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Tonight I am lecturing my last class for semester.  Funnily enough one of the issues I want to raise at the end of class is the end of creation.   That is why this post is titled the end at the end.

Pentecostalism is historically described as a millenial movement and while that may be true for aspects of its early days in America it may not be so true now globally.

So why do we talk about the end so much in theology?  Is it because we want the end to come?  Is it because we want hope? Is it because we are bored now?

Tonight I will be presenting that how we see the future affects how we live and that is why we talk about it.  The future impacts our present.  I’ll be interested to see how it will go.

So how does the future impacting the present affect your life?

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It continues to amaze my students, and to some extent me, how much the Spirit of God can speak through the Bible and through preaching.  I find even writing this blog seems to have some impact on people as God seems to speak to them through their reading of it.

The question I want to think about today is not if the Spirit speaks of Jesus through sermons, the Bible and blogs, but what sort of speaking do we hear?

You see I heard a powerful sermon on Saturday on issues of social justice.  Numerous people I know are making different choices because of what they heard.  Is this going to be lasting change?  I am not sure yet.  But even my four and a half year old super son this morning was told by my wonderful wife there are people in the world today who went to bed hungry and woke up hungry and therefore we were not wasting their money on us eating out tonight.  This is a different response to the usual, no we are not doing it.

The speaking of God to us is not so much about a word that is new and fresh to us, though these do occur occasionally, but a word that reminds us of his Son and how we are to be like Him in the midst of living our lives.

Yesterday I mentioned turmoil, tumult is also a good word.  In no way was it supposed to be a reflection of the governments comments on Victoria University though it captures that issue well. A prophetic word?  No just learning to be wise like Jesus is.

The Spirit speaks of Jesus, are you listening?

I have been in a few colleges that have had turmoil for a season.  I will remember to this day, from many years back, one of my co-workers saying “Do we have a commitment that the changes we make to the course, which will regroup staff will be worked out regardless of current structure?”  The room was dumbfounded and yet generally supportive especially as we saw the fact that some of the least liked staff would all be sharing a common room.

Change is common in academia.  At the moment in Victoria numerous universities are downsizing.  I am glad I am not working for them.  Some of the turmoil is change of direction, things like the Bradley review have people nervous hoping that better things will come.

In the end as in any job there are days that have more turmoil than not.  Today has been turmoil for me.

So what’s your day been like?

I realised with time slipping away from me that I forgot to mention I saw the finale of the latest Doctor Who series.

The ending was far more bittersweet than expected.  The Daleks are defeated, Rose ends up with a version of the Doctor, Sarah-Jane, Captain Jack, Martha and the Doctor survive, Donna not so well.

The great thing I hate to admit loving about the finale was the quite obvious way that Davros was put in a position to die but in the end we never see he is killed.  Anyone want to bet he may be back?

Talking about things that are back I have not seen a single episode of Heroes and I believe Channel 7 is up to number 3.  The timeslot, the lack of advertising and me not keeping on top of this makes it look like this will be an itunes or DVD purchase.

So is Heroes any good this season?

Within certain circles there is the idea of taking dominion.  I understand the people who use this term mean it as taking spiritual dominion and then seeing this work out in the physical.  I want to reflect a little on taking dominion today but not in such a “spiritual sense”.

You see over the last couple of week we have been trying to get some things in order.  We finally worked out a filing system that my wonderful wife and I agree on.  We have been married 9 years and finally got this done.  And yes it has taken that long.  And we then got the filing relatively up to date.  After that we have seen a financial advisor about re-organising our finances and deciding what to do about them. And we tidied up the house and mowed the very long lawn.

We took dominion of our lives.

This is a simple idea – control what you can control.  There are many things in life we can not control, getting the flu, being retrenched, the rate of inflation or whether it will rain.  At the same time we need to see that God has made ways for us to be in control of other areas.  Do we respond to emotional turmoil in a Christ-like manner?  Do we take an umbrella when it looks like rain?  Are we eating well and getting enough rest to try and prevent getting the flu or at least being able to shake it off more quickly?  Are we working hard for our Master and not our boss so that we remember who is our real employer?

Taking dominion in this sense is more about the choices we make than the spiritual side of life.  These sort of choices involve time management, decision making, getting advise, prayer and wisdom but they seem to be far more important in the long run for our long term well being than praying for control over that which we have no control over.

So what do you need to take dominion of?

This blog has been going for over a year now.

This is a small thing of amazement for me – not because I have kept it going but how it has morphed and transformed.

Part of the idea was to write to attract thinking people to the college I was working for.  A similar exercise seems to have been done at Pentecostal Discussions but it stopped before I even started.  And I am not sure it ever worked for me.

A second idea was to work out some of my theological ideas.  It started out as church and kingdom and then has worked towards Theological Anthropology.  Funnily enough next year I expect to be teaching to half-units Theology of the Human Person and Theology of the Church.  Ever think God was setting me up for something?

