Thursday, December 25, 2008

2008 is Over

So what of 2008. Here are some thoughts.

1. Person of the year: Like everyone I have read, I go for Barrack Obama! He was the focus of the year. His defeat of Hillary Clinton and then of John McCain to lead the greatest nation on earth and in a sense have power over us all, was astonishing. His charisma is phenomenal, his speaking inspired, his presence powerful. I hope he can live up to the hype, one suspects, no one can.

2. Disappointment of the year: Sarah Palin to me is this person. She started with such high hopes, but she was clearly the wrong person for the wrong time. She seems a neat lady, a full-on Christian, but that is not enough in politics. One has to have a certain gravitas and wisdom to go with the passion and compassion; she lacked a little of both to me. She may come back more mature and be a political player in the future however.

3. Kiwi Person of the Year: John Key. He is no Obama, but he took the political scene here by storm. He won well and has shown great character and leadership thus far. It was time for a change. Mind you, he has an immense challenge in the current economic situation.

4. Sportsperson of the Year: I am not going to choose between these people, we don't need to. The Kiwi League team beat expectations with that astonishing win. Fantastic. The Ever-Swindell twins were brilliant, what a victory! Astonishing! The All Blacks were senstational in the main. Yet their redemption requires a world cup, and then they will be recognised. Mahe Drysdale was utterly gutsy, true character and grit. Scott Dixon was brilliant in winning the Inde and the whole series. What a performance from Nick Willis, a bronze in the 1500 in today's world is possibly the most amazing of all. Then there is Esther Keown, winner of the World Schools Cross Country favourite performance, but I am biased. What a great year for these people.

5. Low Point of the Year: For me it was May with Cyclone Nagis in Burma 2 May 2008 with 146,000 killed. What a horrible experience, may God bless all those still deeply affected. The earthquake in China fell on May 12, the 19th worst of all time, 69,000 dead and 4.8million homeless! I pray that God will reach out again and again to bring his mercy and help. There was the Mumbai terror attacks, the election and problems in Zimbabwe, the South Ossetia War, the Sanlu poison milk controversy, the continued persecution of Christians in India and elsewhere, the global economic meltdown, the recent Gaza Strip conflict. The world is still racked in pain, crying out with groans as in labour. Actually, I just read a book with different views of the Millenium, the post-millenial view which sees the world progressively getting better and better and more Christianised seems a long way off!!!!!!

6. Personal Highlights: For me it was great to get my first book published, 'Congregational Evangelism in Philippians' (see below for the cover).

I also have news that I can fund my second book, a book called 'What's God up to on Planet Earth', a fresh look at the gospel for unbelievers and new Christians. My wife Emma was a highlight as always. I am blessed to be married to a glorious woman. She is still as beautiful as ever, is doing a fantastic job as rev of Glenfield Pres, and is a great wife and Mum. Then there are my brilliant kids, all fantastic athletes and top scholars; all following Jesus and serving in the Church. So its, hats off to Jesus! I have so many weaknesses but they love me as I am, unconditionally... thanks to you all.

Laidlaw College has sort of been a highlight. Working with students is precious gift, honour and privilege; I love them all. The changes are hard to keep pace with and often we simply have to trust that they are the right thing to do because guys like me don't really know the full story. But the faculty and general staff are, without exception, amazing brilliant people. I honour all of the staff of Laidlaw. I will miss Merv Coates, David Mulholand and Bill Osborne massively as they move on; although one or two of them are still teaching. But we have some great new faculty this year and the College is poised to really impact this world even more.

So, goodbye 2008, roll on 2009... what will happen? Mmmmm.

Christmas 2008

It is truly stunning that God became flesh.

Who would have thought, the one who set the universe in motion, shaped it, selected planet earth in the milky way, filled it with glorious flora and fauna, placed his image bearers on it, granted them dominion, worked for their salvation despite their failings, would become flesh? Not just, a body (soma), but sarx, one with the creation.

