Monthly Archives: September 2012

Of all the posts I have made over the last twelve months, it is the post above that has been read the most. I am intrigued to know what motivates people to search this topic. Why is “Christian Education” such a regular search phrase?

Travels from Ur

  1. Sound Christian Education takes the Bible seriously.
  2. Truth is seen as absolute.
  3. Christian Education believes a Christian worldview can make a positive difference.
  4. It gives students a strong foundation in a world of shifting values and morals.
  5. Christian Education recognizes God’s sovereignty and Christ’s Kingship, and …
  6. therefore God’s claims over all of creation are taken seriously.
  7. No subject or curriculum is outside the orbit of God.
  8. Students are recognised for who they are: sinners in need of God’s grace in Christ.
  9. Also students are given a vision of God’s Kingdom and their place in it.
  10. Good Christian education recognises the unique, God given gifts and talents of the students and
  11. challenges them to achieve their amazing potential.
  12. It assists parents in their God given mandate.
  13. Sound Christian Education treats the student as a whole person whose aim is to grow in Christ-likeness..
  14. A foundation in God and His world…

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The Providence of God

De Hezenberg near Zwolle in the Netherlands

The Building  in the photo above looks like a pleasant country manor house. It is or was. For our family it is a picture of the providence of God.

In the early 1950s a man in his forties who had recently become a Christian was sent by his pastor to the pastoral care home – “De Hezenberg” because he suffered from depression. Due to a series of dramatic incidents in his life he needed “time out” in a caring environment. This need had been recognised by his pastor.  A short while later a young lady in her mid twenties, also sent by her pastor, came because of health issues. She too needed time to recoup   in a loving environment away from the “rat race”.

These two people fell in love, but the man had already made plans to emigrate to Australia. He left and the young lady promised to follow him. Which she did a year later. They were married in Melbourne and over the next 8 years grew a family of three young daughters.

These two people were my wife’s mum and dad. Her dad passed on in 1963 and her mum just a few years ago.

Why do I call this providence? Well, at the lowest point in their lives God enabled them to find each other, happiness and start a family. Even though my wife’s dad died early on (after 11 years of marriage) he left behind three girls who have all continued in the faith that he had found later in life.

There is much more to this story. But which ever way you look at at it, God’s hand is firmly in it!

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

The New Intolerance

In western societies we are to be tolerant of everything and everyone … except Christians and Christianity – in particular those of the conservative/evangelical variety.

Will Our faith Survive The Onslaught?

This was brought home to me in last night’s edition of Q&A on the ABC. The archbishop of Sydney spoke graciously and reflectively on a host of issues including homosexuality, same sex marriage, asylum seekers, marriage vows and the like. However, when he put forward, what I would call, conservative evangelical values he was howled done by a number of the panelists.

Even when Peter Jensen simply posed a question along the lines of the life expectancy of gay versus straight men, he was told in a variety of ways that this was not an appropriate question. Questions for considered reflection have been found offensive. The issue isn’t whether we agree with archbishop Jensen or not but whether Christians are permitted to put forward views and ask questions that do not reflect the ethos of the majority.

This is just a taste of the intolerance that people of the Christian faith will increasingly encounter in times to come. We had better get used to it.

But it hides a bigger question: if we, adults, find the going increasingly tough, how well are our children prepared to stand up for their faith and to withstand the scorn of many around them?

Last night’s discussion reminded me that home, church and Christian school have a monumental task in training and preparing our children. That is, we need to give them strong Biblical foundations but also the where-with-all to defend the faith and articulate clearly, in a sceptical world, a Christian vision for humanity.

On many occasions in the Old Testament we are reminded that we are not just training our children but also preparing the groundwork for our children’s children. This is a serious task we are all called to put our faith, hearts and minds toward.

It is comforting to be reminded  by the Apostle Paul:“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 1 Cor 1:25

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Obituary of Gabriel Antoine Vahanian

The name in the title may not ring a bell but for those who are my age and older the debate he and his colleagues started will. In 1961 he wrote The Death of God: The Culture of Our Post-Christian Era. This started, the poorly named, “God is dead debate”. We may not have always liked the answers but many of the questions he and his colleagues raised are still important and in a real sense were a portent of the era in which we now live.

The following is his obituary from the NY Times (via The Age):

Gabriel Antoine Vahanian 1927-2012.

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Was The Past Really Simpler?

Mr Spears Allansford

When I have a minute here or there I love browsing through my photos. They are great memory-triggers recalling times, events and people from the past – recent and distant.

The photo above was taken in 1954 in Allansford, Victoria. We had only arrived in Australia a short time earlier  and after having stayed with a lovely Australian family we moved to a house in Allansford. One of the neighbours was the farmer in the picture. Most farmers had moved to tractors long ago but Mr Spears preferred the traditional methods. He wasn’t bound by engines or petrol prices. Many farmers kept a foot in the past and the present. I remember the thrill of helping rig up the horse and buggy at a friend’s farm because the old WW2 army Jeep wouldn’t start. It was important that we get the 10 gallon milk cans to the depot for pick up by the truck from the local butter factory. Riding in the buggy along the highway was a special pleasure.

When we lived in town I also remember hanging the billy-can on the side of the milk collection depot. One of the local farmers would fill these for the town locals; none of the pasteurised, homogenised and diluted rubbish in those days.

