Monday, 30 November 2009

Meyer and her Plain Folks

And while we're on the topic of propaganda, has anyone noticed how blatant Stephenie Meyer is in her use of the Plain Folks technique? She's been using it from the beginning to the end of these books, in comments such as these:
"A huge thank you to... my online family, the talented staff and writers at" (from Twilight's Acknowledgements page.)
"And thanks also to my favourite band, the very aptly named Muse, for providing a saga's worth of inspiration." (from Breaking Dawn's Dedication page.)
Not to mention in her (now removed) MySpace site and her ringing endorsement of fansites such as

Saturday, 28 November 2009

The TwiSaga: a pre-evangelistic treatise for Mormonism?

***Edit: This post seems to be generating a steady stream of interest, now almost a year after I wrote it. If you are interested in LDS connections to these books, you might be interested in reading some of my other posts on the Twilight books (click on the TWILIGHT SAGA tag at the end of this post), or you may wish to visit the Hogwarts Professor's Twilight category of posts. If you are looking for a great deal more detail, particularly if you are planning to teach on the topic, can I suggest you read Spotlight: A close-up look at the artistry and meaning of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga by John Granger (the aforementioned "Hogwarts Professor"). Sandra L Gravett's short book from Twilight to Breaking Dawn: Religious themes in the Twilight Saga is also helpful, although it deals mainly with broader Christian metaphorical typing and allusion, with little reference to the specifically LDS perspectives. Both books are available through Amazon and other retailers.***

***Edit: You might be interested to know that the author of the article I am responding to in this post has commented, and I have responded below her comment.***

Aha! The secret has become public! A Mormon has written an article for The West Australian newspaper's "Agenda" segment today explaining some of the most obvious Mormonisms of the Twilight series: "Being a vampire means being powerful, strong and beautiful, with a generous helping of unearned wealth. For Meyer's family of vampires, it also offers a number of payoffs offered by religion, in particular, the Mormon brand: Eternal Life, Eternal Family and Eternal Love." Nothing like sparing use of the propaganda technique of Transfer, is there?

Not only that, the article's author actually went so far as to use Twilight's Mormonisms as a hook to invite readers who can't get enough of the books to "pop in one Sunday to your local Mormon church. They won't bite."

The last two paragraphs in full:
"And while women are beyond exactly placing themselves in Bella's shoes, Edward is the man they want for their husband/boyfriend/ next internet date. Danger arises when, without another Twilight book to read, life begins to feel empty. Readers want to prolong the experience but I believe Stephenie Meyer will resist the temptation to extend the story.
She'll leave Bella and Edward where they belong, deep in the dream of Happily Ever After. Escape your ordinary world in other ways - see the film of New Moon, read the fanfiction on, or pop in one Sunday to your local Mormon church. They won't bite."
Anyone looking for an exemplar of the Lesser of Two Evils propaganda technique?

I've been waiting for this moment to arrive since I first read the comment below on a Normal Mormon Husbands blog post (it is currently the first of 153 comments on that post). Sandy wrote [my emphasis]:
"Do you think that would work as a missionary line? 'We would like to tell you about a wonderful plan for your family to be together forever...and you DON'T even have to suck their blood! Would you like to hear more?'"

It seems the New Moon movie was just popular enough for Mormons to start deciding they should capitalise on the pre-evangelistic treatise that the Twilight Saga may provide. Or given the imminent release of John Granger's book Spotlight, which will expose and explain many of the Mormon metaphors in the Twilight books next month, perhaps certain LDS members feel they should take what evangelistic opportunities they can before Meyer's insistence that the books have nothing to do with her Mormon faith is shown to be complete codswallop.

Or... could the article be a one-off that just somehow managed to get past The West's editors since they needed something to publish in response to the phenomenal box office achievements of New Moon and someone just happened to hand them this piece? I can't work it out. The West's website can't find the article for me, no matter which way I search. The author "Melissa O'Shea", who is apparently real enough for Bill Hatto to photograph her for the piece, is curiously unable to be found by google. (The piece's photographer Bill Hatto is on google. Even I am on google! How in all the sticky wwweb can someone be published in a state newspaper and have a PhD and remain hidden from google???) And while we are on the topic of PhDs, who (according to the author bio at the end of the two-page article) "has a PhD in writing" from an unspecified university?

Perhaps the LDS church aren't so ready to admit to Twilight's religious metaphors after all...

