Friday, August 27, 2010

A man's got to have a hobby

A man's got to have a hobby: Long summers with my Dad, William McInnes (audiobook)

As I have been trying to run lately, I find myself needing something to listen to as I go along - mainly to take my mind off the running.

Some of you will recall I have become a fan of the free downloads on and in so doing I have listened to Pilgrim's Progress and more recently, Stuff Christians Like. The latter made me realise that a bit of humour is an enjoyable thing while exercising.

So off I went to the local library to see if I could find something else. I stumbled onto this treasure by William McInnes (of whom I already a fan, thanks to SeaChange & East West 101).

The highlight for me was that William McInnes himself was reading it, and because of that I suspect I enjoyed listening to the audiobook much more than I would have done reading the book.

He accounts his childhood, with a special focus on his dad and it was so funny to listen to him imitate his father than I often found myself laughing as I ran along. The first third of the book was a thoroughly enjoyable listen to his memories of the past. The middle section was a bit harsher as he reflected on some other aspects of life. The final third was a moving account of the death of his aunt and then the slow decline & eventual death of his father with Alzheimers, which was so emotional I was moved to tears.

I also liked the insight it gave me of growing up in Australia in the 50s and 60s. It was enjoyable.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Facebook - what to do?

I have now been on facebook for 3 years. In that time I have developed a love/hate relationship with it. I check it several times a day. I want to know what certain friends are up to on a daily basis. For other people, I want to read about the big events. Every couple of months, I consider cancelling my account. In fact this very week I received this email from a friend:
I thought I'd let you know that I have deactivated my facebook account. It wasn't good for me. It indulged voyeuristic tendencies (reading other people's conversations) or made me feel like I was missing things when I didn't go online. So if you would like to contact me, just use good old-fashioned email.
Sometimes, I wish I had this friend's resolve.

Another friend has commented to me they have lost respect for other Christians because of the self-indulgent time-wasting nonsense they regularly write. That certainly made me think.

Here are some of the ways I have chosen to manage facebook:
  • I hide everyone who writes too much. Especially if you post about nothing. You fill up my page with your stuff and I just don’t have the energy to sift though it all.
  • I hide people I don’t know well. If I don’t talk to you in person, I don’t tend to read your stuff.
  • I use the privacy settings a lot. Many people can’t see all my photos, or my status updates.
  • Please, if you never write anything – give us an update once a week or so. Over 75% of my facebook friends never write anything and I would love to hear what they are up to.
  • I must look at it less. This has been an issue with me for almost the whole 3 years.

In the end, I don't think facebook is wrong or evil. Some things it offers are great. Yet I continue to be uncomfortable with it. It appeals to my addictive personality. I lack self-control in many things, and this is just another one of them.

My current decision is this:
  1. I will keep my facebook account for now
  2. I need to keep analysing why I use it and how
  3. I am going to restrict my facebook time to 10mins, once per day
  4. I am going to try some facebook holidays - a day offline every week, and perhaps even a week offline every month.

Ahhh, the dilemmas of the online life.*

* which, when compared to many people's actual lives, are nothing indeed!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Babylon's Ark

Book review: Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo, Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence

This great read is the story of conservationist Lawrence Anthony's decision to enter Iraq after the US invasion to rescue the Baghdad Zoo. I enjoy a good true story and this one has all the elements - excitement, details of a war zone, animals needing saving and people willing to help. It connected with my childhood dream to either be a vet or a zoo-keeper and held my interest throughout.

Lawrence, a South African, realised that with the outbreak of war in Iraq, the animals in the zoo in central Baghdad would be caught in the crossfire. So, he was the only civilian who entered Iraq at that time and did it to save the animals.
Once Anthony entered Iraq he discovered that hostilities and uncontrolled looting had devastated the zoo and its animals. Working with members of the zoo staff and a few compassionate U.S. soldiers, he defended the zoo, bartered for food on war-torn streets, and scoured bombed palaces for desperately needed supplies. Babylon’s Ark chronicles Anthony’s hair-raising efforts to save a pride of Saddam’s lions, close a deplorable black-market zoo, run ostriches through shoot-to-kill checkpoints, and rescue the dictator’s personal herd of thoroughbred Arabian horses. (back cover)
I'm generally not that interested in war stories, but I liked the angle on this one.

