Lessons from the World’s Greatest Dad (Pt.1)

It's that time of year when we honour all the dads – Father's Day. Let's talk about fathering and who better to learn from that the greatest father of all time. No, not me – Father God. The God of the Bible has revealed himself as one God existing in three persons - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We have the opportunity to be "born again" spiritually into God's family. God wants to be our Father and we can be his children (John 1:12-13. Rom.8:13-17. Gal.4:4-7. 1 John 3:1-2). With the breakdown of marriages and family relationships... Read more →

The Anatomy of a Father (by J John)

With the celebration of Father's Day this coming Sunday, I thought this post by J John on "The Anatomy of Fathering" was appropriate ... In the New Testament God is described as a father, and human fathers are to be imitators of God the Father. Fathering requires many skills and one way to think of them is in terms of parts of the body. Fathers need: 1. A Heart Children need to be loved, with a deep caring love that is more than an emotion. Children also need to know they are loved. The Bible talks about God as a... Read more →

Modern Family (Pt.3) - Singleness

Today, let’s talk about being single. Singles are people who have never married (because they chose not to marry or have not found a partner) or those who have been married but are single again because of the death of a spouse or through divorce. This includes single parents. American theologian Stanley Hauerwas argues that Christianity was the very first religion to hold up single adulthood as a viable way of life. Nearly all ancient religions and cultures made an absolute value of the family and of bearing children, which was seen as the only way to significance and leaving... Read more →

The Life of a Preacher's Kid

I am a PK - a "preacher's kid" or a TO - a "theological offspring", as my father used to call me. Growing up in a pastor's or minister's home is not easy. Many people think you should be perfect or at least have an extra holiness gene. It's just not true. Your surname brings all sorts of pressures and expectations, many of them unrealistic. No wonder far too many PKs drop out of the church and some from faith altogether. I am a survivor. People often ask me why. It's hard to explain ... but a few things I... Read more →

Modern Family (Pt.2) - Parenting

You can become a parent in an instant but learning the art of parenting can take a lifetime. Children don’t come with instructions but thankfully we can glean God’s wisdom through the Scriptures, from other effective parents, and from the common sense that comes from life experience. God describes himself in parental terms (as a “Father”) and calls us his “children.” Each one of us has the opportunity to be “born again” spiritually into God's family (John 1:11-13. Rom.8:14-16. Gal.4:4-7. 1John 3:1-2). No matter what our natural family situation may have been God wants to be a perfect spiritual parent... Read more →

Modern Family (Pt.1): Marriage

God invented marriage as a covenant relationship between a man and a woman (Gen.2:18-25). Marriage is one of the most intimate of human relationships, as a husband and wife join every aspect of their lives together for life. Getting married is easy but building a strong marriage takes time and effort. A great wedding doesn’t make a great marriage. The key to any great marriage is LOVE – a commitment to put the best interests of the other person before our own. Let’s look at four important steps we can take to build a great marriage. 1. Lay a Good... Read more →

Modern Family

A Changing Culture Just mention the word “family” in society today and you’ll get a variety of opinion and perspectives on what it is and what it should be. Changes to the family are reflected in the typical TV family. We've come a long way from Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, The Cosby Show and The Brady Bunch (anyone remember The Munsters or The Adams' Family?) through shows like Friends (a bunch of friends living together in a pseudo-family), The Simpsons and now Modern Family. The traditional “nuclear family” (a dad and mum and a few kids) is... Read more →

Is BIGGER always Better? Beware the Relentless Pursuit of MORE

I love the story about the Harvard MBA who was in Mexico for his company. He saw a small Mexican fishing boat pulling up the dock and one solitary fisherman got out and held four huge fish on a stringer. The Harvard guy was amazed at the quality of the fish. He asked the fisherman, “How long did it take you to catch those?” He said, “About three hours.” “What are you going to do with them?” The fisherman said, “They’re going to feed my family.” The Harvard guy was intrigued and said, “What do you do with the rest... Read more →

The 10 Commandments From a Dog's Point of View

Our daughter, Natasha, turns 20 in a few weeks. We bought her a dog, with some help from the RSPCA. He is a labrador and is a little over 2 years of age. His name is Oscar. Oscar is very cute and has a peaceful nature. While looking through a few other dog pounds with my wife, Nicole, we saw the following 10 Commandments from a Dog's Point of View. Worth repeating ... 1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years; any separation from you will be painful for me. Remember that before you buy me. 2. Give me... Read more →

Stages of Life (Late Adulthood)

The pool of those living beyond 100 – the centenarians of society - is increasing in leaps and bounds (70,000 in USA in 2007 increasing to 834,000 in 2050; over 4,252 in Australia as of June, 2011, up from 203 just 40 years ago). Demographers are now starting to the number of ‘super-centenarians’ – people over the age of 110 (300-450 currently)! So life can be prolonged, but eventually we will all die … unless Jesus returns in our lifetime. Eventually the life clock must run down and the human body must die. People at this stage of life need... Read more →