Since it is so mysteriously missing from online sources elsewhere, I am going to include a scan of the piece here, for your elucidation:(Click on the image and then zoom in to read the text yourself.)

[I use "Mormon" in this post because that is the word that was used in the article I am commenting on. Stephenie Meyer is a Latter-day Saint, or "LDS", a member of the largest church that, together with other groups tracing their religious roots back to Joseph Smith Jr, are collectively are known as Mormons.]

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Philippians 2 kids' story & colouring picture

Paul and Timothy wrote to the church in Philippi
(Link to: Philippians 1 kids' stuff)
Paul wanted Christians to work together in love, without complaining - Philippians 2
[This illustration is an original drawing by my dear friend "Chrissie D", one of the ladies from our church fellowship. Isn't she talented? I have only uploaded a 200x235pixel image, because although I think her drawing is wonderful, she owns the copyright, not me. If you love it and would like to use it with your own children or in a church kids ministry, please leave a comment. I'll ask "Chrissie D" if she wants to allow a full image to be available for download to interested parties, and get back to you.]

Do you remember the letter that Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi?

In the letter, Paul told the Philippians how they should live. He didn’t tell them all the things they should do in one big list. He didn’t tell them, “Get dressed each morning and then make your beds before you have breakfast.” Oh no! Paul knew that the Philippians already knew to do all those sorts of things.

But Paul wanted to teach the Philippians about the way they should treat other Christians, Paul wrote to the Philippians about how they should behave towards each other.

One of the things Paul wrote was that the Philippian Christians should be “like-minded”. Paul didn’t want them to argue. Paul wanted Christians to believe the same things about God, so that they would agree about other things. Then Christians would work together. Paul wrote that the Holy Spirit would help them to be united, to work together as one.
What do you do together with your friends? Do you argue, or try to agree?

Paul also wrote that the Philippian Christians should have the same love. Paul meant that they should all love God, our Father in Heaven. And they should all love Jesus Christ, God’s Son. And they should also love all the other Christians. That’s a lot of love! Paul knew that if Christians love God with all their hearts, then they also love each other.
Who do you love? How do you show them you love them?

Paul wrote one more thing. Paul didn’t want Christians to be selfish. Paul wrote that the Philippian Christians should always be thinking about other people, and what was good for them. Paul wanted the Christians to be like Jesus Christ! Paul told the Philippians Christians that they should not complain, nor whinge, nor grumble. Paul told them something amazing. He wrote that when other people saw how they didn’t complain, it would be as if they were shining like stars! Their love for each other would shine out, and other people would praise God because of it.
What could you do instead of complaining?

:: God wants Christians to work together in love, without complaining.

> We can choose to agree, rather than arguing.
> We can love God and love each other.
> When we think of others and don’t complain, we will be like shining stars!

WG Bible Study Philippians 3

Links to previous questions: Philippians 1 & Philippians 2.

Questions for Home Study

Friday: Paul’s confidence did not come from what he had done

1. Read Philippians 4:1, 3:1-6

a) Context (4:1) Given the “therefore” in Philippians 4:1, what is Philippians 3 there for?

b) Context (3:1) Why did Paul decide to repeat what he had already written to the Philippians?

c) (3:2) Who does Paul warn the Philippians to watch out for?

d) Can you relate this to the account of the Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-32)?

e) (3:3-6) How is the confidence of Christians different to those who rely upon their own obedience to the Law?

f) Connect What gives you confidence of your salvation?

Saturday: Paul considered what he had lost, and all that Christ has won

2. Read Philippians 3:7-11.

a) (3:7-8) What did Paul consider worthless? What is of utmost importance?

b) Connect What have you given up, because knowing Jesus left no room for it in your life?

c) (3:9) Where (or Who) does righteousness come from?

d) (3:10-11) What did Paul hope for and desire?

e) Connect What Christian blessings do you look forward to receiving?

Sunday: Church!

3. How did the teaching or preaching you listened to today complement what you are learning from Philippians this week?

Monday: Paul presses on

4. Read Philippians 3:12-17.

a) (3:12-14) Also read Philippians 2:12-13. Paul knows he cannot win salvation for himself, and he knows that Christ has already won his salvation. Yet he still presses on. Why?

b) Connect What do you do to “press on toward the goal … heavenward”?

c) (3:15) Considering all that Paul has written in Philippians 3:1-14, what “view of things” should those who are mature take?

d) (3:16-17) What three pieces of advice does Paul give, in these verses, for standing firm?

e) Connect Who would be a good - godly - example for you to follow?

