Archive for January, 2012

Christlikeness or correct theology?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Again, I find myself I appreciating guest blogger Scott Miller’s open and frank sharing about his faith on Tony Jones blog. He articulates much that I can empathise with in a clear and simple manner.

If I could talk to my 17-year-old self, I would say that I still believe that God is at work in my life, but maybe not in the same way that a 17-year-old understands. I would tell him that I still experience the authority of scripture, but I don’t find that authority in the words of scripture, but in the Event to whom scripture testifies. And I would say that I have not substituted human reason for revelation, but realize that I can only understand the revelation in human, fallible, finite ways, and that it is a mistake to think that anyone’s theology is every entirely adequate to express the revelation of the Infinite.

But above all, I would tell my gnostic-leaning 17-year-old self, it’s more important to be a true follower of Christ and actually act in Christlike ways than it is to have what you think is the correct theology. Ideas matter, but real, living human beings matter more. Don’t forget Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 13:1-3:

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love I gain nothing.

via Theoblogy

God hates all the same people you do

Sunday, January 29th, 2012


“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do”.

– Ann Lamott, quoting her priest friend Tom, in ‘Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life‘.

Reading this a few moments ago pulled me up short; a more succinct reality-check statement would be hard to conceive.  I always appreciate Ann Lamott’s writing; when I read her stuff, it’s like I’m listening to a sister who has seen a lot more and done a lot more than me – and cares enough to share the lessons.

Seeing her quoted always makes me sit up and pay more attention as she invariably polarises folk and provokes debate.  In this case, the quote appeared in a open letter about LGBT and faith issues at play in the current US political race, itself quoted in Scott Miller’s guest post on Donald Miller’s blog.

And In News Elsewhere…

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

…two things that caught my eye.


I am slowly working through the shorts films that make up Ed’s Story.  Ed Dobson is a pastor who is recording his reflections on living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  These include gentle yet enlightening insights on hope, healing and forgiveness and more besides.


For all those who have found their IT knowledge called upon by family and friends at some time or another, Mike Lacher’s story will ring bells and tickle funny bones.

The Feds are in town!

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

A day of variety.  Awoke to learn that we seem to have some naughty neighbours.  After a quick tea, hooked up and checked over our trailer before taking it to the vehicle inspection station for its periodic WOF.

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Took a bunch of stuff to read as the queue is always a long one on Saturdays.  Upon arriving, I was surprised to see that there was no queue – until I remembered that this is the weekend of the annual local hot rod show.  While the roads were choked with cars as always, clearly no-one was getting theirs tested, judging by the large number failing checks at the police check point down the road.


Back home in record time and after fruit salad and coffee, I set to and tackled the ‘honey, do!’ list of tasks requested by SWMBO.  For the record this included:

  • Resurrecting the non-functioning turbine head on our Dyson vacuum cleaner.  Having fiddled with, disassembled, reassembled, tested, disassembled again, disassembled some more, cleaned, dried & re-lubricated the brush & drive components and reassembled again, I fixed the thing. I take my hat off to James Dyson and his design engineers – not only is the vacuum the best we’ve ever had, it is user serviceable and therefore flies in the face of the ‘cheaper to buy a new one’ mentality so prevalent these days.
  • Repairing the grip of the expensive salon-grade hairdryer.
  • Glueing a Dr Scholl’s heel file back together.

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After providing a quick lesson in how to use sandpaper to a crafty daughter making a wooden wall hanging, I jumped on the Brompton to run last night’s DVDs – The Tree of Life and Oranges and Sunshine – back to the store before heading to the library to scoop up a requested book for SWMBO and Brad Meltzer’s The Book of Lies for me.


Following lunch, I took the smallest and a friend to see The Adventures of Tintin. Great fun and technically brilliant but always felt like it was tailored to favour the 3D version with heaps of in-your-face action and, with its linear plot and set pieces, maximise the spin-off game potential.

Later, after a brief read, a longer nap and a fish supper, we decamped to the home of Canasta-playing friends on a whim when SWMBO decided she wanted to learn to play the game.  Whether it was because I’m tired, was sober due to being the designated driver or simply not the most motivated of card players when it comes to longer games, I struggled from the first hand.  Even with the patient coaching of my mate Paul, I found it hard to match the enthusiasm and growing skill of SWMBO who was under the tutelage of Paul’s wife Tracey.  That said, we somehow won.

