Thursday, November 29, 2012

How do you know when you've become too obsessive with

Is it when you find yourself checking every half hour just in case some new rental property has appeared?

Is it when you check within 30 seconds of waking up in the morning, despite knowing that rental agencies don't start work until 9am?

Or is it when you check at midnight and then again at 3am?

Just wondering.

Not that I do any of those things, of course...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Free Song!


EMU is giving away free mp3s of our song Did You Know.

Just click here.

If you are a regular reader, you'll have heard about this song from its very beginnings. Many of you also had input into the lyrics.

I'm fairly pleased with how it ended up. Our school choirs are singing it at the moment and loving it. Download it and enjoy!

Happy Christmas!

Monday, November 26, 2012

24 songs for a new church

New for us, anyway.

I've been working on putting together a 6 month playlist for a church. The more you sing a song, the more the congregation gets into it, so I want to really limit what we sing at first to just 20 or so songs.

I've gone for easy to pull off songs. Ones that people will learn quickly, ones that I know I can get a music team to play well, ones that will get a conservative group singing.

What do you think? Would this list work in your setting or would your people be bored senseless?

How Great Thou Art
When I Survey
Be Thou My Vision
Amazing Grace
Great Is Your Faithfulness
Come, Christians Join To Sing

Re-tuned Hymns
May The Mind of Christ My Saviour
Rock Of Ages
My Hope Is Built
Before the Throne Of God Above

Modern Hymns
In Christ Alone (Townend/Getty)
How Deep The Father's Love For Us (Townend)
Come People Of The Risen King (Townend/Getty)
My Heart Is Filled With Thankfulness (Townend/Getty)
O Great God (SG)
This Life I Live (Morrow)

Never Alone (Percival/Richardson)
You Never Change (Smith)
We Belong To The Day (Morrow)
No Other Name (Hodge)
The Heavens Sing (Percival/Richardson)
Jesus, Thank You (SG)
Grace Unmeasured (SG)
Let Your Kingdom Come (SG)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The problem with women's ministry 4 - Over-reaching?

Okay. This one will be controversial. I'm going to bounce off something that Jean said to get us started, but I'm actually not just talking about what she says. It's a much bigger issue. Once again, feedback (especially strong, negative feedback) is welcome.  

In this post, Jean states:

Titus 2:3-5 makes it pretty clear that Paul gives the responsibility of teaching and training younger women to older women (rather than to male overseers like Titus).

I disagree. I think the responsibility for teaching ultimately rests with the overseers of the church.

As I said in my last post, I think Titus 2:3-5 sets up a model whereby older women teach younger women what is good, by setting an example that encourages them to love their husbands and kids etc. The scope that Paul has in mind for older women teaching younger women, seems to be practical areas. Older women are to set an example of practical living that brings honour to God.

An older women who is irreverent in her behaviour, a malicious gossip and often drunk will not be able to teach what is good. Her example will not encourage younger women to lead sensible, pure, kind, hard working lives, loving their husbands and kids etc. An older women who is reverent in behaviour and not a gossip or drunkard will be in a position to do this.

It's fine for women to meet with one another to teach and be taught the scriptures. It's great if you want to do that, but that's not what Paul has in mind here. This verse doesn't compel you to do it. The responsibility for teaching the faith still remains with the overseers. It's an over-reach to say that older women are ultimately responsible to teach younger women doctrine. 

Why have I bothered to write about this. Why does it matter? Three thoughts.

1. I think that this interpretation of Titus 2:3-5 is another legalistic load that women put on each other. Meeting with younger women and teaching them is just another thing we are all failing at. I've been encouraged to think of myself as the 'older woman' since I've been 18! In conference after conference I've been told that I need to be meeting with younger women and reading the bible with them. It's suggested that instead of going back to work, women should spend their time 'fulfilling' Titus 2:3-5.  What I don't hear half so often is what Titus 2:3 really says to me as a (somewhat) older woman - I should be reverent in my behaviour and not gossip! Just about every woman I know who has had kids is interested in hearing younger mums' experience and offering advice. This comes pretty naturally for most women. The tough thing is hanging out with a young mum, then not going and gossiping about her with the next woman you see. If I can be reverent and not gossip (and keep sober!) then I will be an encouragement. 

2. Perhaps we overplay the teach thing in Titus 2:3 because we are deep-down dissatisfied with the idea of not being able to teach men and run churches. Thoughts?

