Ok, so not a runner…

Well today confirmed all of our suspicions…

Sam is not going to break any world speed records in his lifetime.

He was in the last heat of the boys 50 m and you can tell by the lack of any other runners in sight where he came in this race!

Ellie (on the left in blue) ran fourth and was pretty pleased.

I am thinking of putting them both up for adoption.

Run Fat Boy Run!

Today is Sam & Ellie’s athletics carnival.

I am a dad who was a phys ed teacher, pretty keen athlete and trainer of athletes. When athletics carnivals came around I would be there before and after school for 3 months teaching, training and preparing kids for the carnival. We had some outstanding athletes and we developed some others because of the rigorous training we did. It was for sheep stations!

Last week I was in Sam’s pre-school class doing ‘dad duty’ when they went out for their ‘try outs’. Sam was in the third heat and waiting to run. The teacher called them up.

He stepped up to the line in racing pose – turned, smiled at me and gave me the thumbs up. The teacher said ‘go’ and suddenly they were off and racing – well the other 3 kids were. Sam had his hands cupped over his eyes and was pretending to run with binoculars on…

I still have no idea why… I think it was because the finish line looked so far away… needless to say Sam was a distant last place!

So our instructions to Sam today are ‘when you run do it without your binoculars! And try to go fast.’ (Nothing in Sam’s life happens fast)

I don’t think Sam is a phys ed teacher’s dream, but he is a wonderful little bloke.

Ellie on the other hand has been telling us how she is nervous and concerned that she might not win. She knows who her competition is and has been trying to figure out how to run faster. She is less likely to run with a pair of imaginary binoculars…

The Road Ahead

Right now there isn’t much that is certain about the road ahead.

However if we’re really honest there never is.

Sometimes we have this illusion of certainty that we sit with for a while, but in truth life is way more fickle than we would like to admit. We don’t have anywhere near as much control over our future as we sometimes like to kid ourselves with.

I remember being a youth pastor at Scarborough Baptist and sensing my time was up there. I hadn’t made a ‘pastoral movement’ before (chuckles quietly to himself…) so I didn’t know quite what to expect. My only guidelines for God were that I would go anywhere within a 3km strip of the coast. I think he chuckled quietly to himself too…

Then came a call from Lesmurdie Baptist Church… in the hills of Perth. I laughed and quickly dismissed it as lunacy, then 9 months later ended up going there as the youth pastor. Strangely those were 5 of the best years of my life, and we were privileged to be in a place where the Holy Spirit did some pretty exciting stuff. I would never have expected to enjoy my time there. I never thought I could enjoy life anywhere away from the ocean, but when I drive up the ‘hill’ I now have a feeling of warmth, familiarity and even a willingness to go back.

Then my time as youth pastor ended and slowly the calling emerged to be the pastoral team leader of the same church. The current team leader was willingly stepping aside to focus on more pastoral aspects of ministry and the church invited me to step into the role. I said ‘yes’, expecting to be there for a long time. We did improvements on the house and got ready to bunker down.

Then one day on the back patio, 14 months into this new role and barely with my toes in the water, I sensed God calling us to move on and to start over. As a church, we had been looking to support another church plant somewhere but no one was emerging as a church planter. I sensed God saying ‘just go and do it!’

I didn’t expect that.

I did expect to be there another 10 years and to lead the church as it grappled with some significant issues. But I couldn’t deny this calling. It certainly wasn’t in my ‘5 year plan’. I sensed there were 4 other families I was to ask to join us.


I don’t hear God like that much at all.

But we asked them… and they all said ‘yes’, to selling up, moving 65 km north and building houses.

It was embarrassing and awkward to share this with the church. I was stymied as to why it had developed in this way.

We left but not with the blessing of the church. Despite affirming the whole idea of church planting and mission when the rubber hit the road and it cost them people and friends, we felt ourselves on our own. It was said that we were ‘released with their blessing’, but the fact I/we have been invited back just once in 5 years to share what we have been doing communicated a very different message. There are a few who pray for us and we love them, but from the ‘organisation’ cut us adrift and didn’t want anything to do with us. Requests to go back and share news have been met with disinterest and a request for financial support when we were heading into difficult waters as a family was never responded to.

A little while back I heard that ‘Hamo had pissed off and taken a bunch of families with him’.


The lack of interest from our home church was extremely sad as most of us had been in there for at least 10 years and some most of their lives. Loss, grief and pain can bring some strange and unexpected responses. It has taken us a long time to come to grips with this.

