Friday, June 29, 2012

Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)

This was a book that made its way onto my to buy/to read list ever since Middo reviewed it here. If you've ever been curious about the emerging church movement, this is a great book. Of course, the movement dislikes being 'labelled' or 'defined', but the two authors, Kevin DeYoung (a pastor) and Ted Kluck (a journalist), note a number of characteristics about the movement that both encourage and concern them.

Here's some of the blurb:

You can be young, passionate about Jesus Christ, surrounded by diversity, engaged in a postmodern world, reared in evangelicalism, and not be an emergent Christian.  In fact, I want to argue that it would be better if you weren't.

The emergent church is asking good questions and dialoguing about good things: community, caring for the poor, loving Jesus.  Co-authors Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck care about these same issues.  They should be all over this movement.

But they're not.  And here's why - they do life founded upon orthodox beliefs about God, propositional truths about Jesus, and the authority of Scripture.  Many do not.

Some of the areas which concern the two authors are:
  • The prominence of emerging church leaders (or talkers/dialoguers as they see themselves) in the world of Christian literature and blogging.  They seem to write about their confusion, how we can't REALLY know anything about the Bible.  I agree that we need to approach the Bible humbly and with questions, but it is NOT a book that is completely vague and unclear.  God has revealed Himself and we can understand Him.  DeYoung writes in the introduction:
    It's one thing for a high school student to be in process with his theology.  It's another thing for adults to write books and speak around the world about their musings and misgivings.  I agree there must be space for Christians to ask hard questions and explore the tensions in our faith, but I seriously question that this space should be hugely public where hundreds of thousands of men and women are eagerly awaiting the next book or blog or podcast arising from your faith journey....You're no longer just a conversation partner.  You're a leader and teacher.  And this is serious business (James 3:1). (page 17).  Ultimately the authors are concerned about a movement that seems to involve a lot of talking and asking questions, but not a lot of serious pursuit of answers to those questions (maybe it's not cool to have answers).
  • The infatuation with the 'spiritual journey', but not so much with the destination.
  • The dislike of authority, leadership and doctrine in the church.
  • The reluctance to teach about hell.
  • The focus on Jesus as bringing peace, but not wrath. 
    The emergent church emphasises a way of life and following Jesus' example, no doubt because they feel those twin aspects of the kingdom have been buried beneath altar calls and saving souls.  Fair enough, as long as they don't overreact and make the kingdom little more than a plan for world peace. (page 184)
One thing that's very important to keep in mind is that the book is American, and is discussing the emerging church in the American context.  I don't know how relevant it is to Australia, although I have met Christians who, out of frustration with their local church, seem intent on not just changing the style of church, but throwing the gospel out with it.  This is what the authors are reacting to.  They don't have issues with changing the style of the church service.  In fact, they are enthusiastic about different ways of reaching out to people and for the church to be called back to its main mission.  But they do want churches to remain focused on the cross.

I really enjoyed this book.  The authors take turns in writing chapters and the book has a lively, chatty feel.  At times it feels more like a blog than a book because it's like they're thinking aloud.  They're blunt, but engaging.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bible Verse of the Day

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
2 Timothy 4:2-3

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

5 Favourite Posts from the Sedshed in 2011

Well, it was a better year than 2010.  Yet, it still felt like it was two steps forward, one step back.  I really struggled to like living here...I still do.  I'm very much looking forward to the day when Duncan agrees to move.  But at least 2011 had a lot less drama.  It was a 'year of recovery' in many ways.

The highlights were our trip to Sydney and getting our puppy, Gypsy.

1.  Life With AS
2.  Facebook 'Friends'
3.  I'm a Side Plate or a Saucer
4.  5 Things I've Learnt in 10 Years of Following Christ
5.  The Pendulum: Grace and Godliness

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

5 Favourite Posts from the Sedshed in 2010

2010...a really tough year in lots of ways.  It started off ok, then got progressively worse.  I wasn't the only one doing it tough.  So many of my friends and family faced hard times.  A rotten experience of moving to a new farm and district 600km away was almost to be expected seeing as everything else had gone wrong.

I was glad to see the clock tick over into 2011.

1.  Friday Focus: From the Inside Out
2.  Get On Your Soapbox #15
3.  Lone Ranger Blogger
4.  Growing Up Non-Christian - Parts 1-3
5.  Me, Myself and an Online Sermon

Monday, June 25, 2012

5 Favourite Posts from the Sedshed in 2009

2009 was a relatively uneventful year compared to 2007-08.  The highlights were trips to Adelaide and Melbourne. 