Tuesday: Paul contrasted the enemies of the cross with citizens of heaven

5. Read Philippians 3:18-21.

a) (3:18) How does relying upon obedience to the Law make a person an enemy of the cross?

b) (3:19) How did Paul describe the enemies of the cross? (Use your own words.)

c) (3:20-21) In contrast, what did Paul say about citizens of heaven?

d) Connect How are you living: as an enemy of the cross, or a citizen of heaven?

Wednesday: Review

6. Re-read Philippians 3.

a) What was the main thing you learnt from Philippians 3 this week about how you, as a Christian, should live?

b) What was the main thing you learnt from Philippians 3 this week about resurrection from death, or about heaven?

Thursday: Women’s Gathering!

7. In your Prayer Triplet: Pray that we will know that Jesus Christ has done all that is necessary for our salvation, and that we will do all that is possible for our sanctification.

Toilet Training Sammy

I know it is not going to fascinate everyone who reads this blog, but I want to record how Sam's toilet training is progressing for posterity. Please feel free to ignore this post if the intricacies of toilet training do not appeal.

I've been waiting for a good time to begin, and this week, now Anna is at away-school and the weather is warming back up again, seems as good a time as any.

We began with the frequent trips to the toile, mini chocolate rewards for dry and clean undies, and a further reward for wee in the toilet. Sam began the day with three accidents in his brand new (well, second hand) bog boy undies. The fourth time he got as far as the toilet room before weeing on the floor. I count that as a success. After that, from 9:30am onwards, Sam was dry all day, with all wee in the toilet. Including being dry through his afternoon nap! This was a completely unexpected development, as it has never happened before.

After one accident first thing after breakfast, I took Sam on the school run to drop off Joshua and Anna. He made it all the way there and through a short trip to the shops to buy nappy undies before wetting his pants on the 2min drive to mainly music at church. Alas! After transferring Sam into a new pair of nappy undies, we joined in the mainly music program, to Sam's delight. (Normally we are at BSF on Wednesday mornings, so we miss out.) Sam stayed dry throughout the morning, including asking me to take him to the church toilet and even taking himself on one occasion. Actually, Sam stayed dry throughout almost the entire day, including his nap, again. After his nap, he astonished me with doing a poo in the toilet as well. Hooray! We took Sam to the shops for the requisite donut reward (a family tradition since Josh struggled so much with doing poos anywhere other than his undies). Sam had one accident in the evening, but it seemed like he was going very well.

This morning was hectic; I woke up at 6:50am realising that both of the kids' school uniforms were still wet (albeit clean) in the washing machine since I forgot to hang them up last night. So I began the morning taking care of that (it was sunny & the uniforms dried in the hour before the kids had to leave) and forgot Sam's toilet training with the rest of the pre-school rush. (Ugh!) Sam had four accidents before I was able to give him enough attention to get him back on track. And then he was in with the other kids at Women's Gathering this morning of course, happily in nappy undies since he did not keep them dry. I took him home for lunch and since then he has stayed dry, including his nap and another trip to school to pick up the bigger kids. A little bit of my attention to frequency of his trips to the "littlest room" and he seems to be able to keep the ball rolling, so to speak.

But tomorrow is another day. At least we will be at home all day. We'll see how Sam continues. He has already chosen a Batman dress up costume for his 3 Days Completely Dry and Clean Reward, whenever he earns it.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A New Moon rises

The movie of Stephenie Meyer's novel New Moon hit cinemas this weekend and created an awfully big crater, by all accounts. Not everyone was expecting the first night's box office to break even Perth boy Heath Ledger's posthumous Dark Knight takings. But it happened. New Moon took $72.7million in its domestic market in the first night of showing, which of course doesn't include the $10 that yours truly paid to see it Saturday night, two nights after it was released here in Australia.

I went to see the movie with two friends who have also read all four of Meyer's Twilight novels. So what do I think?

I was impressed that the script stayed fairly close to the books, and the places where it differed were generally not important to the story line or the several levels of interpretation one may see in it. I liked it more than the Twilight Movie for that reason, although cramming 500+ pages of novel into a two-and-a-quarter hour movie did leave me feeling a bit like I’d been run over by a Mack truck. I suspect if I hadn’t read the books several times, I’d have been as mystified by the reason for the romance(s) as I was when I saw Twilight for the first time (at that stage, I hadn’t read the books).

