Fake News

It’s always dangerous to write a blog post that involves the letters LGBTQIA , but moreso on a lazy Friday evening after a big feed and when you’re feeling gnarly , But let’s take the risk and live dangerously.

I sat down to watch the news this evening and the lead story concerned the opinions on sexuality – specifically LGBTQIA – of an ex tennis world champion, turned Pentecostal pastor. Apparently this is the biggest of news in WA at the moment. Margaret Court happens to take a pretty straight line on how she reads the Bible in relation to sexuality and she preaches it like that. You kinda have to, if you believe it. I haven’t discussed her views with her, but I suspect we would probably be quite similar.

But over the years this view has become abhorrent, despicable and even ‘disgusting’, was the word Daniel Andrews used – so much so that we should not award an Australia day honour to such a person.


What have we become as a society that we believe in freedom of speech, so long as it conforms to the socio-political norms of the day? This is a huge backward step for an open democratic society – and we have been on this PC trajectory for some time now.

In a country that apparently respects freedom of speech, what’s despicable, abhorrent and disgusting are people who single out one or two prominent people and seek to use them to prevent freedom of speech as well as pitching their own toxic message to the broader community.

I suspect Steve McAlpine’s new book “Being the Bad Guys”, speaks directly to this issue – that Christians have gone being somewhat nerdy and oh so lame, to now being a genuine danger to society. Really? Us?…

With our fundamentalist perspectives on sexuality we really do not belong in this enlightened and progressive age. And because you don’t belong we will shut you down and demean you publicly so that others who share that view will be quiet – or maybe even be swayed to change and ‘get with the program’.

I have no problem with people critiquing my perspective on sexuality, which I believe is based (as much as I am able to do so) on the words of the Bible. I am open to the fact that I could be wrong. Perhaps God has created people of all sorts of sexualities, and the Bible is culturally bound etc.

But I don’t read the Bible that way. I can’t just change a conviction to fit into my culture.

I wish I could because then I’d be a ‘likeable Christian’, not one of ‘those types’. But I am one of those types in some way – and I’m happy to put my views up here, not because I am particularly proud of them, or because I want to hurt LGBTQIA people, but simply because I hold them and there is nothing wrong with that

Repeat after me Australia – there is nothing wrong with holding a contrary opinion.

There is no such thing as free speech and respect for diversity – with the exception of Christians. The demand is that we conform or be punished in some way. Perhaps we need ‘re-educating’ – are there camps for that sort of thing?… Maybe we could ask some of our northern Asian neighbours for some advice?

If everyone is entitled to having their point of view permitted and respected, then that means everyone… e v e r y o n e!

This is not a post about what is right or wrong with our perspectives on sexuality. Rather its a post pointing out the total incongruities of those who demand conformity from Christians, but freedom for everyone else.

You can’t have your cake and eat it. Speech is either free or its not…

If you want to make a comment then go ahead, but I won’t be getting into a debate on the rights or wrongs of sexuality. As I mentioned before this is not about sexuality, but about a progressive western culture demanding its people conform and either get with the programme on this one issue, or expect sanctions and punishments.

Grit Happens

Over the last couple of weeks my son Sam, has been picking up some retic jobs on his own and fixing things without me around.

On Thursday this week just after we’d had lunch at home and were about to head back down Marmion Ave to the suburbs, the phone rang and a lady in Yanchep needed a solenoid located and replaced.

‘You want this one?’ I said. ‘I can sort the others out.’

‘Sure’ said Sam. His hourly rate goes up if he works on his own, so it was a no brainer. The job was to locate a solenoid and replace it. He’d make the same money as if he came with me but he’d be finished early and able to surf.

We went our separate ways and he called me after an hour a little frustrated that he hadn’t found the solenoid. We discussed what he had tried and I offered a few ideas for what he could do differently.

He pushed on and after another 45 minutes he called to say he still hadn’t found it. The cost to the client was mounting up and no result…I could hear the anxiety and confusion in his voice. What do I do?…I know that feeling all too well. I have dug up many a yard searching for ellusive valves.

‘Do you want me to come and help?’ I asked.

‘No. No – I really should be able to sort this out on my own,’ he said staunchly.

Good answer. I felt quite proud that after nearly 2 hours he rejected my offer of help. And he was absolutely correct. He should be able to find it on his own. But some times that is easier said than done.

About half an hour later I had finished for the day, so I swung by to see how he was going.

‘No further on he said.’ I saw numerous piles of sand and dirt and pavers where he had tried to trace the wires to find the valves. No one knows that feeling of desperation and frustration like another retic bloke! An afternoon surf was looking less likely now.

I followed his logic and his way of looking for the valves and it made sense. But so far – no result.

