Sandy Cape Camping











We set off on Monday for a short midweek break. The last few months have been pretty busy and we have missed just hitting the road in the camper and kicking back. My mate Stu and family were taking this week off so we agreed to spend some time together and decided on Sandy Cape as the destination.


Sandy Cape is a great little campsite right by the beach at the end of a 7km dirt road just 10 Ks north of Jurien Bay. We have driven past here many times without even knowing it exists so it was with great enthusiasm that we began the journey.

The beauty of it is its proximity to the city and the relatively short drive up Indian Ocean drive to get there. We all felt like it was a breeze of a drive and that’s a great way to start.

The drive in to the campsite is along a dirt track but it is pretty corrugated so be ready for that. It’s not a big deal but it does give the bones a bit of a rattle.

camp The cost is $15/night for 2 adults and kids – cheap as chips. The campsites are large, well spread out and close to the beach. The bay itself is beautiful and because of its orientation even the sea breeze doesn’t chop it up. We took a quick drive around to the south side and saw some surf potential, but that was about the only surf we saw in the area.

stinkyThere are composting toilets and even a bit of water there for washing hands and feet. Sam found them a bit stinky and literally wore his dive mask in there but honestly its pretty good…

We spent 3 nights and concluded that is probably enough. We did some 4wding, checked out the local towns, hung at the beach, read and relaxed.

The only down side was the wind. It is a part of the coast famous for being windy and we had to contend with some pretty blustery conditions over the last few days. After a pretty ugly night on Wednesday we decided to head south on Thursday. We were trying to escape wind and finished up at our place… Stu and family are camped outside and we are just chilling with them.

Sandy Cape is a great spot for 2 or 3 nights and at the price and proximity to the city you can’t go wrong. Just try and avoid a super windy week as it does get annoying after a while!


If you stop in at Jurien Bay then you can have some fun jumping off the jetty and get a great coffee at the Jetty Café, but sadly the bakery produced some of the worst pies and pasties we have ever come across. Imagine thick hard pastry smeared with some kind of meat flavoured substance… ech…

We gave the old Cruiser it’s first real workout coming here and it passed pretty well. I’m still a little apprehensive about her as she is an old car and its going to take a while to fugure her out… But I’m slowly developing trust in her reliability. Her ‘ability’ is no issue – but I don’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with her. There is the possibility of a Tassie trip at the end of the year so between now and then we will be seeing the Cruiser can be trusted with the responsibility…


So if you’re looking for a pretty cool camp spot close to home you should consider Sandy Cape. There is fishing, swimming, diving and maybe even surfing on the right day.



Sometimes you feel God giving you a nudge towards something. Recently I’d felt him saying ‘take another look at the idea of sabbath, so I have been doing that and reflecting on what that means for me.

The world I grew up in saw Sabbath (capital S) as a day for going to church in Sunday best (tie included) no sport, no TV, no purchasing anything, and occasionally a few other random rules that seemed to be intended to make life as ascetic as possible. (I met a girl once who didn’t kiss on the sabbath…even I couldn’t get her to break that one…) Needless to say I have less than fond memories of my early years of sabbath.

I didn’t think about Sabbath again until I became a pastor and someone reminded me that if I ‘worked’ on Sundays then I needed to take a day off during the week – it was what pastors did… So I took Mondays and then Thursdays as a sabbath and while I was a full time church worker that seemed to be ok.

Then life became more complicated. Church planter, teacher, business operator… I returned to Saturday – the day everyone else gets and called it my ‘day off’. It made sense, fitted and I could manage it. I enjoyed it.

The two books I have read recently have been 24/6 by Matthew Sleeth (very readable without being simplistic) and Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn – some excellent insights, but I sense Marva and I see the world and church a little differently…

The reading evoked some questions and reflections:

– Why do we see almost all of the 10 Commandments as essential but not the sabbath one? Fair question?

– In the sermon on the mount Jesus says ‘you have heard it said… but I say to you…’ (think adultery/murder etc)  what does that mean for the sabbath? If he raises the bar on everything else what does that mean for this command?

– God rested on the sabbath and declared it ‘holy’. Rest… is… holy?…

Sleeth advocates a ‘stop day’, one day when we stop being productive, efficient, task focused and simply rest, renew and regroup. Dawn is a little more specific with her 4 part focus of ‘ceasing, resting, embracing, feasting’. I felt like I resonated more with Sleeth in tone, but I liked Dawn’s 4 elements and found the gave me a structure to work with.

I felt inspired to re-think what Sabbath means for me and to experiment with it again. So I decided to remove it from Saturdays and place it on Sunday. Some would argue you can’t do this as a pastor because Sunday is a ‘work day’.

