Monday, August 31, 2009

52 years today and this is how we have to remember this day?

*Sigh* 52 years of indpendence and Malaysia is in such a bad state. It is embarrasing to hear the catch phrase " Malaysia ... truly Asia" ...

I hope that the message below will have an impact and be the turning point for Malaysia. It is so good that it is signed by so many organizations

I was hoping and praying that Teoh Beng Hock's death might be the turning point. But his death seems to be going the way of so many other horrible scandals. ...

And yes, I prayed specially for Malaysia today ...

The Cow Head Merdeka Message
Posted by admin
Monday, 31 August 2009 17:07

MESSAGE TO THE NATION

We, the undersigned civil society organizations are shocked, angered and saddened by the “Cow-Head protest” in Shah Alam last Friday (28 August) against a proposed Hindu temple in Section 23 of the city.

The carrying of the head of a freshly slaughtered cow, a sacred animal to the Hindus, and the unveiled threat of bloodshed on the eve of Merdeka celebration suggest that all Malaysians need to reflect deeply about our 52 years of nationhood, and the clarion call of 1Malaysia

From the outset, these heinous acts of crime perpetrated by the irresponsible few must NEVER be seen as a conflict between the two faiths or the two faith communities. All major spiritual traditions, Islam and Hinduism included, uphold peace and human dignity as their common and core values. Our spirituality and love for humanity mandates us for the perpetual quest for peace and abhorrence of all forms of hatred and civil disorder.

The Shah Alam incident sadly reveals that violence and hatred are still inadequately delegitimized in our society. We exhort all Malaysians to unite in our joint efforts to decry and delegitimize violence and hatred to prevent any individual or grouping from resorting to intimidation or provocation when faced with any town-planning disputes or rows of similar nature.

We the undersigned, taking cognizance of the above, do hereby :

1. URGE that all disputes in civil society must be resolved through peaceful means such as peaceful demonstrations, rational dialogues, extensive consultations and legal suits. The Selangor State Government’s plan to hold a town hall meeting to facilitate communication and engagement with all stakeholders is highly commendable.

2. CONDEMN in the strongest possible language any act to humiliate and intimidate any ethno-religious community, in this case the irreligious and irresponsible display of a cow head. In the Shah Alam incident, not only the Hindus are humiliated and hurt but also all thinking Malaysians – Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Sikh, those of other spiritual traditions and atheist. We particularly share the pain and anguish of the Shah Alam Hindu community.

3. URGE all religious authorities, community leaders and political parties to unreservedly condemn the perpetrators of the reprehensible “Cow-Head” act. Every racial and religious bigot should be shamed and distanced by the general public especially by their ethno-religious community which they seek to represent. Political parties must also take disciplinary action against members involved in inciting hatred. This would deprive them the pleasure and gratification of self-righteousness and heroism. Legal punishment alone may prove inadequate because it may instead grant the offenders the self-perceived honour of martyrdom.

4. SUPPORT a thorough investigation of those responsible for theCow-Head” protest for threatening violence (not sedition) on both the local Hindu community and the elected State Government of Selangor.

Threats of violence, for whatever reason, has no place in a civilised society. Violence must be condemned and can only be completely delegitimised when society has zero tolerance for it and every offender is appropriately punished.

5. EXPRESS shock and dismay at the failure of the police force to stop the protestors from issuing their threats of bloodshed. An independent investigation on professional negligence should be immediately initiated to examine these policing failures of a potentially fulminating racial and religious crisis. This incident among others further highlights the dire importance and urgent need for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

The IPCMC is a must if the Najib Administration is genuinely committed to peace in Malaysia.

6. CALL on all Malaysians to heed our plea to completely delegitimise violence and hatred and to strive towards its elimination from our public life. Let this be our joint resolution for our nation’s forthcoming Merdeka anniversary. Let us usher in a Malaysia which cherishes the values of peace, reason, justice, freedom, equity and inclusion for all Malaysians.

The undersigned groups:
1. All Women’s Action Society Malaysia (AWAM)
2. Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI)
3. Civil Rights Committee, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly
Hall (CRC-KLSCAH)
4. Civil Society Committee, LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLGCSC)
5. Civil Society Initiative for Parliamentary Reform (CSI@Parliament)
6. Coalition of Malaysian NGOs Against Persecution of Palestinians (COMPLETE)
7. Coalition of Selangor Indian NGOs
8. Consumer Association of Klang
9. Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) Youth
10. Council of Malaysia Indian Trustee
11. Friends in Conversation (FIC)
12. Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC)
13. Hindu Youth Organization, Port Klang
14. Human Development and Research Centre
15. Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (IMAM)
16. Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
17. Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM)
18. Justice for Beng Hock Facebook Group
19. Kelab Sukan Depot Port Klang
20. Klang Vellarun Kalai Pannai
21. Letchumi Pooja Dhana Manbran Klang
22. Majlis Kelab Bell Tamil Selangor
23. Malaysia Belia Hindu Negeri Selangor
24. Malaysia Hindu Sangam Klang Council
25. Malaysia Hindu Sangam Selangor state council
26. Malaysia Indian Youth Council Selangor
27. Malaysian Hindu Dharma Mamandram Selangor
28. Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)
29. Nadaraikia Sangam Selangor
30. Pamban Swami Maha Teja Mandala Sabai
31. Persatuan Alumni PBTUSM (Lihua) Selangor and Kuala Lumpur
32. Persatuan Kebajikan Bharathana Selangor
33. Persatuan Kebajikan cahaya wawasan Selangor
34. Persatuan Kebajikan Nammakkal
35. Persatuan Kebajikan Vanniar
36. Persatuan Kemajuan Pendidikan Malaysia
37. Persatuan Pembaca Tamil Klang
38. Persatuan Peniaga little India Klang
39. Persatuan Penyelidikan Astronomi Selangor
40. Persatuan Prihatin Belia Malaysia
41. Persatuan Thiruvallavar
42. Persatuan Wawasan India Selangor
43. Pertubuhan Kebudayaan dan Kesenian India Selangor
44. Pertubuhan Kesedaran Hara Krishna Klang
45. Research for Social Advancement (REFSA)
46. Selangor Indian Video graphers Association
47. Sri Vadivelu Culture and Welfare Association Selangor
48. Sri Vaishnava Paribalana Saba
49. Suara Raykat Malaysia (SUARAM)
50. The Divine Life Society Port Klang
51. The Micah Mandate
52. Vishnu Periyaval Sabai
53. Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
54. 1BLACKMalaysia Facebook Group

Saturday, August 29, 2009

More on the ban of the use of Allah for non Muslims

With the Kartika case making Malaysian Muslims (and the country as well) look so riduculous in the eyes of the Malaysian public and the world, don't these leaneed people not see that this kind of stance is not helping at all?

