Oct 30 2009

October Events

By the end of October, people are realising that Christmas is only a few weeks away, even if the supermarkets don’t have tinsel on the shelves. This year the shops are distracted by Halloween. When I was in Albury yesterday, the staff member watching the door at Kmart was dressed at the Grim Reaper.
(Justin Holcomb, the Academic Dean of Re:Train and adjunct professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, has written a great short article on the connections between Halloween, Reformation Day and similar events entitled Luther Nails Bad Religion.)

Unlike most people, I pay some attention to the day before Halloween/Reformation Day. It’s my birthday. This year’s party has already come and gone, but there might be a small celebration with the family this evening. It has been my habit on my birthday to read Psalm 139.

Psalm 139 (NKJV)
For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.
19 Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!
Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
20 For they speak against You wickedly;
Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

The Psalm is peotically beautiful and the latter part of verse 16 has been a particular assurance “And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.”
Update:
As soon as I declared that no one else cares about 30 October, xkcd.com published this comic about the day before Halloween. Poor Doc Brown.

Creative Commons: Luther’s 95 Theses by Keren
October 30th from xkcd.com

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Oct 30 2009

The Church and the Arts: Some Common Ground and Some Common Sense

Kevin De Young has (perhaps intentionally) followed up on the post by Frank Turk at Pyronamiacs with a more expansive post on The Church and the Arts: Some Common Ground and Some Common Sense.

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Oct 28 2009

The Arts: Love and Death

As I’m anticipating a special Birthday edition of Cloud of Steam on Friday, I hope to sate some of your hunger by directing you to a great post from Pyromaniacs.
The arts are about love and death, two topics on which Christian should be the experts. Why, then, are we not practitioners of good art? How would we do that? What is good art? That’s the gist of a post by Frank Turk.

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Oct 21 2009

Collision: Is Christianity Good for the World?

What would happen if one of the New Athiests and a proponent of Biblical Christianity went head to heat in no-holes-barred debate? Collision.

In May 2007, Christopher Hitchens and Pastor Doug Wilson began arguing the point “Is Christianity Good for the World?” in a series of articles published in Christianity Today and later published in the book Is Christianity Good for the World?: A Debate. This caught the eye of filmmaker Darren Doane, who filmed their exchanges, including public debates, while Hitchens and Wilson toured the east coast of the United States to promote their book.

The trailer for the film is below and other videos, including one of the first 13 minutes of the movie are available at www.collisionmovie.com. DVDs of the film can be ordered at Amazon.com.


Originally published at Grace Presbyterian Wodonga

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Oct 14 2009

Fiji Journal: Days 25 – 30

The last week of my assignment in Fiji was much like the ones that preceeded it. I worked Monday to Friday and took quite evenings.
On Thursday morning we were thrown into action when someone said that there had been an earthquake in Vanuatu and a tsunami warning had been issued. I quickly comfirmed this by logging on to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii. Once we converted the expected arrival time of the wave into local time, we put an announcement to air and evacuated the building.
With Mick, the station manager, Irshad, the program director, and Lorna, the announcer who was on air at the time, I headed for a spot on the hill near Lautoka Hospital. There were cars everywhere, trying to get out of the way of the wave. Some cars were driving on the footpath or in the wrong direction up the parking lane. Turning across traffic was almost impossible. We didn’t see any police directing traffic until we got to the police station, where an officer had walked the whole 2o metres from the watchhouse onto the street.

We were the first vehicle to arrive at the site of the old Magistrates’ Court but there were about a dozen people sitting under the trees. Many more cars continued up the neighbouring road to Lautoka Hospital. The location offered an ulmost unobscured view of Lautoka Harbour and we could see the tide going out. To my surprise there were police officers sitting among the growing crowd. Why they weren’t directing traffic or otherwise assisting with the evacuation, I do not know.

A bunch of kids gathered around when I took my laptop out of the car and started reviewing news reports about the prospect of a tsunami which I had downloaded at the station. Of particularly interest to the 20 or so primary school students looking over my sholder was the artists depiction of the spread of the tsunami which had struck Samoa one week before. The scenes of devastation from this event were at the forefronts of peoples’ minds as the wrestled with the overcrowded roads and telephone systems to make sure they and their families were safe.
12:30pm came and went, and the tide hadn’t gone out further than normal. We checked on one of the other radio stations which confirmed that Fijian authorities had cancelled the warning. A wave measuring 40cm had been generated by the earthquake, but it had not become a devastating wave. We headed back to the station and got back to work.

Friday’s activities were mostly centred on the final preparations for the Root Juice Mega Mix, an attempt to set the world record for the largest Kava mix, in celebration of Fiji Day and 2 years of operation of Mix FM. Friday was actually Fiji Day, so the ladies of the station were all in beautiful dresses and wearing flowers in their hair or around their necks. The men, myself included, managed to have a shave find something that looked like it would pass as clean.
The staff put in a dollar each to buy morning tea in celebration of Fiji Day and to mark my immenent departure. Mick gave a short speech and I responded by thanking everyone for taking on board my suggestions and instructions. Mick, Lyn, Richard, Verona and myself then went out to lunch at the Lautoka RSL.

