to be that big a deal for me. I figured, "I'm pretty good at commitment. I do what I say I'm going to do." But alas my pride was misplaced.

As it turned out I went with the line of living with integrity. Letting your words be truthful. There are no layers of truth. You can't make something more truthful by swearing on the Bible, and less truthful by swearing on your shoe. Truth is truth is truth, and Jesus calls us to be people of truth all the time.

If I were to just give a cursory assessment of my life I'd reckon I was a pretty truthful guy. I never tell big lies. When I say things it's almost always truthful, or at least a part of it. And there-in lies the problem. While it's rare that I tell outright lies, I do regularly not tell people the whole truth. I don't want people to think badly of me. And I don't want to let people down. So when people ask me questions and I think they won't find the answer satisfactory I will regularly tell a version of the truth which I think is most palatable.

For instance say someone asks me to write an article for the the church bulletin (as would happen in the past) and I say "Yes". So I go away, think about it a little bit, open a word document, write two sentences, don't like them, can't think of anything else, and then move on to something else.

A few days later they need the article. So they say "Tom do you have the article ready for me?"

The truth is "No" or "No, I haven't written it yet."

But I say "No, but it's getting there. I've been writing it and thinking about it, I just need to get it properly finished. When do you need it by?"

So it's technically true. But I've given them a false impression and then distracted them by being really proactive and asking for a deadline. Hopefully they go away thinking "Gosh, Tom is a hard worker, and it he's really reliable, he'll get it done when I need it." When really they should be thinking "Tom is such a slacker."

And when they asked me to write the silly thing I should have asked for the deadline then so that I could just slack off till it's due because that's what I would have done anyway. And when they ask for it, I can say "No, but you don't need it till tomorrow do you?"

Sometimes I'll tell some misleading version of the truth to make me feel ok about not lying and them feel ok because I'm a good guy, when I really should just be saying "Sorry, I'm crap."

Anyway, I've been working hard since I did the Bible Study to tell the whole truth. I haven't succeeded all the time but I've been better at it. And I'm certainly aware that I'm crapper than I think I am.


12/09/2009 09:02:00 pm

In the Chute

Posted by Unknown |

I've been away at In the Chute a conference with The Geneva Push these past few days. It was good.

If you want to know what happened at the conference Mikey Lynch has blogged the whole thing. I shall not bother with the recap, because it all seems to be there and by the look of the time stamps it was all blogged live.

I think the idea was that we all did a lot of networking with other godly, young men. I met one guy who I had sustained conversation with. But show me a room full of people standing around talking, and I'm not going to network with anyone, the introvert will win every time.

Last night after the night session I was faced with exactly that. Then I remembered that there is a cinema just down the road from the conference centre. So with glee (the emotion not the show) in my step, I went down to the cinema to watch a film. Sadly I was twenty minutes late. So I just went for a walk and listened to Damien Rice, it was special.

Hermitting aside, I did enjoy the conference. It was led by good, godly men, and I was encouraged and equipped to build the kingdom. That's a pretty happy outcome.

12/09/2009 07:50:00 pm

Where the Wild Things Are

Posted by Unknown |


On Sunday Lesley and I went to see Where the Wild Things Are.

I was rather excited about this movie. Mainly because I get excited about Spike Jonze. And I figured Spike Jonze making a film about wild things for kids. That's pretty good.

The film had been delayed for about a year I think. The rumour was that the film was too scary for kids so Warner Bros. wanted the film to be reworked. I don't know if that's true, but a scary kids movie is a good idea.

The thing was though, this isn't really a kid's film. While the book maybe for kids, this film is very grown up. The themes are grown up, the concepts are pretty grown up, the photography is pretty grown up and the direction is pretty grown up. There are often periods of silence. The humour is scarce and when it's there it's pretty adult. This is a kid's film for adults. The film seems to re-examine childhood to portray it not as this great adventure, but as a time of loneliness, rage and fear. A time characterised by the impotence of being small and ignored. The adventure that Max goes through is not really the great, escapist adventure of Mary Poppins or The Wizard of Oz, but a realisation that even when Max escapes, his fantasy world is even more dysfunctional than his real world. Even the utopia where he is king is invaded by insecurity. In both the book and the film the solution is not to escape the world, but to face the relationships that are hard, but are actually underpinned by love.

In the film Max, the main character, runs away from his home, where he feels ignored and unloved by his family, and escapes to world full of wild creatures. These creatures are full of life, dangerous, fun. Max first meets these big, hairy creatures when Carol (played by James Gandolfini from The Sopranos) is smashing up their houses in a rage after he is left by his girlfriend KW. Max barrels in and sides with Carol only to find that he nearly gets himself eaten for taking the wrong side. Only by lying and saying he's a king does he save his life. He then sets out to transform the group to make an ideal community for himself. But things don't work the way Max would like. The wild things are too dysfunctional, too controlled by jealousies and fear to create the community the Max dreams of and things fall apart.

The film is rather depressing in its bleak representation of community. It's a community with little love and what love there is is compromised by fear. The whole time, even when Max is at his happiest, there is the underlying tension that's bred by Max's lies and the danger of wild animals whose natural dispositions seem not towards creation but destruction.

This isn't really a kids film.

But I did like the film very much. I loved having giant, furry animals to tell an adult's story. I loved the design, the photography. The wild things looked flawless, the music was superb. And I liked that this was a film of hope. And a film about engagement. A film that pushes us to see that problems don't get solved by retreating from the world but entering into relationships. We can't build forts to keep the out people we don't like, we build homes where we live in a real pile, with all the messiness and connection that brings with it.

12/07/2009 12:07:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

I'm off on a 3 Day Conference now. It should be full of conservative Bible teaching and good, manly, Christian bonding. I expect only to have this retreat of reformed orthodoxy broken when I pop back to Hornsby this evening to run Bible study on the Sermon on the Mount. Good times.

12/04/2009 12:48:00 am

World Leaders in the Workplace

Posted by Unknown |

I spent the last few days at work ushering for a man who just happens to be the exiled leader of a small, oppressed country and a leader of a major world religion. I cannot say more than that just in case you figure out who it was.

Anyway this guy, who we'll call Willy, gave three days of lectures. 2 days were about his religion, and one day was about the future of the world. I was rather excited about seeing Willy because he's regarded as one of the great world leaders for peace and love. Like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr and the like. I was hoping to learn more about Willy's religion and perhaps get inspired a little to spread a bit more peace and love around.

Sadly, Willy was kinda dull. He was a cute, old man, who had an adorable laugh. But for the first two days he seemed to just sit on stage and waffle in his broken English about whatever came to mind. It wasn't offensive at all, but it was like going to visit a nice old man for tea with 5,000 other people. I don't think he'd prepared any thing to say, he just said stuff.

For three quarters of the time he spoke in his native language, doing commentary about commentaries on his faith. It was excruciatingly boring. I would race to open the door for patrons whenever they looked like they were going to leave the arena just to give me something to do.

While Willy was talking I looked around the arena at his devotees and 10% of them in the afternoon sessions would have been asleep, and 50% looked totally bored.

Today Willy gave a public lecture which was a bit more interesting because he spoke in English the whole time and answered questions from the audience. When he answered questions he'd answer it from the view point of a believer and a non-believer.

For instance he was asked "Why do good things happen to bad people?"

His answer was "From a theistic viewpoint, God knows. From a Buddhist view point, karma. From a non-believer's view point, it's a mystery. Next question."

