Sunday, December 30, 2007

Three things I want

I brought up the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman today for discussion. Along with other members of our Sunday afternoon group we read this story and tried to look at it from a fresh perspective. One thing that stood out to us was that Jesus did not go into the town of Sychar and preach to the masses. Instead, he waited by the well to speak with an outcast woman. He waited to speak to someone who was desperate to believe.
One of the the quotes that stuck out for me in "the Organic Church" was that the people who make the best soil for the gospel are the people with the most crap in their lives. The Samaritan woman from Sychar had a lot of crap in her life (go have a read of the story), and it was because of this that she had a dramatic conversion to follow Jesus, "He told me everything I ever did."
This woman of Sychar was a key to reaching the rest of her community. They all took notice when she believed and then many more also believed. Even before they came out to hear Jesus, at her invitation (not his), Jesus told his disciples to look up and see the harvest, presumably because a mass of them were walking toward them at that very moment.
There is a harvest in front of us, whether that is here on the Eurasian continent or in North America or Australia. We often look in the wrong places, and often take the gospel to people who do not want to hear. We need to plant the seed in good soil (that is fertilised with lots of crap), and there will be much fruit.
There were three things that stood out to me: I want Jesus' living water; I want to worship him in Spirit and Truth (not bound by Mt Gerazim, Jerusalem or Crossway Mega church on Springvale Rd as a location); and I want to see a great Harvest. I am crying out to God for these three things, and my cries are becoming deeper.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum


We just finished watching the Bourne Ultimatum. (Yeah, I know, seriously behind the times here in Siberia.) This has been a magnificent series of movies. Most times sequels are very disappointing, but not in the case of this intrigue. The action and suspense are non stop. I was left still wanting more at the end. It appeared to me that this is the end of the series, but in the movie the conspirators said "If it goes south we'll hang it on Landy and just start again." So will Webb fight them another day? 4.5 stars.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Censored again

I often read news.com.au or theage.com.au to keep up with news and events in Australia and around the world. Many of the articles on news.com.au allow comments to be added, and from time to time I have done this. Not every comment of mine has included a reference to faith, but some of them have. Invariably, every time that faith in God is mentioned, my comment is either not posted at all or censored.

The latest example was in respose to this article about aliens. The article refers to a split in the SETI research community. In recent years signals have been beamed into deep space to try to contact aliens. Some scientists feel that this could pose a potential risk, that if aliens receive the message and they are evil, then earth is put at risk.

Anyway, I followed this up with a comment. This is the comment that was included:

In my opinion the search for extra-terrestrial life, is based upon a subconscious desire that there is something or someone "out there." It is based in a fear of us being all alone as the human race.

However, my comment went further. "We are not alone though. There is a loving God who is both "out there" and "right here". I am not even saying anything about the characteristics of this God. You can find this out for yourself."

This was a very tame comment. I was not pushing religious beliefs on others, rather throwing a different opinion into the debate. Obviously news.com.au were somehow put off by my mention of God. To me it is quite clear that they are not interested in free debate. Yet they still allow comments about religion being the cause of problems etc. Is this the future of Australian society, strong censorship against religious free speech?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Musical chairs in the Australian Football League



Like any good Aussie, I like my vegemite, Aussie rules footy and a cold beer. I reacted in shock when I heard back in June from a visiting Australian that crowds of 50 000 have been know to attend soccer league matches in Melbourne. That would certainly make for some culture shock upon my return to Melbourne. If you can see that I don't like the idea of one language dominating the whole world, you can also guess that I don't like the idea of one sport dominating the whole world. Soccer is so mundane and uncreative. I lament the fact the ice hockey is greatly decreasing in popularity in Russia and that young guys can be seen running around playing soccer in the snow. Why are we giving into this world deception in Australia too. Anyway, I take solace in the fact that the A-League only have 7 teams in Australia, and they are too afraid to play in winter because they know they would not get crowds during footy season.

So for now footy is still strong, and the AFL is working hard to keep it that way. The AFL are on a new expansion drive. They can see that Aussie rules is growing in popularity at that the market on the Gold Coast and in Sydney is ready for new teams. I am excited to hear this, and would love to see the AFL keep growing.

It is a tough question to know how many teams can really flourish (not just survive) in the AFL. If Adelaide is taken as an example, it may provide a rough mathematical formula for how many teams a population can support. Adelaide has a population of roughly 1 million people and comfortable supports two AFL teams. But could they support more? The Adelaide Crows have 47 000 members, but have had to cap membership there because Football Park in Adelaide can not hold more than 47 000 people. If there was a larger ground, Adelaide could surely have more members. If there was a third team, they could surely attract members can not get a membership with the Crows. So Adelaide could potentially support 3 or more teams. They do however easily support 2 teams. This is a ratio of roughly 500 000 people to one AFL team. The ratio is similar in Perth. Perth has two AFL teams and a population of roughly 1 million.

If this same formula is applied to Melbourne, how many teams can Melbourne support? Melbourne has a population of 3.7 million people. There are currently 9 AFL teams in Melbourne. At least two of these teams are severely struggling to survive. Melbourne used to have 11 teams. (I am not counting Geelong which has a separate geographical supporter base.) These 11 teams were supported by a then smaller population. As the competition has gone national (the best players from SA and WA always came to Vicotoria in the past) Melbourne has been less capable of supporting so many teams due to a diluted player base. It is my hypothesis that Melbourne can currently only comfortably support 7 teams, at an average of roughly 500 000 people per team. According to these crude calculations, two teams need to leave Melbourne.

The AFL have indicated that they would like to add teams in Sydney and the Gold Coast by 2010 or 2011. They have financially propped up teams in Melbourne for a while now. It would seem logical that the two weakest clubs in Melbourne, (Footscray) Western Bulldogs and (North Melbourne) Kangaroos, should be the teams to relocate. Both clubs dropped their suburb name some time back to broaden their supporter appeal and even to prepare in advance for a possible relocation. They could easily have been the Gold Coast Kangaroos and the Western Bulldogs (but in Sydney instead of Melbourne).

But the Kangaroos recently rejected a $100 million proposal to relocate by 2010 to the Gold Coast. They asked the AFL for an extra 12 months grace in making their decision. But the truth is that (North Melbourne) have been deliberating over a decision to relocate for years. They have flirter with Canberra, Sydney and the Gold Coast. The AFL have seen that the Gold Coast market is ripe and wanted to strike while the iron is hot. But the parochialism in the North Melbourne tribe has got in the way of common sense. They rejected the AFL proposal, and instead now intend to change their name back to North Melbourne again, putting to death any plans to relocate.

Fitzroy were smart to get out while they did. Especially as they avoided a take over (merge) by North Melbourne that would have ended in eventual death of the new merger anyway. In relocating to Brisbane the Fitzroy Lions kept much of their identity. Melbourne based Lions supporters enjoyed three successive premierships in this decade, and will be sure to see more success in the future. They can relax knowing their club will never die. In the game of musical chairs, Fitzroy and South Melbourne are the winners. They got the best pickings for future growth markets in the AFL. They both have steady memberships and large attendances at their games.

In the continued game of musical chairs there are still some potential markets to be filled, but they will never be quite as good as first cab off the rank in Sydney or Brisbane. North Melbourne have missed their chair. I think it is safe to say that North Melbourne's life expectancy is now limited. Their future is either a permanent relegation to the VFL or extinction altogether. Since their members have shown that survival of the North Melbourne name is more important than anything else, they should probably take the opportunity to drop down to the VFL before they do go bankrupt. When a 17th team from the Gold Coast does enter the AFL, they days will be numbered to less than 10 years. (They could go back to being the North Melbourne Shinboners and give up the Kangaroos name for an AFL club.)

Will the Western Bulldogs be stupid enough to miss their opportunity in Sydney. This is yet to be seen. But if they let their hearts rule over their minds, then they too will sink.

I still think that Tasmania and Canberra can host teams in the future. Tasmania has a population of 500 000. If games were split between Hobart and Launceston then most of that population would have the chance to see 5 games a year. But the AFL must first expand further in the bigger cities. This will increase their overall market share. The AFL will become a stronger brand name than the NRL or Rugby Super 14 or the A-League in soccer. When the AFL is clearly the strongest brand in Australia (it is not far from this now) then some of the smaller markets will also be able to support a team.

I am looking forward to an 18 team competition. I don't see how a two conference system could work well though. It would seem illogical to split the Victorian teams into different conferences. But this is a topic for another day.

North Melbourne have been foolish to give up their chance of relocation. The clock is now ticking on their existence. Footscray should not make the same mistake when their chance comes. If the bell comes tolling for St Kilda or Richmond, then neither should they.

Tower of Babel and linguistics

The topic of the tower of Babel came up in comments so I wanted to comment on it further. There are some references in chapter 10 that speak of multiple languages, before the story of the tower of Babel.

