Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Gospel

No one knows what tomorrow will bring

No one knows what tomorrow will bringHave you ever had to walk in the dark? I mean when it’s can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face dark? For those of us not used to it, walking in the dark can be slow and scary. We may have an idea of a destination but we can’t always be sure we’re going in the right direction. We desperately search for something familiar or a sliver of light to guide us. (more…)


Love hurts

Love opens us up to grief and painDo you agree love hurts? Should it hurt? Is something wrong if it hurts? If we understand love as an unrelenting concern for another’s well-being, love does open us up to grief and pain in this broken world. When we love, we feel our loved ones suffering with them. When we love we are vulnerable to being hurt by our loved one’s words and actions. When we love we hurt. (more…)


Meet your maker

Meet your maker before you meet your makerThough we don’t live like it, death is a sure thing. I often take walks amongst the beautiful gardens and graves of the cemetery I live near. Thousands and thousands of headstones and memorial plaques lay quietly in various stages of abandon. Each represents another human who was once living and breathing like me. Right now death seems like something that happens to other people, but one day the sum of our lives will also be etched on a headstone for others to pass by. And then? (more…)


Jesus is even better than Bluey’s dad

Jesus is even better than Bluey's dad“You’re as good as Bluey’s dad”. It is the highest compliment our young children can give my husband. I’ve given a similar compliment to one of our humorous friends and father of four. Bandit, more commonly known as Bluey’s Dad, is an animated Australian cattle dog daddy who has captured the hearts of children and parents the world over with his dry wit, playfulness and love for his two doggy daughters. The show has won an Emmy and Bandit has been declared a dad-idol by celebrities and dedicated fan groups. (more…)


You are welcome here

You are welcome hereIt was Christmas Day. I was in Kathmandu 10,000 kilometers from home. I knew no one. I didn’t understand the language everyone was speaking around me. The food, the gestures, the smells were all new and strange to me. Yet I clapped along to the songs, in which I understood only one word, with a sense of belonging. The word was Yesu – Jesus. Because of Jesus these strangers were also my brothers and sisters. They welcomed me. They shared their Christmas lunch with me. They invited me back to their homes with warm smiles and enthusiasm. (more…)


Living dangerously

Many people are living dangerously today and they are oblivious to the massive risk they are taking!

Power plant electrical transformersElectrical substations have oil-filled transformers. A catastrophic failure can cause the loss of large amounts of oil from the transformers and can cause a fire and damage containment bunds resulting in soil and water contamination. Major power supply substations usually have two levels of pollution control for oil spills. The first level (or primary containment) is a bund (or retaining wall) which can contain any spillage. The second level (or secondary containment) is a backup if the first level fails. This can be another bund or an overflow area (like a dam). Two levels of containment is deemed to be sufficient to prevent the pollution of the soil or waterways where there is a significant risk of spillage of hazardous liquids. When these two levels of containment are in place, there is little risk of a spillage having an impact on the surrounding environment. This is an acceptable industrial risk. (more…)


Are you protected?

Are you protected?The older I get the more I understand how fragile human life really is. The COVID-19 pandemic is just one example of how something seemingly small can change the lives of the entire world’s population. As advanced, intelligent and resilient as humanity is, life can be lost in the blink of an eye. For this reason we spend a lot of effort trying to protect ourselves and our loved ones… from buckling the back-arching, screaming toddler into her seatbelt, to spending hard earned cash on insurance policies, to getting the COVID jab. (more…)


Freedom from lockdown

Milo, the dogAfter 106 days in lockdown, COVID-19 restrictions have eased today in Sydney, Australia, for those who are fully vaccinated. Cafes, restaurants, clubs, pubs, retail businesses and churches can reopen, 10 people are allowed to visit a home and the caps on numbers at weddings and funerals have increased dramatically. Stay at home rules and 5-kilometer travel restrictions have ended. The state now has 90.3 per cent of people aged over 16 who have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 73.5 per cent are fully vaccinated. (more…)


Forgiveness – Easier said than done

Forgiveness – Easier said than doneForgiveness is hard. It is painful. It can be slow and gruelling. Yet there are no relationships in which forgiveness is not necessary.

