Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Minimum Wage

Bob Robinson has a good discussion with Michael Kruse on the Minimum Wage. I could not resist joining in with the following comment.

This is not a technical issue, but a moral one. The technical issue of whether mimimum wages laws cost jobs is impossible to resolve, but is not really irrelevant. The moral issue is does the state have the right to force employers to pay a particular wage rate. We cannot get to this from a statement that Jesus encouraged us to care for the poor. We should care for the poor. Christian employeers should be generous to their employees. We may choose not to buy from businesses that are stingy with wages. We can start a business and pay generous wages. However, I do not think that Jesus was saying that we should use the power of the state to force unbelieving employers to be generous to the poor. I just don't think Jesus was in the business of using the power of the state to force people to be good, although many of this followers are quite keen on the idea.
When Bob asked about the legislating for the "common good", I responded as follows.
The "common good" is a very slippery concept. The problem is that if a good really is common, ie the action will be good for everyone, then everyone will do it, so there is no need for a law. So if you have to use law to force people to do something, it is not a common good. It will good for some, but bad for others. If it truely was a common good, a law would not be needed.

When we use the power of the state to coerce goodness, we always end up forcing a minority, and often a marjority, to do things that they do not want to do. That was never Jesus game.

We also end up advocating salvation by law, but Jesus came because salvation by law does not work. I can never understand why his followers want to take it up again. Is it because they do not believe that the Holy Spirit can his job?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Wheat and Tares

City Christians often interpret the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares incorrectly, because they do not understand how wheat grows (Matt 13:24-42). Because the tares are still there at harvest time, they assume that Satan will dominate the church age, even as the church spreads its influence. Their mistake is to assume that a bumper crop of weeds and a healthy crop of wheat can grow up together. This is not what happens. Wheat and weeds cannot grow together equally. One will always grow faster and choke out the other.

Sometimes the weeds do get ahead of the wheat. When that happens the farmer really suffers. I remember a crop of wheat like that when I was growing up on a farm. A lack of rain after the wheat had come though the ground stunted its initial growth and the weeds really got away in the dry half of the paddock. When the rain did come the wheat could not catch up. The crop of wheat was so thin on that half of the paddock that it was not worth harvesting. We just ploughed the wheat back into the ground. The rest of the crop was very poor and we just got enough grain to cover the cost of the harvesting. That is what happens when the weeds gain control. The crop fails.

A good crop of wheat is different. Wheat seeds germinate quickly. If the soil has been sufficiently cultivated to kill the weeds, and moisture is plentiful, the wheat will grow quickly. Each wheat plant sends up several tillers, so one plant produces a number of stalks that can carry heads of grain. Within a short time, the wheat will grow enough that the light and moisture is shut out from the weeds below, hampering their growth. Only a few weeds will survive.

As the crop comes into ear, a few weeds will appear above the wheat. In New Zealand, we do not have darvel (tares), but it was not unusual to see heads of wild oats poking out above the wheat. Pulling them was impossible without trampling the wheat, or pulling out the wheat with the wild oats. Harvesting with a combine harvester we had no choice, but screen the wild oats out after the grain was harvested.

However, the situation would be different, if the crop was being harvested by hand. The harvesters could gather the weeds first. They could reach about a an arms length into the crop and clear a narrow strip of tares without trampling the wheat. They would just break off the seed heads, so they would not damage the wheat. When they had harvested a strip of wheat, they could reach into the next strip and clear it of tares. However, this would only be possible, if there were not many tares. There is a limit to how many a harvester could pick out individually in a day.

The tares were gathered, so that they seed did not fall to the ground. They were taken away and burned so that the bad seed could not fall to the ground and corrupt the next crop.

Jesus was describing a good crop of wheat. The fact that it was being harvested, shows that the weeds had not choked out the wheat. The fact that the harvesters could pick out the tares by hand shows that there were not many tares. The fact that the tares were picked individually by hand, while the wheat was harvested by handfuls with a sickle, shows that the wheat vastly out numbered the tares. This is confirmed by the fact that the tares could be stacked in bundles, whereas the wheat filled a barn.

All this means that the parable of the wheat and the tares is not describing and evenly-balanced, uncertain struggle between the church and the world. It is actually an illustration of the church being so successful, that evil persists in only a limited way. The enemy can only work by night (by deception), but even then he is unsuccessful. The Wheat and the Tares is a parable of victory, just like the parable of the mustard seed that follows.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Moral not Technical

Most economic problems are moral problems, not technical ones.

