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David Jones, Humphrey B Bear and astrology

Two seperate incidents in the week leading up to Christmas caught my spiritual attenae.

In David Jones they were selling spell books, that is books with incarnations in them. These books were in the childrens section, and aimed at children.
Up until the age of 9 or 10, children cannot distinguish accurately between fantsasy and reality.

On Humphrey B Bears show, the presenter was plotting the astrological chart for the next year. Great! Just what you want to show impressionable young minds.

I am not one for campaigning against spong bob or Disney, but this sort of stuff is awful.
It is religious teaching, imagine if they had Rick Warren on Sesame Street, telling the kids all about the five purposes for their lives, their would be an uproar.

It also made me keenly aware that you cannot let your kid sit in front of the box unmonitored, not even when watching something that is meant to be innocent like the big brown non speaking bear.

Blog's First Christmas


For my son and daughters first Christmas my wife bought them 'Baby's 1st Christmas' baubels to hang on the tree.

Well this is my blog's first Christmas. Merry Christmas blog!

More importantly Happy and Merry Christmas to you all.

I hope God gives you more than you could ever hope or dream of for the coming year.

Rick Warren and the emerging Church


In "The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations" by Dan Kimball Rick Warren has written the foreword. As seems to be true of most things Rick says, he is looking for opportunities and believing they are there in most situations. Here is how he introduces the book, "In the past twenty years, spiritual seekers have changed a lot. In the first place, there are a whole lot more of them. There are seekers everywhere. I’ve never seen more people so hungry to discover and develop the spiritual dimension of their lives. That is why there is such a big interest in Eastern thought, New Age practices, mysticism and the transcendent. Today seekers are hungry for symbols and metaphors and experiences and stories that reveal the greatness of God. Because seekers are constantly changing, we must be sensitive to them like Jesus was; we must be willing to meet them on their own turf and speak to them in ways they understand."

Whatever else one might think of the emerging Church, they have got this right, "seekers are hungry for symbols and metaphors and experiences and stories" If indeed they say that. Not that we always know who 'they' are or really what 'they say'. I dont wont to put words in anyones mouth.

I do think this, that people dont care less about apologetics any more, they care about what works, in your emotional and spiritual life. They care about the truth found within a story, and you know what? The Bible is a book of stories. Jesus taught truth through story, through people's lives and experiences came meaning. Rob Bell has shown me that.

Rob Bell part Four

"Why do we do the things we do? Many people react to and are driven by these deep unspoken forces. They are strong and they dictate huge areas of our lives. And it is possible to be a good Christian and go to church services and sing the right songs and jump through the right hops and never let Jesus heal your soul". (p118)

Woh.... As a Pastor I know this to be true in my own life, as well as those I interact with.

The deep forces, things like abuse, insecurity, rejection. These are the things which bring forth legalism, phariseeism, bitterness, overt submission, persecution complex, addictions.

Christ has set us free, he wants us to live lives of hope, joy and strength. We cant if we wont let Him heal us.

Carpenter

A friend emailed me this devotion.
How am I going with the things that are really important, what am I building, and how am I building?
This is good.

A carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer of his plans to leave the house building industry and live a more leisurely life with his wife and his extended family. He would miss the regular income but he had decided to retire, they would manage.The boss was sorry to see such a good worker leave and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favour.The carpenter said yes, but it soon became obvious that his heart wasn't in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and even used inferior materials. It seemed an unfortunate way to bow out of his career.When the house was finished the builder came to inspect the house, the boss handed the front door key to the old carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not always give the job our very best effort.Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are living in the house that we have built. If we had realised, we could have done it differently.Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity.Your life today is the result of your attitudes and choices in the past.Your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitudes and the choices you make today.

Christmas in Oz


I love Christmas.
From the cranberry sauce over ham, to buying my wife and kids presents, I like it all!

Family is incredibly important to me, and this year we are looking forward to a Christmas time with a pool. I am teaching my son how to swim, and if enthusiasm is anything to go by, watch out Thorpie! He has the big feet, but has not yet developed all the muscles needed to stay afloat. This is a reminder of Christmas for me, hot days, warm salty skin, dives into a pool.
Waking up to presents under the tree, to give and to receive.

