Tag Archives: Jesus

Term 2 Week 2

The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away… I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” – John 10:11-15

How often do we run in the opposite direction to where we should run? I know I do far too often!

Last week we saw our students compete in Inter-school Cross Country for the first time, and we are immensely proud of the achievement and attitude of the students involved. As I attended this event and saw hundreds of students running, it was not uncommon to see students run the wrong way and go off-course.

It is a good image for us to remember. Jesus calls us to his path – a path that encourages us to do God’s work in the manner in which He calls. Sadly, we are often too busy running our own race, trying to meet our own goals, or following fellow sheep who are lost themselves. We run off the path and find ourselves off-course in the ‘race’ of life.

Jesus is our Good Shepherd – one who never runs from us or fails to direct us. This makes it clear that Jesus cares for us not out of duty or for personal gain. He gives his life out of love for the people in his flock, something which we do well to recall.

May we seek to be continually guided by God’s direction as demonstrated through the life of Christ. When we get off-course, let us seek God’s grace and get back into seeking to do our best each day to love God and his people a little more.

May we be constantly aware of God’s peace as we share the Good News with our brothers and sisters.

Blessings, Tom

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Caring for the outsider

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

1 John 3:16-18

This week the Lutheran Church observes Migrant and Refugee Sunday. The readings set down for this event include the lament of the Jewish people who found themselves refugees in Babylon and the account of Jesus, Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt as refugees to escape persecution from Herod.

One of my favourite verses is recorded above. God’s word makes it so clear for us. To paraphrase, “What kind of Christian has plenty but does not share with those in need? Words are not enough – Christians are people who act out the love of God!”

In our school community we have tangible reminders of the migrant and refugee. We have over 20 languages and countries of origin represented. We are a Lutheran school – a school that would not exist were it not for persecuted German migrants arriving in Australia seeking to educate their children in the faith. Outside of those of us with indigenous heritage, our families were all migrants to Australia at some stage.

As I listen to the news and popular opinion in Australia, I often wonder if many have forgotten that the vast majority of us were once newly arrived in this beautiful country. Our families once left homes and travelled significant distance in the hope of a new and better life. The news is a constant reminder that these journeys were not easy and were frequently dangerous. The gospel reading from Matthew tells us something that can easily be forgotten – our saviour, the very son of God, was a refugee forced to live in a foreign land.

The migrant, the refugee, the homeless, the stranger – these are our brothers and sisters who desperately need the support and reassurance of the Christian community. There is not one among us who has not found ourselves in strange lands and new situations. We might not have been a refugee, but we have all felt loneliness, despair, fear and have wondered what the future holds. It is at these times that we needed the support of our brothers and sisters most.

It is very easy for us to say that we welcome refugees and migrants. We can give a few dollars to a charity, sign an online petition or write a letter to our parliamentarians. These are all loving acts but amount only to words if we don’t take the next step. It doesn’t need to be big – invite the family who just moved into the neighbourhood over for dinner, encourage your children to seek out children sitting alone and play with them, say hello to the stranger sitting next to you on the bus stop. As we seek to live as a Christian community in Sunshine and surrounds, let us take God’s word seriously and support those who need it most.

May the Son of God, who experienced firsthand the struggles of being a stranger, refugee and migrant, grant us the courage, strength and hope, to share God’s love with all our brothers and sisters.


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Jesus does it again

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

John 6:5-7

I imagine it wasn’t easy being a disciple – the constant crowds, the threat of being caught by authorities, low pay and Jesus constantly challenging them to be better (Just to mention a few of the frustrations!). In last week’s reading Jesus was attempting to escape the crowds but “When he saw them he had compassion on them for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” In this week’s reading Jesus sees a people hungry and instructs his disciples to feed them. The reaction of the disciple Philip is not very promising at all.

Immediately Philip begins thinking about himself and the personal cost of doing as Jesus asks. Not to mention demonstrating a tendency to open his mouth before thinking! The reality of the Christian life is that Jesus calls us to listen closely to his teachings and to act regardless of the personal cost. As Philip shows us in this reading, even those close to Jesus get it wrong sometimes. As the gospel later shows us, the disciples get it wrong time and time again.

How often are we moved by the spirit to take action but ignore this call, act too quickly and mess it up or open our mouths and start telling God how he has it wrong? I often think that Jesus had a smile on his face when he asks Philip “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” Jesus likely knew that Philip would react like he did and then provide Jesus with a moment in which he could teach the disciples (as well as all of the people of God) about God’s power and overwhelming generosity.

As we go about our lives we must always be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and be ready to react not with thinking “this is impossible” but thinking with great excitement “what is God going to do to enable this to happen?”
May all of us in the Sunshine Christian School community walk in the generosity demonstrated to us by Christ Jesus.


