Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Sunset of Another Year

So, we’ve come to the end of another year with the usual good, bad and ugly. I was reminded of all three in my recent trip north.

My daughter lives in an apartment complex with various nationalities, plus the usual Australians. Living in such close proximity with others and the windows always open, being Queensland, reading a book on the patio was an education. From one family came the festive sounds of family and Christmas. That was encouraging. From an other came the constant sound of argument. It seemed to be the way this family operated.

My nosey eavesdropping was most disturbed by an Australian couple in their late thirties and mid forties. They seemed without family connection and responsibility. The volume of their “discussions’ made it difficult to miss – even if I wanted to. What disturbed me was that the discussions had a “teenage” quality in terms of the maturity and depth. The self obsession and “me” focused tone of the conversation seemed strange coming from people of their age. The more I look around me the more I see this particular way of behaving.

The American poet Robert Bly wrote about this phenomena in 1996 in his “Sibling Society”. This book reflected on the inability of many people to mature emotionally. Many people are trying to live their lives as 26 year olds  for as long as they can. Living without commitment and responsibility. Of course, there are many, many young people growing and maturing wisely. I see them in my classes every week.

However, my reflection as we come to the end of another year, is that as a society, we are, and will continue to, pay dearly for our failure to grow up. Our mental health, our family stability and social fabric requires people who grow stronger and mature, and who also develop an “other” centredness that our sibling society often fails to develop. Care for others, and the ability to see beyond one’s own needs is crucial for a healthy society.

May you all have a great new year, and my prayer is that we will through word and example make a real difference to the world in which we live. That is what our King calls us to.

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May You have a Blessed Christmas.

This Blog will be quiet for a week or so. So until I return, my prayer for you all is a blessed Christmas as we remember the birth of our Saviour. May it also rekindle a passion to continue preparing for His Kingdom until He returns.


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As the Year Winds Down

As the year winds down
memories flutter in the breeze
like forgotten leaves 
darting and spinning
along the park grass.
The hopeful start has met
The aspirations have,
once again,
collided with human frailty. 
The daily news has regurgitated
another 12 months
of human foolishness,
vanity, greed, lust and anger,
with only the odd spark of hope
leaping momentarily –
a glow of life in a dark morass.
A kindly gesture,
a noble deed,
a generous gift have been witnessed
here and there;
Alerting hope and future.
As each year passes,
a certainty grows,
whether in my life or death
the Messiah will come again.
The cycle will stop.
Eternity will begin.
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God and Camping

LORD, our Lord, 
   how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1

One of the simple joys in my life is camping. My wife and I throw a tent, sleeping bags and stove (and Grover) in the back of the car and we explore a place we haven’t been to before, or visit a favourite from the past. Very seldom are we disappointed.

At least two things occur on these short trips. One, we are re-enamoured with God’s creation. We are reminded of the beauty, variety and uniqueness of our surroundings. Overseas guests often imagine kangaroos hopping down the main street. The fact is, many of us don’t see them out side of zoos and animal parks or as road kill on the side of a country highway. To wake up in the morning and have kangaroos grazing around the tent is quite special.

The other key event, is our re-connection with God. We take the time to read Scripture and pray in these special surroundings and to reflect on creation as we walk. Again, we are never disappointed. God revitalises and renews our spirits. Every time we come back home we have a renewed appreciation of God and His creation.

With David we can declare, “Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.”

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No Words, Just Pictures

A few scenes from this weekend’s camping trip.

Glenelg River


Sand dunes near Portland.

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“Everyone Who Loves and Practices Falsehood”

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.  Rev 22:14 & 15

Every now and then as I am reading the Bible a phrase or word jumps out at me. It may be something that I hadn’t noticed or reflected on before. In our staff devotions at school Revelation 22 was read and I closed my eyes and listened. I have read or heard this passage on many occasions and reflected on it. However, this time, the phrase “everyone who loves and practices falsehood” made me sit up and take notice.

We live in a world of “spin”. Politicians, companies and celebrities hire “spin’ experts – people to put the “right” perspective on an issue or dilemma. “Spin” is the key to advertising and promotion. I think we could rightly say that “spin” is part of everyday life.

I remember, years ago, attending regular meetings of church leaders and we were called to report on our individual churches. Looking back in hindsight, there was a lot of “spin” happening. Despite issues in the churches, in this public forum we put ourselves in the best light. We do it as individuals as we try to make ourselves look good, knowing all the while, that in reality we are hiding the truth.

A friend once reflected, after a visit to Holland, where one can look into the front rooms of nearly every immaculately presented house, that it reflected his family. The front room, in this case the way his family appeared, was tidy and well kept, but in the back rooms there was chaos anger, lies and pain.

As a culture and society we have become very able practitioners of falsehood. As individuals and churches, we too have been, unthinkingly, drawn into these practices. Why does Jesus include falsehood with idolaters, murderers and sexual morality?

