Stretch Your Imagination

I’ve heard its good to do something that scares you every now and then and last night was that occasion for me. I was asked to speak to the young adults at Riverton Baptist… (Actually that doesn’t scare me half as much as speaking to lower high schoolers)

And the job was to slot into their mission series (based on GIA’s ‘Calling Charlie Program) and challenge them to think about the whole idea of contextualisation. Over the years I have discovered that its quite a stretch for us Baptists to think differently about mission and church, but for some reason my own journey has taken me right into the guts of this issue particularly as it relates to western culture.

The basic focus was to encourage them to be people who experiment, take risks and have courage when it comes to mission in the west. It is in our nature to play it safe, so giving permission or even pushing people ‘out of the nest’ is vital if we are going to do more than business as usual.

I presented a series of innovative mission endeavours and that I knew would gradually stretch people’s thinking and acceptance more and more, starting with our own story with Upstream and working thru to ‘Mission in Second Life’, a virtual online mission field / church. I’m pretty sure the noise in the room dropped a little and the temperature in the room rose a little each time I moved further and further into more unfamiliar territory, which probably means I was hitting the right issues.

At the end of the talk I was about to sit down and get ready to drive home when I felt one of those Holy Spirit nudges / elbows in the guts.

I sometimes find myself driving to churches or speaking events wondering ‘really – what’s the point?’ Some days I honestly feel like I am wasting my time because all that I feel happens is that people say ‘hmmm… interesting… nice for you, but we’ll just keep about business as usual’. Its a frustrating experience and one that I wanted to confront last night.

So I did. I finished by telling the crew of 150 or so that I was worried that I was wasting my time and that I had grown a bit cynical about whether anyone actually wanted to do anything with the ideas, or whether it would simply get filed in the ‘wacko’ basket. I didn’t want to come across rude, but I don’t want to be an entertainer either.

I invited people to stand up and be counted if they felt God stirring them on this and if they wanted to actually do something with it. About 10 people stood up, which was pretty encouraging, and the conversations afterwards showed that for a small number there a fire had been lit that would continue to encourage them in their own missionary journey.

Here’s hoping we will continue to unearth new missionaries to the western world, willing to do whatever it takes to share the love of God with a tough secular society.

Afraid of the Daylight?

One of the benefits those of us in religious work receive is the ability to take around 50% of our salary without paying tax. (Some take far more – often inappropriately so and other far less. Such is the fluidity of the criteria determined for assessment.)

But there is an undeniable tax break for those in churches and the like.

A couple of weeks back Senator Nick Xenophon introduced a bill to make church’s accountable for their receipt of that exemption. You can read his bill and some of the discussion .

As one who receives benefit from this system I have no problem with it being audited and regulated, but what I found interesting was the criteria for assessment.

Part of the document reads:

(2) The public benefit test must include the following key principles:

(a) there must be an identifiable benefit arising from the aims and activities of an entity;

(b) the benefit must be balanced against any detriment or harm;

(c) the benefit must be to the public or a significant section of the public, and not merely to individuals with a material connection to the entity.

Essentially if a religious organisation is going to get a tax break because they are serving the community, then they need to make sure they are actually doing that. Point C could have come from the mouth of Jesus himself I reckon.

If we as churches claim that we exist to love, bless and serve the local community then this bill would be of no concern. If we exist simply to be a religious club then we have reason to fear. While Senator Xenophon’s bill grew out of a concern over the Church of Scientology specifically, I see his test as being a healthy one and one that will actually serve churches as they orient their mission in the community.

For those that want nothing more than a Sunday gathering and some midweek Bible studies this will be a scary prospect.

As Xenophon says – this is simply a way of ‘letting in the daylight’ and making sure everything is above board and as it should be.

Pretty sad that we would even need to be tested in this way, but perhaps its a wake up call to the church, to refocus on our core business again…

More Prophetic Yaconelli

“Evangelicals do not love the truth. We say we love the truth, but we are liars–we don’t believe it. If we believed it then we would trust it, and we would allow it in all its outrageousness, in all of its craziness and haphazardness, to sort of explode. Instead, we try to control it, manipulate it, and to make it into a set of lifeless and dead principles. If we believed the truth we would allow it to explode in pockets of oddness all over this country.”

What a loss this bloke was…

My Kinda Statement of Faith

One of my fondest ever memories was of being at the Youth Specialties conference in San Diego way back in 1996 and hearing Mike Yaconelli speak for the first time.

I was there on my own and knew no one, but this bloke made it all worthwhile. He was a wild, passionate and crazy man who knew how to inspire. His death was a tragedy.

I was doing some Yac reading today and came across the YS statement of faith. Probably not standard issue stuff, but it made some good sense to me.

We believe in Jesus .

