Saturday, 30 May 2009

Don't go to Moore College to become a theologian

There are times when it's good to get straight to the point. Here, Andrew Barry says that it's a gracious work of God to turn someone into a theologian, and describes how it happens. Short and to the point.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Trinity in Creation

I've had some thoughts about the Trinity on the Sola Panel, here.

Trying to work out some of the connections between John 1 and Genesis 1, and there are a lot.

When I was on horseback

Speaking of Cork...

when i was on horseback wasn't i pretty.
when i was on horseback wasn't i gay.
wasn't i pretty when i entered cork city.
and met with my downfall on the fourteenth of may.

six jolly soldiers to carry my coffin.
six jolly soldiers to march by my side.
it's six jolly soldiers take a bunch of red roses.
then for to smell them as we go along.

beat the drum slowly and play the pipes only.
play up the dead-march as we go along.
and bring me to tipperary and lay me down easy.
i am a young soldier that never done wrong.

when i was on horseback wasn't i pretty.
when i was on horseback wasn't i gay.
wasn't i pretty when i entered cork city.
and met with my downfall on the fourteenth of may.

-Steeleye Span.

If you've never heard Maddy Pryor, or especially if you have, do yourself a favour and click on the YouTube link.


Diamantina Drover

For the rain never falls on the dusty Diamantina
And a drover finds it hard to change his mind
For the years have surely gone
Like the drays from Old Cork Station
And I won't be back till the drovin's done


Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Why trust God?

I can trust God because

he sent his Son to die, and in the Bible it shows how lots of people trusted him and he didn't let them down.

-Matilda Cheng

As it happens

What's the role of providence in the life of the Christian?

"As it happens, my mum was at EQUIP too."

Nicole talks about it.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Leaf blowers

They'd have to be the dumbest invention wouldn't they? I walked past a guy at school this morning who had one going at full bore (and that is the only way they can go). I felt like grabbing a broom and showing him how it was done more efficiently, more effectively, and MORE QUIETLY.

Monday, 25 May 2009

"Help us to repent"

That was one of the prayers that we prayed in church, and I said a hearty internalized 'Amen' as well (being Anglican, I don't like loud noises).

But I also thought that Cranmer (author of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer), had he been rostered on for prayers at our church, would more likely have said "Cause us to repent."

More Cranmerian, more Calvinist, and ultimately more biblical.

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

-Ephesians 2: 1-7 .

Sunday, 24 May 2009

My book nearly got reviewed

by Tim Challies, who does a very good job of not reviewing it here. It's one of the nicest non-reviews I've ever seen, so I thought I would not mention it in this place.

Move along, nothing to see here.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Reformed Charismatics

Phillip Jensen cuts to the chase:

“The Reformed system of belief and the Charismatic system of belief are incompatible.”

That's at about the 10 minute point of this half-hour video.

Fifi and the girls really like this

It's Lille by Lisa Hannigan. Beautiful and evocative.

Our choir got reviewed

In the SMH and The Australian.

From the Australian:

William Walton's oratorio Belshazzar's Feast (1931) was the final work. It was electrifying. Thrillingly fast tempos, biting syncopated rhythms and knife-edge precision generated sizzling energy and bold drama that celebrated the work's pagan savagery and manic wildness. By contrast, the performers brought sinuous shape and expressive intensity to the passages of pungent lyricism.

Both nice reviews, though both completely miss the theological point in a fairly major way!

The concerts themselves (2 nights) were an absolute blast, and Vladimir Ashkenazy is without a doubt da man. Not to mention that the current choir master, Brett Weymark, has really lifted the Sydney Philharmonia to a very high level.

"Happy is he who taketh your children and dashes their heads against a stone"

-Ps 137, and a part of the text we sang.

Christian agnostic

Lynette Spicer from our church got a letter in today's SMH:

To believe or not to believe

I'm not sure how anyone can claim to be a "Christian agnostic" ("Believe it or not, the bishop's an agnostic", May 20). It makes as much sense as calling a colour "ashen red" or a size "gigantically small". The words are incongruous. An agnostic believes God is unknowable, whereas a Christian believes God has made himself known in the person of Jesus. Bishop Holloway has a choice to make.

Lynette Spicer, Telopea


Thursday, 21 May 2009

At the end of rehearsal

At the end of rehearsal for our choir a man stood up in front of everyone and proposed marriage to his girlfriend. He'd met her in choir and had chosen that moment to do it, on the stage of the Sydney Opera House concert theatre.