It felt a little odd for me that he could be so flexible with truth. As far as I can tell it's totally impossible for all three viewpoints to be right at the same time. I reckon it's a little insulting to all viewpoints to present them as just as equally valid as each other. It seems rather patronising, like "Ok, you believe that, it's good for you, so good for you. You just find your answers and I'll find mine and we'll all be happy." Which is just totally dismissive as if your view doesn't matter at all. As a Christian, I'd rather Willy said "Christianity is wrong and my view point is right and this is why." Because then at lease he's engaging with the faith, rather than just dismissing it to the realm of harmless self-fulfilment.

Anyway Willy's main point in the end seemed to be "If possible, help others, and at the very least, harm no-one." Which is very nice. And if all Willie's followers stuck to that the world would be a nicer, or at very least, a much more harmless place.

When he said that people went "Mmm" and then stood up and gave Willy a standing ovation (it was also the end), as if Willy had just given some new, amazing wisdom. I can't help but think, if that's the best these people have heard, they need to do more reading. It sounds rather weak to me. "Do good, or at very least, don't be bad" sounds like Google's "Don't be evil." Maybe I'm being a little spoiled, but Jesus said much more radically world changing things that that, Gandhi did too. I reckon most of my friends and family have too.

It also surprised me that you can get 5,000 people to come and hear one of the least dynamic world leaders around. I reckon Willy was probably more boring to listen to than Rudd (though a lot cuter than Rudd, no one wants to pinch Rudd's cheeks). When a Christian speaker comes they have to be pretty good at communicating to draw a crowd of 5,000 people. But Christian speakers have to draw a crowd with their communication abilities, Willy I think draws a crowd with his office and the fact that many believe Willy is the reincarnation of the Willy before him, who is the Willy before him, and so on going back many Willies into the past. Willy gets love not because of anything he's done, but by an identity given to him without his choosing, the Christian speaker on the other hand gets love purely on the basis of the quality of their work. Ironic, perhaps?

Anyway, all that said, I'm happy to have seen Willy. I can't see him being a bad influence on the world. He's certainly spreading peace and love around, Like the lBeatle but with less drugs and swooning girls. And if he keeps putting people to sleep, that'll be good for their health too. He also has a great laugh. I'd be happy to have him as an adoptive Grandpa any day. Along with Gandalf. Then I could have three great Grandpas. That'd be pretty awesome.

12/02/2009 11:45:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

After work today I headed over to the Matt and Beck's to visit their just-left-school Bible Study group, and then watch the boxing. I think really I was there to watch the boxing and the Bible Study was a support act. I tend to watch all the boxing I watch with Matt. I did enjoy seeing some of the guys from the old church again.

So after Bible Study Matt, Tim, Sam, Henry and I headed down to the Pub to watch the fight between Danny Green and Roy Jones Jnr.

We found a spot standing in the the doorway of the Sports Bar. It was pretty full.

As the fight started I got excited about seeing a good 12 rounds of boxing. I turned to Sam about a minute into the fight and said "They won't do anything much in the first round, they'll just feel each other out." Because I'm grown up and knowledgeable about things like boxing.

And then a minute later Green had won on a TKO. I was rather stunned. It was a amazing. I was expecting Jones to win and Green to put up a good fight. But Green just went in and demolished him. It was rather surreal. I felt a bit sorry for Jones.

We had been planning on going in to Acer to watch the fight. But as Matt said, it's a good thing we didn't. As good as it would have been to see that, I reckon you would have wanted the under card to have been pretty good make up for the short 2 minutes and 2 seconds of the title fight.

But I'm pretty happy I watched that fight. I like boxing.

11/29/2009 11:32:00 pm

Difficult Second

Posted by Unknown |

I preached at my church again tonight. It was my second time preaching at my church. I was a little nervous about it because I feel like the second one is always harder than the first. Unless your first was a shocker.

See the first you give a heap of attention to. And so you generally do an ok job. But then if you do ok with your first, then you can be tempted to slip for number two, rest on knowledge that you're too awesome to stuff up. Or you've put all your good stuff into number one that number two is just looking for scraps.

It's like this with a band's second album or a TV show's second season. And I feel like it could be like that with preaching. My second sermons at my old churches were pretty dismal.

And in order to avoid that happening tonight I wanted to be working on tonight's sermon for a while before hand. In some ways I was, I was thinking about it well in advance. But I only got down to serious work on it about two weeks ago. Still two weeks is a lot longer than I was able to give sermons in the previous seven years.

But this week, when I looked at my week I realised I wasn't going to get any time to work on the thing let alone write it. My days and my nights were full. I worked most days last week. Friday I was working, then I had Youth Group. Saturday I was hanging out with Hannah and then worked ushering right through to 11:30pm. As I caught the train home last night I wrote out the outline of my sermon.

Today, I had a church meeting, and then five and a half free hours, between when that finished and when I preached. So I came home and typed hard, stopping only for some essential wedges and Coke. I finished with a printed sermon 9 minutes before church started.

I walked up to church thinking over everything I left out of the sermon, and everything I hadn't articulated clearly enough. I went over all the problems with the structure of the sermon. It's a normal process for me before I preach. Each time I preach I tell myself all the reasons why this one sucks.

Then I start to stress that I'll preach badly and people will think I'm a crap preacher.

Then I pray and say "God, use my words, good or bad for your glory. Make this about you not me." And then I still think the sermon is crap, but I have to keep remembering that it's ok if I look crap too. God can do what he wants.

Before I preached tonight I got moved by my inadequacy to be preaching and the enormity of the task of sharing God's word. I worked out a prayer to pray before I preached as a result. I reckon it was a good sounding prayer too. Then when I got up to pray, my mic started giving feedback and I forgot my beautifully crafted prayer, and just started thinking about where I could stand on the stage where I wouldn't feedback. I tried to regain the prayer, but I lost the moment a little. I was disappointed God wouldn't hear how elegantly I could articulate my inadequacy to preach his word. But I reckon he probably knows that already.

In the end I was happy with the sermon. I got thirsty, as I often do. I remembered my water this time but it was too far away. I need a stool with my water on it, like this. But that would look a little wanky.

Speaking of wanky, when it was time to preach tonight, I had to carry the lectern myself from the side of the stage to the middle. There was no one to carry it for me. Standards are slipping. If we were Hillsong there would be someone with the lectern ministry, and rightly so. Someone did it for me on a camp last year, and I think there were 25% more salvations because I was free to just focus on bringing the word, not carrying lecterns around.

What's actually embarrassing is that when I walked up on stage I thought to myself "No one has moved the lectern for me." No joke. Someone should punch me.

Anyway, I was happy with the sermon. I censored myself on the jokes about nudity and porn stars, which I think was the right choice. Although I reckon they would have been funny. For instance, which do think is funnier a monkey dressed as an astronaut or a monkey dressed as a porn star? Need I say more?

All up, I'm hoping God is using the sermon to change us and see him more clearly. However inadequate I am to preach with all my vanity, self-love and self-doubt, God is bigger. And despite who I am, I know his word will not return to him empty.

And that is my post-preach debrief. Until I podcast it, and then I'll debrief again on the preaching blog. But I'll probably mostly just talk about the content there. And I haven't really talked about that at all. I don't want to mix the content too much. You know, I can't deprive the cross-readership.

11/25/2009 11:38:00 am

Poo Fashion

Posted by Unknown |

There is a tree over our washing line in which Rainbow Lorikeets are currently loving to sit and eat the flowers.

On Sunday Jenny brought in my clothes from off the line. This was the collection of clothes I discovered when I got home.

Poo Clothes.jpg

Freakin' birds.

11/23/2009 01:39:00 pm

New Moon

Posted by Unknown |

Bella and Edward.jpg

Warning: Spoilers ahead

Gem, Matt and I went and saw New Moon and it turned out to be even more terrible than the first movie, which is quite an achievement. While I spent much of the first film laughing, I spent much of this one saying "Oh my goodness" in exasperation at the poisonous trash that was defecating all over our eyes. Matt sat next to me and regularly said words which I shan't repeat on the blog, but it summed up my feelings better than the ones I could express to the limits of my Christian piety.

