Wednesday, 30 October 2013



Where's God when it hurts?We have a major theological crisis. It's really bad. In the public square we hear it, read it, and are shaped by it. Most of the proponents of this bad theology make the most amazing statements about their 'god' and then make the outrageous assertion that they are describing our God. For those introduced to God, it is easy to detect this bad theology. Truthful theology presents God as the Sovereign, All-Wise, All-Knowing, All-Good God who demands, expects and deserves our utter devotion and submission. Deceptive theology presents its god as the one responsible for our happiness and existing to grant our requests. Even the youngest Christian with an elementary understanding of the Bible can spot the difference. And you can easily tell the difference for yourself between those who hold to Truthful Theology and those who hold to Deceptive theology: their response to tragedy.
For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife because John had been saying to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her."
Matthew 14:3-4
Suffering and TheologyTheology is the study of God and His ways, His Word, and His will. Deceptive theology does not do this. Rather, it fancifully imagines that God is like the god they have created. Truthful theology gives real knowledge of the true God and how He deals with people. Deceptive theology sets up an expectation of God as the god who exists to make people happy. Thus, when tragedy strikes the one who is beguiled by Deceptive theology they become angry with their god and assume that they are angry with God - and take out their anger on those who claim allegiance to God.
And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet."
Matthew 14:5
Truthful Theology is grounded in the Scriptures. The Bible provides the knowledge of the truth about God. This is no mere "head knowedge". When dealing with truth, there is only knowledge - not head knowledge. When tragedy strikes those in love with Truthful Theology they are able to draw on their knowledge of the truth and experience a richer, sweeter, devotion to God.
Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter."
Matthew 14:8
Jesus gave His highest accolades to one man. "No one is greater in the Kingdom", Jesus said of him. He loved John The Baptist deeply. When John was imprisoned, John doubted his faith in Christ. Doubt is not the same as unbelief. To doubt is to question. And that's exactly what John the Baptist did.
¶ Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?"
Matthew 11:2-3
momentary light afflictionI wonder if behind John's questioning of Christ there was a cry of confusion - a cry for help? After all, if we live for Christ aern't things supposed to go well for us? When we get into trouble isn't our God supposed to come and rescue us? Maybe John The Baptist thought so too? I wonder if Jesus similarly considered whether He should rescue John? What actually happened helps us to understand how real life - and God - works when tragedy happens. Too many people assume that when a disaster strikes them or someone they know/love that God is inactive. Our perspective of disaster is often that harm or even death is an indication of God's absence. But this story of the imprisonment of John The Baptist counters this idea. Christ knew where John The Baptist was. He knew what John was enduring. And He knew what John was about to face.
Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter."
Matthew 14:8
What happened to John The Baptist and how Christ responded shows us how differently God views suffering and tragedy. We are so consumed with the here and now that we forget that whatcomes to pass comes to pass - and does not last in eternity!  The Bible calls our adverse circumstances, "light momentary affliction" (2Cor. 4:17). This does not lessen the ache and pain that such affliction causes, nor does it lessen the grief we feel when it affects those we care about. When the Son of God received word that John had been executed He was deeply moved and exhibited the immediate signs of human grief.
And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.
¶ Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.

Matthew 14:12-13
Whenever we experience tragedy or loss, we follow in the blood-stained footprints of our Lord who experienced the worst tragedy and loss! He understands our grief. He understands our pain. He understands our heart and the pain that fills it during such times. How can there be a good loving all-powerful God when people experience tragedy? It's actually in times of tragedy that we need the good, loving, all-powerful God to help and comfort us.
¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Second Corinthians 1:3-4
Those holding Deceptive theology clench their fist at God in anger for the tragedy they are experiencing because their bad theology deludes them into thinking that God is like the god their dysfunctional theology has created. John The Baptist didn't. Jesus didn't. The apostles didn't - because they had good Theology. Rather, like the Psalmists, they lifted their open hands in worship of the One who knows, understands, and feels what we go through. Good Theology always produces good worship. When you offer up an open hand to God rather than a clenched fist, you are demonstrating that you have a sound theological understanding of God and His dealings with those He loves - yet who suffer. And in a world dogged by really bad theology, it's not how the follower of Christ argues about the goodness of God during times of tragedy - it's how they demonstrate it in their worship of Him.

Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Journey To Integrity

Integrity In Leadership
And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.

Psalm 78:72
Aloha Flight 243On April 28th, 1988, Aloha Flight 243 set off from Hilo, Hawaii, bound for Honolulu. It never arrived. As it reached its cruising altitude of 24,000 feet, suddenly the left side of the roof near the front of the plane ruptured then exploded off from the plane tearing a huge gap in the roof and damaging the right wing. Miraculously the Captain was able to perform an emergency landing at Kahului Airport on Maui but not before one flight attendant had been instantly sucked out of the place to her death and 79 seriously injured.
Aloha Flight 243Air Crash Investigators concluded that the crash was "caused by a breach in the aircraft's integrity". Their official NTSB report noted that Gayle Yamamoto, a passenger, noticed a small crack in the fuselage when boarding the plane but did not tell anyone. Maintenance workers had failed to insert several pop-rivets near the left side passenger door which had placed this small section under extraordinary pressure.

This small breach in  Aloha 243, was no more than a few centimetres long, but it was the basis for a breach in integrity. There is a life application here.
The definition of integrity
Integrity comes from the word: integer, which is the word used in mathematics to describe 'a whole number' (as distinguished from a fraction or number with a fraction). Being a person of integrity involves being a person who is one. They have one identity which is aligned with reality (the truth about themselves and the world in which they live). It is this latter aspect which makes moral uprightness (character) integral to integrity. When most people use the word integrity they are most often referring to this latter aspect to describe a person who is honest, trustworthy, and reliable. But this is more to do with character than integrity - although good character (moral uprightness) is an essential quality of integrity - integrity also involves the absence of any breaches.
The Story of Man's Journey To Integrity
And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, 'I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.'
Acts 13:22
King David is described as 'shepherding Israel with integrity and skill' (Psalm 78:79). But this description applies to David toward the end of a long process of becoming a man of integrity. It seems that God saw David's potential to become an extraordinary man of integrity because his heart was soft before God. This was despite the Lord also seeing the existing breaches in David's integrity. But the qualities of David's heart, such as (i) humility, (ii) correctability, (iii) reverence for God, became the very qualities that enabled him to become whole - a man of integrity. These qualities are very close to God's own heart. Thus, integrity in a person's heart is, in one sense, the means by which a person can come close to God's heart. David became such a man and earned the most honoured description as a man after God's own heart - a description not given to any other man in the Scriptures. Here is an overview of David's journey to integrity. We begin with his battle against Goliath which reveals both his heart and his integrity breaches which would need to be exposed, confronted and dealt with for him to become a man of integrity.

King David's journey to integrityThe scene is set with the Philistine's champion, Goliath the Giant, challenging the nation of Israel to send a man to represent them to fight against him. No man is prepared to take up this challenge - not the least of all their king, King Saul. The young 16 year old shepherd-boy, David, is sent to the battle front to deliver supplies to his brothers. He hears that the king is offering riches, honour and his daughter to the man who will overcome Goliath. This piques David's interest. But it also sheds light on what would later become the obvious small breaches in his integrity.

It is no mere clichĂ© that the downfall of many a man has been the girls, the gold, and/or the glory. In essence, King Saul's reward appealed to each of these human weaknesses. Yet, it was one of these rewards which particularly attracted David.

