Breaking and Renovating

Back when Danelle and I had just been married for a year or two we bought a townhouse in Glendalough, a step up from our tiny flat, and we were very excited to move in.

It was within walking distance of our flat, so some evenings we would walk down the street and past our soon to be new home. It was a vacant property and no one lived there, so occasionally we’d go close and look in the windows dreaming about how we would set up our new home.

Then one day as we were looking at it, I opened the meter box and saw a key sitting there. ‘Surely not’ I thought… ‘Surely this key won’t open the front door? Will it?’

So I tried it and it did. We stepped inside this home that wasn’t ours yet and we closed the door. We felt like naughty kids.

We walked around checked it out and then snuck out again trying to make sure no one saw us. As we walked home we said ‘we’ll never do that again’. But… we were wrong. We went back many more times and then we took family to show them where we’d be living – when we finally owned it.

It came to the point where we’d simply drop in any time we felt like it, to measure something up, or to check a colour of paint. What started as a small slip up was now just part of our lives.

Being built near the trainline the house had a number of settling cracks that looked ugly. We planned to patch the walls and repaint as soon as we moved in to make it look like new again. Then we had an idea. Why don’t we paint it now before the furniture goes in? That would be much smarter. So the next weekend we went in with a bunch of young people from our youth ministry and repainted the entire house.

If you had told me 2 months prior that I’d be illegally entering a house that I didn’t own and painting it, with young people under our leadership I’d have said you were crazy. I would never do that.


But here I was ‘breaking and renovating’…

Shortly after there was a huge storm in the area and a tile got blown off the roof of our soon to be new home. The sales agent rang and suggested we go back and do an inspection to see if there was any damage.

All I could think was, ‘Nooooo….. Let’s not!’

‘He’s gonna see we have painted the place! It’s so obvious. How do we explain that to him??!!’ So we set a time and he met us onsite to inspect. I was waiting for the gasp as he opened the door. I was ready to confess and to just get it off my conscience. But surprisingly he didn’t notice – he didn’t even look interested. Maybe he saw so many homes that he lost track of what they looked like.

We felt like we had dodged a bullet. Maybe not that big a deal as my 56 year old self reflects on it now, but at 27 I was worried.

Somehow a small slip of judgement, repeated often enough had become acceptable and over time we allowed ourselves to do things we never thought we’d do.

That’s one situation in life where it happened, but there are so many of us who ‘dabble’ in dumb stuff thinking we can walk away any time. Truth is we aren’t as strong as we’d like to think we are and the more we give ourselves a ‘free pass’ on the small stuff, the more likely we will graduate to more significant stuff.

Innocent flirting with a co-worker will never amount to anything more… Really?

A cashie here and a cashie there… Everyone does it… I’m not dishonest… Really?

A harsh word to my spouse was an exception – not the norm… I’d never be violent… Really?

Inside all of us is the potential to be an adulterer, a tax evader or an abuser. And it happens gradually as we choose not to nip dodgy stuff in the bud.

So – what is there in your life that you know is dodgy, but you give yourself a free pass on?

It might be a small thing now, but imagine your life in 10 years time as you haven’t ‘checked’ the practice. An occasional sneak at porn becomes a raging addiction and it controls your life. Or a flutter at the casino becomes an obsession and you spend your weekends feeding one arm bandits, unable to leave the table in case you may get lucky.

What’s your ‘thing’ that left unchecked will destroy you?

Get onto it now and excise it from your life. Grab a friend and confess it, pray on it and refuse to allow it to be part of your identity.

Strong words for a Saturday afternoon I know – but I’ve seen too many train wrecks of lives that could have been avoided if there had been enough self awareness and courage to just name it and deal with it.


I had a call from Crazy Domains today who host my blog, asking if I was intending to renew hosting for another year.

With 10% discount it was 1 year-$97.20, 2 years-$172.80, 3 years-$243.00
or 5 years+5 years free-$486.00

The logical option is to go for 10 years at $48.60 per year right?

Yeah – if I live that long… Funny, it’s the first time I have had a real conscious thought like that. But it’s interesting how we so naturally expect to live to our 80’s or thereabouts and would feel gypped if we got anything less.

I often tell people ‘every day over 50 is a win’ and I try to live that way, enjoying life as much as I can, but reality is there are no guarantees for any of us that we will live long and healthy lives. At 57 in a couple of months, the next big one is 60 and that really does feel like a different space.

I still feel like I’m in pretty good shape, albeit with some nagging ongoing health issues. I imagine everyone my age has something that annoys them, so I just suck it up and move on. But one day it will all end. My old man has dodged cancer, a heart attack and a stroke so far, so if I can emulate his antics then maybe I will get to 90 in one piece.

