Monday, January 30, 2012

Would You Read This Book?: 2012 Poll

I've decided to take a break from blogging this week.

But rather than leave you all with nothing, I want to ask you all to participate in the Sedshed Christian Book Poll for 2012.

Below is a list of Christian books that I've reviewed/mentioned on this blog with links to where I have reviewed them.  I would like to know if you have ever picked up a book because of a review read on the blog.  The key phrase is because of a review you read on this blog.  If you've already read a book before I reviewed it, that doesn't count.  I want to know if you have gone out and bought or borrowed or plan to read a book because you read a review on here and thought, Hmmm that sounds interesting.

You can vote for more than one book if you like.

The reason I'm asking you all to do this is because I've signed up for Matthias Media's Free for Bloggers program.  Matthias Media send me one of their books (I get to choose from a shortlist).  I then read it, review it on my blog and link to my review on their site.  I've been reading their books for years and have enjoyed and been challenged by them.  I'm looking forward to getting stuck into The Trellis and the Vine this week.  Expect a review soon.

One thing I never want to do is 'sell out' on this blog.  I plan to review honestly.  One blog I used to really enjoy has now been completely taken over by advertising.  Every post is a review of different makeup products.  Boring!  That's NOT why I'm participating in this program.

Here's the list:

Daniel's Diet by Philip Bridgeman
Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
The Peacemaker by Ken Sande
If I Were God I'd End All the Pain by John Dickson
No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green by Melody Green and David Hazard
A Foot in Two Worlds by John Chapman
Blame it on the Brain? by Edward T Welch
Beyond Greed by Brian Rosner
666 And All That by John Dickson and Greg Clarke
Charles Spurgeon by JC Carlile
The Heart of the Artist by Rory Noland
Simply Christianity by John Dickson
Refuting Compromise by Jonathan Sarfati
The Essence of Darwinism by Kirsten Birkett
The Busy Christian's Guide to Busyness by Tim Chester
When I Don't Desire God by John Piper

Apologies to anyone reading who is not at all interested in Christian books.  I'll be back in a week with something different.

It would be really great if I could get at least 10 people to participate in this poll.  Of course, if none of these books interest you, that's fine.  But if they do, please take the time to let me know.

The poll closes at midday (Australian Western Standard Time) next Monday 6th February.
Please click through to vote if you are using a reader.
Have a great week....and poll away.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

When I Don't Desire God

I've put off reviewing any John Piper books for a while for two reasons:
  • These books are already well-known, widely read, and widely reviewed.
  • I've found reading Piper's books to be a bit of a hard slog.
This book was given to me for my 23rd birthday and I read it right through for the first time in 2010.  So if you give me books it shows I will read them eventually ('eventually' being the key word here).  The title was what bumped this book up my reading list since I suspect I am not the only Christian who feels like I don't 'desire God' at times.  We all have times of spiritual dryness and I desperately wanted to see if there was a cure.

The quote I posted yesterday is one of Piper's most well-known ones.  It epitomises his theology - we are here to enjoy and love our Creator.  I really appreciated this reminder of what it means to enjoy God.  The problem is I often feel like I don't.

From the blurb:
For over twenty-five years John Piper has trumpeted the truth that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."  He calls it Christian Hedonism.  The problem is that many people after being persuaded, find that this truth is both liberating and devastating.

It's liberating because it endorses our inborn desire for joy.  And it's devastating because it reveals that we don't desire God the way we should.  What do you do when you discover the good news that God wants you to be content in Him, but then find that you aren't.

One of the main things I got our of this book was that joy is both a gift and a command.  We are commanded to fight for joy, yet God is the only one who can ultimately give us that joy (it is a fruit of the Spirit).  It sounds like a contradiction, but it is really just another example of the mystery of God (like prayer and the Trinity).

Piper goes into the difference between desire and delight, the role of God's Word and prayer in our fight for joy, and there is a very helpful chapter at the end entitled, When the Darkness Does Not Lift.  Despite what it may sound like from the blurb, this book is NOT a guilt trip.

