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Fishing

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore [of the lake while the disciples were fishing], but the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish…When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread…Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

From John 21

 

I’m pretty good at a few things in this life, but my dad can attest to the fact that I’m a terrible fisherman.

During my early years my father would take time away from his work to sit by a river with a fishing rod in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. If grandma had been baking recently, there would be a mouthful of fruit cake in the mix too.

I always disliked fishing but for some reason I would forget this between fishing trips. I jumped out of the car, enthusiastically bait the hook, throw a line in and wait.

Patience continues to be a bit of a struggle for me, as it was then, for I would not last long waiting. My recollection seems to suggest that I would patiently wait for hours before giving up but I suspect it was closer to minutes. I would start endlessly throwing out my line and reeling it back in quickly. My dad would shake his head in amusement as I inevitably gave up and went walking instead.

As I think of the disciples in the story, I wonder how they felt when a strange bloke yelled out to them to change the way they were fishing. After all, these disciples knew how to fish, and seriously, what difference would it make to throw a net on the right side of the boat instead of the left?

A great deal it seems from the story for a great deal of fish turned up. It seems that in addition to being the Son of God, Jesus knew a bit about fishing too.

When was the last time you found yourself in situation where you had been toiling away at something only for someone to come along and quickly show you how to complete the task far more quickly, efficiently and easily? If this hasn’t happened to you recently I suggest you grab a young person, have them watch you work with an electronic device, and then watch as they mercilessly show you a simple way to do something you’ve been doing wrong for years!

The thing about God is that he knows that we are prone to go about things the hard way. By nature we try to do things alone, not want help, and desire to work harder rather than smarter.

When we are caught out trying to do things without God’s help the good news is that Jesus invites us to breakfast too. He doesn’t have condemnation for us or even get frustrated. He is happy to help and happy to enjoy the fruits of success with us too.

As we move towards a new year may we not forget that our value is not in how perfect we are or how quickly we can get something done. Our value comes from a God who created us unique, with various strengths and weaknesses, and loves walking alongside us as we try to do our best in this often confusing and frustrating world.

As our year draws to a close and you read my final principal’s note, allow me to wish you and your family a safe and blessed Christmas.

Tom

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Achieve

What does it mean to ‘achieve’? When you think of ‘achievements’ in your life, or the lives of others, what comes to mind? When someone tells you ‘your child is achieving well’ what does that communicate to you?

I was blessed to have parents who supported me thorugh my primary school years and I also had the pleasure of having a wonderful teacher named Mrs Tonkin. Mrs Tonkin helped me across the curriculum and through her teaching and care it was seen that I was just as capable as my peers.

Mrs Tonkin ran into my mother at the shops in Adelaide not that long ago and upon being told that I was now a principal she said to my mother. “Tell Tom I’m very proud of him, but I’m not surprised that he has achieved well in his life. Also, tell him to keep working on his handwriting because I suspect it may still be poor.” To Mrs Tonkin’s credit, my handwriting does still need work…

Mrs Tonkin taught me to achieve. She did not accept any excuses for not meeting my personal best. She didn’t believe that I ‘was behind’ or ‘not capable’ – she saw a child that was on a learning journey. She taught me how to be a good learner and as a result, I achieved well at school and university.

We can make a mistake and believe that a child that always gets an ‘A’ is achieving well while a child getting a ‘D’ is not. It may very well be that the child receiving an ‘A’ is giving less than their best and should be getting even higher marks and that child getting a ‘D’ may have got an ‘F’ earlier in the year and has worked diligently to get that ‘D’. That ‘D’ may actually be the greater achievement.

I have friends who have given up high paying jobs in banks where they were seen to ‘be achieving’ to volunteer years of their lives to help disadvantaged communities set up small businesses. Their peers don’t see their current work as ‘an achievement’.

When I was working as a professional singer, my parents were ridiculed by others who asked ‘When will Tom get a proper job?’, and refused to acknowledge that I was consistently working with the best groups in the country. In the eyes of my parents, I had some great professional ‘achievements’ to my name.

At Lakeside College, we believe ‘an achievement’ is when we meet goals that stretch us and require us to give 100% of our effort. While students may have differing goals, the compulsory expectation is that all students will commit, work hard and strive to develop all their abilities.

