The Bible Says It – I Believe it – That Settles It



I grew up with this statement ringing in my ears and I am guessing I may have even cited it a few times myself in my younger and more ‘knowledgable’ years.

It sounds convincing, authoritative and difficult to argue with. But it isn’t a statement I see much value in these days at all.

Now its more a case of ‘the Bible says it’, ‘I believe it’, but chances are you may read the same Bible, be a genuine follower of Jesus and arrive at a totally different place to me in your convictions.

And that’s ok…

‘The total statement offers an apparently logical progression in thought, that is actually far from logical. The first part is fine. The Bible does ‘say it’. But the fact that I believe it actually settles nothing. It simply offers you my take on how I see the text. Any student of hermeneutics (biblical interpretation) will know that few things are as cut and dried as this statement makes them sound. In practice, this claim really means, “My view of the Bible is the ultimate authority.” It doesn’t allow any room for debate or disagreement, because you would be arguing with the Bible…

The statement has its roots in a fundamentalist paradigm – one that will call people back to the Bible as an authority (which is all well and good) but that will only read it one way – their way.

The other day Sam asked me if the story of Jonah is historical or allegorical. He has asked me about the flood – a worldwide flood?… Really dad?… He’s only ten but he’s wondering about stuff. Its easy to refer him to the above statement and simply say ‘yes – the Bible says it – it is therefore as you read it.’

Except that plenty of people from the evangelical tribe would choose to interpret differently these days. These are people who hold the scriptures as authoritative and inspired but who ‘read’ these stories thru a different lens.

I can’t give my son short answers to questions that I also hold. I have no doubt that God could have made a fish swallow a man, or flooded the whole earth – but I also know its possible to read these texts differently.

Those who may come from a more fundamentalist perspective generally don’t make their wives wear head-coverings to church… even though Paul clearly states it. Why not?…

Why not ‘believe’ that part of the Bible?…

We all have our points of interpretation and our texts that are not negotiable. But the great danger in speaking ‘biblically’, as Rob Bell has said, is that we can use that word as a weapon to batter others into submission. I reckon he’d be feeling just a little smashed around by it at the moment.

Bell isn’t towing the party line on gay marriage and this follows on from his rather ambiguous discussion of hell in Love Wins. He is a high profile Christian leader in the US – – but I continue to be stunned at the way the guy gets belted for no longer fitting within the fold.

I get that he’s a teacher and an influence on others, and therefore has a higher level of accountability, but he’s not advocating salvation by works, or denying the deity of Christ. He’s switched teams on an issue that matters deeply to evangelicals and for that he will ‘pay’.  Those who are ‘in’ have been very quick and decisive in now locating him as ‘out’. I can’t say I see that as a wise decision let alone a grace-filled one. There has to be a better way to navigate paths of difference than hanging someone out to dry because they no longer wear the uniform.

Earlier I said that its ok to read the Bible differently – and in case you are wondering I don’t offer that as a blanket statement, true of every aspect of belief. I think there are some core convictions that will see us come unstuck if we let them go, but outside of them I’m happy to accept that the family is bigger and broader than I had once thought and that God is more generous with who he welcomes than I might be.

Do You Want to Get Well?

I read a great book a couple of weeks back – Renovation of the Church – the story of a church that hit the ‘seeker church’ line very hard and then (as they say) took a ‘jackhammer to their foundations’  as they realised they were creating a monster rather than leading people to Jesus.

Having been down that track (a long time ago now) I remember well the challenge of spinning all the plates and keeping everything running yet feeling like we weren’t necessarily seeing people becoming more like Jesus. They were busy – no question – but many were ending up as religious consumers rather than disciples.

One of the central themes of their book is taken from the story of Jesus approaching the lame man at Bethesda and asking him if he wanted to get well.

It isn’t a ‘given’.

He asks because the truth is that the man may not want to get well. His ‘sick’ life may be working for him and he may prefer to stay there. People carry him around… he doesn’t have to work… and to ‘get well’ could be a whole conundrum of expectatons. Likewise when it comes to discipleship. To ‘get well’ – to become like Christ – comes at a cost. We choose to forgo our immediate pleasures and sources of contentment and pursue Christ.

To get well costs but it is where life is found.

CS Lewis puts it like this:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

We settle for sensual pleasures and temporal desires when God calls us to recalibrate our thinking and living so that we want what he wants and we seek him.

To ‘get well’ means believing that the rule of God is a better way than the pursuit of our own desires. We don’t always believe that…

Which is why so man of us remain sick for a long time


New Beginnings

Coming to Yanchep would probably be one of the best moves we have ever made as a family.