The acting was terrible, Edward still looks like a sad, cancer patient, and the writing was atrocious ("I love you, I can't live without you, you're my everything, I'm terrible for you, you're my breath, get away from me, but I actually really need you"). The only good bit of script was when Edward quoted a chunk of Shakespeare. It had a rather jarring effect finding such quality amongst such ugliness, kinda like finding a Rembrandt in a crack house.

I know I'm sounding rather harsh. But I can't find much to redeem this film. If you're a lady Jacob Black's abs are impressive and they might redeem the film a little (as they did for Lesley). There was a squeal in the cinema from many females when he took off his shirt for the first time. He spends almost the entire film with nothing but a pair of shorts on. His clothes get destroyed when he turns into a werewolf, but somehow he has an endless supply of jeans cut-offs at his disposal for when he goes back to human form. One imagines he spends all his time when not a werewolf at Wal Mart buying jeans then going home and cutting off the legs.

But apart from Jacob's conspicuous abs (which did little for me except make me feel inferior) this film is pretty useless. I don't think any of the character's are happy for any moment of the film. They're all depressed and spend the whole time moping about lost love. It makes for infuriating watching.

And then there are the messages. Which I think are probably the most horrendous bit of the film. Because I can cope with bad films if they aren't spreading terrible lies. This film is emotional porn at its worst.

There's the total dependence of Bella and Jacob on each other. They live and breath each other, and yet when they're together they just natter at each other (Bella: Turn me into a vampire, Edward: No, I won't, I love you and wouldn't do that to you, Bella: Turn me into a vampire, Edward: No, I won't... and so it goes). They are so co-dependant that when Edward thinks Bella has died he tries to kill himself, only to be saved by Bella as she proves to him that she's still alive. And this attempted suicide, sparkling in the sun, is seen as Edward's great romantic devotion to Bella. If a guy kills himself because he can't have his girlfriend any more, it's not romantic, it's totally unhealthy. Why do people want to hold up Bella and Edward's relationship as the epitome of true love? Teenage girls don't need any more encouragement to get into unhealthy relationships.

Romeo and Juliet is held up through out the film as this archetypal love story for Bella and Edward, as if Romeo and Juliet are the pinnacle of romance. They're not. The play isn't a romance, it's tragedy! Romeo and Juliet die! It wasn't as if Shakespeare wrote it to say "Hey kid's, be like this. Woo!"

If Edward was a vampire with any courage, when he found out Bella was dead, he wouldn't kill himself, at risk of sounding terribly clichéd, he'd decide to keep living with the pain, working at healing and making something good of his life, because that's what Bella would want. Except she probably wouldn't because Bella is one of the most selfish leading ladies in cinema since Scarlet O'Hara. She spends the whole film using and manipulating Jacob because it makes her feel better about Edward being gone and then using and manipulating Edward to make her feel good and turn her into a vampire.

If you want to get all Christian about it, then Bella and Edward are in the high priesthood for the idolatry of relationship. Surely Stephanie Mayer, the Mormon, can see that elevating anything other than God to that level of obsession in your life is going to be fundamentally destructive to the soul. We may not agree on who God is, but we should probably be able to agree that romance isn't God.

But perhaps the whole divine marriage thing of the Mormons, and the elevation of humanity to divinity in the after life is part of all this. So I could see how you could allow Bella and Edward's romance to be seen as some kind of representation of true humanity's realisation. After all it was the romance of father God and mother God who made the world and birthed us. But I digress.

Aside from Bella and Edward's mess, there's a scene in the film where Bella meets the fiancée of the head werewolf. She's had half her face ripped off by her fiancée in a snap fit of rage. And there she is, the first time we meet her, serving muffins to her man's equally dangerous friends. And when he comes home, they give each other a kiss and continue as if nothing is wrong. And this should be a cause for concern in the film. But it's not. No one thinks to mention that perhaps this girl should get out of the relationship. Their not even married and the guy has torn half her face off, and they just go on as if his fit of rage just comes with the territory of being engaged to a werewolf.

The only time the issue is addressed is when Jacob says he can't hang out with Bella any more because he might do the same to her. But then he hangs around anyway because he just can't stay away from her and he's selfish. And she keeps wanting him close anyway because he's her best friend. So we overlook the potential for incredible violence being perpetrated against these women if it's for the sake of relationship.

It's all just so terribly sick. And I think I react so strongly to it because it's so popular and so obsessed over by so many women and girls. It's just sending so many bad messages. If this is what girls are obsessing over, what will they take with them into their future relationships?

All that said though, I'm not going to go on a crusade to rid the world of Twilight. And if it gives us an opportunity to assess how healthy relationship should be done, then I'll take it. So maybe we should just look for those openings, to somehow point out that finding your Jacob or your Edward isn't actually going to be all it's cracked up to be and hopefully in turn, we can help people to see who might be better at protecting and selflessly loving these women who want good love so much.

11/23/2009 12:59:00 am

If You Need to Explain...

Posted by Unknown |

Overheard in the Westfield Food Court on Saturday:

"...the Pope is the top guy, he runs the Catholic Church so he's obviously he's going to be Catholic."

11/21/2009 12:24:00 pm

Biblical Crush

Posted by Unknown |

Mary Heart.jpg

So I was thinking about Celebrity Crushes, in regards to another blogpost I might post later. But I was thinking that probably celebrities are not the most wholesome bunch to have a crush on, so perhaps we should be encouraging them. But why not encourage a good old Biblical crush?

At first I thought perhaps Mary would be someone I wouldn't mind having a crush on. She was pretty wholesome, and the Bible likes her. And then I remembered that she was probably around 13 when she got pregnant, which makes her rather too young. Plus it'd be a little awkward telling Jesus "I have a crush on your Mum." So I dismissed that idea.

I talked about it with Howie and we realised that most of the women in the Bible seem to be prostitutes, sleep with their Dad, or sleep with their Dad dressed as prostitutes, so their not the types of crushes we want to encourage.

However there's Esther, she's hot, and she saves all her people from certain death. So that's a plus. She's married to the king, which may make her a little inaccessible. But you could certainly have a crush from a far.

Ruth's pretty good too. She certainly puts in the effort of pursuing her man, which is good for lazy men. But she's also a widow, so you might a little baggage to deal with.

Deborah was pretty good but some men might find her a little intimidating.

For the women, the options are a little better.

Obviously there's Jesus, but I reckon if I was chick I'd feel a little awkward having a crush on him, seeing as we'd have the same Father.

Solomon was probably a pretty attractive option until he turned into Hugh Hefner.

Jenny said a younger David would be good. Before he started stalking ladies and murdering their husbands. Though I reckon he might be a little hard to be in a relationship with seeing as he was always off at war leading an army somewhere.

Jonathan on the other hand. He was loyal. Probably a snag. And seeing as he was a soldier, he probably looked a little like Brad Pitt in Troy.

In the New Testament there's Barnabas. I always imagine Barnabas was a little chubby, but lovely, and full of encouragement.

Paul would be too intense. Plus he kinda loved being single.

John's good if you want a sensitive type.

But I reckon the best one would be Timothy. Young, smart, loved by all the old ladies. What more could you want?

That's about as far as I've got in my thinking. If you were to have a biblical crush, who would it be?

11/20/2009 11:37:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

I am currently toying with the idea of tweeting.

I do generally find Twitter dull. Or if someone has something good say, infuriatingly short.

I think I shall shoot for exceedingly dull. I wanna make it an art form.

