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I keep being surprised by the number of people I meet who are chained to the past.  Whether it is relationship that has gone sour, the death of a loved one from some tragedy, or the consequences of some bad decision some people I have met seem to stay at the same place.

When we were at the college camp earlier this year someone mentioned the idea of emotional freezepoints.  As best I understand it these are those places where we are stopped in our tracks by something that happened and we head back to the same emotional reaction that we originally had.  Whether it is parent’s getting a divorce, a sibling dying of cancer, the child abused by a parent the idea of not being able to move past that point means that the emotions come back and overpower someone when something similar happens.  The person is not able to move on, they are chained to the past.

The Christian response to these issues is multiple.  Things such as grace, forgiveness, love, hope, trust and joy help overcome the past.  I don’t believe that time is a healer, it is a helper for us to forget things but the true healer is Jesus.

So what do you need to hand over to Jesus to touch, to heal and be left in the past sop it no longer chains you to the past?

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I’d like to complain about my new local library.  I really would like to complain.  But what can i say about a place that gets my books to me in a week or two of requesting them?  Or the week they are released in Australia?

My favourite bad story so far is returning a book and having it left on my account accruing charges.  Then one Thursday night I was going to have to go out and return it I found out that they had obviously had someone else check it out and wiped out my charge.  And I did not even call them.

So here’s my thumbs up to an efficient library.  Keep it up ERL.

There is a really quick way to offend my wonderful wife, give her a large gift to make up for not spending time with her.  This is not something I remember ever doing but that charge has been levelled, by her, against different people over the years we have been together.  Of course I may have selective memory about my own bad behaviour.

What this makes me think is that relationships have a certain durability to them that can be damaged by ignoring them and trying to make it up by other means.  Like the husband who brings home flowers because he is late from work the gift does not help the relationship; it is just an apology.  We teach our super son that we would prefer good behaviour and not apologies and some of it seems slowly to be sinking in.  This is as true in other relationships.

For my wonderful wife the best gift you can give is the gift of time.  The theological reflection on this is not that relationships are different and what is the best thing to give someone varies but rather what is the strength of your relationship with someone?  I know what is the best gift for my wife, at least to a limited extent.  In your relationships what is best?  Someone I know proposed recently and did it in a way that I would consider romantic, I hope he and his fiancée thought it was romantic too.  That is the way these things should be done.  To paraphrase Tony Campolo from this weekend, he looked into the woman and saw her and connected.  Giving gifts, in whatever form, requires we look into the other person and draw out what is best for them while remaining connected.  Sure a practical gift like a mulcher may be appreciated but does it reflect a strong relationship with that person?  Does it reflect knowing the person?  Does it reflect looking inside them and giving them what their heart really wants.  I know I don’t always succeed but at least I do sometimes.

So what is the strength of your relationships and what gifts are appropriate for your relationship?

Well it was a huge weekend.  I think I have enough material for about 5 posts.  So instead I will do it all as bullet points and then expand some below.

  • Men’s conference at Church
  • A visit to Absolutely Gluten Free
  • A birthday party for an in-law
  • Dinner of sorts in Williamstown
  • Tony Campolo speaking at Church
  • Lunch at Lygon Street, Carlton at Enotecca Oggi
  • My son saying “Mummy go oink”
  • Arvo Tea at Chaddy
  • A Marriage Proposal
  • And the guilty pleasure of Eurovision

Tony Campolo and I go along way back.  I was at a Baptist conference back in the late 80s and he spoke.  I invited him to our tents for lunch one day and we all had a great time.  Hearing him again for the first time in 19 years was a great treat.  Especially him telling one of the defining stories for me.  But that is another post another day.

We finally got to Lygon street due to having purchased a Weekend pass for CityLink to get to the birthday party and so we travelled into the city quite easily.  We had a great time there and I saw, in the flesh this time, a book by a friend of mine at Readings.  It was too expensive for me to purchase but I did think about it.

On the way home, for numerous reasons, we stopped at Chadstone.  My super son was getting a little tired and asked me to carry him.  I said I would give him a piggy back.  he said “no, mummy can” and hopped on his mother’s back.  He then said “Mum, go oink” we took a moment to figure out why he said this and then burst into laughter.

