Category Archives: Events

Edify Conference – building the church in word and song – set list

It was a joy over the weekend to serve at the first Edify Conference, hosted at our home church (Howick Baptist). We had a great time opening the Word and considering the importance of what we do when we sing together as the gathered church.

Cheryl and I were in Sydney for Emu Music’s Word in Song Conference last year, and in 2011 got to attend the WorshipGod conference hosted by Bob Kauflin. And after talking about the idea of a music / gathered worship conference on and off for years, it was great to finally have a go at hosting one in NZ ourselves in partnership with Rowan Hilsden and the team at Auckland EV.

It was also neat to meet and get to know Greg Cooper, a songwriter and musician from Sydney who served on the Edify band on Friday night and led several workshops on Saturday. I personally learned a lot from observing and considering how skillfully he played the guitar – in a way that served the band and supported the church singing. I also loved his servant-hearted attitude and easy-going nature.

I enjoyed playing guitar and sing in the Edify bands – once on Friday with a full band, and again on Saturday morning with a stripped-back, acoustic team. It was good to have a go at modelling congregational church music for different contexts.

A few people asked for the songs we sang over the weekend, so here is the set list below:






Please pray for our church


In God’s providence, this year has turned out to be a real rollercoaster for our home church (Howick Baptist). In March, our Associate Pastor Joe Fleener announced that after seeking much counsel and prayer, he had accepted a call to plant a church in Rolleston. I had the privilege of serving alongside him to help organise this year’s Stand Conference, before his family made the move down at the end of July.

Just last week, our Senior Pastor Peter Somervell informed the church family that he had accepted a call to lead a church in Richmond, Nelson (you can read his announcement here).

This means in the space of less than a year, our church will have lost two of our full-time teaching elders.

This will be the first church transition our family will be a part of, and it’s possible that our church will be without a Senior Pastor for much of next year.

If you could keep Howick Baptist Church in your prayers, it would be really appreciated. Specifically, please pray that:

  • That we would trust in God alone, find refuge in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and walk by the Spirit each day
  • Each of us would grow in our love for Christ, His Gospel and His church during this time
  • Peter, Francelle and their family would be able to “finish well” and be encouraged and ready to serve at their next church
  • That amid the confusion and questions, we would speak with and about one another in ways that would glorify God
  • Our elders and staff would shepherd wisely and care for the flock through the uncertain months ahead
  • The members of HBC would continue to love and care for one another during the time of transition, and that we would remain a community that loves Jesus and proclaims His good news
  • Even now, God would prepare the right person to become the next Senior Pastor, so that the message of grace and peace through Jesus Christ may continue to be proclaimed at HBC.


What dangerous idea has the greatest potential to change the world for the better?

These were my notes when opening this morning’s Easter Sunday service at HBC.

Christ is risen; He is risen indeed!

I’d like to ask you a question this morning:

“What dangerous idea has the greatest potential to change the world for the better?”

Four panellists were asked this question late last year in a Q&A session held in front of a live audience at the Sydney Opera House. There was an atheist gay rights activist, a feminist historian, a women’s rights advocate, and a Christian journalist.

The first three suggested the following dangerous ideas: population control, absolute freedom, and to do less with our children.

This is what Peter Hitchens said:

“The most dangerous idea in human history and philosophy remains the belief that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and rose from the dead…

When asked why, he explained:

“Because it alters the whole of human behaviour and all our responsibilities. It turns the universe from a meaningless chaos into a designed place in which there is justice and there is hope and, therefore, we all have a duty to discover the nature of that justice and work towards that hope. It alters us all …”

In John 11, Jesus declares this:

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Friends, wherever you’re at this morning: whether you embrace this most dangerous idea as truth, you reject it as a fairy tale, or you’re not sure what to make of it, today, Easter Sunday, is a great opportunity to think deeply about this subject.

Please join in as we read, sing, listen and pray about the most dangerous idea in the world: that Christ is risen!


You can watch the segment from ABC’s Q&A here.

(Warning: If you choose to watch the full video do so carefully, there’s a lot of vulgar descriptions from one of the panellists).

HT: Philip Jensen

Census 2013: NZ no longer a “Christian” nation, more Buddhists than Baptists

Some might argue that it never was, but the results from the 2013 Census has been released.