Money is a good example. Many economists treat money as a technical problem that needs a technical solution. They believe that if a system is put in place to prevent the money supply from growing, or from growing to fast, then everything will be okay. Even those who advocate the gold standard can fall into this trap. They imply that choosing the right commodity is the basis for a sound money system.

Money is a moral issue. Problems arise when theft creeps into the money system. The only solution to the problem of money is to dig into system and find out where this theft is occurring. Theft can occur, regardless of the technical solution. With paper money, counterfeiters can print banknotes. With electronic money, hackers can change the digits on the bank’s computers. Even with the gold standard, people can clip gold coins or add cheaper metals to the gold.

Money is a medium of exchange. Holding money is a sign that a person has given up goods and services in exchange for money and has not completed the transaction by purchasing something to replace what they sold. If someone is holding money, but has not given up something in exchange for it, then a potential theft has occurred. As soon as the money is spent, theft occurs, because they have gained goods and services for which they have not entitlement. (I am ignoring charity, because in that case the person giving the money away will have given up goods or services in exchange for the money).

The key to solving the problem of money is to find out where in the system, a person or institution receives money, without giving goods and services in exchange for it. That is the point where the theft has entered the money system. Theft is a moral problem. It is also a crime. The solution is to identify those who are committing the crime and make them pay restitution.

In the modern money system, the theft is well hidden, but is still there. We just have to dig harder to find it.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bollard beats Bernanke Again

Well, New Zealand could not win the America's Cup for yachting, but we have managed to keep the record for having the highest interest rates in the world. Yesterday Reserve Bank Governor Bollard raised the OCR to 8.25 percent. Beat that Ben Bernanke!

The reason for the increase is concern about inflationary pressure. Bollard the banker is worried that the economy is growing too fast. His new worry is strong world commodity prices increasing value of dairy exports. However,
an increase in the international price of exported commodities does not cause inflation. The incomes of exporters may increase, but the economy will be able to import more goods and services to meet the resulting increase in demand.

Anyway, as I have said before, we do not need a banker to slow down the economy.

Furthermore, a quick look at where the price pressures are coming from shows that increased interest rates will have no affect.

Over the last year, electricity prices have been increasing. That is caused by two things: cross subsidies from businesses to households have been removed and growing demand for electricity requires increased generation capacity which is more expensive. Higher interest rates will not change that.

Local authority rates are skyrocketing as local government politicians chase their dreams and then raise property rates to pay for them. Bollards intervention will not stop that.

The government is spending like crazy to win the next election. The Reserve Bank action does nothing to stop that.

Our monetary policy is just a twisted masochism. It cannot solve the problem it pretends to solve, but it punishes the productive parts of the economy.

See also

Bollards Blunder

Ratchet Down

Bollard goes to the Dentist

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Matthew 24

One of the most misunderstood passages is Jesus Big Prophecy in Matthew 24, sometimes known as the Olivet discourse (there are parallel accounts in Mark 13 and Luke 21). Most people assume that this passage gives a number of signs of the second coming of Jesus. This is not true. Verses 1-35 are actually a warning of the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus was giving a strong warning to the Jews of what would happen to them, if they rejected him. Only at the end of the passage is the second coming described, and here no signs are given.

The message of Matthew 24 was prompted by Jesus warning that the grandeur of Jerusalem would be destroyed (Matt 24:2). Later the disciples came to Jesus with two questions:

    1. When will these things be (the destruction of Jerusalem)?
    2. What will be the sign of your coming (parousia), and the end of the age?
The disciples thought this was just one question, because they had assumed that these events would come at the same time. They believed that the destruction of Jerusalem would come at the second coming of Jesus. He had already taught them about the day of judgment which would follow his coming at the end of the age. When they heard him speak of judgment against Jerusalem, they assumed that it would come at the end of the age. They could not imagine a world without the Temple of Jerusalem, and assumed that the destruction of the Temple, must mean the end of the world. They wanted to know both the sign and the time of these events.

Whatever the confusion of the disciples, Jesus makes it clear that the destruction of Jerusalem is different from the second coming and the end of the age. He treats their question in two parts. Firstly, he gives the sign and the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (question 1). Then he speaks of the sign and the time of the second coming (question 2). Matthew 24 has two parts. Verses 4-35 deal with the destruction of Jerusalem. Verses 36-51 deal with the second coming and the end of the age.