No disrespect meant against the Malay Rulers, but does the law that makes the Rulers Heads of Islam mean the the Rulers are experts on Islam? I always thought that the Rulers being heads of Islam was more a symblic position.

Has this changed? If the Malay Rulers are considered like the Caliphs of old, then why are the Islamic councils the ones making all the rulings and public statements etc and not the Rulers?

Here's the latest from the Herald

Only rulers can decide on ‘Allah’, Islamic councils argue

Published on August 28 , 2009

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
KUALA LUMPUR :
The state Islamic councils argued in the High Court today that only the Malay rulers and the King could rule on the use of the word “Allah.”

The councils were making their submissions in chambers on why the Catholic Church should not be allowed to challenge the Home Minister’s ban on Christians using the word “Allah” to refer to God in a non-Muslim context.

The respondents argued that the use of the word “Allah” could only be subjected to the “absolute discretion” of the rulers and the King as the heads of Islam and the issue therefore could not be evaluated by the court.

“The court has no jurisdiction but only the King and council of rulers do,” said lead counsel Mubashir Mansor.

The counsel pointed out that the King is also the Head of Islam in states with no rulers such as Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak. The King’s jurisdiction includes the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya.

The respondents are asking for the court to strike out the judicial review with costs.

The respondents are the Home Ministry, Malaysian government, Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association and state Islamic councils of Pulau Pinang, Terengganu, Kedah, Perak, Malacca, Johor and Federal Territories.

The High Court had allowed the state Islamic councils to intervene in the church’s suit against the Home Minister on the basis that their legal rights as advisers to the rulers, who sit as heads of Islam in their respective states, would be gravely affected by any decision taken by the court.

The 70,000-strong association, headed by Datuk Mustapha Ma, had previously argued that it was also an interested party because allowing Christians to use the word “Allah” to refer to any God but the Muslim one, would confuse its members.

However, a counsel for the Church, Annou Xavier, argued that this was a non-Islamic matter.

“But I am of the opinion that the rulers and Yang Di-Pertuan Agong are the head of Islam in their state and in Malaysia but that does not give the rulers the power of authority to govern non-Islamic issues,” Xavier said.

The church filed for a judicial review against the Home Minister in early February after receiving several letters warning it against publishing the word “Allah” outside the Muslim context in its multi-lingual newspaper, The Herald.

The Home Minister threatened to shut down The Herald by taking back their annual publishing licence if the weekly insisted on using the word “Allah”.

The church will be filing their submission in chambers on Sept 14.

Friday, August 28, 2009

RPK on the Kartika caning case

Warning: RPK tends to use colourful language ... though he is well restraint in this piece ...
The links in his article are worth reading as well. Very informational. This has not opened up a "can of worms" but hundreds of crates of worms!

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Shariah lawyers to critics: Don't mess with court decisions

Malaysian Mirror

Do not harass or put pressure on those who are trying to enforce Islamic laws, the Malaysian Syariah Lawyers’ Association (PGSM) advised critics.

In a statement jointly issued with Pembela, an umbrella body of several Muslim NGOs, the association said everyone should adhere to and respect the decisions made by the syariah courts.

Read the news item here: http://mt.m2day.org/2008/content/view/26168/84/

*********************************************

I don’t know what these Shariah lawyers are so upset about. Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno has agreed to be caned. In fact, she said she wants to be caned because she is ashamed of her actions and regrets what she did.

The police then came to her house to arrest her and took her off to prison. Half an hour later they sent her home.

This upset Katika who then went to the police station to make a police report. She said she wants to cover herself in case she is accused of trying to evade the caning sentence.

Kartika was arrested in Pahang, the home state of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. The Pahang state government is under Umno and Barisan Nasional, not under PAS or Pakatan Rakyat.

Najib, however, has asked Kartika to appeal the caning sentence. But Kartika refuses. She wants to be caned.

The 14 days grace period for Kartika to appeal her caning sentence has now expired. This means she can no longer appeal the sentence and, therefore, it should be carried out immediately. But the government does not want to cane her. They said they would only do it after the month of Ramadhan is over.

Why after Ramadhan? Why not now? There is no Islamic law and no verse in the Quran that says no sentence should be carried out during the month of Ramadhan.

Will the government now drop the caning sentence? And will they cite the ‘pressure’ as the excuse for dropping the caning sentence?

I, for one, would like to see the sentence carried out. This will open the floodgates for an eventual full clampdown on liquor.

Islam says you must not drink, sell, serve, keep, profit from, etc., liquor -- including working in any place that sells liquor, own shares in the company, hold directorships, and much more. It is not only forbidden to drink the stuff. It is also forbidden to associate with the stuff in any way whatsoever.

Once Kartika has been caned then the government can go after the workers, owners, shareholders, directors, government officers who approved the licences, etc. Tens of thousands of people will be hauled in and caned.

Genting, which is also in Pahang, Najib’s home state, would have to sack all their Muslim workers. So would Club Med and all those other hotels in Pahang. They would have to sack all their Muslim workers or else the managers and owners of these establishments would get arrested and caned.

Oh, and my favourite, MAS. MAS will have to discontinue serving beer and liquor onboard its flights or else it would have to sack all the Muslim staff and employ non-Muslims. The Muslim workers in the KLIA tax-free shops would also have to be replaced with non-Muslims. KLIA itself would have to sack all its Muslim workers or else the tax-free shops in KLIA would have to stop selling liquor, cigarettes, tobacco and whatnot.

I am all for it. Let’s see where we go from here. And please, Shariah lawyers, don’t mess with us.

Anyway, before I sign off, read what a Muslim lawyer wrote in his Blog:

If that is not shocking enough, consider section 177 of the Enakmen Pentadbiran Ugama Islam dan Adat Resam Melayu Pahang 1982 (the enactment under which Kartika is sentenced). Under this section, a person who forces or allows his wife to prostitute herself with the intention of earning an income from such prostitution is liable to be fined RM4,000 or imprisonment for 2 years or both and caning of not more than 6 lashes.

So, there we have it. RM5,000 fine or imprisonment of 3 years and 6 lashes for consuming alcohol. And RM4,000 fine or imprisonment of 2 years and 6 lashes for forcing one's wife to be a prostitute! Is there any wonder why Islam is viewed with ridicule and contempt?

http://art-harun.blogspot.com/2009/08/legality-of-caning-kartika.html

Thursday, August 27, 2009

sermon preparation ramblings and Onion article

Next Sunday's sermon is 75% done. Whew. Been very tough preparing for it - andeven more so as it is a Father's Day sermon and I decided not to go the traditional route. Going to try to keep it under 30 minutes so am planning for a 25 minute sermon. Why 25 minutes - so I will speak slower and in case I ad lib too much :-) And going to attempt to have a 3 slide sermon ppt. Reason for this is my ever on going evaluation of my preaching as well as that of the preachers we invite and the topic chosen etc.

