Saturday, 31 January 2009

Thank you

Things have been moving at whirlwind pace. Yesterday was my last day at Matthias Media, today I am about to go on a planning weekend for the Cumberland Evangelical Christian Union, getting ready for the year.

Thank you so much to the many people who have offered their good wishes, prayers and support. Some of you I've responded to, others not (and I'm sorry about that, but still thankful). I am very aware of the kindness of friends and of the great God, the Lord Jesus, who stands behind all. This weekend with Tracey Gowing and the staff and student leaders of Cumberland ECU is going to be a great time, and I'm looking forward to new friendships, reading the Bible and praying, and whatever else the year may hold.

To be honest I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment, but also very confident that the God who led me in this new direction, as many prayed, will continue to lead me and those around me into the good works he has planned in advance for us to do.

Before I can formally begin employment I need to have a certain amount of financial support pledged (30% of the year's salary needs to be in the bank, and 50% needs to be pledged), so I need to turn my attention to this without losing sight of the gospel ministry that we are trying to work out on campus this year. If you are in the habit of praying, would you please pray that I can get on with this?

If you want information on how you can support me or the work at Cumberland, the best thing I can advise just at the moment is to contact the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students and leave your details with them so that a member of the Cumberland Support Raising group can get in contact with you.

Thank you again to those who have prayed and made contact.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Atheism must advertise

I'm really excited that Mark Baddeley has joined the Sola Panel.

Here's his first post.

Beware! He's a logic machine, I tell you. Couple that with a humility before the word of God, and bad thinking is in for a badd time.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Change you can believe in

From the Obamas.

Beware! Theologians.

Andrew Barry quotes Eta Linnemann:

It is only at the cost of a considerable independent divergence from God's word that a theologian's achievement wins renown in the current setting. The person who takes every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5) and loyally subordinates his thinking to God's revelation constructs no such theology. That person also no longer faces pressure to make a name for himself. For him it is enough if the Lord says to him, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

-Eta Linnemann, Biblical Criticism on Trial (Grand Rapids: Kregel; 2001) , 117. The bold font is part of the original.

That's a good word. The more famous the theologian, the more careful you ought to be. Heard their name? Then watch out! Not because fame is a bad thing in itself, but because in this area of study, and in the current climate, they most likely got famous by committing crimes against what God actually says. Strange days indeed.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Resurrection (John Updike, 1932-2009)

I read on Justin Taylor's blog that John Updike died today.

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

-Seven Stanzas at Easter

More cupholders

I can't believe it. Driving my sister Ingrid (she's out from Sweden, she just got married) to the Macquarie Centre for lunch, I discovered that there are bottle holders in the passenger's and driver's side doors. They could hold cups if you took a sip or two first to make sure they didn't spill as you slid them under the interior door handle. Also, there is a circular ashtray in front of the gear stick which, with the aid of screwdriver, pliers and possibly tinsnips could be easily adapted to hold a cup.

So apart from the two cupholders that are already there in the front, there is a real possibility of an extra three, and that's only in the front. For a small car, that is quite amazing.

The actual car looks a bit like this.

For some reason the steering wheel in this car is on the wrong side, but if you look carefully you can see the bump in the passenger's side door pocket that is where you put your bottle. You know it is for a bottle because there is a little picture of a bottle embossed into the plastic nearby.

Yep, Federer

Federer gave up just eight points in the second set and six in the third as he reeled off the last 13 games of the match.


Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The car

2 cupholders in front. One in back, with another odd squarish shaped cavity that if you shoved newspaper into it, could be a fourth cupholder. I ask you. How good does it get?

Two of the gels and I got in the train at Central and went down to Dapto (near Port Kembula and Wollongong Wollongong Wollongong Wollongong, not to mention Unanderra), then we drove the new (second hand) Hyundai back via Figtree Muckdonalds, then to Austinmer to pick up the DVD I'd hired and left in the DVD player, then back home.