Read more....

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Satan is Bound

While we are getting rid of one-word doctrines, we should get rid of the doctrine that Satan will not be bound until the second coming of Jesus. This belief has caused Christians to allow Satan much greater authority on earth than he deserves. It is based on a misunderstanding of Revelation 20:1-3, which makes the binding of Satan a future event.

The Bible teaches very clearly that we do not have to wait for Satan to be bound in the future. He was defeated by Jesus’ victory on the cross. Jesus disarmed Satan and all his powers, by making a public spectacle of them, when he triumphed on the cross (Col 2:15). He has already done everything that needs to be done to secure Satan’s downfall.

The reason Satan still seems to be so active is that the church has failed to realise the full extent of what Christ has achieved. In binding Satan, Jesus works through the church. He has placed the chain that binds Satan in the hands of his people. They must restrain Satan’s power over the nations. Jesus won a judicial victory on the cross. When a decision is made in a court of law it does not become a fact until the police enforce it. The church has the police power to enforce Jesus judicial victory. Satan will only be fully bound until the church forces him to recognise the sentence that was passed against him at the cross.

The crucial question is this: when was Satan bound? The Bible teaches that he was bound at the cross. One last example is Matthew 12:29. Here, Jesus taught that Satan is bound. He was able to cast out evil spirits because the strongman had already been bound.

How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man?
The fact that the early church was able to continue this deliverance ministry is proof that Satan was bound at the cross. We must accept the verdict of the Bible. Jesus does not have to return to bind Satan. He has already done everything necessary to restrain him. We just have to do our part.

Read more....

Monday, July 23, 2007

And the 7 Year Tribulation

A zero-word doctrine is the “seven year tribulation”. This doctrine is a common among Christians, but it is not found in the New Testament. It is not even found in the Old Testament, except for a dyslexic interpretation of Daniel’ vision of weeks. A “great tribulation” is mentioned in the New Testament (Matt 24:20-22) but this prophecy by Jesus was filled by the Destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

The thing that is often missed is that trials and tribulations are normal for Christians who follow Jesus seriously.

In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NASB)
Tribulation will be a normal experience for Christians in every age. Lack of tribulation is a generally a sign of compromise with the world.

The sad thing about the seven-year tribulation doctrine is its popularity among western Christians, who also believe that they will be raptured out before the so-called tribulation arrives. I suppose that it is not surprising that the tribulation escape doctrine is most popular in the home of "Comfort Christianity". This raises an interesting question. Why would God rescue millions of American Christians, when he did not rescue the Christians who have been through terrible persecution in China.

Actually, the scriptures do not promise and easy way out.
We must go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)
I am not looking toward to escaping. I want see the Kingdom of God come closer to its fullness before I leave this earth.

Read more…

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lets Bury the Millenium

The millennium is a “one word” doctrine. By that I mean that the expression “one thousand years” is only used once in the Bible (in Rev 20:4).

The book of Revelation is full of complex imagery which is often difficult to interpret. Many of the numbers cannot be taken literally. To take a number that is used once in an obscure book and build an entire doctrine around it is extremely foolish. One-word doctrines are dangerous.

The millennium is a doctrine for doubters. A quick read through John 13-16 gives the impression that Jesus considered the Holy Spirit to be pretty capable. In contrast, the doctrine that the kingdom of God cannot come until Jesus returns presumes that the Holy Spirit is unable to complete the job he was given to do, and that Jesus has to come back and do it for him. A little thought shows that this is a bizarre idea.

The truth is that there is nothing that Jesus can do that the Holy Spirit cannot do (except die on the cross, but that does not need to be done again). In fact, the Holy Spirit can do more, because he is not confined to one place as is Jesus. That is why Jesus said it was better for him to go away, so the Holy Spirit could come. Belief that it is better for the Holy Spirit and the church to go away, so Jesus can return is lack of faith in the Holy Spirit. Lack of faith in the Holy Spirit is really lack of faith in God. Despite a growing emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit, most Christians implicitly believe that he will be a failure.

The millennium is a doctrine for the disobedient. Jesus commanded his disciples to preach the gospel of the kingdom. If he is going to return to establish the kingdom, we do not need to bother obeying his command.

The millennium is a doctrine for the defeated. This doctrine requires the devil will defeat the church, so Jesus will need to return to establish victory. This is the opposite of what the scriptures teach about the church. Eph 3:10 declares that the church will defeat the principalities and powers.

