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Ben Cousins

The former spiritual leader of the West Coast Eagles came out and gave a brief interview on Thursday night. It was an interesting interview. Ben seemed guarded in his response, yet also aware and upfront about the struggles he is going to face.
I hope that he gets back to playing footy at some stage, it might help the journey to recovery for him. With so much talent and giftedness, Ben's story is one of contradictions, missed opportunities and waste.

Maybe he might get picked up by Geelong. Mooney was open to the idea, and it was the club he could have gone to instead of the Eagles.

Phil Cooke nails it

In the ongoing spat between Obama and the Religious right, headed by Dobson, Christian Media Producer Phil Cooke has nailed the point.....

"So my question is – how long before we realize that political power isn’t the best way to make cultural change happen? Christians need to vote and be a vital part of the political process, but programs like Dr. Dobson’s today serve not to move the ball forward, but to raise money for the cause."

St Kilda

Thanks to St Gaz who conveniently did not make up a poster for St Kilda, I have.

Airing the dirty laundry

Preparing my final message at Bedford Baptist Church.

I feel the need for our church to let go of some past conflicts and hurts, I know I need to.

This is a spiritual decision, a spiritual word if you like.
But how much detail do you need to go into, or should go into?

"Our church has had a lot of conflict in its years. I am the longest serving pastor by double, I have served here as your pastor for double the length of any other pastor. Joe Westlake, who in my mind looms larger than life, served here just under 7 years. Chris Robinson, who oversaw a great period in the life of the church was here just 3 years.
The average pastor has been here for only 2.5 years…and that does not include the part timers and interims.
A long standing secretary and someone who I have enormous respect for, who kept this church going during the dark times, told me once, that this church had a reputation for chewing up and spitting out its leaders.
This morning I am going to share with you all some of this stuff, and then you know what, we are going to ask God for forgiveness and we are not going to mention it again…There is great healing to be done in lifting the scab off, allowing the air to get in, and then allowing time to heal it. Unless asked, I don’t want us to talk about these things again. As we move on, all of us, and I include myself, need to move on from Bedford Baptist Church, and start making some new mistakes as Inglewood Church" (last comment said with a smile!)

Brad Hardie and Woosha go hammer and tongs...

What do you think?

For one thing, its good to see someone get stuck into matter what you think of Hardie, or least they are treating him as they have treated Freo coaches!!

How much is much is us

Prepare for some unformulated ramblings and thoughts of reflection....

This week I have struggled with a few things as I prepared my message for today.
How much is much is God?
As I read from Acts 8 we looked at the story of Philip and Simon the sorcerer.
If ever there was a passage which describes the difference between a magician and a miracle worker...this is it.

Yet Simon had much influence over his society...which proves you dont need God to have influence and lead people.
But leading people where God wants them to go....that takes miracles, not magic - doesn't it?

Even in our own personal spiritual life, with our struggles....sometimes self discipline will get us through...sometimes it takes God....often we fail.

The other struggle is that it seemed Simon truly believed, despite his mixed up perceptions and money fulled desire to be able to impart the Holy Spirit. Peter could not give something he himself did not have....yet he did annoint people and the Holy Spirit did come upon them. So again...the tension between is it God, is it us.

Some pastors are so obviously gifted...not necesarily in a God empowered way...they are just smart, and good communicators...and they use their talents for the kingdom.
Me? I struggle...cant preach well without His presence and empowering. But then....when we have a smaller crowd in, its harder! It should not be. But it is...and surely that is the influence of human factors, not God...

What spin shall be weaved?

After the 187 to 42 point flogging handed out to the hapless Eagles by Geelong tonight at Subiaco Oval...what possible spin shall serial offender Kim Hagdorn put on it? Will they be able to mention Fremantle in a disparaging way....somehow? Maybe something like....

"Eagles loss not as bad as Freo's 9 point loss to St Kilda in Melbourne"

"Worsfold happy to play kids in rebuilding year as Harvey falters"

"Eagles rebuilding process on track as Champion Coach Worsfold plays rookies"

"Eagles still have premiership flags despite embrassing loss to Geelong"


Thanks to Speedy Geoff for pointing out that indeed Hackdorn took the first option.
"It was West Coast's worst ever loss at Subiaco Oval, once considered a fortress for eastern states invaders during the Eagles power years of the 1990s and middle of this decade and was on the back of Fremantle's shocking effort against St Kilda on Friday night."

Tell me Kim, what relation does Freos 9 point loss to the Saints, in Melbourne, have to do with the mauling that West Toast received?

