Monthly Archives: March 2013

Tassie – Day 2

We crawled out of our sleeping bags a bit before 8am and sauntered on a 5km walk. The day was glorious and the scenery along the Bay of Fires, sublime. When we returned we had breakfast and packed up. Today was going to be a travelling day. We hope to visit friends in Kingston on Easter Sunday.

We linked up to the road at St Helens which was crawling with tourists, continued along the coast until we got to the A4 and headed towards Fingal and the Midlands. When we got to the Midlands Highway we headed South to Hobart. Much of Tasmania is still very dry – especially in the centre.

At Campbell Town we stopped to have a look at a series of sculptures made from old Cypress trunks. They depicted the heritage of the area.

Nearing Hobart we saw the welcome familiarity of Mount Wellington. We drove through to Snug to find a camping space … where we are now.

So nothing profound today, except to ask, is Tas-mania a psychological illness?



Categories: Tasmania, Travel | Leave a comment

Tassie Trip Day 1

We arrived in Devonport at 7:30 am after a rather wild night at sea. The swell was huge and the winds strong. As it was Good Friday, Hetty read Romans 5 from the Gideon Bible in our cabin. It was a great affirmation of the power of the gospel. After extracting our car from the bowels of the ship we went through passport control (kidding, they were really the veggie police) and headed for Chudleigh.

In Chudleigh, a small town in the beautiful northern Tasmanian foot-hill country,there is a honey farm Hetty wanted to visit. After looking at their living displays of hives, and purchasing some honey, we headed east through Launceston, to Bridestowe where there is a Lavender farm. This another passion she has – lavender as a herb.

We have ended up at the “Bay of Fires” camping area. The sun is shining, the water is an amazing blue, the sands pristine and we are on holidays!

PS. I must apologise for the quality of the photos. The Nikon is refusing to speak to the iPad, so we are on plan B – iPad photos. 😦




Categories: Tasmania, Travel, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Criminal’s Amazing Insight

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “ Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23:38-42

Koln Dom

Koln Dom

There is remarkable incident is recorded by Luke in the 23rd chapter of his gospel. Jesus is on the cross and the Roman soldiers have mockingly added a sign that declared that Jesus was the king of the Jews. One of the criminals joined in the abuse of Jesus, but the other, in what can only be described as Spirit filled insight, rebukes his comrade in crime and asks Jesus to remember him when Jesus enters his kingdom.

Jesus replies with those amazing words, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

In a moment of revelation the second criminal understood he was in the presence of a king – more than a king, but THE king. This king wasn’t just the king of the Jews but the king of all creation. In a few days this crucified king would reveal the extent of that kingship when he arose from the dead. Jesus was the conqueror of death, destruction and decay!

This single event, the death and resurrection of Jesus, is the motivating reason for Christian education. Christian education has the role of declaring that Christ is truly the king over all creation. From Art to Maths, and Food Tech to English, these areas of creation (and every other one) are also what Jesus died and arose for. Christ died, not just for a loose collection of individuals but for the kingdom that Adam and Eve had plunged into disarray at the dawn of creation.

A Dutch theologian, Abraham Kuyper, famously put it this way, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!”

This Easter it is crucial to remember that Jesus died for our sins but let us not forget that he also died for a creation that, like us, needs to be redeemed. Jesus is our Saviour and also our King!

Categories: Bible, christian, christian education, Christianity, Devotional, Faith | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Nervous Vows

Nervous vows,
promises to love,
all those years ago
mumbled in the bluestone church
rapidly . . . and sporadically,
fluently . . . and uneasily,
on the season or mood,
circumstance or storm.

ph9But since time has wandered
its unfathomable path,
the ties are strong,
the love stronger
and the understanding
solid – most times.

The children
and then went
on their own time bound journey.

But we,
we are still here,
warm in our history
of gathered affection.

Categories: Family, Poem, poetry, Reflections | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Jesus, Our Personal Trainer – Not!

“Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”   Joshua 5:13

Lord’s Day 1 Heidelberg Catechism

1. Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who with his precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, wherefore by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Window in Chartres Cathedral

Window in Chartres Cathedral

There is a common thread that runs through these three texts, that is, we are here to serve God, not the other way round. In western culture there has been a strong tendency for Christians to treat God as a personal trainer, a guru or spiritual aspirin. In other words God is there to serve us, make us comfortable and look after our needs. We are then massively disappointed and angry when this doesn’t occur. We have turned our Saviour into a servant and Lord into a lacky. We see it in so many sermons which have become “feel good” ear ticklers filled with trite psychology. Prosperity theology and the gold dust idiocy of recent years are just some of the more extreme examples of our tendency to twist Scripture to serve our purposes.

How has that happened? In part it is because we have failed to look at the more comprehensive picture of Jesus. Yes, he is a Saviour and he did come to save us, but he is also a king who has come to reclaim his kingdom. If we forget the second half of this picture it is easy to see how we fall into a self focussed faith.

As Joshua found out as he prowled around Jericho, and David when he was anointed King, and  as Paul declares every-time one of his letters heralds “therefore” and as the Apostle John was enlightened on the island of Patmos, Jesus has a rightful claim on our lives, our service and our obedience, not the other way round. As his adopted brothers and sisters we have been co-opted into the Father’s business which is Kingdom building – rightfully declaring, claiming and striving for Christ’s rule over all things.

Looking at faith from this perspective removes our human tendency to self absorption and spiritual pride. Christianity would have died in the first century if the early church had our modern self centredness. Following Jesus was the cause of their problems not the solution, yet they rejoiced in the calling they had to serve the king.

Between Palm Sunday and Easter is a most appropriate time to reflect that the one who was crucified, rose from the dead as a triumphal King and liberator. We are privileged to be called citizens in this eternal kingdom!

