Thursday, 26 June 2014

Thankful Thursday

Here are some things that I am thankful for this week:

Holidays with friends
This week J and I are up in the Blue Mountains with some friends from college.  We've spent the week so far sitting in front of the fire and listening to the 'cyclonic' wind outside.  We've ventured a few trips outside: once to a gingerbread cafe, once for op-shopping, and once for a short walk (which I didn't go for because I had some work to do).  We've completed two 1000 piece puzzles, both without a picture to refer to.  We've watched a little bit of TV, enjoyed everyone's cooking (but especially S's baking).  Many of these friends are the same ones we went away with in Spring last year (you can read that post here).  I love these friends, the conversations that we have and the care that we show each other.  This has been a wonderful holiday. 

Starting the third jugsaw puzzle

Many of us have brought tea away with us on holiday so we've been able to try different teas throughout the week.  There's something so lovely about curling up on a couch with friends, sharing a pot of tea.  The weather being so cold, has made it feel even more cozy than normal. 

The internet on my phone
Since we're away on holidays we don't have our home WiFi.  I've had a few things that I've needed to do this week that require the internet, and so I'm very thankful that I can use my phone to do these things.  Technology has progressed so much, even just in my lifetime and so often we take it for granted what we can do with it.  So I'm thankful for this blessing this week. 

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Bible and church

Lately I’ve been thinking about Bible reading in church.  I've posted about an aspect of this before in this post.  This week I'm preparing for service leading at church and it has got me thinking about it again.  How much Bible should be read in church? 

I’ve been in a number of church families with different styles of worship or format of service.  At my first church, a Uniting Church, we followed a lectionary, a three year cycle of Bible readings consisting of a reading (usually a whole chapter) from the Old Testament, a Psalm, a reading from one of the Gospels and one from the rest of the New Testament.  Not all of these readings were done each week at church, but at least one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament was read.  The Psalm may have also been incorporated into a prayer or some other part of the service.  One of these readings would usually be linked to the sermon.

I went to a Roman Catholic high school that followed the same lectionary in their weekly chapel service, so often I would hear the same readings twice a week.  Then in my later years of high school I attended another Uniting Church.  This church usually did two of the lectionary readings and almost always the sermon was was based on the gospel passage.

When J and I got engaged I started attending his church, a small independent church.  This church didn’t follow any lectionary.  There would be a Bible reading before the sermon, being the subject of the sermon.  Some shorter Bible passages may have been used by the leader throughout the service, but no other parts of the Bible were intentionally read.  The same is true for the Baptist church that we’re currently attending.

At college we follow our own lectionary.  We read a chapter from the Old Testament and a chapter from the New Testament each day that we have chapel.  They follow on from each other and when we reach the end of a book we start a new one (not necessarily the next book in the Bible).  We've just finished Ezekiel and 2 Thessalonians.  The sermon is rarely on one of these Bible readings so another reading is done for the sermon, sometimes read by the preacher himself. 

I don’t know if the churches that used a lectionary did so for any reason other than tradition, but I still think that reading from a lectionary is a good idea.  It gives the benefit of hearing from more of the Bible each Sunday at church.  After all, what is the most important part of the church service?  I acknowledge that people may have different opinions on this, but I want to argue that hearing the word of God is the most important.  More important than singing good songs, praying, and even the sermon.

With the lectionary you get to hear from more ‘obscure’ parts of the Bible that wouldn’t normally be preached on or talked about in Sunday school or Bible study group.  And even if your church does preach from the lesser known parts of the Bible, they don’t come up very often so reading from a lectionary means that you read more of the Bible more often. 

Of course, as the service leader I will read from more of the Bible than just the reading for the sermon.  Perhaps this is one of my responsibilities as service leader rather than anything rostered and organised by the church leadership.  But what I read is not going to be consistent with the previous and following weeks.  I could read a chapter from Zechariah but there will be no context for the people to understand it better, and it would just feel very random.  They won't have heard the previous chapter last week or the next chapter next week.  The Bible is meant to be read, it is meant to speak to us.  After all, it is where we find the truth about God.  If we sing five songs, pray three prayers and hear a half-hour sermon, surely we should read a few chapters of the Bible.  Church notices shouldn't take longer than our reading from the word of God.  So I'm working out how I can include more Bible in the service this Sunday. 

