You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2008.

If you are reading this soon after it is on the web I am on my way or arrived at a camp.  Now it seems to me that within Christian circles and theological circles there is a commitment to a shared experience called a camp.  The purpose of this camp is always retreat like – get away from the books and bond with students, whether you are a student or lecturer.  At the same time take work away, whether you are a lecturer or student and have life go on.

I used to like camps. Since getting married I have not been on any due to sickness for the last one I was suppsoed to be on.  I am not sure about my feelings of camp nowadays so I may report on the Wednesday when I get back.

The reality is  though that a retreat to get people out of routine and directed to God is a great way to build community and see people touched by God.

So what are your good memories of camps?

Advertisements

As I have said earlier this week I am a romantic. For many years I have been reading Dilbert. One week Scott Adams, Dilbert’s writer had some guest writers including Greg Evans who writes Luann. I started reading Luann because it was not a southern American based comic strip like the name implied but one about “people” struggling in relationships at school, home and work. I am hooked to this day and delighted that finally Toni and Brad are on a date.

At the other extreme I have been listening to Martyn Joseph for around 20 years. I have only seen him in concert once, by the grace of my wonderful wife letting me go when we were in London one weekend. I missed Martyn when he was in Australia back in the 80s. His music has undergone change over the years and some songs I hated initially I now love and others I may cringe at if I had an LP player still.

Yesterday my wonderful wife was upset about something while we were driving along. I see our lives more as romantic, like Luann, but at that moment the words of a Martyn Jospeh song came into my head, “Everything in Heaven comes apart“. It is based on a poem by Stewart Henderson and having heard both Steve and Martyn perform it is a joy now for me to remember this song says ultimately that heaven does not destroys things but explains things when they come apart. The words say “Comes apart explains itself and shows it’s complex ways To see at last is to be free from a complicated maze” Heaven, the life to come, is not an end but an explanation and some days when we are upset we want explanations not the wait for heaven.  We want to get out of the complicated maze and just to know.

The romantic in me wants life to be Luann but the reality is that it is more like a Martyn Joseph song and I am glad to have both in my life.

The gospels do not paint Jesus as having a close family.  His (half-)brothers accuse him of being crazy and his relationship with his mother is rather interesting.  Now having said that I am not saying we see all the familial relationship of Jesus in the gospels but only parts that help us be aware of Jesus’ message.

Applying this to contemporary circumstances becomes a challenge.  If I was to ask you how close is you family and then ask you to compare it to Jesus’ family, your family probably looks a lot less dysfunctional than you thought.  As an aside it is interesting to notice how dysfunctional most of the biblical families are.  Closeness is reflected elsewhere biblically in places like the Song of Solomon for marriage and the book of Acts for close community, even the book of Ephesians for family.

But how about you apply this to your marriage or your immediate family.  How close are you to them? There are choices we all make as to how much we let people share our lives and we will share theirs.    But what degree of control do we have for this to be reciprocated?  If someone does not want to be open and transparent how can we encourage them to be so?

So what ways do you encourage others to be part of your life?

I need to tidy up.  My desk.  At home.  At work.

The issues are related.  Too much to do in too little time.  I do not get stressed over mess, unlike some people I know, but it still annoys me as it takes me three times longer to find things.

So why do I really have mess is a more interesting question. Part of it is not cleaning up straight after I do something.  Part of it is not wanting to clean up something I was doing because I am in the middle of it and will need to come back and it can be left.   Part of it is not having a place to put things yet so I am unsure where to put them next.

So I am trying to be better and not let mess hang around too much.  Mind you I am still moving in whichmakes this a challenge.

So how do you deal with mess?

This year I have been surrounded by discussions of people concerning why they would or would not get married.  In most cases I would just listen and accept what the person said as it is their decision not mine.  However when we were at Breizoz recently I was forced to rethink one issue I had wrestled with which is where do you get married? This was due to them advertising the chapel out the back of the restaurant.

You see while I am a romantic and I strongly believe in marriage, I also believe it should be for the right reasons at the right time to the right person.  The decision where to get married I think is intimately tied to the question
“why get married?”

