Saturday, September 29, 2007

Book Review : The Language of God


Francis Collins, writer of The Language of God : a scientist presents evidence for belief (Free Press, 2007) is a highly competent scientist who works in the field of medical genetics. He was head of the Human Genome Project. He is also a committed Christian and in his book he shares his personal journey from agnostic to atheist to faith. He writes to challenge Christians to seek the truth science teaches about God's world even if this upsets their preconceived ideas. Collins is a profound believer in evolution and presents convincing evidence from genetics to support his views. He feels evolution, 'far from standing in the way faith, reveals a universe of ever greater ingenuity and sublety'. In the past teaching about evolution has excluded God whereas in Collins' book he explains why evolution requires a creator. Collins also discusses other topics including: Intelligent Design, Young Earth Creationism, genetic diseases, stem cell research and cloning.

While Collins feels science is the only legitimate way to investigate the natural world he also believes that science is not enough to answer all the important questions about life. This is one of the main reasons he came to believe in God. Science could not offer him a satisfactory explanation to what he describes as the Moral Law, that sense of rightness and wrongness that seems to be universal amongst humans but rarely observed in animals.

This is a very worthwhile book coming from such a distinguished scientist and devout Christian. It will cause many (including me!) to rethink their beliefs about science.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Devotional thought : Romans 12:15-16

I've been thinking again about social capital.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:15-16

The term "social capital" has become popular among social analysts to explain the value of community, connectedness and a sense of belonging. It is something God knew long before we coined a term for it. We read in Genesis 2:18, "It is not good for the man to be alone." God had created light, sky, land, vegetation, sun, moon, fish, birds and animals. All the resources necessary to sustain life yet He saw it wasn't enough. We need relationships with people.

I read recently about an Australian girl who visited a community of people in Mexico who were very poor in terms of money but very rich in terms of social capital. They valued belonging to a community where they felt connected. Celebrations, weddings, birthdays and religious occasions were important to them because of the relationships they have with each other. They were very accepting and tolerant of others. They lived in "harmony with one another" and didn't need to be told to "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn", it was already part of their culture.

Still in Australia we tend to value things in terms of their monetary value. We don't usually consider how we spend our time and money in terms of social capital. Research however shows that people with high levels of social capital are healthier, less prone to depression and live longer. Governments are now looking at ways to increase people's social capital.

God in his wisdom has placed us in a community of believers so that we might enjoy an abundance of social capital.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Book Review : The Leading Edge


The Leading Edge by Jack Hayford (Charisma House, 2001) is a collection of twenty-four articles originally written for the magazine, Ministries Today. Each chapter is one magazine article and therefore complete in itself. This means the book does not have to be read in order but rather you can read the chapter which is relevant for you at the moment. The downside is the book does not flow from chapter to chapter which is a little disconcerting if you want to read the book from cover to cover.

Jack Hayford has written these articles from his wealth of experience as a pastor and leader. His wisdom and common sense approach is edifying and encouraging. He tackles many of the difficult problems that present in churches today including the place of prophecy, immorality amongst leadership, deliverance ministry, clergy salaries, worship and other more general leadership topics. Some chapters are about his own personal Christian life and he shares candidly about his own prayer life and spiritual growth.

This book provides a beneficial overview of many of the issues that confront churches and while Jack does not always provide specific answers to every challenge he does provide much guidance and direction for leaders.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Busy Busy ...

Life is proving to be somewhat hectic for me at the moment. Learning a new job and driving six hours (round trip) every weekend to catch up with my husband is proving rather tiring. So if I'm not around here much you'll know why! Hopefully things will settle down in a while.

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Devotional Thought : Numbers 20:11

Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. Numbers 20:11

Moses was at this point disobeying God who had told him to speak to the rock not strike it. Nevertheless God blessed the community by providing water. It can be somewhat confusing to us when God blesses disobedience. In Jonah we find the sailors who throw Jonah overboard had an encounter with God. An encounter they would not have had if Jonah had obeyed God and gone to Nineveh in the first place. "At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him" Jonah 1:16.

