Showing posts from 2006

Greatest Cricket Team Part 2

My team since 1970 could of course play the B team.

For me the B team is:
Justin Langer (Australia)
Gordon Greenidge (West Indies)
Greg Chappell (Australia)
Sachin Tendulkar (India)
Steve Waugh (Australia) (Captain)
Imran Khan (Pakistan)
Ian Healy (Australia)
Dennis Lillee (Australia)
Joel Garner (West Indies)
Curtley Ambrose (West Indies)
Mutiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka)
Anit Kumble (India) 12th man
If it turns heaps add in Derek Underwood (England)

Then they could play the pre-1970 team.
My team is

Jack Hobbs (England)
Leonard Hutton (England)
Donald Bradman (Australia) Captain
Wally Hammond (England)
Everton Weekes (West Indies)
Garfield Sobers (West Indies)
Keith Millar (Australia)
Wally Grout (Australia)
Ray Lindwall (Australia)
Harold Larwood (England)
Clarrie Grimmett (Australia)
Bill O'Rielly (Australia) 12 Man

If it turns, add in Jim Laker (England)

World's Best Cricket 11 Since 1970

The impending retirement of Warne and McGrath gives me cause to consider the best cricket 11 from the time I have been a student of the game of cricket; since 1970.

Openers: The first name which comes to mind is Geoff Boycott. He was too ponderous and defensive, the man for a defensive fight perhaps, but not for the attacking brand of cricket that the world needs. Barry Richards could be in, but he didn't play enough test cricket to be considered. Similarly Glenn Turner; he did well in England and OK in his short test career; but not enough to prove his case.

Then there is Greenidge and Haynes. They sure knew how to attack and were a great partnership. Sunil Gavasker has a sensational record; one of only two who have averaged over 50. He can't be criticised for doing it all on Indian flat tracks; he averaged 52.11 away from home and 50.16 at home! He had to face the Aussies Lillee etc. The only problem is that he tended to get his runs a little slowly.

Then there is the Langer-Ha…

The ending of Mark's Gospel

Good translations of the Gospel of Mark tell us that the end of Mark's Gospel is disputed. The NRSV gives the three main options. There is either the traditional ending which included Mk 16:9-20; a shorter ending which includes one verse which summarises the spread of the gospel through the disciples; and some end at 16:8. Most scholars are of the view that 16:8 is the end of Mark's Gospel.

This ending raises all sorts of questions. Why does Mark end so abruptly with the women disobeying Jesus and hiding away in fear and perplexity? Why does he include no appearances when the angel has told the women to tell the apostles to go to Galilee where he will appear to them? Why does it not include the appearance to Peter (cf. Jn 21; 1 Cor 15:5) or to the twelve; considering that Papias tells us that Mark is dependent on Peter's testimony (c. AD130)?

This is a great question. Some believe that Mark ended it that way to highlight the perplexity at Jesus' identity, one of the recu…

Highlights 2006

Here are my global highlights for 2006.
Sportsman of the year: Roger Federer winner of 3/4 major tennis tournaments and second in the other one! Not bad. Just beat out Tiger who won 2/4 major golf tournaments. Third is Michael Greis winner of 3 Winter Olympic Biathlon medals. Fourth is Fernando Alonso, winner of the Formula One Motorsport Champs.

Sportswoman of the year: Amelie Mauresmo wimmer of 2/4 major tennis tournaments. Second is Ahn Hyun Soo of South Korea who won three golds and a bronze at the winter Olympics speed skating. Third is team mate Jin Sun-Yu who won 3 speed skating golds as well! Fourth is another speed skater Cindy Klassen who won 1 gold, 2 silvers and 2 bronzes at the same event. These women are legends!

Sportsteam of the year: Italy soccer team. Winners of the biggest event of the biggest sport of the year; a no brainer. Second though is the Spanish Basketball team which won the world champs including the USA!

