Saturday, October 31, 2009

The silent period?

Protestants often call the intertestamental period The Silent Period, emphasising that the writings between the OT and NT are not to be considered Scripture.

But I had not realised that 1 Maccabees itself tells us that the intertestamental period was a silent period, where folk were waiting for a genuine prophet to arise. The article in the new Lutheran Study Bible cites 1 Macc 4:46; 9:27 and 14:41, all of which make this assertion.


Hat tip to Justin Taylor

Listening to Leon

From time to time some of my international internet buddies have expressed their appreciation of Leon Morris, Australian author of commentaries and theological books.

I listened to his talk on Christians in Relation to Society yesterday, which is his exposition of 1 Corinthians 8 and 10. He would have also spoken on chapter 9, but passed over it as the time allotted was running out.

It is most interesting to hear him speak so colloquially, after having read his books in formal prose.

You can download some talks of his, including this one from Gospel Coalition

In the middle of the talk he cracks a joke, but writes the punchline on the whiteboard [I presume], so I never got to hear it!

He uses the fairly conservative verse by verse expositional method, but manages to make this interesting.

The article about him in Elwell's Bible Interpreters of the 20th century: a selection of evangelical voices was a great read. He was born in Lithgow, about forty minutes closer to Sydney from where I live, and he served the Bush Church Aid Society, one of the Christian charities I support. One of his pastorates was in the bush at Warren, which is a few hours further west from where we live.

Joan and I have a family photo of me with my first-born, aged about 10 months or so on a blanket at a picnic in Warren. I also have students from there whom I teach at a local independent high school.

If you haven't heard him speak, I think you would find it interesting. At one point in the talk, he betrayed his age, which you will definitely notice if you listen carefully.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Yarts

1. The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships. Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it is judgment rather than rules that prevail.

2. The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.

3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.

4. The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity. Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.

5. The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.

6. The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects. The arts traffic in subtleties.

7. The arts teach students to think through and within a material. All art forms employ some means through which images become real.

8. The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said. When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.

9. The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.

10. The arts’ position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young what adults believe is important.
SOURCE: Eisner, E. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind, In Chapter 4, What the Arts Teach and How It Shows. (pp. 70-92). Yale University Press. Available from NAEA Publications. NAEA grants reprint permission for this excerpt from Ten Lessons with proper acknowledgment of its source and NAEA.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NIV2011 FAQs

There are two interesting pages of answers here to questions many people would ask about the NIV to be updated and released in 2011, the 500th anniversary of the release of the King James Version.

Tim Keller resource

A lot of good sermon material is freely available on the internet. John Piper's sermons are available in text, audio and the later ones in video format.

Other speakers choose to sell their talks, but may give some away.

Tim Keller, of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York has a few that are provided freely, and the link points you to a collection of 150. The titles are intriguing. If the talks are as as good as the titles, they should be terrific.

I have usually found his messages to be easy to listen to and faithful to the Bible's message. I am expecting this is the case with this collection.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bill Mounce joins NIV2011 team

It has recently been announced that Bill Mounce, chair of ESV NT committee, has joined the NIV2011 committee.

As one who has appreciated and read all of the NIV, the TNIV and the ESV, I welcome this addition to the committee.

I wonder if there will be less histrionics by the ESV crowd about the new NIV, than there was over the TNIV? I certainly hope so.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What is the unborn?

Scott Klusendorf says that the abortion debate turns on one key question.
What is the Unborn?

I find his arguments compelling. But I know that others will not want to concede that he is right.
Pro-life advocates contend that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being. This simplifies the abortion controversy by focusing on just one question: Is the unborn a member of the human family? If so, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. It treats the distinct human being, with his or her own intrinsic worth, as nothing more than a disposable instrument. Conversely, if the unborn are not human, elective abortion requires no more justification than having a tooth pulled. As Gregory Koukl points out, "If the unborn are not human, no justification for elective abortion in necessary. But if the unborn are human, no justification for elective abortion is adequate." (Koukl, Precious Unborn Human Persons, p. 7)

This is not to say that abortion is easy for most women. To the contrary, a decision to have one may be psychologically complex and perhaps even agonizing for some. But the topic today is not psychology, but morality: Can we know what's right even if our emotions are conflicted?

Everyone agrees that abortion kills something that's alive. After all, dead things don't grow! But whether it's right to take the life of any living being depends entirely on the question: What kind of being is it?

