Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Runaway Bride (1999)

Good humour is said to be a slight exaggeration of the truth. In this movie the idea of one girl continually jolting guys at the altar is a bit of a stretch. Nevertheless it serves to underline the main point of the movie, which is, it is not good to bend yourself out of shape pretending to be exactly what your partner wants you to be. Julia Roberts plays Maggie Carpenter a girl who is very astute and picking up what a guy is looking for in a girl and then she falls into playing out that role. She plays the role so well that she doesn't even know her own mind on even simple issues like, how she likes her eggs cooked. Richard Gere plays a newspaper reporter who falls in love with the real Maggie but he wants her to be herself which is rather tricky for Maggie since she doesn't actually know who she really is anymore.

And this reminds me that God loves the real me. He doesn't love the person I pretend to be, He loves the real me. Even when I don't know who that is.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

You've Got Mail (1998)

This movie is about my two favourite things books and computers! The scene I enjoy the most occurs shortly after Tom Hank's character, Joe Fox discovers that the girl, Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) who he anonymous writes to every evening on the internet is the same girl who is obnoxious to him during the day in the workforce. In this scene, Joe Fox is at home, he has just read the latest email from Kathleen, and he decides not to continue the relationship and shuts the computer. Next he is looking at the computer, pacing around the house, getting himself a drink, opening the computer, in a state of great indecision. After much hesitancy Joe decides to continue pursuing a relationship with her. It reminds me that God decides to continue to pursue His relationship with me even when I am obnoxious, hard to please and even when I ignore Him.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Rejoicing with those that rejoice

"What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?" Esther 6:6

In Australia each year people are honoured for their public service, contribution to society or for outstanding deeds. As parents we might buy a special treat for a child whose behaviour has been exemplary. Likewise spiritually sometimes God chooses to honour his children. "How great is your goodness which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men …" Psalm 31:19

What is our response when we see God pour out His blessing or a particular person or a church other than ours? Are we angry like the elder brother who said, "Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends"? Luke 15:29. God is God; He can bless anyone He wants with whatever sort of blessing He chooses. Still we can become better candidates for God’s blessings.

In the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) Jesus teaches us that there are eight attitudes we can adopt to be "blessed". But sometimes it is even simpler we just need to become like little children who accept gifts without reservation, without thought of reciprocating and with eager anticipation. It has been said that God wants to bless us more than we want to be blessed. Receiving from God makes us feel vulnerable.

"We are told to rejoice with those that rejoice; mourn with those who mourn" Romans 12:15. Surprisingly it is often easier to mourn with those that mourn than to rejoice with those God has chosen to honour.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

And never stop dancing

This book by Gordon Livingston (Hodder, 2006) is sub-titled is: thirty more true things you need to know now; and follows the same format and style as his previous book, Too soon old too late smart . It covers some of the same ground but he does give further insights into his ideas.

He gives much space to his disillusionment with organized religion. He is very critical of the extremes positions some people take in the expression of their beliefs and the way some use their beliefs to try to control other people’s behaviour. He seems to think that Christianity is about believing doctrine and following a set of rules. Regrettably he doesn’t understand that Christianity is actually about a relationship. He believes the world would be a better place if people would comply to his commandment, “Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself”, though really he needs to add, “Or thy non-religion to thyself.”

He writes about other things such as step-parenting, loneliness, insomnia, relationships, anxiety, depression and other issues that have presented themselves in his consulting rooms. His experience as a psychiatrist is the basis for much of his writing, though he also includes much of his personal story. As a parent he has been twice bereaved, one son committed suicide and another died of leukaemia. He has also been twice married. So he speaks from a place of experiencing much pain.

Much like his last book it is interesting to read his conclusions about life and his thoughts on what makes for happiness and fulfilment.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Too soon old too late smart

This book by Gordon Livingston (Hodder, 2005) is sub-titled: thirty true things you need to know now. It is a collection of random thoughts and insights gathered by Livingston over his many years as a psychiatrist. Many of these thoughts run into each other and the chapter divisions sometimes seem like they were added later.

He writes much about finding a marriage partner, believing that we need to think through this process a lot more carefully than we currently do. The quality he feels we most need to cultivate in ourselves and look for in others is kindness, a willingness to give of ourselves to another.

He defines love like this: "We love someone when the importance of his or her needs and desires rises to the level of our own. In the best of cases, of course, our concern for the welfare of another exceeds, or becomes indistinguishable from, what we want for ourselves. An operational question I use to help people determine if they really love someone is, 'Would you take a bullet for this person?'"

His point being if we cannot even contemplate this act, how can we pretend we love them? This 'bullet' question also illustrates another important point that he makes which is – love is demonstrated behaviourally. If someone's actions repeatedly don't line up with their words, then believe their actions not their words. The example he uses here is when girls say to him, "He does inconsiderate things, but I know he loves me." He counters this by saying is it possible to intentionally hurt someone we love?

The book covers many other topics ranging from ageing, illness, the therapeutic benefits of laughter, forgiveness, freedom of choice and makes for interesting reading. I wouldn't agree with all of his conclusions but it is certainly enlightening to read his perceptions.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

What part do we want to play?

"In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work." 2 Timothy 2:20-21

What part do we want to play in God's house? Do we want to be an instrument for noble purposes or ignoble purposes? The choice is plainly ours. Do we want to cleanse ourselves to be instruments for noble purposes? Or do we want to take out the garbage?

The CEV puts v. 20 like this: "In a large house some dishes are made of gold or silver, while others are made of wood or clay. Some of these are special, and others are not. That's also how it is with people."