I have to say, Pattison’s eyebrow furrowings didn’t impress me in the first movie, and they frustrated me even more in New Moon. Does the man know of no other way of portraying emotion? He needs to watch a few episodes of Lie to Me!

There were at least four references to Romeo and Juliet, the classic that Meyer has said she based her second novel upon. They included the initial quote from the book’s epigraph, as a voice over at the beginning; Bella waking with the book on her pillow; and a scene where her English class watched the movie (not just Eddie and Bells at the Swan residence as in the book – one of the differences where the book story was changed but not significantly).Edward not only mentions his envy of Romeo but also, when called upon by the teacher, quotes pertinent lines from Romeo extensively. Weitz, the director, has obviously noted the importance of the literary references throughout the TwiSaga.

All four of Bella’s falls are portrayed, although the fall into the subterranean passage leading to the Volturi stronghold is minimised. No “Edward let me fall. … Alice’s waiting arms caught me.” (p458) There is an precious uncomfortable & awkward scene in an elevator instead – one of the best acted mini-scenes in the movie, I felt.

The heart-wrenching agony that Bella suffers is portrayed, but lacks depth and believability because while Kristen Stewart’s acting has improved since Twilight, it hasn’t improved nearly enough to inspire any level of pathos, or even empathy. It consists mostly of Bella thrashing around on her bed tortured by nightmares (no sobbing, just sudden hysterical screams) or staring blankly out of windows. The latter would have portrayed Bella’s zombie-state hole-in-the-heart nicely if it wasn’t for her apparent ability to narrate one-sided conversations with Alice and send them to Alice’s no-longer-useable email address. If only Stewart’s acting was as good as her makeup!
Lautner’s portrayal of Jacob – an overgrown teenager with a boyish face but the body of a man – seems fitting, if lacking the polish of more experienced actors. Jacob’s tortured “I’m not good” echoes Edward’s “What if I’m the bad guy?” sufficiently to illuminate their parallels.
The mystery of Victoria is resolved far too quickly. I guess they had to skip over something to keep the movie from taking longer to watch than the book does to read.

The vampires were well portrayed. Obviously someone had read Breaking Dawn and some of Meyer’s backstory explanations provided for fans, because the different personalities of the Triumvirate were clear. If anything, the throne room set was not gothic enough.Dakota Fanning, who plays Jane, is immaculate in her characterisation. The scene where she attempts to inflict pain on Bella’s shielded mind shows a masterful use of minimal facial expression – especially in contrast to Pattison’s pervasive eyebrow theatrics.

As Bella, Edward and Alice exit the Volturi throne room, the "food" arrives in what I thought was a missed moment. Two kids were in the group, a shocking inclusion (for me, anyway being a mum to four small kids) that owes nothing to Meyer. And absent was the confused woman gripping the rosary (p482). She is the one necessary inclusion in the group in the book because she clarifies the allegorical connection between the Volturi and the Catholic church, manifesting the LDS position that Catholics are apostate (& therefore their religion will only lead their naive followers to eternal death).

I've only touched on some of the symbolism inherent in the books here. You can find my previous TwiSaga posts under the Twilight Saga label. I'd like to post more, but I'll never make promises. So if you want to read more intelligent discussion about the TwiSaga and New Moon, enough to understand the movie & novel as something more than a love triangle between Plain Jane, a Vampire and a Werewolf, you need to check out what John Granger, the Forks High School Professor has to say. He's rapidly becoming my hero with regard to plumbing the literary depths of the TwiSaga.

So what do you think of New Moon?

An afternoon of quotes

Abgaili: "Anna, If you give me some of your money I will give you some of my money and ... you can marry Billy* Batman."

Later, Samuel: "I want be Abi's Super Hero."

*Name changed to protect the innocent...

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Asthma update

Since Joshua was diagnosed with asthma in the winter of this year, Samuel has been as well. He was having strong coughing fits that made him go red in the face, early in the morning and late at night, which the doctor said were classic asthma symptoms in kids. Since Sam has been taking a preventer puffer and a reliever occasionally, he has had much less coughing, and no huge red-in-the-face attacks.

So I have been reading here and there about asthma in kids. Last week I read an article that warned that changes in weather (such as sudden downpours of rain after a series of warm sunny days) and high levels of pollen in Spring can be an asthma trigger for kids and adults as well. I've been watching for the symptoms in the girls... and beginning to wonder if the intermittent coughing I have had along with Josh, Sam and Abi this last week were all signs of Spring asthma.
Two nights ago, I woke up with a prolonged heavy coughing fit. I have a slight stuffy nose at the moment that might be hayfever or a cold. So I asked Jeff to get me the boys’ puffer, reasoning that ventolin wouldn't work if my coughing wasn't asthma-related, but it would work a lot faster or better than cough medicine if it was asthma. I had six puffs (Josh’s basic dose for when he is having an attack) and only coughed twice after that. I could feel my lungs filling better even as I inhaled from the puffer! I figured that was a convincing evidence I do have it.