Some people want to ignore that question altogether. They simply assume the unborn are not human beings like you and me.

Here's how to clarify things: Whenever you hear an argument for elective abortion, ask yourself if this particular justification would also work to justify killing toddlers or other humans. If not, the argument assumes the unborn are not fully human, like toddlers. But again, that's the issue, isn't it?

"Women have a right to make their own private decisions."

Imagine that a woman has a two-year-old in front of her. May she kill him or her as long as the killing is done in the privacy of the bedroom? Of course not. Why not? Because the child is a human being. If the unborn are also human, they should not be killed in the name of privacy any more than we'd kill a toddler for that same reason.

Of course, abortion advocates respond that killing a toddler and killing a fetus are two different things, like comparing apples with oranges. But that's the issue isn't it? Are the unborn human beings, like toddlers? That's the one issue that matters. We can't escape it.

"But many poor women cannot afford to raise another child."

When human beings get expensive, may we kill them? Suppose a large family collectively decides to quietly dispose of its three youngest children to help ease the family budget. Would this be okay?

Abortion advocates agree it's wrong to kill the children, but insist that aborting a fetus is not the same as killing a child. Ah, but that's the issue: Is unjustly killing a fetus morally the same as unjustly killing a two-year old? So, once again, the issue is the same: What is the unborn?

"A woman should not be forced to bring an unwanted child into the world."

Abortion advocates sometimes argue that killing the fetus is the more humane thing to do. "Who wants to be part of a family that rejects you? Everyone has a right to be wanted." And if you aren't wanted, may we kill you? Suppose a toddler is unwanted and we have good reason to think that by the time he's five, he'll also be abused and neglected. Should we kill him now to spare him future trouble?

The answer is obviously no, but it brings us back to the one issue that matters: What is the unborn?

"No woman should be forced to raise a child with physical disabilities."

Suppose that you have in front of you a small boy who is mentally disabled. He's not very bright, cannot speak or understand much of what is said, and looks strange from head to toe. Would it be morally permissible to kill him because of his condition?

Abortion advocates agree that we cannot destroy him, that we should treat him with the same care we provide all disabled human beings. But again, this raises a prior question: If the disabled unborn are human, like the disabled toddler, should we kill them for not meeting our standard of perfection? Thus, the issue that matters most in the abortion debate isn't disability. It's "What is the unborn?"

"Every woman has a right to decide what is right and wrong for herself."

Would you force your morality on an abusive mother who was physically mistreating her two-year-old? You better. No human being should be abused.

You see the issue is not about forcing morality; it's not about privacy; it's not about economic hardship; it's not about physical disabilities; it's not about unwantedness. The issue is reduced to one question: What is the unborn?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

How God called John Piper to become a pastor

I love this story and am posting it here so that I may be able to find it again. I discovered John Piper about 16 years after he began at Bethlehem Baptist Church, when his church was generously posting the text of his sermons online.

There is now a Desiring God Ministry website with the audio and video of his messages as well, and also the full text of many of his books freely downloadable.

John Piper gets his share of criticism, mainly for his conservatism and for his stance on the roles of men and women. I think that we can thank God for the vast majority of what Piper says and does. We can thank God that he models in his life the things he says in his talks and writings.

I love what he is doing with Facebook and Twitter, his latest attempt to use the modern technology in Christ's service.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

John Piper's powerful message about Scripture memorisation

John Piper begins this 47 minute sermon with a 15 minute recitation of Psalms 1, 16, 103, Romans 5:1-8 and chapter 8, Matthew 6:25-34, concluding with 1 Corinthians 13.

He says that although he has attended church all of his life, it was not until he was aged 32 that he heard someone recite God's Word in church. It had a powerful impact on him and has led him to pursue memorising Scripture ever since.

If it is worth an actor learning his lines so that he doesn't have to hold a book in front of him while he plays his part; and if a musician will practise until she can play her whole program of pieces without reference to the sheet music, why don't we think it is worth committing the Word of the living God to memory also?

