Sunday, July 31, 2011

Who says there are seven signs in John's gospel anyway?

Okay, so I'm trying to organise a unit of Sunday School lessons on John's gospel for term 1 next year. Ideally, it would work such that a minister could take it and organise a preaching series to run at the same time, aligning nicely. Trouble is, with kids you can't go through a book like John from beginning to end like you might with adults in church. It's too long.

But how to chose which bits to do? And would any guy actually want to follow my plan?

I'm working with 2 ideas at the moment. They've both got their problems.

1. 'I am' statements.
The unit would be called 'Who am I? Detective work in John's gospel' or something like that.
We'd do:
1. John 6 - Feeding the 5000 - I am the bread of life
2. John 9 - Healing the man born blind - I am the light of the world
3. John 8 - Dispute with the Jews - Before Abraham was born, I am.
4. John 11 - Raising Lazarus - I am the resurrection and the life
5. John 14 - Farewell Discourse - I am the way, the truth and the life
6. John 10 / John 19 - Crucifixion - I am the good shepherd
7. John 20 - Resurrection (doubting Thomas) - My Lord and my God

I could add an 'I am the vine' one, but I can't imagine how I'd teach it in a compelling way.

2. Signs
Apparently there are seven signs in John's gospel. Commentators argue over what the seven signs are. I'm not sure who came up with this number seven. Seems a bit random to me. Was John counting anyway? 

I could fairly easily do a seven signs unit. I can imagine how it would look visually. I'd make a graphic like a street sign for each week and the kids would have to tell me what each sign meant - not just which story it referred to, but the significance of it.

Trouble is, which signs?

Someone suggested this formation:
1. Water into wine
2. Healing official's son
3. Healing paralytic at pool
4. Feeding 5000
5. Walking on Water
6. Healing a man born blind
7. Raising Lazarus

The most obvious problem is that these all signs are all from the first half of the gospel. Seems wrong to leave out the crucifixion and resurrection narratives. Why isn't the resurrection a (the!) sign? Remember back in chapter 2 after the cleansing the temple incident... the pharisees asked for a sign to show that Jesus had the authority to change temple practice. Jesus said 'destroy this temple and I'll raise it in three days,' speaking about his death and resurrection. Surely that qualifies the cross as a sign...  And I'm not sure why I'd bother with the paralytic at the pool story or the walking on water incident... 

My main issues with both the signs and the I am approaches is that neither of them lets me teach a lesson on Nicodemus. And I'd really like to do that. And how cool is the snake lifted up on the pole image?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nathan already posted this, but it's great. So watch it again.

John Stott died.

A great saint. Look forward to meeting him.

I've been amused by some of the fb comments.

MJ tells us not to say rest in peace. Instead we should affirm that Christ has conquered death.

MB says 'may he rest in peace and rise in glory'.

Another friend (NF) says he has a resurrection body now.

So, is he resting peacefully? Kind of. Maybe more like waiting than resting. Waiting for the rest that is to come when Jesus returns and he is given his resurrection body. And this waiting is kind of peaceful, but not completely. Remember the fallen saints in Revelation 6:10 praying 'How long till you avenge our blood...'

Does it matter? Not really.

Joel is 10 today!

We gave him a watch, a Hobbit graphic novel, 2 calculators (one to pull apart and the other to replace his last school one that he pulled apart), a banana (yes, a real one), a box of fruit loops and a new Percy Jackson book.

A whole decade with Joel. Wow.

Joel was born at RPA at 9.30am, after a 7 hour labour (during which time I had so much gas that I couldn't quite work out if it was me experiencing the pain or someone else.) He has always been a very determined child. For the first 6 months, he was absolutely determined to sleep. He hated anything that took him out of his bassinet. He would feed quickly and aggressively (5 minutes, 5 times a day. Right from the start.) then pout until he was put back to bed. We made sure he was bathed every Sunday morning before church. If ever I had to take him out for a walk or to the shops, I made sure there was a dark coloured blanket covering the pram. In spite of this, people would still try to look in at the baby. Joel would let them know exactly what he thought of their presumption, glaring at them till they retreated. Shocked, they'd quickly make some comment about how cute Nathan was.