As I read it though, it did raise a number of questions in my mind. He is obviously a conservationist, and therefore concerned for animals and the planet. However, there were times when I suspect he cared more for the animals in Iraq than the people of Iraq. It is true they were kept in appalling conditions, but then again, the people of Iraq were also subjected to a tyrant in appalling conditions for years.*

It's a question that I have thought over often. As a teenager, I mostly wanted to be a doctor. However, for a couple of years, I changed my mind and wanted to be a vet. Why? Because I was so disgusted with the evil in the world and the way humans acted that I decided they weren't worth saving. Obviously, God changed my mind as he showed me what Jesus has done and that all people, myself including, are so worth saving that Jesus died for us all.

Despite that and the rant in the final chapter that we have to save the planet, the animals, and become sustainable and responsible humans (all true by the way, it was just a little contrived at the end), which included a plug for his new venture, Earth Organization - it was a great read.

Interesting, enjoyable and a different insight into a war zone.

* He does state once that he was more concerned about human lives (ie the health of the zookeepers before the animals), and that he recognised that the dangers the US soldiers faced daily were more challenging than any he faced at the zoo. Interestingly, he also does not generally support the concept of zoos, preferring animals to be in the wild. Of course, however circumstances dictate that some animals that have always been in zoos need to remain in zoos, as they are unable to be released.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

10 things I hate about facebook

On Monday I shared 10 things I love about facebook. Here is the other list: 10 things I hate about facebook.
  1. It’s a lazy way of sharing information – just throw it out there to everyone.
  2. It’s hard to be humble on facebook – it’s all about me, my status and what I am doing.
  3. You start to think in ‘status’ updates (or “how would I write this on facebook?”).
  4. You have to read so much rubbish to actually get to the useful information. It is apparent that some people feel even the most mundane events of their lives are worth sharing. On this point, I truly wish there was a scoring system for news. eg. 5 stars for major life events, 3 or 4 stars for interesting things or useful thoughts that are worth sharing, 2 stars for general daily info and 1 star for the rubbish that no-one cares about (eg. what you ate for dinner or the fact that your dog is cute).
  5. Every time they change the format, it becomes less user friendly and harder to sift through - I don’t want to read your comments on a friend that I don’t know. I don’t want to see one of your friend’s photos. Please people - change your privacy settings to ‘friends only’ for everything!!
  6. You fall for the lie that if you weren’t on facebook there may be crucial news you would miss out on.
  7. If you don’t check it every day, you can miss major news (yes, I know that this clashes with the sentiment in #6!)
  8. I really wonder how private any of it is? I now get junk emails from facebook pretenders.
  9. It seems to me that a massive number of people (including a significant number of people in paid ministry) waste a lot of time on facebook. And the cynic in me wonders – why are they not talking to people face-to-face about real things??
  10. It is an extraordinary time waster. This is not disputed by anyone who uses it. But no-one seems concerned about it.

Conclusions to come…

Monday, August 16, 2010

10 things I love about facebook

Chances are if you read a blog like this, you are on facebook. The online life all mingles together till we spend all our lives in front of a screen instead in front of another person’s face. However, there are pros to such things.

So here, dear readers, are 10 things I love about facebook:
  1. You can keep up with current friends and their daily activities.
  2. You can catch up with old friends, and fill in the gaps of many years.
  3. You hear about big events in people’s lives – engagements, births, etc.
  4. You find out about things quickly.
  5. It’s an easy way of knowing what friends are up to, without actually talking to them. (although I still wonder whether that is actually a good thing!)
  6. When you catch up with someone, you often know things that have been happening because of their facebook updates, so you can be somewhat informed.
  7. If you want to find someone you have lost touch with, facebook is a good starting point.
  8. You can purposefully be encouraging or edifying in your status updates.
  9. Sometimes you learn something important and can pass that information on to others who care to know, or should know (but aren’t on facebook). eg. your husband who ministers to young people who are all on facebook.
  10. Status updates from missionaries. Almost all the missionaries we support are on facebook, and I love the insight into daily life that it gives, in a very different way than prayer points (this is also why I enjoy missionaries personal blogs).

But facebook and I do not have a purely loving relationship.

Come back on Wednesday to see the counter: 10 things I hate about facebook.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Through the Bible, Through the Year

Through the Bible, Through the Year, John Stott

This great book by Stott is designed as a daily bible reading guide. He has used the church calendar as his framework and divided biblical history into 3 periods, taking 4 months of the year to cover each one. Each week is devoted to a theme or a book of the bible, which are then expanded by the 7 daily readings for the week.

