Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all ingmarhingmah readers out there.

May God bless you as we remember our Saviour Jesus.

Things will be a bit intermittent on this blog for a couple of weeks. Just so you know!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Starting to slow down

I'm starting to slow down.

Thinks: Must reach Christmas...must...reach...Christmas!... Everything's white and blurry...maybe if I light a fire and sing...'Good King Wenceslas looked out...on the Feast of Stephen...gasp...choke...

Monday, 22 December 2008


I got this off Mike who got it off Pyromaniacs. It's quite remarkable—it's the case for giving someone a Bible, from an atheist.

Five Bells

Time that is moved by little fidget wheels
Is not my time, the flood that does not flow.
Between the double and the single bell
Of a ship's hour, between a round of bells
From the dark warship riding there below,
I have lived many lives, and this one life
Of Joe, long dead, who lives between five bells.

Deep and dissolving verticals of light
Ferry the falls of moonshine down. Five bells
Coldly rung out in a machine's voice. Night and water
Pour to one rip of darkness, the Harbour floats
In the air, the Cross hangs upside-down in water.

Why do I think of you, dead man, why thieve
These profitless lodgings from the flukes of thought
Anchored in Time? You have gone from earth,
Gone even from the meaning of a name;
Yet something's there, yet something forms its lips
And hits and cries against the ports of space,
Beating their sides to make its fury heard.

Kenneth Slessor. More here.

The imagery evoked by the lines that follow has been lodged in my mind for many years:

Are you shouting at me, dead man, squeezing your face
In agonies of speech on speechless panes?
Cry louder, beat the windows, bawl your name!

But I hear nothing, nothing...only bells,
Five bells, the bumpkin calculus of Time.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

All the world

I made a post with a mistake.

I am deposting it while I think for a bit.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!

-to the tune O Christmas Tree.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Our last trip to Melbourne


In the holidays I went to Melben it took ages to get to Melben we even drived a lietle bit in the ngit ferst we went to Marie and Bassams house On the way to Melben and back we sar tracks with fary lits o them. We counted 200 14 I had a lot of fun at Melben. the secend plas was a Mhotel too that was clos to a somemoren [submarine] we went on the somemoren We bided a toy to remyned us of Melben Matilda got a little ber and she named it melidy Ruby bort a thing that you dror on I got saning that gos arord in the wind I named it ranbow because it had all the callos of the ranbow.

—From guest blogger Lily Violet, who turns 6 today.

I hope you caught that bit about seeing trucks with fairy lights on them. We did in fact see 214 of them on the Hume Highway, between somewhere and Holbrook, the place with the somemoren (I assumed that was 'submarine', although I suppose it could be 'some moron').

What's that you say? You want another story? Oh alright then.


Mr Zebedee lived in a house by the zoo. that night the animals had a party. they sang what a horoble hobball. Mr Zebedee said I ckart sleep the animals are singing at the zoo. Mr Zebedee sended a fax to the zookeeper alltheo the zookeeper was asleep then the munkes' said lets dance so the animals' danced they hopt and they popt all over the zoo. Mr. Zebedee said I carnt sleep the animals' are dancing at the zoo. Mr Zebedee sended anaver fax to the zookeeper. alltheo the zookeeper was still asleep. wen the sun came up then the hipopotomese said lets sleep so the animals' sleped and the zookeeper wack up and rede the faxs' oh no ther is a holbloo at my zoo I havto go altheo wen the zookeeper got ther the animals war sleeping then the zookeeper sended a fax to Mr Zebedee alltheo Mr Zebedee was a sleep too and Mr Zebedee was ma[d]


Mr Zebedee sounds like my kind of dude. Sending faxes to right the wrongs of the world, getting mad when the solution rebounds upon him. The story is so creative that I suspect it is plagiarized from class reading time, but please don't tell Lily Violet that this thought even entered my mind, or ented my mine as Lily might say.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

The presumption of atheism

The presumption of atheism is, at best, a methodological starting point, not an ontological conclusion.

-Antony Flew, former atheist, There is a God, p. 56.

That's quite an important little distinction he makes there.

Thank you

Just wanted to thank you all for your comments and prayers about me finishing up at Matthias Media, here and on facebook.

We are going pretty well and there are some good possibilities for future employment out there.

Playing the man and not the ball

Just to be clear, let me say that I think Brian Houston, Rowan Williams, NT Wright and Karl Barth are false teachers.

I'm angry at people who treat their teaching seriously, in the same way that a few years ago, there was a sense of outrage that racist politician Pauline Hanson got any thoughtful attention at all from political leaders.