Twit of the year: No brainer: Zidane! That head butt wa…

Years best

As it is the day before Christmas I want to celebrate sport from a God-point-of-view. In recent times I have begun to give thanks to God as I have realised that sport is close to his heart. What, you say? What has God to do with sport? Well, he made us physical. Ancient Greeks despised the body and celebrated the mind. They saw human existence as being trapped in a weak shadow of reality in the evil of matter. However, the Judeo-Christian ethic celebrates the whole person. We are made in God's image, physical, to eat and be whole. The Christian is the temple of God. He made us creative, creativity in forming games to enjoy is part of being human. So for me sport is one of humanities great gifts. It is a healthy way of interacting, socialising, competing and having fun.

Sport has indeed become idolatrous and tarnished with cheating through drugs etc, materialism as it has become big business and a win-at-all-costs mentality. Yet this does not invalidate sport. It is good and to be e…

A great irony

I was thinking about the Simon of Cyrene incident in Mk 15:21. Jesus' having been psychologically interrogated, physically beaten including 40 lashes with a leather whip laced with broken pottery and other destructive broken objects, beaten with sticks, a crown of thorns pushed on his head and not having slept for a night is told to carry his cross to Calvary. Yet no sooner than they set out on the journey, the soldiers grab some poor passer by en-route to Jerusalem and tell him to carry Jesus' cross. The text does not tell us why they conscripted Simon. Perhaps Jesus was exhausted. Perhaps he was moving too slow and they had a timetable to keep. Perhaps they just felt like it. Perhaps Simon said something to them about the cruelty of what they were doing? Who knows.

The irony lies in linking this verse to Mk 8:34 where Jesus told his disciples that if they wanted to be a follower of Christ they must take up their cross and follow him; what strikes me, is that Jesus did not act…

NZ Batting Woes

Having said that the Murali affair is a tragedy to me, this cannot be blamed for NZ's shocking batting. For me the problem with the NZ batsmen is not one of ability but of technique. I was watching the Aussies, Langer, Hayden, Ponting, Hussey, Clark, Gilchrist and then there is Martin, and they all have one thing in common; excellent technique. They have different strengths but they have wonderful defences on both feet, and can play the full range of shots according to the book. They icing on the cake is that they can also smash it!

When I look at NZ's batsmen over recent years they have Stephen Fleming apart, had appalling techniques. They do not use their feet effectively against speed or spin. Many have visible weaknesses like falling away to the off side, playing away from their bodies against pace, standing flat footed on the crease line against spin. They simply aren't schooled in the art of batting.

When I look back over the last twenty years there have been some NZ p…

A favourite prayer lesson

It is easy to read Mk 11:22-24 which tell us that we can ask for anything in prayer with faith and we will receive it. We can even it seems tell a mountain to throw itself into the sea and it will be done for us. This has led some Christians to believe that with faith we should get a 100% hit rate on our prayers, if we have enough faith. On the other hand, failed prayer means a lack of faith.

This sounds reasonable if we forget the wider context of Mark's Gospel. I always believe that when we are looking at a verse and seeking to interpret after looking at its immediate context, we need to consider it in terms of the wider document; in this case, Mark. If it is a thematic text like this one on prayer, we need to especially consider what else Mark records on prayer.

In regards this verse 11:22-24 the most important textual link for me is Mk 14:32-42. Here Jesus comes to God in prayer. He has a mountain to move; the cross! He has shown his awareness of what he is to face since Mk 8:31…


It has to be the biggest disgrace in world cricket that within a year or 5 the greatest wicket taker in the world will be a chucker. I know such a view is not popular in today's PC world and in a world where the Asian force in cricket is huge, but it is ridiculous. Warne is a freak and it is a tragedy that he will set a record that will be quickly eclipsed by Murali. Without doubt Warne is the greatest spinner of all time and his legacy will be stamped out by an bowler who breaks the essential rule of cricket, he is a chucker!

Watching him in the recent NZ series, he is certainly testing the 15 degree mark! But what is this 15 degree mark anyway? Who established that? It is an act of legitimation to avoid seeking to deal with the backlash that would come if Murali was banned as he should be!

Anyone who throws a ball around knows that you can't bowl a leggie with an off-spin action unless you chuck. It is a shocker that the opportunity was not taken when he first hit the scene to…

Go the Aussies

It is the day after the Ashes and it is time to salute Australian cricket. I am one eighth Aussie, my Dad's Mum was from there, so a little part of me is rather Australian.