Descendants of Japheth
Genesis 10:5 From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their own nations, each with its own language.

Descendants of Ham
Genesis 10:20 These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

Descendants of Shem
Genesis 10:31 These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

The Genesis writer took the time to explain that the descendants of Noah's sons all had different languages. It is unclear precisely when the story of the tower of Babel is set. Obviously in the same era. But there is nothing indicating that the table of nations in chapter ten comes after the tower of Babel. Genesis up until this point comes in a roughly chronological order (i.e each major story happens after the previous- Creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah etc.)

Genesis 11:1 says that the whole world had a common language and speech, however it does not necessarily mean that every individual spoke this tongue- although they may have. We need to escape our monolingual world view, and imagine that the people at the tower of Babel already spoke more than one language. I.e they spoke the common language and they spoke their own clan's language.

My proposed (yet unprovable I know) hypothesis is that the common language was confused at Babel and then people could only use their clan's language after that point. Following this there was far less incentive to have a common capital in the world, and so the clans went their own way.

To me this indicates that multiple languages is a good thing. We often look at the tower of Babel as evidence that many languages is a bad thing. I don't see the result of Babel as a curse. It was discipline but not a curse. In each of the earlier stories involving people in Genesis, God gave out a punishment which was then immediately followed by Grace. So, I see that God was showing grace to the nations by forcing them into a place where they forged their own identity. The tower of Babel was dangerous because it was a clear possibility for outright control by a human being over the human race, which would make it harder for people to reach God. God removed this barrier when he destroyed the tower project.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Are you a monolingualist?



I come from a monolingual culture. People in Australia think that English is all you need. Yet around 25% of the Australian population now have a first language other than English. This attitude of monolingualism dates back to imperialism. The British empire set out to colonise the world. The attitude of imperialism was that the colonising culture was a superior one. The inferior culture would therefore benefit from speaking the language of the imperial force. This was a dominant world view of the age.

This dominant world view was influenced by a dual desire to spread the source culture's dominance but also by a fear of cultures foreign and unknown. Jesuit missionaries seemed to evade this damaging world view, but many other missionaries did not. Protestant missionaries in Australia, Canada, America and Africa held a very imperial world view toward the indigenous peoples of those countries. The indigenous peoples were often told that their language and culture were evil and demonic. To become a Christian meant to leave one's culture and language behind. Whilst at times these may seem like broad generalisations, they were grievous mistakes made none the less.

These mistakes were informed by a dominant world view to be sure, but how much did these missionaries seek to be informed by the Holy Spirit? These are not simple issues by any means. It does scare me though that these same problems exist in 21st century Russia. Russians are monolingual in their world view. Siberian peoples are told that their language and culture do not matter, even by the Russian church. These seem to be the exact same mistakes being repeated again.

Such attitudes often make me angry. It causes me grief to see a people have their language and culture threatened. I know that God loves minority peoples, their cultures and their languages. It is a challenge to modern day Australians and Canadians also to not be monolingual in our approach to society. Monolingualism is damaging in all ways. I truly hope that a change of government (even though I believe the Labor government in Australia will be grossly incompetent on an economic level) may reinvigorate the chance to save Australian Aboriginal languages. I also hope that I may play a part in saving indigenous languages in Siberia.

There is a lot to combat in the imperial mindset, world view is deep seated.

God is in favour of multilingualism. The story of the tower of Babel is testament to this. An interesting piece of trivia is that there were already multiple languages before the tower of Babel. It is just the common language that was confused at that event.

What should be our response to this problem? Respect the rights of indigenous peoples and immigrants to speak languages other than English. There is no reason that people can not be bilingual in their lives. Affirm others in their language and culture. You could even go so far as to learn their language in an effort to love them in a practical way. This will be one of the most powerful ways that you can love a person. Do not be afraid of the unknown. Seek to know and to understand. Do not shy away from the Muslim immigrant, love them, get to know them and their culture. Speak their language and in turn, speak the language of love.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Oh please?!!!

"Calls for death of teddy teacher
HUNDREDS of Sudanese Muslims are demanding death for the British teacher convicted of insulting Islam after her class named a teddy bear Mohammad."

A recent headline from the news. Ok, you skeptics out there who say that "religion"is the biggest cause of hatred. When is the last time you saw a mob of Christians get together and demand someone's execution because they insulted Jesus? I have to admit that I doubt Buddhists would be this extreme also.

Yes there has been violence between various religions at various times. But to me, the constant popular hatred that comes from the Muslim world is overwhelming. When the Pope said that Islam has a history of violence, many Muslims protested by burning down churches, as if to prove his point.

The evidence is overwhelming. Islam is a religion of violence and hatred. It's time for those in denial to just jump ship.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

To own a Dragon


I just finished reading Donald Miller's latest book "To Own a Dragon: Reflections on growing up without a Father." It was a very enjoyable read. His style is conversational, humorous, honest and touching. His experiences are not the same as everyone and certainly different to my own.

Without a doubt, no one is perfect, no father is perfect, except our Heavenly Father. This was certainly one of Miller's points. He learnt that he could not blame his problems with other men on those men himself, his father left when he was very young. He also learnt that he could not blame any of that on God.

The conclusion I have drawn after reading this book, is that in some ways it is not that hard to be a good father, if you are confident in the love of your heavenly father. The job of a father is simple: be there for your children, listen to them, tell them you love them, play with them, discipline them (but never harshly) and most of all, introduce them to their Heavenly Father.

I said so myself before Abigail was born, that she really belongs to God. My chief responsibility is to introduce her to her Heavenly Father, who she will need to trust for her whole life. So I have started talking to her about this. It has been kind of cute, the first time I brought it up she looked at me with a confused face, but certainly listened. Abigail so far finds it a lot easier to relate to Jesus, who is far more tangible, he did come to earth as a human after all.

Introducing her to her Heavenly Father, does not absolve me of my responsibilities. Rather, I am aware that she will gain her image of a father from me. But as John Mc Murray pointed out in the book, he apologises to his children when he deals with them too harshly or yells at them, as he does not want to distort their image of who God is.

I think this is good advice. Whether you are a father or not, whether you had a father or not, this book is well worth reading. We all have a Heavenly Father who loves us, and this is worth our knowing.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New Delirious? music.




I was doing some surfing on the internet when I remembered that I had not checked up what Delirious have been up to recently. Delirious are one of my fave bands, their music is high quality and they have a strong heart to worship God. The first bit of news that I noticed is that they played Moscow on October 31st. We were back in Siberia already and it would have been too expensive to fly there. Delirious have played some out there places including India, so you never know, they could still make it to Siberia some time.

The second thing is that they have vastly overhauled their website. It was a bit slow to load as it relies heavily on Flash technology. But you should head there none the less. When you get there go to the "Living Room" and you will discover a nice little gift- a free download of their new single from their upcoming album "King of Comfort" due for release in April 2008.

I've already downloaded it and listened to it a number of times and it doesn't disappoint. Which is more than I can say for Radiohead's new release. I haven't gotten round to that yet, but I will some time I guess.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Organic Church- review

This was a powerful book that shows how true transformational churches can happen, in ways outside the traditional church's mindset. Let me highly recommend this book.

In no way can I convey everything that this book speaks about because my mind is swimming with ideas and I am overcome with desire for a different kind of church experience.

The thing that strikes me the most is that there is no reason why any of us can not try this ourselves, today. There is plenty of permission and room to fail. There are many "radical" concepts that deserve to be comprehended and adopted. In a sense they are not that radical because they are things that the church has done in the past, but that very few churches try today.

Radical concept: Jesus is the captain of the team. How many churches have a pastor as the captain of the team? How many churches drop in attendance when the pastor is away, or people remark that they have missed him when he comes back? Imagine if one of these people were on your leadership team- Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa. Would not their personality have a big impact on the way the team works. Now imagine if Jesus were not only present on the team but the captain. Sadly, this is not the case in so many churches.

Radical concept: Do not expect people to come to you. When one successful church planter was asked why so many people had responded to Christ, his response was simple- Show up! The gospel can infiltrate whole networks of people and communities. But so often we expect people to leave their community and join something else when they believe. Imagine a church starting up inside a network of people who already exist, a ready made church appears very quickly as people respond to Christ.

Radical concept: New believers are capable of leading others to Christ, Baptising and Discipling. The traditional church behaves as if someone needs plenty of training first before they are capable of leading anything of significance. This has happened time and time again in the movement mentioned in the book. New believers lead their friends to Christ and baptise them, themselves and a church starts somewhere in their network of friends, be it a home, coffee shop or sports club- a location that their network already existed in.