Then yesterday morning I got home after taking Anna and Josh to school, and started to play tickles with Abi and Sam, only to find myself out of breath and panting after a ridiculously short time. It’s not like tickling my kids is a very strenuous activity – it’s them wriggling and struggling not to laugh, not me. I stopped the tickling to sit down thinking I might be having an asthma attack and I should rest. But within seconds I went from a little pant to totally struggling for breath. Jeff came in just then and realised I was motioning to him for the puffer – I could scarcely get the words out through heaving breaths – and he got it for me. Four deep puffs and I could breathe completely normally again. What a relief!

All that morning I felt a bit shaky, but I think that was the after affects of the adrenalin from the attack. It made me cry at the time. I know it is the adrenalin, but knowing doesn’t help with dealing with its after-effects! Then all yesterday I was fairly out of it with a light-sensitive headache (perhaps related to a low level of oxygen to my brain?) and general weakness and fragility. Jeff had to come and work from home to let me recover, so the kids wouldn't overwhelm me with their enthusiasm for life.

I went to our GP in the afternoon and he prescribed a Flixotide preventer (the boys have a Seretide preventer) with 2 puffs taken twice a day. I should also take the same Asmol reliever as the boys have, up to four times a day as I need it. At least I can take it straight from the puffer without needing to carry a spacer everywhere with me.

I am so glad that Joshua was diagnosed with asthma right when he was sick with the flu and we took him in to hospital for that. I can’t imagine how we would have dealt with his “classic” attack a fortnight ago or my attack yesterday if we had not already know about the presence of asthma in our family and had the reliever medication right here. I might not have appreciated our seven (!!) visits to PMH emergency this year at the time, but at least I know that God has protected us from something much worse.

Thank You God for your grace to me in this!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Post #555

Ahem... This post is Number 555. It was going to be #500 but that just didn't happen. So in honour of the occasion, I am revealing five things about me that you probably didn't know and may never have guessed. Here we go:

First Thing About Me
I once liked eating mud.
Second Thing About Me
I wrote poetry as a teenager, and one of my poems was published in real poetry anthology, which was even named after my poem! Mind you, it was published a dozen years ago now and I can't find it for sale anywhere online... I can only find it on ISBNDB. Very disappointing. Well, someone has it for sale on ebay, if you want a copy. I have one already, gratis.Just in case you'd like a teaser... I Like Doing Bombers off the Jetty is a "breath length poem", so you need to take a deep breath and read the first stanza all at once without pausing to take a breath, if you can. Here are the first two stanzas, my favourites:

I like doing bombers off the jetty when the tide's right & the day's hot & the water's cold & a small school of white bait has just swum under the jetty & into the sun so I can land on top of them & scatter all the fish & when I bob up all I can see through lids closed to keep out the salt sea sting is white froth & bubbles everywhere.
I also like the minister's son.

Third Thing About Me
I caught the bouquet at a wedding where I was chief bridesmaid (thanks Inara!) and was married within nine months to a man I had never met before catching the bouquet. Sometimes old wives' tales do come true!Err... just in case you are wondering, that new man in my life was Jeff, the father of our four children, to whom I have now been married for nine years.This photo was taken shortly after we were engaged, seven weeks after we met.
(And in a pleasant addition to this memory, I now wear this same dress to church, since having lost so much weight over the last year, it now fits me again for the first time in most of our marriage.)

Fourth Thing About Me
I have a Graduate Diploma of Education.I worked teaching kids maths, science and even IT in secondary school for six years before I "retired" to mother my own class-ful.