I think Jesus loves how we celebrate Christmas, because I think Jesus was always there for a party. We see and read him joking, drinking and laughing with His friends.
Sure not everything we see done in the name of Christmas is good, but if we spent as much time and energy on sharing Christ's love and the good things about Christmas, as we sometimes find ourselves spending on denouncing the excesses of it all, there would be a lot more Christians around the place!

Great Sunday


We had a wonderful day today at Church, or at least that is my impression.

Jacob invited some friends from the Congo to come along, and they did a three part gospel harmony, both before church, and for the kids mid way through the service. We could not understand their words, but we could understand their hearts. Beautiful!

We had Anne Marie leading, its great to have a lady up front, and she often brings poetry and a different slant to worship, it was nice.

I spoke my final message on Elijah. There is so much to say about this depressed, fearful, courageous, strong, weak, powerful, frightened, prayerful, doubtful man. Surely James was right when he said, "Elijah was a man just like us". Used powerfully, yet weak doubtful and coomplaining in one moment, calling down fire from heaven the next! I contrasted the legacy Ahab left, and the one Elijah gave to Elisha. I could sure do with that cloak/mantle myself!!!

Followed the message up with two short videos, one on being a dad, the next on being a mum, "your children will rise up and call you blessed". Always difficult, especially when there are singles, seniors there, to make the application to us all. But whether we have kids or not, we influence others lives.
We all went to down to a park after church and had a good old church picnic, and Melinda organised some mini olympic type games. I came third in the frisbee throwing competition.

Off to NorthCity tonight to see my SIL do some dancing. Should be fun, might see if I can score a free coffee that they hand out to visitors, might even pretend I am a seeker!!!!!!!!

Surely the right move


In another stunningly exciting off field development, the Freo boys have appointed Robert Shaw as the new football manager at the club.
Big bad Robert was the one who was SCATHING in his assessment of the teams on field toughness when Essenscum rolled us about 6 months ago.
The Sunday Slimes ran a story last week saying that the Weagles had made a blue picking up Harris instead of Shaw. Lets hope that the bastion of good journalism gets it right for once.

Apparently Shaw instilled some toughness to Essenscum when he was there. Lets hope he can produce the goods in our mob.

The Colonel, aka Cameron Schwab is credited with saying the following, "“Robert has experienced the highs and lows of AFL football, from Premiership success at the Essendon Football Club through to the challenge of coaching the ailing Fitzroy Football Club,” said Schwab.“For a man who has had over 30 years experience at this level he has amazing passion and positivity for the sport and offers outstanding knowledge and insight. “He will be of great support and value to our coaching, administration and playing staff,” remarked Schwab. (http://www.fremantlefc.com.au)

Haddrill set to go


More good news on the Freo front with Robert 'the driller" Haddrill ready to go for next season.
His stability, mobility and durability were sorely missed last year in the backline.

Along with Parker, Grover and the suprise packet of Scotty Thornton, ours must surely be one of the quickest and most dynamic defence units running around. Throw in the evervescent Roger Hayden, and expect the new rule changes to favour us. I am especially thinking of the one about kick outs being able to be executed without waiting for the umpire. Last year we were first in the league for goals kicked from opposition points, so expect that trend to continue.

Christmas Day Service


"without Christ you have a holiday. With Christ, you have a Holy Day"

We are really looking forward to Christmas Day in our Church. It is always a great way to start the Christmas day. I know a lot of Churches dont have a Christmas Day service, and thats cool. I wonder what they will do this year with Christmas being on a Sunday?
Anyways, for me, I love it, its always fun. If your looking for somewhere to kick the day off right, your welcome at Bedford Baptist Church

Rob Bell Three

Phil Baker has a link to a great article by Rob Bell. The article is basically a quote of one of the passages from Rob's book, Velvet Elvis.

Here is another quote from my reading.
"I realize this is not groundbreaking news, but when we get desperate and realize we cannot keep living this way, then we have to change. As I let all this come spewing forth the first time in my therapist's office, he interrupted me. I was making lists of all the people I was working to keep happy. He said it was clear that there were significant numbers of people I was working to please and that my issue was a simple one.
I was anticipating something quite profound as I got out my pen.
He said this: "Sin."
And then he said, in what has become a pivotal moment in my journey, "Your job is the relentless pursuit of who God has made you to be. And anything else you do is sin and you need to repent of it."
The relentless pursuit of who God made me to be.
I started identifying how much of my life was about making sure the right people were pleased with me. And as this became more and more clear, I realized how less and less pleased I was with myself. I'd become so heavily oriented around the expectations of others that I was becoming more and more like them and less and less the person God made me to be"

It reminds me of something the apostle said, "we are here to please God, not please people".
and Hebrews 13.6 inspires me along similar lines.

