Entries in faith (93)


I'm Sharing on Flipboard

I'm now sharing news and articles I find interesting on Flipboard - https://flipboard.com/@gavinknight


We will remember them

Today has been a wonderful day of ANZAC commemorations here in Wellington. Particularly so as today is 100 years since the ANZAC story began at Gallipoli.

During all of the events I have been to today, I have thought of the members of my family who have served in war - particularly my Poppa, John Stanbridge.

Poppa served in the Pacific during World War 2. He played Trombone in the Army (brass) Band bringing entertainment, and through it restoration, to the troops. The band were also medics so he was also very much on the front line; serving the injured.

Poppa went on to live a very full life until he went to be with the Lord in 1982 aged 69. Nana lived on for another 5 years until she went to be with the Lord in 1987.

Poppa and Nana married during the war. They went on to have 5 children (my Mum is the oldest) and 16 grandchildren (I am the oldest). They also welcomed a steady succession of others to become part of our family. For a time they lived in Opotiki but for most of their marriage they lived in Gisborne.

Poppa served his community through The Salvation Army who had become his whanau during tough times for him, his Mum and his brothers when he was a boy.

Poppa also served his community through his work as a plumber with the Education Department on the East Coast and later through his own plumbing business in Gisborne.

Family get togethers were frequent and rich times. I have lived in Wellington all my life but many of my most vivid and enjoyable childhood memories are of regular holidays in Gisborne with Nana and Poppa and the extended family - some of whom also had to travel to join us in Gisborne.

As a child I spent a lot of time with Poppa. I remember many conversations about family, brass music, gardening (his other love) and various other things.

Poppa didn't talk much about war. I remember trying to talk with him about it only to see a distant look come into his eyes and the conversation turn to other things.

Poppa came home from war but too many, including some of our family, did not. Even those who came home bore scars which they largely kept to themselves - whether the scars were external or internal.

As well as the lives that were lost, too many stories and memories are now lost to time.

Today, we have remembered them more than any other day - those who came home and those who didn't.

Even if we don't know all their stories.

We will remember them.


This is Not an Act of God ...

"This is not an act of God, this is the earth, doing what it does.

The act of God is is how we love each other, how we reach out to one another."
--- Peter Beck, Dean of the Christchurch Cathedral.

This statement resonated deeply with me when I first saw it on Friday on Facebook while catching up with the still ongoing stream of devastating news and reaction following the earthquake which struck Christchurch on Tuesday. I have been reflecting on it all weekend.

I immediately posted it on Facebook and Twitter myself. I also emailed it to a couple of pastor friends, saying "it's too good to leave [on Facebook and Twitter] alone" - hoping it might help them prepare for leading their church services today. One, my own pastor, challenged me to capture my thoughts in this blog post.

I think Dean Beck's statement resonates with me because it not only reflects my understanding of God, but it also directly confronts those who loosely use the phrase "Act of God" as a way to blame God, or at least hold God to account, for natural events. As if faith in God is some form of lottery, which some must win, and others must lose. Before science helped us understand what is going on in the world around us it was understandable to ascribe natural events like earthquakes to our understanding of a higher power, but we no longer need to do this. Of all places, we here in New Zealand have a rich and growing understanding of seismic forces and what they can, and do, do. Here in Wellington, where I have lived my entire life, we are well aware we have been due the next 'big one' since before I was born.

Just as importantly, I like Dean Beck's statement because it also contradicts those who make the deeply insensitive, and in my opinion plain wrong, statements that earthquakes like this are God passing judgement. One such website, which I refuse to link to, has already caused much comment, and hurt, online. I am also saddened by an Auckland pastor who it seems wrote to all MPs after last September's first Christchurch earthquake blaming it on all sorts of government decisions in recent decades - no doubt a follow up email will soon again be heading the way of MPs. That just makes me angry.

Religious nutters made similar "it is God's judgement" claims in the wake of the davastation caused to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Time quickly made a mockery of their claims. Bourbon Street (the renowned 'red light' and night club district in New Orleans), which was supposedly what God was passing judgement on, was up and running within days. But the neighbourhoods the poor called home - for whom God's heart is deepest (read all, yes all, of your bible) - were destroyed. Even today, more than five years later, some are still being rebuilt. The stories of people from those neighbourhoods, including many with a deep and active faith, are still heart rending. It was said at the time that if Hurricane Katrina was God's judgement on New Orleans, then he wasn't much of a God, because he missed!