I am reviewing it now, because if you are interested in starting it when he starts, it is designed to start at the beginning of September.

The four months from Sept-Dec are the 1st period, which covers the Old Testament to the coming of Christ.

The 2nd period runs from January to April and covers the whole story of Jesus, arranged so that you are reading the accounts of Jesus birth soon after Christmas and the events of his death and resurrection around Easter.

The 3rd period is May to August and includes all the events after Pentecost, Acts, the letters to the churches and Revelation.

I am just about to finish it, and I have really enjoyed it. I haven't used it as my only bible reading for the year, but have read it as well as my normal bible reading plan (previously discussed here). It's often provided some extra understanding of a passage or part of the bible, or an insight that I never would have thought of.

For those who would like to get their head around the whole bible, but find actually reading it is a bit of a challenge, this might be a good starting place, as his comments help to frame everything. If you would like a preview, you can view the book online here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Calvin - Chapter 10

Chapter X: Scripture, to Correct all Superstition, has Set the True God Alone Over Against All the Gods of the Heathen

What a lovely short chapter!* And a good one.

Calvin summarises his point so far,
We have taught that the knowledge of God, otherwise quite clearly set forth in the system of the universe and in all creatures, is nonetheless more intimately and also more vividly revealed in his Word (I, x, 1, p96)
You really know God through his Word, and his Word confirms anything that we might have learnt from his creation - but more wholly and completely.
Indeed, the knowledge of God set forth for us in Scripture is destined for the very same goal as the knowledge whose imprint shines in his creatures, in that it invites us first to fear God, and then to trust in him. By this can we learn to worship him both with perfect innocence of life and with unfeigned obedience, then to depend wholly upon his goodness. (I, x, 2, p98)
As Scripture points us to the true God, all gods of the heathen are rejected and excluded. We are not generally in too much danger of following Jupiter, Zeus or another false God which Calvin mentions. However, we have many other heathen gods - the environment, materialism, education, pleasure-seeking...

Which 'god' do you find yourself following instead of the Lord of all, who reveals himself in His word?

* on the other hand, Ch 11 is rather long - may have to work up the energy for that one!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Raising kids with God at the centre - resources

Resource List

This is the adapted list of resources that I handed out.

Books for adults:
  • Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God, Bruce A. Ware (Crossway, 2009)
This link will take you to a summary page of all books for parents I have reviewed, which include most of these above. From there you can also link to more detailed reviews.

Books for children (from younger to oldest readers):

Some bible suggestions:

  • The Big Picture Story Bible (David Helm, ill. Gail Schoonmaker, Crossway Books, 2004). This is a great bible for the 4-7 age group. It is one of the few children's bibles which explains that there is one unifying theme through the whole of the bible, God's people under God's rule in God's place. The illustrations are vivid and often from odd angles, which kids enjoy. The individual story units are sometimes too long, but you can split them.
  • The Jesus Story Book Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name, Sally Lloyd-Jones, ill. Jago. Very good for ages 5-8. It draws attention in each story to how Jesus will or does fulfill each part of the bible, Old or New Testament. The illustrations are engaging and enjoyable. It does not shy away from details and emotion.
  • The Beginner's Bible (Candle Books, UK or Zonderkidz, USA, 2005). Suitable for 3-6 years. The stories give some detail and the pictures are engaging (although not very realistic!).
  • My First Bible (ill. Andrew Gleeson and Sophie Keen; Parragon, 2007). Suitable for 4-6 year olds. The illustrations are less engaging and colourful, but the stories themselves are good and quite detailed.
  • When reading independently, move to a full bible (simpler translation), eg. NIrV or Good News.
  • For another review of bibles see my previous post or Jean's post.

Bible Reading Resources:
(all distributed by the Good Book Company)

Other resources:

Christmas Ideas
  • Advent calendar / set of readings about the birth of Jesus or the story of the bible up to Jesus: design your own or use another, eg. Advent Calendar Packs or XTB – Christmas Unpacked (both by Good Book Company)
  • Celebrate Jesus’ birthday the same way you would celebrate any other family birthday
  • Listen to good Christian Christmas music CDs, eg. carols and Colin Buchanan’s King of Christmas

Easter Ideas
  • Passover Meal on Thursday night (simplified for your family. An example is here)
  • Read through accounts on the days they happened
  • Daily readings leading up to Easter (design your own or use another, eg. XTB – Easter Unscrambled)
  • ‘Resurrection cake’ on Easter Sunday (put an cracked Easter egg on top – to show the empty tomb)
Many of these Christmas and Easter ideas are from, or adapted from, Disciplines of a Godly Family (Hughes) and Treasuring God in Our Traditions (Piper). See the books for more ideas.