I grabbed the solenoid detector and went for a quick walk across the front lawn, just in case he had missed something and instantly the detector started beeping. I had stumbled on them in less than a minute. A little bit of experience combined with a touch of hunch.

‘Ok – all yours,’ I said and I hopped in the car and went home.

About 30 minutes later the phone rang and it was Sam. He had fixed the valve but now another one was stuck open.

‘This is crazy dad! At this rate I’ll be here to 7 o’clock,’ he said.

‘Want some help?’ I haven’t showered yet.

He paused. ‘No – I should be able to do this I want to do this.’

It was a brave answer late in the day on a 38 degree afternoon. I decided not to shower just in case…

He pushed on and replaced the valve – but it failed on him. The new valve let water thru.

He called for advice.

‘Want help? I can be there in 2 minutes.’


‘I still haven’t made it to the shower…’

‘Go have a shower. I will work it out.’

He did. He had left the spring out of the solenoid and he spotted it shortly after. An easy mistake to make when you’re hot and weary. He got those 2 valves working and then as he was testing the system another one failed. What are the chances?’

You know those moments when you’ve given all you’ve got and you’ve made good progress, but then it all turns to custard? When you have just had enough?

Yeah – that.

There are few things in life as valuable as the will to keep going even when you really want to quit.

How do you learn this particular character trait?

You learn perseverance by persevering. If you quit early, or quit too soon you then you become good at quitting. You learn how to quit. Your character weakens. If you tough it out, then you actually develop inner resolve and fortitude. In writing of this suffering for the faith Paul says:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 5:3-4

You build character as you practice grit and determination – as you refuse to quit.

He didn’t call this time. He just kept going. And going…

At 6.00pm I heard the throaty exhaust of his Navara drive up the road. He was earlier than I expected. Maybe he’s quit for the night and he’s going to go back, I thought.

Sometimes a break enables you to problem solve better than just keeping going. I had encouraged him to consider just letting it go for a day or two, but he was intent on finishing.

He wanted to do it and he kept going.

As he came up the steps it was with an unexpected spring rather than a stomp and as I caught his eye there was a smile on his face.

‘All done,’ he said.

‘Well done mate. Proud of you!’ And I was – super proud. He had found the other solenoid, replaced it, cleaned up and finished the job. There was some eye fillet steak and prawns awaiting him for dinner.

We charged the client a lot less than our hourly rate as he had spent the first two hours ‘learning’. But that is learning he won’t forget quickly. And the value of perseverance will stay with him for a long time.

Sometimes the only way thru is to keep going – to refuse to let your discouragement and struggle get the better of you.

And yes – I realise that’s easier said than done, but I also know many people ‘quit too soon’.

Sometimes you just have to keep going and going and going…

So, maybe you need to hear this post. Maybe your marriage is ‘too hard’, or your job is getting you down, or life itself is just giving you the irrit and you’re considering checking out.

You can quit- or you can push on. If you quit then you learn to quit. Do it often enough and you will be a skilled quitter – you won’t even realise you are doing it. But if you persevere and stay the course – if you ride out the discouragement and frustration then you will learn perseverance- which builds character and subsequently hope.

So – Well done my son for not quitting – but sticking with it and learning the value of perseverance. May this lesson serve you well as you go thru life.

The Last Goodbye with Ted

Over the last 10 years I’ve been to Ted’s house a few times to fix his retic. He’s a retired carpenter, now 81 years old and up until I saw him yesterday he was a fit, strong man with an aging Hilux and a half cab boat for pulling his cray-pots.

I like Ted. He’s your very down to earth, Aussie bloke who calls a spade a spade and never allows a sentence to pass without an expletive. He always wants to pay cash even though he knows there is no such thing as a ‘cashie’ for us. He doesn’t get a discount, but he’s from that era. The deal is done when the ‘real’ money changes hands.

So when I knocked on his door yesterday I was taken aback, as I didn’t recognise the man who opened the door. Ted was a rugged 85kgs last time I saw him – a fair bit of it muscle and the rest beer.

‘Will you take a look at me?’ are the very first words he says.

‘How you goin mate?’ I ask. ‘What’s the deal?’ His eyes are bloodshot and he’s skinny.

‘F*ckin cancer,’ he says. ‘They cut out me f*ckin stomach and I can’t eat a decent meal. I’m just wastin away. All this baby food mashed shit…’

‘Not good.’ I reply.

He tells a bit of the story. In between expletives, I make out that he is putting his house in order because there isn’t long to go. (Better get those sprinklers fixed so its one less thing for Mrs Ted to worry about.)

‘I guess we all have to die some time. You’ve got 300 thousand ks on the clock – you’ve done pretty well mate!’ I say to him. Sam thinks this is a bit too blunt, but Ted speaks ‘blunt’ natively. It’s not offensive to him.

