Saturday, July 29, 2023


The Labour government that has ruled New Zealand for the last six years seems to be struggling. Since Jacinda Ardern stepped down as Prime Minister at the beginning of the year, five cabinet ministers have resigned or been sacked from their roles.

In a way, this is not surprising, as apart from a few skilled ministers, Labour was always a fairly weak team, and managing a government department is a very challenging role. Very few politicians are up to it. The chief executives of the key government departments have spent years learning to work the system, and those who get to the top role are very skilled power operators. It is very difficult for a relatively experienced politician to rein them in (I explain this further in Political Power).

When Chris Hipkins became the leader at the beginning of the year, the news media jumped on the band waggon, but now their mood has changed. They are writing articles suggesting that Labour may have already lost the election in September, in order to position themselves as those who determined who becomes the government (as they like to believe).

The most recent resignation was the Minister of Revenue, who resigned because he disagreed with tax policies announced by the Prime Minister. This suggests that in addition to personal failures, the cabinet is also fraught with power struggles over policy issues.

When I look at this situation and try to understand the spiritual realities behind these difficulties, the word that comes to mind is “Confusion”. In 2015, I wrote the following words about the spiritual climate in Wellington when I sensed that a spirit of confusion had been released by those with power in the capital city.

Wellington will be confused
People will buzz in and out of the beehive,
uncertain of what to do,
Filled with fear, perplexity and confusion (Is 22:5).

All treading on each other
to get to the top (out of habit),
but not knowing where the top is,
or what they will do if they get there.
Not knowing their right hand
from their left (Jonah 4:11).

No ideals, except for

Trouble to the left
Trouble to the right
All is confusion
All is confusion
Disaster behind us
Terror ahead of us
all is confusion.

This confusion has been bubbling away for quite a while but is now becoming manifest. The leaders of the National Party are crowing about the problems of the incumbent government, but they have forgotten their own struggles with confusion. Following their loss in the 2017 election, they suffered several leadership coups that produced four leaders and four deputy leaders in two years. Each of these leaders came from quite different political perspectives, so there is obviously a great deal of division and confusion beneath their desperate, election-driven unity.

Most of the people with government experience disappeared from the political scene during the leadership struggles, so if National does win the election, they will have a bunch of untested ministers trying to control the heads of government departments with years of practice at handling power. They will come under the same spirit of confusion and will not have the spiritual wisdom to deal with it.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Past to Future

Perhaps because I am getting older, I have been thinking about my life and the people that have influenced me to be what I have become. I have thought about my childhood and the influences that shaped my life.

My thinking has been partly inspired by reading “The Myth of Normality” by Gabor Mate. It is a fascinating book, and he communicates the insights of Psychology in a way that is relatively easy to understand.

I have written up some of the insights that I gained from reading his book in a substack article called Past to Future. The article also describes what I have learned about myself. I will post some key insights here, but for the full article you should read Past to Future.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Bad Stuff

A lot of bad stuff is happening in the world, but these things are normal in a season when the people of the world have forgotten God. Modern expansions of power are just the world doing what the world does, and the world expands while the church sleeps, but I am not surprised, or disturbed. God sits in heaven and laughs. He scoffs at their plans (Psalm 2:4).

Without God, serious problems always occur, so people look to political power to rescue them. And there are always power seekers willing to step up and try to do it. They often start out with good intentions but get corrupted by power. Some arrive at a place where they believe that they can achieve more good by doing evil. Some bad people also try to manipulate political power to advance their evil goals.

This is happening now, but it has always happened. Read English and European history, and you will see that it has been going on forever. The same thing was happening in Judges 9. It is an analogical to what is happening in our time.

In the last hundred years, we have seen massive increases in political power as faith in God has declined. With every new crisis, leaders demand more power to deal with it, and the people are mostly glad to see it, because without God, they need the government to rescue them. I note that people who grumble about increasing political control expect the government to rescue them when their homes are damaged by flood, landslide, or earthquake, or when a pandemic disrupts their business. I am not surprised, or distressed by these changes. They are the inevitable consequence of people losing faith in God. Without God, people need political powers to rescue them.

Fortunately, the limits of political power are also being completely exposed. Every time a crisis is dealt with, another worse problem that they did not expect pops up in its place. The political powers are just not smart enough to deliver the peace and plenty that they have promised, so all over the world, government leaders are being shaken and are failing.

Biden, Macron and Rutte are examples. And the powerful people who try to manipulate political power, like Schwab and Soros, are getting older and are no longer confident that they can resolve all the problems that frighten them.

Railing against the world for doing what it always does is a waste of energy and will not help. We have an effective solution to the problems of the world. That is the gospel of Jesus and the alternative kingdom that he is establishing with the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, the church seems unwilling to push this solution seriously.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Systems of the World

The systems of the world are being shaken, and will eventually fail, but I am not confident that we are close to their collapse. They are being shaken, but I think they are tougher than we realise, and will persist for longer than many expect.

