Saturday, 28 February 2009

Women saying yes

A sad article about the 'triumphs' of feminism.

Thanks to Craig.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Would love to see you at ...

Would love to see you at the support supper/ministry launch for my work at Cumberland. It will happen on March 5 (for non-Carlingford people) and March 12 (for Carlingford people), but come to either! Or both!

You can now RSVP to Anna Cole by e-mailing her at (replace the AT with @). It will be an opportunity to hear from me, Tracey Gowing my co-worker, and eat some cake! And a bit more besides, including learning how you can support the work further.

Preaching the gospel from Ruth

For the latest issue of The Briefing, I interviewed Barry Webb on how you would preach the gospel from Ruth. It's terrific stuff that Barry says on how to preach the book:

There is a sense in which narratives (stories), whether true or fictional, mean what they do as wholes, not as parts. There is a danger, as we preach, of cutting up the story into pieces in a way that obscures the big, central issues. We need to have a strong sense of the major themes in the book, and then we can decide how we'll preach from it.

However, you can preach Ruth in parts. Chapter 1, for example, is about going away full and coming back empty. In a sense, this is what the whole Bible is about: it's about the human race, who were full, going away and suffering loss, pain and death, and about God's unexpected work of salvation in bringing back his empty ones by his mercy.

But the people listening won't see why this is a proper use of chapter 1 until they reach the genealogy at the end.

Read the whole thing here.

Review of Engaging with Barth

Andrew Barry's review of Engaging with Barth is online:

The book's stated aim is “to model courteous and critical engagement with Barth” without infatuation or caricature (pp. 15, 19), and this is what the essays deliver. But considering Barth's influence, is that enough? If the conclusions that most of the contributors reached are true, the weight of those conclusions seemed to be lacking. There was a lot of light, but not much heat; most of the essays tended to frame Barth's theology as being wonderful, but also inadequate or unsatisfactory, rather than pastorally dangerous.

(from the review).

Here's something I wrote featuring various quotes from the book.


When I was growing up, I always used to spell 'tranquility' with one l. Then, I started seeing it spelt with two 'l's, 'tranquillity', and was thrown into doubt and confusion. So much so, that I even notice that in the previous post, I spelt it with two 'l's, and immediately felt a pang of doubt, which you are now witnessing even as you read.

This is going to keep me lying awake at night.

The LORD is my shepherd, unless...

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.

3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.'

So begins Psalm 23, with images of compassion and peace so powerful that the Psalm is regularly used to comfort the dying and the bereaved.

However even here, the tranquillity that the Psalm promises carries with it a dark shadow, rarely commented upon. I don't mean verse 4, which provides one striking contrast to the peace that God gives: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..."

Even more pointed than this is the fate of the Psalmist's foes:

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.

The enemies of God are specifically excluded from the consolation the Psalmist enjoys. Wors: they are forced to watch while God's child is comforted. It occurs to me that the Psalm finds its fulfilment in the New Testament (where all Old Testament promises find their fulfilment), in the person of Lazarus. Can you see it?

I've blogged a similar idea concerning Psalm 21 over at the Sola Panel, in a post entitled Fiery and Sharp Images of Hell.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

A new Gordo blog!

The time has come! As regular blog readers will know, I've started a new job as Campus Director at the Cumberland Campus of the University of Sydney.

So, I have started a new blog, with the imaginative title Support Gordo at Cumbo. You can find it at

and the first post tells you about a couple of support events on March 5 and March 12.

Oh what the hey, why don't I just give you the first post in full. Save your mouse click for when you really need it!

Hi everybody.

If you have come across this blog, you probably know that I am just starting work as the Campus Director with the Cumberland Campus of Sydney University, employed by AFES, the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students.

So what I'm planning to do here is use this blog to keep you informed. Especially, I want you to know about how you can pray for and support the work that I am doing with the team at Cumbo.

