Monday, November 7, 2011

Romans 8:23-37

In The Bible, Romans 8:23-37 says;

"23The Spirit makes us sure about what we will be in the future. But now we groan silently, while we wait for God to show that we are his children. This means that our bodies will also be set free. 24And this hope is what saves us. But if we already have what we hope for, there is no need to keep on hoping. 25However, we hope for something we have not yet seen, and we patiently wait for it. 26In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don't know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. 27All of our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit, as the Spirit prays for God's people. 28We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose, 29and he has always known who his chosen ones would be. He had decided to let them become like his own Son, so that his Son would be the first of many children. 30God then accepted the people he had already decided to choose, and he has shared his glory with them.

God's Love
31What can we say about all this? If God is on our side, can anyone be against us? 32God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us. If God did this, won't he freely give us everything else? 33If God says his chosen ones are acceptable to him, can anyone bring charges against them? 34Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed! Christ died and was raised to life, and now he is at God's right side, speaking to him for us. 35Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? 36It is exactly as the Scriptures say, "For you we face death all day long. We are like sheep on their wayto be butchered."

37In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. 38I am sure that nothing can separate us from God's love--not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, 39and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God's love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!"

Monday, October 31, 2011

Australian Lutheran World Service Update

Thank you to those who have supported ALWS - here is the latest update - scary stuff:

"Greetings from Nairobi. I'm here with an ALWS team en route to South Sudan. We had hoped to visit Dadaab Refugee Camp, but the security situation means that is not possible. Your prayers are urgently requested because our Lutheran team (and other aid agencies) are facing many challenges. Yesterday a UNHCR vehicle was hit by a remote-controlled explosive, while on the way to Dadaab. This follows a number of other attacks, and means 'normal' aid work cannot continue for the moment in camp. Particularly at risk are our surveyors opening up new plots of land for shelters, and teachers going out into the community. The phone-call with the news of the attack came through as I was interviewing our Program Coordinator in Dadaab, Lokiru Matendo. He says this puts security at the Critical Level. Staff are scared, and prayers are requested for safety and a peace solution. What's amazing is that emergency lifesaving care is still being given. The Lutheran motto here is "We go where others stop". The practical evidence of this is that despite the danger a Lutheran team will continue going out into the camp at 8 each morning, and monitor the condition of refugees. The team prepare a report for each aid agency on any issues that may affect their sector (water, latrines etc), so they can be solved. This is incredible courage, and comes from a passion to help the people. Lokiru said:"It's not just a job - you want to address the suffering. Whatever little you can do, you do, to make a difference." This is typical of the attitude of all the team delivering your care to these people who have lost so much. Please know your help is noticed and appreciated here. We visited AusAID in Nairobi yesterday, and they were amazed at what we Lutherans have been able to do. The Lutheran World Federation team say the same. Lokiru summed it up: "We feel connected with the people of Australia through ALWS." This is you standing side-by-side with Lutheran teams as they minister to people who have lost everything.

On their behalf, thank you. Jonathan KrauseCommunications Manager, ALWS1300 763 407 * PS: The Australian Government continues to match donations for East Africa dollar for dollar until 30 November."

Inspiring local news

Our World Today

An online local newspaper that focuses mainly on inspirational stories - check it out here:

Monday, October 24, 2011

I missed the end of the world...again...

You may have been too busy doing your assignments to notice that the world ended on 21 October 2011 harold-camping's (very false) prophecy.
Here is (in total ) an excellent article by Ronnie McBrayer which I think puts end time predictions in their rightful place.

Ronnie says:

"The End of the World As We Know It

I don’t know how it is that you are reading this. In fact, I don’t know how any of us are even here. In case you missed it, the entire cosmos was destroyed by the avenging judgment of God this weekend, and you can’t plead ignorance – you were properly warned.

Oh, forget the cryptic evidence of the Jewish prophets, the predictions of Nostradamus, the ancient Mayan Calendar, or the inexplicable visions of the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos. No, for the last several years we have been advised by radio broadcaster and prophet Harold Camping that the end was near, and now overdue.

