Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Crabbit Old Woman

My schoolfriend Neville has just connected up with me again, and sent me a copy of The Crabby Old Man. This is how it came to him on the internet.


When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near Tampa, Florida, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, they found this poem.

Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Missouri ..

The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this little old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

Crabby Old Man

What do you see nurses?....What do you see?
What are you thinking......when you're looking at me?
A crabby old man, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit......with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food.......and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice..'I do wish you'd try!'

Who seems not to notice the things that you do.
And forever is losing..............A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not.. ........lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding.......The long day to fill?

Is that what you're thinking?
Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes nurse
You're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am........As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of Ten.with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters.........who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen.....with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now.........a lover he'll meet.

A groom soon at heart gives a leap.
Remembering the vows......that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now........I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide, And a secure happy home.

A man of Thirty.....My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other.......With ties that should last.
Forty, my young sons.....have grown and are gone,
But my woman's beside see I don't mourn.

At Fifty, once more,.....Babies play 'round my knee ,
Again, we know children....My loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me..........My wife is now dead.
I look at the future............I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing.....young of their own.
And I think of the years....And the love that I've known.

I'm now an old man.........and nature is cruel.
Tis jest to make old age.....look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles.........grace and vigor depart.
There is now a stone........where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass......A young guy still dwells,
And now and battered heart swells.
I remember the joys..............I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and over again.

I think of the years.....all too few......gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact........that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, and see.
Not a crabby old man. Look closer....see........ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at

the young soul within...we will all, one day, be there, too! (Much sooner than we expect to be there.)


The best and most beautiful things of this world can't be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart.


Alert readers will know this is a masculine version of The Crabbit Old Woman . I like the version of that poem and the nurse's reply which I found this morning. It sounds old, but the authoritative Wikipedia[!] says it can't be traced back before 1973, though someone claims their mother wrote it in the 60s.

What do you see, what do you see?
Are you thinking, when you look at me-
A crabbit old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with far-away eyes,
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice,
I do wish you'd try.
Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And forever is loosing a stocking or shoe.
Who, unresisting or not; lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding the long day is fill.

Is that what you're thinking,
Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes,
nurse, you're looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still!
As I rise at your bidding, as I eat at your will.

I'm a small child of 10 with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who loved one another-
A young girl of 16 with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet,
A bride soon at 20- my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At 25 now I have young of my own
Who need me to build a secure happy home;
A woman of 30, my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last;
At 40, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man's beside me to see I don't mourn;
At 50 once more babies play around my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,
I look at the future, I shudder with dread,
For my young are all rearing young of their own.
And I think of the years and the love that I've known;

I'm an old woman now and nature is cruel-
Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body is crumbled, grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone where I once had a heart,
But inside this old carcass, a young girl still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells,
I remember the joy, I remember the pain,
And I'm loving and living life over again.
I think of the years all too few- gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last-
So open your eyes, nurse, open and see,
Not a crabbit old woman, look closer-
See Me.

By: Phyilis McCormack

A Nurse's reply

"To the 'Crabbit Old Woman"

What do we see, you ask, what do we see?
Yes, we are thinking when looking at thee!
We may seem to be hard when we hurry and fuss,
But there's many of you, and too few of us.

We would like far more time to sit by you and talk,
To bath you and feed you and help you to walk.
To hear of your lives and the things you have done;
Your childhood, your husband, your daughter, your son.
But time is against us, there's too much to do -
Patients too many, and nurses too few.

We grieve when we see you so sad and alone,
With nobody near you, no friends of your own.
We feel all your pain, and know of your fear
That nobody cares now your end is so near.

But nurses are people with feelings as well,
And when we're together you'll often hear tell
Of the dearest old Gran in the very end bed,
And the lovely old Dad, and the things that he said,
We speak with compassion and love, and feel sad
When we think of your lives and the joy that you've had,
When the time has arrived for you to depart,
You leave us behind with an ache in our heart.
When you sleep the long sleep, no more worry or care,
There are other old people, and we must be there.
So please understand if we hurry and fuss -
There are many of you, And so few of us.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God

Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset
said Matthew Parris in his 27th December, 2008 article in The Times.

This is a terrific article and shows that the change Jesus brings to a person's life can be seen by those who do not profess to be Christians.
Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.

At 24, travelling by land across the continent reinforced this impression. From Algiers to Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, then right through the Congo to Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, four student friends and I drove our old Land Rover to Nairobi.

We slept under the stars, so it was important as we reached the more populated and lawless parts of the sub-Sahara that every day we find somewhere safe by nightfall. Often near a mission.

Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers - in some ways less so - but more open.

This time in Malawi it was the same. I met no missionaries. You do not encounter missionaries in the lobbies of expensive hotels discussing development strategy documents, as you do with the big NGOs. But instead I noticed that a handful of the most impressive African members of the Pump Aid team (largely from Zimbabwe) were, privately, strong Christians. “Privately” because the charity is entirely secular and I never heard any of its team so much as mention religion while working in the villages. But I picked up the Christian references in our conversations. One, I saw, was studying a devotional textbook in the car. One, on Sunday, went off to church at dawn for a two-hour service.

It would suit me to believe that their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work was unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man's place in the Universe that Christianity had taught.

There's long been a fashion among Western academic sociologists for placing tribal value systems within a ring fence, beyond critiques founded in our own culture: “theirs” and therefore best for “them”; authentic and of intrinsically equal worth to ours.

I don't follow this. I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.

Anxiety - fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things - strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. People won't take the initiative, won't take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders.

How can I, as someone with a foot in both camps, explain? When the philosophical tourist moves from one world view to another he finds - at the very moment of passing into the new - that he loses the language to describe the landscape to the old. But let me try an example: the answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? “Because it's there,” he said.

To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It's... well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary's further explanation - that nobody else had climbed it - would stand as a second reason for passivity.

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.

And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Old Friends

I've had some very welcome reconnections with people from my past on Friends Reunited and on Facebook.

Someone told me once that friends are like precious metals. Gold and silver are both valuable, but gold is more valuable. Don't neglect the silver, but remember that gold is more valuable. New friends are like silver, but old friends are like gold.

One of my school friends contacted me yesterday, bringing old times flooding back.
His mother died a year ago, and mine also died a year ago, just two days later.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wise words from Trevin Wax

Trevin Wax points out that America may be going from the sin of racism to the sin of pride.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rick Warren's prayer for President Obama

Mark Driscoll has some wise words about Rick Warren, and also gives the text of his wonderful prayer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Vale Richard John Neuhaus

I think Richard Neuhaus had a lot of good things to say. Of course I don't agree with everything he said, but I think he was a person to look up to and I'm saddened by his death last week on 8th January.

This statement, published in his honour on his own blog, after his death, is very close to what Protestants believe, I think.
When I come before the judgment throne, I will plead the promise of God in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. I will not plead any work that I have done, although I will thank God that he has enabled me to do some good. I will plead no merits other than the merits of Christ, knowing that the merits of Mary and the saints are all from him; and for their company, their example, and their prayers throughout my earthly life I will give everlasting thanks. I will not plead that I had faith, for sometimes I was unsure of my faith, and in any event that would be to turn faith into a meritorious work of my won. I will not plead that I held the correct understanding of “justification by faith alone,” although I will thank God that he led me to know ever more fully the great truth that much misunderstood formulation was intended to protect. Whatever little growth in holiness I have experienced, whatever strength I have received from the company of the saints, whatever understanding I have attained of God and his ways - these and all other gifts received I will bring gratefully to the throne. But in seeking entry to that heavenly kingdom, I will…look to Christ and Christ alone.

Richard John Neuhaus. Death on a Friday Afternoon

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Legacy of John Calvin

I've just begun David Hall's little book written for Calvin's 500th birthday called The Legacy of John Calvin. His book gives 10 ways modern culture is different because of John Calvin:
1. Education
Others had tried for some time and failed, but Calvin was successful in establishing a university in Geneva which for the first time brought education to more than just the aristocratic elite.

2. Care For the Poor
Calvin established a mercy ministry called The Bourse Francaise, which was involved in housing orphans, the elderly and other incapacitated people.

3. Ethics and Interpretation of the Moral Law
Calvin's interpretation of the Ten Commandments as ethical pillars was widely influential for generations of character development.

4. Freedom of the Church
Calvin sought to free the church of state or other hierarchical interference.

5. Collegial Governing: The Senate

Calvin argued for limitation of government and the place of divine sovereignty over human government. Calvin felt Jethro's advice to Moses came from God and was worth using as a model.

6. Decentralised Politics: The Republic
Calvin's early republican mechanism prevented consolidation of all government power into a single council. It predated Montesquieu's doctrine of the separation of powers by two centuries. Calvin's political system was daringly democratic and provided checks and balances, separation of powers, election by the residents, and other elements of the federal structure that would later be copied as one of Geneva's finest exports.

