Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Alice and the case for literary allusions

I discovered today that I am not alone in making obscure references to Alice in Wonderland when I read this sentence in a judgment by a Federal Magistrate ([2008] FMCA 114):

"The benefit obtained by the debtor in my disallowing the application may well have the qualities of Alice's Cheshire cat." - Raphael FM

I think that builds my case for the use of "Ebenezer" in church ... ;)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Stepping heavenward blogs

My friend Simone has just started a new blog, which I shall watch with delight! I have also recently added Molly Piper's (well actually, I think it's their whole family's but her husband, Abraham, has an extra one, which I like too - but skip over his post on RSS feeds, helpful as it is, and read Molly's :)) to my list.

Her recent posts prompted me to order More Love to Thee, the biography of Elizabeth Prentiss, for my Mum for Mother's Day (even though Mum said me coming to visit was enough and what it's all about and I was going to stick to that - but tip: it's a lot cheaper from fishpond than elsewhere). The only problem with that is that I got one for me too (cause then the postage was free etc etc). What is a book lover to do? If you buy every book you want to read, well that's a lot of money spent on books (do the rest of you buy all the books you read I wonder?).

But Christian books are not so easy to come by second hand, and if you borrow them you can't scribble in them, and how good is a book you can't scribble in? ... Still, I am trying to tighten my book belt and stick to a monthly budget. But, I have actually always wanted to read the Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss, put together by her husband, George Prentiss, which is not so easy to come by these days. The reason I have always wanted to read that book is - and I can't believe I haven't blogged about this before - that I absolutely love Stepping Heavenward. And as I wrote in Molly's comments, I cried on public transport, not once, but three times, reading that book (and I am just not especially the crying in public sort). But it is a special little book. Such a story of sanctification in progress I haven't read elsewhere, and it's written after the fashion of Anne of Green Gables (and you can get it super cheap from Koorong).

(This was supposed to be a largely computer-free evening too, but this is just a sort of half-post, which I have been fiddling with while I talked to my sister on the phone.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Six (plus a few) impossible things

So, I think my post from Alice in Wonderland, below, may have been a little obscure. In my mind, practising believing the "impossible things" actually meant meditating on some of the truths of the gospel, and of God's dealings with us. I started formulating my own six point list, and in the process was reminded of this brilliant little article from the back of the book Disciplines of a Godly Woman, by Barbara Hughes. So, I have decided to give you the article in entirety (it's only ten points). If it means nothing to you now, file it away for the time that's sure to come when it will (I find #8 especially good - and especially "impossible"):

What I Do With the Hard Things in My Life

Written for the Gospel Women Study at College Church by Mary Duvel

1. Immerse myself in the Word of God. His divine power has given me everything I need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him (2 Peter 1:3).

2. Realise:
a. He is in sovereign control of all that concerns me. His child.
Everything is sifted through His fingers first.
b. God has given each of us our own race to run. We are to keep our eyes fixed on him and stay in our own lane, not comparing our lives or the life of someone we love to the lives of others (1 Corinthians 7:17; Hebrews 12:1-2).
c. God does not give us grace for someone else's race.
d. God does not ask us to understand His ways, but He asks us to trust Him implicitly. He sees the whole, eternal picture.
e. My lack of faith does not nullify His faithfulness (Romans 3:3).
f. I am not the point - He is. It is not about me getting out of suffocating pain; it is about His Son being revealed in me, about God's image being released in me. (This idea is from Finding God by Larry Crabb).

3. Yield to the instrument of refinement He has chosen in my life. God cannot fulfill His purpose in me when I am kicking and screaming.

4. Confess that I don't know how to yield, that I am helpless and angry. God is big enough to take it.

5. Confirm that I am willing to be taught in the midst of this pain and difficulty.

6. Ask in the disappointment, loss, isolation, and pain that the Holy Spirit will teach me through the Word to trust God and understand who God is in all His mercy and love.

7. Seek to walk in obedience through the storm and not waste my energy fretting.

8. Know that the secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances. (This thought is from Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliott.)

