32% Sold Out to Jesus












Are you 100% sold out to Jesus?

I dunno how often I heard this expression preached at me as I was growing up and I dare say I used it – or its derivatives – a fair bit as a youth pastor too. It was never enough to just be a Christian or just a follower of Jesus. You had to be a certain type of Christian.

100% sold out.

Jesus had to be ‘number 1’ in your life…

If you’ve been around evangelicalism for a while then I’m sure you are familiar with this language. I’m not sure if it’s still used around the place today, but I’d dare say it is because it appeals to our inner zealot.

I remember as a teenager hearing sermons that called me to be 100% devoted to Jesus – to give my whole life over to him and I would think ‘Ok’… but then I’d wonder ‘Am I really 100% devoted?… How can I tell?… What if I’m only 99%? Will that do?…

It was all a bit confusing and for someone with an ‘all or nothing’ type of personality I had regular times of thinking if I can’t do it ‘right’ then better not to do it at all. Keith Green didn’t help the cause with lyrics like ‘if you can’t come to me every day then don’t bother coming at all’. (Thanks Stephen McAlpine for the reminder this week!)

If language shapes our realities, then I’d suggest that this language was probably quite unhelpful in forming disciples of Jesus.

Yes – unhelpful. And if you still do it then you should stop it – now.

Every time we call people to 100% devotion to Christ we set them up for certain failure – certain failure. To be sure Jesus called people to follow him – to die to self and take up our cross – to love him more than father or mother and so on, but I don’t think he meant what we seem to mean when we say these things, because Jesus welcomed people wherever they were in faith. He commended the faith of the (pagan?) centurion, he accepted the failings of his closest disciples and he rebuked the apparently exceptional faith of the Pharisees. I mean if anyone had the whole ‘100%’ thing going on it was these fellas.

The crudity of these words just doesn’t acknowledge the raw, perpetually broken nature of our humanity, or our natural ebbs and flows in faith.

The call to ‘give all’ even seems to suggest we can somehow ‘will ourselves’ into a place of devotion to Christ. Would that be our works gaining us approval with God – at least perceived approval?…

So… What if I am in your church and not 100% devoted to Jesus? I’m just a 90 percenter…

Is it ok to be one of those people? To acknowledge that even in my super duper ultra holy Jesus centred life there is still an element of selfishness – or a part of me that is mildly unredeemed?

Can I still be a disciple if I struggle with doubt… porn… greed… anger…?  What if I struggle with all those things at the same time?… That’s gotta put me below the pass mark – surely?

Then again, what if I’m a complete and utter screw up, but in my own stumbling, bumbling way I am doing the best I can? Is it ok to be ‘13%’ sold out to Jesus because frankly that’s all I can do right now?

And who actually gets to measure these percentages anyway? Is there an online test I can sit? (Its ok – I just checked and there’s not.)

Would I be welcome in your church if I am a flawed disciple?… A sinful, broken, lost hopeless cause?…

Would Jesus still welcome me even if your church wouldn’t?

Ok – so that question is rhetorical. You know the answer to it. And if we know the answer to that one then it actually makes the rest null and void. It speaks of his grace and our tendency to veer towards shades of legalism – even if in the guise of ‘hard core discipleship’.

Maybe rather than calling people to ‘sold out’, 100%, absolute devotion we just call them to follow Jesus and leave it to the Spirit to call them on into pathways of conformity to him that no other person could.

Maybe we should examine our rhetoric and see whether these are actually things Jesus said or if we have coined his ideas in ways he never intended.

I can’t imagine Jesus as someone to set you up for failure and then heap you with guilt because you didn’t reach an unattainable goal. That does sound a lot like a bunch of people Jesus didn’t get on with all that well.

I don’t think Jesus is constantly measuring our degrees of devotion to see if we qualify but I do think he is cheering us on when we give whatever faith and devotion we can muster.

