Random Fun

Chuckle chuckle

If you don’t like public toilets then this one will knock you out… The first pic is of a woman about to enter a public toilet in Houston

And this is the view from inside the toilet – made entirely of one way glass…No one can see you from the outside, but when you are inside, it’s like sitting in a clear glass box.

Anyone getting nervous?…

Ok this one’s a beauty too. The floor of this bathroom has been painted on, but I still reckon it could be a little weird on first take!

And just to show you how sharp (or strange) some people are here’s a true story of the ‘Pudding Guy’

In 1999, UC-Davis civil engineer David Phillips was grocery shopping when he noticed something peculiar. Healthy Choice Foods was offering frequent-flyer miles to customers who bought its products. But a 25-cent pudding would bring 100 miles — the reward was worth more than the product itself.

Recognizing a good thing, Phillips bought 12,150 servings of pudding for $3,140, claiming he was stocking up for Y2K. Then he enlisted the Salvation Army to help him peel off the UPC codes, in exchange for donating the pudding.

He mailed his submission to Healthy Choice, and to their credit they awarded him 1.25 million frequent-flyer miles, enough for 31 round trips to Europe, 42 to Hawaii, 21 to Australia, or 50 anywhere in the United States.

There’s no downside. Phillips also got Aadvantage Gold status for life with American Airlines, which brings a special reservations number, priority boarding, upgrades, and bonus miles. And he got an $815 tax writeoff for donating the pudding.

Just an Idea

Out the front of our house we have our lawn, then a pavement and closest to the road a 2 metre strip of lawn that spans our block and is considered council property.

I was reading Simon’s blog today and the neighbourhood initiatives he was writing about and couldn’t help wondering what would happen if we were to start a veggie patch in the front of our yard rather than the back – and what if we got others in the street to do similar and we allowed people to come and take what they wanted from what was created.

In his excellent book on neighbourhood mission and spirituality (God Next Door), Simon wrote about how we have lost the ‘front porch’ vibe in our streets and how most living is now done at the back and of course the end result is that we finish up living much more separate lives. It prompted me to consider how we design our homes and whether we could create homes that help us ‘live out the front’ a bit more.

Perhaps using that verge area for a veggie garden could be a starting point in redressing the balance and who knows, if it caught on it could change the whole vibe of a street.

Of course it has risks and associated problems, but wouldn’t it be a fund experiment?…

Now, if only I had the smallest interest in gardening I’d give it a go!

Jesus and The Pharisees

Lately every time I read the book of John, (and I’ve been doing it a lot), I see Jesus seriously headbutting the Pharisees and the religious system of his time.

I thought maybe it was just me and my own disdain for pharisaism that was shaping what I see, but I’m not sure that’s it any more. Over the first 10 chapters of the book Jesus just seems to be in constant conflict with them and at times he is vitriolic in his critique. In fact Jesus is hardly ever gentle and understanding in these conversations / confrontations.

Its been a while since I have read John in great depth, but I have been deeply impacted by how strong Jesus’ opposition to them is and how hard he goes at them. I’ve found myself wanting to focus on something else in my teaching, but its hard to avoid the dominance of this group if you approach the book systematically.

Over the last week I came to the conclusion that maybe we just need to face the significance of Jesus’ concern and recognise that all of our communities are inherently prone to head in this direction if we lose touch with the gospel of grace and with our own identity. Perhaps Jesus hits this so hard is because it is so deeply a part of a fallen human psyche to make rules and then beat people into submission with them, or to want to control others in the name of God.

You certainly couldn’t say we no longer do that as churches…

In all of that I am aware of my own inner Pharisee who sometimes creeps up and bites me on the butt. Hypocrisy and self righteousness can be hard to shake unless we live in communities where authenticity is permitted and where failure is not seen as the end of the world. If we aren’t allowed to be real then the only option we have is that of pretense followed by grappling with the inner demons of deception that remind us of who we really are.

I have been reminded again that for us to be any use at all as a community we must start by acknowledging that we are broken, messed up people and while we are created in God’s image we so easily veer away from there.

I am starting to wonder if one of the biggest assets a Christian community can have is authenticity and then one of the most serious cancers would be pretense. No great surprise there, but perhaps the question that arises is why (if we know this) we still don’t do it more fluently.

Pulling Up Stumps

It was back in 2002 that Danelle and I sensed God speaking to us about leaving our home in Lesmurdie and making the move to Brighton as missionaries and pioneers.