I believe that the millennium that came from the devil, because he is the only one who benefits from it. It is time for this doctrine to be assigned to the theological waste bin where it belongs.

Read More....

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Falling House Prices

Economic commentators have been surprised that things went on as normal when property prices stopped increasing in England and the United States. This is worth thinking about.

A rise in property prices does not create any extra goods and services. So a property boom is a zero sum game. If some people become wealthy, others must have lost wealth. To understand the effect of the boom, we need to identify the losers.

Everyone has lost a little through the inflation that accompanies the boom. Instead of benefiting from cheaper goods through technological advance, we are all a little worse off than we would have been if there was no inflation. Those who have not invested in property have lost the most.

A few people will have sold their property and left the market. They are the one who have really become rich, provided they do not leave to early.

Most people have sold one property and bought another. They feel more wealthy because the have a bigger and better property, but they also have a bigger mortgage. If house prices fall, their mortgage will be unchanged, but their equity will shrink. They will end up paying the full value of their property, so their gain from the property boom will prove illusory.

The biggest losers are those who buy their first home during the last stages of the property boom. They will have paid an excessive price for their house. A property boom is like a pyramid scam. Those who are last in lose the most.

Even those who are the greatest losers will not be in dire straits. At least they will still own a house that they like. They should still like it, even if declines in value. And they will have planned to make their mortgage payments, so that will not be a problem. Even an increase interest rates should not be an enormous problem, because most will have planned for that as well.

The only fly in the ointment would be unemployment. However, they will probably have two incomes. They might be okay as long as one remains. If necessary, they could change to an interest-only mortgage to survive. The bank would have no interest in selling them up. They would only have a serious problem, if they both lost their employment.

This means that the end of a property boom should not cause serious damage to the economy. Falling house prices are only serious a problem, if accompanied by severe unemployment. It then becomes a ratchet that drags the economy down.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Social Contract

Many governments claim some sort of social contract as the basis for their power.

The problem with this is that concept is that even if the current population have accepted the social contract, and that is doubtful, the future population has no opportunity to accept or reject it. A social contract must be contracted.

You come under a covenant with your creator when you are born. However, the existing political powers can make no such claim. A child does not sign up to a social contact with the existing system just by being born.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pentecost and Government (3)

Human governments do two things: justice and salvation. They sometimes provide justice, but we do not really need their feeble attempts, because God has already given his perfect law that produces better justice. Why would we want the imperfect laws of human rulers?

The second thing that human governments do is provide salvation. Salvation delivers people from the consequences of sin, but Jesus had done that too, and done a much better job of it. Pentecost brought a much better salvation.

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Act 2:21).
Jesus makes human political powers and governments redundant.
Pentecost brought about radical change. This was not just a change of government, but the death of government as we know it. The implication is that as the Kingdom of God expands by the power of the spirit, human government will shrink and disappear.

Karl Marx prophesied the withering away of the state. His philosophies did the opposite. They made the state more powerful than ever. But what he dreamed for will come. As the kingdom of Jesus expands through the outworking of the gift of Pentecost, the state with wither away and die.

This is why the idea that Jesus will return to Jerusalem and rule the world from there is such a monstrous idea. It is a denial of Pentecost. Jesus is already seated at the right hand of the father. The Holy Spirit was sent to bring all human rule and power into submission to Jesus. That is how his Kingdom comes and Gods will is done on earth.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pentecost and Government (2)

Joel had a radical message. He promised that God would pour out his Holy Spirit on all people. A consequence of that outpouring will be the death of human government. Peter quoted Joel to prove the importance of the events the people of Jerusalem were observing. The outpouring of the Spirit that they saw will bring about the destruction of empires and political rulers of all persuasions. Caesar should be shaking in his boots.

Peter understood that Pentecost was proof that Jesus had been raised up to the right hand of the father.

Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
'The Lord said to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet."
Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ
(Acts 2:33-36).
The gift of the Holy Spirit is proof that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. That makes him Lord of all. It means that he is king of everything. This world cannot have two kings, or two rulers or two lords. A lord is a political ruler. Jesus is not going to stop being Lord. That is why all other lords and powers will have to become his footstool. This will be accomplished by Pentecost.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pentecost and Government (1)

The day of Pentecost was the birthday of the Church, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on every believer. Now every person who believes can have a relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit living within.