Organisations / Ministries to consider supporting (there are many more!)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Delivering for Adelaide?

As many readers will be painfully aware - we are nearing a federal election here in Australia. I have no intention of getting all political on you.

But, I have been struck by these posters in our area. I'm not sure who thought of Kate Ellis's motto "Delivering for Adelaide", but I'm not sure it was the wisest choice. Every time I pass a sign with her youthful smiling face (she is 32), I think that her motto suggests she is a midwife (or perhaps very fertile). I suspect the thought never would have struck me had she been a man.

However, it is one of the nicer posters around, so I'll cope, and continue to smile when I see them as I drive around Adelaide.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Raising kids with God at the centre - #3

Raising kids with God at the centre – #3

The first two goals for our children were that they:

1. Grow up in the knowledge and love of God as their heavenly Father, & Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour
2. Mature in godliness; including character, speech & attitude

Our third is that they:

3. Develop a life-time habit of bible reading, prayer and church attendance

  • What are you modelling to your children in your habits of bible reading, prayer and church attendance?

If we want them to be learning to do these things, we have to be teaching them how – it’s modelling again. Again, let me say, I am not trying to make you feel guilty, we all find this hard. But, we need to keep trying and showing our kids that we are keeping trying

Bible reading
  • Form the habit – read the bible or a bible story to your child every day. We do it at bedtime, it’s the only time that never changes.
  • Have lots of bibles appropriate for each age. See here for my previous post about children's bibles, and one by Jean.
  • When reading independently, move onto a full bible, with a simpler translation (eg. NIrV or Good News). Although, even once they are on a full bible, I would occasionally return to the Jesus Storybook Bible or the Big Picture Story Bible, to ensure they are grasping overall themes and concepts.
  • Have accurate bibles – do they miss out key parts? Do they present an accurate picture of the whole bible message? Do they include sin (Gen 3)? The promises to Abraham (Gen 12)? How do they deal with Jesus’ death and resurrection? Do they have anything about Acts and the early church, the Holy Spirit, Paul and the letters to the churches or Revelation?
  • Don’t be afraid to change /edit their bibles as you read it aloud to match the real version (obviously this is harder to do with a competent reader sitting next to you!)
  • Don’t be afraid to give up on a bible when it’s not good enough (this is less important with toddlers, and much more important when they can read themselves)
  • Check their understanding – especially when they are reading the bible themselves, make sure they are understanding it. Children are so literal things like parables can be hard to understand, they can get stuck in prophecy, etc.
  • Use extra resources to help you (eg. devotional materials like XTB and Table Talk).
  • Learn bible verses as a family (use songs, eg Colin CDs; stick them up on the wall, etc)


Pray for your children and pray with your children.

We want to model that prayer is a normal, natural part of each day, we turn to God first in all things.

When to pray? always!
  • putting them to bed
  • before meals (grace)
  • pray for God to take away fears / bad dreams
  • for special events – starting school or kindy, birthdays, etc.
  • about issues – problems with friends, when people are sick, needing help to be kind
  • pray for emergency vehicles when they have their sirens on. (I got this idea from a friend – we pray for the person in trouble, we pray for the police or the doctors and pray that they will all know that Jesus loves them).
How to pray?
  • Pray from prayer diaries with pictures (make your own). Perhaps a column for each day, including family, friends & ministry/others. Let older children help design their prayer diaries and who they want to pray for.
  • Write out prayers for readers to read out. (eg. could make them with a thank you, sorry, please format)
  • Pray with them teaching them how to pray informed and biblical prayers
  • Let them learn how to pray aloud, but at the same time teach them more ways to pray
  • If you are uncomfortable praying aloud – children are so trusting, they will think anything you do is right and good, and you will keep learning as you keep praying with them.

  • Go!
  • Make it a family priority – a weekly commitment that is unmovable. It is more important than birthday parties, sport & family commitments.

To think about:
  • Have you ever explained to your children why you go to church?
  • How would you explain it?