I love Australian cricket. It is sensational. Warne has to be the best bowler I have ever seen. I used to bowl leg-spin in my youth and I simply cannot believe he can bowl so consistently. His life may be a disaster off the field, but he can sure bowl. Hussey is a freak. He is en-route to have the second best record of any batsmen since Bradman. Ponting is sensational. I am not sure if he is the best I have seen but he ranks with G. Chappell, Richards and Lara for sure. Matthew Hayden may be passed his best, but he is the best opener I have seen. Then there is McGrath; he is past his best too, but still one of the best of all time. The rest of them are legends too whether it be Lee, Clark (he is going to be a legend for sure), Langer (a legend), Martin (bon voyage), Symonds (he will do great things in tests), Cl…

Children and Jesus

I have noticed in my study of Mark recently that Jesus loved kids! He rebuked those who tried to stop them coming to him. He healed them. He blessed them. He saw them as paradigms of living and faith. He was into kids.

For me the church needs to grasp this again. Our services are obsessed with making sure everything is flawless, no kids noise disrupting the glory of the prayers and sermons, no babies crying! Yet when Jesus came into Jerusalem on a donkey, it was the kids who sang songs of praise!

I have recently noted a terrible attitude of my own in this regard. When I was a pastor I was really devoted to having a great kids program. I have thought about that and realised that my primary motivation was not the good of the kids but so that families who came to the church would stay. You see, I operated with the idea that if the sermon was good, the worship good, the kids program good, the youth program good and the church nice and hospitable, people would stay.

I think my whole attitude …

NZ Greatest Women's Sports Teams

My last post looked at NZ's greatest men's sports teams. This time I will look at the women. I will not include rowing pairs like the Evers-Swindells but if I did they would win hands down.

The candidates are:

Netball world champ teams
1. 1967 World Champs Winners
2. 1979 World Champs Winners (with Australia and Trinidad/Tobago)
3. 1987 World Champs Winners
4. 2003 World Champs Winners

Softball world champ winners
1. 1982 World Champ Winners

Rugby world champ winners
1. 1998 world champs winners
2. 2002 world champs winners
3. 2006 world champs winners

Cricket world cup winners
1. 2000 world cup winners

So how does one pick out of these. None of these are truly global sports. However, softball is played by Japan, USA, Canada along with Australia meaning it is the closest probably of the sports above. Cricket is also more international that netball with the Asian nations playing. Rugby is a late comer. So my order is:
1. 1982 Softball world champ winners
2. 2000 cricket world cup winners
3. 1967…

He looked at him and loved him

I came across another of my favourite verses from the book of Mark. It is Mk 10:21 where Jesus in his encounter with the rich young ruler writes of Jesus, 'he looked at him and loved him!' What a moment. Jesus by this stage knew in his spirit that this man was a rich man who oppressed the poor and needed to repent to enter the kingdom. Yet he looked at him and loved him. This is how he looks upon us. He looks at us and loves us. The first part speaks of Jesus engagement with us; he does not avert his gaze because of the terrible sins we have committed. Even though he is the eternal Son of God, creator of the universe and to be judge of all; even though he is a Jewish holy man in a land where holy men do not have anything to do with sin and sinners because sinners are ritually impure and to be shunned; despite these things, he looks on the sinner and loves them! This is not a passive love but a real, living, active love that leads Jesus to act on behalf of the sinner and die fo…

'You give them something to eat!'

I have been reading the feeding of the 5000 miracle account in Mk 6:30-44. The verse that stands out to me is v37: 'you give them something to eat'. To me, in the rhetorical purpose of Mark's narrative, this is an appeal to the Christian church to feed the poor. Mark is writing to a Gentile audience and tells the story highlighting this imperative.

Clearly this begins within the family of God, as we as God's people seek to alleviate poverty in our midst. The principle of justness in the community is critical and will be a radical witness to a greedy world (cf. 2 Cor 8:13).

