Thursday, November 12, 2020


On Monday Nov 2, 2020 a young Asian fisherman did not return to his Sydney home after an early morning fishing trip. Some days later his body was found and identified as Wuttichai Khamjareon, aged 32. We and many of his large group of friends knew him as Woody.

 In 2004 Woody’s village, on the west coast of Thailand, was all but destroyed by what is often referred to as the Boxing Day Tsunami. In 2005 a team of students and staff from Macquarie University travelled to his village to assist with the clean-up. Our son Tim was a student and member of that team, and it was there that he first met Woody. Woody’s engaging personality, intelligence and vibrant spirit so impressed the team that the university decided to offer Woody a scholarship to learn English and to study Geography on campus in Sydney, Australia.

Woody arrived in Australia the following winter speaking almost no English. The culture shock of moving from a small, rural fishing village in the tropics to a huge Australian city was extreme. Woody moved into our home and became part of our family for several years. In Thailand Woody had been brought up by his grandmother. She was very ill at the time that he left home. Upon arrival in Australia Woody was greeted with the very sad news that his grandmother had died during the time he was in transit. It was a tough start to his new life.


The challenges Woody faced in Australian were enormous. There are few languages more different than Thai and English, and Woody had to learn not only to converse, but to be ready to start a university degree. I remember Woody asking us one day if we could take him to the market. When we arrived at Woolworths he was shocked. A market for Woody was a vibrant place of colour, smell, life, fresh food, and excitement. Aisles of processed packaged food was not what he had in mind. The Sydney winter was freezing. He was confused when people failed to treat him well or even fairly.


Despite the challenges and difficulties that Woody faced, there was always one constant. His smile. Woody smiled all the time. He smiled with his whole face and you couldn’t help but smile back. He was always willing to help. He taught us the correct way to serve a mango. One day he saw me up a ladder cleaning out the gutters and before I knew it, he was on the roof bare footed and sweeping the tiles. He joined us for Christmas celebrations with our extended families –everyone loved him. He attended all three of our children’s weddings. That smile somehow made those family celebrations complete.


Woody never did finish his degree, but instead found a greater love. He loved to cook. He trained as a chef. The staff and customers of one of Sydney’s leading French restaurants are no doubt also weeping at the loss of their beloved Woody.


In recent years we have seen less of Woody, but we knew he was doing well.  He fell in love and married. We watched on Facebook as that shy, lost teenager grew into an extraordinary young man. Fishing probably became more important for Woody for two reasons. Firstly, fishing was probably a link back to his village in Thailand where he stood on the edge of the ocean and fished as a child. And secondly Woody’s diet as a child was mostly fish and so he fished to cook, to eat and to live.


Woody was a person that embraced life. When the tsunami struck his village killing thousands Woody chose to embrace a new adventure rather than be destroyed by grief. He joined our family, was a part of Macquarie University, and then found a new career, marriage and a whole new group of friends. We don’t know exactly how he died, but he died accidentally doing something that he loved – fishing.


Grief is an emotion we cannot avoid. We live in the shadow of death. We love in the shadow of grief. Woody had every reason to despair given the tragedy and struggles he had faced and he could have easily given up on life. But he chose to do the exact opposite. His positive spirit, his generous smile, his warm laughter, his passion to achieve through hard work and his engaging personality spread blessings to many across the world from Thailand to Australia.


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace… Ecclesiastes 3: 1-5











Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Bring on the cricket season.


Who is going to win the US Presidential Election?

With less than a week to go the media is dominated by speculation about the result. The polls seem to reflect one result. The experience of 2016 may suggest the opposite. The bookies have their view and so does the stock market. Pundits on all sides are speculating, pontificating, prophesying and guessing. With absolute conviction I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that today ………………………  we don’t know!