Joel got his first teeth at 16 weeks and wasn't afraid to use them. At 5 and a half months he learnt to crawl and was determined to do as much damage to himself and his environment as possible. Big brother Nathan's ordered environment was turned upside down and has never quite been righted. At around 9 months, Joel started smiling and at 11 months he learnt to walk.

At around 15 months Joel got cute. Really cute.

He also decided it was time to say goodbye to nappies. 'Too tight.' Despite the packing tape we'd strap them on with, he'd just take them off. But it didn't matter. There was a whole big world out there needing to be watered...

Joel has always been beautifully affectionate. He loves to touch and be touched. He notices things - a haircut, a new shirt, a particular fabric, soft washed hair, nice bed sheets, a flowing skirt on a lady at church... and quietly acknowledges them.

He's always been creative. I remember the extraordinary collages at kindy.

He's always been a little bit perfectionistic. The grief over the sticky tape that just isn't strong enough to stick what it needs to stick.

He's always been a boy of fewer than average words. Why communicate in words when you can do charades or draw a diagram, or just snuggle in behind me? (Or scream. And scream some more. And yell. At age 4 Joel told us that he throws tantrums because he enjoys it.)

It's always been clear that his mind works differently to most. Why could he identify 100 dinosaurs, but only 3 letters? Why were pink and white still confused at age 5? Why doesn't the year begin in December? Why had 3 year old Joel asked all the apologetic questions and yet at age 5 still have no idea which day followed which? Why could he listen to book after book read to him (and understand really advanced concepts) and yet still not recite the alphabet?

Joel has always been interesting. He loves poetry and music. Gets an adrenaline rush from an art gallery. Still holds my hand whenever he can. Kids gather around him at school because he has cool ideas. He could be with a friend every day of the week if I didn't set limits.

Joel has been the child I've lost the most sleep over and the one I most closely identify with. He has been with us for a decade - and yet, in a way for so much longer than that. I look at him and see my father, my mother, my sister, myself... he is so much my kin that I feel he's always been here.

Joel is 10 today. Thank you God for keeping him safe so far. Please guide us as we guide him through the next stages. In your mercy to him and to us, keep him close to you now and forever.

bananaless banana cakes

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

OS X Lion

This opposite direction scrolling is doing my head in.

I think 'Snow Leopard' was a cooler name.

And that's it for my review of the world's most advanced operating system.

I have a new MacBook

My old one died for the 4th time this year. Frustrating.

Hopefully, this new one won't.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


1. Auto play is always wrong.

2. Midi auto play is criminal.

3. Organ midi auto play is a capital offence.

4. I know how to use a play button.

5. You want traffic to your site.

6. We can forgive bad fonting.

7. Most of us multitask.

8. It can take quite a while to locate the offending tab.

9. It doesn't mix well with P!nk.

10. If you don't, I'm going to start a competing site called "Cyberhymnal without the *&^@ing midi!"

Don't know what I'm talking about? Then turn up the volume and click here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Koozzoo news

Have you heard of it?

A fb friend recommended that we all watch this. Do have a look. It's climate denier craziness. Everything is bad bad bad - one world government, the end of civilisation as we know it etc etc.

What surprised me was that the woman reading the story seemed sane. The material wasn't anywhere near sane, but this apparently well adjusted woman was reading it as if it were. Strange. So I did a little research. Here's how it works. You email them your draft script, a few images and $140. You pick the presenter you want, chose a background and template for the ad. They quickly polish up your script, read it and produce it to a studio quality piece. And they do a pretty good job. Craziness is presented with some credibility.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

robomaid just took it upon herself to clean the floor.

Who am I to complain?

We've had her for 3 weeks now.



  • The kids can operate her better than I can.
  • She shows initiative.
  • She works without me! (Until she gets stuck.)
  • With Robomaid on the job, the floor is always 70-80% clean. Like a day and a half after a major vacuum. 


