Saturday, March 24, 2007

Radio Sport and Brothels

I have been a listener to Radio Sport in NZ for a long time, since its inception in fact. I am fed up with the regular ad's involving two imaginary figures Nobby and Lofty, symbolic of men who are horny. They feature in ads for an Auckland brothel. I do not think that it is wise for the station to advertise in this controversial area, despite the fact that some of their audience will appreciate such establishments. Neither do I think that these ads should feature during day light hours when fathers like me are listening to the radio in cars or at home with kids able to listen in. I also know that kids listen to the station on occasion.

That being the case, I complained to them. Their respons is that it is legal and they are a paying customer. So! The station has a moral responsibility to the nation as well. I have made a complaint to the NZ Broadcasting Complaints Authority hoping for a result.

If you read this, join me, google the NZ Broadcasting Complaints Authority and complain about the Radio Sport ad for Femme Fetale.

Bob Woolmer Etc

What a world cup! Pakistan out! India going out as I write, in huge trouble against the Sri Lankan's. But all this pales in significance to the killing of Bob Woolmer. It was strange from the start, it crossing my mind that it was suicide or murder. But murder it is. So who killed him? It seems to me the options are a random killing; a gambling syndicate; a disgrunted fan or fans; an upset player of team member; an act of terrorism. The last option has not been discussed. Is it possible that this is an act of terrorism to disrupt the tournament; the victim chosen because of a possible smoke screen concerning the other options. After all, Pakistan is right in the heart of the Al Qaeda situation.

From this far away in distant NZ listening to the news, it seems to me that it is probably a gambling issue; it was someone (or more) who knew him.

Whoever it is, I pray they are found and brought to justice.

If it is a gambling syndicate then cricket is in trouble again. It is blighted with cheating and if it involves the World Cup it cuts to the heart of the sport. I heard an interview today with the perpetrator of the American drug scandal Victor Conte. He said it was the excitement that caused him to get into providing performance enhancing drugs for the likes of Tim Montgomery and Barry Bonds! Sport is so corrupted. It is sad.

As for the cricket world cup... Sri Lanka, South Africa, Australia, the West Indies and NZ look the goods. Who will it be? But it is just sport... a human life is more significant; this world cup now doesn't quite feel the same.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

God's Guidance

How does God's guidance work? There have been some discussions on a forum at College about this question so here are some thoughts. For me, the Scriptures set the agenda for the manner in which God guides.

Here are some thoughts
1. God guides: we are in a relationship with a living Being with a plan for the universe and a plan for every individual in his creation. Where we bow the knee to the King as he is, we become completely subservient willingly and joyfully to this God. He is a communicating God and so I believe he does and will guide.

2. His guidance is related to his plan: I do not think this means that every little decision we make involves us waiting for divine directive. He has given us brains which are infused with his Spirit and we are to use them. He has given us freedom in our decision making. His main concern is to intervene to ensure his purposes are involved. As such, we will recieve guidance when and if God needs to intervene. Otherwise, we use our brains and transformed minds and get on with things.

3. Intermittent Communication: As such I don't expect God to drop in a message each and every day but when he needs to he will make his will known. This is certainly my experience. At a few points in my life God has spoken quite dynamically. Each of these moments were critical to my future ministry and service of his will. The rest of the time I have responded as best I can to God as led in each moment to the best of my knowledge.

4. Grace, Grace, Grace: Our picture of God has a huge bearing on this issue. If we see him as a hard taskmaster say like a military commander we kind of expect him to issue continue directives and act in accord. If our view of him is one of a softee who never gives any directive we think we can do anything with total freedom and it matters not. I think we should see God as he is best known, the ideal father, who guides, nurtures and directs. Like a shepherd he moves us as he feels best. When he needs to be firm he is. His forgiveness and grace surround us whether we get it right or not.

