I’m a little curious as to who else reads this from the Brighton community. I know there are several of you out there apart from Grendel, but maybe you’re shy…

I’d be interested to hear your reflections on some of the observations I have made about life in this little suburb we find ourselves in.

If you feel a bit odd posting online then drop me an email some time 🙂death on the nile free download

Leederville Cafe Update

As much as I have worked in Leederville for the last 4 years, I would still describe it as something of a coffee wasteland – which is somewhat ironic given its location and the huge number of cafes.

Recently Sayers cafe opened and as well as doing very fancy food they can knock up a pretty good brew, using 5 Senses beans. The food is very nice but a bit too gourmet for the average punter.


Today I dropped in at the newly opened ‘Cranked Cafe‘ just opposite Kailis Bros and was pleasantly surprised by the presence of good coffee (fiori) and a barista who seemed to know what she was doing. I only grabbed a takeaway but this little cafe has the feel of being open, spacious and at this stage reasonably quiet. Some of the bigger cafes get so noisy that at times you spend a silly amount of energy just trying to listen to the person you are with. Give these guys a try!

And finally… the old ‘Greens’ cafe has been re-opened with a whole new look. The main area is decked out with back to bck couches and it does look very open, spacious and cool – kinda like an upmarket and renovated 130’s – which would make sense because both cafes have the same owner now. I’m not sure what coffee they use and I’m probably not likely to find out. I have never been a 130’s fan, purely because of the very dodgy service I received there on the first occasions I went. I don’t know the name of the new ‘Greens’ but if you know where it is then you’ll know where to look

Into the Wild


After hearing about it a few months back, I finally got to see this movie today, quite an intriguing case study of a person’s life.

The synopis says:

“Into the Wild” is based on a true story and the bestselling book by Jon Krakauer. After graduating from Emory University in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness.

Its a great adventure but ends with Chris dying alone in an old bus from starvation. He was a middle class kid whow grew up in a messy family and who didn’t want to buy into all the trappings of suburban life.

From his own journal he writes:

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

Its an interesting story, but probably not a brilliant film. I didn’t find myself warming to Chris. He was a little too self righteous at times and self indulgent at others. To reject money and the norm of suburban life is one thing, but to then hitch your way around the country using someone else’s car/bus/truck just seems a tad hypocritical to me. If you’re going to criticise the system that harshly then make sure you have no part of it at all!


He was obviously a very smart young guy, but was both pursuing an ideal and running from a dysfunctional family. As I ponder my own quest for adventure it raises two significant questions: what’s driving me?… what are the consequences of my choices?…

It was pretty tragic to see the pain Chris’ family experienced as he went along his merry way and in many ways he could be seen as something of a selfish brat. It wouldn’t rate as one of my top 10 movies but its worth a look if for no other reason than to stir your spirit of adventure and your questioning of this current world!


I confess that I like preaching.

I think I’m pretty gifted at it and can do a decent job. I enjoy the experience of communicating with a crowd and seeing people get inspired. In fact its quite an adrenalin rush when its really going well.

But I wonder if it is a help or a hindrance to discipleship in the church. Mark has written a provocative post here special dead movie download about this subject. Check it out and offer your thoughts.

I am still chewing on it.

Is there a place for a monologue in church? Should learning always be dialogical? Recently as I have been preaching I intentionally stopped during the sermon to allow people a chance to respond. I am aware that I ‘have the floor’ and its generally perceived as inappropriate and maybe even bad manners to chip in. I try to encourage it, but I’m still aware that the genre is intended to be that of ‘shut up and listen’, and if you do want to contribute or disagree be aware that you are up against the expert.

I also have people say to me that they find preaching inspires them more than discussion or interaction. Is that a reason to continue it?

As a preacher when you get kudos for speaking its inevitable that you would want to do it again. But what does the average punter (who doesn’t get to preach) think?