  • She is slow. To keep the house pretty clean she has to be running for a few hours each day. Apparently this doesn't use much electricity.
  • She doesn't do corners well. (But if she is on a lot, dust tends to not gather in corners.)
  • She is needy. Her whimpering beep "I'm stuck! Help me!" gets on my nerves. My old vacuum never did that. I miss him.
  • She gets stuck under the lounge and chokes on our rug. All the time.
  • With Robomaid on the job, the floors are never 100% clean. Sometimes you want them to be.
  • She doesn't pick up stuff. (Some clip on hands would be a good addition.)
Worth the money? Not sure yet.

Ask in a month.


It's what Christian speakers* need to have.

The ability to say something that slices through all the I've-heard-it-before defences that I've built up over the years. The ability to wake me up and make me listen.

Because I'm lazy and sinful and naturally I don't want to listen.

Cut Through Killers...
- words, if they remain only words.
- religious words
- cliche words
- adjectives. especially superlatives.
Telling me that prayer is the most important thing doesn't make me want to pray. I'm still asleep.

Killer Cut Throughs... 
- fresh ideas
- sharp and thorough biblical understanding
- varied sentence length (short to medium) with extra short sentences for emphasis
- metaphors

There was a lovely cut-through moment at the conference I was at today. Carmelina was telling us how God likes to hear our prayers. She was using that revelation image of the prayers of the saints rising like incense to God. I was asleep but I woke up and heard what she was saying when she talked about the smell of bread cooking. I love that smell. (I hate the smell of incense.) Maybe my prayers please God like the smell of bread pleases me. Could God actually like to hear me pray? Maybe I'm not just a nattering annoyance to him... Maybe I should pray more...

Words are a tool, not the end point. Like paint to a painter. If, when a painter finishes her work, all you see is paint, she has not done a good job. The paint must become something else in the painter's hand. If words aren't used to evoke an image, an idea, a feeling... to communicate, then what's the point?

In the words of Miss Eliza Dolittle: Words, words, words, I'm so sick of words...

* and song writers. And Sunday School teachers.

Effort to Glory Comparisons in Conference Organisation

Want maximum glory for minimal effort? Minimal glory for maximum effort? Study these graphs to find out what role you should take at your next big Christian conference.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

And yet another new nephew!

This gets better and better!

Welcome, Leo!

Congrats to Phil and Linda.

Edmund, Abel and Leo. Three new nephews!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I have another new nephew

His name is Abel Peter.

I am chuffed.

Well done Jo and Andrew.

Sunday School Question

Okay. If you had to give up either up front teaching or small group time for primary school aged Sunday School, which would it be and why?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

a good re lesson today


(and Jesus).

Almost finished kings now. What's next?

Daniel maybe? We need to move into the NT sometime but I'm not in a hurry. I love teaching the OT.

product recall complete

Only one class had spotted the bomb.

Now for some Nikko pen action.

damage control

Off to school (non work day) to fix yesterday's blunder. I know that at least one whole class has discovered it. The question is, how many told their parents.

My son did. For this I'm thankful.

Hope the other kids kept it to themselves...

No phone calls yet, but the day is young.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What would you do if...

... you child's teacher sent home a workbook she had made that had a swear word in it?

Yep. I did.

Oh man I'm stupid.

I've just done something really dumb.

How dumb?

Really dumb.

Damage control.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

polity is brilliant

Good polity anyway.

When Andrew graduated from MTC, he came back to Qld to do a year of study to turn him into a Presbyterian minister. One of the subjects he had to study was church polity. I remember huffing and puffing about it. Waste of time, etc.

I don't think so anymore.

This week I've been reading about (another) ministry disaster. Not so disastrous as some (no immorality or money involved) but big and public and messy. And understandable. With this particular set of circumstances, it is obvious that this would have happened sooner or later.

Of course, individuals are responsible for their own words and actions, but in this case they weren't helped by the fact that the church's government was woefully inadequate. There has to be a formal system whereby complaints can be heard and ministers can be corrected by their peers or superiors. There has to be checks and balances in place so that one person is not required to carry too great a load of responsibility or to hold too much power.