The reason I don't find Piper so easy to read is that he is a bit more theologically 'hardcore' than some other authors and also because he lacks the easy readability and chatty style of authors like John Dickson, whose books I have greatly appreciated.  That doesn't mean that Piper is not worth reading.  He is definitely worth a go, but you have to pick your time i.e. I've found I need to read it when I have the time and space to concentrate well - it's not a book to read when you're tired.  For a long time I've felt like some kind of dummy because I haven't read and quoted Piper like older and more mature Christians I know, but now I realise that's ok.  Piper is helpful, but he is not the only helpful author out there.

I heard a sermon at my church recently about the difference between happiness and joy.  Happiness is circumstancial; a person may feel happy when they are healthy, have friends, have employment etc, but that happiness is not sustained when these things are taken away.  Joy, on the other hand, is not based on circumstances but on what God has done.  I have joy in God because of who He is and what He has done, and this joy remains even when my personal circumstances are poor.  Piper urges his readers to fight for JOY, yet he doesn't seem to think there is a great difference in meaning between happiness and joy:
In this book I will use many words for joy without precise distinctions: happiness, delight, pleasure, contentment, satisfaction, desire, longing, thirsting, passion, etc.  I am aware that all of these words carry different connotations for different readers.  Some people think of happiness as superficial and joy as deep.  Some think of pleasure as physical and delight as aesthetic.  Some think of passion as sexual and longing as personal.  So I signal from the outset that the Bible does not divide its emotional language that way.  The same words (desire, pleasure, happiness, joy, etc) can be positive sometimes and negative sometimes, physical sometimes and spiritual sometimes.  That's the approach I take.  Any of these words can be a godly experience of the heart, and any of them can be a wordly experience of the heart.

Interesting.  I plan to look at joy and happiness more in another post, but would appreciate any thoughts you have on the two words.

This book is worth a read - particularly if you're going through a spiritual dry patch.  But read it slowly.  There's a fair bit to take in.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quote of the Day

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
- John Piper

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2011 Visitors' Honour Roll

We didn't have quite as many people staying at our house last year as we have in previous years.  Mostly this was due to the renovations and the fact that, at times, I really wasn't up to having stacks of guests.  But this year I'm feeling differently.  The house is done and I'm feeling a bit more 'with it'.  So, if you're up for a weekend (or even a few weekdays) on a farm three hours south of Perth, give us a yell.

My parents in February, April and August

Alison in March

Duncan's parents in April

Joel and Sam (and their dog, Sandy) in April (no photo though)

Jill (and Daisy) in July
My parents and Neil and Cheryl in October
Duncan's cousin-law, Paul, stayed on and off for two weeks in December to help out with harvest.

The Christmas mob.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Girls' Day Out in the Park

There was no better way to spend the last day of 2011 than a picnic lunch in Albany with two of my greatest friends, Emma and Rianna, and Emma's 17 month old daughter, Eleanor.

While we were there I couldn't help but notice how much this park has changed since I was a kid. The wooden forts and climbing frames have gone and all of the new equipment is very 'safe'.

The scariest thing is that I'm no longer playing in the park with my I'm playing with my friends' kids!

Ready, here I go!


Soooo cute!

And she's off!

You're never too old for swings.  Never! :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Geography Lesson

According to my stats I have readers from all over the world.  I suspect most blogs do.  This does create some dilemmas when it comes to describing Australian places.  If I write as though everyone is from Western Australia it's bound to create some confusion.  If I write as though everyone is from interstate/overseas then WA readers will be going Yeah, yeah...we know that.

So, I've decided to give those interstate and overseas readers a geography lesson.  Please don't see this as patronising.  I really have no idea about towns in different states.

Here's a map I created of WA places I've mentioned before on this blog.  Some of them I've lived in and others I've visited.  Click on the blue placemarks to read a bit about why I have marked that particular place.  To see the whole map, click the view WA Geography Lesson in a larger map link.

Hopefully when I start name-dropping places again, it might make a bit more sense.

View WA Geography Lesson in a larger map

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

No Comment

Last week I discovered that I can no longer leave comments on some Blogspot blogs.  Whenever I click on the comments link, the whole page freezes so I cannot even read any existing comments.  The odd thing is that it only happens on some Blogspot blogs I read regularly...but not all.

