Saturday, December 30, 2006

From Brick to Camera Phone

I have finally got rid of my old brick. It didn't die on my (even though I have given it more puninishment than any phone deserves in its life time.)

I got a new Sanyo 3100s. I chose this phone becuase the sales people at a number of shops said that they were reliable and easy to use.

The Staff at the Wharehouse in town were hopeless, they only sold me the phone because I knew what I was looking for. I then had to go upto dukes arcade telecom to change my number (Aparently they could have done the number change over at The Wharehouse themselves!) I changed my number over to my new phone and got all my contacts put over to my New Phone. So I could use my new phone without having to put all my contacts into my New Phone - Very Impressive!

So far I have been impressed. When I turned on the phone I could basically do everything I wanted to do with the phone without looking at the instruction manual. The amplication on the phone is excellent and I'm happy I no longer only have monophonic ringtones. Didn't really need to camera on the phone becuase the screen resolution on the phone is awful and so if the picture qaulity (only 0.3 Megapixels!!!!), but it will give me something to take pictures with until I get a New Camera (The camera lens is totally stuffed and one salesperson estimated it will cost over $500 to get a new lens so I'll have to get a new one :-( )

Friday, December 29, 2006

A concise history of World Religions

This is just a little history lesson on the worlds major religions. Hope you enjoy

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

21st Birthday - The Ups the Lows and the drops

I turned 21 today it has been a mix of emotions today, with some surprises and one real low!

I'm pretty tired and it has been an emotional roller coaster of a day

We went out for lunch today as a family. We went to Zillis Cafe. This was a really nice small cafe which mainly does turkish meals. It wasn't really flash, but it was nice and intimate. The owners were nice, cherpy and really really freindly. We all had a enjoyable time and felt rather full by the end of our meal. It is a recommended place to go and eat.

Me and Ben at Zillis before Lunch

Benjamin with his Calamari Rings

The Worst moment of my day though was when I managed to drop my camera on its lens! I think I've probrably damaged it and it will probraby not live to see another day. Might be out tomorrow trying to find another camera. Don't know why that would happen to me, oh well God Knows! Pretty Unhappy about what happened! Like I said God Knows why it happened!

The Pogues with Kirsty McColl / Fairytale of New York

My Favourite Christmas Song :->

C4 Christmas

U2 - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Awesome picture of New Zealand from Space

This is just the most awesome picture of New Zealand from Space. It was taken on the last space shuttle mission when they were doing work constructing the International Space station. You can download your own free copy of this in Hi Resolution or Lo Resolution

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Revolution In World Mission

Revolution in world mission is written by Dr KP. Yohannan. The Book was first published in 1986, but has been updated regularly so its observations are still rather worthwhile and contemporary. The main argument of this book is that the tide in missions has changed. Once upon a time, those who did missions were white middle class men, sent during the 1800s, many a times with a joint mission to bring the gospel Jesus Christ with western imperialism. With the nationalist movements of the mid 19th century, and the overthrow of western imperialism, many Asian nations were closed to western missions as western missionaries were linked to imperialistic goals. The result was that Native missionaries took over where the western Christians left off. There has been massive conversion within countries such as China and India, but western churches have neither know of these developments or have supported the churches. The western church became introverted and selfish. Missions that were sent to developing nations in Asia could only focus on social justice issues without evangelism. The hope for missions in Asia, asserted by KP. Yohannan is the native missionary movement. This is because they can adapt to the cultures and are accepted within the cultures they minister to, and the cost of sending them is only a fraction of the cost ($2000 at most, compared to $50,000)

I came to this book with a critical mind and believe that this book has a lot to offer – it is a goldmine for good missiology, and for training missionaries. There are several important points that I got out of this book

1) The western church and western Christians are so well off. We have a responsibility to support our less well off Christian brothers and sisters in developing nations.
2) In the past, western churches have become selfish, focusing introspectively, not using their resources to build the church of Christ, but to fund buildings and other other projects that have no real impact (other than aesthetics!)
3) We need to allow these Christians to develop and minister in ways which are acceptable to the context they preach to. We should not be pushing a certain denomination or line – we should allow Christians go into cultures and allow them to contextualise the gospel.
4) “Contextaulisation” – this means preaching and teaching the gospel in the language of the people. Taking on the cultural dress of the group, preaching the gospel in a way that the people group will understand. For example if you go to a group of African Americans living in the Bronx you wouldn’t give them a soapbox sermon – the likelihood is you’ll get beaten up and your money taken and left in a trash can half alive or with a gun to your head if you are unlucky. No, you would come dressed up in the cultural costume and speak in the language (Baggy Jeans and speak in Snoop.)
5) The Focus of missions should marry both evangelism and social justice together. In the context of missions to countries such as India it can be seen the spiritual blindness that people live in worsens their poverty. K.P Yohannon tells that because Rats are sacred to Hindus and cannot be killed, plagues of rats go and eat the crops in India, meaning there is a lack of food. K.P Yohannan tells of how the ministry of Gospel for Asia has focused a lot on the untouchables, the lowest of low castes within Indian society. This caste has been created as a result of the religious worldview of the Hindu people. Gospel for Asia offers education where untouchable children can learn to read and write and also get told the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a result the families are changed, they get given spiritual freedom as the familty comes to know christ and economic freedom through the children getting an education.

I have some criticisms with this book though.
1) Yohannan only gets the rationale for missions half-right. Yes we are called to mission but we are called to mission so that people will come to worship God once again
Again I sight my good friend John Piper on missiology.
“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship does not”
Worship is the Fuel and goal for missions. It's the goal of missions because in worship we simply aim to bring the nations into the white hot enjoyment of God's glory”
(John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad)
The whole purpose is to see all humanity give him the glory he deserves and enjoy the freedom that Christ offers.
2) Short Term and Long Term western missions are still important . They are important as it gives a stakehold for western Christians in the whole church. Western missionaries provide information and reconnaissance in a way that pieces of paper and articles cannot offer. They provide an eyewitness and encouragement for further mission worldwide and locally. Missions trips also challenge also challenge peoples mindsets on the way we do things. They provide an intensive environment for Christians to grow and change and get out of their comfort zone. They give western Christians a means to grow and develop and to come to rely on God fully. They expand peoples views of the world and the way God works and the fact that God doesn’t work in the same way everywhere. They usually ignite Christians to find ways to engage with their own cultures back home and ways to change the world around them back home. They are also a real witness to people back time. How many times have I been able to talk about what I did in Siberia and share what my faith means to my friends because of the missions trip.
The “Mystical” nature of missions to other countries or places.
I have blogged about this before, because this has been an important moment in my life and journey I will go continue on about this. There is something really special when you worship with a whole group of people from another country and place. You speak entirely different languages but you can connect at a deeper level that what you could. Also it feels like you an enacting a scene from what heaven will be like – where people from thousands of different cultures, backgrounds, ages, all worshipping and praising the same God who saved them and made them whole. It is really special, and something that I’m happy that I have been able to share in.

3)Yohannan comments only on the bad that has happened within western missions.
I can name on the top of my head numbers of cases where western missionaries are doing awesome jobs in nations around the world and seeing peoples lives changed because of the ministry they are involved in. It’s not all bad news, but the need for balance between western missionaries and National missionaries. I totally agree that native missionaries are more affective, more adaptive on their mission field and that more funding and support should be given to these missionaries than what is given to western missionaries – but the approach should be balanced. It must also be remembered that we cannot stop the call of God. If someone is called to be a missionary into a culture by the spirit of God we cannot stop them from doing this and we must trust in the faith of God that he will enable them to reach out to that culture. Some may be given the missional gifting of tongues to reach out to a particular culture (this is quite an amazing gift when you see it at work!)

All in all, I enjoyed this book. It was a real challenge. Particularly on my priorities in giving and how selfish I can be at times. I want Gods will fulfilled on earth. Many times this will be costly to myself. Am I willing to listen to the call of God and sacrifice those things that I want for what God wants?

Another thing I saw was the dedication many non-western Christians have to God. Many of these missionaries pray and spend real time with God for hours and pray for the people they minister to for hours as well. As a result they develop hearts for those people. Am I willing to lose sleep over the lost sheep in my cultural context? The suffering I endure for the Gospel seems so little compared to the floggings, stonnings and electric baterns that Christians receive in other countries, but many a time I go quite, saying nothing about God, why is that?