Yes – its true that I am required to be there, whereas others can skip a day if they feel like it. Yes – I often have to teach, lead, interact in ways I may not choose to if I were simply a member of the church, but does that mean I can’t experience Sabbath on that day?


But then again maybe not…

Part of perceiving Sunday as a workday is a Christendom mindset that sees the pastor as the paid professional. I might politely say ‘screw that’. Part of Sunday as workday assumes that I will take on certain behaviors and personas to fit with the role. I might say less politely ‘screw that!’

However what if Sunday is the opportunity to gather with the people I love and whose company I find uplifting? What if Sunday isn’t the day when I ‘have to preach’, but is the day when I get to do what I do well – when I get to be most ‘fully me’? Could it still be a sabbath? Is it more about mindset that behaviour?

I’m going to find out.

Maybe it won’t work. Maybe I will get bogged down. Maybe I will lose focus. Each Sunday I put out the chairs for our church. I haven’t asked someone to create a roster because I see it as important to do some of those menial jobs that no one gives a shit about. It a way of reminding myself that I am just one of the crew. I am not more important because I have a gift in teaching and leadership. I also set out chairs. That matters.

But maybe I will find the chairs a chore, a burden?…

Or maybe it is all about a mindset. Maybe I can choose to approach Sundays as my day to connect with some of the people God has put in my care and who I love. Maybe I can see Sundays as a beautiful day of seeing my most loved friends and ‘family’?

Maybe preaching won’t be draining, but will just be a chance to do what I can do and enjoy it?

That’s the ’embracing’ side Marva Dawn would describe. The other elements she lists are: ‘ceasing’, ‘resting’ and ‘feasting’.

One of the things I tried last Sunday in regard to ‘ceasing’ was to have no tech contact with the world. I left my phone plugged in and didn’t access email or facebook. I find that when a retic customer calls on the weekend my brain automatically kicks back into gear. My adrenalin levels rise and I lose my sense of rest. And I find myself annoyed that someone would call on Saturday… or Sunday… I find myself annoyed that I then answer that call…

Putting the phone down was hard.

I am one of the most ‘connected’ people I know, so I felt some serious withdrawals! I left my phone in Danelle’s bag during the morning, just in case our guest speaker at church needed to call me. But then I brought it home and plugged it back in. As I did I saw 3 missed calls and two text messages – all work related. I wanted to ignore them so I did… But at 4.30 curiosity got the better of me and I looked at my messages and listened to my voicemails. Nothing that couldn’t have waited…

But I couldn’t wait… What’s with that?

I avoided emails, but felt the loss and being off Facebook felt kinda weird too. Probably a good discipline then I am imagining…

I am thinking that if I can take myself out of the loop on Sundays with phone, email and Facebook then I will ‘cease’ things that cause me to work, or that cause my brain to rush.

Last Sunday we spent the afternoon in Yanchep national park with friends from church. What I observed was that I was better able to relax and be present because I wasn’t able to head home and check emails and phone calls and do something productive. I was able to be with people and not mentally be elsewhere, something I can do at times. That was good.

And it felt good to simply ignore calls and texts. There is very little that can’t wait a day… Next week I will turn the phone off for the day. It just means that if anyone wants to call me they will need to go thru Danelle…

The ‘feasting’ aspect of Dawn’s paradigm was a little less complete for me – but then I haven’t finished that chapter yet either… I sense she is saying that we ought to enjoy some friends, food and pleasures on our sabbath. So I will explore that a bit too.

Being conscious of the ‘sabbath’ I found myself looking for moments when I was rested and when I was anxious. Church was fine. No trouble there. However stopping in at Coles on the way home to get some food for lunch… that was disgusting. Busy busy busy… people everywhere… rushing… I felt it. I won’t do that again. What a contrast.

Sitting with friends in a national park, with nowhere to be. Now that was good! That was beautiful. I always have ‘somewhere to be’ in my head, so it was wonderful just to kick back and enjoy the people God has brought into my life. To give thanks, to enjoy.

The rest of the day was fairly normal and felt fairly ordinary too.

Was it a better sabbath than Saturday?

I dunno yet, but I am enjoying the learning curve.





Facebook Friends


I don’t have super strong ‘love/hate’ feelings about it. I don’t care if you’re into it, or whether you think its a waste of time. (I am ambivalent about its value – it is a double edged sword.) But it is a phenomena that we need to contend with and it does bring a new dynamic to ‘friendship’, whatever that may mean.

