Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bar owners call for public drunkenness laws (ramblings)

On TV this morning's BREAKFAST SHOW, I viewed an interview with the NZ Police commissioner (I think) on the problem of the growing NZ binge drinking culture. Seems this was highlighted on last night's CLOSE UP - and they showed some clips of what the police have to go through every weekend.

What really connected with me was the obvious frustration of one officer. I agree that surely the police have better things to do. And on a personal note, I remember how frustrating it was for me personally last year when during an emergency one late weekend night, I called the police for help. A life was in a high risk potentially dangerous situation and the police were unavailable. The police apologized that they had no staff available to help and wold not have any for hours because it was the weekend and personnel were tied up  dealing with public drunken behaviour!

And what irks me is that a huge percentage of binge drinkers seem to students! If so, is this what student allowances are for?

Next zero budget should be funded by raising alcohol taxes - money can be channeled to the school education system ...

Bar owners call for public drunkenness laws

Last updated 05:00 26/05/2012

If you're drunk in public you should be prosecuted or fined, bar owners say.
They serve up millions of alcoholic drinks each year, but publicans want drinkers to face criminal liability if caught intoxicated in a public place.
They say it's unfair that liquor licence holders are prosecuted for letting in drunks – but individuals face no legal penalty.
Licensees who admit or serve drunk patrons can have their licences suspended or cancelled by the Liquor Licensing Authority. They also face fines of up to $10,000 in the district court.
But Hospitality New Zealand says most alcohol-related problems in the central city involve young drinkers "pre-loading" at home on cheap alcohol before heading into town.
"The industry just increasingly feels blamed for this culture," Hospitality NZ regional manager Sara Tucker said.
"If we really want to deal with this sort of issue we must bring some personal responsibility for the drinkers into this equation."
The comments come amid new research by Wellington Hospital's emergency department into alcohol-related injury and assaults. The data identifies trouble "hot spots" around Wellington.
Hospitality NZ is calling for legal sanctions or fines for anyone caught drunk in public, which would require a law change. Public drunkenness was removed from the statute books in 1981.
The association also wants curbs on discounted alcohol at supermarkets and cut-price liquor stores to help stop young people bingeing at home.
Miss Tucker said her members had noticed a surge in Sale of Liquor Act enforcement by police, with more licensees being brought before the authority for alleged breaches. The authority suspended or cancelled 766 liquor licences or managers' certificates last year – more than two a day.
But prosecuting bar owners did not address the growing problem of off-premise binge drinking by young people, Miss Tucker said.
"They're coming in later, they're drunker and we're turning more away. Why aren't their parents responsible? Why are there 16-year-olds wandering around town drunk?"
Dermot Murphy, owner of The Establishment, said most Courtenay Place bar operators were serious about host responsibility. They could not afford to serve drunk punters.
"This is not a game to us bar owners, it's our livelihoods. Maybe we need to put responsibility equally back on patrons instead of just the bar owner. If actions have no consequences for the person becoming intoxicated, how can we expect them to behave responsibly?"
The Law Commission considered whether to introduce a new criminal offence of public drunkenness during its review of liquor laws in 2010.
However, the proposal was dumped after police advised it was unworkable, a spokeswoman said.
"Operationally they simply couldn't manage arresting everyone who was drunk in a public place."
A senior Wellington police officer told The Dominion Post gauging whether someone was intoxicated was difficult and subjective, and complicated by the use of recreational drugs.
A police submission to the Law Commission review warned that a return to the offence of public drunkenness would cause a spike in complaints, many during peak offending times. It would also clog the criminal justice system, consuming considerable court and police resources.
Countdown supermarkets spokesman Luke Schepen said the company promoted responsible consumption of beer and wine.
"Other licensees also have a role to play."
- © Fairfax NZ News


Thursday, May 24, 2012

How NOT to promote your ministry?

Over the past few months, have had a number of emails, letters,telephone calls and personal visit (all cold calls) promoting various ministries and organizations, Christian and non Christian alike ...

In my humble opinion, all FAILED big time.

And I am the type of person who will actually try my best to take time to be courteous and listen, and even respond .... so like I said FAILED big time.

