Category Archives: Uncategorized

South City’s Mr Bs

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We have two Mr Bs in our church. One is GB, my father, who is 91, and the other is John, who recently turned 90. I put together a little booklet about these two elderly men of our church, because they have lived, and continue to live, lives that honour God. They face the problems that come with old age with fortitude and faith.

The booklet, with a foreword from Pastor Alfie Orr of South City church, includes GB’s and John’s thoughts, biographical information, information about ancestors, their personal testimony of how they came to faith, and many interesting photographs, including a small series of photos by Natalie Rose.

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And this is from the back cover:

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Click the link below to read the booklet.

South City Mr Bs_ForOnline

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The Chooks: #19 Eggspectation 9 Peace Offering

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In Auckland, you can have upto six hens but no roosters, because roosters are noisy. At certain times in the day, my girls get very noisy too and I worry about the neighbours. 

So, I’m taking them a little peace offering to show them that I am thankful that they are putting up with the chicken talk. 

[My lovely neighbour seemed genuinely happy to see me and graciously accepted the gift. She acknowledged that they could indeed hear my chickens but assured me that they loved the natural sound of the birds in the reserve adjacent to us, and did not mind the chicken noises either. Thanking God for good neighbours; I am indebted to them]

The Chooks: #18 Eggspectation 8  Momentous milestone when Little Dot lays

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Little Dot layed a little egg early last week. We all laughed.

Over the course of the week, her eggs have become progressively bigger. 

Little Dot is my Gold-laced Wyandotte, the baby of the lot. She has always been the shy and edgy one. 

These pictures show you what she looked like when she first came to us and the fine young hen she’s become.

Local Mexican candy or South Indian? 

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When I was little and being the only child, I did not have real playmates often. But real or make-believe, one of my favourite games was what we called ‘House house.’ Yes it’s the same game that girls everywhere often play—pretending to be a mummy in a home, and cooking was naturally an important component. I did get items from my mum’s kitchen to play with, but I never actually thought of making a really edible dish as part of the play activity. 

My mother-in-law, on the other hand, who would be about 95 had she been alive, had had a lot more fun when she was little, doing some semi-real cooking. 

One of the items they made in the course of the play activity was a lollipop-like candy that was spicy, sour, and sweet. Apparently, they mixed tamarind, dried red chillies, and sugar. They would then put blobs of this to gooey ‘goodness’ on the ends of little sticks (twigs?), and it was ready for human consumption! 

From the ingredients she mentioned, I could imagine the delight of a child in tasting those real and sharp flavours, albeit crude. 

Today, years later and miles away in Auckland at work, we had our first team meeting in the new year. Our manager gave us some candy from his visit to his home country Mexico. The candy with alcohol was an instant hit (no pun intended) with the others. 

But I found the Pulparindo very interesting. The moment I tasted it, I remembered my mother-in-law’s playtime candy. The Pulparindo is Mexico’s Pulp-and-Indo connection, shall we say?

Christmas from the horse’s mouth

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We live in an age when few know the Christmas narrative with any clarity. So, this year, on Facebook, I posted six narrative readings from the gospels for the six days leading up to Christmas. But I was sorry to have to omit some other great passages to do with the first advent of our Lord, hence this post.

I have copied over the narrative readings from my Facebook. This is followed by a section called Prophetic readings from the Old Testament and finally Non-narrative readings from the New Testament.

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NARRATIVE Readings from the Gospels

[Reading 1 of 6] 
Luke 1:26-35
. . . God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

[Reading 2 of 6] 
Matthew 1:18-25
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
. . . When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”

[Reading 3 of 6]
Extra short today.
Luke 2:1-7
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

[Reading 4 of 6]
Finally we get to the part about the shepherds.
Luke 2:8-20
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

[Reading 5 of 6]
If you have not grown up attending church,  you probably have not heard about Simeon and Anna, two characters that  the Bible takes care to mention in connection with Baby Jesus.
Luke 2:25-38
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

[Reading 6 of 6]
This reading takes us to the account about the Magi. Personally, I think the Magi or wisemen might have been from among the great sages in India, but we really do not know more about their identity than that they came from the East. See what the Bible tells us about how they found Jesus.
Matthew 2:1-12
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

