Saturday, April 19, 2008

Trip up Mt. Barrow (sorry, no baby yet)

Coming back home from just about any location gives a view of lovely Mt. Barrow. I seem to have developed a bit of a special place in my heart for Mt. Barrow.

It seems that this 1413 meter mountain (perhaps not a mountain by British Columbian or Colorado standards) has made me feel even more at home in Tassie. I'm not quite sure why. Mt. Barrow seems to have the same effect on me as the lake shore and woods of Michigan. I simply consider it a blessing from the Lord.

The pics below are from a little trip Martha and I took up to the top of Mt. Barrow one afternoon last week. It only takes us about an hour to get to the top of Mt. Barrow from the manse. 

Here is a picture of Mt. Barrow from the road on the way.

While we stopped to snap a few pics, we had a friend land on our windshield. Martha snatched the opportunity for this neat picture.

Another view of Mt. Barrow from the road.

This picture is of Mt. Arthur and was taken from the same spot as the one above, but in the opposite direction. Mt. Arthur and Mt. Barrow are two of three mountains located near one another. The third mountain is Ben Lomand. The way you remember which is which, if you cannot tell by looking at them, is the little saying, "Arthur wheeled his Barrow up Ben Lomand." The three mountains are in that order from left to right. We usually see at least two of them on a drive home, and sometimes all three.

Here we are on a bit of a windy road to the top.

A little closer to the top.


At the top, there were various forms of vegetation and little trickles of water flowing all over the place. In the winter, this area is often frozen over and occasionally covered with snow.

Besides a radio tower and a couple other modern buildings, we found this little stone building.
Inside, there is a decent-sized fireplace, but no doors or windows. Some folk have told us that it used to be (and possibly still is) used by people who get snowed in on the top of the mountain.

The two windows in the stone building have an amazing view. Sadly, we could not see too well the day we went up. There was a lot of smoke from some burn-off the forestry was doing.

The view was even more amazing with my amazing bride in it!

I still make a better door than a window.

A little look down the road as we return to the bottom of Barrow and then home.

Baby still seems content to wait awhile. Martha is not in a rush either. She doesn't mind being able to get a decent amount of sleep, but getting comfortable is a greater challenge and she is getting up about four times a night.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers and stay tuned to the blog for any new baby information.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Brothers in the Ministry

One of the many things I have found true about the ministry is that it is very lonely. Martha is an invaluable gift from the Lord, and I would not want to be doing the work of the ministry without her, but a man's wife has not been made to meet all of his needs for fellowship. I have friends in many of the folk in the congregation, but they do not understand many of the struggles, burdens, and difficulties that can accompany the ministry from every angle. The ministry can indeed be lonely, but having a brother in the ministry with whom to work is a real blessing.

The pic above is of Iain Smith, the pastor of the SPC in Hobart, and me. The pic was taken on the occasion of visiting Iain as he was recovering from a fall off a ladder. He was on bed rest for six weeks. On the first visit after his fall that Martha and I had with him and his wife Mary, I dropped down right next to him on his bed. We all thought it was good fun and Mary could not resist taking a picture. "What a great one for the blog," we said.

As the pic may indicate, Iain and I get along well. On the face of it, it may seem a bit surprising. 1. He is from Scotland and I'm from the good ol' U.S. of A. with a bit of Dutchyness still hanging on.
2. He was born and raised conservative Scottish Presbyterian. On the other hand, I was born into a moralistic Dutch Reformed church, moved on to a church that taught that doctrine divided and did not want to have a part in calling sin what it was, almost went Protestant Reformed, joined and studied for the ministry with the Heritage Reformed, and ended up Tasmanian Presbyterian.
3. Iain is a great fan of John Owen and has read all of his works (yes, all of them). I am a fan of Owen as well, but my focus has been on neo-Calvinistic (Abraham Kuyper and after) epistemology (how we know things) and issues of prolegomena (the first things in theology: revelation's relationship to reason and faith, etc.) in relationship to their development in historic covenant theology.
4. I classify his hermeneutical approach (how he makes sense of the Bible) as Biblical/systematic (Iain might call it more "This is what the Bible says, Terry") and mine as a more Biblical/redemptive-historic (or "I'm not sure, Iain. I need to check this out developmentally, not topically").

