Covid Chess

That’s what we called it before we left home. But 3 months ago it was all fairly straight forward and things had settled down. Not today…

We are at Kirra Caravan park and will be here until the end of the Qld lockdown on Friday evening. From there it’s a toss up again. Part of our decision making going forwards is shaped by Covid factors and part by an issue I have been battling since before we left – some sharp musular pain in the glute area – probably referred from the back. I have been walking like an old man lately, struggling to move and my attempts at hitting the water have been fairly futile as I just can’t snap to my feet and I end up getting rolled by the wave or frustrated! I’ve been to a few physios now but because we are transient no one gets a really good crack at the problem.

So the choices from here are: a) back into NSW to go surfing along the north coast. Before we left this was the part of the trip I was hanging for. Truth is we may go back there now and I may not be able to get myself out there. And then we risk getting shut out of every other state… So NSW may be a bad choice if we ever hope to come home!

We had originally planned to head for far north Qld, but given its around 2000kms away and we know the territory between here and there fairly well I’m less inclined to do that kinda drive. I’d like to see the country beyond Cairns, but I wouldn’t be devo if we missed it.

We have family in Port Hedland wed’ like to see so we could go across the middle and up to the Kimberleys then down again. A long fairly uninteresting drive for a lot of it, but pretty ‘covid-friendly’ and should allow us to get home again in time.

I’m pretty disappointed about the muscular pain. I managed to ‘walk it out’ while in Tassie but since Newcastle it’s just flared more and more. So part of me is just in the ‘bugger it – lets go home’ frame of mind. Another part of me hopes that every morning when I wake things will be different.

In terms of where we have been since my last ‘travel post’, I think we have been to many places, but at times it has felt a little like wandering rather than travelling. We finished Tassie with a few days in the little town of Penguin where we had dinner with some old friends from Lesmurdie days. Then we made the crossing to Vic, where we had to drive straight thru to NSW in one hit due to the Covid flare there. A bummer as we missed 3 catch ups with friends we would have really enjoyed, and I missed the 2 hours I had booked at Urbn Surf, the Melbourne surf park – although in hindsight it may not have been a bad thing as I have since discovered that water temp in the park is 12 degrees… icy!

We spent a couple of nights wandering thru inland NSW, driving thru snow and enjoying the diesel heater that kept us warm in the middle of it. We were scheduled to visit friends in the Blue Mountains on a Saturday, but as we headed towards their place to spend one night in Katoomba, the crazy traffic had us wondering what was going on that we didn’t know about… Turns out it was a long weekend and with the first snows every man and their dog was heading out of the city and there was no space anywhere for vagrants like us. On very short notice we lobbed in our friends a day early and ‘camped’ in their street for two nights. It was wonderful fun catching up again, and then from there it was off to the Central Coast – ‘The Entrance’ for a few nights – a beautiful part of the world – before 10 days in Newcastle with Danelle’s sister and the family. The kids came to join us for this part and we all had a fun time catching up again and hanging with famlly.

The kids were due to fly out last Sunday evening, but with the dramas unfolding in Sydney they were going to have a 2 week lockdown when they got home. We made a snap decision to bolt for QLD thinking that if we had a spontaneous family holiday for two weeks then they would evade that problem. It would also mean Danelle and I didn’t get ‘locked’ in NSW. So last Saturday we drove the 8 hours up to the Gold Coast where we lobbed in on some other friends, who had moved house the day before. Again it was great catching up amidst their boxes and renovations, but the plans got cut short again when WA closed its borders to QLD and the kids realised there was no avoiding lockdown.

Bummer – so they flew out Sunday evening and we headed back to Kirra for a few days of chilling and working out ‘where to next’. My hopes are on heading south the NSW for some fun waves, but realistically we will probably call it a day on the surfing and head across QLD for the NT and then WA.

We have moved from ‘Plan A’ to B to C and we are up to about Plan Q now… I think we can sometimes make life on the road sound like one endless euphoric experience. Reality is it has its ups and downs like life at home and sometimes there are complexities that make it a little more uncomfortable than home life.

That said – I always tend to hope for the best and seeing the sun peeking thru the cloud just now I will finish this blog and drag my body down to the beach in hope that maybe this day I will feel better and will enjoy the ocean again! We have an hour of exercise while in lockdown so maybe this will be mine…

He Who Honours Me

I remember back in the late 1980’s’ I entered a high school basketball skills competition run by Coca Cola and after getting thru the school round and the district level went on to the WA final where I came second to a bloke named Eric Watterson. I didn’t know who he was because I didn’t mix in elite basketball circles, but he later went on to play for the Perth Wildcats for many years. As a result of the second placing I was offered the opportunity to train and play with a local district basketball team who were coached by Henry Daigle, an American who had come to Perth specifically to develop talent. He also coached the Perth Wildcats and was the leading coach in Perth at the time.

I was pretty ecstatic as in those years basketball was my great passion and this was going to be my pathway to greatness. Then I discovered that the team trained on a Sunday morning and the decision to participate entered a whole new realm of complexity. The 80’s was an era where you could skip church to play sport, but it would still have been frowned upon. I wasn’t that worried about the negative response I may have received – I just wanted to make the right decision. And as a young Christian it was a challenging one.

I didn’t have the cultural savvy and theological awareness to work thru the issue so it felt like I was stuck with choosing to conform or rebel. Not a great set of options for a 17 year old really…

It was easy to choose conformity, but everything in me raged against it. This was a genuine opportunity to move into a whole new sphere of competition and this was ‘my moment’. I tussled with the decision, but don’t remember talking with anyone about it. I’m not sure if I had people in my life who would have enabled me to really think about it rather than just giving me the party line.