5. Some ways God does guide:
i. General guidance from the word of God cf. James 1:22-23: We are to read his word and allow us to be saturated in his ways and the big picture and live seeking first his Kingdom using the wisdom gained from deep reflection on his ways, purpose and Word. This involves using heart and mind together to make good decisions to please God. I believe this is the dominant means of living as a Christian.

ii. Internal Spirit Guidance cf. Acts 8:29: rarely God will step in an speak dynamically and internally in a way that shakes us up and cannot be denied as Philip experienced concerning the Ethiopian Eunuch. Recently a friend was woken at night a physical and emotional mess; God was calling him into ministry. He knows its real and the evidence of his life is that it is real with him a changed man. I believe this is rare.

iii. Prophetic Guidance: Also rare but real is the guidance of a prophet or prophecy spoken into our lives from someone who has had a message from God through the Spirit, a dream, a vision or through a deep quickening of a bible passage. I remember a few years back having a dream concerning a work mate. I went to her with the details and she was utterly shocked that someone could know such things which were intensely private. She became a Christian as a result.

iv. Preaching Guidance cf. Eph 1:13: Another point of general guidance is hearing the word proclaimed by others teaching and making God's will known through the Scriptures. I find this a common experience; hearing God whisper into my life through mind and heart some insight or directive.

v. Wisdom Guidance cf. Paul’s strategy: This is highly connected to i and iv above whereby as we mature in Christ and deepen in our understanding of his purposes and will and become more obedient we make wise God-led decisions. This would be a highly common experience.

vi. Corporate Guidance cf. Acts 13:1-2: Undervalued in our individualistic society is the notion of making decisions concerning guidance with others who too are full of God's Spirit. This is seen in Acts 13 where the church recognised that Paul and Barnabas should be set apart for their ministry. Similarly in Acts 15 at the Jerusalem Council. We should be prepared to submit our big guidance decisions to other Spirit-filled Christians.

vii. Specific Word Guidance: Sometimes God will speak directly from his Word giving us directive. This can be subjective. Personally, I have had three good experiences of this; one directing me dynamically to a previously unknown text concerning a moral issue; the other a directive to give up rugby, to become a Presbyterian minister and take up a role at BCNZ. Now these are highly subjective and some may critique these. However, I cannot deny what I experienced and for me they are real. However each was a rare unexpected occurence and is certainly not the norm of my life. I believe that God speaks when he needs to.

viii. Circumstance/Timing Guidance/confirmation: As Christians we live in the will of God. He is working in the flow of our life and the world around us. Hence, the flow of life is under his power. We should expect that things like circumstances, coincidences, timing and confirmations to come through normal life. I see it like being in a river, God sweeps us along in his providential work.

ix. Dream Guidance (cf. Acts 16:9): the Bible speaks of God intervening dynamically to guide the likes of Jacob, Joseph, Paul and others. I have had a couple of such experiences. These are unexpected and not the norm.

x. Angel Guidance (cf. Acts 12:7): I have no experience of this but the Scriptures speak of God sending angelic messengers when he needs to. They happen at critical junctures rather than the norm of everyday life in my experience and that of others.

xi. Vision Guidance (cf. Acts 10:3; 2 Cor 12:2): I see this in the same way as dreams. I have not experienced a vision that I can recall. However, others I trust have testified to this. That being the case, I believe them to be true. However, I do not think they are common.

xii. Direct Revelation (cf. Gal 1:12): Jesus heard God's voice directly at his baptism and transfiguration. I imagine that some may have this experience too. I have not. I would imagine this is a very uncommon experience.

So...
I do not think we should get uptight about guidance. God is sweeping us along in his great providential river.

Most of our decisions can be made on the basis of Godly wisdom gained through the Scriptures, hearing the Word, living in community and simply knowing that we are in the grace and freedom of God.

I think we need to be careful not to try and make the sensational rare guidance experiences our norm. God seems to speak in many ways, when he needs to, and not always with great volume (cf. the whisper that Elijah heard).

