Waranga Uniting Churches

A sure foundation

By on January 18, 2019

I’ve often used phrases like “You’ve got to build from a firm base” or “You need firm foundations”, but when I’ve used such phrases they have been as metaphors. Usually I’ve been referring to the need for a good education for a successful career, or a sound business plan before launching into some new project. But until I became an owner-builder and started to build the sub-floor of an actual house, I can say I’ve never really appreciated the truth of such a metaphor.

Stumps smallWe are building a weatherboard house on concrete stumps. The plans required each hole for the stumps to be 1000mm deep and 450mm in diameter. Easy enough with a huge machine with boring attachment. After the machine had done its work, we had to clean the holes our by hand with double handled post shovels that operated like very large tongs. As it was explained to me, even though we are going to fill the holes with a large amount of concrete, a layer of soft earth at the bottom of the hole will eventually compact and the house could sink a little unless we cleaned all this loose dirt out.

OK, I understand that. As I said I’ve used these “foundation” metaphors often enough. Foundations are so important that they are one of three mandatory inspection stages. The holes were duly inspected and approved by the building inspector. But then it rained. Not just those teasing showers that had disappointed us through the Spring, but a real Summer downpour. Forty-two millimetres in a day. Next morning we inspected the holes. Our fears were realised when we saw that water had gushed into the holes and collapsed the soft clay sides. The holes were half filled with clay and water.

They had to be cleaned, but just how clean tested my personal commitment to the idea of a firm foundation. The first time we did it, the motivation was a combination of belief and the need for compliance (independent inspection). This time there would be no inspection. It was purely my belief that this was important. It was slow, it was arduous, it was difficult, I was tempted to belief that “near enough was good enough”; but little by little, one by one, we cleaned those holes out as well as they had ever been.

You see, the importance of a firm foundation is not about compliance, it’s not about what happens in the next six months or even six years; foundations are for the life of the building. The test of firm foundations is not the 95% of days that the weather is temperate, the test is what happens on the extreme days. Jesus used the metaphor of the foundations of a house when talking about the importance of a strong faith and sound beliefs.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

As we enter a new year, hopefully for most of us, most days will be pleasant and uneventful. But there will be the occasional storm (sickness, accident, relationship breakdown, disappointment and grief). Take care to build your life on the firm foundations of the teaching of Jesus.

This is the gospel, and it’s good news.

Brian Spencer, Minister

Lister to what I’m saying

By on December 6, 2018

We were trying to start an old Lister-Petter stationary motor that I had picked up at a recent clearing sale. It was a bargain, if only we could get it to run. I was assured by the owner that “It

Christina Gamble Annex 50 Years

By on December 3, 2018

We were so pleased to have some of the descendants of Christina Gamble at a special service at Colbinabbin Uniting Church which commemorated 50 years since the opening of a new entrance porch and Sunday School annexe to the church. The annex

The blessing of low expectations

By on November 15, 2018

There is an unexpected blessing in low expectations. My parents would not have considered themselves working class, but they were. The most general definition is that the working class includes all those who have nothing to sell but their labour

Looking for easy answers

By on November 5, 2018

When life throws up difficult problems, too often we seek easy answers instead of believing in ourselves, our community and God’s grace. Each morning I start the day doing a cryptic crossword. It’s a daily challenge and diversion from all

Jesus would weep

By on October 29, 2018

When I hear the words “sexual abuse” and “church” in the same sentence, I feel a deep sense of shame. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse examined a broad range of institutions – from schools to

Doing the menial tasks well

By on October 20, 2018

There are many more menial tasks to be done in life than there are heroic and interesting tasks. Even if you’re working in a highly creative job, your daily work routine will likely involve a fair amount of repetitive, humdrum

On your bike

By on October 11, 2018

It seems I’ve been a “temporary  Australian” for longer than many people have been permanent Australians. I started riding motorbikes when I was a teenager. As soon as I worked out that they didn’t need to be fed every day

Who is in your tribe?

By on September 28, 2018

Who is in your tribe? It’s that time of year again when tribal feelings come to the fore. Whether it’s AFL or local football/netball, there is a heightened sense of belonging to a tribe; that us and them feeling, the sense

Bright young minds and some fine greying ones

By on September 21, 2018

A friend invited to me to attend the Australian Information Innovation Awards being held at the Melbourne Convention Centre. It was an inspiring night feeling the energy of so many creative people who have worked to take an idea and