Reasons ...

1. If you email me about your ministry and promote yourself, ask me to buy your merchandise, financially support your ministry, promote it etc., then for goodness sake, have the courtesy to respond to my email queries.

I won't name the ministries but it seems ridiculous to me that if I happen to read your email a couple of minutes after it arrives in my in-box (meaning even if if is spam as you got my email from my church website), and I respond with a couple of questions about your ministry, please answer!

And if you do answer, it ought to be within a few days.

Just one example ....I have had one guy send me a glowing CV about his ministry around 6 months ago. I checked out the links he embedded and found them outdated - not updated for 5 years! I responded to ask some questions related to his ministry and even offered to meet him to get a decent update ... but no reply to two emails. (I sent a follow up a couple of weeks later). And 2 days ago he sends me the same email?!!
Brother, sorry but your email address is now listed as spam.

2. If you sent me regular postal mail with brochures and I take the time to respond and do things like inform you that you need to correct the postal address and name of contact person .... but months later (some over a year) you still send me mail to the wrong person and wrong address - which ends up with me via other parties, I do lose confidence in your ministry.
And mind you, I have been kind enough to respond at least twice (and some three times) to correct these errors.
So brother, sister, sorry but your mail gets automatically tossed in the recycle bin as it is now listed as snail mail spam.

And if you send me mail via the post and I ask you to remove me and put me on your email list instead but you keep sending me snail mail (and most of it about money), rest assured that I WILL NOT waste my precious hard earned money on you so you can waste in on fancy printing and postage sent to me which I specifically asked you not to

3. If you call me on the phone and try to get me to support your ministry or cause and are unable to answer some basic questions, do not listen and just give me a standard spiel of how I can make monetary payments, rest assured that I will simply be brief (and will try not to sound rude) and tell you "I am not interested)

Also if you call me and tell me about the wonderful work your organization is doing and you cannot even provide me information through a website I could check out OR tell me that you do not have email facilities to send me an email with information on your organization ... so sorry, I am really not interested to spend time knowing more.

4.  And also IF you do actually answer (even if it is weeks later) and promise to send me the information I requested BUT do not ... rest assured I will not bother wasting time on you the next time.
Also if I communicate with you and months later you don't even realize this, I am not keen on wasting time on your organization.

5. If you stop me in the street or come to my door and I take the time to chat with you, and you share with me about how wonderful your ministry / organization is and expect me to give sacrificially to support your cause, and I through my wonderful way of asking questions (because I am really keen to know you as a person because you represent your organization) ... and I discover that you have a plan for me to stretch my dollar and cut back on my lifestyle needs for you BUT you are not following your own example ... don't be surprised that I won't give to your organization - not even a one off token amount.

6. And if you turn up at my doorstep to ask for money and have an easy plan so it costs me just 50 cents a day or whatever the figure may be ... and we chat and you realize that I am probably not going to subscribe ... and I invite you in for a drink or a bite to eat, and you decline (even though in the conversation said the food smelled nice and that you have not had the time to eat), I kind of tend to doubt your sincerity as to being concerned to work out something that will benefit your organization and yet not make my giving a burden to me.

*And just for the record, I am not alone at home, and my wife is there etc, so the issue is no fear for one's safety. If you did, then you really shouldn't be alone knocking on strangers' doors at night in the dark, right?

There are hundreds of organizations asking for money, competing for a shrinking limited market ... wise up....

A Pentecost / Shavuot reflection (pastor's notes)

Pastor's notes for the 27th May 2012 bulletin

To read, click HERE

Friday, May 4, 2012

Possum drinking game

Something is seriously wrong with some NZ youth! Too much money,too much free time, spoilt, immature and plain stupid!

Dunedin's 'possum' drinking game goes global

UPDATED12:35 PM Friday May 4, 2012

A story about a student drinking game called possum - in which young people drink in trees until they fall out - has captured imaginations around the world.
Yesterday's Otago Daily Timesarticle highlighting concerns of Dunedin Botanic Garden staff about the craze sparked a flurry of media coverage in the UK, Australia and the United States.
In the UK, the Guardian called the craze 'a bizarre new branch of the drinking game' and the story ranked as the second most-read in its world news section.
The Sun also picked up the story, prompting comments including 'what a bunch of prats'.
Fox News in the United States, Nine News in Australia, the Bangkok Postin Thailand and France's Le Point have also climbed on board to report the `possum' craze.