On campus, I'll be working closely with Tracey Gowing and a whole team of keen ministry staff and students as part of the ECU, the Evangelical Christian Union.

There's a lot more to say, but right now here's something especially designed for Sydney-based friends and supporters. There are 2, yes TWO support suppers planned for early March.

Supper 1: March 5, 7.30 for 7.45 at St Paul's Anglican Church, Moseley St, Carlingford. If you know me from somewhere other than Carlingford (Gladesville, Pymble, Matthias Media, Wahroonga, somewhere else in Sydney or Melbourne??), then this is the one for you—although if you can't make it, you're welcome to the other one.

Supper 2: March 12, 7.30 for 7.45, also at St Paul's Anglican Church, Moseley St, Carlingford. If you know me from Carlingford, then this is the one for you—although if you can't make it, you're welcome to the other one.

At both suppers, you will get to hear about the AFES work at Cumberland, and the work that I'm doing. You'll get to meet a Cumbo student, and hear about the work from their perspective.

Pretty soon I will post again with a bit more detail, including how you can RSVP, but I thought it would be good to let you get the relevant date—March 5 or March 12—into your diary as soon as you can.

If you can't make it to either supper, the best and easiest way to begin supporting the work is to contact AFES direct.

Garrett's songlist is going to mean a short concert.

Annabelle Crabb:

MIDNIGHT OIL is getting back together!

The Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, now has the task of selecting a suitably conciliatory song list.

Advance publicity for next month's bushfire benefit gig suggests that headline bands will play "20 minutes of hits".

But can Midnight Oil field 20 whole minutes of material that wouldn't get Mr Garrett sacked if he were to read it out in Parliament rather than shrieking it while twitching violently to guitar music?

Most of the Oils' hits are problematic for one reason or other. US Forces, obviously, is right out...

From today's SMH.


Went into school this morning again, to help with teaching Scripture. Lily Violet is in my class. Lily Violet, who remembers everything, said on our walk to school, "Dad, how come you didn't pick me last week for being a good listener? Is Charlie a better listener than me?"

How do you pick a good listener in your Scripture class?

Tuesday, 24 February 2009


Hard to get excited about that age. Thankful, of course. God has sustained me for another year, to him be all glory.

But it's not middle aged, and it doesn't even class as mid-life crisis, because that must have been passed some time ago. It's not 50, which is a time for celebrating the clicking over of digits on the odometer. I remember being in the Datsun 180B when it clicked over from 99999 to 100000 and that was a moment, quite an exciting moment, in a torrential downpour going up the hill of it might have been Yass. Or 'Jass', as my Swedish mum used to say in a moment of over-correction, because Swedes when they see a 'J' at the beginning of a word change it to 'Y'. But they are not incapable of saying 'J', so sometimes when a 'Y' is called for, they will say 'J' instead. It all averages out, but it is quite funny, jew are yust not allowed to laugh.

PS It's not my birthday, it's just a thought.

Monday, 23 February 2009

You idiots. It *is* relevant.

Psalm 20. Read it this morning, realized I'd absorbed nothing, re-read it, realized I'd absorbed nothing, re-read it and noticed some things.

Still not a lot of things, so it's open in front of me now.

"May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble"

that opening verse alone is worth the price of admission.

Verses 1-3 are some sort of unit, you can tell because of the word 'Selah' at the end of verse three.

They are addressed by the Psalmist to 'you', where 'you' is you, the reader.

What a wonderfully comforting thought, that the LORD himself would inspire a songwriter to write a song for you, where 'you' is not the Psalmist's girlfriend or ex, but you, no matter who you are.

It causes me to think that we should drop sharp heavy objects from a great height on those who insist that the word of God is something that needs to be made relevant.

You idiots. It is relevant.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Spent the weekend with friends

A bit of travelling involved, but they were good friends.

A river nearby, the rain held off, we listened to some good words about participation in Christ.

Friday, 20 February 2009

The heavens declare the glory of God

And that's how I know I'm a sinner, subject to his wrath, anger, judgement, and the fires of hell.