If that name sounds familiar, it should. Harold Camping was convinced – and so were many of his followers, some spending their life’s savings to warn their wayward neighbors – that the end of the world would arrive this past May. When that did not occur, Camping amended his prophecy with a gargantuan amount of imagination and interpretive gymnastics, giving the universe a drop-dead date of October 21, 2011.

It really doesn’t bother me when the end-times prophets and Harold Campings of the world show up with their placards, tracts, broadcasts, and sandwich boards of doom. It used to rally get under my skin, but now I recognize such predictions as an eccentric Christian tradition, one of those family customs that cannot be stopped, only endured.

The winds of world upheaval begin to blow and spiritual forecasters likewise begin to paint pictures with the terrible brush strokes of God’s consuming fire. Sinners are threatened. The blatantly unrepentant are dangled over the inferno. There is a frenzied relish to it all, some doomsdayers seemingly more happy to see all reprobates burn, than to move on to eternal bliss.

So when a radio preacher misfired once again on his prediction, it was just more of the same, and just as Jesus said it would be. “No one knows the day or the hour,” Jesus loudly proclaimed. The expiration date set for the universe is knowledge that belongs exclusively to God, and he doesn’t seem interested in sharing it with Harold Camping or anyone else who fancies making bold prophecies.

Further, as wrong as these would-be-prophets are about actual dates, their divination seems to also distract them from the nature of the end of the age. “Look, I am making everything new!” God says in the end (See Revelation 21). The cosmos doesn’t conclude with retribution, but with renewal. The final chapter is not extinction, but transformation. That is our Blessed Hope.

Simply, God believes in and loves his creation in a way that no televangelist or talking-head prophet can ever come close. God has bigger and better plans for his world than just throwing it into the intergalactic trash can. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “We may be tired of this world, but God isn’t.” He has great things in store, and we get the chance to get in on it and live it beginning today. This is a far better approach to life than pining for a fictitious apocalypse.

My Hebrew friends will have to forgive me for simplifying one of their marvelous parables, but there is a story in the Jewish literature about an old man who planted a fig tree. When asked if he really expected to live long enough to eat fruit from that tree, the old man laughed and said: “I was born into world that had fruit ready to eat. My ancestors planted trees for me, and now I plant fruit for my grandchildren.”

We can’t give up on the world because it’s not what we wish it was, or because we think it’s all going down the drain with no time left, or because some crackpot makes a bold but foolish prediction. What we call the “end” is not the end at all. True to his nature, God has not given this world a drop-dead date. Instead, it has been stamped with a renewal date, a date we pray and work for until it finally comes."

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author. His books include “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus” and “The Jesus Tribe.”

Visit his website at

Thanks Ronnie - I couldn't have said it any better!

Monday, October 17, 2011

National LSF Retreat "Transform" 29 Dec 11 - 2 Jan 12

The LSF National Retreat is a chance for young adults (aged 18-30) from all over Australia to come together, share their faith, learn more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus and relax on one of our countries' best coastlines.

The LSF National Retreat is an annual event that rotates between Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. We are pleased to invite you to the beautiful Coolum Beach for this year's event!

The theme for this year's retreat is 'Transform'. Our guest speakers will help us explore how the Church can transform itself and communities as we unpack that truth outlined in 2 Corinthians.

The LSF National Retreat will be held from Thursday 29 December 2011 until Monday 2 January 2012. This is an event for young adults aged between 18-30, including those turning 18 in 2012.

Click here to download the LSF National Retreat 2011/12 brochure.

Click here to register and pay on-line now!

Retreat Venue
The year the LSF National Retreat is being held at Luther Heights Youth Camp at Coolum Beach QLD - an absolutely stunning location! The venue is located on a hilltop just a few minutes walk to the beach and has spectacular view of the Sunshine Coast.

$262 per person (inc. GST)
Note: payments received after 09/12/11 will incur a $30 late fee.

Registrations close on Friday 9th December 2011. Please note that spaces at the LSF National Retreat are strictly limited. Early registrations are encouraged to avoid disappointment.
Click here to download a manual registration form or Click here to register on-line now!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Alcohol and The Bible

Alcohol has been a big part of Australian celebrations for better or worse for many years. Some countries and religions forbid the consumption while others seem to flow with the liquid in their drinking water. What does the Bible say?

