Thursday, February 28, 2013

Prayer for myself.

Spare us, Father!

Our hearts are prone to stray, chasing after the things that will only destroy us.

Spare us from pride, a blindness of heart, and a refusal to seek your will

from envy, malice, and uncharitableness towards others

from the lusts of the flesh and weakness in the face of temptation

from discontent and longing for what we can’t have

from godless ambition and seeking our own glory

from the deceitfulness of riches

from anxiety and prayerlessness

from laziness, busyness and trivialities.

Spare us, Father, from these sins and from all other things that distract us from the glory of Jesus Christ in whom we have forgiveness and all the riches of the world to come.


Prayer of Confession

Father God, 

We confess that sin has turned our hearts and minds upside down. We treasure the worthless but disregard the things of most value. We are preoccupied with the trivial but apathetic in matters of importance. We disobey with ease and bravado while our obedience is marked by hesitancy and cowardice. We seek our own good but walk a path that leads to our destruction.

Merciful Father, please forgive us and change us. Turn our hearts and minds around so that we will long for Jesus -- the one who men rejected, but in whom is hope and light and life eternal. 


Prayer project

I find praying difficult.

Combine an activist personality (I want to achieve something!) with a wandering mind and a sinful amount of self sufficiency and you get not much prayer.

I've been reading C.S. Lewis' book on prayer - Letter to Malcolm. I've read it before. There's some weird stuff in it (praying wordlessly?!) but it's interesting and helpful.

I've decided to write myself a set of prayers to use. I'll mostly write them in a form for corporate use (we, us, our etc) but I'll alter them a bit to use myself.

I'm going to try to write a couple of prayers of confession, a prayer for our world, a form of prayer for friends, a prayer for my family, a prayer for myself, and a prayer for my church.

For the next few weeks I'm going to make these the prayers that I say. I'm just going to recite them (or some of them) each day. I'll see if it helps me with concentration and making sure that I get around to praying the things I should pray.

Anyone else tried this?

This morning...

... I ran 3 miles (? km) in 80 degree heat and 500% humidity. A half hour soak in our cool shaded swimming pool wasn't enough to stop the sweat.

Note to self - 9am is too late for a jog.

Next week I should wait the extra half hour and do a class at the gym.

Monday, February 25, 2013

If two guys are sitting in a coffee shop chatting for a long time...

... I'd put money on them being christians.

Yep. The guys at the next table are.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cairns weather

I love it.

People kept on telling us how dreadful it would be etc etc, but it's really good.

You don't notice the heat and humidity (which aren't all that bad) when you are in air conditioning - as we are all day at school/work/church/shops... and home if we want.

It is always warm enough to swim and apparently February is as bad as it gets.

So there prophets of doom!

5 things I'm missing from my Brisbane life

1. Church.
2. Hanging out with people I've known for a long time and who know me well.
3. School. The kids, the staff, the families, the routines. Being known, liked and trusted.
4. Bumping into people I know around the community - at the shops and park and gym.
5. Living across the road from school.

5 things I'm enjoying about life this year

1. Beautiful Cairns scenery. The mountains. The clouds. The green.
2. An extra day off a week. I'm not teaching RE (yet) or doing a day time bible study group (but I'm in two evening groups - which is great).
3. Having piano and viola lessons with really good teachers. And practicing.
4. Our easy to care for house with a pool just 2 meters away. I feel like I'm living at a resort.
5. Doing Pump class with Micah (age 9!) every Friday afternoon while the others are at youth group.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Who would have thought? Draft 1.

1. Who would have thought the wicked will
the evil schemes of man
would work for good and fulfil
our Lord’s eternal plans?
Who would have thought that Judas’ greed*
could lead to my release?
And mocking, violent taunts and strikes
would come to bring me peace?

2. Who would have thought that nails and wood,
The hangman’s cursed tree,
Would be our joy and our delight
The symbol of the free?
Who would have thought that blood could wash
The foulest sinner clean
Or that our God would bear the cost
to see his lost redeemed.

3. Who would have thought the Lord of life
could lie within the grave
his body broken, silent, still
where none can help or save?
Who would have thought our strength would come
from one so weak as he?
Who would have thought that out of death
springs life eternally?