1.  Lesson 8 from Sarah's School of Dating
2.  Replaced
3.  Why I Don't Believe in Karma
4.  Marriage 101: DINKs in the Middle
5.  Someone Stole Your Pyjamas?

Friday, June 22, 2012

5 Favourite Posts from the Sedshed in 2008

2008 was definitely a year of change.  The early months were dominated by wedding planning stress.  The second half of the year was quieter as I transitioned from life in a city of 1.5 million to a small farming community three hours away.

1.  Diary of a Wedding Planning Machine: Our Day, Our Way
2.  Becoming a Christ-Like Footy Follower
3.  The Fruit of our Liberty Gardens
4.  Get On Your Soapbox #9
5.  Living Out Romans 14

Thursday, June 21, 2012

5 Favourite Posts from the Sedshed in 2007

2007 was my first full year of blogging.  It was the year Duncan and I started going out, then got engaged.    I changed houses and housemates and adopted Ebony from the Cat Haven.  It had highs and it had lows.  It was busy and tumultuous.

Here are my favourite posts from 2007:

1.  Changes and Challenges
2.  Invitation Politics
3.  Loving the Unlovely
4.  Give Your Pastor a Hug
5.  Sarah's Night Adventures

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

5 Favourite Posts from the Sedshed in 2006

I'm going to be taking a walk down the Sedshed memory lane over the next week.  I'd love for you to join me.  Some of these posts may be old news to those readers who have been around since the beginning.  For the newbies, they may be enlightening. ;)

I think I'll find it very interesting to see if I have changed over the years, or still as adamant about some things as ever.

These are my faves from 2006 (in no particular order):

1.  Lesson 2 from Sarah's School of Dating
2.  Get On Your Soapbox #2
3.  Give It Over To God
4.  Hey, Check Out My Blog - Part 1
5.  Cover Those Ankles

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

5 More Things I've Learnt in 6 Years of Blogging

It's that time of year again!

This blog is still here six years on!  I might even make it to 10 years one day.  I doubt it...but never say never.

Here are some more things I've learnt over the past six years...

1.  Blogging can be cliquey.  The old saying goes, If you think you're not in a clique, you probably are.  Bloggers and blog readers seem gravitated to those in the same stage of life, those they already know in real life, and the 'gurus' - celebrities (including well-known Christian leaders and writers) who blog.  Mums will read mummy blogs, pastors will read pastors' blogs....that's just life.  I've had to learn contentment in being a lone ranger blogger.  I'm just here doing my thing, but I've been blessed by those who are in a different stage of life who have reached out in friendship across the blogosphere.

2.  I still don't get the 'you're invited to follow my blog' comments (I know I mentioned this in Blogging Etiquette).  To be frank, those comments kind of annoy me.  I'm wondering if it is an American thing?  Aussies just tend to click the follow button if they like a particular blog.  Unless it's a locked blog, nobody needs an invitation.  Please don't pressure me to follow blogs.  I don't like it.

3.  Following on from point #2, there is a kind of pressure to keep reading/commenting on a blog once you've started or if someone comments on yours.  I read a comment on another blog somewhere about this.  It's kind of like you're being disloyal if you leave for a bit.  I'll admit it's disappointing to lose readers, but I'd hate for people to comment because they felt obligated to.

4.  If you're a blogger, it's YOUR blog.  Never forget that.  That doesn't mean you should use it for evil, but you CAN blog about what you want.  If you want to moderate comments, then moderate.  If you want to only use your first name, then do that.  There are a lot of trolls out there who love to stir as long as no-one knows who they really are.  Your blog is what you make it and you shouldn't have to explain your preferences to anyone.

5.  If you're commenting on a blog, click the receive follow-up comments by email option.  I find that I and many others leave comments and then forget to check up on the conversation later.

Thanks for reading along....however long you've been here. :)

P.S.  In keeping with tradition, the Sedshed has a new birthday outfit.  If you're using a reader, click through to see.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Post-Storm Perspective

There's nothing quite like being on the other side of a trial to give you some perspective. 

On Monday, I was NOT happy.  I've been in far worse moods, I admit, but I was grumbling about what had happened to my house.  I was especially annoyed that some people thought I was exaggerating (before they saw the photos) when they hadn't even lost power at all and were in the middle of enjoying a lovely coffee from their coffee machine!