The forgiveness the Bible speaks of is not turning a blind eye to the wrong committed against you, it is not pretending you are OK, it is not convincing yourself you deserved it or that the wrong doing wasn’t that big a deal. On the contrary, biblical forgiveness looks the offense in the eye, names it for what it is, acknowledges all its painful consequences, weeps over what has been done and lost, and in so doing says, “I love you still”. (more…)


The gospel in one Bible verse

Joe lives alone and has been socially isolated during the 3-month COVID pandemic lockdownJoe lives alone and has little contact with his family. He has no carer and needs help to look after his home, garden, health and safety. And he has been socially isolated during the 3-month lockdown in Sydney during the COVID pandemic. Like all of us, his days on earth are numbered. But being over 90 years of age, his number of days is less than most of us.

Joe is a nominal Roman Catholic who needs to hear the good news about Jesus – the Bible says that Jesus took our place before God by dying on the cross for us so that we can be forgiven and have a new relationship with God. Here’s an easy way to share the gospel with someone like Joe. (more…)


Is it time to start trusting God?

Is it time to start trusting God?He’s known you the longest!

Something bizarre was happening inside me. While I ate and slept and talked and went about life as usual, a tiny human was forming in my womb. A minuscule heart, tiny fingers, spec sized toenails, teeny lips were taking shape. I wasn’t directing what was happening. I didn’t make any conscious effort — “OK today we’re going to separate the left and right chambers of the heart … today we’re going to form eyelids.” The only way I knew what was happening inside me was by reading about it. I felt wonder at this most ordinary miracle taking place within my body. I felt humbled at how little control I had over this most significant life event. (more…)


At life’s crossroads? Let Jesus give you directions

Life’s road is rarely straight. We often find ourselves in places we didn’t expect or want. How are you going with the uncertainty of life at the moment? Do you feel like you’re standing at a crossroads and not sure which direction to take? There are so many unknowns and what ifs. However, we don’t have to step into the uncertainty alone.

When Jesus was facing His violent crucifixion, He took the time to explain to His followers that although they couldn’t go with Him immediately they would one day be reunited with Him in His eternal kingdom. One candid follower verbalized his concern,

“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life’” (John 14:5-6). (more…)


Jesus: a 4-letter word or the name above all names?

Jesus: a 4-letter word or the name above all names?What do you do in that flash of anger, shock or pain? When you’re driving and another car dangerously pulls out in front of you; when you kick your toe; when you hear bad news; it seems universally human to call out in exasperation. Jesus Christ is commonly used as an expletive in these times. However the Bible tells us, Jesus Christ, an empty swear word to so many, is actually the most honorable, worthy and precious name. Why? (more…)


Sanitize more than hands

Sanitize more than handsHow clean do you keep your hands? Hand hygiene has certainly gotten a lot of attention lately. It reminds me of one of my favorite Shakespearean scenes — Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking after she has orchestrated the murder of her king. In her sleep she sees spots of blood on her hands and no amount of washing can remove them. She smells blood on her hands and “all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten” them. Of course it is her conscience and not her hands that is really unclean. (more…)


Imagine someone knowing everything about you!

Imagine someone knowing everything about you, and still loving you (God does)Do you know you’re not the only one? We all have parts of ourselves we’d rather no one else knew about. Parts we may try to hide from even ourselves, to distract ourselves from with busyness or entertainment, to overcompensate for with gifts or acts of service. But they are there. Whether it’s memories of what we’ve done or what has been done to us, ugly thoughts and feelings we can’t bear to look in the face, the way we treat our family when no one else is around, secret addictions we believe render us unlovable… Oh they are there and they want to remain hidden in the dark where no one can see and judge them. (more…)


Still social distancing from God?

Still social distancing from God? Get close today.It’s something you took for granted isn’t it? To hug someone hello. To shake a congratulatory hand. To hold that fresh new baby at that birthday barbecue or slap a mate on the back. It feels wrong to sidestep strangers, least of all a relative.