Piper points out some of the numerous benefits of having Christ's words abide in you:
1. Memorizing Scripture makes meditation possible at times when I can’t be reading the Bible, and meditation is the pathway of deeper understanding.
2. Memorizing Scripture strengthens my faith because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ, and that happens when I am hearing the word in my head.
3. Memorizing Scripture shapes the way I view the world by conforming my mind to God’s viewpoint.
4. Memorizing Scripture makes God’s word more readily accessible for overcoming temptation to sin, because God’s warnings and promises are the way we conquer the deceitful promises of sin.
5. Memorizing Scripture guards my mind by making it easier to detect error—and the world is filled with error, since the god of this world is a liar.
6. Memorizing Scripture enables me to hit the devil in the face with a force he cannot resist, and so protect myself and my family from his assaults.
7. Memorizing Scripture provides the strongest and sweetest words for ministering to others in need.
8. Memorizing Scripture provides the matrix for fellowship with Jesus because he talks to me through his word, and I talk to him in prayer.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Favourite humorous quotes

Some of these I find hilarious; others amusing, and some provocative. I hope you enjoy some of them, too.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a trip to the bathroom.

There are three kinds of people in this world: the haves, the have-nots, and the have-not-paid-for-what-they-haves.

Douglas Adams
I really wish I had listened to what my mother had told me when I was young.
Why? What did she say?
I don't know. I didn't listen.

Joey Adams
A psychiatrist is a fellow who asks you a lot of expensive questions your wife asks for nothing.

Fred Allen
I like long walks — especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

Kingsley Amis
No pleasure is worth giving up for the sake of two more years in a geriatric home at Weston-super-Mare.

Joe Ancis
The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.

Poul Anderson
I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way,
did not become still more complicated.

W. H. Auden
We're here on earth to do good for others. What the others are here for, I don't know.

Warren Bennis
The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.

Ambrose Bierce
Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.

Daniel J. Boorstin
Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know.

Dik Browne, aka Hagar the Horrible
As you journey through life take a minute every now and then to give a thought for the other fellow. He could be plotting something.

Luis Buel
Solitude is a wonderful thing — so long as you can talk about it with someone afterwards.

Gelett Burgess
When the waitress puts the dinner on the table, the old men look at the dinner. The young men look at the waitress.

George Burns
If you live to be one hundred, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age.

Samuel Butler
The Ancient Mariner would not have taken so well if it had been called The Old Sailor.

Calvin vs Arminius graffiti
Freewill is a foregone conclusion
God made me an Arminian
Choose Life, Choose Calvinism

Lewis Carroll
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" asked Alice.
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't care much where-" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"- So long as I get somewhere." Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

Raymond Chandler
I regard psychiatry as fifty percent bunk, thirty percent fraud, ten percent parrot talk,
and the remaining ten percent just a fancy lingo for the common sense we have had
for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years, if we ever had the guts to read it.

Geoffrey Chaucer
Women desire six things: They want their husbands to be brave, wise, rich, generous, obedient to wife, and lively in bed.

Sir Winston Churchill
A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore
DM: Do you feel you've learnt by your mistakes here?
PC: I think I have, yes, and I think I can probably repeat them almost perfectly. I know my mistakes inside out.

Marie Corelli
I never married because there was no need. I have three pets at home which answer the same purpose as a husband. I have a dog which growls every morning, a parrot which swears all afternoon, and a cat that comes home late at night.

Clarence Darrow
I don't like spinach, and I'm glad I don't,
because if I liked it I'd eat it, and I just hate it.

On being asked by someone how he could become famous, Diogenes responded:
By worrying as little as possible about fame

George Eliot
Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of that fact.

When I get a little money I buy books
and if any is left I buy food and clothes.

W. C. Fields
I have spent a lot of time searching through the Bible for loopholes.

Gene Fowler
Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at the blanksheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.

Robert Frost
It's a funny thing that when a man hasn't anything on earth to worry about, he goes off and gets married.

Stephen Fry
It is a cliche that most cliches are true, but then like most cliches, that cliche is untrue.

Of course too much is bad for you. That's what too much means!

David Gerrold
If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing for money.

Richard Gill
There are three sexes: male, female and Year Nine...

Ginger Meggs graffito
The difference between fiction and reality?
Fiction has to make sense.

Dick Gregory
America will tolerate the taking of a human life without giving it a second thought. But don't misuse a household pet.

Aldo Gucci
The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory.

Jack Handy
To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography and the dancers hit each other.

To me, it's a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around.
That way, if anybody says, "Hey, can you give me a hand?" You can say, "Sorry, got these sacks."

Maybe in order to understand mankind we have to look at that word itself. MANKIND. Basically, it's made up of two separate words "mank"and "ind." What do these words mean? It's a mystery and that's why so is mankind.