Recently I was ‘unfriended’ by someone who lives in the same area. What does that mean when we see each other in the shops or at a party? Are we ‘friends’ still in real life, even if not in Facebook?

I dunno… Maybe I’ll just ‘poke’ him…

Then there’s the question of establishing parameters for who we ‘friend’ on Facebook. I had a cull recently and deleted about 90 ‘friends’, mostly people I had never met in real life but had found in the online world – people who read this blog or who are friends of friends… Some of them I had already ‘hidden’ but it seemed a little more honest to just delete them. I didn’t tell them…

Should I have?…

I was looking at the list again today and thinking to myself ‘I don’t have 800+ friends!’ I really don’t, but I do ‘know’ that many people and some of them I would like to stay in touch with at least from a distance.

I enjoyed hanging with Andrew Dowsett while he and the family were in Perth. We haven’t seen each other for 9 or 10 years but I’d consider Andrew a friend and someone I’d like to stay connect with. Then there are people who live nearby but who I don’t really know. Nor do I want to stay in contact… Should I hit delete?… ‘Unfriending’ sounds kinda rude… but maybe I don’t want to hear about their life and vice versa.

So what criteria do we use for connecting or ‘de-connecting’?

I have decided that ‘connections’ is a better word than ‘friends’ for the way I operate on Facebook. I do have some very close friends on there, but many are people I just like staying connected with – and with whom I wouldn’t stay in touch were it not for this medium. I think that’s a good thing. Old school students who aren’t friends but for whom I have affection, folks who were in the churches we have led, folks we have met when travelling… Some are ‘friends’, real friends who I’d like to see again and who I enjoy hearing from. Then there are others.

The people I avoid on Facebook are:

Friend Collectors – if a request comes in from someone I don’t know I check to see who our mutual friends are. Often its the ‘big name’ people in Christian world. Then I notice the person has 2453 friends… and I realise I am a number to be added to their collection. Unlikely…

Attention Seekers – those who post those cryptic messages signalling the end of their lives hoping someone will respond. I want to respond with ‘loser – grow up’. A bit harsh I know… but this one really irks me. I recall one ‘friend’ posting about being ‘totally devastated’ and I read the comments to find out what on earth had happened. She had put the colours in with the whites… Deleted.

Rampant narcissists and self promoters – Facebook really does lend itself to narcissism and I reckon we can all fall into this one, but then there are folks who just seem to flaunt who they are in a way that is utterly nauseating. Hard when its people you like… But I’m growing weary of hearing people talk themselves up and talk up who they are associated with. I love hearing what people are doing and I don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to let us know what’s going on, but there is a ‘cringe’ line somewhere that gets crossed.

But ‘friends’ is a strange word. Its better than ‘followers’ ala Twitter, but maybe Google ‘circles’ is a little more like real life.


All this started when I was looking back over my ‘friend list’ and wondering where to start the cull. Maybe I’l just leave it for now because life is often not as simple as ‘friend / non-friend / ex-friend’ and that’s ok…








Contentment and Spiritual Guidance

two-roads-diverged1I don’t think I have ever been in a place in life where I have been as content as I am at the moment.

It’s beautiful. I love it. But it’s also made me think.

Today I was looking back at the last 20 years of work and ministry and life. It led me to wonder how much of what I have done has been driven by a ‘human’ discontentment as distinct from what would be called ‘holy discontent’.

I have been ‘happy’ and ‘fulfilled’ for many of those years. My life has been rich with great experiences and relationships, but content is rarely a word I would have used because I am aware that I was constantly searching and questing for the next ‘thing’ – a challenge, an idea, a new opportunity to pursue or whatever. I would enjoy what I was doing, but be constantly wondering what was ‘out there’ that I could get my teeth into next. More specifically ‘achievement’ mattered a lot to me so I found myself constantly on the move, ‘climbing the next mountain’.

It led me to pondering how much of what I have labelled ‘God’s call’ was my own inner need for something new and exciting to fuel a strangely discontent life? I think our motives and hearts are always mixed to some degree, but I do wonder if I interpreted as ‘God’ what were really my own desires and needs for a new challenge.

That thought came to me today as I was praying, because right now in a place of contentment I think I would have a much better chance of hearing the voice of God calling me to disrupt my life and pursue a risky venture of some kind. Right now I don’t find myself living with my nose to the wind trying to sniff out the next possibility. So I have a sense that if a new opportunity presented itself, along with a strong sense of God’s leading I’d have to really pay attention – because I’m not seeking it – and (dare I say it) not wanting it.