11/18/2009 11:31:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

I found out the other day that I am now officially a member of my new Baptist church. Hurrah! Now I can vote in the Christocracy (like a democracy, except Jesus votes through the real Christians and Satan votes through the fake ones and you see who wins).

Personally, I'm very excited to be a member. I had to be interviewed and everything. Although I never had to be dunked. I only got sprinkled as a child by the man in a dress, and they let me be a member anyway. These Baptists are soft, for which I am thankful. I think they might read out my name at the Church AGM on Sunday week. I'm sure I'll cry because it'll be very moving. I hope we all hold hands and sing "Welcome to the Family".

I'm wondering if I am still a member of the Anglican church? I think I might be. I think getting confirmed makes me an Anglican for life.

I'm hoping to maintain my Anglicanism. I want to be able to vote as an Anglican too. Not that voting means anything when you're an Anglican because the Anglican Church is a Autocracy. The Senior Minister just does whatever he wants but it's recommended he has Jesus as his senior advisor. Or Calvin if he's in Sydney. Or Elton John, if he/she is in the USA.

Anyway, I'm happy to now be officially a Baptist and an Anglican. I think I shall call myself a Banglican. I shall dance like a Baptist but drink like an Anglican, and everyone will just think I'm your typical Aussie bloke.

Banglicans, represent!

11/17/2009 11:32:00 pm

Google Reader

Posted by Unknown |

Over the past few days I've decided to make more use of my Google Reader. I have started to follow people and the blog posts they share, and I've started sharing blog posts that I like.

I think I like it because I read peoples blogs and think "Gosh, I wish I blogged that." Now with Google Reader I kinda can. Google tells me I have 5 people following my shared, but I wouldn't be surprised if I actually have none.

I'm slowly putting in you folk from Blog Feed so I can share your posts if I like them with all five of my avid followers.

Feel free to follow me if you want. I'm here or you can just search for thomaswench. That'll work too.

Now wasn't that exciting?

11/16/2009 11:00:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

Team Tumba.jpg

I spent this weekend in Tumbarumba with Soul in the Bush.

Soul in the Bush (I think technically it's meant to be SoulintheBush, but that's not that easy to read) is a ministry of Soul Survivor NSW/ACT where they send teams out to various country towns around NSW to serve the church there in whatever way the church wants.

So I was invited to join Beth, Tanya and James on a trip out to Tumbarumba to serve the church there. On Friday night we met 4 of the members of the Anglican church who were hosting us. They were most friendly and very happy to have us there.

On Saturday morning I was off to do some gardening pulling out weeds for an old lady with MS, then it was lunch with one of the families from Church. In the afternoon we helped run a kids afternoon, which was followed by a barbie for dinner and a youth night that night.

Sunday we ran half the church service, doing music, a testimony and giving the sermon. Then we drove home.

When I left home I had $14 in my bank account and $3 in my wallet so I wasn't entirely sure how it was all going work. When I got home I'd gotten to eat three meals a day, had all my accommodation paid for, and the petrol to get me there, and I only ended up scabbing one Coke off a team member during the whole trip. God's provision was generous and so were his people.

I did enjoy spending a few days with Beth, Tanya and James. We all stayed in a cabin together in the caravan park, so I feel like I got to have plenty of fun together. I enjoyed hanging out in the boys end of the cabin with James (the girls took the bedroom and because we're good Christians us boys didn't go in once). He was quite happy partake in poo jokes so I knew I had a good mission companion.

I also loved seeing the country folk and meeting a bunch of people who love God and love serving him in their community. They were so thankful to us for being there, I felt so blessed to be able to be a blessing.

When we ran the youth night we had some of the local hooligans turn up. They didn't feel like playing my wide game, they just wanted to look tough and throw water bombs. Then the local drug dealer turned up and they just wanted to impress him. Happily though, the hooligans and the drug dealer, and all the other youth, heard that God lavishes his love on them and thinks their valuable, so it was certainly worth having them along.

I prayed for a few guys who may never have been prayed for out loud before. They said I could do it and then giggled when I did but I still felt privileged to get to do it.

Running half the church service yesterday for Tumba Anglican meant that it became one of the longest church services in the world outside of Africa. We had a children's story, a testimony, communion, new music, old music, announcements and a sermon. It took us and hour and fifty minutes to get through the whole service. I did the sermon on Colossians 1:15-23, it was a rehash of an old one. While I love preaching new stuff, I also enjoy doing old stuff because you can pick your best sermons and do them better. And it takes about an hour or two to prepare rather than 15-20 hours. Still if I had to pick between old ones rehashed or new ones, I'd pick new ones.

Finally I did quite enjoy the road tripping. 'Cause road tripping is almost always fun, and it was fun this time.

I had a good weekend.

11/11/2009 06:30:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

Today at my painting work I got given white painter pants. I'm very excited. I think I've finally made it.

11/10/2009 02:09:00 pm

Well Assessed

Posted by Unknown |

I got this email from a job interview I went to a week ago to be a photographic assistant for Santa photos:

Hi Tom

Thanks for your email. Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. As you saw we had a lot of applicants at this stage we have given the positions to some of the more experienced people. We enjoyed meeting you – good luck with your music.


I'm really glad they took the time to get to know me. I might write back and tell them the new album is coming along great.

11/09/2009 11:56:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

There's a cricket in our dining room. It makes the whole room sound an awkward silence.

11/09/2009 11:24:00 am


Posted by Unknown |

Warning: long and probably dull account of consumer woe ahead

I am a member of Audible.com. It's an audiobook website. They charge me $16-$20 a month (depending on the exchange rate) to download one audiobook a month.

Unfortunately I slowed down in my audiobook listening. It was because I bought a 22-hour history of the American Civil War, and I struggled to get through it, so I didn't buy new books till I finished that one. But I never finished it, and the credits just stacked up.

Anyway, being on the poorer side this year, I thought, I should cancel my membership, but every time I went to cancel my membership they'd say "If you cancel you'll lose all your credits." And I thought, "I paid for them, I don't want to lose them."

So I thought up a cunning plan. My debit card expired last month. So I decided to keep money out of my account around billing time last month, and then the credit card would expire, and I wouldn't have to keep buying credits, I wouldn't have to cancel my membership, and I could use my remaining credits to buy books, and then cancel.

Well the plan worked until money went into my account about a week after the billing day, and bam, they took it. "Fair enough" I thought, "I am still a member." But my card expired so they weren't going be doing that again.

Then I checked my bank account today, and they still took money out, with my expired card! I don't know how that's possible!

So I just went and bought 6 audiobooks with my credits, and they'll just sit there till I download them. Then I went to cancel my membership.

I clicked the tiny, hidden link "Cancel my membership". They asked why, I said I was too poor. Then on the next screen they said "We're sorry to see you go, please accept $20 credit from us to thank you for being a member." So I took it. I thought it was just a parting gift, and when I came back, I could use it if I wanted it. But no, turns out, when you click that you're opting out of cancelling your membership. Sneaky buggers. So I was still a member.

I went back to try and cancel my membership again, quite happy to sacrifice my $20 credit, and there was nothing to click anymore, it had changed to an international phone number to call to cancel my membership. Sneaky, sneaky buggers.

So now I have $20 credit, an expired debit card, 6 books waiting to be downloaded and a continuing membership to Audible.com.

I will sort things out one day, but first I should go get dressed.

11/05/2009 10:12:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

I have to fill out a form for a good conservative, Christian organisation and one of the questions is "List your 5 most influential books, outside the Bible?"

I thought that was a good question, so I thought I'd answer it here:

1. Evangelical Truth - John Stott

Evangelical Truth.jpg

I never knew what an evangelical was before I read this book. It was on my pre-reading list for Youthworks. It's the only non-compulsory pre-reading I've ever done I think.

