Category Archives: Principal’s Reflections

Hope

“Jesus of Nazareth…was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”

-Luke 24:19-21

We all have hopes don’t we? I had hoped to spend a few days of leave over the
holiday break catching up on my reading and enjoying some time with my lovely
wife.

In reality, I spent 4 days spreading 200m2 of mulch to avoid a possible local council fine for a house my wife and I are restoring in South Australia. When I realised that my few days of rest would be taken away from me, my wife can attest, I was little bit of a cranky bear.

I had hopes and they were crushed. I’m sure you’ve had a situation of far greater import when you had hoped events would go a certain way and they didn’t.

In our gospel reading for this week we hear the disciples of Jesus refrain “We had hoped that Jesus would redeem the people.” What they meant was that they were hoping that the Son of God would come to earth, overthrow the rulers of the day and restore God’s justice to the world. They had their hopes crushed.

What they got however was what was really needed. The relationship of humanity with God needed to be restored and that is what Jesus’ death achieved. The mission that he left behind is, with the gift of the Holy Spirit, is to go Father’s business which is, to ensure God’s ministry is carried out – the ministry of love, grace, forgiveness and service.

As it turned out, my 4 days of shovelling mulch turned out to be exactly what I needed. Many hours of simple physical work in God’s beautiful creation allowed a restoration of my soul beyond what I had hoped. Sometimes when our hopes are dashed, we receive a real hope that brings much greater joy. However, it is hard to feel that when you are in the midst of  disappointment, hurt and suffering.

In my role as principal it is core to my work to encourage our community at all times to remember that we are not our mistakes, errors and failures. Schools are in the business of learning and teaching lifelong learning. We believe that things can progress and improve. We believe there is always hope and seek to install this in our students.

As we go into another term, I leave you with a blessing from the Apostle Paul. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom 15.13

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Dirt

“As [Jesus) went along, he saw a man blind from birth…he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing”.

-John 9:1,6,7

I’m a big fan of dirt.

As a child I loved nothing more than to have a big pile of freshly dug earth to build racing tracks for my Matchbox Cars. Like many of my generation, I lost more than my fair share of cars somewhere in the backyard when cars were buried in freak landslides, extreme crashes and through a little bit of boyish carelessness. I still mourn the loss of my Nigel Mansell replica F1 car – if anyone finds it, please let me know!

In a recent survey, it was seen that the second most popular thing that 10 year olds like doing is making mud pies. Who knew? I would have thought that it would have been surpassed by a game or device of some sort. It is nice to know that kids still like dirt.

In our Bible verse this week we see Jesus taking humble dirt and healing a man, in doing so, completely changing his life. Jesus gave this bloke some dirt and suddenly he had his life back. Often we think that we need to have a lot of material possessions before we can help others. “If only I had a spare room, I could give a home to someone who needs it”, “If only I earnt more money, I could give money to the poor and needy”, “If only a had a better job, I could give my children better things”.

Jesus shows us that the most important gifts in this world often don’t cost a thing. Playing in the dirt and enjoying God’s creation costs us nothing, neither does offering an encouraging word or hug to someone going through a rough time.

May God bless us this week as we seek to be open to helping others in seemingly small and low-cost ways.

Blessings

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God so loved the world

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

– John 3:16-17

I have had the privilege of meeting with many parents this week as part of our consultation for the creation of our new strategic plan. It has been lovely to hear of some of the things the school is excelling at – deep relationships, rich learning and great outcomes. In a survey of parents taken in early 2016, 100% of parents indicated that they felt the school really cared about their child. We are the only school that I am aware of that received this feedback in the survey. It made me a very proud principal indeed to hear from our current parents that this is still one of our strengths.

We have been talking too about some areas in which the College can grow and I’ve appreciated the honest and open feedback we’ve received. This feedback will be taken on board as we consult with students, parents and staff, in order to make Lakeside College the best College we can be. The educationalist Dylan Williams writes “If we create a culture where every student, staff member and parent believes they need to improve, not because they are not good enough but because they can be even better, there is no limit to what
we can achieve”. I echo his words.

Great student outcomes are built on honest, authentic, trusting and loving relationships between student, staff and parents. When we are together, the entire community reaps the benefits – particularly our students.

This week we have also been reflecting on Jesus’ famous phrase “For God so loved the world…” It is one of my favourites and carries a deep meaning. My Grade 5 Christian Studies class created their own paraphrase of the passage this week and this one is my favourite:

“God loves us. There isn’t anything that can change that. He does want us to get busy telling others that though.”

We are greatly blessed at Lakeside College – we have great students, families and staff. We don’t always get things right, but we don’t start to think that this means that God doesn’t love us or that we can’t improve. God’s love is a constant reminder that we are worthy, we are forgiven and we should keep trying.

As we go about our work, let us take on board the advice of one of our Year 5 students and “get busy telling others that they are loved.” A look at the news tells us that our world is in desperate need of this message.