Yesterday I did quite a bit of clicking around to see exactly which blogs and posts I could comment on and which ones I couldn't.  Apologies to anyone who has a stats counter and probably thought they had a cyberstalker on their hands!

I can comment on my own blog ok, but now I'm wondering if others are having the same problem?  After doing a bit of Googling, I think the issue may be a bug in Blogger's new threaded comment system.  Apparently there is a compatibility issue with Internet Explorer.  If you use Internet Explorer (which I do), you may not be able to comment on blogs which have threaded comments.

I expect that Blogger will sort this out in time, but for now I want to suggest a temporary fix.  Change from threaded comments back to pop-up or full-page comments.  Just for a while.   That's what is being suggested on the net anyway.  I know it might be easier to suggest blog readers use a different browser, but I'm having trouble with Firefox as well at the moment for different reasons and my download is quite slow.

So...can you comment here?  Leave a test comment if you like.

If not, you're welcome to email me at seddyed at hotmail dot com

Threaded comments do sound cool though...eventually.

Monday, January 16, 2012

5 Best 'Angry Chick' Songs

Duncan doesn't like me listening to this kind of music (he reckons it makes me angry...hmmm).  I think he's way off the's just great motivational music for exercise or cleaning. :)

Here are my top five:

1.  Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson
2.  Left Outside Alone by Anastacia
3.  You're So Vain by Carly Simon
4.  Predictable by Delta Goodrem
5.  Don't Tell Me by Avril Lavigne

What are yours?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Funny

This was doing the rounds on Facebook a little while back.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Pendulum: Suffering and Death

First of all, I'd better apologise for the morbid title!

I've been doing a bit of thinking lately about what the Christian attitude towards suffering and death should be, and have arrived at the conclusion that suffering is a normal and expected part of life for those who follow Jesus (1 Peter 4:12-16).  Not only is it expected, but it also has good consequences (we grow in character, perseverance and hope - Romans 5:1-5).

The problem is when some people start believing that suffering is good IN ITSELF.  Suffering is good because it has good consequences, but it was never meant to be a part of this world.  If suffering is so good in itself, then why will it not be a part of the new creation?  I've seen this error manifest itself in people not wanting to pray for others' safety or health because they think it is better for Christians to be suffering.  I remember being a part of a Bible study where someone rebuked someone else for wanting to pray for a safe plane trip for another group member.  Their logic was that we shouldn't bother praying for things like that because it might be God's will for the plane to crash.  I've met people who think it's wrong to pray for healing from cancer because God might be using the cancer to make that person more godly.  Well, yes no doubt He is bringing good out of it, but that doesn't mean that the cancer itself is good.  The attitude that it's wrong to pray for relief from suffering EVER can end up looking like a kind of masochism ("God, I'm not suffering enough - beat me!").  The Christian life is not a competition to see whose life is worse and who has suffered the most.  The reality is that all Christians WILL suffer at various times and to varying degrees depending on individual circumstances.  Jesus warned that if the world hated Him, it would also hate His people (John 15:18-21).

However, while I believe that suffering in itself is not good, the other end of the scale which says that if you are suffering from illness then you don't have enough faith, is equally as wrong.  I do not believe in a 'name it and claim it' kind of theology that says we can have heaven on earth right now as long as we have faith.  Firstly, it's about God's sovereignty - not our measure of faith.  Secondly, we live in a fallen world and Christians are not immune from trials such as natural disasters and sickness.  God never promised otherwise.

The other disturbing trend I've noticed among some people I know is that when a Christian dies, it is suddenly all good.  Again, I think we should have mixed feelings when farewelling a loved one who belongs to the Lord.  We rejoice that they trusted Jesus and have gone to be with Him, and are now free from pain.  But, on the other hand, death has signalled a break in the relationship and it is good and right to grieve.  Death is not good in itself.  It has good consequences if you follow Jesus (you go to be with Him forever), but, like suffering, death was NOT a part of God's design for this world.  Death is a consequence of sin.  We rejoice that the sting of death has been removed and it is no longer permanent.  But we should not be telling people that they shouldn't grieve because their late friend/family member was a Christian.  That is wrong.  We still grieve, but with hope.