My bible tells me we are made in God's image. I contend that when we do good things - particularly for people who are hurting - we reflect his image into the situation in which we are acting. And, I contend this remains true whether or not those actions are driven by personal faith on the part of the person doing the good things - as that doesn't change that we were all made in God's image. Whether or not it is your understanding, that, I believe, is the sense in which Dean Beck said:

"The act of God is is how we love each other, how we reach out to one another."

For those who are currently rushing to judgement - at a time needing compassion, not judgement - I ask them to reflect on this statement by one of the wisest people to have ever lived:

Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.

Proverbs 12:18 (New Living Translation)

image courtesy www.Stuff.co.nz (whom I hope will forgive the Copyright violation in the circumstances)


New Orleans, Five Years On

This time five years ago in late August 2005 Hurricane Katrina had already done it's worst to New Orleans, and the levees were collapsing - leaving the city flooded.

My brother-in-law Mike Brantley was visiting his mother just north of New Orleans at the time and has written movingly of his experiences then, and the pain the city still feels from the political failure to make it right.

Mike and Susanne moved back to New Orleans a year later with their two boys Logan and Jordan to be part of rebuilding the heart and soul of the city. They formed Communitas, through which they minister with Chad & Cindy and others - a team I count as friends.

In 2007 I went to New Orleans to see Mike and Susanne and the Communitas team when I was in the USA on business, and then last year when we took a family holiday there. Both times it was great to spend time with family and friends, to visit and fall in love with the city of New Orleans.

On my second visit I was pleased to see some progress in rebuilding the city - but it still astonishes (and angers) me that political failures mean that a major city in the world's wealthiest country has not been able to be rebuilt as quickly as it should.

Mike writes regularly about their ministry in New Orleans and related topics on his two blogs - if his first blog Out On a Limb is too provocative for you then try out his second blog Live To Be Forgotten which he describes as 'playing nicely' as he's more toned down there!

Image courtesy Marilyn's Poetry.


When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

This song, which we sung at church this morning for Easter Friday, has increasing meaning for me as the years go by:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Forbid it Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God
All the vain things that charm me most
I sacrifice them to His blood

See, from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all


Haiti, I was sick & you looked after me

Update: Mike & Susanne have blogged further details, as have Chad & Cindy.

I have written previously of my sister Susanne and brother-in-law Mike and their move back to New Orleans in 2006 to assist with rebuilding that devastated city after Hurricane Katrina. I just spoke to both of them by phone to hear of their plans to go to Haiti to use the experiences and skills they and their team have developed.

The men from their New Orleans based team (Mike, Chad, Kyle and Adam) are deploying to Haiti via Miami in the next few days; initially for 4-6 weeks. Some of the women in their team would like to go too, but it is simply not safe enough yet.

The skills and experience they have gained in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina will be of direct relevance to immediate and presenting needs in Haiti following the earthquakes there.

Initially they will assist a fellow team from Miami who have found a way to keep a hospital in Haiti supplied with diesel for generators and other supplies via the neighbouring Dominican Republic. The Miami team have secured access to a private plane and airstrips to get supplies over from the USA into the Dominican Republic (2 hour flight) and then by truck to the hospital in Haiti (12 hour drive). The initial delivery arrived only hours before the hospital would have run out of diesel. The Miami team have been doing it almost non-stop for over a week now and are exhausted. The United Nations and US Army have noticed what they are doing and are astounded at their resourcefulness and are now providing support eg the 82nd Airborne is escorting them.

On top of the 200,000 who died in the earthquake there are now reports of 20,000 dying every day for the lack of basics - water, food, hospital care, etc. This ministry of helping keeping a hospital running will have enormous impact.

Please pray for Mike, Chad, Kyle, Adam and the Miami team as they embark on this mission - safety, health, tiredness, that they can handle the sights they will have to experience, etc. Also for the families they leave behind in New Orleans and Miami - who have to handle everything in their absence.

If you feel compelled to contribute directly to the costs of this mission please contact me and I will help you make a donation.