I’m guessing many people do know the difference between a life led by the spirit and a life led by inner discontentment, but I do think it can be easy to confuddle God’s leading and my frustrations, because I find he often gets frustrated by the same things I do… (funny that…)

Its not to say I have been barking up the wrong tree for 20 years. Such is the grace of God that he is able to work thru all of our self centred meanderings and both bring glory to himself and enjoyment to us.

But there is a difference between enjoyment and contentment. Enjoyment often runs shallow while contentment springs from something deeper. Some days I find myself lamenting my lack of ambition and my loss of drive to achieve, but then other days I find myself giving thanks that I can live with a sense of peace I haven’t known much of before.

Oddly enough I don’t think I am ‘achieving’ much less than previously… I am just less focused on it all.

2012 Reflections

Last year was probably my least active year on the blog. Partly because there is less to discuss around the old familiar topics of church, mission and theology and partly because I have had less headspace to reflect and think.

But it was a good year in so many ways.

It was our first full year of living in Yanchep, a move I still reckon was our best ever. I love the vibe of our home, neighbourhood and community. I love the house we live in and the way it feels. I love the proximity to the ocean. I love the quietness of the suburb and the sense of remoteness that we have up here, a bit like a country town but with the city just down the road. I wish we’d come here 10 years ago, but maybe the timing wasn’t right then… Whatever the case we are glad to be here and the little bit of extra driving we now do is a small price to pay for living in paradise. I used to enjoy moving house every 5 years or so, but I don’t see us leaving here any time soon… if ever…

We didn’t travel a lot this year, but we did enjoy a few days retreat in Sydney at the start of the year and a month in the northwest around July. I always feel like the weeks away in the camper are our best re-charge times – so incredibly valuable. I’d like to be able to do two months each year -a month in summer and a month in winter – just need to organise it around schooling, work and the rest of life. I’d really like to hit Tassie this time next year but it would probably be a 6 week venture – a week over, a week back and then a month to tour around. I’m sure you could do it shorter, but not sure it would be so worth it…

Its been another great year with our church community and we feel very blessed to be able to lead such a fantastic bunch of people. Relationships have deepened, our identity as a community seems to be clearer and we feel like we’re on a healthy trajectory in many ways. Moving back into established church leadership was something we did with a fair degree of reticence initially, but after a couple of ugly and difficult years we’ve now enjoyed two healthy and positive years. I’ve often found that those moments when you’re just about to say ‘screw it’ and walk away are the ones you need to punch thru because something better is just around the corner. Much like our home, we don’t see ourselves moving from here any time soon, but then we don’t call the shots… I’ve never actually given thought to what might take shape if we were to stay in a place for 10-20 years, but I’m open to that thought now.

Retic work has kept rolling and its been a very productive year in that regard. There is now enough custom to keep rolling all year round and make a good living out of it. Occasionally I have moments where I wonder ‘what is the point of this?’ because digging holes and burying pipes is hardly inspiring work. But that is part of the point.

The calling to live as a missionary is still the one undergirds all of my life and being an ordinary bloke in an ordinary job is an important part of living that out. Being a ‘paid professional’ does change the frame a fair bit when it comes to Christian mission so I’m happy to figure out what it looks like to be another face in the crowd figuring it out in everyday life. The other thing that keeps me going in retic is that I enjoy being my own boss and the freedom that goes with that. I get to choose my working hours, my jobs and my clients. I doubt I’ll ever be a 9-5er again, or the equivalent.

For many years my various sources of employment were right in my sweet spot when it came to gifts and passions. That’s not so much the case with retic and turf. I really can’t say I ‘love digging holes and burying pipes’… its ok… and some days are better than others, but what I do like is how it frees me to live the kind of life we want to live as a family – one that is spacious, flexible and generous. I can’t imagine ever working for someone else again and having to turn up at the office within set hours.

This year I also completed a restricted electrical license which is my first bit of study for a long time. Five years ago I thought I might do a masters… but no… it was a trade course, one I hope will give me some longevity in the retic field as I am now legally allowed to do some electrical work.

I’ve loved teaching my kids each Monday morning. Creative writing and Phys Ed have been my tasks and both are my loves so it has made it easy.  Its a privilege to be able to sit down and teach your own children and see them enjoy it. Homeschooling has been fun and very beneficial to our kids, but I’m not sure how much longer it will run. Ellie is making noises about going to High School and I doubt Sam would enjoy being home alone. We’ll see… I’m happy for us to roll along as long as Danelle feels confident with it as she is the one who carries the load.

I have noticed plenty of people saying ‘good riddance’ to 2012 and hoping for better in 2013. We have been blessed with a great time in 2012 and I’m hoping 2013 is even better.