10 Things You Should Do BEFORE Your Child Begins Piano Lessons (via Elissa Milne)

Great post. Mainly reblogging this so that I’ve got a memory of this so that I can convert this to a violin post soon. Stay tuned.

I promise I’ll get back into blogging soon. Really I will. When it gets less busy. Like October. Or maybe next year. Or the year after… surely there must be some free time by the end of the decade….

This is a quick checklist of things to do, buy, learn and decide before your child has their very first piano lesson. Working your way through this checklist will speed up your child’s learning curve, possibly by months (maybe more!), and once you’ve covered every item below you will be a superbly equipped parent entering into the role of nurturing the growth of a new little (or not so little) pianist. 1. Buy a piano. This may or may not seem lik … Read More

via Elissa Milne

A Trustworthy Life

“This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses to these things.”

Luke 24:46a-48

Jesus tells his disciples to be witnesses to the truth of what has happened. While nothing we say can confirm or detract from the Word of God, we do bear witness to its trustworthiness.

The challenge in this is to live our lives in a manner that allows others to see us as trustworthy so that what we share about Jesus is also trustworthy. Difficult? Yes. Challenging? Yes. Worth the effort? Absolutely.

Worship Songs I’m loving

A modern Western worship team leading a contem...
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At the moment, I’m getting my head around being music director for an upcoming Chrysalis retreat. I did this last year, so a lot of my song choices have been able to be transferred, but it does mean that I can spend more time looking for other songs that might fit even better.

At my church, we’ve also started having the youth band on twice a month now, which means that I’m now choosing twice as many songs, so I can be choosing more songs. So I’m constantly on the look out for more songs that can be used. Here’s a selection of worship songs that I’m loving right now.

First off, a couple of songs from Hillsong Chapel, Saviour King, and Hosanna

I love the space in this version of Saviour King, that the instruments just get out of the way and you can just focus on the words. The chorus for me is incredibly powerful, and I think I’ll be able to use this (in some form) at Chrysalis.

As for Hosanna, I’m considering an “acoustic” set for the next Youth Meeting, and love the arrangement of this version.

Now for something a bit more uptempo – and a bit older too.

This song has been in my head for a while now, and I’m not sure where I’m going to use it, but I think that there will be something coming up that it will be just perfect for. I think I especially love the brass lines here, really makes it pop!

This is a new song by Aaron Keyes (co written by others such as Ben Smith and Graham Kendrick). It’s wonderful lyrics are backed up by a great easy to sing Hymn-esque tune. This is a wonderful praise song, and I can’t wait to use it somewhere.

So that’s what I’m listening to at the moment and what’s going through my head. What songs are getting you passionate for Christ at the moment?

A Busy month ahead

I’ve just been thinking about how much I’ve got on over the next month, and it’s incredibly busy. I’ll be at Church for only two of the Sunday Morning meetings, and possibly only one of the Sunday night meetings.

I’ve got the Chrysalis retreat on between the 8th and 11th of September, which should be a wonderful weekend of spiritual blessings for the guys and girls that will go on there.

The weekend after that is the Uniting Church Synod weekend, which unfortunately is also my 1st wedding anniversary on the Sunday. However, I will be working all weekend – Friday afternoon with a training session, Friday night with the installation of the new moderator, Saturday all day (probably until about 9pm) and then Sunday afternoon – how nice, I get to have breakfast with my wife on our anniversary.

And it’s not like I can take the Monday off after that, because not only is work in the middle of Revive – our bi-monthly magazine – production, but there’s also a fortnightly newsletter that goes out to churches, which will be my responsibility to put together.

So the weekend after, Liesl and I are having a weekend off. Some time to relax, to catch up with each other and stuff. I’m really looking forward to that weekend.

So that’s a busy month ahead, and hopefully I’ll still be alive on the other side.

Some logic to your argument please

Rainbow flag flapping in the wind with blue sk...
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I’m straying into difficult territory here, but I need to share my thoughts on this issue, and hopefully my thoughts will make some sort of sense. Especially as I’m talking about using logic in an argument, I hope that my thoughts are logical as well.

I read yesterday an article from the Sydney Morning Herald titled “Gay marriage ridicule ‘damages youths'”. In it, I read this quote from Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce.

Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce told the rally his four daughters would be affected if same-sex marriage was allowed.

“We know that the best protection for those girls is that they get themselves into a secure relationship with a loving husband, and I want that to happen for them.

“I don’t want any legislator to take that right away from me.”

Wait, what?

