Tonight we were wandering past a 400 year old church in the town of Zafra in southern Spain. The church is a massive stone edifice with a large bell tower. It hovers over the town like a silent sentinel – well, not always silent as it rings the hours. The only other building that has stood so long is the Ducal palace. As we walked past on this chilly evening I wondered out loud to my wife what the church had witnessed in its time: the people simply going by on their mules, horses, carts or just by foot, the funerals, weddings and sacred celebrations, the battles like the civil war, the changes in society – it’s attitudes, values and priorities. All the while it has been there – largely unchanged.

We have come to live in a such a quick change throwaway society it is hard to imagine a time when values and traditions were held firmly and changed little over millennia. I am not arguing simply for tradition for traditions sake, and yet, there is a stability missing in our manic society that sorely needs pillars of truth, faith and solid traditions to underpin, or more correctly, replace our modern fragile facade. A facade, that seems to me at least, to be crumbling and unravelling.

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The Future

Today, I am sitting in a small office, possibly for the last time, interviewing families who wish to enroll their children in Kinder and Foundation for 2023. Family by family they come in and tell me about their desires for their children. These children are bright eyed buttons, some shy, others exuberant and a few just cautious. “What does this old man with a grey beard want?” they seem to think.

It struck me that when these children are my age it will be at the eve of this century – around 2093. And I can’t help but ask so many silent questions: what will the world be like, what will these lives have experienced, will these children have faith, what will have happened to the great issues of our day like climate change, refugees and war, what will be their hopes for their children and grandchildren? The questions mount but the answers lie buried in a future of uncertainty.

But there is good news. The good news is the reason why I am interviewing at a Christian School. There is a God, the God, who knows the future and will not be defeated by the foolishness of humanity. There is hope. A hope that lies outside our own wills and ability and in the person of Jesus Christ who came to seek and save the lost.

When I was 5, my great grandfather was in his 80s. He had been born in about 1870. He grew up to see a new century, WW1, the Great Depression and WW2. Despite all that, his hope in a faithful God was passed onto his son, his son’s son and his son’s son’s son (me). None of the circumstances that he experienced dissuaded him from the truth of God’s Word. I pray that this will be true for these young bright-eyed children who have blessed my day.

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Confused World

I have been watching with concern and bemusement the attempts of our government to halt the execution of two Australians in Indonesia.  My hope and prayer is that they succeed even though this seems very unlikely.  However, this situation highlights the inconsistency of our society.  While huge efforts are being put into saving these two, thousands of unborn children are murdered every year without the legal challenges and TV and newspaper headlines.  The moral outrage at killing two Australians doesn’t match our government’s efforts with asylum seekers in detention.

The 6th Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” is a declaration of the importance and value of life. It reminds us that humanity was created in God’s image.  In the words of John Donne, “Any man’s death diminishes me.” Human life is precious but governments and corporations have devalued them to “economic units”.  Movie producers and and game designers have made death a form of entertainment.  Even religions murder others to advance and justify their beliefs. Worse still, we have come to believe many of the corrupted messages that swirl around us today. In my naive and simple way I believe it is time to reclaim two truths: 1. Humanity was made in the image of God (a huge discussion just by itself!) and because of that, 2. Human life is precious. If we believed that passionately it would change the tenor of our discussions and behaviours.  Our view of others would begin to change and our view of ourselves would change.

As a Christian I understand that only the Holy Spirit changes hearts but we have a challenge and responsibility to remind ourselves and the world what a gift life is.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Church, community, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

Life’s Paradox

Paper thin,

weakest link,

hair’s breadth.


Always present.

The certain

uncertainty of

our time

and timing.


“are we there yet?”

of life.


In the midst of

this ambiguity

there is

a hand that

upholds and rules

so that every

tear and worry,

fret and angst,

burden and hassle


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Living Backwards

Old family

My mother”s family at the time of the Great Depression

– but the Kingdom

will not come that way

My mind has occasional bizarre flashes of thought. My family would say they are more than just occasional. I thought the other day, that if I had lived backwards in history, in other words, if after having been born in 1950 I lived my life in reverse, I would be in 1887 now. I would have met my great grandparents, lived through two world wars and a great depression, gone through the period when penicillin was invented and the days before cars and planes, back to a day when many children died before they got to five years of age.

