Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Weird Photo

Annette and I were taking passport sized photos for our Chinese Visa applications and I was printing them out on photo paper on my printer. I put the paper in upside down and this was the result - pretty scary!! (Annette threatened unspeakable acts of violence upon me if i published hers.)
We are getting excited about our time in China. It is only two months away now. I'm heading to Brisbane early tomorrow morning for a week of National Wesleyan Church Meetings so I should be back this time next week with more posts. Bye for now

Two Great Aussie Movies

On my trip to New Zealand over the weekend to attend and speak at the New Zealand Wesleyan Methodist Annual Conference I had the opportunity to watch a couple of great new Aussie movies. I flew over on a 747 which was stopping at Auckland on the way to LA. I had my own personal screen with remote and could choose form a range of media for my "in-flight entertainment." I thought I would choose a movie that Annette would probably not want to watch with me and Kenny appealed to my sense of humour. It is a mock-umentary about a guy (Kenny) who works with portable loos (toilets). I reckon it will rank up there with Muriel's Wedding and The Castle as classic Aussie comedy movies.
The second movie that I watched (on the way home) was Footy Legends. It was a comedy-drama about a bunch of guys from Sydney who loved palying rugby. It revolves around a Vietnamese guy called Luc who is the captain of this team of misfits who were a champion high school team. Luc is raising his sister after his mother and father have passed away and he struggles to provide care when out of work and focused on rugby. I really connected with the characters in this movie and the strong story line was assisted by some clever comedy.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Engaging Australian Culture

We've had the pleasure of hosting the lovely (she paid me to write that) Miss Katie Brown for the past week. Katie is in Australia studying at Kingsley College for a Semester as part of the Houghton Down Under program. Because she is an inter-cultural studies major at Houghton she is required to do a homestay with an Aussie family. She's been an honorary member of our family for this week and has accompanied us to extended family dinners, birthday parties and school and kinder pickups. We've loved having her in our family for this week. Annette has been giving Katie some cooking tips as she is a confessed non-cooker. She's now got a couple of recipes to impress her flatmates.

Current Flowers in our Garden

This is the first weekend in about six that I've been home so I had a good cleanup in the garden. The daisies and pansies needed deadheading (taking off the old flowers to encourage new ones to grow) and the various climbers needed trimming and training. Unfortunately I was away during the peak of the wisteria flowering over the swing set - it put on a great show this year. These photos are of the clematis (purple) and the crepuscule rose on the arbor.

Matthew Turns Seven

Matthew, our adventurous and sport loving second child, celebrated his seventh birthday on October 15th. He got a Kangaroos AFL jumper, AFL football (have you guessed he likes AFL) and lots of toys and clothes form all sectors of the extended family.

John Smith at Philip Island

Last weekend our family went to Philip Island for the Wesleyan Methodist Church Southern District Conference. This is the annual gathering of Wesleyans in the Southern states. We had the usual business sessions to hear reports and elect boards, committees and directors for the following year but it is also a family camp that included children’s and youth activities. The guest speaker this year was John Smith (of God’s Squad fame). John gave two messages that challenged and provoked in his inimitable prophetic style. His general topic for the weekend was “Real Holiness” – living the way God intended us to live. He talked about our call to personal and social holiness. He began one message with an illustration of a tree that got chopped down in his backyard and he and his wife argued about how old it was. John decided to count the rings on the tree to determine its age – and he won the argument! He then made the point that the tree is always sustained by the outer ring of bark and that if that outer ring is damaged (ringbarked) the tree will die. This is true for the church, if the current church dies the whole church dies. He also identified that the inner rings support the tree and that the tree would not actually be a tree without it’s history . He encouraged the emerging church movement to consider the support that the church of history has provided for it. I agree with him in criticising those who don’t see anything good in the church of the past 50, 100 or 1000 years. We have to learn from and appreciate our heritage. I’m mindful of this as we (Mimos) seek to be an authentic church for our time and culture. We have to reject those things that do not help us be a real expression of corporate faith while at the same time embracing those practices that have stood the test of time for the church.

Changing the Way I Watch TV

A few weeks ago I purchased a PVR. PVR stands for Personal Video Recorder – see more info here. I’ve been following these machines for about six months now because we were using a VCR on the kids TV for recording and it was a real pain to record stuff and then I had to watch it on the kids 51cm instead of the 68cm TV in the lounge. I had a few options for our TV recording including a DVD recorder but I settled for a twin digital tuner PVR with a hard drive. There are a few on the market to choose from but I settled for the Mediastar 920PVR. It was not a company I had heard of before but on the recommendation of many on the DTV forum I took the plunge and haggled Harvey Norman down from the RRP of $699- and got it for $550-.
I must say that it has changed the way I watch TV. The digital tuners mean that the picture quality is perfect (DVD quality). It can chase play, which means you can pause live TV (like when you're interrupted by the kids when they should be in bed)and then continue watching in delay (catching up by fast forwarding through the ads). This means that now we often start watching a show 15 minutes after it starts and then skip through all the ads and by the time the hour is over you’ve caught back up to real time.
The Mediastar is a true twin tuner which means you can record one channel and watch another live at the same time or you can record two channels at once and watch a recorded show at the same time. The Digital tuner gives acces to ABC2 and SBS2 and these are actually broadcast in the same ‘channel’ so you could record ABC, ABC2, SBS, and SBS2 at the same time while watching a recorded show.
Because it has a Hard Drive you can also store MP3s on it and play them through the TV (or, in my case, the home theatre system connected to the PVR).
So, while Annette still says it was an unnecessary purchase she has to admit that it is a great way to watch TV. It is now easier for TV to be our slave rather than our master.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I've been travelling a lot lately - which is why there has been little action on the blog. Townsville (twice), Sydney (twice) and Brisbance in the past 3 weeks. Also I've had a week of intensive study on Research Methods for my DMin.
All the travel has given me lots of time to read.
Among the many books I've partially read is Exiles by Mike Frost. Just released in July it is Frosty's (i think I can call him that - I spoken with him twice) latest.
It includes a lot of stories and thoughts I've heard Mike speak of at conferences previously but it is well written and engaging. Heere is a quote from page 63 that particularly resopnated with me.
"If I'm busy several nights a week and all weekend with my church activities, how can I possibly develop a commitment to such frequent proximity? Our churches, under the guise of doing work for Christ, are inadvertently sucking us away from the very people that Jesus would want us to hang out with. . . Exiles have figured out that churches don't value people who won't turn up for every meeting, attend every event, and locate all their significant friendships within the congregation. They have decided to slip away from the ever-spiraling vortex of so-called Christian fellowship. It sucks you in, demanding everything of you, leaving you completely socially disconnected from your neighbours, your community. . . Exiles, having read the dangerous stories of Jesus, have decided that the best way to do the Lord's work is to follow him out into the third places in their community."

The Dobsons are Going to China

Annette and I made the decision a couple of weeks ago to join others from the Balwyn Wesleyan Methodist church on a two week mission trip to Southern China. We'll be focsued primarily on ministry in schools and churches around Guangzhou and Nanning.
We're taking the whole family so that kids are really looking forward to it. Annette and I had planned to intentionally expose our kids to other cultures so this is a great opportunity.
We are doing some preparation with the rest of the team and we're involving the kids in that too. We had our first training session on Sunday and when we had nearly finished Thomas (our 4 year old) asked me when the training was starting. I said we had nearly finished. He then said "but I haven't done any running!"
We're looking forward to our time away and hopefully we'll have losts to post on the blog in January