9. Remain hopeful that through all of life's changes, we are secure in the knowledge that we will see His face and be fully satisfied (Psalm 17:15).

10. Press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of us (Philippians 3:12; Acts 20:24)!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Quiet time in Wonderland

"There is no use trying", said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things".

"I dare say you haven't had much practice", said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

- Lewis Carroll

Friday, April 25, 2008

Poetry Friday - for Autumn

Today I have another poem by George MacDonald, from Phantastes. It speaks of Autumn and is introduced thus:

The book goes on with the story of a maiden, who, born at the close of autumn, and living in a long, to her endless winter, set out at last to find the regions of spring; for, as in our earth, the seasons are divided over the globe. It begins something like this:

She watched them dying for many a day,
Dropping from off the old trees away,
One by one; or else in a shower
Crowding over the withered flower
For as if they had done some grievous wrong,
The sun, that had nursed them and loved them so long,
Grew weary of loving, and, turning back,
Hastened away on his southern track;
And helplessly hung each shrivelled leaf,
Faded away with an idle grief.
And the gusts of wind, sad Autumn's sighs,
Mournfully swept through their families;
Casting away with a helpless moan
All that he yet might call his own,
As the child, when his bird is gone for ever,
Flingeth the cage on the wandering river.
And the giant trees, as bare as Death,
Slowly bowed to the great Wind's breath;
And groaned with trying to keep from groaning
Amidst the young trees bending and moaning.
And the ancient planet's mighty sea
Was heaving and falling most restlessly,
And the tops of the waves were broken and white,
Tossing about to ease their might;
And the river was striving to reach the main,
And the ripple was hurrying back again.
Nature lived in sadness now;
Sadness lived on the maiden's brow,
As she watched, with a fixed, half-conscious eye,
One lonely leaf that trembled on high,
Till it dropped at last from the desolate bough -
Sorrow, oh, sorrow! 'tis winter now.
And her tears gushed forth, though it was but a leaf,
For little will loose the swollen fountain of grief:
When up to the lip the water goes,
It needs but a drop, and it overflows.

Oh! many and many a dreary year
Must pass away ere the buds appear;
Many a night of darksome sorrow
Yield to the light of a joyless morrow,
Ere birds again, on the clothed trees,
Shall fill the branches with melodies.
She will dream of meadows with wakeful streams;
Of wavy grass in the sunny beams;
Of hidden wells that soundless spring,
Hoarding their joy as a holy thing;
Of founts that tell it all day long
To the listening woods, with exultant song;
She will dream of evenings that die into nights,
Where each sense is filled with its own delights,
And the soul is still as the vaulted sky,
Lulled with an inner harmony;
And the flowers give out to the dewy night,
Changed into perfume, the gathered light;
And the darkness sinks upon all their host,
Till the sun sail up on the eastern coast -
She will wake and see the branches bare,
Weaving a net in the frozen air.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A mist and a weeping rain

Just because it goes with the weather:

Alas, how easily things go wrong!
A sigh too much, or a kiss too long,
And there follows a mist and a weeping rain,
And life is never the same again.

George MacDonald, Phantastes

EBD in the USA

I've already mentioned that recently I have been formatting the next edition of the Equal But Different journal (which is just a little voluntary side project to assist them - in the process I have been teaching myself Microsoft Publisher and hopefully last night I finally got it right!). The main article in the upcoming edition is by Claire Smith (on Marriage and Communication), who is on the Steering Committee. Today and tomorrow Claire is being interviewed by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womenhood, in the US, about the battle in this country over women's ordination. You can read Part 1 here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

An archive meme

I have been tagged in an Archive Meme by Nicole. This meme required me to find old posts from my blog (yes, apologies, you get to read them again). The posts are to be about to be about family, friends, me, something I love, and anything I like. So, here they are:

Family: My third post ever was a description of a moment in a visit to family in Brisbane.

Friends: This post is perhaps about the ideal I have for friendship, and I am blessed to have some friends who are indeed ramparts for the soul.

Me: Hmm, here’s one.

