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And His Name Shall Be Called…

As I listened to a most excellent pre-Christmas sermon last Sunday on Isa 9:6, I opened my logos software and looked at the Greek OT version of Isa 9:6 to see how the Greek translators had dealt with the Hebrew text. The versions we have in our English bibles are based on the Hebrew, and read something like this: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (ESV). This text seems to claim that the Davidic Messiah will have these four names. The two on the middle stand out as very much in tension with Jewish monotheism and anticipate a Messiah who is much more than just a man, but will be called by others Mighty God and Everlasting Father, names reserved only for God. I wondered how the LXX dealt with this.
I was very interested to find that the Jewish LXX translators a couple of centuries or so before Christ seem to have had a real pro…

Really Bob Jones – How Out of Date You Are

Yesterday, Bob Jones published an opinion piece in the NZ Herald entitled, “Clear winner in science v religion” (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11359994). In the article, overflowing with his usual humility and wit, Bob expresses his certainty that science had trumped religion, inspired by Pope Francis putting “the cat among the pigeons” with his recent endorsement of the big bang and evolution. Jones wrote off the invented deities of human societies and even pondered declaring himself the Messiah. He then singled out Jesus, priests, monasteries, and nunneries for a real crack. He did display some vague signs of appreciation for Christianity, or as he calls it voodooism, with such things as “glorious cathedrals, Easter eggs, hot cross buns, some splendid music (offset by the dirgy stuff) and Christmas presents—only to then write them off as things Christianity merely took over. He concludes, “[d]espite those attractions I'll stick with science r…

Thanks Dotcom -- Not! Election 2014

Dotcom, dirty politics and the mainstream media wrecked the election campaign and can be thanked for the comprehensive National victory in last night’s election. With the help of the Media that focussed intently on the claims, Dotcom and Hagar’s supposed revelations meant that the real issues and policies NZ should have been considering were simply not given a decent chance.

Then, when it came to vote, fear of the alternative drove many NZers including many of those in the centre-left (like me) who might have considered voting left to vote for National again – ‘better the devil you know.’ A cynic might postulate that the government granted Dotcom permission to come to NZ to help them win the election.

When you come at the government arguing that they are misusing the Internet with an argument based on emails stolen or hacked and using people considered criminals and spies by many around the world – unless you really prove that the PM and government are liars – you lose. They didn’t, …

Further Thoughts on the Election Dilemma: Some Responses to Conversations

Since I put it up, I have had some real interesting conversations about my previous blog concerning who to vote for. On the whole, most responses echo my own dilemma. That said, there have been some responses which I wish to respond to.  
First, I am now less inclined toward the Conservatives after I have been reminded of their views on ending the Treaty processes and removing the Maori seats (similarly NZ First and Act). While I can understand these ideas and believe that one day we may move to this place, I consider that these policies show a lack of awareness of our colonial history and the deep impact of the oppression of Maori in our past. I cannot imagine what it is like to be invaded and “my” nation effectively seized by an oppressor. We see the impact of such things in the world today in places like Palestine and the Ukraine. It is horrific. The carnage caused by the European settling of this nation has been immense and many NZers are simply not aware of it. Take the Parihaka…

Open Letter to the Churches of Aotearoa on Election 2014

Note from Mark: After my previous blog concerning the dilemma of who to vote for a Christian who does not want to be named sent me this and asked me to consider promoting it. While the views in it are not my own, I feel it is worth sharing as an option for consideration as we go to the polls with so much uncertainty about who to vote for. It is one genuine possibility among a few others. Unlike other more prominent bloggers, I received no money for posting this.  
Have you made up your mind yet on how you will vote? This is an important privilege we share and a right we should exercise. Unfortunately voter turnout by those who identify themselves as religious or having a strong faith in the past decade has generally been lower than the National average.
Perhaps that is because it can be so hard to know what candidates and Parties you can really trust. Since no one is perfect and certainly there is probably no political party that you agree with 100%, sometimes we are only left with the …

Election 2014 The Dilemma: Some Personal Musings

Not voting is not an option for me. Democracy is flawed, but it is the best system around. People died to get this freedom to vote, and I will exercise it. I must.

But deciding who to vote for this time around has to be one of the hardest decisions ever. For those on the extreme right (of which I am not one) it is not difficult. Act seems to have got its act together (pardon the pun) and returned to its core business. They are almost guaranteed a seat in parliament because of the stitch-up in Epsom, so a vote for them in Epsom is certainly not wasted. Yet, polls suggest that to cast a party vote for them outside of Epsom is likely a waste, as they are unlikely to get enough to bring in another candidate. I am outside Epsom, so even if was inclined, on the basis of the polls, I wouldn’t think about them.

Others on the centre-right create more than a bit of a quandary. On the one hand, it seems easy. National have governed for six years. NZ is doing well by many markers. They have boug…

Jerusalem!

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Earlier on our trip we went to Venice, which I then thought was the most incredible place I had visited. While I love Venice, for me, Jerusalem now takes that place after we entered through the Jaffa Gate (the Left).







It is impossible to sum up a visit to Jerusalem in a few words. It is amazing. Here, religion and politics have collided for centuries and this continues in the present.The Temple Mount is extraordinary. 





You see Jews rocking before a wall which once formed the western side of the base of the temple, praying in grief for the loss of a building. They are pleading for the coming of Messiah and its restoration. Yet, Messiah has come. He has formed a temple of people, not a physical building. God’s people no longer need such a building. In the ancient temple was the Holy of Holies where the High Priest could enter once a year to atone for the sins of the people. Now, in Jesus, anyone can enter by faith, forgiven, and stand before God freely in intimate relationship. We don’t n…

A visit to Bethlehem, Where Jesus was Born

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After our time at the Sea of Galilee, we drove to Jerusalem and dropped off the car. While we were able to drive the rental into Bethlehem, we would not be covered by insurance and the company could not help us if we got in trouble. So we took a taxi to the Bethlehem Bible College (right). This is a Palestinian Christian college very close to the wall, about half an hour walk from the centre of town. 


The people of the college are courageous people, strong believers in peace, people who stand for Christ in a most difficult environment. One senses the forces of Zionism and Islam crushing them. They are imprisoned inside the wall which towers over the town (left). They cannot leave without documentation.







Bethlehem is very different to the Jewish cities, and more like Nazareth. It is peopled by lovely friendly people who love to say “welcome” and engage you in conversation. They are delighted if you are staying in the town, and without doubt the friendliest place we visited in Israel. On o…