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

Blind to Blessings

I don’t know if other people are like me but sometimes I fail to recognise how blessed I am.

My child bride is adding another notch on her belt of life on Tuesday. She is turning ** years of age. Her age has remained on 50 for a few years now. I first met her when she was 16, we were engaged when she was 17 and married at 18.  She liked older men – I was 21 when we met. We have known each other now for over 40 years and in that time and from early on she grew to be my best friend and has remained so all that time.

Simply put, God has given given me a fantastic life partner and I have to confess that I have not always recognised that. There were times when work took priority and she loved me regardless. There were other times that I neglected the family and this is when her wisdom and tenacity really shone. There was one infamous occasion when I was in my office (I was a pastor at the time) and the intercom buzzed, “There is someone here to see you.” she chimed sweetly. “Send them up,” I replied. A few minutes later, who should walk into my office but the child bride. I was about to splutter that I was busy, had meetings, a sermon to write and etc. Anticipating what I was going to say, she declared, “If it had been anyone else in the church, or outside of your family for that matter, you would have dropped everything immediately and listened. Now listen! As you are my pastor I need to tell you something. My husband is never at home, he is always busy, the kids never see him and he is working himself into an early grave.” She continued but I won’t bore you. Except, that her husband listened and changed his attitude. And now, whenever he is tempted to lose sight of his priorities, she simply says, “Can I make an appointment to see you?” Usually that is enough. The hint is loud and clear.

God has been good to me through my ‘better half’ but I still need to remind myself of that because often I take the people closest to me for granted. It is an insidious and nasty habit I have.

I believe it illustrates a larger problem that many of us encounter: we are blind to the manifold blessings that shower our lives. They can be physical, spiritual, relational and emotional – family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, team mates. Rather than looking at the problems, issues, crises, conflicts and loads to carry, I know that I need to take stock often and starting very close to home, remember how God has blessed me.

If I am not careful my child bride may ask for an appointment.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Faith, Family, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Our Lego Addiction

There are many things I am nearly addicted to: cheese, ice cream, a good wine & etc. The fear of weight increase and clogged arteries keeps that controlled, but we have a family addiction. I don’t think I have written about it much. Our friends know about it and if they don’t approve they at least quietly acknowledge my/our condition and just mutter quietly among themselves.

100_9033This obsession revolves around plastic – a plastic block. Yes, you have guessed – Lego or as the Americans say Legos. We started the collection about 35 years ago. Now that our last daughter has fled from the house we can finally take it out of cupboards, from under beds and on top of wardrobes as, at last, we have a room to store it in.

Over the years we have found a myriad ways to justify collecting and building with this Danish building material. Here are some.

  1. We don’t have to think too hard for birthday and Christmas presents. Every second Christmas [odd years] is officially nominated as a Lego Christmas. There is not much point shaking the box to guess what is inside.
  2. P1020780It is an activity that the family can do together.
  3. It encourages creativity.
  4. Rather than having lots of toys, it is one toy that grows.
  5. It has allowed a dad who has six daughters (and now we are speaking of the distant past here) to lie on the floor playing with toys alongside his daughters without compromising his masculinity. (Side note: I promised myself a train-set when my first son was born. After three girls I went out and bought a train set anyway – a Lego train set so it would fit in with what the girls were doing.
  6. And now that we are home alone, my wife and I have something to play with. As the knees are not what they used to be, we don’t play with them on the floor any more.
  7. It was great toy for hand eye coordination when the girls were young. Now that we are getting older it helping my wife and me maintain our dexterity and test how far our eyesight has deteriorated.

The moral is: If you have an obsession or addiction, ensure that it is a healthy one.

Photos illustrating the illness can be found:


Categories: Family, Lego, Reflections, Uncategorized | Tags: | 6 Comments

A Photo for Saturday

Porthleven Cornwall, 2006

Porthleven Cornwall, 2006

One of my favourite places is Cornwall. This moody photo was taken in the summer of 2006. Fortunately not everydaywas  like this!

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eludes my grasp.

Things never happen

quickly enough –


The Maze In Chartres Cathedral

in a timely fashion!


creeps and worms

through the sinews

which tense

and twist.

But there are some things

for which I am not impatient:


certain visits

and death.

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Geddington, Grief and the Eleanor Cross

The Eleanor Cross, Geddington on a gloomy day

The Eleanor Cross, Geddington on a gloomy day

In the delightful little village of Geddington in Northamptonshire there is a fine example of an Eleanor Cross. Edward 1st was so grief stricken by the death of his wife, Eleanor of Castile in 1290, that he erected fine stone crosses from Lincoln to London to mark where the body had rested on its journey. They  are an amazing record of devotion. Today three of the 12 crosses survive and the Geddington cross is considered to be the best of these.

Edward had the power and wealth to manifest his grief in this physical manner. For the commoner on the other hand the memories and grief are usually less tangible. We may erect a headstone or another small plaque but our expression is limited.

What is the best memorial to erect? I believe the best memorial is the legacy that we leave to others and to a large degree that is in our own hands. And of all the legacies to leave, rather than wealth, fame, land and possessions, we cannot do better than pass on  the power of faith in Jesus Christ. I know that each person must make their own decision with regard to faith. However our lives can declare its reality and appeal. We can make it attractive. I have written on previous occasions of my dad whose faith struggles manifested, for me as a child, the reality of the relationship one can have with God. To this day the memory and image of my dad living his life before God is extremely powerful for me, even though he has been dead for nearly 19 years.

So when people grieve at our passing what will they remember, cold stone crosses or a life well lived that pointed beyond itself to greater and eternal realities?

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