The child of God is the representative of truth. We are called to stand in direct opposition to the enemy, “the father of lies” (John 8:44). John writes “We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. (1 John4:6)

The Church and the Christian can have no place for “spin” or subterfuge. The world needs to see what truthful lives look like. That also includes honesty when we have mucked things up. Seeking forgiveness is far more constructive (and painful) than spin. The media, quite rightly in my opinion, has highlighted the falsehood of the church. It can only do that when we have not been true to our God of Truth. Rather than blaming the media we should look carefully at ourselves.

For me, this is a tough call. I don’t like being found out. More important though, is my desire to be more like Jesus. The Word tells me that when I know Jesus I “… will know the truth, and the truth will set (me) free.” John 8:32

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Nativity on the Front Porch

The Nativity stable,
a bale of hay
and a crib
sit on the front porch.
They have had their use.
The local schools  have
sung their carols with youthful voices
and re-enacted the 
Bible story
with a real live baby!
The church has performed its
obligatory “Carols” service.
And now the Xmas objects
to be stored in the garage
for another year.
Hidden beyond
A story,
A medieval carol,
Children playing angels,  Joseph and Mary,
with tea towels and sheets,
and a stable made of scrap wood, is 
an eternal miracle,
Of a life lived.
the child/man/God
who lives still 
through those who believe.
Revealing Christmas
as an enduring living
celebration of King
and His Kingdom.
Still, the stable sits
for the next innocent “Mary and Joseph”
for next year’s pageant,
and the next …
until the King returns.
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Arguing for Argument’s Sake

St Michael and Satan - Coventry Cathedral

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. Luke 7:36 (36-50)

As Tim Chester points out in  his book “A Meal with Jesus”, in the gospel of Luke, Jesus is either, going to, coming from, or at, a meal.  This passage is a case in point.

There is a lot happening in this passage but I just want to reflect on one thing. Why did Simon invite Jesus in the first place? He had obviously “forgotten” his hostly duties. So why was Jesus there? We can only guess at his motives.

One conclusion I have come to is that he wanted to argue with Jesus in order to destroy Jesus’ reputation in front of his other guests. Jesus was certainly not an “honoured” guest. Honour was only shown by the sinful woman.

Over the years I have encountered numerous people who argue, at best, only to have a good argument, or at worst, to destroy and belittle. They will argue about faith, Scripture and the finer points of doctrine but the motive is not honourable.  Their intention is not to discover, learn or refine, but simply to win points, make others look foolish or just have a good fight. Too often I have seen this occur in Christian circles, with combatants justifying their behaviour with sanctimonious claptrap.

Let us remember the Bible is the book of life and death. It is not a book intended to enable us to play foolish games. It is there for us to find out about the Messiah and His kingdom, and God’s purposes. It is there for us to shine light into the world. I can’t think of too many arguments that have shone that light.

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The Graduating Class of 2011

Last night our Year 12 class graduated. It made me think of when I graduated in 1968 – 43 years ago. Even though, in the 1960s,  change was in the wind, large numbers of people still attended church and Christian ethics and values were still the dominant cultural norm. However, life as we knew it was in for a radical shake up. A statistic that I remember was that in 1952 50% of all children attended Sunday School. By 1972 this had fallen to 12%. In 1992 it was 3%. One can only guess at the depths to which it has plummeted to now.

Changes to the Family Law Act in the early 1970s saw divorce rates spiral. This in turn led to greater family dysfunction. The growing popularity of “recreational drugs” has had a huge impact on people. We can add numerous issues to the list such as homosexual lifestyles, the portrayal of sexuality on TV programmes and etc.  Those of us who were around in 1968 have witnessed enormous social change, or more accurately, social disintegration in the last 43 years. Two of the few positive changes have included the reduction of young people dying on our roads and the greater tolerance to ethnic minorities.

But what will life be like when my students turn 61 in 2054, assuming the Lord hasn’t returned? I have indicated in past Posts that I believe 1 Peter is a portrayal of the conditions that will arise. Our children will need a resilient faith. They will need to be a people who, despite the conditions around them, see themselves as a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” In other words they will need to see their identity in Christ and not in buildings and petty divisions we have created. They will need to know how to live as “strangers” in this world. That, as it was for us, will be the big danger; the false and fatal allure of the world.

Pray for our children as they enter these years and live an example they can follow. Remind them that our God is faithful and “He will not tempt us beyond what we can bear” (1 Cor 10:13). He has also left His Spirit with us and in us as we journey for whatever number of years He gives us.

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The Long Drive

Automatically turn the key.
Engine thrums to life.
Slowly edge out
onto the street.
The journey begins
but the real trip
is in my head.
What shall I say or ask?
Will conversation flow?
Will recognition flicker …
or fade?
The drive proceeds
and miles flow past,
but my brain chugs
hesitantly in first.
Thoughts rattle and bump.
Ideas rev and slow.
Fears rotate endlessly.
Will anybody be at home?
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