Next post: Resources

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Things I have learnt about having pre-schoolers:
  • always buy washable textas
  • twistable crayons are so much better than plain crayons. They don’t break as easily and are less likely to be eaten.
  • when you change the sheets, that very night someone will wet the bed or vomit in it
  • never buy dark coloured sheets (eg. red or blue). They look lovely the first night, then they are constantly covered in a white sheen of dried snot and saliva.
  • expect the batteries of annoying, noisy toys to last for years
  • openly admit that when the batteries of said toys run out, you will not replace them
  • only grandparents & people who secretly want to torture you will give noisy toys to your children (unless you are like me and for some reason a ‘musical kit’ seemed like a great Christmas present for your 3-year old son, by Boxing Day you realised the error of your ways)
  • invest in a heavy, stable sticky-tape dispenser and a heavy-duty pencil sharpener that attaches to a desk
  • make sure any ‘dress up’ outfits can be put on & taken off by the child on her own. When you dress her up as Supergirl for the 30th time in one day, you’ll know why! This also prevents toilet accidents when they can’t get them off fast enough
  • a child that always undoes the zipper on her jumper/jacket/sleepsuit can be stymied by a child-safe safety pin.
  • a 2-year old can be taught the difference between a '6' (or '5'!) and a '7' on a digital clock, especially if you cover up the last two numbers. With persistence, said 2-year old can learn to stay in their room until they can see the '7'.
  • small wounds can be healed with a kiss or rub
  • baby wipes can clean almost anything – on a child and around the house
  • until you are 2, the wrapping is more fun that the present itself. This principle can be extended to almost age 6 if the wrapping is bubble wrap. So, how about a wrapped present of bubble wrap?
  • you can re-gift presents amongst your children, so the play gym loved by #1, can be hidden one month before Christmas, wrapped up and given to #2 with no-one the wiser (especially the recipient). It’s harder to convince the older child though, and when they announce around the Christmas tree “That’s my bike!” – you must to be quick with the explanation “And now it is #2’s bike”. If well managed, the re-gifting of presents can last years, leaving everyone feeling loved and well-provided for, but with your home never actually accumulating more things.
And more seriously:
  • remember – you know your child best
  • trust yourself
  • have fun with them – they really are very cute at this age.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Concise Chinese-English ...

Book Review: A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, Xiaolu Guo

Husband bought this for me as a present to read when I finished all my talks last term. I waited with anticipation to read it and started it the night I was finished. It looked great, as well as potentially interesting and personally relevant to us (with him being Chinese and me Caucasian). It had good reviews on the cover, etc. I was looking forward to a bit of fiction.

It started well – written in poor English by Z (actually Zhuang, but no Westerners can pronounce her name) as she first arrives in England for a year of language study. It’s her thoughts in English, even though she can’t write in English well yet. I really enjoyed reading these early chapters. Each chapter is based around a word in the dictionary which she used to translate all the English to Chinese. I really liked this, it was a clever idea – the writing continually improves through the book as Z’s English improves and she learns and understands more about living in London.

Then she meets a man. Which all seemed good to start with. Except she is 24 and he is 44. And he is bisexual. And a commitment phobe. And unimpressive on so many levels.

So what started out so promising just ended up being annoying and depressing.

Such as shame, I was so keen to judge a book positively based on its cover. So sad to be so disappointed.

[As an aside, it reminded me of a book my mum bought for me as a teenager about a man who worked in a zoo with an orangutan (or perhaps other monkey). For a daughter who loved animals and was contemplating being a vet, it seemed a perfect choice. However, it turned out that that it was actually about the man developing a very intimate relationship with said primate. Opened my eyes to some perversions of nature, and horrified my mother that she had chosen such a book!]

So, as they say, “don’t judge a book by its cover” – either with a positive judgment or a negative one – you have to actually read the book!

(Husband just finished reading it and contrary to me, he quite liked it, because it was a story of her trying to find and understand herself in a foreign country. That's probably sums up some of the differences in the way we read books. When I read for pleasure, I want a good story that preferably ends well. I can appreciate the literary qualities but that does not mean I will enjoy it more. Also, he is less critical than me!)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Calvin - Chapter 9

Chapter 9: Fanatics, Abandoning Scripture and Flying Over to Revelation, Cast Down All the Principles of Godliness

In this chapter, Calvin addresses the hazards of separating the Holy Spirit from the bible. He strongly urges that any teaching of the Holy Spirit which does not point to the words of Scripture is a false teaching of the Spirit. For the Spirit points to the word of God and the word of God teaches us about the Spirit:
the Spirit, promised to us, has not the task of inventing new doctrine, to lead us away from the received doctrine of the gospel, but of sealing our minds with that very doctrine which is commended by the gospel (I, ix, 1, p94)

[God] sent down the same Spirit by whose power he has dispensed the Word, to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the Word. (I, ix, 3, p95).