She wasn't expecting it at all.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Sixth sense

An amazing demonstration of technology that is with us right now. Use your hand as a calculator and your wrist as a watch, among other things.

Monday, 18 May 2009

A new super-duper search-and-calculate engine

It's called wolfram alpha, and there's an article by Conrad Walters in today's SMH.

It's the 500th anniversary of John Calvin, so here's the result I got when I 'wolframmed' him.

And here's the result when I wolframmed my exact birthday.

Here, intriguingly, is what I got by wolframming "10% of 365 days".

Sydney rainfall.


One day, this could turn out useful.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Wordy eloquence

Be deeply suspicious of it.

In this Pyromaniacs post, Charles Spurgeon compares eloqence to the tinkly bells on some horses, nice for some but a useless substitute for corn or hay.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Phillip Jensen

I've noticed in the last couple of weeks that quite a number of my bloggy friends have been linking to

If you haven't already, make sure to bookmark this one or add it to your rss feed, as it is now being constantly updated. It is a treasure trove of material old and new dating back over many years.

Thanks Phillip, and Phillip's friends, for ministering to us in this way. God has used you mightily over the last 30+ years and it is wonderful to see this material being made far more widely available.

Only, please don't be tempted to broadcast yourself weekly onto video screens in Seattle. One bad idea doesn't deserve another ;-)

Friday, 15 May 2009

Vladimir Ashkenazy: check this out

If you watch this short piece played by Vladimir Ashkenazy you will find that it's possible to hold your breath for two minutes without noticing. It's an astonishing piece of work. I think the lady backstage may be his wife.

Ashkenazy is a pianist who has crossed over into conducting (like Daniel Barenboim) and is now here in Sydney as the Principal Conductor for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Anyway he conducted our choir in a rehearsal last night. Something about his manner reminded me (and probably no-one else there) of Broughton Knox. Gracious and self-effacing and humble; he congratulated our rehearsal pianist for her excellent work (from where I was sitting, she looked mildly petrified to be playing in front of him) and was generally full of praise and kindness. A humble orchestral conductor is as rare as a chaste NRL player.

If you are interested in seeing Ashkenazy and hearing our choir, it's happening next Wednesday and Thursday night, May 20 and 21. We're doing Walton's Belshazzar's Feast. If you click through on that link you get the text, basically Scripture, mainly Ps 81, Ps 137 and Daniel. The opening words, however, are based on 2 Kings 20:16-18.

16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: 17 Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. 18 And some of your own sons, who shall be born to you, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

What a moment of horror. (Oddly enough, though, Hezekiah is happy!)

UPDATE: Here's another piece of hypnotic brilliance from Ashkenazy, Chopin Etude No. 4, Op.10.

What tabernacles ought to look like

Jean's got this absolutely fantastic series going on how to teach your kids about Old Testament law and sacrifices, short of actually going outside and demonstrating throat-slitting techniques on Fido.

Check this latest one on what tabernacles actually look like.

For some reason (and it reflects on my mind, not on Jean's excellent work) when confronted with DIY stuff like this ("You Too can Build your Own Tabernacle') I get reminded of Monty Python's How to Take Your Appendix Out on the Piccadilly Line.

But if you really want to see a knock-your-socks off model of the Temple of Herod, check this (with thanks to that indefatigable researcher Enkers. Enkers observes that "It includes 32 versions of Jesus (perhaps in an attempt to keep everyone happy?)"

UPDATE: And here's an audio file from Phillip Jensen on the real temple of God.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Have you been baptized by the Holy Spirit?

Here's Phillip Jensen's answer.

Some surprises, a good dose of Bible. Worth a listen and a watch.

A Psalm that hurts

I blogged about it here on the Sola Panel.

There are all sorts of reasons and ways to avoid the truth that God judges us, but reading the Psalms will cure us of those things.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

School bullying

Notice this letter in the SMH:

The class bully

The Ascham bullying incident takes me back a few years to my son's co-educational state high school in an upmarket Sydney suburb.

Each year the school welcomed refugees from local private schools. Late on one first day of term my son chatted to a new boy who had looked unusually apprehensive and nervous all day. He confided that he had been waiting for an "initiation" ritual, such as being roughed up or having his head shoved down a toilet.

This adolescent was wide-eyed with disbelief and relief to find himself in a safe environment with no bullying and a culture of mutual respect and support. And his parents had paid for the privilege of his humiliation and trauma.

