Toyota Altezza

So in a flurry of random events, God comes to the party, answers some prayer, and what-d-ya-know… we have a new car! In what was possibly the easiest car trade in history, we went from going up to have a look at it, to driving it home.

It started out with a bit of a budget, which involved some money that was on Term deposit, which wasn’t available until the end of the month.
Thanks to some generous parents who loaned us the extra, we moved from having to wait two weeks, to being able to pay the next day. We found our Toyota at adamstoyota.com, they had amazing prices and their customer service was great.

 

The car is a 1998 Toyota Altezza RS200. It is blue. And it rolls a lot smoother than my Mini. It has a 2.0 litre 3S-GE BEAMS engine which has a beautiful balance between economical and rip-ya-face-off driving. At about 5000rpm it noticeably kicks up a notch.
The white spokes with silver rim alloys are a nice addition, and do not stand out, only attracting attention when you take a step back and take it all in.
It has a factory fitted body kit which makes it hunker down on the tarmac.

Inside, everything is tidy, but the first thing you see is a garish blue which has been custom painted around parts of the dashboard. This will of course be changed back to a more reasonable silver in good time.
The speedo cluster looks great, with oil, battery, and temperature as three smaller circle dials inside the speedometer.
I do like the centre console, with three click dials to control the air con unit. But in this model, the fitted Panasonic head unit pops up a screen which then covers these. The screen doubles as a rear view camera, which is necessary given the raised back and small rear window.
With two front door speakers, tweeters mounted up by the wing mirrors, and two rear parcel tray speakers, sound is an important aspect of this car. The previous owner had also installed an amp and subwoofer in the boot. This gives an extra boost to the bass in the car. My brother was looking at 7 Best CB Radios by CBRadioGuru.com and
we took a morning to replace the rear 6×9 speakers with a much better set from CB Radios.

Up above the heads of its occupants, the Altezza has a front seat light, as well as a central one with door switch option. Between these is an electrics operated sunroof, which can be hidden away. It tilts, as well as slides completely away. I suspect this will be great to have on a hot summers day.
The windows are tinted, which makes the interior dark yet professional. It’s cosy but spacious.
From inside to outside, there isn’t much in the way of road noise at all. About the only thing you can hear is the rumble of the exhaust on this car.

So there we have it. A first hand tour of our 1998 Toyota Altezza. It’s my first ‘modern’ sedan and I suspect we will own it for many a year yet.

Born to Choose

This post includes content unsuitable for young children. Viewer discretion is advised.

A few weeks back I launched my view on the Marriage Equality debate on my blog.
Since then I’ve been challenged, I’ve thought about, debated, and learned a little bit more about the topic.

Don’t get me wrong. I still stand by my comments that I have made. Most of the post was about the marriage side of the debate. Not actually about the people involved.
One aspect I did touch on was the whole “Gay Gene” theory, and how that seemed unlikely from my point of view. This led me to look into the idea of people choose to be gay, as opposed to them being born that way. From this, I find myself evenly balanced between the two, where I was quite obviously one sided in the past. In this post I hope to make the other side of the coin a lot clearer.
I wish to make clear that I am not pro-gay. That does not make me anti-gay. It just means I won’t support something I believe to be wrong, even if you believe it to be right.

Born that way

The argument says that being gay is not a choice. That people are born gay, and thus they have no control over their sexuality; and this being the case, are offended and marginalised by not being treated equal.
The evidence for this is undeniable, even to my own eyes. I have had boys in my class and at my school who have displayed incredibly effeminate qualities, in their mannerisms, in their speech, and with who they hang out with.
In church this morning we were told of a family who noticed such behaviours in their two year old. They are now adamant that being gay is not a choice. Being gay is a result of genetics, that gays are born that way. As their son now quips, “Who on earth would choose to be gay?”. And it’s a strong quip given the relentless bullying that he has faced as a result of his homosexuality. In addition, I saw an image which asked “If being gay is a choice, when did you choose to be straight?”. I’ll leave it at that.

It’s a Choice

As I stated in a previous post, why would God make a ‘defect’ in his creation that would allow a man to sin by being with another man beyond his own control? I firmly believe he wouldn’t. But that doesn’t mean that sin doesn’t enter into our lives at one point or another, even if we a born pure.
You see, the sin isn’t being gay.
The sin is engaging in promiscuous activities with members of the same sex.
Just as I have a choice to have relations with my wife, gays have the choice to engage with each other. Just as some people choose to have adulterous relations, men have the choice to lay with men, as women have the choice to lay with men. You may be born to have lustful desires to the same sex, but it’s a choice as to what you do with those desires.
The following letter sums up exactly what this entails, from an openly gay lesbian who became Christian.
Love Letter to a Lesbian
Following on from Jackie’s letter, I refer to 1 Corinthians 7 vs 8-9. “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
You see Paul made it quite clear that marriage was not at all necessary for life to be meaningful. Obviously procreation is required, but if you can withstand the desires of the flesh, then remaining single is a wonderful option (according to Paul).