I have often said that I don’t mind going to church so long as I am the one preaching but if I had to sit there each week and listen to someone drone on for 30 minutes then I’d probably give up altogether. Fortunately my regular experience of a stock standard church involves very good preaching so I don’t struggle with that.

But what if your primary preacher is a bit boring?…or even a lot boring?… And I’m guessing there are very few gifted orators out there…

Have we overvalued preaching?flags of our fathers divx

God Next Door III – Pictures of Community

Ok, so I’m continuing my reflections here…

Chapter one is somewhat of an analysis of the current urban/suburban setting with 3 possible scenarios considered:

Community Lost – the basic idea is that the impact of urban environment on relationships is negative (when compared to rural community life). The causes are a more segmented life with fewer opportunities for connections,a more densely populated area causing people to withdraw into themselves to survive, the diversity of the setting heightens suspicion of people ‘not like me’, and finally the commericalised nature of the city means that most relationships are transactional. As Simon states, this is a pretty negative take on urban relationships and is probably an idealising of rural environments!

Simon quotes Claude Fischer who says that the two norms govering neighbourhood relationships are “the neighbour should be ready to help in a time of genuine emergency and secondly at all other times the neighbour should keep his or her distance”, the same kind of relationship you have with a person on a train.

Its a pretty low bar for relationships when it comes to neighbours and while I think there is some truth in Fischer’s statement, I also tend to think most people want more from a community than that. Some stumble clumsily towards it while others prefer to avoid the ‘danger’ of broken relationships by not even going there at all.

As I have observed some of our own local relationships I have seen neighbours deeply embedded in each others lives – to a point that I could not deal with, but I have also seen neighbours fight and simply stop speaking to each other. Conflict resolution around here is not brilliant – easier to just ‘move on’.

I must admit I am wary of having my neighbours so much a part of my life that they feel free to drop in at any time and stay for as long as they like. There is a part of me that warms to the thought of such connected lives, but then a part of me that also values the privacy of my home and the ability to confidently retreat.

Having seen the way some neighbours can come and never leave I have probably swayed to a safer position. In some ways this is out of kilter with what I hope to see develop and yet if I am to survive in this setting for the long term then it is just common sense.

Community Found – Simon writes of the way different groups ‘find’ each other in the bigger city – often ethnic or common interest groups and there is a genuine experience of community that goes on here.

I live in a suburb that is marketed as ‘what a community should be’ but ultimately that comes down to us to make the slogan a reality. The ‘commonality’ for our family around here is pretty much stage of life and not much else. I imagine the POMs and South Africans may connect because of common heritage, but for the Aussies its less of a draw.

These groups have been seen as a ‘survival mechanism’ for people living in the suburbs – again pretty bleak in its outlook and probably not true of my own experience. Many people survive just fine with minimal local connectivity, but they do find community in other places.

Community Liberated – This is the community that is not bound by place but is operative in various networks around the whole city. Community liberated does not mourn the loss of ‘place’ as the component of community but chooses to celebrate community in other forms.

Simon goes on to say “The neighbourhood’s role in daily life has changed. If ever it was a place of primary community, its not now… Neighbourhood communities are now optional”

For those of us who draw our missional energy from the motif of incarnation and the embodiment/expression of the gospel locally this does present challenges – because it is true.

There’s no question community is much more diverse than the local area. There’s no question that even for myself some of my best connections are well beyond my backyard, yet at the same time I feel a compelling desire to try and re-invigorate the richness of local relationships. At times this has been very frustrating because others do not share this dream or if they do, the time available for creating community is limited because of work/commuting requirements. And then there are my own limitations – wanting to get involved, but at a level that suits me.

This post was interrupted as I opened the door for the local area co-ordinator for disability services who was dropping by to pick up a young boy who was playing with Sam this morning. She tells me Brighton is an exceptional community for connectedness and people helping each other out. I find myself intrigued by her observations and wondering what other communities must be like…

So I guess the question that percolates for me from these thoughts is, to what extent ought we try to create community locally and to what extent should we just take it as it comes?