Basically I try to squeeze too much into every sermon.... and then I speed up to squeeze in more so I do not go over time. But I still go over time as I get more and more excited when I preach. I suppose in a way it is a good as it does indicate that to me that God's Word is so incredibly relevant and rich. But I need to be more disciplined.

One solution is to give myself more slots next year so that I can have more sermons to tackle the passages and topics....

Anyway with my sermon basically done and just needing fine tuning and preparing a ppt (at least hopefully, as I have this tendency to revamp everything as the day approaches), I though I deserved a break and visited the Onion .... been a while and I thought some politically incorrect satire might be relaxing.

Read this article ... Suicide Bomber killed en route by car bomb.

BAGHDAD—Terrorist cells in Baghdad are in mourning for suicide bomber Ahmed al-Khalaf, 19, who was killed by a car bomb Monday, 200 yards from an Iraqi police station, his intended target.

Enlarge Image Suicide Bomber Killed En Route By Car Bomb

Sources within the insurgency said al-Khalaf was "on his way to becoming a glorious martyr" when he was struck down by the car-bomb explosion. Twenty-three other civilians were also killed.

"What kind of God allows the death of people who are on their way to kill innocent people?" insurgent leader Abdulwahid al-Tomizie said. "On the one hand, I am elated that the car-bomb explosion was successful, but the loss of the suicide bomber is a tragedy, as is the survival of all the innocent people he might have killed."

According to al-Tomizie, al-Khalaf could have killed as many as 40 innocent people, had his life not been cut short.

"It is tragic that al-Khalaf died seven minutes sooner than he intended," said Hassan Abdul Aziz, leader of a local cabal of Sunni separatists. "To think that he was just yards from his intended target. Our thoughts and prayers are with his terrorist cell."

No insurgent groups have claimed responsibility for the car bomb, although as many as 18 separate insurgency factions have vowed to carry on the fight in al-Khalaf's memory.

In the past week, over 170 Iraqi citizens and U.S. troops have died in terrorist or insurgent attacks, but al-Khalaf's death marks the first time a terrorist has been killed by another terrorist while on a different terrorist mission.

Enlarge Image Suicide Bomber Killed En Route By Car Bomb jump

Iraqis mourn the car-bombing death of suicide bomber al-Khalaf.

Terrorist leaders have called the incident a "wake-up call."

"No one likes to see a senseless waste of a willingness to take human life," said al-Qaeda operative Salih al-Shimiri, in a videotaped message aired on Al-Jazeera Monday evening. "However, there are worse problems than having too many suicide bombers on our streets."

Insurgent leaders met Monday to draft new rules to prevent bombing mix-ups like the one that killed al-Khalaf. One proposal would limit suicide bombings to odd hours, car bombings to even. Another designates "Car Bomb Only" traffic lanes to help terrorists get to their bombing locations more quickly and efficiently.

"I had a man last week get stuck in traffic while driving a car bomb to the Mendi Temple," al-Shimiri said. "When he arrived, he found it already on fire. We don't fill the cars up with enough gas to make two-way trips, so he was forced to blow up a nearby disco. This is madness."

Al-Shimiri added: "We all have the same goal here—the killing of innocent civilians. Let's stop working at cross purposes."

Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr believes all insurgents must find direction in their extreme fundamentalist faith. "When I close my eyes, all I can see are the faces of all the innocents al-Khalaf will never get a chance to kill. It is a sad day, but we must not let it shake our faith in the wrath of Allah."

Rugby "brawlers" punishments

Interesting how each school is dealing with their "rugby brawlers".

KELSTON BOYS' HIGH SCHOOL

The five 1st XV players must:

Address school assembly to explain why their actions were inappropriate.

Complete eight hours' of community service at Waikumete Cemetery and a further eight hours at the school.

Attend anger management sessions.

Participate in mentoring sessions.

Sign good behaviour contracts.

The two 2nd XV players must:

Perform eight hours' community service at Waikumete Cemetery and 16 hours at the school.

Attend anger management course.

Participate in mentoring sessions.

Complete six months on a good behaviour bond.

Be placed on a "daily conduct book".

AUCKLAND GRAMMAR SCHOOL

Four students must:

Complete a counselling and mentoring programme at school (completed last week).

Enrol in an AUT self-management/goal setting course to complete at their leisure.

Perform community service during the school's two-day mid-term break.

Read the full report here.

Why is John Key being so stubborn?

Very disappointed with John Key ....

Prime Minister John Key moved swiftly yesterday to stop a new smacking bill going beyond its first reading and reigniting a debate he believed could consume Parliament.

He is confident his move will not be seen as thumbing his nose at the 87.4 per cent of voters in the citizens-initiated referendum who did not support the present smacking law.

By coincidence, a measure legalising smacking was drawn from a ballot of 29 private members' bills yesterday, less than a week after the referendum. ...

Read the full report here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No expertise to cane the reason for postponement?

This is one of the stupidest "double speak" attempt at face saving I have read ...

Report from The Nut Graph

Kartika sentence postponed "until caning can be done the syariah way"

25 Aug 09 : 9.51PM

PUTRAJAYA, 25 Aug 2009: The caning of 32-year-old part-time model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno for consuming alcohol is postponed until the Home Ministry has the expertise to carry out the sentence according to syariah laws, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

He said the Prisons Department did not have staff who were experienced to mete out the punishment according to syariah.

"I have to admit we do not have experience in this case. From the aspect of responsibility, I understand that under the country's laws, we (the Home Ministry) are responsible; but I cannot allow it if we do not have the expertise [and] the skills, and do not follow the ways set," Hishammuddin told reporters after chairing a meeting of national main productivity indicators leadership at his ministry here.

He said this when asked by reporters to comment on the postponement of the caning sentence for Kartika, who admitted in the Kuantan Syariah Court on 18 July to drinking alcohol at a hotel in Cherating, Pahang.

Yesterday, Pahang Religious Affairs, Dakwah, Unity and NGOs committee chairperson Datuk Mohd Safri Abdul Aziz was reported to have said the postponement was decided by Pahang Syariah Chief Judge Datuk Abdul Rahman Yunus to respect the month of Ramadan.

Hishammuddin said the Prisons Department did not have a person to cane the syariah way, as all this while there has been no requirement for that position to be created.