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The Dux

This week I had the privilege of awarding  our College Dux Award for 2016.

What impressed me the most about our Dux was not her impressive ATAR, or her excellent results in German and English, or her grand plans for after she finishes study, it was the manner in which she went about her work in Year 12. She made it very clear
to our students when she spoke at Chapel this week – doing well comes from committing yourself and putting the hard work in.

She spoke about having a goal to do well and clearly scheduling her time to make sure that this happened. She spoke too of the setbacks that occur and how you should not allow those setbacks to get in the way of finishing what you set out to do. She is an example to us all.

A simple glance at the life of Jesus reminds us of the need for steadfast focus in times of trouble, sadness and worry. Among the tumultuous times of Roman oppression, religious persecution and the darker side of human nature, Jesus was a bright light to all, walking steadfastly towards his end goal – the salvation of humankind and restoration to broken relationships.

We all have hopes, dreams and ambitions. Some of great significance and some of small personal meaning. May we look towards our God, who wishes the very best for us and encourages us to use the gifts he has given for his glory and for the benefit of humanity across the globe for our example.

May God bless us all as we seek to do our best for his glory.

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Newness

As we look around the College and see shiny new shoes and school uniforms, new books and computers, new staff and students, even a new building being built, we look like a great College. But these material things in themselves do not make a great school. A school may look like great on the outside, but it is what happens inside the buildings that really makes a school.

Great schools are built on strong home and school partnerships where students are nurtured, supported and encouraged to excel in keeping with our community values and desires. Great schools see committed staff viewing their role as serving students. Not just to teach students the curriculum, but to engage them in developing skills outside of the classroom. Great schools see school staff committing to a student’s development academically, emotionally, physically and spiritually. They place pastoral care and concern as a paramount importance. Great schools ensure that all students are known, valued and celebrated.

Great schools have students who know that the secret to success in learning and in life is the attitude we take. A student may have shiny shoes, but without a similarly shining attitude, learning may not take place. As my grandfather often reminded me ‘Tom, you will have many times when you cannot choose the path that must be taken, but you can choose the song you sing while walking it”. Great schools have students who are just as interested in their classmate’s success as they are in their own.

Lakeside College is indeed a great school and one that I am honoured to serve as Principal. As we commence a new year let us all be reminded that there is no more important work in our school community than the creation and maintenance of great
relationships between students, families, staff and the wider community.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all new students and families to the College. It is great to have you with us. I particularly acknowledge our new staff who have joined us. It was a great privilege to install our school leaders officially as one of my first duties as the Principal of Lakeside College. I congratulate them and wish them the very best as they commence their service to our community.Let us always recall that Christ walks with us each day as we strive to use our gifts to serve those around us in Pakenham and beyond. As we do so, let us recall the following encouragement from the Bible:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your
God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.

Blessings

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Term 4 Week 4

[Jesus said to Zacchaeus the tax collector] “Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” All the people saw this and began tomutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10

“Life isn’t fair.” I heard these words very often from my parents as a young man growing up. My mother’s life certainly wasn’t fair, as she lost her father when she was three years old and my grandmother was left to raise her on very little income.

In the gospel this week we hear the grumbles of those who saw Jesus welcome a man who had made mistakes in his role as tax collector. Surely some of those grumbles were along the lines of “This isn’t fair! Zacchaeus doesn’t even want to have dinner with Jesus. I’m a good person who does the right thing – Jesus should have dinner with me!”

God’s kingdom is not ‘fair’, but it is ‘just’. To be ‘fair’ means to ensure that everyone receives the same thing, but to be just means to ensure that everyone receives what they need in order to be on an even footing. This idea of ‘just’ was not welcomed by the people of Jesus’ day, nor is it always welcomed by people today. But God’s actions are always just and always for the benefit of all of his people.

God calls us to rejoice and to be glad always. He calls us to rejoice in the salvation and success of all of our brothers and sisters. Let us not be jealous or grumble when God provides justice for his people. The Bible shows that God’s justice often looks foolish to us but we can trust that he knows what he is doing. May we have the faith to trust in him, his timing, his ways and his priorities.

Blessings, Tom

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Term 4 Week 2

[Then Jesus taught] his followers that they should always pray and never lose hope…”God’s people cry to him night and day. God will always give them what is right, and he will not be slow to answer them. I tell you, God will help his people quickly! But when the Son of Man comes again, will he find those on earth who believe in him?”

Luke 18:1, 7-8

It is easy for us to forget that God requires things from us. God’s grace is given to all without the need for us to earn it through good deeds. However, God has expectations, just as all parents have of their children!

When we read God’s word we often spend more time basking in the promises of what God will do for us rather than contemplating what the passage is asking us to do. In the passage above Jesus teaches us that God listens, answers us quickly and seeks to help us. In return, God expects us to believe in him, always pray and not lose hope.