It could be argued that the endless speculation about such events does us no good and probably a great deal of harm. In cricket, the very best batsman all share a common trait when it comes to predicting what sort of ball the bowler is about to deliver. Impatient and reckless cricketers make up their mind about what sort of delivery the bowler is planning, and they then prepare their shot based on their prediction. When they are correct, as they occasionally are, they look like champions seemingly being able to conquer the bowler and score runs quickly. However, guessing what is coming next does not work well for long. Eventually, the batter makes an incorrect prediction, is caught in the wrong place on the crease while preparing to play the wrong shot and ends their innings with a long humiliating walk back to the dressing rooms.


The very best cricketers, however, wait and play every ball on its own merits. They study the bowler intimately, they watch with incredible concentration and then in less than half a second respond and play their shot based on the trajectory, pitch, swing, seam or spin of the ball. Great cricketers prepare tirelessly for the bowler’s entire arsenal and are ready to respond. Sure, batting is hard. But when it is done patiently, wisely, cleverly and fearlessly it is something to behold.


Our common human curse is to worry, fret, fear, and fuss about what is going to happen tomorrow, next week or next year. If 2020 teaches us anything, it is that many of the worries that dominated October 2019, now seem rather pointless. Taking life as it comes is much more efficient. Most of the things that cause us to worry never actually happen. Sometimes things worse than we could have ever imagined eventuate and yet somehow, we muddle through. And just as often, life surprises us with positive developments, unexpected opportunities, random breakthroughs and a juicy half volley outside off stump just asking to be driven through the covers for a boundary.


If you are a US citizen who has not yet voted, it is now time to decide and make your vote count. For the rest of us, we have to wait until next week to learn who will be the President of the United States (unless it’s close) for the next four years.


Today is our opportunity to live life as it comes and not waste it by worrying about what might or might not happen in the future.


Who of you by worrying, can add a single hour to your life? Luke 12: 25

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Each day has enough trouble of it's own.


2020 has been a good year to own a hardware store. In Australia the most dominant hardware chain is enjoying record sales. With restricted travel, there has never been a better time to begin that new project. I am not by nature a handyman, but years ago a dear friend taught me some basics principals that apply not only to DIY, but to life in general.


Rod Cook, could build, fix, repair and renew anything. By trade he was a fitter and turner. By temperament he was patient and positive. By nature, he was artistic. With unlimited skills and a well-equipped shed, Rod was a DIY master.


As a young couple Wendy and I had bought our first home in the south west of Sydney and it needed a lot of work. Rod helped me with great patience. Of all the skills Rod possessed one incident summed up his approach to problems. He was teaching me how to paint the house. We removed some disgusting wallpaper from a wall in our lounge room when Rod notice a lumpy patch in the wall. He poked around for a while, curious to know why the wall was uneven. Then as he prodded some more, and his hand suddenly pierced the gyprock and sank into the cavity leaving a fist-sized hole in the wall. My heart sank. Buying this old house had stretched our finances to the limit and this hole in the wall seemed to spell financial pain, if not ruin.  For me the hole in the wall seemed a mountain beyond my climbing resources. Rod, however, thought it was quite amusing and put in motion a plan to repair it.


Rod returned to his shed and after a small search found a couple of gyprock offcuts. He tidied up the hole in the wall, creating a neat square and then cut a piece of gyprock to match. He then bevelled the edge of the hole in the wall to a 45-degree angle and did the reverse with the offcut. He placed the offcut into the hole and it sat there well supported. A little premix plaster adhesive (that white stuff that dries hard and so you can sand it back) and Rod had repaired the hole in less than an hour.


The obvious lesson from such a story is to find a mate who can fix things and who also has a well-stocked shed. The other lesson that I learned that day is that a good handyman (or woman) is not fazed by a setback – they simply set about trying to find a solution. Rod never worried about what might happen, he simply got on with the job. He always started early, he persevered and dealt with problems, when and if, they arose.


This time last year no one saw the Covid, hole-in-the-world coming. We are still working on a solution. The attitudes of hard work, creativity, perseverance and a positive spirit remain important allies.


Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34


Thursday, October 8, 2020

The truth will set you free.


Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.
Fyodor Dostoevsky,   The Brothers Karamzov


I met a guy who a couple of years before had gone to our church. He was a high-flying accountant. He told me he had changed churches because he didn’t want to go to a church that judged him. I found a church, he told me, that affirmed my lifestyle, that supported my belief, taught me a truth I wanted to hear and most importantly made me feel good about myself. I remembered at the time being sad and rather fearful for where that might lead him.


Months later I heard that a significant public company had gone into receivership with fraud charges laid against a number of senior staff including the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The CFO was my friend who decided to go to a church that didn’t judge. He was judged by criminal courts instead and was found guilty of fraud and sent to gaol.


In recent times the whole idea of truth has been undermined. From the once cherished objective truth we have descended over the decades into relative truth, the idea that each individual can develop their own truth. Relative truth suited the generations who wanted to do things their own way. Now the facts only get in the way when my truth has become true not because its true but because it’s mine. This post-modern slide into relativism has been hyper charged by the powerful social media algorithms designed to reinforce our tribal and biased view of the world, to maximise sales not certainty.


Faced with a virus that is not limited by tribe, nation or tongue, the truth needs to make a comeback, fast. Working out how to live with Covid 19 is complex and complicated. There are many unknowns and abandoning the knowns only makes it harder.


The good book’s conclusion is that to judge is not weakness but strength.

We can’t always be sure where the truth lies or who is telling the truth – but the quality of a person’s life is a clear indicator. The Lord values...


The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbour, and casts no slur on others. (Psalm 15:2,3)

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Could we be part of the problem?

Could we be part of the problem? I remember going to a doctor once and asked if my diet and general health could be part of my medical challenges. He was not happy with my questions. Why do you Christians always think it’s all about sin? he ranted. Why do you always believe someone has to be blamed!


Needless to say, that doctor and I never became close. But he did make me think. In previous, more religious times and in more religious cultures, when bad things happen people ask Could we be part of the problem? Could we be doing something wrong that is causing this season of difficulty, illness or pain?


I recently watched an amazing Netflix documentary called Kiss the Ground.

The central message of the film is that there is a lot wrong with the way we are living on Planet Earth. No news there. The message sounds negative, bleak and preachy. This movie, however, presents a message full of hope. If we are doing something wrong, then maybe we can change. Things might stop getting worse… and might actually start to get better… and those improvements might even begin to happen quickly.


The idea that we might be part of the problem sounds judgemental and negative, but quite the opposite is actually true.  If we are part of the problem, then we can be part of the solution. At the heart of the gentle Nazarene’s message was a call to repent.


But unless you repent, you too will all perish. - Luke 13:3 (NIV)


Repent means ‘to turn around’. If we are walking away, we need to turn back. If we are lost, we need to find the path. If we are headed for disaster, we need to do a U-turn. If we are stalled and have lost the wind, we need to tack and find the breeze again.


Could we be part of the problem? leads to the even more scary thought, Could I be part of the problem? Scary…yes…but hopeful too. If I am part of the problem, then I can also be part of the solution.


Michael Jackson might not have heeded the song’s advice, but the sentiment remains timeless.

I'm starting with the man in the mirror 

I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
(If you want to make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change…




Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Even the young grow weary and tired...

Imagine being totally restricted and not able to do what you want to do. Perhaps that’s not so hard in a year of lockdowns. But consider what it would be like to be trapped in your own body. Picture a bright young man – full of energy and intellect but literally trapped in a body that is not only unresponsive, but often quite uncontrollable.