7. Parity Among All Professions: The Doctrine of Vocation
The sacredness of ordinary vocations. After Calvin, one could be called to medicine, law or education just as a clergyman was called to serve the church. Calvin taught that any area of work had dignity and could be a valid calling from God. This was a radical change in worldview.

8. Economics and Profit: The Invisible Hand.
Geneva became a bustling centre of trade and commerce under Calvin. Wherever Calvinism spread, so did a love for free markets and capitalism. But Calvin was careful to point otu that material success was not necessarily a sign that one was one of the elect.

9. Music in the Vernacular: The Psalter

One of Calvin's early initiatives was to translate music designed for public worship into the language of the day. The singing of Psalms in their own languages enabled Protestants to confess their beliefs.

10. The Power of Publishing Ideas: The Genevan Presses
If Martin Luther seized on the potential of the printing press, Calvin and his followers elevated the use of the press into an art form.

The best study Bible?

The ESV Study Bible is the best I have used so far. I highly recommend it, but advise that if you want to understand the Bible, read it firstly without notes and guides.

If you read the Bible prayerfully, as if it is the Word of God, I believe you will find that
it seems to be,
clearly claims to be
and ultimately proves to be indeed from God himself, though written by men.

Over the past 3 years or so I have read through the Bible seven times in seven different versions, including the TNIV [updated NIV Bible], a special presentation of the TNIV called "The Books of the Bible", The New Living Translation, 2nd edition and the Good News Bible, Australian edition. Each of these is well worth reading, and better if you read it alongside other Bibles.

I have also read the ESV Reformation Study Bible, the NIV Archaeological Study Bible and the New Jerusalem Study Bible and have found each of them worth reading.

The Reformation Study Bible is useful for coming to grips with Reformed Theology and some Bible background.

Zondervan's Archaeological Study Bible is a great help in digging into the Bible's background [whoops!], but fairly light on theology.

I like the way The New Jerusalem Study Bible uses the Hebrew words for God, such as Yahweh, Shaddai and El Elyon, though mercifully it does not use Elohim, but renders it as "God." It also has many interesting renderings of words that you have become familiar with in the many Bible versions which seek to follow in the Wyclif-Tyndale-KJV tradition. But its study notes are written from a critical position which assumes that the Bible is fallible and not God's inerrant Word, and these notes did not help me to get to know the divine author any better.

The ESV Study Bible has 2 million words, 750,000 of which is the biblical text itself. It has a wealth of useful articles, resources, many terrific maps, introductions to each section of the Bible and each Bible book and extensive study notes on the ESV text.

It has taken me from 3 to 6 months to read through each of the other seven versions, but be warned: if you really want to read this whole Bible through [which I enthusiastically urge you to do AFTER you've read the Bible without study note help], it may take you about three years, based on my experience so far. This would be well worth doing, but you will need to plan it. There are excellent Bible reading plans available from the producers of the Bible on their website, which also contains the complete text of the Study Bible and makes ploughing through the many Bible references in the articles much easier to do.

What are you waiting for?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Greg Beale

I am finding Greg Beale's stuff stimulating, including his books The Temple and the Church's Mission, We Become What we Worship, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament [which he co-edited with Don Carson, and for which he wrote the article on Revelation], and The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism.

Dr Beale has a high view of the Bible and is producing books which give new insights into the Bible, but which are in harmony with its teachings.

But does he ever need to update his website at work!

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Do you sing? Lots of people do, but I notice that many don't. Some people feel really awkward singing. Dancing is what makes me feel awkward. I'm clumsy and feel like I have two left feet.

But although I have a really ordinary voice, I've always enjoyed singing. When I got to high school, I was invited to join the Belmont High School Choral Group, which I thought was a great honour. I was a tenor for a brief time, but my voice deepened and I had to change to bass.

We used to sing a version of the well-known Bach choral from St Matthew Passion, which as a hymn is called O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded. But our version was called Commit Thy Way To Jesus.

And we sang what we called Negro Spirituals such as Who's That a-calling? and Standing in the Need of Prayer. I think we should call them African-American Spirituals currently, until the next name change...

In the 1960s, it seemed that every school had a choir and choral group, but few had bands. These days, lots of schools have stage bands and concert bands, but not so many have choirs.

Quite a few of my piano students over the 40 years I've been teaching piano have been shy about singing. They think that a musician is someone who presses keys, hits things or blows into metal or wood. But a singer, they think, is a person who hangs round with a bunch of musicians.

WRONG! That's a drummer! [Sorry Pete...]