"As long as the Home Ministry is not ready, the sentence will not be carried out. To me, if we do not have the person to do this, how are we to carry out the sentence fairly?

"Islam says that we are to carry it out according to law and be fair. If we can have one [person to do the caning] in a day, I am ready tomorrow [to carry out the sentence]," he said.

When asked for the need to have a syariah prison to handle syariah cases and sentences, Hishammuddin said it was not required now. — Bernama

Some Random stuff

Posted my latest Pastors Notes (focus is on "in house stuff"). Click here.

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I found this helpful to confirm and spur me on in my struggles related to the challenge of youth ministry

The X Factor
What have we learned from the rise, decline, and renewal of "Gen-X" ministries?
Collin Hansen

Monday, August 24, 2009

When the willows sway in South Barrington, the evangelical world notices. So Willow Creek Community Church provoked headlines in 2006 when leaders said they would end Axis as everyone knew it. As recently as 2001, about 2,000 young adults had gathered on Saturday nights for alternative music and relevant teaching. But before temporarily closing in 2006, Axis attracted fewer than 400 twenty-somethings. How could a trend-setting ministry decline so severely in just five years?

Due in no small part to Willow's example, ministry leaders across the country once viewed separate, age-targeted services as the key to reaching a generation largely absent from the churches built by their Boomer parents. Little more than 10 years after Willow launched Axis in 1996, many of these once-prosperous twenty-something ministries have folded, spun off, or morphed. Leaders from these ministries have learned differing lessons from the experiment. Some are now advocating new messages for reaching the emerging generation. Others have changed their ministry's structure. Still more want better biblical preaching and radical discipleship. All have been provoked to think deeply about the nature and implications of the gospel and have seen their ministries leave lasting effects on the larger church.


Click here for the article.

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Thanks Sivin for highlighting this site.

15Malaysia is a short film project. It consists of 15 short films made by 15 Malaysian filmmakers. These films not only deal with socio-political issues in Malaysia, they also feature some of the best-known faces in the country, including actors, musicians and top political leaders. You may think of them as funky little films made by 15 Malaysian voices for the people of Malaysia.

Some serious, some funny ..

Click here for the site

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I don't think anyone in the Islamic department even considered that this would happen. Kartika's decision is going to haunt them for years! My suspicion (based on past actions) is that they were hoping she would "beg for mercy" and then the authorities would "graciously" extend "compassion" and let her off with a "stern warning". Then they would use this case as a "warning" for all Muslims to behave. and let everyone know how compassionate they are and how wonderful Syariah laws are in Malaysia. Would be great for PR!! But now ... all this is messed up for them. Cane her and they will face a huge backlash from Malaysian Muslims and non Muslims alike as well as the world's media. Back down and not cane her and be laughing stocks. .... Check mate!!



Posted by admin
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 02:38
(Bernama) - Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno remained firm with her decision to accept punishment meted out to her by the Pahang Syariah High Court although Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had urged her to appeal against the decision.

The 32-year-old part-time model had been fined RM5,000 and ordered to be given six strokes of rotan on July 20, by the Syariah High Court after she pleaded guilty to drinking beer at a hotel lounge in Cherating last year.

Kartika should appeal instead of being too quick in seeking punishment. There is still an avenue for her to appeal,” Najib had told reporters after chairing the National Financial Council meeting at the Finance Ministry in Putrajaya today.

Kartika, a mother of two, however, said she would await whatever decision made by the Pahang Religious Department (JAIP) after the department had deferred her punishment due to the fasting month.

“I will wait for their action but JAIP has not contacted me yet. I feel ashamed of myself for showing disrespect to my own religion. I want to respect JAIP's decision and go through the punishment.

“I had sought advice from the Mufti of Perak, Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria and he told me and my family that he will confer with his counterpart in Pahang to see what can be done. He (Mufti) later called the Syariah High Court judge in Pahang to discuss the matter.

“I told everything to the Mufti and cried. He asked me why I did not want to appeal before sentence was passed … but he understood me and I have told him everything,” she told reporters when met at her house here today.

She added that she respected the views of the Prime Minister and was grateful to him for being concerned but added that she would not change her mind on her previous decision to accept the punishment.

“I respect the law and Islam. Even before the sentence was passed in court, I had already made up my mind to accept the punishment and go through the ordeal,” she said.





Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kelston Boys and Auckland Grammar brawl update

Interesting youtube video (uncut) which gives a lot more footage. Especially with the latest Herald report ....

The only rugby player acquitted of wrongdoing after a rugby brawl that resulted in nine players banned from the sport was the one whose actions appear to have sparked the fight.

Punishments as a result of the brawl, which occurred after the semi-final game between Kelston Boys' High and Auckland Grammar's First XVs on August 15, have left the Kelston community reeling.

The five Kelston players - who face bans ranging from 45 to 71 weeks - yesterday lodged appeals against their punishments with the Auckland Rugby Union.

Four Auckland Grammar boys were banned from two to seven weeks and the case against a fifth was not proven.

Outrage over the punishments continued yesterday, with MP David Cunliffe calling them "grossly disproportionate"

Click here for the rest of the story.

Based on the video, I would think the punishments certainly is disproporationate. Kudos to the Kelston No. 11 for how he went around hugging his opponents. Great defusing of the situation. Interesting how from the footage after things have sort of settled down, a player starts things again by "King hitting" a player. I wonder why this has been ignored?




Monday, August 24, 2009

Political doublespeak? Fear of losing face?

Cabinet agrees to ensure smacking parents not criminalised

Parents who lightly smack their children should not fear being treated like criminals, Prime Minister John Key said today.

Mr Key took a series of proposals to Cabinet today following Friday's resounding referendum victory for opponents of the 2007 child discipline law change.

Preliminary results found 87.6 per cent of those who voted ticked no to the question: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

Mr Key said he would not ignore the referendum and Cabinet had agreed to ask police and Child Youth and Family to review their procedures to ensure good parents were treated as Parliament intended.

click here to read the rest of the report ...

But the government won't change the law and light smacking is still a criminal offence ... so what does this mean? "We" agree the law was mistake but will not back down so as not to lose face?

Model Kartika released - for now

Model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, who was scheduled to be caned this week for drinking beer, has been released. Three religious department officers came to her house in Sg Siput on Monday and took her away in a van. But they returned after about 30 minutes and said they had received “instructions from higher powers” to release her, AP quoted Kartika’s father, Shukarno Abdul Muttalib, as saying.

Click here to read the rest of the report.

Released FOR NOW .... so what does this mean? Cane her later when the story is no longer "hot" because "we" can't change the ruling without losing face?



Five Kelston Boys High schoolboys banned for 10-16 months following a brawl in their first 15 rugby match with Auckland Grammar will appeal the length of their suspensions.

