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Weblog Archive 


July 14 - July 21, 2003

Monday 21st July, 2003


In That New Jerusalem

Pete Seeger and The Weavers were a kind of audio wallpaper during my upbringing. My left-wing father loved them, and bought - and played often - many of their LP records. Particularly relevant to our lives then were the songs of protest and peace, such as “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream”, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “We Shall Overcome”.


So, borrowing from the local library The Weavers at Carnegie Hall, Vol.2, it was a pleasant surprise to find they also sang some religious songs.


I became a Christian at the age of 44. Could there have been some influence from having, as a child, spent much time surrounded by lyrics such as these:


Oh when the sun drifts away in the day,

God’ll come down, he’s going to walk around, my Lord.

Oh when the sun drifts away in the day,

God’ll come down, he’s going to walk around, my Lord.

You’ll hear the step, step, step, my Lord.

In that new Jerusalem.


Oh when the moon drips red with blood,

Won’t that be a terrible time, my Lord?

Oh when the moon drips red with blood,

Won’t that be a terrible time, my Lord?

Oh when the moon drips red with blood, my Lord.

In that new Jerusalem.


Posted 2:45pm


Saturday 19th July, 2003


Bible Geek™ Answers Your Questions

Here’s my question for Bible Geek™:


Dear Bible Geek™,


I recall somewhere in the Bible that Paul said that believers shouldn’t initiate lawsuits against other believers. Do you know anything about this?


Yours expectantly,




PS: Dear Bible Geek™,


I also seem to recall something about Paul saying that lawsuits among believers show that they – the believers - have been defeated already. Any thoughts on how we prove Paul wrong on this one?


Posted: 12:05pm

Friday 18th July, 2003


I had breakfast this morning with my friend Rowan Forster, who had taken a day’s leave for the occasion - the Bible College of Victoria’s first “Success with Integrity” breakfast for business people and professionals.

Rowan told me he was happy to be away from work. His latest article – about censorship and the movie Ken Park - was in The Age this morning, and he expected some irate phone calls to his boss.


Here’s an excerpt:


When we start describing the descent from moral indifference towards moral depravity as progressive, we know that we have lost our bearings; and it may not be long before our souls follow.


Perhaps it's time we abandoned the knee-jerk reaction whereby censorship is automatically branded as repressive or totalitarian or "immature".


Rather, it should be seen as the intelligent exercise of enlightened self interest, moral maturity and social responsibility, in the cause of long-term communal self-preservation.


Read it all.


Posted: 6:15pm


Thursday 17th July, 2003


Blogging Again…Again

On May 1st I said that I was blogging again, after some months of writing only twice-weekly commentaries. That lasted just a few weeks, before I went back to the commentaries.


However, for the past couple of months I’ve been seeking some direction for this site. I’d even considered shutting it down for a while. I’ve now resolved to keep going as a blog.


To try to make things look a little new I’ve borrowed a couple of small ideas – 12-point verdana instead of 10-point, and a touch of red - from Benediction Blogs On, which I personally think is one of the most attractive sites in the blogosphere.


I hope you like it.



Best Online Southern Gospel

Maintaining a regular blog takes you in many unexpected directions. I’ve written sometimes about my love of Southern Gospel music, and of how its non-existence here in Australia means I’m confined to listening online. In January I wrote about some of my favourite online stations, including The Gospel Station and All Quartets Radio.


A couple of weeks ago I received a very kind email from Rick Cody at The Gospel Station:


Just wanted to write and thank you for the kind words regarding "THE GOSPEL STATION".... I receive hits almost daily from your website.... Again thanks and may God bless you in your ministry in ways you never imagined!!


Rick doesn’t know it, but that unexpected email and several others like it – all arriving within a few days of each other – were the reason I decided to keep this site going.



Deeper Devotion

Deeper Devotion Student Ministries was launched last September, with the aim of encouraging students to know God more intimately. They have a new website that I think is a model of its kind – very attractive, but restrained (rather than flashy), full of informative content and with lots of opportunity for interactivity.


Check it out. Highly recommended.



Spurgeon on Leadership

The Baptist Church here in Australia has been greatly influenced by British Baptists. So I was interested to hear of a new book, Spurgeon on Leadership, coming soon from Larry J. Michael, pastor of First Baptist Church, Clanton, Alabama, and adjunct professor at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham.


Larry has kindly sent me a short article, adapted from the book, on the theme of responding to personal attacks. Read it here.


Posted: 11:35am

Wednesday 16th July, 2003


It’s Lucky God Doesn’t Care About the Congo

Instapundit cites an article in The New Republic Online:


A LexisNexis search going back to 2000 finds not a single reference to the crises in Congo, Liberia, Sudan, or Zimbabwe from Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Michael Moore, Michael Lerner, Gore Vidal, Cornel West, or Howard Zinn. In Congo alone, according to the International Rescue Committee, five years of civil war have taken the lives of a mind-boggling 3.3 million people. How can the leaders of the global left--men and women ostensibly dedicated to solidarity with the world's oppressed, impoverished masses--not care? 