Most secular Australians would think that the Bible "tut tut's" it due to the temperance movement of days gone by. The reality - and most Aussie Lutherans know this - is that the Bible includes alcohol as one of God's gracious gifts along with food, sunshine, rain and good friends.

At the same token - alcohol - is like fire; good servant- horrible master.

Our Lutheran Church in Australia has an official stance for clarity sake - here is one paragraph from it - the rest can be found in the link underneath:

"We live in a society where it is customary to drink alcoholic drinks, and where social
drinking is approved because of the release it permits to an individual. It is used in
religious ritual, at ceremonies marking birth, marriage, death, celebrations in everyday
life. It reduces tensions and helps people to mix easily in society. Used in moderation,
its undoubted social usefulness is not accompanied by any serious ill effects.
However, alcohol which is a boon to many is a scourge to other members of our
society as some people find it difficult to take alcohol in moderation and develop an
addiction to it, with serious physical and mental consequences. Increasing
consumption of alcohol increases the likelihood of experiencing health and other
problems, even in those who may not be regarded as suffering from alcoholism. The
effect of alcohol is dose related, although it is marginally influenced by other factors,
eg when taken with meals."

(Lutheran Church of Australia: Commission on Social and Bioethical Questions

For the more 'theological' of you I also found this this great little article on "The Bible" and "alcohol" which probably sums up my thinking on the matter:

In summary - if you choose to be someone who 'has a few drinks' and you stay 'under the legal limit' of drinks (and are of adult age) - in this society, that is fine you do no wrong.

There are however, many trappings that come with the "Australian drinking culture" which are foolish and I'd encourage you to stay right away from that.

Here's passage from Proverbs - written a few thousand years back - which is just as applicable today from Proverbs Chapter 23 - I bet you know someone just like this!

Who is always in trouble?

Who argues and fights?

Who has cuts and bruises?

Whose eyes are red?

30Everyone who stays up late,

having just one more drink.

31Don't even look

at that colorful stuff

bubbling up in the glass!

It goes down so easily,

32but later it bites

like a poisonous snake.

33You will see weird things,

and your mind

will play tricks on you.

34You will feel tossed about

like someone trying to sleep

on a ship in a storm.

35You will be bruised all over,

without even remembering

how it all happened.

And you will lie awake asking,

"When will morning come,

so I can drink some more?"

"Tamed" by Sarah Witenhafer

I'm going to do promote books I have - never read - here. I'm one of those people that rarely reads fiction so I probably won't read this either. However, I "met" Sarah on FB and I enjoy her updates - so if her fiction is anything like her 'status updates' it will be worth a read:

This, I'm guessing will appeal to mostly female Christians - so if that is you - you may want to have a look:

@ Amazon (see 'Product Description' for a summary)

and others:

Monday, August 15, 2011

chaplaincy in schools

Legally - there may well be a constitutional reason to stop funding for chaplaincy in schools and so be it - if that is what the high court decides.

However, we will only find out later this year.
I'm telling you upfront that I'm for chaplains in schools, so I'm not going to pretend otherwise - as long as they are kept accountable and stick to their mandate. I personally know a few school chaplains who are funded by this program and they are impressive, caring, rational and skilled people...not crazy fanatical religious zealots shoving King James Bible's sideways down the throats of unsuspecting students...I have seen and heard of valuable work done by these people. So, I am biased from experience and make no apologies.Having said that - I think I know why the 'secular' side is upset.They feel like they have been sabotaged by 'government funded' religious people on the campuses of their vulnerable children. You can feel the anger of the 'secular' public in the comments to the YouTube videos and articles. Fair enough.

The story in a nutshell:
"The Age" 6 August 2011 'Legal savage' in a fight for secularity

Sydney Morning Herald August 10, 2011:
"It's time to dispel the myths about school chaplains"

Christianity Today
12 August 2011 : a complex issue

Hon Peter Garrett's
announcement of further funding for the chaplaincy program in May 2011: National School Chaplaincy Program (pdf)

...and a few recent news videos from both sides....

If you have any comments email me or in write the comment box Cheers, T.O.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mid Year Retreat (LSF)

Law vs Grace
Are Christians too critical, judgemental and legalistic?