Kelston Boys High principal Steve Watt said the appeals were being launched on the grounds that the penalties were manifestly excessive and the disparity with those handed to four Auckland Grammar students amounted to a miscarriage of justice.

While the appeals were being launched by the five individuals, the school would pay the costs.

Click here to read the rest of the report.

I wonder what will happen with this appeal? How will the obvious injustice be handled so as not to "lose face"?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Random updates of misc stuff I have been following ..

Rather than put up a new post ...just adding in some updated comments for Monday 24 August in red.

So nice for a change to see my favourite ELP team Tottenham doing well!


Jermain Defoe hit a superb hat-trick as Tottenham went top of the Barclays Premier League with a resounding 5-1 win at Hull. Defoe and Wilson Palacios both struck in the opening 14 minutes as Tottenham began brilliantly at the KC Stadium Yay!!!Top of the league.

Cool, three in a row ... I hope this lasts!!!

Tottenham maintained their 100% start to the Premier League season after West Ham gifted them Jermain Defoe's equaliser and Aaron Lennon's winner in a 2-1 victory at Upton Park.

My house insulation and heat pump has finally been installed. A bit late as winter is ending but nice to have it done. The pink batts does make a difference.


The Auckland schools rugby brawl has had a number of disturbing twists ...

Labour MP David Cunliffe has hit out at the suspensions handed down to Kelston's rugby brawlers, asking why "the 'least guilty' Kelston boy received a sentence six to seven times longer than the 'guiltiest' Grammar boy."

The lawyer who represented South African Johan Le Roux over his ear-biting of Sean Fitzpatrick says students banned over the schoolboy rugby brawl have been given tougher sentences than All Blacks would face.

Garth Gallaway, who took Le Roux's case to a judicial review, said the extensive bans for the Kelston players were "extraordinary and unsustainable".

One of the four disciplinary committee members who ruled on the schoolboy rugby brawl has a son at Auckland Grammar.

Neil Grimstone, a former detective senior sergeant, helped to decide on bans of between 10 and 16 months for five Kelston Boys High School students after last Saturday's fight.


Nice to have some positive news .... nice that it is highlighted that teenagers who play rubgy are not "hooligans". For me I do think it is the fault of the spectators who have no business running onto the pitch and inflaming matters and setting a bad example. ... if they did not, the matter would have ben settled amicably. Now the teenagers suffer because of adult holliganism and "politics".

Two of Auckland Grammar's disgraced rugby players were yesterday hailed as life-saving heroes even as their brawling Kelston Boys' High School opponents signalled an appeal over lengthy bans from playing sport.

Police and Auckland Grammar headmaster John Morris praised the actions of Omar Slaimankhel, 17, George Maka, 18, and Sam Jones, 17, for saving the life of a distressed woman trying to jump from a motorway bridge.

Interesting that the NZ Hearld did not bother about who won the finals .... and a nice piece by this commentator.

What a great bucketload of hogwash was unleashed with media coverage of the brawl at the end of the Auckland Grammar and Kelston 1st XV rugby game.

This newspaper broke the story last weekend - albeit without over-egging the thing as some did in the aftermath.

The matter was transformed from a rugby brawl into some kind of monstrous bloodbath; a heinous attack on our civilised values.


Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, who is to be caned for drinking beer, says she just wants to get on with it.

“I never cried when I was sentenced by the judge. I told myself, alright then, let’s get on with it,” Kartika, 32, said when interviewed at her father’s house here.

She will be the first Malaysian woman to be caned under Syariah laws applicable to Muslims.

Malaysia made the news in NZ TV news - this morning's Breakfast Show highlighted Kartika's offence and Islamic courts judgment... Malaysia Boleh in a bad light yet again! *sigh*


Looks like DeGeneration X is back. Just a pity I won't be able watch them in action.

An Epidemic of Tired and Lonely (Soo Inn) and related ramblings

Got back from a Pastors Retreat yesterday. Sadly got sick before I left and so was sick ... and tired at the retreat. The 5 hour drive did not help, though it was actually a pleasant drive (scenery was great which makes a huge difference) and I enjoyed driving my new car and listening to both sermons and music on the journey.

My colds normally last 24 to max 48 hours except a couple of times a year where they are prolonged (so I think that means it is the flu) and interestingly the times I have the flu coincided with the two pastors retreats I attended.

I realise that one factor is the realisation that I come to the retreat tired and when I slow down for the retreat, my "resistance" drops, my body is more susceptible to all the wrong bugs....

Of course room mates who snore add to the tiredness during the retreat! :-) but that's another story ...

Will blog more I guess on the retreat one day but one thing that was discussed was a recent survey done of Brethren pastors in NZ (a 44% response rate which I understand is very good) and we had a look at some interesting data on burnout... which relates to another great piece by Soo Inn below ... Seems another reminder from God and more stuff to think about as I work on a sermon I want to (have to) preach in a month or so related to work and Sabbath.

I need to be a good example to my congregation and also find the delicate balance of making sure talk of Sabbath and rest, burn out etc are not "spiritualized"excuses for laziness :-)

One other matter that was very encouraging was that the majority of Brethren pastors in NZ (who returned the survey forms) had good to excellent relationships with their elders.


Commentary: An Epidemic of Tired and Lonely
By Soo-Inn Tan

We were talking about a Christian leader who had to leave a position of leadership because of some personal problems. My friend said two things. First he said "we should have seen it coming. Why didn't we see it coming?" Then he said "I could be next." He talked about his own flirtation with burnout. As we reviewed his life, we saw that he was committed on many fronts. All his commitments were important. He couldn't see how he could pull out of any of them. He then said "we are all like that." He said that all his colleagues were tired and lonely. Nobody knew how anybody was really doing. People showed up at the office and did their work. Everybody was
committed and working hard. But they were essentially strangers to each other.

You may be trying to guess whom I was talking to and what institution we were talking about. There is no need. Listening to my friend, it suddenly hit me that what he described could apply to many Christian churches and organizations in town. I suddenly had a vision of pastors, parachurch staff, seminary teachers, etc., all faithfully working hard, all tired and lonely. I suddenly saw this huge group of Christian workers, running on relational empty, unable to share their lives with the people they ministered to --- or with their colleagues. I am not implying that they do not want genuine friendship. It's just that everybody is pressed for time, and when choices are made about time allocation, work always comes first. Relationships become nonessential by default.

The late Henri Nouwen described this situation well. His friends, Bart and Patricia Gavigan, remind us that: [ . . . Henri . . . catalogued with deadly accuracy in his many books: that
frenetic world where the urgent eclipses the essential, where being busy and being lonely often coincide, where we are filled but unfulfilled, physically satiated yet emotionally and spiritually hollow. ("Collision and Paradox," Befriending Life, editor Beth Porter, New York, NY: Doubleday, 2001, 56.)]