We should not be prescriptive to God; allowing him to lead us in his own way but always on the look out for his voice in one way or another i.e. we need to walk in relationship.

Seeming silence from God does not mean we are doing something wrong! If we name him as Lord and Saviour he is with us. He will speak when and in the manner he needs to when he wants to get through to us. Sometimes God gives us the choice, letting us decide. He will close our options down when he needs to; we can trust him to do so. In the meantime, we can go for it.

At the end of the day (or the beginning of the night) I believe most of our decisions we make will be wisdom and heart decisions. We should not live in fear as if God will punish us if we 'get something wrong'. Jesus came to set us free from such captivity!

The extraordinary guidance beyond what seems intuitive and wisdom is to me the exception not the rule. We tend to read the Bible normalising the sensational forgetting that the reason these things are recorded is that they are exceptional. Remember Acts covers a 30 year period for whole communities of God's people! As such, it does not necessarily represent the norm. Neither do we have to be in a church service with a prophet to hear God; he is all around us at all times and he can and will speak as he has to.

The key is walking in relationship with God, speaking to him and trusting him to lead. For me the key prayer is, 'your will be done on earth as it is in heaven'. As I pray this I believe God will answer by ordering the world according to his plan. I can then live in trust even if it all looks rather strange!

So I am now going to cook tea... not because God is telling me to... but because I am hungry and the kids and Emma will arrive home soon desperately hungry... seems a good decision! Or should I wait and pray for guidance?

More on NZ Soccer

Now I just heard the news and now NZ soccer have postponed the final of the league! It is all over some points scandal over a player who did not travel with the All Whites but then played for the club the next week without permission. What a pendantic, pathetic bunch of losers the whole administration are. Who cares? Surely, what matters is sport is that people participate. So, he didn't cross his t's and dot his i's! It is time for soccer to get its act together for sure. In an earlier blog I suggested that soccer is the greatest game in many ways. I stand by that; but in this country I think without doubt it is the worst administered game! Grow up the lot of you!

Femme Fetale and Radio Sport

Is anyone else out there in NZ fed up with hearing ads for a brothel on mainstream Radio Sport time. I have had enough of the supposedly humourous Nobby etc ads which talk of going to this establishment and... well, you can fill in the gaps.

I emailed them today and told them I was going to stop listening if the ads continued. Surely they can confine their ads to a time of the day when kids are not listening. Why does a sports station have to lower its standards? It furthers the stereotype of jocks as neanderthals who think of nothing but a good shag. The media is full of twits who reflect this; I expect better from a mainstream radio station.

I enjoy the station and it is my first port of call when turning on the radio; but I am out of there if it doesn't end. I hope someone from the station reads this...

NZ Soccer and a Team in the A league

This whole NZ soccer and the A League thing is another example of NZ sports administration at its worst (cf. 2003 rugby world cup). It continues the Kings, Knights fiasco which has been a disaster.

NZ soccer en masse should hang its head in shame. Nothing could be better for NZ soccer than to have a competitive team in the A League. It would provide a pathway for NZ juniors into professionalism, gets them onto the world stage and provides a stepping stone to the All Whites and overseas teams.

What on earth is going on? Supposedly NZ soccer has no cash! Is there no wealthy sponsor in this land who sees the value of sponsoring a team?

I have no idea concerning the ins and outs of this but one thing is certain; it will be a total disaster if it does not come off! Come on or you will see further dominance from rugby and the best athletes going off shore or to other codes.

I don't get it!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Who will win this far out?

So how will the 2007 rugby world cup go?
It is time to work out the result... can I nail it this far out?
No doubt I will relook at this in the future.

Pool A includes England, South Africa, Samoa, USA, Tonga. Clearly England and South Africa will go through probably South Africa topping the pool. I like the look of the South Africans from what is happening in the Super 14.

Pool B includes Australia, Wales, Fiji, Canada, Japan. Australia will surely go through number 1 with Wales nos 2.

