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Since I last posted (I know, I know it was a long time ago) my wonderful wife has been officially diagnosed as lactose intolerant.

We were talking the other day about Easter and I was bluntly told that Soy Chocolate for Easter would be Sacriligious.  Now I had to laugh as Easter has degenerated into a chocolate feast more like pagan festivals than a Christian holiday here in Australia.  It is the ultimate long weekend – 4 days and depending where you live, unpredictable to good weather.

Now of course to top this off I had just read Lindsey Davis’ Saturnalia which I enjoyed but it includes some details of the feast of Saturn that sound a bit familiar, the normal rules are turned upside down when a child will lead them, presents are given and good will is to be extended to all people – including and especially family and it happens in December.

This got me thinking and researching the decision to make Christmas December 25th.  The theory is quite simple – Christ is believed to have died on March 25th.  In earlier times as to when you were conceived was a determined by some other observable date.  For the period of time when the date for Christmas was being set the theory was you died on the same day of the year you were conceived therefore Christ was conceived on March 25th and 9 months later was born – December 25th.

This made me realise that some poor pastor in the 2nd or 3rd century was possibly trying to reach out to his pagan neighbours and contextualised the start of Christianity as being similar to Saturnalia.  This contextualisation has continued to this day but rather than being a bridge for the gospel to cross over it has become a barrier and a ridicule.

So what will I do – continue to celebrate the birth of our Saviour as tradition has it, remembering also that Easter suffers from similar problems.

Oh and buy my wonderful wife gluten-free real chocolate 🙂

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It has been a busy week of work for the first week of classes.

It has been a great week and a lot has been accomplished.

Now to get a few more things done.  For that reason I am a fan of Fridays.  A chance to catch up reflect on the week and then move forward to a weekend with a UK friend coming to stay.

This weekend we went to Emerald Lake Park . Again.  This time we stayed there as we were meeting members of our small group there.

This was an interesting experience on so many levels.  We were dealing with at least three different cultures if not five as we gathered.  The weather was warmer than we expected and my wonderful wife was not feeling so wonderful.

One of the great things though was going on a water trike with my super son.  It cost too much and got the legs working hard but he loved it.  One thing he never realised was how tight I was holding on to make sure he did not wriggle away into the water.

We had taken sandwiches even though the barbecue was electric and thus safe to use no matter what the weather.

I had been thinking lately of growing up and the parks I went to when I was around the age of my son.  I have particularly been thinking of Lane Cove River Park which is huge, had a weir, playground equipment, picnic areas and when I was older a real paddle steamer. I was wanting to find an equivalent for my super son.  Well Emerald Lake Park is not quite it but it will do.

My super son was in a very active mood on Saturday and his mother was not.  I took the brave step of going out with him shopping to get his uncle’s birthday present and then to Brighton Beach.  I have now seen the famous beach sheds that appear in all sorts of photos of Melbourne Beaches.

Sunday was the birthday party and we all got there after a short outing.

Monday was a big beach day, we went to Mornington and had a wander around and lunch and then my super son went for a dip in some very clear water.

One of the things I do enjoy about Melbourne is the accessibility of the beaches.  We have found many of them easy to get to and easy to park at (for no or little cost).  This is unlike Sydney and California beaches which seem to charge an arm and a leg or have no parking.

So just another good reason to be in Melbourne 🙂

This week has been a bit of a funny week.  Busy with work, busy with a small course I am completing, and busy catching up and meeting people.

In the move to Melbourne my wonderful wife has found that friends of hers from yonks ago are now down here and she has finally had us all meet up.  That was Tuesday.

Tonight a friend of ours who has experienced a bit of a tragedy at his work will be coming with his family to dinner.

So we are a bit busy, a bit snowed under and on top of it all this morning we had a blackout due to rain, thunder and lightning.

So we are catching up with life, what about you?

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?

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?

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?