Should ‘local churches’ be focused on their own area or should we be about empowering people to be salt and light in their workplaces and other ‘liberated’ communities?

Its a tough tension because many ‘local churches’ are full of busy people, doing good things with their lives outside of the suburb the church is in. Does this matter?other boleyn girl the divx download

Losing my Virginity


Last Friday night I went to my first ever concert…

No kidding.

At 43 years old I went to hear The Waifs, John Butler Trio and someone else I didn’t get the name of and got there too late to hear anyway.

Why your first concert so late in life?… you may ask.

Well, as much as I enjoy some music I have never really been much up for listening to live bands, or spending money on live gigs. I’d rather go to dinner, movies, theatre, speedway… ok so I don’t go the speedway… but I might if I could!

In the past I have also thought it more prudent to buy two CDs than pay for a concert ticket. (I know – it doesn’t work that way!)

I realise this will disappoint many people and your opinion of me well sink lower than ever… but I left last night quite underwhelmed. *Hamo ducks rotten tomatoes from disbelieving music lovers & other concert goers* I completely understand how people enjoy this type of event, but for me it just didn’t raise a sweat droplet on the enthusiasm meter. Pleasant, enjoyable, all that, but I could happily have stayed home and read a book.

I was certainly able to appreciate the musical talent of Butler & crew who were obviously brilliant musos, and I really liked the Waifs great vocals, but the highlight for me was catching up with the friends who we went there with. I found myself waiting for the speaker to come out… but he never showed… my life of church involvement has conditioned me!

When Danelle and I used to go the basketball she would always tell me what the ‘tiger’ was doing or what the other team’s mascot was doing, or what the cheersquad was wearing. She didn’t really get into the game and while she could tell you (sometimes) who won or lost, everything else was a blur. She missed the moments of brilliance and the set plays that turned the game around. As a basketballer from way back I was always engrossed and would leave feeling full of energy and almost like I had played the game myself. I appreciated the intricacies of the game and the finer points. Danelle had a nice time, but she could probably have stayed home and read a book…

I think the comparison is kinda like what happened on Friday night.

The concert was like background music to the conversations I had over the night, but as Butler came on it got much louder and harder to chat. Rather annoying really…


The fact that it was a hot steamy day certainly didn’t help my virginal concert evening. It was still 32 degrees C at 7.30pm and blowing the humidity meter off the dial. I had a shower just before coming but still felt pretty hot & stinky all night. Obviously no one told the guy next to us that it was hot (in the beanie) because he came ready for winter!

As one who feels heat & humidity badly my judgment of the evening could be somewhat skewed by that factor, but when all’s said and done it probably just isn’t really my scene. I could happily go to another concert with Danelle, but I would be equally content if the rest of my life was concert free.

Fortunately my other more significant virginal experience did not result in a similar response.

Church Songs…

I was preaching today at a local church – a really good bunch of people and a crew who I always enjoy being with. But after my thoughts yesterday, I couldn’t help noticing how many songs were crying out to God to ‘revive us’ or to ‘revive’ the people around us. It is a very significant motif in our western thinking.

I found it very hard to sing the first few songs.

But then there was this song from Matt Redman

I could sing again…

Thanks Matt for a song that isn’t all about me and reminds us that God is still God whether my life is wonderfully prosperous or desperately difficult.

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by Matt Redman

Blessed Be Your Name

In the land that is plentiful

Where Your streams of abundance flow

Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name

When I’m found in the desert place

Though I walk through the wilderness

Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out

I’ll turn back to praise

When the darkness closes in, Lord

Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name

When the sun’s shining down on me

When the world’s ‘all as it should be’

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name

On the road marked with suffering

Though there’s pain in the offering

Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out

I’ll turn back to praise

When the darkness closes in, Lord

Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away

You give and take away

My heart will choose to say

Lord, blessed be Your name


Its pretty easy to take pot shots at pollies and people in positions of influence and I have done my fair share of it over the years. Sometimes you forget they are real people too with kids and families who hurt and cry like the rest of us.

