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I have not seen the movie, The Perfect Storm nor read the recent book.  Due to circumstances beyond my control I have been wondering what a Perfect Storm looks like in our lives and I have thought of 5’P’ themes so far:

  • Physical – sickness in the body
  • Psyche – sickness in the mind
  • Personal – relationship troubles or troubles with those we are in close relationship to
  • Professional – problems at work, with work or due to work
  • Prayer – a weakened relationship with the triune God

Last week someone asked me how I was and I said I felt like I had been hit by the perfect storm.  Upon reflection I realise that I only hit two of the 5 themes but it felt like big waves coming my way.

The issues for me were personal, my son’s surgery, and professional – a project or two going awry.  Yet it still felt bad.

So how should I have dealt with this?  Now I could spiritualise this and say that Jesus calms our storms but my storms were not physical issues of storm, rain and wind they were far more internal.  So how does Jesus respond to these issues?  Interestingly enough I don’t think Jesus says “Be still” to the waves of problems facing us.  While he calls us to look to him it is not to banish the problems but, to mix pericopes, to walk on the water with him.

So what does that look like?  It means dealing with the relationship issues, persevering, seeking healing, and seeking God the Father.  Realising that Jesus is present through the Spirit and through the Spirit in other people.

In this life you will have storms – in what way will you look to Jesus to help you?

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While many people I know are researching Pentecostals and Pentecostalism, many times Pentecostalism slips under the radar.

See this article by Lutheran Peter Berger on the sociological issues of Pentecostalism for a positive view on prosperity.

Thanks Scott for pointing this out.

It took me a long time to finally be able to read Piers Anthony’s Air Apparent.  So long in fact that the next volume of the Xanth series is out in the US.  Why the libraries both in Brisbane and in Melbourne have had troubles getting the book I am not sure.

Writing about this book which is 31st in the series made me remember my childhood, when I read one of the first in the trilogy of Xanth books having purchased it from a no longer existing bookshop in Manly near Sydney, NSW.  It may have been so long ago that I even had my Dad with me as I was not considered old enough to travel by myself.

The Xanth novels are somewhat formulaic, there is a problem to be fixed, a journey to be undertaken, some trials to overcome and a conclusion.  This one does not depart from that general formula.  The novels are full of puns and humor, a little romance and are good fun over all.  This one does not disappoint in any measure.

For those who know the series this book will be enjoyed.  For those who want to start at the beginning there is a lot to catch up with but after a few novels you can sort of skip some and get to the end if you want to.

And who is the air apparent … the heir apparent … I can’t tell you that would spoil some of the novel.

I am writing this post in advance knowing I will be away from my desk for a bit.  My super son is having some surgery and I will be the primary care giver for a few days.

In the midst of teaching this semester I have raised the issue of healing and challenged people to consider if they believe God heals. I have also mentioned the process is not a cut and dried do these 5 steps and you will be healed.  One aspect that I do concentrate on is that Jesus Christ did heal on his time on earth and as we understand him to be the full likeness of God the Father then Father God has a desire to bring substantial healing in a fallen world.

I am not going to go into all the issues about but what happens if God does not heal – I am not the one answerable for those situations and trying to answer sometimes makes me more like Job than his friends and I realise when I need to shut up as Job did.

So today the question is not do you believe in healing but simply will you pray for us?

This weekend was the wedding of my brother-in-law.  Other than chasing my super son too much, and not being nice enough to my wonderful wife as I was doing so much chasing a good time was had by all.

Yet at the same time I realised most of the memorable weddings I have been to or know about had significant things happen that did not quite go right.

At my own wedding my mother turned up after my bride.

During another family member’s wedding a nephew went missing.

During this wedding my son ended up losing his lunch in the bathroom – some allergic reaction to orange juice I think.

Some friends had a friend volunteer an interesting drum solo as part of the wedding celebration.

Some friends had the majority of guests drunk by the time the wedding was over and all the instructions of who not to assign seating next to were (deliberately???) ignored so there were a number of embarassing situations of people hitting on someone or deliberately ignoring their ex.

Not every wedding goes smoothly but in the end it is not the wedding that has to work but the marriage.

Rather than ask been to any good weddings lately I ask you, seen any good marriages lately?

I have accidentally been reading too much about poor impulse control in the last couple of weeks.  Some of the reasons for the reading include a diagnosis of a young family member with this and interesting articles on this topic and delayed gratification.

I was reflecting on the fabulous family wedding on the weekend where the groom spoke as to why he waited so long to get married, my wonderful wife commented that some of the couples seem besotted with their fiancee/partner/spouse and I thought other people just seemed to go through the motions, especially if little kids are around.  I was wondering why is there such a mix of people?