I first met Damon when he started coming to our church in the mid 90s. He arrived in a van and his carer wheeled him into our church. Damon had severe cerebral palsy. Outwardly he presented as a crippled young man who had no speech and little control of his limbs. But after a short while it became clear that Damon was rather special. He communicated with the use of a “speech board”, that is a series of pictures on his chair, which he pointed to with great difficulty. Chatting with Damon was slow, confusing and frustrating, but after a period of time guesses became breakthroughs and communication started to happen. He had no trouble understanding me, I was the one who struggled to understand him. When he did finally get you to understand two things became obvious. Firstly, he was very bright. Secondly, he was very funny. Quite simply Damon was a witty, intelligent young man trapped in a body that fought him at every turn.  


Damon was also very serious about his faith. He had a favourite verse, which if anyone ever mentioned or read aloud would set him ablaze. To this day I cannot read the verse without immediately seeing Damon. I remember reading the words one day and watching as Damon began running, dancing and jumping in his mind- while his body became a disorganised distraction of moving arms and twitching legs. He couldn’t speak but he was making plenty of sound – sounds of enthusiasm, of hope, of delight and of very real joy. Damon’s favourite verse was from the prophet Isaiah Ch 40: 30,31


Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.


I’m not sure if Damon fully understood the historic meaning of those words in the ancient text. To be honest, I am not sure that I do either. I am certain, however, that Damon heard those words as divine comfort to his human struggle. For Damon, his spirit knew how to soar like an eagle, to run and not grow weary and to walk and not be faint; all from the locked down position of his wheelchair. His spirit refused to be extinguished by debilitating human suffering. His faith was not bound by his earthly journey. His hope looked beyond to a brighter eternal future, secured by a God of love and restoration.

All those years ago, when we were both young men, I was the preacher and Damon the listener.

My guess is that Damon has probably forgotten all my sermons. To this day, whenever I read those words from Isaiah, Damon continues to preach vividly and powerfully to me.


I hope you too, can hear Damon’s message today! 


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Books and Bricks


The enemy is at the door. Still unseen, peril is imminent. Glimpses of encouragement are overwhelmed by a global threat that is no

t going away. Many have given up. Hope is in short supply. Politicians are fighting amongst themselves without vision, consensus or even a plan. It’s May 1940, Germany’s rise appears to be unstoppable and Winston Churchill has just become the Prime Minster of the United Kingdom.


The wheel turned. Churchill’s resolve, his rhetoric, his doggedness and his single-minded determination saw the UK firstly resist invasion and eventually prevail to victory. Most would expect that while Churchill served as PM he devoted every single moment of his life to his task of leadership. That, however, was not t

he case. Churchill was a complex and unusual character fuelled in many ways by eccentricity and a passion for life.


Even as PM, Churchill still found time to relax and engage in an eclectic mixture of hobbies. Churchill was an avid reader. His reading of history, warfare, literature, politics and biography fuelled intellectual growth and an education wider and deeper than any university qualification. He took up painting at the age of 40 and found in the creative arts an outlet that helped him deal with stress and sparked a renewed love of colour and life. He wrote and set himself a goal to write 2000 words a day – so th

at when he needed to write his skills were honed and sharp. He also laid bricks. Yes, Churchill was somewhat of a do-it-yourself bricklayer, building garden walls and even small buildings. Added to his 2000 words-a-day writing goal was a 200 bricks-a-day, wall building goal. Hardly a picture of physical health, Churchill’s bricklaying was a physical challenge and a distraction from the pressures of leadership and war. His bricklaying led him to landscaping and to the planting of gardens and orchards. Finally, Churchill was an animal lover. In his early life he was an accomplished horseman and polo player. With less time as PM he enjoyed a menagerie of dogs, cats, birds and fish.


During a time of difficulty, it might be tempting to dwell only on the problem at hand. Balance may suggest an alternative. The humble hobby remains much more than a refuge from the storm outside. Life affirming interests and pursuits broadens horizons, challenges perspectives, releases minds, develops skills and renews passions.


Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is

true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Phil 4:8









Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Tough times never last....

