Saturday, 25 September 2010

Family Adventure to Scarborough Beach

Making the best of the beautiful Spring sunshine, we headed to the blue and white expanse of Scarborough Beach this morning.We thought we might only be there for a short time, but the kids were having so much fun we decided to stay a little longer than we'd planned.

I loved taking the kids into the water one at a time for a dip, and having a bit of a paddle myself as well.Anna was the bravest and spent the most time out with me.The others were too busy having fun with the sand.Even Anna and I succumbed to after a while.
We were home for a late lunch of mini franks and salad in front of the TV watching the grand final* (that's AFL, for my non-Aussie friends). It was a draw, so they'll have a rematch next week. How anticlimactic! Something about this reminds me of a certain election...

*Er... and for those who know me personally and find it hard to believe I would watch AFL even for a grand final, I will admit that I didn't actually watch it. I went into another room and read a book - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - but I did have a quite snigger when I heard the final buzzer go and knew there was a draw. My big bro will be pleased, or at the very least satisfied. In his words from an email a few days ago, "Collingwood vs St Kilda - I can't think of anything less appealing (other than maybe Collingwood vs Port Adelaide). St Kilda have no appeal, due to their tediously boring gameplan and the complete unlikeability of their players (most notably Stephen Milne)... Collingwood are.... Collingwood. The only thing better than seeing Collingwood lose a GF by 100 points is seeing them lose a GF by 1 point. Meh.. I'm just going to have to blank out the AFL 2010 season from my memory banks. It never happened." Well, Joshua enjoyed watching it, having been prepped for the experience by watching a few games when his Grandad was here recently.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Boxing Kangaroos

Granny shot this video from her kitchen window: video

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Aah... Spring is here!

I love Spring.

I think Spring is my favourite season in the south. It reminds me of the Dry season in Darwin.

Here are five things I like about Spring:
(1) Finding a pansy flowering between the pavers in our back yard:
(2) Finding a gigantic ladybird enjoying Abigail's flannel sheets on the washing line:
(3) The kids using lots of energy riding their bikes and scooting their scooters and swinging on the swings ... etc ... so at night they sleep well and soundly:
(4) The sun rising early enough that there is time for the kids to read or draw at the breakfast table before we have to leave for school or church:(But not rising so early that we are woken before 6am by children who are cheerfully and loudly awake, declaring, "Sun's up, Mummy!".)

(5) Mostly, I like Spring because I can hang out the washing on the line and get it dry without:
(a) worrying that it will be rained on before I get an entire load hung up (as in the Winter); or
(b) getting so hot hanging it on the line that I need to wash myself when I'm done (as in the Summer).
My fourth load for today is currently drying on the line. The rest are already picked in, folded and put away. Now I'm off to hang out the fifth load.

Friday, 10 September 2010

A breakfast story and a bedtime game

At the breakfast table yesterday, Sam decided to tell me the story of Cinderella, beginning with the clock striking midnight:

Cinderella ran away from the ball room.
She dropped her glass slipper.
The man found it.
He tried it on the other ones, Cinderella's friends.
Then Cinderella tried it on.
Everyone said, "It fits! It fits!"


Sam loves to listen to fairy tales. We borrowed two fairy tale books that came with CDs from the library and I had to renew them twice, I think; he and Abi liked them so much. He also enjoys listening to the Jesus Storybook Bible on CD (by Sally Lloyd-Jones, narrated by David Suchet), which is the kids' regular bedtime listening. Sam asks for that to be put on every night as soon as he is in bed. He can quote parts of it verbatim and sometimes plays games with me using the words from the JSBB. On Tuesday, our game went something like this:

Sam: "Mummy, you be the sleeping girl," (that would be Jairus's daughter*, Mark 5:21-42 and Luke 8:40-56) "and I will be Jesus."
Me: "Okay." (Close eyes and lie still on the bed.)
Sam: (Puts his hands on mine.) "Honey, it's time to get up!"
Me: (Open eyes and smile.) "I'm better!"

Sam: "Now you be Jesus and I will be the sleeping girl."
Me: "Okay."

Sam: (Closes eyes. Makes loud snoring sounds.)
Me: "Honey, it's time to get up."
Sam: (Stops snoring immediately. Opens eyes and sits bolt upright.) "I'm hungry!"

Sam: "Again, Mummy! Again!"

* From Luke 8:
Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. "Stop wailing," Jesus said. "She is not dead but asleep."
They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, "My child, get up!" Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up.