So I wrote this post on the Sola Panel.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Business card

I picked up a business card from the desk, with an ornate leafy pattern on the front.

On the back it says N —— M —— [that is, her name], Mum to R ——

Plus the other details.

That's a good business card!

Friends with Andrew Katay

My facebook friendship request has been pending for a year. But now, he has accepted it!

I think this tells you something.

I am pathetically grateful.

So close

I am so close to doing some work this morning that it is not funny.

If I look back at this morning's achievements, it is even possible that I will be able to categorize them as work, and so kick back for another hour or so.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Lily Violet's sixth birthday

It's Lily Violet's turn to turn a different age, in just a few days. This means birthday parties.

We went to Blenheim Park with some of the girls from Lily Violet's class. Fifi has been doing a super, great, excellent, wonderful and magnificent job of organizing the whole lot. Today she made a hedgehog cake, which Lily loved, and which due to certain design idiosyncrasies ended up looking, for mine, not unlike a half submerged sea mine of the WWII variety. It tasted a lot better but, or I imagine so anyway, never having tasted a half submerged sea mine.

That is two birthday parties down and the fridge shelves are groaning under the weight of cream, blueberries, pavlova, strawberries, yoghurt, chocolate sea mines, rockmeron, and watermeron. Anything else goes in, it will explode.

I shot a fridge into the air,
it fell to earth I know not where.

Finishing at Matthias Media

The recession is biting, and sadly I am taking a redundancy package and finishing work at Matthias Media on January 31.

Although the sales performance of the organization has been weak all year, and the board have kept us well informed, it nevertheless has come as a shock. November sales were worse than expected, and after an emergency board meeting some difficult decisions had to be taken, of which my redundancy is a part. I am quite confident from my discussions with Ian Carmichael and Tony Payne in particular that this was not a decision that anyone wanted to make, but in the providence of God this is a necessary result.

I can't help thinking about this as a very specific answer to prayer, indeed one way or another some of you may have been a part of this. As a direct consequence, despite the shock and surprise associated with the situation, one of my strongest responses to what has happened is a deep sense of thankfulness to God. That thankfulness extends beyond the immediate circumstances to include my 5 years of work at Matthias Media, where at every step of the way I've been treated with extraordinary grace and patience. Some of you know that I joined Matthias Media after some fairly major traumas to do with my previous employment, and at the time Matthias Media proved to be a direct instrument of God's grace to me and to our family. That has continued, up to and including the way my redundancy has been handled.

I am often struck by the fact that although human institutions and even friends may fall short, God never does. He has always shown grace, most especially through his Son Jesus Christ, but so also in the daily experiences of life, even the darkest moments. This moment now is not one of those, but it remains clear to me that God continues to shower his grace on us at this time.

Those of you who are in the habit of praying may like to ask God to continue to show his grace and reveal what he has in mind for us next. I haven't ruled out any obvious options, ranging from church planting through to parish ministry, perhaps even secular work. I teach a mean piano lesson I can tell you. But let me share a few Bible verses that I think God has been drawing to my attention recently, as I've worked through Romans. They are a theme of Matthias Media's ministry, and to some extent a theme of my life as well:

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, [1] and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

-Romans 16:17-20

So much of Christian ministry is tied up with the refutation and opposing of false teachers, together with the encouragement of Christians to be wise, and the expectation that the Lord Jesus will certainly return and show grace to his children, whilst at the same time crushing Satan under our feet in fiery judgement. It is a ministry of grace; one that Matthias Media is a part of, and one which, by the grace of God, I am also, together with all who love the Lord Jesus.

I have more brilliant insights along those lines—brilliant I tell you—but I will save them for the Sola Panel and give you a hoy via this blog when the relevant post appears.

In the meantime, thanks be to God and to my friends and fellow workers (note to the reader—understand what this means!) at Matthias Media.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Peter Costello again

Now look, I DON'T want to be the one to say I told you so.


I need friends

No really, I do. I know I've said this before, but this time it's true.

On facebook, that is. I was so desperate to make some more friends that I even had to include one or two people I'm not sure I really like, but the other 806, well, I love youse all.

And I will love you too, with a love that approximates to the love I hold for those 806, if you will just befriend me. Try it! You'll like it!

Friday, 12 December 2008


Matilda is ten years old today.

How did that happen so fast?

"Matilda, what is the best thing about turning ten?"


Thursday, 11 December 2008

If a numbskull

"If a numbskull comes to the seminary and comes away a numbskull, do not blame the seminary."