The day of Pentecost was also a day of judgment for the kings, emperors and political rulers of the world. When he got up to preach, Peter quoted from Joel 2. We all remember the verses that describe the Spirit being poured out on all flesh, so that people would dream and see visions and prophesy.
What we often forget is that Peter did not stop there, but went onto quote three more verses.

I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
(Act 2:19-21).
These forgotten verses describe an important consequence of what happened at Pentecost. The Old Testament prophets use the sun, moon and stars as symbols of the emperors and rulers of the nations. One example is found in Ezekiel 32:7:

When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light.
Ezekiel was speaking about the defeat of Egypt by Babylon. The words give a graphic description of the collapse of Egypt before a greater power. They were not fulfilled literally, but in a prophetic sense they were fulfilled. Other prophets used the same kind of language to describe the collapse of a nation. In prophetic language, the sun and moon represent powerful human governments.

So for Joel, the sun and moon represent powerful political powers. Blood symbolizes death. So Joel is using prophetic language to describe the destruction of powerful political powers. They will not just fall, but they will be destroyed. This is the consequence of the day of Pentecost.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

No Hierarchy

There will be no hierarchy in the Kingdom of God.

Large human organisations need a hierarchy of authority to transmit information and to direct actions. Messages and instructions pass down through the hierarchy to the people on the bottom. Reports go back up in the same way. Hierarchy also allows decisions to be made at the appropriate level. The person at the top sets the general policies and rules, but delegates simple decisions down the hierarchy to an appropriate level of responsibility. Difficult or important decisions are delegated back up to the top.

God is not constrained in this way. He is omniscient, so he knows everything that is happening, everywhere in the universe, all the time. He is not dependent on reports up a hierarchy. He knows what is happening everywhere, so he does not need anyone to report to him. God is also omnipotent, so he has the ability to decide what should be happening in every situation in the universe at the moment it occurs. He has no need for hierarchy.

The Holy Spirit can speak to any person in the universe, whenever he chooses, so he does not need to speak through intermediaries. The Holy Spirit lives in every Christian, so God can communicate his will directly to anyone as he chooses. can speak to any Christian anywhere at anytime. He can speak to us directly without needing a priest or pastor to tell us what God is saying. An infinite God can communicate his will directly to his people, so he does not need hierarchy to accomplish his purposes.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Jesus and Hot Potatoes

When Jesus received authority, he immediately delegated it to his disciples.

He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority (Matt 10:1).
These are amazing words. Jesus did not say, “I am in charge, do what I say”. He gave them authority and sent them out. That is the way it will be in the Kingdom of God. Authority should be held lightly.

This is the mystery of the Kingdom. All authority will be handed over to the saints of God (Dan 7;18), but they will give it away to other as quickly as possible. With authority, it will be more blessed to give than receive.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Joseph and Hot Potatoes

In the Kingdom of God, authority will be diffused as widely as possible. Lots of people will have a little bit of authority.

Those with authority will attempt to push it down to those below them, as soon as they are capable of exercising it themselves. Authority will be like a “hot potato”, with those who receiving it, quickly passing it on to someone else.

Joseph is a good example of how to get authority, but a bad example of how it should be used. He was appointed as Pharaoh’s deputy, because he has learned wisdom while working as a servant.

However, when he gained a position of authority in the land of Egypt, he was still under the authority of Pharaoh. Being a heathen emperor, Pharaoh used the famine in Egypt to increase his authority over the people. By the time the famine was over, Pharaoh owned all the land of Egypt and all the people were his slaves.

So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh's, and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other (Gen 47:20-21).
Joseph had no choice but to advance Pharaoh’s position, but this is the opposite of the way that God works.

God does not want slaves serving him. He wants his people to freely love him, and obey him acknowledge his wisdom. God wants us to have authority over our own lives.

In the world, a few people hold most of the authority. In the kingdom of God, authority is spread around. Most people will have a little authority and no one will have a lot.

The life of Joseph illustrates a common problem. Many Christians believe that the problem of government will be resolved by replacing those with political power with Christians. This is not correct. Christians exercising political power are as dangerous as anyone else with political power. The only solution is to get rid of most government.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Authority and the Kingdom

When Christians are appointed to a positions of authority, they should hold it lightly and not keep their power for themselves. They will surrender to the Holy Spirit and submit their authority to him. The Holy Spirit is now God’s agent on earth, so it is right that they should give their authority to him. The Holy Spirit only does what he sees the Jesus doing, so bobeying him is the same as obeying Jesus.