My family know the song I want played at the start of my funeral to ‘keep it real’ so here’s hoping they don’t pike out when the moment comes. I’ve still got a whole heap of things I’d like to do before ‘check-out’ so I’m thinking I may just take the 10 year option – in fact I might ring back and see what they can do for 20.

I’m definitely not bulletproof, but I’m hoping to be around for a while to come.

Christian Peanut Butter

After 3 false starts at book writing I have finally got one of them to the first draft stage, which feels pretty cool. I began in March just as COVID hit and finished in January with around 90K words. It feels like the creative part is largely complete and now comes the more brutal part where it gets edited and critiqued before being released into the wild.

The title is ‘The Future is Bi-vocational‘ and it will focus on the missional potential of the bi-vocational life (i.e. being a part time pastor and part time other work), as well as the value to the local church of having pastors who are not employed full time, but are engaged in the local community in various ways. In the western world the ‘bi-vo’ life is generally regarded as a second best / plan B for those whose churches are unable to offer them full time employment. I haven’t met anyone whose aspiration is to be bi-vo, but perhaps that will change in the years ahead.

In researching for the book I managed to survey around 25 pastors who either had been, or are currently operating in bi-vo mode, but there aren’t that many of us out there – and fewer still in this space by choice. By contrast pastors in the developing world operate in this mode as normal with the ‘full time pastor’ less common. A few years ago I wrote about a surfing trip I made as a 23 year old to the Philippine island of Catanduanes. That post was more about surf exploration, but it was during that time I encountered a pastor trying to creatively make ends meet while leading a church.

Ador Efondo was a pastor and a business owner up until his death in 2005. His small Bible Baptist Church didn’t have the resources to support him fully, so he ran a tricycle business, transporting people around the town, as well as his fledgling peanut butter venture which was just starting in 1987, the year we visited

The much anticipated waves didn’t show up as we had hoped, but in exploring the town we met Ador and his family and made a great connection. They welcomed us into their home and we went to their church that Sunday.

He showed us some of his jars of ‘Christian Peanut Butter’. I chuckled at the name. I wondered what made it ‘Christian’ and what did ‘non-Christian’ peanut butter taste like? I was amused that a pastor was doing something like this, but I appreciated his passion to spread the good news via this product.

I liked Ador and we appreciated his generous hospitality, so when we arrived back home I decided to send him some money to help with expanding the business. Danelle and I then made another trip to Catanduanes shortly after getting married where we visited the family and the church. Business was doing well and we came home with a bag of Christian Peanut Butter merchandise.

After that I lost touch with Ador and the family, until a few years ago when his son Genesis (then in his mid 30’s) found me on Facebook and reconnected. He was now a surfer, pastor and small business owner on the island, so we had a lot in common. Christian Peanut Butter was still being distributed around the island by his mother and he was running a successful café down at the Virac harbor. Like his father, he was pastoring the church while deriving his income from his various business projects.

I only know what I see of Genesis on Facebook and the occasional Messenger communication, but in these posts I observe a man committed to each piece of his life (family, church, business) and doing his best to be a Christian presence in his part of the world.

He wrote this recently about his decision to not take any income from the church:

To those curious folks:

1. Do I still pastor? Yes I do.

2. Do I “get” a salary (or support/love gift) from the church I pastor? No, I don’t for about two years now. We work overtime (7am-11pm or more) to provide for our family and the people (employees) who depend on us.

3. Is this a violation of bible principles in doing ministry because pastors deserve the milk of their sheep? DEFINITELY NOT!

Long answer: First of all, I want a pure mind when serving God, not expecting anything in return, especially money. Second, we want our members to also have pure minds, not worrying where their pastor take their money. Third, we want to set an example of literally living in God’s blessing. Fourth, God’s main command is to love. Him first, and then our neighbor. We want to love our neighbour (members) by not robbing them of their hard earned money that they should be using for themselves. It is a time of crisis, and this is a third world country, the Apostle Paul’s principle in the ministry is, “in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome to you…”

4. Are our needs met? Are we being blessed? More than we can imagine, and like never ever been blessed like this before!


The majority of the stories in my book are from western world countries, where pastors typically work bi-vo until the church can afford to hire them full time, but for most of our brothers and sisters in the developing world there is no such thing as ‘full time ministry’ and most take little if any payment from their churches, but rather find ways to generate their own income.

I have no doubt Genesis cares for his church and is devoted to them, but he is also a focused and diligent business owner, recently expanding to run a mobile coffee van around the island. Perhaps we should ask our developing world pastors to teach us how they lead their churches and seek to learn from them, as it has been their normative experience for much longer than us in the west.

Either way the bi-vo life is all too often overlooked, or dismissed, but my prediction is that in years to come we will begin to embrace its value to church, pastor and local community.