Despite our differences, the Lord has given us a lot in common.
1. Our different ethnic backgrounds from that our Australian congregations give us something in common. In turn, we can hold one another up when differences between our previous homelands and our new one can be confusing, and our different perspectives let each of us see some things in Australian culture (and how to think about them) that we might otherwise have overlooked.
2. Iain's theological tradition that he was raised in and eventually made his own, is basically where I ended up on my theological journey. Arriving at the same destinations from diffrent paths lets us gain insights from one another that we did not see on our own journeys.
3. Our theological journeys complement one another very well. Through Iain's love (and digestion) of Owen, he is materially familiar with almost all the Biblical inner workings of Bible-based covenant theology. In my studies, I have had to work through the historical doctrine of the covenant and see how it fits, or doesn't, with contemporary work in Reformed Dutch developments in epistemology and apologetics. Together, we cover the basics of Presbyterian/Reformed theology since the Reformation and we check and balance one another very well.
4. Any differences in hermeneutics have been indifferent and have reassured me that simply doing good careful exegesis, with the blessing of the Spirit, keeps us understanding the Word.
To put it in theological language for some seminary and theology buddies: Remembering that the Bible is itself redemptive-historically structured and that simply following what the Bible says throughout the Word of God on a given subject will lead you to the right understanding of a particular doctrine or teaching of God's Word.

The Lord Jesus has graciously given us these complementing differences so that we can be an aid to one another in the work He has called us both here to do in Tasmania. It also strengthens my heart when I can share things with my dear brother in the midst of loneliness, rejoicing, confusion, or theological breakthrough, knowing that the Lord Jesus has ordered it all for our best and the best of His church.

Plus, we have the same hair cut.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blogger Blessing and Annoyance

Kind of figures that after you take the time to put a post or two together that blogger decides not to let you upload the pics.

Well, despite the pic problems, here is a bit of what we have been up to. Biggest news - baby is deeply engaged and so the April 25 estimation may prove to be accurate!

Martha has attended 5 Bible studies this week and she hopes to go out for coffee with another friend tonight. She still manages to stay busy even amid the energy drain in the late stages of pregnancy; thankfully, she does get enough sleep and the occasional nap too.

I continue to prepare the sermons, Tuesday night Bible study, and the Wednesday night monthly outreach study. I am surprised how much it can all take out of you. I certainly have been needing the day off once a week lately.

After a lot of thought and prayer, the Lord seems to be giving me some semblance of a plan for evangelism here. Some would be shocked I have not done more seeing as I have been here a year; however, I chose to hold off (and I am still not in a hurry) for several reasons. First, I am trying to give priority to the preaching and teaching ministries. Second, the main need here is to build up the believers in the congregation. Third, I am still assessing the church and wider culture here in Tassie. Fourth, short term mistakes could have long term consequences. Finally, the Lord had not yet given strong direction. I could add more reasons, but those are the gist of it. We'll wait and see how things will come together. I know the Lord has a plan for this place, and I am thankful He is showing me my part in it in how I am to follow Him and attempt to guide His church, a little bit at a time.

I am always amazed how much of the guts of the ministry is really about the Word, trust, and dependence... and not so much about administration, policy, vision statements, and impressing people (believers or unbelievers).

Lord willing, blogger will be up and running pics soon. Until then....

Love through Christ,

p.s. If baby comes we'll try and post about it and some pics right away.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pics from Day Trips with Bert and Jan

Here are some long-awaited pics from some of the trips we took with our friends Bert & Jan Stam from Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. As I put the pictures up, I realized they weren't exactly in order chronologically; however, they are basically in order within each trip.