Yanchep Beaches 365













I decided to start a new fun project this on Jan 1 this year, an Instagram & Facebook page  that has daily pics and videos of our local beaches here in Yanchep. We live by some of the most beautiful and stunning coastline so it’s only fair to share it.

Every morning and afternoon I drive or walk past the beach either on my way to work or just walking Lucy. I love observing the many changing moods of the ocean and this page is just about sharing those and engaging more intentionally with the place in which I live – stopping long enough each day to savour the beauty that is on our doorstep.

It’s not about sexy, top notch photography as it will all be from my iPhone and I won’t be waiting for the perfect moment to click. Rather I’ll take it as I find it which means that some days it will be awesome, spectacular and stunning while other days it will be just plain awesome… and maybe even occasionally just plain…

So if you love the ocean then feel free to follow along. If you wish you lived in Yanchep then this is your chance to do it vicariously… but chances are if you watch for long enough your next stop will be realestate.com 🙂

I started this after being inspired by an Irish guy in Ballybunnion who does exactly the same. I began following his page and found myself intrigued and enjoying the beauty of that small town.

So while it’s just for fun, along the way I know I will be taking time to savour the gift that is our local environment, the people I bump into and to give thanks for the beauty that we have been blessed with.

Links are here for those who may like to join me:



Web for those who don’t like social media – its just an instagram feed…

Sam The Legend…

Power of Words

Last week Sam received a letter from the nice people in a school writing competition ‘Write4fun’, advising him has been selected for publication in their upcoming book! He was so excited he could hardly speak. This book is available to friends and family at a cost of JUST $68.00!! That’s right just $68.00!! Apparently a saving of over $40.00!! I couldn’t resist the opportunity to write back to them… Seriously – what a dodgy lame money making scam…

Dear Julia

I am writing in regards to the very generous offer you have made to my son regarding the publishing of his work in your book The Text Generation.

As Sam is 11 years old I will be acting as his agent/manager with regards to any matters concerning his writing.

Sam is happy for you to publish his work but he will charge $3999 + GST for this first piece of work. If you would like to use more than one piece of work by Sam or if subsequent stories/poems are suitable for publication then these will be chargeable at the rate of $2999.00 + GST. Sam is excited that you have found his work of publishable quality and we do not want to undervalue his achievement here. (Please note this is a saving of over $1000.00 on what Sam would normally charge to be published in a lesser known work.)

With regard to The Text Generation and any subsequent publications, could you please advise as to how you structure future royalties and the manner in which these will be paid (amount and frequency) We happy to negotiate an appropriate rate commensurate with market standards. Given the cost of the book we expect there will be some great benefits here.

Sam may be available for book signings and personal appearances in book stores depending on his school commitments and the size of the surf / direction of prevailing winds. While Sam is willing to sign books at no cost his appearance fee would be $7000.00 + GST for each in store visit. I’m sure you will see this as value for money in the promotion of your work.

I note you have given the option of a photo/dedication to be located alongside the story, but at an additional cost of $27.00. It is our policy not to release photos of Sam for less than $2000.00+ GST per image. If you would like yourself to be included in the photo then we can do this also at an additional cost ($1350.00 + GST/additional person)

Please let us know how you wish to proceed and I will then forward our bank details so you can make payment for the options that best suit.

Yours in anticipation

Andrew Hamilton

(Surfer Sam Publications)

Finding My Voice

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Its been over 10 years of writing this blog and in that time I have developed my own ‘voice’ in writing. I sit down to ‘blog’ and it comes easily and naturally – its like I’m sitting in my lounge room with a friend and I enjoy it each time I open the keyboard.

But as I started writing some fiction this year I have found myself feeling quite awkward at times, a bit like ‘its not my voice’ coming thru. I don’t think I’ve been trying to imitate anyone, but I do notice I find it more difficult to write a story than I do a blog. I am also a bit of a snob when it comes to writing so I sometimes read it and think ‘oh dear… this is excrement’ and that can be a little discouraging!

