Archive for January, 2010

John Key meets local leader

Friday, January 29th, 2010

John Key presenting trophy

At her recent junior school graduation, our daughter Robyn was awarded her school’s Leadership Cup for outstanding leadership throughout the school year.  Earlier today, she was presented with cup by its sponsor, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, at his electorate office near our home.  Cheerful and modest, Robyn lives her life to a high standard and is the model of a servant leader, never asking more than she herself is prepared to give.  I am humbled by her selflessness and I count myself as fortunate to be her Dad.

Donald Miller on knowledge

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller has just posted a great piece about knowledge and how one might exercise it wisely and humbly.

If we acquire knowledge before we are emotionally healthy, that is if we are insecure, we are going to use it to boost our own ego and compare ourselves to others. The desire for knowledge will be like a need for a drug, then, pacifying a wounded spirit through comparative associations. Entire theological camps have been built and bolstered by this needy, angry, gluttonous desire for knowledge. But if we have confidence, if we are secure, knowledge humbles us. We realize that we did not invent truth, we simply stumbled upon it like food on a long journey.

If this resonates with you in any way or pricks your conscience as it did mine, you might like to read the full post entitled Knowledge Makes a Secure Man Humble.

P.S. @jonosands: if my half of our conversation earlier was anything like the story Don tells in his post, I need to be told!

Football Ferns Germany-bound

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Caitlin Campbell

Caitlin Campbell (NZ)

After three days of convincing football, New Zealand’s Junior Football Ferns have secured Oceania’s sole qualification spot for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany in 2010.  Postponed in October 2009 as a sign of respect for the loss of life in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, the tournament was a showcase of the Oceania talent we can expect to see playing in the next few years at the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Olympic Football Tournament.  Click either photo for more shots from the weekend’s games.

Hannah Wilkinson (NZ) takes on Jennifer Akavi (Tonga)

The Barnyard Wall

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

This morning, I listened to an interesting Connection Point podcast on the subject of choice.  In the podcast, Reuben Munn refers to the following modern parable by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard and suggests that it might be an accurate expression of how many of us live out our lives.

A certain flock of geese lived together in a barnyard with high walls around it.  Because the corn was good and the barnyard was secure, these geese would never take a risk. One day a philosopher goose came among them. He was a very good philosopher and every week they listened quietly and attentively to his learned discourses. ‘My fellow travellers on the way of life,’ he would say, ‘can  you seriously imagine that this barnyard, with great high walls around it, is all there is to existence?

‘I tell you, there is another and a greater world outside, a world of which we are only dimly aware. Our forefathers knew of this outside world. For did they not stretch their wings and fly across the trackless wastes of desert and ocean, of green valley and wooded hill? But alas, here we remain in this barnyard, our wings folded and tucked into our sides, as we are content to puddle in the mud, never lifting our eyes to the heavens which should be our home.

The geese thought this was very fine lecturing. ‘How poetical,’ they thought. ‘How profoundly existential. What a flawless summary of the mystery of existence.’ Often the philosopher spoke of the advantages of flight, calling on the geese to be what they were. After all, they had wings, he pointed out. What were wings for, but to fly with? Often he reflected on the beauty and the wonder of life outside the barnyard, and the freedom of the skies.

And every week the geese were uplifted, inspired, moved by the philosopher’s message. They hung on his every word. They devoted hours, weeks, months to a thoroughgoing analysis and critical evaluation of his doctrines. They produced learned treatises on the ethical and spiritual implications of flight. All this they did. But one thing they never did. They did not fly! For the corn was good, and the barnyard was secure!

An English translation as quoted by Athol Gill, The Fringes Of Freedom: Following Jesus, Living Together, Working For Justice.(Lancer, Homebush West, NSW) pp. 30f.

While Reuben speaks to a predominantly Christian audience in his sermon, I think there is plenty of food for thought in the parable for everyone.  Reuben encourages and challenges us on whether we desire to escape the barnyard and experience the freedom of the skies or instead are simply content to live the life of  ‘practical atheists’ or ‘Sunday morning Christians’.  Regardless of our philosophical or faith position, this parable invites us to question whether we have settled for the known, the predictable and the safe in our lives or are we daring to scale the wall to explore the mysterious.

For Christians, the parable perhaps prompts us to examine whether we are just passively speaking to our faith (quite literally paying lip service), rather than actively living the life and modeling the behaviour witnessed in scripture.   Just yesterday, I made observations and criticised behaviours in others that I later came to see as hypocritical, in light of my own similar behaviour a few days earlier. 

It would seem I have some way to go before I clear that barnyard wall.

Reuben Munn is the pastor of Shore Community Christian Church, a ‘come as you are’ church in Albany, on Auckland’s North Shore in New Zealand.

$1.88m Beckham match ‘wrong event, wrong time’

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Click for full story

Dear Auditor General, those of us who coughed up to watch Edgar Davids run rings around an almost static Beckham would like a refund.  While we’re on the subject, how come Davids was playing for an Oceania XI All-Star team despite the fact he is not from Oceania and has never played for a club or national team in Oceania?