Back home and with a glass of red wine consumed, I’m off to bed and to delve into the darkness of Adam.

Chinese Roulette

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Contrary to what it might seem, this is not a photo of conditions on either of the listing ships making the news recently. Rather, it is a picture of my good friend and fellow blogger Dave Funkypancake during one of our regular lunches, during which we catch up on family news and plan great things.  Given that I have recently moved into the office building Dave vacated not so long ago for another one elsewhere, our favoured ‘lunch special’ haunt is no longer a convenient meeting point half way between our desks.  So, back from our holidays – he in England and me on the couch – we set out to find a new lunch venue equidistant from our respective desks.  This turned out to be a small, new  and as yet not on the web food court on an uninspiring stretch of road on the southwestern edge of the CBD.

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Due to Chinese/English translation issues during the ordering phase of lunch, I was served first but with the wrong dish. After assuring our lovely server that, despite her encouragement, accepting the wrong meal wasn’t something I wanted to do, she took it away. Dave’s order arrived without drama shortly thereafter and I filled in the time by taking a photo of him starting without me whilst looking suitably quizzical. The lovely server arrived once more with another dish that I hadn’t ordered but, whilst the meal was cooked in an entirely different way, it did contain most of the same ingredients as the one I ordered.  This being the case and with our lunch hour rapidly running out, I nodded excitedly like I’d just won the lunchtime lotto and tucked into my surprise lunch of not-satay but still beef on soft-rather-than-crispy noodles with not-ordered-and-not tasty vegetables.  Only time and a few more lunches will tell whether we will make this place our new default m/eating place.

Bach to the future

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Through the love and generosity of good friends, we have been blessed to be able to spend the last few days in their family bach on the Hibiscus Coast.  In the spirit of many a Kiwi holiday home, it is only 45 minutes away from where we live but just 100m from a great beach, so the delightfully quirky (no two doors the same width) and slightly confusing (three levels in two and a half storeys) 1960s bach made a lovely place for a long weekend of relaxation and fun before I headed back to the office this morning.

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The bach was a testament to decades of a loving family life lived well together and was full of charming period artefacts like the bakelite Philco valve radio and the 1970s vacuum cleaner, not to mention the carefully labelled family albums and wonderful EktaChrome slides, complete with viewer.

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For the family, it has meant long sunny days at the beach with a bag full of books and sunblock, Sunday morning devotions together before a long walk on the beach to enjoy cappuccinos and juice at a cafe and leisurely stroll home through the tide pools and sand.

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It also provided a great opportunity for us to catch up with friends like the Smiffs and funkypancake & family, recently returned from Blighty and bearing large quantities of watermelon and cookies, which were consumed with lashings of tea and soft drinks.

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For all that, most of all, it was a great time for the younger members of the family to enjoy the very best of what the Kiwi way of life has to offer – fun in the sun, friends over for sleepovers, lazy days, takeaway dinners, kite flying, card games, jigsaws and crosswords, warm nights in creaky wooden baches  – and the chance to simply smile and be happy!

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North by North West

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

On Wednesday, I spent an enjoyable few hours cycling the North West Cycle Route end-to-end and back again shadowing, as I did, part of the route I commute along to my office. Along the way, I met and chatted to a few folks and I enjoyed getting new perspectives on the journey.

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Graffiti in Point Chevalier

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Newton signage…with my office building in the distance.

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Landscaping between Bond Street and St Lukes Road.

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Heading north from Traherne Island to Rosebank Road.

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Recycled hoarding in Kingsland garden nr. St Lukes Road.

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Heading south across Henderson Creek behind a companionable Doctor. As I rode with her and her family, we discussed sustainability, her doctoral research exploring healthy transport policy and legal aspects of liability in commissioning local infrastructure.  Always interesting to talk to others on their travels – something I can’t do commuting in my car along the same route.

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Rider’s eye view.

The unplanned planner

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

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On occasion, like when I’m on holiday like now, I leave things until the last minute and, just sometimes, it actually works in your favour.