Paying for a sermon?!?

I subscribe to all kinds of email lists. I certainly do not check or read them all the emails I get from these lists - in fact most of them end up deleted without a second glance ... But every now and then if something catches my eye and I have a little extra time, then glancing through an email does at times results in some helpful information

One list I subscribe to is Christianity Today's Preaching.com.

I wonder, is it just me who is rather disturbed that it is a site that charges money to listen / read good sermons?

The email heading caught my attention:

The Good Samaritan Like You've Never Heard It: Preaching Today

So I thought, hmmm... interesting ...

And then even more interesting was the first line after the date

Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Featured sermon: The Parable of the Good Samaritan, by D. A. Carson

I know DA Carson is an excellent expository preacher

So I click on the link ...


And this is what comes up ...


The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Are you seeking self-justification or God's justification?
Average Rating:   [see ratings/reviews]
Audio Sample: 
Read Full Transcript


I. The story as a whole

II. The first question: What must I do to inherit eternal life?

III. The struggle for self-justification

IV. The second question: Who is my neighbor?

V. Jesus' question: To whom must I be a neighbor?


D. A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and author of numerous books, including Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus(Crossway).
D. A. Carson: Follow | Search

Ok. Nice ... but then this ...

To access this sermon, you must be a member of PreachingToday.com.
If you ARE a member of PreachingToday.com, please log in …
If you are NOT a member of PreachingToday.com …
Please click here to see our membership options. As a member, you will be able to have access to all of the content on PreachingToday.com.

And this ....

PreachingToday.com Membership Options

Welcome! PreachingToday.com will inspire you to create fresh, biblically-grounded sermons.
Choose an option below to get started.
Access to PreachingToday.com FeaturesFree Registration*
Monthly Membership
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First 30 days free!
A $49+ savings!
Create AlertsFollow Preachers, and use the My Cabinet tool to save and file your favorite content.
11,935 fresh and timely sermon illustrations
1,078 of today's best sermons—in transcript and audio form
673 articles to further develop your preaching skills
Hundreds of sermon-series ideas on relevant preaching topics
* Free registration needed for non-members to make store purchases

I know we all have to make a living. I know publishers sell books containing sermons, and outlines, and illustrations.
BUT isn't this a little bit overboard? 
I also realize that a sister website sells Bible studies!

Would I buy a book of collected sermons? Oh yes I would and have if I think the preacher is going to bless and inspire me. My favourite book of sermons is the "Best of Peter Marshall".
And commentary series like the BST are in a real way expository sermons. 

Would I buy a book on sermon outlines? Oh yes and I have. My favourite is Warren Wiersbe's Outlines on the OT. Helpful to inspire me and kick start some of my sermons when I have mental blocks

And would I buy a Bible study book / guide (ok so I am off on a tangent - but that is just me :-). Oh yes, most of us use them for group Bible studies.

Ok, perhaps I am being unfair as I do remember buying audio cassettes of sermons, and later with advancing technology, teaching CDs and /or DVDs on particular topics.
Maybe I just got to get used to the idea of purchasing stuff using this even more advanced level of technology - internet downloads ...

And again maybe it is just an issue of "value for money" for me - one of the foremost frugal pastors :-) Paying USD 7.95 for a sermon seems plain ridiculous

But then again perhaps that's the whole point! Good marketing? Why pay $7.95 for one sermon when you can pay $9.95 a month for a thousand sermons and many other goodies, or better still $69.95 a year? 

Will I pay to sign up? NO :-)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A reminder to take proper rest?

Of late my sleep has been restless so I often wake up tired. By afternoon (with or without lunch) I often find my eyes drooping and my head heavy, and it takes a lot of effort to focus.

A few days ago, I got this an email and have extracted the following from the email

According to a Greek legend, in ancient Athens a man noticed the great storyteller Aesop playing childish games with some little boys. He laughed and jeered at Aesop, asking him why he wasted his time in such frivolous activity. 

