Thursday, March 14, 2013

I am 50 today ramblings

I am 50 today ...

And today I went to see my GP to have 4 stitches removed. This was the result of my having (a week ago) a whole mess of large unsightly skin tags (and a strange large growth on one of them) removed. Not that I am that vain but two were very near my eye and was very distracting to quite a number of people ...

Two of the largest were sent for testing ... and one was diagnosed as just a skin tag and the other ....seborrheic keratosis (at least that's what I think he said) which my GP thought was rather funny and wonders if the test results were wrong. Reason being it was something usually associated with old people. Of course it got funnier when I told him and the nurse (who was there to remove the stitches) that I turned 50 today.
I try to think in terms of older and not old so this funny test results did not help... *sigh* 50 is not old, 50 is not old, 50 is not old :-)

Went for a 3 day break with my wife and returned yesterday. Needed the break so badly as we did not have the chance to take time off in summer. Leave issues and the timing was as usual bad for me ...

First trip to Paihai and it was mostly lousy *sigh*. Story of my life :-)

So much was happening the couple of days that demanded my attention before our trip and had 2 out of three bad nights of sleepless nights and intense dreaming (some of which were nightmares) , so start of the trip was not so good. And of course first half of the day was spent travelling etc.

Second day ... the main day for a full day of fun ended up as full day of vomiting, headaches, nausea etc for me as I get sea sick easily and the effects linger for days. My wife wanted to see Dolphins and almost from the start of the trip, I felt sick. So a couple of hours of headaches and nausea and feeling like throwing up finally resulted in the next hour or so of throwing up. Only good part was that the very irritating loud mouthed Chinese threesome who decided they wanted to sit behind me kept yakking super loud (we have suspicions they were Malaysians) in Chinese drowning out everything else finally moved away when I started vomiting :-)
Four hour nightmare trip that thankfully had a 30 minutes break on an island where my head stopped spinning for a while.
The headaches still around  and go and this morning woke up with a headache and nausea... *sigh*

At least my wife had fun ....

Anyway that sure has a way of spoiling the holiday. BUT what was nice is that I managed to get at a discount a nice studio apartment that had a private hot tub. Never used a hot tub before and boy was it very nice. So relaxing ... so that helped a lot. And it had a full kitchen and air con as well (though we did not really use the kitchen as we went out to enjoy restaurant food for a change!)

And since I had no mood to go out too much, I decided to watch TV and was pleasantly surprised that the movie channel (SKY) had over the 2 days, 2 excellent openly Christian movies that I enjoyed very much: "Soul Surfer" and "Courageous". Last openly Christian movie I saw was "Amazing Grace". That was  really nice.

Finally day made up a lot for the bad 2nd day. Enjoyed my visit to the Waitangi Treaty grounds. Nothing really much to see but was educational and very interesting at the same time.

And because the holiday fully paid for by a wonderful friend of over 20 years, I did not have any "guilt" about spending money on a holiday. Very liberating LOL. Thanks "old friend" ...

Anyway, its back to work today on my birthday as there is a lot to do especially this weekend. Home group on Friday night ... On Saturday, there's Kelston Family day in the morning, then International Connections in the afternoon and my son Andrew is taking us out for dinner (to "belanja" us with some of the money he earned working as an intern the last three months). Sunday after church there is fund raising lunch and church committee meeting

Headache seems better now and I hope nothing prevents me from going out tonight - to enjoy a magic lecture. Just $10 for 2 hours of entertainment, inspiration and education.
And decided to buy myself a present to make myself feel better - just spend $88 on some magic :-)


Spent a couple of hours writing out my Pastor's notes based on Jeremiah 20:7ff especially verse 9. The result? I scrapped the Pastor's notes and had to put this in its place ...