How do we explain a God who blesses our disobedience? We see it in our day when a prominence Christian is exposed for being involved in immorality. Often it turns out that the situation has been going on for some time and during that same period of time people have been blessed by the person's ministry. How do we explain that?

It speaks of the enormity of God's grace, kindness and patience towards us. However we are told not use the grace of God as a license for sin because if we do we deny Jesus is Lord of our lives. "They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord" Jude 1:4. If we become involved in activities we know are not honouring to God we deny his presence in our lives even though God may still be blessing us or our ministry.

God did not allow Moses to lead the people into the promised land which reminds us not to take the grace of God for granted.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Book Review : Reading Magic


Mem Fox is passionately about reading aloud, particularly to very young children and in her book, Reading Magic : how your child can learn to read before school – and other read-aloud miracles (Pan Macmillan, 2001), she provides much evidence to back up the benefits of this practice. While teaching your child to read before they start school might be the motivation for some to read this book, it really isn't Mem's prime objective. Rather her objective is to cultivate in children a love for language and stories as well as encouraging the joy of a shared experience in this instance a shared book.

By reading aloud to young children we teach them the significance of the printed word. The letters and words on the page of a book are not irrelevant symbols but they have meaning and purpose. By reading we expose children to a far greater vocabulary then we employ in casual conversation and we expose them to a world that is far wider than the one they experience. She challenges her readers to read 1000 books to their children before they start school (or the same book a 1000 times as it apparently makes little difference). Perhaps a daunting task but not when you consider you have about five years in which to do it.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Arrived

I started my new job and I'm currently experiencing 'information overload'! As there is lots of stuff I need to learn. Looks like I won't have my own internet connection for a few weeks so I'm also going through withdrawal! Hopefully I will be able to keep posting but perhaps not as often.

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Devotional Thought : Revelation 2:17

I initially wrote this thought a while ago but have revamped it with some ideas that came out of the synchroblog on prayer.

I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. Revelation 2:17

This verse reflects God's Father-like character. After all we choose names for our children and often we put a lot of thought into what we will call them. Similarly God chooses names for us, since we are born again into His family. Not in some haphazard kind of a way but rather with the heart of loving Father. How amazing is it that God has chosen a separate name for each one of us, a name that is a secret. Imagine that, sharing a secret with the all knowing God! This speaks to us of God's desire for an individual personal relationship with each of us. He doesn't want to know us in a second hand way. You can't really know someone well if you only spend an hour or so a week with them. Neither do you get to know someone in an earthly relationship by saying the same thing at the same time every day to them or by only ever presenting a list of failures or requests.

God's desire is to know us in a deep and intimate way. Humanly speaking we get to know someone by sharing with them the deep and personal things that are going on in our lives. Likewise we get to know God better when we share those things with Him. Often we don't because we rationalize He knows everything anyway. However our relationship with God grows when we actually talk to Him about what is going on in our lives as scary as that might be.

Our relationship with God is unique. I hope you treasure your relationship with God as much as He treasures yours with Him.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Moving part 2

On the first Friday of our two weeks away, I went into the library and I met someone I knew. She told me the librarian who had been there for the last 7 years had resigned and in fact that Friday was her last day. She then bemoaned the fact that they wouldn't be able to get another librarian and said, "Who would come here for 15 hours a week?"

I thought to myself, "Wow, that's interesting." I thought I should at least look into it. So I started looking for the job advert. I looked on the library website, on the shire website and even on Google but I couldn't find it. I looked in the local newspapers but still couldn't find it. I figured it hadn't been advertised yet. I didn't feel I could ask at the library because I knew the people who worked there. I belong to a library group that collates library job adverts from the internet and sends them out as emails. So I figured I would just keep checking my email and their website. I wasn't planning to do anymore about it.