Aesop responded by picking up a bow, loosening its string, and placing it on the ground. Then he said to the critical man, "Now, answer the riddle, if you can. Tell us what the unstrung bow implies."

The man looked at it for several moments but had no idea what point Aesop was trying to make. The moralist explained, "If you keep a bow always bent, it will break eventually; but if you let it go slack, it will be more fit for use when you want it."

So it is with us. Our minds and bodies are like the bow. When constantly under pressures of everyday life, we can eventually break. We need to loosen up; we need time to take the pressure off and relax. For some, that may mean time off to rest and recreate. For some, it may mean Sabbath. It is no wonder that observing the Sabbath in Judeo-Christian tradition is a commandment, not a suggestion.


Former baseball pitcher Dutch Leonard might have put it a little differently. He once said that the secret of great pitching is not speed or the ability to throw curves. It's the "change of pace." The average batter will soon learn to hit a pitcher who continually throws the same kind of pitch. But it's hard to hit against a pitcher who changes the pace of delivery. That change of pace gives a pitcher the edge over the best of batters.

A change of pace likewise gives us an edge in life. Taking time to watch the clouds, enjoy a breeze, take a walk, read or just slow down is necessary if we are to be our best later. And for me, a regular day of rest is as important as regular sleep. It's a way of taking the pressure off.

To be my best, I need to be sure to change my pace. It is usually
just the change I need.

-- Steve Goodier

I think I may be pushing myself a little too hard (though it bothers me that I am currently in a less busy period!). Perhaps I need to get away and be alone by myself OR take a few days off to indulge in a hobby and / or just sleep.

1 Kings 19 is a passage that jumps to my mind ... but it does seem to me almost arrogant to compare what I am possibly feeling with that of Elijah!

beliefs about God in New Zealand (Pastor's Notes)

Pastor's notes for 6 May 2012 can be read HERE

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Confused ramblings on whether Christians should be involved in politics

So much has been happening in Malaysia.

Just read a cyber friend's blog post The Pulpit the Pastor and politics

My writing this blog post is not a response to his post nor to advocate my position but more for my own personal development

This kind of spins off from my recent readings of the words of two of my passive mentors ... 

The first Henri Nouwen's words that came in my mail on Friday ....

Writing, Opening a Deep Well

Writing is not just jotting down ideas.  Often we say:  "I don't know what to write.  I have no thoughts worth writing down."  But much good writing emerges from the process of writing itself.  As we simply sit down in front of a sheet of paper and start to express in words what is on our minds or in our hearts, new ideas emerge, ideas that can surprise us and lead us to inner places we hardly knew were there.

One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as for others to see.

And the second, a strange phrase from Eugene Peterson where he wrote in his book "Pastor's: A memoir" (page 239) .

Heuristic writing—writing to explore and discover what I didn't know.  Writing as a way of entering into language and letting language enter me, words connecting with words and creating what had previously been inarticulate or unnoticed or hidden. Writing as a way of paying attention. Writing as an act of prayer. In the badlands the act of writing was assimilated into my pastoral vocation, revealing relationships, drawing me into mysteries, training me imaginatively to enter the language world of scripture in which God "spoke and it came to be," in which "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." And it became a way of writing in which I was entering into the language world of my congregation, their crises and small talk, their questions and doubts, listening for and discerning the lived quality of the gospel in their lives. Not just saying things. Not just writing words.

Not that I am in any way thinking I am able to emulate these two modern "giants" of the faith but I think it is important for my own sanity for me to put down some of my thoughts in writing. It's been a bad few weeks for me in terms of sleep. Too many stray thoughts have been invading my dreams (more than usual which for me is a lot!) and I tend to wake up tired.

It used to be that things like the charismatic movement (speaking in tongues, personal prophecy) and perhaps women's role (?) were the hot topics that divided the church. Now it seems to be Politics (and political correctness(?). 

I have been praying and struggling with all the political related stuff and I am certain no matter what my position I will make many unhappy with me (even angry and possibly despised). Fact is I am not sure whether my position (in terms of my actions and affiliations) on many areas will change tomorrow! Simply because I am not a political scientist and simply do not know enough about the madness that is the Malaysian political culture and scene. 

