Who Would You Choose?

I was at my sister in law’s place today doing some handyman stuff and getting the house ready for tenants. One of the jobs involved changing over the vanity basins in the bathrooms – relatively simple you’d think – but not if the fittings are hard to get…

To get the basin off I needed to remove taps and spout. To get the spout off I had to wrench very hard on the poly nut holding it in place, breaking it in the process. No big deal I figured. I’ll get another one from Bunnings… A ‘5/8’ nut would be easy to find you’d think.

So I went to Bunnings…

One of the shop assistants took a look and said ‘nope, never seen one of those. If we have one it’d be in that area there.’ He pointed me to an aisle and then did an about turn. Thanks a heap…

So I went to Reece…

‘Nope. They stopped using them about 9 years ago mate. Can’t help you.’

So I went to Galvins…

‘Nope. Can’t help you mate.’

That was it.

I went back and did some more work and then thought I’d try Quinns Hardware. These guys sometimes have odd stuff, or if they haven’t got it they can find it somewhere.

Sure enough. A woman in her 20’s answered the phone.

‘Ok, I know what you mean but I’m not sure if we have one. You’d have to come in, but I think we can help. I’ll leave a few out and we can see if they fit.

I went in and one of the nuts she had there was perfect. And then she looked up her suppliers book and ordered me another one (for the other basin…)

So what does it say about the 3 ‘big guys’? Honestly to me it simply says ‘we don’t care and can’t be bothered.’ What does it say about the little guy?…

A heap!

After removing the

Backyard Missioning

Its been 3 weeks since we moved house, (one of which we spent over East), but I’m now starting to feel somewhat settled in the new place. Settled enough to be able to appreciate the environment and feel grateful rather than lost.

Actually I’m loving it here and I’m aware that I actually feel more alive in this place than I have for a while. Most people who have come and visited here tell us that the house and area is very ‘us’ and while I’m not sure what means exactly I would have to agree. It feels right. It feels like a place where we can come alive.

I’m very conscious that I have come here with a very different mindset to that which I went to Butler. I haven’t come here ‘on a mission’, yet I’m very aware that I am indeed on a mission – every bit as much as I was back there – but perhaps with some knowledge and experience that I didn’t have at that point in life.

So how does a ‘backyard missionary’ do his thing 8 years on? (That’s how long I have been blogging on this theme!)

Well I guess the big shift has been in ‘waiting for the wind to blow’ rather than attaching a 215HP outboard and hitting the throttle. I don’t mean that in a passive way – not at all. But I do mean it in the sense of sniffing around and trying to tune into what God is doing and who he may be bringing across my path. I mean looking for the wind and setting the sails to catch it rather than driving full steam in a direction because I can.

As the wind has blown there was a surf at the local beach with a bloke my age and a good conversation to boot. I’ve wandered next door and across the road to meet the neighbours when they have been out gardening. And then today the phone rang and it was a local bloke seeking some labouring work. He had found my card at the local hardware (another place where my face is now getting known) and called me seeking work. If enough work comes up then I’ll be giving him a call.

Its honestly not very exciting but these are the networks that form as we live our ordinary lives – as we surf, shop and work – and my guess is that God is just as capable of using a vessel with sails prepared for the wind as he is able to use a bloke with a huge outboard. In fact my choice to live this way is because I am sensing that it is a truer way to live and more sustainable.

So the journey begins and we’ll see where it leads but for those who may still be interested that’s the deal thus far.

Sundy Arvo

This afternoon as I was painting some lattice on our verandah I couldn’t help but think that if there is a hell then this is what we would be doing there. Painting lattice is a ridiculously tedious and frustrating task with so many fiddly edges to paint that you feel you will never finish. That was where two hours of my Sunday afternoon went – and I haven’t even finished the first coat yet…

Then around 5.00pm as Danelle got back I decided to head down to the lagoon and see if the little wave just 100m north was throwing anything up. I got there and saw a pile of cars – whale watchers – all checking out the big fish lolling around a couple of hundred metres offshore.

I headed back home and called the kids (its nice living 400m from the beach) and they came to have a look. Ryan and Sy were there so they whale watched and played while I surfed and watched the whale do his thing and the sun sink slowly into the ocean.