In stark contrast to the measured and objective journalism (mostly) of Mark Duffield.
"In fact, after the carnage the Cats visited on the hapless Eagles last night, the rotting carcass that is the 2008 West Coast team may well have been stuffed into the grave alongside those now dormant ghosts.
It was a display so dominant and clinical that West Coast's parochial fans, known for clapping their own team's points and booing opposition champions, sat in quiet awe as Geelong ran up a 10-goal half-time lead that was never going to be run down or threatened."

Real journalist...take note hackdorn...

stupid St Kilda


New Church on its way!

Truly, deeply excited.

Dangerous Church Acts 8

Acts 8 contains a fascinating story about Philip and Simon...the magician.
I am focusing on Simon this week to see how the church impacted his life and how the church was dangerous to Simon's influence on the society around him.
I imagine he is a mix of David Copperfield and Steve Martins character in "Leap of Faith".

Verse 12….was the power of Philip real…..well lets have a look at what the trickster thinks…

Either Simon was a trickster or he was summoning upon evil forces, we are not told….we are just told he performed magic….
What does he do….he watches intently and is truly amazed at what he sees Philip and the Apostle do.
A magician watches a real miracle worker and wonders how he does it…

This magician is watching Philip and cant work out how he does it, and comes to the conclusion that in fact he is not doing it, God is, and he believes.
He is amazed…

He truly believed and he was scared of the power of God…just as he saw and believed that the power of God was used by Peter for great and good things, he also recognized that God could make his money perish….
You see Peter saw into his heart, just as he had seen into Anninias heart and he knew what was really governing his life, money, infuence….this is what he was really concerned about…Yet at some point and in some way...he believed in the power of God.

Covered trailer

Our church needs a covered trailer.

If anyone has one, know someone who has someone, that will sell it to us, please let me know asap....this picture is just a guide...we need something to transport Toddler Jam equipment every does not need to be fancy, or great, just a reasonable size and weather proof.
We would be open to a loan of one for 6 months as well.....

Scotch Fillet Steak Sandwich

Following on from my silverside post...
here is a dinner I love making for the family.

With the wife off to cooking classes, having got some scotch fillet steak out...what to do with it?

Onto the hot grilling plate. Some olive oil, a little salt....cooked medium rare.

Then some more olive oil splashed over some mushrooms.

Some gourmet BBQ sauce, some grated tasty cheese, and a fried egg. Melted butter toast.

Now...thats pretty close to being divine.

Wisdom, discernment and insecurity

The leader who has wisdom and discernment has a precious gift.
What strikes me about Jesus is that He knew what was in peoples hearts, and could get to the crux of the matter. People come with stated problems, and stated issues....but so often these are not the real issue.
Woman at the well: "Jesus, I need water"
Jesus: "What you really need is abundant life"
Result, woman goes off and brings whole village to Christ.

The leader who has insecurity often times makes decisions based on others opinions, rather than what they actually need. Their insecurity flavours their response to issues...and as they seek to make themself secure, maybe even 'shore up' their own personal situation, the overall group vision and direction suffers.
The life of King Saul
Result, a new leader is needed, or the group dissolves or at best stagnates. we come

Ha ha ha!

It was a great win...and enough encouragement to suggest we will make the 2009. I may be biased, one eyed and optimistic..but I am not dumb.

If Palmer does not win the Rising Star...who will? Channel Ten did an interesting graphic where they compared Judds first 10 games with Palmers. Palmer is considerably out in front with possessions and goals. He just needs to work on his kicking...and this kid is a gun.
Just quietly, Chris Mayne is awesome and Garrick Ibbotson....excellent.

With Solomon quickly becoming the deal of the century, what a team player, and Harvey declaring McPharlin the best full back at the moment, things are looking decidely better.

Okay, I am getting ahead of myself...but crumbs, after the season we have had....I'm enjoying this moment....

Brace Yourself

Here is a shortish illustration video I made up based around God's questions to Job.

You can download it and use it if you like by right clicking here

Life is good

In the midst of all the stress of merging, documents to produce, people to meet, organisation to organise....its great to stop and reflect for a moment. Life is good. My family is great....Tonight I made dinner. It was a meal I really don't like at all, but my family loves. Silverside with white cheesy sauce, creamy cheese mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables. There is not much that the kids and my wife eat more quickly.

I just can't get into silverside. I slow cooked it in malt vinegar, (8 hours) bay leaves and a few other things and it came out perfectly pink, moist and lovely. It dissapeared rather quickly!

My wife said I should have cooked myself a seperate piece of steak...but how can I do that when I encourage my kids to eat whatever the rest of the family is eating?

So we sat down together, as we often do, and ate together. There is not much better things to do with my time.

