Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shalom! (peace, health, universal flourishing)

 Above: At the book launch of "The Gospel and the Land of Promise: Christian Approaches to the Land of the Bible"  edited by my Hebrew professor, Phil Church (on the left). To see this photo in original context/purchase the book click here

UPDATE 6/24- Please pray for me and my Excel Students. 3 students are being permanently sent home on drug/alchohol/relational infringements. That has been real hard on me as I love all the students here, I know it is the right thing though. I haven't slept well for 4 days now given the tremendous surge of pastoral care for the students, and now I'm coming down with a cold after being woken up early in the morning by a student issue. One guy in particular is losing his passion for everything as his mother died when he was 12 and his father currently has around a month left to live from cancer. Another student was arrested for being drunk in public cursing God and mumbling in a bizarre state. It took 6 policemen to bring her down. Myself and the Womans RL picked her up from the station this morning, and she remembers nothing. In all of this I somehow need to keep it together to finish a major project Sunday night. Your prayers would be a blessing.

-------------------------------------------------Mondays Original Post------------------------------

 If you are interested in supporting my education next semester, please click here I have 4 weeks to raise the funds required.

After finishing my project on homosexual hermeneutics this Wednesday, I began an all out assault on my Hebrew text book.  Tomorrow is the big push (cram?) before the final exam on Tuesday and it's currently 12:24am and I'm working on vocab. Please pray for my brain to be on its A game on exam day. According to my blog title, I at least certainly know one Hebrew word+definition... that's a good start.

There have been a few moments of 'extraordinary' to break the tension and monotony of study. This Friday I attended a Highlanders vs. Blues, rugby game with friends at Eden Park Stadium in Auckland. My Cromwell (Central Otago) team was soundly defeated but that didn't stop the group from having a good time (group was made up mostly of Blues fans). My friends Lachlan+Anna and I were selected randomly to participate in the games half time show consisting of tug-o-war vs Blues fans. Again, my team was soundly defeated- but it was a real crack up of an experience to walk onto the field with all the cameras etc, during a televised rugby event.

On a more somber note Christchurch has been rocked again by a series of earthquakes that have leveled many buildings that were holding on by a prayer from the previous earthquakes. Christchurch since the Feb 22nd earthquake might have averaged one 4.0 magnitude or above a week (don't quote me), but this one has done the most damage. Water pipes have been fractured again in a city that has seen more than its fair share of devastation. The death toll is at 1.

In this last week New Zealand as well as myself has seen it's ups and downs, but I get a tremendous sense that God is going to something big here, and soon. I don't even know why, it's just a feeling. Evangelist Greg Laurie from the United States is coming in to do a Harvest (the new word for the politically incorrect, crusade. On a totally irrelevant note the preacher at my church today, with regard to the political incorrectness of the previous term, referred to it as a "campaign." I found this ironic given the fact that evangelists are try to move away from war related terms... but this is beside the point :) )  at the Vector Arena, in the heart of Auckland. All the churches NZ wide have rallied behind this cause, setting there differences aside for the sake of the gospel. The other thing that has stoked my feelings of God doing something big here is the outpouring of healing this last two weeks between the Sunday evening church I attend (St. Pauls) and my Excel students. This has been strongly reaffirming to me that the gospel of Christ is much much more than a series of mere "good ideas." At church, a leg was healed by a ordinary person that prayed Jesus's name over a stranger, but even greater was the outpouring of Gods spirit at the Excel Academy. Various students (some 10-15?) were healed of physical ailments. For the person who holds to the understanding that God doesn't work this way in the present dispensation  will have to come face a (a most noteworthy) young man who was previously blind in his left being able to now SEE. He was blind and now he sees. I talked with him today and he was BEAMING, praising Christ through and through. Sunday afternoon, a regular Excel student after seeing the power of prayer was compelled to pray for a Hindu woman that prepares food for us at Laidlaw. I heard rumors of her being healed of the back pain that wouldn't allow her to put on her own apron, but being skeptical, I followed up. I talked with Bharti (the Hindu woman), and she was quite speechless. I asked her how it happened and she said, after the girl from Excel (a non-resident who's name I don't know) prayed Jesus name over her, asking her to be healed, she felt a wave of heat come over her neck, shoulders and arm. Even a practicing Hindu couldn't deny the power of Christ. Something is happening here indeed, please pray for lives to be touched this Friday and Saturday at the Harvest in Auckland. I have asked God to let me partake in what he has already got going on in the city, please join me in prayer for this country.