Anyway I read this book about evangelicals and Stott described a Christian that was me. I loved the Jesus and fervently believed the Bible. After growing up in a rather liberal church, I had never know my brand of Christianity had a name, or that it was popular. But then I read this book and realised I was an evangelical. I suspect the feeling was somewhat similar to the feeling mutants get when they realise they're not alone and they get accepted into Professor X's academy. Someone had defined me and it felt good.

Ever since reading that book I've been excited about loving and believing the Bible, and excited that there are plenty of people out there who feel the same as me. And I think I've loved the Bible more, and teaching the Bible more, because I realised it's not so strange to love the Bible.

2. Making Movies - Sidney Lumet

Making Movies.jpg

This was given to me for Christmas one year by my sister. I think I was 14. Up until that point my obsession with film and television production was leading me to want to be an actor. But then I read this book and I realised that actors had to be in touch with their feelings, and that sounded terrible.

But directing on the other hand meant that you got to play with cameras, lights, lens, set design, story, acting, editing, everything really. The entire film production process was open to you. Directing was where it was at.

And the life that Lumet described, seemed like the best life ever. I love film making, and this whole book was about a whole life of film making. I wanted that.

And so I decided to be a film director on the strength of this book.

I subsequently discovered what a famous and fantastic director Sidney Lumet is. I think that could be my favourite non-fiction book ever.

3. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres

Captain Corellis Mandolin.jpg

This is my favourite book ever.

I read this after Jo lent it to me. I don't know what I was expecting. Jo just said it was good.

It was amazing. And the film is has nothing on the book.

I do love love stories. But the love stories I love the most are the ones about the hardness of love, and the unfulfilled longings and messiness of love. And this book is all that.

De Berniares' style of mixing real life with mild fantasy, his wonderful use of words, his hyper-real characters, it all just makes me so happy.

Reading this book felt like magic the whole time I read it. It gave me that feeling in my gut I get when I hear an amazing guitar solo, or see a spectacular scene in a film. I don't quite now how to describe it, but it's like the happiness is too intense for just the usual outlets, it has to employ organs usually reserved for other functions to express how profound the joy is. It's like I feel heavier and lighter as the same time. It's pretty darn special.

I know I've quoted this before, but just the first line of this book fills me with joy:

"He took the old man over to the window, threw open its shutters, and an explosion of midday heat and light instantaneously threw the room into an effulgent dazzle, as though some importunate and unduly luminous angel had mistakenly picked that place for an epiphany."

I couldn't really quantify the influence this book has had on my life. But I know it's made me love words more and appreciate love more. The book has stayed with me, its story has become part of my story and every fiction book I read gets compared to this book.

4. The Trivialization of God - Donald McCullogh

Trivialization of God.gif

I picked up this book for $5 at Koorong. I think I was 18. I got it because Mum had been lent it by one of her friends and I liked the front cover.

The whole book is about how big God is. God is not a god you can fit into your own schemes and agendas. He doesn't exist to support your cause. God is his own person, he rules the world, and he's terrifying in his magnificence and power.

This book taught me how scary and terrible God is. It made me appreciate what it means that a person would die to look into the face of God. God is not my buddy. He's a consuming fire.

I think my respect and awe of God grew ten-fold as a result of this book. And I better understood the grace shown to us in Jesus so that we can approach this magnificent and awesome God without being destroyed, this God whose amazing power is bent on love.

5. Don't Just Stand There, Pray Something - Ronald Dunn

Dont Just Stand There.gif

I think I was in year 10 or 11 when I read this. It was also Jo's. I don't actually remember much about this book but it had two lasting effects on me. It made me pray more and it inspired me to have regular quiet times.

The book told me to have a daily quiet time and when I did it to systematically work my way through books of the Bible. So I did. Ever since reading that book I've been having daily (or almost daily) quiet times. And because of reading this book and working my way through books of the Bible I read the whole Bible. I reckon I've read the whole Bible a number of times now, and this book inspired me to do it. That's pretty influential I'd say.

And they are my five. 3 out of 5 of these books I got from my sister. That's pretty cool. Thanks Jo. You changed my life.

What are your five? Or if the Bible is not a most influential book in your life, what are your six?

11/05/2009 09:21:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |


I watched the first four episodes of Skins last night. I'd been thinking about watching the show for over a year, since some of the crew in my small group told me to watch it. They loved it.

I wasn't feeling overly excited about the show, I thought it might just be a depressing show about sex, drugs and teenagers, designed to shock and titillate rather than say anything worthwhile. I was prepared to not watch much.

But the show isn't half-bad. It's kinda like a naughties, TV series of Trainspotting but less depressing. Each episode focuses on one of the characters in the group. It's teenagers dealing with eating disorders, falling in love, dysfunctional families, making dumb decisions. Pretty typical teenage stuff, if not a bit heightened in frequency and density for television.

And while there is a lot of talk in the show about sex and drugs, they seem to be just aspects of the character's lives, rather than the focus of the stories, or just devices to get people to watch. The show doesn't feel exploitative or deliberately provocative at all.

What's really cool is that the show's writers have an average age of 21. So it's written by people who know what it's like to live the reality of these characters. The age of the writers does explain some of the humour and surreal characters that pop up through out the show. Every now and again it's gets a little HSC Drama. But it's never too much to be anything more than a mild distraction.

So I'm a fan. I'm not sure how quickly I'll work my way through the show but I reckon I'll at least get through the first season.

11/03/2009 11:05:00 am

Spread the News

Posted by Unknown |

Advocate Weight Loss.jpg

This shows why you should always pick up your Hornsby and Upper North Shore Advocate off your driveway quickly. After 5 weeks it becomes somewhat unreadable.

11/02/2009 01:54:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

The other thing that happened at work was that I noticed that all the cleaners were wearing pants, nice shirts and waistcoats (or should they be called wastecoats, heh heh). I mentioned this to one of the other ushers and he agreed that the cleaners looked good. Better than us in fact. I want to wear a waistcoat.

When one of the cleaners walked past we told him he looked good in his fancy clothes.

I said "You're looking better than us, we should swap jobs."

As soon as I'd said it I felt bad because I realised that I was implying that because we were ushers we should look better than the cleaners. I don't really think there should be class distinctions between jobs, especially in the same work place.

So I tried to make up for my rudeness by telling the guy that he looked good. I hope he wasn't too offended.

I hope we ushers get waistcoats.

11/01/2009 10:05:00 pm

How to be a Good Salesperson

Posted by Unknown |

I worked yesterday ushering at a conference. It was a conference for sales people of a big brand, pyramid scheme. It wasn't all that interesting. Most of the talk was about how if you do the right thing in the company you can retire within a few years.

There was one person telling people how to be good at sales. He said most people were bad because they were worried about what other people thought of them. Like if I push my crappy product on you, you'll probably think I'm a tool. He didn't put it quite like that, but that was the implication. In fact the speakers often mentioned the fact that people tend to dislike the sales people of this brand. It was a source of pride that people dislike them. Kinda like when Christians get together and say "The world will hate us, but we have the truth. Rah rah rah!"

Anyway, the speaker was saying, to be a good sales person you have to not worry about what people think of you. People don't think about you as much as you think they do. He said "I want you to ask yourself, how many times today have you thought about your spouse? Your children? Your best friend? Your friends? Your neighbours? Your acquaintances? Not once. You haven't thought about them at all, because you're too busy thinking about yourself. And in fact they haven't thought about you because they're too busy thinking about themselves. People are essentially selfish. It's alright that's just how we are."

His application for this enlightening piece of information was that you should be as brash as you want in selling stuff, because no-body is thinking about you, so don't worry about what people think of you.