All in all, this way a really challenging book. I enjoyed it. Have a read, I’m sure you will be challenged too!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

B Collision – David Crowder Band

I discovered the David Crowder Band around a year ago when my brother got given Illuminate for his Christmas present, as a result they have grown to be one of my favourite bands in Christian contemporary worship. They are one of the most musically innovative Christian worship bands today. They have moved outside the box of most worship bands, explaining their relationship with God in real ways that connect with contemporary culture through metaphor and imagery. They don’t stick with the clich├ęs in their lyrics or their music and are attempting to move Christian worship forward. The reason why I have grown to love this band so much is that they are musically really good! I enjoy listening to these guys at anytime, they are really fun to listen to at any time. (You can hear the fun they are having on the CDs when they have some of their interludes.) I walk to work listening to their stuff, or I can sit in my bedroom praising God. They are musically and lyrically talented and well educated.

They are an indeed creative exciting refreshing group within the “Christian Genre”. They are probably one of the most revolutionary groups since delirious came out with their cutting edge CD’s in the mid 90’s. At times this band can go a bit over the top, and sometimes their overuse of synths can get a bit painfully annoying!

B Collision is a follow on album from The Beautiful Collision, basically remixing the originals of The Beautiful Collision and doing them using bangos instead of guitars. This might sound lame, but it an amazingly awesome album, because that band has the ability (and probably a good enough producer!) to pull it off. They have used the bangos to create an awesome fresh listening experience.

Another thing I love about the David Crowder Band is they take old classic hymns and make them contemporary with the use of guitars and synths. I love old style hymns because of the doctrine and ideas that are contained in classic hymns. Songs that they have sexed up earlier include All Creatures, and I Saw the Light. On this album the do I Saw the Light again using bangos and Everyone Wants to Go to Heaven, and the redo I Can Hear the Angels singing. In redoing these songs, their meaning and the truths that they hold can be carried onto future generations and to the culture of contemporary western society.

Musically these guys are awesome; this is one of my favourite albums by these guys so far. I recommend this album to anyone who enjoyed the O Brother Where Art Thou CD or contemporary Christian worship music that sounds fun, fresh and innovative. Actually I recommend these guys to anyone. Try them, they are really cool!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Social Justice - Reid Monaghan

I read an article by Reid Monaghan on social justice. I think this gives quite a balanced view on social justice and christian mission. As a christian I feel I am called to help those who are less well off than I am. I know from my own life that the saving power of Jesus christ was partly shown through the love of christian families for me and my family when Dad was ill with cancer. Thier care, support and love for us gave me an understanding of what God had done in thier own lives and in the lives of my own family. Our family has been blessed by many people who have shown there love for God by helping those who are less fortunate. I came to know that God was real partly through the love of people who provided for us. I probrably would not be a christian if it wasn't for these people showing the love of christ through these actions of charity. I am grieved when people see evangelism as only preaching the gospel and saving people from hell. This is an important part of the redemptive plan of God, but got wants to save people from their situations as well on this earth. We need to take a wholistic approach to what the kingdom of God really means.

Top 20 Singles

A list of the most popular songs in the last 20 years has been released. Nirvana's great teen anthem "Smells Like Teen spirit" came out first. The Gunners dropped to third, even though the song is much better than "Hey Ya!" by Outcast. I don't understand why there are not any songs by Michael Jackson or the Spice Girls on the list ("Wannabe", should have been a contender! - even though I hate the song myself) . I don't also understand how Oasis "live forever" got on the list as I would have thought that a better track would have been "Champagne Supernova", or "Wonderwall". I find it funny that some of the songs on the top twenty I have never heard of before, but maybe thats my bad! And as good as The White Stripes "7 Nation Army" is I don't think its one of the Top Twenty. One thing I'm happy is, the crazy frog did not claim a place on the list.

1. "Smells Like Teen Spirit"- Nirvana
2. "Hey Ya!" - Outkast
3. "Sweet Child O' Mine" - Guns N' Roses
4. "Unfinished Symphony" - Massive Attack
5. "One" - U2
6. "Live Forever" - Oasis
7. "Bitter Sweet Symphony" - The Verve
8. "Common People" - Pulp
9. "There She Goes" - The LA's
10. "7 Nation Army" - The White Stripes
11. "Song 2" - Blur
12. "Crazy" - Gnarls Barkley
13. "Angels" - Robbie Williams
14. "… Baby One More Time" - Britney Spears
15. "Personal Jesus" - Depeche Mode
16. "Like A Prayer" - Madonna
17. "Firestarter" - The Prodigy
18. "Brimful Of Asha" - Cornershop
19. "Stan" - Eminem
20. "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" - Arctic Monkeys

Blog Changes

I've just taken the risky choice of moving my blog to Blogger Beta. I was worried that I was going to lose all my HTML and that would have sucked as I don't know any HTML at all. I have got to say that it was worth the move. It was easy, which is really good considering my illiteracy and my stupidity when it comes to anything that is to do with my blog. It opens alot more doors and lets you create and customise your blog alot more, especially photos and other peices of Java script. Another good think is you can arange and rearrange things with ease and when you post a blog you don't need to republish the entire blog again like you had to do in the old blog which is a real time saver! I think I'm going to have alot of fun with the new engine, also I'm worried that I might make a number of mistakes with this new engine, and that I could go through some really stressful periods. Can't understand why anyone would think the New engine sucks though! Looks all good to me

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Baby Got Book

Parody of the song "Baby got back". It is quite funny!

Key's Speech

Heres the full speech of John Key in his opening speech as new leader of the National Party