On Saturday we were invited out to tea and I met a girl who worked at the Community House, where they run short courses. The Community House was the old bank manager residence and was the house we lived in. She invited me to look at the changes they had made to the house and I made an arrangement to drop in on Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday morning I walked into the Community House and discovered that the librarian also worked there part time. She started talking about the library. She volunteered the information that the library job was 17 hours. 17 hours because there are a couple of extra hours to write reports etc. on top of the 15 hours the library is open. When she said 17 hours it was at that point I knew I had to apply for the job. The reason being was when I first started my current job it was only a few hours a week. I was looking for more hours but wasn't sure how many. I remember thinking how could God give me what I wanted if I didn't know what I wanted? About this time we went to see a friend of ours who is a financial planner. Based on his figures I had worked out that I wanted to work 17 hours a week. Interestingly the library job position does not specifically say 17 hours and I would not have known it at that time if the librarian hadn't volunteered this information.

At this point I ask the librarian if the job had been advertised and she told me it had been advertised in the local newspapers. It occurred to me that it must have been the previous week's paper so I went to the newspaper office and got the old copies and found the advert only to discover the applications had shut on the previous Friday. By this point I was so sure God wanted me to apply for the job I rang them up and asked if I could still put in an application. She said I could but I needed to get it in by the next day. Now I had not purposely taken my resume with me, I was not planning to apply for a job! However in January I had bought a laptop because my computer kept crashing and I had taken my laptop with me. My resume was on my laptop. I subsequently got the job and it looks like my husband will also get a job in the town.

For me there are at least three 'God' events in this story(there are others but it would take too long):
1. If I had not been there the week the librarian finished I would not have known about the job. They never advertised the job on their own web site.
2. I asked God for 17 hours work and the job is 17 hours.
3. I don't really like working in school libraries so this is actually the only job in the town that I would really want.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Moving part 1

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

I start a new job on Monday and I will be moving on the weekend which is quite unexpected. My husband is coming too! but that will take a few more weeks.

I mentioned recently that I have been away to my favourite place in the state. Actually it is my favourite place in the whole country!

We lived there from 1989 to 1993, not only is a very pretty place but I also loved the people there. The population is about 1200 and it is quite isolated, over an hour to the next biggest town. Originally we went there when my husband was working for a bank but while we were there he began studying for the ministry. We left when he was called to pastor a church. I never thought circumstances would ever work out so that I could live there again and even now I'm amazed and also feeling very blessed. It is quite a long story how this came about. I'll post about it tomorrow.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Devotional thought : Genesis 16:13

This thought ties in with the book, Paper Dolls, which I read recently.

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me' Genesis 16:13.

Twice Hagar leaves Abraham's family and finds herself in the desert. The first time she runs away she is pregnant and meets the angel of the Lord who tells her to go back to Sarah. The second time Sarah tells Abraham to get rid of her (Genesis 21:10). Hagar finds herself in the desert with her son and no water. But again the angel of the Lord speaks to her, she is lead to a well and is promised that her son will become a nation.

It was common for Jewish men to thank God they are not a gentile, a woman or a slave so Hagar couldn't have had things much worse as she was all three. However God allows her to name him El Roi – the God who sees me. She was told to name her son Ishmael which means God hears. We have a God who sees and hears even the cries of a Gentile female slave.

In Psalm 10:15 we read, "Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out". There are many crimes in our world "that would not be found out". Crimes like domestic violence and sexual abuse. Secrecy is an integral part of such crimes. Yet we can rest in the assurance that an all-knowing, caring God does know. He may not act immediately (21:16) but he will act.

God knows all about whatever situation we may find ourselves in whether we created the problem like Hagar (16:4) or it was created by others like Ishmael (21:9). God sees, hears and understands. What a blessing, what a comfort.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Feeds

I've been learning a little about rss feeds lately and have signed up to FeedBlitz. If you would like to receive an email when I post rather than just dropping by please enter your email address (just below today's quote).

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