I've explained this a bit more, here at the Sola Panel.

Thursday, 19 February 2009


My father, Cecil Cheng, told me tonight that being an Aussie he was looking forward to visiting Anzac Cove this year.

Interesting. I wonder what my Swedish mum would have made of that.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


What lovely family and friends I have.

Thanks everyone.

Shoes, just what I wanted. No really, they are fantastic, I put them straight on and we walked up to school, the gels and I. 4.4 k round trip, lots of happy chat. This is one of the highlights of my week. 'Come on girls, that little red man on the light just means you have to look in all directions before you cross, and if you see a policeman just pull your school hats down a bit lower'.

Oh come on readers you know I wouldn't do that to the girls.

Forgotten—but remember March 5, 12.

If I'd ever forgotten how full the life of an AFES (Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students) worker is, especially in February, I'm now being reminded. Every day is currently full of planning and administration for the university year, which begins in earnest with Orientation next week.

Soon I'll be launching a new blog that deals more directly with my work at Cumberland. In the meantime, if you are in Sydney and would like to support the work in some way, please put March 5 OR March 12 in your diaries. I'm planning 2 suppers, both of which will involve me explaining the work, and informing you about how you can support what is going on prayerfully and/or financially.

More detail soon, on the new blog (oh, and this blog will continue too! See, I'll be twice as busy!)

Monday, 16 February 2009

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Harper's Bazaar and Hell

Harper's Bazaar is an American fashion magazine.

However, it hasn't always been just that, and on page 134 of the December, 1858 edition you can find a description of Charles Spurgeon preaching:

In person, Mr. Spurgeon is short and stout; his face is large and soft, well-developed in the lower part, and with an overhanging forehead. His countenance is devoid of color, and he has a quantity of neatly-arranged black hair. His voice is penetrating and powerful, but strongly accented with an English provincial twang, and he uses a profusion of gesture and dramatic action. Lately, Mr. Spurgeon preached without any gown, and was not assisted by notes or manuscript.

Mr. Spurgeon's pulpit style is eminently theatrical. He uses his hands and arms forcibly, frequently alters his position, addressing himself now to the right hand, now to the left, and occasionally turning almost entirely round in the pulpit. In the colloquial and conversational parts of his sermon—which are of constant recurrence—he changes his voice, and gives the dialogue in varying tone and accent, to suit the circumstances of his dramatis personae. The discourse, consequently, becomes more of an oration, or of a lecture illustrated with action, than a sermon. The words arc embellished with a profusion of gestures, starts, sudden uprisings, and downward movements, which seem very remarkable to those accustomed to the gravity of demeanor which is generally presented in a Presbyterian pulpit. The introduction of two stanzas of poetry into the prayer was generally remarked as a very singular feature.

In the course of his sermon Mr. Spurgeon presented the following picture of the Day of Judgment: "I think I see the judgment seat and the resurrection-day, A mother with her children are standing there. Three or four of her little babes are saved for endless glory. Their little bodies have put on immortality and life; and where are you who have been permitted to live longer? The stars fire falling from heaven, the sun is changed to darkness, and the moon into blood.

But, lo! there is silence in heaven, and a voice is heard, 'Gather my elect from the four winds of heaven! Your mother is about to be taken into the company of the blessed forever.

'Mother!' shrieks the son, 'lean not be separated from you forever, Save me! Oh, save me! make intercession to the judge for me. He will hear thy cry, though he will not hear mine!' 'My son,' she will reply, 'I directed thy feet to God when thou wast young. On my breast you lay when my prayers went up to God for your soul. I taught you to lisp the name of Jesus, and your lips to utter his precious name. Do you not remember how, when you grew older, I taught you the way to heaven? But the time came when you scorned a father's prayers and mocked a mother's tears. But now your mother says, now, my son, it is changed. I can weep no more now, for I am glorified. I can pray no more for you now, for prayers are useless here. You are justly lost. You are damned, and I must say Amen to your condemnation.'"

