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Well life is getting busier at work and while I want to post daily it seems some weeks this will not happen.

Last week was ANZAC day.  This is a public holiday and made a long weekend for us this year.  Now I have very mixed reactions to ANZAC day as it is a glorification of the sacrifices of war, particularly wars that did not need to be had and battles that should not have been fought the way they were.  At the same time I recognise that those sacrifices have made us the nation that we are and defined us in ways we are not real certain of.  I am opposed to war on the grounds of the gospel and need to work out my feelings on ANZAC day further.

Over the weekend I also had mixed reactions to a couple of gifts I have received.  A couple of years ago my wonderful wife bought a hoodie for me.  I was delighted as I had wanted its particular design on a piece of clothing for years.  I wore it a little and then went to a warm climate and thought it was never to be used again.  This weekend showed me otherwise with not only the warmth being provided but also the hood keeping me dry.

As my super son had a family birthday party I received a few more gifts for my birthday.  Getting everyone out again one week apart just seems so unfair and my son needs to have his birthday celebrated.  Anyway someone came in with a gift which looked to me like something I had asked for but was not quite what I wanted as I did not think it would work due to technical limitations.  I was wrong.  I read the manual and realised while I had some fiddling around to do it would do exactly what I asked for.  I had thanked the recipient but now I am thankful.

Overall I am learning to be thankful for what I am given but realising I do not always value those things up front.  I need to be more trusting of what I am given knowing that in the end the people have my concerns at heart and that it will work out.

So what have you received lately that may end up being a blessing?

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Ok I’ll admit I was stuck on what I would write this week. That was until I saw a sneak reference in NT scholar Mark Goodacre’s blog about Doctor Who. So nice to see another blogger and academic with the same taste as me. Unfortunately he tells me the new series of Doctor Who has started in the UK and I have no idea how long I’ll have to wait out here before the ABC shows it.

Anyway the good thing about Mark’s blog other than the academic quality of all he does is that he shows that academic blogs can function in multiple ways. This is a great encouragement to me as I see more reading of this blog happening. I am never sure of how to keep my voice and my tone right. Mark shows me I can keep it professional and personal. Mind you he seems to keep these in separate sections which I don’t do yet.

I expect looking around I will need to update my blogroll soon as there are a few changes I should make.

Also I keep intending to do an indepth review of Fink’s, Creating Significant Learning Experiences so if I say this I will then start next Monday.

Enjoy your reading.

p.s. It turns out one of the photos I had linked to previously was under terms more limited than I am used to and the author asked for a cease and desist.  I have done so and will need to be more careful in future.  Ah just when I thought I was getting pretty too 😦  No more photos except my own I guess.

It has been a long weekend. My super son has been sick and passed on a milder version of what he has to me making it feel like a very loooong weekebd. In the midst of this sickness tomorrow is his birthday. The plan for this weekend was cleaning up around the house on Friday, party and church on Saturday and a trip to the City for lunch on Sunday. Monday is a whole different kettle of fish due to it being the day!

So it all went a bit pear shaped. Friday we did clean up. Saturday we did have the party but my super son was tired after that. Very tired. Though his temperature was gone and all he had was a runny nose. We had a quiet night at home and I watched a DVD I borrowed from the library on Thursday night.

Sunday came around and my super son had a streaming nose and weepy eyes and wanted to go on a tram and a train to the city. Could we make it? We decided inflicting my sick son on children’s workers at church would be a bad idea. We decided to head for a little car park near the city and do a loop of train and tram.

Along the way we stopped at Caffe Si and had a bite to eat for an early lunch. We will be back some time.

We did make it to the city and alighted from the train at Melbourne Central.

For my super son this meant going up and down lifts, chatting to some people and then his parents deciding to bring him home. He has slept ever since.

This joke comes from someone I work with:

Two guys walk into a room, one very small and thin the other quite large.  The large guy looks at the thin one and says “You look terrible, you look like you have been in a famine”.  The other one replies “And you look like you caused it”.

In a science fiction novel, Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, put forward the idea that gluttony is eating specialised health food for the sake of it rather than when it is necessary due to allergies or food intolerances.