3. I think we ought to be talking about every member of the church being involved with ministry, but the ministry that Paul seems to want from every member of the church is that of doing 'good deeds'. It is mentioned 9 times in Titus! Good deeds are what we are saved to do (2.14)! 

That's enough for now.

Comment away! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

the new me

Andrew says that one of the down sides of a big move and a new situation is that you have to take yourself. Flaws and all.

I say No.

With this new move I am going to reinvent myself.

I will be different person.

I will be outrageously organised.

Paperwork? I'll be the queen of paperwork! I will not procrastinate with permission forms. I will open envelopes with typed addresses. Heck, I'll even fill in the 7 year old CCLI form that they've sent and resent about 40 times now.

I will be a Getting Things Done devotee. Or maybe I'll even write my own book so others can learn from my mad organisational skillz.

I will no longer lose things. Everything will have it's own special spot and I'll put things back in the right place not just into some random cupboard to get them out of sight.

I will be brave enough to draw up and send out a roster. I will ask people to do things well in advance. I will not say yes to what I can't do.

I will do grocery shopping for more than one day at a time. (If Jesus returns, the poor folks who are left behind can eat it.) Maybe I'll write a shopping list.

Just wait, friends. Next year you'll need to be introduced to the new me.

Friday, November 23, 2012

No sugar one week in.

I'm 2kg lighter than I was this time last week!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The problem with women's ministry #3 - Model/Curriculum

I’ve appreciated reading everyone’s answers to the questions from the last post. In this post, I’ll attempt to answer my first question, which I think is the most important one.

Q - Do you think Titus 2 gives us a MODEL and a CURRICULUM for women's ministry, or just a MODEL, or something else or maybe neither?

I think Titus 2 certainly confirms for us the natural model of older women teaching younger women. I don’t think Paul’s original readers would have found this to be a revolutionary idea. And it really isn’t revolutionary to us either. All of us have picked stuff up from older generations. For better or for worse, much of how I operate as a wife and mother has come from watching my own mother in action. Everyday, without even meaning to, I copy her. I just do what she did.

I don’t think that Paul’s big point here is that older women should teach younger women. I think Paul’s point is that they should teach them what is good. The older women are to be reverent in their behaviour, not malicious gossips and not enslaved to wine so that what they teach the younger generation will be good, not bad. Their good example will encourage the younger women to live God honouring lives. 

I think example is the key idea here. Why? Look down to verse 7. Titus is to urge the young men to be sensible by setting the example.

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified...”

The word ‘example’ doesn’t appear in the older/younger women section, but looking at the NASB (I’m no greek scholar!) it seems that the strongest verb in vs 3 is ‘be’ not ‘teach’. 

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good...
What the older women ARE will teach the younger women. So there is an model in view here, but the model is that of older women teaching the younger women what is good by setting a good example. 

But do these verses offer us a ‘curriculum’ for women’s ministry? I don’t think so. Three reasons.

1. I don’t think that Paul has any up-front formal teaching role for women in mind here. I think it’s much more organic than that. Older people will always set an example to younger people. The older women are to make sure that in the way they live, the younger women are encouraged to live out their faith well. 
2. I think that the list given in vs 4-5 (and 3) is possibly more situational than it first appears. The word ‘sensible’ appears many times in Titus, but not at all in any other epistle. The younger women are to be encouraged to be sensible (2.5). The older men are also to be sensible (2.2) and so are the younger men (2.6) and so are the overseers (1.8). Could it be that good sense was lacking in Crete? Now, good sense may also be lacking in our context, but since it doesn’t seem to have been such a problem in other early churches, I am loathe to put it onto a set ‘curriculum’ for women’s ministry.

Also, did you notice that older women are to encourage younger women to ‘be subject to THEIR OWN husbands’? Why is the phrase ‘their own’ included? I wonder if it is because of the Cretan situation where false teachers are upsetting whole households (see 1:11). How does one upset a ‘whole household’ except by driving a wedge between husband and wife? Is this like the situation of the weak willed women in 2 Tim 3? 

For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses.” 

Instead of doing what these false teachers say, women are to be subject to ‘their own’ husbands. They are to listen to their own husbands. Not to someone else’s. This explanation is a little tenuous but I think we should think more about the inclusion of the words ‘their own’. I suspect that Paul is thinking a little differently to Eph 5 and Col 3 here. 

3. Seeing these verses as a prescriptive curriculum is dangerous. The inherent danger in seeing these verses as a curriculum is that we rip them out of the context of Titus causing us to wrongly apply them.