Then one Saturday evening while in the throes of my decision I went to the movies and watched Chariots of Fire, a movie I knew little about, but that left a mark like no other. For a kid trying to make a decision about what to do with Sunday sport in the 1980’s it was like God had jumped into my world and given me a hero to champion the cause of faithfulness and sacrifice in the face of great temptation. When I watched the movie and saw Liddell made his decision not to run in the heats of the 100m at the Paris Olympics just because they were on a Sunday I felt my question had been answered directly. I felt like God literally spoke to me thru that movie.

That night the decision was made not to accept the offer to join the Perry Lakes Hawks team (or whoever they were then) and to simply keep on playing church league basketball and going to church on Sunday. I remember feeling both deep peace and bitter disappointment at the same time. The boat I wanted to be on had sailed and I wasn’t on it… and I never would be. But I had put a stake in the ground in relation to faith and that was significant. I would say it was one of the most important decisions I have ever made, because it set the trajectory for my life.

I vividly remember the moment in the movie where Liddell was about to run in the 400m final and he was slipped a piece of paper with a Bible verse on it.

‘He who honours me I will honour’ 1 Sam 2:30

Liddell went on to win the 400m in record time and is credited with being the man who turned the middle distance race into a sprint because he knew no other way to run! He was inspirational and his story still inspires me today.

Liddell enjoyed athletic success as a result of honouring God. I didn’t. And truth be told I was never going to be a star – no matter how highly I rated myself. I have very small hands and in basketball world that is a liability. I doubt I would have ever progressed beyond playing off the bench in SBL, but what did happen in that decision was a catalysing of life direction. It was probably the first time I had to make a call between following Jesus or chasing my own dreams. That tussle has stayed with me for the rest of my life, but I’m happy to say it has been a genuine wrestle and never a simple case of rolling over and taking the most self serving path.

So maybe if you’re wrestling with a decision at the moment where the answer is not clear, my advice is to take the path that will ultimately lead you closer to Jesus and to the kind of life he calls you to. I don’t know what it will look like for God to ‘honour’ that, but I trust that he will.

Re-Thinking Sunday Sport

This is a segment I did on 98.5FM earlier today. For those who want the text version or who missed what I said.


It’s the first day of winter and we are entering that period of the year many pastors dread… Sunday sport is starting up again. Footy, soccer, basketball is happening and Sunday is usually the day of choice. Historically it’s been a very knotty subject for those of us in churches as we have pondered how we address it. Church numbers decline, the energy wanes and it can be hard to feel enthusiastic when it can feel like everyone else is spending their energy elsewhere.

Well… in this post I want to ask you to re-think your stance on Sunday sport , particularly those who are parents and have children in sports clubs.

You may have said, ‘Sunday sport – hey it’s no big deal missing church – you can go again in October. Your sport is very important to your happiness and we wouldn’t want you missing out.

I want to ask you to rethink that position.


You may have said NO WAY you are missing church for footy – no way ever! Church comes first – always has – always will. This isn’t even up for discussion.

I want to ask you to rethink your position too.

So whatever your position at the moment I’m not asking you to change your mind necessarily – but I am asking you to think again about why you do what you do and what the costs and benefits are (to you and the church) and what God may be saying to you at this moment in your life.

If you don’t think it matters to skip church because your children’s sporting activities really need to be prioritised then I want to put it to you that the gathering of the community once a week is also a priority we read about in the Bible. Christianity is inherently communal. And when you aren’t there it’s not only you who misses out. Other people miss your presence.

And sometimes when we choose to neglect the call to worship and gather with other Christians we are at risk of creating an idol – and I don’t think the idol is sport in this case. I think we can make idols of our kids and we can choose to sacrifice whatever it costs for their happiness.

The problem is that in doing so we model priorities to our kids and they hear what we do loud and clear. I want to suggest to you that if this is your path then it is short sighted and will eventually backfire on you.

We can’t replace worship of God with any other form of God and not call it idolatry.

So please if that is you – re-think what you are doing.

And to those who see church as set in stone and completely not negotiable let me ask you to do the same. Attending church is never a law we want to enforce. It’s not a duty or a chore we must perform and if it’s couched in those terms then maybe it needs to be stopped anyway. The point of church attendance is to worship God and to gather with other believers for support and encouragement.

And you don’t have to do that on a Sunday morning. You may be able to form a small group with other parents & kids to gather and worship at another time. Your church may have more than one service. There are other ways to gather for those with the initiative to do so.

Church attendance made law can be very destructive to those on whom it is inflicted, especially older teen kids who don’t believe. You can make up their minds right then about what path they want to take if you are too heavy handed.

I am a pastor of a church where Sunday sport has a significant impact and I make it a point to never shame or berate those people to get back in church. I respect their ability as adults to listen to God and make the decisions they believe are best for their children’s faith development at this point.

What I do ask is that they and you constantly rethink your position and realise that just because you chose this path last year it isn’t necessarily appropriate to choose the same path this year.

As parents we are the ones primarily responsible for the faith formation of our children. Some days that will be saying ‘no – you can’t have what you want . In my judgement it isn’t best for you.’

Other days it will involve saying ‘ok let’s do this – but because we orient our lives around Jesus and his call let’s figure out how we are going to make sure that we position ourselves to be in growth mode – as it’s just too easy to drift and end up on the rocks.’

So- my call is to rethink and make sure that what you are doing is going to contribute rather than detract from the spiritual formation of your children. You may arrive at the same conclusion, but why not take time as a family or even as parents to talk and pray about this issue and listen what the spirit may say to you

As a pastor I rest easy if I know this has been a carefully made decision and not just a way of avoiding a conflict with a feisty child.