Monthly Archives: December 2012

Ending One Year and Starting the Next

Due to recent events piled on others that have occurred this year and the consequent numbness of heart and mind, I was looking through my photos of 2012 searching for one that encapsulated the year. I came across a photo that I had used in a blog on an earlier occasion in the post: “The Providence of God.”

In this blog I reflected on how my wife’s parents met. Out of two struggling lives God created a loving family in a distant land. The place in this photo is the rest home with its message written in the lives of my wife and her sisters.

At this moment that photo summarises my thoughts: through our pains and struggles God can accomplish much. The darkness of the moment will be removed with the glory that is to come.

Picture 563

“De Hezenberg” near Hattem and Zwolle in the Netherlands.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Family, Reflections | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Thank You

First of all, thank you for all your kind words, thoughts and prayers. That has been a real strength and support. We are all still a little numb this morning. My wife is in the kitchen scrubbing retrieved treasures with sugar soap, so that acrid smell is still in the air – even in our home

It was a weird sensation sitting in the car yesterday and being helpless as emergency services and police swarmed the site. That was when I wrote the post – my form of therapy. What takes an hour in a TV police show took 12 hours. And my wife and I were still at the site at 10:30pm waiting for the shutter people to secure the house before we could begin the 1 and half hour journey home. We had sent the girls back to our home earlier in the day after they had been escorted through the remnants of the house by the fire department.

Today we are going to have a big family prayer time. This had been planned but now has a greater sense of urgency and purpose. It will also be a time of thanksgiving.

One final comment. Whereas I wanted to get the perpetrators and smack their heads together, one of my daughters wanted to pray for them. That was quite humbling for me. Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers. God is more than good. God is sovereign!

Categories: Family, Prayer, Reflections | Tags: , | 9 Comments

What can I say?

I had intended to reflect further on the people I saw at the cricket match. Then, this morning I received a call from one of my daughters. She reported that the house she and her sister shared had been burgled and set alight.

Two rooms in particular were gutted, and everything else was extensively smoke damaged and the building has been structurally compromised due to the fire getting into the ceiling.

So many emotions went through my mind: anger, sorrow and incredulity were just some. We are not a materialistic family but the material things that mean most are those with a sentimental attachment: a grandmother’s cross stitch, a gift from a special friend, an art work by a student and so on. All this is now irretrievably damaged.

I don’t wish to comment on the perpetrators but I do want to reflect on a number of things.

The cost: so far I have seen, firemen, police, detectives, fire investigators and forensic investigators invest many hours and it is only 6 hours since the fire. Apart from the emotional cost to my family, the social cost is enormous. We haven’t even started with insurance assessors, and the whole relocation and replacement effort that my daughters will now have to face. There were the ten years of educational resources that one daughter had accumulated. This was all at home because she was changing schools over this term break. As she says, it is now in her head. There was the precious doll that had survived in immaculate condition for 29 years but is now destroyed.

As a dad I was proud of the ways my girls handled it. They focused on what was important, thanked God that He is still sovereign and proceeded to deal with the issues before them.

Also as a dad you realise that you can’t protect your kids from the realities of the world. All you can do is teach and show your children what is truly important – eternally important. At that level they have not lost a thing. If anything they have gained.

But the incident is still fresh. I even get emotional just writing about it. In the future I will reflect again, when I am a bit calmer.

Categories: Family, Reflections | 23 Comments

A Day at the Cricket

Australia V Sri Lanka

Australia V Sri Lanka

I attended my first ever test match at the MCG. I thought that deserved a place of its own in the blog!

Lunch - kid time!

Lunch – kid time!


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Psalm 11

In Psalm 11 David asks the question, which many of us have asked when we peruse the condition of the world, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

David recognises that evil, so often, seems overwhelmingly strong. I am sure there are many times when we too have felt overwhelmed. Just looking over the past year, whether it is our own life or the news, evil has been rampant. Social values are in decline, greed, murder and injustice are seen as “normal”.

David was undergoing his own trial, probably with either Absolom or Saul, but gives us the answer. God in His time will deal with the rebellious because he loves the righteous. The righteous, of course, are those who in their brokenness come to God in faith. It is a Christ bought righteousness. David was acutely aware of his own lack of holiness. God was his only hope.

So as another year ends and a new one begins, David’s Psalm points us to our hope and security – God’s divine promises. And David adds, we will see his face. There is a place for us in His presence where evil is eliminated. In the meantime we have His Word, His Spirit and each other to remind us of this hope in the midst of heartbreaking evil. God is indeed, good!


Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Psalms, Reflections, Uncategorized | Tags: | 3 Comments

Communication – making the “body” connections

SPAIN (40)I am not a good communicator. Let me rephrase that. I am not good at keeping communication channels open. This weekend two friends phoned whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to in a long time. The mere fact that they phoned showed me that I had a place in their lives. I feel guilty that the idea to phone hadn’t come from me.