I didn't understand why God allowed it to happen after all the work and effort last year that went into getting the house into the good condition it was in before the storm.  I was enjoying living without furniture in places it shouldn't be.  I was enjoying having everything just so.  Now that two of our rooms were water-damaged, everything had to be moved out and put elsewhere.  It felt like we were almost back to square one.  A few weeks ago, I'd been warming myself in our lovely renovated loungeroom thinking how good it was.  Now I was wondering if God allowed our house to be damaged to teach me a lesson in taking things for granted.  There's nothing quite like taking away part of your roof, running water, flushing toilets, electricity and carpets to give you a much-needed reality shake.

I'm still frustrated.  I'm still trying to be patient.  We're still waiting for a new roof.  None of the lights work so we're relying on torches, lamps and camping lanterns at night.  The carpet needs to be ripped up and replaced in the two rooms that were water-damaged.  It really stinks in there!  The dog yard needs to be fixed.  The garden is pretty battered and I still need to go around and get rid of the bits of roof hanging off bushes etc.  I know it will get done.  I just need to be patient.  I wish I could just snap my fingers and all the debris will disappear.  But I know that when God's people pray for patience, He doesn't magically make them feel patient...He gives them circumstances that test and grow their patience.

In reality, I have so much to be thankful for.  I wasn't a homeless person wondering where I was going to find shelter from the storm.  I didn't lose my whole house.  I had a house in the first place.  We've already had a plumber come to fix the water supply and install a new oven and stove.  Today we had a man come to fix the TV antenna and put in a new aerial for our internet.  There were people who prayed for us and offered us practical help (thank you).  I still have my health.  I wasn't injured in the storm.  Nobody died in our area.

Yes, I think it's time to re-visit my Count Your Blessings post from 2007.

Maybe this is just a lesson I need to learn over and over....and over again.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How To Make Me Happy....

Tell me the news that the power has come back on after nearly four days. :)


Buy me a mocha.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What The Storm Did

After the first storm on Sunday:

Parts of our roof that were blown into the neighbouring paddock.

Ebony and I are currently staying with my parents in Albany.  I'm waiting to hear from Duncan about damage from the second storm last night (which apparently was as bad as the first).  Duncan is staying with his workmate as he needs to be around to see what's happening with the house.  Our roof was fixed temporarily after the first storm.  I'm not sure whether it will have held up last night though.  There was rain coming into two rooms on Monday and Duncan and some of the other farmhands had to shift everything out.

I'm grateful to be in Albany where everything is working as it should.  But I'm also looking forward to going home.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Storms Are NOT Cool!

Perth and the south west region of WA were in the grips of a wild storm yesterday.

Currently part of our roof is either in the garden or has blown onto another part of the roof.  Our gutters are hanging off the house like javelin poles.  Part of our verandah is missing.  Trees and branches have come crashing down everywhere.

We have no electricity and probably won't for a couple of days.  No electricity I can handle.  But on farms, when you lose electricity, you also lose water because the pressure pumps are no longer working.  Last night we went to see one of Duncan's workmates, who still had power, to fill up a big plastic container full of water.  Currently I'm in town so I can get heating, a drink of water and use the toilet (our toilets no longer flush).

Farmers were out last night trying to clear branches off the roads until the Shire come and move the large logs.  They went driving around to check whether anyone was trapped on the roads.  It's scary in the country as you could be driving and have trees crash onto the road in front of you and behind you.  It's nice that there are people who automatically think of others.

With more wild winds and rain predicted in the next couple of days, there is an urgency to get some tarps on our roof.  We are also thinking of buying our own generator as there is only one between six families on our farm.  Ridiculous!

I'm glad the hospitals are getting their power back.  I was quite annoyed to see people whinging on Facebook because they have no power and are bored with no TV.  Ummm ever heard of books?  At least they have water.

I no longer sit at the window and watch storms, thinking Cool!  like when I was a kid.  Now I sit there thinking, Here goes our power and water for a few days.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Friday Funny

One thing I'm keen to do in my lifetime is to start everyone dancing in a public place.  Yes, I know...I'm a bit odd.  I just think it would be cool if everyone broke out into song and started dancing just like in musicals.

I loved Ally McBeal back in the late 90s.  When you throw together a bunch of quirky lawyers, a unisex bathroom and Barry White, you get one of the funniest scenes ever.  Life would be very interesting with work colleagues like these.  (Pity I couldn't find a better quality clip).

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

From Head to Hand: Editing My 'Baby'

I've been in the editing process, off and on, for the better part of two years now.  I finished my fat novel in April 2010 and have since been hard at work trying to make it a skinnier novel.  After many smaller edits, I finished the first major edit early last year, and shipped it off to four people who had volunteered to be my editors.  Their job was to proofread as well as comment on the plot.  They were my 'guinea pigs.'  Now that most of the feedback has been collected, I am in the thick of doing the second major edit.  I've decided that I will NOT slack off any longer.  This is the time of my life to get this book completed so I've set myself a deadline - end of the year at the absolute latest.