Above: Why so serious? Lachlan and I in Highlanders gear.

Above: Anticipation 

 Above: Go time

Friday, June 10, 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel?

I'm now in the most critical stretch of the semester, preparing for finals and researching for major essays. From previous experience, this is the time of the year where everything culminates into a channeled stream of fatigue, frustration and a possible sleepless night or two. My current point from which I'm navigating the 'end times' would reinforce past experience. Not all is heavy though, as there have been some beautiful moments in this last week alone that make reading the hundreds of pages of literature for and against homosexual hermeneutics/ethics, bearable.

Boxing, maybe not your personal definition of a beautiful moment but it sure connects with the unredeemed areas of my heart (saying this tongue in cheek). On Sunday evening I cycled home from Church, to which I saw the stadium parking filling up across from Laidlaw. During major events, Laidlaw sells parking for $5 a pop and the Laidlaw staff person facilitating the sales, Jenny Mackie (my direct supervisor as RA), alerted me that it was the big fight night the newspapers had been touting for weeks. To my surprise I found it wasn't sold out but I didn't have the kind of money required to get in. Dismayed, I went to the dinner halls only to discover that the maintenance guy at school had been trying to track me down. Some how he assisted All Black (NZ Rugby) and headline fighter Sonny Bill Williams managers friends sisters cousins?.... something or other, earlier that night and she felt obliged to provide him with two ringside tickets to the bout, which were then bequeathed me. Fast forward moments later, a friend and I were up front and center at the hottest thing going on in all of NZ that evening.


Above: Undefeated, All Black, Sonny Williams strikes a pose at the charity boxing event for ChCh

A month ago I was being pursued to do standup comedy at school by a friend, after putting it off due to projects and a somewhat apprehensive spirit as the idea of cracking jokes in front of Laidlaw peers, staff and faculty in what would be my debut standup performance was just a bit daunting- I took the plunge. The womens student president asked me if I could be ready in a week and I said yes. My friend Robbie and I began writing material last week that was critically acclaimed this Wednesday in the largest staff, student and faculty community gathering to date. It was well received and a real blast to do. I wrote good portions of the material, which my friend (who I consider funnier than myself) breathed new life into it. Dr. David Williams took this video for you to enjoy and the photos, if somewhat cloudy were provided by Ben Haliwell.

Above: "Band Wednesday" at Laidlaw. Robbie Lawton and myself getting funky to "Apache" by the Sugarhill Gang during our epic introduction.

Above: Telling some jokes 

 Above: Singing some Bridal College love songs.

Above: Myself impersonating Arnold the govenerator.

Thursday evening before Youth Group, I was invited to Odyssey House, a 12 step program where addicts of various sorts come to live with one another in community as they attempt to free themselves of the things they know are killing them. Some members of OH attend my church, Avondale Baptist on Sundays when they are allowed to leave their campus for an hour. My OH brothers and sisters invited me to a graduation ceremony for the level 5's who graduate from the program. It was so encouraging to observe the courage of every man and woman in there, fighting to continue, going through each day in faith, not knowing what the future holds or if they will even succeed. What is beautiful about OH, while not a Christian organization, recognizes that individuals on their own seldom lack the necessary ingredients to make it, but in the shelter of a community bathed in encouragement and love for each other, they step forward in strength. The one level five that graduated that night was affirmed by the entire community, then affirmation was followed up with a feast. I'm known at OH for being a 'pastor' or 'holy man' (whatever that means) by a large group of the occupants who don't even attend church but have heard about how the church (ABC) loves this group of OH people. This gives me total freedom to talk about my favorite subject at will, Jesus Christ. I left the Odyssey House that evening completely buzzing, in the most super-natural sense.