When then do we do? Ensure we never separate the words of God from the work of the Spirit of God, and that we spend time in his word:
we ought zealously to apply ourselves both to read and to hearken to Scripture if indeed we want to receive any gain and benefit from the Spirit of God (I, ix, 2, p94)

the Holy Spirit so inheres in His truth, which He expresses in Scripture, that only when its proper reverence and dignity are given to the Word does the Holy Spirit show forth His power. (I, ix, 3, p95)

You might also want to see Cathy's post on this chapter, it was helpful.

And Meredith - hope you noted my referencing!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Raising kids with God at the centre - #2

The first goal for our children was that they:
1. Grow up in the knowledge and love of God as their heavenly Father, & Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour

Our second is that they:

2. Mature in godliness; including character, speech & attitude

  • What characteristics do you want your children to have when they are grown up?
  • How are we going to teach them these things?

When you think about what characteristics you want your children to have, you probably come up with a list like this: loving, faithful, kind, patient, generous, servant-hearted, forgiving, gracious, mission-minded, self-controlled, humble…

How will we teach them these things? We have to model it.

This is not to make you feel guilty, all of us struggle with these things. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to be continuing to try and moving forward. In fact, admitting we also struggle can really help our kids to see that we are still learning too. (“I’m sorry, Mummy wasn’t self-controlled then, I got angry, I’m sorry”).

Paul says to Timothy “train yourself to be godly” (1 Tim 4:7b). Our children are sinners, just like we are. Just like we are still learning, so are they.

You might want to pick a few specific traits you would like to work at modelling to your children, and then think about how you might do it. We did it briefly with these three:

  • we want them to understand grace!
  • that they are forgiven (by God and by us) and that they can forgive others
  • we don’t hold grudges, forgive and move on: “yes, you did do the wrong thing, but you came to me & apologised and you meant it, so thank you”

  • being kind to them– how we treat them – listening, giving them time, etc
  • showing kindness to others - people behind the counter, on the road, their teachers, their grandparents.

Generosity / being servant-hearted and mission-minded
  • showing generosity with the time, money and resources God has given you, and speaking about it: “God gives us all our money and we want to give some back to him”
  • sponsoring children & help our children pray for them, & write to them (we sponsor through Compassion because you are allowed to talk about faith and God)
  • praying for & supporting missionaries
  • make up Operation Christmas Child boxes (see Samaritan's Purse)
  • explain “we don’t spend our money on that, instead we choose to spend it on…”
  • explain why we make meals for people when they need help, or why people bring us meals. Talk about how we see generosity in others

Modelling involves doing something AND taking the time to explain why you are doing it.

Next post: Developing a life-time habit of bible reading, prayer and church attendance

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Farewell to 24

A few months ago we watched 24 for the last time. We have really enjoyed all 8 seasons.

I used to hate suspenseful movies and shows, then I got addicted to 24!

Six years ago, Husband was out on Thursday nights. When he came home at 9:25 he would find me in an adrenalin rush, unable to believe what I had just seen and the cliffhanger I was left with for another week - the end of yet another episode of 24. It was Season 4.

It seemed some other friends also got into it at the same time, so for about a year we would get together and watch 4 episodes at a time, working our way through Seasons 1-3. The end of the night was always a cliffhanger, and it would take about an hour for my heart-rate to slow to normal again.

You never knew what would happen and the plotlines got more and more unrealistic as time went on. However, you did know that someone (or more than one) person you really liked would die or disappear in every season. It became a guess to see who was going to last till the end. The list of names flood back: Michelle, Tony, Audrey, Terry, Nina, Aaron, Bill Buchanan, President Palmer ...

In the end, only 2 members of the cast from Series 1 make it to the end of Season 8 unharmed. And one other lead female who joined in Season 3. Other fans - do you know who they are??

I will miss the unreality of 24. And Jack Bauer.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Raising kids with God at the centre – #1

Last post I outlined some things we want to remember as we think about raising kids with God at the centre.