Speech to North Shore National Party luncheonNorth Harbour Stadium

It's a real pleasure to be giving my first speech as Leader of the Opposition here in my own electorate of Helensville. The opportunity to do so means a great deal to me.
In 2002 and again in 2005 the voters of Helensville expressed their confidence in me as their representative. Even though being Leader of the Opposition brings its own workload, I will continue to serve the people of Helensville to the best of my abilities, and I will continue to spend as much time in this electorate as I can.
And in 2008 I will be asking the voters of New Zealand to express their confidence in me as Prime Minister of New Zealand.
On many occasions I have read in the media that John Key did a good job against Michael Cullen at the last election, that John Key knows his stuff on finance, but that no one knows what John Key really stands for.
Well, I'm pleased today to have the opportunity to say a few words about what John Key stands for, because I know him rather better than most commentators. I would like to share with you something of what drives me, what I believe in, and what I will be bringing to the job of Leader of the National Party.
You may know that before entering politics I had a career in international finance. That career was sufficiently successful that from time to time the media likes to question me about what I might be "worth".
Such questions imply that in the totality of my life, my investments are the most important assets I have accrued. How wrong that is.
As a husband and father, the things I value most in life are not anything you'll see listed on the Stock Exchange.
I think all New Zealanders would agree that the security, happiness and welfare of their family, which is also dependent on the security and welfare of their community and country, is the most precious thing to them.
No amount of money insulates against the anxiety that every parent sometimes feels for, and about, their children.
No amount of money enables a parent to buy happiness and self-fulfilment for their sons and daughters. Those, like most of life's most valuable achievements, are earned, not bought.
I support families. In modern New Zealand they come in many shapes and sizes, so let me tell you that I for one will not pre-judge the construction of them. They are in my view the most important institution in our society, and any government I have the privilege of leading will do what it can to support them.
My views on parenting, on families and on society, are shaped not only by my experiences during my career, but even more by my own upbringing.
My father died when I was a young child. I do not remember him.
I was raised, along with my sisters, by my mother, in a state house in Christchurch.
Back then I thought I was poor and, by most standards, we were. As I grew up, though, I recognised that what my mother gave to my sisters and I was far more valuable than money.
She instilled in us the desire to improve ourselves by our own hard work, the confidence that we were able to do it, and the hope that it was possible to do so. She instilled in me an ethic of hard work and determination and a genuine belief that "you get out of life what you put into it".
The State gave me the education that allowed it to happen. Those fundamental characteristics that were instilled in me – and the opportunity that was given to me, which I seized – I believe readily translate to New Zealand society as a whole.
There will always be a social welfare system in New Zealand because you can measure a society by how it looks after its most vulnerable. Once, I was one of them. I will never turn my back on that.
Yet, also, you can measure a society by how many vulnerable people it creates – people who are able to work, and able to take responsibility for their own lives and their children's lives, yet end up depending long-term on the State.
My mission is to raise people's sights, to be fearless and imaginative in policies that encourage people to set their aspirations higher.
A government I lead will have fair policies that encourage enterprise and hard work, and trusts people to get on with their lives and make the best choices for themselves.
The government, of course, has an important role to play in the modern economy. But the appropriate role for the government is in the background, not in the foreground. We need to improve the regulatory and institutional conditions under which firms operate, and then step back and let them establish, grow, export and hire staff.
So, whether they are school leavers stepping into first jobs, mothers venturing back into the workforce, graduates, iwi or entrepreneurs courageously starting their own businesses, or New Zealanders abroad thinking of returning home – I want them all to know that the way to a better future is in their own hands.
I want to give them the confidence that improvement is possible, and to assure them that policies are in place that will reward, rather than discourage, their industry.
I am ambitious for New Zealand and I want New Zealanders to be ambitious for themselves.
I believe in equal opportunity for all, and in the State playing its part to ensure this. How people choose to use that opportunity is up to them. They have everything to gain.
I am by nature an optimistic person. I am, after all, a Blues supporter.
I have enjoyed my work as an MP and as Finance spokesman, and I will continue to do so as Leader of the Opposition.
I have lived overseas, in Asia and in Europe, but I chose to come home.
It is a privilege to be a New Zealander, not only because, as they say, it is a good place to bring up children, or even because we produce the world's best oysters.
It is also a good place to achieve your ambitions.
The tyranny of distance is reducing, with a billion people now having access to the Internet. The growing economic powerhouses of the world – China and India – are located, if not in our backyard, then in our street. New Zealand businesses have access to the world.
However, though I think there's no better place in the world to live, we all know New Zealand can be a better country still.
We have some companies achieving world-best standards, but too few. We have some world-class tourism operations, but too few.
We are inclined to say educational standards are good enough, because they are better than some other countries.
I heard someone say recently that crime rates have been improving, as though averaging more than one murder a week is something we should all be relaxed about.
Well I'm not. National has never been a party that thinks mediocrity is good enough, nor will it be under my leadership. As a boy, I had high aspirations for myself, and as a politician, I have high aspirations for my country.
Building our nation's confidence, instilling a real pride and a sense of what it is that binds us together as New Zealanders, striving for excellence, and ensuring we use our past successes as a bridge to even greater achievements, will be paramount should National become the government.
If you are looking for a guide to my political philosophy then I suggest you look no further than the core values and principles of the National Party.
Personal freedom, individual responsibility, a competitive economy, and support for families and communities are the very principles under which the party was formed 70 years ago, and they are as relevant today as they were then.
Individual policies – those that deliver on the core values and principles – will of course be specific to each generation as our nation changes and as the challenges we face change.
To not do so would argue that what worked in 1976 will be just as effective in 2006, and for a variety of reasons I doubt this is so.
What you can be assured of is that our policies will always be measured against our core principles. Let me be also clear that I make no excuses for saying those polices will be harvested from wherever we see the best results being achieved.
I am interested in what works, and not what should, or could, or might work in theory.
I do not intend to blindly follow an ideological path without ever challenging the concept or considering its appropriateness in our unique New Zealand setting.
And New Zealand is unique. That is quite clear. Our peoples are unique and our environment is unique.
While there is only one New Zealand, it is made up of people from many backgrounds. There are people whose parents, or grandparents, or great-great-grandparents came from Europe, from the islands of the Pacific, from Asia, from all around the globe, together with the indigenous people of this country.
The National Party will always believe in one standard of citizenship and I want to make this very clear to you today.
Yet within that standard of citizenship we should celebrate the cultural, religious and ethnic differences we all bring to New Zealand.
Maori are the tangata whenua of this country, and we have nothing to fear by acknowledging that. It is part of what makes New Zealand unique.
I welcome the Maori renaissance, and some of the great initiatives like the kohanga reo movement which have come from Maori, for Maori.
It is encouraging to see Maori using the resources they have to help address the obstacles that are standing in the way of their own young people achieving their potential.
It is in the interests of no one, and to the shame of us all, that an under-class has been allowed to develop in New Zealand. This under-class is represented by all ethnic backgrounds, and when I talk about lifting people's sights, I am talking about all New Zealanders.
It is not the New Zealand way, and if left to fester it will impinge upon us all. My party is deadly serious about addressing these issues.
As I just said, we have a unique people and a unique environment.
When I left university, if anyone had heard of global warming they were keeping it to themselves. Now, no one with any awareness of the world can be ignorant of it.
It is a mystery to me why the political Left acts as if it has a monopoly on environmental policies, when it is obvious to anyone who cares to look that all of us, across the political spectrum, with the exception perhaps of the Greens, have taken too long to put the protection of our environment at the forefront of our thinking.
That needs to change. In the National Party we have taken steps to do this, and we will be taking more steps.
I hope this gives you a brief overview of some of the core principles that motivate me as Leader of the National Party.
There is much, much more to come, and I relish the challenge of building the policies and vision that will help create for New Zealand a more dynamic future.

This is a well crafted speech by John Key. Probrably one of the best in recent New Zealand Political history. It was what I expected from John Key and more. It sets out his strategy for the National Party, which is centrist, but also sets out the distinctives of the National Party. I suspect that we will see John Key using his card of poor boy to rich man a few times before the election. But he will have to be careful not to use this too often otherwise it will lose its gloss. He might not use it at all as people could become suspicious about his exploitation of this quality.

I'm happy that he has moved back to the centre. He sounds a lot more appealing and a lot less devisive than Brash did, especially on Race and Welfare. I suspect that National will end up cozing up to the Maori Party in the long term. I'm still sceptical about what the environmental policy will entail.

It looks like that John Key wants to move New Zealand forward. Creating a Society that is economically prosperous, culturally vibrant and cares and stewards the country its given wisely. I look forward to see the policy that the National Party comes out with in the coming years

Monday, November 27, 2006

Craig Stories

One of the guys craig who was staying with us up in Auckland is one of the most funny guys i've ever met. He's a loose cannon and a pretty laid back guy to hang around with.

Ok, he offered us a ride back from the U2 concert to annabels house. The only thing he forgot to organise was space in his van to take us and a designated sober driver. So we ended up pilling into a car, with a driver who we beleived was sober, and drove back, hoping not to get stopped as we would have been so busted!

The Second story is related to the first. We were supposed to wait for one of Craigs mates Dan, but craig decided that Dan was taking so long, so we went back home. At four o'clock in the morning he got a call from his mate (waking me up, which nearly forced me to punch to guy.) We latter found out that Dan had gone to meet craig at Auckland airport, managed to walk in a southwest direction and ended up somewhere in Manakua and then had decided to walk the other way back to the airport. He had been walking for like six hours and was picked up in the morning by craig.

Craig is hillariously disorganised, another case can be seen in the fact that he had two surfboards. He was going to go and "surf" at Piha where there were three meter swells. The only problem with his bright Idea is that he cant surf and he has no fins on his board so he was going to have no balance or ability to steer whatsoever. So he was going to have a lot of fun wipping out constantly!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

U2 One Tree Hill Auckland November 24th 2006

The U2 Concert - "A Beautiful Day"

After waiting nine months I finally got to go to the concert of the year. The U2 concert at ericson stadium. With 11 others we hurried ourselves into a taxi and headed off to ericson to see one of the biggest bands play the most anticipated concert of the year. I have got to say they didn't dissapoint.

The concert started off with one of the biggest reactions I have seen from the crowd I have ever seen. There was an air of anticipation within the crowd. The crowd eagerly awaited the band, entertaining themselves through mexican waves. When one of the sound crew came onto the stage and played a chord on the Edges guitar the crowd went crazy with excitement. 5 Minutes later the entry music came on, the crowd went crazy again, the lights went down and we all knew the show was about to start.

The Band came on and played city of blinding lights. From then on I realised why these guys are one of the most popular bands in the world. The set is just astounding, and the lighting was amazing. I have never seen such an amazing set in my life.

Our group, which had arrived later than anticipated (7:30) still managed to get a good view of the band, and even when you couldn't get a view of Bono, the Edge and the other guys, we could see them on the big screen.

The Stand out performers in the Band are Bono and the Edge. They still give thier all in the performances. It seems to me that the other two (Larry Mullin Jr and Adam Clayton) are in it just its a good source of income, and without them U2 wouldn't exist and they seem to be really good mates as well.

Bono shined through the whole performance. He has a really passion for what he does and to me seems like a genuine character. His passion for Peace and social Justice and seeing a better world shines through. His campaigns for making poverty history and aids and everything else are awesome. He genuinely wants to make the world a better place. In Pride (in the name of love) there was a part where the show showed the international convention of human rights and it had a kid talking over the top. For me this was the one of the most emotional parts in the show, as I realised how far we still need to go. I thought about where it said that everyone has the right not to be enslaved, and realised how far we still need to go to achieve the removal of systems that enslave people and create oppression. In many ways I play a part in reinforcing these systems and it made me cry and think of what I can do to change that.