4. I will not trust the thoughts of men
or human strength and might**
For who of man would ever dream
the saving power of Christ?
But I will trust the plans of God
The saviour crucified
And I will rest in hope assured
his death will bring me life.

sar 2013

* change to 'human greed'??
** does this make me sound like a climate change denying, science hating fundy?

Dear Christians at the next table,

Please don't gossip so loudly about your church politics, views on evangelism etc. I feel like I've heard far too much.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Sorry to everyone who wrote comments for old posts

I just found them awaiting moderation.

Email notification fixed.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Just in case anyone had any doubts about the degree of my awesome...

... Let it be known that I have cooked dinner for the next 3 nights. Andrew is away so it doesn't matter that it's bland. It's nutritious and it's DONE. Mince and vegies peeps. Not much flavour but easy to swallow and quick to clean up.

Oh yeah! Oh yeah!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

How I write a lyric.

Most of what I write is rubbish. But CJ asked [in comments below] about my writing process. So here it is - for what its worth - in list form.

1. I go to a coffee shop (I find home too quiet and distracting.) I take my computer which has a bible on it, a pile of books on my kindle reader and many sermons that I've downloaded. I also take my mobile internet thingy (which doesn't work brilliantly in Cairns) so I have access to a thesaurus, a rhyming dictionary (which gives you a great list of obvious rhymes to AVOID) and anything else I might need.

2. I read the bible, pray, listen to a talk or read a book while I'm having lunch, jotting down any ideas that stand out.

3. Then I start my cup of tea and try to decide WHAT I want my song to be about. I write a few lines - not necessarily sequential - but they are all pretty bland.

4. I decide that I need to FIND A WAY IN to the topic. This is the hard bit. It needs to be something that people can latch on to. It needs to be fresh - not a path that a billion other songs have trodden. I think about what I need to hear. How does this topic apply too me? What are my misunderstandings / temptations etc? How does my disbelief find expression? If I really believed this, how would it change my life? Then I think about my friends (xn and non-xn) and think about how it relates to them. What do they need to sing.

5. I quickly pick a meter. Doesn't matter much at this stage which one I pick - I'll probably mess with it as I go anyway. [If you are a newby to this try 8888 (when I survey) or 8686 (amazing grace). They are easy to work with. Double them for 8 line verses. If you are a newby, try to faithfully stick to the syllable pattern and the emphasises to start with.]

6. Then I try writing stuff. I sit with my pot of tea until it has all gone, then start on a jug of water. Often I have headphones in. I'm not listening to anything, but it sends a message to people that I don't want to talk. I play with my hair until it is a complete mess. I write rubbish lines. I don't erase anything. I write more rubbish lines. At some stage I will write a line that (is probably still rubbish, but) has something. It's an idea. An in.

7. By this stage I've been in the coffee shop for 2.5 hours. There have been four lots of people at the table next to me. (I've heard all of their conversations. It's amazing how quickly children grow up. Most mothers are also astonished and slightly concerned about the rapid advancements that their baby is making compared to everyone else's. Perhaps they are gifted?) I have 45 minutes left until school pick up. In that time I also have to do the shopping. I decide to keep writing. I quickly spin my idea into a verse and then go and grab enough groceries to get us through the next 18 hours. Then I do school pick up. I feel satisfied that I've written something.

8. Later that night or the next day I read through my verse and decide that it sounds exactly like everything else that's ever been written. I didn't capture my in very well. I try again. If I'm lucky, I'll have more success and end up with maybe 3 verses that do something. If I'm not lucky, I'll end up with nothing. Oh well.

9. I put my verses on my blog. My blogging friends tell me what I need to hear. Normally you pick me up on the lines I hoped I could get away with.

10. After a few weeks or months I get a tune for my song. Alas, the tune doesn't fit the words properly so I have to do a re-write. Then the tune changes a little (or a lot) so I do another rewrite. And then another, and then another. Then we submit the song for a cd and it gets rejected or accepted. Then people listen to it once and say 'oh that's nice' and never think about it again! [Sigh.]

So that's my process.

Overall, I'm after:

Fresh Expression - Not cliche ridden. Interesting language. Subtle but satisfying use of rhyme (not just end of line rhymes, but alliteration and assonance) and metaphor.

Crafted Ideas - It's not just random thoughts. There's an internal logic and development of ideas that runs through it.

A Natural turn of phrase - Subject, verb, object. Not like this.

