Sunday, March 25, 2012


Well, this is just a short note to explain (if an explanation is needed) that I'm going to put the blog on hold for the foreseeable future. For those who didn't already know, I am now the dean of the centre here at Canowindra, and as such my workload has increased a little. Blogging has fallen even further down my list of priorities.

Thanks for those who have read over the years. Maybe we'll meet again in the blogosphere.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Just Before Christmas

Well, it's been a long time since my last update. My 2011 postings have been sporadic, but at least it's not been quite as bad as the Great Blog Drought of 2008.

It's been a somewhat hectic couple of months. There are going to be some changes here at Canowindra for 2012. On a personal level, the biggest of those changes is that I have been asked to become the dean of the centre. I have already suffered a few 'James Dean' jokes, and expect this to be a theme for the year. Still, at least it's branching out from jokes about the English and bald people.

A year ago I was preparing for my trip to the UK, which turned out to be a excellent experience. 2011 has been a signficant year for me in terms of my personal spiritual development. David Benner says that "[t]he essence of Christian Spirituality is following Christ on a journey of personal transformation" and for me 2011 has been a rich year. I have come to value spiritual disciplines as powerful tools for affecting real change in lives - for me they have been the foundation of a growing daily awareness of the presence of God and the reality of an experience of Him.

2012 will be different again, I am sure, but I am confident that it will be another good year.

Lord Jesus,
May the sweet burning ardour of your love
Absorb my soul entirely,
And make me a stranger to all
That is not You or for You.

St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, October 9, 2011

We're back from a great holiday down in Victoria. We spent a week in Bendigo and then a week in Apollo Bay, which is on the Great Ocean Road.

I finished Story and found it to be an excellent book and well-worth reading for anyone who is interested in the art of telling a good story. I recommend it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Off, Back and Off Again

I've just come back from a week in South Australia with some of our students. It was an excellent week, full of excellent good things and excellent bad things. What a wonderful perspective, that even the bad things that afflict us can be excellent.

It's something of a natural extension of the pondering that I did on the sacramental nature of suffering for my MTh dissertation. That there's a different between things that hurt us and things that harm us. The former is inevitable, but the latter only happens if our perspective on life (and our acceptance or non-acceptance of the promises that God makes) allow it.

Anyway, we're off on holiday this weekend. We've got some time in Victoria, which should be superb. I shall look to update the blog when we get back. I might share some thoughts from the book I've started reading - Story by Robert McKee.

I already like the quote at the beginning of the introduction:

"Stories are equipment for living."
Kenneth Burke.

Good one, Kenneth.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Nine Sounds of Life

Ages ago, Pete developed a unique resource for creating opportunities to talk about Jesus. It's a set of nine cards, which you can use in a variety of ways. A YouTube video has been posted, demonstrating how they can be used in coversation. Take a look by following the link below.

Pete Volkofsky Doing His Thing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What I am Reading...

I'm currently reading a book by Larry Crabb called Connecting. I've read a little bit of Crabb's work in the past and always found it worthwhile, but Connecting is a quite brilliant book. It's the first book I've read in a while where I disagree somewhat strongly with some of the details, whilst also being absolutely convinced and enthralled by both the premise of the book and also by huge chunks of the text that he writes.

His central argument is that we tend to respond to brokeness in ourselves and others by one of two methods - either by moralising; a 'try harder' mentality or by delegating to a professional counselling class who believe that a cure can be found by exploring and understanding the darkest recesses of our soul. Instead he suggests that the real problem is being disconnected from one another and, ultimately, from God. The solution, therefore, lies in a process of re-connecting rather than anything else. People are made whole, not by trying harder or by undergoing counselling, but rather by, essentially, having someone love them into unleashing the potential for good that exists in every redeemed heart.