This is what well thought out polity is about. It is often what is neglected when a ministry grows very quickly. I think polity should be put in the Christian Thought bag (with doctrine and church history) and given a thorough look at at theological college.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

boundaries? what are they?

A fb friend told us the other day about the troubles she's having with work ringing her on non-work days. She said that it's making it hard for her to set boundaries between work and the rest of her life.

It's got me thinking.

I've set up my life so as to minimise boundaries between work, church and family. We live across the road from where I work (and where the kids go to school) and down the road from church. I teach RE to the kids that I teach music to. I'm at school all the time with one thing and another. And two afternoons a week I have school kids over playing with our kids.

I'm not suggesting for a moment that my friend should do this. Her work and family situation is very different to mine. It wouldn't work at all for her.

It just got me thinking. Might be an extrovert thing.

I go to a coffee shop to escape.

another of my gym instructors...

... goes under the knife this week.

I told her she looks great and asked her why she was doing it. She said she needs to because she's so small that her clothes don't fit properly.

5 questions

1. Is it possible, as a flawed human, to run a big and successful ministry without being (or at least, appearing to be) somewhat autocratic in your leadership style?

2. Is it possible, as a flawed human, to run a big and successful ministry and not feel some pride in your (!) achievements?

3. Is it possible, as a flawed human, to run a big and successful ministry and humbly receive rebuke from your underlings?

4. Is it possible for a denomination to grow quite quickly out of a single church and for the necessary ecclesiastical structures to grow fast enough with it to keep all the checks and balances adequately in place?

5. Is there a mega church out there that unifies its members around principles rather than practice? Or is spelt out, directive application, something that draws people in the thousands?

Friday, July 15, 2011

warning to my afl dream team guys

If you get injured, I will sell you off.

Yes. I'm heartless.

So don't get hurt.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

a hymn on hymns

1. in this hymn that I will write
inverted may each line be
much further on, the subject put
to hinder, thus the clarity.

2. one wonders why onto the end
of each line verbs are placeth
precarious they hang and I
am fearful they may falleth.

3. It, of course, is because the verb
of all words altered may be
a humble -eth or -oth be put
to make it rightly rhymey.

4. each word as written I can read
but who its meaning guesseth?
though schooling doth I have and more
I can’t, and I confesseth.

sar 2011

Inspired by The King Of Love My Shepherd Is

gather us in

We don't sing this one. Wonder why...

Gather us in

Gather us in, O Love that fillest all;
Gather our rival faiths within thy fold;
Rend each one’s temple veil, and bid it fall,
That we may know that thou hast been of old.

Gather us in —- we worship only thee;
In varied names we stretch a common hand;
In diverse forms a common soul we see;
In many ships we seek one spirit land.

Each sees one color of thy rainbow light,
Each looks upon one tint and calls it heaven;
Thou art the fullness of our partial sight;
We are not perfect till we find the seven.

Some seek a parent in the heav’ns above;
Some wish a human image to adore;
Some crave a spirit vast as life and love;
Within thy mansions we have all and more.

George Matheson

Lord Monckton

I've been reading up on and listening to Lord Monckton today.

I've come to the conclusion that there is a big conspiracy going on and that all the governments of the world are out to make the world a worse place. Julia Gillard is a communist and is trying to bring Australia under a one world government. The spread of aids could and should have been stopped in the late 1980s. (Monckton recommended that the British and US governments enforce compulsory, monthly blood testing on their entire populations and impose life-time quarantines on all those infected. They didn't listen. The fact that people in Britain and the US have contracted and died of aids since then, is the fault of those governments.) Human induced climate change is a crock.

But most of all I'm looking forward to trying Monckton's miracle drug that can cure everything from multiple sclerosis to the common cold.

When you don't believe in God, you'll believe in almost anything else instead.

When you don't believe in God, you'll believe in almost anything else instead.

I'm coming to find that the same is true of science. When you don't believe in science you'll believe in almost anything else instead.