There are many more radical concepts in the book, but I wanted to put just a few teasers our there for you. These ideas are bound to upset people in the traditional church, especially people who want to hold tightly to their church buildings. But I think that the church needs to be set free from the four walls that restrain it, and be let loose on a needy and waiting population. For the skeptic, let me say that the organic church movement has grown to 700 churches in 32 countries in 6 short years, with 10 000 people already a part of it. It is a revolution that has only just begun. Where as many mega churches will max out around 10 000- 700 small organic churches have exponential potential in their coming growth.

Why not start a church on your street today!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My eschatology


So, I have been paying out on the eschatology of others, but have not been prepared to play my cards on the table.

Let me map it out a bit for you. The first important text that we must read as Christians when forming an eschatology is Matthew 24. Jesus had spent his ministry turning the Jewish world view on its head, ushering in a radical new "upside down kingdom." The disciples didn't always get it. So in Matthew chapter 24 they had just been in the temple and the disciples had been marvelling over the temple. Jesus had to tell them all over again, "Haven't I been trying to tell you guys, that its not all about buildings and locations? The father wants worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and truth. Believe me when I tell you that this temple is going to be totally destroyed anyway, not one stone will be left standing on another."

Now when the disciples heard Jesus say that the temple would be destroyed, you have to remember their Jewish world view. They would have seen this as the end of the world, and the time for the messiah to rise up and defeat the enemy. Perhaps they were already beginning to accept that Jesus was not going to play that role, the first time round, but surely he would if the temple was destroyed? The temple was everything wasn't it? Not to Jesus.

Jesus warned them about the destruction of the temple because he knew it would be a big deal to them. But he also had some clauses to give them. "When you hear of wars everywhere, do not be alarmed. When you hear of earthquakes everywhere, do not be alarmed." Some how today we get so caught up in the physical world, that we can not see the forest for the trees. I constantly hear Christians saying that wars and earthquakes are evidence of the end times. They are not! Jesus even told us to not read those events that way. Besides wars and earthquakes have been part of human suffering from time immemorial. I don't see how we can count them as signs of the end times, they are simply part of the fallen world we live in.

Jesus did give a sign that would signify the end. "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then (only then) the end will come." Firstly we need to take some responsibility for this. Many believers just sit around and think, "hurry up Jesus, I wanna go home," but don't help out with the chores so we can go home. If the end is ever going to come then the gospel must first be preached to all nations. At last count there are still 6000 ethnic nations who do not have the gospel.

So, it is my premise that people take the Bible and try to shoe horn in their own interpretation. People feel the end must be close, so they pick up the Bible, find texts that are surely referring to the end of the world, and then reinterpret it to their own ends. True, not all of Matthew 24 is referring to AD 70 and the destruction of the temple, but a good portion of it is. Jesus was trying to teach the disciples how to discern the difference, so that when AD 70 rolled around they would know that the end had not actually come, and they would remember to preach the gospel to all nations.

Every time some new terrorist attack happens, or when WW1 and WW2 happened (people thought they were surely the end of the world- many eschatological theories were put forward to argue this); or when there was great conflict in the Cold War, we have to resist the temptation of thinking the end is near. We have to put our hands back to the plough, get back to work and continue to preach the gospel to the nations.

Here is another premise: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (St Paul writing to his beloved church in Ephesus from prison in Rome.) Paul could easily have been tempted to have a human enemy, but he was smarter than that. He knew his real enemy was the devil and his demons. We are in a spiritual war and we should not forget that. It is so easy to be tempted into having a human enemy; Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union during the Cold War (and some are convinced that Russia is still a baddy because of this Cold War theology) and now the Muslim world. But we are told to realise that we are not to seek a human enemy, our war is not against flesh and blood.

Now doubting we are in a great spiritual war. We fight with prayer and the enemy lashes back the only way he knows how, by inflicting violence on people, and deceiving people into a physical battle. The gospel is making great inroads into the Muslim world. I routinely hear stories of Muslim people having visions of Jesus and then following him. An exciting one came a couple years back. All of the men in an Afghan village had a vision of Jesus. Shortly after that there was a screening of the Jesus film in their village, then the whole village believed. These events can not continue with out a major shift in the future. Christians in Afghanistan still are extremely careful about revealing their faith to others. I have heard stories of husbands and wives turning up at the same secret meeting and realising they are both Christians. There are ants eating away at the inside of the mountain of Islam and one day it will collapse. Today there is still a strict anti Christian facade, but once they are in the majority, then the regimes will begin to fall.

The devil knows this is happening. It has already been happening long before September 11. But I think the terrorist jihad is a rallying of attacks that are designed to draw us into a physical battle. Then some how we can believe that it is right to have a human enemy, and that this will surely lead to the Armageddon that we are all expecting. I beg to differ.

We are exhorted to not fight physical battles in scripture. We are taught how real the spiritual battle is. But in the west, we are often blind to spiritual things and we fail to understand the spiritual battle for what it really is. What if Armageddon is not a physical battle field? What if it is a spiritual battle field? The angels and demons are already fighting a great battle. I contend that we could already be in the middle of the great Armageddon of scripture, and that we are missing it. We should be taking up spiritual arms in prayer and not thinking about human enemy political states. This is a call to battle and you are needed.

Let me outline a little further how I interpret the book of revelation. Revelation is a book that has so often been misinterpreted by people seeking to find theories about the end of the world. Jesus came to earth as heaven's representative. He was God in the flesh. Jesus bridged the gap between heaven and earth, from God to man. When John received the Revelation of Jesus Christ it was an opening of heaven for human eyes. From man to God. It was an "opening" of heaven. In Russian the word for the book is actually "opening". But we seem to have lost that meaning in English, even though it is what the word means. Often people will say "I had a revelation." But this is not what the book of revelation is about, it is about a glimpse into heaven.

So if the Book of Revelation is set in Heaven, then it would follow that things would seem a little strange and hard to understand at first. The seven lampstands in the early part of Revelation that refer to the seven churches of Asia Minor, is how the churches were viewed in heaven. Chapters four and five describe God's throne in heaven and the worship of God before his throne. This book is not really about earth as such. The opening of the seals are in heaven. The seven trumpets are blown by angels in heaven. Yes they are looking down on the earth and earth is the subject of great interest, but all of this is from a heavenly perspective, with eyes firmly rooted in the spiritual realm.

Chapter 12 refers to more events happening in the spiritual realm. It refers to the devil falling from heaven (in this context he is referred to as a dragon) and taking a third of the angels with him, "and there was war in heaven." The second half of the chapter is actually referring to the birth of Jesus, in the spiritual realm. This was how the birth of Jesus was viewed from heaven, the dragon tried to kill Jesus, which refers to the massacre brought on by Herod, and the flight of Joseph, Mary and Jesus to Egypt. Revelation is a book set in the spiritual realm.

The events following this are also set in the spiritual realm. But it is important to realise that there is no strict time line in Revelation. Chapter 12 referred to an event from before the creation of the world, and then an event set at the axis point of human history. But there is a great war that started before the world and is continuing today. The early church were also a part of this great war. Revelation was first of all written to the early church, so of course it would have had immediate reference for them. So the persecutions of chapters 13-18 can specifically be seen as referring to the first century Christians who faced terrible persecutions under Nero and Domitian. It is stupid to argue that it does not refer to these events. Of course people can argue that prophecies can be multi layered, and they can be, but we need to remember that the content of chapters 13-18 is primarily referring to the early church. There is a lot that we can learn however, about how we should respond to persecution, based upon the encouragement in these chapters. For one who endures persecution and "overcomes by the blood of the lamb" the glorious paradise of heaven awaits. This is our encouragement.

Chapters 19-22 are referring to events at the end of time. The same applies to Matthew 24:29 onwards. But Jesus promised these events would not occur until the gospel has been preached to all nations. So we are too early at this point in history and we have a lot of work ahead of us.

I think we are in a great spiritual war right now, possibly even in the midst of the great Armageddon, a war for peoples souls. But we serve a victorious King, and we will win the war on Jesus' side. I have great hope that multitudes will come to Christ in the coming generations. The body of Christ is growing on this planet. Every time a demon is defeated and cast into hell, that is his end. That is why demons fight so hard for their spiritual strongholds, they don't want to face their end, and through prayer, when they are defeated, they do. [Where am I getting these ideas from? Jesus spent much of his ministry casting out demons, notably when he cast out the legion, they begged him to no be sent to the abyss. It was Jesus prerogative to let them go into the pigs. But if Jesus did not send them to the pigs, he would have sent them to the Abyss- hell.]

I would far prefer to have hope that the nations will come to Christ and in numbers so great one day that the believers will be the majority in this earth. I wonder what would be so bad if this were true?