I guess this form of writing comes easily because there is no obligation or intention to say anything creatively. If it flows out well then good – if not then so be it – and its only a short post. If you don’t like it there will be another to read some time soon. But because I’ve ‘found my voice’ here chances are most posts will read ok.

However the process of telling a story, of developing character and trying to draw people in is a more focused task and in that I am feeling like I have been labouring because it hasn’t started to come naturally yet. Some mornings I sit down to write and feel like I am writing boring ‘wooden’ information and then other days I sit to write and I like what I’m writing – I’d read it myself!

Not having much experience in fiction writing I’m guessing it takes a while to find your stride and to develop your own style/voice. On that note one of the things I had to get past was that my characters use pretty bad language at times. Such is real life…

If you’ve read this blog for long enough then you’d know I’m not easily offended by naughty words, but I do try to limit my use of expletives (no really…) so to liberally splash ‘f’ words throughout was a challenge because it isn’t a part of my own vocabulary. But not to use the ‘f’ word would have been really odd too… because its how people talk… Its a part of life and it would sound jolly strange to use words like ‘jolly’ instead.

If my book ever gets finished and is good enough to publish I doubt Koorong will want to stock it…

What Are You Looking For?

the-late-ted-deerhurst-was-the-first-british-surfer-to-turn-professional-223217292-3883534This evening a comment came in on a post I put up several years ago but British surfer Ted Deerhurst who was on the pro tour way back in 1978. Its interesting to see how many people have found this blog by looking for ‘Ted Deerhurst’. (And Ted’s story is an interesting one too…)

So I opened up my stats to take a look at what people are searching for when they find this blog. I thought it was interesting so here’s a bit of an insight.

The TOP search request of the last 5 years… Eucla Caravan Park… How about that? After having the worst night’s sleep because of yobbo staff I posted an angry rant titled ‘Australia’s Worst Caravan Park?‘, not thinking it would make much difference, but it has obviously been found by plenty of people. Some folks I know stayed there recently and liked it, so maybe its changed. But the message is clear – bad online reviews get found!

Backyard Missionary was the second most popular search term and I guess that stands to reason. It was a ‘tag’ I used for a long time and I imagine if anyone wanted to find me online this would be the best search to use. I’ve noticed a few other ‘backyard missionaries’ out there in blog world, but this is the original…

‘Losing virginity’ turns up next… probably because I posted about it twice – losing my ‘facebook virginity‘ and then going to my first ever live concert at the age of 43. Fortunately the real deal happened a few years before that…


Leo Sayer chimes in next. What the?… I wrote some stuff on Danelle’s love for Leo and obviously it gets found. Seriously though – who searches for Leo Sayer?…

Often people are searched for and the most common searches that land people up at backyard missionary are in order:

  • Wayne Mordue – who was a pastor in WA and then NSW and died recently
  • Jarrod McKenna – local bloke working for World Vision
  • Travis Fitch – another local WA pastor and CEO of 12 Buckets
  • Noel Vose – the founding principal of Vose College and a legend at 90 something,

Some of the more unusual searches are these:

Vicky Groves – a young girl was murdered in her class at Churchlands High School back in the 90’s. Many of the young people in our youth ministry at the time attended the school and some witnessed the attack. A pretty horrific story and probably getting some airtime now  because the guy who killed her was recently released from jail.

Sexy Christian Singles – unusual because I doubt I have ever written a post along these lines..

Longreach Waters – a beautiful camp spot by an inland waterway right in the guts of NT just out of the little town of Elliot. We loved it here, but I’m guessing its fairly unknown.

Top Trim Bairnsdale – a small motor trimming company who got a blog post for the opposite reason to Eucla Caravan park – because they dropped what they were doing and helped us out on the spot with some caravan troubles.

Wedgie Training – come to the master and I will prepare your kids for school

FWIW my most popular post of all time is still this feisty piece I wrote specifically for a provocative debate. Almost all of the comments got deleted in the shift to a new host but the original piece remains.