Moved, but still moving

Well, here we are in Ballajura.

I have just gone through the last inspection, making sure everything works, and Melinda and I and the kids said our last good byes to our beautiful home in Ellenbrook.


Clem had a last feast on mulberries, and we all prayed and thanked God.

I have just got my internet connection back on line, and recieved a message saying my mailbox in 96% full.

This feels homely here, but not like home. we have a lot of stuff still in boxes, and wont unpack most of it. 5 months is not a long time. Cant wait to move into our real house.
Thanks for all your prayers.

Rain Rain go away...


We had the biggest crowd ever, the sausage sizzle people ran out of sauce, we served over 400 cups of cordial to thirsty kids,

The sound check was done in record time, the stage was stable,

everyone was excited.....


After two carols and one item, the rain come down, and it was too hard to ignore it!

This is Perth Australia for goodness sake, where has summer gone??
Ministry can sometimes be dissapointing, but that is the risk of leading. Last night all the fantastic and joyful people from my church led well.
They felt the joy, and maybe dissapointment of ministry.
Don't stress, God knows best!!!
I thought we all showed grace, patience and joy in the midst of some trying circumstances.
And I think it was a wonderful witness to the people watching,

SO WELL DONE!!
And roll on next years carols.

BBQ Meatlovers with extra cheese


I am a Pizza lover. In a former life I used to manage a Dial a Dino's (remember them, bought out by Dominoes).

At home, most Thursdays, I make the family Pizza. Not any old pizza with a store bought base. I make the lot from scratch. I make the dough, I proof it, I roll it out to size, depending on how thick I want it. Then I crush fresh tomatoes and herbs. My local deli supplies me with some Italian sausage and bacon, which I cook in the fry pan before putting on the pizza. The cheese I use is some good Mozarella.
My wife bought me a pizza stone, which is a round device you put in the oven to heat up, then cook your pizza on it. This gets properly floured and the pizza comes out looking better, and tasting much better than any cheap Dominos one.

Today I blew it. I went to Coles and in a fit of madness bought a Mc Cains frozen pizza on special. I ate it, and now I feel so dissapointed.
How can a mass produced product like that compete with my home 'built with love' special, it cant.
Now the Mc Cain special is sitting in my stomach, like some conjealed mess.

Fathering and a legacy

Preparing for my message in two weeks time on leaving a legacy. I am exploring the life of Elijah and how lessons from his life help us to be overcomers.

I am particularly interested in how he left a legacy with Elisha to carry on the good work. It goes to the heart of something I am passionate about, the legacy we leave our kids. And I am not talking about finances, although that may be part of it. I am talking about what we will impart to them, what our lives will say to them. How who we are as people will give them strength, and help them lead fulfilling lives.

Looking through some multi media resources I have just found a great mini presentation on what it means to be a father, excellent! I love it when a plac comes together.

Carols in the Park Your all welcome!!

Hi to all my fellow bloggers and readers.
Your all welcome to the carols in the park my church is running.
I'm compering, so come and say hello!

Packing


Windy and a bit rainy, perfect day for packing some boxes. Yeh right, perfect day for a spot of tennis or reading the West with a large Latte and a cheese sausage from the local deli.

Unfortunately it is the former I am doing today, not the latter.
Wonder if Abraham had this many boxes to pack?

Contradictions we find


Recently a popular and well written Christian magazine, Charisma, published an article on article about a pastor called Clarence McClendon. Apparently the good pastor , "announced from the pulpit that he had uncovered a “new revelation” in the Bible. His discovery: That a church leader can have more than one wife'. The writer of the article went on and stated, "Hopefully, you and everyone in the building would run, not walk, out of that church and never come back until the pastor had been replaced. But I am afraid too many of us gullible charismatics might stay in the pews—and eventually give the guy a standing ovation plus a $10,000 love offering".