I think, for example, Titus 2:5 does not justify a 12 week course on how to be a ‘worker at home’. I don’t think that any theology of stay-at-home mumdom should be developed from here. I suspect that the ‘at home’ bit is in contrast to being malicious gossips going around to other people’s homes making trouble. 

As soon as we start thinking ‘curriculum’ we tend to stop thinking careful exegesis. We make jumps from the bible to the latest christian how-to book. There is a danger of reading far too much into each phrase (particularly in the name of developing a theology of ‘biblical womanhood’). We need to apply these words, but the best (and most cutting) application will come when we look very carefully at the original context, see how it would have cut in that context, and only then think about our own context.  

That’s probably enough for now. To summarize:
Model, yes.
The model is that of older women teaching the younger women what is good by setting a good example.
Curriculum, no.
It’s not helpful to see this as a prescriptive list of what older women are to teach the younger women because Paul has in mind primarily leading by example and because these things are more situational than they might initially appear and so we need to apply them with caution.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The problem with 'women's ministry' #2

In the last post I asked "Is it possible for a woman to be ministered to entirely in mixed settings and to thrive in her faith?"

Many of you contributed answers.

Roughly, they fell..

Yes - 30%

Yes... but - 30%

Yes... BUT - 30%

Pretty much everyone agreed that theoretically at least, a situation could exist where a woman was ministered to exclusively in mixed settings and thrive in her faith. Most people though, wanted to add a bit saying that the biblical way ala Titus 2 is for older women to be teaching younger women.

It's this passage I want to look at in this post.

3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
There are a couple of ways that people seem to look at these verses.

First, these verses are sometimes understood as giving us a MODEL of women's ministry and a CURRICULUM to follow. The model is that of older women teaching younger women. The curriculum (the content of the teaching) is loving your husband, loving your children, being sensible, pure workers at home, being kind, and being subject to your husband.

Second, these verses are sometimes understood as giving us a MODEL to follow, but not a prescriptive curriculum. The model, again, is that of older women teaching younger women. But the curriculum given in these verses (loving husbands and children etc) is context specific. In the Cretan context (Cretans, remember, were well known liars, evil beasts and lazy gluttons), Christian women needed to be taught to be hard workers rather than lazy layabouts like everyone else. In our context today, older women might teach younger women different things.

Some questions

1. Do you think Titus 2 gives us a MODEL and a CURRICULUM for women's ministry, or just a MODEL, or something else or maybe neither?

2. Does how you think about women's ministry reflect your answer to question 1? For example, if you think we are given a model and a curriculum, are you following the curriculum? (ps. what is the older single to do with this curriculum?0

3. What do you think this would have looked like in titus' context?

4. What do you think this passage says to the formal structures of 'women's ministry' that we set up in our churches and denominations?

Your answers, then mine.

No Sugar Day 4

All good. No cravings. I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.

The test today will be bible study morning tea. Don't touch the cake.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why the republicans lost.

If only our politics were as interesting as US politics. I'm loving all the post game analysis.

Goodbye Sugar

With all the stress of this year, I've put on 5kg.

I've not been feeling as well as usual. I've not had the energy I usually rely on to do all the things I like to do. I've been eating badly.

So. Time for a change.

The key to losing weight and being healthier is to cut one third of what you eat. All diets do is tell you which third to cut.

I've decided to cut the sugar. According to Sweet Poison (and my experience!) sugar is addictive. You have something with sugar in it and then you want more. Even if you are not hungry. My book says that if I stop eating sugar, my appetite will return to what it should be and I'll only want to eat when I'm hungry.

The problem is that just about everything in the fridge and pantry are laced with large amounts of sugar - yoghurt, tomato sauce, weet bix... and so over the day I'm consuming around 30 teaspoons without even realising it. Apparently it's the fructose part of sugar that is bad. Fructose is in fruit, but in fruit it comes packaged with fibre and goodness so your body has to work for it.

Here's what I'm trying.

Virtually no sugar for three weeks.

Breakfast - oats and milk
Lunch - Sandwich - meat/egg and salad - no mayo (it's sugary), no tomato. Be careful with bread selection.
Dinner - Normal stuff - meat, vege, rice, pasta - but no sauces that contain sugar.
Snacks - nuts, popcorn, no-sugar crackers, even chips can be okay.

35 hours in and I'm doing okay. The cravings are interesting but manageable.

I'm going to reassess after 3 weeks. The cravings for sugar should be over by then. If
I feel good, I'll reintroduce fruit and use dextrose (the non addictive part of sugar) for occasional treats.