Most of us live in that "frenetic world" that Nouwen described.

Sometimes the first clue that someone has been running on relational empty for too long is when that person undergoes a personal collapse. Such collapses could take the form of physical and emotional collapse. (Is it my imagination or are more of my friends and colleagues suffering from/dying from heart attacks, strokes and cancers?) Sometimes it takes the form of
some moral collapse. It seems that every other day we hear of some christian leader falling into the sin of money, sex, or power, or some combination of the three. Sin has to be acknowledged as such. Those who have sin must confess and repent in any journey to restoration. But I often
wonder if people are more vulnerable to temptation when they are tired and lonely, and that when they finally fall, it is akin to the appearance of a sinkhole in the road that reveals long standing underlying emptiness.

I like to believe that the picture is not all that bleak. Sometimes things have to get worse before it gets better. Human nature being what it is, we wait until the pain is unbearable before we embark on any real journey of change. (As someone who worked for a number of years as dentist I am fully aware of this phenomenon.) Recently I was talking with a leader of a seminary. He felt that for too long, his school had focussed on knowledge --- ensuring that their students believed the right things, and skills --- ensuring that their students know what to do to be effective in ministry. But he felt that they had not been intentional enough in spiritual formation, helping their students grow into Christlike maturity. We were having a chat as to how their school could improve in the area of spiritual formation. I find myself having more of such chats with more and more people. Cynics will say that spiritual formation is just the latest trend in church life. Maybe. But I believe there is a true work of the Spirit here as well.

Is there a way back from this frenetic, exhausting, lonely life that many of us are living? I am suspicious of simplistic answers. Yet I suspect that the beginning of an answer lies in returning to a proper understanding and practice of the Sabbath. I suspect that many of us function with nine commandments, the decalogue sans the fourth one on the Sabbath. Perhaps we are not quite sure how to apply the Sabbath command to the Christian Sunday since strictly speaking, Sabbath is the last day of the week while Sunday is the first day of the week. We need the help of saints like Marva J.Dawn who have worked hard at helping us apply the Sabbath command to
the church. Dawn reminds us:

[ . . . one of the principal goals of Sabbath keeping is to set aside time for feasting on the presence of God. By spending a day enjoying the company of God, we learn more and more to delight in his character and the gifts of his grace. Furthermore, the growth of that relationship inevitably leads to a deepening of our relationships with others of his people. This frequently used image is true: our relationships are like spokes of a wheel --- the closer we draw to the center, which is God, the closer we are to the other spokes. (Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989, 190.)]

Tired? Make time to feast on God and the gifts of His grace. Lonely? As we draw near to God, we draw nearer to His people to feast on the community we need.

As is often the case, the solutions to our deepest problems are simple. The difficulty lies in our struggle to hear and obey.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My sons school made national headlines

My sons school made national headlines for the wrong reason


*sigh* ... but I must say that I think highly of the Kelston Boys High School Principal Steve Watt and I do not think that the boys from Kelston Boys deserve to be stereo typed as "rough kinds" or "trouble makers".

NZ Herald article on welfare benefits

I have been following this "story" with interest


4:00AM Monday Aug 17, 2009
By Claire Trevett

Paula Bennett has revealed that 307 beneficiaries get more than $1000 a week. Of those, 168 are on the domestic purposes benefit.

The top 50 recipients face an audit of their entitlements ordered by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

She has revealed that 307 beneficiaries get more than $1000 a week. Many among the top 50 have more than eight children.

They include a couple with 10 children who get $1200 a week. Both parents have been on the unemployment benefit for more than 15 years.

Of those getting more than $1000 a week, 168 are on the domestic purposes benefit. The basic DPB pays $272 a week, but people receiving it can get extra allowances, such as grants for disabilities or sickness in families. Other top-ups include up to $255 a week in accommodation supplements, especially for those paying high rents in Auckland.

The figures also include family tax credits and subsidies for childcare assistance that are paid directly to childcare centres.

Ms Bennett said she could not guarantee that all of those getting more than $1000 a week were entitled to all the money. She had no impression that the system was being abused, but said checks were needed.

"There are isolated cases where it seems like a lot of money.

"I think it needs to be fair, so we are ensuring people are getting what they need, but not more than they are entitled to."

The minister gave the figures in response to questions from Labour's social welfare spokeswoman, Annette King, after Ms Bennett said single parents with three children could qualify for more than $1000 a week in Government support.

She used the figure to defend her decision to restrict a training incentive allowance for solo parents, worth about $3200 a year, to courses below tertiary level.

Yesterday, Ms King said the 168 who got more than $1000 a week were a tiny proportion of the 104,000 people on the DPB, and Ms Bennett had deliberately exaggerated.

"She made it sound as if it was really easy to get that kind of assistance. Well, there's not many who make it, is there?

"But the perception she has left is that there are a lot of women who get themselves pregnant and then get a lot more money than working New Zealanders."

The Privacy Commission is investigating Ms Bennett's decision to make public details of the incomes of solo mothers Natasha Fuller and Jennifer Johnston after they spoke out about the decision to restrict the training incentive allowance.

Her action resulted in a high level of anger and personal attacks against the two women on talkback radio and internet sites.

Ms King said the consequence had been to "unleash the beneficiary bashers".

"What's sad is that in talkback land, we haven't heard from the beneficiary bashers in a long time.

"They were always there, but they hadn't been unleashed in a long time, and she unleashed them and then says she was surprised.

"Well, I'm astonished she was surprised, because she has been there and knows the views of some people."

Ms Bennett apologised to one of the mothers for the public reaction to the figures and expressed her disgust at the reaction of many in the public.

She has now asked her officials to look at the possibility of providing some form of loan in lieu of the training allowance for those who need more than the $1000 allowed under the student loan scheme.

The National Party's policy of requiring solo parents to start at least part-time work when their children all reach school age has been postponed because the economic downturn has made it harder to find suitable

Who gets what

307 beneficiaries receive more than $1000 a week in Government support.

168 are on the domestic purposes benefit.

24 are on the sickness benefit.

19 are on the unemployment benefit.

96 are on the invalid benefit.

What makes up the $1000-plus figure?

Some or all of the following:

Basic benefit (DPB is $272 a week) plus:

Accommodation supplement (up to $225 a week).

Family tax credit ($86 a week for first child, $60 for subsequent children; increases slightly with age).

Disability allowances (up to $56 a week).

Child disability allowance (up to $42 a week).