What’s strange is that if we went back there this Sunday I have no doubt many people would hug us, kiss us and treat us like family and it would be genuine. What do you make of that?…

So we came to Brighton expecting to set the world on fire. At least I did. I thought we would be the people who demonstrated a new way of doing mission and church and would inspire others to do similar. It was somewhat brash, but then I had pretty much been successful at everything I had put my hand to so logic would say that this project would follow suit.

If you’ve read this blog for while then you’d know that our inability to do what we set out to do has been an issue I have grappled with for most of our time here. Lately I have been at peace with where we are at, but it wasn’t always that way.

Most people hate to use the word ‘failure ‘in relation to our venture up here, but I’m not so reserved on that one. We have achieved a lot, learnt a lot and in many ways experienced God, community and mission in ways we probably never would have back at home base. In that alone our experiment has been a wonderfully successful venture – that and the fact that we have simply done what God called us to do and haven’t quit.

However we didn’t actually achieve what we came here to achieve – so I am content to say we ‘have failed’ on that front. (And for what its worth I would still very much love to see many local people come to know Jesus and follow him – so I haven’t ‘rationalised’ that one away.)

But almost 5 years on (we moved into our house on Sep 12 2003) we have seen our core team shrink from 5 key families to 2 and with us on leave next year it doesn’t seem wise or even practical to leave Gav & Helen to hold things together on their own.

The question of what to do is still up in the air. We have talked, prayed, waited… but there is no clear sense of whether we stay or go, whether we reshape and re-imagine ourselves or whether we stop Upstream altogether.

I am tired, very tired and aware that I need a long break. I haven’t ground to a halt and I’m not close to a breakdown or anything like that. I feel more like a long distance runner who has slowed to jog and is now pacing himself so he can get to the end – the ‘end’ being a sabbatical year in 2009.

I’m genuinely not sure what the season beyond that will hold.

I sense some shifts in life direction and focus starting to emerge and I think life will ‘re-form’ when we return, or maybe ‘as’ we return, but I’m not sure what shape that will be.

A part of me would be happy to re-imagine our work here and keep going. Another part of me would happily pull up stumps and go back to leading a church. And then again we have also spoken of heading to the bush and starting a new project there.

Based on past history the chances are pretty good that the future will not look anything like any of the above!

Anyway, I was aware my reflections on our own missionary experience have dried up a little lately, partly because of my own innner tiredness, so I thought I’d take some time to let you know what’s ticking away inside of me.

If you’ve read this far then you’re probably a friend and someone who cares, or maybe you’re just a nosey bugger.the curse of el charro online

I’ll Give You The Tip

Two years ago my good mate Kent got me into footy tipping (picking who’d win each week – for the benefit of USA readers) and despite my complete lack of football knowledge I managed to do ok last year, even winning the SUWA office comp.

This year I have lobbing along in the top few tippers but haven’t been able to crack the number 1 spot. All was looking lost until last weekend when Broady (the hottest tipper) had a bad week and I had a beauty.

Suddenly we are level pegging with just one round to go… both with 111 correct tips.

So this is a big week.

A lot at stake…

Of course poor old Morgs is languishing near the middle of the pack and now owes me another bottle of red. Can’t wait for 2009… 🙂

Its funny how something as inane as footy tipping can bring out the competitive beast in me!

Broady if I were you I’d be feeling scared…

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Forests and Trees

James went back and played in the church band yesterday and made some observations about his experience.

His comments on the issue of ‘social capital’ in church life are insightful and worth reading.

As one who regularly heads back to ordinary churches I often find myself wondering why it is that we do certain things and at times find myself bemused by the activities like ‘turn to the person next to you’ etc.

That said there are elements of regular church life that I find valuable – I quite like sitting still and listening while someone speaks to me – and I doubt there is any such thing as the perfect gathering.

The point is more that its very hard to see our own idiosyncrasies from the inside, but when an outsider comes in they notice them.

Reminds me of the story of the guy who went to a charismatic church for the first time and when asked of his impression said, “Well… I liked the karaoke, but what was with all those nazi salutes while we were singing?!”

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A Cat Confession


I don’t mind cats.

No really… I have owned cats and quite like an animal that can look after itself to some degree, unlike a labrador that whines every time it gets put out.