When we were in the UK at one point we lived next door to the Durham registry office.  On Fridays and Saturdays we could look out our window and see wedding celebrations is process.  Having seen this would I get married in a registry?  Where this is not a legal requirement I would not.  I believe a marriage is made with a public commitment in front of God.  This does not have to be in a church but it does need to be in front of a community of people who will hold you accountable to your vows.

Thus I believe in marriage and not elopment, no matter how tempting an elopment seems in the midst of all the organisation and chaos that is planning a wedding. A couple of witnesses and an unknown celebrant do not do it for me as part of a public commitment.

Yoder in discussing what is a marriage raises the basic issues of marriage as well as sexual relations are public pledge,  common residence, common purse, legal permission and celebration.  It is the pledge and celebration part that I believe is the answer to why get married.  What God has done in bringing two people together needs to be celebrated publicly with others.  These others are family and friends who have contributed to the two lives being joined as one and who will try and hold people accountable to their vows.

So why get married?  To pledge and celebrate before God, friends and family what God has done.  Where get married?   A place large enough to fit all those who want to honour the commitment being made.

So what do you think of marriage?

With us having moved to Melbourne I expect to post an irregular series on what we did on weekends as insight into the city.

We returned this weekend to Dandenong Market.

We will not do the same again in the same style. While the produce is cheap, the crowds are large and trying to get a three year old round, even one as wonderful as my super son can be a mean feat.

Rating: **** out of *****.

While we had a few trips to Bunnings, due to the joy of unpacking but we also visited the Carribean Gardens.

This was an interesting experience as we went there after church on Easter Sunday. My wonderful wife felt like doing something different and as I had driven past the site I thought we could pop in.

We walked around the market, purchased some poffertjes and went on the train for my super son. The downside was due to the fact that it was Easter Sunday and lots of stalls were obviously not open. We will be back at some stage.

Rating: ****+ out of *****.

Finally we dropped into Williamstown again. Over all the trips we have ever made to Melbourne Williamstown became our favourite refuge. Now we can get there when we want to. We dropped in there and like usual had great food at Breizoz

We walked around the park and my super son had a play on the playground. It was a great time for all.

Rating: ***** out of *****.

We have officially moved in.  It is a mess because some of the packing by “professionals” was done really badly.  I have photos, I have names we will take no hostages 🙂

Now one of the things that is broken we were not sure where we would put.  Now we do not have to decide but instead think of what we will replace it with.  We have an opportunity to start afresh.  This is of course a picture to me of redemption.  Something which we see as broken and no use is an opportunity for God to step in change things and make them work anew and afresh.

So where are you broken and seeing God step in?

John Stackhouse writes an article on The Reality of Sex which is great.

Have a read.

Our new house should settle today.  I have to say should because there is always the possibility of something going wrong but we do not expect them to.  We were in the new house on Monday for a pre-settlement inspection and were surprised at a few things.

1) We have ducted vacuums – I had missed this on both previous visits.

2) The house feels huge

3) The garage has a remote control.

4) The intercom system is more complex than it looks.  I just had to download a manual for it.

We are looking forward to moving into a new place.  We found out it had been at auction and passed in with a reserve of 3oK more than we paid.  We are delighted.

We praise God for all of this and are thankful for his grace in this all.

This weekend I visited another church and heard someone speaking about the need for our faith to be active, there is no such thing as an inactive or passive faith. This got me to thinking about people who express their faith in a manner which I would not consider Christian. Both calling yourself a believer because you live a moral life or living an immoral life and calling yourself a believer thus seems to be a contradiction because your faith is either in rules or not being outworked.

The answer some people give is that their faith is more inward than outward or similar sorts of ideas. I am not sure this is viable thinking biblically as our faith must be outworked according to the book of James. Nor is it biblical to live a moral life and call yourself a believer because Jesus did not come to give rules but life and he did not die to make us live more morally.

Ultimately the idea that there are faith levels seems to be mistaken. A number of people who consider the state of the church in modern society argue that we “should live as if our lives made no sense without Jesus Christ as Lord.” I am not sure of the original source just that I have read this a few times. This means that our faith in some way should be at a level that means we live different (non-moralistic) lives. This means there is no levels but a minimum which declares Jesus as Lord and lives differently because of that.

So what level is your faith at?