-A.T. Robertson, quoted on Theologica

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Derek Kidner has died

According to Justin Taylor's blog.

I was blessed by his commentaries on Genesis, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs.

Australia: the movie

Peter Costello points out one or two errors of fact.

Big job losses in the CBD

Estimates for Sydney are between 5000 and 19000 in the finance industry alone.

From Jessica Irvine in today's SMH.

I wrote a tract about the financial crisis recently called When Money disappears overnight:

Here’s a story from Paul Sheehan, a senior correspondent with the Sydney Morning Herald, about some questionable advice he received shortly before recent stockmarket crashes in 2008:

I was advised by a very wealthy friend to borrow the full $1 million and put it into super. The cost of servicing the debt, he said, would be covered by tax-free dividend payments, and the rising value of the super would be free money. He made it sound so simple, and inevitable, perhaps because he had done so well for so long by borrowing to the hilt.

That was 18 months ago. Since then his company has collapsed. He has sold his waterfront mansion. He has left the country, with no plans to return for the foreseeable future. I did not take his advice. I borrowed nothing. Rather than leverage up, I de-leveraged down. I have no debt, no mortgage, not even a car. What I wanted was the ultimate luxury good, something invisible but palpable - peace of mind.

No doubt the collapses of various share markets in 2008 left quite a few rich individuals feeling slightly rattled about their ability to predict the direction of their investments. The world financial markets will occasionally deal out sharp and unpleasant reminders, on a massive scale, that it is possible to get a great deal of wealth together in a hurry, and then lose it even faster.

One of the most alarming aspects of these sudden losses is that even though they are, in one sense, completely predictable—yet in another sense they can catch us completely flatfooted. Here’s a similar, slightly older story involving the loss of money and far more:

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Let’s highlight some observations about both stories, for they are quite similar in some striking ways, even though they are separated by some 2000 years.

The first thing to notice is that the capacity for rich people to do and think stupid things has not changed with the passing of time. Rich people in particular have a tendency towards arrogance, and arrogance in turn means that we are sometimes blind to the obvious—such as, for example, the possibility that you can lose money at any time, and that when you die, you will lose it all. Now if we are honest, we are all capable of doing and thinking similarly silly things, but somehow when the folly of rich people is exposed it is more public and more embarrassing and—just quietly—more satisfying.

The second thing to notice is that despite this, and on the face of it, the wisdom of rich people makes a lot of sense. There are all sorts of reasons for this. The rich person, after all, must have done something right to get to where they are, even if it’s something as basic as handling their finances sensibly. If you follow their advice, there is a good possibility that similar wealth can come your way. And once that wealth has arrived, why not do what the man in the second story does, and step out of the rat race? “Relax, eat, drink, be merry”, says the rich fool to himself. Retiring early and enjoying the result of your labour just makes a lot more intuitive sense than working to satisfy greed—your own, or someone else’s.

The third thing, however, is that the loss of wealth is completely out of control of the clever schemers and dreamers who accumulated it in the first place. In the story that Paul Sheehan relates, another clever person might be able to say, ‘Well, if they had just gotten out of the market at the right time, they would have been fine’. But the whole point is, they failed—and no-one with any sense believes that failure can be avoided forever. Death, as Jesus’ story of the rich fool demonstrates, is the ultimate example of a failure that will part us from our money permanently. Death highlights, more effectively than any other means, the ultimate stupidity of putting trust in wealth.

A closer look

Having considered these two case studies of failed wealth, we could easily leave it at that. The message of these morality tales, and others like them, is fairly straightforward. That is, if you think that money buys happiness, then you are a fool. A satisfying end to the story, especially if you happen to be a bit challenged in the wealth department.

But there is a little bit more to Jesus’ story, and it is a message that turns out to be well worth paying attention to, whether we are rich or poor.

It’s worth saying, for example, that in the story of the man with big barns, the problem is not the amount of accumulated wealth. There’s a hint of the real nature of the problem when we realize that the man in question is talking to himself! Some would immediately say this is a sign of madness. But think: who else does the man have to turn to for advice? The fact that he can only speak to himself suggests the answer—no one. No family, no friends, God plays no part in his life. We don’t know for sure whether the man was actually alone, in reality. The story doesn’t give us that detail We can conclude, however, that this rich individual was completely self-absorbed and self-centred. The only one who mattered was the man himself. As a result, he dies alone, facing an awful question: “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

One of the most fascinating things about the story is that Jesus ends up talking about a subject that he considers far more important than money. Recall that a man in a crowd has asked Jesus to settle a dispute about an inheritance: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