Whenever you read a good book, it's like the author is right there, in the room talking to you, which is why I don't like to read good books.

As the light changed from red to green to yellow and back to red again, I sat there thinking about life. Was it nothing more than a bunch of honking and yelling? Sometimes it seemed that way.

Hank Hanegraaff
If you find a perfect church, don't join it; you'll ruin it.

Sydney J. Harris
The rich who are unhappy are worse off than the poor who are unhappy;
for the poor, at least, cling to the hopeful delusion that more money would solve their problems -- but the rich know better.

When I hear somebody sigh, 'Life is hard,' I am always tempted to ask, 'Compared to what?'

Alfred Hitchcock
The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.

John Andrew Holmes
It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.

Eugene Ionesco
Why do people always expect authors to answer questions? I am an author because I want to ask questions.
If I had answers, I'd be a politician.

Lyndon Baines Johnson
I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one's wife happy.
First, let her think she's having her own way.
And second, let her have it.

Greater love hath no man than to attend the Episcopal Church with his wife.

Samuel Johnson
Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.

Franklin P. Jones
It's a strange world of language in which skating on thin ice can get you into hot water.

Mary Ellen Kelly
Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams.

John F. Kennedy
Modern cynics and skeptics... see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing.

Vernon Law
Experience is a hard teacher, because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.

Stephen Leacock
I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

Simon Le Bon
I'm not a snob. Ask anybody. Well, anybody who matters.

Carol Leifer
Whenever I travel I like to keep the seat next to me empty. I found a great way to do it. When someone walks down the aisle and says to you, "Is someone sitting there?" just say, "No one - except the Lord."

John Lennon (1940-80)
Nothing happened in the sixties except that we all dressed up.

Martin Luther
I have undertaken to translate the Bible into German. This was good for me; otherwise I might have died in the mistaken notion that I was a learned fellow.

Robert McCloskey
I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said,
but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

Margaret Maron
Every time we start thinking we're the center of the universe, the universe turns around and says with a slightly distracted air, "I'm sorry. What'd you say your name was again?"

Groucho Marx
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.

He may look like an idiot, and he may sound like an idiot, but don't let him fool you. He really is an idiot.

Francois Mauriac
"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread.

James Ball Naylor
King David and King Solomon
Led merry, merry lives,
With many, many lady friends
And many, many wives;
But when old age crept over them,
With many, many qualms,
King Solomon wrote the Proverbs
And King David wrote the Psalms.

George S. Patton
The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

Mary Pettibone Poole
The next best thing to being clever is being able to quote someone who is.

Ronald Reagan
Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book

Malcolm Rogers
The science of Psychiatry is now where the science of Medicine was before germs were discovered

Will Rogers
The more you observe politics, the more you've got to admit that each party is worse than the other.

Andy Rooney
I've learned..... that a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks!

Dorothy L. Sayers
I always have a quotation for everything -- it saves original thinking.

Francis Schaeffer
In passing, we should note this curious mark of our own age: the only absolute allowed is the absolute insistence that there is no absolute.

Erik Satie
When I was young, I was told: "You'll see, when you're fifty."
I'm fifty and I haven't seen a thing.

Charles M. Schultz
Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia.

George Bernard Shaw
Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.

The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity.

Robert Silensky
We have all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of William Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know that this is not true.

Ringo Starr
Of course I'm ambitious. What's wrong with that? Otherwise you sleep all day.

John Stoltenberg
Pornography tells lies about women. But pornography tells the truth about men.

Barbra Streisand
Why does a woman work ten years to change a man's habits and then complain that he's not the man she married?

Bob Talbert
Good teachers are costly, but bad teachers cost more.

Lily Tomlin
Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.

Mark Twain
Be careful of reading health books, you might die of a misprint.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.

October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August and February.

When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not. But I am getting old and soon I shall remember only the latter.

The art of medicine is for the doctor to amuse the patient while nature heals the disease.

Auberon Waugh
Anyone wishing to communicate with Americans should do so by e-mail, which has been specially invented for the purpose, involving neither physical proximity nor speech.

Mae West
Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.

Oscar Wilde
Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

I am not young enough to know everything.

To get back my youth, I would do anything in the world, except take excercise, get up early, or be respectable.

The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything.

Nothing is so dangerous as being too modern; one is apt to grow old-fashioned quite suddenly.