If hell involves painting lattice then this was pretty damn close to heaven!


A few years back (ok 20 or so…) I was a reasonable basketballer and won a few trophies.

Early in our marriage while I was still playing competitvely I would put them on display somewhere around the house, but then we moved house to Lesmurdie and I packed all 30 or so up in a banana box and they never saw the light of day.

When we moved to Butler they stayed in the same banana box, except for a short time when my kids discovered them and wanted to know about them.

With this house move I decided to ditch them. After all they had sat in the same banana box for 15 years and never been looked at so there was no point keeping them any longer I reasoned. I took them down to the tip and handed them over at recycling. I can’t say it was particularly sad/significant or otherwise. It simply felt like handing over stuff that once had meaning but was now just plastic and wood.

No one had seen these trophies in 15 years and no one was ever likely to see them again. Might as well make them landfill…

The funny thing is that they have been on ‘display’ at the local tip for a couple of months now. Friends have seen them and told me – taken an embrassing picture even – and then today I went to Tamala (I like to think of it as the local Ikea) to search for a flyscreen door and as I walked around I saw them proudly displayed for all to see.

Just when I had given up on fame…

Kamikaze Mission

I think for a long time, I along with plenty of others have made mission more central than Christ.

While that wasn’t the intent – and wasn’t what was said – it often was the reality. Take a A type, task oriented personality and a world that is increasingly hard to reach with the gospel and you have just hung a red rag in front of a bull.

I’ve reflected recently on some shifts in my relationship with God and this article by Skye Jethani echoes some of what I have been feeling. It was only last week as I met with our church leaders that I was saying a few years ago I felt incredibly passionate to change for the world for God, but didn’t feel so ‘close to God’ in relational terms. These days I feel great warmth in my relationship with God, but I am less motivated to chase down every possible ‘missional opportunity’.

What’s with that hey?…

Some of it is the conditioning that Jethani writes of in his article, some of it is a maturing faith and some of it is a shift in my own personality with a different stage of life.

If you have felt similar then read the article and see what he says. I reckon he’s on the money. I still feel a deep sense of calling to be a missionary/apostle but these days I see it working out differently in how I live. From a distance I would say my life appears somewhat dispassionate and unmotivated – and to some degree I struggle with that because I ‘feel’ different and haven’t completely resolved that its ok to be here.

Yet there is stuff too that can’t be seen and that matters. Stuff being learnt and experienced that is somewhat of new territory but that isn’t so easy to articulate, nor easy for an A Type person to understand.

To be honest I worry about me some days. I worry that I have lost my drive. But I’m also conscious that somethings is happening… something good… maybe better than being Mr Superdriven and articles like this simply give me hope.

Who Am I Again?…

I have been pondering this decision for a while and then today it happened.

I went for a surf at a little wave just a short walk from home. I’ve been there twice now and had some very nice waves. Today I waited for the crowd (5 blokes) to go home and then at 4.30 I put on the wetsuit and hit the beach.

After 15 minutes of lone surfing another bloke paddled out. We got talking. He has lived in Yanchep all his life – all 45 years of it – and he knows the area pretty well so it was good to get some inside knowledge on the break and on the area in general. We talked surf, family, life in general and of course work.

‘So what do you do for a crust?’ he asked.

I’ve always answered this by telling people I’m a Baptist minister but I’ve been wondering what impact it has on a relationship to immediately be suddenly faced with a religious leader. I am wondering what images that conjures up in people’s minds. Is it more helpful to ongoing relationships to introduce myself as a retic bloke?

I have no qualms about who I am and what God has called me to do – a backyard missionary / apostle is still central – but try explaining that to a bloke out in the surf.

So I’m experimenting again.

These days I will be introducing myself as a retic bloke and along the way as people get to know me they will learn that I am a Jesus follower who leads a Christian community. Previously the order was reversed but I don’t think its any issue as to what order they get revealed in.

I imagine this is what the people in our churches do all the time – those who aren’t paid religious workers – so I’m interested to see where it goes and what I learn along the way.