Saturday, 19 October 2013


We Don't Wrestle, But We Do Wrestle

In Narnia, Winter had had come to stay. In Middle Earth, the shadows of darkness were casting their evil doom over the lands. This shadowy evil, administered by Wormtongue, had already poisoned and possessed the King of Rohan, Theoden, and caused him to be weak and powerless both in mind and soul. In Tasmania, the real Wormtongue has continued this Middle-Earth-like strategy of stupification by weakening the minds and souls of those, like Theoden, are supposed to govern for the welfare of those they are responsible for and to. It would be utterly foolish of those who have any genuine spiritual insight to be fooled into thinking that this current Tasmanian State Political agenda was anything other than a devilish strategy to destroy the lives of the vulnerable.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12
This invisible Wormtongue has craftily tricked his minions into utter delusion. Those of us who understand the ancient spiritual art of discernment, stand aghast at the bold yet ridiculous claims that black is white, murder is compassion, a baby is not human, gender has nothing to do with marriage, and good morals is a purely religious concept that has no place in a secular society. Whenever those who practice the ancient arts of discernment and objective wisdom raise concerns about this deadly trickery, the Wormtongue whispers into the inner ears of his underlings and his whisper is given voice:'These Christians belong to ancient past that has no place that has no place in our modern era...' 'These Christians are being arrogant for trying to force their ancient morals onto the rest of society...' 'These Christians are largely comprised of grey-haired middle-aged men, therefore they should be ignored...'
¶ God-devotion makes a country strong;
God-avoidance leaves people weak.
Proverbs 14:34, THE MESSAGE
Those who hold to ancient (even eternal) truths and practise the other ancient of art of case-making are mocked, ridiculed, and maligned. Wormtongue knows that his agenda of death cannot be made to sound reasoned or reasonable unless he plays some sophisticated (literally) word games and delivers some fanciful stories. Thus, murder, which has always been universally regarded as an act of evil, is deliberately lost in the discussion as Wormtongue instead prefers to refer to it as compassion. Compassion?! The very word means to journey with someone in pain ('com'= with + 'passion'= pain) yet Wormtongue's other diabolical strategy of Schooling Rather Than Educating almost guarantees that most people can't detect his hideous ruse with the language.
¶ Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.
First Chronicles 21:1
Tasmania's worst educational outcomesTasmania is beset with several serious crises. Theses include: Australia's highest unemployment rate; the nation's worst educational outcomes (including the nation's worst literacy and numeracy standards); the lowest level of private sector investment; the nation's highest suicide rate of 15-24 year olds; the nation's lowest incomes (per capita); the nation's highest welfare dependency rates; the highest rates of personal indebtedness; the highest rates of family breakdown; and the nation's worst health outcomes. Any government faced with such urgent social and economic emergencies would be forgiven for doing all it could to focus its energies on solving them. But Wormtongue has somehow managed to dupe the agenda-makers into promoting the very cause of these despicable blights with yet another word-game - calling his grand agenda "socially progressive" (when it is in fact, extremely socially regressive!).
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
Second Corinthians 11:14
Wormtongue hates it when the Church stands up to him. He will ventriliquise his tired old mantras, 'Christians should say out of politics!' 'How does any of this hurt you!' through his puppets. And just to further distract everybody, he begins to tell exceptional stories. These are stories of people who are happy to be murdered, or happy to end the life of the babies, or happy offended that the rest of us will not accept that square are not round (since none us wants to 'offend' anyone). Meanwhile those who practice the ancient spiritual art of wisdom know full well that lies are being told and that exceptional stories do not form the basis of public policy for the greater good of all.
so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.
Second Corinthians 2:11
It may be Wormtongue's weakest and most pathetic reason for justifying his insidious agenda of non-life, but he still promotes it whenever he senses it will go unchallenged. It sounds like this- But how does it hurt you? (As if our individual pain is the basis for what makes for good legislation). Of course, abortion, euthanasia and calling same-gendered relationships: marriage, doeshurt/affect/impact us all. And it does so in at least three ways. To illustrate with some real stories, I offer the following.
New Mexico Court RulingThe New Mexico Civil Rights Commission found a Christian photographer guilty of sexual orientation discrimination for declining to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. The photographer has been fined $6,637.94.
The state of New Jersey revoked the tax exemption status of a Methodist church for refusing to allow two lesbians to perform a civil union ceremony on its grounds (the site has hosted church and worship services for 139 years). The state agreed with lawyers who said the church is guilty of discrimination and "could no more refuse to accommodate the lesbians than a restaurant owner could refuse to serve a black man."
Two obstetricians in North County, San Diego declined to artificially inseminate an unmarried woman for religious reasons. Lambda Legal, a gay-only issues version of the ACLU, sued the two Christian doctors for religiously motivated discrimination because the woman was a lesbian. The case has been dragged through the California legal system for the last five years.
In Canada, where same-sex laws have been around, the assault on religious liberty is even greater. Because he wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper opposing same-sex legislation, Pastor Stephen Boission was fined $5,000 and told to "cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals." In other words, he is silenced from his free speech rights, forever. He can't even publish his own opinions on homosexuality on his website – they'll be removed.
Same-Sex Marriage: How It Will Affect YouAlan Shlemon
How will Wormtongue's socially regressive policies of non-life affect each of us? They affect us by -
(i) Our individual liberties; (ii) Our parental rights and liberties; and, (iii) Our religious liberties (as some of the stories above illustrate). Whenever legislators formulate any public policy into legislation, they must do the greatest good for the greatest number. None of the current non-life policy agendas satisfy this criteria. With so many pressing problems bearing down on our State, withstanding them is not merely an ancient Christian response (which it is), it is also a decent humanitarian response. Because Christians especially care for the whole person - not just their "soul" - but their physical, mental, social, AND spiritual well-being, we dare to withstand Wormtongue and his liegemen.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
First Peter 5:8-9
It's why we see teaching children to read, write, calculate, reason, and create as a vocation, not merely a profession. It's why we see tending the sick, frail, injured, or dependent, as a vocation, not merely a profession. It's why we see those who manufacture, produce, farm, mine, and create, as being in a vocation not merely a job. And it's why we see those in politics as removing the obstacles for people in these various vocations from fulfilling their callings. This is why we wrestle.