BUT I think what I currently hold as principles will probably not change (more about that later). 

Here's some facts about me for all to see (and perhaps condemn? *sigh*)

  • I did not attend the Auckland Bersih 3.0 gathering despite the fact I support BERSIH's goals because of PR parties involvement, simply because BERSIH ought to be for all irrespective of political affiliation. (Of course I know it is but ....) I suspected and I was right that Anwar Ibrahim would "hijack" the sit in. It does not matter to me whether he planed the break through of the barricade to incite the police to act, or whether it was planned by BN plants. 
         What matters to me is his ego is so big and his personal political ambition so strong that              
         he could not for once stay in the background and let the BERSIH organizers lead. He had  
         to give a speech to his supporters and BN has ammunition to use against the opposition. 

         Okay maybe that is being judgmental and I should give him the benefit of the doubt but for  
         someone who wants to be PM of Malaysia and who has so many political enemies out to 
         get him, I would have thought hew would have more sense not to put himself in such a 
         situation unless ...

  • I think BN as a whole needs to go! Stayed too long and is riddled with so much corruption as part of its culture and leadership that reform seems practically impossible. Unless of course they lose the elections and make a humble return (far fetched perhaps but certainly possible)
  • But I do not have confidence in PR especially when led by Anwar Ibrahim. I think the country needs leaders with integrity, willing to serve the country. It bothers me that PR cannot seem to push to the forefront fresher faces of capable Malay leaders. I am sure there must be so why are they not there? It bothers me that PR (I suppose mostly PKR) SEEMS to depends so much on ex BN politicians. And if no non Malays are allowed to lead, then why not someone like Nurul Izzah? (I suppose I should discount her since I don't trust her father? But I do not think that is the right way of thinking)
  • Now you see why I am confused? (both :-) and :-( )
  • And I am also wary of all this talk about democracy. Being in the majority does not imply one is in the correct company ... (in fact I think more often than not, the majority has been shown to be wrong) I think I would rather focus on issues like justice, truth and compassion, and attempt to be as consistent as possible (high hopes for me with my often confused thoughts *heavy sigh*)
  • And another dilemma for me. I now live in NZ. Yes I am a Malaysian citizen but I find I cannot function and fit into NZ life and do my part to make a difference here if my mind thinks too much about Malaysia. Should I not focus on making a difference where I am?
  • And to add to more fuel to the fire ... I am afraid that my mind set is such that I am a Christian first and the rest (whether Chinese, Malaysian or NZer) comes in a less relevant distant second.
  • I am a member of a political party here in NZ. But I find it personally interesting that in my mind, it does not mean that I will blindly follow the party leader. The whole idea is to give my input if I think it is needed. And after voting in two elections in NZ (PR's can vote as we pay taxes. Cool isn't it?) I find it interesting that I have voted according to my conscience and "wasted" my votes on non winnable candidates (twice) ...

Should Christian leaders (and pastors) be more involved in politics? 

I actually think that every Christian should be more involved though the level of involvement should be that of personal conviction. I think trying to be apolitical is inconsistent. Not that one needs to be a member of a political party but in the sense that I think all Christians need to be constantly evaluating his / her understanding of biblical justice and his / her involvement in community (and by that I mean not just the "koinonia").

I think Luke 4:16-21 needs to be taken very seriously. It is after all, Jesus' first recorded sermon and his explanation of his mission and calling (and we are called to be His disciples and follow in His steps). No matter how one decides to "interpret" the passage, I do not think one can run away from the call to be involved!  I am not sure I can be involved in community without some form of political involvement ... 

 16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.
 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,
 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." {19 Isaiah 61:1,2}
 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,
 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

I see in the NT of John the Baptist and Jesus getting politically involved in their own ways - and in a downright dangerous and daring manner too

Matthew 14:3-4: 3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife,  4 for John had been saying to him: "It is not lawful for you to have her."

Luke 13:31-32: 31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you."

 32 He replied, "Go tell that fox, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.'

Enough rambling for now. Hope I sleep better tonight!