Something I love: I love poetry (too – thanks for that idea Nicole), and I particularly love Christina Rossetti.

Anything I like: Well, I’ve mentioned Christina Rossetti, so now it’s time for George Eliot (this post features an interesting conversation from a George Eliot novel).

I am to tag five friends. This has just made me realise how few of my girlfriends blog, in fact some of them don’t even email yet. Curious ...

I tag Karen, Bec, Craig, Ben, Dave.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The darkness within

I had such a laugh at this post over here by Ben. I make no judgment about a guy who abandons an axolotl (that’s what generous experiencers do (see below) - the situation was complex and stressful, clearly). Nothing could have persuaded me to keep an axolotl in the first place.

Despite the fact that I was once a zoologist/conservation biologist, I am worse than ambivalent towards cold-blooded creatures. When we did herpetofauna searches at university, I’d volunteer a little too enthusiastically to be scribe, which meant that I could walk around with the clipboard and pen and not have to touch things. And I think we have all found our darkness. Mine, well, once upon a time I joined WIRES, the Wildlife Information and Rescue Service.

I would drive around collecting sick and injured creatures with diligence, stop at road kills and rummage through the pouches of bloated and maggot-ridden carcasses looking for signs of life, only to take home some mostly-dead, tiny, probably unviable creature, then get up through the night to feed and warm (and toilet) something that lived my sock, which invariably died a few days later from imbibing too much putrefying milk. These days I'm cold and hard. I drive by road kills and feel scarcely a pang. There’s always too much traffic, or I can tell it’s male, or wasn't lactating (at 100kms an hour) or something, anything ...

My personal DNA

A lot of people around the blog city I inhabit are taking this test, so I’ve gone and done it too. I actually did it on the weekend, when I was spending time in front of the computer doing other things, was told I was a generous experiencer, which I considered to be fundamentally erroneous, so I promptly dismissed it. All my life I have come out so far down the “intuition” end of the myers-briggs-type analyses, as opposed to the “sensing” end, and been the quintessential idealist, that I scoffed at the idea that I was any kind of "experiencer".

But, today during lunch I did it again, fully expecting something different, and I got the same thing. A generous experiencer I must be. However, it seems the test itself hasn’t quite got me pegged: it calls me an experiencer, later tells me I often enjoy things more through observation than through experience, and that if I want to be different I could benefit from a little more experience. (In reality I have done things like setting off overseas by myself for months, without caring too much what came next, and was always called "the reckless one” growing up, so maybe there's a little experiencer in me yet.) Other than that it makes me sound quite promising really; I’m still looking for the negative in my list of attributes. I am sure I went down the "disagree" end on whether or not I am generally satisfied with myself, but I quite like this person. ;)

h/t: Craig and Ben

Monday, April 21, 2008

A foggy promulgation

I just feel like declaring to the world that I REALLY like stewed quinces. If you've never tried them, you simply must, with yoghurt containing a little cinnamon and honey.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Raising my Ebenezer

Today in church the sermon was on 1 Corinthians 14. Without going into the details of the sermon, the point was made, regarding speaking in tongues and prophecy, that if what is said (or sung) in corporate gatherings is unintelligible to others, and particularly to non-believers, then it’s pointless, unhelpful, and in fact it’s sin. During the question time someone pointed out that in the hymn we were about to sing, Come Thou Fount (see below), there was the line “Here I raise my Ebenezer”, and they didn’t know what it meant, so why were we singing it. Granted, any non-believer walking in off the street isn’t going to understand that line, and most believers aren’t going to either, so perhaps it is best changed, and change it we did to “praise as ever” (or alternatively I have heard “praises ever”). But I happen to like the line “raise my Ebenezer” - the only reason for that being that in the past, after singing that song, I have gone away and looked it up in attempt to understand it. And you can find it in 1 Samuel 7:12. The LORD has just delivered the Israelites from the Philistines, after Samuel cried out to him, and so Samuel set up a stone monument, calling it Ebenezer, saying “Till now the LORD has helped us”. Once you do know what it means it's a fantastic line, meant to encourage us to remind ourselves of how God has helped us (which flows into the following line). So, when I sing that song around the house, to myself (and God), I’m going to stick with “here I raise my Ebenezer”.