I think everyone should learn to sing for these reasons:
1. Sing to praise the God who made you for the wonderful world he has given us and especially for sending his Son Jesus to die for our sins.
2. Learn to sing so you can sing to your children and grandchildren.
3. If you learn to use your very first instrument [your own body and especially your voice], playing another instrument will come more easily and you will play it more musically if you play what you are singing in your head.

You are a really terrific portable musical instrument that doesn't need to be plugged in and won't run out of batteries for ages, we hope.

Cake tin, part 2

My cake tin [and my 1920 Globite school case] have quite a few Thankyou notes in them, which I treasured and kept.

Do you enjoy receiving Thankyou notes? Quite a few I've received have been from students, including school students and piano students. I think I have a total of one thankyou for my preaching, and I guess there's a message in that! [Thanks Col, I'd completely forgotten about your kind note.]

One of the notes I received was from one of nine students whom I had prepared for their Higher School Certificate exam, back in 1991. All of the students seemed to be appreciative, but one took the trouble to write. She recently turned up at our church in Bathurst and it took me a while to recall who she was, as I had only taught her for about ten weeks. But when I did get my brain into gear, I immediately remembered her thoughtfulness.

I also enjoy sending thankyous. Sometimes written, but often spoken. But none of the ones in my tin are emails or phone calls or verbal ones [which aren't worth the paper they're not written on ...]

There is something about getting a piece of old-fashioned snail mail, still. In our pre-internet days, in our previous church, there was a lovely lady called Nanna Flo. She had a habit of writing people letters and posting them. Almost everyone in the church had received one of her special handwritten, encouraging letters.

Have you thanked the people who helped you come to faith in Christ and those who have helped you grow? Are they still alive? What is stopping you?

Giving and receiving thanks reminds me of Jesus' words, which Christians have called The Golden Rule:
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

My Treasure Chest

A few nights ago I looked through my cake tin which my wife gave me very early in our marriage. I was not a cook back then and didn't understand why she gave it to me and mumbled something like
Thanks, honey. I'm sure it will be very useful
and then she enlightened me when she said
You could put things in it.
Over the past 30 years or so I've used my cake tin to keep my treasures in. I later had to enlist the help of my Aunty Ruth's Globite school case, circa 1920, when I ran out of room in my cake tin.

My tin has lots of letters in it, including a few from my former Newcastle Conservatorium lecturers Michael Dudman, Nigel Butterley and from my Kenmore Christian College principal, David Hammer.

But it also contains lots of other bits of paper. There are several letters from my mother, my mother-in-law and other family members, but only one from my father. [I'm assuming Dad's letter is still there somewhere, but couldn't find it when I waded through.] And there is a letter telling us how much our former minister appreciated our daughter Cathy's leadership with the church youth group.

There is a letter from a former student who wanted me to write her a reference. It seemed odd that she would have to ask a person who had not seen her four years to do this, and I had to be honest and show that in the reference which I wrote. But I'm so pleased I still have her letter, because in it she said she would be
inturnally greatful if you could write me one.
But a lot of the stuff in my cake tin and in Aunty Ruth's Globite school case are Thankyous.

New Testament citing Old Testament

N B: You may need to be a registered owner of the excellent ESV Study Bible to access the link.

It is interesting to see the passages from the Old Testament which are repeatedly quoted in the New.

Passages cited 4 times or more
Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.[4 times]

Genesis 15:6 And [Abraham] believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. [4 times]

Exodus 3:6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. [5 times]

Leviticus 19:18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord. [10 times]

Deuteronomy 6:5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [4 times]

Joshua 22:5 Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” [4 times]

Psalm 22:19 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots. [4 times]

Psalm 110:1 The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.” [6 times]

Psalm 118:22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone. [4 times]

Psalm 118:26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We bless you from the house of the Lord. [6 times]

Daniel 7:13 “I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him. [6 times]

Saturday, January 03, 2009

I love Jesus Christ

This is another great article from John Piper. It is well worth your time. A young theology lecturer suddenly made this impromptu remark in a seminary class, in 1968 or 69:
John, I love Jesus Christ.
Piper comments on this outburst:
The echo of that thunderclap is still sounding in my heart. That was 40 years ago! There are a thousand things I don’t remember about those days in seminary. But that afternoon remains unforgettable. And all he said was, “John, I love Jesus Christ.”

James Morgan died a year later of stomach cancer, leaving a wife and four small children. His chief legacy in my life was one statement on an afternoon in Pasadena. “I love Jesus Christ.” So here at the beginning of 2009, I join James Morgan in saying, “I love Jesus Christ.”