We'll see how it goes. Anyone else tried this?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I have a job in Cairns next year!

2 days per week at the boys' primary school.

Exactly what I wanted!

Some of it might be music, some of it could be filling up non-contact time for teachers.

The Principal has already asked me if I'll run a session on the pupil free day teaching the teachers how to play uke. He wants to order 150 of them and give one to each teacher to keep in the classroom and then also have some class sets.

I'm really excited.

Thank you God!

The problem with 'women's ministry' #1 - A Question.

Let me say from the outset that I'm a fan of women's ministry. I'm a woman and I like being ministered to. I am taught the faith, prayed for and served by many, and I am grateful to God for this.


I think our current notion of 'women's ministry' exacerbates the problem that Jenny and others have outlined of labelling neutral life options as christian or non-christian. I also think that well-meaning women's ministries sometimes cause us to lose track of what the gospel actually is, and bog us down with other things leading to self righteousness or despair.

I'm going to write a series of posts outlining what I see as the problem. I'd love all sorts of people to chime in. Feel free to give your opinion. Disagree strongly if you like. I'm thinking all this through at the moment because we're moving into a new church in a new city next year and we get to do some re-inventing.

Let's start with a question.

Is it possible for a woman to be ministered to entirely in mixed settings and to thrive in her faith?

She could go to church on Sunday, go to a combined men and women's bible study group, never meet formally with an older christian woman to chat through christian living issues, not go near women's conferences and never read christian books or blogs written specifically for women.

What do you think? What's your gut reaction?

I think all of us agree that this situation is possible, perhaps in a situation where there isn't really an alternative, but do you think it's okay? If there was a 'women's ministry' program in your church - maybe a bible study group, a breakfast, a day conference - would you think she ought to join in or would you be good with her just doing the mixed group ministry thing?

I'm keen to hear what you think!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The trick to writing report comments fast...

... is not caring.

Parents of upper primary students will not be comparing report comments with eachother. It doesn't matter if they are all pretty much the same. The students will not feel less loved if I've not added a personal comment (I hope).

Today I've powered through report comments in record time. Two whole year levels - 6 classes - in just a couple of hours.

This semester, Year 7 students have been developing their aural skills, learning new ukulele chords and composing their own songs. H can notate complex rhythms and melodies with a very high degree of accuracy. She can progress smoothly through a wide range of chords, playing songs with skill and musicality. H composed an effective and imaginative song, demonstrating a very good understanding of how rhythm, melody, chords and lyrics work together to create mood and emotion.

This semester, Year 7 students have been developing their aural skills, learning new ukulele chords and composing their own songs. J can notate simple rhythms and melodies with a good degree of accuracy. He can play a range of chords on the ukulele, progressing smoothly between them. J composed a song, demonstrating some understanding of how rhythm, melody, chords and lyrics work together to create mood and emotion.

freedom in Christ

Jenny wrote a great post the other day about our freedom in Christ. She pointed out how we stupidly label things as more or less christian.

Here's a taste in case you haven't seen it yet.

Here are some sweeping generalisations that I've experienced in my time as a mum. 
Homeschooling (more Christian). Working mother (less Christian). Daily family devotionals (more Christian). Strict sleep routines (more Christian). Child watches television (less Christian). Immaculate house (more Christian). Lunches from school canteen (less Christian). Perhaps you've had experiences of this in your own context. And each context has it's own subtleties. 
But as Paul has reminded the Galatians, there isn't a more or less way of being a Christian. You either trust in Jesus or you don't. It's free. It's simple.

Here's my question. Why do we do this?

1. A natural tendency that many of us have is to be busy-bodies. It is right for us to be interested and involved with one another's lives, but we often overstep - especially in the name of 'ministry'. The choices that my sister makes are actually not my business.

2. Seeing others make the same choices as us makes us feel justified in our decision. Seeing someone make different decisions is threatening. It makes us question whether what we chose was right. Rather than face this feeling, we shoot down the person who is different. Pretty insecure, huh?

3. It is easier to be 'all-one-in-control-crying' (or attachment parenting, or homeschooling, or public schooling or whatever) than to be all on in Christ. We mistake uniformity for unity. Maintaining unity in the context of diversity is hard, but it is profound and wonderful.

4. Here it is. I'm going to say it. I think women's ministry has a lot to answer for in this. More on this in another post.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

We are the most strict, unreasonable parents in the whole world.

We won't let our kids play realistic FPS (first person shooting) games.

This game came out today and we aren't getting it. 

Aren't we terrible?