We were leading a church at that time and I had only just transitioned into the Team Leader role after 5 years as a youth pastor. It was therefore quite bizarre to feel this calling so strongly, and yet we couldn’t ignore it. We also felt there were 4 other families who we should invite to join us on the journey. Again there were very good reasons why each should have said ‘no thanks’, but despite incredible obstacles all said ‘yes – count us in’, and so the journey began.

That journey has been one of the primary foci of this blog, but last night it came to an end – officially. We gathered the core team over a meal and took some time to give thanks, celebrate and share memories of the wonderful time we shared together.

It was a pretty special night as we caught up, shared stories and reflected on the things we had learnt from our experience. What was really cool was that everyone was there – and they wanted to be there. The fact that Upstream ended wasn’t down to bad vibes and people disliking each other. It was just a whole bunch of circumstances that shifted and left it no longer viable.

I heard a number around the table say that if we could do it again we wouldn’t hesitate. In fact who knows… maybe one day we will…

So while there were tears and sadness at the end of a dream, there was also huge gratitude for the journey and for the friendships and for the learning. I think for most of us its been our ‘best ever’ church experience and has shaped up significantly. I actually don’t think we could have learnt any of the stuff we did and changed the way we did while doing ‘business as usual’.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the whole time was the way we were forgotten and virtually disowned by our home church once we made the decision. While there were a few quality people who prayed for us diligently and often, we never got invited back to share our learning and our requests for support or connection were not even responded to.

That has definitely left an ‘ech’ taste in our mouth and was an ongoing source of pain. Recently the church celebrated its 40th anniversary and in recounting the history of the church there was no mention made of the 5 families who left in 2003 to be missionaries in another suburb. Ouch.

To be written out of history like that wasn’t altogether surprising based on what we had experienced, but it was also disappointing as for all of us the church had been such a significant part of our lives and all of us had been long term committed members.

Despite that disappointment we can only look back with joy on a period of our lives that was significant and beautiful and give thanks for being able to do it.

One of Us?…

I think most barely sensible human beings would put Fred Phelps in the complete nutbag category. Sadly for those of us who claim to be Christians, he calls himself one of us and for those of us who are ‘Baptists’ he is one of us too.

Ah… don’t think so!

So I must admit I took great delight in seeing this post.

Westboro Baptist Church showed up to protest in front of Twitter’s San Francisco office on Thursday, but found themselves severely outnumbered by a crowd of absurdist pranksters. Here’s one image from the day, but go read the whole post to get the skinny. Its a hoot.

And in case you thought we Aussies were out of his reach think again… Sadly what this does prove is that you can use the Bible to justify even the most absurd of positions.

Dad’s ‘Show Up’

Simon seems to be able describe our human state so very well.

He does it again .

In case you don’t click the link the summary is ‘Dad’s ‘showing up’ in your kids life is priceless and your absence will be noticed’.

I read this on a day when Sam has been particularly ‘avoidable’ and when I find my love and patience wearing a tad thin…

Thanks Simon.


When your ‘time budget’ for a sermon is a maximum of 8 hours you need to find a plan to make sure you use that time well.

I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to communication and several years used to spend probably twice that time in preparation. I guess when you’ve got the time you can do that. These days I neither have the time available nor would I like to use it that way if I did.

So I have made a commitment to spend no longer than eight hours in sermon prep. If after 8 hours its rough and dodgy well then so be it. I think sometimes the difference between 8 hrs work and 16 hrs work is incremental and the 80/20 rule probably applies. While I find that a little hard to come to grips with at times, it is where I am at and I am learning to be content.

What I have found to be invaluable is what I will call the simple process of ‘gestation’. I spend 3 or 4 hours on Monday doing reading, study and writing, just gathering ideas and forming thoughts about what I will be teaching. Then I don’t touch it again until Friday and almost invariably in the time in between a sermon has formed. The ideas have taken shape, the emphasis of the passage of scripture has become clear and the sense of ‘God’s voice’ has had time to penetrate. On many occasions I sit at the computer on Friday morning and am finished with it by lunchtime.

And today was one of those days. As well as meeting with a mate and doing some retic for a friend I managed to write a sermon. It took 2 1/2 hrs but its done.

Ok its going to need a couple of fine touches but I’ve managed to get the guts of it on paper. I even like how it is looking. If only I’d known about ‘gestation’ 7 years ago…

To be fair I think what is actually happening is that there is a part of my brain ‘on the job’ 24/7, like a computer program running in the background. While I work digging trenches and laying turf something is ticking away in the back of mind forming and developing. At times it can be hard to trust that it is actually happening, but so far that’s how its been.

Now if only I could get it down to 2 hrs prep I could fit in another 6 hours of surfing…