The first goal we have is that our children:

Grow up in the knowledge and love of God as their heavenly Father, & Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour

a) What do you believe?

The key to teaching our children about God is knowing him and loving him ourselves. We want our children to follow our model of faith, imperfect as it is.

Paul says to the Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). We could say the same to our children.

It’s worth thinking through what you believe, and how are going in your relationship with God. Are you growing in your knowledge of him, in your trust of him? If not, make it a priority that you are growing in your faith.

Some things to think about:
  • How are you growing in your knowledge and love of Christ as your Lord and Saviour?
  • Write 1-2 sentences that explain your faith to a child. (if you would really struggle to do this, perhaps get a hold of Leading Your Child to Jesus, by David Staal, reviewed here)

b) How do we teach children the things of God?

Using all opportunities at all times:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Some things we can use to teach children about God:

1. God’s word (this is so important I’ll look at it separately in #3).

2. Resources

There are so many good resources these days for teaching children about God, you just need to look for them. I recommend going to a Christian book shop without children and spend time reading what is there, and be discerning – see if it’s any good. Trust your instincts. What my family loves, yours may not and vice versa. (I gave out a very detailed resource list at the seminar, I will reproduce some of it at the end of this series)

3. The world around us

- Use the world that God has made to teach of him - refer to things God made - people, the animals, the land, the rivers, etc

- Talk about the weather & the seasons – that God sends the rain and the sunshine

- Use the things around us to show how we can be thankful and praise God:
  • the rain that gives us water to drink and helps the garden grow
  • the butterflies and the ants in the garden
  • our house to live in
  • a car in wet weather
  • that Daddy has a job so we can buy things
  • that we can go to church safely, etc, etc.

4. People & the way they act

- Explain why people do things in biblical terms: eg. sinful, self-controlled, gentle, generous, obedient, etc. (rather than naughty, mean, happy …)

- Do the same with your own behaviour and theirs:
  • “I’m sorry, I was not being loving”
  • “You did not do what I asked, that was disobedient”
  • “I could tell you were angry at your sister, good job at being self-controlled”

5. Events of the year
  • Traditions - Noël Piper says that “Our children come to believe, probably unconsciously, that whatever is repeated regularly has significance.” (p34) & that “we must plan to reflect God and teach about Christ in the repeated events of our lives” (p35). (Treasuring God in Our Traditions, Piper)
  • Birthdays – use them as a time to thank God for your child. If you make a big deal out of birthdays in your house, put the same amount of effort into Christmas and Easter.

The two big times of the year where you can plan to teach specifically about God are Christmas & Easter.

Christmas (& advent)
  • Make the decision to reclaim Christmas from Santa and commercialism – make it about Jesus in your house. If you don’t no-one else will, and this becomes even more important once they start school.
  • Use advent to your advantage! Use the 25 days to talk about Jesus. There are materials available from the Good Book Co (advent calendar packs) or design your own.
  • Whatever you do – make it fun – we want to good news about Jesus to be more exciting that anything Santa has to offer. We have boxes that are opened each day, each child gets a treat in the box, there’s a bible verse and an activity to do. It’s fun!
  • If you follow through some of my previous posts on Christmas, you can find other ideas and these will also link to other blogs.
  • Same with Easter - it’s just as important to teach what Easter is about and why we celebrate it.
  • Again, make your own, or use the Easter Unscrambled (Good Book Company).
  • If you follow through some of my previous posts on Easter, you can find other ideas and these will also link to other blogs.

Some things to think about:
  • Which of these suggestions might you try with your children?
  • What traditions do you have in your family? Which ones can you include more purposeful teaching about God?

Next post in series:
#2 - Maturing in godliness; including character, speech & attitude

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Do you love nature documentaries and the voice of Sir David Attenborough?

Or do your kids love animals, reptiles, birds, etc?

We just watched the first episode of Life, which screened last Sunday on ABC1.

Mr 7 loved it, he was entranced. Miss 5 enjoyed it too. The only parts I wondered if they would struggle with was when three cheetahs brought down an ostrich, and when a seal killed a baby penguin. The latter was rather graphic as you watched it repeatedly bite chunks out of the still very recognisable penguin. However, I think I was more concerned about it that they were.

The cinematography and photography was amazing. I don't know how they got half of the pictures. I was fascinated too.

Even if you start watching/taping it from next week, you will still get 8 episodes. You can watch the first two here.