The Holy Spirit does not take the authority that we offer to him. He gives it back to us, but teaches us how to exercise it.

The second thing that Christians should do is delegate their authority to those who are below them. When Christians get authority, they should look for capable and trustworthy people and train, disciple, teach them how it exercise authority. The will delegate as much authority as possible down to them.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Control and the Kingdom of God

A growing fear is that Christians are trying to take control of the world. Several books have been written warning the Christians in the United States are using the political system to get control and force their religion on the rest of society.

In the world, authority is accumulated. People with authority try to get more. In Satan’s kingdom, a few people hold a great deal of authority and the rest submit to them. Unfortunately, some Christians are quite keen on this model.

In the Kingdom of God, the opposite happens.

  • Authority is chopped up into bits.
  • Authority is pushed down and out to people who do not have it.

Control and authority are diffused as widely as possible. When Jesus got authority he gave it away to as many people as possible.

I guess that those who fear the Kingdom of God would worry less, if all Christians understood this.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

On the Other Hand...

New Zealanders will go anywhere and take on anyone and anything.
That boldness is our greatest strength.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Americas Cup

The America’s Cup yachting regatta in Valencia is finished.

I am not sure why I am writing about this event, because most people in the world do not care about it. Most Americans are not even aware that it is on.

But New Zealand is obsessed with the America’s Cup. The cup takes its name because it was held by the United States for over 100 years. In 1995, a New Zealand team defeated the American defender to win the cup. It defended the cup successfully in 2000, but the cup was lost to a Swiss challenger in 2003. During this last regatta, Team NZ failed in an attempt to win it back.

A number of things strike me about this strange obsession.

  1. The power of television to hype up an event is amazing. Most New Zealanders would not know a halyard from a sheet, but after a concerted television campaign, most have come to believe our emotional and physical well-being of our nations depends on winning this yacht race. People who do not care about yachting were sitting up through the night to watch a yacht race on TV.

  2. There is something strange about the New Zealand psyche that makes us want to compete in events that most nations ignore and which no one cares about. Then when we do well in a “nothing event”, we pretend that we are special. I think this bizarre need comes out of a deep-seated insecurity.

  3. Then when we lose, we try to pretend our loss was a victory. In this case the television commentators came to the rescue. Although New Zealand lost the final 5-2, they are claiming that it was a close run thing, because the last race was lost by one second. They are claiming that the loss was a success, because we proved that we could compete with the "big boys". They are also claiming a moral victory by portraying the event as a David and Goliath struggle; poor New Zealand against the rich Swiss. Given that the New Zealand government contributed $38 million and middle eastern airline was a major sponsor this is not true.

  4. Pretending that defeat is victory prevents people from dealing with reality, yet this is what we are doing. New Zealand must be one of the few nations in the world that celebrates a defeat in war as a National day. What does that say about us? The television commentators became cheer leaders for the NZ team. They continually pretended that Team NZ had made no mistakes. When races were lost, it was always bad luck, never bad decisions. Their presentation was so biased that they could not ask any critical questions about the performance of the team they were supporting.

  5. The event demonstrates the inability of governments to pick winners. Team NZ has now lost two events in a row. Yet the government has already signalled $40 million for another attempt to win the cup. These guys have failed twice, but the government never thinks to ask why will they do better next time? That is why they are skilled at picking losers.

  6. Then there is the bizarre idea that the government gets most of the $40 million back in tax. If this was correct, then any government could dish out billions of dollars that it does not have knowing that it will get it all back in tax. Unfortunately, the world does not work like that.

Friday, July 06, 2007

American Arrogance

I never cease to be amazed by the arogance of American politicians.

The are upset because Iran is engaging in proxy wars in the Middle East. Yet America sponsored proxy wars all over the globe from the cold war into the present.

They are upset that Iran is supplying weapons to militant groups in Iraq. Yet America is allowed to supply weapons to Fatah in Palestine.

They are upset that Iran is expanding its interests in the Middle East. At the same time America claims the right to protect its interests in the Middle East.

This seems like a case of do as I say, not as I do.

In 1953, the United States CIA organised a military coup in Iran that overthrew a democratically elected government and brough the Shar of Iran to power. He proved to be a cruel and selfish dictator. Iran has never attempted to organise a coup in the United States.