We know He’s part of the Trinity and all the other important stuff we also believe, but if we’re honest, we’re partial to Jesus. Don’t get us wrong. God is like a father—no, God IS the Father—and the buck stops with Him (if you’re going to have the buck stop somewhere it might as well stop with Someone who is…well…all about love with a capital L. Of course,He’s also about justice with a capital J, but we’ll take our chances that, in the end, justice will feel like love). And then there is the Holy Spirit—mysterious, windy, seems to like

fire a lot, whispering, and always pointing us to…you guessed it…Jesus.We not only like Jesus a lot,He likes us a lot. Enough to die for us.We know that when life gets tough (and it always does) He’ll be there for us.

We believe in the Church .

We know—it’s flawed, inconsistent, institutional, bureaucratic, even embarrassing sometimes. Yet it is also incredibly heroic at other times.Whether we like it or not, want to attend it or not, we’re stuck with it. There are a lot of para-church organizations out there that are a lot more glamorous at first glance, but

the Church is the Body of Christ, and that’s pretty glamorous too. The Church is not optional, it’s not up for discussion, it’s been around ever since Jesus, and it’s still here. That’s good enough for us.

We believe in the scandalous grace of God


Grace is outrageously unfair, ridiculously extravagant, and unashamedly the center of the gospel, and it sure beats judgmentalism, legalism, and all the other isms. Grace always gives second chances, third chances, and never stops giving chances. Grace has Jesus written all over it. Grace makes people nervous, because

they are always so worried someone is going to take advantage of it. But that’s what we like about grace. You can take advantage of it. But here’s the really interesting part—grace doesn’t just let everyone in. Anyone, yes, but not everyone. And the Grace of God frequently includes the unexpected. So…who’s in and

who’s not? Only God knows, and that’s fine with us.

We believe in the Bible.

We’re awed by it, inspired by it, and believe it is Truth.We’re also terrified of it.We don’t understand all of it, but we believe it. All of it. That’s the important part, because if you only believe some of it, if you try to edit out the parts you don’t like, then you don’t believe it. Of course, believing it all doesn’t mean we perfectly live it all. It doesn’t even mean we have it all figured out. Mostly we’re scared of it, scared in a good way, because whenever we read it and try to live by it, God shows up and that’s pretty terrifying…and also pretty amazing, and pretty… uh…assuring.

That’s kind of it. The “biggies.”

We know there’s other important stuff out there…actually, a lot of other stuff: theology, doctrine, homosexuality, abortion, war, the second coming, prophecy, music, discipleship, appearance, serving, worship, tattoos, dancing, drinking, traditions, smoking, language, baptism, moral issues and…well, like we

said, lots of stuff.

All that stuff is important, and certainly people should try to figure out what to believe about all those things, but that’s exactly the point.We believe that if the “biggies” are sorted out, then all the other stuff will eventually fall into place too. It might not fall into the same place as the brother or sister next to you, but that’s what makes the kingdom of God so interesting. Right?


Teach Your Children Well

“The church today should be getting ready and talking about the issues of tomorrow and not the issues of 20 or 30 years ago, because the church is going to be squeezed in a wringer. If we found it tough in these last few years, what are we going to do when faced with the real changes that are ahead?… One of the greatest injustices we do to our young people is to ask them to be conservative. Christianity is not conservative but revolutionary. To be conservative today is to miss the whole point, for conservatism means standing in the flow of the status quo and the status quo no longer belongs to us… If we want to be fair we must teach the young to be revolutionaries, revolutionaries against the status quo”

Francis Schaeffer (1981)

I think Schaeffer was very much on the money for his time, but I think we are only now coming to grips with what he said. Whatever the case we cannot encourage our young people to be safe, conservative, non risk taking ‘Flanders’ type Christians. We must ask more of them than that…


We are only 5 weeks away from our first holiday since getting back from the round Oz trip.

I don’t normally go this long without a break, but between church work and retic work it has just been important to ‘be around’ for these 8 months to get re-established.

We will be heading north on Friday July 2nd and getting home Friday July 30th. After travelling for 6 months it seems such a short time!

So the plan is to head up the middle of WA to Newman and hopefully catch John and Angie Wilmot there before travelling on to Karijini Nat Park and Millstream. Then across to the coast for a bit of time in Exmouth, and a gradual winding our way home down the coast stopping wherever there is fine weather and waves.

I reckon it’ll be fun to be on the road again and I’m interested to see how it feels doing it for a shorter more intense period.

I had expected work to slow right down around now, but there is still a steady flow of installation work coming in that will take me right thru to holidays and then once we’re back its only a month until spring and the silly season… when it all starts all over again…

Does Perth Get Waves?

Finding good waves in Perth is like stumbling on a pink unicorn, but has some great pics of Trigg and Scarborough as well some other local gems.

These images take me back to my teen days hanging out the back at Trigg Point. All that’s changed is that the once crowded wave is now insanely crowded.

Its proof that there are good waves in the metro area if you are in the right place at the right time…

As for me and my household… we’ll stay well clear and chase the less crowded waves further afield!

Farewell Winston

It was a sad day in the Hamo household today as we bade farewell to our lovely old dog Winston. We picked him up in 1996 at the age of 13 months, badly abused, afraid of his own shadow and as a result pretty socially inept.