I finished my final report for Australian Business Volunteers and started saying my goodbyes. We didn’t leave the station until 7pm, my latest evening there, because there were still things to be done for the Mega Mix the following day. Mick said that I would have been the guest of honour if I had been able to stay, and it was a shame to miss such a big event, but they didn’t need me to be there and I was looking forward to getting back home.

My flight left at 9am Fijian time, which meant being at Nadi airport at 7am. I bought Don Watson‘s American Travels at the bookshop and a Bula shirt (the Fijian equivalent of a Hawaiian shirt) and a duty free clothing shop in international departures. I scored a seat in the emergency exit row, so I had plenty of room to stretch my feet while I read the first 100 pages of my book.
Australian Customs didn’t confiscate any of the suvineers I bought in Fiji, which was a relief. In the terminal I bought some lunch and a newspaper to read while I waited for the connecting flight to Albury. We took off on time and arrived 10 minutes early because of a tailwind.
I’m meant to be on the lookout for reverse cultureshock, but I think I took my own culture with me to Fiji, rather than fitted in with the one there. The coming days will prove whether I’m right about that assumption.

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Oct 11 2009

The Law Is Not For Dead Men

By reading large sections of the Bible at a time, it’s much easier to pick out the progression of a logical arguement which may take up some chapters, or a whole book.
Today I read Romans chapters 5 to 8. Almost every paragraph in this section is (or should be) prominently placed in the minds of Christians.
After listening to Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermon on Ephesians 4:30 “Grieve Not the Holy Spirit”, the some clauses from the opening verses of chapter 7 stood out, and stirred thought about the application of verse 6.

  • The law is binding on a person only as long as he lives, v1
  • You also have died to the law through the body of Christ, v4
  • So that you may belong to another, v4
  • In order that we may bear fruit for God, v4
  • We serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code, v6

From Lloyd-Jones’ sermon, I don’t see that we dispense with the Law completely, but see it as the expression of the character and will of God, and seek to please the Spirit He has given us.

Creative Commons
the law by
limaoscarjuliet

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Oct 5 2009

Fiji Journal: Days 17 – 24

The journal writing has been a bit slack this week, so here’s a quick rundown of the events of the last 7 days.
Day 17 – Sunday 27th September
I went to church at 7:30 and returned to Ragg Street. My hosts were hosting the local Bahai group downstairs. I wrote dozens of pages of letters home by hand. If you’re really special your letter should be arriving in the next couple of days, if it hasn’t got there already. I kept plowing through my collection of podcasts and sermon recordings.
Michael awoke at midday and arranged for us to go to the movies with Lawrence, the producer from Mix FM. During the previews before the previous week’s horror horror movie, Case 39, we had seen the shorts for the new Bruce Willis movie Surrogates and that’s what we went to see. it was good, set in the current day in an alternate timeline where a corporation has convinced the market that living is too dangerous and would be much better if we all stayed inside and lived through robotic “Surrogates” (why we would go to the bother of manufacturing robots when we could link up to an electronic Matix-like system I don’t know).
Day 18 – Monday 28th September
On the way to the station, I posted a whole bunch of the letters I had written the previous day. At work, I finally finished arranging the music library by decade. This allowed me to give the program director, assistant program director and IT guy an introduction to StationPlaylist, the new automation system that they are considering buying. Mavis, the assistant PD was very impressed when with the click of a button and a 1 minute wait I scheduled enough music for a week, a job that usually takes her hours with the current system.
Day 19 – Tuesday 29th September
I arrived at work to find that the scheduled announcer meeting had been postponed, an not-too-common occurrence during my visit. I gave some more detailed training in StationPlaylist to the PD and had a good meeting with the Station Manager. Australian Business Volunteers require me to write a number of reports during my trip and we did the first one together. I wished we had done this closer to the start of my trip as it provided some background and brought up more areas that require attention.
Day 20 – Wednesday 30th September
We woke up before 6am and hurried to get down to the Post Office to catch the bus that would take us to Port Denarau. The ATM was not working, so Michael ran to one down the street to try and get some more spending money. That ATM was also not working.
Piling in to the bus, we listened to Mix FM during the heavily air conditioned trip to the Port, via Nadi. Port Denarau itself is a very posh area, with lots of middle-aged ex-pats going for their morning run.
We took seats on the top deck of the catamaran that would take us to Beachcomber Island (map). This was the first time Michael had ever been on a boat (this trip has held a lot of firsts for him). After stopping at 2 other islands and taking lots of photos we boarded the little boat that transferred us to “the Party Island”. As we hopped in, a young lady who had been staying there was boarding the catamaran to go back to the mainland. She looked a little green and recommended going easy on the rum.
Beachcomber Island itself is a postcard. It takes about 10 minutes to talk around the entire shoreline. The beach itself is not so much sand as very small pieces of coral, which is a little tough on my usually beshoed(?) feet.
We swam in the morning. During the afternoon, I stayed inside and read Frankenstein while Michael fell asleep in the sun. I gave him some panadol, but his sunburn still prevented him from getting a good sleep.