¶ "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
¶ "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16

Our wrestling is not to be thought of as merely tackling Wormtongue's vassals on their turf - no, we wrestle Wormtongue in a different realm. This realm is not some fanciful Narnia or Middle-Earth, but where each of us live work and recreate. Yet the result of our wrestling prayers, prophetic utterances, preaching, teaching, witnessing, reasoning, and worship of the One True God, is that the Enemy's minions are thwarted in carrying out their Master's schemes. As we take our stand, our grander and truer mission of seeing the people we care about hear and receive the eternal message of God's redeeming love through Christ is all the more likely when the truth is more widely published. We wrestle not (against flesh and blood) but we do wrestle.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil...praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,
Ephesians 6:11, 18-19
Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Art of Burden Bearing

OverwhelmedI don't want to burden you. If anything, I want to help you to become unburdened. Yet, there are some burdens you will not only have to bear, there are certain burdens that only you can bear - indeed, you need to bear them. And there are burdens still, that you will haveto share. In fact, being a follower of Christ will acquaint you with burdens like no other kind of life. As such, it will soon be discovered that, being a part of a Christian community will be your greatest chance of better bearing whatever burdens you are laden with.
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2
Christians are students of the art and science of burdens. We learn to carry them, help others with theirs, and how to share ours. But we also learn when to let others share their burdens with us and when this is not reasonable.
For each will have to bear his own load.
Galatians 6:5
burden bearerAfter two decades of pastoring where I have had the privilege of trying to help people apply the Gospel and their commitment to the centrality of Christ in their lives in all things, there have been times when I have carried many people's burdens. This has been both my pleasure and my duty. This is an application of Galatians 6:2. But where it has not been my pleasure and beyond my reasonable realms of duty has been where I am the only one bearing any burden. This is a violation of Galatians 6:5. There have been occasional times when I have fought harder to save a marriage than those in a failing marriage. I have had to learn a thing or two about the art of burden bearing.
If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.
First Timothy 5:16
There are necessary burdens that we must each bear. We generally call these responsibilities. Your capacity to be responsible is will determine your maturity (not the other way around). Mature people are responsible people. Responsible people seek for ways to solve the burdens they are laden with. This is why marriage is so wonderful for a young man because it provides the means and motivation to increase his capacity to bear responsibilities. Marriage is a wonderful burden, but it is not the only means for becoming a responsible burden bearer. Work is also a divinely ordained means to fulfil our God-given potential. Work may be paid or voluntary. It may be in a workplace, or it may in the home. We are created to work. Work is a necessary burden. It's not that responsible people work, it's that when people work they become responsible. It's taking on responsibilities that makes us responsible - not the other way around. For the believer, many of these responsibilities are daunting. Work, family, friends, bills, life, health, are all varying burdens that we bear. But the believer has learned that God is the Ultimate Burden Bearer who invites us to be "yoked" to Him.
¶ Cast your burden on the LORD,
and He will sustain you;
He will never permit
the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22
"Come to Me," Jesus invited, "all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest - for My burden is light and My yoke is easy!" The believer never bears her burden alone. She is yoked to a strong Saviour. What burdens are you still carrying alone?
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Joseph Scriven, 1855
There are burdens we are forced to bear. These are often unwelcome burdens. But the Father ordains and then sustains. Then there are burdens we share. A loved one is afflicted. A brother in Christ is overcome. A sister in the Lord is overcome.
¶ Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ
Galatians 6:1-2
In the Father's handAnd there are still burdens we look for. We are created to bear burdens. We may not agree or even like this truth. But we are burden-bearers. Those who go deeper into Christ discover the pain and pleasantness of sharing the Lord's burdens. Those who do only ever experience what I imagine is a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the burden that the Creator Himself feels for His wayward children. There is a burden for the lost, the hurting, the rejected, and the abused that the fullness of which is only known to the Father. No human has the capacity to carry it. But each time we sit at the Father's feet we see it in His eyes, we sense it in His look, we hear it in His breath. We are deeply and profoundly moved by experiencing it. This glimpse of the Father's burden changes the way we look at people. It changes the way we view church. It also changes the way we view our other burdens.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9
It has been said that when someone outside of the Kingdom goes through the burden of tragedy, the Father ordains the same tragedy for one of His children to show the world the difference. The world gets angry at its burdens. The world tries to drown its burdens. The world attempts to medicate, counsel, and shift its burdens. But the child of God carries - with the Father's help - those burdens He has ordained for us - and along the way we worship the One who Sustains, and seeks to reflect His greatness through, us. Rather than shirking your burdens, embrace them by giving them to Jesus who invites you to do so. Perhaps you have been carrying the burdens of others as well as your own? There comes a point when Galatians 6:5 must follow Galatians 6:1-2. But perhaps you have only ever experienced Galatians 6:5 and have never entered into Galatians 6:1-2? God has placed within His Church those whom He has graced to dispense His grace for those who are burdened.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace
First Peter 4:10
Ps. Andrew