This was actually the position of the church in the 1800s as the gospel spread around the world and people responded. But it was world war 1 that shattered these hopes. World war 2 followed shortly after and people began to think of human enemies and forget about the nations. Then the Cold war followed after world war 2. By this stage people were finding it a bit too hard and wishing Jesus would just come back and end it all. There was a time in the 60s during the Cuban Missile Crisis when people really believed the world was going to come to an end. It was an easy mistake to come up with a human enemy. This is when it became fashionable to have Russia as the enemy. It made good James Bond movies, and it sold plenty of cheap Christian paperbacks too. But it was giving into the temptation of having a human enemy; forgetting about the real enemy and forgetting that Jesus told us to preach the gospel to all the nations.

There are some people today convinced that Russia is going to close again. I remember people saying it in the early 90s. People had put so much of their stock in an eschatology that had Russia as the enemy, that for their belief system to work, they could not live with a Russia what was not the enemy. People prophesied and told me that it would be closed within 10 years, i.e 2001. Every time Russia makes new laws these same people say it all over again, "Russia is closing." This is just nonsense. In the 90s Russia was very open, because they needed to economically rebuild and decided to allow help from the rest of the world. Business visas were given freely to reach this goal. In recent years Russia has been booming and the government has decided that they no longer need so much outside help. This does not mean that people can no longer get visas to come to Russia. It just means that the application process is much more similar to another western nation. People can not just get business visa after business visa to come and live in a western country. They need to either get a work visa or residence permit. Russia has decided to fall into line with this pattern. This is not an indication of Russia closing, rather and indication of Russia stabilising. So the Cold War eschatologists are gradually having to give their theories up.

If the Cold War eschatology is wrong, then perhaps a more modern version is needed (tongue in cheek). Enter Islam and Arabs as the new enemy. James Bond movies just weren't working so well with Russia as an enemy any more. The Arabs seemed more terrifying. Today Arabs make better enemies at the movies (following September 11) and they seem to make better enemies in cheap Christian paper backs as well. This is the same old lie rehashed again. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The gospel must first be preached to all nations and then the end will come. (Jesus.) The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk.)

What a glorious end it will be. Vastly different from the eschatology of cheap Christian paperbacks.

Organic Church continued

The first third of the book was very powerful, full of passion, exciting stories and evidence that a new approach to church planting is needed. The book is 230 pages long, but I feel that it really should have been 130 pages. I have no problem reading a book that is worth reading, but I do have a problem reading dead weight. The first 70 pages are action packed, the last 160 pages should be stripped in half.

I am labouring through and hope to have something more exciting to share soon. The problem is that the book is self published, no one told the guy to make it more palatable.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Organic Church



When I was younger I used to preach, "you say you want a revival, well good, God is not looking for a revival, he is looking for a revolution, a revolution of the heart and mind." It was like a prophecy. A prophecy that I did not fully understand. Over the years at different times I have thought that I understood what these words meant, and then, it slipped away again.

I was part of the embryonic forms of the emerging church movement back in Australia. I sat under the tutelage of Alan Hirsch for 6 years. I now think that many of the ideas people were throwing around in our community were a yearning. A yearning for what church is supposed to be. We all knew something was wrong with the church. The western church is gasping for air.

We knew that church was supposed to be about community. But some how, we inadvertently missed how much it is supposed to be about Jesus. It was like it was "on the tip of our tongues" but just not articulated well enough. As a community a church plant was attempted in the form of a restaurant. Sadly that went bust. But that is ok, I don't think God wanted people to come to that restaurant anyway.

I was also involved in a different church plant during those years. It lasted about 18 months in total, and then failed. We were trying to aim at community too, but some how we were still using old paradigms to attempt this.

I have just picked up a book called "Organic Church" by Neil Cole. Four chapeters into the book I already find myself saying "I want what they have, that is they way church is supposed to be." I don't want to go back to what I know church to be either.

Let me just throw out a few of my thoughts so far. These are not all well articulated yet as I am still reading the book and my thoughts are in process. But this is a MUST READ I can tell you. Please pick it up and tell me what you think.

Here are my thoughts and some quotes from the book (the quotes are from my head and so could be a bit paraphrased), these come from a Skype chat I was having earlier today:

me:
i am reading a very radical book at the moment and LOVING it
it is called "the organic church" by Neil Cole
in six years their movement have planted over 700 churches in 23 states and 31 countries

reply:
sounds good

me:
their church sounds so attractive, i want what they have, and a hole in my mind has been revealed about what i always thought was wrong with the church
i used to say to people "God does not want a revival, he wants a revolution"

reply:
that is?

me:
i always wanted to know exactly what that meant, and some times i have thought i knew, but i think this is the revolution God wants

reply:
God wants peoples hearts

me:
first: Jesus is not first in the church
people are playing church, building their own kingdoms and physical buildings

a few quotes:
"we lowered the bar on church and raised the bar on discipleship"
"delay your building project for 300 years"
"lives transformed and conversions are part of our ongoing experience on a weekly basis"
"i bumped into someone in the next street who had just started a new church, which happens to be in our same movement"
"he was converted before we even got to the "message" but then intimate fellowship with God and each other IS the message right?"

they have churches in parking lots, pubs, and even one started up in a strip club for the women who were working there, even though it would eventually move out of that location
churches are usually not larger than 15 or 20 people, not because there is a limit or anything, but because they are constantly reproducing
and it has naturally spread overseas
they wanted to start a coffee shop, when God spoke to him and said no, just go and spend time at the local coffee shop
they went there many evenings with their small team
played chess, checkers and dominoes with the regulars
just shared their lives and prayed for their new friends in their difficulties
then at home they would fervently pray for those new people they had met
their early meetings were almost entirely singing and prayer
someone asked, "when new people keep coming will they be uncomfortable if we keep praying for them?" they decided not to stop and people were convicted by the Holy Spirit

it just kept growing

i have long thought home church is the way to go, but he points out the essentials of how it should work, and does not say it HAS to be in the home, it can be anywhere

response:
but I think it sounds like what christianity is supposed to look like and what was
looked inviting
at early church

me:
but there are no real rules
just jesus, really

response:
isnt that it all of it

More later.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When was the world created?

Bishop James Ussher believed that he calculated that the world was created on October 23rd 4004 B.C. By doing this he created a lot of controversy and dogma. Was he even close?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

My country right or wrong?



I am sad, and for now extremely ashamed to be Australian. I usually find that when I am away from my home land that my Aussie character rises as I miss certain aspects of my home and culture. But recently in Australian news I find enough reason to disassociate myself from many of my country men. It is moments like this that I realise that I am a citizen of heaven more than anything else.

Let me explain this nasty tragedy of political and societal errors for you. As far as I am concerned, Australia does not have a very good record with refugees in the first place. I really couldn't care about comparing Australia to other countries. I am talking about comparing Australia to the highest ideals possible- that which Jesus has taught us. Jesus gave a famous speech- "I was a stranger and you took me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was hungry and you fed me..... when ever you have done these things for the least of me, you have done it for me..." Australia has turned away many refugees in recent years, and when they have been allowed on to our shores they have often been placed in "detention centres," which are a modern sanitary version of a concentration camp.

Well the issue has gotten worse. I was quite shocked to read recently that the Immigration Minister has shut down the quota on all refugees from Africa, citing that "they have trouble integrating into Australian society." This has been conveniently disguised as a "shifting" of priorities, to accept refugees from other countries. I can think of no needier refugee situation in the world than the plight of the Sudanese.

Have a read of the news article, here. I decided to write a comment on this issue. These were my comments:

"This saddens me deeply. Requirements for immigrants are logical, but for refugees they are completely unfair. The only test case for a refugee should be what they are running "from" not "to." The Howard government may be able to boast a long period of economic stability, but on the issue of race, it has failed dismally and shown itself as racist. Sudanese people find it hard to integrate because of the severe trauma they have been through. They would find it hard to integrate anywhere in the world. We have a responsibility to show them compassion and help them integrate, or else we are as bad as the regime that persecuted them in the first place."

Many people have made comments on the issue and most have disgusted me:

Our refugee program, like every refugee program in the Western world, has brought nothing but disaster.Transplanting people from war torn countries and brutal cultures to prosperous and peaceful nations has never worked.

I always thought it was ludicrous that refugees come from so far away, surely if they are seeking refuge, they go to the nearest safe nation. There's a couple of possible places they could go in Africa not least South Africa, failing that there is Europe of course or Asia.. Australia is further away than all of these places, since when are refugees in a position where they are able to pick and choose which coutnries they will take refuge in? Good call Kevin Andrews.