Project(s): 00-345
Country/Region: South and East Asia, Pakistan
We are facing the punishment of being Christians inPakistan.
Shamim, whose home was destroyed in the attack
Hundreds of Christians have been left homeless in Pakistan after a 3,000-strong mob of Muslims torched their houses and shops and a church over a false blasphemy accusation against a Christian man.
Attackers add fuel to the fire, destroying another Christian home
Attackers add fuel to the fire, destroying another Christian home
The Christians of Joseph Colony in the Badami Bagh area of Lahore had fled in fear of their lives ahead of the violence on Saturday (9 March), after hearing calls from the mosque loudspeakers that urged Muslims to “kill the blasphemers”.
They were incited to attack the poor Christian neighbourhood in response to a complaint brought against Savan Masih the previous day by a local Muslim, who said that the Christian had made derogatory remarks against Muhammad.
The mob attacked Savan’s home and also broke into the properties of other Christian families, looting their goods before setting the houses on fire. A total of 178 houses and 75 shops were destroyed, leaving hundreds of Christians homeless and with nothing. Bibles were also burnt.
One of the victims, Aslam Masih (65), told one of our local project partners that it had taken him many years to save up to enable his two daughters to get married next month. He now cannot afford to buy a single meal for his family. Through tears, he said, “This incident has made us paupers”.  
The attackers could not find Savan but did catch and severely beat his father, Chaman Masih.
The destruction of the Christian community is brazenly celebrated
The destruction of the Christian community is brazenly celebrated
The police placated the mob by registering a blasphemy case against Savan under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which prescribes the death penalty for defiling the name of Muhammad. Chaman was also taken into custody.
The alleged “blasphemy” incident took place on the night of 7 March during an exchange between Savan, who is married with three children, and his Muslim friend.
Barnabas Fund is working with local partners on plans to help the homeless Christians of Joseph Colony rebuild their lives. 
The Pakistani authorities have made a strong response to the anti-Christian violence. President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf have ordered an inquiry; the Punjab government has announced that the Christians will be compensated for their losses and that cases against the perpetrators will be prosecuted. Around 150 suspects have been arrested.  
It remains to be seen, however, if firm action will be taken and promised help will be forthcoming. The incident is reminiscent of the burning of 60 Christian homes in Gojra in 2009 in which eight Christians were killed. Nobody has yet been convicted in connection with that attack.
And hundreds of Christians who were driven from their homes inMaherabad following a false blasphemy accusation against vulnerable Christian teenager Rimsha Masih last August have still not been able to return home.   
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:
Once again, an entire Christian community in Pakistan has been ravaged and destroyed by Islamic extremists over an unsubstantiated blasphemy allegation. It is welcome news that these helpless Christian families will receive state compensation, but they are likely to need further support from their brothers and sisters elsewhere. Barnabas Fund will be standing with them in the weeks and months ahead as they try to rebuild their shattered lives.


If you would like to help the Christian families who have been affected by this incident, please send a donation to the Victims of Violence Fund(project 00-345).  using our secure server.
If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote project referenceVictims of Violence Fund (project 00-345).
If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for the address of our regional office. Please quote project reference Victims of Violence Fund (project 00-345).
For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here)text Barnabas/345 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).


There is a poster for download to advertise this emergency here and a PowerPoint slide for your church notices is available here.

  • For all the Christian families who have lost their homes, shops and possessions in this traumatic incident. Pray that they will be given the practical, spiritual and emotional support they need to recover.
  • For Savan Masih and Chaman Masih, that the Lord will watch over them and protect them from those intent on their harm. 
  • That the Pakistani authorities will deliver on their pledges to provide compensation to the victims and pursue the offenders through the justice system.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Prove It (John Indermark)

For the 19 March 2013 bulletin

Excerpted from: Parables and Passion: Jesus' Stories for the Days of Lent
John Indermark 


Rich Man and Lazarus     Luke 16:19-31

Have you ever played a game called "Prove It"? It's not a board game or video game. You can't order it from Milton Bradley or Nintendo. It's one of those games we play in relationships, adapt-able to all ages. Children often play it. "If you think you can climb the tree as high as I can prove it!" Sometimes it has a darker side, used to exclude someone who is on the outs at the moment. "If you're really my friend, you won't play with Robin—'cause I don't like her." As children mature, the game gets more sophisticated. The love of parents becomes the target of the testing. "If you really loved me, you'd trust me and let me stay out later..."

..."Prove it" has two major problems in human relationships. It is a game that can be very destructive, used to distort even the best of qualities for purely self-seeking ends. In the name of love or friendship, some very unloving and unfriendly behavior seeks justification. The other problem is its addictive nature. In relationships dependent on "proof" of love or friendship, the demands for proof never go away. Like any other addiction, spiraling degrees of proof are required as time passes. Relationships based on constant proofs fight a losing battle, because in the end love or friendship must derive from trust. And trust is not something you can coerce from another person. It will be learned through experience, not proved by contrived tests.

