The greatest story.

RESOURCES-4

My current favourite youtube watch, Casey Neistat said this:

“Tell a great story, tell a great story really well and people will forgive whatever gear you shot it on. Ask me about ideas, or ask me about story telling, but don’t ask me about hardware. Just google it or something”
Casey Neistat

Casey’s been making movies for over a decade now. These days he has all kinds of great gadgets, but for most of his career, he’s used $150 cameras and an outdated version of Apple’s movie programme. He hasn’t carved a career in video, advertising and creative pursuits because he has the biggest lens. He’s done it because he has a story to tell and he works hard at sharing it.

Christian, yours is the greatest story ever told. It’s great because it’s true. It’s great because it involves the listener as much as the teller, and best of all, it’s good news for everyone old or young, black or white, who hears and responds to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and his resurrection to return to God in repentance and forgiveness!  I’m not  saying that we shouldn’t use every medium available to share this mind numbing, world shaking good news.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t use good resources to share this good news. We should use every resource available to preach the gospel. If you’ve got lots of resources, make sure you use all of them to the greatest effect!
But what I am saying is that we must never forget that it is the message that we preach that is important, not the medium that we use.

Christian, the gospel that you preach in your rented hall, using a crackly mic and a couple of printouts, is just as powerful to save as the gospel being preached in the fab new cinema-style church building down the road where they have big screen videos and glossy colour brochures at Sunday.

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” and do it knowing that God will work in you and through you. If your resources grow, embrace any new opportunity to point to Jesus. But never forget that the best thing we can do is tell our great story, knowing that when people hear about our great God and respond, they’ll forgive whatever gear we used to preach it.

 

 

***** Watch the video that got me thinking.

Storms

I should start by pointing out that the Goldsmith household was very lucky. We didn’t lose power, and only had to contend with mobile towers being down and a lack of phone lines and internet. The rest of the Coast, however, copped it this week! Schools and daycares shut, roads blocked everywhere. You know it’s bad when even the McDonalds and Coles in Kincumber were down for three days!

I drove round to visit a number of people in the parish who live in spots prone to cop it from storms. This is what greeted me at one end of a road when I was trying to do a loop rather than go back the way I came.

Trees down

Well, the cleanup is still going. There are still houses without power, but we’re mostly through it & life goes on.

It was a close one though in Saratoga. Lots of that area still damaged, but they had power at the RSL for Saturday dawn service, where ANZAC Day saw at least 2000 people come to pay their respects. Always an honour to be a part of proceedings there.

 

Friday

I spent most of Friday driving to Watsons Bay and back for a funeral.

#1: It’s wonderful to be able to attend a Christian funeral. While there is a deep sense of grief and loss, one also experiences the joy that the deceased is now in the presence of their maker, and that if our trust is in Jesus, who died for our sins, then this is not the end.

I drove down with one of our parish wardens. We left at 10:30, and didn’t get a chance to have lunch until 3ish. Of course, if you’re in town, you may as well have lunch somewhere nice, so we stopped off at Batch Burger in Kirribilli. (As an aside, I’ve always wanted to try poutine. While there was straight cheese instead of curds, it was pretty awesome. Not good for the diet though!) It was a sad circumstance that brought us together, but it was a wonderful opportunity to spend 4 hours travelling together in a car, then top it off with a nice lunch together.

#2: It’s wonderful to spend time with older Christians, to hear their stories and learn from their experiences.

I lost almost a day’s worth of work time, but I was thankful to be able to support a grieving member of our congregation in a small way, and I was excited to be able to strengthen a relationship with one of the pillars of our congregation.

I’d call it time well spent!

A great burger, and Poutine!
A great burger, and Poutine!

Maslow or Connor?

Hammer
You get bonus points if you can tell me where I got this graphic from!

 

I heard it for the first time the other day, having coffee with my mate Dan, but it turns out he was quoting Maslow’s “Law of the instrument.”

“If all  you have is a hammer, then every problem is going to look like a nail.”

I love a good turn of phrase, and that’s the first thing that drew me to the statement, but I’ve been thinking about it, off and on, for a day or two now.