After working in several african countries (currently in Angola), I get a bad taste in my mouth when we talk about refugees from Africa. There is no doubt that there is problems in many of these countries, but if their own governments would use some of the moneys earnt from the oil, gas or mining industries which is nearly all of these countries earn, on the people of their countries, their lives and their lifestyles would be undoubtedly better. Instead the leaders line their pockets and foriegn bank accounts with ill-gotten gains and live in splendour, while the majority of their people suffer. It is sad for the average person living in these countries, but a thing to consider is whether it is the down trodden that are trying to get into australia, of the rich looking for somewhere better to spend their money.

My comments on this one: We are talking about Sudanese people being brutally slaughtered by Muslim persecutors here, they are not people just seeking a place to get rich, HAVE SOME COMPASSION!

Australia should not accept any refugees. We should withdraw from the UN agreement on refugees and stop accepting any refugees. It is far better to accept educated skilled migrants from stable peaceful countries than to take troubled refugees from troubled countries.

There are many, many more comments from the average Australian that are simply quite racist. This decision on the part of the current Australian government is racist. People have argued that Labour has supported these policies in the past and I would have to agree with that too.

I find it so hard to understand how the majority of Australians can be seeking reconciliation and forgiveness from Aboriginal Australia yet carry a racist attitude to people from cultures different to our own. After all, our ancestors were immigrants too.

This comment from another reader sums it up nicely for me:

Unbelievable!!! I don't recall African refugees harassing people on Cronulla beach..or organising revenge attacks....or having their leaders preach hatred At every opportunity, Australians shows themselves for the xenophobic racist biggots that they are!!

Racism is a sin. Like all sins we are tempted towards them first. In previous years I have heard the majority of people in Australia speak out against racism. Why the change now? I believe it is because we have a government who is giving people an excuse to allow racism into their hearts. It is a temptation of all human beings to want to only associate with people like ourselves and to reject the outsider. As the Australian government upholds racist values, Australian people are feeling justified to do the same and the attitude of the Australian population is spiralling downwards.

Am I an Australian? Yes. Do I want my country to do the right thing? Yes. Am I proud to be Australian? Sadly,today, no.

Please forgive my nation for the wrongs we have done- to Aboriginal Australia in the past and now in refusing so many people in need in today's world.

God have mercy on our nation and help us to do the right thing.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Words

Well this blog has been short of words for a while, but brevity is clearer.

If you are a new visitor to my blog you can read about my adventures in Siberia on another blog, but please send me an email first.

I have been thinking about words some more. Language and identity are closely intertwined. When we speak a word it is not simply an arbitrary sign post. Rather every word carries deeper meaning. A word carries heritage and history passed down from the pysche of one generation to the next. This means that a word can carry the emotions of our ancestors a thousand years ago. The same is true of rhymes and poems. Take for example the rhyme:

Ring a ring a rosy
A pocket full of posy
A tissue, a tissue
We all fall down

This is a rhyme that is handed on by children from one generation to the next, but not actually by adults. Children have no idea of it's deeper meaning, only its surface meaning. But the deeper meaning still exists within the psyche as these words are passed on. I remember thinking as a child "what does it mean, 'we all fall down'?" I did have some sense that it was not just falling on the ground in a game. This is fact a reference to the Beubonic plague of medieval times.

Individual words carry the same depth of meaning. The word "God" comes from the word "good." This is fairly apparent on the surface. But it is important that we are able to use a word from our own psyche to refer to the Creator.

I have been thinking about these issues as I realise that the Finns were influenced by the Swedes for 600 years when it came to religious concepts. I do not know enough about the Finnish language, but in discussion with Finns it is clear that some words are Finnish in origin and others are Swedish in origin.

My question and hypothesis is that it is better to use words that carry more heritage and a deeper meaning when referring to religious concepts. Thus it would be bette in Australia to say "Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his mates." The word "mate" carries much deeper connotations for Australians, than the word friend.

Jesus is the true mate. He is my mate and I am his.

Friday, August 24, 2007


According to this news article redheads could be extinct within 100 years. But I believe that we will one day rise from the ashes to rule the world!! (Hah, hah....)

Actually we redheads are a beautiful breed and if we really are endangered then steps should be taken to prevent our extinction. We should be given numerous government financial incentives to encourage us to breed, and the world should value us adding more colour to the gene pool, which is in danger of being dumbed down.

Don't take us for granted or one day you will sadly mourn our loss. After all I hope you are not folically prejudiced.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Not another eschatological theory

I usually laugh and cringe every time I see contemporary eschatological books. I too hold eschatological theories in my doctrine, but I try to keep them as simple as possible. To tell you the truth, it kind of ticks me off when people spout their eschatological theories with such confidence that they are right.

For years people have argued that the European Union which was founded by ten nations (apparently ten horns mentioned in Revelation), would be the re-emergence of the ancient Roman Empire and therefore the seat of the anti-Christ. People have also argued that the Roman Catholic church is the Great Whore Babylon referred to in Revelation.

Well, today some one put a new book into my hand. This may sound narrow minded of me, but I am not going to waste my time reading it. The enemy apparently is no longer the European Union, but instead a coalition of 10 muslim nations will rise up to become the seat of the anti-Christ. The book makes it really easy to have a "safe" enemy. We no longer have to confuse ourselves with having a European enemy (which frankly is just too close to home for comfort), now we can happily hate the muslims instead.

The author (who I can't even bothered naming and do not wish to personally berate- rather I have pity for him), apparently finally worked out his new theories after (you guessed it) September 11, 2001. This was the missing link in his theory and now he could see that an Islamic prediction of a Mahid who is supposed to convert the world to Islam, will actually be the anti-Christ.

The first problem I have with all of this conjecture is that it does not foster love in our hearts. In his theory, the Great Whore of Babylon is actually Baghdad itself (how convenient). Instead of reaching out in love to muslims, now we can justify our fears and treat them like the enemy in a coming, inevitable, biblically justified war. But the bible actually teaches that the battle we fight is not of flesh and blood and that our enemy is not to be found amongst people, but is the devil and his fallen angels.

The second problem I have with theses eschatological theories is that people like to think that Jesus is coming back really soon (in their life time) because we can see all these things unfolding before our eyes in the news every day. Isn't it funny that during the Cold War the Soviet Union used to be the big enemy and eschatologists used to talk about Russia invading Israel. Then as world events change, people come up with new theories to fit the headlines of the day. Their theories give people the excuse of thinking that Jesus is coming back really soon, therefore we don't actually have to do much more to take his gospel to the nations. (If he is coming back soon, then they must have already had their chance right?). Wrong.

When Jesus actually took the time to give his eschatology he was careful to explain that the gospel must first be preached to all nations and THEN the end would come. There are still over 6000 unreached ethnic nations in the world. And sorry to say it, but the church is simply moving too slowly for that task to be finished in our life time. This is not a lack of faith but simply stark realism. You only have to look with your own eyes (and I have) to see how some nations are in a very dark grip to know that it is actually going to take time. There are no instant microwave fixes for this one, sorry.

I have been learning that God has a deep heart for his lost children, the nations of this world. The story of the fall in Genesis actually is completed at the tower of Babel, when the nations are scattered. This was the rock bottom consequence at the end of the fall. So if the nations being scattered and leaving God is the consequence of the fall, then the nations returning to God is the completion of salvation on earth. God deserves to settle for nothing less. As Habakkuk prophesied "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of God, as the waters cover the seas." God deserves nothing less than complete glory in his earth, and he is perfectly entitled to wait as long as he wants until this world chooses to glorify him.

I am not denying that bad things happen in this world and that despots set themselves up against God, look at Robert Mugabe for goodness sake. But God is sovereign and he is not bound to bring Jesus back early because a couple of selfish muslims flew planes into buildings 6 years ago.

So my eschatology is quite simple, "the gospel must first be preached to all nations and ONLY then the end will come." This is not going to happen before this silly terrorist game is long behind us in history. In fact I predict it is actually more likely that the muslim world will turn to Jesus. And I really don't have time for another cosy, selfish, western Christian theory.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Another top 100



I wanted to come up with my top 100 songs of all time. This was too big a task to contemplate. Anyway, I went into iTunes and started rating songs, it was taking long with nearly 4000 to go through. So I skipped many that were not high in my favourites and just rated the best. From those best I checked how many times I have played that song in the last couple years. So this may not be my top 100 songs of all time, but what I have been listening to for the last couple years. As you can tell, there are two problems- a) I haven't found anything new to listen to in the last couple years that thrills very much (partly my age and partly that I am so out of touch living in Siberia) and b) it is grossly over represented by one band (sorry if that bores you).