According to Mr Joyce, by allowing Same-sex couples to marry each other, his daughters (who I’m assuming are unmarried heterosexuals with a loving set of heterosexual parents) would be affected. I’m sorry Barnaby, but I’m not quite following your logic here.

I’m not certain that there are many girls out there in the apparent situation that Barnaby’s daughters are apparently in. The only way that I can see that his daughters would be affected by this proposition is if they had told their father “I’m homosexual, but I know I need to be married. As I can’t marry a woman, I’ll marry a man instead.” I’m not sure how common a situation that would be.

I’ve been married almost a year now, and I absolutely still believe that marriage is a wonderful, wonderful thing. I also believe that marriage is something that should be treated with respect, and should not be entered into lightly.

Marriage is a sacred bond between two people. That’s it. For me and my wife, it is between me and her, and God. The only people who can affect our marriage and the sacredness of this bond are those who are involved in it – God, Liesl and myself. Britney Spears had a 55 hour marriage. Does that make my marriage any less special? No – because she is not involved in my marriage. Two homosexual men want to get married, does it affect my marriage? No, because they are not involved in it. Even if a rock wanted to marry a tree, it would not affect my marriage one iota, as the rock and tree are not involved in the sacred bond I made with my wife.

The only people who are affected by allowing homosexual people to marry are homosexual people. Mr Joyce claiming that his (presumably Heterosexual) daughters would be affected defies all logic.

I read an article on same-sex marriage recently. It didn’t take a stand either way. Instead, it called for those in power (White, Male, living in a first world country, those who are never discriminated against, except at “one of those “women-only” gyms”) to take a step back, to be quiet, and listen to others. Just “Shut up and listen.”

I think Mr Joyce should take this advice, and shut up and listen.

How Facebook did its own thing, and listened to its users

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Image via CrunchBase

A little while ago, Facebook introduced its new chat sidebar. As part of a whole raft of other changes, this was the most visible. It changed the chat pop-up box to a sidebar that could be permanently attached to the right hand side of the page and contained a selection of users that you interacted with the most, whether they were online or not. As with most of the changes that Facebook makes, there was a large outcry from Facebook users saying that it was an awful decision.

Now I generally have liked most of Facebook’s changes, but it seems to me that there is no logical benefit for this change. But knowing that Facebook does what it does, I went about learning to  live with it.

Now it seems that Facebook has listened to its users, and modified the changes it made. Now, instead of showing just a selection, there is now a link at the bottom of the chat sidebar which says “More Online Friends” and clicking on that will jump the chat sidebar down to show you more friends that are currently online. You can also now scroll manually the sidebar which is a great addition.

This is something that anyone who is in business should take note of. You should always look at ways to improve your product, and when you do make changes you should stick to your guns. However, when there is an outcry against it, look at why there are complaints and see if there is a way to modify your changes to update your product to be what the user wants as well.

Sunday Set List 14 August 2011

Last Sunday we held the first of a new style of meeting at my church. Normally the youth band play downstairs in a more relaxed youth-style meeting. This meeting, the youth band provided the music, while the Corps Officer preached and organised the meeting that was upstairs in our main worship hall. The whole aim of this service was to bridge the gap between the relaxed style of worship of our regular Youth Meetings, and the more “formal” style of the regular Sunday meeting.

In choosing songs for this meeting, with the message entitled “The Invention of Lying” and a general theme of Love, I picked a couple of newer songs, a couple of older songs that we often use in the morning meetings, and a couple of Youth Band regulars. I think I’ll try to stick to this mix to help encourage this mixing of the styles of worship.

Songs we used were:

  • One Day – Hillsong
  • Break Free – Hillsong
  • You are Good – Nathan Rowe
  • The Power of your Love
  • Hosanna – Hillsong
  • Jesus, lover of my Soul
  • Take it All – Hillsong

It was a great service, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else we can do in the rest of the year.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlists, run by The Worship Community. Follow the links to read more about what songs were worshiping God on Sunday.

5 Things I don’t love about Australia

Following up on Yesterday’s post on the things I love about Australia, there are a few things I don’t like about Australia. It would be remiss of me to say the things I love without the things I don’t like.