I have a dream – redux in Uganda

Monday, January 18th, 2010

I have been following the writer Matthew Paul Turner for a while and find that he often has a new angle on some of the challenges we all face in life and faith.  He is currently in Uganda with World Vision for Uganda Week (click the image above) and is covering his activities extensively in blog – Jesus Needs New PR – and via his numerous tweets.

In a post earlier today (which will be Martin Luther King Day in the US), he pondered on what King’s dream might look like from the dusty streets of Uganda in 2010.

“On the flight from Amsterdam to Entebbe, I watched This Is It, the documentary about the making of Michael Jackson’s final concert series. Toward the middle, the film showcased a clip of Jackson singing/practicing his song “They Don’t Really Care About Us” from the album HIStory. Most of the song’s lyrics involve Michael lamenting injustice and inequality… then, toward the end of the song, he sings:

“Some things in life they just don’t wanna see/But if Martin Luther was living, he wouldn’t let this be.”

I realize that’s a big statement to make about any human being. However, Dr. King was indeed a man whose strong words against injustice were followed (and often led) with action. Simply offering big speeches and making grandiose statements was not in his character. Dr. King acted on the words he spoke. His actions were bold and loud and often scraped against the social norms of his time.?  As I prepare for my first day walking among Uganda’s poorest of the poor, I’m wondering how Dr. King’s dream relates to the children I will meet tomorrow in the hot dusty sands of the Gulu District in Northern Uganda. In honor of Dr. King’s day, I borrow the finale of “his dream” and rewrite it in perspective of what’s currently on my mind…

It’s a brave man that rewrites one of the most famous speeches in modern history but there is no denying Turner’s passion and heart for his fellow man.  It certainly serves to remind me just how lucky I am and the vast catalogue of things I take for granted and should be continually thankful for.  Turner’s post also caused me to recall my own post five years ago about how our lives were fleetingly but indelibly touched as a result of the genocide in Uganda.

“A few years back, we befriended and worked to assist a single parent from Uganda in her challenge to make the enormous adjustment to settling in the UK after her escape. We helped her set up home and, when Christmas Eve arrived, we visited her with a few things like decorations and presents to give to her children. Satisfied that we had done what we could without patronising or embarrassing our new friend, we spent a happy Christmas Day morning opening the presents we had received from each other. Answering a knock at the door, we found our Ugandan friend standing outside with a large package wrapped in second-hand wrapping paper. Refusing to come in, she offered the package with a few words then turned and left. We opened the package to find a ‘Welcome’ door mat, the cheap woven kind that one would find in every pound-shop up and down the country. Knowing her weekly income was less than we would spend on a family meal out and that the pound she had spent on the mat was no small percentage, I was lost for words and stood there quietly with a lump in my throat. I am under no illusions whatsoever as to who received the greater gift.”*

I saw something of Jesus in our friend Mary that that day and I only have to close my eyes to see him again her blazing eyes and beaming smile. Once more, I am called to make a difference – will you answer the call too?

*Later edit: The echo of the parable of The Widow’s Offering in Mary’s gift has just struck me – perhaps that’s why her generosity causes me to catch my breath even now.

Automated prayer fulfilment

Monday, January 18th, 2010
Printer queue with 'Amen' document names

The Praying Printer

If this morning’s print queue screen is anything to go by, it would seem that my department’s print station is now connected to a higher network and accepting prayer requests via Microsoft Word documents.

Seaside fun

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Click for more photos

Last night, we spent a lovely evening with @funkypancake and family at Te Haruhi Bay in Shakespear Park on the Whangaparaoa peninsula. As well as much idle chatter whilst munching a beach side picnic, there was a fair amount of swimming, skimboarding and rock pool plundering as well. The evening was rounded of with a lazy game of cricket until the setting sun nudged us homeward.

Four eyes

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Let’s just say certain comments have been made and leave it at that.


Wednesday, January 13th, 2010


“This is gonna be fun! We can stay up late, swapping manly stories, and in the morning… I’m making waffles!” – Eddie Murphy as Donkey in ‘Shrek’

My lovely wife gave me a surprise gift a while back – a waffle iron.  She managed to pick one up with some points on a store loyalty card.  It is a gift filled with love because she didn’t want a waffle iron, firmly believing that, just like almost every other waffle iron on the planet, it will soon be gathering dust in a cupboard.  I maintained otherwise and, though only time will tell who is right, it has had regular outings and even been used and a sandwich toaster.

I mention all this because waffles played a small but symbolic part in our emigration.  On our first morning as home-less, job-less and school-less emigrants, we stepped out into the bright sunlight of a Hollywood morning.  Along with Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, Los Angeles was a stopover on our way to New Zealand (mentioned briefly in this post) and, on the recommendation of LA blogger Sean Bonner, we stayed at the trendy Farmer’s Daughter in Fairfax Village.  Across the street, as we discovered that first morning of our adventure, lay the Farmer’s Market and there we had the kind of breakfasts that we had only ever seen in movies.  Bacon, eggs, pancakes, juice, toast, waffles – we ordered large and reveled in the strange dislocation of being between lives, eating breakfast in the world capital of make-believe.

That meal is a fond memory for me and the kids – a snapshot from our transition from inner city Londoners to rural township New Zealanders.  It’s my hope that sharing Saturday morning waffles & maple syrup with the kids will become another tradition and memory to treasure.

L.A. breakfast

Breakfast in Los Angeles