From my work perspective, do I get caught up in a narrow attitude to the many different elements of my job, causing me to hammer away at all of them? Am I failing to look at people and tasks in a nuanced way? And if so, am I failing to love those people I serve, by understanding them within their own context and with their own specific needs?

I want to have a lot of different tools at my disposal. And I want to make sure that, as I serve God in full-time ministry, I’m doing the job right!

Problem solving friends

BA

So can you guess what this is for? I’ll give you a minute, then you can scroll down…

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OK, so I surf every Saturday. Many Saturdays the surf is small & I don’t have a problem. Some days the surf is a little bigger & sometimes I feel a little nervous. Occasionally the surf is massive, and on days like that I chicken out! It’s not that I fear being dumped that much. My experience so far has shown that being dumped doesn’t really appear to hurt much. My big fear is drowning! You get dumped, you get held down, and you can’t make it back up for air… there is nothing worse than the feeling than being “rag dolled” by a wave and panicking about getting a breath.

But there are two things that have helped me.

#1 – On one particular day I was trying to psyche myself up to get out there, when a mate called Brendon saw me on the beach & said g’day. I told him about my concern, & he have me the best surf advice I’ve ever had. He said “watch some of the surfers out there, particularly the ones who get dumped. When you see a guy go under, count how many seconds they stay underwater. I bet you it’s rarely more than 10 seconds and often much less…. but when you get dumped, it FEELS like it’s forever.”

He was right. Ever since, if I get dumped I start counting, and the longest I have ever been down was 13 seconds, and that was on a wave that would have had a 10-foot face! The advice has also helped with rips & things like that. Rather than freak out & let my anxiety be the cause of a difficult situation, I count slowly, breathe calmly and realise I can always get myself out of situations (so far).

#2 And now we come to this device. I was saying to my mate Colin that my biggest concern is that I can’t hold my breath for a long time, and I don’t have the kind of time I would like to put serious work into my cardio. At some point we remembered that there are breathing regulators you can buy that you can use during the day that restrict your airflow, make you work harder to breathe and can therefore increase your lung capacity. A search on the internet, however, showed that they are pretty expensive.

One night Colin turned up at church with the hose fitting in his hand. I had no idea what it was, but he told me it was a flow regulator… but of course, there is no reason why it wouldn’t also regulate air! I had a SCUBA regulator mouthpiece from another failed project. Throw in a zip tie & now I have a breathing regulator so I can improve my lung capacity whilst working on sermons!

The last thing to add is one of those little nose clips that synchronised swimmers use. They are between $5-$10. For a princely sum of $15, I have a fun little tool to help me breath better, AND help me surf better.

Thanks Colin. I thank God for problem solving friends like you!

Time goes by

Having watched Casey Neistat use time lapse a lot, I played around with it a little myself. I was struck by how pretty it is when you can watch the clouds billowing at high speed, and when light and shade on the front drive ripples and pulses. The world at realtime is a pretty awesome place, but there is an extra level of beauty to it when time becomes a dimension that you can play around with.

Often, when we have the opportunity to look back through time, we can see that individual moments, days or years, that might have been a source of frustration, or even anger, are now seen as beautiful moments that helped shape who we are today! If only we could have the full perspective at every point!

I wonder whether Heaven, being atemporal (as I think it is) sees an extra level of beauty in creation, because whilst we, fixed in time, feel like individual dabs of paint being smudged across a canvas, in Heaven they see everything in light of the finished work of Art?

Love the fam

My parents live in the Hunter Valley (two hours away), my sister and her family in Wagga Wagga (7 hours away), and my little bro & his family in Melbourne (12 hours!), so I get to see a good deal less of my family than I  would like to. That’s why the last 3 weeks have been pretty awesome, cause I’ve had a chance to see everyone!

March 24-27 saw me attending the Anglican Futures Conference in Melbourne. It was an 8am-9pm kind of gig, so I didn’t get a lot of time with them, but it was still awesome to hang out with Phil & Kristin in the evenings & see the kids in passing. I had an hour or so free before my flight on Friday evening, so that provided the chance to have a beer with my bro (and the only family pic I took of the time down there).