I don’t have access to LexisNexis. So let’s try it with Google.


First, Archbishop “Peter Carnley” Iraq.


Hmm, 216 references from Australia.


What about “Peter Carnley” Congo? Just 10 references, and not one of them shows the archbishop displaying any concern about the continuing genocide.


How about Baptist social activist pastor “Tim Costello” Iraq? No fewer than 249 references.


“Tim Costello” Congo? Just 15 references.


I guess it’s lucky that God is passionately interested in Iraq, and couldn’t care less about the Congo.


Legal Brothels (Part II)

Various of the Australian states have had legal brothels for some years. So it was inevitable that, sooner or later, government job agencies would be helping them recruit staff. How much longer until women actually lose their unemployment benefits for refusing to take such jobs?


Posted: 9:20am


Tuesday 15th July, 2003


Passionately Balancing Science and Faith

Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, is sometimes called the most important scientist working today. Here in Melbourne recently, he was interviewed on Radio 774 ABC by three people, including novelist and former trainee priest Thomas Keneally (author of Schindler’s Ark, which became the movie Schindler’s List).


A few minutes into the interview came a simple question: “Do you believe in God?”


The answer: “I do. Quite passionately, in fact.”


And then came a strong defence of traditional Christian beliefs.


It occupies less than three minutes of the 15-minute interview, but is riveting stuff, and well worth a listen. Thank you to 774 ABC senior newsreader Rowan Forster for alerting me to this.


Christian Writers

One of the cool things about putting my books online is being contacted by other Christians who’ve also written books.


Anita Van Ingen is a writer and a self-confessed “certifiable goofball for God”. She has placed online bits of her novel, Moving Godward. And she has a blog, also called Moving Godward, in which she writes quite movingly of her continuing journey of faith.


Further north in Canada, Lilah MacKenzie writes poetry, compiles Bible studies and has made a video. She is also the author of two books. I’m just starting The Blessing of Abraham, a Bible study/devotional.


Legal Brothels

Speaking of my books, one of the sub-themes of my novel, Prophets & Loss, is Melbourne’s legal brothels. New Zealand, where I was born, has also just legalised them, leading to a commentary in The Economist.


Here is what I wrote in my novel:


I reflected on the brilliance of the local state government. It had concocted an amazing solution to the perpetual riddle of human sinfulness: abolish it. With brothels in the state legal, prostitutes were no longer fallen women. The Baptists and the Salvos were out of a job. Prostitution became another career option.


And yet, somehow, it was not an option that career advisers placed before teenage girls, or one that parents cared to recommend to their daughters.


I recalled one of the pastor’s sermons. “Take a bully who’s trying to ride roughshod over you. If you do the same to him he’ll start screaming blue murder about what’s right and wrong. He knows the difference. He’s got a conscience, that’s why. He may not display it in his actions, but in his heart he knows. God has given everyone a conscience. In their hearts people know what’s right and what’s wrong.”



My wife has read my novel, Prophets & Loss. But she’s Korean, and her English isn’t perfect. Last night I suddenly remembered the Alta Vista Babel Fish translation tool, which allows you to translate an entire web page.


So I had it translate the first chapter of my novel from English to Korean, then called my wife. She read the first few paragraphs, and starting roaring with laughter. I had Babel Fish translate these paragraphs back into English. The following is the result (my original is here):


The forgiveness virtue is charm. Until you who to forgive actual be. The young wall affection her repeatedly in foul smell and the pimple me, the LAN of the husband who is Christianity thu from the city was strangled to identity plan of the slave of the high-class prostitute quarters and when talking the MelissaStonelea which is discovered, him the hand tied to the S and & the M leather and page of the bible which him it fills in setting up, she the fact that with forgiveness it listens to compared to the above pastor sermon in treatment force of reconciliation in necessity. She conducted a retaliation in necessity.


I guess that’s why they call it Babel.

Posted: 11:20am

Monday 14th July, 2003

Monday Mornings are Pleasurable

Monday mornings are pleasurable, not only because the kids are back at school but also because it’s when I receive the weekly devotion from Christian Monitor.


Christian Monitor is, to my mind, one of the finest of all the websites monitoring the persecuted church. Paul Sharpe, who started it last year, works with a team of volunteers to present a regular and comprehensive round-up of persecution stories from around the world. (I’ve written previously about Christian Monitor, here and here.)


The devotions are new, and show Paul’s concern that we might grow in our knowledge of God, while also learning about the dreadful conditions being endured today by many fellow Christians.


This is something that has concerned me, too, for a while, and I’ve been wondering what to do about it. Does anyone know of a course, or a study guide, or a set of devotionals, that connects the Bible to what is happening today to persecuted Christians?  

Read the remainder of this post here.


Posted: 1:35pm