And my own favourite is still this one – a bit of a naughty title, but my fave because it brings back such sweet memories.

And yes – it is a quiet night in the Hamilton household…

10 Years of Blogging

This blog has been doing its thing for 10 years now.

I never thought when I started that I’d still be writing after all this time… but it has been a passion, an obsession at times, a place to think out loud and now an ‘old friend who I visit occasionally’.


The blog began when we left Lesmurdie Baptist to plant a new missional community in Butler. I actually started out on blogger with www.backyardmissionaries.blogspot.com as the site (click on the image above to see it as it looked in 2003), but later moved to a free site at wordpress before getting my own domain.  Many thanks to an old friend (who I am yet to meet in person) Justin Baeder who has overseen all of this since 2003 and who bales me out when I manage to ‘delete the internet’.

The original blog was a way of staying in touch with the people we left behind and also a way of grappling with the questions of church and mission that were pretty hot at the time. I’m not sure anyone from our home church ever read it, but it certainly became a hot forum for discussion of all things ‘mission and church’.

It was inspired initially by my long time mate Tallskinnykiwi (who has just re-jigged his own online efforts) and by Darren Rouse, who at that time was church planting with Living Room in Victoria. To say Darren figured blogging out more than the rest of us would be an understatement… There was money to be made in the earlier days of blogging and Darren figured out that one pretty quickly!

The blog led to lots of online connections and plenty of online arguments. I remember flying to Melbourne once and staying with Phil & Dan McCredden authors of ‘Signposts’, another popular blog of the era. We had never met in person so that was a novel experience. Fortunately I discovered before arriving that ‘Dan’ was ‘Danielle’ and a woman… as in the absence of any images I imagined two blokes writing Signposts… The original ‘Signposts’ has been deleted but there is still a site at that domain.

‘Backyard’ once rated very highly as an Aussie Christian blog – and (depending on whose stats you believe) had around 2000 hits a day. But it also became an obsession and something of an ego trip. I think it was 2006 when I sensed God asking me to stop blogging for a while, or maybe permanently. It was a big call and not something I’d expect anyone to understand unless they get a kick out of writing and online interactions.

I committed to stop blogging indefinitely, or until God gave me a green light to get back into it again.

it was after about 6 months that I sensed God saying ‘ok – blog again if you want to…’ I did, but it has never been with the same sense of obsession (I used to post 2-5 times a day…) My readership had dropped to around 100 a day, the whole ’emerging church conversation’ had lost steam and unless I intended to write consistently about issues like homosexuality I was unlikely to pull a crowd again.

More recently my blogging efforts have been sporadic at best and non-existent at worst. I’ve thought about wrapping it up, but I like a place to come and spruik when I have one of those rare moments of inspiration.

What I do have here though is 10 years of my life documented and expressed, something I hope might be of value and interest to my kids at some point. They now have their own blogs which we use for creative writing.  Sam and Ellie both enjoy writing, and have managed to rack up a few posts already. So I’m thinking they may have fun trolling the archives some day and laughing at what their old man thought was so important.

If there was one post that started a fire more than any other then it would be this one and it still ranks no 1 in Google if you search for ‘incarnational v attractional’. Unfortunately all of the original comments got deleted in a blog transfer so the fire of the conversation isn’t there any longer… maybe that’s a good thing…

If I’ve learnt anything then it would be not to write on a controversial topic once you’re had two glasses of red… or three…  I do still write the odd provocative piece and I do occasionally like to ‘poke the bear’, but I’m also aware that I don’t have time to really engage here like I used to.

Anyway on that note let me finish with a quote that kinda captures the original flavour of backyardmissionary

‘Challenging the church is like goading a rhino. Pissing it off is the easy part. Getting it to change direction once its charging… well that’s a different matter entirely.’

Source unknown

Thanks for sharing the journey with me!


When Boys Play

I took these photos today while we were at Scarborough Beach with the Christian Surfers crew.