Christina Hart, Bangalow

Always been a bit puzzled at how many people assume good things about private school education, without first checking whether the one they have in mind fits their stereotype of what to expect.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Understanding cultural differences

Ricky Gervais (The Office, Extras) was in the SMH Spectrum supplement over the weekend (No link). The article said:

The Office has been shown in 70 countries worldwide and has been remade eight times, the latest being the Israeli version. India is also planning a version and Gervais and Merchant think they might be hands-on with that one, executive producing it as they did for the US version.

I reckon it would be a good idea for Christians to stop banging on about cultural differences between people groups and nations. We make far too much of them on the basis of almost no biblical warrant at all.

When you can translate The Office into Indian and still expect it to work famously with the same idea and the same producer; not to mention showing the original in 70 different countries, you have a clear demonstration of how unnecessary it is to translate cultural concepts.

Just quietly, I would venture to say that this is why Mark Driscoll can turn up in Sydney, spend a few weeks here, hit us with 18 points on what we are like, and have so many of us falling about going 'ooh, prophetic!'

I distinctly remember at the time finding an English blog that linked to notes of the same talk and saying something like "That's amazing! We're like that too!"

Well, yes. And the humour of The Office works in 70 different countries. And you can pick up Shakespeare or Don Quixote and it can still make sense, centuries later. Says this Australian half-Chinese half-Swede.

Friday, 8 May 2009

A close cousin to vandalism

Those of you who follow the links in my blog sidebar will notice that I keep up with a few theological blogs that I consider valuable, and then a fairly eclectic collection of political comment, stuff on global warmening (we're done for, we're done for I tell you), occasional friends' blogs (sorry I love youse all but I'm not linking everybody), things written by cabbies when they're off their shifts, George Orwell's diary from 1938 on, and stuff on time management and uncluttering your house.

(Yes, there are more, including some I think very highly of, but you'll just have to keep a watch on that sidebar won't you ;-) )

From time to time themes will crash into each other. So it was a pleasant surprise to find a blog that I thought was kind of about time management exegeting a Bible verse.

Trinity—let's not get carried away here

A cautious but worthy post from Mark Thompson.

I'm committed to trinitarian theology. I have greatly benefitted from the renaissance in trinitarian thinking that has characterised the last two decades especially. However, at one or two points I wonder whether our enthusiasm needs to be more carefully measured against the proportions of Scripture.

Yeah! You could go further and ask whether some of those who get carried away with the speculations of trinitarian theology are full of it, but bravo for maintaining your cool.

Carrie Prejean

Andrew Bolt highlights some astonishing media bias; indeed 'bias' is too weak a word.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Robot wars

"We are living through the end of humankind's 5000-year-old monopoly on the fighting of war … The robots of today are the first technologies to change the 'who' of war, not just the 'how' of war…"

Peter Singer, quoted in today's SMH.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Teaching Trinitarian theology to years 1 and 2

In Scripture this term we are trying to teach trinitarian theology (I think. I'm just a helper, not the actual teacher). So we told the year 1 and 2 kids this morning that God the Father and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, in order that the Holy Spirit would empower the disciples to testify that Jesus was Lord and Saviour.

Hopefully the visual aids worked.

Bit of a scramble for the volcano

A busy morning. Fifi has gone to church to teach some Japanese women to bake (a lot of Japanese people don't have ovens). I helped teach Scripture to some of my girls at school.

Meanwhile, Matilda decided she wanted to train for the zone cross country, so we went off for a run. Oh, that was before breakfast, but that helps explain why it feels like I've been running all morning.

Meanwhile meanwhile, Ruby was putting the finishing touches on the volcano.

OK, let's be accurate here. She had the idea for the volcano for news, which originally (last Saturday IIRC) involved a cardboard box cut and taped to shape, "2 pakets of tomato saus" (what she wrote on the shopping list), and hands coming in through holes cut in the cardboard box, squeezing the '2 pakets' and vawooshka, Bob's your uncle and there's your volcano.

All credit to her, it would have been a corker of an eruption. "Magma to the left of me! Magma to the right of me!"

However we did workshop the concept just a little bit. I cut the box to shape. Fifi helped her paint and decorate so it looked fairly volcanic, or at least, would look volcanic when I taped it up.

(Child to mother, who is asking child to tidy up bits of paper and cardboard: "But you were the one who made the mess!" And again, to give credit where it is due, this statement was technically accurate)

The active ingredients of the eruption miraculously transmogrified, under our guiding hands, into the good ol' baking powder (sodium bicarbonate, in a plastic party cup, taped to the inside of the mouth of the volcano), plus probably three-quarters of a cup of vinegar, to be poured into the cup during the news presentation in 2F. I was putting the finishing touches to it inbetween teaching Scripture and taking Ruby back to her class with the other kids.