I could give examples.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Buffy looks like being a very capable deputy but...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ps 73

I'm trying again to write a lyric on godly living. Completely different direction.

Thinking about how dumb sin seems after the event. Why would we even consider doing something so obviously stupid? Yet while in temptation's grip...

The psalmists answer is to enter God's sanctuary and see things as they really are. Then we'll see that God is all we need and learn to desire nothing more than him.

My song is called Like Waking From a Dream. So far it is just a chorus. Looking forward to working on it some more.

exciting times ahead?

Our new deputy's name is Buffy.

I've not met her yet, but have high hopes.

Some wooden stake action is exactly what our school needs. Imagine the pd she could deliver. Spruce up staff meetings!

car stickers

Yesterday, Ben asked us what stickers we'd put on our car. I couldn't think of any at the time.

But now I know. I'd put on those family ones. You know - little cartoon characters representing each family member?

We'd have a dad, a mum, 3 kids, a dog and a robomaid vacuum cleaner.

I'm warm!

I have cecil spencer with me.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


bladvice (blog-advice) –noun
- an opinion or recommendation offered on a blog as a guide to action, conduct, etc.: I read some bladvice telling me to hang my socks in pairs on the clothes line.

Care should be taken with bladvice. Offering it too readily can cause blannoyance. 

Jane Eyre - insights from my 35th reading

I've been pondering the character of St. John, Jane's cousin. Hear how he describes himself:

"... I am simply, in my original state-- stripped of that blood-bleached robe with which Christianity covers human deformity--a cold, hard, ambitious man. Natural affection only, of all the sentiments, has permanent power over me. Reason, and not feeling, is my guide; my ambition is unlimited: my desire to rise higher, to do more than others, insatiable. I honour endurance, perseverance, industry, talent; because these are the means by which men achieve great ends and mount to lofty eminence. I watch your career with interest, because I consider you a specimen of a diligent, orderly, energetic woman: not because I deeply compassionate what you have gone through, or what you still suffer."
"You would describe yourself as a mere pagan philosopher," I said.
"No. There is this difference between me and deistic philosophers: I believe; and I believe the Gospel. You missed your epithet. I am not a pagan, but a Christian philosopher--a follower of the sect of Jesus. As His disciple I adopt His pure, His merciful, His benignant doctrines. I advocate them: I am sworn to spread them. Won in youth to religion, she has cultivated my original qualities thus:- From the minute germ, natural affection, she has developed the overshadowing tree, philanthropy. From the wild stringy root of human uprightness, she has reared a due sense of the Divine justice. Of the ambition to win power and renown for my wretched self, she has formed the ambition to spread my Master's kingdom; to achieve victories for the standard of the cross. So much has religion done for me; turning the original materials to the best account; pruning and training nature. But she could not eradicate nature: nor will it be eradicated 'till this mortal shall put on immortality.'"

Interesting, isn't it? Naturally he is cold, hard and ambitious. As a christian he is still these things, just bent in a different direction. God doesn't eradicate our natural selves, he puts it to use.

I think that's what gifts are. They are natural qualities used for gospel good. But 'till this mortal should put on immortality,' they will still have their dark side. St. John's restless ambition and drive to do more than others made him the right person to go to India. It also made him heartless towards Jane, who he wished to marry.

"What makes you say he does not love you, Jane?"
"You should hear himself on the subject. He has again and again explained that it is not himself, but his office he wishes to mate. He has told me I am formed for labour--not for love: which is true, no doubt. But, in my opinion, if I am not formed for love, it follows that I am not formed for marriage. Would it not be strange, Die, to be chained for life to a man who regarded one but as a useful tool?"
"Insupportable--unnatural--out of the question!"
"And then," I continued, "though I have only sisterly affection for him now, yet, if forced to be his wife, I can imagine the possibility of conceiving an inevitable, strange, torturing kind of love for him, because he is so talented; and there is often a certain heroic grandeur in his look, manner, and conversation. In that case, my lot would become unspeakably wretched. He would not want me to love him; and if I showed the feeling, he would make me sensible that it was a superfluity, unrequired by him, unbecoming in me. I know he would."
"And yet St. John is a good man," said Diana.
"He is a good and a great man; but he forgets, pitilessly, the feelings and claims of little people, in pursuing his own large views. It is better, therefore, for the insignificant to keep out of his way, lest, in his progress, he should trample them down."