Since COVID-19, there are people who have left this earth in solitude and babies who have been born into the arms of parents, yet haven’t seen another face. They left the doors of the hospital and have never been passed around their village of friends and family. (more…)


The themes in the book of Acts

The overall theme of the book of Acts in the Bible is the growth of the early church. And the key verse is “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (1:8NIV). That’s the mission of the church. Believers are to be God’s witnesses.

Schematic diagram: Themes of Acts (more…)


Life saving blood

The work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was to save the life and dignity of everyone, everywhereThroughout history, there has been a growing understanding of the remarkable properties of blood. In 1628, a physician named William Harvey published his theory on the circulation of blood – it was amazingly accurate. Soon after, the first blood transfusion was attempted. It was discovered that blood could save lives!

About 200 years later, the ‘International Committee of the Red Cross’ was founded by Henri Dunant in Switzerland. Henri had witnessed wounded and dying soldiers left to suffer without medical care on a battlefield in Italy. He started a campaign to reduce the suffering and casualties of war regardless of which side they belonged to. (more…)


Sooner or later?

Woman kneeling: "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth"Procrastination is delaying or postponing something. It’s saying, “I’ve got too much else to do right now”; “Something came up”; “It’s not really that important”; “It’s not the right time”; “I’m not ready yet”; “I’ll do it after…”. This is a post about something we all need to do, sooner or later.

Philippians 2 is about the humility and exaltation of Jesus Christ. It says that He went from the highest place (equality with God the Father), to the lowest place (death as a criminal) and back to the highest place (the right hand of God the Father). After describing Christ’s incarnation and death, Paul writes, (more…)


King sized bed

King size bed - Manger with strawBeing a celebrity definitely comes with its perks, one of which is the capacity to make outrageous demands. If Jennifer Lopez travels, she reportedly asks for her hotel rooms to be completely white; everything from the walls, to the furniture, to the white candles. In order to ensure she’s properly rested, the sheets must be of minimum two hundred and fifty ‘thread count’ Egyptian cotton and the room temperature a precise and constant 25.5 Degrees C. (more…)


Faith in the family

Brown family reunion - October 2001Family reunions bring relatives together to celebrate and share memories. I gave this message at a church service during the reunion of the Brown family at Bedgerabong, near Forbes in New South Wales, Australia, in October 2001.

When reading through the Brown family history, I noticed the following instances of Christian faith amongst our forebears. (more…)


Two ways to live

Raod sign - Our way or God's new wayThe choice we all face

The message at the heart of Christianity can be outlined in a few pages. It’s a message from the Bible about God and His Son Jesus that’s about life and death, and the choice we all face. In “Two ways to live” the message is summarized in contemporary language in six points (Appendix A).

This post is based on a blogpost by Tony Payne that proposed updating the “Two ways to live” booklet (Jensen and Payne, 2007; Payne 2020). (more…)


There is no racism in heaven

Bookworm Claudette Colvin had two dreams when she was young. The first was to marry a baseball player. The second was to become President of the United States. Lofty dreams indeed for a teenager from the poor side of town, but she was an A-grade student and determined to make something of her life.

The thwack of a curveball rocketing over a baseball diamond or the patriotic stirrings of a big brass band on the lawns of the White House must have seemed impossible that one Friday in March, when the smart and pretty 15-year-old was hauled into a courthouse. She’d been yelled at by students, kicked three times by police and then taken across town crying and humiliated in a patrol car by the same officers, who made lewd comments about her appearance. (more…)


There is hope

The COVID-19 pandemic is an extreme situation facing the whole world at the same timeThe headline didn’t shout. It didn’t need to. This wasn’t a slow news day. It read, ‘In one week 10% of Australia’s workforce have lost their jobs’. In India, a nation of 1.3 billion people were given four hours notice to lock down inside their homes for 21 days. People found outside afterwards were subsequently beaten.

Always, in the world somewhere, there’s an extreme situation – a flood, a famine, a war. Less frequent, though, are situations involving the whole world. The COVID-19 pandemic is such a time. (more…)