Mannum Caravan Park, Purnong Rd, 12–14 August, 2011

Cost: 1st time LSF campers $45.00, Students/Unemployed $55.00
Workers $65.00
Part-time prices are available. Please contact Victoria for rates.

Registrations are due by Friday 5th August

Log onto and click ‘camps’ to register online

Payment can be made at the camp with cash only.
If you require financial assistance, contact Mike.

If you would like to find out more about LSF or ask any questions about the
camp, don’t hesitate to contact:

Victoria: 0448 865 735 or

0409 725 573 or

Catholics on Campus (Mawson Lakes)

For those at Mawson Lakes Campus I share room H1-33 as Chaplaincy office with the Catholic Chaplains. For those who are interested; they have changed a few of their details, so here is an update:

Sr Irene Motta has replaced Sr Liz Tham in the UniSA Mawson Lakes Catholic Chaplaincy Team and thier email address and website now are: and respectively.

Your Catholic contact person is Arturo Jimenea, Pastoral Associate, Salisbury catholic Parish

I have met with them a couple of times and recommend them if you want to talk to a Catholic instead of a Lutheran : )

Monday, June 6, 2011

Exam terror !

here's a few tips (approx 15 -20 mins)

What's spirituality got to do with exams?

Naaah, don't go talking to me ' bout spiritual stuff before real things like exams! Pffft!


from James 1:5 in the Bible

"If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won't correct you for asking."

that means PRAY about your study and exams! Do it.

I found a little pre-exam prayer. Reword it into your own 'speak' and use it.

Prayer Before an Exam

Dear Lord,

Sometimes I feel a little strange praying
to you because of an exam.
It doesn't really seem all that significant
when you consider the "big picture."
But right now, the test looms so large
that it is all I can see before me.

I pray to you for three things:
- the strength to handle the pressure that I feel,
- the confidence to feel secure
in my knowledge and preparation,
- and the ability to keep an appropriate
perspective on it all.
Help me to keep in mind what is really important,
even as I focus all of my time and energy
on this test in the immediate future. Amen


Using Mind Mapping (Tony Buzan)

Some of you may use mind maps in preparing for exams - in this brief video, Tony Buzan tells how he came across 'mind maps' while preparing for exams...

how to prepare for an exam (Navitas)

How to prepare for an exam (howdini)

So, there you go - have a coffee and get stuck into it!
If you still want more info - check out one of my previous posts:
"Meditation for Study"

pastoral response to rapture

Though the supposed rapture had come and gone already, I'd like to thanks to Jacob T who shared this very pastoral article by Timothy Dalrymple, please read it if you found yourself troubled by what did - or did not - happen :


Monday, May 23, 2011

Why am I still here?

Unfortunately I slept through the rapture...

Harold Camping instead of admitting to being a false prophet, has "spiritualised' the prophecy now:


If you want to know more of the background to this, you can read it:

Some people obvioulsy not too phased by the prediction....

The positive side, is that for some of us, it made us think about our mortality and 'what if' we knew we going to die within 24 hours. It's sometimes a healthy excercise to put things into perspective.

I'll leave you with two verses:

Matthew 24:36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

1 Thessalonians 5:2: "for you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night."


(Note: The follwing is not written by me - but written by Os Hillman 2011 )

"He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income" (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

A successful businessman once confided in another businessman known for his wisdom. "I've made a lot of money. I will soon be able to retire comfortably and do just about anything I want."
"John," the wise businessman replied to the man, "I've noticed that every time someone thinks they've built a tree that is so tall it almost reaches heaven, God often decides to shake the tree."
The minute we start trusting in riches, God will, in fact, "shake the tree" to demonstrate who is the source of wealth to turn us back to trusting Him completely. He did it in my life, and He'll do it in your life too because He loves us too much to allow us to continue down this destructive path.

Money is mentioned more than 2,000 times in the scripture. Jesus used it many times in illustrating an important lesson to his disciples. He spoke often of being a good steward of the resources He entrusted to us. He wanted a return on His investment and He wanted us to stay away from making money an idol in our lives.
Jesus understood that He was here on earth only to do the will of the Father. "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; He can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does."