He heads inside and we wander around and fix his sprinklers. It’s a quick half hour job and when we are all done and showing him the result we get chatting. I never hesitate to ask dying people how they feel about their impending exit.

‘How you feeling about dying?’ I ask him. We both know he isn’t gonna make a comeback.

‘Its a bit shitty, but we all gotta go some time. It is what it is.’ he says. And I think he means it. ‘I’ve had a good innings so no complaints. I just don’t want to hang around in this f*ckin state.’

‘Fair enough.’ I say, ‘I wouldn’t want to either. ‘What do you think happens when you die?’ I ask. It’s not an ‘evangelism strategy’. I want to know what he thinks. I want to get inside the head of a man who is facing death and hear his thoughts.

‘Back to dirt’ he says. ‘Nothin. It’s over.’

‘Really? There is nothing more to life than that?’ I ask.

‘Not to me,’ he says roughly. ‘The family were all bloody Jehovahs but I’m not into that shit.’

‘Ok, fair enough,’ I say.

He rattles on a bit and then I get the sense to offer to pray for him. I wonder if behind the gnarly exterior there might not be at least a little fear.

‘Look I’m a Christian, Would you like me to pray for you?’

‘Yeah – I would,’ he says – a bit to my surprise. So I put a hand on his shoulder, look him in the eye and I pray for him. I pray he will have courage to face the end. That his final days will be full of joy and that he will get to know the God who loves him.

I say ‘amen’ and he nods. He thanks me, shakes my hand with his strong, gnarly carpenter hands. He gives me the cash and we say ‘goodbye’ – but it’s with a bizarre sense of knowing that it’s a final goodbye. He grabs a business card ‘for the wife’, just before I leave. ‘She’ll need to know who to call.’

He’s just a client and I don’t know him that well at all, but I drive off a bit misty eyed as i realise that one day very soon Ted will be gone and the next time I go to that house there will be a conversation with Mrs Ted about what its like to be a widow – to live alone and to be without her man.

God bless Ted – and Mrs Ted.

Third Quarter Living – Part II

Grey nomads are everywhere. 

Since COVID there seems to be more and more of them. These lucky people have either downsized, or sold the family home, bought the luxury caravan and 4WD and are now living the dream. Each day they wake up and wonder ‘where to next?’

I am sure it’s not everyone’s goal, but in Australian popular culture it’s right up there as a high ranking middle class aspiration. If you prefer to stay put, then creating the home of your dreams may be the ‘next step’ in this life we live. If you have paid off house no 1, 2 or 3 then house no 4 will be THE ONE!

Triple oversized garage, in house elevator, and all of the other creature comforts that you are now entitled to and will need for your aging frame and increasing array of toys.

Aspirational living has infected all of us – Christians or not – and the real challenge is that its not all bad. If it were we’d still be living in a 2 bedroom flat in Glendalough and driving a Datsun 1600… (I loved that car…)

Innately I feel a drift towards this kind of life. I have been conditioned this way for so long that it feels like just the next step in a 21st C middle class life. And as much as I want to live differently I know I am hopelessly compromised. I’m infected with the ‘affluenza’ virus just like everyone else. And this stage of life is its chance to really go wild.

So then, what does it look like to ‘finish well’ – to enter the final quarter in front?

If the ‘final quarter’ kicks in around 70ish then I sense it means entering those years with a joyful, gracious and generous spirit. It means being someone who laughs easily and often as well as someone who is able to nestle in with a coffee and have a long conversation – even a hard conversation.

In those years I want to be both knowledgeable and teachable, to be able to both offer wisdom and glean insight from the many who will be younger than me. To stop learning or being curious would be a backward step.

Part of being able to do that is ‘positioning’ so that I am still in conversation with people younger than me and people who see the world different to me. A serious down side of aging that I have seen in so many, is a rigidity of thinking and a sharpness of tone in those conversations that are challenging or disturbing.

I hope I am still able to listen to someone with a different perspective and inquire ‘why they think they way they do’ rather than simply feeling the need to set them straight or to distance myself from them. That will allow conversation and learning rather than a silent cuff behind the ear that says ‘get back in line’.

I love those older people who are still able to hear me share ‘dangerous thoughts’ and not flip a circuit breaker. I feel free to think experimentally and to explore ideas that might scare other people or have them question my sincerity of faith. I also love those older people for whom the reality & conviction of their faith is still as potent today as it was in the early days – all the ‘joy of the Lord’ but without the sharp edges of early faith that tends to damage those who come near. I want that too.

I’d really like to travel, explore some new vocational options, have grandkids, enjoy great food and coffee, live out my days by the ocean… I think these are good things too. I sense the struggle in this phase will be between the lure of indulgence – the pursuit of which can form a malignant self centredness and continuing to be formed in Christlikeness by whatever our world throws at us.