In 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian civilian airbus flying over the Gulf killing the 290 people. Iran has never shot down an a American passenger plane.

In 1980, the United States encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Iran and supplied him with military assistance. Iran has never assisted Mexico to invade the United States.

What gives American politicians the right to sit in judgment on Iran? Why should the Iranians trust the United States?

On Independence day, Americans celebrated their independence from Britain. It was okay for Americans to take arms to throw off a fairly benign colonial power, but other peoples can only do that if they get American permission.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Military City

Washington DC appears to be a very military city. Statues of generals are everywhere. The war cemetry is called "Holy Ground". I do not know what makes it holy.

I can see why the American nation is always so quick to go to war.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

City of Idols

During my week in Washington DC, I felt like I wanted to weep. It seemed to be a sad city.

I think that the reason is that Washington DC is a city of idols.
I saw the Washington idol.
I saw the Lincoln idol.
I saw the Kennedy idol
I saw the Jefferson idol.
The worst thing was that I saw busloads of children and teenagers coming to offer worship at the idols of the city, like children being offered to Molech.

On top of the Capitol is the idol of freedom. The irony is the whole purpose of congress is to limit freedom. The American people believe that they are free, but they are deluding themselves. For the last 200 years, Congress has been slowly removing their freedom. It now takes about a third of what everyone earns, so freedom has become a weak frail idol.

The purpose of democracy is to limit freedom. Demoracy forces people to do things that they do not want to do. If people are willing to do things, laws are not needed.

I was told before I went that freemasonry had a strong influence on the architecture of Washington DC. This could be correct, but it misses the point. The real idol of Washington is political power and democracy.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Gods Wisdom

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Eph 3:10).
God’s intentions are clear. The principalities and powers that rebelled with Satan will come to realise that they have chosen the wrong side. This will happen now. It is not something that will happen at the end of the age when Jesus returns.

The church will make it happen; not Jesus returning in glory. God’s intention is that the church, moving in the power of the Spirit, will inflict such defeats on the principalities and powers that they will know that they made a mistake.

I have always remembered what Peter Marshall and David Manual wrote about the Puritans in their book called The Light and the Glory.

They really believed it. They actually believed what few people have, before or since: that the King of God really could be built on earth, in their lifetimes.
When I read those words my spirit stirred. I believe that the Kingdom of God will be established on earth through the church moving in the power of the Spirit.

Most Christians do not believe that God can do it, especially through the church. They do not get it. They do not get the rest of Ephesians 3, where Paul declares that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask imagine through the Spirit that dwells within us. He will do this for the glory of the Church.

Many Christians (maybe most) are more confident about what the forces of evil will accomplish in the world than they are about what God can do through the church. We need a radical mind shift. We need to get Eph 3:10.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Hannah Arendt on Israel

The greatness of this people was once that it believed in God, and believed in Him in such a way that its trust and love towards Him was greater than its fear. And now this people believes only in itself? What good can come out of that?


Sunday, July 01, 2007


God does not care about the city of Jerusalem. Those who revere Jerusalem and speak of the Holy Land do not understand the cross and Pentecost.

In Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit was only present in a few people and a few places. Jacob found the Spirit's presence at Bethel and called it the house of God. The Holy Spirit was often present in the temple at Jerusalem, but not in Jesus time. The prophets were marked by the annoining of the Holy Spirit.

The cross changed everything. With sin destroyed, the Holy Spirit could come and live in every believer. That is what happened at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was poured out on everyone who believes. Every Christian is now a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus changed everything.

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.... In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Eph 3:18,21,22).
We all have access to the Father through the Holy Spirit living within us. We do not need a special place to meet with the Spirit. God does not need a temple on earth. He does not need a holy city or a holy land. He needs a people, made holy by the blood of Jesus. His church is the temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells.

The city of Jerusalem is redundant. God is not interested in having a holy place. He is only interested in building his Church. Those who believe that Jerusalem is still important have misunderstood the gospel and the significance of Pentecost. Those who pray at the wailing wall are clinging to a dead order. The only benefit of the wailing wall is as a reminder that Jesus' prophecy in Matt 24 was correct.

God cares about the Jewish people, but their land is no more holy than any other place. The only real holy places are where two or three people are gathered together in Jesus name. While the Holy Spirit is there with them, any place is holy.

Many Christians believe that Jesus is going to return and rule the world from Jerusalem. They have a distorted understanding of the Kingdom of God.