For the stats geeks you can see the tabulated data here:

I’m sure someone will create pretty infographics in time, but for now here are some stats that caught my attention:

  • 2 out of 5 respondents (41.92%) identified as not religious (1,635,348, up 20% from 1,297,104 in 2006); a further 12.17% (474,642) objected to or did not answer. This means that for the first time in NZ census history, this group is more than the total that identify as Christian (to compare, in 1956 over 90% of respondents identified as Christian)
  • Less than half of respondents (48.18%) identified as a Christian denomination (1,879,671, down from 2,062,752 in 2006) – note Stats NZ’s definition is pretty big-tent and includes Jehovah’s Witnesses (0.46%, 17,931) and Mormons (1.04%, 40,728)
  • Catholics are now NZ’s largest religious denomination at 12.62% (492,324, down from 508,812 in 2006)
  • Next highest is Anglicans at 11.79% (459,771, down from 554,925 in 2006) – a huge drop of 17%
  • Presbyterians at 8.11% (316,329, down from 385,350 in 2006)
  • Baptists were 1.4% of respondents (53,496, down from 56,175 in 2006)
  • Pentecostals at 1.17% of respondents (45,777, up from 36,372 in 2006).
  • Increased numbers who responded as Hindu (90,018, up from 64560 in 2006), Muslim (46,194, up from 36,153 in 2006) and Buddhist (58,440 up from 52,392 in 2006) – global missions can be found locally. And there’s more (self-identified) Buddhists than Baptists.

Any other thoughts? You can browse the Census results at your leisure here.

Taipei so far

We're currently visiting relatives in Taipei, Taiwan.

It's Cheryl and E's first time in Taiwan, while the last time I was there was 8 years ago. Back then, I was 20, single, still in uni, and still a baby Christian, as it were (Here's a photo with my brother Henry on the right, and my aunt-in-law in the middle).


Here's some things (in no particular order) we've learned about Taipei so far:

  • it's not as hot as Malaysia right now!
  • we have really caring family here: my two uncles and aunty have been gracious and hospitable, while it has been nice to walk the streets of 台北 with Henry again (who speaks and reads Chinese very well now, and is an expert on the city)
  • food is cheap – lunch boxes for NZ$3-4, pearl milk tea for $1-2, delicious breads and buns for 80 cents each
  • lots of new and unplanned situations to test us as a family – there's nothing like the stress in the middle of a foreign city to reveal areas of character to grow in, such as pride, poor communication, indecisiveness and lack of servant leadership. Praise God for that
  • there's lots of unexpectedly cool restaurants and spaces and places – we're often surprised at what we find when we walk around a corner (for example, Henry took us to a board games café)
  • their public transport system is fast, efficient, and includes trains, buses, rental bicycles, and a 5km-long gondola line
  • they have a massive tofu section in their supermarkets. In fact, the supermarket we went to was so big it was all underground, had an electronics section the size of a JB Hi-fi store, and had a sushi making area
  • also at this supermarket they sell cat bread (bread shaped like a cat) – E was quite torn on whether to eat it or not (for about 10 seconds)
  • the East-West Bannan (板南) MRT Line – E goes on and on about bananas every time we talk about it
  • everyone here understands at least 2-3 different languages/dialects

Taipei life in photos

These photos aren't so much touristy locations, but just snippets of normal Taipei life.

The streets are bustling with life here. Street vendors offer food to hurried workers on their way to work (in many families both the husband and wife work, and usually don't get home till 7-8pm).
Subway stations are pretty convenient. We're staying with my uncles and aunty on mum's side. They own an apartment in the CBD, and the closest station is a few minutes' walk.
About 50 cents for each one of these. They were tasty!
Cheryl enjoying browsing the street markets (this shop sells everything hair-related).
Riding the subway. When people see E on my back they try to offer their seat, but then I tell them that E really likes holding the hanging straps. Also, it's relatively rare to see young children out and about in the city (Taiwan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world); several shopkeepers have given E free stuff
The view from the Maokong gondola (Taipei city with the 101 tower in the background). Since it's part of the public transport system, the fare is NT60, or NZ$2.50. Beat that, Skyline Gondolas!
This place just sells handmade buns and mantou. Delicious.
U-bike rentals ( – it's such a cool idea, you can use your public transport swipe card to rent a bike, and return them later at any of the U-bike racks dotted around the inner city. The first half hour is free and after that it's NT10 per half hour (less than 50 cents).
Enjoying a morning bike ride along the river.
This is interesting – there are random garden plots dotted around the inner city. My uncle explained to me that developers who own land in the Taipei metro area inevitably want to build tall buildings. So the government has a rule that if you leave the land as a nicely manicured garden for a few years, later on you are entitled to an extra couple of floors in your high-rise.