A Disciplined use of meter - Syllables matching between verses etc (makes it easier to sing)

Emotional Engagement - It needs to do something for people. Move them somewhere. Make then feel something, realise something. Otherwise, why bother?

Anyone want to try? 2nd year MTC students have to write a hymn or a prayer for doctrine assessment this semester. You could give it a go too!

Performance enhancing drugs?

I admit it. I've used Beta Blockers in the past and I'll probably use them again. They work a treat.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Grace awaiting me

Draft One. It needs a chorus. Thoughts?

Grace awaiting me

I will see the world to come
For one has suffered in my place
Now there’s grace awaiting me, awaiting me.
Judgement’s done, atonement’s made
the ransom’s paid, no guilt remains
Now there’s grace awaiting me, awaiting me.

I take comfort in the hope
of the thief upon the cross
For I’m worthy of as little love as he.
Like this man, I won’t despair
and when I rise I’ll see him there
For there’s grace awaiting me, awaiting me.

I will see the world to come
Despite the sin that I have done
For there’s grace awaiting me, awaiting me.
All who call upon the Lord
rise to life with peace assured
There is grace awaiting me, awaiting me.

sar 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

more on cong singing

I've been organising morning church music for the last few weeks now. It's gone really well. Here are a few things I've noticed.

1. It is so much easier to get a congregation to sing heartily if the song is driven by it's melody rather than by it's chord progression. For this reason, hymn-like songs just work better for congregational singing than rock songs.

2. Songleaders are the most important ingredient if you want the congregation to sing. Good song leading gives the congregation confidence and enthusiasm.

3. Vocal harmonies are delicious. Particularly a tenor line.

4. If I (a pianist) had to choose between a violin and a guitar, I'd take the violin. Guitar adds more complexity and, for a newby band, much more risk. I'd want bass and drums long before guitar.

5. It's easier to get a morning congregation singing heartily than an evening congregation.

All of this makes me sound really conservative. Perhaps I am. But more than ever before I am focussing on what helps the congregation sing out God's word. And it's old school stuff.

Here's our current song list:

When I Survey

How Great Thou Art 

Great is Your Faithfulness 

Amazing Grace 

Be Thou My Vision 

Come People of the Risen King 

How Deep The Father's Love For Us

In Christ Alone

This Life I Live

Let Your Kingdom Come*

Before The Throne Of God Above

Never Alone

Ten Thousand Reasons

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I really don't want Tony Abbott as PM

Can someone else in the Liberal Party take over please? Malcolm Turnbull? There's still time for a leadership challenge. Go on. For the good of the country...

Friday, February 8, 2013

new lyric

Songwriting season is upon us. This year we are writing songs on the atonement. I expect to write around 20 lyrics of which Philip will see something worth pursuing in 5-7. If we're lucky, one or two might make it onto a cd.

This is the second draft of attempt #2 (#1 was awful). It still needs a final verse which I won't write unless P likes what's there so far. I was going for a retro chorus. Not sure it will work.



What makes the guilt wrenched soul rejoice
What makes the fallen pray?
Five words that fill our hearts with joy - 
‘My sins are washed away!’

My sins are washed away
My sins are washed away
I’m cleansed, forgiven by his blood
My sins are washed away

There’s hope for when temptation’s near
and weight of sin bears down
There’s light for us in our despair
when dread and doubts abound.

There is a song that firms our will
and gives us strength to fight.
Five words that turn our hearts from wrong
and leads us to what’s right.

sar 2013

Twilight vs Shores of Hope

Shores of Hope
Attractive heroine
Ridiculously handsome hero
Rich hero, (comparatively) poor heroine
Heroine makes stupid decisions based on notion that she must sacrifice herself for others in really dumb, unproductive ways
Attractive but doomed secondary suitor
Completely implausible situation
Take home message that finding the perfect man is not only possible but your life’s goal
Heroine brought up by one parent
Every loose end tied up (ie. everyone finds their perfect love or dies)
All men seem to throw themselves at heroine
Men so passionately in love with heroine that they act out almost violently towards her
Given far to much information about what heroine is thinking ALL OF THE TIME
Pre-marital sex
Tacky, unconvincing conversion scenes
Christianising of feminine temptation to idolise romantic love
Action scene
D grade writing

As you can see, the two books have a lot in common. Shore of Hope offers us some unconvincing conversion scenes and sanctifies our lust for the perfect man who finds us just irresistible. Twilight offers us vampires and supernatural action. I'll take the vampires.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Shores of Hope

Justification: Today I have done a gym class, made two meals for my family (tonight and tomorrow), played viola (quite a bit and had a lesson), gone for a run, played with the kids, written (and re-written) a song....