He turned out to be a beautiful dog in every way, with enormous energy and great patience with kids, but 14 years on his legs were giving way and we would regularly wake up to dog poo in the house. We have known for a while that his time was coming.

So last week I made the trip to the vet to get him assessed and we made the tough call to say goodbye. Today was the day. Ellie didn’t want to go down so I stayed home with her and dug the hole, while Sam and Danelle took him for the needle. Sam got scared and stayed in the waiting room, so Danelle was left with him.

We buried him in the backyard ($115.00 for a ‘group cremation’ was never going to happen) and he now has a mango tree planted on top of him.

We’re all pretty sad, yet at the same time conscious that the future was only looking darker for him and that it was better to make the call now.

We are all grateful for having such a great mate for so long.

Come With Me…

As my screensaver rolls over I see these images every day… Its not good for stability and focus I can tell you! Anyway here’s a very brief summary of our surfing ventures around Oz. We will go clockwise starting at Exmouth. Hold on…

The first surf of the trip was at our first major stop – Exmouth, where I went to Dunes’ beach. There were some nice warm waves and not much crowd, but the swell died after 2 days. The first day we got there, I saw an amazing looking left right in front of our (Lighthouse) caravan park. It was running hard and fast over reef, holding shape and looking amazing, but there was no one out… There had to be a catch I figured, and given I hadn’t surfed for 4 months I wasn’t about to make that my re-entry… regretting it now…

Broome… rarely is there any surf in Broome, but we got some little waves… enough for Chloe to get up and moving!

After Broome there were no waves until we got back to southern Queensland. Then the fun really started… This is Rainbow Bay. Not sensational, but Duranbah was so crowded that this was the better option. And in case you didn’t know… Surfer’s paradise isn’t!

We stayed with a mate and he took me to his ‘local’, ‘Cabarita’. Very nice

Oooh babeee… This was one magic day of waves. Lennox Head is an Australian surfing reserve and it was sensational. Getting out and getting in is about as much fun as banging your head with a hammer, and the crowd factor meant old fat blokes didn’t get many waves… but when they did… woohoo

Ok two pics of Lennox because it was sooo bloody good! Don’t miss it if you are doing the lap.

While staying in Alstonville we got wind of a little remote fishing town called Minnie Water where there were waves. It had great potential, but didn’t fire while we were there. I surfed on my own most of the time which was a little worrying at times in decent swells.

South of Minnie Water is Coffs Harbour and we stayed in the caravan park that backs onto Emerald beach, where we had 3 days of offshore beachies. Another score.

Scotts Head is a well known longboarder wave so we had to go there. It was small and cold, but still a nice spot. We were hoping to hit Crescent Head, but there was no swell so we continued on down the coast and had a few waves at Boomerang Bay before Danelle headed inland and I hung out at Newcastle.

This is the main beach at Newcastle, but there were waves everywhere. I had fun here but couldn’t get a wave at ‘nobby’s’ where a crew of 10 or 15 old farts hung outside and caught everything on their mals and dropped in on you if you did get a wave!

From here we headed thru Sydney in a day and went to Wollongong/Warilla where there wasn’t much to speak of in the way of surf. And then it was on to Pambula where the beachbreak was turning it on for us yet again. I had 4 or 5 days of beautiful beachies and even though the water was cold it was still nice to be with just a handful of people on a stunning beach.

From Pambula we didn’t see surf again until we hit Torquay and the infamous Bells Beach. It didn’t break while we were there, but it looked like this on the day we left…

And just down the road that same day Winki looked like this… We could have stopped but both were pretty crowded so we decided to press on and hopefully find a wave further along the coast.

So we pushed on thru to Johanna hoping to escape the crowds… but it was about 10ft and wild, so we didn’t get any waves in Vic after all…

I have to say I was stoked to get to Cactus. Its one of those legendary places and in 30 years of surfing I had never made it there. It wasn’t firing on all cylinders, but it was certainly good enough for some great uncrowded waves… great place for a blokes weekend…

Esperance wasn’t really doing it, but we headed out to Cape Le Grand where I had some fun waves a few years previously. Sadly it was just too small with wild offshores, to be ridable so I sat in the water for a little while and then gave up. Beautiful beaches, but not this time…

We ducked in at Bremer Bay on the way thru hoping to find some waves, but it wasn’t to be. I had one surf at Albany with Sephto, but it was dodgy and then we made it thru to icy Denmark. I have great memories of surfing Ocean Beach as a kid, but in the last 30 years I don’t think I have had one good surf there! It was so damn cold that we didn’t care though.

We are almost home and an uncrowded Indijup carpark is pretty hard to beat!

Early morning at Moses Rock, probably 4 or 5 ft with bigger sets… I was the only one there… But I piked… what a loser… 🙂

Anyway, there are some sensational waves to be had all around this amazing country, but if I had to pick one place to go back to, it would be the NSW coast, pretty much any part of it!