If you flip up the two back cupholders into the seat, there is room for a third person. Hmm, hard choice there, another person, or two cups? I've got to think! The front cupholders remove the 'person instead of cupholder' option by being unflappably unflippable, not to mention that the gearstick would make life uncomfortable all round for both the middle person and the driver, unless you could all agree on a gear (probably second) and just stay with that one for the vast majority of the trip.

The interior of the car is undeniably beige, whereas the outside colour adds a hint of metal to lift the tone into something the manufacturer refers to as 'mushroom'.

There, I think I've covered all the important features.

Monday, 26 January 2009


There are a lot of cockroaches in our house tonight. A lot. I blame global warming. I would not be surprised if I woke to the feeling of their tiny claws scuttling across my face at three in the morning. I look forward to a bit of global cooling, starting soon at an Autumn near you.


He's been sick for a bit hasn't he? Or something. But it looks like he's better now, so I'm tipping him to win the Oz Open.

You can be right with God.

16   From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

That's from the Bible, Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 5.

Look it up for yourself and you'll see—you can be right with God! Not because of anything you've done, but because "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

Once you unpick the complexity of the grammar, you pretty much understand that Jesus did everything right, we did everything wrong, but what he did has been credited to us in the very deepest way that it is possible for such a thing to happen.


I know you want the details.

2006 Hyundai Accent. 4 door sedan. Back seats fold down. 3 years factory warranty remaining. Dirt cheap. Beige. Manual.

Was that a good buy? I dunno, b-in-law Thommo told me it was so I went for it.

New car

I need to pick it up tomorrow. It will be useful for getting to my new job.

Quite a story behind the way God has provided it and other things, which when I have time, I'll tell you.

Does Christ's righteousness become ours?

The answer is yes, of course, although many people deny it—such as NT Wright.

Here's quite an important statement:

Michael Bird actually offers a helpful clarification that both affirms the imputation of CHrist's active obedience to the believer (unlike NT Wright, who denies it) and shows how it relates to/is the corollory of other specifically biblical language like adoption, union with Christ, and so on.

[from here, bold mine].

I'm not sure Michael Jensen has correctly understood NT Wright (I'm not sure I have!), but at this point he is surely telling it like it is.

Whatever else we may say about NT Wright, it can hardly be doubted that he denies the Bible's teaching—that if we put our trust in Jesus, his perfect righteousness is given to us, even though we are unrighteous. That gift of God is a great thing, and what a terrible and aweful fate awaits any man who distorts this teaching.

I've got a job!

Thanks to those of you who have been praying. I will be starting work this Saturday as campus director with the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (AFES), based on the Cumberland Campus of Sydney University.

The AFES group I'll be associated with is the Evangelical Christian Union. I consider it a great privilege and honour to be invited to work with these friends.

Basically it's the same job that I did at Melbourne University from 1989-1999. In God's grace, I also had a hand in starting the Cumberland University Church, which has now become a part of Berala Anglican church within the St Paul's Carlingford Group of churches.

Fifi and I couldn't be happier, and the girls are excited too.

The righteousness of God

Lee Irons argues that Origen was a better exegete than NT Wright. A bit 'dog bites man' as far as newsworthiness goes, but there we are.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Job interview in Melbourne

Thank you very much to those of you who've been praying about the future for the Cheng family.

I've received a firm job offer, and would love to take it up. However I've told these friends that I'm not able to respond either way until I fly down to Melbourne (today) to talk to some other friends (tomorrow) about the possibilities there.

We left Melbourne 10 years ago, for family reasons. Fiona's dad had Alzheimer's, and we had gone to Melbourne on the understanding that if family needed us, we would come back to Sydney. That's what happened; we came back. Fiona's dad has since died, her mum also just last year. For our part we've kept up friendships in Melbourne, we even spoke to a church a few years ago about me coming back as a pastor. Nothing came of that; now we are looking again.