Pool C includes New Zealand, Scotland, Italy, Romania, Repechage 1 with NZ going through number one ahead of Scotland.

Pool D includes France, Ireland, Argentina, Georgia, Namibia. I think France will go through nos 1 (just) with Ireland nos 2 (wouldn't be surprised if it was reversed and Argentina threw in a surprise).

So the quarter finals will look something like this:
6 October:QF1: Australia vs England: Australia should take this one out but England will be a tough assignment and could win.
6 October: QF2: New Zealand vs Ireland: NZ should take this one too but again Ireland (or perhaps France/Argentina) will be a great challenge.
7 October:QF3: South Africa vs Wales: South Africa should romp home here.
7 October: QF4: France vs Scotland: France should win this easily. Or Ireland if things are reversed.

Then the Semi's will go like this
13 October:SF1: Australia vs NZ: I would expect NZ to win this but remember NZ have never beaten the Australians at a World Cup and this will be a one-off! Anything could happen.
14 October:SF2: South Africa v France: I actually think SA will win this. Time will tell, but I think they are on the rise.

Play off for 3rd.
19 October: Australia vs France. This will be won by the French who will be feeling terrible about losing the semi and will seek to make amends for their home fans. If they play NZ in this one it will be a terrible caning for the French because yet again the AB's will have blown it and will take it out on them! It won't save them from horrendous criticism if this occurs!

20 October: NZ vs South Africa: If this is the final it will be tumultuous, aggressive and incredibly close. I think the South Africans will be formidable if they get there and it will be anyones game. I do believe unless terrible injury intervenes (or food poisoning etc), NZ will win this one.

Here's hoping anyway!

From a NZ point of view this will be a huge challenge. To beat Ireland/France then Australia then South Africa/England in successive weeks is a huge challenge! If NZers think they have the cup in the bag, get real; this will be a gigantic challenge and it is anyone's cup!

So that's how I see it. What you think?

Jesus' Abode

It is funny what you notice when you read Scripture. One thing that caught my eye recently is the connection of two assumptions in Scripture. Firstly, that Jesus was a carpenter. This is based on the vocation of his stepfather Joseph who was a carpenter as we are told in Mk 6:3; Mt 13:55. The second strand is the saying, 'foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head' (Mt 8:20; Lk 9:58). I suddenly thought today, 'hey; if Jesus was a carpenter, why didn't he make himself a home base'.

I then looked up carpentry and found this from The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol 2, 2085): 'The carpenter worked in timber, setting up the framework of houses, the roofing, windows, and doors. Often small structures were erected by the householder, but temples and palaces required specialized artisans where carpenters worked alongside stonemasons (2 Kgs 12:11; 22:6; 1 Chr 14:1; 22:15; 2 Chr 24:12; 34:11; Ezr 3:7). Some of the delicate work for cedar linings, roofing, flooring, and the internal woodwork was undertaken by specialist carpenters (or joiners). Carpenters’ tools of ancient times have been discovered in excavations. Some are referred to in the Bible (Is 44:13). They included compass, pencil, plane, saw, hammer, ax, adze, chisel, plumb line (Am 7:7, 8), drill, file, and square. Carpentry is seldom referred to in the NT though it was the profession of Jesus and his father (Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3).'

This being the case, Jesus was eminently capable of providing a home base for himself. I looked a little bit more and found Mt 4:13 where it tells us that Jesus left Nazareth to live in Capernaum. Does this indicate that he built himself a home? Possibly.

The answer to this conundrum lies no doubt in Jesus' call. He said the foxes saying not to speak of whether he had a home or whether he could build one or not. Rather, he no doubt said this to indicate to the would-be follower who boldly stated that he would follow Jesus to challenge him with the radical nature of the call; it is a call to potential homelessness. Jesus had left kith and kin to carry out his ministry and saying yes to him may lead us to the same renouncement of community, vocation, home and more. The question for us all is, a we prepared to pay the cost?