Unsupported child or orphan's benefits ($132 to $185 a week, age-dependent).

Childcare subsidies (maximum $181.50 a week for preschoolers or in school holidays or $72 for after school, paid direct to childcare centre).




A few photos of my familyrecent


A church member, Ken, took some photos during yesterday's Sunday Service (as it was Youth Sunday). Among them where some photos of my wife and boys. So here they are ...

Spirituality in our ordinary lives (Pastor's Notes)

Just posted up this coming Sunday's Pastor's Notes. Early ... as I will be on leave tomorrow!! :-)

If you are interested, you can download a free copy of Brother Lawrence's book here. It's just 20 pages if you want to print it out.

Translation is not the same as my hard copy mine is in a slightly abridged version with some paraphrasing. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Off for a Pastor's Retreat (next week) and other ramblings

Next week I go off for a Pastor's Retreat. Tuesday evening to Friday morning. I am looking forward to the break. Been cramming in a lot of things to make sure I have everything covered so I can take off.

Looks like a long weekend. Home group tomorrow night, ferrying my boys around for their activities as well as youth practices. On Saturday, a personal "consultation" related to missions, and then a major meeting to sort out some major issues related to our youth ministry, then a dinner to attend (this one is not work!! :-) ). Sunday after worship is our church leadership meeting. Some major items to discuss.

And Monday I am working to make sure I get everything that needs to be done, done before I go for my retreat. And my poor wife will have to handle looking after the insulation workmen.

I am trying to pace myself as when went last yea, I went very tired so I could not fully relax and benefit. I slept a lot there :-) And this hear I am driving so I don't get caught like in the previous year of agreeing to thumb a ride there and finding out that I had to find my own transport back. It's an almost 4 hour drive so I want to be fresh.

I am looking forward to catching up with my room mate from last year - an associate pastor a pretty large and very "innovative" Brethren church. Had a chat with him a couple of days ago and he asked me to put in a request that we room together. He's in his twenties but we get along great. He is a gifted and passionate man of God and I am grateful to God that we met as he is a wonderful model of the new generation of Christ centred biblical based, IT savvy, people oriented and and culturally relevant pastors.

I felt pretty honoured that when he told me that he had submitted my name with a very strong recommendation that I be approached by his church for the post of senior pastor. Their current senior pastor and his wife (a really incredible couple) are retiring this year. I think it would be an interesting church to serve as a pastor but I told him I was not interested but told him it did boost my "ego" a lot! :-) It is fascinating to me that his church leaders let him take 6 weeks off (granted this was the agreement they made a couple of years ago when they first hired him) to go to Germany to play tennis on the pro circuit and do coaching! Such things tells me that this church is very open to things non traditional ... :-)

Had lunch today with two of my elders to work on a mission related matter (one of them is our church's former pastor) and told them about this church's senior pastor retiring (he was my former pastor's student at seminary). I told them about my friend's recommendation for a job as senior pastor. Their response? One was: They will be able to give you a much better salary! LOL The other was: While we don't want you to leave, if God is leading you, we will not stand in your way!

Anyway in case this is misunderstood, I love it here at KCC and even more when I have elders are willing to consider letting me leave if God is leading. This is to me one of the many things I love about my current church leadership - kingdom perspective.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How Expensive is Your Church? (Spiritual Formation on the Run)

My recent car accident has distracted me a bit from my routine. And though I am not scheduled to preach this month, I have been busy with a number of pressing ministry matters that have also been distracting. So I am grateful for a long preaching break where I have had a lot more time to pray, reflect and try to figure out what to do!!! Sometimes the tunnel seems pretty long and dark and there is no indication of any light showing that the tunnel is near.

Anyway this is good as again, it forces me to remember that it is God who will take care of matters not me - my task is to do my best to discern his leading and move accordingly. So again I turn to my re-centering exercises and I find comfort in chapter 26 (How expensive is your church). Why? Well, because our church building project journey has been difficult and I think will continue to be challenging BUT at the same time at this stage of the journey I can see clearly God's hand and guidance.

Anyway, here's the chapter first and then my reflections on it.

How Expensive is Your Church? (Chapter 26)

I wonder how you will answer if someone asks you, "How expensive is your church?" Your first impression may be, "My church is free. No annual fees, no service charges and no membership dues. It is not expensive.' Then if that person persists, "What about your church's expansion plans? New building projects. What will it cost you, as a member? How expensive will it be to remain in your church?"

Many churches, especially bigger churches in the Klang valley, are embarking on multimillion-dollar building and expansion plans. I am sure there are excellent reasons for these projects. Rising church attendance, increasing ministry programmes and a bigger staff are some of them. I am also sure the churches have excellent Christ-centred, carefully discerned reasons that are in God's will for them. However, I hope that churches are not planning to spend huge amounts of money (estimates of $50 million, $30 million and $10 million, to give a few numbers) for the following reasons: "We want a church campus that looks like Rick Warren's church campus in California' It is great to have a church campus like Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Lake Forest. The whole complex is bigger than some of our local university campuses. The main auditorium can sit 5,000 people and have the latest audio-visual equipment. We must realise that we are not in California but in Malaysia. We have to be realistic and contextualise our church buildings. Sometimes we look at mega churches in other countries and want to be like them. There is nothing wrong with mega churches provided it is God who wants us to have them. There is something wrong when we try to imitate and end up with only the superficial simulacrum of the whole concept. A multimillion-dollar building may be the proverbial white elephant and turn out to be a millstone around our necks. Instead of trying to build physical assets, we should concentrate on and invest in building spiritual assets in our members.


"We must show the surrounding community an impressive church building so that they will know our God is a powerful God!" Aesthetic buildings are good to look at but we should aim for functionality and multi-purpose usage. Then the building project will not cost so much. If the intention of building is for show, we need to rethink our priorities. If we think God will be glorified by manmade structures, then we need to take another look at Old and New Testament history. Also, we must exercise sensitivity when desiring to build impressive, attention-drawing buildings in a country where the "priority" religion is not Christianity.


"Our church building must be more impressive than that other church's building because we are better than they are." Keeping up with the Jones also occurs in religious communities. We need to be aware of this and not get caught in a vicious circle. Often, it is a subtle and unconscious need on our part to compare ourselves with others. The onus is on both the church leadership and the members to ensure that the tremendous investment in money, effort and work is for the expansion of God's kingdom, and not in proving themselves better than other Christians. Good Christian stewardship demands that every dollar we spend must be accountable and go towards the mission of the church, which is evangelism. How many missionaries and "full-time" workers suffer from a lack of finances while home churches are putting up "fine" buildings? The work of the gospel expands not through buildings, but through personal relationships and effective stewardship of financial resources.