Just let us know

So much is done, and stopped...without good communication.

Unimportant example
My email is not working at the moment. Our church has an account through Brinkster (cheap and good usually). For whatever reason I cant receive it at the moment. So I go to their home page...nothing. So I log onto live help, and get live help quickly (which is great). The person lets me know there is a problem, they are working on it.

Now if they had just posted that on their front page, with an approximate fix time, they would save so much hassle...for everyone. People understand that things dont always work as they should. But if you let me know that they know there is a problem...far less agro.

Important example
When trying to share a vision, be prepared to listen a lot, even if people disagree, and bring up reasons why not to do it...often in just sharing it, they can let their objections go.


"That is about as insincere as an endorsment from Hillary Clinton"

(David Letterman)

Fremantle get ripped per normal

I know I should expect it....but it still hurts.
Adam Goodes just about rips Selwoods head off (mmmm better not comment on that)...and gets nothing.
Heath Black gets cited for an incident...with NO FOOTAGE...and gets two weeks....
and this little gem from the weekend. Even the commentators...who did not even know the Fremantle players names, kept going on about how they could not believe the frees Fremantle were not getting, and the frees Brisbane were.

Prophetic voice

Good message from Eliot on the churches role as a prophetic voice.

This aspect of the church has been misused in these ways.
1. As a manipulative tool by people seeking to exercise control.
2. As a tool for those angry, bitter and disinfranchised, as a battering ram against the established church
3. As a awful way to avoid being involved in ministry yourself by attacking others who are involved in ministry.

These above abuses do not mean we should not exercise these gift, but they should guide us and govern us to be sensitive and loving in speaking the truth. They should also inform us as to why Christians are wary of this gift being used.

Speaking the love.....

This does not mean we wont offend, the truth does offend. This does not mean we wont confront, true love confronts evil.

Practically speaking, true prophets don't use blogs, mass email and anonymous letters to fire shots across an individual or a specific churches 'bow'.
Thats crap, garbarge...and should be ignored or thrown in the bin without being read.

True prophets who are truly effective will generally be your friend, someone who is in relationship with you, someone you have chosen to make yourself accountable to.
Also true prophets dont have ulterior motives. They have nothing to gain, in any sense, from telling the truth. You get those who say they are reluctant prophets...but in fact they are gaining a sense of control from being seemingly reluctant.
True prophets dont pretend to have a hotline to Gods voice...they share humbly and carefully.

The church needs to be careful that it is not in a compromising relationship with the government, or in fact with any other body, which may compromise its prophetic voice. We need to speak the truth in love.
If there is anything the religious right in the US has taught is that aligning itself with any political party is fraught with danger.

Response is necessary

Listening to one of my favourite speakers the other night, Mark Driscoll. Despite him being one of my favourites, he says some things I disagree with, or don't like.

One thing he emphasises is the soveriegnity of God...and the election of the Saints.
But the end of the message...he called for a response. Even as he was speaking it seemed to me that he was a little uncomfortable with asking for a response. It seemed a little incogruous that after explaining and preaching in detail on how we are "God's elect"...he then called for a response....

God requires a response. His love requires a response. Maybe.....maybe when we are part of the body of Christ we look back and see we are part of 'the elect'....but there is also a great need for us to respond to His call on our the responsibility we have to the One who created us....and then came to share the good news with us.

The political incorrectness of the gospel is that a response is must call upon the name of the must choose to become part of the body. Otherwise you are outside of the Body of Christ...and will face eternity apart from Him.

I'm Not the only one...

Who thinks Walls has it in for Freo...

And this from Herald Sun Journalist Mark Robinson, who interviewed Mark Harvey after his interview with Robert Walls, and who obviously thought Walls was bias and out of line...

"Did Robert Walls hunt you?

You will have to ask Robert that.

There's a school of thought Walls is going for you, and people have wondered is it because of his volatile relationship with Kevin Sheedy and that you're a product of Sheedy?

And there's a school of thought he's gone for you and not, for example, said much about Ross Lyon because he helped select Lyon as coach of St Kilda, or Matty Knights because he coached him.

Do you think there is merit in that?

All I know is he went after Mark Thompson a couple of years ago.

You've talked to Thompson about that?

Yeah. It's been brought up.

How do you deal with people, such as Walls, having a crack at you after just eight games coaching?

I worked with Robert on 3AW for a couple of years and he is one of the major players and he has seven or eight consortiums he has to either write for or commentate on, and he has to draw attention to those.

Do you think he was fair?

When you are a coach in your first year, I think (you should ask) how far do you go in your line of questioning.

Walls and Mick Sheahan, to be honest, smelt blood and went for it.