Day 21 – Thursday 1st October
Breakfast at Beachcomber finishes at 9am. As is typically for me on holiday, I slept in too long to partake in this legendary occasion.
Arising a little later, I made my way to the main eating area where there is a large flat screen TV. Anna Coren, formerly of 7′s TodayTonight, was reading the news on CNN and informed us of an earthquake and tsunami in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga. The first we heard of any threat to Fiji was that the tsunami warning had been cancelled.
Unperterbed, we continued with out regemen of swimming and staying out of the sun.
Day 22 – Friday 2nd October
Our final day on Beachcomber began with breakfast! They lay on quite a spread. I had the last pancake and a beautiful ham and cheese omelet, which was cooked in front of me.
Our bunks had to be cleared before checkout time, 10am. It wasn’t much fun dragging my little backpack around the island for the rest of the day, but I still had a good time.
At 5pm we boarded the catamaran back to Port Denarau. I could say that it was sad to go, but I was actually looking forward to getting back to the mainland after a refreshing few days. That’s a bit sad, isn’t it?
The bus trip back to Lautoka took longer than I expected, but if it had been just a little longer I could have finished the last 8 pages of Frankenstein.
Michael and I walked from the bus terminal to Mix FM, where we expected the staff to be waiting for us. Apparently they had either forgotten that Michael was flying out the next morning, or had just stopped waiting for us. Michael said goodbye to the announcer on duty and we headed back to Ragg Street.
Day 23 – Saturday 3rd October
Michael’s alarm went off about 5 am. His flight was due to depart at 9 am, which meant being at Nadi International Airport at 7 am. I went with Verona to drop him off. It will be strange being here on my own. He was looking forward to getting back to Australia, although his sunburn will likely be giving him trouble for days to come.
Verona and I did the Saturday shop, visiting a couple of shops and the local market. I then went in to Mix FM with Richard. I had expected to meet with the announcers at 11 am, but a message came through the night before saying that it had been called off. I spoke to the manager about it and he rescheduled it for 10 am Monday morning. I set up my laptop in the production studio and worked on a basic introduction to StationPlaylist.
Soon we went to Shirley Park to check arrangements for the attempt at making the world’s largest Kava mix. Mix FM is running the event on Fiji Day, but I’ll miss out on it as I fly out that morning.
Back at the station, I sat in on the events team’s planning meeting for the record attempt, then went back to working on the introduction book. It was slow going and when Lawrence and Kim suggested going to lunch, I jumped at the chance. We went to a nice little place owned by friends of their mother. It took a little while to be served, but the lasagna was delicious!
Returning to the station we worked for another half an hour, but decided that 2 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon wasn’t a very productive time to be working, so we tied up our immediate tasks and knocked off.
I wrote a blog post for our church blog, GracePresbyterianWodonga.wordpress.com, about the service the coming day. Dad would be out of the parish for the ordination of a new elder at Yea, so members of the congregation would be leading the service of worship and preaching. I wished I could have been there.
Day 24 – Sunday 4th October
For my last Sunday in Lautoka I had hoped to visit a local Presbyterian Reformed congregation, but I put off getting their details until late on Saturday. Richard and Verona informed me that they were going to visit friends at Singatoka and I would be most welcome to join them, assuming I would be ready to go at 9am, the time I usually got back from the early service at the Methodist Church. I decided that it was easier to stick with my usual arrangement, although it meant missing out on meeting some Fijian Pressies.
The Methodists were having a pulpit swap, so the preacher was the pastor of the church at Ba (40 km up the coast). After saying goodbye to the folks there I got picked up for the 2 hour trip to Singatoka. Even the trip to Beachcomber Island hadn’t taken me more than 30km from Lautoka.
Austin and Kim are friends of Richard and Verona’s form the Bahai group in Suva. We were shown the many projects underway at their farm in a valley half an hour’s drive from Singatoka. They are trialing a number of crops and buying more land for revegetation. They were very welcoming.
After the drive back to Lautoka I settled down to listen to some podcasts, then had some lovely pumpkin soup that Verona made from a pumpkin Austin and Kim gave us that afternoon. Yum!
It’s less than a week until I return to Australia, so I have to get all the little projects I’ve been working on finished or passed on to someone on staff. The work I’ve done and the training that’s been going on will have to continue long after I leave.

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Oct 4 2009

Psalm 46

I had hoped to post the lyrics of God Is Our Strength And Refuge, the hymn that has been running around my head today. As it is copyrighted I’ll go straight to the source, Psalm 46.

Psalm 46 (KJV)
1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
4There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
8Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Apparently the Metrical Psalter setting for this Psalm can be used to Highland Cathedral, a very stirring pipe tune. Sounds like research for when I return to my music collection.

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