Along the way I have meditated on family relationships, informed some of my family what we were up to, considered the academic life and celebrated milestones in people’s life.

It seems funny that one of the most influential books for me in the last year was Patrick Leoncini’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and in the last week I have read two more of his books Death by Meeting and Silos, Politics and Turf Wars.  The team book has remained in the back of my mind as I have worked out my own past and how I have worked or not worked well for different employers.  The other two books are good books, I would recommend them to solve the problems they deal with but have not had as much impact on me as they were aimed at either a larger environment (Death by Meeting) or problems that occur when teams are balkanised (Silos, Politics and Turf Wars). The ending of Silos, Politics and Turf Wars though had me thinking as it showed how easily and quickly the problem can arise when there is not good management and a desire to maintain teamwork.

So where am I now?  I still want to keep much of the structure of the blog.  The ideas are still valid for me and I still want to work out some of my theology.  I can imagine setting up questions for students to answer on the blog as we work through some of the theological issues for Theology of the Human.  Other ideas will start coming along.

One thing I need to do though is improve the quality of my writing.  I want more readers like Scott McKnight has.  I know I won’t be a Scott McKnight but I do want to consider how to get to his style of writing.

So what improvements do you want in what you do regularly?

p.s. I would also like to type bette so I have less typos.

I think it was a post on Scott McKnight’s blog that alerted me to the novel Gilead by Marilynn Robinson.  On the spur of the moment I check if my library had it and a few days later I was able to read it.

This is a surprising novel.  It is the reflections of a 76 year old minister John Ames, who is both the son and grandson of a minister.  It is a reflection of his life to his young son and reflection of what is going on around him as he writes the memoir.

I had to say the novel was a slow meander but wonderfully written so that it was enjoyable and not feeling like it was dragging.  Early on I expected a scandal to make the tension in the novel and it eventually appeared.

It is the writing however that makes this a fascinating novel for me.  While there are great reflections on family, ministry and reconciliation it is the small bits that make this a delight.  For example when John Ames is describing how he met his second wife and their burgeoning relationship he says:

It seemed inevitable to me that she would never come back again [to his church].  So I spent a dreadful week resigning myself to the smallness of my life, the drabness of it, and thanking the Lord that I had never made a complete fool of myself, had never held her by the hand at the door and attempted conversation, though I had rehearsed in my mind what I might say to her and had even written it out. (p205-206)

The good news is she does come backand the relationship continues.  Yet unlike many young people John Ames had not made a complete fool of himself.

There is something sparse or reserved about the writing that makes this novel come alive.  The tension to do with John Ames namesake, John Ames Broughton the son of John Ames best friend, helps move the story but also reflects again how people are people no matter what.

In the end the reflection on life, and life before God, is wonderful.  I must say that there is a balm in Gilead.

Many days it is said that Bible College’s are Bridal Colleges.  This is an overstatement though I know Tony Campolo once advised women to go to a Bible Colelge to find a suitable man who was wanting to follow Jesus.

In college life I have received three announcements of engagements in the last twenty-four hours.  2 students to each other, and one current and one former student to their respective boyfriends.

To all of them, May God grant you all the joy and hapiness possible in your marriage.

I admit this is overdue but it is the last discussion of Bain’s book, What the Best College Teachers Do.

In chapter 7 Bain discusses how do the best college teachers evaluate their students?  In re-reading this chapter I have been provoked in a number of ways.  To summarise the chapter though Bain recognises two approaches to evaluation “performance-based” and “learning based”.  From this flows the idea of teacher evaluations and how these should be conducted and what should be asked.

Performance-based evaluation is the idea that the points matter.  It is more important that you get something in on time and get the most points.  Learning-based evaluation is demonstrating that you have learned something, particularly what is expected.

I can think of some of my first year classes in my undergraduate degree and remember how we had multiple choice answers and had a right answer and we got the points.  A test scheduled for 3 hours took most of us around 50 minutes to answer in total.  And we were not allowed to leave the room for the first hour.

Then I think about the comments on one of my Master’s papers that I came across last night.  “In the end I think you have got it”.  It reflects that the lecturer thinks I understand the material.  I still battle with some of the material.

I know I need to be more creative about learning-based evaluation of my students and this chapter gives some basic ideas.  I need to think of some debates I know about assessment but also about increasing complexity.

Bain concludes the book by stating that people in the academic teaching world really do care about teaching.  We just need to keep getting better at it.  This to me seems a great place to stop as well.

I have had leadership roles in the past.  In the process with the role comes responsibility.

Some of my responsibilities I know other people would be concerned about.  Some of my responsibilities involved looking after now demolished buildings.

So today I was embarrased or surprised or something when I found pictures of the old places and people associated with it on Facebook.

So who knows what else I may find …