As we look at our relationship to our heavenly Father and our use of money, it is clear that we, like Jesus, are here to do the will of the Father in all areas of life. This means seeking to live a life that is totally yielded to His purposes -even in the financial area.
Money, independence, and security are often the reasons many start their own businesses or change jobs. Check your motives today and see if your financial life can stand Jesus' scrutiny. Are you operating as a steward of the financial resources He has entrusted to you?
Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.

see Prime Time with God

Monday, May 9, 2011


...due to the negative nature of some of my recent posts I have decided to post a smiley cup of coffee - have a nice day:

Monday, May 2, 2011

bin laden

No doubt there will be more to I write this, Osama Bin Laden has reportedly been shot dead by US and, well, 'buried at sea'.

On face value it is 'good news' for those who had suffered under his atrocities - and I don't want to minimise that- but there is a lot that I see and hear that leaves me uncomfortable too. I'm no fan of Bin Laden nor of any violence. And at this stage I'm not sure what I think of the reaction of the world at large. I only hope that good can out of this and not more evil.

If you are interested, here are a couple of immediate articles that caught my eye - if you have the time they are are worth a read:

An article by Robert Fisk who met with Bin Laden personally a few times:
"Was he betrayed...."

from the Christian Science Monitor:
"Was it legal for the US commandos to kill Osama bin Laden?"

From The Vatican:
"Vatican says bin Laden's death cause for reflection, not rejoicing"

Arab reaction gauged by UK Guardian:
"Osama bin Laden dead: Arab reaction"

Arab reaction gauged by Reuters
"Bin Laden killing prompts Arab anger, relief"

quiz night


Saturday May 14th 2011 6.30pm for a 7.00pm start
@Australian Lutheran College Refectory Cnr Ward St and Jeffcott St, North Adelaide

*$10 entry

* BYO Drinks and Nibbles

*Cake and Soft Drink for sale

*Contact to book or join a table

*Door Raffle Great Prizes Table Games

Who are you

Who are you?

You know who you are, don’t you? Isn’t that an obvious question? Of course you know who you are.

I spoke to an older person this week who only just discovered that they were adopted. I don’t know the whole story; but I could imagine that they will be questioning a lot of assumptions about who they are, where they came from and what this actually means for them now.

My own family have being trying to find out more about some of our not-so-far ancestors. Each discovery sheds new light on where we ‘came from’. Unfortunately for me, my ancestors fought on the “wrong side” of World War One and World War Two. So, as an Australian, I’m very proud of the Anzacs but their allies were shooting (and also killed) my relatives. I’m also basically a pacifist which makes this interesting - but that’s where I have come from - whether I like it or not.

So, who are you?
You might come from families with wonderful and proud reputations or families with ‘things’ that you would prefer not to be true, wished weren’t true.

Does this affect your identity? Well, yes it does. The ‘who you are’ also changes as the years go by. I still mostly ‘feel’ about younger than I actually am but I ‘look’ more my age. My face is starting to sag like a bloodhound and is gradually heading south. So the question of ‘who am I?’ is constantly in flux.

As you go through university, you are challenged with new thoughts and ideas and the ‘what do I believe’ thoughts get challenged. And so it should – that’s how we learn. What you believed is tied closely to the ‘who am I’ question.

Our identity and beliefs are in change and that is a fact of life. It gets uncomfortable at times.

On the swishing seas of existence I have found the best anchor, really, is faith in God who does not change. Keep receiving the gift of a relationship with him because he is always the same. Keep coming back to him again and again:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

I the LORD do not change (Malachi 3:6)

Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
(Psalm 92:2)

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness" (Colossians 2:7).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Atheist charts and hearts

Well, I've got to hand it to them. Those Atheists have gone and done it again. They've come out with a really good chart called "Rational Debating". Their motivation is to show how non-rational Christianity and other religious foolishness is (see original article here), but I personally actually really like the chart as a guide to rational discussion. Have a look: (or the full size chart here)

Obviously, I DO believe in God, and don't go for Atheism, but the 'sharpness' of this sort of thinking is good in any human discussion or debate. A word of warning - don't try this out on your partner at home or members of your family, if you know what's good for you.