Who knows what God will decide? A few months ago I was deeply confident that I would stay on at Matthias Media for at least, oh, 20 years. But we prayed about it, and here I am considering one job offer and thinking about a return to Melbourne. It would be a delight and a joy to come back, and intensely painful as well. Even if they were to offer a job tomorrow, I can't say what my response would be.

But you can't pray about these things and expect that God would do nothing—whatever that means—so we are trusting ourselves to his grace and looking forward to this meeting with friends.

Then away for a few days. May be off internet as well.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Outdoing one another

In the old days when Al Stewart used to be fit and I used to run ahead of him, he used to say how competitive I was. Or it may be that I used to complain how competitive he was; I can't remember now. All we were doing was going for our daily 12 km run, and he hated losing. Me, I didn't mind losing. But I didn't enjoy coming second, and there were only two of us.

And so on.

Bus drivers

From today's SMH:

Just the ticket, please

Linton Besser's analysis of the reasons buses cannot keep to timetables ignores the time bus drivers spend answering inquiries ("System showing if buses are late has been held up in traffic", January 19).

If the Roads and Traffic Authority stationed an employee at each of the busy pick-up places in the CBD, such as Circular Quay and Town Hall, buses might be able to depart once the passengers were on.

Instead, drivers are required to sit there providing all sorts of information. One question I heard last week was whether the George Street bus headed for Leichhardt would go via Epping or Hornsby. Who would have the patience to be a bus driver?

James Prior, Sylvania Waters

Greek Geeks: A moros is not a moron

Pronounced "mow-ross".

Bill Mounce explains why a moros is not a moron. He also gives a great rant on why, if you keep going on about Greek when you preach, you may well be a moros.

If you are a kind of average guy who struggles to keep your head above the Greek water, this is a great blog to follow.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Twenty four years

Today Fifi and I have been married for 24 years.


Marriage, if things work out the way God intends, goes for a long time, and like life, can end in unexpected and always tragic ways.

How thankful I am that God has given another year with Fifi, and now with our three daughters.

Marriage—like life—is hard and painful, yet full of continual and unexpected joys and daily reasons to give thanks. The longer it goes, the more reason for thankfulness to the God who has blessed us with it, and the friends and family who have supported us on the way.

I believe God brought Fiona and I together for a reason, possibly many reasons, and until we are parted by death we will seek his glory together by trusting him and praying to him to show how he would faithfully serve him next.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Fifi and the girls

Time for a photo.

This was taken at Thirroul Beach towards the end of 2008. Fiona, Lily Violet, Ruby, Matilda.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

A New Dawn: How The World Will Change

This was the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald today, advertising the 'News Review' concerning Barack Obama's upcoming presidency of the United States of America.

Well, in case you were in any doubt...

News flash: This is not a new dawn.

Subsequent news update: The world won't change all that much.

I put it to you, dear reader, that the only thing that remains of the 'news' 'paper' that I used to read when I was growing up is the paper.

Admittedly, the title 'A New Dawn: How The World Will Change' was not actually a headline. I would be misrepresenting the SMH if I said that it was.

The actual front page headline was 'For richer, for can't buy love.' It was a story from the economics writer, Jessica Irvine, about how some people have decided to opt for smaller, cheaper weddings.

Is that news? You be the judge. It didn't used to be.


Our Father in Heaven.

I'm sorry this prayer has been ritualized. If I were Satan, ritualizing prayers is the first thing I would do.

Our Father in Heaven,

Hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in Heaven.


Job applications

They are going really well, thank you for asking.

Some good friends have made a job offer.

On Thursday I will be speaking to quite a different group of friends. For those of you who are in the habit of praying, I would appreciate your prayers. Thank you!

The girls are on the computer


oh no!

and so on.

I'm reading Michael Jensen's book 'You'

I'm reading it for the first time, because I've been advised to stay away from it for a bit.