Fifth Thing About Me
I also have a tattoo. When my father first saw it - on the day of my wedding - his first comment was, "Good thing you're going to be his problem from now on!" And I once had my tongue pierced. Now you know why my father made that comment!For the record, I took the stud out shortly before Jeff and I were married. Three reasons:
(1) In playing with the stud, I found that I was knocking it against my teeth a lot, and eventually I managed to chip one or two.
(2) Having something large and rigid stuck through the middle of your tongue changes the way you speak. I found that I was developing a somewhat physiologically-, somewhat psychologically-influenced stutter, which was getting worse. I have had the stud out for ten times longer than I had it in now, but I still stutter once in a blue moon, and I never did before I had it in.
(3) Since Jeff was the only person I'd be kissing (or at least, to use a word I learnt in the schoolyard, "pashing") from now on, I asked him whether he preferred it in or out. Jeff voted for out. So it went.
The tattoo remains.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Philippians 1 kids' story & colouring picture

Paul and Timothy wrote to the church in Philippi
Paul was in prison, but he could still tell people about Jesus - Philippians 1
[This illustration is an original drawing by my dear friend "Chrissie D", one of the ladies from our church fellowship. Isn't she talented? I have only uploaded a 200x267pixel image, because although I think her drawing is wonderful, she owns the copyright, not me. If you love it and would like to use it with your own children or in a church kids ministry, please leave a comment. I'll ask "Chrissie D" if she wants to allow a full image to be available for download to interested parties, and get back to you.]

Do you remember the Philippians who Paul, Timothy, Silas and Luke told about Jesus?

Paul met Lydia by the river, and when she heard the good news about Jesus, she told her whole household, and they became Christians as well!

Later, Paul and Silas were in jail, and the jailer asked them how he could be saved. When the jailer heard the way to be saved through faith in Jesus, he told his whole family. All of the jailer’s family became Christians too!

It was a long time later that Paul was in prison again. This time he was in Rome, and he was being kept in chains. The chains kept Paul from going where he wanted. The chains kept Paul from seeing or talking to whomever he liked. But Paul was still thinking about telling people about Jesus.

While he was in prison, Paul remembered how the Philippians had been his partners in telling people about Jesus. As soon as Paul had told the Philippians about Jesus, they had told other people, and the good news about Jesus had spread and spread.
So Paul wrote a letter to the Philippians, letting them know he was thinking of them. Paul told them how he prayed thanking God for them. Paul thanked God for them telling others about Jesus.

But Paul knew that the Philippians might be frightened if they heard he was in prison again. So he wrote to encourage them to have joy. Paul told the Philippians that even though he was in prison, he could still tell people about Jesus. Paul couldn’t talk to people outside the prison, but the guards had to stay near to him, so he was able to talk to them about Jesus all the time! And they knew that it was because of his work for Jesus that Paul was in prison.

Paul wrote to let the Philippians know that when other people found out that Paul was in prison, they became braver and told even more people about Jesus! They were not frightened that they might be put in prison. Instead, Paul said these people were courageous and fearless.

Paul was filled with joy at the thought that so many people were hearing about Jesus, even though he was in prison.

:: Even when a bad thing happens, God can make good come out of it.

> We can try to see the good that God is bringing, just like Paul did.
> We can always tell people about Jesus, no matter what!
> Then we can thank God and have real joy.

WG Bible Study Philippians 2

Following on from our Women's Gathering study of Philippians 1, here are the questions for Philippians 2.

Questions for Home Study

Friday: Paul instructs the Philippians to be united in faith

1. Read Philippians 2:1-5.

a) Context (2:1) What does it mean to be “united with Christ”?

b) (2:1) What is the foundation of unity among Christians?

c) (2:2) In what ways is unity demonstrated?

d) (2:3-4) What is precluded by unity?

e) Connect What needs to change in your life, as you choose to uphold unity in the Church?

Saturday: Paul instructs the Philippians to be humble in the manner of Christ

2. Read Philippians 2:5-11.

a) (2:5-7) Read Genesis 3:4-6. How was Jesus’ attitude the opposite of that of Eve’s?

b) Connect In what areas of your life do you try to be a god, even if you know it is wrong?

c) (2:5,8) What is the connection between Jesus’ humility and his obedience?

d) Connect How can you choose to display the same humble attitude as Jesus had, in obeying your authorities today?

e) (2:5,9-11) Pray through these verses in your own words. In honest humility, praise Jesus.

Sunday: Church!

3. How did the teaching or preaching you listened to today complement what you are learning from Philippians this week?

Monday: Paul instructs the Philippians to strive for salvation yet be content in their circumstances

4. Read Philippians 2:12-18.

a) (2:12-13) What is our work, and what is God’s work?

b) (2:14-16a) Read Matthew 5:16. What is the result of doing everything without complaining or arguing?

c) Connect What do you need to stop complaining about? What must you stop arguing over?

d) (2:16-18) In spite feeling like his life is being “poured out”, Paul is determined to rejoice. Why?

e) Connect What difference would it make if you chose to be glad and rejoice, rather than complain or argue, in the situations from Q4(c)?