This week Neale Fong resigned from his role with the Health Dept after the CCC revealed he had been connected in some way with Brian Burke and was guilty of ‘serious misconduct’. (if you’re not a West Aussie this will mean nothing to you)

I don’t know Neale well, but he was a person I committed to pray for when he took on the job as director for change in the health system. He is a Christian, a good bloke, an incredibly gifted man and also an ordinary flawed human being like the rest of us.


I imagine he will cop a fair bit of criticism over this incident and while some may be fair, some may well be the offhand smartarse comments we all make from time to time.

Perhaps its all part of being in the public eye, but I certainly feel for him at the moment.

The Future for Christianity in Australia (Synchroblog)

Update: My good friend Grendel was a late starter on this ‘synchroblog’ but you can check his post here. Its a beauty.

I’d like to start this post by saying that most of my life I have been an optimist – and have always believed – often for no good reason – that ‘things’ will get better… I guess there is as much irrationality about optimism as there is about pessimism!


However I am not so optimistic about the future of Australian Christianity. In fact I see a very bleak future for several generations to come. I hesitate to post this rather gloomy piece, but I am interested to see if its ‘just me’ or if others also have similar ruminations…

What provoked my thinking on this front was a recent church meeting I attended where the high powered speaker was ‘believing God for revival’… He and many others like him have been prophesying revival in Perth/Western Australia/Australia for more years than I can count now. You know the drill… ‘I believe there is going to be a mighty work of God in this land… a revival of epic proportions… God is doing a new thing… if my people will humble themselves and pray… blah blah blah…”

Some ‘ask’ for revival. Others predict it.

I believe both have missed the point.

I am tired of this revival talk and these false prophets, because in the 30 years I have been old enough to understand the concept I have actually observed the church (overall) in decline. And I haven’t seen any of the revivals that have been predicted ever actually happen. (I do know there have been movements of this ilk among aboriginal people – but these weren’t ‘prophesied’ – and of course because they are not white we don’t count them…)

Do I sound a tad cynical?…

The next time someone prophesies massive revival in your church tell them they are full of crap. Ok… maybe that’s a bit strong… Maybe just politely inquire when the revival will be, what download how the garcia girls spent their summer dvdrip will happen, how you will know it has happened and then bet them a carton of crownies it won’t happen. (Easy way to get free beer…)

No… on second thoughts I was right the first time.

I began pondering why we crave this revival experience and I wonder if it because we are too lazy to get off our own butts and get involved with the people in the communities we live in and do the hard yards of making connections, knowing that many of them will never lead to a person coming to faith? I wonder if we don’t just want God to do the ‘hard work’ of mission (we will hold prayer meetings – until we get bored because nothing has happened) and then when he has done his thing people will flock to our churches to join us… and become like us… and we won’t have to change one bit… we won’t have to experience any discomfort at all. Of course we only want ‘appropriate’ people to join our churches so it would need to be a selective revival of the middle classes.

In many churches the people pray and send God out on mission, when in reality it is us he has commissioned to the task.

Revival as I hear it depicted takes the responsibility off us to be salt and light. Its as if the people pray and send God out on mission, and then complain when he doesn’t get the job done.

I’m so tired of hearing preachers rant about ‘taking our city for God’, or taking the nation’. For one thing I don’t think people like being ‘taken’, and for another I don’t think anyone really wants to do it. Sure you might get a few wild eyed young people fired up and nutso the day after a Planetshakers conference, but talk to them in 6 months about their plans for ‘taking the city’ and chances are (if they are still in church) that they won’t even remember the whole thing.