 2020 has been a hard year. Hardest hit are the millions across the globe who are grieving the almost 900,000 who have died. 27 million people have been infected, most with mild symptoms, but many have

battled life threatening illness for weeks and months. The economic cost globally is beyond calcul

ation. Financial pain is personal pain for millions. Lockdowns short or long continue to be an incredible burden to bear. Plans, dreams and hopes have been put on hold or abandoned altogether. Many lament their inability to travel and visit loved ones. It has been a hard year – no doubt. There have been lots of superlatives and quite a few imaginative swear words to describe 2020. But I want to ask a controversial question.


Is hard always bad?


Working out in a gym on a Navy base can be daunting. There are lots of very fit young men and women who train incredibly hard. They lift heavy weights.  They embrace ‘hard’ accepting that hard is the way to strength, to power and to

growth. Those who bench press 50 kgs aspire to bench press 60. I sometimes mentally add up the weights on the end of a bar bell and am amazed by the strength and agility of youth. Fit young people in a gym do not shy away from hard. They accept struggle, and even embrace the pain believing it will produce the result they desire.


From ancient times civilisations have embraced hardship, pain and difficulty as an effective path to developing character, strength and resilience. The old book describes it like this.


Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into o

ur hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5: 3-5


It would be foolish and heartless to say that Covid 19 has been good for us. Rather it might be reasonable to acknowledge that from hardship, good can come. From pain, growth. From struggle, strength. From difficulty, a determination to find a way through. Humans have long found that when natural resources are spent – deeper spiritual resources need to be mined.


A popular, slightly corny, preacher in the US coined the phrase; ‘Tough times never last, tough people do’. 2020 will long be remembered as a tough year. The default response of bitterness and regret to the challenges of hardship is not the only option. Hardship can be endured, difficulty accepted, and struggle embraced in the hope that strength, determination and perseverance will flow.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Natural contentment

To the eye, a fresh, plump, ripe strawberry is a thing of beauty. However, many of the huge, fat strawberries found on our supermarket shelves are sadly lacking in the taste department. Often resembling a small apple, many of those wonderfully attractive, commercially grown strawberries can be dry on the inside and totally devoid of taste. 


Imagine our delight when we discovered a local grower where strawberries are picked in the morning and sold in the afternoon for $12 a kilo. Delicious, juicy, fresh, locally grown strawberries – wow – can it get any better? 


Well, actually it can. Yesterday we picked our first home grown strawberries, right here in Shoalwater, WA. After losing a few to the hungry and rather crafty ravens, a small investment in cloth bird protection allowed our strawberries to fully ripen in the sun. These little treasures, packed with sweetness, fuelled by rainfall, grown in compost and devoid of chemical fertilisers and pesticides were a taste of heaven. The locally grown strawberries seemed dull, lifeless and ordinary compared to our own shiny fruit which had travelled less than 15 metres from ‘paddock to plate’ and was enjoyed within an hour of harvest. 


2020 has been a tough year. The darkness, the struggles, the rules, the restrictions, the border closures, the politics, the changes and the economic disaster have sadly been intertwined with illness and death. It’s been a year when it often felt like the sun had stopped shining. 


However, the sun still continues to shine behind the clouds. 


The majesty, the mystery and the sheer magnificence of our world are not diminished by struggle. The natural world goes on. Plovers raise their chicks in the field, whales continue to migrate, pelicans awkwardly land on crystal clear waters,  tiny fairy penguins return each evening to feed their chicks and snails enjoy their slimy evening dinner all within a stone’s throw of our suburban backyard. A seed germinates in soil and life bursts forth, seemingly out of nothing. A plant produces a berry that not only feeds, but thrills.


All over the world, even in places of extreme suffering life goes on. Babies continue to be born. Children risk falling as they learn to walk, kids continue to play, teenagers muddle their way through and grown-ups try to grow up. People still fall in love and marry,  with or without guests at their wedding.


Despair in hard times is the obvious default. Faith looks up, past the struggle, to see the beauty. Hope looks out, beyond the darkness and insists that there is a better day coming. Love remains God’s finest gift and our greatest calling.  