It's an interesting book, not least because Crabb himself is a counsellor and is thus qualified to comment on the value of his profession. It's also intriguing for me, as I have had what I would term a life-changing, beneficial experience of counselling. However, on reflecting on that experience, I now believe that the immense value of my counselling relationship was not in the counselling, but rather in the relationship. For me, my counseller was someone through whom I experienced healing because he connected with me much like the way that Crabb describes. Indeed, after I had finally finished my sessions (and had 'SANE' stamped on my record), I remained in touch with him as a friend and a brother. The relationship transcended the professional, and I believe that is consistent with what Crabb is writing.

In conclusion, I'll copy out one of the aforementioned chunks of text that struck me. I love Crabb's passion, imagery and forceful writing here. Plus, I agree wholeheartedly with what he is arguing. In this passage he is talking about our struggle with the flesh, our old nature, and it gives a good feel for how the whole book reads:

The flesh, the enemy within, dons a friendly uniform, one that a Christian might wear, and suggests reasonable directions. We welcome him into our ranks. When he causes trouble, we try to whip him into shape, get him to cooperate with the program, and stop interfering with our efforts to do things right. Or we work hard to figure him out. What makes him tick? Why does he demand gratification that way? Maybe a journey into the past will uncover the source of these crazy tendencies and enable us to reason more effectively with him.

What we need to do, of course, is shoot him. Naive Christians, the kind who want to freely release the goodness within them and trust their hearts to lead them aright, do not want to enter the battle raging in their souls. They have no appetite for identifying and destroying the enemy. Spiritual warfare, they hope, will involve only light skirmishes, never a fight-till-someone-dies conflict.

Obsessive Christians on the other hand, spend more time studying the enemy than fighting him. Specialists in understanding sin can describe how every hurtful experience from your childhood has impacted you, how you've dissociated, self-hated and idolized false gods, all in the service of running from God. Obsessives listen carefully and take notes.

For them, understanding their insides becomes a never-ending pursuit, energized by the hope that gaining insight into the dynamics of the flesh will somehow weaken its power, or give them better control over it.

Thoughtfully aware Christians, however, neither naive or obsessed, know that the enemy must be identified and identified carefully. The disguise must be ripped away, the horror of the enemy's ugliness and the pain he creates must be seen, not to understand the ugliness, not to endlessly study the pain, but to shoot the enemy.

And if he doesn't stay dead, we must shoot him again, then beat him, then tie him down in the sand under a hot desert sun, turn loose an army of red ants on his body and walk away without sympathy. And then we must do it again and again and again, till we're home. An overdone metaphor? Not when we see the enemy for who he is, for what he wants to do. We are at war, the enemy within is the flesh, and he wants to ruin our relationships and thwart God's plan.

If we don't hate the enemy, we'll hate something or someone else. The mother will hate her disrespectful son or herself or her divorced husband or God - until she identifies the real enemy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Continuing the Theme...

...of reposting here things that I have already written, here's a short piece of mine that was recently published over at Microhorror.

It's called 'For Sale'.



Muscles bulged but the jar lid remained unrepentant. This was getting embarrassing. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time; such a simple idea. Offer to open the new jar for the girl in the kitchen. Impress the girl of his dreams. She didn’t look impressed right now. She looked bored.


Still no movement. Not even a fraction of a fraction. The girl had stopped looking bored and was now beginning to look faintly amused. He didn’t know which was worse.

She’s…laughing… at…me…please…open…please…I’ll…do…anything…

Suddenly a hissing, slithering voice whispered in the silence, in the deepest backdrop of his mind.


- - - -

In the darkness of the under realm, the two demons put the finishing touches to the contract.

“…for the ability to open a jar of sun-dried tomatoes? Really?”

The first demon sounded shocked and a little disgusted. The second demon nodded dolefully.

“There’s no challenge these days. It’s just not fun any more,” he moaned. The first demon finished the document with a flourish of his pen, and slowly shook his head.

“You know what I reckon? I reckon those humans have stopped taking their souls seriously.”