I’m not saying that my church isn’t doing things well.  I just wonder if we should be reading more of the Bible in church than just the reading for the sermon.  Because by doing this it can make it seem like the sermon is more important than the Bible reading.  This is because the reading feels like it is done for the sermon, when it should really be the other way around.  The sermon should be done to complement the reading, to expound it for the congregation.  But we shouldn’t ignore the fact that God speaks through his word without us having to say anything else.  Reading more of the Bible in church, parts that the sermon doesn’t talk about, helps to remind us that God’s word is powerful to speak to us all on it's own.  As people who base their faith on what the Bible says, do we believe this?  Do we let God speak from his word?  So let’s do this by reading more of the Bible in church. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for:

Exams are over now!
This week was exam week, and though we second years only had two exams I feel like I’ve been on the back foot the whole time.  I started study week with a cold and it lasted longer than that so my study has been slow and struggled.  So I’m thankful that now as I post this exams are finished!

Two wonderful years of marriage
On Monday J and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary.  We had an exam in the morning so we left the celebrations for the evening (and prepared during the afternoon!).  J made me a lovely dinner (chicken schnitzel and apple sauce) and dessert (salted nutella-chocolate tarts!).  He set the table with a new table cloth and placemats (all cotton, as the traditional second anniversary gift) and we exchanged presents after dinner.  I love how well he knows me, and the love and care he has shown me over the last two years.  Thanks for a wonderful marriage, my husband!


The Reformation
Monday’s exam was Church History, and we’ve been studying the Reformation this year.  I didn’t enjoy studying history at school, but I’ve loved church history at college!  I’m thankful that the church was reformed and as a result of it we have the Bible in our native languages (and we’re allowed to read it!), and we don’t trust in our own merit to save us but rely on the grace of God that through our faith we are saved.  Thank you God for the Reformation!

What are you thankful for this week?

Monday, 16 June 2014

A different type of Bible

I said in my previous post that I would share a bit more about the recommendations from our end of term Bible study group.  People recommended things such as recipes, websites, tea, apps and other things. My recommendation was for a Bible. 

Now that doesn’t really sound like anything too exciting. Why would I bother to recommend a Bible to a whole Bible study group (who already have Bibles)?  But this Bible is a little different. 

It’s called The Books of the BibleIt’s different than other Bibles because it has no chapter and verse numbers.  It’s laid out in a single column like a regular book.  The textual notes notes are discreetly indicated by a grey dot and are listed at the end of each book rather than at the bottom of each page.  All this is to put the Bible into a form that we’re more used to reading and so make it easier to read.

I first heard about it from Tamie and Arthur’s blog, in this post.   Arthur has reviewed it there so I won’t go into his level of detail.   But I want to tell you why I recommended it. 

For me, I’ve found that without the chapters and verses I am less concerned about reading a set chunk of the Bible (such as a chapter or two) and instead I read until I get to a suitable break in the story or section.  Sometimes this means I read more than I normally would, sometimes less.  But that doesn’t really matter.  Reading the Bible has become less about ticking that box each morning.  I’m more motivated to read it because of this.  The Bible has become less of a textbook to me, and as a consequence has become more interesting to read. 

If you’re finding regular Bible reading dry, or you never really tried to read the Bible because it didn’t seem very interesting, then give this book a try.  I pray that it will help open up God’s word for you.  Because that’s what it is, and it’s worth getting to know. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for these things:

A hen’s weekend in Adelaide
I’ve already talked about it here.  It was lovely to go to Adelaide and spend some time with my family as well as some friends for the hen’s event.  I am thankful that we had the money to fly me there for the weekend, and that my family was so generous with picking me up and dropping me at the airport, as well as with quick dinners, gifts and hot chocolates.  I’m thankful for the friendships I have with the girls I spent the weekend with and the fun that we had together.  I’m thankful that my dear friend is getting married and that I am able to support and help her as she prepares for her marriage. 

Studying with my husband
I love that J and I are studying the same course and almost all the same subjects.  This not only means that we can study together and help each other out, but our holidays also happen at the same time and we’re both really looking forward to them! 

My women’s Bible study group
Our college organises women’s Bible studies for the female students and wives of students.  I’m in one of the groups that meets at our college community.  So I only have to walk over to the next block of units to get to Bible study!  I’ve been in one of these groups since we got here and have loved it.  It has been a great way of getting to know some of the other wives in our community here, and a great encouragement to me.  All of the women are godly and switched-on theologically.  This week was the last week that we met for this term and so we had an end of term party of sorts.  We each brought along a recommendation.  More on that later!