It was rather inspiring stuff.

10/30/2009 10:18:00 am


Posted by Unknown |

If you look to the left you'll notice that this is post 250 of 2009. That's 9 more posts than were done in the whole of 2008. This will be the first full year of blogging where my number of posts has increased from the year before. That's what's underemployment will do for you I say.

10/26/2009 12:22:00 am

Public Sook

Posted by Unknown |

So the old choking up exited the cinema and happened live on stage in front of a couple of hundred people last night.

I was at Impact, the final concert for Breakthru' Artz as they wrap up 10 years of ministry. Helen asked be to do the task of speaking for two minutes about the year 2005 and its significance for Breakthru' Artz. I think I ended by saying something like, "I think the greatest miracle for Breakthru' Artz is that God used it to bring people to Jesus. Thanks Helen." And it was somewhere in that last bit that I choked up and felt like I was about to cry. Right there, with the spot light on my face, and hundreds of people looking at me. I had no idea it was about to happen. I hadn't be feeling emotional about things at all and then suddenly there I was choking up like a mother and son reunion scene in a Hollywood film.

I couldn't work out if I was getting emotional about Breakthru ending or about people becoming Christians. I wasn't sure if it was a happy sad or a sad sad. Either way is fine. Whatever it is I'm totally getting in touch with my emotions. Or perhaps more precisely my emotions are getting in touch with me.

10/24/2009 12:36:00 am


Posted by Unknown |

Miller Monroe.jpg

I thought of a line the other day to keep up my sleeve. You know, one to use on a lady.

I thought it'd be awesome to say "Can I be your Arthur Miller?" I figured it was both cultured, self-deprecating (depending on what you think of Arthur Miller) and highly complimentary to the girl.

But then I heard this song today by Megan Washington where she used the line:

You'll be my Arthur Miller and I'll be your Marilyn Monroe.

I was a little crushed because the girl could very possibly be a Megan Washington fan and think I was just stealing the line. And if she thought that I could just as easily have used any old line. I could have said "Hey baby, that dress looks good on you, but it'd look even better on my floor (obviously after we've courted and then got engaged and then married and before you leaving your dress on the floor starts to annoy me because you never pick up your freaking clothes)" and it would have made no difference.

I guess I'll just have use it on deaf girls. I wonder how you say "Arthur Miller" in sign language.

10/23/2009 11:59:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

I had my first night of Youth Group at my new church. I'm just a lowly leader. As the newest leader, I could be the lowliest. It was pretty great. I do love youth ministry, and tonight I wasn't in-charge of anything. I was just there. I wasn't a guest. Just a leader. I haven't been just a leader since 2001.

The youth group is quite different from my old one. It's a little odd wandering around not knowing what is going on. Every now and again I felt the need to be a youth minister and tell people what to do. But I have to resist. No one likes the new guy who turns up and things he runs the show.

Still it was good to be back hanging out with teenagers again. I have missed them. And at the moment, having had a nine month break and not having to be in charge, I'm feeling full of energy and totally un-jaded. Woo!

Tomorrow night I'm going to a big do for the old church. So I should see a bunch of my old youth too. That's exciting. They're pretty awesome.

10/22/2009 11:40:00 pm

Heavy Weight

Posted by Unknown |

I had a beer with Dicker today. We sat in a pub in the city and drank Kilkenny. Mike (Dicker) got the beers. He bought us a pint each. I drank the whole thing and didn't fall off my stool once. I was so proud of myself. Last time I had a whole pint in one go Helen had to drive us home cause I was making Dad jokes. I didn't let on how proud I was of myself though. That would be un-manly. It's poor form to show that you get mildly inebriated after just one beer.

When we got our beer Mike said it was the "milk and honey of beers". I thought that sounded rather nice, but when I drank it didn't taste at all like milk and honey. I was most disappointed even if it was good beer. It occurs to me had I wanted milk and honey I could have just asked for some milk and honey. I'm sure they could make some. I could have drunk a pint of that. Though I probably would have been in worse shape after that than the beer. "Milk was a bad choice."

10/21/2009 02:43:00 pm

Dance Dance

Posted by Unknown |

I saw this poster the other night when out with the Bennetts:

dance party.jpg

Seeing as that looks like such a winner I've decided to run my own event for people with special needs. I'm going to call it:

Retardance Party
Get downs on the dance floor

10/20/2009 04:47:00 pm

Work Win

Posted by Unknown |

I worked with John the Painter again today. I came home with paint on me. That's a win!

10/19/2009 03:35:00 pm

How 7 Iconic Film Characters Would Battle Zombies

Posted by Unknown |

It's all here.

10/17/2009 12:29:00 am


Posted by Unknown |

I think I'm turning into a bit of a sook. I tend to get choked up watching movies a lot these days. It seems to happen most in scenes involving husbands and wives and parents and their children. I got a lump in my throat in Up when the old man's wife couldn't have kids and then again when she died. I think I got a little teary in Mao's Last Dancer last night when the guy was reunited with his parents. I even got all emotional when Ellen Page's character reconciled with her parents in Whip It. (Speaking of those movies, I should write my reviews of them.)

What's happening to me? I used to be a rock. Now I'm turning into a blubbering mess. Perhaps I'm learning to express emotion in film so that one day I'll deal with it in real life. I hope not.

I think it may be because I spend so much of my time thinking about marriage and love and husbands and wives and kids and parents, that when I see emotional stuff on film it affects me. I often get annoyed when I see bad marriages on film. I think "Damn it, I want to be married so I can do a better job" and when parents are mean to their kids I think "Give me a kid, I'd love them better than that." I have the luxury of being childless and single so I can arrogantly judge movie characters from my idealistic inexperience.

Anyway, I'm not entirely sure why I'm getting emotional in films now, when I used to just be able to watch in an entertained but detached way. Maybe I'm going through a quarter-life crisis, or man-opause. Maybe my hormone cycle is changing and I'm growing a heart. Who knows? Whatever that case I hope it just stays in the cinema. I can cry in the dark there and no one will know. If I start crying about real life, who knows what will happen to my credibility as an insensitive male? No one will ever trust me in an emergency, I'll be stuck in a life raft with the women and children.

Happily it should just stay in the cinema, because it still takes a lot of emotional music to get me feeling emotional. So until an orchestra starts following me around scoring my life, I should be able to just keep the tears in the dark.

10/15/2009 11:25:00 pm

Boat People

Posted by Unknown |

It makes me angry when the only thing the Government and the Opposition can agree on is that we need to be "tough on illegal immigrants." This whole thing with the Tamil refugees getting intercepted by Indonesian authorities before they reach Australian waters is getting to me. I actually don't mind too much that Australia asked Indonesia to help. Like if there was a problem in your neighbour's backyard you might ask them to deal with it before it gets to your backyard.

But that said I don't know why we have to be so afraid of asylum seekers. We have the means to process them in a humane and dignified way, we just don't have the compassion. It's a political winner for Rudd to say "I make absolutely no apology whatsoever for taking a hard line on illegal immigration to Australia". Refugee policy should be about more than just what looks good to the electorate.

One of the reasons I was excited by a Labor Government was because I thought they might have a better immigration policy. And in fact, they have made some good improvements to the visa system and the use of detention centres. But why can't we say "If you care enough about your safety, and your family's safety, to spend weeks and months travelling across the world, in unsafe transport with dodgy rip-off merchants to get to Australia because you believe Australia will protect you and your family, then we will give you the time of day to investigate your case and process you application of asylum." It makes me sad that Australia wants to be seen as a country that takes a "hard line". Why can't we be a country with a soft heart?