The timing wasn't great. And, really, I wasn't defensive about what had happened the previous day. I was just disappointed with losing to Melbourne and giving up a 50-point lead.


Huge News Revealed

Hi all who read this blog....this news is also on my Church's web site...but here it is for those of you interested. We can finally go public with it as Inglewood Church of Christ and our church have agreed to it all now.....

Huge News Goes Public Thursday 5th July Thursday, June 05, 2008 2:11:00 PM
The most well known secret in our church's history is now public news......

Over a number of years Bedford Baptist Church and Inglewood Church of Christ have discussed the possibility of merging into one unified congregation.

The parallels in our culture and kingdom focus is obvious, as are the complementary nature of the two communities.

Inglewood Church of Christ have already taken the courageous move of holding their Sunday Worship Service at the Inglewood Community Centre. Bedford Baptist have wanted to hold their service there for some time. Bedford Baptist Church are in the process of subdividing and selling their present facilities to enable them to build a Community Performing Arts Centre, containing a multi-media focused auditorium, a Kid Friendly Cafe and a Dance floor. In the interim, they need somewhere to meet. As God would direct, the time for Bedford needing to move out of their present location has become pressing, and the opportunity with changes occurring at Inglewood Church of Christ is now.

Both congregations are unanimous in their support of the move, while also recognizing their will be sadness at leaving behind facilities which have served them well for many decades.
The new church will be known as the Inglewood Community Church, with affiliation with the Baptist Union, but also honouring its Church of Christ heritage. As per Church of Christ practice, Communion will be celebrated every week. Pastor Mark Edwards will become the Senior Pastor of the merged church, with Pastor Colin Craggs continuing in a pastoral role as Associate Pastor. Pastor Eliot Vlatko will also continue as an Associate and Quentin Gribble will continue as Children's Worker. In early 2009 Pastor Craggs will be taking on a leadership role in a mission work in India.

The newly formed church will commence combined worship services from Sunday July 6th. It is expected that there will be a celebration service sometime in September when representatives from both denominations will be asked to attend.
Pastor Mark Edwards believes this is a model for not only sustainability, but also with a kingdom focus. Both churches haver a culture of being outward focused, and we believe this merge will only benefit the long term work of causing community transformation.

Prince Caspian

Saw this movie tonight at the premiere, courtesy of some free tickets I scored from "The Western Front"

It is wonderful.
Action, drama, thoughtful spiritual analogies and allegory from the master CS Lewis.
Points about the need for childlike faith, regret, not being able to take back the consequences for lack of courageous faith decisions, God's apparent abscence, and how we deal with that.
The reward for faith, the problem with trying to take steps ahead of God....its all there.

They did a great job of interwieving the themes and high points from the novel, as we as adding appropriate 'poetic license' of their own.

It really does make you desire to see the next instalment, which is not really a tactic of the movie, but a reflection of the book. If you have not read the book, or seen the movie

....spoiler ahead.......

Peter and Susan are now too old for Narnia, expect Edmund and Lucy to reappear.

Rick Warren and the PEACE Plan

Rick Warren is becoming, if he is not already, the most influential Christian of our time. Thank goodness he has integrity and God given purpose.

This article in Time Magazine sums up what is the next step, PEACE Plan. Warren is doing something Bono tried to do, get churches involved in a global welfare program. Pastors who have been cynical or maybe even detatched from overseas mission are not ignoring Warren's call to be Jesus to suffering people all over the world.

The Time picks up on this, "The PEACE program is an attempt to radically re-engineer Evangelicalism's huge missionary culture, connecting individual churches in the U.S. to congregations in target countries rather than funneling aid and evangelism through agencies that send trained professionals into the field"

I have no problem with para church organisations, they are needed, because churches have not necesarily been great at organising this sort of stuff themself. But Warren's model is incredible in its simpleness and directness in getting churches directly involved. Something ABMS tried to do through their 'adopt a people group' program.

Lets hope Warren gets to our part of the world soon, and we can get on board with this.

Future of the Church

Comments about the Church on the net......I wonder if, generally speaking, often people speak up when things are not so good. Case in members meetings. When things are going well, people don't turn up, or if they do, they don't have questions, lets just get to the coffee! When tension is simmering below the surface, sometimes the 'uglies' rear up at the members meeting.

There are some serious questions the church needs to ask. How is a congregation of 10 people sitting on a property of 3 million honouring to God? I know of a church with 3 full time staff, caring for a congregation of 20 people, all over the age of 60. They pay their staff through rent on some of their properties. That is hard to justify.

Other smaller churches have significant property, but are cash poor, yet still want a full time paid pastor. Their life time looks grim.
Which brings me to the church, what is its future? Here are some thoughts I have.