What brings me pride as the principal is seeing students, staff and parents set high expectations for themselves and exceeding them. That is a great joy and encourages me to do the same in my role.

Why achieve? Simply because God gave us the ability to use our talents to give him glory through seeking to be our best. In doing so, our lives may be lived in a manner that helps others.

A high achieving teacher helps others to learn. A high achieving builder builds safe homes for families. A high achieving father or mother provides a nurturing environment for his children. The list goes on.

God wants us to be our best so that we can bring out the best in others.

May the God who brought us into existence and gifted us with many talents, lift us to great achievements as a community.

Blessings

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To the class of 2016

What follows is my address given at the Sunshine Christian School Graduation Service in December of 2016. This was my last address to the Sunshine Christian School community.

Parents of Grade 6 students, I share something in common with you tonight. I’m sure you feel like it was only yesterday that your child started Prep. Tonight I feel like it was only yesterday that I gave my first principal’s address at our graduation service. The time has gone so quickly!

I would like to acknowledge the parents of this school. For the support you give your own child and the children of others through volunteering. Whether it was leading a craft group, helping with garden club, hearing students read, covering books, making costumes,  helping with events and excursions, helping with PMP, assisting at morning teas, prep transition days, mother day and father’s day stall  – your work has had a wonderful impact on our community and I thank you for this service. I thank you to for your ongoing and unwavering commitment to the ministry of our school. Your personal support for me over the years has been greatly appreciated.

In addition to farewelling our Grade 6 class, we say goodbye to other families as they moving out of the region. To the families leaving us this year, we wish you God’s richest blessings as you settle into new homes and schools. Thank you for blessing us with your time in our community.

I thank the community of St Matthew’s Lutheran church for their ongoing support of this ministry. The commitment of St Matthew’s to prayer and practical support only grows.

I thank the school council for their tireless efforts in governing the school and for their exemplary support and encouragement for me as the school’s principal. I will continue to pray for you as you lead our school to ‘live as children of light – loving God, loving others and loving learning’

I wish to acknowledge our regional director and the entire staff of the LEVNT regional office for their ongoing support both of me and the school. The regional office has always gone above and beyond to support our little school and their tireless work plays a large role in our ongoing success as a community.

Tonight many have said such lovely things about me, but allow me a last word in this matter. The staff of Sunshine have made me look good. A principal can only lead where the people will follow and the staff of Sunshine have supported me and our ministry with unfailing commitment and hard work. The good results we see in our children are testament to the work of this community – not just the leadership of the bloke at the top. I count it the greatest honour to have had the privilege to serve alongside you and will look on with great fondness as you continue to serve the community of Sunshine.

The equation for a great Christian school is simple. God plus great staff plus great families equals great kids. That is what makes our school great.

Many parents have asked me if I am looking forward to leaving the community and starting work at Lakeside College. The honest answer is ‘No’. I follow God’s calling willingly, but do so knowing that I leave a very special school. I have never experienced a community where there is such love and support between students, parents and staff. I will miss the school and the community a great deal.

Enough about the grown ups…And so, the time comes for the Principal to offer a few words of advice to the young men and women of the Grade 6 class.

Grade 6, one of the things I have enjoyed most about serving as your principal is how forgiving you have been to me. I haven’t always got it right. I’ve had grumpy days. I’ve forgotten to mark your work. I’ve snuck a diet coke and chocolate in the class and devoured them while you weren’t looking. You’ve all seen how terrible my handwriting is. I know you’ve had your bad days too. We’ve sat in my office talking about mistakes and needed improvement of attitude!

A long time ago there was a bloke called Abraham. He lived in a city and was living an average life. Out of nowhere, God told him to leave his city and family, head out into the desert and create a new community in a new land. The Bible tells us that Abraham made a lot of mistakes. He didn’t always trust God. He made poor decisions. He didn’t listen. He didn’t always care for his family and friends. But despite this, through Abraham the entire world was blessed. He is known as the Father of nations.

Likewise, your principal hasn’t always made the correct decisions, I have been far from perfect, but God has continued to bless our community greatly. A lot of people have said a lot of nice things about me tonight but always remember that the good you see in me in the Lord working. What I do, what we do, should always be for his purposes and his glory.