-with thanks to Phil Johnson at Pyromaniacs.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Big band

A class act.

Glenn Miller, In the Mood.

Thanks to my friend Mr. Kirsop. They don't get any better than this!

Ooh, ooh, a printable checklist!

This, for some strange reason, has Made My Day.

Check it out! You'll love it too, I'm sure.

The fires were fuelled

Recommendation after recommendation was ignored, as Andrew Bolt explains.

Every time we suffer a disastrous bushfire it’s the same. In our agony, we set up an inquiry.

Cold months - even years - later, that inquiry tells us that we must especially do more fuel reduction burns to stop forest litter from mounting so high that it turns a fire into a turbo-fuelled inferno, impossible to fight.

Some people are just stupid

5:1 King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand.

2 Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. 3 Then they brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4 They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

Daniel 5:1-4.

You know this isn't going to end well.

We're singing about it in choir.

The story continues:

5 Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. 6 Then the king's color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. 7 The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 8 Then all the king's wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or make known to the king the interpretation. 9 Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, and his color changed, and his lords were perplexed.

You know this isn't going to end well.

Whole story here.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

How do you relax?

How do you relax? Do you relax by being by yourself, or by being with others?

I relax by sleeping. Others can hang around and watch if they want to, or do their own thing.

How do you relax?

Michael Jensen's book 'You'

It's good at many things, but 'You' is 'Useless' when it comes to telling a non-Christian how to become a Christian.

If you were looking for that, you need to click here. It's John Stott's Basic Christianity, a book that lacks modern theological and cultural savvy, but will help you if you want to know what a Christian is, and how to become one.


tells me I'm brilliant at some things, and really quite ordinary, shading into bad, at everything else.

You can tell me if that is bad or not, however, I talk in my sleep unassisted by anything, says Raj with whom I shared a dormitory over the last couple of days, and he was a bit coy when questioned, except that he said it's nice to know that I was devoted to my wife. So I am assuming that sleeptalking is one of the things I'm brilliant at, but others may know better.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Daughters skipping unnecessarily

Down the corridor, towards the door.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Saturday, 7 February 2009

New Year's Resolutions-cigars

It feels like the start of the year for some reason.

I used to be good at smoking, and the habit just dropped off. At one stage I was up to a cigar a week.

Every three or four years I resolve to pick this up again, but last year was a disaster, cigar-wise.

So my New Year's Resolutions for 2009 are.

1. To take up smoking (again!)

2. To learn Hebrew (I tried, really, in 1986, for one week. But it was the beginning of several years of sickness, so that was the end of that. No excuses, because the giardia has gone and has been gone now for some decades.

I am seeing my dear friend Katay tonight. He is not, however, a blog reader and one feels awkward dropping hints when one is in the presence of a friend. So if any of you know him, please call and let him know that I am hoping for a cigar.

Oh, and are we getting close to Lent? Is this the time for giving things up? Suggestions please. Let's keep it realistic though. I've continued with Greek, sporadically, but that would be an example of something that might be dropped. If there was reason.

And facebook friends. Some of you I don't even like. Others, whom I have a deep affection for, are not even there. You could be, and I encourage you to consider it. But maybe part of my self denial in the pre-Easter season will be that you ask to be my friend, and I just say no without explanation.

Thanks to Tony

Thanks to Tony for this thanks.

It's been a joy-filled time. In God's kindness, and even in altered circumstances, that joy will only continue to grow through the deepening of our fellowship in the Lord Jesus.

Feminism and its consequences

Craig spotted this:

I argue that women's libbers of the Sixties and Seventies put careerism at the forefront, trampling the traditional role of women underneath their Doc Martens. I wish a more balanced view of womanhood had been available to me. I wish that being a housewife or a mother wasn't such a toxic idea to middle-class liberals of yesteryear.