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PROPHETIC Readings from the Old Testament

[Reading 1 of 5]
This passage comes from the first pages of the Bible, the earliest prophecy about Jesus who would crush the ancient serpents head by His death on the cross.
Genesis 3:14-15
So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush[b] your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

[Reading 2 of 5]
Reading this in its context without divine help, it would have been next to impossible for readers before Jesus’ time to guess its fulfillment in Mary and Jesus. But with Matthew telling us that it is so, we can now appreciate the detail contained in this prophecy.
Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself will give you[a] a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

[Reading 3 of 5]
This passage once struck me with such intensity that I composed a song based on it. (You can hear it sung here)
Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
. . . For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.

[Reading 4 of 5]
This prophecy, written about 700 years before Jesus foretells the lineage of the Messiah to come. He would be born of the family of David, son of Jesse.
Isaiah 11:1-2
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—

[Reading 5 of 5]
This is another prophecy that fascinates in hind sight. Matthew quotes it to prove to the Jewish reader that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, who fulfilled Messianic prophecies to the last minute detail.
Micah 5:2
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans[a] of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”

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NON-NARRATIVE Readings from the New Testament

[Reading 1 of 4]
This passage from John’s gospel refers to Jesus as the Word, the Logos, the Creator who came to earth as the Avatar or Incarnation.
John 1:1-5, 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

[Reading 2 of 4]
This is perhaps the most well known verse in all the Bible and speaks of the great Gift given to us.
John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

[Reading 3 of 4]
Galatians 4:4-5
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

[Reading 4 of 4]
This is an important passage that speaks about Jesus putting His glory by for a time and taking our form.
Phil 2:5-11
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Short visit to Japan

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If I don’t make a note here about how my time in Japan was spent and what my impressions were, I would probably forget.

** Kojima jeans

**My time at Logos English School in Kojima

** A taste of Japan

I travelled by China Southern, which I found comfortable and pleasant. The planes between Guangzhou and Kansai were much smaller than the large planes that fly between Auckland and Guangzhou. Here are two pictures, both taken in Guangzhou, one of the small plane on my way to Kansai. The next photo is that of the huge plane taken just before I boarded in my way back. 

Serendipitous friendships are given us by God. I met Dr Arpitha in Kansai Airport and saw her off at Guangzhou on her way to Delhi.

A taste of Japan

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In the few days that I spent in Japan, here are some observations that I’d like to note down.

Rice fields are nothing new for an Indian like me, but to have rice fields in residential areas certainly is.

The bigger the station the more crowded it was. Okayama Station was busier than Kojima station.  Sandy referred to these people filled “streets” in the station as concourses.

Queuing is in their blood. Whether at bus stops, outside the elevator, at a store, or at the train station, you can find little queues. Here is a photo I took from inside the train of a queue of people getting in.

If you look closely at the last two in the queue, you’ll see that they are wearing masks over their nose and mouth. This was another common sight all over Japan.

Politeness is the Japanese way. One hears a variant or other of the “Arigatou gozaimasu” a hundred times a day. Giving elaborately wrapped gifts is normal. My friend in hospital received many gifts, including these flowers.

Convenience stores have a variety of meal options. I quite liked this bento, with meatballs, squid, chicken, and rice, from the hospital’s convenient store.

Dinner on my last evening in Japan was an assortment of food that Logos teacher Ashley and I bought at the supermarket. Octopus Takoyaki balls, potato fries, sesame bean-paste ball, Roll with bean paste. Very yum.

We have all heard of the bullet train, which is known as the Shinkansen in Japan. I must say that riding on a Shinkansen was not amazingly different from any other train journey. But watching these majestic trains from the outside is amazing. This is a picture I clicked just as a shinkansen was arriving at a platform.

Hiroshima is the next stop after Okayama. Although I did not visit Hiroshima, just seeing the name of that place evokes sadness.

I took this picture of this brand new car on display at the Shin Osaka station. Most of the cars we have owned in Auckland have been secondhand imports from Japan. I was tickled to see a brand new car in Japan. Maybe in the evening of its life, it will make the trip to Auckland.

Let me end my posts about this visit to Japan with some pictures taken from the train to Kansai airport.