During Lov and Peace Bono put on a blindfold, started lighting sparklers and fireworks and was handing the sparklers out to the crowd. Bono then went and banged hard on the drums and then the band started to play sunday bloody sunday. When Sunday Bloody Sunday played, I was basically stamping My feet shouting and punching my fist in the air. Its funny, becuase this song has become more of an anthem to acheiving peace and tolerance, and fighting for peace and tolerance, rather than taking the violent way out (something you wish the ulster unionists would realise before trying to blow up parliament a couple of days ago!) The Other two songs that I found the most emotionally stirring numbers were One Tree Hill - the song written for thier Friend Greg Caroll who died in a car accident, and Sometimes You can't Make it on Your Own, a song Bono didicated to his father, Brendon Robert Hewson, who died in 2001.

The Concert for me was a really refreshing time. I enjoyed screaming my head off and singing some of my favourites songs in the world. The set list was a good mix of newer songs and older numbers. I was really glad to go. The only song that really dissapointed me was The Fly, which is one of my favourite songs by U2, but it didn't sound as good live. I was so happy I didn't miss this concert. It was awesome!

The Next Morning when we woke up, the youngest member of the group got a call from her friends. From the phone call it sounded like the caller needed reassurances. The response from the girl was "Everything Will be Alright, Your going to U2!" Very cute response!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Jesus I Never Knew Review

The Jesus I Never Knew – Book Review

Rediscovering the man Jesus in the Gospel is something that as a Christian I constantly seem to have to do, put behind my preconceptions and past impressions of Christ and look at him once again afresh. In Philip Yanceys The Jesus I Never Knew, I found a fresh rousing rendition of who Jesus is in ways that I have previously not understood. Yancey portrays to his readers a Jesus which is not as easy to pin down as many have come to conceive him and view him. Philip Yancey Portrays Jesus in a way that is radical and shows the radicalism of Jesus’ mission, life, death and resurrection. He does not let his past preconceptions tame who Jesus is, but allows his discoveries challenge himself and his readership to live in a different way.

It very much seems to me that Yancey writes from a journalist’s perspective. He wants to get some answers to the questions he has. He wants to discover who Jesus is and find out the truth from the scene of the crime. It is a very personal story of discovering who Jesus was and what Jesus means to Yancey now. Yancey has both shared in and rebelled against churches which have portrayed Jesus in different light to the reality. He is a recovered racist, fundamentalist etcetera who has wrestled with God. Many of the books he has written have been about his own disappointment with God – for example Where is God When it Huts?, and Disappointment with God this. Out of it you come challenged to learn more about Jesus and to apply Jesus’ teaching in your own life.’ I found the writing of Philip Yancey honest and refreshing. Last year I did a paper on Jesus and the Gospels and the Kingdom of God. As much as this was good, I found the Yancey’s book a lot less state than the academic study of Jesus I did at university. As much as I found the Jesus I read about last year was challenging, I found reading about Jesus in The Jesus I Never Knew even more compelling and more challenging than some of my past academic study.

I realised through this book how much more I need to find out about my saviour and Lord, I learned more about his radicalism and his radical message. I realised that my attempt to put Jesus in a box many a times through my systematic is probably not the best thing to do. Containing Jesus is not the thing to do. Its funny the things that Philip Yancey says about God and Jesus continue to shock and challenge my thinking. Some of the things that Yancey says seem incredibly heretical when you first read them, and then you understand they have an aspect of truth to them that you didn’t earlier realise about God. I picked up new and challenging ideas about God and the character of God through reading this book.

My favourite parts of the book were on the incarnation and on the Sermon on the Mount. In Yancey’s reflections on Jesus’ birth into the world I again began to marvel at the fact that God became man and lived on earth. God took a risk in becoming human. I found Yanceys insights into the incarnation of God very revealing.

I enjoy Philip Yancey’s mix of allegory, personal experience, biblical reflections, and dead guy’s reflections; it makes for an enjoyable reading and diverse experience. I particularly liked his reflections on the sermon of the mount. Like many he has struggled with the radical message of the sermon of the mount. I myself have struggled with the teaching and message that Jesus gives. Both because it is radical, and I don’t know how it plays out all the time, and I am continually challenged to play it out in my own. Philip Yancey devotes a lot of time talking about Jesus’ teaching. He talks about the truths behind both the ethical teaching and the blessing that he has seen on those peoples lives who live out the sermon.

As usual Philip Yancey devotes a large amount of time on his favourite subject. That is, grace, linking it to the issues behind the sermon of the mount. He believes that we can never fully follow the strict ethical teaching we find in the Sermon on the Mount. I think he is probably right in some ways. He talks about Tolstoy, a man who became obsessed with his inability to fulfil Jesus’ ethical teaching. The man tried to promote peace, but his own temper stopped that from being possible in his own life. Though his treatises on the sermon of the mount have inspired both Martin Luther King and Ghandi’s own pacifism and have seen the world changed in amazing ways. Both through Ghandi’s establishment of a free Indian Nation-State, and Martin Luther Kings fight for civil rights in America. Tolstoy himself obsessed over this fact, and fell into depression and sorrow because of this. He failed to realise that at the end of the day, we have to fall back on grace. We are not perfect yet, and because of that we have to rely on the love and goodness of God. We strive to build the kingdom, live in a way that honours God, which is shown through the sermon on the mount and many other passages in the bible, so that Gods Kingdom will be established on this earth.

I must admit that I found this an enjoyable and refreshing read. Yancey is very graceful in his writing, and I found the book challenging, and it God me thinking about a lot of stuff again. I don’t want to constrain Jesus, or put God into a box, because I don’t agree with that part of the character of God or Jesus. I still want to be challenged, to come and know my saviour and friend more fully. I want to have my heart broken by the things that broke the heart of Jesus. I want to be fired up against Sin, injustice, poverty, destruction of the environment, pain in people’s lives ecetera. I want to honour God and live to see his kingdom established on earth.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Time Magazines Interview with Katherine Jefferts Schori – A Response

The Episcopal Church Movement has elected Katherine Jefferts Schori as the new national leader for the Episcopal Church in America. I have numbers of problems with her appointment to the position, mainly for her support of the consecration of a Gay Bishop and for what she has recently said on Jesus not being the only way to heaven

In an interview with Time Magazine when asked “Is Belief the only way to get to heaven?” She Replied:

“We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in others way is, I think, to put God in an awfully small Box.”

Ok, I’m sorry to say this but that is just bollocks! Yes Jesus is the only way to heaven, and not because I say so but because it says so in the Bible, its not just in one place which is proof text, but is throughout the Bible.

John 3:16-21
John 14:6
John 10:7-10
John: 6:35-40
Acts 4:12
These are only a few places where it is said

Ah, if it is a small box that God is in, than its God who put himself into that box, not Humans. If there are many ways to God, then why did Jesus have to die on the cross for our sins? Couldn’t we just rely on Karma, and hope for the best that we have lived well in this life and we won’t come back as a fly or something else in our next life. I’m sorry but it just doesn’t work.

Christ says:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life and the life; no one gets to the father except through me” John 14:6

I don’t know what Schori is thinking but it seems she’s spent too much time reading “The 101 reasons why Universalism is the Shizz” instead of reading the Bible and finding out the 101 reasons why Universalism is a fraud and is going to lead you down the road to hell.

On another angle, I feel totally sorry for those within the Anglican Church who love God, and who want to see the Kingdom of God built on earth. Particularly the churches in developing nations, who know God and know the hardships of living out the faith in places where they are persecuted and risk life and limb for the truth of the Gospel. It undermines the Gospel, and the good work they are doing when others within the greater body are going off on the wrong track, preaching things that are wrong and are not biblical.

Another Problem I found with Schori is that throughout the whole interview with Time she only mentions Jesus once and that is not even that impressive. When asked “What will be your focus as head of the U.S. church?” She Replied:

“Our Focus needs to be on feeding people who go to be hungry, on providing primary education to girls and boys, on healing people with AIDS, on addressing tubuculosis and malaria, on sustainable development. That ought to be the primary focus”

Ok, don’t get me wrong, these are all great things, and as a Christian I believe that we should be passionate for social justice and helping improve peoples lot in life, But! But! But!

Where’s Jesus in this mission?