Tuesday: Paul sends Timothy and Epaphroditus to the Philippians

5. Read Philippians 2:19-30.

a) (2:19-22) Why does Paul hope to send Timothy to the Philippians?

b) (2:23-24) Read James 4:13-17. What prevents Paul from promising to send Timothy or come himself?

c) (2:25-30) Why has Paul decided to send Epaphroditus back to the Philippians?

d) Connect Who could you visit or call to show them your love for them in Christ?

Wednesday: Review

6. Re-read Philippians 2.

a) What was the main thing you learnt from Philippians 2 this week about how you, as a Christian, should live?

b) What was the main thing you learnt from Philippians 2 this week about Jesus?

Thursday: Women’s Gathering!

7. In your Prayer Triplet: Pray that we will value unity in the church, showing and growing our unity through humility in our actions, contentment in our situations and being there for others when they need us.

Women's Gathering Group Photo

Since I recently posted the questions on Philippians 1 from our Women's Gathering Bible Study this week, I thought I would post a photo of our ladies as well. This is our Women's Gathering group back in August:This is one of the few pictures on this blog with me in it... I am in the middle at the back, wearing a blue vest if you can't pick me straight away.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

BSF Sharing Day

Today was Sharing Day for the Perth Day Women BSF class. The end of year celebration of BSF Sharing Day is an opportunity to share with the other women in the class some of what God has taught us and done in our lives this year through our study of the Life of Moses. But since I blog, I'm going to "share" with you as well!

First, I would like to thank Kyong and Mitra, who taught Anna to eagerly desire to obey God's commands this year.
I would like to thank Bonnie and Anna, whose love for the children in their care has been reciprocated by adoration from my daughter Abigail, who loves to sing the songs they have taught her.
I would like to thank Caren and Pella, who made Samuel's first experience of Bible Study one to look forward to each week, even if he does still cry for a few moments at the door when he remembers I won't be with him.
They have ensured that the lessons I learnt in BSF were taught to my children in a way that we could easily build upon at home with the rest of our family.

This year, over 32 weeks of study, I have read through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. It has been an amazing time spent reading of Moses' journeys: from papyrus basket to Pharaoh's palace, from Egypt to Midian and thence the Burning Bush, then back to Egypt, then with the people of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Also, I have discovered Moses' journey growing in faith in God and learning to do God's will, and to lead God's people in His will for them also.

One of the most encouraging things I have learnt this year from Moses is to know God as "God of the spirits of all mankind". Moses called the LORD by this name twice, the only times God is referred to by this name in the whole Bible. The second time that Moses used this special name for God was recorded in Numbers 27:15-17, and I wrote about that prayer and God's answer back here.

The first occasion, in contrast, was when Moses called out to God for vindication, after Korah and his followers challenged Moses' leadership. God threatened to put an end to the entire assembly of Israelites. Numbers 16:22 records, "Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, 'O God, God of the spirits of all mankind, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?' " God answered by swiftly punishing the culprits, but only the leaders and those who refused to separate themselves from the guilty. Those who chose to move back from the tents of the leaders Korah, Dathan and Abiram, were saved. Among the saved were the sons of Korah, whose descendants later wrote many of the Psalms.

In this incident, we can see that God knows the innermost thoughts, emotions and attitudes - the "spirits" - of all people, and He judges us accordingly. Our sin is terrible in His eyes, but we may be assured that He will not condemn us for the sins of others. Rather, we are judged for our own sins. As Zelophehad's daughters said of their father (Numbers 27:3) " 'Our father died in the desert. He was not among Korah's followers. who banded together against the LORD, but he died for his own sin...' "

The situation is the same now as then. We are all in the same predicament. When it comes to measuring our lives against the standard of God's righteousness, we all fall short. And the consequences of this are indeed terrible: "the wages of sin is death..." Paul wrote to the Romans (6:23). We might not be part of an open, deliberate rebellion against God and His appointed leader, but we are all guilty of some sin against God. And to be frank, you might not think of yourself as rebelling against God's leader, but unless God's Son, the King Jesus, is given His rightful place as Lord over all of your life, then you are indeed rebelling against God. If Jesus is Lord over your life, then you won't be living the same self-centred life you were before, you can be assured of that!