Eventually we got home and had a phone message that sounded urgent and serious and we called back but got no answer.  We eventually had a call back to be told that we will have another wedding in the family this year, there had been a marriage proposal.  When and where the wedding will be, Melbourne or Brisbane, we are yet to hear.  We wait with baited breath.

Finally this weekend was Eurovision.  It is hard to describe this amazing mess of music and costumes and other stuff.  It is a guilty pleasure which we enjoy, partially from having had a party one year with European friends and watching it, partly because it is so bad and fun at the same time.

Overall a huge weekend:  Conference, Comestibles, Celebration, Commuting, Church, Carlton, Chadstone, Congratulations and Confluence (of music).

It has been a while since I read this chapter of Creating Significant Learning Experiences and have just had a glance over it again.  It is the biggest chapter so far around 42 pages and is really part I of II.

In this chapter m Fink covers 3 of 12 steps of integrated course design.  I have finally figured out why I have problems with some of this approach but before I address those I will explain the 3 steps considered.

The first step is identifying situational factors.  What is expected of the unit being taught?  Is it easy to digest as it is introductory? is there just a right answer to a question?  what is expected by stakeholders?  and what is the nature of the teacher?

The second step is to formulate significant learning goals.  This is actually illustrated nicely across a series of fields for demonstration purposes.

The third step is to formulate feedback and assessment procedures.  How do we mark and how do we give feedback?  This is not an easy issue.  One issue of the feedback requires is that it should be high FIDeLity – Frequent, Immediate, Discriminating and done Lovingly.

I now remember why I love this book as it makes suggestions as to how to do all these things in a very practical manner.  I also realise why I have a problem with this as in the Australian situation many of these items are created away from the lecturer in accreditation documents and need lots more time than is given to them.

Now if I start to apply this to church I realise why I like some of Andy Stanley’s writings as I think he embodies these sort of ideas.  I notice more pastors are becoming intentional about their thinking on what should be preached (learning goals).  Some pastors are aware of the limitations of the audience, the audience’s expectations and the place where they minister (situational context).  Finally good church leaders will give high FIDeLity feedback when something has happened.

In other words, like I have been thinking, a good church and a good educational environment will be similar,  but more of that another time.

I realise a large amount of my reading is based on where I have lived or visited. If I liked a place I wanted to read more about it in some form or other.  So I have read Caleb Carr’s The Alienist and its sequel Angel of Darkness for my New York phase.  Similarly I have read both Jonathan and Faye Kellerman for my Los Angeles phase.  I have yet to find a series set in contemporary London or New York that I enjoy though I have read many of the Pascoe and Dalziel novels by Reginald Hill for the Yorkshire flavour.  Suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Of course Venice has the Donna Leon but I just can’t seem to get into that series however Rome has, in its historical form, Lindsey Davis’s Falco which I do enjoy.

Three hands in the Fountain is I suspect a play on the old movie and song, Three Coins in the Fountain.  And true to that reflection is the idea that someone needs to be lucky in love.  In this case it is not Falco who is doing very well but his good friend Petro.

This novel has all the hallmarks of a good mystery, not quite sure who did what and why, meeting the killer abd realising that it is them without the characters realising yet and enough light heartedness to not make this bog down.

I look forward to reading the next ones.

I am quite surprised when I present a paper what gets focussed on.  What I consider the important issues get missed and the lesser focus of the paper is magnified. This happened again last week when I presented the paper at PCBC.  I expect this paper will eventually be published online at the PCBC Webjournals page.

Along a similar line I received this morning an announcement that the Crucible is now available.  I have known this was coming for a period of time and hoped it would happen sooner than later as I wanted to publish a paper in the Australian context more than the US one.  It means my current work can be redirected, peer reviewed and hopefully accepted.

Last night we had a great night at our small group.  All three of us made it as my super son was so looking forward to it.  He is starting to get the idea of it all, now loves church (except the worship which, to quote, “hurts his ears”) and is really growing up.  We are really thankful to God for this.  I had to come home a little earlier to put my super son in bed but it was a great night.

So over all we are feeling good at the moment and se God’s hand continuing to work in our lives.