Part of my answer to this bizarrely enough is poor impulse control.  Some of the questions on The Paths to Happiness Survey are about how you deal with people and do you get to know them before embarking on a physical relationship or do you prefer to explore the physical side of romantic involvements right away?  Ultimately the survey says you may be happier if you delay your gratification.  Besottedness is a form of delayed gratification, so is having kids.  It is hard to be physically passionate when you are chasing a 5 year old kid away from the wedding cake.  Similarly if you are deciding to remain chaste before your wedding too much physical passion is self-contradictory.  Both forms say there will be a time and a place when I can appropriately express my feelings.

Poor impulse control says, who cares about waiting lets do it now.  Like the drunk girl who hits on you at a party and you end up moving in together or the kid who eats the marshmallow now rather than waiting for another one later they prefer something now and who cares what happens in the future.  That is until the future arrives and they suddenly realise they are hungry and should have waited for that second marshmallow or are involved with someone inappropriate but having been living together for two years they are now in a defacto relationship (at least by some Australian laws).  The original impulse control was poor and now there are consequences.

Good decisions mean we can not have poor impulse control.  God’s wisdom is described as something we should ask for.  I think one reason for this is that God is training us to get over poor impulse control and ask God and people as to what we should do rather than just do it.

So how is God training you today?

The power is out at work today and I am working from home.

There is no truth to the rumor that I am writing this post whilst in my pyjamas.

Regular posts back tomorrow/

This week we have a family wedding on Saturday which I am really happy to see happen.  I pray the day goes well.  This means we now have family camping at our house and more to visit in the next few days.

On top of this I rode my bike to work this morning and right behind me was an accident as two cars collided.  One of my students was behind the accident and basically said it seemed someone turning and not looking properly.

In the end we can always look back or look forwards.  The accident was a bit of a scare as I was close to it but not close enough to be affected.  To be affected would be me looking back. I had to keep looking ahead to keep myself going, someone else’s wreck behind me can not determine my future.

In the end we have a choice whether we keep looking back or looking forward.  Someone else’s wreck does not determine my decisions, it is just a warning of what not to do and what to avoid.

So what way are you looking?

Someone I knew years ago tried to describe a woman she knew.  Because of the situation and how the person was described I am not sure to this day what exactly she was trying to say.  The description I was given indicated the woman had multiple marriages with some of the ex-husbands trading up to a younger model.  At the same time the woman had made sure she had a man around her when she was not married.  From memory this woman was described as “needing male companionship.”  I am not sure if the describer was making a statement about the sexual needs of the woman or the emotional needs.

I think of the awkwardness of that moment of someone saying a thing like that and I think what did you mean?  The trouble is I have a good idea as I know other people, usually of a younger generation who seem to exhibit the same behaviour.  They are unable to stand and face the world alone and would rather slouch together with someone  to lean on.  The issue is not emotional or sexual but both.  The problem is we have this idea that without sexual activity in our lives we have no meaning.  This is reflected well in a post by Haldane about David Matzo McCarthy’s book Sex and Love in the Home (Thanks Bec for pointing out the post) and a quote from McCarthy’s book “Those who believe sex is earth shattering will put it out of marriage.” (p44).

You see when we get messed up emotionally we try and find different things to fill our lives.  Our society from an early age indicates that sexual activity is a good thing, and you should fill your life with it.  Only one of those statements is true within certain bounds.  Yet in times of emotional vulnerability these statements by society is where we head back to.  Instead we need to find the strength in God, through Jesus Christ by the power of the Spirit to stand alone as whole people.  In times of emotional mess we need healing far more than we need sexual activity.

So can you stand?

This week we look again at What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain.  The nature of the material this week seem poignant to me as it brings back some of my best memories and ideas of days gone by.  First to the review.

In this chapter Bain raises the idea that the best, and he  really means best in this chapter, college teachers treat their students differently.  Through stories, first and other hand, he compares those who are good to those who are best by showing how they treat their students makes a difference.  This treatment is small things to make sure that people do not feel like the teacher is arrogant or everything is about their power.

I can think of two different lecturers/tutors I know who if I remember right basically had the same office a few years apart.  One of them hated students and I always thought his opinion was that teaching would be better without students.  The other one I am starting to think of differently.  He was a little difficult to get to and hard to have a chat to but he did share his power in class.  One day I can remember him bringing in a bottle of Liquid Lamington (see here for a brief mention of this 1980s pink alcoholic drink) and some small cups to share around.  Nowadays we would have OH&S concerns.  Other times I remember him giving up his blackboard so we could show the answers to something.  He truly behaved as if his students mattered.  Years later I had him for a series of lectures when he had gone to Oxford and I was working at where he had taught.  He still called me by last name and I still called him Dr Sanders, we were both ribbing each other but it reminds me that as Bain says it is not about dress or manner but how the lecturer treats the students.

For this week I will leave you with a quote in the middle of the chapter (p145).

Instead they tried to take their students seriously as human beings and treated them the way they might treat any colleague, with fairness, compassion and concern.