It seems that Schori and others have turned the Episcopal church in America into a liberal social club, rather than a group that puts Christ as their first priority and all the teaching of Christ and the Apostles in place (which does include caring for the sick and the needy). In the last couple of years the church leadership of the Episcopal movement also voted down a declaration that “Jesus is Lord” 70% to 30% because saying that type of stuff is not inclusive or ‘loving’ enough. If they keep on going like this, making poor theological discions; there are either two things are going to happen, the Episcopal church in America is going to split between those who proclaim Jesus is Lord and those who want to be inclusive, whatever goes, hippies, or the Episcopal church will die a long painful death because it fails to acknowledge Jesus as Lord, and the leadership of the church will be judged by God harshly for their decisions and poor teaching.

It seems to me that many in the Episcopal movement’s leadership see Liberal social objectives A what the kingdom of the God means, but the reality is that it is much bigger than just liberal social objectives. As Gary Shavey writes in another article about similar problems in the emerging church movement:“If one leaves out Jesus there really is no redemptive value or even purpose in Kingdom of God.” Jesus’ Life and teaching and mission is where all our further mission and action should flow from, it is our cornerstone. Anything else leads to shaky ground, shaky theology and bad decisions

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Missions – A Glimpse of Heaven

I got an Email from one of my Russian Brothers in Christ on Thursday. It was awesome to receive an email from him as I had not heard from him in ages and I was having a really bad day and feeling kind of depressed. Anyway, in this email he said to me what he believes was the best moment together in Russia

You know the moment of that I remember best of all, when we were worshiping God together on the river bank in Ashan.

I have to agree with him on this. Worshiping God together in Ashan was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I treasure the friendships I have with the Russians and the time I have spent with them and keep on praying for them and the journeys God is leading them on. Anyway back onto repeating this story.

For the first couple of days at Ashan, I suffered from not having any language and found the worship times really hard as the songs were in Russian and I couldn’t read the Russian Language at all ( I still can’t read Russian that much and my Russian is Ploika). Anyway at one of the worship sessions in Russia I had an epiphany. I realised that we could worship God and that it could cut past the cultural barrier. Especially with the songs that were translated in English to Russian or the really fun simple songs like the la la la la la song. It showed us what we had in common. I came to realise that in worshiping we were participating in a version of heaven on earth. In The reason is that we were both from two different countries, backgroundss, languages, and we were worshipping the same God. This for me this is a glimpse of what heaven will be like. In Revelations it says

Then they sang a new song, "You are worthy to receive the scroll and open its seals, because you were killed. And with your own blood you bought for God people from every tribe, language, nation, and race.
(Rev 5:9)

Mission has the aim of bringing “the nations into the white hot enjoyment of God's glory.” (John Piper) In many ways I felt that this was one of the most spiritual moments of my life. Its funny because many would see the times which are sensationalised, quite overdone. But for me it was the occasion where I discovered a profound truth. Seeing what the aim is of our life is on earth. To see people come to know Jesus, worshiping for him and living for him passionately.

Something else about heaven, we are going to see the end of hate, pain, suffering war. Imagine it. Peace will be finally achieved between once warring tribes. Hutus and Tutsis, Irish Catholics and Protestants, etc, etc, will be worshiping the same God in heaven. They will at last get past their differences, and actually get to see the similarities between one enough (they both know God, and have been changed by his love and grace.)

When I went back to Russia this year, one of the things I really looked forward to was the times of worship. Because of the glimpse of heaven I was able to see in these times.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Vocational Aptitude Tests - Jesus' Disciples

I stole this from someone else. I think its pretty cool.

It seems to me that God likes to choose people who seem useless so he can show how awesome his power is. He doesn't need people who have been well trained, highly skilled, with perfect speach and reason. All he needs are people who are willing to say "I want to be you hands and your feet and I will go where you send me," He does the rest! We aren't expected to be perfect, but we are expected to go out into the world and show people the love of God.

TO: Jesus, Son of Joseph, Woodcrafters Carpenter Shop, Nazareth
FROM: Jordan Management Consultants, Jerusalem

Dear Sir,Thank you for submitting the resumes for the twelve men that you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests, and we not only run the test through our computer, but also arranged for personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultants. The profiles of all test are included, and you'll want to study each of the carefully.As part of our services for your guidance, we make some general comments. It is the staff's opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education, and vocational aptitudes for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capabilities.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers--James and John--the sons of Zebedee, place personal interests above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel it our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He's the man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Escariot as your comptroller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.

Sincerely, Jordan Management Consultants

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hard to Believe Review

I was not looking forward to reading John McArthurs Hard to Believe when it was given to me by Sym, and it has proved to be quite a frustrating book to read. For numbers of reasons. But it also had numerous good points about it.

Reading this book I was reminded with a point from some Americans evangelising in New Zealand through campus crusade. This book is written to a particular audience and to a particular situation. It is written into a culture, particularly the America where going to church in many states equals a way of life. Particularly those who go along to church do it because it is part of the culture and they do not know what it means to be a true Christian. It is written also written as no-nonsense response to those who try to water down the gospel and make it more acceptable to society, and keep numbers of church attendance up. Those who teach that the if you have Jesus all will be well and good. The reality is much different. As a Christian you will be persecuted, you will be forced to live a life of self-denial and change how you live.

The awesome thing about John McArthur is his commitment to the Gospel and teaching the Gospel. He has amazing bible knowledge and that he contends for the gospel with such force. He is uncompromising in his approach, and believes that there is only one way to heaven. He knows so much, and is a great expositor of the bible. I have met few people who have knowledge of the bible like him and can explain what the bible meansin such an authorative way. John McArthur is right to say Christianity is a hard path. It costs much to be a Christian and to live passionately for Jesus Christ.

But I have a number of Issues with John McArthurs book…

Even though I believe that there is only one way to heaven through Jesus Christ. I think that John McArthur ‘narrow’ doorway into the Kingdom means that the eye of the needle has shrunk even smaller than what Jesus was talking about. He seems to have shrunk the eye of a needle to a pinprick. I think this results from the fact that it seems that he makes it sound like if you are still sinner than you cannot be a Christian. While he does not underestimate the total depravity of humanity, I sometimes think John McArthur underestimates total goodness and the grace of God. I found it very interesting in his example of John the Baptist he excluded the piece if the story in which the uncompromising man of God doubted that Jesus was the Lord he had been proclaiming throughout his ministry that the Messiah would come and declared that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus got a message from John saying "Are you the one we should be looking for? Or must we wait for someone else?" (Matt 11:3) John even though he had spent so much time declaring the message that the messiah had come had become discouraged in prison, he needed reassurance that Jesus was lord. Jesus gracefully replied and reassured him Jesus answered, "Go and tell John what you have heard and seen. The blind are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People with leprosy are being healed, and the deaf can hear.The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. God will bless everyone who doesn't reject me because of what I do." (Matt 11:4-5) John was a prophet and the greatest prophet in the scriptures, he had spent his life preaching and prophesying, but he was also human, and was prone to doubt. Even though it seems he was a very spirit filled and spirit led man. John’s humanity reveals that there are no superhumans, we all needs Gods grace as much as the other and rely on the saving love of God, no matter what.

I think that is what the book by John McArthur lacks, for all its worth, is grace. It talks a lot about the hard road of the Gospel, and this is important, as many people leave this part out, but talking about the struggle of faith and living as a Christian without talking about grace does a disservice to the bible. I think it is as bad as sugar-coating the Gospel. The Gospel has a whole other side that he does not talk about in this book. All the humans in the bible have their struggles with doubts and sin. All the men of faith had their limps, and things that they could look on and not be proud of in their Journeys through their lives. Look at Paul, the greatest missionary whoever lived and writer of many of the letters we find in the New Testament who said the he was the worst of all sinners (1 Tim 1:15). I would like to see John McArthur saying how he has struggled, and continues to struggle to get it right. Because I know I still sin, I hate it, and I struggle with it constantly. I still doubt, and have issues with my faith. But I know through the grace of God that I’m saved, and I live passionately to see his will done on earth. I want people to come to know God, and fall in love with him and follow his will on earth. I believe that Jesus is lord and I will contend for that passionately no matter the cost.

I want to end on a better note; this book is challenging and was making me think through the whole reading of it. It challenged me to know my bible, and to learn more scripture, and to spend more time with God. It challenged me to have a heart for the gospel and spreading it throughout the world and live passionately and see that Gods will is done on this earth. I just want to do it in a way that doesn't compromise the Gospel, shows compassion and is relevant to the situation I live in. I don't beleive that is a sin.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Who said Body Piercing was a Sin?

Discipleship and Faith

Lately I've been really challenged on how I live as a christian. I beleive that Jesus Christ is lord of my life and that he died for my sin and I want to live a life that puts him in the drivers seat of my life. For me this means a number of important things.