"We must have a new church building/expansion because there is not enough space:' On the surface this sounds like a good reason. However, "not enough space" is a perpetual problem. I have never been to a church that has "enough space." When I was visiting Rick Warren’s church, the people I spoke to also complained of insufficient space. The solution to this lack may not lie in having new buildings, but in more creative use of existing space. We need to have a paradigm change in our thinking that regards a church as operating out of a single building. Can a church not have a small shop lot for an administration office, rent halls for worship and services, and hold other meetings in homes? Instead of building a new building every time the congregation grows, should we not think of leasing or renting bigger convention halls or hotel ballrooms for worship services? In fact, many convention halls/ hotels offer audio-visual equipment and adequate parking facilities.


I have nothing against churches that have visions for multimillion-dollar building projects. I just hope they are aware that the fund-raising, work and taxing of their members may drain their resources and divert their attention from the more important task of building the Kingdom of God.


Our new church building is not up yet. We have not even submitted the plans to the council for approval. The most basic reason is that we do not have the funds and we have not reached the agreement stage where we as a leadership can present a firm (and realistically achievable) recommendation to the congregation for their prayerful consideration and later endorsement (or otherwise). So why even think about building? The are still so many hurdles that need to be leaped over.

Yet I feel at peace at this stage of the journey despite my tendency my to "worry" at times.
I am not saying they are "gospel truths" just that these are some of the reasons (they are inter -related) why I feel the way I do.

1. A godly leadership. Granted that we are still sinners, young and old, male and female alike, there is a peace that comes from knowing that we are all actively seeking to do what is right in God's eyes.

2. A consultative leadership. There is indeed active listening to what members have to say about the matter. And so far, it would seem that despite the recession, members are supportive.

3. "Kingdom of God" orientation. We have lost many key members over the last couple of years due to migration (a lot to do with the economic down turn). Yet I find that many of these members still think of us as "family", and keep in touch. I think this is a good sign of how we view "ministry". Regular on our prayer list are the well being of many who have long since left us. Relationships are important and we keep in touch even if these "associate members" do not contribute to the ministry of financial support of our church.

I find that leaders think the same way I do and have a wider "kingdom of God" mentality. While we would love all who have spent time with us to remain with us, we are not too bothered if they do not and in fact do our best to help those who cannot fit in with us find a home church where they can fit in. This warms my heart.

4. Mission emphasis. Despite difficult times and the fact that we are not a large church (and quite a few members have financial difficulties, our church leadership will not budge on at least 30% of our budget being set aside for missions. Paying the pastor does not come from this 30%. And we are praying about a possible 2nd staff member. Makes wanting to build a new building much tougher. But the point for us is (and thankfully our church members feel the same) - we want to build a new church building to add on because we are committed to ministry and people - which is the reason why we need additional space for ministry - in particular community work. It goes against this principle to cut back on missions to build a building. As Alex put it, How many missionaries and "full-time" workers suffer from a lack of finances while home churches are putting up "fine" buildings? The work of the gospel expands not through buildings, but through personal relationships and effective stewardship of financial resources. "

It was an affirmation that we had a guest speaker a few weeks ago (1st time in our church and not knowing any of our leaders or our church except myself - and only via recommendation) noted our brief financial update and commended us on our commitment to missions giving. His statement of comparison with other churches (and not just in NZ) was "flattering" but at the same time worrying ...

5. We are building for more facilities for ministry especially to the community. We could relocate out of our community and get another place with better facilities at a much cheaper cost. We have limited land where we are. But the consensus of leaders and members is that we need to be here for this community. There are so many opportunities but we do not have the space. Of course the question that we had to struggle with (and still do) is: Do we actually need more space? Again as Alex rightly highlighted, However, "not enough space" is a perpetual problem. I have never been to a church that has "enough space." When I was visiting Rick Warren’s church, the people I spoke to also complained of insufficient space. The solution to this lack may not lie in having new buildings, but in more creative use of existing space. We need to have a paradigm change in our thinking that regards a church as operating out of a single building. Can a church not have a small shop lot for an administration office, rent halls for worship and services, and hold other meetings in homes?

Right now we use a house to supplement meeting space (especially for Sunday School). We just have a narrow rectangular church worship hall, a small kitchen, two toilets and a fellowship hall that is about 50 years old (which was formerly a small primary school gym). Most we can manage is to squeeze in 2 table tennis tables and a fooseball table with a corner for the church library. I think we have gotten pretty creative in how we use our existing space ... even my office :-)

Lots of key meetings are held in homes.

6. Cost saving. Our plans for our church building is to maximise the space we have by building a new building (no frills one) that will still meet the basic council requirements, and keep our 50 year old worship and fellowship halls. I think that is something good. I agree with Alex on this,. Aesthetic buildings are good to look at but we should aim for functionality and multi-purpose usage. Then the building project will not cost so much. If the intention of building is for show, we need to rethink our priorities. This is our plan and hope. Though we would surely not want an ugly church interior! :-)

I am not sure when we will get our building up. But God knows.


One other thought. For me, it is a logical fallacy to assume that if we build a bigger church by "faith" if we have very little money, people will come in to fill up the church, and as more people join the church, we will have more money to pay up our loans etc.

The most obvious reason for me is that almost nothing "kills" a church family atmosphere than constant appeals and reminders of the financial needs and raising funds to pay up bank loans etc. To me, this is a great distraction to ministry and spiritual growth.

When I was younger I remember a situation where a group of churches endorsed a denominational based inter-church youth ministry's goals and plans for the year (they had elder representatives on a special board). But they decided they would not provide sufficient money to run the ministry. Instead they asked us (the ones doing the ground work) to raise the funds via a few big fund raising events. I know I could have responded more graciously (thought I still stand by the reason for my stance) but my response was basically: "looking at the money given to us, and the budget that was approved, my solution is simple, sack the worker, buy the materials to start the resource library (a church had agreed to host it) and forget about inter church youth ministry! I could see very little good coming out of hiring a worker to spend all her time raising funds for her salary.

And of course I think it is not a wise thing to do as Jesus illustrates in Luke 14: 28-30 (And yes, I do know the context is counting the cost of discipleship :-)
"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

But here's my other main thought. I believe that with a new church building to add on to the facilities, we will have another hall to use. And God will hears our prayers and bless as we want to bless our community. But the catch is that most of the people we will be reaching out to will be those with many needs. So we will grow in numbers but these new numbers may not be able to contribute financially. Our giving will have to increase to meet these needs - but the giving will mostly have to come from people already giving sacrificially. But that's more than okay. God will take care of all our needs.

Matthew 6:33-34
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Philippians 4:15-20
15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;
16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.
17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.
18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.