At times I have sat more on the cusp of avoiding suffering.  I have struggled to 'count it all joy' and still do.  In hindsight, I can look back at difficult times and not only rejoice that God brought me through them, but also changed me in the process.  But sometimes I just need to trust God, that He knows what He's doing.

Praise God that He uses suffering for our good and that the sting of death has been removed for those who love Jesus.

But bring on the day when things like suffering and death will be no more.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

5 Hopes For 2012

I'm not a fan of resolutions - mainly because they often get broken and it's very discouraging.

Therefore, instead of declaring what I WILL do this year, I have decided to list my HOPES.  I cannot do anything in my own strength.  While I have many plans, it is the Lord's purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).

I have decided to call this year, The Year of Keep on Keeping on.  My desire for this year is to finish or simply keep on with what I've already started, rather than necessarily start lots of new things (although there could be a couple of new things in the pipeline).  Mostly I want to do it all for the glory of God, but also learn to use my time well.

1.  Finish editing my book and start the search for a lierary agent and publisher.  Editing is SLOW!
2.  Finish my TAFE course.  I have started my final semester and should have finished my Certificate 2 in Business by early June (God willing).
3.  Do another unit in the Moore College correspondence course.
4.  Raise money to support those in paid ministry, overseas missionaries, Compassion and anyone/anything else the Lord leads me to give to.  Last year I felt my passion dwindling for this.  With all the work being done to our house, it seemed like we were collecting more stuff than getting rid of it.  I do not NEED so much STUFF.  I have a garage sale planned for sometime in January or February.  I'm also considering doing more beading and selling the pieces through the craft shop in town.  Expect more Acts 2:46 stalls.
5.  Pray and explore new things to be involved in such as visiting the elderly in the nursing home in town, or taking on the missions role in our church in partnership with Duncan.  I have a great desire to share the love of Jesus with older folk who don't know Him, and lately I've also felt a growing passion for overseas mission.  When our church leaders asked us all to consider putting our hands up for the vacant role, Duncan and I BOTH felt God speaking to us.  We've expressed interest, but that's all at this stage.  It's nice to know you're on the same page as your husband sometimes. :)

It will be very interesting to look back on this in a year's time.

What are your hopes and plans for 2012?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Quote of the Day

It was one year yesterday.  I miss her!

Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves, ebbing and flowing.  Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming.  All we can do is learn to swim.
- Vicki Harrison

Friday, January 06, 2012

God is Good

A friend on Facebook posted this a few weeks back.  It's something I want to carry with me throughout the New Year.  I hope it encourages you too.

God is good....
It does not mean that things in my life will always be good....but that God is good.
It does not mean that my life will be an easy one....but that God is good.
It does not mean that my prayers will always be answered in the way I would like....but that God is good.
It does not mean that tragedy may not visit me.....but that God is good.
It does not mean that there will be no suffering in this world......but that God is good.
It does not mean that there will not be times when I am so overcome with sadness at memories in my life that I must go outside and find a place to be alone and just cry for an hour....but that God is good.
It does not mean that there will not continue to be many who deny His very existence because of the pain and seeming unfairness of life around them.....but that God is good.
It does not mean that there will not be many questions for which we have no answers.....but that God is good.
In short, the circumstances of life do not always seem to be good, but God Himself is always good.  Thus though there may not always be happiness, there is always hope.  That must be the basis for our faith - not that God gives us a happy life.

from The Secrets of Heathersleigh Hall by Michael Phillips

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Bible Verse of the Day

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope in the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
Romans 5:1-5

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

5 Best Posts From Other Bloggers in 2011

It's time to pay credit again to some brilliant writers.  There are so many fantastic bloggers out there, and so many worthy posts, it was hard to pick just five.  These are the ones from 2011 that particularly stayed in my mind.

1.  Unhelpful Pastoral Care - Women Bible Life
2.  Miss Popularity - Moments For Mum
3.  Stripping To Retrieve My Dignity - Longfur
4.  The Shy Minister's Wife - No Reading at the Breakfast Table
5.  The Sound of Silence - Practical Theology for Women

I think this will become an annual tradition on my blog.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Quote of the Day

Sometimes God calms the storm - and sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.
- Unknown