However, there is no evidence that these people are Christians; this is pre-resurrection, they are seeking healing, they are not fully into God yet. This means to me that this imperative gives a sound biblical base for the work of aid organisations who work in Christ's name to remove poverty e.g. World Vision, Tear Fund.

That being said, this aspect of Christ's ministry cannot be isolated from …

Legion and call

I was really taken the other day with the story of Legion in Mk 5:1-20; especially with the conclusion of the story. Here is the man, delivered from his terrible affliction (perhaps 2000 demons!) and in his right mind. He says to Jesus, 'can I come with you?' In other words, can I join the 12, the team; and join the mission? Jesus' answer is no! You can join the team, but I have another task for you to do. Rather than come with me and my apostolic team, I want you to go back to your home and community and tell them what I have done for you.

This illustrates a lot about call for me. First, we don't call ourselves to a particular role or ministry; rather, Jesus assigns us our task. Second, some of us will be told not to go to another mission field, but told to go home and testify to the salvation we have experienced in Christ. Third, this tells us that essential to mission is the power of testimony; sharing what God has done for us. For this guy, it was an amazing deliver…


I was at an athletics event the other day. One of the events was the 2000m walk. I watched with my kids and we discussed who was running and who was walking. It was tough to tell. It seemed to us that the best concealed runner was the fastest and it was really a game of deceit!

It reminded me of my distaste for race walking as a sport. I believe it violates the principle of athletics. Athletics involves getting from one place to another as fast as possible. It involves jumping as far as possible whether it is up or along the ground and whether it involves a variety of jumps (e.g. tiple jump) or one (e.g. high/long jump). It involves throwing an implement as far as possible.

Race walking involves a convoluted set of qualifications in terms of motor movement which are very subjective and difficult to discern. So it is the one who can do the best job of running while looking like walking who wins. Why on earth they don't just make it a running race? Don't get me wrong; I am not und…

NZ Greatest Men's Sports Team

I admit that the lists on the previous days are marginal in that there have been some great sportsmen and women who were a part of teams and probably deserve to be a part of the lists. So what about NZ's greatest male sports teams. Here is a list of possibilities.

There have been a number of great rugby teams
1. The 1905 All Blacks (One controversial loss on a tour of Britain)
2. The 1924 All Blacks (Unbeaten in Britain but didn't play Scotland)
3. The 1956 All Blacks (Beat South Africa for the first time in NZ)
4. The 1965-69 All Blacks (Beat South Africa, Lions (4-0), unbeaten on British tour etc)
5. The 1977-78 All Blacks (Beat Lions, First NZ Grand Slam in Britain)
5. The 1987-89 All Blacks (Won the World Cup; unbeaten for three years)
6. The 1996-98 All Blacks (First Series Win in South Africa; Tri-Nations)
7. The 2005-2006 All Blacks (Tri-Nations both years; Grand Slam of Britain; Unbeaten 2007 tour) (But will they win the Rugby World Cup?)

There are a few cricket teams that deser…

Jesus is in your boat

Yo again. Time to change direction. I was reading Mk 4:35-41 today and something caught my eye that gives me great comfort. It is the story of Jesus in the boat when the storm hits. Mark's description tells us it is a really serious storm, a hurricane with great wind and waves that were swamping the boat. While this is going on and the disciples are totally freaking out, Jesus is asleep in a cushion in the stern! It is the disciple's question that they ask of Jesus that gets me. They wake him up and ask, 'teacher, don't you care if we drown?' Do we not often ask a similar question when the going gets tough, 'Jesus, don't you care?' I certainly do when the going gets tough and I have unanswered prayer or struggle in my life.

Well Jesus response is wonderful. He does not say anything but he acts in their interests taking control, commanding the wind and the waves. So the answer is, Jesus does care.

The story goes on with Jesus challenging their lack of fait…

Greatest Female Sportswomen NZ

So who stands alongside Peter Snell on the female side of things as NZ's greatest sportswomen thus far.