The Way Forward
A church needs to be a visible and effective presence. By visible I mean that the community at large notices that the church exists. If I was going to suggest one good way to spend $1000, I would say...get a bigger sign. Its that niave or what? But so many churches make a clear statement about themself by how they present themself to a passer by. Today I discussed with some of my leaders how one mid size local Baptist Church is hidden, but everyone knows where the local Catholic Church is. Why? Because the Catholics pick the most visible spot. They are a strategic bunch. Go to any country church and the Catholic Church is normally on top of whatever hill there is in town, or on the main street. Its the same in the suburbs.

By visible I dont just refer to its physical attributes, but also to the fact that people know what it does in the community. Of course the church is the people, what are the people of the church doing in the community that is indispensible, under the banner of the church?

By effective I mean people becoming Christians. I unapologetically believe that if we do everything right, but people are not moving along on their faith journey, we are just moving chairs on the Titanics deck. Whatever your definition of a Christless eternity is, we don't want people going there. Effective means growth, yes in numbers, just like the early church, we count what is important, people calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So how can churches be both visible and effective?

Some churches are big. Mega big. People know where the building is, they know what the people do in the community. They are a visible expression of Christ's body on earth. Being big means they can do big things, change large aspects of communities ills. The power of combined resources means they can see God do influential things in their community. They can also be effective. All those people being built up, sent out and being Jesus where they live has to have an effect. People are attracted to people. There is less of the 'cringe' factor. Things are done well, often better than secular organisations. If someone is looking for a church, they know where the big church is. There are few issues with resourcing effective ministries, things can just get done...good things. A single vision of reaching the unchurches can be effectively dispensed. People are a part of an effective functioning Body of Christ.

Some churches can never be big. But be careful with this. There are plenty of examples of decent sized churches even in areas previously thought to be impossible or very hard to reach. But for some churches, at least in the interim, boutique is the best option. Accept who you will never be, and go for what you can be. Focus on one aspect of ministry and do it well. Steven Furtick started a small church and focused on just two things, the Sunday service and small groups. They don't do anything else. Of course, now you might say they are big....but their original vision was

I know of other effective churches who focus on one or two demographics, particular to either the 'gift mix' available to them, or the obvious community need. These churches become known for what they are doing in the community. People say, "that is the church that does such and such'.
So often the issue with this approach, particularly in a church in transition, is that it requires some serious decisions. What do you choose to focus on? And by focusing on that, something else is going to be neglected (or perhaps if we are really being effective) dropped all together. This means some who are used to their needs being met, will have to accept the focus of the church, and the implications for them. It may mean the pastor will be misunderstood. He might be seen as a callous leader, unconcerned with the people that are there. But this needs to be done. It takes love, skill, leadership and firm conviction in what is being done, particularly when the criticism comes.

I believe in the church. I believe we will find ways. I believe in Christians who are prayefully and positively seeking to implement the great commission.

We had a win!!

I play in a social indoor beach volleyball team. We have not won a game this season....until last night.
My teamates reckon I played out of my skin because my wife and son came to watch. They might be right! Playing well so my son is proud of me....whats so wrong with that?
Every week he asked me how I went...each week it has been, "well son I had a great time...but we lost again".

Last night he got to see our first victory....woo hoo!! Cant see us getting off the bottom of the ladder....but its all good.

West Coast hacks

News flash....Freo is having a crap season.
Second News flash....So is West Coast.

Today on 6pr....Simon Beaumont states something which really put it all into perspective for me.

He said....West Coasts 100 point thumping at the hands of Collingwood was not as bad as Freo's loss to Port.....mmmmmm......

and people wonder why I am well balanced...with a chip on both shoulders!!!

What verse Mark Seaby?

I wonder what verse Mark Seaby might read out at this event?

Maybe.....Leviticus 11.13...... ha ha ha.... :)

Varied day...thats for sure....

For what is really important, today was a great day for me.

We had a good Sunday AM at church. I spoke my first message on "Dangerous Church". Talked about the Church in Acts....and how they became dangerous to the community around them. How God is dangerous...not safe or comfortable. (It will be online at Bedford Site soon)

Afterwards we had a good members meeting. We only have them sporadically now, and they are normally good and encouraging. Then....we heard some great and positive news...which relates to the "huge news". I will go public with this shortly. the footy. While the result was another dissapointing was good to spend some time with a new friend, fellow coffee nut...and deeply interested in spiritual me.

Then the family and I had the best, freshest Turkish bread in Perth...and some lovely fresh dip...from the local Turkish shop on Beaufort Street.