This post is about my editing experiences.  I've learnt some hard lessons.  My lessons may well help someone else who is contemplating doing some writing.  This post is NOT meant to be a kind of Bible on the subject.

I've heard over and over again that artists of any kind shouldn't be too precious with their work.  The only way to improve is to let others see and critique your creation.  What is the point of writing something only to hide it away for fear of rejection?  I get it, I really do.  I WANT my book to be the best it can possibly be.  After all, if it does get published, it's going to be out there and criticised by everyone and anyone under the sun.  You can't stop criticism.

You see, while I do agree that I need to be less tight-fisted and defensive about my work, I also have some reservations with that kind of advice.  While your work is at the editing stage, you need to pick the RIGHT people to help you along the way.  I admit, sometimes it can be hard to know who the right people are.  Sometimes you just need to get out there and throw some mud and see what sticks.  At uni, I constantly heard the term 'constructive criticism'.  The point is that we are not just inviting others to criticise our work, we are inviting them to be constructive about it.  An editor's aim should be to help the writer be the best they can possibly be.  They should have the writer's best interest at heart.  My beef is that there are plenty of people out there who want to be editors because they love to criticise and tear down.  They do not choose their words carefully.  They forget that this is someone's creation.  While at uni, I had to edit fellow students' work.  Some of the things I read were downright awful.  But I tried to be constructive.  What have they done well?  What could they improve on?  Give them suggestions.  Be specific.  Don't just write 'good story' or 'crap'.  It's like marking an essay.  If you're an editor, you really need to be giving good direction.

As I look back over the past two years, what have I learnt?
  • If you can afford a professional editor, do it.  I calculated it would have cost about $2000 to get my book professionally edited (due to the length of it).  At the time I felt it wouldn't be a wise use of money, so I decided to go down the road of getting people I know to read it who weren't professionals.  Looking back, I really regret this decision.  Some of my editors were fantastic, but they took a long time to do it.  This is understandable as they have other jobs and families to consider, but if you're going to volunteer to do something, then you need to be realistic about whether you can commit the time to do it.  I've felt bad having to nag all the time.  Another reason is that a professional editor is...well....a professional.  They work to deadlines because it's their job.  They aren't your friend - that's the key point.  If an editor is harsh with my work, then I've lost nothing as far as relationships go.  They were never my friend so if they hurt my feelings, that's just too bad.  I feel like I'm not in a good relationship with one of my editors now because of some of the things she wrote about my book.  This person is a long time friend of my family so it does make things awkward.  It wasn't that I objected to what she said, it was how she said it (the whole constructive criticism thing again).  She wrote quite sarcastic comments and even said dramatic things like, "I hate this".  I think this person just has no idea about written etiquette because I've also had several run-ins on Facebook with her.  Be very careful when selecting friends as your editors.

  • If you really can't afford a professional editor, choose friends who are in the same demographic as your target audience.  This was my plan from the start, but it didn't quite work out.  The main target audience for my book is 20-50 year-old men.  I approached a number of male friends in this age bracket, but many of them said they weren't readers and wouldn't have the time to help me out (or they wanted copious amounts of beer).  At least they were honest, I guess.  However, I did have one male editor in his early 40s who was fantastically helpful.  He assisted me with my sentence structure, working on making the book shortier and punchier.  He gave lots of good feedback from a male perspective.  I was so encouraged when he told me that the main character was an accurate portrayal of a man.  He said he reckons many guys put on an act of bravado to hide their insecurities and cowardice.  The editor who was quite critical said the opposite.  She said she couldn't stand the main character because she thought he was a wimp.  This lady is in her mid 60s and I got the feeling from her comments that she was looking for a James Bond/Indiana Jones hero-type character.  In hindsight, I accepted her offer to be an editor because I was desperate when she really isn't the target audience for the book.  I kind of knew the book wouldn't really appeal to her (she doesn't watch much football for a start).

  • Don't have too many editors.  If you're using friends, don't have any more than a handful.  I really do believe too many cooks spoil the broth.  Three of my editors were largely in agreement with each other (they found some parts confusing and wanted more clarification), while the more critical person said the opposite (she reckoned I wrote in a way that treated her like an idiot).  If you have too many editors, it can be hard to know who to listen to. I had soooo many women wanting to help out as editors, I had to say, "Thanks, but no thanks," to a lot of them.  They weren't really my target audience and if it waited around for them all to finish reading it, I'd never get it done.