Here is Bert with his new hat that he got at Salamanca Market in Hobart. Salamanca Market is a Tasmanian craft and produce market held every Saturday down on the waterfront in Hobart. A street is filled with over 300 booths and tents selling just about anything. After careful time and thought, Bert selected a good Ozzie hat for himself. With or without the hat, Bert is always one cool guy- though he would vehemently deny it.

Bert wasn't the only one who was looking at hats. Jan and Martha were trying on a couple. Not exactly their best choice for church hats, but amazingly cute!

Here is our crew just finishing a bratwurst lunch break while shopping and sightseeing at Salamanca Market.

We took a little cruise together out of Strahan, a little town four hours northeast of Launceston. This is our tour boat heading out through historic Hell's Gates. Hell's Gates is the dangerously narrow and shallow entrance to Macquarie Harbor on Tassie's west coast. Inside Macquarie Harbor is the famous Sarah Island penal colony. It was a place of secondary punishment for convicts sent to Tassie who re-offended.

Here is a picture looking back at Hell's Gates from the Southern Ocean.

Sarah Isaland was one of the most notorious penal colonies. It was known for its harsh conditions and corruption. Eventually Sarah Island was closed as it was replaced by Port Arthur near Hobart. Here are some ruins of the soldiers' barracks on the island.

After we toured Macquarie Harbor, Sarah Island, and went up the Gordon River, we went back to the town of Strahan. There we saw an advertisement for a play about the true story of the last convict-built boat on Sarah Island. The convicts stole the ship and sailed to Chile. Some escaped from there to America or Jamaica, but others were deported back to Tassie again. We had thought we would simply watch the play, but folks from the audience were pulled into it. Yours truly got to play the part of a hero of sorts and then die quietly afterward.

We spent the night in Strahan and drove north to Stanley to see the Nut.
The pic is of Bert, Martha, Jan, and I aboard a small, rocking boat for a one-hour "Seal Tour."

Yes, we got to see seals on the Seal Cruise. Quite up-close, in fact. The only challenge was to take a picture that actually caught the object without blurring or totally missing the intended subject due to the rocking of the boat in the waves and the movement of the animals. It didn't help that it was necessary to zoom in quite a lot to get a good photo.

This is the Nut as seen from the seal cruise boat. It is a big piece of rock sticking up out of the ocean. It has a fairly flat top and there is a chair lift to the top for those preferring not to try the steep hike. Many scientists believe it to be a volcanic plug.

This and the following pics were taken from the chair lift on the way up the Nut. For some odd reason, our camera quit working near the top and started working again once we got down. Murphy's law, perhaps? The view from the Nut is spectacular, though, and these pics do not even begin to capture it.

After visiting the Nut, we headed east and then south back to Launceston. On the way, we stopped at the Creative Paper Factory in Burnie. It is a very artsy place with paper artists working in residence and sculptures made from paper on display. They make their own paper from all sorts of things, even kangaroo poo. We almost didn't stop here, but seeing we all had coupons for a free tour, we gave it a go. It was informative and fun.

Check it out! There are larger displays, like two old men playing checkers and a jazz group singing and playing by a paper piano.... but for some *ahem* reason this one stood out as special.

Here are Bert, Jan, and Martha making a piece of paper with a "Creative Paper" water mark. This paper was not made with kangaroo poo, just various types of cloth and fiber.

The day after returning from Stanley, we continued our three-day touring marathon with a cruise of the historic Tamar River that flows all the way down to Launceston. We started with a short excursion into the Gorge, and then turned around and went north halfway up to the ocean.

On the way up we got to see a pair of white-bellied sea eagles! Even better, we managed to get a decent photo of them. :)

On the west side of the Tamar, there are a number of netted vineyards where the grapes are grown that will eventually supply their life juice to make world-famous (right, folks?) Tasmanian wines. (What? You've never heard of any Tassie wines?? No, you know you love the "Ninth Island" Chardonnays and Merlots... you just have a bad memory for names!)

And finally, we made it up to the Batman Bridge. It's a fascinating piece of construction and the only bridge across the Tamar. It's also the place we'll leave you for now... hope you enjoyed the ride!