Jan 202019

Here are the top five books and the author that has had the biggest impact on me in 2018.

  • Even in our Darkness (Biography)

This is the book that had the biggest impact on me in 2018. It is Jack Deere’s personal memoir. Jack Deere was a significant leader in the Vineyard church movement, led by John Wimber. At the same time as having a very influential ministry, he had all kinds of personal struggles to deal with behind the scenes. It was personally refreshing to read such an honest account of sin, suffering and struggle, and to see how God’s grace triumphs over all.

  • The Bible in Australia (History)

Winner of the Christian Book of the Year in 2018, this book by historian, Meredith Lake, takes a fascinating look at the role of the Bible in Australian culture right from its arrival on the first fleet. How interesting to learn that on the First Fleet to Australia there were “100 full Bibles, 400 New Testaments, 500 Psalters and “200 copies of the Sermon on the Mount”. There were also 200 church catechism books, 100 Prayer Books and 100 copies of…Necessity for reading the Scriptures”

(p. 28).

  • The Fountain of Public Prosperity (History)

I will be disappointed if this does not win Christian Book of the Year in 2019. If you are a history buff like me, this book is guaranteed to please. A magisterial work (nearly 700 pages) that took 20 years to write, this book traces the role of evangelical Christianity in Australian public life from 1740-1914. The chaplain on the First Fleet, Richard Johnson, was an evangelical Anglican (like me!). Luminaries such as William Wilberforce and John Newton knew Richard Johnson personally and played an active role in sending him to Australia.

  • All the light we cannot see (Fiction)

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2015, All the Light We Cannot See is an absolute page-turner – highly recommended! The book is set in German-occupied France during World War II. It follows the lives of two children who are caught up in the chaos, their two different paths crossing each other in a surprising way.

  • This is our time (Culture)

I wrote a book review for This is Our Time, by Trevin Wax, a couple of months ago. If you are trying to understand our particular cultural moment in the West, particularly at a popular level (eg. technology, sexuality, social media), then this is the book for you.

  • Iain Duguid (Commentary / Devotional)

Iain Duguid (‘Do good’) has written a number of excellent and easy-to-read commentaries. I have read three so far for my daily devotions: Numbers, Genesis 1-25 (Abraham) and Genesis 25-35 (Isaac & Jacob). Strong on application, they are great for your daily devotions because they are warm and straight to the point.



Kieran Carr


Dec 232018

December . . . So often so tricky for so many people; either too busy or too quiet; the end of the year bringing pressures that are real, imagined or put upon us; events that feel like obligations; spending time with people who  we would not necessarily choose to hang out with. For some of us there’s great things in the mix too: fun, celebratory times with good friends and family; the finish of school, work and other commitments for the year, and looking forward to relaxing and refreshing holidays. Along with this, all the things of normal life are thrown in there as well, and the things that might come about at any time can and do happen. For so many people it can be a pressure cooker situation.

In the midst of this we are celebrating the gift of Jesus coming into the world. Often people try and push the pressure cooker aside to get some space for this ‘real’ message of Christmas, and there can be a time and place for that. But Jesus came into the world because it is messy and broken and because we are sinful and in need of salvation. He comes to us wherever we are and however we are. He comes to bring life in all its fullness. That’s why He came. That is why He became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14).

I’ve had one of those tricky Decembers – internal pressures, sickness, tiredness, my own sin and trying to make life work being so real. As well, some external pressures way beyond my control have been thrown into the mix. At points it’s felt like I’ve been thrown for a six and it’s into the reality of that kind of place that I’m remembering and celebrating the fact that Jesus has come into the world to bring us salvation. Through that we know love, peace, joy and hope. The richness of this salvation and hope and the knowledge of His ultimate plan and purpose are leading me to trust him and giving me peace this week.

Where are you this December? What shape are you in as we come to celebrate Christmas? We gratefully celebrate the coming of Jesus who has entered the reality of the world with all its joy and mess. He longs for us to know the depth of that mystery and through that to know salvation and fullness of life. I pray that, as we focus on Jesus coming and making his dwelling among us this Christmas, we will once again be amazed and filled with love, peace, joy and hope.

Happy Christmas!





Dec 162018

On Thursday night our middle daughter Georgia graduated from Notre Dame University with an MA in Counselling.  It is encouraging when your kids find the thing they really want to do.  Georgia did a short introduction to counselling with Cheryl about three years ago and it just clicked.  So she found a course and two years later she has graduated with distinction and has been employed by the agency in which she did her training  placement.  Ironically, Emma Jarvis is her new boss.  When Emma returns from holidays she will assume the CEO role at Palmerston where Georgia works.