In our homes we have expensive dishes that we only use on special occasions. When they are not being used these dishes are often put on display because they are a delight to look at yet they are always ready for "any good work". Then we have other dishes that we use every day. These dishes are not highly valued or even noticed. They get chipped and cracked without a thought.

Of course in God's economy all the "dishes" are important, useful and needed. Still we are told that some choose to "cleanse themselves" and become more "special" so God is able to use them in ways that He is not able to use others.

God wants to use us and He will but it is our choice as to whether God will use us for "noble purposes or ignoble" purposes.

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Catching up

While I was without my computer, I read three books : Too soon old too late smart, plus the sequel, And never stop dancing by Gordon Livingston. I also read Max Lucado's In the grip of grace. I want to post about these, plus I wrote a couple of devotional thoughts and I do want to finish posting about my favourite films. So I've got a bit of catching up to do.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

On uploading my book proposal

I have uploaded my book proposal to the Christian Manuscript Submission Services website. This website allows publishers to view book proposals without being inundated with unsolicited manuscripts. Clicking the link that said, "submit to publishers" was quite scary.

I figure that are one of three things that may happened with my book now:

1. Absolutely nothing! I'm sure there are many good books (and even more not so good books) that have never made it into print and mine might be another.

2. A rewrite. A publisher may like my idea but not the way I written it. That's ok. I can handle a re-write. Of course, a rewrite doesn't guarantee publication.

3. I may become a published author. This is the scary bit. Though I'm not sure why. I'm unlikely to become rich and famous writing general books about Christian living. I guess becoming published would change my life in some way and it is the unknown that is the scary bit.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On getting my computer fixed

My computer is fixed at last.

I have previously mentioned that I am writing a book (12 Dec '05 and 30 Jan '06). Since then, the book has been through several re-writes and received input from several friends. Early in July I realized that I would be ready to upload the proposal to the Christian Manuscript Submission website on about the 1st or 2nd August. My computer broke down on 31st July. Interesting …

The problem was the power pack needed replacing. So the computer repair shop ordered a new one because my computer needed a smaller than normal power pack. They were sent the wrong one and reordered. This took two weeks. Yesterday my husband was talking to a friend who knows stuff about computers and he said, "Why don't they put the computer in a bigger case and use a normal power pack?"

This morning at 10am the computer repair shop rang me and said they were unable to get the smaller power pack. Then he said, "Probably should have thought of this before …but we could put the computer in a bigger case …" My computer was fixed by 3pm. Everything they needed to fix it was in the shop when I first took it in.

So what am I to conclude? I think there are two options here. Option 1. The devil is able to delay and frustrated me but not able to thwart God's plans or Option 2. I need to find a new computer repair shop.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Radical Gratitude

The title of this book by Ellen Vaughn (Zondervan, 2005) aroused my interest because I would like to be a more grateful person. But I must admit to feeling disappointed with it. It contains much good teaching but I found it quite dull. A couple of times I even forgot I was reading it and picked up other things to read instead. Many of the stories she relates are very dramatic, unique sort of events. For example she told about a family that was affected by the Washington sniper attacks that happened a few years ago. This family was able to rely on their faith in God and come out of it still believing that God is good. On a personal level I found this quite an interesting story because even in Australia there was wide spread media coverage of these attacks. But on a spiritual level I think that when we are in a crisis God allows us to feel His Presence in more powerful ways. For me it is in the every day mundane nature of life where it is hard to be grateful. Some of her other stories I found quite dated and although it is interesting to hear about Christians from years ago I would rather know what God is doing in the lives of His people now.

The one story I did enjoy was just a simple happening when they bought a bird feeder for the garden. They bought a “Yankee Flipper”. In Australia we don’t have squirrels so we don’t have to worry about squirrels pinching seed intend for birds. But I gather the Yankee Flipper is designed to allow birds to land on the perch and feed but when a squirrel tries to do the same his extra weight triggers the motor which caused the perch to spin. Apparently the Yankee Flipper provided much entertainment as the squirrels persisted in trying to obtain the seed even though their efforts only succeeded in sending them flying round the backyard. (I actually suspect this sort of device would be ban in Australia on the basis of cruelty to wildlife!) Anyway the point of the story was the much quoted saying – the definition of insanity is to continue with the same behaviour and expect different results and often we are like the squirrels. I guess I just prefer simple down to earth stories about every day things, in fact, the type that Jesus told.

Dramatic stories are motivating. I mean if someone is able to go through all that (whatever the ‘that’ may be) and still be grateful then I have nothing to complain about. Nevertheless I personally find these stories hard to relate to.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Songs can be gifts

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?” John 21:17

Gary Chapman has written a series of books about what he calls the five love languages. The thought being that we all have our preferred way of expressing and receiving love. Loosely put these are: using words, physical touch, giving gifts, spending time with the loved one, and doing something practical for them.

When we were young we used words like, “I wuv love” and hugs (physical touch) but as we mature we learn to express and receive love in other ways as well. Likewise we mature spiritually in the ways we express love to God. We no longer just use words. We spend time with God, we give gifts to God and we become involved in practical areas of service. (Physical touch is somewhat difficult!)

A song is a gift to God. Of course it may not be our preferred way of expressing love. Neither maybe is buying flowers or watching football with our spouse. Yet we do these things because of what it means to the other person.

Throughout the Bible there are numerous references to songs and singing. The book of Psalms is a book of songs. The Lord has blessed today’s church with many talented musicians and song writers and thereby given us many songs we can use as a means of expressing our love for Him.

Let’s use the songs we sing as gifts of love for Him.

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