The Goodies, in one of their shows or on a record, had a song called “The Funky Gibbon.”  In it was mention of the three toed sloth.  This is my first memory of sloth.  The deadly sins though include it in the sense of despair, melancholy or dare I say depression while modern interpretations think of it in terms of laziness.

Now it seems in this day and age when Australia has a larger proportion of people who work longer than any other country in the OECD network (see for example the ACTU on this though the OECD may disagree) this would not seem to be an Australian vice.  Yet our image is of the long weekend, barbecues and relaxation. What is going on?

At the heart of our nation is the desire to commit this sin and have nothing to do, while at the same time having this memory that it has taken hard work to end up in the situations where we find ourselves.  Whether we come from first-fleeters to new migrants work has been involved and at some level we want to put the past behind.  We want to so indulge in this sin but fear if we do we will lose it all.

The response to this sin I think is not busyness or zeal.  Zeal can be misdirected and busyness can be a way to avoid the voice of God speaking in the midst of doing little.  The response is purpose.  If you have a direction to go in, a place to serve in, a goal to reach, you should not be slothful about it.  While despair or melancholy, even depression, may slow the process down they will not completely stop it when it is a high and noble enough purpose.

This series has meandered all over the place and now it draws to a close as this is the last of the 7 deadly sins.  The question in the end is what is your purpose?  Are you heading toward it and at what speed?

Well it has been a bit of a mixed weekend and so the major theme of this post will be food.  In all its different forms, cooked, uncooked, good and bad.

On Friday my wonderful wife suggested we try Khe Sanh which we did.  My super son must have been hungry as he ate most of the chicken of my wonderful wife’s Cashew Chicken.  I had satay beef and we all enjoyed what we had.  Even if it was a little for my wonderful wife.

Saturday was the markets like usual, a trip to The Glen to go to Macro to get some gluten-free flour.  We gave up on this idea as what we wanted they did not have or it was organic and expensive.  We are still looking for a gluten-free flour place so we may try Absolutely Gluten-Free next weekend as we expect to be in Werribee for a family birthday, though I have a mens conference on at church so we will see.

We all watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for a bit and I accidentally snoozed.  The phone rang at one stage and I saw the machines in the show and thought uh-oh this will be a disaster as it will give my super son all sorts of ideas.  Lo and behold the next thing he did was create an egg machine. 🙂

Later in the afternoon was church and we tried to have a cuppa with some friends but we needed to dash off and go to dinner with our cell group leaders.  This was a lovely evening with my super son running riot and no one really concerned.  The food was Indian, authentic and great and the company similar.

Sunday we all slept late.  This was great.  We went to Eastland as that had  a combination of stores we needed.  We purchased almost all we needed and could not decide what to do about lunch so we just came home.

We all relaxed at home, no one felt like cooking and so we tried a new pizza place which is part of a chain.  While I loved what I had my wife’s preference is for a different place which we know.  At least we know now.

Yesterday at the conference dinner I started to catch up with some people.  One of them asked did I move jobs because the money was better?  I said while it was better it was not enough to make the move in and of itself.  This did get me thinking about how much money motivates us all and thus to discuss the next deadly sin, greed.

Greed is a funny sin.  I grew up in the 80s and remember the movie Wall St which had the line “Greed … is good”.  Somewhere along the way the idea of being conspicuously wealthy became acceptable, greed which had been seen as something unfair now was something good.  The desire for more money than necessary, or more than any thing than what is needed is a definition for greed.  Theologically I think this does not cut it, though.  Greed is the need to feel fulfilled by seeking things more than God or relationships.  I am aware a couple of people I know who have lots of friends on facebook and I think they have a competition as to who will have the greatest number of “friends” at the end of the year.  This I don’t think is greed but a form of pride.  What is the necessary number of friends for someone?  That depends on the personality and for these people they would need lots.

So greed can be expressed in a couple of forms of wanting more than is necessary and trying to justify having more.  How do we remove greed from our lives?  The usual answer is generosity, to not keep what we have.  This does not stop the wanting though.  The greed can still be there but we want things to give them away; it is still more than necessity.  The answer to greed is recognise what you are wanting and deal with it  honestly.  The desire is the problem – why are you wanting more than you need?  What is the God shaped hole you are trying to fill?  What do you need to have peace in your life rather than greed?

In the end what do you desire and is it bringing you the peace of God on your life?