Fortunately, God has not left us hanging under the threat of His judgement, deserved as it is. Paul wrote on to the Romans, "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rather than death, our earthly life can be renewed with Everlasting Life with God, bought with Christ's blood, which He shed at His death. It might sound all a bit primitive, that someone would purchase another person's life with their death. Yet anyone who has ever wanted to hurt someone who hurt them first will understand that blood demands blood. Not in spilled in vengeance, but poured out for atonement. At it's heart, Jesus' atoning death satisfied the judgement and wrath of God. He paid the price of our sin so we do not have to.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Examining his new Bob telephone. Thank you Granny and Gramps!Wow... It's Tom's Clockwork Dragon! And playdough! Thanks Grandma and Grandad.Trying on his new apron for cooking, a boy version of the aprons that Mummy, Abigail and Anna (and even Daddy and Joshua) wear. Thanks Mummy, Daddy and Josh, Anna and Abi!
Thanks also to Great-Grandma J, who sent a wonderful touchy-feely rhyming-story train book and Nanna, who sent thick colouring pencils and some amazing nerf rockets we will have to launch at the park later this morning. And now Sam can look through the toy store and spend his money from Grandpa. Thank you everyone for your kind presents.

Happy Birthday Samuel!

Who is that masked man???
Meeting Samuel... three years ago:First precious kiss:
4.385kg (that's 9 pounds, 10 ounces for my US friends):
Joshua and Anna greeting their hoped for baby brother:Abigail cuddling her new best friend:

Happy birthday our dear one!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Jesus is My Good Shepherd

When God told Moses he was about to die, Moses cried out to the LORD, asking that He would provide a leader for His people, so that they would not be like shepherdless sheep.
Numbers 27:15-17
Moses said to the LORD, "May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD's people will not be like sheep without a shepherd."

Moses did not know when God provided Joshua, son of Nun, to be the judge over the people of Israel as they entered the Promised Land without him, that God would later live among His people Himself, shepherding the flock that is the people of God with His own hand. This Good Shepherd is Jesus, God's one and only Son.

But first, God's people were to suffer under many godless leaders, who did not shepherd the people according to God's will.
The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd.

It was at this time that God promised He Himself would tend His sheep, the people of God.
Ezekiel 34:11-12,15-16
" 'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. … I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

God promised that when He shepherded His people, they would know HIm and recognise Him, in a way that His faithless people had not before.
Ezekiel 34:30-31
Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign LORD. You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD.' "

Up until the time of Jesus' ministry, the Jews were indeed like sheep without a shepherd.
Mark 6:34
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Jesus lived with them and taught them. Jesus Christ is the promised Good Shepherd.
John 10:11
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. …

Long ago, God had also promised that He would strike His own promised Shepherd!
Zechariah 13:7,9
"Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!" declares the LORD Almighty. "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. ...
This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. 
They will call on my name 
and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.' "

Jesus suffered on the cross, in fulfilment of this prophecy. His death achieved salvation to the Jews who believed in Him, but also for others, Gentiles (non-Jews like myself) who believed in Him. All believers - Christians - are now members of one flock, the Church Universal, under our Good Shepherd Jesus Christ.
John 10:14-16
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

Jesus prophesied of himself that after He, the Shepherd, was struck, he would rise again.
Matthew 26:31
Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: " 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."

Before he died, Jesus taught and healed the people, leading them as a shepherd leads and guides his sheep. But He knew that once He died, rose and ascended to heaven, the people would need under-shepherds ("overseers"), who followed Jesus in leading the people to follow Jesus also. So he taught His Twelve disciples.
Matthew 9:35-38
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Paul told the Ephesian elders, leaders of the church in Ephesus, how to guide and lead Christians. He warned them that there would be wrong teachers and others who would try to attack the church as a whole or Christians individually. We must still(!) be on our guard against those who will "distort the truth" in order to draw people away from the saving truth of the knowlege of our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
Acts 20:28-31a
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! ...

Peter also instructed the elders to oversee the church, and he told them their motivation should be to serve the people and so serve the "Chief Shepherd".
1 Peter 5:1-4
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

What a promise! Yet it comes with a warning:
Matthew 25:31-34,41,46
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. …
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. …
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Before the Day when the Son of Man comes in His glory, we are charged with doing the LORD's will, which we can only do through His strength and by His enabling. And so I pray:
Hebrews 13:20-21
May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Aah... the glory of the gospel!
1 Peter 2:21b-25
… Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 
 "He committed no sin, 
and no deceit was found in his mouth." When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.