Matthew 25:35-36 "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

image courtesy Washington Post


One Day Each Week Should Be Different

I'm enjoying reading The High Calling of our Daily Work blog, which regularly reminds me of the dignity and holiness inherent in work.

Today I have read a timely reminder on the value of taking a break from work, and in particular that "one day each week should be different".

This, of course, aligns with the discipline I attempt to maintain of 'diverting daily, withdrawing weekly, and abandoning annually'.


SHAFTED Model of Leadership

My friend and pastor, Paul Gardner, who shares my interest in writing on leadership, has written about a model of leadership he describes as SHAFTED: "Stolen From Here, There And Everywhere Deliberately". The model comprises three elements:

  1. Know, develop and work to your leadership STRENGTHS;
  2. Understand and fix your leadership FATAL FLAW;
  3. Work with your TEAM to achieve the rest.

Whilst I see the humour in it, I'm not too sure about the acronym SHAFTED given its negative connotations.

However, this is a very useful contribution to our understanding of how to be an effective leader. It applies whether your interest in leadership is primarily within the church (like Paul), or in business (like mine), or in other domains.

I recommend reading Paul's series in full.

What do you think?


Why I Voted No

I have been pondering my vote in the smacking referendum for some time, and finally filled in my voting paper tonight. I will post it tomorrow, just in time!

Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

My intent has wavered because I am not happy with the behaviour of too many on either side of the debate, and quite frankly, don't want to be associated with many of them.

Here's why I considered voting Yes:

  • although Sue Bradford's original bill would have removed the 'reasonable force' defense from parents in all circumstances, the law as actually passed only did so for 'correction' - the new s59 clearly allows 'smacking' in other circumstances (safety, offensive behaviour, normal course of parenting, etc)
  • the wording of the referendum question is appallingly poor, and I have to wonder whether this was done cynically by those proposing it - even Sue Bradford (hardly a supporter of this referendum) identified a much simpler and clearer wording of what we all think the referendum question is, and should be "Should the defence of reasonable force for the purpose of correction be available to New Zealand parents?" (interestingly this would invert the Yes/No way to vote)
  • I am very unhappy that the christian aligned organisations supporting the referendum have lost the debate over the language of the debate, and that smacking is now synonomous with violence - while the referendum will probably be 80-90% "No" the language of the debate has been about violence - he who loses control of the language of a debate has lost the debate
  • a close friend is a retired policeman who spent considerable time working in the family violence area in the third world in 1990s - he tells me he only made progress with teaching people that hitting your spouse was never OK when the threshold was zero - there was no level of 'smacking' your spouse that was appropriate - maybe, just maybe, by making the same point about parental smacking of children we might be able to start making progress with those segments of our society for whom the tolerance for acceptable 'smacking' of children is much more brutal than we want to be the case - unfortunately, we're never going to stop child abuse, but maybe, just maybe, we might be able to reduce it

Here's why I considered voting No:

  • I have no doubt that in most cases 'smacking' is done as part of 'good' parenting
  • I am also certain that in most cases where 'smacking' is not 'good' parenting, it is still far short of what most New Zealanders consider criminal behaviour - and even the old s59 would have dealt appropriately with the more extreme cases which are/were clearly criminal (even if there were a few exceptions of juries allowing the defense when most think they shouldn't have)
  • I am not sure what 'correction' means in the context of the new s59 - I think it is synonomous with 'punishment' - ie it specifically disallows 'smacking' as a punishment

In the end I decided to vote No, because I consider that in most cases 'smacking' falls somewhere in the good/bad parenting range, not in the bad/criminal parenting range.


Do You Maintain Balance in Your Life?

My close friend and Pastor Paul Gardner has posted a timely reminder on The 3 Basics of Balance:

  • Divert Daily
  • Withdraw Weekly
  • Abandon Annually

A good annual family holiday has always been a planned feature of our family life.

The recent improved implementation of GTD in my life has enabled me to improve my habit of withdrawing weekly.

But I need to re-prioritise putting aside time each day to 'divert'.

Like Paul, I've heard this many times before, so I'm not sure who to credit.  I first heard it from our former Pastor Andy Westrupp.

Do You Maintain Balance in Your Life? How?


The Expanded Bible, initial thoughts

Thomas Nelson will soon release their new Expanded Bible.