Come to think of it, the volcano may even be happening as I type this. Good luck, Mrs F (her teacher).

Why aren't I there watching? Well I do have work to do today, you know!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Just stopped my daughter

from reading her Bible.

Came home from choir and there she was reading in the dark.

Well, she's supposed to be sleeping!

Resisting global warmening

Annabel Crabb critiques the latest steps:

Mercilessly, the Prime Minister spelled out the details of the tough new measures.

First, there would be a year's delay. Ouch!

More in the SMH.

As she says, "Bring on...the comfy chair!"


Homeopathy involves diluting stuff down until you are left with, essentially, water. You then find gullible people to pay you money to swallow what they could get from a tap.

Homeopathy is idiotic.

Sometimes, it is (the Crown alleges) criminally idiotic.

"The Crown case is that from this point on, for the next five months of her life until her death … Gloria's eczema played a devastating role in her overall health and it is asserted by the Crown that both her parents knew this and discussed it with each other," Mr Tedeschi said.

"Over time the eczema caused her skin to become thinner and weaker and the constant breaking of the skin allowed infections to enter her body."

The parents, who each had university degrees and postgraduate qualifications, instead sought help from other homeopaths and natural medicine practitioners, Mr Tedeschi said.

On the few occasions that they did follow conventional medical advice, Gloria would improve, but they would soon revert to homeopathic remedies and she would continue to deteriorate.

"Gloria spent a lot of the last five months of her life crying, irritable, scratching and the only thing that gave her solace was to suck on her mother's breast," Mr Tedeschi said.

"Towards the end she was sleeping an inordinate amount of time, her body desperately trying to overcome these infections."

Thomas Sam's sister allegedly "pleaded" with him to send Gloria to a conventional medical practitioner. He allegedly replied: "I'm not able to do that."

Mr Tedeschi said the parents knew their daughter was suffering from malnutrition, that she was losing weight, and even that it was all due to her eczema.

"Despite their observations … they failed to follow through with any proper serious conventional medicine attention for Gloria from proper doctors, as opposed to homeopaths."

The trial continues.

Unless you are basically well, you ought to avoid homeopathy and advise others to do likewise.

Monday, 4 May 2009

If you use your lungs

and body correctly, it is quite a lot harder to sing softly than it is to sing loud.

Think about the difference between sprinting 100 metres flat out, and doing the same thing in a technically perfect way, only in slow motion.

Or think about striking a piano key as softly as it is possible to strike it and still make a sound.

Crying wolf over swine flu

Total dead from this near 'pandemic'? 20, worldwide.

...a WHO spokesman admitted that under the guidelines many normal strains of flu would also be "pandemics".

From The Age.

I blame global warming.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Egypt's going to get one too

just to use on you know who...

So Israel's getting tense,
wants one in self-defence;
'The Lord's our shepherd, says the psalm,
but just in case..."

The whole black Lehrer song here:

The Emperor of Ice Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

—Wallace Stevens


Cold, dead, I scream.

Charlie in Mexico

My Melbourne buddy Charlie Fletcher, now in Mexico, wrote an article about swine flu for the Age.

As director of the Anglican Church Missionary Society of Australia in Mexico City, what should I tell the staff and students?

I tell them that Christians may be citizens of heaven, but we have no diplomatic immunity from life's tribulations.

How true it is, Charlie.

More to say, of course, but the Age would probably edit it out of existence.

Not so popular

Obama's the second-least popular president in forty years.

Biofrag of Don Carson

From Justin Taylor. Here.

Dr. Carson’s sheer productivity is nothing less than astonishing. One could become tired just working through the latest numbers: he has written 50 books; 235 articles; 112 book reviews; and 46 edited books in the various series he edits. Average it out and it comes to about one book written or edited every four months, with one article and two reviews written every six weeks—for three decades.

That's a lot. Thank God for this man.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

The Briefing Library: Seven Principles of Prayer

Prayer is a universal phenomenon amongst mankind. Men and women have always prayed everywhere. It is a natural consequence of believing in God. Humanity, by nature, believes in the existence of deity, that is, in a super-human, powerful, eternal being or beings with whom we are related and on whom, in some way, we depend.

And so on, from Broughton Knox:

The Briefing Library: Seven Principles of Prayer

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Friday, 1 May 2009

Done your dough?

If you have lost all your money, or know someone who has, here's a tract I wrote called "When Money Disappears Overnight".

And you can read it for free!