Wednesday, 2 October 2013


Extra might well be the key word which defines what distinguishes the life of the follower of Christ. When God sent us a Saviour, He gave extra. When Jesus died for our sins to be forgiven, He gave extra. When Christ summed up what following Him would mean, He used the word extra.
"When someone asks you to walk a mile, walk the extra mile…"
More than expected. That's extra. Lavish, generous, undeserved. The word that sums up all that extra entails is prodigal. It's where we get the word, prodigious from to describe someone who is highly productive beyond what is normal. We ascribe this description to the wayward son who wasted his first inheritance. But really, and more accurately, it belongs exclusively to the father of this son since he was the one who lavished on his son what he didn't deserve, then prodigiously gave to him again when he returned. Jesus told us this story of course to tell us something about His Father. He wanted us to know that the God we worship is the God of Extra.

Consider our salvation. If God had just forgiven us our sins, that would have been enough and for this we would have to be eternally grateful. But this Prodigal God gave extra. Along with forgiveness undeservedly bestowed upon us, He has also justified us, adopted us, made us joint-heirs with Christ, given us the hope of the Resurrection, and offered to reward our service for Him.

Have you ever given this God of The Extra something extra? It's actually impossible since He is the only One who actually deserves everything we can possibly give Him. But interestingly in Hebrew culture the way someone gave thanks was not quite the same as how we directly do it. Rather, a person thanked someone by telling others of what that person did for them. In this light, we give God extra for all that He has done for us is to do something extra for others as His ambassadors.
"If someone asks for your shirt, give them your coat as well."
The other night I was in our kitchen after a long day and an evening of entertaining several people. Kim asked me to dry up the glasses she had washed. She left the kitchen to continue tidying up the rest of our house. I finished drying the remaining glasses. I then saw that there was still a stack of drying up to do. Then a thought entered my head: why not do something extra and dry those up as well? Since it was a question I began to answer it. Because I'm tired...Because this is the job we have given our children...Because I have other more important things to do… But that word extra lingered.

It sounded like Jesus.

Extra is unfair (usually in a good way).  In this sense, Jesus is the most just, and yet at the same time, the most unfair person. He continually did for people more than they deserved - not just what they fairly deserved! He didn't treat them fairly - He gaveextra - beyond what was reasonable or fair. He was not a minimalist.