Anyway, that is a bit of my musings; what do you fink?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson last week won the Honda Classic in the PGA, his first tour victory. Good on him. What has caught the imagination of many is the self-imposed penalty for his caddy Chris Jones telling his playing partner about the loft on his hybrid club which he has just hit. Giving advice to the other team is out in golf and so technically this was a breaking of the golf rules. Wilson told the officials and received a two-stroke penalty, which could have cost him his first title!

I want to take my hat off to Mark Wilson! What a guy! Good on ya! I have nothing but respect for those who take it upon themselves to play sport with integrity, honouring the rule and the spirit of the game.

Some will call him naive as it may have cost him a lot of money, his first tour victory, his PGA card, the endorsements and exemptions that he would then have missed out on. But he put the bigger issues of life and integrity above short term gain. He kept his integrity.

I think it is time for a revolution like this in all sport. How about cricketers walking and bowlers and fieldsmen calling people back when they are not out? How about rugby players owning up to not scoring a try instead of waiting for endless replays to decide things? How about athletes turning against performance enhancing drugs? I say bring back the integrity of sport.

This is not the first such incident like this; many New Zealanders remember Michael Long owning up to moving his ball on a green in a big golf tournament and potentially it lost him the tournament.

It is time people of the world to bring back the honesty! Or am I dreaming. I am actually, I was typing in my sleep. There is fat chance of this. So to Mark Wilson; go Mark; may you have many more tour victories my friend, you are a role model to us all!

Jesus Creator

Last week I was absorbed in Jn 1 and Jn 1:3 stood out to me. It speaks of Jesus as creator; 'through him all things were made, without him nothing was made that has been made'. Paul says something similar in Col 1:15, 'for by him all things were created, things in heaven and earth... all things were created by him and for him.' Heb 1:2 also says he is the one 'through whom God made the universe.'

This has stuck with me. I often think of creation and it is God the Father who seems the prime agent. There is also the work of the Spirit who hovers over creation (Gen 1:2).

Yet here is a three-fold witness from different authors (John, Paul, ?) who agree that it is God's Son who created the world.

Wow! So from the very beginning the Son of God, who would become redeemer, is also creator.

John also tells us that he is the source of life and Paul that 'in him all things hold together'. Hence, God's son sustains and gives life to the universe. This is radical.

So, that means that when God's son became flesh and revealed God to us and came to redeem us, it was the creator coming to restore his fallen world. It was the act of a craftsman, artist, scientist genius, coming to the living portrait of his world, to save it! He came into his created world, becoming one with it, and died an horrific death by it and for it! He rose from the dead to save it! Far out! That is radical.

I feel I have received a corrective to my theology in all this. Yes, as Paul says, God created 'through him' and so it is not as if God is not intimately involved in creation for it is in fact a Trinitarian creation. However, the prime role of God's Son who we know as Jesus the Christ cannot be downplayed. Go Jesus! Yeah!

Monday, March 5, 2007

So Close

I blogged recently about being a sports parent and the challenges. Yesterday my youngest won a NZ title for the 1500m. It was a good effort. She was the youngest in the U17 field and squeaked home in a sprint finish. It was her first national title after 7 podium finishes in road, cross country or track. She was thrilled. She needed to crack 4.32 to make the NZ team for the youth champs in Czech Republic. Would you believe she missed by .29 running a 4.32.29. Even more frustrating is that this is the third time she has cracked the IAAF standard of 4.35. NZ has set the standard higher with the hope that those that make it will get through to the second round. She has a month so here's hoping her day will come.

It is bitter-sweet though; she beat one of her older sisters in the same race! Two years ago the older one was winning national titles but she has grown heaps and has not regained her strength. This is common in female athletes and her younger sister may go through the same challenges. The older of the three daughters ran in the U20 race and did well finishing 7th.

It is a constant roller coaster of challenges, financial pressures and more. If you are a sports parent out there, God bless you, you will need it!