IMG_2707

Last Shona & I drove the family up to the Hunter to see the parents. The #1 reason to go is “Mama & Bop,” but the kids are always pretty stoked to spend some time outdoors. Having a small vineyard we can all run around is pretty awesome.

Beep beep!
Beep beep!
Happy Chappie
Happy Chappie
Tennis anyone?
Tennis anyone?
Walking the vines
Walking the vines
Twice the fun!
Twice the fun!

Amy, Andrew & the Heaps went up to their annual holiday at Katoomba Easter Convention, then went to visit the Hunter, then yesterday they & the grandparents all came down to visit us! Turning 40 later this year is enough to make me feel old, but to see my Wagga nieces and nephews growing up so quickly really consolidates it!

IMG_2789

So it’s been a pretty lucky couple of weeks, but now it’s time to knuckle down & get back to work. I’m glad I’ve been able to make the most of these opportunities, but who knows when the next chance will come?

Tick Box

Books

There are all kinds of plans & programmes you can follow to make you more effective. I’ve read a bunch of different books on workflow related stuff and prioritisation, but for mine, the single best thing I’ve done is the simple “To Do” list.

Of course, I’d tried it before. My problem has been keeping the list in front of me. I tried using an app on my phone, but the reality proved to be that I’d never really open the app.  I tried writing a little one page list, but it kept on disappearing. Then late last year I cam across the perfect solution.

I love notebooks. Even though I have horrible handwriting, I enjoy writing things down, and so I’ve been a longtime fan of Moleskine etc. I was looking at an Australian stationery website, when I found Leuchtturm1917. I liked the backstory of the company, I really like their notebooks (they have numbered pages & a couple of “contents” pages at the front, which means I can write down where to find any interesting things that I write. A much smarter way of keeping a notebook), and I particularly like the diaries.

An A5 page on one side, big enough to fit details of my engagements for the week, and a ruled page on the other side for “To Do” lists (and notes on important conversations). It’s been a revelation. Monday morning starts with a list making, and since I carry my notebook everywhere, the diary comes too! The physical act of ticking off a box is also really satisfying, and that simple pleasure keeps me coming back for more.

As it turns out, the 1-2 combo with the notebook has been brilliant too. One diary struggle for me has been “Can you fit everything you want to write down in there?” What if I have lots of notes to take? So now, if I go to a meeting, or have a long conversation that I need to log details of, I can leave a note in my diary pointing to the right page number in my note book & fill everything out there! I’ll rotate both the diary and the notebook at the beginning of each year. Best of all, Leuchtturm1917 comes with little archiving stickers, so I’ll be able to find the appropriate diary in the future without having to pull them all off a shelf. Love!

It’s not rocket science, but when you find a simple process that works, it can be life changing!

 

 

3 Reasons why the Easter story is not about a Zombie (and one reason why the zombies are on to something)

Brains Poster

 

So my brother made an offhand comment, and the comment got me thinking, so here I am up at night answering a question that few people probably care about. I’ve heard it said a number of times that Christianity is just the first “Zombie cult”. We follow a guy who died & then came back out of the grave…. people are just lucky that Christians don’t want to eat their brains right?

But there are three solid reasons why we’re talking about something very different with Christianity…. though, as I’ll point out afterward, the zombies are on to at least one good thing. So… here we go.