1) I want to reach out to those around me. Proclaiming the truth of the Gospel with my words and my actions.

2) I want to see people catching the fire that I have for the Gospel.

Both points are important for me, and frankly at times I'm crap at both these thing.

In my cell group tonight, one person asked why people did not seem to be doing anything in thier lives. I became very self-righteous in my thought and thought to my-self "Maybe they should think about whether they are a christian or not".

I then realised that maybe this wasn't the right response. Considering how lacking I can be on this point myself. I can be rather timid at times in how I share the Gospel.

We were talking about this and it occured to me that there was a solution for this plight I was having. It is that instead of sitting on my ass, being Judgemental, it is better to solve the problem. When we someone struggling along in thier faith we should be there to help our brother or sister out. We should be willing to pray, to listen, offer guidance and if when suitable rebuke.

God wants us to be teaching one another, sharing in the lives of those around us. We are not individuals on the journey. We are a community of beleivers, sharing in the same goal, to see people come to know Jesus.

I know when I've shared my struggles with others and they have offered me advice I have seen change in growth. The challenge for me in the comming while is to be proactive and available for those around me who are struggling. I want to see people grow closer to God, to love him more passionately, to come into deeper relationship with Jesus, and live for him with enthusaism. This can only be done by spending time with people, praying for them, and being an example of christ to those God gives me spiritual responsibility for. This is a challenging road and one that can not be taken lightly.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fossilized CD Release Party

My Brother Joshua's Band (Fossilized) is having a CD Release Party
It is on the 28 October 2006 at 7.30 PM
@ the Wesley Church Old Hall Taranamki St
Tickets are $4 for entry and $15 for entry and CD
They also have an EP for sale for $5

Come, They are a great band with awesome talent!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Parachute Artists 2006

The Last Artists for 2006 have just been released

They are
Thousand Foot Krutch.

Followed By
Third Day, Falling Up. Rebecca St James, Hawk Nelson, Shawn McDonald. Also kiwi bands Detour180 & The Lads, Nesian Mystic and Spacifix

Sounds like an ok lineup. But I'm dissappointed neither Switchfoot or Pillar are coming

The Petition just keeps growing

Since I blogged Yesterday the online petition agianst labours validating legislation has increased to 27683 people and is the fastest growing online petition in the world which is truly astounding for a country of only four million people!

This again shows how arrogant labour was for passing this legislation without going through the right channels.

It also shows how democratic New Zealanders, and the desire they have to see the democratic system of New Zealand upheld

Paul Jesus and Christian Ethics

This Is an essay I wrote for my Pauline Theology Paper. Tell me what you think.

Living an ethical or ‘good’ life is an important issue for Christians today. Many Christians look to the life and death of Jesus to find an example of how they live their life, but often in churches, it is not Jesus’ teaching that Christians are being taught, but the writings of Paul and his interpretation of Jesus’ teaching. An important question needs to be asked: are Christians following the teaching of Jesus or are Christians inadvertently following Paul’s Christian beliefs and practice, which could be completely different from what Jesus originally intended? In my essay I discuss this issue making reference to both the maximalist and minimalist readings of Paul’s epistles and come to the conclusion that Paul knows of Jesus Christ’s life and teachings. I then discuss possible allusions to the life and teaching of Jesus Christ in the writing of Paul, with reference to Paul’s ethical teaching in Romans 12:9-21 and the hymnal material in Philippians 2:6-11. I then discuss how Paul deals with the issue of the law and how he uses the Christ Event to show that this fulfils the requirements of the law, and argue that for Paul the will of God is fulfilled by living a life that conforms to the image of Christ – it is a life which is cruciform – self sacrificial and loving. I argue then that the only way that a Christian can live an ethical life is by the saving love of Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit working in their life to conform them to the image of Christ.

The range of opinion on whether or not Jesus’ teaching influenced Paul’s thought falls across a massive continuum. Some scholars have tended towards maximising Paul’s knowledge of Jesus, while others have tended towards minimising Paul’s knowledge of Jesus. Rudolf Bultman in particular has argued that Paul knew little about the historical Jesus.[1] Bultman argues that Paul was more concerned with the fact that Jesus actually existed rather than what Jesus actually said and did.[2] Bultman bases his argument on the fact that Paul hardly ever refers to the historical life of Jesus and there is hardly any mention of the pre-Easter teaching of Jesus in Paul’s writing. Paul refers directly to Jesus’ teaching only six times, three of which are not mentioned in the Gospels (1 Cor 7:25; 14:37; 1 Thess 4:15-17). Another is concerned with the words of the Lord’s Supper and was probably learned from a Eucharist tradition of the church (1 Cor 11:23-25). The other two concern Christian divorce and payment of Christian ministers (1 Cor 7:1-11; 9:14), which could have come from early church ethical teaching rather than Paul’s personal knowledge of Jesus’ teaching.[3] Paul also fails to use direct references to Jesus’ teaching in many cases where it could have been used to persuade people to his point of view. Because Paul doesn’t make reference to Jesus in these arguments it has been argued that Paul was ignorant of Jesus’ teaching. The third argument is that in the light of the event on the road to Damascus, Paul did not need to know about the historical Jesus as he had received the gospel “through a revelation of Jesus Christ”, and as a result Paul did not need to consult with human beings about the revelation of Jesus Christ.[4]
In light of the minimalists’ claims that Paul knew little about the historical Jesus, the maximalists have argued with evidence from Paul’s epistles and Luke’s Acts of the Apostles that Paul was concerned with knowing Christ and living the example set by Christ and he wanted his own church members to follow Christ’s example. In several passages, Paul claims to “imitate the Lord.” (1 Cor 11:1; 1 Thess 1:6, 2 Thess 3:7-9) To imitate someone was the highest form of praise in antiquity. When Paul was a Pharisee, he would have strove to imitate his master, Gamaliel. After his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul strove to imitate his Lord, Jesus Christ[5] – it is hard to imitate someone if you know nothing about them. Paul’s knowledge of Jesus’ teaching is hard to pin down, but we can glean some points from his own epistles and from Acts. As a Pharisee, he knew enough of Jesus’ life and teaching to conclude that Jesus was an apostate and his followers needed to be suppressed (Gal 1:13-14; Phil 3:5; 1 Cor 15:9, Acts 7:58; 8:1-3; 23:6; 25:5). After his conversion, Paul spent a considerable amount of time in the Church at Damascus (Gal 1:17-18, Acts 9:19-25), presumably spending time learning from other Christians about their beliefs and faith and soaking up their traditions. Later Paul became a member of the community in Antioch, which was founded by refugees from the Hellenistic wing of the Jerusalem church, who would have brought knowledge of Jesus’ teaching. Three years after his conversion Paul had a fifteen day visit with Peter, the lead disciple of Jesus, and Jesus’ brother James (Gal 1:18-19). The conversation would have involved Paul trying find out about the historical Jesus.[6] Paul then used the tradition that he had learned about Jesus and interpreted it for the situation that he was writing to. Paul lived in a different situation than Jesus; he taught to a mainly Hellenistic cosmopolitan community made up of people from all social classes, while Jesus taught to a Jewish audience and his ministry was mostly focused on those based on the social margins. As a result, Paul had to interpret Jesus’ life and teaching in a way that was relevant to the community of believers he taught. [7]