My one point of contention with the chart, as good as this chart is in theory, I'm not sure how well it actually works in real life when discussing 'god' or 'non-god'. I don't know about you, but any conversations I've had with Atheists do not start with -either party; not me Christian, or them the Atheist - asking ourselves in all honesty "Can you envision anything that will change your mind on this topic". I don't think that is "reality". An Atheist has already declared that they have no intentions of believeing in God by calling themsleves an Atheist; so how can they approach an argument envisioning anything that will change their mind on the topic? I find that a bit rich. If an Atheist really truly came to me with an attitude of 'maybe I can learn something new from Christianity', well that would be a first for me.

The other problem I have with the chart is that in reality, rationality is not everything. We live our lives in complex relationsips with other people, our enviroment and indeed ourselves. I applaud rational thinking for keeping some sort of sanity in the world - and don't get me wrong, rational thinking is ...very, very, very... important, but - and this is where we most likely part ways - rational thinking is not everything. What do I mean? Well, this is where some will roll their eyes but I'm asking for a bit of honesty:

Deep down inside of us is somone or something - whatever you want to call it, the real you -who feels strongly, who has passions, who has intuition that 'knows' things without being able to explain it in 'rational' ways, who has a sense that there must be 'more than this', who feels joy and sorrow who longs for connection and a strange feeling that they are actually worth more than a pile of transitory dust...

Some will balk at this as sentimentalism and being delusional. Leave this to church freaks and old ladies and their myths... But then again, when -you - are alone during those quiet times with no distractions, no other people around, no noise - what is your deepest heart of hearts telling you? Surely we are not all brain and no heart? What's going on in your heart? Do you ever sense something going on in there that can't be explained in dot points and diagrams?

Finally, Christianity is not ultimately a rational argument - it is about a relationship: From The Bible (1 Corinthians 1:20 - 24) "What happened to the ones who think they have all the answers? Didn't God show that the wisdom of this world is foolish? God was wise and decided not to let the people of this world use their wisdom to learn about him. Instead, God chose to save only those who believe the foolish message we preach. Jews ask for miracles, and Greeks want something that sounds wise. But we preach that Christ was nailed to a cross. Most Jews have problems with this, and most Gentiles think it is foolish. Our message is God's power and wisdom for the Jews and the Greeks that he has chosen. Even when God is foolish, he is wiser than everyone else, and even when God is weak, he is stronger than everyone else. "

Monday, March 7, 2011

LSF Commencement Camp

Does God matter in the modern world? When do we think about God and why? Why are more people seeming to give less of a %#@! about God?

These questions and more will be addressed by Pastor Rob Schubert over this fun weekend, where we'll explore more about God, our society, and ourselves as well as making new friends and finding our feet in the big wide world (if we're new to uni!)

Just $45 for First Time LSF Campers (Students), $65 for Students and $75 for workers! - Register online here


Monday, February 21, 2011

UniSA Magill & Mawson Lakes Students
Welcome to 2011!

If you go to Magill or Mawson Lakes you may one day want to see a chaplain. I’m the Lutheran chaplain at UniSA on these two campuses. So here are my details…

On Friday term afternoons you can find me in Room: H1-33 at Mawson Lakes which I share with the Catholic Chaplains:
See map:

As a chaplain, I’m fundamentally connected to your campus for pastoral support.
That means if you need someoneto talk to, have some questions about university, or life in general, contact me. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll try and put you onto someone who does. I am also available to help run Christian talk/Bible groups and to help you get Christian support on campus if you would like it.

I also walk around a bit too, so use my other contact details (at the end of thisnote) if you need to find me.

On term Tuesdays at Magill Campus I am usually found in or around Room E1-06,which, from this year I will share with adjunct senior lecturer. However, it is the chaplain room on Tuesdays!

See map:

*If you want to know more about Lutheran Students on either campus, you can follow up dates on their website: LSF or call Rev Mike Pietsch on 0409 725 573

Besides Chaplaincy, I also work at a Lutheran primary school and Australian Lutheran College in the library. I am a keen follower of Jesus; I enjoy family life, internet and playing guitar.

If you want to be part of regular updates via uni email, please let me know. Looking forward to hearing from you!

May God richly bless 2011 for you : )
Tim Oestmann (Chaplain)
0404 303 084

Monday, February 14, 2011

Uh, so where was God?