But the grounds on which I've been advised to stay away have disappeared, so I've made a start.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Brideshead Revisited

I know you normally don't click through on Youtube links, but make an exception in this case. The music from Brideshead Revisited. Take away everything except the trumpet and you have perfection, beauty.

Come on you Radiohead big-girls'-blouses, try it for a bit, you'll like it. Something good can come out of Oxford, you just have to look for it.


I do like things neat. One of my favourite websites of all is

I especially like it when someone neatens up after me. Not too much, though, and not too neat. That's a bit creepy and obsessive, isn't it? Out of my room please, mother.

I am an antichrist! I am an anarKIST!

Now listen up all you sad Radiohead cases out there, here's a bit of what you need to cure you of all that other stuff. Actually you probably do like The Cure, don't you, you skivvy-wearers.


Spiders are animals without a spine.
They are called invertebrates.
Spiders are NOT insects.
Some spiders live under ground.
Spiders live all over the world.
Spiders are COOL!

-Ruby, aged 7.

Yep, and as Ruby reminded Fifi the other day, "spiders are invertebrights!"

Worked for some of these guys. Apart from not really being convinced that they are cool, the rest of the poem is accurate.

Another joke I missed

For about 6 months back in about 1988 I went about the place telling people a joke:

Q. Why did the mushroom go to the party?
A. Because he was a fun guy.

One of the funniest things about this, according to my wife anyway, was that I didn't actually get the joke for that entire period, and when I did, I stopped telling it.

I just thought it was an experiment in surrealism, and when I realized it wasn't, it lost all appeal for me.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Or even a wee bat a' Scots music


A Gordon for me, a Gordon for me,
If you're no' a Gordon, you're nae use to me,
The Black Watch are braw, the Seaforths an' a',
But the cocky wee Gordon's the pride o' them a'.

Aye! An' hear's the tune!

An' hears a lassie singin' the tune! (Ye hav' ta click on the wee loudspeaker)


For some reason, I forced myself tonight to listen to five of their songs, or at least as much of them as I could before being overcoming and calling for smelling salts. Who are these guys? What drunken stupor must youtube viewers be in to consistently give them five star ratings? Turn the sound up on your tinny little PC speakers and listen, see if you don't change your mind when you actually hear the music. If they were buskers I'd take money out of their guitar cases specifically in order to discourage them.

Tedious. Samey. Derivative. The singing guy is out of tune. There's a faux angstiness about it all that leaves one wanting to seek refuge in a DH Lawrence novel. Now that's desperate.

Never heard them before. Never want to again. Pass me the Johnny Cash...

"If yer travellin' in the north country fah..."

Ah. That's better. Also with Joni.

And here's Dolly Parton singing John Lennon's Imagine.

(Get in quick and be the first to rate it!)

There. Isn't that better?

NT Wright

You can work out a lot about a person by who endorses their work. The Reformation Theology blog says about Wright's lastest book on the topic of justification:

...the strangest endorsements come from some who don't even understand the basics of the gospel like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren who both think Christianity is about what we do for Jesus rather than what He has done for us.

Could do with a comma, but at least they didn't include the dreaded ellipsis...


NT Wright is a false teacher, so although the endorsements are strange they are hardly surprising. Group NT Wright with Rowan Williams, Karl Barth and Brian Houston as people to be wary of, even though so much of what they say is attractive, interesting and convincing to those who are convinced by that sort of thing.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Immigration under Rudd

Still not better than it was under Ruddock.

This was one of the factors influencing the way I voted at the last election, and it's not good to see how slowly things are going.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Three eggs

Even one seems a blessing.

A housefly can contaminate food by walking on it

You say that as if it's an amazing thing, and you have a photo to go with it. But I can do the same, and so can any member of my family. Even Tilly the dog can do this.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Oh and happy new year.

A bit of a PS.

Things are good here. Hope they're good with y'all.

I'm back! And I'm not...happy...

Actually, I'm not really back. And I'm not really not happy. But I will be in the next day or two.