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

Robert Robinson, 1735-1790


I have come to the end of my April projects, with a new appreciation for book indexes and magazine pages that fit nicely, so perhaps now this blog will get more attention.

I haven’t done a great deal in the last few weeks to write home, or even blog, about. I did really enjoy catching up with an old friend Simone a couple of weeks ago, as I have previously mentioned. Simone and her husband Andrew led the 21+ bible study group at the church I attended in Townsville, once upon a time, and there was a small enough group of us in the church, most of whom were a long way from home and family, that we all hung out together quite a lot (one of the advantages of less homogenous churches being that including everyone of a particular demographic can be manageable, unlike large homogenous churches where subgroups are inevitable).

We spent weekends exploring the far north, doing such things as driving to Charters Towers just to see what was out there (after fooling about in the gazebo of the town’s park for a while we came home), one memorable visit to Chunder Bay, which lived up to it’s name with a putrid stench coming from somewhere, visiting Magnetic Island and many nights spent playing fly on the beach at Cape Pallerenda. So, it was nice to catch up, and we have recently discovered some new common loves, such as poetry, which we didn’t know about back then. And just a plug: keep your eyes out for songs by Simone (Richardson), featured on some of the EMU CDs, particularly the children’s CD “A Very, Very, Very Big God” and on an upcoming CD of the songs of herself and Phillip Percival (she’s actually turning poetry into something!).

Last week a friend, Bec, came for dinner. Bec was a student minister at the church I was last year, during her final year at Moore Theological College, and I thought she was nice and we chatted, but nothing too involved. Then one evening, about two weeks before her final night with us there, we found ourselves in a pew and just got into one of those conversations – you know the ones where you feel your eyes mist over in places because the other person just simply understands, and you do too - and I thought ‘why haven’t we done this before?’, because then she was gone. But, thankfully, we have managed to stay in touch. Anyway, Bec actually did her 4th year project on “Towards a Pauline ethic of contentment with special reference to singleness”, so, as part of my self-imposed “research” for this year I told Bec I’d love to take a look at it. She then came to dinner with my very own printed and bound copy, which I made her autograph :), and I look forward to reading that!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Poetry Friday - molten glory

After that significant moment in the history of my life went spectacularly unacknowledged last Friday, leaving me feeling like Mr Tanner, I have reconsidered the wisdom of rendering people speechless with personal experience and reverted to escapist poetry written by others (but thank you to the few who later said enough that I was able to pick up most of the pieces of myself and will to live another day).

So today I have a poem by George MacDonald. I have sung the praises of George MacDonald previously, and of Phantastes also, from which I have taken this poem. At this point in the story Anodos is in one of the statue halls, where he has at last found his "marble queen", and taking up a harp and beginning to sing (after many attempts to find her there on her pedestal and bring her to life in his presence) he finds that a "real woman-soul was revealing itself by successive stages of imbodiment, and consequent manifestation and expression". It IS a poem about the form of a woman, but I trust that it won't upset anyone's sensibilities (or cause them to question my, ahem, preference). I find it so full of the "beauty that grows to a weight like grief", which pervades the whole book, that I get lost in the sheer poetry and quite forget the subject. As C.S. Lewis writes in the book's introduction "it is more akin to music than to poetry". But I do particularly like the stanzas describing the eyes beginning "two calm lakes of molten glory ...".

(And this part of the story is a little reminiscent of the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea, which was painted by Gerome in the picture below.)

Feet of beauty, firmly planting
Arches white on rosy heel!
Whence the life-spring, throbbing, panting,
Pulses upward to reveal!
Fairest things know least despising;
Foot and earth meet tenderly:
'Tis the woman, resting, rising
Upward to sublimity,

Rise the limbs, sedately sloping,
Strong and gentle, full and free;
Soft and slow, like certain hoping,
Drawing nigh the broad firm knee.
Up to speech! As up to roses
Pants the life from leaf to flower,
So each blending change discloses,
Nearer still, expression's power.