The rulers of the world are desperate and will use every resource and power they can get hold of to keep on top. Unfortunately, most people in the world still believe that political power of some kind is the solution to the problems that the world faces. They will gladly give the powers of the world more authority in a desperate attempt to hold back the darkness and keep the peace.

We will see systems failing in ways that look like they are collapsing, but it will not be their final fall. At these times, the systems of the world will appear to be beaten, but they will move and switch, and come back even stronger. For example, the United States could collapse in on itself under the strain of political and cultural division, economic crisis and inability to resolve it, and another serious military defeat. However, these crises will just create the conditions for a more ruthless leader to rise to power, and make the United States militarily stronger, but probably more evil.

What worries is the complete unpreparedness of the church for what lies ahead. Although there are plenty of secular and Christian warnings of troubles ahead, nothing much has changed and the church is even less prepared than it was twenty years ago.

God will not allow the systems of the world to collapse, until his people are ready to take advantage of the power vacuum and put something better in its place. That's why I wrote,

We should be joining together, so we can advance God's Kingdom when the kingdoms of the world collapse and fall. Radical change is needed, so we can shine brightly in the darkness and share in the victory that God has planned.
I fear that if the world systems were to collapse tomorrow, most of the church would not be prepared to stand, so that it would be wiped out along with the powers of the world. That would not be very helpful to God's purposes.

So God will allow the world system to persist for a long time yet. He will allow it to keep going, as long as it takes for his people to get prepared. And that is a bit out of his control, because he will not force his people to make changes that they are unwilling to make.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023


The second part of the curse/consequence of the fall does affect the relationship between men and women.

Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you (Gen 3:16).
God spoke to the woman and warned her that as a consequence of their handing authority on earth over to the spiritual powers of evil, she would be “ruled over” by the man.

The Genesis account does not explain how this would happen, but the Hebrew word translated as “rule” is “mashal”. It is a strong word. It means to “rule” or “have dominion”. God warned that women would be dominated by men. This was a change. Adam had not dominated Eve when they were created in the garden, so this was a consequence of the fall.

The reality is that there are only two ways that men could dominate over women:

  • Superior intelligence.
  • Superior physical strength
There is no evidence in the scriptures that men are more intelligent than women, so it must be superior physical strength that allows fallen men to rule and control fallen women. I have already noted above that there is no evidence in Genesis that men were created physically stronger than men. Rather, it suggests that they were created equal in strength.

This suggests that something happened at the fall to increase Adam’s physical strength over what it had been when he was created. Or perhaps, the change to women that increased their pain in childbirth diminished their overall strength and made them vulnerable to the physical dominance of men.

This physical dominance would be reinforced by their continuing attraction to men, even those who are damaged by sin. Genesis says that women would continue to be attracted to their husbands. This was the natural outworking of their natural ability to communicate and interact, so it seems to be a good thing and not the consequence of the fall, although it might be attenuated by it.

From Gender Difference in the OT

Saturday, July 15, 2023


Genesis explains something important about the nature of men. In creation, before the fall, loyalty to a wife takes priority over loyalty to parents.

That’s why a man abandons his father and his mother and attaches himself to his woman and they become one flesh (Gen 2:24).
We tend to focus most on the “one flesh”, which is possible because they are made from the same stuff. However, the first part of the verse uses a strong word to describe the change that occurs when a man finds a wife. The man abandons his parents. The Hebrew word is “azab”, which means loosen or forsake. Men must honour their parents, but they are expected to leave their parents and form a new strong relationship with their wives.

The husband attaches himself to his chosen woman. The Hebrew word is “dabaq”, which means “to cling, stick, stay close, cleave, keep close, stick with, follow closely, join to, overtake, catch.” This is a strong word. A man is expected to really cling to his wife and stay close. The common understanding that men are created to go out into the world and do bold things, whereas women stay at home and cling to their men is wrong. In the beginning, God created men to pursue and cling to their women. Obviously, this shapes the personality that God gave to men, but not in the way that is usually claimed.

From Gender Difference in the Old Testament".

Thursday, July 13, 2023


The Reserve Bank of New Zealand announced yesterday that its Monetary Policy Committee agreed to leave the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 5.50%. They believe that they are getting price inflation under control. They note that the CPI, which they use as a measure of inflation, was 6.7 percent over the past year.

Unfortunately, that does not resolve the problems that inflation has created for ordinary people. Focussing on inflation over the latest year creates a false perspective. Since the December 2019 quarter (before COVID), the CPI has increased by 17 percent. Over the same period, wage rates for workers doing the same role with the same skills have risen by only 9.5 percent. That gap is why people feel there is a cost of living crisis.