1 Where the Streets Have No Name U2
2 Here I Am Send Me Delirious?
3 All This Time Delirious?
4 Now Is The Time Delirious?
5 Jesus Take The Wheel Carrie Underwood
6 Straight Lines Silverchair
7 Wash Over Me Live Vineyard Worship
8 Can You Hear Live Vineyard Worship
9 Home Among The Gum Trees John Williamson
10 Golden Age Midnight Oil
11 Beauty Live Vineyard Worship
12 Miss Sarajevo (Live from Milan) U2
13 And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda John Williamson
14 The Adventure Of Jesus Various Artists
15 Beautiful Day U2
16 Vertigo U2
17 I Heard the Angels Singing Eric Bibb
18 Capricornia Midnight Oil
19 Miracle Drug U2
20 All Because Of You U2
21 Every Day Vineyard Music
22 Alone King's X
23 Rescue Me Vineyard Music
24 City Of Blinding Lights U2
25 Mercy U2
26 Speed Of Sound Coldplay
27 Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own U2
28 Walk On U2
29 Doesn't Remind Me Audioslave
30 Only 19 John Williamson
31 Fix You Coldplay
32 Hole Hearted Extreme
33 All because of you U2
34 Kite U2
35 I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For U2
36 More Than Words Extreme
37 Yahweh U2
38 Ave Maria (Jacknife Lee Mix) U2
39 Angels Wish Steven Curtis Chapman
40 Bullet The Blue Sky U2
41 Come Now Is The Time To Worship Brian Doerksen
42 Ave Maria Soundgarden
43 If God Will Send His Angels U2
44 Rain Down Delirious?
45 Am I Ever Gonna Change Extreme
46 Black Hole Sun Soundgarden
47 Sabotoge Beastie Boys
48 Over My Head King's X
49 Even Here You are Vineyard Music
50 Kingdom Come Coldplay
52 Majesty (Here I Am) Delirious?
53 Sell My Soul Midnight Oil
54 Only The Strong Midnight Oil
55 Yellow Coldplay
56 Black The Sky King's X
57 Progress Midnight Oil
58 Holy is the Lord My God Vineyard Music
59 Black Flag King's X
60 Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music Larry Norman
61 Blue Sky Mine Midnight Oil
62 Kosciusko Midnight Oil
63 Black Star Radiohead
64 After All These Years Silverchair
65 Awaken The Dawn Delirious?
66 Did You Feel The Mountains Delirious?
67 With You Delirious?
68 Black Capricorn Day Jamiroquai
69 The Difference (In The Garden of St. Anne's-on-the-Hill) King's X
70 I Wish We'd All Been Ready Larry Norman
71 Why Dont You Look Into Jesus Larry Norman
72 Read About It Midnight Oil
73 Dreamworld Midnight Oil
74 Back On The Borderline Midnight Oil
75 Anthem For The Year 2000 Silverchair
76 New Year's Day U2
77 "40" U2
78 Jesus' Blood Delirious?
79 I'm Not Ashamed Delirious?
80 King King's X
81 Karma Police Radiohead
82 Ana's Song (Open Fire) Silverchair
83 Acrobat U2
84 Sunday Bloody Sunday U2
85 Cynical Extreme
86 Fear Not Galactic Cowboys
87 Hungry (Falling On My Knees) Kathryn Scott
88 Beds Are Burning Midnight Oil
89 Hercules Midnight Oil
90 Sleep Now In The Fire Rage Against The Machine
91 Mysterious Ways U2
92 I Will Follow U2
93 All I Want Is You U2
94 Like A Song... U2
95 All I Need Vineyard Music
96 Everything's Not Lost Coldplay
97 Dogman King's X
98 I am the Six O'Clock News Larry Norman
99 The Great American Novel Larry Norman
100 Stars of Warburton Midnight Oil

Friday, August 17, 2007

My top 100 movies



I have always wanted to rate my all time favourite movies but I could not be bothered spending the time looking them all up on the internet. Then facebook came along with an application for rating movies. I have rated over 2000 movies now (many of them with a simple click of "not interested") and come up with my top 100 movies of all time.
The list is obviously not exclusive. Maybe your favourite is not in my list because I have not seen it, or because I simply think it stinks. Let me know if your favourite movie is not in the list, and if I haven't seen it I will try to.
I have reserved the 5 star movies for the absolute best. So I have probably rated the movies more harsly than some. Think of the list a bit like the top 100 singles, some have dropped down lower over time in my estimation.

Here's the list.

5 Stars
1 The Passion of the Christ
2 Braveheart
3 In the name of the Father
4 Alive
5 Dances with wolves
6 The Man without a face
7 Hotel Rwanda
8 Schindler’s List
9 Apocalypto
10 Life is Beautiful
11 Billy Elliot
12 Finding Nemo
13 Unbreakable

4.5 stars
14 Seabiscuit
15 12 Monkeys
16 Searching for Bobby Fischer
17 Jerry Maguire
18 The Castle
19 Ben Hur
20 The Sound of Music
21 Driving Miss Daisy
22 The Lord of the Rings- Fellowship of the Ring
23 Spellbound
24 Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
25 William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
26 Little Miss Sunshine
27 Children of Men

4 Stars
28 Saving Private Ryan
29 The Hurricane
30 The Power of One
31 Radio
32 Ned Kelly
33 Men of Honor
34 Remember the Titans
35 The Rookie
36 The Dish
37 Wondrous Oblivion
38 Das Boot
39 The Last Samurai
40 The Matrix
41 Blade Runner
42 Minority Report
43 The Abyss
44 Fight Club
45 The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
46 The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers
47 The Bourne Identity
48 Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith
49 Run Lola Run
50 Fiddler on the Roof
51 Good Bye, Lenin
52 One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
53 The Fifth Element
54 The Sixth Sense
55 Princess Mononoke
56 The Gods must be crazy
57 The Shawshank Redemption
58 Kenny
59 The Fugitive
60 The Bank
61 Contact
62 Kingdom of Heaven
63 Seven Years in Tibet
64 Bend it like Beckham
65 Mrs Caldicot’s Cabbage War
66 Traffic
67 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

3.5 Stars
68 Star Wars
69 The Matrix Reloaded
70 Gladiator
71 Ghost in the Shell
72 The Matrix Revolutions
73 The Aviator
74 Whale Rider
75 Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
76 Mad Max
77 Babe
78 Stargate
79 Catch Me if you Can
80 Runaway Jury
81 Field of Dreams
82 My Big Fat Greek Wedding
83 Erin Brokovich
84 Enemy at the Gates
85 Artificial Intelligence
86 I am Sam
87 The Man Who Sued God
88 Lawrence of Arabia
89 O Brother Where Art Thou
90 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
91 Napoleon Dynamite
92 World Trade Center
93 50 First Dates
94 What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
95 Brother Bear
96 Bruce Almighty
97 The Incredibles
98 Shrek
99 Chicken Run
100 Edward Scissorhands

Friday, August 10, 2007

This has to end now!



Every time I hear news from Zimbabwe it just gets worse and worse and worse. The world stood by and did nothing when there was genocide in Rwanda. That was a rapid genocide. Mugabe is committing slow genocide in Zimababwe and the world is doing nothing once again. There are no excuses now, because he has been in power for nearly 30 years and everyone knows how evil he is.

Back in 2005 I met a pastor from Zibabwe. He told me how hard things were then and how much persecution they faced from the government. But he also told me that people were responding to the gospel hand over fist as they were just so desperate.

Mugabe has very effectively closed down all of his political opponents and people are all very scared of imprisonment for saying a word wrong. Inflation is now at 3500% in Zimbabwe. They just printed a $200 000 note, but I doubt that very few people are allowed to have one.

Yesterday we attended a prayer meeting and heard very alarming news from people living in Zimbabwe. The government have now made it illegal to "hoard" food. There is virtually nothing left on the shelves in the shops. One man was arrested and dragged away from a shop in handcuffs for buying four packs of toilet paper. People now have to queue for up to three hours to withdraw a maximum of $22 USD. Three million Zimbabweans have already fled to South Africa as refugees and more are leaving all the time.

Recently there was a terrible cult leader president in an Asian country which shall remain unnamed here. We prayed that he would either turn to God or that God would remove him how ever he saw fit. Within weeks the president was dead. That was God's prerogative. Once again I am not saying that Mugabe should die, but I am saying that he has to go. Zimbabwe is way past due. South Africa are sitting around doing nothing as this news article from 2 hours ago shows.

We prayed fervently for the very literal and present salvation of the Zimbabwean people. Either South Africa needs to intervene, or the West needs to intervene or God needs to intervene. But the evil despot has to go now! Please beseech God for this to happen very soon.

And ah, the ridiclous ICC should ban Zimbabwe from playing in the upcoming 20/20 cricket world champiionship. Any money awarded to Zimbabwe ends up directly in the hands of Mugabe and continues to prop up his regime.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What is evangelicalism?

The problem we face today comes from contemporary definitions of words (noticed how I strayed away from "modern" as in modernsim?).

The correct etymological definition of evangelical is someone who believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. By that definition, I am an evangelical. Evangelion is the Greek word, which means gospel, the good news.