On reflection, I am happy that I went forward in history. I had an opportunity for a good education, good medical care, I providentially missed the draft to go to Vietnam, I haven’t been involved in any world wars, and the Global Financial Crisis, awful as it is, still pales before the Great Depression.

How thankful am I? Are we? Do we expect things and take life for granted? I must confess that I often do. It takes my little flights of crazy fancy to be reminded that we live, particularly in Western countries, in a very blessed time in, so many ways.

Probably the key area where we miss out today is the level of Biblical faith in our society. It is, on the whole, not a time of revival no matter how much we sing about it. How cool it would have been to have listened to Whitefield or Jonathan Edwards (there I go again -but that is more than a reversed lifetime away!) well at least Spurgeon. So as good as life is, there is that foundational area of faith where it could be much, much better.

As a chronic nostalgic I have to be reminded, and maybe we all need to be reminded, that I/we have a place and purpose in the present. This is where God wants me to be to serve Him and His Kingdom – even  (or especially, because) the level of Christian spirituality in the West is in decline. The Kingdom is still growing and still coming even if we in the West have ridiculed and devalued the idea.

It is fun to let your mind wander but it is even more exciting to prepare for the King!

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Paddle Steamers to iPads

Today my wife and I went for a short cruise along the Murray River from Mildura on a hundred year old paddle steamer. It had plied the waters as a working steamer until it was put out of business by the railways in the 1920s. In the 1970s it was reinvented as a tourist attraction. That was providential because usually that is not the case. What ever happened to pagers, record players and tape decks? In teaching I have seen spirit duplicators, ink duplicators, 3 stage photocopiers, photo copiers that copied onto strange grey photo sensitive paper, black boards and fountain pens all disappear into museums.

A few days ago I was tidying up my garage (a genuinely scary experience) and I came cross my first laptop – a 486 with Windows 3! Does anybody need an anchor for a small boat?

I was 6 years old before TV came to Australia and we had to make phone calls through the exchange. We were that old fashioned we had a two piece telephone hand set . Now people get annoyed if you don’t respond immediately.

Paddle steamers to iPads – where will it all end?

Even though I am an early adopter with a lot of technology (except mobile phones) I still enjoy seeing and touching the old. On my desk I have an old black Remington typewriter and a black Bakelite phone. But I must confess to being unfaithful because they sit next to my laptop and iPad. To sum up, I like the new and the old. Just let’s not forget how the new got here – via the old.

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Directions to … or for?

I saw this sign in Norway:

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Something Lighter

Yesterday I placed a John Calvin quote in my blog. However today I want to share a delightful scene I came across in Stockholm a few weeks ago. If you watch through to the end, the clip finishes with a Swedish version of a line dance!


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Some (lighted hearted) Observations Made On OurTrip – So Far

1. On our journeys we have come to the conclusion that it was an EU directive that every Pole acquire a semi trailer. Why else would there be on many on European roads?
2. It is a rule, it seems, that every Norwegian must own a tractor. If he or she can’t afford a tractor, a small digger will have to suffice. If you see the amount of snow in Norway, this rule explains itself.
3. In Spain, every male over 70 must drive a Max car. This 2stroke machine has a top speed of 35 kph. It may only be driven on bike tracks, back roads, suburban streets, highways – in fact wherever they wish, especially during peak hours.
4. Another rule seems to be that every Dutchman must have two bikes – one for home and the other to strap on the back of the camper ( not a prerequisite but highly encouraged).
5. The traffic lights in France are only suggestions. Often they don’t work, so why bother to obey them anyway. The local councils also have a programme to make them as inconspicuous as possible.
6. Indicator lights on Saabs do not work in Sweden. Amazing as it may seem, I have only seen a slight flicker from one light – and that may have been the sun’s reflection.
7. You know it’s cold when the skidoos are parked next to the house and the trailers have skis.

You may have “observations” to add.

Categories: Life, Reflections, Travel | 1 Comment

Photos and Memories

Leafing through photos
jolts the memory
of past pleasures and friends,
even family from
times before my time.
The snap brings
fleeting sparks
of jumbled feelings and
uncertain emotions:
yearning and longing.
Old friends,
Long gone family,
Special moments,
Celebrated occasions
all swirl about
in sepia, black, white and faded colour.
But I can’t live there.
That land is beyond reach.
Today and tomorrow
beckon and demand.
Work, appointments,
even celebrations call.
All fodder for
future memories
of past pleasures.
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