But we have about 15 cats in our street now and I am ready to cull a few – sounds much nicer than ‘kill’ but means the same thing…

On either side of us and across the road are 9 cats who seem to love my car, our garage, our campervan as places to sleep and leave their cat hair and footprints. Even worse they do that disgusting territory marking spray that reeks for centuries afterwards.

I regularly walk out of my front door to see 4 cats sunning themselves on our front lawn. Normal cats would say to each other ‘quick – let’s get out of here!’ But these ones just laze around like they own the place.

I want to chase them and kick them… really really hard. I want to remind them that they are not my cats and ought to stay away from my house.

They walk past our rear sliding door in front of Winston who cracks a complete psycho every time he sees them. I think they like to taunt him. I would love to let him loose and see what might happen…

I found a cat in our campervan today – I heard it rummaging in there as I walked to the bin. The kids had left the garage door up and this creature had taken advantage. I lined up at the door of the garage to kick it as hard as I could, but in the dark it got past me. Bugger.

Some days it feels like these creatures own the street. Friends drive cars up the street only to see cats lying there who refuse to move until the last minute.

Our next door neighbour is a lovely compassionate woman who rescued two cats from the other woman across the street who refuses to get her cat sterilised. It has had 4 litters now and is pregnant again. Our neighbour also feeds two other strays, so they keep hanging around.

I would like to poison them all but I worry that I might get found out. I’d much prefer if everyone had one cat and kept it indoors so it wouldn’t be a nuisance to everyone else.

I have considered giving Winston the same freedom these cats have, letting him live out the front of the house, letting him crap on everyone else’s lawn as the cats do on ours, but I reckon people might think it rude…

Ok – rant over.

If there happens to be a news story about a spate of dead cats in Butler then you know where to look.push divx movie onlineseraphim falls dvdrip

Disordered Love

I can’t remember where I found this, but it struck a chord…

“Our central lie is in the discrepancy between the language of worship and the actions of worship. We confess “Jesus is Lord” but only submit to the part of Christ’s authority that fits our grand personal designs, doesn’t cause pain, doesn’t disrupt the American dream, doesn’t draw us across ethnic and racial divisions, doesn’t add the pressure of too much guilt, doesn’t mean forgiving as we have been forgiven, doesn’t ask for more than a check to show compassion. We “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” expressing our desire to know Jesus, but the Jesus we want to know is the sanitized Jesus that looks a lot like us when we think we are at our best. Despite God’s Word to the contrary, we think we can say that we love God and yet hate our neighbor, neglect the widow, forget the orphan, fail to visit the prisoner, ignore the oppressed. Its the sign of disordered love. When we do this, our worship becomes a lie to God.”

Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Justice (Downers Grove: IVP, 2007), 71

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What do you do?…

You come home for lunch and have a very busy afternoon ahead, but you notice that your dog has spewed up everything he has ever eaten (or so it seems) onto his bed and the floor alongside it. There is a massive green/yellow spew pile sitting there and in very un-dog-like form he hasn’t scoffed it back down.

You could:

– clean it up, but you are tired, in a hurry and don’t feel like it… (no really…)

– pretend you didn’t see it, clean up any evidence of being home for lunch and hope your wife finds it when she gets home from school canteen

You know that if you clean it you will have been elevated into the ‘super-husband’ category and your chances of sex have increased exponentially….

You know that if you ‘get caught’ ignoring it then something like the opposite of the above will occur!

What would you do?…

(What did I do?… I’ll tell you later!)

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Toddy’s Street

Since we’ve been on the missionary journey we have found ourselves much more interested and aware of the places where people live – to be more specific our streets and neighbourhoods.

I remember one day Scott beverly hills cop iii free

suddenly dvdrip came to visit, partly because he was interested to see this place where we lived and made friends. In one sense its ‘just a street’ in suburbia and its no different to any other street. Yet in another sense it is very different because it is our street, where we live and where we have formed significant relationships.

Last night we got to have dinner with Toddy & Mrs Toddy and their 2 lovely kids and we got to see their street, a place where they feel very connected and blessed to be a part of. We stood out the front and they described to us who lives where and how the street has formed up. They spoke with great affection for the people they live amongst and obviously loved being there. They let us know that it wasn’t their initiative that made this a great place, but rather it was the fact that a whole bunch of people had come together and took the challenge of community seriously.

It was great to see where they live and to ‘feel’ their place.

We had a fantastic meal, some nice wine and a great conversation over the course of the evening. Just a reminder yet again that there the people of God are in many very ordinary places living out the kingdom and just getting on with it.