For those of us in Australia, summer has been full of one natural disaster after another. Quite frankly - from my point of comfort in Adelaide - it has sucked big time. If I was in flooded or cycloned Queensland, flooded NSW, VIC and parts of SA I wouldn't have time to pontificate here because I would be on pure survival level. Same with the people who lost their houses in fires in Western Australia. So where was God? On holiday? Doing the dishes? Or did he cause it? Are the elements more powerful then him? What's going on?

I'll tell you up front - that I won't be able to answer the big question of human suffering because from my understanding - no one has sufficiently answered it anyway. I'll also tell you now that I believe we are told not to judge people unfairly,however, we -are- to give of ourselves to help others, to pray for good to come out of bad situations, to comfort each other and to go back to the basic hopes we have has believers.

Look at these two articles under the links 'Lived' & 'Died' both in similar circumstances. Why did one person get saved in a nick of time, the other lost? Have a look:



If theologically you try to impose some sort of judgment on the situation, I'd say you have rocks in your head. The boy who was 'lost' - helped his brother -knowing he may well be sacrificing his own life...which is what happened. This is a 'Christ like' action, not stupidity or sin; but doing good - and so there is no rhyme or reason, no cause and effect. No sense. We do not know and I suspect God is not going to tell the bulk of us either.

Tory Shepherd, who I'm guessing is an Atheist or Agnostic at least, wrote an article in "The Advertiser" newspaper poo-pooing Church leaders who "flounder when they try to explain God's role in tragedy". You can read the article here. Though I would differ on the third
conclusion that possibly "God does not exist", I found the article refreshing in identifying - I believe -flawed Christian mottos that I don't think are helpful or indeed even true by biblical principals.

(1) God is in the rescue effort...maybe he is... but the obvious question is why did he make the mess in the first place? It doesn't make sense. Another point is that it is not only Christians helping other people in the rescue missions but people of all faiths and , dare I say, some Atheists too! Does God work through Atheists? Hmmmmm? (I'm not going to attempt to answer that one)

(2) God was in the miracles. Most major catastrophes have their 'miracle' stories. And God may well be working in some peoples lives to 'save' them from the jaws of death. I actually believe in God's ability to perform miracles - why wouldn't I, Jesus Christ performed many miracles? However, I don't think any of us are in a position of declaring any theological judgments. If Someone was saved through a miracle. We are thankful. If not, we don't know why. We cry with their loved ones. That's it.

(3) The devil caused it. The devil is not in the same league as God the Creator of the universe. Enough said.

Conclusions (according to the article by TS):
(A) "God caused the floods because he is righteous and thought the people deserved it"
(B) "God did not stop the floods and is therefore either complicit or not all powerful"
(C) "Or: God does not exist"

My personal response - at this stage of my life - is that I do believe God exists. So I'd smudge out (c). I do believe God is all powerful, so I can't go for the second point of (b).
I think for many of the disasters that are mentioned in the Bible, God often sent a prophet ahead pre-warning the people that he was going to bring disaster if they did not repent of their wicked ways (and by wicked - it was fairly serious). I do not remember hearing a prophecy about the coming disaster. If there was one - please tell me. So, I don't go for (a). Incidentally, I don't go for (a) either because it gets some Christians smug that obviously they are more righteous.

I would have to agree than with (B) "God did not stop the floods and is therefore ... complicit"

You say "how can you say that!?", Well - it seems to me that is exactly what the Bible says.

We don't know why he allows natural disasters. That's his business. To make judgments on the "big picture" of his dealings - is his domain. If you are a Christian - we've been told to look after each other practically, emotionally. To have faith in him that he does actually love each one of us and ultimately wants the best for us. Nowhere in the Bible are we told that it would be an 'easy ride'. Have a read of some of the Psalms, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes , some of the sayings of Jesus, the lives of the prophets and the apostles...pain and tragedy is part of our mortal existence. We trust in his ultimate 'rescue' of us but before then we will have many unanswered questions.

Many Christian leaders have called for donations and long term practical care and prayer. That's something we -do - know about and can control. And for those who are ready to hear, they may also get to know the God who 'so loved this world that he gave his only son' who also suffered. It's so left field that it doesn't make sense - but it changes lives.