Lo! fair sweeps, white surges, twining
Up and outward fearlessly!
Temple columns, close combining,
Lift a holy mystery.
Heart of mine! what strange surprises
Mount aloft on such a stair!
Some great vision upward rises,
Curving, bending, floating fair.

Bands and sweeps, and hill and hollow
Lead my fascinated eye;
Some apocalypse will follow,
Some new world of deity.
Zoned unseen, and outward swelling,
With new thoughts and wonders rife,
Queenly majesty foretelling,
See the expanding house of life!

Sudden heaving, unforbidden
Sighs eternal, still the same -
Mounts of snow have summits hidden
In the mists of uttered flame.
But the spirit, dawning nearly
Finds no speech for earnest pain;
Finds a soundless sighing merely -
Builds its stairs, and mounts again.

Heart, the queen, with secret hoping,
Sendeth out her waiting pair;
Hands, blind hands, half blindly groping,
Half inclasping visions rare;
And the great arms, heartways bending;
Might of Beauty, drawing home
There returning, and re-blending,
Where from roots of love they roam.

Build thy slopes of radiance beamy
Spirit, fair with womanhood!
Tower thy precipice, white-gleamy,
Climb unto the hour of good.
Dumb space will be rent asunder,
Now the shining column stands
Ready to be crowned with wonder
By the builder's joyous hands.

All the lines abroad are spreading,
Like a fountain's falling race.
Lo, the chin, first feature, treading,
Airy foot to rest the face!
Speech is nigh; oh, see the blushing,
Sweet approach of lip and breath!
Round the mouth dim silence, hushing,
Waits to die ecstatic death.

Span across in treble curving,
Bow of promise, upper lip!
Set them free, with gracious swerving;
Let the wing-words float and dip.
Dumb art thou? O Love immortal,
More than words thy speech must be;
Childless yet the tender portal
Of the home of melody.

Now the nostrils open fearless,
Proud in calm unconsciousness,
Sure it must be something peerless
That the great Pan would express!
Deepens, crowds some meaning tender,
In the pure, dear lady-face.
Lo, a blinding burst of splendour! -
'Tis the free soul's issuing grace.

Two calm lakes of molten glory
Circling round unfathomed deeps!
Lightning-flashes, transitory,
Cross the gulfs where darkness sleeps.
This the gate, at last, of gladness,
To the outward striving me:
In a rain of light and sadness,
Out its loves and longings flee!

With a presence I am smitten
Dumb, with a foreknown surprise;
Presence greater yet than written
Even in the glorious eyes.
Through the gulfs, with inward gazes,
I may look till I am lost;
Wandering deep in spirit-mazes,
In a sea without a coast.

Windows open to the glorious!
Time and space, oh, far beyond!
Woman, ah! thou art victorious,
And I perish, overfond.
Springs aloft the yet Unspoken
In the forehead's endless grace,
Full of silences unbroken;
Infinite, unfeatured face.

Domes above, the mount of wonder;
Height and hollow wrapt in night;
Hiding in its caverns under
Woman-nations in their might.
Passing forms, the highest Human
Faints away to the Divine
Features none, of man or woman,
Can unveil the holiest shine.

Sideways, grooved porches only
Visible to passing eye,
Stand the silent, doorless, lonely
Entrance-gates of melody.
But all sounds fly in as boldly,
Groan and song, and kiss and cry
At their galleries, lifted coldly,
Darkly, 'twixt the earth and sky.

Beauty, thou art spent, thou knowest
So, in faint, half-glad despair,
From the summit thou o'erflowest
In a fall of torrent hair;
Hiding what thou hast created
In a half-transparent shroud:
Thus, with glory soft-abated,
Shines the moon through vapoury cloud.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What black holes teach us

I read this in the SMH today:

Physicist John Wheeler, who had a key role in the development of the atom bomb and later gave the space phenomenon black holes their name, has died at 96 ... Wheeler rubbed elbows with colossal figures in science such as Albert Einstein and Danish scientist Niels Bohr, with whom he worked in the 1930s and '40s ... In his 1998 autobiography, Geons, Black Holes & Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics, he wrote that the black hole "teaches us that space can be crumpled like a piece of paper into an infinitesimal dot, that time can be extinguished like a blown-out flame, and that the laws of physics that we regard as 'sacred', as immutable, are anything but".