We serve a triune relational God that invites us into relationship through Jesus, participating in Christs eternal loving relationship with the Father. The sweetest times I can think of in my life were times of participation in a loving community, being encouraged by the communal members when times are rough. God is a God of limitless love, being made known through Jesus. In the up and down times of trying to finish the semester well, I have seen glimpses of Christ as I have encouraged and been encouraged by others. We can't make it on our own.



And now I leave you with these two videos shot by Dr. David Williams on his iphone. The first video is where I spoof Dr. Mark MCconnel. Mark is Scottish and frequently relates song to theology. Since it's not  at the beginning of the segment it will be harder for you to follow but will give you a small taste. Robbie is impersonating American Prof and author Tim Keel while I take Marks view. My brief Scottish in this clip isn't best characterized by this video, but you get the point.....

This is half of the Bible College love song. Allow me to cite my dad Mike Piper for the line "good looks and great personality, it just isn't fair."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Elwha

Click on the Link above to read the full PDN article in context and to see the video.

The final shutdown of the two hydroelectric power plants has actually left me feeling more emotional than I thought I would. Before coming to New Zealand I worked under the Bureau of Reclamation, servicing the individual generators so they could cleanly produce the most energy possible. I worked on a team of 3, consisting of myself, John and Frank under the leadership of Kevin Yancy. Watching the video of the shutdown, it still hadn't set in to me as I had personally climbed inside of a once active generator to service it. The generators had been manually shut down before (many times), but what made this one different was that it was permanent.

Above Photo: A General Electric Generator that had been powered down for servicing. A massive 'blanket' hanging over the front entrance to keep heat to keep the unit dry.

 I want to thank Kevin  Yancy for selecting me to work on this team in the final years of dam operation, it was hands down the coolest job I have ever worked at, getting to work with equipment that dated well before the turn of the 20th century. Not only did the job allowed me to pay for the first semester of college in NZ, but I felt everyday as I was a kid again, playing in the forest, being awed by the natural setting of the dam. There was something magical about driving to work each day in the National Forest, it was stunningly beautiful. I consider myself privileged to be among the last to work at the two fantastic plants, let alone go inside of them. As a rock climber, I had been walking over/past the very dam that will be removed shortly for years. Then one day as it would seem, they gave that climber a job. My curiosity of what actually happened inside the grand building was put to rest. Goodbye old friend.

 Above Photo: The 75 Ton crane "Cyclops." It was a beast that we used on few occasions to lift the heaviest things conceivable. After 100 years, the thing still worked. Amazing. The green parachute was used to help dry the Simple Green cleaning solution we used to degrease the generator.
 Above Photo: This Photo was taken of the actual turbine submerged in the river. Not many people have seen this. The river was turned off in a sense, as if the 'faucet' was in the closed position allowing a team of welders and myself to enter the chamber. My job was to monitor oxygen levels and relay information to the surface as we were a good distance below ground. The yellow tube relayed in fresh air from the surface.
 Above Photo: Myself posing under a radioactive sign. The dam was designed to withstand a nuclear blast and provide shelter to those from nuclear fallout. Rest assured there was no such nuclear waste on site, it just made for a good photo in my full generator cleaning gear.
 Above Photo: Inside the Lower Dam, these tubes channeled the fury of the river into the hydroelectric generators. Touching these massive pipes would send shivers down my spine knowing the force that they contained inside of them.

 Above Photo: Lower Elwha Dam near the floodgates

Above Photo: A hardworking member of the team carrying a 90lb wrench, Kevin I can assure you this was on a break.