I write these 'initial thoughts' in the hope I will be one of the first to do so, and so qualify for a free review copy.

Wayne Hastings, Senior Vice President and Group Publisher of the Bible Division for Thomas Nelson Publishers, wrote earlier today on his blog (I first saw it on Twitter) what they are trying to achieve:

Why is it different?
  • It meets the needs of the contemporary student of the Bible by combining devotional reading and in-depth study in a completely new way. Users can now study the Bible while they read with study aids and resources placed in-line with the text of the Bible.
  • It joins Bible text with traditional wordings, explanatory comments, additional wordings, literal meanings and expanded word definitions, all integrated within the text of the Scripture.
  • It offers readers a unique Bible study experience by making them a part of the process and decisions made by scholars while developing a translation.
The end result is a Bible that is highly readable for devotions or study purposes that includes a richer in-text explanation of the Scripture. The experience will help customers grasp all that God is saying and give them a complete meaning of words and their alternative wordings. It’s like having a robust Bible reference library at your fingertips without having to flip a page or grab another book.
I remember when I was a young christian trying to discover for myself what the bible was saying, and so think through my faith. I assembled a personal library of different bible translations to compare and reference books like concordances, commentaries and bible dictionaries to look things up - and would regularly find myself sitting in the middle of a pile of them spread around me all open at pages relevant to what I was looking into. It seems to me the 'Expanded Bible' would have been of enormous assistance to me back then.

Even now, with over 20 years under my belt actively thinking through my faith (and teaching others), I am sure the 'Expanded Bible' will help re-ignite my understanding of God as revealed in scripture. The free New Testament .pdf eBook you can download from a link in Wayne's blog post certainly encourages me to think so.

I look forward to receiving my free review copy, and writing further on how useful it turns out to be.


When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

I have been reflecting today on Easter. Both in a literal historical sense given that it is Good Friday, but also in a personal sense in that what we celebrate this weekend is at the very centre of what it means for me to be a christian.

This weekend - Easter - we celebrate that Christ died for us. But not only that he died for us. Also that he rose again and lives forever with us. This is symbolic of the heart change we experience when we make him the leader of our lives. Our previous selfish self is said to 'die' and be replaced by a desire to live a life devoted to serving others and making our world a better place. It doesn't always work out that way in the cut and thrust of day to day life - but that is the goal to which we aspire.

This morning at my church (SAJ) we reflected on the events of that first Good Friday through a monologue, a very meaningful yet simple rendition of "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross" and by singing a series of simple worship songs focussed on the meaning of Easter.

This afternoon I took my son out for a bike ride around Wellington's stunning south coast. The time I spent enjoying the company and love of my son caused me to reflect on what God must have gone through that first Easter when he "gave his one and only son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life". The photo to the top left is of my son this afternoon unknowingly imitating God's son spreadeagled on a cross - the symbolism of it only occurs to me now I am home looking through photos from our day while also contemplating Easter.

One of the blogs I have been following closely more recently is "MandM", written by a NZ christian theologian/philosoper couple (I commend their writings to you). Today Matt has written his reflection on some of the more ceremonial aspects of Easter. This paragraph particularly resonated with me:

"... this is why ritual is important. As an excessively cerebral person christianity can become simply an intellectual project, a research program where I simply expound and defend a philosophy. Rituals force me to focus and refocus over and over again on the realities behind what I do. Rituals force one to quiet one's soul and really reflect at a level beyond the mere intellectual."
And, to close, the old hymn "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" by Isaac Watts (from which I have titled this blog post):
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Forbid it Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God
All the vain things that charm me most
I sacrifice them to His blood

See, from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all

"Inventory" of Keeping Stock blog also referred me to a modern rendition:


a prayer that is all too true to be funny?


#blackout protest has had some success!

yay for democracy!

the #blackout protest has had some success

I'm putting back my avatar on Twitter and Facebook now

Dave: "Great news. Section 92A of the Copyright Act has been delayed until 27 March so a voluntary code of practice can be nutted out. If there is no agreement on it, S92A will be suspended. Even if an agreement is reached, the Act will be be reviewed and monitored by the Government in the first six months. That's what happens when a group of people get a viral protest going, it gets support and gets into the mainstream media before midday and into the Aussie papers and into the Cabinet agenda."