I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength

Phil 4: 11-13

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Plan A, Plan B


There has been a lot of talk of late in the Australian media about a possible vaccine for Covid 19. How should we react to this discussion?


The optimists will be thrilled that a way out of the pandemic is just around the corner. The pessimists will dismiss it as rhetoric from politicians keen to deflect attention away from the continued critical medical and economic challenges. The stock market, it seems, has already decided. Despite the economy being in tatters the stock market is only slightly down on the record highs of last year. The logic follows that the market has already priced in a vaccine. The market seems convinced that the economic shocks will be steep but temporary, that a vaccine is close, and that the world will soon return to normality.


The optimist, the pessimist and the investor (who has already priced in a vaccine) share the same delusion- they are all sure that they know what is going to happen in the future. Or to be more charitable, they are all certain that they think they know the future. Or to say it another way, they are all punting on their own view of what they think will happen.


There is, however, an alternative way of thinking. Laced with a hint of humility it might be simpler to accept that we actually don’t know if or when a vaccine might be ready for use. We can be hopeful. We can remain positive. We can support our leaders who are convinced that a vaccine is a great Plan A. But we need a Plan B as well.


Plan B might include more research into treatments. Plan B might include balancing economic and health concerns. Plan B might mean accepting we are simply not going to be able to hug our grandchildren on the other side of the country for quite a while. Plan B might include being thankful for all we have learnt about managing this virus. Plan B might include resourcing our medical heroes for a marathon not just a sprint. Plan B might include being flexible and adaptable to the windy path in front of us, wherever it may lead.


Faith has often been criticised as being a crutch for the weak. I would rather describe faith as being like a good pair of joggers. The road ahead is uncertain. There may be rocks and occasionally broken glass. At times the path will be clear and well-lit and at other times the path will be steep with poor visibility. We need all the support we can get. Strength, protection and confidence are needed as we stride out even when the path remains uncertain and unpredictable.


Faith does not promise that it will be alright. Faith rejects all political messiahs. Faith steps into the darkness and trusts the goodness of the creator, the guidance of the good shepherd and the sustaining strength of the enduring spirit.


Faith hopes that tomorrow the sun will shine, but has a raincoat at the ready for a possible storm.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5 


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

We could be heros

What does the Royal Australian Navy and Tasmania have in common? This week they are both celebrating the government’s recommendation to award Seaman Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean, a posthumous Victoria Cross.

 Teddy was the 14th child of a working-class family. He was raised in Latrobe in Tasmania’s north, close to Devonport. At the age of 18, in April 1941, he joined the Naval Reserves following in the footsteps of his five older brothers, four in the Army and one in the Navy. In May 1941 he was posted to Garden Island, Sydney where he was billeted on board the converted ferry Kuttabul. Later that month he was on leave back in Tasmania when the midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour occurred and Kuttabul was sunk. Twenty-one sailors died.

Less than two weeks later Teddy returned to Sydney to join the newly commissioned HMAS Armidale. Armidale sailed north to assist in the evacuation of Australian soldiers from occupied Timor. On 1 December 1942 around 1400h (2pm) Armidale came under attack from no less than thirteen Japanese aircraft. Within an hour the ship had taken a number of direct hits and the order was given to evacuate ship. Sheean assisted in the launching of lifeboats, but then noticed that many of his fellow sailors were in the water and were being strafed by enemy gunfire. He scrambled back to his gun on the sinking ship. He was twice wounded but continued to fire the gun whilst under continual enemy attack. Many of the forty-nine survivors claimed it was the heroic efforts of Seaman Sheean to shoot down one plane and keep the others at bay, that saved their lives. He was seen to be still firing his gun as the ship slipped below the waves.