Les MisThose who follow Christ cannot help but experience His continual extras. He gives us more than we deserve. He does for us more than we deserve. He listens to us more than we deserve. He uses us more than we deserve. Followers of Christ are gradually transformed by this continual divine extraness. Victor Hugo masterfully represented this in the classic, Les MiserablĂ©s. Jean Valjean encounters the divine extra when the Bishop, he has just assaulted and robbed, gives him what he has stolen, then scolds him for not taking the two prize silver candle sticks. Jean Valjean is utterly transformed by this overwhelming grace, this extra grace. He becomes a new man. He pays this extra-grace 'forward' when he tenderly cares for Fantine and her daugher Cosette. He then finally gives his arch-enemy, Javert, an experience of the divine extra. Javert is encounters a dead-end.

If you know Christ, you have been extra'd. As you know Christ more sweetly, others will be extra'd by you. Rather than just giving someone a cup of tea, you will give them a biscuit as well. As the extra sweetness of Christ infuses increasingly into your dealings with others, don't be surprised if the biscuit you offer your guest goes from looking like a Maree to looking like a Tim-Tam. If you're in business, consider how the extraness of Christ might be reflected to your customers. If your parents ask you to wash the dishes, extraness would dry them and put them away as well. How do reflect Christ's extra?

Ps. Andrew


Recent reports into the state of Tasmania’s education system has revealed what many of us have long suspected - that Tasmania is the worst performing State when it comes to educational outcomes in Australia. Our students have the lowest standards in maths, English, science, history (“Sose”). Teachers report that Tasmanian students lack motivation, self-discipline, and a work ethic. All of this despite literally millions of dollars being spent to solve these problems.

I am the father of 4 Tasmanian students at each level of our Educational system (Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary). My wife is a registered teacher with a Masters degree in education and has recently completed her Graduate Certificate in Teaching English. Together, we run one of Australia’s most prestigious Distance Education Colleges. We know something about education. I am deeply concerned about the state of our State’s education system.
We’ve just participated in hosting a foreign language European student. At a recent meeting of the other exchange students in our city, they were all asked to share what they found “easiest” about living in Tasmania. Each of them, without exception (students from Asia and Europe), said, “School!” They all said that they found our school system to be at least two years behind their schools back home! 
Thus, anecdotally and according to the latest data, Tasmanian schools are not performing well. The answer is not more money - despite the Gonski Report’s findings. The answer is not going to be quick. The answer is not going to be popular. Whenever an answer is not quick or popular and there are politiciansinvolved, the answer will almost certainly failed to be delivered. Added to this is the involvement of the non-government sector and even the non-education sector, which will almost guarantee that the solution will never be implemented.
Education expert, Parker J. Palmer, says that every classroom is a ‘paradox’. By ‘paradox’ he means opposite. Is a classroom mainly for learning orteaching? The paradoxical answer is: both. Then consider this, students get graded and assessed but teachers do not. Why is only one aspect of classroom activity assessed? In a recent public address by University of Tasmania Economics Professor, Jonathan West, he acknowledged this as a glaring problem in the Tasmanian education system. But he also said that he did not know how this could be solved. Since, if a teacher’s assessment was conducted by their students it would almost certainly resort to being a ‘popularity contest’. There are, of course, two very simple means for resolving this. 
Some academies already have regular peer review. This is a great place to start. It takes courageous leadership to implement though. It naturally raises other issues such as remuneration incentives. But this is a secondary issue compared with improving students’ educational outcomes. The second means of reviewing teacher performance is for the parents of students to give formal reviews. After all, every parent must accept the primary responsibility for their children’s education and in this light regard teachers not as educating their children - but as assisting them in educating their children.
And this is actually the key to solving Tasmania’s education crisis.Tasmania’s education temperature must be set in Tasmanian homes. The objection to this simple cure will be pointing out that many of our homes are broken, dysfunctional, and unqualified. But the claim is an exaggerated objection. To be sure, there are too many broken/dysfunctional/unqualified homes in Tasmania - but ‘many’ should not be confused with ‘most’. While it is problem, it is not representative of the vast majority of Tasmanian homes. Yet, this objection actually confirms the solution I am proposing. That is, by saying that there are many parents who can not engage in the children’s education, you are tacitly admitting that this is foundational to the cause of the problem and therefore foundational to its cure. 
Parents need to help their children to - 
+ Learn how to learn
+ Think logically (understand the philosophical principles of logic)
+ Work (appreciate the connection between effort and reward)
If we in Tasmania could foster this cure, our educational outcomes will be dramatically affected.
Andrew Corbett