John Wilmot
Before I got married, I had six theories about bringing up children; now, I have six children and no theories.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
When I came home I expected a surprise and there was no surprise for me, so, of course, I was surprised.

Richard Yates
They say that we are better educated than our parents' generation. What they mean is that we go to school longer. It is not the same thing.

Using Twitter effectively

Thi is one of John Piper's many great thoughts posted via Twitter and Facebook
Success in marriage is not finding the right person, but being the right person in the power of the one perfect Person.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

History of our public holiday in October

Another interesting article from Phillip Jensen.
This weekend is a sad celebration. Sad because it is a holiday that has lost its meaning. Sad because the victory it celebrates has been lost in our affluence.

It was called ‘Eight Hour Day’ because it marked the historic nineteenth century battle to reduce working hours. The cry was for eight hours work, eight hours rest and eight hours recreation. The unionists’ plea was not for more money but for more time. This was to create some balance in work and life. It led to the forty-hour week.

Over time it has come to be known as ‘Labour Day’.

The Christian behind Labour Day

Australia and New Zealand led the world in the victory of workers’ rights to rest and recreation. Sydney was at the forefront of this campaign. In 1855 stonemasons were in great demand, as major building programmes were undertaken using the newly found wealth of the gold rushes. Two church buildings, Holy Trinity Millers Point (the Garrison church) and the Mariners’ Church (the Seafarers Centre) were the scene of a two-week strike that initiated the change in work-rest balance. Up until then workers were usually required to work ten hour days Monday to Friday, and eight hours on Saturday (fifty-eight hours a week).

An annual march and picnic on the first weekend in October to celebrate the initial victory and promote the ongoing eight-hour campaign commenced in 1871. It was not till the 1890s that the eight-hour day became widely accepted across most industries. The forty-hour week did not come into effect until the mid-twentieth century.

In 1885 the first public holiday to celebrate Eight Hour Day was held. The man responsible for establishing this public holiday was the trade unionist and member for Balmain, Jacob Garrard. Mr Garrard was a keen Methodist who joined the Salvation Army in 1896.

He is another example of the Evangelical influence that lies behind the labour movement of our society. Historians and subsequent generations have routinely ignored this influence, though Kevin Rudd pointed to it on his way to becoming a Labor Leader who professes Christian belief.

The battle for work/life balance

Christians are, and should be, concerned about the working conditions of our society, especially the plight of the economically and politically weaker members of our community. This is not a breach of state-church relationship. This is the active participation of Christians in a democratic society.

Today the battle to establish a work-life balance has returned for many people, though it is a different battle to the mid-nineteenth century.

In 2007 the Relationship Forum of Australia reported the shifting pressure in work-life balance:

* 22% of the workforce are working more than 50 hours a week.
* 30% of the workforce are working on weekends – a percentage only exceeded by Italy!
* Over 60% work after 6pm or before 8am on weekdays.

The proportion of two-income families has increased from 42% in 1981 to 60% in 2007. While the majority of people may be working less than forty hours a week, families are working longer and many are working at more unsocial and unpredictable times.

Three kinds of employees working long hours

There has also developed three different kinds of employees, who have quite different reasons for working long hours.

Some people make a living out of their hobby and pleasure. The sports professionals and musicians, the artists and academics and, yes, the ministers of the gospel. These people do not work according to hours or for money but because of their passion. Many people in professional life have a passion that leads to imbalance in work-rest patterns. Many teachers, doctors and farmers live for their work and ignore the hours that it takes them. That is their choice, though wisdom should remind them that the graveyard is full of indispensible people and God himself rested on the seventh day.

There are also some people who do not work but rather have a career. Work for them is the principal place for personal development. Their primary motivation is career advancement. They are not committed to the work itself – they will easily move from one industry to another. Nor are they principally committed either to serve their employer or to provide for their customers/clients – these ultimately are only a means to an end. Nor are they committed to their family or community – they will jump at the chance of advancement overseas or interstate irrespective of the dislocation it causes their family and friends. These people will work whatever hours are required for their personal advancement. Their own ambition is their bondage to long hours.

There are also some people who still work for money to live on. This is not a bad or unworthy motive for work.

The Bible lays upon us the responsibility to provide for ourselves and our families (2 Thessalonians 3, 1 Timothy 5). The person who labours to provide for their family, and is not a burden on other people, is to be commended and encouraged.