Born to Choose

At the end of the day, this is one issue that is not black or white. It is grey. It is a tension between two ropes. Both are valid and maybe it is beyond our own human comprehension and we have to step forward in faith knowing that God has all of eternity in the palm of his hand.

New Car – Post 2000

It’s come to the point in time where the reliability of my beloved 1980 Mini LE has come to an end. Whilst I will continue to keep hold of my dream car (and my first!) and look after it, it will sadly be held under a blanked for 9 months of the year until the glorious New Zealand sunshine comes out to play in December, January, and February.

Toyota-Altezza_mp6_pic_22288

In the process of looking for a new (but used) car, the conundrum of whether to go with a Pre-2000 car vs. a Post-2000 car has come up. This is because of the possible change in law sometime in 2013, where cars that were made after 2000 will be required to only get one WOF per year. All those of vintage years before the year 2000 will have to continue to get a WOF every six months.
Initially I began ruling out pre-2000 cars because of the WOF issue. The inconvenience of having to get it warranted every six months is annoying, but it is manageable. It is also an additional cost, at $50 per WOF.
But looking at the prices, I’m seeing that the difference between 1999 cars and 2001 cars of the same make and model is about $2000. Now, if my maths is right, then at an additional $50 per year (because ONE payment of $50 a year still has to be made), means that it would take 40 years of additional WOF’s to make up the difference that I’m paying.
My wife also pointed out that, like health issues, if they are found early then they can be treated sooner. Having a problem for a good part of a year going unnoticed could end up costing more than finding the problem at it’s early stages every six months.
So I have now been able to reason with myself and help out my wallet, by re-including pre-2000 cars in my search for new wheels.

Worship Leading – Re:Read

This post is a reflection of many of the observations I’ve had over the past few months. It is a post about judgements, reading people, and leading worship.
Mr Bean bored in church

Reading People

Each time I get up to worship lead I’m trying to get a gauge for where Gods people are at. Are they busting to stand up and get cranking, or are they reluctant to get vertical out of their pew.
During the space we create for a chance to bask in Gods presence, are they surrendering their hearts with open arms, or are they staring glumly at the floor and can’t wait to sit down again.

Judgement Call

You see, we make judgements by what we see. We see certain gestures, postures, facial hints, and we try and reason what they mean.
Staring blankly into nothingness = boredom
Arms raised and jumping = on fire for god
Sitting down = given up

Is that really what happening though?

Is someone with their eyes closed asleep? Or are they deep in prayer and being ministered to through Gods Holy Spirit.
Is someone with their arms raised connecting with God and surrendering their life? Or are they desperate to hear from God and think that raising hands might help?

You see, we make a call. And usually, a critical one. We are of course our own worst critic.
But what happens when you actually find out what’s going on?

Two Stories

Let me tell you of two stories.
One involves a man in our church. We were in the middle of a worship set, we created flow and there was no doubt of Gods presence in the room. But I looked out and saw this man. He had his hands in his pockets, and a stern look that was staring blankly at the ground 5 meters in front of him graced his face.
My initial reaction was that this guy isn’t feeling this. He’s missed the point and really isn’t enjoying these songs. Maybe I should wind this up soon.
Well, at the end of the service he came up to the team and explained that was the best worship experience he’s had. He had tingles running up and down his spine the whole time. The look on his face was merely concentration on all that was going on and listening to what God had for him that morning.

Another instance was at a worship workshop recently. Whilst everything went really well, one of the attendees was relatively reserved. He kept in the background and didn’t go out of his way to get involved. This is fine, and didn’t worry me, but I wondered if he really got anything out of it.
Then I got an email from him.
It outlined how he sees worship leading as a big responsibility and his hesitancy to get involved. He stated that he got a lot out of it and he respects the energy and knowledge I bring to worship leading.

Conclusion

Sometimes we judge things by what we see. We make a call on people’s feelings by their posture or their face.
I encourage all worship leaders out there to read your congregation, but also re:read them.
When you read your congregation you will naturally be critical. They’re bored. They’re not singing. They’d rather we stop.
More times than not, none of those are ever the truth.
That’s why you need to re:read them. Why else could they be sitting down? Because God has put a weight on their knees, and is reforming their heavy heart. Staring blankly with boredom? Or staring blankly seeing Gods vision for their lives?

Read.
Then re:read.

If you have any more stories about your experiences of mis-reading congregations, please contact me and I can compile some additional evidence to my post here.