From the Jesus Storybook Bible, p219-220:
Just then Jairus' servant rushed up to Jairus. "It's too late," he said breathlessly. "Your daughter is dead."
Jesus turned to Jairus. "It's not too late," Jesus said. "Trust me."
At Jairus' house, everyone was crying. But Jesus said, "I'm going to wake her up." Everyone laughed at him because they knew she was dead.
Jesus walked into the little girl's bedroom. And there, lying in the corner, in the shadows, was the still little figure. Jesus sat on the bed and took her pale hand.
"Honey," he said, "it's time to get up." And he reached down into death and gently brought the girl back to life.
The little girl woke up, rubbed her eyes as if she'd just had a good night's sleep, and leapt out of bed.
Jesus threw open the shutters and sunlight flooded the dark room. "Hungry?" Jesus asked. She nodded.
Jesus called to her family, "Bring this little girl something breakfast!"
Jesus helped and healed many people, like this. He made blind people see. He made deaf people hear. He made lame people walk.
Jesus was making the sad things come untrue.
He was mending God's broken world.


[Image from koorong.com]

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Cross Country Athletes

(A report by Joshua)

I really wasn't prepared. I never knew this was going to be so tough. I came in 29th place. My friend Sean came 26th and Moss came 39th; he fell on a stick and still was pretty fast.

After the race, I made a new friend, but I don't know his name. I built a rock castle with him while the other races were on.

Me with my friends, Lachlan, Moss and Sean:

At the start line, I thought the race would be longer than it turned out to be:
I ran with all my strength the whole way:
Moss did a very good job and I am proud of him:

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Abigail was listening in Sunday School

This afternoon Abigail (who is 5 years old) asked Jeff to write out a prayer for her to copy into a little book she wanted to make. This is the transcript:

"You are my mighty King, and I am your sheep.
You are my mighty King, you look over me while I eat.
I am your flock and you are my Shepherd.
You come for me* and walk with me.
You help me grow big and strong.
You guard over me when I am scared.
You watch over me and I love you.
You are my King because I love you.
I love you because you are God."


Abi was obviously listening hard in Sunday School this morning. Miss Jacinta was leading the kids through lesson #6 from the kids@church curriculum, Serious Play 3: Trusting God and living for Him. Lesson #6 looks at one of David's prayers recorded in Psalm 23, which begins, "The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want."

This whole term, the Abi's Sunday School class are learning about the prayers of various people in the Bible, and they are learning to pray themselves using the biblical prayers as a model for their own. This is narrative scaffolding - an educational combination that works very well with a diverse range of students. The students hear a story that helps them to understand the meaning and usage of the literary genre (in this case, prayers) and then they are encouraged to build their own literary attempts modelled upon the examples they are given (that is, they are encouraged to pray themselves).

Along with the actual skill of praying - and yes, it is a skill that can be taught and learnt! - the children are learning of the character and nature of the God to whom they pray. You can see that evidenced in Abigail's prayer above.

* I find it fascinating that Abigail prayed "you come for me" rather than "You comfort me." Verse 4 says,
"Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me."
I am not sure if Abigail misheard the prayer/psalm in Sunday School, or if she is also recalling what we learnt ages ago in BSF about Enoch, whom we still sing about sometimes:
"Enoch - walked with God,
Enoch - walked with God,
Enoch - walked with God,
And then God took him home."
Either way, it is fascinating to watch my child's understanding of who God is grow bigger and Truer as she studies the Bible.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Frogs

Abi (left) and Anna (right) "frog watching":
Joshua has also been "frog drawing":

Friday, 3 September 2010

Thoughts on Evangelism (1)

I've been thinking about evangelism a lot lately. In both of the churches that I attend (my home church whom I serve as Children's Ministry Worker in the mornings, and within which body my husband is the pastor; and the church which I join for evening services) I have heard sermon series on evangelism and mission-mindedness this year. Last Saturday a good friend, who came to Australia as a refugee from Sudan and studied at Theological College the year ahead of Jeff, held an update evening on his work providing training and support for native pastors and evangelists in Sudan through the Sudanese Gospel Mission (more on David's work in another post). And I have been reading Augustine's Confessions as well; Book V brought quite a few evangelism thoughts to mind as well.

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In Bk V.13, Augustine says, “Unknown to me, it was you who led me to him [Ambrose, bishop of Milan], so that I might knowingly be led by him to you.”