What I want to write about: ... and read an Inspirational Historical Romance.

This one was called Shores of Hope. As opposed to The Sure Hope that I read the other day.

Through this novel I discovered that love involves sacrifice.

Beautiful Sarah falls in love with David (a worthy Christian man) then stupidly marries Jonathan (an unworthy sinner) when she thinks that David has married someone else. They meet up at church few weeks after Sarah's wedding and both are miserable. They declare their love for each other, but vow to be godly. (David slips up by hanging around outside Sarah house (stalker style) but it's okay because he is just praying for her.) As in any Christian romance, love has to find a way. It's hard for love to find a way while Jonathan is alive, so poor Jonathan is sacrificed. After a couple of months, he gets sick and dies (he becomes a Christian on his deathbed) and Sarah and David get married and live happily ever after.

[David also happens to be rich.]

I'm sorry.

If I had a daughter, I'd rather that she read Twilight.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I like my job!

Today I claimed a spare classroom as my own.

It is a good size and has 2 big air conditioners.

I'm a squatter, but if no one says anything in the next week, I'm going to decorate and and fill the cupboards.

I won't mind teaching the same lesson 12 times in a row if I can do it in my own room! (Actually, if I'm in my own room with all of my resources, I won't ever teach the same lesson 12 times in a row. Or even 3. But if I have to travel and only take what I can carry, I kind of have to.)

Anyway, good times ahead!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Want to feel like a leader?

Listen to some leadership podcasts or read some leadership book.

Try it. You don't need to actually lead anyone. Just read or listen. Leader-lit makes you feel macho.

Repeat after me: I was made to rule the world.

This is what my life has come to...

Okay, so I may have just swapped one time wasting activity for another.

Our new church has a library. It seems to largely consist of Christian novels. I took two books home. The first turned out to be a thinly disguised pro-life tract. A Christian couple are distressed to hear of their prodigal son's sudden death, but when they investigate the life he was living they discover that he had a girlfriend (Starlight) who is in the early stages of pregnancy. Unfortunately Starlight is considering abortion. I think if you make it through to the end of the book (I didn't) you'll find that the baby survives and that Starlight comes to faith. Just a hunch.

The other book I brought home contains four complete novels in one volume. Bonus! It describes them as Inspirational Historical Romances. I read one particularly inspiring story called 'The Sure Promise'. The sure promise was that God will right our fortunes and send us Prince Charming.

I think it might be time to turn Spider Solitaire back on!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

New week's resolution

 Take Spider Solitaire off my phone and computer. It's not holidays anymore and Spider Solitaire is as much of a waste of time as normal Solitaire. Perhaps more.

First Sunday on church music

I played piano in church today for the first time since the 16th of December. I've missed it.

We practiced for a couple of hours yesterday morning. It was piano, violin, drums (for one song) and 4 vocalists and I think we sounded pretty good. We sang Come People Of The Risen King, How Great Thou Art, Ten Thousand Reasons and How Deep The Father's Love For Us. Cairns PC has some lovely singers - the harmonies were beautiful! I'm looking forward to where we can go from here.

What did you sing in church this morning?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Thanks for your prayers

The last couple of days have been much better for Joel.

On day one, Joel's teacher (who is great) told the boys in her class that she never wanted to see Joel by himself. They must all look after him. This was lovely of her, but Joel has found it torturous. It seems that the boys in his class are noobs - both online and in the classroom. And they like to play tiggy all lunch time, despite the 36 degree heat. Joel is non-sporty (read: lazy) and likes to talk about things like books and computer games and ideas. His classmates took their job of looking after Joel very seriously and haven't left him alone at all. For the first time ever, Joel has come to dread lunch times even wishing he could be on detention.

But by Thursday he had developed an escape strategy. When the kids all split up for gang up tiggy, Joel hides in the air conditioned library. No one thinks to look there, so he can sit happily through the whole break and think about his pet project - he's trying to work out a way to generate infinite electricity. A bonus is that a different kind of kid can be found in the library. There's a boy in the class next door who likes to read books about Science. A potential friend?

So things are looking up.