Funnily enough overeating and specialised eating can cause problems for both those who do not have enough to eat.  Gluttony at its base though is the idea that there is enough that we need to eat and drink with the deadly sin appearing when we eat or drink more than we need.

If I consider this in terms of my lifestyle historically then there were times I was a glutton.  I suffered from gout because I carried too much weight which I carried because I ate too much (no hormone/thyroid problem) which may have been because of emotional issues as much as anything else.  I needed lifestyle changes to bring this all under control.  I would say  that gluttony was present as I was eating more than I needed and ultimately more than what was good for me.

The answer to gluttony appears to be self-control to stop eating and drinking more than is necessary.  However it seems that reducing what you eat and drink does not in and of itself solve the problem.  It seems to me that what is needed is truth; not of comparing ourselves to others and seeing are we eating or drinking too much but getting a true picture of how much we should eat in relation to ourselves and the rest of the world.  We live on more than $2 a day but much of the world does not.  We need to see how our eating impacts others and reign it in out of love for others and not for our own stomachs.

At the same time where there are emotional or physiological reasons for overeating these need to addressed in truth and love.

So how much are you eating and why?

I had a good day for my birthday.

The day started out with me waking up and eventually my son saying hi and then surrounded by my fabulous family I opened presents. I received a few books which I wanted and a few surprises.

I had a quick lunch with the family.

My work remembered or could not forget that it was my birthday and bought a yummy caramello cheesecake to celebrate.

That night we had dinner at Sofias. We find the food here to be good when you get certain dishes. We did not do so well this night.

We went home and had birthday cake from Cheesecake Heaven. It was Gluten-free so all of us indulged.

One of the funniest things that happened though was a couple of days before my birthday someone baby sat so my wonderful wife and I could have some time together. Apparently my super son wanted a video and it was started for him at some point. For some reason unknown to the baby sitter the video would not stop. We were told about it when we got home, forgot about it and that was it.

The next day we had to make sure that everything was set up not to record on the tape of my super son. We could not get anything to work. I said maybe its the batteries. My wonderful wife found some new ones and lo and behold it all worked.

So I had a great birthday without birthday bashings but maybe batteryngs 🙂

I was right, my church is starting a series on the traditional seven deadly sins.  This week was an introduction with the comment that the response to pride is humility.

Now I want to deliberately take a different tack to what may happen at church just so I enjoy both what I write and so I can still hear what is being preached at church.  Regardless of the different tack I think that the response to pride is not humility it is decentering.

What I mean is the basic idea of pride seems to be the sense that “I” am the most important thing in the world, there is nothing that “I” can not do, “I” am as good as God.  In other words the centre of my universe is me; humility can still leave me at the centre of my universe.  Sure it will contract the size of the universe and allow me more interaction with people but being humble which according to Merriam-Webster.com means “not proud” does not take the “I” out of the centre of the universe.

It seems to me that to be truly “not proud” we need to replace the centre of the universe with something else other than “I” and not something in which we can boast.  You see we can have pride in our kids or our choices for what we do.  This is not an improvement.  We need something that somehow humbles us when we consider it is in the centre of our lives.  “I” needs to be decentered.

Jesus Christ in the centre of our lives is not something in which we should be proud. Here we have a man crucified as a criminal for living a perfect life and we say we follow him.  This is not something for our pride to get built on, it should be something that kills our pride.  We look so much on the glorified Christ of faith that we miss the Lamb who took away the sins of the world.  Should you feel proud having a lamb in the middle of your life?  I do not think so.

So what’s in the centre of your life?

Every so often I reflect why am I writing a blog.  People at work recognise it as a discipline of writing daily which works well for me. I came across a link to a blog entry about why academics should blog which has some interesting ideas in it.  Feel free to pick up your own as you read.  I am also aware that many of my readers are now family or students.  I have not had the resounding success like Jon Accuff with Stuff Christians Like.  Jon’s thoughts on the matter can be found here which is a blog probably visited as much as this one.

So why do I keep it up?  I think the discipline answer, the academic droppings answer and the hope for impact on someone’s life.