I'll give the last words to Alex the Tamil spokesperson on the refugee boat in Indonesia who I enjoyed listening to tonight: "First of all I would like to say thank you to Mr Kevin Rudd because he has accepted many refugees in the past, and those refugees can be any one of our brothers or sisters who have found refuge and found safety in Australia.

"And we are thankful to him, but the other thing we would like to tell Mr Rudd is the fact that there are still many more Sri Lankans who need help.

"For you to share intelligence and make sure that this boat does not reach Australian waters - it was very difficult for us to accept because we came until the last point believing that Australia will accept us into their country."

10/15/2009 05:36:00 pm

Working Like a Messiah

Posted by Unknown |


I've finally gotten to fulfil my long term dream of being a tradie. On Thursday and Friday last week and on Monday and Tuesday this week I got asked by a friend who's a painter to do some work for him stripping wallpaper of the walls of a unit.

It was good fun. I was working with another guy called Mitch. John, the painter, let us into the unit on Thursday morning, bright and early at 7am, taught us how to strip wall paper properly, and then left us to it. He told us we should be able to get the unit done in the next two days.

Mitch and I set to work. Mitch was better at it than me. It took me a while to get the hang of it (like a whole day). At one point I was feeling inadequate about my stripping abilities and was about to pipe up and say "I'm not sure anyone would pay me for my wallpaper stripping abilities" until I remember that someone was paying me.

Despite my lack of skills I enjoyed doing something that was physical with very tangible results you can see. I like that at the end of each day I felt tired from many hours of scrubbing walls and scraping paper. I felt like I was living the tradesman dream. Plus Jesus was a tradesman which makes me feel extra pleased about the work.

By the end of my first day Mitch and I had done three walls of the lounge room. It didn't look like we were going to get the unit done in two days. In fact by the end of the second day we still hadn't finished the first room. John emailed me asking for the account details and mentioned that he was very pleased with the thoroughness of our work. What a nice boss.

In the end after four days we still didn't get everything done, even after getting a hand for a while.

Still I guess I wasn't too terrible because I have some more work with them next Tuesday. On Tuesday I'm planning on wearing stubbies and get a bit of butt crack happening. I wanna be a real tradie.

10/15/2009 01:14:00 pm

Pith Part Three

Posted by Unknown |

"Nothing's changed. We still don't have a deep concern for the welfare of our families and friends, we still don't change our diaries to reflect the people who should matter most to us. And our diaries are still the people who have said "Yes" to Jesus ages ago. We are frightened and we are like rabbits in the headlights when it comes to intentionally sharing the Gospel. Dear friends it's time to come out of the closet with a deep trust in God and prayerfully arrange your diary to be with the people who are like sheep without a shepherd just like our Master said. Will you come out of the closet?" - Geldo, just then.

10/14/2009 02:24:00 pm

Rat Mullet

Posted by Unknown |

I'm not normally one to care about other people's hair styles, but there are some that are really disturbing me at the moment. When did the Lads get together and decide rats tails are hot and the shaved head with bleached mullet is attractive?

Ladies, would you date a man with hair like that?

On the other hand I may just be not up with what's fashionable right now. I should probably make a start on that mullet.

10/10/2009 11:43:00 pm

A Day with a Heretic

Posted by Unknown |

I went to a World Vision event today where Tim Costello, Fuzz and Carolyn Kitto, and Brian McLaren spoke about the way the church can be relevantly engaging with the world.

I went because I wanted to see Brian McLaren. Probably because I'm a stickler for theological controversy. I knew that McLaren gets a bit of bashing from the conservative Christian crowd for his thoughts on scripture and his leadership within the emerging church. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I knew he was in Australia and I wasn't going get the chance to see him as I wasn't going to Stump. So I decided to go to this.

For a while before I forgot what the day was about. Seeing as it was a World Vision event I started to worry that I was going to spend the day being told to sponsor children, give money to World Vision, and get in small groups and discuss the Millennium Development goals. And while all of those are good things, I'm little bored by them.

However when I turned up they told me the day was about helping the church to engage relevantly with the world. They didn't even say "engage relevantly with the world so everyone can give more money to World Vision." I actually felt like it is probably some of the best work that World Vision can be doing in the west for long term change. They are educating people, church leaders in particular, at a fundamental level about why the church needs to shift its focus to the great issues of justice and compassion facing the world today. When you shift people's understanding and attitudes rather than just their money you'll achieve a lot more long term gain.

Tim Costello started off the day by giving an excellent overview of the need for the Church to express it's faith through dealing with the emergencies facing the world today. He showed us the historical underpinnings for Australia's relationship with the church and the churches relationship with society. I enjoyed it a lot.

Fuzz and Carolyn talked about the need for the church to have a missional focus.

And Brian talked about the need for the church to stop focusing on itself and start focusing on the world.

My experience of McLaren is not that he's a raging heretic, false prophet, spawn of Satan. He said a lot of stuff I really liked. He talked about the need for institutions to protect the gains of previous movements and movements to make the gains not being made by institutions. In other words he seemed to be saying the established church is needed to preserve the gains of the reformers of the past. And the emerging church need to make gains to be preserved by established church. So the emergers and reformers make gains in their movements and cement those gains in the the institutions who protect them. The church is always moving forward then with movements leapfrogging the the establishment.

People seemed to hear this as a call to abandon the institutional church and surge on ahead because they're too busy protecting the past. But I heard it as saying both parts of the church are need each other and the best situation is when the whole church can be working together to surge ahead to be growing and adapting to the ever changing contexts it exists in. I liked his optimism for the church.

He had a lot of criticism for the traditional view of salvation being "believe in Jesus, go to heaven." He said salvation isn't about agreeing with a set of doctrines and then getting eternal life, but he related salvation back to Abraham's call in Genesis 12, saying that salvation about being blessed to be a blessing. He wanted to emphasise that our faith is not just to secure us eternal life, or God's blessing, but to transform us to be people who bring God's kingdom to earth now.

I really liked his emphasis on the need for our faith to be outworked in our loving interaction with the world. We need to be people who are caught up in God's preference for justice and mercy. Like James says faith without deeds is dead. We definitely need to get the focus of salvation off being some scheme devised to meet our needs of eternal security.

I did feel however that he seemed to overemphasise the idea that the primary reason for our faith is to transform the world. The impression I got was that he was discounting the eternal nature of salvation to focus on the immediate implications. We need to affirm that God saves us to bless the world without forgetting that there is however more to it than just this world right now. I would want say that while we have a responsibility to be bringing the values of the Kingdom to bare on our communities, society and world right now, that's not the end point of the kingdom. Salvation is not ultimately about our happiness but God's glory. God saves us for his glory. When we are changed and transform the world, he is glorified. When the poor are helped he is glorified. And when his Kingdom comes he is glorified. At some point God will finish the Kingdom work that he started in Christ when Christ comes back and establishes God's just rule for eternity. We are called to be transforming the world now, but in the knowledge and hope that God is going to wholly transform this world in the future.

Another of McLaren's things was that we need to understand the narratives of the Old Testament to properly understand the life of Jesus. The narratives being those of Genesis (creation and reconciliation), Exodus (liberation and formation), and the Peaceable Kingdom (justice and mercy). I really liked the importance he placed on viewing Jesus in light of the stories that have come before. Jesus wasn't just some guy who arrived in Israel in 0 AD as an isolated event in the history of the world. He was the Jewish messiah, the culmination of years of God's self-revelation of his people through the great narratives of his redeeming work, he is the climax of God's story of his work with the world. I think that reading of the OT makes our understanding Jesus' life and work even richer. This is a pretty similar idea to what NT Wright is pushing when he talks about Jesus. I want to keep thinking about that.