The header on the blog now is of our first day in this home.

It was cold and wet the day before as we moved in and on our first morning in a new place the kids wandered out onto the verandah to look out at the rainbow that had formed. Rainbows are symbols of new beginnings and I guess it felt a bit like that on the first morning.

I took this pic from inside the kitchen – hence the ‘spots’ on the window.

Not sure exactly why I love it – I think it just takes me back to a wonderful day

Stepping Thru The Wardrobe

thru_the_wardrobeI decided that this year might be a good time to invest in the process of spiritual direction and see where that leads. I haven’t taken this route before, but I’m ready for some new paths. On Monday I met with Jennifer to talk about what I am hoping for and where I hope things might go.

I have been feeling lately that I have hit a bit of a ceiling when it comes to my relationship with God. Its like knowing there is more to be had, but not quite knowing how to access it – or maybe even how to describe it… knowing there is a world that I am yet to encounter. As I described what I was feeling on Monday I spoke of it as wanting to ‘step thru the wardrobe’. It was just an image that popped into my head as I was articulating what I was hoping for, but its stuck with me.

Do you remember Lucy’s face when she landed on the other side of the wardrobe? I want to say ‘wow’ again as I meet with God and I believe that is possible. I’m just not sure of how I get there on my own.

I feel like I could sit where I am now and ‘manage’ just fine for the rest of my life, but I also feel like I’d be settling for meat and potatoes when there is some beautiful food to be had.

I love an adventure and I feel like this might be the start of a new one so I’ll let you know where it heads.

We are leading our church in this direction too over the coming year so I’m hoping that others will want to step thru the wardrobe too and join me in a new and unfamiliar place… and say maybe get to say ‘wow…’ again…

A Vicarious Spirituality?









I don’t talk to many people who are content in their spirituality.

I don’t talk to too many who say they are enjoying their relationship with God and feeling good about it.

It seems we are in constant struggle to grow and develop our own spirituality. Perhaps that’s why we are attracted to apparently successful images of church. I say ‘apparent’, because some genuinely are ‘successful’ and others are just apparent.

By being part of a happening church, where the worship is intense and the preaching is powerful I can feel like I am in a healthy place. I can feel like I am a powerful, victorious go ahead type of Christian. I think there are many who do actually develop vicarious spirituality – where their own faith is lived through the vibe of the church or the charisma of the leader, but it doesn’t actually take root in their own heart.

That’s a scary place to be, because all you have to do is ask the ‘what if?’ questions.

What if the church splits?
What if the preacher leaves?
What if you get a new job in another city?

More to the point…

What if you wake up one day and realise your spirituality is a thin veneer covering a vacuous space? What if you were to face reality and say that there is no ‘me and God’ there is only me and the ‘Sunday gathering’ and thru this event I meet God?…

What if you find yourself in a place where church fails to cut it for you?

I am all for inspiration, all for creating a vibe that engages people, but I am concerned that there are people living off the fumes of a ‘rockin church’. I am concerned that people have outsourced their own spiritual development to either a pastor or a ‘church’. And church is in inverted commas because I don’t think this really is church anyway.

Sometimes our structures tap into the dark places in our hearts and work against genuine spiriutal formation.

The solution? I don’t think we should seek to be less inspiring, less engaging. But somehow we need to create a space where people are both challenged and encouraged to ask the hard questions of themselves and then to take personal responsibility for their own discipleship – to form a faith that isn’t dependent on the competence of the worship leader, the charisma of the speaker or the vibe of gathering.

When we centre our efforts on creating an event that wows people we can only expect this kind of response. If we were to centre our efforts on helping people get to know Jesus then we probably won’t need to create such events. They may exist and may serve a purpose, but chances are they won’t undermine what we actually hope to do – to help people stand on their own two feet and know who they are in Christ.




With What Remains

Around a BBQ at our home a conversation started with a friend the other night about age. She is turning 40 this year. It seems many of my friends are now in this category… I think the word people use is ‘old’.

I mentioned that this year I am 49 and next year 50, which just seems weird. Who’d have thought I could ever turn 50? I remember thinking of 50 year olds as people in a queue for a funeral. Now I am one of them… and I don’t see it like that any more oddly…

My friend asked me ‘so what do you hope to do with what remains of your life?’

I chuckled because it felt like a question you should ask of someone terminally ill. But I also  found myself saying ‘I want to get to know God better’, (which sounds kinda pious and noble) except that as I said that I felt in my gut ‘yep – that’s it. I WANT to do that. I really want that.’