  1. Racist. As much as I hate to admit it, Australia is a little bit racist. This has come across more in the last few years, with fears about Refugees and Middle Eastern immigrants. It’s such a shame, as Australia has such a rich multi-cultural heritage, stretching back to the Chinese in the Gold Rush. I think this issue is mostly pushed by my second point.
  2. Sensationalist Media. From our “Current Affairs” shows such as Today Tonight and A Current Affair, to our tabloid-esque newspapers, Australia’s media has a love of the blow-out story. From stories about Australia introducing sharia law (which the Federal Attorney General stated clearly that there was no place for in Australia), to scare campaigns about the number of “boat people” it is Australia’s media which effectively scares the population into submission.
  3. “Un-Australian” and Australian Values. One of the arguments that is used to shoot down anything that the population (read: Media) doesn’t like is the idea that it is un-Australian. A Carbon Tax? Un-Australian. Having Daylight Savings? Un-Australian. Not having Daylight Savings? Un-Australian. Participating in the Cronulla Riots? Un-Australian. Not participating in the Cronulla… I think you get the point. The thing is that this idea that something is Un-Australian is just used when people think the whole nation should get behind the idea, but have no real reason why.
  4. “She’ll be right” mentality. This is something that I suffer from as well, and I think it’s a good thing as well as a bad thing. The good thing about this is that we’re not worried about what happens, and whatever happens we’ll make a way through. That’s great. However, it sometimes means that we fail to plan for the inevitable. For example, Australia is currently living in the midst of a resources boom, where mining companies are reaping rich profits, and the Australian Government is reaping rich taxes from these companies. However, there doesn’t appear to be the planning for what happens once we’ve mined all the minerals out of the ground. Yes, we’re in a good position now, but what next?
  5. Homelessness and Poverty. I’ve currently started reading “In Darkest England” by William Booth, where he highlights the poverty and homelessness situation in England in the late 1800’s. It absolutely broke my heart reading the stories of these people, and knowing that nothing has changed, over 100 years later and in a different continent. Australia is a rich country, yet we still have excessive homelessness and poverty.

So that’s what I don’t like about Australia. Areas for Improvement I guess you could call them. I hope that some of these things will change over time.

What don’t you like about your culture?

Five things I love about Australia

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This prompt, List five things you love about your culture, is provided by Plinky.

I love Australia, and there is no-where else on earth that I would rather live. Sure, there are places I would love to visit, but as the song says:

no matter how far or how wide I roam, I still call Australia home

So here are five things about Australian culture that I think makes Australia great.

  1. Sporting. Australia loves their sport, and for a long time we have been successful in that sport. Around the turn of the century, Australia was experiencing a golden age in sport, being successful in Cricket, Rugby Union, Netball, swimming and more. While we are in a bit of a dip in cricket and rugby at the moment, we are still strong in Netball, and have added cycling (thanks to Cadel Evans), Soccer (well, the most successful that we’ve ever been) and golf (thanks to guys like Adam Scott and Jason Day). What I love particularly is that Australians are generally good sports, and while we will give the loser a bit of a ribbing, we have never seen scenes like is sometimes seen in English or European football, or like the Vancouver riots after they lost the Stanley Cup.
  2. Relaxed. Personally, I could never see anything like what is happening in England happening in Australia, because we’re so relaxed. I’m not going to say that it will never happen, particularly because it has happened in the past (I’m thinking the Cronulla Race Riots), however, for the most part Australians are relaxed and would rather click “Like” on Facebook or write a letter than actually step out the door to go and Protest.
  3. Peaceful. Australia is one of the few countries in the world that can say we have never had a civil war. And apart from a few attacks on northern cities (Broome and Darwin) during World War 2, we have never experienced War on our land. While that does make us incredibly lucky, it is something that is reflected in our nation and our culture.
  4. Prosperous. Sometimes it may not seem like it, but Australia is relatively rich. Sure, it’s not up there with the likes of the US, or with the “old money” of Europe, but Australians by and large are better off than many other people. While that does come with trappings, as more people are earning more money, it does mean there is more money around to help those less fortunate, and the “luxuries” are often cheaper as well.
  5. Forward Thinking. Australia is an inventive nation, and generally forward thinking in many area. For example, great Australian inventions include WiFi – such a vital part of laptops, Tablets, and now even phones – and the Refrigerator. In 1838 an Australian came up with the first Pre-Paid postal system. In 1902 an Australian invented the notepad, and in 1906 saw Australia produce the world’s first Feature Film, Ned Kelly. Staying on the film idea, it was also an Australian who invented the “Clapperboard” in 1930. Australian’s also invented the Black Box flight recorder, the Ultrasound, Race Cam (for motor sports broadcasting), Bionic Ear, and more. Because we’ve had this history of innovation, it means that as a nation we are constantly looking forward (with a respect for our history) to find better ways to do things.

So there you go, five things I love about Australia. What are do you love about your culture? Stay tuned for tomorrow when I write about the things I don’t like about Australia.