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 Title...my 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.