Mistakes are not the end of you, they are the beginning. What makes the character of a man or woman is what happens after the mistakes. Grade 6 you will make mistakes and have rough times – but don’t that be the end of the story. Be ready to learn from your mistakes, seek forgiveness when needed and get back to important work you have been given.

Have great courage. There is a large world out there that needs people who care deeply about others. Go where God needs his people to work. Do not choose a path that is easy and brings reward for you only, seek always to place the needs of others above your own. Do God’s work, not your own. Follow his calling regardless of where it may lead.

Do not chose a job that pays the best, chose a job that allows you to best use your unique skills to help others. Remember that our country needs good cleaners as much as it needs good doctors, good plumbers as much as good engineers.

God will trust you with great work that will benefit this world so keep your ears open to his call.

May the creator God, who was with in the beginning, has walked with you at school, and now goes with you to High School, remind you frequently of his grace, mercy and deep love. May you be like Abraham, may the world be blessed through you.

 

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Term 4 Week 8

What follows is my last reflection as principal of Sunshine Christian School…

‘In the last days…the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob… He will teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths….Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come…let us walk in the light of the Lord.’
– Isaiah 2:1-5

Wow…the end of the year is upon us and Christmas is at hand! We have lit the first candle of Advent and we are looking forward to celebrating the birth of our Saviour. We’ve also got our present purchasing under control, have our celebratory meals organized and are feeling very much on top of the month that is to come…right?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to welcome the birth of Jesus. My office is a mess, my home needs a good clean, my to do list grows ever longer and as a result, I’m not feeling very merry, peaceful or joyful. I’m feeling rather cranky and tired to be honest!

Reflecting on our reading from Isaiah this week, I can see such refreshing, wonderful imagery and richness of thought. The church can easily get caught in the trap of not giving much time to the Old Testament and it is a big mistake to do so. What a lovely vision – all the people of the Lord streaming to worship God in peace.

I exhort us all to turn our eyes at this time to see the mountain of the Lord which is a constant presence in our lives. For some of us there may be clouds of frustration, for others mists of uncertainty or perhaps we are so busy looking at the ground that we forget to look up at all.

Regardless, Jesus is a constant and immovable force for peace, comfort and joy in our lives. As we move into the ‘silly season’ of Christmas, receiving encouragement from every angle to take our eyes off celebrating the birth of our savior, let us steadfastly keep to our course. Let us walk in the light of God and proclaim his love, mercy and compassion this Christmas.

Blessings, Tom

 

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Term 3 Week 10

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people… that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Greetings from Vietnam!

When you read this newsletter, you will find me attending the Asia Lutheran Education Association conference in Hanoi, Vietnam. I am attending this conference as a representative of all Lutheran schools in Australia. As I shared with our students earlier in the year, our school is one of more than 80 Lutheran schools in Australia and one of thousands of Lutheran schools across the world.

I am enjoying the sights and sounds of Vietnam – the homeland of many of our families at Sunshine. It has been great meeting people involved with Lutheran schools in Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and many other places.

These gatherings remind me of the purpose of Lutheran schools – to proclaim God’s love to the world through the provision of quality education to all who seek it. In this mission we are joined by many brothers and sisters across the world in other Christian schools.

In our reading from this week, the apostle Paul urges us to proclaim God’s truth. How do we do this? Paul encourages us to pray for each other and to live lives that are full of peace. At this gathering of Lutheran schools it has been a great blessing to gather as the people of God, united by his Son Christ, to pray for our schools and our world.

There is so much power in prayer. Not through our own strength, but through what God does through prayer. Being in communion with God, and talking with him in prayer, helps us to live at peace with the world and be open to the things He would have us do.

As we enjoy a brief respite from the rigours of school, may we take time to connect with God and seek to live with the peace Christ left us.

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2016 ACEL Conference

A twitter report on the recent Australian College of Educational Leaders conference – click here

 

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I’m back!

Hi folks. I’ve been meaning to get back into my blog for some time now…I didn’t realise that over 6 months has passed since I last posted.

For those who follow my principal’s reflections, I’ve posted the last 6 months worth and will try to get back into the habit of uploading them right away.

I’ve also got a couple of blog posts coming from a conference I attended in Singapore.

Stay tuned!

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