What are you thankful for this week?

Monday, 9 June 2014

Barossa Hens

This weekend I flew back to Adelaide for a very dear friend’s Hens weekend.  Admittedly I was a little nervous flying by myself, afraid that I would miss my flight home because the timing was pretty tight.  But it turned out that my Sunday afternoon flight was cancelled and I took the option of an evening flight which made everything much easier. 

Flying in to Adelaide was lovely.  Firstly, I was seated in an exit row so I was very glad we’d made it without me needing to operate the escape hatch!  I had a window seat so I got great views of the city lights at night as we flew over.  Though I wouldn’t necessarily be able to recognise my home city from an aerial viewpoint there was something comfortingly familiar about seeing all those sparkling lights in neat rows and straight lines.  That’s very unlike the city we live in now!  I wish I had a photo to show you but I couldn’t use my phone in the plane at that time.

Movie night with my sister!My sister had taken the night off work so she could pick me up from the airport.  Thanks sis!  We had a fun night of snacks and a movie with a bit of catching up in between it all.  In the morning Mum and Dad got home from Europe, where they’d been for a month.  We caught up for about an hour, I saw photos and was given some gifts to fit into my carry on luggage, before I had to leave for the start of the hens weekend!

We started the weekend off with breakfast at the hen’s house with her mother, mother-in-law-to-be and the girls who were coming for the weekend. 


Then we drove through the hills to the Barossa Valley, with the hen blindfolded all the way.  She had no idea where we were going.  I tried to drive gently. 

We stopped at a few wineries for wine tasting, went to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop, had a picnic lunch in a park and pizza dinner at a local restaurant, and played pool in a pub while attempting to fulfil the dares we’d given the hen.  Our evening consisted of silly games, junk food and a Disney movie. 

In the morning we went to another winery for wine tasting and then played croquet.  That was one of the highlights for me.  I’d never played croquet before and it’s not really like anything else.  At our cafe lunch after the croquet we asked the hen some questions about how well she knew her fiancĂ© and then called him to check.  She passed!

The hen is a very dear friend to me and I’m so excited to see her getting ready for marriage and to be able to stand with her on their wedding day.  I’m thankful for her friendship and the support she has always shown me and I so value that she trusts me so that I can support her also, particularly as she prepares for marriage.  I’m looking forward to many more years of friendship with you, my friend!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Thankful Thursday

This post is inspired by another blogger who I’ve been reading regularly.  Unfortunately I can’t link you to her blog because it seems to have moved or shut down.  But a shout out to Samara for the inspiration.

The plan is that I will write a thankful Thursday blog post each week.  I want to do this to remind myself of the things I have to be thankful for in my life, and hopefully encourage others to be thankful as well.  I don’t want this to ever turn into a space for the ‘humble brag’, so if it does sound like that to you, please pull me up on it!  I err on the side of pessimism sometimes so I want to remind myself of the things I can thank God for.  I used to have a notebook where I wrote down things to be thankful for at the end of each day, but that fizzled out a while ago.  Hopefully making this a weekly blog thing it will also keep me accountable to actually doing it.  Here it goes!

Encouragement from my husband
This week and last week I’d been feeling stressed out about getting our final assignment done for the semester.  I hadn’t left myself enough time to do it, it was making me feel guilty and worried.  J was very encouraging, reminding me about why I’m at Bible College, telling me not to worry about marks and praying with and for me. 

Kid’s Club
I have a bit of a mixed relationship with Kid’s Club.  Particularly when I have to do the talk, and that was my job last week.  I don’t like public speaking and I just wanted to stay home and work on my assignment so I didn’t really want to go to Kid’s Club.  To top it off I also left at home one of my props for the talk.  However, somehow (through God’s work I’m sure!) it all pulled together.  I thought of some different illustrations and easily-located props to use in the talk, the kids listened pretty well and were great at memorising the Bible memory verse.  “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).  Please pray with me that these kids would be God’s children by trusting and obeying him. 

Time to spare
Normally I finish my college assignments with minutes to spare.  This means I’m up until midnight on assignment nights, rushing to finish and get all the formatting correct before it hits 11:55pm, the deadline.  But this week I finished and submitted my assignment before dinner.  I was much more calm and had time to check my references conformed to the referencing style.  This was a welcome change and will hopefully help me to aim for this again next time. 

What are you thankful for this week?