The thing I wanted to ponder was the Graduation Ceremony.  It was all that graduations usually are – well-orchestrated sausage machines.  However it was the ethos that the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor championed that I found so encouraging.  Notre Dame is Catholic.  I appreciate the way the Catholics are unrepentant about the centrality of their Christian faith in everything they do.  At Notre Dame every student must do a number of units in the faculty of theology – every student in every discipline.  The Vice Chancellor explained why.  She described personhood as something far more than its component parts – skills, knowledge, personality, psychology, spirituality and so on.  She championed the wisdom of every discipline, acknowledging the contribution that every other discipline makes.  Great knowledge and skill in engineering, medicine, law or the arts in isolation is incomplete in itself.

The valedictory speech echoed this.  The graduating medical student said the thing that marked out her course was ‘reflection’  She said jokingly that she counted 37 written ‘reflections’ over the four years of study.

The Catholics have a view that God is Lord of everything, so all disciplines should be respected and respect each other, AND the student should learn to reflect on what their experiences are teaching them in every area of their personhood.  IN other words, to use my language, their hope is that students will learn to ‘hear God’ in the respectful broadening of their minds.

Have you noticed today how the rhetoric is about the narrowing not the broadening of viewpoints?  It’s about disrespect and offence of others and their viewpoints.

The majesty of the gospel is that God does not need to respect human opinion and folly.  God does not need to come and join in.  But he does.  He humbles himself, he hopes for bowed knees and open hearts.  He even dies for me… and rises victorious over it all.

Notre Dame seems to be hoping for a more integrated educated person, a more generously hard-headed thoughtful person – a young person who, when in the fray of life is tempted to narrow, harden and try to win, might instead stop and ‘reflect’.

I found that encouraging.





Dec 092018

As we come to the end of the year, I’d like to thank the many people who have led and served our children and youth this year. There are so many of you. Firstly, there are the many people who have been involved as leaders or helpers of our crèche, Kidschurch and youth times on a Sunday morning – people who have prepared, been present, loved, taught, modelled and cared; people who have sought to assist our young people to [continue reading…]

Dec 022018

As children, Alphonsine, her sister Solange and two younger brothers arrived in Perth from Africa in 2003 as UNHCR refugees. They had sought refuge following an attack on their village near Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC]. They  had been separated from their parents who they believed had been killed by militants in the ongoing civil war in the DRC. The family group was assigned to the St Philips Wakimbizi Group established by Graham Whitley about 20 years [continue reading…]

Nov 252018

Dear St Philips, Not really a musing, sorry, more of a short report. Here are a few highlights from the life of The Common over the last month. Alpha:  We have two men doing the Alpha course at the Duffs. Missional Community (MC): On mission this month, the Duff MC met at the Willagee Community Centre. We set up 4 teams: some prayed around the area, others purchased Milo and milk, which were made up into packages, other people walked [continue reading…]

Nov 182018

I’m passionate about God’s people being equipped and ready to share their faith in the contexts they operate in. This will include families, neighbourhoods, workplaces, schools, sporting/hobby clubs, and plenty of other places and relationships. I’m also passionate about us as Christians going into spaces where we can shine as a light, make a difference by our presence and actions, and take up opportunities appropriate to the context, to share the good news of Jesus. I’m particularly conscious of the [continue reading…]

Nov 112018

It’s no secret that today is Remembrance Day. We remember the end of the First World War and, more importantly, those who died in it.  Lest We Forget. I was listening on the radio to Peter Hitchens, the renowned atheist Christopher Hitchens’ brother; the difference is that Peter is a committed Christian.  Peter was explaining eloquently the impact of the wars on the Christian faith of all of Europe.  Obviously everyone thought God was with them, when clearly, if winning [continue reading…]

Nov 042018

I’ve just come back from a great couple of weeks on leave. I spent time in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra – lots of time with people, with some time as a tourist thrown in,   as well as reading a few good books. In Sydney I stayed with a couple who I’ve known for almost 30 years. As a teenager I was in and out of their house as a close friend of their daughter and the friendship has continued and [continue reading…]

Oct 282018

As we continue our journey through the New City Catechism (NCC), I must admit to feeling a little bit embarrassed at all this talk about ‘sin’, ‘the law’ and ‘punishment’. These words are all so very unpopular in this day and age. Why do we have to dwell here so long? Why such doom and gloom? Give us some good news! We’ll get there soon…but not yet. A dark and difficult journey is made easier if you can see a [continue reading…]