In the rush of a new term, with Year 6 students thinking of moving to high school and our school preparing to welcome new students, let us not forget God’s call for us to pray. Prayer is God’s way of calling us away from our self focused lives and to experience rest, comfort and peace in conversation with him.

Having hope in our modern world can be difficult – the nightly news delivers no comfort to this end. But as Hebrews reminds us, “faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see”.

To have hope is to be obedient in faith. Christians are a people who carry the flame of hope in our world which so often seems lost. May our daily prayers strengthen our resolve to diligently love God’s world and his people, and may we spread the hope which comes from our loving God in doing so.

May God’s peace, comfort and joy rest with us all this week.

Blessings, Tom

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Term 3 Week 8

Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:27–30)

Following Jesus and being his disciple has never been easy and never will be. Perhaps like me you once thought that being a Christian meant that “God was on your side” and that “things will be easy now that I believe in Jesus”. In actual fact, my experience seems to indicate that life gets harder when following God!

We should not be surprised that the Christian life is a bumpy road. Jesus gives us fair warning in the above passage. He encourages us to “sit down and consider the cost” of being a disciple. Being a disciple of Jesus means acknowledging that control over your life isn’t actually in your hands. The direction your life follows should be one of God’s own choosing for his glory.

The call of God’s love for his people can call you to many strange and new places. As I replied when asked by a student, “Why do you follow Christ?” my answer was this – everything I have is due to God. Were I not following him, I would never have met my wife, become a teacher, travelled to Egypt or now be serving as a school principal across the country from my family in Adelaide.

Being away from my family, and following God’s call to become principal of a new school at the end of the year, brings me a measure of sadness; yet I know that this is the cost of following God. Christ followed God to the very end, through trials much greater than my own. He did this motivated by the desire to share God’s love, mercy and forgiveness with all people. I count it the greatest honour to be a small part of the wonderful things God is doing on this earth and I pray that the children in our community experience this joy and honour too.

As we undertake God’s work, may we find joy in following Him wherever it may lead us.

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Term 3 Week 6

“‘Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath day. In the synagogue there was a woman who had an evil spirit in her. This spirit had made the woman a cripple for 18 years. Her back was always bent; she could not stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, your sickness has left you!” Jesus put his hands on her. Immediately she was able to stand up straight and began praising God. The synagogue leader was angry because Jesus healed on the Sabbath day. He said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come to be healed on one of those days. Don’t come for healing on the Sabbath day.”’ – Luke 13:10-14

Our Grade 5/6 students are leading whole school worship services over the coming weeks and their chosen theme this week was ‘Loving people and doing the right thing sometimes means breaking the rules’.

Jewish people had 613 individual rules they were required to follow as part of their religion. The rule the synagogue leader thought Jesus had broken was ‘do not undertake work on the Sabbath’.

Not working on the Sabbath is indeed an important rule that God has given us. After all, we need to allow our bodies to rest in order for us to undertake our work with joy and competence. But keeping the Sabbath is not just about following rules about rest. It is about honoring God, celebrating his mercies and reminding ourselves of the many blessings we have.

While the synagogue leader felt that the Sabbath was the worst possible day for healing, Christians would see that healing on the Sabbath is probably the best day for healing. What better way to honor God, than to care for a woman who had suffered for so long?

May we remember that even when our lives are busy and we have deadlines to meet, the most important thing is to honor God through doing his will and loving others… even if it means breaking the rules.

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Term 3 Week 4

“Don’t fear, little flock. Your Father wants to give you the kingdom. Sell the things you have and give to the poor. Get for yourselves purses that don’t wear out. Get the treasure in heaven that never runs out. Thieves can’t steal it in heaven, and moths can’t destroy it. Your heart will be where your treasure is.” – Luke 12:32-34

The students of Sunshine Christian School know well that I am a fan of pirates. To be more specific, I appreciate the kind of pirate like Captain Feathersword from ‘The Wiggles’, rather than the pillaging and stealing kind! As a child I was enchanted by the pirate spirit.

Pirates were bands of people belonging to no particular tribe, country or region. Their one purpose was to come together in groups to seek treasure. Of course the problem was that their treasure was found in gold…and many other pirates would be seeking to do the same. Stories of pirates stealing from each other abound.

The adults in our community know well how easily money comes and goes. A gift of money from a relative so often disappears as our car breaks down, we receive an unexpected speeding fine or the children need a new pair of shoes. Money always goes – it is easily worn out. This is why Jesus encourages us in the reading above to store up heavenly treasure, a treasure which cannot be worn out. Pirates had a great opportunity to achieve something wonderful… were they not so selfish and so focused on earthly riches.

I like to think of Christians as being like pirates. We too come together from different languages, cultures and nationalities. Christ unites us together on the same ship and on the same mission. We are united in seeking to give praise to God for the treasure of eternal life which he has given us. Yet while the original pirates wanted to keep this treasure for themselves, we wish to share this treasure with the world.

The love God has for us is indeed a great treasure and this week let us seek to share the Good News of this treasure with others.

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