  1. There is a difference between reanimation and resurrection: Of course, there are a million different zombie stories with a million different reasons why they end up zombies. We’ll assume I’m talking about the generic zombie stories here. Almost all zombies require a body. That body is a dead body (sometimes before it’s infected, but always after it is). A zombie is a dead body that has been reanimated in some way. This is why zombies are so stupid. There is basically no mental function other than the virus that is driving it to eat brains/kill people.
    When we talk about Jesus, it’s a very different matter. The story of the resurrection is not a matter of a dead body being reanimated, so it is a dead, but moving body. The story of Jesus is about someone who was dead and three days later is alive again.
  2. Decay vs. Eternity: The difference between the two is no clearer than when we look at the long term consequences. Jesus, resurrected, ascended into heaven and calls us to experience eternity with him. Zombies, on the other hand, slowly decay, break down, and at some point in time cease to be. The closest you get between the two is poor Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead at the request of his sisters Mary and Martha. But Lazarus was doomed to die again. Even here, he was dead, then he was alive, and then one day he would have died again (where, presumably, he was called to be with Christ his saviour). C.S. Lewis picked up the sadness of the story in his poem “Stephen to Lazarus”But was I the first martyr, who
    Gave up no more than life, while you,
    Already free among the dead,
    Your rags stripped off, your fetters shed,
    Surrendered what all other men
    Irrevocably keep, and when
    Your battered ship at anchor lay
    Seemingly safe in the dark bay
    No ripple stirs, obediently
    Put out a second time to sea
    Well knowing that your death (in vain
    Died once) must all be died again?
  3. Thoughtlessness vs. the Open Mind: As noted above, the zombie is noted by his lack of mental function. For the zombie there is no great meta-narrative that they are seeking to be a part of. They are not asking any great existential questions. The sum total of their thinking is “brains”. Of course, the critic may argue that this is a fair representation of the Christian (minus the desire for brains) also. But the gospel that the resurrected Christ professed was a different matter. Jesus was constantly challenging the chief priests and teachers of the law to engage their minds and consider the ramifications of their beliefs. Jesus was passionate about following the relational and logical conclusions of people’s beliefs.
    The mind of the Biblical Christian is the mind that is open to asking questions, to being challenged, and to growing in understanding. Read John 20-21 & you’ll see Jesus asking deep & helpful questions after his resurrection.But The zombies do get something right! A person gets infected by a zombie (bite, death, or whatever) and once they make the turn, their focus is a singleminded one. Everything else is forgotten and their focus is only, completely, absolutely on brains. They have one passion and it drives all that they are and all that they do! Zombies naturally beget more zombies, because they want to get out there & bite people. They understand it’s their purpose!
    I’m not saying Christians should be so focussed that we lack any nuance, or capacity to think about, or talk about anything else, but we too need to realise that the relationship with have with God is one that is of ultimate importance, and in the end, is worth paying any price for. We can look to Church History and see hundreds of people who have grasped this reality and acted on it! In the end, Christianity, like Zombism, is a life and death matter. But praise be to God, the life we are offered in Christ is one that will last forever, will never spoil, perish, or fade.

    And I believe, it’s a faith where we also get to keep & exercise our brains!

Fountain of love

Fountain of love
Fountain of love

I am a lover of fountain pens and I’m not afraid to admit it.

I had dyslexia problems when I was a kid, most of which were sorted out through my teens, but my handwriting never really turned the corner. It looked horrible because my brain didn’t speak well to my hand & it still looks pretty average.

But for some reason, in the last 5 or so years I started to love stationery more and more. When we were on our honeymoon, Shona & I bought cheap fountain pens in a department store in Paris. I enjoyed writing with it, but it always seemed to get ink all over me. Then last Christmas I got given an Amazon voucher. I didn’t need any books desperately, so I found myself a fountain pen instead. Throw in some cool ink & I was smitten! It looks different to a normal pen, I have to think more carefully about what I am doing, and that means I usually end up writing neater!

I posted somewhere (I can’t find it, otherwise I’d link to it) an article that I read recently that said, rather than being an affectation, fountain pen writers are smart because the pens make you work harder, writer clearer, and research has shown that you are also more likely to think hard about what you are writing, and therefore it can aid creativity! It’s certainly been my experience! I also know that different colours make me feel happy, so I’ve been able to add just a little bit of flair to my writing. Periwinkle blue is my mainstay, carob red is for fun, and coffee been brown is a current favourite.

I know it’s not for everyone, and it is a little weird, but for someone whose work required a fair amount of creative output, a moleskine notebook & a couple of fountain pens puts my brain in a happy place!