Oh well. Watch this video. The game is probably rubbish anyway.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A church formed around the idea of doctrinal purity...

Is only a couple of years away from a split.

And the pious talk and counter cultural lifestyle only hasten what's inevitable.

Sooner or later a theological or practical issue will come up and the leadership won't agree on it. Because of the disproportionate number of black-and-white thinkers in the congregation (black and white thinkers are drawn to doctrinally 'pure' churches), the issue will become fundamental. The angular personalities of the people involved will make patching over differences more difficult.  Because the church is not part of a well established denomination, there will not be systems in place to help deal with the conflict.


Sunday, November 11, 2012


For autotune to work, you have to be kind of in the ball park.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


1. Despite his mad right wing views, I have a soft spot for Douglas Wilson. I don't mind listening to his sermons now and again.

2. I just spent one hour researching Japanese toilet paper trying to find an answer for Wendy's photo quiz. I've got a few ideas, but that's one hour of my life I'll never get back.

3. I have a new tv show. It's called Demons and is on ABC3.

4. My dog is asleep on my bed. She likes it there. I'm so soft that I don't kick her off. Four years ago I wouldn't have thought this possible.

Life lessons for my biggest son

going to 'a' party.

1. Wear ironed clothes.
2. Brush your hair.
3. She'll appreciate the present more if you've put some effort into the wrapping. Make it look pretty. Probably don't use the superman wrapping paper.
4. Choose a small card. The bigger the card, the more you have to write. (Extra points if the card matches the wrapping paper.)

I know you don't understand why these things matter, but trust me. They do.

house hunting

We've been haunting for the last couple of months in preparation/anticipation/procrastination for next year. We want to rent a 4 bedroom, fully air-conditioned house with a pool, closish to the kids schools and our church in Cairns. Does that sound horribly materialistic? Maybe.

A few things:

- There's really no point in looking now since the decent things that are available now almost certainly won't be available in January.
- Looking makes the move seem real and help us to imagine life next year, so is kind of worth doing (in moderation.)
- very quickly becomes an obsession. Oh. I better look again now. Something else may have been added in the last 30 seconds.
- Cairns is not really any cheaper than Brisbane for rentals. But we currently live in an expensive suburb, so for the same price we should be able to add a/c and a pool.
- 'Fully Air-conditioned except 2 bedrooms' is not fully air-conditioned.
- A house in Cairns with 'all the extras' but no a/c or pool, does not have all the extras. A big shed will not make the summer bearable.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

So. Another 4 years.

I find US politics fascinating, but more fascinating than the elections themselves, is the response of Christians.

Of course US Christians who sit to the right are pretty disappointed about Obama's re-election. But what should they do to prevent such a thing happening again in 2016?

Doug Wilson who blogs at Blog and Mablog says:

Over the next four years our energies should be focused on getting all Christian kids out of the government schools. If your kids are educated by people who are soft in the head, why would you expect them to grow up and not vote for people who are soft in the head? 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I'm sorry to be a pain...

... but the spambots have taken over my email. I'm getting 15 a day.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

And yet another song - Broken Fairytale

This is by a couple of year 7 girls.

And another song - Chocolate Is The Best!

This is clever and sweet and simple.

Again, a year 6 boy.

11 year olds can do anything.

Year 6 song - One Of Them

I like this one. Written by a boy. Not a break up song, but just as passionate.

Viola lesson today!

First with Tamsyn for months!

Waiting to find out how badly my technique has deteriorated.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Call me parochial...

... but, unlike Kevin Rudd, I don't think Australian schools need to devote more time to LOTE. There are only so many hours in the school week, and every extra minute doing one thing means a minute less doing something else. And when it comes down to it, the something else is probably going to be music.

Baptism at church today...

... for a new believer for whom coming to faith was very costly. She gave a moving testimony about the joy of sins forgiven. This is what it is all about.

"He could never have done that."

Yes he could.

And I could have as well. And so could you.

Whether he did do it or not, is another matter.

But he could have.

There is no sin into which we are not capable of falling, given the situation and the means.

Yes, feel sad. Feel disappointed. But don't feel shocked.

Friday, November 2, 2012

off to the music shop.

I don't enjoy shopping except in music shops and the apple shop.

Today I have to go to a music shop.

I'm not going just because I want to. This is not unjustifiable materialism. 3 separate teachers have said that new books are needed. I have to go. It would be wrong not to.

The task now is to leave the shop with only the 3 books I'm going in to get...

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Drink whatever tea you like. Just be sure to match it to the right cup.