Not in a know about God, understand theology better kinda way, but in a ‘I really think this matters more than anything’ kind of way. As I began to speak of it I said that I don’t want to be one of those people who approaches death with dread, fear and trepidation. I am sure the unknown will hold some of that. But I want to be one those people who is so genuinely connected with God, that I am able to anticipate what lies ahead with joy – that I long for what is to come.

I haven’t felt this way much before. I certainly didn’t feel like it at 30. There was too much world to conquer and not enough time to do it in.

But as I spoke those words the other night I felt I articulated something that has been gestating in my soul for a while now – a genuine longing to know God better – perhaps in a new way? I’m not even sure quite what I mean and in some ways words are a little inadequate to describe what I feel.

But I’ve been conscious that at times I get a sniff of a life that could be and I want to chase it. I get a glimpse of a life filled with greater peace, contentment and joy than I currently know and I believe that has much to do with how I choose to connect with God.

So, part of the journey this year is to make time to connect better – to put some practices in place that create space in my world and give this intention a chance of becoming an action. There is nothing wild and crazy, but some simple things shaped by a sense of intent that I am hopeful with be productive.

I doubt it will happen this year, but perhaps at 60 I will look back on this post and observe that I actually made some choices that formed my future and my own identity differently.

And if I’m still blogging at 70 or 80 (and I don’t see why I wouldnt be)  I’ll let you know what I have discovered…

Cars and Craziness

Late last year I decided it was time to change cars. I do that every now and then – partly necessity, but (let’s be honest) partly because I get bored with the same vehicle.


The necessity part was that Danelle was driving our old 96 Patrol all over the city during the week and it was pretty expensive, while I was driving a similarly old and expensive car for work. We figured we’d get her a good 4 cylinder and I’d get a work/holidays car – a 4WD of some variety.

The Patrol had 250 000Ks on it and had done us very well, but it was a bit tight on the inside and there was an intermittent problem with the air con that I was tired of trying to locate. It was a beast of a car and in great condition for its age, but I had itchy feet. The Bravo was fine, but I saw an old Landcruiser on Gumtree that looked like a good buy and I decided to quit the Bravo and get the cruiser.


I got the cruiser at a very good price and the Bravo sold the next day to a young Scottish couple who had arrived in Australia one day earlier. That was easy… Unfortunately the gearbox in the Bravo lasted one more week before crashing on the new owner. I had no idea it was dodgy, so wasn’t in any way liable, but I did feel rotten for them. I mentioned it on facebook and a few friends offered to kick in to help them out which was a beautiful act of generosity.

In the meantime we had bought Danelle a new car – a 2005 Mazda 3 with just 18000kms on it. The old couple who owned it had been required to hand in their license and stop driving. They advertised for $13K. They wouldn’t negotiate. I paid $13K. You can buy a new car for $13K, but the Mazda is just a bit better than some of what you get in that price range and with such low kms it seemed like a good buy. So far so good with the Mazda… And with the Mazda came the first car we have ever owned that was manufactured in the same decade in which we live. That felt a little odd and even indulgent.

So now we had an HJ60 Landcruiser Sahara complete with shag pile carpet and velour seats, the old Patrol and Danelle’s Mazda 3.  I was trying to love the Cruiser but it was a tenuous relationship. I really wanted it to work. There was so much to like with a powerful 12HT motor, huge fuel tanks and range, heaps of space and very few worries about damaging it. (Those things are built like brick dunnies.) But I was falling in and out of love with this old girl.

Anyway, we advertised the Patrol and ended up selling it to friends. They got a great car at a very good price and we were happy too. They needed a reliable decent sized car and I think they will be good for quite a while with the old beast. It was a car that carried lots of great memories especially from our around Oz, but it was also time for a change.

I think my big mistake with the Cruiser was trying to get the rear air con up and running. It was all going well and the front air con was cold but when I had the local mechanic try to get the rear going, it ran well while we were cruising, but died badly when the car was stopped at lights or in traffic. He tried a few fixes but in the end I concluded that he didn’t really know what he was doing as each step was trial and error. Along the way he mentioned to me that he had been working on air cons for 4 months so this was all new to him… Great…

On one day when it seemed he had got the air con working I headed out to meet a mate for lunch. I was enjoying the relief of a cold car on a hot day, when I had to put the windows down… only to discover that the switch that puts them back up had carked it. I was pretty dark that day as I cruised home in 36 degree heat. A working air con that couldn’t work because I couldn’t seal the car… As it turned out I surfed the forums, located the problem and easily fixed it, but the air con wasn’t fixed… It still got cold on long runs and stifling around the city.