Internet NZ: "New Zealanders can breathe a sigh of relief that their Internet access is no longer under threat due to unproven allegations of copyright infringement. Section 92A still needs to be fully repealed. It is disproportionate and unfit for purpose. But this deferral is a good start."




My New Blogging Strategy

I took a month long break from blogging from early January, and have struggled to get back to anywhere near my previous target of writing an article per day. Partly this is because a lot of my writing last year was prompted by the election, but I'm also finding my online habits are changing - and I've decided that my blogging strategy needs to change accordingly.

I will continue to write here at GavinKnight.com, but less frequently. I am currently targetting at least one substantive article per month for each of my four major themes - Politics, Christianity, Technology and Effectiveness.

It will be interesting to see what this does to my Tumeke NZ Blogosphere and M&M NZ Christian Bloggers rankings seeing as their methodologies have a bias toward high frequency posters - although my rankings couldn't go much lower given my reduced writing frequency over recent months!

So, my new blogging strategy revolves more around the following ...

I have been on Twitter since March 2007, and I'm now posting there more frequently - typically multiple times per day. I'm finding I can often say something just as effectively in a succinct 140 characters as I can by taking the time to write a full article here at GavinKnight.com! So, I encourage you to sign up on Twitter (if you're not already) and 'follow' me there. If you're one of my personal friends on Facebook most of my Twitter posts also appear there as status updates.

A lot of my articles here at GavinKnight.com used to be simply to share interesting items but as most of my online reading comes to me via RSS I'm going to move my sharing of them to sharing from Google Reader. Sometimes I will simply share an article, but I'll try and add a brief comment to some too. To see these, and everything I'm doing online go to FriendFeed (no account required, but it makes for a richer experience).

Are you experiencing a similar change in online habits?


Tumeke! ranking decreases to 95

My NZ political and news blog ranking has reduced further from #91 to #95 during October.

This is unsurprising given that I didn't write much in September and October while settling into self-employment, but the rest of the NZ blogosphere was going crazy with the then pending election.

Thanks to Tim Selwyn of Tumeke! for all the hard work he puts in collating and analysing the data behind these rankings.

Madeleine at MandM has further analysed this month's rankings and produced her ranking of NZ Christian bloggers, where I have slipped from 6th to 7th. Thanks for your work too Madeleine.


In All My Deeds and Words

A great prayer, courtesy Michael Hyatt who credits it to Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow (1782–1867):

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace.


Help me in all things to rely upon thy holy will.

In every hour of the day reveal thy will to me.

Bless my dealings with all who surround me.

Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that thy will governs all.

In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings.

In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are [allowed] by thee.

Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.

Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day and all that it shall bring.

Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray thou thyself in me.



the heart of the wise inclines to the right

interestingly Ecclesiastes 10:2 says

The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.
(for humourous purposes only, not a theological stance!)


surely this is the end of 'Christian' parties?

Looking at the preliminary results for yesterday's New Zealand election it is my sincere hope that we have seen the end of what I have previously called "the ridiculous idea of 'the' christian vote" (that link is to my post last week which generated a vigorous debate from some who support the idea of 'the' christian vote).

Of the three 'christian' parties only the Kiwi Party gathered more than 10,000 votes which only equates to approximately 0.5% - very far from the 5% required under MMP to actually get into parliament.

Collectively the three 'christian' parties only gathered 1.22%.

Both the Legalise Cannabis and the Bill & Ben parties gathered more votes than the other two 'christian' parties.

Legalising cannabis is hardly mainstream thought in New Zealand, yet they gathered more votes than parties who tried to monopolise the 'christian' label. Quite obviously against the wishes of the 10%-50% of New Zealanders who identify as christian (10% = rule of thumb figure for Sunday church attendance each Sunday, and more than 50% of kiwis continue to self-identify as christian in our five yearly census despite the secularisation of NZ).

I welcome discussion on this post, but ask that the discussion focus on the reality of how christians actually do vote and engage in politics in New Zealand - not some theoretical, and in my opinion marginal, construct of how christians should vote, or of the conscience vote issues which seem to motivate those who form and support 'christian' parties. Also, please first read last week's post and its comments before commenting on this post so that we can advance the debate rather than simply repeat it.