My problems arise with the culture of many churches within modern evangelicalism. But I am struggling to find a word that clearly defines this culture. I suppose it can only be best described through common experience. Those who have that experience will know what I am talking about, the rest will be completely confused.

Suffice it to say, many evangelicals have strayed from the roots of the reformation. So, then I would have to say, yes I am a neo-evangelical according to this wikipedia definition. On the same note I am also a post evangelical.

For those who are worried let me reconfirm that I am an evangelical, but that much of the sheltered culture annoys me.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I'll have some of the mystery thanks



Mystery. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? As we embark upon a postmodern age, it is not only a good thing, but an essential in the make up of our spiritual experiences. I do not wish to give a systematic outline of why mystery is a good thing, that would defeat my purpose. Let me satisfy the evangelical urge of some and quote some scripture so that I can prove that I am on the right path. (Isn't it wonderful how we can "prove" so many things with scripture.)

Isaiah prophesied: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." St. Paul goes on to explain that the Spirit of God has revealed these things to us, but that we can not understand these things with out the Spirit of God. St. Paul often talks about the "mystery" of the gospel.

No doubt throughout the ages there have been many who have been guilty of dogmatism and who have exploited Christianity for their own power quests. Due to in most parts, the separation of church and state, the quest for power is not as great as it once was through Christianity, and so the dogmatism is not as strong as it has been in history. Although, it must be said that dogmatism certainly exists today, and people still use Christianity as a means to their power quest. Jesus told us that we must serve one another. Therefore any leader must be a servant not a power monger. What a shame it is that there are so many power mongers. "You must speak in tongues," "why were you not at church on Sunday?," "It is a sin to smoke or drink," are just a few of the modern day dogmatic requirements that exist within conservative churches. For someone to maintain their grip on power then the rules must be clear, so that they can outcast people for stepping outside the neatly defined boundaries.

Modernism brought with it a thirst for discovery and a thirst for knowledge. Embedded in this thirst for knowledge was the world view that man is capable of understanding all things and explaining all things. Science in itself is a wonderful thing, it can actually be used as a tool to expand our appreciation of the mystery. But it was the modernist approach to Science that was so dangerous. Modernists started to come out with "logical" arguments against the existence of God. Logic is a funny creature. A rather intelligent Science teacher that I know in Saskatchewan can "logically" prove that the earth is flat. Logic can be used to argue many things. I think logic works best within confined parameters. So due to the rise in the logic of modernism, a new expression of Christianity arose: Evangelicalism. The evangelical church felt compelled to explain everything in the Bible and to have a logical answer to every question that the Darwinists and Atheists came up with. Evangelicalism reduced Christianity into a science. Systematic theologies were written and the gospel was watered down into four "spiritual laws."

Recently I read a very refreshing book called "Searching for God knows what" by Donald Miller. His thesis is very simple: God created us for relationship, that relationship was lost and now he invites us back into relationship with him again. Donald Miller takes the time to describe the kind of relationship he thinks Adam and Eve would have had with God in the garden, and how desperate it was for them when this relationship was lost. Now, humans try to seek all of their approval from others and do ridiculous things to gain the approval of others. God is simply wanting to give us this approval himself. (Yes, you are right, this in itself is not particularly mysterious at all.) Everyone in life seems to be stuck in a big high school popularity contest. Donald Miller also takes the time to explain how harmful it is to reduce Christianity to a series of bullet points. He very clearly points out that someone can believe all the bullet points to be true, but never have received God's invitation for relationship.

Modernist Evangelicalism has reduced the gospel into bullet points and removed all of the mystery, that St. Paul talked about. The means to becoming a follower of Jesus are very neatly mapped out within evangelicalism. This is sad and has put God into a box. It has also created many other dangerous trends. There are many cliched pat answers to so many of life's most perplexing questions. One of the things I like about post modernism is that there is no pressure to find the answer to all the questions. I personally have the faith that God holds all the answers, but whether I need to know them all or not, is less important. I am content with some mystery in my life.

There are many people today who are on a quest for mystery in their spiritual search. Some of them were even once Christian believers, who found the trite cliched answers too much to stomach and sadly have been turned off by Christianity. To remove the mystery from Christianity is to send people away to find mystery within other religions, be it Islam, Buddhism or new age spiritualities.

God is an awesome and mysterious being. Yes, he became accessible to us as Jesus, and communicated to us the simplicity of faith that is all we need. He spent a lot of time telling us that he wanted us to "know" the father, and that he would leave the Holy Spirit with us to help us to know the father. But do we really want to know the kind of father that we can understand in 5 years at theological college, or wouldn't it be better to have a relationship with a heavenly father that will continue to reveal mystery after mystery to us throughout our own individual lives and the ages?

Religion is a sin. It panders to the human desire that we can achieve our own spiritual fulfillment and salvation. There can be a lot of false religious mystery that can be very attractive to people. This also explains why people wander into different spiritualities in a post Christian world.

God invites me into a relationship with him. In embarking on this relationship, I do not think that I will ever fully understand God. "Is God dangerous? Yes but he is good." (To quote C.S Lewis.) I find it comforting and refreshing that I am still at the very beginning of my relationship with God, that there is still an endless horizon of mystery and adventure in front of me, and that I am untangling myself from some of the dogmatism that has surrounded me in my life.

I hope God is a mystery to you. He is supposed to be. if he isn't then have another look.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Genghis Khan as a kid

Man, I've been blocked!!

How ridiculous is this? I tried to post my on my Siberian blog about our Tuva trip. There was a note there saying that Blogger suspects my blog is a "Spam Blog." I needed to send them a message to check my blog and now I have to wait 2 business days, (in reality 4 days because it is Saturday today), before I can post to it again. They also said, that if they did not hear from me in a few weeks, that they could have deleted my Blog!!! I don't know how long it has been locked, but since I have not posted in a couple weeks, I could have come close to losing my blog. Wow.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A modest proposal

This article from Cric Info proposes the perfect solution to two major problems in world cricket. I thoroughly enjoyed it and agree with the solution. If cricket interests you, you will probably enjoy it too.

ICC could aid the Associates
A modest proposal to aid the minnows
Neil Drysdale
June 25, 2007


Trent Johnston: 'We are amateurs with jobs and families to worry about and it is always going to be tough' © Getty Images
Craig Wright and Trent Johnston, the Scottish and Irish captains during the World Cup in the Caribbean, may have experienced different fortunes at the tournament, but both are unequivocal in the belief that their countries will only progress up the cricketing ladder with hard cash, not soft soap.

Last Friday, Wright declared that his troops may have hit a "glass ceiling" and risked slipping backwards, without "significant financial assistance." Then, within 24 hours, following his team's emphatic defeat by India at Stormont, Johnston issued a resonant cri de coeur. "We have got to put professional contracts in place, so that players can get back to the standard we set in the West Indies, when we had a schedule of 24/7 cricket," he said. "Without that, we are amateurs with jobs and families to worry about and it is always going to be tough."

The issue of how best to develop the emerging nations remains a taxing dilemma for the ICC, which meets this week in London. Yet there is one obvious solution to the present monetary shortfalls faced by the likes of Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands and Kenya. Namely, that the sport's governing body should kick Zimbabwe out of international cricket, withdraw its annual payment of $10m to the ZCA, and tell Peter Chingoka, the chairman of the latter organisation, that it is grotesque that he should expect to be subsidised indefinitely.

At a stroke, the move would finally demonstrate that the ICC has some connection with the real world and recognises that questions of morality and ethics should not be left solely to the politicians. After all, the reigning global champions, Australia, have already refused to tour Zimbabwe, with the support of their prime minister, John Howard, and it seems probable that the West Indies A squad's imminent visit to the African country will also either be cancelled or feature such a depleted Caribbean party that any subsequent matches staged in Harare or Bulawayo will be rendered meaningless.

In which light, what do Zimbabwe bring to the table to justify their Full Member status? Even in purely cricketing terms, they are a second-rate proposition, without the likes of Henry Olonga, Heath Streak, the Flowers, Andy and Grant, and Sean Ervine. But, in the wider scheme of things, their continued participation in international cricket is abhorrent: a glaring contradiction of all the social, political and multicultural values which are supposed to be enshrined in the ICC's constitution, but which have been left to wither on the vine under the inadequate stewardship of the council's chief executive, Malcolm Speed.

It should be obvious to even the most blinkered ICC placeman that if cricket is to expand beyond its present pool, it has to invest in missionary work

It shouldn't be forgotten that cricket is fairly trivial in the grand picture of discussing Mugabe's myriad crimes. And yet, the ICC is struggling at the moment to properly finance its associate members, a state of affairs which will doubtless be raised at Lord's over the next days, as the panjandrums pick over the bones of the calamitous World Cup, which finished in darkness but not before sufficient light had been shed on the organisers' collective blundering to ensure that the event will be remembered with derision.