  • Choose people who can actually edit.  This can be hard if you're not using professionals.  Basically you want people who can spell properly and are good with sentence structure.  One of my editors is a high school English teacher and gave me lots of constructive feedback with my essays in high school.  Therefore, I knew she'd be good.

  • Be as ruthless as you can with your own work.  Now I'm doing the second major edit, I'm finding that I'm chopping more stuff out than my editors did.  If it doesn't need to be there, it has to go.  If I have a niggling doubt about something, it probably needs to be re-written.

I think it's ok to see your work as your 'baby'.  It is a labour of love.  To those people who think I'm being too precious, try thinking about how you'd feel if someone insulted your friends or your kids.  Even if it was the truth, if it's said harshly, it can be hard to take.  Most artists I've spoken to have said it's not WHAT was said, but HOW it was said, that deflated their spirits.

But then there also comes a time when you just have to be brave and put yourself and your work out there.  If you want it to be the best it can be, this step is vitally important.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Quote of the Day

Writing is not a job or an activity.  Nor do I sit at a desk waiting for inspiration to strike.  Writing is like a different kind of existence.  In my life, for some of the time, I am in an alternative world, which I enter through daydreaming or imagination.  That world seems as real to me as the more tangible one of relationships and work, cars and taxes.  I don't know that they're much different to each other.

However I write about these alternative worlds because it helps to preserve them.  I'm their historian, their geographer, their sociologist, their storyteller.  I write them into being.  I have to say I don't care whether this is a good thing to do or not; this is just the way I am and the way I live my life.
- John Marsden

Friday, June 01, 2012

Another One Of These Things

What time did you get up this morning?  6:15am.  I was in Perth and had an appointment to get to.

What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Safe House

What is your favourite TV show?  Packed to the Rafters

What do you usually have for breakfast?  Fruit and yogurt usually.  Sometimes bacon and eggs.

What is your favourite CD at the moment?  Let All Creation Sing by Emu Music.  But I have lots of faves.

What kind of car do you drive?  2005 Prado

What characteristic do you despise?  Apathy

What colour is your bathroom?  Pale green

Impressive skill/talent? Well, after writing a novel...I hope I can say writing.  I guess the publishers will decide that.

Pets?  Two dogs (Maya and Gypsy), one cat (Ebony), one rooster (Russell Crowe), and eight hens (Florentine, Omelette, Eggnog, Shelley, Clementine, Gloria, Rose and Princess Layer).

What did you want to be when you were little?  A princess, a famous person.

How are you today?  Sick and tired.

What is a date on the calendar you are looking forward to?  First weekend in July when we get to see our friend, Jane, from Sydney.

What time is it?  7:01pm

Piercings? Ears

Favourite Alcohol Drink?  Beer, Baileys and Vodka Chocolate Mudshake.  I don't drink very often though.

What colour is your bedroom?  A pale brown/mocha type colour.

Celebrity you'd most want to have dinner with?  The old cast of Blue Heelers from 1997.

What are you listening to right now?  Myself typing and the heater.

What was your first job?  Being a stocktake kid at Woolworths in Albany when I was 15.

What is the greatest place on earth? I dunno since I haven't exactly seen much of it.

How would you react to a flat tyre?  I'd get frustrated, call the RAC (depending where I was) or call someone else to come and help.

Tattoos?  None.

First concert you ever saw?  Saw a few local bands in Albany, but the first big concert I went to was Kelly Clarkson in November 2005.

What colour are your socks right now? I was wearing black socks, but I took them off.  Now I'm wearing slippers.

What was the last thing that you ate? A meat pattie

Can you drive a stick shift? Yes, but I haven't for so long, I doubt I can still do it.

Last person you spoke to on the phone?  My mum

How old are you today? 29 years and 2 days.

Favourite drink? Water, mocha, Coke

Have you ever dyed your hair? Yes, but I haven't for a while.

Favourite food? Chocolate!

What do you do to vent anger? Blog haha, but I've learnt it's wise to cool down and process my thoughts first.  Have a rant to Duncan or a good friend.

Cherries or Blueberries? Neither

Living arrangements? With Duncan and all our critters.

When was the last time you cried?  Last week while watching Marley and Me.

What is on the floor of your closet? Sporting gear

Who is the friend you have had the longest? Rachel

What did you do last night? Went out for Chinese with some family friends.

Favourite smells? Coffee, fresh bread, lavender

What are you afraid of? Physical pain

Favourite dog breed? Golden Retriever, Daschund, Pug

How many years at your current job? 1