One friend came from the my days at High School (see the recent blog, “Queenscliff and the field of memories”. He is one of the friends who were “figments” of my imagination) and the other had been at theological college with me and later we served churches around Brisbane.

Both these calls meant (and still mean) a lot to me. They reminded me that I have, we have, significance in each others lives. That is the way God intended us to be. That is the way He made us. We were meant for community. As human beings we are only fulfilled when we are in a body – specifically the body of Christ. Here I am not necessarily speaking of institutional churches, which can become obsessed with programs and rules, but interconnected networks of Christians revealing the many facets of Christ and His Kingdom to the world.

Christ doesn’t just come to us through the Word or Holy Spirit, (as miraculous and amazing as that is!)  but also through each other. Here I  have been remiss but these two friends revealed aspects of God: concern, encouragement, love and challenge, that can only happen in true community.

Of late I have had a tendency to withdraw. My two friends, unintentionally, yet powerfully, reminded me that I am not really complete, and the body isn’t complete until my piece of the puzzle fits into the greater jigsaw called the body of Christ.

Thank you brothers.

Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Early one morning

It is going to be a hot day today so I got up early and watered the garden. The air was still and the neighbourhood very quiet. The only thing spoiling the serenity was my own water pump whirring away.

When I got back inside the family, including those who have flown or driven in for Christmas, were still asleep – or pretending to be.

I started counting my blessings – big and small. We can often be so obsessed with money and material things, but there are so many small things, or should I say “non material” things to be thankful for: a family that enjoys coming home, their love for each other, the banter and retelling of their lives, family jokes and gentle teasing … God is good!

Dear God, thank you for slowing me down and reminding me what us truly precious.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Family, Reflections | 5 Comments

Old Testament Advent Poem No. 11

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.  Micah 5:2, 4 “

Promises, promises.
Human vows –
some come true
and others fade to empty words.

Promises, promises.Xmas '[pems
God’s divine pledges
are fulfilled
beyond measure:

From the small and weak
the Saviour will come.

The Satan crusher
and death slayer
will arrive as an infant.

And the healer and miracle worker
as a man from David’s family.

Promises, Promises.
The king came to a country inn.

The victory was won
on a crude wooden cross.

Promises, promises –

… but the king’s return
is still to come.

There are still promises to see.

Categories: Advent, christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Poem, poetry | 1 Comment

Christmas Greetings

Xmas greetingsDSC_0439DSC_0436


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Queenscliff and the Field of Memories

QueenscliffQueenscliff - A Panorama from the jetty

Queenscliff – A Panorama from the jetty. From the left: The fort with the black lighthouse, the water tower, the Ozone guest house and the jetty

On a whim, we drove to Queenscliff yesterday. As we entered the town the first sight was the empty field where the high school once stood. Only a few parking spaces and cricket practice nets remain. But even the empty space evoked a mountain of memories of 5 years spent at the school. Every day we took a shaky old Ford bus from Ocean Grove to Queenscliff.

Once a week a steam train would chug past with coal and shell grit. The school flag pole was multi-masted and could display a veritable united nations of flags – although it never did. And everyday we lined up on the asphalt rain, hail or shine to listen to Mr. Irwin’s instructions for the day.

The names of teachers drifted through my mind: Mr and Mrs Mason, Mr Anderson, Mr Griffin, Mrs le Maistre and, of course, the redoubtable Mr. van Every. There were the young things just out of Teachers’ College that stirred a boy’s heart … and many more. There was the small sailing boat a friend and I built in the shelter shed, and marching on the oval in preparation for sports days – adjudicated by a Colonel from the army fort near by.

The student body was an odd mixture. Sons and daughters of farmers, fisherman, migrants and officers from the Staff College at the fort. On the whole we got on well but my quick temper did get me into trouble on occasions. It was a simple time. You could leave school in Form 2 and work for the Post Office – Robbo did. By Form 4 a bank job was a possibility, Form 5 primary teaching and to do Form 6 we had to change schools. Finding employment wasn’t a problem. The unemployment rate was less than 2%.

There was the day a thistle funnel rocketed into the ceiling powered by hydrogen gas – unexpected but spectacular. We constructed a ghost house under the staff room and  had unaccompanied walks across town to the tennis courts or the fort on Wednesdays for sport. That wouldn’t be allowed today in our litigious age. Once we went to see the Longest Day at the Vue Grande and on another occasion we visited the boat builders before the launch of a small boat.

I remember sitting in the sun telling my friends from form three that they were not real but figments of my imagination because I had decided that I was God. They were the years when girls took on a new meaning and confusion reigned in heart and mind. Oh yes, we learned things too. I learned that simple arithmetic was enough for me but you could never get enough of history and literature.

A small few acres crowded with memories now lies quiet and forlorn waiting for “Mac mansions” to be built over it. But these memories and many, many more will forever haunt this corner of Queenscliff.

Categories: History, Queenscliff, Reflections | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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