There are a number of places in the writing of Paul where we can read between the lines and see allusions or echoes to the ethical teaching of Jesus. One in particular is Romans 12:9-21. In Romans 12:9-21, Paul explains in a set of short, concise phrases what types of attitudes a Christian should expound.[8] Paul’s teaching and exhortations are not only influenced by the Old Testament and other Jewish teachings, but also the life and teaching of Jesus. Paul believes that the best way to deal with the disunity in the Roman church is to appeal to Jewish scriptures as his foundation, but also to show how the actions of Jesus fulfil the requirements of the Jewish scriptures and the will of God.
Throughout Romans 12:9-21 the ideal of Agape (sacrificial love) is central to Paul’s teaching and ethics (cf. Gal 5:6; Rom 13:10; 1 Cor 13).[9] It was also central to Jesus’ teaching as can be seen by Jesus’ infamous reiteration of Lev. 19:18. Paul himself believed that the death of Jesus on the cross was the supreme example of Jesus’ love for humanity (Gal.2:20).[10] Paul believed that sacrificial love is central to Jesus’ teaching because it fulfils the law and is also the solution to pride and hypocrisy. In Jesus’ teaching, he told his opponents to stop looking at their outward appearance as a sign of their holiness, but to look at the inward condition of their hearts.[11] In Matthew 7:5 and Luke 6:42, the hypocrite condemns his neighbour and their shortcomings, but fails to notice his own shortcomings or do anything about them.[12] Paul did not want the Roman Christians arguing between one another about who was the most holy but wanted them to realise their dependence on each other, serving and showing the love of God in their actions (Mk. 3:35//Mt. 12:50//Lk. 8:21). The believer is to be a humble servant to their fellow followers in the body of Christ.[13] Paul’s teaching can be linked to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 23:12 and Luke 14:11, for example.[14]
Romans 12:12 and its call to persevere in suffering can also be closely linked to Jesus’ life and teaching. For example it is closely linked to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:12, as well as in Matthew 10:22; 24:13 and Mark 13:13. This teaching is rooted in the story of Jesus life (Mt. 5:12) and his death on the cross, and the experiences of early Christian apostles who took joy in their suffering because it was the will of God (cf. Acts 6:17-42).[15] Paul’s final comments in this section on ethical teaching deal with Christians participating in the needs of the saints and being hospitable to strangers. This can be echoed in Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:35: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Hospitality was an important virtue in antiquity: Jesus himself had relied on it in his itinerant mission, and he had commended hospitality and a model of divine generosity that his followers should follow (Mk. 2:15-17; Mt. 11:19//Lk.7:34; Lk.14:1-24). Christians are to be kind to neighbours and to strangers, showing them the love of Christ, and providing for their needs.
Loving one’s enemies is also linked to Jesus’ ethical teaching being deeply imbedded in the synoptic tradition (Lk. 6:27; Mt. 5:44). But Paul bases his teaching as much on the Old Testament tradition as on Jesus’ teaching, quoting Deuteronomy 32:35 and Proverbs 12:20 in Romans 12:19. This is because the idea of loving one’s enemies as a common theme throughout the Old Testament scriptures (Ex 23:4-5, 1 Kgs 3:11; Prov. 7:14; 34;17-18,19, Lev. 19:17-18,34; Deut. 10:18-19 and Jonah). The main reason for doing this is to show the reliance of Christian ethics on the Old Testament and that their fulfilment is found in Jesus’ life and death.[16] However, the verses Romans 15-16 particularly take a radical step further than the Old Testament. Paul tells the Roman believers that it is their obligation to bless and show love and compassion for their enemies, and share in their joys and in their sorrows[17] – they are to repay evil with good, and in the process show God’s righteous, loving, merciful character in their actions.
Paul’s teaching on Christian behaviour does not make explicit reference to Jesus. But it could be that Jesus’ example is implied in these scripture, and there is evidence that Jesus’ teaching influenced Paul’s thought and teaching in Romans. Indeed, David Wenham has found Romans 12:17-20 and Matthew 5:38-43 to be very similar, showing that Paul is interpreting Jesus’ ‘new Pentateuch’ in a way that would fit the situation of the Roman believers. Wenham has argued that these passages are both dependent on a pre-synoptic dominical tradition that is also found in Mathew and Luke.[18] James Dunn argues that the fact that it is later followed by the command in Romans 13:14 to “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” confirms that Paul is referring to the life example and teaching of Jesus Christ and that Paul wants the Roman Christians to conform to the image of Jesus Christ.[19] The solution to the Romans’ division is to “put on” the characteristics of Christ, showing love to one another.
Another example of Paul linking his ethical teaching to the example of Christ is in the hymnal material of Philippians 2:6-11. Paul uses Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as an example of how to live an ethical life in a hostile environment, and also to encourage the Philippian community. Paul explains that when Jesus took on human form, he did not hold onto his rights, but gave up his exalted place in heaven and took on the image of a servant when he came to earth.[20] Jesus humbled himself, and rather than believing that he had the right to give orders he took orders and became obedient to the will of God while he was on earth. For Paul, death is not a personalised power that Christ is subject to, but is the extent to which Christ went to be obedient to God.[21] The example of Christ is used to explain the way the Philippians should act toward their persecutors and toward one another. The believers should be unified, not fighting within each other, and should be of one mind living together in selfless unity.[22] Paul urges the Philippian Christians to put on the virtue of humility – shown by the precedent set by Christ (cf. 2:5). The Philippians should give up all partisanship and conceit, and become humble servants, not obedient to their own will, but conforming to the will and image of Christ. [23] In Philippians 2:12 Paul then reminds the Philippians of their past obedience, and asks them to continue to obey. Through their obedience the Philippian community will fulfil the will of God, and will be vindicated from their suffering, just as Christ was, and bring glory to God.[24]

For Paul, humans can not become righteous through their own efforts; it is only through Christ’s saving act on the cross that humanity can begin the process of being transformed to the image of Christ. Humanity is totally reliant on Christ and the cross to change. This can be seen in Romans, where there is a significant link between Romans 6, which talks about the importance of the saving act of Christ, and Romans 12, Paul’s ethical teaching.[25] Paul holds a pessimistic view of humanity. In Romans 3:9 he concludes that 'all men, both Jews and Gentiles, are under the power of sin’. (cf. 6:6,20; 7:14). The way of Adam – and all humanity – is bondage to the power of sin and thus living in disobedience to God.[26] Paul had realised from his own life as a Pharisee that the law does not ensure freedom from sin. Paul’s zeal to follow the law led him to become a persecutor of the church (Phil. 3:6; Gal. 1:13) and thus led him to act against the will of God.[27] For Paul, liberation from sin and fulfilment of the will of God is only made possible through the Christ Event. The coming of Christ proves to be a turning point in history; Christians are no longer slaves to the old order of sin and the flesh, but live in the new era of relationship with Christ in the Spirit, living a life of love and conforming to the image of Christ. (Rom. 8:4; 12:8-10; Gal. 5:14).[28] The heart of Romans 12:1-2 is to see the Roman Christians not conformed to the image in the present world and their old life, but transformed by the renewal of their minds to the image of Christ, so that they might fulfil God’s perfect will.[29]

Dealing with the question of the law and its relation to Christian ethics is vital to Paul. Paul’s main concern is to make Gentile inclusion in the Christian community possible and free Jews from the bondage of the law (1 Cor 9:20-21).[30] Paul’s view is that the law of God that was given by Moses was an expression of the will of God. The problem with the law is that it was never given to produce righteousness, but was given to reveal humanity’s reliance on God, and convict them of their sin.[31] But with the death and resurrection of Christ, and the coming of Spirit – which produces love and obedience in the heart of the believer – there is no need to live according to the Mosaic law, but a call to live a life in accordance with the ‘Law of Christ’ (Gal 6:2). The Christian no longer lives by the letter of the Mosaic law, but by the fruit of the Spirit.[32] The fruits are given to Christians by the spirit of God, and their purpose is the edification and service of others (1 Cor 12:7; 14:1-5).[33] The Spirit to Paul is the Spirit of Jesus and the fruit of the Spirit is above all love.[34] The law of Christ is fulfilled by living a life in which the Christian serves and loves his neighbour self-sacrificially – conforming to the image of Christ.[35] The law implies that for a person to be declared righteous they need only to fulfil the standard - but this is not love. Love is an action, not a formula that must be fulfilled and achieved.[36] The question is not how well you fulfil a set of standards, but how your heart responds to God’s righteousness. The heart of the Christian responds to the love shown to them by God, giving themselves and living their life in obedience to God and conformity with Christ, guided by the Spirit, it is not a grudging acceptance of a set of moral precepts.[37]

For Paul, Christian ethics and Christian spirituality are ultimately linked as it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that Christians can be transformed. Calling oneself a Christian does not rely on one’s theological positions or ritual initiation such as baptism, but the manifest presence of the Spirit of God (Gal. 3:1-5).[38] Everyone who is in Christ is possessed by the Spirit and life in Christ is only possible by the Spirit (1 Cor 23:1-7; Rom.8:9b).[39] In Galatians Paul tells the congregation that they are to “walk by the Spirit” and through this action it is promised that they “will not fulfil the desires of the Flesh” (Gal 5:16). The Holy Spirit is given to be the power to live differently from living under the power of the flesh. Through the Spirit, the Christian lives a life where they “put on Christ” and by doing so conform to his image and the will of God.[40] Dunn argues that the ethical standards that Paul wants Christians to live by were not new ideas. Ideas such as “brotherly love” (Romans 12:10) were widely commended by other moral philosophers, so was the obligation to provide hospitality to the stranger – which was deeply rooted in Greaco-Roman Antiquity (Roman 12:13). Paul believed that through Christ, living an ethical life could become possible. As Marshall points out, “it is not so much that Christians live by entirely different standards of conduct as that they live by a new and different power that enables them to put into practice those standards which even pagan wisdom recognised to be virtuous.”[41] It must also be understood that Paul understands and appreciates the continued weakness of the flesh, and that the Spirit and flesh are at constant war with one another, in the “overlap of the ages.” But the Christ Event and the coming of the Spirit is the beginning of the salvation act.[42]