In his answer, Jesus absolutely refuses to judge in a matter of dollars and cents. But he doesn’t simply stop there. Rather, he points to a far greater judgement that is coming our way. It has nothing whatsoever to do with money, and it is relevant whether we are financially rich, or stricken with poverty. “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

This night your soul is required of you

This is the real punch line of Jesus’ story. Rich or poor, we will have to face God one day.
Just before Jesus tells his story, he’s said this: “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”

This is where the real message lies. It’s not enough to realize—true as it is—that we can lose our wealth in an instant, whether through stock market failures, death, or some other terrible turn of events. Jesus warns that there is a greater crash coming, and it lies in wait anyone who dies unprepared to meet God. The Bible makes it very clear that God is our maker and our judge, and he will judge every part of us—our use of money, our selfishness, our greed, and even the moral failures that have little or nothing to do with dollars.

So the real issue here, in Jesus’ story about wealth, is whether or not we are ready to meet a God who will judge everything we’ve done, thought and said.

Just one more thing

If we have not considered God’s judgement, Jesus’ words warn us that we should get ready for it.
But what next? Can we really find true peace of mind by forgetting about money and thinking instead about the judgement to come?

Elsewhere in the gospel of Luke, Jesus meets all sorts of people with varying attitudes to money. Some have a lot of it. Some have none. Some want more of it; some are already aware that at the end of the day, a lot of money is not going to be of much use in facing God. But Jesus’ message is the same whether he is addressing rich people or poor: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

If you are worried about the value of your wealth in the face of God’s judgement and the threat of hell, Jesus offers comfort. For Jesus is making far more than a simple observation that money can’t buy happiness. He is saying that rich or poor, if we have lost our way, he is able to save us from the judgement of God and has come into the world to rescue us in a way that money never can. Will you trust him?

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Words expunged from dictionary

We're losing some words from the dictionary.

Oxford University Press has removed words like "aisle", "bishop", "chapel", "empire" and "monarch" from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like "blog", "broadband" and "celebrity"

From this report in the UK Telegraph.

Lenny Bruce is dead

Lenny Bruce is dead but his ghost lives on and on
Never did get any Golden Globe award, never made it to Synanon.
He was an outlaw, that's for sure,
More of an outlaw than you ever were.
Lenny Bruce is gone but his spirit's livin' on and on.

Maybe he had some problems, maybe some things that he couldn't work out
But he sure was funny and he sure told the truth and he knew what he was talkin'
about. Never robbed any churches nor cut off any babies' heads,
He just took the folks in high places and he shined a light in their beds.
He's on some other shore, he didn't wanna live anymore.

-The Bob.

Some sayings

One Desiderata or Kahlil Gibran poem is enough to carry this blog writer through many, many months, yea verily years. But occasionally you just need a top up of profound zingers to get you through the day, so here we go, and may your day be as uplifting as the sunset sinking slowly into a land of contrasts.

1 * Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.

2 * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

3* Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4 * Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

5* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6 * If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

7 * It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

8 * Never buy a car you can't push.

9* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

10* Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

11* Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12 * The second mouse gets the cheese.

13 * When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

14* Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

15* You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

16 * Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once

17 * We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

18* A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

With thanks to Rowland Croucher, who picked them up from I know not where.

Obama in Iraq

Obama's policy on Iraq now looks like a continuation of the Bush Administration's position.

Now there's a newsflash, or not as the case may be.

From Gerard Henderson in the SMH.

Monday, 8 December 2008

So much to say

But so little internet connection.

Fixed tomorrow, Optus willing.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


We've had a lot of rehearsals—Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. Nothing today, but a performance tomorrow night, then on Saturday afternoon, then on Sunday night.

There's a family version of this, with Christmas carols and the boring bits edited out, on Sunday afternoon, so if you happen to be around come along! (C reserve tix are $45, click on the link above for info and tickets for all the concerts). It's sounding sensational.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

God bless America

God bless America (and everyone else).

Is my working title for my Bible study on Romans 15:14-33.

You tell me if it makes sense. In my own mind, it's brilliant.

Nearly finished Romans.

I'm so close. Do you know the major theme of Romans, from beginning to end, is the judgement of God.

Beware anybody who wants to soft sell the subject of divine judgement. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth."

That's Romans 1:18.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Utzon and the Sydney Opera House

A report in today's SMH.

The architect Richard Johnson, who has been working with the Utzons on the renovations, said some aspects of the building should never be altered.

"One should never touch the sails, the shells, the fundamental processional route into the building. But there's a lot that can be changed to be closer to what he originally intended."

Joern Utzon

Joern Utzon has died.