This sentence caused me to recall the people who led me to the LORD, who God used to lead me back to Him. I am so thankful for their determination to share the gospel with me. Especially Nathan, a fellow teacher who argued and argued with me in the Science teacher’s office over our need for a saviour and the identity of God’s chosen Saviour: Jesus Christ. I was so determined to reject all he had to say, and yet his invite to Alpha was the spur for me eventually attending Alpha with Jeff, even though I didn’t go to the Alpha course that Nathan invited me to. And it was at the Alpha course that I couldn’t get away from the Truth of the gospel.

Who did God use to lead you to Him? Have you thanked God lately for their witness to you?

Who have you told about Jesus?
Have you only told your children? Or are you actively seeking - and praying for - opportunities to tell many people about the good news of Jesus?


In John 15:26 and 16:13-14, Jesus says, "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. ... But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you." It is, ultimately, the Holy Spirit who opens peoples eyes to see the truth of the gospel, and softens their hearts to respond to the gospel with faith.

Have you thanked God lately for the Holy Spirit's work in your heart, convicting you of the truth of the gospel?

Have you been regularly praying for the Holy Spirit to be at work in the hearts of those who do not yet have faith in Christ?


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In Bk V.6, Augustine says of the Manichean Faustus, “My ears were already ringing with these tales and they seemed to me none the better for being better expressed, nor true simply because they were eloquently told. Neither did I think that a pleasant face and a gifted tongue were proof of a wise mind. Those who had given me such assurances about him must have been poor judges. They thought him wise and thoughtful simply because they were charmed by his manner of speech.”

In thinking about this section, I was thinking about how much stress (Christian) homeschoolers can put upon the necessity to develop literacy skills, in particular rhetoric skills, so that Christians can share the gospel charmingly. If logic skills are also emphasised, this is all to the good. But if our children grow up to be able to tell the gospel clearly, but cannot defend its basis from biblical and observable reasons, they may come across as nothing but snake oil salesmen. And they may end up doing more harm to the gospel than good, if they persist in using bad arguments that are easily discredited by the dogmatic New Atheists, who will continue to act as antichrists well into our children’s future, I imagine. (1 John 2:22 - Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.)

Further, if we fail to teach our children that our faith is indeed sound and reasonable, we leave their own faith at the mercy of those people who, like Faustus, argue charmingly but without substance. This is where we see the need for Christian organisations that argue polemics, such as the Creation Ministries people. I know they have their faults, and are perhaps just a touch blind to the fact that belief in a literal 6 day creation of the world does not actually equate with belief in Christ Himself (after all, I am sure “even the demons believe that – and shudder” - James 2:19). But they do a great job, in their Creation magazine and online, for example, of providing tools that defend one of the basic doctrines of Christianity (God is the Creator of everything) in a way that is both generally logically sound (not falling into Faustas’s fault) and also charming and engaging. I think in our raising of our families, and in teaching Sunday School, etc, it is good to be utilising such resources so that our children grow up knowing their faith is defensable and reasonable, even while they also know that it is only by God’s grace in the work of the Holy Spirit that they have heard and accepted with faith that gospel message.

What are you doing to build up your own faith, encouraging yourself with the truth of the gospel message?

What are you doing to build up the faith of the "little children" in your care, whether they be your own children, kids at Sunday School, or even adult "lambs" who have just heard the gospel and are new believers?


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One further thing. Augustine says of Ambrose that he “was a man known throughout the world as a man whom there were few to equal in goodness.” (Bk V.13)

This is the third characteristic of those who would be winsome for the glory of God in the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our faith must not merely be evident in our words as we teach and preach the gospel. Our lives should also be lived in a way that brings honour to the LORD as our Lord, and does not undermine our arguments of the veracity of the gospel message of new life in Christ. The concept of sanctification – the gradual process of being made more like Christ through the counsel of the Holy Spirit within us and our obedience to His instruction – is one of the basic tenets of Christianity. If our daily lives show that our claim to having a new life in Christ is a fallacy, then we undermine our presentation of the gospel message, no matter how logically sound and rhetorically persuasive the manner of its delivery. In contrast, if we, like Ambrose, are known as godly, good people, then our presentation of the gospel message is enhanced. If we are seen as honest people, we can be understood to be presenting a true, believable message. And even if the message is not ultimately believed, our lives still bring glory to God through the evidence of our own ongoing sanctification.

As Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians (1:27-28), "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God."

What evidence of sanctification is there in your life?
Are you conducting yourself in a "manner worthy of the gospel of Christ?

Any thoughts?