In my essay I have argued that Paul knew of the teaching of Jesus Christ and applied them to the situation that he was living in. In Romans 12:9-21, Paul’s ethical teaching alludes to the words and life of Jesus Christ. In Philippians, Paul uses the story of Jesus Christ to teach the Christians of Philippians how to deal with the situation they live in. In all his writing Paul appeals to love: a love which is sacrificial, humble and gives everything. Paul believes that living a life that loves others and is conformed to the image of Christ fulfils the spirit of the Mosaic Law and as a result fulfils the will of God. Paul believes that it is only through the saving love of Christ that we can fulfil the will of God, and that to be saved, the human must live in obedience to the will of God, as made apparent in the life of Jesus. It is through the Spirit of God that humans are given the power to live a life which conforms to the image of Christ. Jesus’ life and teaching are central to Paul, and Jesus gives the ultimate example of how humanity should act towards one another so that God’s righteousness can be established on earth.
[1] Chris Marshall, ‘Paul and Jesus: Continuity or Discontinuity, Stimulus, Vol 5, No.4, p33
[2] Ibid, p33
[3] Ibid, p.34
[4] Ibid
[5] Ibid, p.39
[6] Ibid
[7] Marshall, ‘Paul and Jesus’,.pp35-36, N.T. Wright, Paul: In Fresh Perspective,(Minneapolis Fortress Press, 2005), p155,
[8] Michael Thompson, Clothed with Christ: The example and teaching of Jesus in Romans 12:1-15:13, (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991), p.90
[9] Ibid
[10] Ibid, p.91
[11] Ibid, p.92
[12] Ibid, p.93
[13] Ibid, p.94
[14] Ibid, pp.94-95
[15] Ibid, pp.94-95
[16] Ibid, p.100
[17] Ibid
[18] Ibid, pp.109-111
[19]James D.G Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998), p.677
[20] Stephen E.Fowl, The Story of Christ in the Ethics of Paul, An Analysis of the Function of the Hymnic Material in the Pauline Corpus, (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1990), pp.56-57
[21] Ibid, p.63
[22] Ibid, p.88
[23] Ibid
[24] Ibid, 1990, p.96
[25] Thompson, p.79
[26]John Ziesler, Pauline Christianity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990. pp.76-77
[27]Ibid, p.77
[28]Wenham, p.227
[29] Wright, p.165
[30] Stephen Barton, ‘Was Paul a Relativist?’, Interchange ,No.19. p.166
[31] David Wenham, Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity, (WM.B. Erdmanns Publishing Co: Michigan, 1995),p.227
[32] Ibid, pp.226-227
[33] Michael J. Gorman, Apostle of the Crucified Lord. A Theological Introduction to Paul and his Letters,( Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), p.126
[34] Wenham, p.231
[35] Ibid, p.224
[36] Michael Winger, ‘The Law of Christ’, New Testament Studies, Vol 46, p.539
[37] Dunn, p.644
[38] Ibid
[39] Gorman,, p.124
[40] Ibid, p.121
[41] Marshall, ‘For Me to Live is Christ’, p.107
[42] Dunn, p.630

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Zealanders are not happy!

There is a online petition that is being taken over the Appropriation (Parliamentary Expenditure Validation) Bill which was pushed through parliament yesterday. The amazing thing about this petition is the number of people signing the petition. It has already been signed by 8,300 people since yesterday and is the second most active online petition in the world.

The Petition has a number of flaws to it, but shows that many people are concerned with the legislation that was passed yesterday.

It will be interesting to see whether the Appropriation (Parliamentary Expenditure Validation) Bill and Labours misspending will continue to be an issue in the New Zealand Political scene. The Issue will probrably die and not be important in the coming elections. But we shall see.

Woop Woop!

Yeah I have finished my last 300 level Political science paper. So I have unofficially finished my degree. Time to celebrate, then figure out what I'm going to do in the coming year.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Christian Ethics - Christ Centred, Cross Focused and Missional

I read an article by academic Stephen Barton a few weeks ago asking the question "was Paul a relatavist. It caught my interest and got me thinking. Stephen Barton argues that Paul was a “principled Situationalist”, and that the problem is that contemporary evangelical Christianity has become so caught up with the law that it has forgotten the freedom of the Gospel. Christianity in itself has become obsessed with morality and legal precepts, rather than the flexibility and freedom of the Gospel, and that the issue for Christians today as it has always been is to find ways not to compromise the Gospel, but express it in a way that is free of cultural and legalistic baggage. The challenge for Christians thus is to both be evangelical, and also to be missional.

Paul’s ethics and ethical teaching are linked to his mission, to pronounce the Gospel to both Jew and Gentile, while showing them how to live as Christians. His ethics are based on the primacy of self-sacrificial love which is set by the Jesus Christ (1 Cor 8:1-3 and the primacy of the weak brothers rights over the strong (1 Cor 8:1-3; 10:23-30). These principles inform his ethics and the way he conducts his ministry. Paul’s main aim is the unhindered proclamation of the gospel of Christ, particularly to the Gentiles.

Paul believes that he is free from all men (1 Cor 9:19) due to his being in Christ (1 cor. 1:30; cf. Gal 2:4) and his mission. Paul sees himself as ultimately responsible to Christ. (1 Cor 4;4) Paul is a slave to the mission that Christ has given to him. He can do nothing else!

His mission can be shown in the fact that he adapts to the situation. “To the Jew he becomes as a Jew” (1 Cor 9:20) so that he can gain their acceptance and attention. He does this through his circumcision of Timothy in Jerusalem (Acts 16:1-5). To those who are under the Law he becomes like one under the law. When surrounded by weaker Christians he would take on the behavioural norms that they followed so to not to lead them into temptation and sin. He would do this out of sacrificial love. And to the Gentiles Paul would become like one of those outside the law, to show the love of Jesus in a way that was relative to them.

Paul saw the Laws role as primarily negative, its aim was to convict people of their sin, and show them the way to live, (Rom 7) but it was not the means to Salvation, It shows people that they rely on the mercy and righteousness of God, and that they can only be given salvation through the saving act of Jesus on the cross. Pauls allegiance was not to the law, or the Jews, but to his Lord, Jesus Christ. Paul believed that Christ has ushered in a new order, which superseded the old order. For Paul the law that superseded the Mosaic Law was the law of Christ. This holds that freedom is held in constant tension with love. The aim of Paul’s teaching was that new Christians would neither fall into following their own selfish and sinful desires (Gal 3:13), but directed towards love and service to one another(Gal 3:13b). The works of the Law are replaced by the ‘Fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 22) which are outward expression of the work that the Holy Spirit is doing in the believer’s life. Paul believes that “against such there is no law.” (Gal 5:23) Instead of being guided and restricted by the moral precepts of the Mosaic Law but that the Christian will walk by the spirit and give each other in sacrificial service to one another and to their Lord, Jesus Christ, in this way they will fulfil the law and the will of God. Paul’s aim was to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, So Paul became a to those who were outside the law. Paul’s aim was to be uncompromising to the Gospel message, but he wanted it to believed that the message needed to be opened to the Gentiles.

Pauls ethics are principled situationalist ethics because they are not set by a strict set of moral precepts, but are guided by the spirit and the law of loving one another. Paul, also will not compromise his quest to see the gospel of Christ spread. Paul believes that Christians are to be sacrificial, Christ centred and Cross centred believers and he plans to teach the churches that he has planted how to do this; relevant to the situations they are in. Paul accommodates to the needs of non-Christians, he adapts his message to the culture that he teaches to, and in this he is truly missional, but he does not compromise the message and his theological convictions. The Gospel is centre. Paul is not a legalist, but is committed to Christ and his mission to the Gentiles, and does not want to compromise the saving message of the Gospel. I believe that this important for the Christian these days, the Christian needs to share the gospel in a way that is relevant to the culture that they live in, without compromising the reality of the Gospel. The Christian should not be constrained by moral convictions, but rather for their love for their neighbour, they should be aiming to serve, rather than to judging people for not following ‘the rules’ which might not actually be the ‘law of Christ’ (It should be said also that when Paul’s churches didn’t follow the law of Christ he explicitly told them to repent and change). Their aim should be to show Gods love and mercy through their actions, not saying look at me, but look to Christ because only through him can you be changed, saved and have new life.