From which perspective, if Speed and his colleagues decided to call an abrupt halt to Zimbabwe's presence in the ranks then that $10m could be the catalyst for professionalizing the game in Scotland, Ireland and beyond.

I spoke last week to Roddy Smith, the chief executive of Cricket Scotland, and he estimated that half-a-million pounds a year would guarantee that his organisation could place 12 to 15 players on contracts, as well as pay for any foreign tours which the Scots are keen to pursue. Given that the Irish are in a similar position, we can conclude that a £3 million leap of faith by the ICC would allow both Celtic nations to establish a full-time structure for the next three years, at which stage they would have to demonstrate to the authorities that they have forged commercial and local authority partnerships within their own territory as a means of moving towards self-sufficiency.

Nobody, least of all Smith, is asking for hand-outs, but it should be obvious to even the most blinkered ICC placeman that if cricket is to expand beyond its present pool, it has to invest in missionary work rather than simply be content to throw the minnows a couple of ODIs every summer.

Heaven alone knows, the ICC badly requires an injection of credibility. What better way than by expelling Zimbabwe, whose politicians have sparked anarchy for the sport ever since 2003? And by rewarding those nations with ambitions to transcend the goldfish bowl and advance into the big pond.

Neil Drysdale is a freelance journalist and author

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Post script on the Pluto debate

A while back I posted on the debate of whether Pluto is a planet or not. The International Astronomical Union voted last year that Pluto is not a planet, but officially a "dwarf planet", therefore a different category. It seems that the state of New Mexico can not handle this scientific decision, so they have declared through legislation that Pluto IS a planet. I find it quite amusing that a state government think they are in a position to make scientific decisions. This is just pure ignorance. Idgets.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Evangelicalism

There is so much that annoys me about evangelicalism, that I want to be post-evangelical. I think I will stop calling myself a neo-evangelical.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Inexplicable

Shortly after massacre
Demise susceptible
Come out of almighty
Crazily overwhelming

Frustration

Embarked in this case firstly Beijing
Come back, arrrgh back to bout
Abakan, Novosibirsk, Moscow, Beijing
Come back, crazily dismayed

Mastercard, Mastercard
Come back
Noooooooo!
Back to?
Of course, inefficency astounds me
Go to bed

Political

Prazdnik, prazdniks, all of them
Psyche
Prazdniks such as Huh? True.
Boris Yeltsin, prazdnik
Valentines roled
ANZAC, no matter how, conundrum

Overt Stalin, Hitler despots, Stalin
Propagandised, lustre
Hitler, Churchill, Churchill
Dietrich Boenhoeffer’s assasinate Hitler
In the process of, of, no,
Of course such as abhorrent gusto fireworks
Hitler
Babushka, Babushka?
Prazdnik?
Babushka?
Babushka retreated
Healing

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Well done Mr Howard


I am proud of John Howard taking a stand to ban the upcoming Australian cricket tour of Zimbabwe. It is sad that this has taken so long though. Robert Mugabe has been a tyrant for many years in Zimbabwe. But it must be said that John Howard has been the number one world leader to move against Mugabe, and again he deserves praise for this. It was Howard who strongly moved to have Mugabe and Zimbabwe removed from the British Commonwealth of nations, as a result of this the rest of Europe took notice and withdrew their relationships.
People have argued that sport and politics should be kept separate. What a modernist world view- that things can be so disconnected. Geoff Marsh (former Australian test cricketer) has questioned whether such a boycott would do any good. This ban and boycott will do a lot of good. Mugabe will not have his propaganda victory now. People will know that Australia are refusing to tour because of his regime. It is now up to the rest of the cricketing world to follow suit.
The suggestion that the games be played in South Africa is a reasonable one, and would not be a big stress on the Aussie team who will be in South Africa for the Twenty20 world champiionship in September anyway.
I fear that the ICC will not change as a result of this though. I would prefer that Cricket Australia refused to tour as a challenge to the ICC and their corruption, but I guess that was never going to happen.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

What a bang!


I'm fascinated by all things astronomical. I remember looking through a high powered telescope as a kid and seeing a very vivid picture of Jupiter. The universe out there has so many amazing mysteries to behold. Many times as humans we have been astonished and amazed at the beauty we see here on earth, but the magnitude of the universe just takes all of this to the nth degree.
I'm not reporting anything new because this news has already been reported by the media. but I wanted to "re-report" the Supernova that happened this week, because I think it is amazing.

SOME FACTS.
1) Name of star: SN2006gy
2) Discovery: September 2006 by post doctoral researcher Robert Quimby, with the help of NASA's x-ray telescope "Chandra."
3) Mass of star: Described as "freakily massive" SN2006gy was 150 times the mass of the sun. This is thought to be as large as a star could possibly be. (Although the universe holds many mysteries and in my humble opinion there could be even larger surprises in space.)
4) Distance from earth: 240 000 000 light years. In Galaxy NG1260 (This is a loooong way. Our galaxy the milky way is about 100 000 light years across and that is BIG. But this is the distance of 2400 Milk Ways away).
5) Energy of explosion: 100 times bigger than a typical supernova it is by far and away the largest ever recorded.
6) Age of star: It had a short life, burning hard and fast, it was 1 million years old. Compare this to our own Sun, thought to be 4.5 billion years old.
7) Length of supernova: SN2006gy has been burning at supernova for more than 250 days, much longer than other stars. The peak of its burn lasted 70 days, where as the longest any other has lasted has been 2 weeks. Most supernovas burn out after one month.
8) Brightness of supernova: 100 000 000 000 (one hundred billion) times brighter than our Sun.

So this has been the most massive of star and supernovas ever known. It is thougt that the mass of SN2006gy was so huge that it could not bare its own weight, as a result it produced so much gamma radiation that some of the energy was converted into particle and anti particle pairs. This gravitational force pulled the star in upon itself which triggered a series of thermonuclear reactions and eventually its early supernova.

The star Eta Carinae which is 7500 light years away, placing it in the Milky Way, is losing its mass rapidly, which is the precursor to a supernova. This means that it could go supernova any time from 7499 years ago to 40 000 years from now. If it does it will probably be so bright that people in the southern hemisphere could read by night. Since Australia has never had white nights, if this lasted for a couple weeks, I am sure it would create quite the party atmosphere.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bring on the end

Bring on the end of "cricket." What's that you say, am I not a huge cricket fan. Yes, I love the game of cricket but I hate what it has become, or more specifically I hate what the International Cricket Council has become. They are a greedy corrupt organisation, and the recent world cup only highlighted this situation.
A little trivia for you, the ICC recently gave $2 million to China for development of the game there. Yet the only Chinese who play cricket are forced to by their governement and have never heard of the game before. Cricket in China is just another communist plot for world domination, and they will happily steal away childhood dreams to do so. At the same time the ICC only gave $75 000 to Kenya who are on the brink of Test status, which will only be granted at the ICC's whim. Kenya have done everything they can as far as performance is concerned. Apparently their grounds are not up to scratch. So why wasn't the $2 million given to Kenya.
We all know what a farce the world cup was, high ticket prices that locals could not afford, ridiculous internet fees for journalists, fans with t-shirts from non-sponsors being evicted, making Australia and Sri Lanka play in the dark, the list goes on.
But the final proof that the ICC are corrupt is their handling of the issue of Zimbabwe. South Africa were rightly banned from international cricket during the regime of apartheid, but Zimbabwe have been allowed to continue during Mugabe's ever worsening regime. The week started with John Howard suggesting he would pay any fine imposed by the ICC on Cricket Australia, should they boycott Zimbabwe. Alexander Downer rightly states that an Australian cricket tour there would be a propaganda coup for Mugabe. But the ICC have turned around and said to Cricket Australia thay a withdrawl is only valid for safety reasons, and that a fine would be a "minimum $2 million." Worse yet, the fines would go to the Zimbabwe Cricket Board, which in reality is also controlled by Mugabe and so he would get the money too.
If Howard realises that the money would go to Mugabe and does not pay, then Australia could face suspension from International Cricket. I say, bring it on. Bring on the end to this International Cricket farce. If Australia are suspended from world cricket for boycotting Zimbabwe, it will only highlight how corrupt the ICC is. This may be the catalyst for the end of the ICC.
With two billionaires ready to swipe, one in India and one in the Caribbean with new Twenty20 competitions, a revolution in world cricket is about to happen. And I can't wait for it to happen either, so long as test cricket survives,

John Howard could just ban the cricket team from touring and the ICC would have to respect that. That never happens in Australian sport though. If he were to do that he would be protecting the ICC. If he does not then he is helping their demise. I applaud you John Howard for your part in helping to dismantle a corrupt ICC.