And as I say it, I want to make clear what I mean:

* I admire Jesus Christ more than any other human or angelic being.
* I enjoy his ways and his words more than I enjoy the ways and words of anyone else.
* I want his approval more than I want the approval of anyone else.
* I want to be with him more than I want to be with anyone else.
* I feel more grateful to him for what he has done for me than I do to anyone else.
* I trust his words more fully than I trust what anyone else says.
* I am more glad in his exaltation than in the exaltation of anyone else, including me.

Please read the rest.

Out with the old, in with the new

Today I finished reading the New Jerusalem Study Bible, reading Revelation chapters 7 to 22. This Bible is well worth reading through, though I am not particularly enamoured of the study notes, which often cast doubt on the Bible as coming to us from God, and embrace discredited theories such as the documentary hypothesis concerning the composition of the Pentateuch.

But I do like many things about the translation, including the use of Hebrew names for God and especially the use of Yahweh, instead of the convention of rendering the
tetragrammaton as LORD.

There are many interesting renderings in this translation, which, unlike so many others, is not tied to the Wyclif-Tyndale-King James tradition.

And today I began reading through my Christmas present from Cathy and Philip [my daughter and son-in-law], which is the ESV Study Bible. I would like to read through the whole book, including the 750,000 word biblical text and the 1 and a quarter million word study notes, resources and articles.

Over the past three years, prompted by Ron McCarthy, I've been reading rapidly through these Bible versions, taking three to five months to do so:
The ESV Reformation Study Bible
The NIV Archaeological Study Bible
The New Living Translation, second edition
The Good News Bible, Australian edition
The Books of the Bible: a presentation of Today's New International Version
The New Jerusalem Study Bible [including the Roman Catholic additions, which are not holy Scripture, but are well worth every Christian reading].

I have read most of the study notes in most of these, with the exception of the NJSB.

But there are so many in the ESV Study Bible, it is going to probably take at least twice as long as the other journeys. I'm looking forward to a more leisurely ride, which I began today using the one year Daily Bible Reading Plan included in this book. I always modify these and today did begin with Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, but then read Hebrews 1, Psalm 104 [referred to in the study notes for Hebrews 1] and Hebrews 13, on which I'm preaching tomorrow.

David Chapman's notes on Hebrews are excellent. I hope to find the rest of the study notes equally as worthwhile.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


I've just discovered that in New Zealand [and presumably, nowhere else], 2nd January is
Day after New Year's Day

Who'da thunk it?

2009: a year for celebrating

2009 is a year brimful of things to celebrate, including the birth of Felix Mendelssohn on 3rd February, 1809. Mendelssohn was not only a great composer, but also the man who reintroduced the music of the greatest of all composers, J S Bach, to the world.

Popular music fans think of 3rd February, 1959 as the day the music died, in the words of Don McLean in his song American Pie, because on that day Buddy Holly and two other musicians hardly worth mentioning died in a plane crash. Buddy Holly was only 22 years of age, and had created so many terrific recordings, it is no wonder that people commemorate that date.

But for me 28th February is also a special date, because it will be the centenary of my father's birth. I think of him nearly every day and sometimes think I am slowly turning into him! But I do not have his capacity for hard work, nor his methodical nature, both of which I greatly admire.

The great composer Handel died 250 years ago this year on 14th April, 1759. Beethoven believed that he was the greatest of all composers. I often wonder how much of Bach's music he knew? But I'm not disputing that Handel was one of the very top composers of all time.

Haydn is also to be remembered in 2009, because he died 200 years ago on 31st May, 1809.

Many people will be unaware of the great legacy of John Calvin, born 500 years ago on 10th July, 1509. Most people know very little about him and do not realise that he not only had a huge influence on the Christian Church but also on our modern democratic way of life. It is worth finding out more about him. Even one of his opponents recommended the reading of his biblical commentaries. I aim to complete the reading of his systematic theology The Institutes of the Christian Religion before the end of this year.

I am also celebrating two anniversaries of my own this year. On 29th September, 1959 I had my first piano lesson at Melody Lodge, Albert St Belmont from Mrs Joy Walton, from whom I learnt until I went to high school in 1965. I am grateful to her for starting me off on the journey of learning Music, which, as Rachmaninov said is enough for a lifetime, though a lifetime is not enough for Music.

And sometime in 1969 I began teaching piano, which I have continued to do ever since, except for a short break as a Churches of Christ minister in the early 1980s.