Well yes, hopefully we would run out. Have a look at the picture I have included. Isn't it amazing how holy and worshipful this guy looks? I dont say this to be judgemental. In fact Clarence may well have started out as a humble honest preacher, looking to do the right thing. Somewhere along the line though things got messed up. Maybe the enemy got to him, maybe his own addictions got to him, maybe he got lazy. I remember a story in the bible about a wonderful leader and king who did something pretty stupid and comparable to Clarence.

This story reminds me, there go I, but by the grace of God. Lord, keep me humble, keep me faithful, keep me in love with you.

Ruach Part Two

I have been contemplating my own post, after a couple of anonymous (to the public, not to me) people commented on it.

I do not believe we can always see where God is moving, and go there, as Henry Blackeby may lead us to think. (I am not putting words in Blackeby's mouth, he may lead you to think that, he may not). Sometimes, as a good friend suggested to me this week, we need to go and do something, and hope God turns up! (Or something like that). In other words the whole 'is it God, or is it us' never ending paradox. Naturally I lean towards pragmatism, give it a go ya mug!

Sometimes we just have to try something, and if it does not work, well thats life. In fact I preached on this, and am touching on it again at Inglewood Church of Christ this week. "In taking those first few tentative steps, Abraham was moving to a whole new place in his relationship with God. In stepping out Abraham drew nearer to God. His relationship grew deeper. They moved, even though they didn’t know where it would lead, because of the strength of trust in our relationship".
"What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see"
and this,
" It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going." (Hebrews 11 NLT)

What I was trying to say in my first post was that we need to be careful that when God has done something marvellous in our midst, that we don't become satisfied or even complacent with that. God wants us to continue to grow in our faith, our love for Him, dare I say, the fruit that we bear in His Name and for His Kingdom's sake.

Multi Media in the Church


I found something else I love doing. Creating images, slide shows, mini movies for church.
The more I get into it, the more excited I am about the possibilities, not just for my church, but also on a wider scale.
Its amazing to think what you can do now with a fairly standard home PC and a digital video camera. The incredible memory storage available has now meant that you can do far more at home than what was even possible in a studio a few years back. I remember my Media Class at Scarbrough High School. A few mates and I did up a 'vox pop' video. We also filmed a short movie about a reporter who witnesses a plane crash, complete with my toy plane getting doused in petrol and set alight.

Another friend and I filmed a very amateur music video.
It was so exciting when our school hired, from the education department, a mini studio for the day and we were able to put credits on top of our vision. Amazing stuff, which I can do now at home.

But as to ministry, someone once said, "Vegas has nothing to say, and says it brilliantly, the Church has the most important message in the world, and says it terribly".
And its not just large churches that need to do this sort of thing. At Bedford we are hardly a large or well resourced church, but we have done some great things in our services with multi media.
People watch hours of TV each week. We can either see this as a problem, or as an opportunity. This sort of thing does not have to be restricted to a church service either. For all you EC guys out there, have your gathering around a latte, then stick on a Rob Bell DVD, or even better, something you produced yourself.

Malcolm Rule at Encounter Church in Wangara uses multi media extensively. Its not a big church, and they dont have any operating live musicians yet. So rather than get bogged down with that, they use an awesome system of DVD's with music and moving backgrounds, and some live singers. Malcolm also uses a lot of clips, sermon vignettes and other compelling stuff. In fact it is again, your classic of turning a problem into an opportunity.

There is a heap of free stuff out there, if you want to know about some resources, send me an email.

Renewed my membership


Last year 15 clubs were bitterly dissapointed, none more so than the serial chokers, our fine feathered friends from down the road.

However its almost a new year, and the season is 122 days away. Hope is high with new assistant coach Mark Harvey and some great young players as well.

Peter Bell and Heath Black are talking up our chances.
I have just sent off my renewal papers for mine and Melinda's membership.
Membership buys privileged seating, a few stickers for the back of the Suzuki and a couple of badges for my Freo Hat.

If someone wants to argue that their team is better, my first question is, are you a member? If they are not a paid up member, their just a clanging gong. Membership shows real commitment and passion to the team. Funny, I only know one paid up West Coast Member, but I know a lot of gongs!!!!!!