Increasing numbers of my feminist friends are giving up their careers for love and children and baking. I wish I'd had kids ten years ago, when time was on my side, but the problem is not so much time as mentality. I made a conscious decision not to have serious relationships because I thought I had all the time in the world. Many of my friends did the same. It's about understanding what is important in life, and from what I see and feel, loving relationships and children bring more happiness than work ever can.

-Zoe Lewis in the Times Online

Global warming is a myth

Say approximately 90% of respondents to this ABC Online Poll.

update: Poll disappears. Curious.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Funny old day

Funny old day at the Ministry Training Strategy day yesterday.

I mean great, super, wonderful, excellent, superlative, and so on. That goes without saying, and if you are in Sydney for the next one be there, May 28.

Got to sit next to my friend Chris Braga who I know from Gladesville days. The topic was 'Gen Y', who I'm told are internet-savvy funky dudes between the age of something teenage and 32. Most of the audience were Gen Y, by this definition.

The speakers were Gen X (older than 32 but not as old as me), so as terrific as various bits and pieces were, it was funny to be sitting amongst a group of Gen Y people being told what we were like. Not wrong, just funny.

Being not anything in particular, apart from old, I also thought that it was funny to be sitting there passing notes to Chris via my laptop, watching all these Gen Y buddies using the old fashioned pen and paper and being cooled by ineffectual fans that one remembers from when one was a young person. OK, they were new fans, and I like hot and sweaty in February, because this is the way it ought to be, but you hear what I'm saying.

Apart from sitting next to Chris, sharing a soft drink with Mike K and being hugged by Michael Jensen (sorry Mike, it meant a lot, I'm always awkward when hugged. Even the daughters around here are starting to realize one is a bit stand-offish), here was the absolute highlight:

4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

That's Titus 3:4-7, as quoted by Jodie McNeill.

That's us, the 'after' picture that comes after the before.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Peter Jensen's doctrine of sin

It's strong.

It would be great if Peter preached more, wrote more, and archbished less. In fact, how great it would be if he were back at Moore College; not necessarily as principal, just speaking and teaching theological stuff.

It's a humble job, of course, to be a theologian, whereas to be an Archbishop is to be a prince of the church. Tony Payne compares the job of theologizing to being a sewage worker [edit: originally, Jim Packer—see comments], whose task is to make sure that once the brown stuff generated by humans hits the ocean, it's pretty much been cleaned up. It's a dirty, inglorious job they have, but true health depends on it.

Others want to glorify the job of theologian in deeper and profounder ways, turning them into mystics, magicians and wise people teaching the rest of us poor saps how we ought to be thinking about God—a sort of real life 'Defence against Dark Arts', where the poor students hope that they can pick up enough to save them from bad stuff.


Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.

That's all we little ones need in the way of theology, and if the academic theologians are doing their work well, we won't really notice that anything else is going on.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The rise of unbelief?

John Dickson writes in today's SMH:

Whether or not churches are worried about the census figures on religion, society as a whole should be.

The same data shows a correlation between being Christian and doing charity work. As the Herald reported on Friday, an analysis by the Bureau of Statistics found Christians were more likely to do volunteer work than people who said they had no religion.


Nadal's victory has confirmed his position as undisputed number one, having defeated Federer in their past three grand slam encounters, the Open final drawing comparisons with the Wimbledon final. Nadal felt Wimbledon, which he won 7-5 in the fifth set, was "more dramatic for the stops [interruptions], for the light, the rain" than Melbourne Park.


(I was wrong)

Monday, 2 February 2009

Actually do it

From Tony, here.

The advice applies across the board.

Gutters matter

From the SMH:

As much as 85 per cent of new guttering installed on NSW homes is high-fronted, attached to a building's facia by a spring-clip system. This makes the entire guttering system non-compliant with building codes and Australian Standards because provision for continuous overflow does not exist.

Home owners may face huge repair costs in years to come, setting the stage for fights between insurers, builders and plumbers over who should foot the bill.