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.