It's nice to hear a scientist concede such things.

The word for today

This was the word for the day today from A-Word-A-Day:

endogamy (en-DOG-uh-mee) noun

The practice of marriage within a specific social group.

[From endo- (within), from Greek endon (within) + -gamy (marriage), from Greek gamos (marriage).]

And this is the example of the word in context given:

"A third of Americans have become religiously mobile - ascribing not to their original faith. This social interweaving has bred forbearance to the point that religious endogamy has become irrelevant."

Meidyatama Suryodiningrat; Pride, Prejudice & Hussein in U.S. Election; The Jakarta Post (Indonesia); Mar 8, 2008.

There're so many ways that's wrong ...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

All I need is ...

A digital SLR camera! It will enhance my blogging, and thus contribute to the good of others, I’m convinced. Same as an ipod, loaded with “praise” music, would stop me thinking unhelpful things when I go jogging AND allow me to listen to sermons when I walk to work ...

And what the heart loves the will chooses and the mind justifies.

(Which puritan originally said that?! – and no doubt they got up in the dark and the cold, without an ipod, and prayed anyway ...)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Poetry Friday revised - the first of the last chances

I've decided to take my own poem down. So, I'll post some others instead. Abraham Piper wrote a silly (but clever) sonnet to enter into a competition to win a bed. I thought it was amusing. However, it would seem that it's his brother, Karsten Piper, who is the 'professional' poet. See here.

But tonight I'll post another Sophie Hannah:

First of the Last Chances

I stand back as the Skipton train advances,
having to choose too fast

between the scorn and the sympathetic glances
of my supporting cast

all of whom think boarding the train enhances
my odds. I wave it past.

If I don't take the first of the last chances
I will not fear the last.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Moonlight Sonata and poetry

Today I listened to Moonlight Sonata, on the ABC Life is Beautiful CD Vol 4 (the "perfect soundtrack to your day"), at work several times. I was just in a Moonlight Sonata mood - and it reminds me of growing up in Tamworth, where my Mum used to play it a lot, for a time, on the little upright piano in the little house in Calala. There is a certain hesitancy and heaviness in the piece. I used to think Mum just couldn't play it very well, as though she was pausing to get all her fingers in the right place before she actually hit the note, sometimes a little too hard, but I have since discovered that that is how it is (and I like it that way) ...

Then I read this post by Abraham Piper, which actually came from Karsten Piper, and filled my lunch time up with poetry. 'Twas a good lunch.

I caught up with my friend Simone from Brisbane on Sunday, who was in Sydney for a song-writer's workshop, and she leant me First of the Last Chances by Sophie Hannah, after some discussion about Sophie Hannah in the past. I read the whole book in bed one night in that thirsting search for the poem that would resonant somewhere. I didn't find it that night, though I do like the title poem, but I'm going to give it more than one late-night read.

P.S. Apologies for all these short and somewhat frivolous posts of late. I am a little pressed for time after hours indexing a book on Greek verbs for Con Campbell and formatting the Equal but Different magazine (and still managing to consume enough time in blogland without putting a whole lot of thought into my own posts).

Monday, April 07, 2008

Christ Died for God (?)