Any reflections?…



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When God Loses It

As a church we have been working our way thru the book of Exodus and reflecting on the issues of following God as a community.

This week we land up in the one of the most crazy chapters of the entire OT – Exodus 32. Its the story of how Moses is away up the mountain with Joshua getting the 10 commandments and while he’s gone the people ditch God and set up a golden calf to worship.

It has some great insights into our foibles and frailty as people, and it offers a great contrast in leadership approaches (Aaron and Moses) but it also raises some serious questions about the nature of God. And they aren’t easy questions. I’ve spent a couple of hours this morning just reading and thinking and pondering how to hit it.

Here are some of the issues:

vv9-14 is a conversation between God and Moses where God wants to completely obliterate the people and Moses goes into bat for them. In this conversation it certainly seems like Moses talks some sense into God – to put it crassly… God is losing the plot with anger and Moses says ‘chill… that aint such a good idea… remember the plan?… covenant?…’ And God says ‘oh yeah… ok’.

You have to admit that it does read a bit like that… no?…

Then when Moses comes down from the mountain and sees all that’s going on he has his own meltdown. He really loses it and burns up the calf, grinds it to powder and makes the people drink it. You can literally feel the intensity of his anger.

After calling the people to make a choice he sends out the levites under God’s orders to wipe out the rebels. The story reads:

Then he said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. 29 Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the LORD today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”

God orders the Levites to go around and kill their brothers/friends/neighbours… Harsh?… I think we’d all agree its pretty extreme measure.

After this Moses tries to get God to let up on the rest of the people and even offers himself in their place. The chaptr ends:

The LORD replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. 34 Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.” And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.

Now much of how you interpret / teach this passage will depend on your pre-existing theological framework. Some would argue that if God is holy then this is a natural outcome. Open theists would see this as a classical example of God changing his mind.

But I can’t help wondering how you would explain it to people who don’t have any faith, or who view Christianity with some skepticism. It can appear as a pretty bizarre and disturbing story.

I could just focus on the issues of idolatry, rebellion and leadership, but you simply can’t read this chapter and not be challenged to wonder what God is like.

Love to hear your reflections!


Its been a mildly frustrating day with heaps of small tasks to accomplish and fix ups, some of which just didn’t come off. By lunchtime I was a bit gnarly, so this cartoon is a good reminder of the life I live…

Build a bridge?…


Change Avoiding

I think its in our nature to avoid any change that disrupts our comfort and makes us uneasy.

I had a call a couple of weeks back from my dad asking if I knew how to uninstall Windows 7 and wind it back to Windows XP. He had just bought a new computer and the new operating system was unfamiliar and alien, so it seemed smarter to simply go back to what was familiar.

I have taken my newly acquired Mac away with me on this holiday, not to work, but simply to learn. I bought a mac because I wanted to learn a new way of computing and I haven’t yet come across anyone who has made the change and regretted it. For a few days I felt like my dad did.

After 4 years on a Sony Vaio running windows XP I was in a place where I knew just what I needed to do to get the result I wanted. I’m still unfamiliar with the Mac and at that ‘not yet convinced’ point in my experience. If you offered me a brand new Vaio with all the good specs I’d be tempted.

But I am convinced that the best is yet to come in my Mac experience. I believe that there is a better way if I am willing to feel clumsy and disoriented for a while. So I will keep going.

I can’t help drawing the parallel to my experiences over the last 10 years with churches. There may be a better way – there may be a way to express communal life that is healthier and richer than what we know, but few will pursue it. And that’s simply because it doesn’t come naturally and easily.

We have become so accustomed to one ‘Operating System’ that we can’t easily figure out how to work with a different one. It may even be that a whole new OS eliminates bugs and glitches and makes the whole thing much more efficient and effective, but we are familiar with ‘windows’ so we’d rather have the devil we know than take a risk on something new.

It seems there are few willing to jump ship and re-imagine because it does bring with it a degree of discomfort, but what if we are settling for less than we should? Wouldn’t you want to at least give it a really good shake?

The god’s of comfort and security have a strong grip so it can be daunting to even begin the journey. As for me and my house… its a no brainer