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Our Bottom Line is You! The Naivety of National

I haven't blogged on politics for a while. I have had all sorts of thoughts but it is National's latest slogan that has led me to break my silence. 
I see with interest that National has a new slogan: “our bottom line is you” (https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12253263). Here is a brilliant example of the naivety of this National Party leadership.
First, it is naff! It is insipid. It is sickly. Get me a bucket. “Our bottom line is you”—what does that mean? It's kind of a reworking of “its all about you.” None of us can take that seriously because it is weak and puerile to the core.
Second, be real National! The bottom line is winning the next election. It is either getting over 50% of the votes that count to win. Or, getting a coalition partner and together getting over the line! There is no coalition partner. Hence, you are destined to wallow in the opposition for another round. Get on with making that happen.
Third, I suppose the bottom l…

Cycling and Cruciformity

In recent years, Emma and I have become cyclists joining NZ Cyclist (http://nz-cyclist.spruz.com/) to get fitter and make some new friends. The group is full of great guys and gals, real salt of the earth kiwis, all of varying abilities. Four or five times a week different groups career around the streets of the Shore and into the countryside. It is hard work but great for fitness and friendship. Aside from being uber-frustrated at the moment at being way too busy to get out often, we have fallen in love with cycling and the people we ride with.
When you join a group like this and get into group riding, you learn that there is a real art to cycling, including the idea of drafting. This is when you cycle very close to the rear wheel of the person in front of you, to a degree you get sucked along by those leading you. Drafting is highly advantageous as you use far less energy than the person on the front, although there is some gain for the lead rider as well (http://www.exploratorium…

Is Colossians 1:29 an Example of Hyperbole?

Paul says Colossians 1:23 that the gospel which the Colossians heard through Epaphras and which is spreading through the world (Col 1:6–7) has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven. Scholars deal with it in different ways. Hendriksen and Kistemaker understand by this that as the gospel has reached Rome, “it had actually invaded every large center of the then-known world” (Exposition, 85). This is patently incorrect as there were centers north, south, and to the east that were both known and a part of the world. Ernest Martin suggests that we should not push this statistically, but it speaks of the gospel’s universal application (Colossians, Philemon, 83), a view others hold to (e.g. Ash). Osborne considers that the gospel is being proclaimed in every part of the world and so there is hope for all of creation to be brought back into harmony with God (Verse by Verse, 50). Pao similarly sees here not hyperbole, but the universal scope of the gospel and “cosmic submission to God” (…

Considering Paul's Understanding of the Church as Family

When we talk about Paul’s view of the church, often we emphasize the ideas of “the body of Christ” and “the temple of the Spirit.” These ideas are to be sure very important to Paul. The body of Christ motif is found in passages focused on spiritual gifts whereby the community of believers who make up the church brings their diverse gifts together in unity in service of God (Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12:12, 27; Eph 3:6; 4:12, cf. Col 3:15). The church is also considered by Paul to be the Temple of the Spirit meaning that the dwelling place of God on earth is believers and the people of the church as a community (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19).  In Ephesians 2:20–22, the church is founded on Christ, the apostles, and prophets, with all believers built into the one building. There is a shift from the idea of the Jerusalem Temple as the palace of God—we become this individually and corporately.

Yet, clearly, Paul’s primary understanding of church is the family of God. He uses the notion explicitly on occasion …

I've got nothing

It is two days since that harrowing moment when we realized we had lost the Cricket World Cup. Many NZers are still in grief. Ex-cricketers like myself are lost in a sea of deep anguish, tossed hither and thither by waves of anger, sorrow, pain, and turmoil. I was asked on Facebook to give hope. In effect, I can't give hope, because I've got nothing.

Yet, I suppose there are different ways to console ourselves.

1. Drink copious alcohol--helps in the short term, but bad for your skin.
2. Pray NZ votes for the legalization of dope and spend the next ten years stoned. Problem is, you might end up worse with paranoia. It would just lead to more conspiracy theories which will deepen our funk.
3. Take it out on others--make sure they too are not kiwis, or you may bite off more than you can chew, they may be angrier than you. Also, don't take it out on Ben Stokes, we know what he can do in a brawl.
4. Make up excuses like the umpires missed the overthrow moment should have been …

The Sign of the Cross: Why did we do away with it?

I was at a worship gathering recently and we took communion. I observed a woman take the emblems and then make the sign of the cross. I found it a beautiful and poignant moment as she in deep sincerity, honored God in this way.
It then took my mind to the myriad of times I have seen others do the same in different settings. In silence, a person using the right hand (because Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father) touches the forehead, the center of the chest (the heart), and the two shoulders saying: “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.” (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=autaIzGDcy8).
It is used across a range of churches including the Orthodox, Catholic Churches, Anglicanism, and some Lutherans and Methodists. The idea is a very early one, found in Tertullian (De corona 3) who in the late second century says it was used on every journey, leaving the home, and at meals and bedtime (ISBE 1:287).  
As I thought on this…

You Give them Something to Eat

So often Christians passionate for evangelism downplay social justice. They see things like caring for the poor and other good works as secondary to telling someone the good news of Jesus. For a range of reasons, I find this unsatisfactory. Social engagement can never be limited to the words we speak. Sharing Christ is found in a holistic encounter where our attitudes and actions sit alongside and give meaning to the words we speak. If we speak without loving good works our words are dead. If we show love and never speak the gospel, no one is saved. The two are intertwined.
One of the verses that I find helpful in this regard is in the context of the feeding of the 5000 in Mark 6:30–44. The disciples have just come back from their first mission in which they proclaimed to people that they must repent of their sins, cast out demons, and healed the sick (Mark 6:12–13).
Then they return to Jesus (Mark 6:30). Jesus takes them by boat to a desolate place for a bit of r &…