But unfortunately the desire of an affluent, hedonistic and materialistic society is to have these people available to work for us seven days a week and twenty-four hours a day. Limiting the hours to forty makes no difference in the inconvenience that is laid upon them. If the only jobs available are at night or on weekends, the poor have little choice but to leave their families and friends in order to work. Often these people live furthest from their workplace and their unsociable time of work means very long hours from home. Too often they have to rely upon overtime pay to make a decent living – again adding to the hours away from home, rest and recreation.

Add to this the rising house prices that have been fed by and led to the need for two incomes in a family to pay the mortgage, and the ‘working family’ finds real tension in the work-life balance.

The steady encroachment of work on weekends has not been sufficiently resisted by the present Labor movement.

So this weekend is a sad celebration. We have largely forgotten the costly battle won by our forbears, and in our pursuit of wealth we are voluntarily putting ourselves back into the bondage that they worked so hard to liberate us from.

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Pocket Guide to New Testament Theology

It is terrific that Howard Marshall's A Pocket Guide to New Testament Theology is available online, thanks to Mr Marshall's generosity.

I can't endorse everything that he says elsewhere, but this book looks to be generally reliable and helpful.

Flogging a dead horse

How do you know if you should keep going at something? How do you know when it's time to call it quits?

How can you tell if you are called by God to exercise a particular ministry? Will you know because people tell you they find it helpful? Is it possible that you should keep doing it even if nobody comments?

If people do say they appreciate what you are doing, how do you know that you should keep doing it?

How do you know if you're on the right track? How do you know when it's time to hang up your boots?

Marriage maintenance by Nicky Lock

The usual.
Posting this here, in the hope of being able to find it again.
Not saying I think this is first class, but it is worth reading again.
My husband and I have just returned from a blissful 10 day holiday. Our youngest child is 21 and our eldest 28 and we worked out that this was the first holiday we had had in 28 years that was:

• Child free, and
• Work commitment free, and
• Visiting friends and family free!

We had fun together, and even after the 10 days were still enjoying talking with each other. Whilst this length of time together alone was a luxury, throughout our marriage we have tried to adhere to a maxim of making sure we have “couple time” regularly, including the odd weekend away without the children. This has been part of our commitment to maintaining our relationship.

Not surprisingly, one of the characteristics I see in marriages that are in trouble is a lack of shared time and activities, and sometimes little commitment, or even resistance, to making that a priority.

Relationships, like our cars, need time, attention and expenditure of some sort to keep them running in peak condition. Sometimes when people complain about the cost of counselling, I challenge them by asking would they expect their car to keep on running year after year without being serviced or having the oil changed. I ask them to reflect on how much they spend each year on that. Surely maintaining one’s marriage is just as important.

Here are some suggestions for marriage maintenance: please feel free to share your own ideas as well:

1. Sharing in each other’s spiritual lives if this is something you both share. Praying and reading scripture together is a great privilege and intimacy.
2. Prioritise “couple time”, not trying to cram talking with your partner into the last moments of the day when one or both of you are tired. Steve Biddulph in “The Making of Love” talks of the importance of spending time talking and laughing together in strengthening your marriage, which in turn, is essential for good parenting.
3. Regular “couple time” may mean teaching the children that Mum and Dad need 15 minutes together each night when they come home from work, sitting having a cup of tea or coffee and talking together.
4. Going on regular date nights.
5. If money for babysitters is short, having a date night once a month at home where the children can watch a favourite DVD, go to bed on time, and parents sit down to a simple but special meal together and talk together instead of sitting in front of the TV for the evening.
6. Taking turns with another family to have each other’s children for a weekend once a year. Yes the weekend when your house is full is hard work, but then you get a weekend away with your partner by yourselves!
7. Occasionally doing together those activities you enjoyed when you were first going out with each other. One day you will be a couple once again and will value having kept up some joint interests.
8. Being committed to sorting out differences as respectfully as you can and not allowing them to linger unacknowledged.
9. Keeping up everyday loving physical contact, even when you don’t have enough energy or are not well enough for regular sexual connection.
10. Be prepared to review how your relationship is going regularly.
11. Attending a marriage enrichment weekend, or going to see a counsellor to have a general marriage tune-up.

It sounds simple, but in the busyness of life today it can be hard to implement. Being aware of the positive things that you are doing, is there anything else you need to add in? How is your relationship maintenance going?