The wage-rate increase for the accommodation and food services industry in the private sector rose was only 6.6 percent. For people in this industry, the gap between price increases and increases in their wages increases is even more severe, unless they can get longer working hours, or find a better-paid role.

The CPI does not measure the effects of changes in mortgage interest rates, so the gap above is only part of the burden that wage earners are feeling. For most, the increase in the additional interest that they will have to pay is the worst aspect of the inflation pain that they are experiencing. And there is no sign that mortgage interest rates will go back to the low levels to which house buyers have become accustomed.

A bank economist said today that in a couple of years, this inflation will be just a memory, but that is not right. In the unlikely event that the inflation rate returned to zero, prices will not return to the level that they were before the inflation started in 2019. Prices just stop increasing, so the price increases that have already occurred are locked in forever.

Unless, wage and salary earners can get an increase in their wages to compensate for the 17+ percent increase in prices that has occurred, they will be permanently worse off. That is why bank employees are currently frustrated by a 7 percent pay offer from their employers, especially when the banks have been making record profits.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Genesis 2

Genesis tells us that it was not good for a man to be alone/separate (Gen 2:18). Up until this point in the creation account, everything had been good. Adam being alone was the first thing that was not good. The animals created did not provide a solution to this problem (Gen 2:19-20). He needed relationships with other humans. This did not make him different from women. The type of companionship that Adam needed is described in Genesis 2:18, where God declared what he intended that he would "make him a helper as his counterpart".

This phrase has been badly translated to support male dominance. There are two key Hebrew words. The Hebrew word “neged” is translated as “suitable for him” in many traditional English translations of this verse. However, its root meaning is “front”, in the sense of “in front of, what is conspicuous, in sight of, parallel to, opposite”. There is no sense of inferiority or subservience.

This phrase has been badly translated to support male dominance. There are two key Hebrew words. The Hebrew word “neged” is translated as “suitable for him” in many traditional English translations of this verse. However, its root meaning is “front”, in the sense of “in front of, what is conspicuous, in sight of, parallel to, opposite”. There is no sense of inferiority or subservience.

The other Hebrew word is “neged”, which means “helper”. Again there is no suggestion of weakness or compliance. The word is mostly used to describe God’s role as our helper (Ex 18:4; Deut 33:26; Ps 33:20; 115:11; 121:2). If God can be called our helper, then a woman can take on the word with honour.

God decided that he would give the man a “helper corresponding to him”. The common translation “suitable for him” makes it seem that the woman was created to support the man, but there is nothing in the Hebrew text to support that suggestion. The woman is a helper corresponding to the man. The woman is equal to the man. They two are stronger together because they support each other. It is not a servant/master relationship, but two equals supporting each other. There is nothing in the phrase to suggest that men are created to lead and women to follow, as some theologians claim.

The phrase “helper corresponding to him/in front of him” tells us nothing about any differences between the personalities of men and women. The woman is a helper in the same way as God is our helper. The role does not require a difference in personalities (even if a difference exists for other reasons).

From Gender Difference in the Old Testament.

Friday, July 07, 2023

Gender Differences in the OT

I recently completed a study on gender in the OT. It is too long to publish here, so I have put it on Substack. See Gender Differences in the Old Testament. The following paras are the Introduction.

A common teaching is that God created men with a disposition for leadership and women with a disposition for following. People who hold this position claim that a man must be the leader in his home to find fulfilment and that women can only be fulfilled if they actively submit to their husband’s leadership. The problem with this view is that it does not exist in the Bible.

I went to the scriptures to identify what they say about the personality differences between men and women. I was surprised to find that they actually say very little about the personality differences between men and women.

When we study the scriptures, we need to be careful to distinguish between:

  • statements about what ought to be, and
  • descriptions of the way things are.
We need to understand which type we are reading.
  1. The Bible contains statements about God’s intentions for the behaviour of men and women. His commands can imply a difference between the personalities of men and women.

  2. Descriptions of behaviour can point in two different directions.

    • When God created humans in his image, he made them male and female. If men and women behave differently, this could be a reflection of what God created them to be. Differences in behaviour can be a consequence of being created male or female.

    • Humans are also affected by the fall. If men and women display different personalities or behaviour, it could be the consequence of the fall. This type of difference does not reflect God’s original purpose for men and women.

When studying the behaviour and personalities of people in the Bible, we must be aware of these two possibilities.

When studying the scriptures to identify how males and females are different, we should consider which of these two categories apply to the passages under consideration.

  • Any differences that were introduced at creation are what God intends to be there. They are normative.

  • Differences that came as a result of the fall are not normative. Rather they are to be resisted and should disappear when we are born again and transformed into the likeness of Jesus. This restoration might only come to fullness when the body of Jesus grows to maturity.

We must distinguish “what is” from “what ought to be”, especially when studying the Old Testament.