In my lifetime so much has changed for good and evil. Yet sometimes in the madness of a busy day I do fondly remember a time and place that was simpler. One of the reasons it was simpler was that I was young and did not have adult concerns. However the picture above makes me think the simplicity was due to more than just my youthful naivety.

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Orthodoxy … In Conclusion

The following is the conclusion to G.K. Chesterton’s head spinning ramble “Orthodoxy”. It is a passionate and articulate demonstration of the veracity of the Christian faith. He finishes with the following:

Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian. And as I close this chaotic volume I open again the strange small book from which all Christianity came; and I am again haunted by a kind of confirmation. The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something.

Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet He restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.

Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) . Orthodoxy (pp. 163-164). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.
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The Un World

Disparate souls
wandering.
Hearts seeking
relationship.
Beings made
to relate and join and
celebrate community,
un-warmed,
un-connected,
un- celebrated
 
Connections bound
by rigid rules,
by unconsidered traditions,
and lifeless patterns.
“Insanity” it is said,
“Is doing the same thing
Over and over again.
Expecting different results.”
 
The spark of God,
the frisson of Spirit
and life enhancing
bonds
ached for
so that soul meets soul,
spirit, spirit
and being, being.
 
Hence the Divine
may shine
brighter
clearer
and eternally
for the un- generation.
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The Way Ahead

Anyone who has been reading this blog on a regular basis is aware that I am struggling with and through the nature of the church in the C21st. What is “church” supposed to look like? How does it work? What does it do? Most of all, how does it represent Jesus in the world today?

My readings have taken me through Scripture, medieval saints and more modern writers. The overwhelming conclusion that I have come to is that what we have today represents Christ poorly, is heavily organisational, is poor in the areas of relationship (with God and others) and struggles with authentic mission.

Recently I have been reading Larry Crabb’s book: Becoming a True Spiritual Community: A Profound Vision of What the Church Can Be. There are already a couple of posts reflecting on his ideas. Today there is another extended quote:

In any serious attempt to build true community, we will wrestle with confusion, disappointment and, occasionally, excruciating agony of soul. Those struggles will compel us to fix our eyes on unseen reality—the Spirit is at work, and to believe in a better day ahead—Christ is coming back.

Our journey together to God will bring us to a point where a choice among three options must be made. 1. Go mad: Keep trying to make present community completely satisfying. 2. Back up: The search for intimacy is too risky, too dangerous, with uncertain and meager rewards. Find a comfortably safe distance from people, wrap yourselves in a Christian blanket, and live there, safe and smug. 3. Journey on: Stay involved, not everywhere, with everyone, but somewhere, with a few. Don’t give up on at least a couple of relationships. Die every day to your demand for total fulfillment now, in anything. Accept the ache in your soul as evidence of maturity, not neurosis. Discover the spiritual passions beneath the ache that are strong enough to sustain you in forward movement and to keep heaven in sight. If you put all your eggs in the basket of present community, even at its best, you will be of all men most miserable. Freely lust after the day that is coming. Let that hope keep you on course. Expect to discover the point of this life and to experience the spiritual joys available now, to get an unforgettable taste of Christ, to feel the Father’s arms around you, to feel the Spirit within you.

Crabb, Larry  Becoming a True Spiritual Community: A Profound Vision of What the Church Can Be. Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

A number of things appeal to me about his ideas:

  1. Much of our current practice is madness.
  2. If we have the courage to explore the depths of faith then the journey will be tough but rewarding.
  3. It is a journey – “church” is not the destination.
  4. Our aim, in community, is to glorify Christ,
  5. And that very journey will shape us to be more like Christ, and although Crabb doesn’t say that in so many words, it will make our witness to Him in this world clear and distinct.

The picture that Crabb (and others) paint is something to to be passionate about – lust after! It is an image that shows our C21st lives up for what they really are – self centred and materialistic. We are selling ourselves short, but worse, we are selling God short. The body of Christ is something to be celebrated! So let us celebrate!

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Father’s Day

It was Father’s Day yesterday so I did some quick reckoning. I have been a father for about 190 years. In the next year or so I will turn 200 years of father.

There have been tough moments: serious illnesses, parenting decisions, allowing the child out with the car for the first time by themselves, the odd quarrel and so forth. There was the immense grief on the death of a child tempered by the joy that God loved him more than we did. It has been tough financially: schooling, clothing and feeding. We made the decision early that my wife would be a stay at home mum. Our thinking was that the family was more important than money. I realise that not everybody is in a position to make that decision in this era. But most of all those 190 years have been a delight.

Watching children grow into their gifts, talents and character is an amazing revelation of God’s creation. Here are six human beings that all add a different and unique perspective on life.

So I thought, how does Father God look at us? The sorrow of our sin and the joy of our faith and love must move His heart with emotions that are beyond our imagination. As His family grows in a vision of the Kingdom His fatherly pride must also grow.

As dads, we have the privilege of reflecting, in a tiny way, an aspect of the character of God. So my challenge to myself and other dads is to grow in being Godly. When our kids look at us they should get a glimpse of the fatherhood of God. Now that is a challenge!

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Family, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

If You Remember These …

Do you remember these?

If you remember these two books you are probably a Victorian who is getting on a bit.

Categories: Education, Reflections | Tags: | 6 Comments

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