I have some fresh ideas as to the shape I’d like my/our lives to take in the next 20 years and if it does head in the direction I hope then I sense we will have an opportunity to be generous with our time and our learning in the various communities we are part of. But I say that tentatively because, as we are currently learning, the responsibility of caring for aging parents is now on us and our own hopes and dreams may just need to find a way to grow up around this priority – or not at all.

Or not at all.

As Danelle and I spoke of what the next 10 years holds, I had some clear vocational shifts I wanted to make. She spoke of seeing a period of caring for the oldies as a top priority. Honestly – this hadn’t registered on the ‘to do list’ for me at all. It wasn’t in my line of sight. But recently dad had a stroke – a mild one as it turns out and because mum has increasing dementia we have had to do more caring for them. A holiday was cancelled and the long service leave we have anticipated for a few years now is looking iffy.

But I love how Danelle framed this last month; as a ‘beautiful inconvenience’. As it began I realised that we this was one of those opportunities to become the people we want to be – or to become ‘those other people’. Gnarly, frustrated and tetchy because life hasn’t dealt us the hand we wanted.

Don’t get me wrong. I hope to hitch up the caravan on April 1st and hit the road for a really good 6 month break. But – maybe we won’t and if that happens then maybe how we deal with the ‘not going’ will be more formative and significant for our ‘third quarter’ than any grey nomading ever could be.

I’m trying to read a book at the moment that I am keen to absorb, but also finding very hard going. It’s called Come of Age by Stephen Jenkinson and it focuses on the much neglected subject of ‘eldering’ and the need for ‘elders’ in our society. I have enjoyed parts of it and found other parts convoluted and incomprehensible. But I like his thesis – that we need elders in this time who will not just be ‘older’ but who will be wise, accessible, grace filled and who will make it their business to give of themselves to those they are in community with.

I would like to be one of those people when I am 70 and my hope is to navigate the seductions of all this stage of life has to offer to actually become that person – and not one of ‘those people’.

There may be more to write on this, but that is all I have at this stage…

Third Quarter Living

It’s been on me for a while now, but I haven’t known what to call it, or how to articulate it.

‘Middle aged’ has been and gone if that’s what the 40’s are and now I’m in my 50’s – later 50’s even. I am realising that life is shifting before my eyes and this is actually a most critical of times.

In football or basketball everyone knows that the third quarter is where the game is won or lost. It’s why we call it the ‘premiership quarter’. You get to half time ‘even’, or, maybe with some catching up to do – yet you are far enough from the end of play to not have to deal with it yet. You can pull it back from here… you think… Maybe you can turn the game around. You can also be 6 goals up, kicking with the breeze and lose. Third quarters are where teams either find their stride and move strongly towards victory or where they fizz, stumble and get waylaid.

Of course you can do that at any point in life. I understand that. But if you’ve made it this far in one piece, then chances are you face some significant choices about how the rest of this ‘game’ plays out.

What does victory look like?

How do you ‘finish well’ from the third quarter?

I feel like unless we can answer that question we will inevitably fall prey to the seductions of this period of life. We will fizz, tank, flounder, but it will all happen with a veneer of ‘livin the life’.

What seductions do I see?

Entitlement is one of them. We speak of ‘entitlement’ being present in millenials as if it’s their issue, but its one of the most significant temptations I feel myself in this time. I’ve worked hard for a long time and I ought to be reaping some of the benefits of those hard years… It’s time to slow down and let someone else do the heavy lifting.

As we approach long service leave in April I have told people that I am ‘cruising to the finish line’. I want to get there in one piece, rather than stumbling past the tape and in need of an ambulance. There’s wisdom in that for sure. But I also sense the temptation to keep that stride from here on when I get back from leave – to make this the ‘new normal’.

It’s time to enjoy life before old age strikes and takes away energy, mobility and maybe even faculty. Those ‘adventure before dementia’ stickers on the back of caravans are only partly joking. The core assumption is that this short period of 10-20 years is our (third quarter people’s) last chance at a full life before the bleak fourth quarter takes the wind out of our sails.

I think I know what ‘finishing well’ look likes. I’ve seen some folks whose lives I would want to emulate (but not many of them if I’m hones)t. I’ve seen plenty I want to avoid turning into.

But I get the very strong sense that the choices I make now will either form the structure for a strong and beautiful final quarter, or will set the tone for a period of regret and disappointment.

I’m actually struggling to write this post because I am so enmeshed in the actual ‘third quarter’ experience. I want to disentangle and articulate it, but without a neat bow and ribbon to make it all ok.

So I’ll pause there and do some more pondering, before I write some waffly platitudes.

Anyone else resonate with being in the ‘third quarter’?  

More to come when I can articulate it honestly…