Stages of Life (Mature Adulthood)

In medieval times the Catholic worldview of the human life span was often depicted as a circle. In the centre was the image of Christ. Around this divine hub, were illustrations of the different ages of life from infancy to the grave. Each age, like a spoke, was equidistant from the hub. This suggested that every point in human life existed in the same sacred relationship to the divine. During the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, this symbolism underwent a profound and lasting change. Instead of a circle, the image of an ascending and descending staircase became prevalent. The... Read more →

Stages of Life (Midlife)

Like the sun sweeping through the sky, midlife (ages 35-50) is like noon-time, dividing the first and second halves of life. At the stroke of noon, the descent begins. Note that what we consider midlife, was for most of history in fact the end of life for most people. As recently as 1900, the life span of the average adult in the Western world was only 47. We have been blessed to have extra decades added to the average life span in our time. Midlife is a season that can be like moving through muddy waters. Some people experience what... Read more →

Stages of Life (Early Adulthood)

Early Adulthood (20-35 years of age) is a time of leaving the familiar world of family, parents, community, school and entering the big unknown world. It is a break with the past and a move into future. Of course, the very term "adult" is very hard to define. When do you become an adult? When you can drive, vote, drink or when you are married? It is a fuzzy line and for many the transition is a slow process. Some young adults are staying home longer. After all, why leave when there is free rent, cooking, TV and washing? Young... Read more →

Stages of Life (Adolescence)

Adolescence (13-19 years of age) refers to the teenage years - the hazardous passage from childhood to adulthood. One way to describe this journey is like ‘rapids’ along a river. Things may get rough for a while but if you hang on and don't panic, everything will eventually smooth out again. Physically, this is a time of huge change. Puberty brings pimples, sweat, hair in unusual places, new odors, and crazy hormones. Emotions include quickly shifting moods, trying to find an identity, and strong passionate feelings. Mentally, it's a time of growth, taking in the abstract, logic, and an ability... Read more →

Stages of Life (Childhood)

As we begin the new year, it is a good thing to "number our days" (Psalm 90:12) - to reflect on and give consideration to our life. Life is short and wise people live from God's perspective, understanding that what we do in time echoes into eternity. Students of human development would be aware of the concept of seeing life as a journey through successive stages of life, depending on our age (see The Human Odyssesy: Navigating the Twleve Stages of Life as an example). Let’s briefly overview a few of them. The first stage of life is Childhood. Childhood... Read more →

Foster Parenting

In response to Jesus' Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, you can't help but be prompted to take action by doing something for someone in need, such as sponsoring a child or volunteering some time to community organisations who are doing good work in the community. Another excellent ministry to consider is becoming a foster carer. OzChild is one of the many excellent organisations that recruits, trains, and accredits new foster carers, particularly in the Southern Region of Melbourne (which includes the City of Casey). There is a desperate shortage of foster carers in Victoria at the moment. Foster... Read more →

Some Final Thoughts on Relationships

Over the last week or so, we have shared some thoughts and reflections on a variety of issues, including singleness, dating, marriage, parenting, family conflict, sexuality, homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Hopefully, this has been helpful, even though we haven't been able to address every possible question. I pray that these thoughts will be part of an ongoing conversation - with the Scriptures, with our world, and within our faith communities. Each one of us find ourselves in a current situation or circumstance. We can't change the past, though we can seek to repair broken relationships and find a place of... Read more →

Some Thoughts on Divorce and Remarriage

Divorce Here in Australia, 43% of first marriages end in divorce, 50% of second marriages end in divorce and 70% of subsequent marriages have the same fate. This is so sad. We can hardly imagine the heartache and pain represented by those statistics ... for everyone involved, but especially for the children. God clearly hates divorce. His will is for marriage to be a life-long commitment. However, because of sin, marriages (like other relationships) sometimes break down and become irreparable. Even God himself eventually divorced the nation of Israel during Old Testament times for repeated spiritual unfaithfulness. When debating the... Read more →

Some Thoughts on Family Conflict

Relationships are built and maintained through communication. When communication breaks down, so do relationships. Consider the quality and nature of the conversation in your relationships. It creates an atmosphere. Eph. 4:29. Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Prov.18:21. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. James 1:19. My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak... Read more →

Some Thoughts on Parenting

You can become a a father or a mother in an instant, but it takes a lifetime to learn to be a good parent. After all, kids arrive without instructions and each child is pre-wired (no 'blank slates'!) uniquely. What are some important principles for parents? Your greatest influence is who you are, not what you say. Kids do what kids see. Be an example of the kind of person you'd like them to become. This requires us to deal with our own personal character issues, so that we don't pass negative habits on. Love your kids with all your... Read more →