A couple of ideas.

1. There are many books out there that encourage ministers to covet the St. John gift set. But why? Guys who are like that, are like that, because they are like that! Ultra-ambitious and impossibly hard working ministers are a gift to the church, but they are also an impediment.

2. Many women who work in churches, work for St. John types. (It is St. John types that have the biggest churches, and churches generally are pretty big before they employ women.) This is hard because women often (innocently) seek affection as a reward for hard work. They want their boss to like them. But the most you can hope for from a St. John type is (momentary) approval. And to get this you have to be seen to be working as hard as them. Can you see the difficulty?


Friday, July 8, 2011


Poor Robomaid is wandering around the house searching searching searching for her docker. She is worn out after vacuuming the floor. Will she ever find it? How many laps of the house will she need to do?

I feel sad watching her.


Ben - this question is probably for you, but others can offer suggestions too.

I want to buy Joel some comic books for his 10th birthday which is coming up soon. Any suggestions about what would be good? We've done Astericks and Tin Tin.



I'm a bit over it. My mobile internet thingy works about 20% of the time.

five lessons I've learned this week

- Camping makes no sense at all. We leave the comforts of home and civilisation, spend quite a lot of money (how many trip to anaconda were there?), spend many hours packing the car, putting up tents, pulling down tents, packing the car again, unpacking the car..., use yucky toilets, and get really cold, but somehow, it's fun. Go figure. 
- If your husband buys a camp kitchen gadget, he really wants to use it. Don't suggest that the gas BBQ 5 metres away would be easier.
- Let down your tyres, put the car into 4WD and put your foot down.
- Only guys from England swim in pink shorts. [Seriously, find a guy swimming in pink shorts and listen to his accent. I'm not wrong.]
- I can survive a few days without the internet.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I've missed you all.

Lots of gossip to catch up on.

Arrived home at 5pm. (Posted some pics on the way home!)

Unpacked and done 2 loads of washing.

Off to a meeting now.

Blog later.

Everyone needs one of these

Especially the family in the 'all wheel drive' that got stuck.

Lake Makenzie, Fraser Island

Noose River Ferry

Back onto bitumen!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Post sizzler

At capacity.

Sub 1.37!

He's on the far right.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Another Day

1. Another day. It’s not my prayer
That I should merely live,
To serve my saviour is my care
With every breath he gives.
Another day, a day of grace,
Another day to seek his face*,
Soon his glory we’ll see.

2. Another day, my knowledge small,
These earthly eyes see dim.
But it’s enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with him.
The darkest room he leads me through
Is one to him that isn’t new,
Soon his glory we’ll see.

If life be long, I will be glad!
If life be short, should I be sad?
Another day!
To live, to die is gain!
Each day that’s lived is one to serve,
Each night steps closer to the Lord.
Another day! Soon we will see! 

3. Come Jesus! You I long to meet
My eyes to finally see,
For if your work on earth is sweet
What will your glory be?
Wrapped in wonder, at your side
Clothed in white, a radiant bride
Soon your glory we’ll see.

sar 2011, from Baxter ‘Lord it belongs not to my care’

* Got to lose the grace/face rhyme. Cliche city!

Fraser Island

We'll be there Monday to Thursday. Should be fun. Maybe. No electricity or shops. Or houses. Or computers. Or mobile phone coverage.

What am I thinking?

It is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

It will be good.

It will.

bad internet

We're at my parents place. Their internet is slower than dial up.

And I've had a vodafail on my mobile internet.

How do people live like this?

Perhaps this is to prepare us for Fraser Island next week. No electricity there.

Robomaid has arrived

Today she ate the dog's tail. She choked and spat it up. Most of it anyway.

Friday, July 1, 2011