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Cleaning up

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” – John 2:13-16

I have often had cause to reflect on John’s recollection of Jesus clearing the temple. I have heard many use this verse as a justification for getting righteously angry at others and excluding them from communities. I wonder what Jesus would think of this reflection on his actions?

The Temple in Jerusalem was a large building with many sections for different purposes. At the heart of the building was a place called the ‘Holy of Holies’, a place where it was believed God dwelled. Around this was a court where only priests could enter. Another area was given for Jewish men to worship and then another separate place where Jewish women could worship. The temple area that Jesus found people selling animals and changing money in was called the Court of the Gentiles and was the place non Jewish people could come and worship God.

The students this week thought a great deal about what it would have been like to try to worship God in a place full of animals, money changers and all the noise that comes with a marketplace. The students thought that it wouldn’t be very easy at all to focus on God in this environment. We thought about Jesus ‘cleaning up’ the temple and why Jesus did this. Jesus wasn’t just angry and aiming to hurt people. He wanted to make sure that all people could have a place where they could meet God and focus on Him. Jesus wanted to remove barriers to people – regardless of age, gender race or religion – worshipping and accessing God.

As we move forward in this season of Lent, a season when we focus on Jesus’ sacrifice for all, may we all think about the barriers Christians can place stopping people meeting God. Do we require people to believe the same things exactly as us? Do we require them to be of a particular economic status? Do they need to wear certain clothes? Say certain things?

As this passage shows us today, Jesus isn’t concerned about who turns up to worship, but that we provide a space for people of all walks of life to worship God.

May God encourage us all to break down the barriers that the world creates between God and his people.


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What do you love? (Here are a few things that restore my soul)

Mt Tongariro, New Zealand

Mt Tongariro, New Zealand

Donald Miller wrote a piece recently about things that he loves and their role in what I would call ‘soul restoration’. You can read the piece here.

I have had a chance over the Christmas break to reflect on the things that I love – the things that I find myself getting lost in. As one who has a very heavy workload on a day to day basis I have found it very hard over the last year to find rest and to ‘turn off’. Perhaps by identifying and making time for these things I may find more rest.

So here goes. A few things I love in no particular order.

Getting lost exploring an important idea. I am currently reading Thoreau’s Walden and find myself drinking deep the ruminations on the consumerist nature of our society. Other topics I easily get lost in include Jesus’ social teachings, Martin Luther and radical grace, simplicity and minimalism, the transformation power of education and the importance of holistic education which values creativity and soul. Reflection accompanied by a cup of tea or coffee while overlooking a majestic landscape, sunset or a rainy day gets bonus points. I can get lost in conversation, documentaries, books etc. – it is all wonderful ‘lost’ time.

Drinking wine and eating good food with friends. An extension of the above, the act of meeting with people and discussing topics of passion restores my soul. Wine and food are not necessary but there is something about them that facilitates deeper conversation. I appreciate the celebration of Creation that wine is – the process of selecting, growing and processing the humble grape produces such a wide range of flavours that mirrors the complexity of the individuals that make up humanity. And food, well, as my handwriting skill attest, I struggle to craft things with my hands but I can cook. Taking raw ingredients graciously provided to us by the earth and turning them into meals that nourish others is very satisfying. Cooking can be quite a mindful exercise – fresh food has such a simple but intense scent that reminds me of new beginnings.

Providing the opportunity for others to engage with big ideas and develop as people. I love teaching and know the transformative nature of good education. The ‘light bulb’ moment is wonderful and seeing others create a conclusion that I hadn’t thought of brings deep joy. One of the many joys of working in primary education is having the chance to teach children the importance of serving and looking after each other. Seeing them put it into practice is lovely.

Physical activity  – especially long sessions of cardio.  In times gone by I was quite overweight and shunned all forms of exercise. Things are certainly different now. The mental space provided by a long run or ride is very restorative. While finding quiet and inspiring landscapes is difficult in Melbourne (Melbourne might have the night life but Adelaide has the scenery!), I like to take the opportunity to get out as often as I can. Exercise is the first thing to go when work weeks grow long. I am not alone in believing in the importance of walking and exercise – especially for leaders of larger organisations.

Silence and stillness. Our world is too loud and too busy. We are bombarded with insanely high levels of information and decisions each day. Sitting still and feeling still are important more than ever.

My relationship with my wife. All of the above activities are often present in our relationship and the support provided therein empowers me to serve others. Marriage is indeed work and one must provide the space for it to flourish. The above are enhanced by the presence of my wife.

So what about you? What are the ‘loves’ that restore your soul?

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Love people, not things

…the path to better living is not found in turning our back on those who need us the most. The path to better living is found in developing the compassion and the space to love even those who don’t deserve it.

In another well put piece on priorities and service, Joshua Becker shares about how his life is made richer by serving others. His piece reminded me of Matthew 9:36 “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”.

Becker’s piece can be found here.

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