This notion of trust versus proof goes to the heart of Jesus' parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The parable opens with a study in stark contrasts: a rich man who enjoys the benefits of this world's elite, and Lazarus who has to raise his eyes just to see past the gutter. When the next world comes, everything turns upside down. Beyond a morality tale about how tables get turned (and they will!), Jesus moves the story in an additional direction.

The rich man offers up what seems a hint of compassion for others, something clearly absent in his previous ignoring of Lazarus. The rich man (in some traditions called Dives) asks that Lazarus be sent to warn his five brothers about the follies of their ways. The appeal seems reasonable. It would be like the scene in A Christmas Carol by Dickens, where Ebenezer Scrooge's long-dead partner, Jacob Marley, visits him. The sounds of Marley's chains, forged by long years of greed and indifference, begin the journey of Scrooge toward compassion and humanity.

But listen to the reply of "Father Abraham" to Dives, a response that returns our focus to the theme of proving. "They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them." But the rich man is not satisfied. "But if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent." Bible, Schmible—nobody pays attention to that anymore. But let old Lazarus show up on the doorstep, and my brothers will beat a path to you. That'll prove it!...

...Beyond the parable these closing words become even more intriguing. The parable is told by Jesus: Jesus who later resuscitates a friend by the name of Lazarus, Jesus whom God resurrects to life at story's end (and discipleship's beginning). Does the parable's conclusion teach that even those events cannot prove faith? The answer may surprise us. The resuscitation of Lazarus pivots John's Gospel. From that point forward the Temple authorities determine Jesus must die. Capital punishment, not faith, is the verdict of the raising of Lazarus.

Jesus' resurrection evokes similar results. Disciples dismiss the first Easter witness announced by the women as an "idle tale" (Luke 24:11). Jesus shows his wounds to Thomas, only then to bless those who will believe without seeing. "If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

Faith cannot be proved by apparitions from the dead any more than it can be verified by an alleged burial shroud subjected to scientific scrutiny. Proof is not and never has been the point of our life and standing in Jesus Christ. Rather, faith beckons trust expressed in love.

Save me, O God, from endless bargaining and proof-testing of your love. Deliver me into the grace that sets me free to live with grace and to trust you wholly. Amen.

Spiritual Exercise
Consider your faith and participation in faith community. Where do you struggle with the need for proof? How does the need for proof affect your ability to trust in God, in others, in yourself? Pray for guidance and discernment in these matters. Seek a more gracious trusting of God with your life, relationships, and faith community involvements.

The dark hours on the cross (Pastor;s notes)

For the 3 March 2013 bulletin

My pastor's notes this week is an email from Susan Shore (a Wycliffe Missionary)

I have been reading through the book "Jesus on Trial" by James Mongomery Boice and Philip Graham Ryken. Once again their comments about the three hours of darkness struck me. This was definitely not an eclipse, as am eclipse only lasts a few minutes. Apparently Tertullian, an early Christian apologist, referred to this darkness when he reminded his heathen readers that the "wonder is related in your own annals and is preserved in your archives to this day." This testifies to the historicity of the darkness. But that is not what struck me. 

From page 105-6: "Those dark hours represent a gap in the narrative, a time about which we know almost nothing. But there was much going on before the darkness descended. Jesus had prayed for the soldiers who were crucifying him. He had spoken words of promise to the believing criminal hanging beside him. He had commended his mother to the care of the beloved disciple. The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders had been taunting him. But with the descent of the darkness, the narrative ceases, as if a veil had been drawn over the unspeakable suffering of God's Son. 

What happened during those hours of darkness? We know the answer. It was in those hours that the Son of God took the burden of our sins upon himself, was punished for them in our place, and experienced such terrible alienation from his Father that he cried out, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34). During those hours, God was carrying out his judgement against human sin, giving it the death sentence it deserved. The darkness thus veiled the anguish of the Son of God while he was bearing the punishment for our sins; it was not right for human eyes to look upon him in his suffering. At the same time, the darkness testified to the blackness of our sin and the tremendous cost to God of our redemption."