BE WARNED - I RANT A LOT AND IT IS NOT NECESSARILY PLEASANT!
The lyrics of an old Don McLean song came to mind ... (yes, I know that this verse is about Buddy Holly's death) but the lyrics and mood of the song made me reflect on current events and how I felt .... Bad news ... emotional crippling and worse, an inability to empathize due to "bad news fatigue"?
But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn’t take one more step.
I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.
Earthquake in Canterbury, then now in Japan, with the tsunami and the still real unresolved threat of a nuclear meltdown. I can't imagine how all the aid agencies and government authorities are going to coordinate help for 2 million people (and growing).
Then of course there's all kinds of trouble in the Middle East, and Christians in Muslim dominated lands and parts of India being persecuted not just relentlessly and blatantly in the open but with sick sadistic and systematic violence. Half the time I feel number with pain and other times I get angry at the situation (and I get moody and that sometimes doesn't help how I relate to my family). Almost every other news e-mail I get (actually more than half) is news on persecution. I get upset too that it seems that many Christians who are more concerned about "social justice in the world via political dialogue" etc but are not willing to speak out loud and demand that a stop to persecution against Christians and help them with practical aid. And if you are a Christian, are not these our brothers and sisters by the blood of Christ?
And on the Malaysian front, corruption, blatant lies, greed, arrogance and selfish petty politicking and seem to be the happy mode for the majority of politicians and leaders - on both sides of the divide. Thank God though that there are some shining bright lights. I thank God that I am currently living and working in NZ - not a perfect country and loads of different challenges but in general a more caring and down to earth attitude prevails here and politicians caught lying and cheating don't get off easy. Though I worry that in 10 to 20 years, this will change to be replaced by selfishness, greed and irresponsibleness (is there such a word?) as a new generation seems to be emerging that seems to be very self absorbed about their right to have a good time. Thank God for the bright lights of the Student army that responded to the Christchurch quake. That impressed me and I thanked God so many times for them.
And of course it was my birthday yesterday. Lots of kind wishes and birthday greetings etc. Thank you all! But while I think it is good to have church traditions / celebrations and family traditions (I actually even preached on this on Sunday) I also mentioned that I have never been one to celebrate my birthday. Not a big deal for me and it's not because I am getting much older :-) Reason is simply that for me (for a very long time now and it's a personal quirk / eccentric? thing), I just don't like the fuss and I find it hard to want to think of enjoying myself and being the centre of attention when there is so much suffering in the world. Of course I am adjusting my view on this as I know that's not the whole point of a birthday celebration. :-)
It irks me too that more and more Christians seem to be more interested in emphasizing our differences and even fighting among themselves. It seems to me that we middle to upper class Christians are contented to tie ourselves up with too much "enlightened discussion" and academic debates and nit picking. Instead of Christian communities working hand in hand with each other to bless and share the gospel, the concept seems to be more and more what an "individual" thinks and wants to do. Even the Bible is being taken apart by many "enlightened Christians" who read the Bible with the premise that its has errors and they know better to correct some of these errors. *sigh*
I find it disturbing too that more and more Christians seem to be very willing to be "tolerant and affirming" with a non Christian but not with a fellow Christian. Perhaps too I see this trait in me at times as well? :-( Each year I grow more frustrated with lop sided political correctness and the doctrine of "tolerance" and "inclusiveness" and "syncretism" or whatever. Simply because it seems all around the world everything is acceptable (especially Islam) and needs to be embraced or given special privileges and rights except Christianity. Tolerant about everything except Christianity?!!? Then there is the selective reporting and twisting of truth of key news agencies. Reading alternative media makes me frustrated, angry and confused ... not necessarily in that order.
Some Bible verses that have been coming to my mind for about a month now that may help give some context to my ramblings and rantings..
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things.
1 Corinthians 12:22-27
22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,
24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it,
25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Matthew 16:25 - 28
25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."
John 15: 18-20
18 "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
20 Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.
10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.
11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name-- the name you gave me-- so that they may be one as we are one.
12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.
14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.
15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,
21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:
23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.
26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you.
5 For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.
6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
2 Timothy 3:1-7
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,
4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--
5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,
7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.