It was another day of sizable swell down at Scarborough and it was bigger than most of the micro-groms could manage. Sam dipped his board in the water then turned to me and shook his head… ‘nah Dad… too big’

I kinda knew it, but hoped he might have at least got hammered a couple of times before deciding to bale. His cousin managed to paddle right out the back earlier only to get ‘stuck’ there before being cleaned up and washed in.

With the surf a bit big for the boys today they just congregated in the shore break and played. Boys – many of whom don’t know each other at all, joined together and jumped waves, got smashed by them, laughed together and splashed together and had fun – lots of fun – as only boys can. It really was a beautiful sight.

I was standing chatting with Travis when I noticed how much fun they were having. The laughter, the fact they had been bobbing around for over an hour, the smiles on the faces all said ‘we are having a good time!’

Its great to see kids play so I said to Trav – ‘excuse me a moment’ as I quickly snapped some pics – pics that will forever speak of joy and fun and the good things in life that come when boys get together and do what boys do.

Slowing, Dreaming, Scheming

Now THAT’S a trench digger!!

I saw this baby on the way back from the shops today. I’m guessing it will be used to submerge the gas pipe that they have been running between Butler and Yanchep. I can only imagine how much fun it would be to pick up the shovel if it broke down though…

On that note its that time of year when things wind down and I have a few days off. Today is one of them…

I used to get worried when work slowed down over winter, but now I’m enjoying it and taking the time to do some things that I don’t get to do as easily when things are busy.

Up until today I’ve had steady work, but right now next week is completely free. If it still looks like that on Monday then I reckon I might hit the road in the camper for a couple of days of prayer and retreat. The weather is the only trick here and right now next week is looking a little iffy.

In the meantime I have been catching up on some of those jobs that need doing and reading a bit more. In late June I will also be doing a restricted electrical license so that I can change over hardwired retic control boxes.

I’m currently in the process of developing a new website that will try to promote me as Perth’s retic control box specialist and hopefully will be a source of income for years to come.

Its a 10-15 year plan, but I’m figuring that one day I may not be in the kinda shape I am today and might need to scale things back a bit. If between now and my 60’s I can get a big slice of the ‘control box’market then I reckon I’ll be in a pretty good place. It isn’t too hard on the body to stand by a meter box, disconnect 3 wires, drill some holes and then reconnect it all. If I could get 10 a week we could live pretty easily.

There is plenty of competition out there so I’m not sure how easy it will be to develop this very niche market, but I’ve got plenty of time between now and then to give it a go

What is a Bastard?

Quite often we ask ourselves hard to answer questions, like, “What is a bastard?”

And we wax philosophic with metaphysical postulations, incomplete aphorisms, and inconsistent sophisms that make one more and more sure that the only true thing is that a picture is worth a thousand words.

In the photo below, the guy on the right is a member of a bomb squad in the middle of a deactivation.

The guy behind him, well, he’s a bastard.


A few years back (ok 20 or so…) I was a reasonable basketballer and won a few trophies.

Early in our marriage while I was still playing competitvely I would put them on display somewhere around the house, but then we moved house to Lesmurdie and I packed all 30 or so up in a banana box and they never saw the light of day.

When we moved to Butler they stayed in the same banana box, except for a short time when my kids discovered them and wanted to know about them.

With this house move I decided to ditch them. After all they had sat in the same banana box for 15 years and never been looked at so there was no point keeping them any longer I reasoned. I took them down to the tip and handed them over at recycling. I can’t say it was particularly sad/significant or otherwise. It simply felt like handing over stuff that once had meaning but was now just plastic and wood.

No one had seen these trophies in 15 years and no one was ever likely to see them again. Might as well make them landfill…

The funny thing is that they have been on ‘display’ at the local tip for a couple of months now. Friends have seen them and told me – taken an embrassing picture even – and then today I went to Tamala (I like to think of it as the local Ikea) to search for a flyscreen door and as I walked around I saw them proudly displayed for all to see.

Just when I had given up on fame…