The militaristic tone of that language harks back to our darkest days when crusades took people by force and needs to be dismantled and retired for ever. I remember when Erwin McManus was in Perth a few months back, during the open question time, he was asked ‘what we need to do to start taking our city for God’.

His response… ‘stop using that kinda language for a start!’

We really have to stop this nonsense talk about taking the world for Christ when most of us don’t even know our own next door neighbours. And we need to stop expecting God to do what we are too lazy or afraid to do ourselves.

I should say that I would love to be around if God ever did do something miraculous – if there ever was a genuine revival ala the Welsh revival. I’m sure that would be an incredible experience. But in the mean time – in the absence of the miraculous – I believe our job is not to pray God will pull his finger out and bring some pagans into church, but rather for us to get our own butts into gear and live the gospel in the worlds we are a part of.

Having said that I don’t think it will make a lot difference to the attendance figures at church. I’m not even convinced that many people will be interested in the gospel or faith. I think for anyone who is engaged in evangelistic work among adult Australians it will be a lean time. There’s no doubt young people are easier to influence, but that knife cuts both ways as they also easily influenced away from faith.

I actually believe the current decline in Australian Christianity will continue for maybe another couple of hundred years. If we are looking like following European trends then Australia is only going to become more secular,and more focussed on the material to bring us satisfaction in life. I can see that at least the next 50 years being ones of decline and challenge for us in the church. There will be some who will be faithful, who will take up the challenge of living for Jesus, but I believe it will be a dry, tough time and many will give the game up.

I have recently been wondering, what if our generation’s contribution will simply be that of ‘holding our ground’?

What if we are entering a period of time where there will be such a disinterest in faith that simply to ‘not give up and join in’ will be a great achievement? I haven’t thought like this before, but increasingly I am wondering if we really are in survival mode as the Australian church – even if our gung ho militaristic rhetoric suggests otherwise?

The optimist in me wants to believe that things will get better – that if we just ‘do more missionary stuff’ people will close encounters of the third kind divx download respond again to the gospel and that we will see a new generation of disciples who will chart the course for the future. But I just can’t see it. And while it disturbs me and makes me sad I feel this is a more accurate reality than revival next weeky…

What I do see is a fair share of Christians getting lured away from faith by affluence and self indulgence and laziness. I do see a general decline in the level of Christian discipleship as people work harder and generally ask ‘what’s the point’? I wonder where this laiodicean kind of faith will take us?…

No one is likely to get excited about being the people who simply ‘held the ground’. As a pastor I would have found that a hard sermon to preach. ‘Come on people! Lets just be faithful to what we know and try not to quit!’ Hmmm…

I believe there are sound biblical and practical principles for how a church is to function and operate in its community, but I don’t believe that just by being faithful we will see a substantial difference in the Australian spiritual landscape. I don’t think there is any easy answer to the current situation we find ourselves in as the church.

I don’t say that to discourage you, but I say it because I am tired of the false hopes that get thrust at us from so many directions. So many conferences with answers and plans and models to fix where we are at – and yet so little changes. Maybe that’s why we go the ‘revival’ route. We know we’re screwed and unless God shows up then in a miraculous way we have nothing left to stand on. And when the conferences and seminars don’t ‘work’ there begins the cycle of blame – its our pastor who can’t lead us – or for pastor’s ‘its our people who just aren’t committed’.

Folks – my Australia day post is somewhat bleak. I do realise that. But I also believe that if it were a prophesy it would have more of a chance of being accurate than the crap we currently get fed.

What do I suggest?

Honestly I don’t have any other answer than to say ‘be faithful disciples’… I think Peter had it right when Jesus asked him if he wanted to leave. Remember his words? ‘Lord to whom would we go?!’

I don’t believe there is a better ‘option’ out there for making sense of the world, but I’m not so sure we as the church believe that like we used to…

p>This post is part of the Christianity In Australia

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synchroblog which a number of Australian Christians are participating in to celebrate Australia Day. For more on Christianity in Australia see: