Saturday, December 30, 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)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

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-Hayden combination. Saeed Anwar also deserves a mention with about 4000 runs in the mid 40's and a strike rate at 55. Langer has been a fighter and scored heavily and at a good rate. But his partner Hayden is unbelievable, belligerent and with an average around 53 and a strike rate of 60. Smith from South Africa is doing well with an average just under 50 and a strike rate at 59; he could challenge. The real comer is Sehwag who has a test average well over 50 and a strike rate of and unreal 75! Overall I will go for Gavasker and Hayden. However, Sehwag is poised to join Hayden.

Top-middle Order: Effectively to be considered a batsman has to have an average over 50. The candidates include Viv Richards with an average over 50 and a strike rate at 68.83! Who can forget Greg Chappell with a better average but a strike rate of only 51.

Then there is Brian Lara with a strike rate over 60, the world's highest test and first-class scores. He has also had to play through a period where the West Indies have been rather weak! I am a great fan of Miandad too who averaged 52 in tests. However, he only averaged 45 away from home and this weakens his case.

Ponting right now is setting new standards with an average near 60 and a similar strike rate. Tendulkar cannot be forgotten with a great average in the mid50's but a slower rate of 53. Hussey is on track to be a no-brainer selection, but he has to sustain it for another 5-10 years! Inzamam-Ul-Haq has a great average and a good strike rate but is not quite as fast a scorer or as heavy a scorer as some of the others.

Azharrudin, Crowe, Mark Waugh, David Gower, David Boon, Clive Lloyd, Zaheer Abbas, Damien Martin, Younis Khan deserve a mention but did not average highly enough. Mohammed Yousuf is on fire with an average in the high 50's and a goodish strike rate (52). If he keeps this up he will be a threat. Sangakkara from Sri Lanka is fashioning a good record with a solid average and reasonable strike rate. Dravid and Kallis have awesome records, averaging nearly 60 but strike rates of 42 sees them miss out to the dashers. Kallis as a bowler is a candidate for the the all-rounders position. However, this is a little slow for the prime batting positions in this team. Similarly, A. Flower from Zimbabwe who is an unheralded genius considering the quality of sides he played in, had a strike rate of 45 which is a little slow. G.Pollock misses my era but would certainly be hard to leave out with a 60 average. S. Waugh and A. Border too were great players. They both averaged 50 but had a huge number of not outs, batting at 6. They are both candidates for the number 6 position. So positions 3-5 go to Richards, Ponting and Lara. This ensures not only heavy scoring, but fast scoring. Unlucky are Chappell, Ul-Haq, Miandad, S. Waugh, Dravid and Kallis.

All-rounder:
A great cricket team usually has that extra bowler who bats at six and can take wickets (although the recent Australian team has done it with 4 bowlers only). With the brilliance of the top 5 batsmen I want someone who can bat quickly and get wickets, both at top level. Sobers played a few tests in the 70's but he really falls outside my era.

S. Waugh brings batting prowess. 3rd highest run scorer, average of over 50, 92 wickets at 32. He can trundle a few overs to relieve the pressure of the bowlers. Border similarly brings batting prowess with an average of 50 and can trundle down a few overs of left arm spin. Unfortunately for me, neither are good enough bowlers to fill this slot.

Another possibility is Kallis. On pure stats without concern for strike rates the guy is a certainty. But he scores too slowly for me coming in at 6. Neither is quite the attacking bowler I want. Ravi Shastri was a fine all-rounder, but his bowling is not quite attacking enough he being a slow left-armer with an average of 40 or so per wicket. Carl Hooper is a similar all-rounder. A fine attacking batsman and good bowler; but not a match winner.

Kapil Dev certainly deserves thought. He was a great bowler, holding the world record for test wickets, many gained on the slow Indian wickets. He was a good attacking batsman. However, his batting does not quite measure up to the really top flight.

Hadlee is another great all-rounder. His batting however was not quite the match winning level to challenge the big guns. He is a strong candidate to open the bowling anyway.

Another player from the 70's was Tony Grieg. About 3500 runs at 40 and 140 wickets at 32 is certainly impressive. But he too misses out to the big match winners.

In recent times Andrew Flintoff has been impressive; 3000 runs at 32 with a 64 strike rate and nearly 200 test wickets at 30ish is pretty good. He had a big impact on the 2005 ashes as well.

All these great players aside it comes down to two for me; both match winners with ball and bat. First there is Imran Khan with a batting average of 37 at good speed, a bowling average of 22 and strike rate of 53. 23 5 wicket bags and 6 hundreds! His batting is not quite as red hot as his bowling, but he is a brilliant player for sure! Then there is Ian Botham. He lost it in his latter years which affected his figures but they are still rather impressive. 5000 runs at 33 and 383 wickets at 28! HIs batting strike rate was 60 and bowling 58. 14 hundreds and 17 5 wicket bags. I am going to go for Botham. In his early years he was the man; winning the Ashes single handedly. Imran can still make the side as a bowler.

Wicketkeeper
For me this is an easy one. Marsh, Knott, Healy, Dujon, Bari are all great glovesmen. But none comes close to to Gilchrist as the whole package. What a shame he came into test cricket so old. He has kept brilliantly and consistently to a great attack including Warne and McGrath. His batting is simply spectacular, averaging near 50 at an awesome strike rate of 82! He is also now second in test dismissals as a wicketkeeper (372) to his predecessor Healy (395).

Fast Bowlers.
There have been a swag of impressive quicks. I will list them with their wickets, averages, strike rates, 5 for's and economy rates. I will add up their ranking on each and from that will select the ones with the lowest. I will let the stats do the talking on this one.
Lillee: 355 (10) at 23.92 (12) SR 52 (8) 23 5 fors (5=) ER 2.75 (10) (47)
McGrath: 557 (1) at 21.68 (4) SR 51.9 (7) 29 5 fors (2) ER 2.50 (4) (18)
Hadlee: 431 (3) at 22.29 (6) SR 50.8 (4=) 36 5 fors (1) ER 2.63 (8) (22)Donald: 330 (11) at 22.25 (5) SR 47 (3) 20 5 fors (11) ER 2.83 (12=) (42)
Imran Khan: 362 (9) at 22.81 (7) SR 53.7 (10) 23 5 fors (5=) ER 2.54 (6) (37)
Wasim Akram: 414 (4) at 23.62 (10) SR 54.6 (12) 25 5 fors (4) ER 2.59 (7) (41)
Waqar Younis: 373 (8) at 23.56 (9) SR 43.4 (1) 22 5 fors (8=) ER 3.25 (14) (39)
Malcolm Marshall: 376 (7) at 20.94 (2) SR 46.7 (2) 27 5 fors (3) ER 2.68 (9) (23)
Michael Holding: 249 (14) at 23.68 (11) SR 50.9 (6) 23 5 fors (5=) ER 2.79 (11) (51)
Joel Garner: 259 (13) at 20.57 (1) SR 50.8 (4=) 7 5 fors (14) ER 2.47 (3) (32)
Courtney Walsh: 519 (2) at 24.44 (13) SR 57.8 (13) 22 5 fors (8=) ER 2.53 (5) (41)
Curtley Ambrose: 405 (5) at 20.99 (3) SR 54.5 (11) 22 5 fors (8=) ER 2.30 (1) (28)
Pollock: 402 (6) at 23.19 (8) SR 58.1 (14) 16 5 fors (12=) ER 2.39 (2) (40)
Willis: 325 (12) at 25.20 (14) SR 53.4 (9) 16 5 fors (12=) ER 2.83 (12=)(59

Others such as Dev, Vaas, A. Roberts, McDermott, Ntini, Gillespie, Srinath, Hoggard, Caddick, Gough, Lee, C. Cairns, Streak and M. Hughes deserve a mention but have not had the impact of the others.

The top three come out as McGrath, Hadlee and Marshall. Ambrose misses out, just! I am surprised that Lillee didn't rank higher.

Spinners
I will do the same thing for the spinners with more than 200 wickets

Warne 706 (1) 25.35 (2) 57.4 (2) 37 5 fors (2) 2.65 (6) (15)
Muralitharan 674 (2) 21.73 (1) 54.4 (1) 57 5 fors (1) 2.39 (3) (8)
Kumble 538 (3) 28.59 (4) 65 (4) 22 5 fors (3) 2.50 (4) (18)
Underwood 297 (4) 25.83 (3) 73.6 (8) 17 5 fors (5) 2.10 (1) (21)
Bedi 266 (5) 28.71 (5) 80.3 (10) 14 5 fors (8) 2.14 (2) (30)
Chandrasekher 242 (6) 29.74 (6) 65.9 (5) 16 5 fors (6) 2.70 (8) (31)
Singh 238 (7) 29.86 (8) 63.7 (3) 19 5 fors (4) 2.81 (10) (32)
Qadir 236 (8) 32.80 (9) 72.5 (7) 15 5 fors (7) 2.71 (9) (40)
Vettori 229 (9) 34.28 (10) 76.7 (9) 13 5 fors (9=) 2.67 (7) (44)
S. Mushtaq 208 (10) 29.83 (7) 67.6 (6) 13 5 fors (9=) 2.64 (5) (37)

The spinners then are Muralitharan and Warne with Kumble and Underwood number 3 and 4. Even though Muralitharan rates above Warne statistically, I will rate Warne above him because he is the greatest spinner in the game, and unlike Murali, there are no questions concerning his action which for me remains rather dubious.

The Top Eleven Then:
M. Hayden (Australia)
S. Gavasker (India)
V. Richards (West Indies)
R. Ponting (Australia)
B. Lara (West Indies)
I. Botham (England)
A. Gilchrist (Australia)
R. Hadlee (New Zealand)
M. Marshall (West Indies)
S. Warne (Australia)
G. McGrath (Australia)

Other squad members
S. Waugh (if a batsman-bowler is needed at 6)
M. Muralitharan (if it is a turning track and 2 spinners are needed)
A. Kumble (if it is a real turner and 3 spinners are needed)
Captain is R. Ponting (Australia)

It all seems right but should Lillee be in for McGrath or Hadlee? And should I. Khan be in for Botham? Again, should Sehwag come in now ahead of the slower Gavasker? Greg Chappell too was a legend and it is hard to leave him out. Finally, should Muralitharan be let off the hook for his action and put in ahead of Warne.

And who would they play?

What do you think?

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 recurring themes of the Gospel. Some think the ending has been lost. Some accept the authenticity of one or other of the endings.

It is a fascinating question for sure.

My own view is that it ends at 16:8. However, I am of the view too that 16:9-20 is still a valuable resource. Most copies of Mark include it and it correlates with the testimony of Luke and John. It is early, if not as early as Mark (perhaps late first century/early second century). It reinforces the commitment of the early church to evangelism, signs and wonders; its belief in the ascension, the exaltation of Christ and the Great Commission.

Anyway, I have no solution to the problem myself; but it is a good question.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

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 was great TV but a brain implosion of glorious madness!

NZ Sportsman of the Year: Richie McCaw! A legend. Mahe Drysdale a close second.

NZ Sportswoman of the Year: Valerie Adams. No challenges

NZ Sportsteam of the Year: All Blacks of course; what a team!

NZ Twit of the Year: Mmmmm. A hard one! Has to be the chairman of the NZ rugby league Sel Bennett over the Nathan Fien affair! Talk about a litany of stupidity!

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 enjoyed.

I love sport. I am an indoor rower, a NZ champion and have had two age group world records. When I row I love to enjoy being human. I feel alive. It improves my health and brings balance to me.

So for me I do not worship sport, I worship the God of sport. I refuse to allow it to be my idol but something that leads me to the real God, the God who made this awesome sporting world!

And one more thing. Some see heaven as a bore! No way! Heaven will be awesome, sport, sport and more sport (for those who love it). You will be able to fully experience sport without injury and take on the big boys full on without injury. It will be undistorted. So I will keep following the God of sport this Christmas giving thanks that he became physical and came amongst us and ran, swam and threw along with his Jewish friends.

So to anyone who actually reads this; merry Christmas; don't miss Christ this Christmas.

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 actually carry his cross. Simon carried it for him. It could be that the metaphor of carrying the cross for us as disciple transcends the actual carrying and it refers to being prepared to go to our deaths on his behalf as he went to his death on ours. I am sure this is the case. However, it is still interesting that Jesus went to his death with someone else helping to bear his burden. This makes me think that one of the lessons of this intertextual link is that we can't bear our crosses alone. When we try we stumble and fall. We need each other.

Paul said, 'bear one another's burdens' (Gal 6:2) and perhaps this is what he had in mind. That we are to take up our crosses together and help each other as we walk our individual roads in pursuit of Jesus. We actually walk together, the narrow path of suffering and struggle, and we have to go together. One of the greatest dangers to us western Christians is that we overstate the individual and try to do it alone. If we do, we will not make it! Christianity, to use a metaphor, is a team sport. We must work together.

So, this Christmas, take up your cross and follow. And when needed, take up each others crosses.

Ah yes, and there is another potential textual link to Rom 16:13 where Paul mentions a Rufus in Rome. Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus; is this the same Rufus, considering that Mark was probably written from Rome a few years after Romans.

Who knows? But take up your cross anyway!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

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 players with superb techniques. Richardson against pace. Crowe; exquisite against all bowling. Turner was brilliant. John Reid (the left hander) was flawless. Andrew Jones was an exception in a sense, but if you looked closely he played with a straight bat and good technique as did Coney.

The current crop of Astle, MacMillen and co need to be put out to pasture.

I am not surprised at their lack of technique. I remember taking a coaching course in the 80's and they told us not to worry about good technique, encourage them to simply hit it. That is like learning reading with phonics! You need the basics if you are going to be a good batsman.

So, it is time for a change. Teach them the basics from youth and hopefully the rest will come. We need a new generation of batsmen who know the basics of the full range of shots and then we will see a change.

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; 3 times referring to the pain and suffering he will face. In the Garden of Gethsemane he sensed that his time was now; he knew that Judas had betrayed him and he knew his enemies were approaching. He pleaded three times for deliverance, for another way. Yet each time he prayed, he stated, 'yet not my will, but yours be done.' Here we have faith demonstrated. The faith talked about in 11:22-24 is not an absolute confidence that the specific prayer request will be affirmatively answered. The faith talked about is a total trust in God that no matter what happens, he is in control; he can be trusted!

Jesus expresses that trust. He asks for the specific request; 'take away from me this cup of suffering.' He prefaces it, 'I know you can do all things'. He follows the request with 'not my will, but yours be done'. So faith is utter confidence in the will and Lordship of God our Abba Father.

So when we read 11:22-24 we need not take off and join the hyperfaith movement which is distorted theology. Rather, we should state our absolute faith in God, pray the prayer request and then let God be God; and allow his will to be done. His will is always best and we can totally trust him.

So if you are praying or have prayed a prayer that did not get a positive result; don't bemoan your lack of faith, don't give up on Jesus for not being true to his word; look to God and trust him; it will work out for the best. It always does, although we often don't see it at the time.

Like my mate who was an international sports star who got smashed in a car crash and is now disabled; he said to me a few years after his accident, 'it was the best thing that ever happened to me!' 'Why?' I asked. He told me, 'it was because I was too selfish for other people before my accident.' I am a much better person for it.

God is in control.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Murali?

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 send him off for a complete action-renovation or to get another job!

For me it makes a mockery of world cricket not only that he destroys teams like NZ by chucking, but will be seen in years to come as the greatest wicket taker of all and probably the first to pass 1000 wickets! If I was running world cricket he would have been put out to pasture!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

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), Clarke etc.

The English are not bad I reckon. I think they would spank NZ at this time! Mind you, who wouldn't with our batting lineup! They have simply been outclassed. I hope they can find some form for the remainder of the games.

So here's to the Aussies! Good on ya mate. I will always support NZ against Aussie, but deep down I know the Aussies are the best.

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 was wrong. I should have been concerned that the sermon preached the gospel and honoured God; that the worship really gave God the sort of honour and glory he deserved (worried less about pleasing the people!); that the youth and children's ministries really grew the kids in the best possible way into disciples of Christ! I repent!

I also knew that verse in the Proverbs about training a child in the way he should go and he won't turn back when an adult.

Kids are hugely important to God because he loves them and wants them to grow up knowing him and spending eternity with him. Kids are important because they need to be nurtured, loved and gently taught that there is a God who loves them and values them. They are not pawns in the church growth game. They are not a painful hassle to be removed from the service so that real church can get on for the grown ups. Church is not a child-care so that parents can self-aggrandise.

I now realise that kids are to be cherished, included, nurtured and honoured. We are to learn from them, from their innocence, enthusiasm, joy and enquiring minds. So bring on the kids I say.

Another thought. For many years the most receptive group of western Europeans to the Gospel have been kids. As they hit their teens and into adulthood it is increasingly difficult to see people won to Christ. That being the case, we should be making a huge priority in resourcing terms of evangelising kids. And not for church growth's sake! For their sake! For the kids sake! It will have the spin off of seeing churches prosper through some of these who hang in there with Jesus. But that must not be our motivation. It is time to get kids ministry back on top of the agenda.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

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. 1967/87/2003 netball world champ winners

May there be many more!

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 for him. The crunch of the story is 'follow me'! When we follow Jesus we do not follow a set of rules or rituals, we follow one who will lead us and love us; a friend! Now that's a saviour worth following!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

'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 his preaching (evangelism) and healing/deliverance ministry. The three dimensions work in tandem, people coming to be made whole physically, spiritually and socially.

So for me, we can never isolate these dimensions from one another; we are to carry on the ministry of Christ as his people and body and feed the poor, preach the gospel and heal the sick!

Monday, December 11, 2006

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 deliverance from terrible suffering and bondage.

It is not clear whether the guy obeyed Jesus or not. We are not told where he is from. He goes to the Decapolis, a region including ten cities and he tells what Jesus has done. Perhaps this is his home, perhaps not; either way, I love this guy. He takes on 10 cities for Jesus! So it is a great story of obedience to Christ.

So we can take from this that we are all called to tell others about what the Lord has done for us. The question for us all is, where do you want us to do it Lord? There is only one way to find this out; sitting silently in the presence of the Lord and seeking his direction and then going for it.

Shalom

Walking?

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 understating the amazing effort involved in race walking; in fact it is tough!
I will never forget Craig Barrett's Kuala Lumpar Commonwealth dehydration disaster as case in point.

However, I will also not forget the poor Australian woman disqualified by the judges at the 2000 Sydney Olympics entering the stadium because some judge disapproved of her style; poor girl, she didn't do as good a job of cheating.

I think race walking should be removed as a sport from international and other athletics competitions and consigned to its own world for those who are keen. Rather, we should have races from one point to another where the athlete seeks to get there as fast as possible on legs (and arms if they want!). They can walk if they think it will be quicker but I don't think any will go for it.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

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 deserve a mention
1. 1980 (Beat great West Indian Cricket Team)
2. 1985-86 (Beat Pakistan at home; beat Australia away and at home in a test series; beat England for first time in an away series).
3. 2000 (Won ICC trophy)

Other great achievements of NZ Sport's Teams
1. 1971-72 NZ 8's (Winner Gold Medal 1972 Olympics)
2. 1976 NZ Hockey Team (Winner Gold Medal 1976 Olympics)
3. 1982 NZ Soccer Team (Qualified for Soccer World Cup)
4. 1996 Men's softball team world champs
5. 2000 Men's softball team world champs
6. 2004 Men's softball team world champs
7. 1995 America's Cup Team Winners
8. 2000 America's Cup Team Winners
9. 1992 Eisenhower Trophy Golf Winners
10. 2000 Basketball Team (4th at World Champs)
11. 2005 Tri-Nations League Team Winner

Double's teams like Ferguson and MacDonald in Kayaking, the Evers-Swindell sisters could also get a mention but I chose to treat them as individuals rather than a team because they are pairs.

To be a finalist, the team had to have won meaning the soccer and basketball teams miss out. So my finalists are:
1. 1987 Rugby World Cup winners (we now know how hard this is to win. That was a great team).
2. 1985 Cricket Team: they were sensational beating Australia and England for the first time on their home patches.
3. 1972 Rowing 8's: it is not easy to win the 8's at the Olympics. This was the time when the eastern Europeans were at their steroid boosted best!
4. 1995 America's Cup Team who won the America's Cup in the US
5. 2000 America's Cup Team who defended the Old Mug in NZ
6. 1976 Hockey Olympic Gold medalists (like the rugby world cup, this is not easy to win)

I have not made the softballers finalists because of the limited numbers of teams and that baseball is the male version in many nations.

Top 3.
This is based on the international dimension (how widely played) and the level of performance. None of these sports are truly global in the way that soccer or athletics is. America's Cup is elitist. Rowing is limited to the western world. Rugby is not global and limited to a few nations as is cricket. Hockey is more global perhaps including Asian nations. So it is not easy. Weighing it up in a totally subjective way my top three is.
1. America's Cup Victories
2. Rowing 8's
3. Hockey World Cup

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 faith, asking why they were afraid. We can easily criticise the disciples here; yet, for me, the disciples are behaving in a normal way. I have been in a hurricane as a boy in Niue and let me tell you it is scary to roofs, trees and more flying across the sky. I was scared. Yet Jesus saw this fear as opposed to faith. He encourages them to totally trust him. He may be asleep in the boat, but he is with us.

So, how is it with you. Are you in a boat in the middle of a hurricane. Well be assured, don't be afraid, Jesus is with you; and he cares; so much so, that he will act on your behalf.

Shalom

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 winner of World Champs 1997 and 2 Commonwealth Golds)

I would like to include Jean Batten, but I do not consider flying a plane from Britain to NZ solo a sport; like Ed Hillary's climb of Everest, it is a glorious and astonishing feat, but not sport (see my earlier blog on what is a sport?). Valerie Vili is the next who will contend for this title but needs to win a big one; I am sure it will come.

So who is the best?

It comes down to
1. Yvette Williams
2. Erin Baker
3. Irene van Dyk
4. The Evers-Swindells
5. Susan Devoy

For me it is a no-brainer. Susan Devoy is head and shoulders above the rest; 4 world squash titles and 8 British Opens (the equivalent of the World Champs)! She is a legend! She could have gone on as well, but chose to retire and have a family. She now runs multi-sport events and raises money for charities, so she is the real-deal for sure.

After that, Erin Baker; she is not recognised as much as she should be because she competed before the triathlon hit the Olympics etc; but she was the best by far.

Then the Evers-Swindells. For me, if they win the next Olympic gold they will go to nos 1. They are multiple champions.

Then comes Yvette Williams; I wanted her to win because I know her family! But she was a briliant athlete and still the only NZ woman to win an Olympic gold in athletics! Finally, Irene! She is a legend. Again if she and the girls win the next world champs, she will move up for sure.

My order:
1. Susan Devoy
2. Erin Baker
3=. Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell
5. Irene van Dyk

So arise King Peter (Snell) and Queen Susan (Devoy)... it sounds like something out of the "Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe!

Monday, December 4, 2006

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 frustrated with church; become the solution, get involved, serve, use your gifts to enhance it. If that church won't have you or encourage you, go down the road and keep going until you find a people of God who will love you and encourage you to serve them

Shalom

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 gold medals): a freak, retired young, world's best in his field at the time by a country mile!
Russell Coutts (sailing America's Cup 3x; Olympic gold): we underestiate this guy because he was not "loyal"; but surely what he has done is unbelievable! And more may be yet to come.
Richard Hadlee (cricket): awesome, as good as there has been from in a weak cricketing nation!
Danyon Loader (swimming 2 Olympic Gold; 1 silver; world titles, world records): underestimated because he does not scrub up well on camera compared to others. No other Kiwi has won an olympic swimming gold! He won two in a tough global sport in the modern era.
Ian Ferguson (Kayaking 4 Olympic Gold; 1 silver; world titles): This guy was a freak. Most Olympic golds and with MacDonald, unbelievable!

Note: Rufer suffers for only playing at the very top once when very young. He did not play much for NZ so hard to know how he ranks at the top of the most competitive sport in the world. Daniel Carter is en-route to be in this list, if they win the 2007 world cup and he plays a lead role. Ditto for Richie McCaw. Bob Fitzsimmons misses out because it was so long ago and it is hard to know how good he was. Wilding similarly. Mauger misses out because speedway is not a high profile sport. Charles and Campbell miss out because they won only one major and did not kick onto multiple performances. Meads and other rugby players miss out because of the nature of their sport as a team sport and not a truly global game. On the other hand Hadlee was just so good at the top level that he can't be neglected. Paul MacDonald misses out but maybe shouldn't. Todd misses out because he is on a horse in an elite wealth-based sport; but really impressive!

My final Ranking
1. Peter Snell: Never really tested, the best in his generation.
2. Russell Coutts: Could ultimately eclipse Snell, three America's Cups! Unbelievable.
3. Danyon Loader: Undervalued! A great athlete.
4. Richard Hadlee: Glorious performer!
5. Ian Ferguson: May rank higher if the sport was higher profile. He is a true legend.
6. Denny Hulm: anyone who wins this thing is a legend.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

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. Running then is a great sport in this regard. Soccer and basketball are easy to play for almost anyone. Rugby again is a little difficult although it does have the advantage of attracting a wider range of body types than other sports.
5. Low cost and accessibility: Some sports are limited because of equipment and other costs. This is the great weakness of golf; even though it is a simple and great sport, it costs a small fortune to play the game in club fees and equipment costs. Soccer and running again win out without any costs. Triathlon is a glorious sport, but is weakened by this. Motor sport is inaccessible to almost all on this basis. Rowing is weakened by this too.
6. Skill challenge: a great sport calls for interesting skills in a variety of areas. Running is a little mundane in this regard. Soccer, rugby, netball, basketball, golf, tennis, triathlon etc are good sports in this regard.

So as I peruse these attributes of a great sport I come to the conclusion that the greatest sport is soccer, even though I am a rugby man. However there are many great sports; play them!

Church

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 and there is one for us if we are determined. In fact, surely we should be attending a church near us, simplifying our lives. If we go with an attitude of giving and serving and not of "will this place meet my needs?" we will find that almost any church, as long as it upholds the truth of the gospel in the Word, will be good.

To me this rejection of church is another example of our pampered consumerist weak Christianity that wants it all on a plate and is as shallow as a paddling pool.

So, I will go to church this morning refusing to yield to my tiredness and potential boredom. I will go and serve and play my guitar and praise God and hang out with his people. Some I get on with, others are rather strange (like me); but I will be there. Actually, I can't wait.

Luved!

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. Even though everyone you meet might despise you or reject you; even though you might be not much good at anything; you are OK cause God is with you! Just hang in there.
8. God sent you a message to encourage you; Jesus and he is found through the bible!
9. God has a purpose for you in this world, to work on his behalf with his power to be an agent of transformation. Ask him to lead you to it, and he will, and you will make a difference.
10. God invites you to spend eternity with him in a world free of death, evil, suffering, pain, illness, strife and all things wrong; just say "yes" and it is yours!

Putting it bluntly. U R LUVED! Accept the love of God and have a kit kat!

Saturday, December 2, 2006

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 a sport; going for a run is physical activity.

Thirdly, physicality. That is, there is some degree of physical effort involved in the activity. Sitting at a board moving pieces is not a sport then, it is a board game. Golf on the other hand, although more gentle than some sports, is definitely a sport. Indeed, the effort required in hitting a ball at the moment of striking can be quite intense.

Fourthly, a time limit and result. A sport has clearly demarcated time frame and result. The result may be a win, a loss or a draw. Having a draw as a result is not a weakness in a sport; rather it recognises the equality of the competitors. Time frame is critical. Again, the conquering of Everest is an impressive physical achievement but it was not in the frame of a governed sport.

If this is correct, how do some activities look? To me there is a distinction between sports, games, physical and non-physical past-times. Games are static affairs (e.g. chess) or activities which are sports but are played for fun. Physical past-times would be things like walking, gardening, jogging, fishing and other enjoyable outdoor pursuits that have no real goal other than doing what one does or does not have a competitive goal in an organised context.

So, for me then, unfortunately and although it was one of the greatest physical achievements of the twentieth century, climbing Mt Everest was not sport. I would rank Sir Edmund Hillary among our greatest history makers perhaps behind Rutherford, Kate Shepherd and several others; but it was not sport by my reckoning.

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 a sport; going for a run is physical activity.

Thirdly, physicality. That is, there is some degree of physical effort involved in the activity. Sitting at a board moving pieces is not a sport then, it is a board game. Golf on the other hand, although more gentle than some sports, is definitely a sport. Indeed, the effort required in hitting a ball at the moment of striking can be quite intense.

Fourthly, a time limit and result. A sport has clearly demarcated time frame and result. The result may be a win, a loss or a draw. Having a draw as a result is not a weakness in a sport; rather it recognises the equality of the competitors. Time frame is critical. Again, the conquering of Everest is an impressive physical achievement but it was not in the frame of a governed sport.

If this is correct, how do some activities look? To me there is a distinction between sports, games, physical and non-physical past-times. Games are static affairs (e.g. chess) or activities which are sports but are played for fun. Physical past-times would be things like walking, gardening, jogging, fishing and other enjoyable outdoor pursuits that have no real goal other than doing what one does or does not have a competitive goal in an organised context.

So, for me then, unfortunately and although it was one of the greatest physical achievements of the twentieth century, climbing Mt Everest was not sport. I would rank Sir Edmund Hillary among our greatest history makers perhaps behind Rutherford, Kate Shepherd and several others; but it was not sport by my reckoning.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Yo

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 to be "dishonest Don" I am not surprised. We Christians know that there can be no dualism between private and public life. If you will lie to your wife, you will lie to the country. For me, Don has finished poorly, which is sad.

The stadium affair has also revealed some interesting things. First, Trevor will never be PM; good leaders do their homework before flying the kite. He had not done his homework! If he had, he would never have gone public with his grandiose plan. Let's face it, whether or not the stadium on the waterfront was a good idea, it was never going to happen in a city like Auckland. And the state of Auckland leadership! God help us! Division between the different groups is radical. What a mess. I don't think it is lack of leadership; it is lack of a good structure!

So this all speaks to us about leadership. Good leaders make good decisions; are ethically consistent at home and work; they don't fly kites in public but do their homework knowing that they will get their ideas through! I should know, I have made some mistakes in the past!

Sportdivine

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!