If I said that Come Let Us Worship the Lord (see below) perhaps didn't teach a whole lot of theology, then there are a number of other Steve Camp songs that do. I think I might have learned penal substitutionary atonement by osmosis as a teenager through this one:

Christ Died for God
(Steve Camp/Rob Frazier)

Christ died for God and God was satisfied with Christ
Pure, unblemished sacrifice
Oh, Son of Grace


Christ died for God and God has made him Lord of all
For he drank the bitter gall
The cup of wrath

I am not so sure, though, of the line "Christ Died for God" ...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Come Let Us Worship the Lord

There is a discussion stirring up at the moment about congregation singing, sparked perhaps by the latest edition of the Briefing. I am no “muso”. Once upon a time I was reasonable on the flute, I have a reasonable ear for whether or not someone has hit the right note and stayed on it, and I can be deeply moved by music, especially if it contains a cello. But I don’t get particularly animated on the subject of music in church (there’s one song I really don’t like, because to me it sounds like a shampoo add and the music doesn’t match the words, I think some songs require more melody guidance, eg Endless Praises, which leaves the congregation wavering here and there, the hymnbook put together by the old Evangelical Movement of Wales is sadly neglected and that’s about all). But today I am going to post an old song from an old Steve Camp CD (called Mercy in the Wilderness) which I really like. When I listen to this song I just want to be in heaven, though it makes me feel like it ought to be sung in the catacombs by candlelight. It doesn't teach a whole lot of theology perhaps, but is rather just singing praise to God. I actually find it really quite euphoric towards the end; each chorus verse builds and goes up a key and it is sung by a multitude on the CD:

Come Let Us Worship the Lord

Steve Camp/Rob Frazier

“Worship the Lord with reverence, and rejoice with trembling.” Psalm 2:11

Come let us worship the Lord all ye people
Great is the Lord and worthy of praise
Bow down before him with fear and trembling
Righteous are all of his ways

Come let us worship the Lord all ye people
Confess your sins and examine your ways
Humble yourselves in his awesome presence
Exalt his Holy name

Almighty God, Wonderful Counselor
Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace
Lord God of Hosts and Lord of the Nations
Lion of Judah, the King of Kings

Come let us worship the Lord all ye people
Worthy our God from age to age
Draw near to him for he is our refuge
Trust in the Lord all your days

Almighty God, Wonderful Counselor
Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace
Lord God of Hosts and Lord of the Nations
Lion of Judah, the King of Kings

Jesus-Messiah, Firstborn of Creation
Alpha and Omega, the Living Word
Prophet and Priest, Rock of Salvation
Eternal Spirit, the Lord of Lords!

Ancient of Days, sweet Rose of Sharon
Creator and comforter, the Spotless Lamb
Faithful and true, Holy One of Zion
Saviour, redeemer – the Great I Am!

Alleluia, Alleluia

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

Beignets in Crow's Nest

Tonight I met Nicole in Crow’s Nest. I have never been to Crow’s Nest before (it’s a big deal for me to cross the harbour!), and it was quite the Friday-night-parking challenge. While we chatted in New Orleans CafĂ© I had the strangest Chai Latte ever. It came with the frothed milk IN the teapot, with half a pot full of the tea components, a cup, a tea strainer and a small plastic tub of honey. Pouring frothed milk through a tea strainer does things to the froth, and given that I never take sugar I don’t know why I stirred in the honey. We also both ordered Beignets. Don’t ask me how you say that. At a guess I’d say there are around 700 calories per mouthful, and I am not so sure they were calories well spent. But, it’s good to try something different (I think!), and we had a most lovely time chatting about a number of things, not the least of which was blogging.

A farrago of nonsense full of over-egged pudding

A lot of the time my job is just, well, rather soporific really, but every now and then one of the judges wakes me up with the use of an interesting word or turn-of-phrase. Today a judge labelled a piece of evidence a "farrago of nonsense". Recently I had "over-egging the pudding". I think these terms need to be brought back into common usage. I'm going to call my next blog "a farrago of nonsense" - or perhaps it's just a fitting subtitle for this one - in which I shall over-egg the pudding to my heart's content.

Comment moderation

I have just hastily reinstalled this. Somebody out there knows why ...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

ENGAGE is a total sell-out

I heard today that the ENGAGE conference, when it went to open registration yesterday, sold out in ___!! (If you read what was there before, you didn't read it here OK. I have since chatted to the organiser and he wasn't keen on people knowing how quickly, or they'd think it was a "circus".) Wow! I may yet have a spare ticket. Hmmm ...