Teddy Sheean could have blamed politicians and so-called experts for allowing a young man to be exposed to the horrors of war. He could have renounced his senior officers for making decisions that may have steered his ship into danger. Instead, his primary concern was for the safety of his mates. He took responsibility. He acted decisively. He laid down his own life with selfless devotion.

Teddy Sheean’s heroic service puts the dramas that we face today into perspective. We are again facing an enemy. We are under threat. People are dying. We need the inspiration of one who counted serving as being of higher value than self-interest. We kid ourselves that one person doesn’t matter, but Teddy Sheean challenges that false view. No individual can change the course of a war, but selflessness does save lives.

The actions of every person in the face of an invisible enemy can make a difference.


As was said of Jesus, who laid down his life sacrificiall

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13  




Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Only two certainties

In April 1970 a farmer, Leonard Casley, had an argument with the Western Australian Government about wheat quotas. Wheat quotas limiting a farmers production years later were removed but at the time Leonard was impati

ent so he declared his farm of 4000 hectares an independent principality. He crowned himself His Majesty Prince Leonard 1 of the Hutt River Province. Holding to the British Treason Act of 1495 Hutt River succeeded from Australia and remained, in the Prince’s mind at least, loyal subjects of Queen Elizabeth II. For decades the Principality issued its own coins, stamps and passports, refused to pay Australian Government taxes and became a quirky tourist attraction.


The Australian Government never accepted this declaration. No other country in the world ever recognised Hutt’s independence. Tax notices continued to pile up. After abdicating his crown last year Prince Leonard died on 13 February 2019. On 31 January 2020 the Province was closed to tourists and this week was formall

y dissolved.


I am tempted to say this could only have happened in Western Australia but as a temporary, captive resident of this remote and independent minded state, it might be wiser if I didn’t. The Australian Tax Office has issued back tax notices for almost three million dollars which means that Prince Leopold’s successor, his son Graham, has to foot the bill. It all goes to prove those words written in 1795 by Benjamin Franklin


Our new Constitution is now established and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.


The events of this year remind us that certainty is almost always a mirage. In the face of uncertainty we desperately cling to hope. A hop

e that cradles uncertainty lightly. A hope that hangs on in the midst of the storm. A hope that waits for a break in the clouds. A hope that trusts the sun will shine again.


We can fight the system and declare independence, or we can band together with co-operation, patience and hope and ride out the storm.


So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Beware what we hope for.

Folklore says that during the Great Depression a star arose to warm the hearts of average Australians and to give them hope – Phar Lap. The legendary champion race horse, victorious in 37 of his 51 races, supposedly raised the spirits of a nation weary of difficult times, unemployment and food shortages. Phar Lap played the role of hero to a nation whose hopes had sagged.

Facing our own period of hardship today it’s not surprising that we are looking for a new champion. Recently this has led to a rather unedifying spat between Rugby Union and Rugby League over the playing future of teenage sensation Joseph Suaali. At 16, this young man is already 193 cm and 93 kg. Videos online reveal a dynamic runner of the ball, a wicked sidestep, wonderful ball skills and fierce tackling. It’s the sort of thing that makes old rugby souls get goose bumps – the prospect of a genuine talent that could revive a dying code. With a pedigree in Junior Rugby League and impressive stats in GPS Rugby it is no wonder that the rival codes are desperate to sign him and workout how they can fast track him to the senior ranks.

Sadly, the story of Phar Lap ended in disappointment with the champion’s mysterious premature death. Was it foul play or was he literally ridden into the ground. Did we expect too much? Was it fair for a nation to ride on a horse’s back expecting deliverance, rescue and economic salvation?

When two sporting codes are bleeding money, when officials and players are being laid off and taking pay cuts and when governments are doing their utmost to keep people in jobs it is rather unedifying to see a teenager being offered millions to play sport. Maybe it’s also a little unfair on him. But…it is great to have a distraction.

The promise of a new generation, the glory of speed and the fearlessness of youth are things to be welcomed and enjoyed. But not idolised.

10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:10-12