new short story collection. Out now!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In the arms of my father

I don't remember what it felt like as a child, to be hugged by my father. I know he did it and it must have felt good to be carried or just held in his strong arms. It must have felt safe and secure, and it must have made me feel important, but I don't remember the feeling itself.

I was in church one Sunday, more than ten years ago, standing and singing the song, In the Arms of my Father, while my daughter Alana slept in my arms. Undisturbed by the volume of the music or my loud singing right above her head, she slept peacefully. I had the full weight of her little body in my arms and I cried. I was happy.

As I held my daughter and sang to give thanks to my Father in Heaven, I had a fresh revelation of exactly what kind of love God has for us, his children. It's the kind of love I'm not sure I would have or even could have understood without the experience of being a father myself.

I can't remember what it felt like as a child to be in the arms of my earthly father, and it's unlikely Alana will remember when, God willing, she reaches my age and perhaps holds a child of her own. However, I do remember exactly what it felt like that day in church with Alana in my arms. I vividly recall being 'hugged' by my Father in Heaven that day, and I have felt it again since.

There is nothing in all of the universe that even comes close to the power of God's love for us, and I am so grateful to Him. So with Father's Day coming up, remember to thank your perfect supernatural Dad.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What do our Schools Produce?

The idea of successful learners suggests achievement. To be considered successful what must one do? How is success measured? Is society's view of what may be deemed “success” as important, more important or less important than the individual student’s own conception of success?

Although “Successful learners” is a little vague, significant benchmarks have been introduced into the Australian education system, such as NAPLAN, which do a reasonable job of measuring academic achievement. The question is, I guess, is academic achievement our only goal?

What about confident and creative students? It could be easily argued that confidence is a non academic measure of success. Creativity, however, is not a measure of success. It is debatable whether or not creativity can be taught, or even enhanced in those individuals who are naturally creative. Some people are successful without being especially creative.

Hardworking people who may or may not be creative, can be, and often are, very successful. In my view, perhaps turning out creative individuals should not be a goal of the education system. I just don’t know whether you can create creative students.

Active and informed are good goals but what does active mean exactly? Are we expecting our students to all become champions of various causes, members of political parties, unionists, community volunteers? I guess that’s not unreasonable. While “active” may be debatable, “informed” is not. Ignorance is one of the biggest problems we have, not only in our schools, but in society in general. It’s one thing for students not to want to know what’s going on, to be socially aware, quite another for educators to accept, in any way shape or form, the questionable maxim, “ignorance is bliss”.

I think they only thing missing from these goals is diligence but I suppose it is implied in conceptions of success and active involvement. As a Christian I wonder where is the mention of making a primary goal of education the development of loving and caring people who respect others and work to promote peace in society by building good relationships. Perhaps such talk is too “Christian” or “religious” for our secular system.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A way that seems right

A footpath curves to the left away from the road and around a landscaped garden with a bench for the weary traveller. Between the garden and the road was intended to be a lovely green grassed area but it is bisected by a terrible scar running across it in a direct line to where the path curves back towards the road.The scar was caused by many lazy feet walking across it, making their own path instead of using the one built for them.

A woman ran across the road in between two sets of traffic lights, both with pedestrian signals. Had she walked an extra fifty metres, either to her left or to her right, and used the crossing she would not have been knocked down by a car and injured.

The Bible says, "There is a way that seems right to man but its end is the way to death." (Proverbs 14:12)There was a way that seemed right to the many who took the shortcut across the grass, widening and deepening the scar with each step. There was a way that seemed right to the woman who risked her life for the sake of convenience to run across the road between the lights. There is a way that seems right to the Buddhist, to the Muslim, to the Humanist, and to the man who says he has no religion but worships the gods of his favourite sport. These ways lead to death.

There is a way that leads to life. Jesus is that way, (the only way), the truth, (the only truth) and Jesus is the life, (the only life). (John 14:6). There is no other way.