He, the Creator of all things, became a part of his creation, to save it. He did not despise matter or the human body. He entwined himself completely with humanity, his DNA forged into Mary's ovum, and became a zygote, a foetus, an embryo and then the child Jesus.

And he did not enter the world as one might expect as a king, a man of power and glory, but as a powerless child of controversial circumstances in a humble Jewish home. What a story!

And who was it that recognised him? Not Caesar, or Herod. The Angels of course did, as they heralded his entry into his world. It was the humble shepherds, ironically for he would become the shepherd king. Anna, an elderly widow; and Simeon, an old man; at the temple. No Pharisees, Scribes or Sadducees were there. Yet there were also those from the east, magi, wise men, perhaps rulers, who came to bow down and lavish him with gifts. They were a foretaste of kings and the wise who would fall at his feet for the next 2000 years. What a story! It is glorious, breathtaking and inspiring.

And who would have imagined that this boy would grow in obscurity, burst onto the scene, not with political force and power, but as a healing preacher. He would touch the outcast, befriend the wicked, hang with unlovable. He wasn't interested in usurping Herod or Caesar, he was interested in serving. Who would have thought that he would be crucified, yet still be the king of the universe? Who would have thought he would rise from the dead? Who would have thought that he would divide history and become the centre of all thought. Who would have thought? What a story?

Who would have thought that a white guy, a decendent of Gaelics, English and Germans, a sixth generation Kiwi Europen, would believe in him? What is it that could cause a lost soul, drunken bum, sports-obsessed, fame-pursuing twit to turn to this Jewish carpenter of the small town of Nazareth, absolutely confident that in doing so, he would live forever with the God of the universe! Such things are beyond me. Happy Christmas everyone, and follow the incarnate King.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Black Caps

In light of the absence of anything decent to contribute to the world, I will make a few comments on the Black Caps that I need to get off my chest.

I really don't get the selection of the Black Caps for the first test against the Windies beginning in Dunedin tomorrow. Here are some questions. 1) Why drop an opener who has just scored 83 against Australia in a test in Australia? That is a disgrace to me. Sure, Redmond has not done that well. But he has shown good promise in England despite not performing in the test. He appeared to come of age in that innings. So why drop him? Of course, it may be because his name is Redmond, remember Rodney? 2) Why drop NZ's best opening quick for the last 10 years, Chris Martin? I don't get this. Over 140 test wickets, bowled well in Australia, if not quite at full tilt yet. Surely, a couple of tests on NZ green wickets against the hapless Windies are just what he needed to go past 150 test wickets. Wierd! 3) Why drop NZ's exciting new opening bowling talent, Tim Southee. He performed brilliantly in the first innings in Brisbane. Yet, they dropped him! Surely, nothing would have been better than letting him loose in NZ conditions against the Windies who have not played test cricket for 6 months and who never do that well in our conditions! Bizarre! 4) Why pick James Franklin? Sure, he is a good bowler fully fit. He is also a good batsman. But he will bat at 8-10, and has not shown his ability with the ball. Surely, Southee and Martin would be a better bet! I don't get it. I do like the move of Ryder to #5 and to Flynn to #3.

Redmond, Southee and Martin are hard done by. The team should be the same as that which played Australia in Adelaide with the addition of Oram i.e. Redmond, Howe, Flynn, Taylor, Ryder, Oram, McCullem, Vetorri, Southee, O'Brien, Martin. If any failed they could make changes for the next test or series. These selectors need their heads read. No doubt Redmond will join the list of batsmen destroyed by the in-out policy of the NZ selectors in recent years. Remember Sinclair, Bell, Vincent, McMillen, Astle etc. Batting requires time and opportunity.

I would still think Sinclair and Bell have claims to be selected.

Having blathered on for a while, I do think we will knock over the Windies. I can't see them competing in our conditions. If they do, it is a sad day for NZ cricket and we are going from bad to worse.