So if I can sum up my McLaren thoughts, from everything I saw and heard yesterday he's not a dangerous heretic set to destroy the world as we know it. I know I disagree with him on a number of issues. His view of the Bible is less conservative than mine. (I reckon he and my Mum would get on.) I think he's got lot's of good stuff to say, and he has a lot to helpfully challenge the church on. If he continues to run around the world telling Christians to be blessed to be a blessing, I can't complain about that. Go McLaren.

10/06/2009 11:16:00 pm

On Preaching and Football

Posted by Unknown |

On Sunday I preached at my church for the first time. I had a good time.

The man with an eye patch who I once pondered if he was a pirate turned out to be a swashbuckling Baptist minister who interviewed me so that the congregation would know who I am. He didn't stab me with his cutlass, just jab me with some denominational proddings about my confirmation. I'm not sure my flaky Anglican affirmations of faith were deemed an adequate substitution for a hearty believer baptism. But he is a gracious man, and welcoming, so I was forced down no planks into the baptismal pool and was allowed to preach. I like him a lot.

The other week I introduced him to Gem and he said "Oh I could tell you a few stories about Tom", at which point Gem replied "I think I could tell a few of my own." I was most pleased that he would feel like he knows me well enough to tell stories about, despite the fact that before that we had shaken hands and said "G'day" only twice. I was also pretty sure that any stories Gem has about me would top his stories seeing as "He's said "G'day" on multiple occasions" isn't much of a story. He was probably just saying he could tell stories about me to affirm our congregational connection. I think that's pretty friendly.

I really hope he doesn't mind the pirate references. If he does next time I'll go the evil genius route.

The preach itself went well. I felt ok about it. It was good to be preaching again. I especially loved being able to preach to a group I know (at least know better than almost every other group I've preached to this year, the whole right hand side of the church I haven't really met). It's a real blessing getting preach to your home church. I really find it satisfying because you know where to pitch it. You don't find you're just fumbling around in the dark hoping your application is relevant. Still the topic I was preaching on (God's love and suffering) is a pretty universal one.

After church a guy patted me on bum to say "Good job". It was the first time preaching has got me congratulated like a footballer. It was like I'd just scored a try. I think that's the only time straight men are allowed pat other straight men on the bum. Still perhaps we should institute more bum pats for preachers to make preaching more manly. There could be a few blokey blokes standing on stage with the preacher and every time they make a good point the blokes could grunt and say "Good-one preach!" and pat the preacher on the bum. I think it'd make men feel like church is more like a sporting match and make them want to come more. Perhaps also if church had cheerleaders too.

Speaking of blokeiness, I got to watch the NRL Grand Final on Sunday too. I was pretty cut that I wasn't going get to watch it. The first year I wasn't at Black Stump and I wasn't employed by the church, and I was preaching and I was going to miss it.

But happily, it was organised that we'd all watch a taped version after church and none of us would know the score. And we could fast-forward the ads and the half-time jabber when everyone goes to the toilet.

It worked very well, and I was very happy to be watching. I was keen for the Eels to dominate because they are, I guess, my default favourite team after Norths folded. I also think Storm don't deserve to win because they're from Melbourne and people in Melbourne don't even care about the NRL. It's the worst kind of insult for Melbourne to think our game sucks and still beat us at it.

Alas, the Eels were rather disappointing. The Storm outclassed them with very methodical football. It wasn't showy, just precise and it got the job done. At least that's my analysis and I watch about three games a year, so I should know.

I was so sad for the Eels. I think I felt depressed for at least a minute twenty after the game ended. Then I went and did a wee.

10/06/2009 09:36:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

That was fantastic hail storm today. So much hail. There's hail still on the ground now, 3 and a half hours later.

I was driving home at the time. It was the most fun I've had driving in a long time. Rain, ice, low visibility, and I powered on in the trusty Pulsar. It was almost an adventure.

10/02/2009 11:55:00 pm

Colon Cleansing Anyone?

Posted by Unknown |

Facebook is giving me a bad day.

This morning I found my Facebook account had been hacked:

Facebook Hack.jpg

So I went through and changed my password. And I changed a few of my other more sensitive passwords in case I have a virus that has logged my keystrokes or something. And I scanned my computer for viruses but found nothing.

Tonight I came home and found I couldn't log into Gmail or Facebook. I think because I made my passwords too hard to remember. So I had to reset them. But it's hard to do that because they send the password reset to your email and your email is in Gmail and you can't get into Gmail. Argh!

Then when I finally get onto Facebook I see that two of my friends have been status hacked as well.

Facebook Hack 2.jpg

So perhaps the problem is with Facebook and not with me. Or maybe this virus is just going really well. Or maybe Sam and Mathan really did lose 8 1/2 pounds and are really excited to tell everyone. Stranger things have happened.

Whatever the case I'm sick of typing stupid passwords.

I'm not entirely sure what the ethics of sticking up pictures of people's hacked Facebook statuses are. If you want me to take it down Sam, I will. I'm pretty Mathan doesn't read my blog. But Mathan, if you do, let me know and I'll take it down for you too.

10/02/2009 04:31:00 pm

Google Wave

Posted by Unknown |

I'm not one for getting too excited about the internet (Woo Bing!) but I did just watch a one hour presentation on Google Wave. It looks pretty impressive. If this thing takes off it's gonna change how we relate on the web. It seems to put all the best bits of the net into one place so you can share it with everyone. I'm rather excited.

It looks to me like it'll be the usual problem with the internet enhanced. More information, more communication, more time wasted.

Google is going to own the world.

10/01/2009 08:51:00 pm

New Zealand: The Friendly Skies

Posted by Unknown |

Contrary to popular belief, New Zealand didn't sell their entire air force to Australia. They still have an air force, they just sold their fighters to various people around the world. They have still have transport planes however, some helicopters and some snazzy trainers.

So should anyone ever invade New Zealand, New Zealand won't able to fight them from the sky, but they will be able to move things about with skill. But it's not all bad for New Zealand if they get invaded their navy has two combat ships which should keep any invading force busy for a while.

For those who are wondering, this is the entire New Zealand Air Force:

2 Boeing 757, 5 C-130H Hercules, 6 P3-K Orions, 14 Bell UH-1H Iroquois, 5 Bell 47G Sioux, 13 Aerospace CT-4E Airtrainer, and 5 Beech King Air B200. (From here)

10/01/2009 04:32:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

Them: Do you have a girlfriend?
Me: No
Them: How old are you?
Me: 26
Them: Don't worry, you've got time.

I feel like I have this conversation, or variations on it, around once a week with well meaning middle-aged (or old) women. I wonder what they'll be saying when I'm forty?

Them: Well at least you get to watch plenty of TV.

9/27/2009 11:04:00 pm

Neither Height nor Depth

Posted by Unknown |

I'm preaching on Romans 8 in church next Sunday. I'm excited because it's my first time preaching at my new church. The passage Romans 8:28-39 which it very cool. It's like preaching one of the Bible's greatest hits.

I'm looking forward to spending this week writing the sermon. Though I'm sure I'll be up late on Saturday night writing as usual.

The two service leaders have both asked me if I want anything for next week. I told both I wanted fireworks to go off and then I appear on stage. They both said no. Then I said I wanted to come down from the ceiling on wires like that guy came in with the cup at the Grand Final yesterday. They said this was a possibility. I'm hoping they rig it up for me.

I'm going to spend the week trying to work out what outfit to wear when I preach. I need to look hot but not too hot. Like not sexy. Holy hot.

I'm also going to try and figure out what jokes are going work on the new crowd. They're a mixed bunch, with a very broad age range. You've gotta know your crowd otherwise you'll just bomb.

At some point I may also consider what God wants to say through the passage. But that will be secondary to the fireworks, clothes and jokes. You've got to make sure the main thing is the main thing.