The candidates.
1. Yvette Williams (gold medal long jump 1952 Melbourne and a swag of other athletics medals and acheivements)
2. Elsie Wilkie (winner of 2 world's bowls champs and in 1977 beat three of NZ's best male champs)
3. Sarah Ulmer (winner of gold in women's pursuit 2004, world records, and other commonwealth golds)
4. Erin Baker (winner of 8 world triathlon titles [sprint and ironman] over her career and a duathlon title!)
5. Sandra Edge (netball midcourt legend)
6. Irene van Dyk (netball shooting superstar)
7. Caroline Evers-Swindell (rowing gold 2004 Olympics and numerous world champ titles)
8. Georgine Evers-Swindell (rowimg gold 2004 Olympics and numerous world champ titles)
9. Analise Coberger (silver winter Olympic gold 1992 plus other world titles)
10. Susan Devoy (Squash 4x World Champ; 8x British Champion plus many other events)
11. Beatrice Faumuina (Shot put…

So I went to church

So I did go to church yesterday and it was great. The music rocked and it was a great experience. So often that is the case. But what if it hadn't been; should this mean I give it up and walk away.

I often ponder what Paul would have said to the question, "do I have to go to church to be a Christian?" In one sense he would have said yes, for one is saved by grace, through faith and not through works; going to church would be a salvation-work if we made it essential for salvation. On the other hand he would have been surprised and frustrated by the question. For Paul I am sure the church is not a place! So you don't have to go. Rather it is a people; and he would have I am sure believed it was important to be a part of the people into which one had been united in Christ!

So I am glad I went. The sermon was great. The lunch afterwards was good too as the elders and other leaders of the church had their final get together for the year.

So I say to all of those who are frus…

Greatest Male Sportsperson NZ

It is a tough thing to decide on the greatest NZ sportsman. The main candidates for me are:
Bob Fitzsimmons (boxing world title)
Anthony Wilding (tennis wimbledon 2x)
Denny Hulm (formula one champion)
Ivan Mauger (speedway champion 6x)
Bob Charles (golf British Open and others)
Colin Meads (All Black)
Peter Snell (athletics 3 gold medals; other records and titles)
Winton Rufer (soccer)
Michael Campbell (golf US Open and others)
Mark Sorenson (Captain NZ Softball team for 2 World Titles plus one other)
Russell Coutts (sailing America's Cup 3x; Olympic gold)
Richard Hadlee (cricket)
Mark Todd (equestrian 2 Olympic Golds; heaps of other titles)
Danyon Loader (swimming 2 Olympic Gold; 1 silver; world titles, world records)
Ian Ferguson (Kayaking 4 Olympic Gold; 1 silver; world titles)
Paul MacDonald (Kayaking 3 Olympic Gold; 1 silver; 1 bronze)

How do you choose between these legends? For me it can be narrowed down to:
Denny Hulm (formula one champion): this is so tough to win!
Peter Snell (athletics 3 …

What is a great sport?

Yesterday I blogged about what is a sport. But what is a great sport? What makes it great?

1. Popular Appeal: I am a believer that humanity knows intuitively what a great sport is. Soccer is the most popular of sports. Others that have global appeal are athletics, basketball, tennis, golf etc. The worlds knows a good sport.
2. Simplicity: I think a good sport is simple to engage in, easy to pick up. Sports like running, cycling etc are like this. So is soccer and basketball. For me rugby is hampered by its complexity as is Grid Iron! Cricket too is rather too complex for many. A good sport is simple.
3. Few rules: linked to simplicity is that a sport does not have too many rules. This is one of the great advantages of soccer, it is a great sport in its few rules. Again rugby and grid iron fall short on this plain. Netball too is far to static and dominated by the whistle.
4. Involvement: While to play any sport at the top level is tough, being able to play a sport easily makes it great.…


I am going to church this morning. I am tired and don't feel like it really. It will more of the same, music, prayer, same people, sermon etc. Christmas is looming, more of the same, carols (who is Carol?) etc. Why bother?

I will go because it is the call of God to gather. I am not really into the unchurch faith thing and struggle to grasp the attitude of those who participate in it. For me, the notion of the body of Christ rules this out. We are called to be one as is a body, many parts, held together by the Spirit. This involves commitment, a determination to keep gathering.

I have plenty of reasons to leave church. I was really hurt in a church a few years ago, trashed by a few people. I could have walked away. But that would have been the wrong thing to do in Christ. For me, commitment to Christ is commitment to the things he loves and is concerned about, including his people.

There is no excuse to give up on church and claim faith in Christ. There are churches galore out there …


Yo again. How is it? Feeling miserable? Had a tough day or week or year? Feeling lost? Here's 10 things to lift your spirit, if you choose to let them.

1. God created the universe with you in mind as the apex of his creation!
2. God created you to spend eternity with him, all you have to do is say "yes"!
3. God oversaw your formation in your mother's womb and has a life prepared for you!
4. God in his determination to ensure that you would spend eternity with him despite your failures and weaknesses, became flesh, died a gruesome death for you, and rose from the dead to ensure that you can. All you have to do is say, "yes"!
5. It doesn't matter what happens, whether a nuclear disaster, a terrible illness, God is with you and you will be with him forever if you just say "yes"!
6. Even though it is hard to accept in the hard times, God is with you in them and will use them to grow you into the great person he created you to be! Just hang in there.
7. E…

What is a sport?

Interesting question. What qualifies as a sport? I heard a discussion recently on radio sport to this effect. For me a sport is an activity that involves these elements.

Firstly, competitiveness. That is, one person/team is trying to beat another in a pursuit. The aim of a sport is to win. You can play sport to not win and to merely have fun; but built into the essence of the activity, is a system to delineate win, lose or draw.

Secondly, rules and fairness. That is, there is an organised set of rules to govern the game to ensure fairness. This calls into question climbing Mt Everest as a sport. Even though I would rate what Sir Edmund Hillary did on Everest as the greatest physical achievement by a New Zealander, I do not consider it a sport as it was not a governed, fair race to the top of Everest. I do not think that Hillary should have been listed second in the recent Radio Sport poll of NZ's greatest history makers in sport. In terms of running, running an 800m on the track is …

What is a sport?

Interesting question. What qualifies as a sport? I heard a discussion recently on radio sport to this effect. For me a sport is an activity that involves these elements.

Firstly, competitiveness. That is, one person/team is trying to beat another in a pursuit. The aim of a sport is to win. You can play sport to not win and to merely have fun; but built into the essence of the activity, is a system to delineate win, lose or draw.

Secondly, rules and fairness. That is, there is an organised set of rules to govern the game to ensure fairness. This calls into question climbing Mt Everest as a sport. Even though I would rate what Sir Edmund Hillary did on Everest as the greatest physical achievement by a New Zealander, I do not consider it a sport as it was not a governed, fair race to the top of Everest. I do not think that Hillary should have been listed second in the recent Radio Sport poll of NZ's greatest history makers in sport. In terms of running, running an 800m on the track is …


So, wazzup. This is a site of pure rambling. It will have some glorious attempts at theology but on the whole will be decidedly uninteresting to most of the universe. Feel free to pop in and out as led by some impulse (repulse?).

Have been thinking a lot about leadership in the wake of the National Party change of leadership and the Stadium fiasco. In regards to National a few thoughts come to mind. Key looks like he is heading back to the centre right, which will draw a few new voters. I think they will present a more "Christian" picture of morality, but will they care for the poor? Mind you, are Labour caring for the poor?

The demise of Don Brash is no surprise to me. When I heard his second marriage had gone down the gurgler through infidelity I realised that he was no "honest Don". It seems to me that we can all make mistakes in this regard, but to do so twice suggests that you are really a dishonest person. So when all the e-mail stuff broke and Don is revealed …


Sport is sensational. I love it. For me it points to a glorious creator, hence the title, sportdivine. The big guy who is behind this planet sure knew how to make life fun. He created us physical, creative to make games, run, swim, throw, hit and play; awesome! I am thankful for that. It doesn't matter what level you are at, you can enjoy! I love the variety of sport, games that people over the centuries have created. Some are pure and uncluttered like running or swimming. Others are more complicated like golf or cricket. They are all wonderful. If you love sport, you should love God, because he is the one who created us that way. Let's love them both!