Related to impact we had a new prayer meeting today at work – we have three a week already and a new corporate one today as we know we need to rely on God.  A smaller group of us were prayed for in the task we all need to complete.  This reminded me of a story I came across while at Fuller, a woman school teacher one day broke down in tears when she was asked something about life and work and church.  She said something like “For twenty years I have been a school teacher and not once has the church prayed for me, I volunteered one weekend to teach Sunday School as if it is something different.”  I felt that sort of impact today that people were praying for me to complete the work God has me here to do.

And ultimately I still blog because I think it is something I should do for God to shape me and mould me, I know it has already.

Well we have had a busy weekend preparing for my birthday tomorrow and so we have wandered all over the place.

Saturday was Camberwell. We had dinner at Mongusto Mama which is sort of inside the Rivoli Cinema. It was a great meal and a great setting.

After Church this morning

We went to Pizza Piazza for lunch

They have gluten free food which is yummy as well as normal italian stuff it was good. We all had dessert. Well more accurately my wonderful wife and I had a dessert each and our son had our ice-cream and lots of my dessert. My wonderful wife wants to take one of her brothers there the next time he is in town.

We then caught a train to the city and had a little wander around. We caught a tram back to where we started and then realised we were thirsty.

We thought about what to do, called around a few places and did not succeed in getting somewhere that was open. Third time we hit pay dirt and went to Cerones Cafe in Malvern. I had some pancakes while my super son was supposed to share a chocolate chip cookie. This meant he had most of his and a third of mine, again.

We wandered around a little and I scored for mothers day in Books in Print with a Mother’s Day gift. More news after the day concerning that.

I said we’d finish the day off with a drive so we drove to Berwick.

Not that one in England which we also have good memories of but the one nearer us which has a place that does Gluten Free Fish and Chips. My wonderful wife was very happy.

We’ll be back to all these places at some stage.

Ciao!

Last week I discussed visits to churches that the church’s pastors would hate to be associated with. This week I’ll do the positive.

10) Visiting a church for a friend’s first sermon and being invited onto the podium because you are a student too.

9) Have a few marriage propositions from the previous visit passed onto you.

8) Visiting a church overseas, and upon arriving home find a letter saying “We recognise we are not near you but if there is anything we can do …”

7) Visiting the church of a (now) well known pastor and have a chat with him after the sermon during which he says, “If you make this your church come back and have a talk with me.”

6) Visit a megachurch with your mother and when the church breaks into prayer triplets have a complete stranger pray for her. Mum remembered this for years.

5) Say to the pastor at your first visit “I like the church and I’d like to meet with you” and then have a two hour conversation over lunch.

4) Running into old friends at the church you are visiting and having them say hi after they have led worship.

3) Getting invited out to lunch and/or dinner by people you have just met while visiting a church.

2) Visiting a very conservative urban church and hear a prayer request concerning AIDS for a member of the congregation due to the member’s former spouse infecting them.

1) Visit a church and it feels like where you should be just after making a commitment to Christ.

I believe my church will soon be doing a series on the Seven Deadly Sins. I am not sure if it will be the traditional list Lust, gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride or the recent updates: ruining the environment, carrying out morally debatable scientific experiments, or allowing genetic manipulations which alter DNA or compromise embryos, taking or dealing in drugs, and social injustice which caused poverty or “the excessive accumulation of wealth by a few”. abortion and paedophilia.

In the midst of this I am reading Boundaries with Kids which talks about dealing with envy in kids and moulding them to become thankful rather than envious.  I happened to like this chapter as I am not sure I dealt well with this when I was younger.

I seem to remember one idea presented was that you can be envious of someone else’s marriage, job or position and thus when yours does not match up you look for something else.  I think I had always thought of envy as the wanting and not the action that comes as a result of the wanting.

So if envy does make us want what we do not have how do we combat it?  While the Boundaries authors (Cloud and Townsend) go to thankfulness in kids I wonder if that is enough for adults.

I would immediately say there needs to be perspective, see what you do have.  Except this implies that those with truly little are allowed to be envious which I know is an incorrect statement.

The answer seems to me to be more biblical.  Realise you came into this world with nothing and that everything you have, including the breath you breathe right now, is a gift from God.  It is not perspective but an absolute truth that we are dependent creatures from the beginning of our days to the end of them.  We are dependent on mothers, others, and God the Father for everything that we could be envious of and what we have truly is a gift.

So what have you been envious of that you need to let and go and be thankful to God for?