And new runners

This evening I went to Paul’s Warehouse for new running shoes. They just happened to have a pair of the old style top-of-the-line ASICS runners left in my size, with $100 off. So I was rather chuffed about that. Except that they’re orange. I hate the colour orange in clothing (it’s good in sunsets) and I always seem to end up with ugly orange and grey runners. And it’s a good thing that I hate orange too, because being a ‘summer’, in the season colour chart, if there’s one colour I am to avoid, it’s orange. But I guess they will be far enough away from my face that I might get away with it ...

(OK, so I am being a little silly - I could have bought some nice green ones, that weren’t nearly as good a shoe, but I sacrificed aesthetics for technology and went with ugly orange.)

A new child

Last night after my self-disclosure post, I actually had to organise a baby present to send to a friend, before the baby was too big to fit in what I bought. These days I try and make all my cards, to save some money, plus the hours I used to spend looking for that perfect card, but I am always looking for that something to stick on them. Then recently I discovered small crocheted bears! OK, so perhaps you need a little imagination to recognise the bear, but it’s my latest thing for baby cards. And my latest verse for baby cards is this Prayer for a New Child. I keep using it, because I am yet to find a better thing to write in a card for a new baby. I don’t know where it came from originally (if anybody does let me know). I think I actually stole it off Michael Jensen’s blog a few years ago.

O God, who dost renew all life on the face of the earth and dost reveal to human parents the mystery of thy creative work in the birth of a child, enable this couple, and all who found families where children grow, to express the tenderness of divine love, the innocence of divine community and the authority of divine instruction; that each new generation may have wherewith to seek thee, and all history resound to thy praise, until the coming of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The time to have a baby?

I read this article today (h/t Craig) and have to confess that it just made me feel depressed (since I have started on unmentionable things I shall just keep on with them). I wanted to do what a slightly older friend of mine did once during a discussion along such lines and stick my fingers in my ears and go "la, la, la ..." – or maybe just stop reading. Delaying finding a relationship or having children for the sake of career may well be the case for a number of women, but I don’t actually think that is the majority (though perhaps I am wrong), and certainly not amongst Christian women. (I, for one, didn’t accept the PhD scholarship I was offered when I finished my Honours, not because I wanted children necessarily within the PhD timeframe, but certainly because career was not all that important to me - and I think I did assume that I would have children one day - and I do now have moments of wondering whether I should have accepted it, because more than ten years later I am still working, and most likely will be for the next thirty, and I have now come back around to considering further study - not instead of family by any means, but in view of the future.)

If you were to tell Christian women in their later twenties that they ought to be making finding a partner a priority if they would like children, which I suspect a number of them are feeling already, then what exactly would you be advocating? The options that would most likely spring to mind would be:

a) changing churches in the hope of more options
b) searching on the internet
c) dating a non-Christian

None of those would be particularly helpful, if you ask me, and most definitely not the last, though you couldn’t make a sin out of the first two. I have a friend who made a mistake, dated a non-Christian and is now a single Mum. She tells me that she was admonished by medical staff at the hospital for having waited until her early thirties to have her first child (and that she wanted to respond with "well I wouldn’t be having this one now if I’d done the right thing!"). Hearing such biological information can be distressing for those who didn’t choose not to have children in their youth.

So, what are we to do when we read such things? Well, I think it’s the age-old remedy: take it to our heavenly father in prayer, cast our cares and desires on him, and work to trust to his goodness in all things. And make it our priority to be like Jesus.

P.S. As an aside, I’d be interested to know what other Christians think about egg-freezing? Is it another God-given technology we can benefit from (expensive and risky as it is), or another attempt to control our own lives, plan to meet our own desires, and not trust to God’s goodness and provision?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Coming to Brisbane

Today, on an impulse, I booked a flight to Brisbane for Lucy's birthday, which happens to coincide with Mother's Day. I'm vying for favourite Aunt! Now I just have to write that in goblin ... :[

Random thought

Has anyone else ever had the thought, that if relationships between men and women are supposed to reflect the relationship between Christ and the Church, then it's small wonder that people are Arminian?