A few years back, I had a great page-a-day daily planner that had daily Scripture verses, devotional thoughts and a whole bunch more stuff (even a reading plan) bound up in a neat book-sized leather-look cover.  Each year since then I have tried in vain to find the same planner, as I liked the layout, appreciated the quality of the binding and enjoyed using the planner.

Today, with a little Christmas gift money in my wallet, I felt a prompting to drop in to a bookstore I have been to once before rather than my regular one run by my friend Bogdan.  No sooner do I walk through the door than I see two copies of a planner sitting on the table by the door.  With a smile I realise that not only is this the planner I have been looking for but also that the store is, in all likelihood, the place I bought the original one three years ago!

Needless to say, I heeded the prompting and took a copy of the planner to the counter.  You can imagine the smile on my face when I was told that it was on discount too!

Funny how things work out, eh?

New Year News

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Having booked a couple of weeks off, we had hoped for a relatively relaxed Christmas. We had a great Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, spending them with my friend John, Sean and John and their families respectively, however a few family dramas both here and in the UK took some of the shine off.  That said, I’m trying to take an even more positive stance this year, so I’m sure it’s onwards and upwards from here.


Last Thursday, feeling a little bloated from all the festive food, I joined my friend John and his two lads for a day-long tramp in the Coromandel.  Due to my admitted lack of fitness, we took a few hours climbing up the track to the Pinnacles (above) and then dropped down to where the hydro line crosses the Kauaeranga River.  From here, we left the track and went bush or, to be more accurate, we went gorge.

We spent the next five hours working our way down the Kauaeranga Gorge and in doing so, we got a workout that I needed three days to recover from.  We climbed down old kauri dams, walked over the endless riverstone-strewn riverbed, clambered and slithered down rapids, leapt off rocks into cold dark pools and swam the river between towering stone walls hundreds of feet high, using our ruscacs as floatation aids.  It was a fantastic guys’ day out with John and I working with the lads to keep safe whilst experiencing the wonders of creation, testing our nerve, pushing our physical limits and beating the occasional voice in our heads.

After eight hours of continuous and sustained effort in rain, working to keep the contents of our rucsacs dry, make progress down river and keep warm despite repeated swims, it is fair to say that each of us was tired as we walked back into the Kauaeranga Road End Car Park.  Thirty minutes later, dried off and in clean clothes, we tucked into fried chicken and fizzy drinks in Thames to refuel and warm up before the drive home.

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After a great New Year’s Eve evening with friends on their block and an equally lazy New Year’s Day, I decided that I really needed to get myself motivated and do a few things around the house. So far, this week’s labours have centred around tidying up and creating more storage in our workshop/laundry.  Measurements in hand, we took a trip to the local big box DIY store and grabbed a set of bolt-less shelves that have more than doubled the effective storage space in the workshop, leaving the workbench and the space under it clear and useable.

Our Jack Russell cross Abbie and her stone deaf best mate white cat Olive sleep together in the workshop.  This being the case, I bough an extra sheet of 10mm MDF and used a bit of jigsaw-pokery to create new sleeping quarters for them.

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Rooting amongst some of my old bike stuff in the shed, I was pleased to find my long lost Gerber multi-tool, lurking at the bottom of a box of bits.  I bought this great little tool on a wet and horrible day in Tenby (Wales) whilst competing in an off-roading competition years back.  I spent a good 40 minutes cleaning and oiling it and rewarded myself with a nice, deep cut to my finger with the serrated knife, which Robyn helped me apply three surface-stitches to in an effort to staunch the bleeding.

In that funny way things link up, during the tramp I mentioned to John that I was enjoying reading Bear Gryll’s autobiography, Mud, Sweat and Tears (a Christmas gift from my ladies) and John said that he had a great Bear Grylls-branded bush knife that he got from the US.  It turns out that these are also made by Gerber!

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Having been stored next to the old pet bed, my Brompton was covered in dust, fluff and accumulated animal hair. This afternoon’s job was to clean the bike, check the tyre pressures and check the gears and brakes, ready for some summer rides in order to try and get a little fitter and trimmer.

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That done, SWMBO and I tackled a bit of upkeep around the section, mowing and weed-eating until things looked tidier and now, with the smell of curry drifting from the kitchen, I’m off to investigate!