The cruiser had had an engine transplant – the 12 HT had replaced the 2H that was in it – and I began to realise that part of the issue was the compatibility of a 24v motor in a 12v car. I hadn’t seen that one at purchase as it drove well and everything worked. But there were signs of more pain ahead and I had already spent $2500 getting it to this point. I figured I could stop there and get my money back, or see it as a hobby and keep spending. Tough choice because I love old 60’s. With an oil leak from the turbo, leaky swivel hubs and signs of other potential issues I decided to wack it on Gumtree and see if it would sell. It was gone within 2 days for $9500 – pretty much what it owed me minus transfer costs. Amazing how these old cars hold their value! Maybe one day I will own a good one…

However I felt like I’d dodged another bullet and wanted to now buy a car that would just ‘go’. Of all the people in Yanchep I know the mechanics better than anyone else… And that wasn’t my plan. I was hoping to put some distance between me and their workshops.

So the plan was to find a car that wouldn’t be an issue for quite a while. It would have to do duty as a work car towing a trailer 3 days of the week, as a holiday car able to cross the country with ease and as a play car for when I want to get out on the dunes. With second hand cruisers fetching crazy prices I began to look at Patrols again. I had very few complaints with the other Patrol so I figured a decent GU could be the go. They are big, beasty and generally pretty reliable.

I set an upper price range of $30K but was hoping to find a good one for $20K. With all the problems attributed to the 2000-2003 models I was looking 2005 upwards. This gave me the serious jitters as we have never spent this much money on cars. It would be a good tax break for sure, but up to now $14K has been our biggest outlay on a vehicle. The Crusier had sold quicker than I expected so I was ‘car-less’ for a bit and needed to jump fairly quickly. My mate Billy lent me his Jackaroo for a few days (a cause of many laughs!) and that got me thru, but I was keen to find something.

I had a done a fair bit of research and could pick a good buy fairly quickly now. A Patrol popped up in Busso – 130K’s, 2007, good condition, brand new tyres and with an extended new car warranty for another 12 months or 30000Ks. It was $30K though… the top dollar… I felt the sphincter clench… But if it was on the money then it was definitely a good buy. Danelle was keen for me to buy a ‘trouble free’ car (which equated to me being less gnarly) so it looked like the one to go for.










A couple of friends dropped by and checked it out and gave it a green light. So Jeremy kindly drove me from Perth to Busso with a bank cheque in hand ready to purchase. All was fine except for an annoying dash rattle @ 2000 rpm that will need sorting – and an archaic tape deck for a stereo, so we handed over the cash and drove home. It went well on the way home and felt great to drive.

I didn’t like shelling out that many $$ for a car – which I think has more to do with my ‘car paradigm’ than it does with any real issues – because whether the $30K sits in my driveway giving me a reliable trouble free car, or in my mortgage account is really irrelevant.

This week it began its duties as a work car and towed the trailer well to the first job down in Doubleview. The air con worked beautifully and I was a happy man. After that job I hopped in and took off for Kingsley only to notice the temperature gauge rising quickly. If I hadn’t turned the air con off and nursed it along it would have boiled it within minutes.

You know that sick feeling when you think you’re over the hump of car repairs only to discover you’re not?… Of spending 30K to avoid this kinda crap only to smell it on your shoe again?…

Yeah – that was Tuesday. I wasn’t happy. I don’t think the old owner knew about it. I didn’t see it misbehave all the way home from Busso, but the hot weather and a heavy load exposed the problem.

So today I dropped it in at the local mechanic’s workshop (again…) to get the cooling system serviced. I am thinking its as simple as a radiator flush and clean or a stuffed thermostat but I guess we’ll know this afternoon… Maybe then I can stop this litany of car dramas and attend to the rest of life. Its been a little too consuming lately and I don’t want it to be like that.

At the end of the day I have been reflecting that in all of this there is always a choice as to how to respond – to let the ire rise and the frustration become controlling or to chill and roll with it. There is no easy solution with cars. They do not appreciate in value. They do not run better with age. There will always be issues. And I have had a run of them. My patience is developing or eroding… I’m not quite sure which.

Anyway that was just a litte bit of cathartic journalling on a Friday AM before I kick into sermon gear…

Here’s to a few years of minimal car dramas and lots of great trips in the new beast…