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Just felt this is something I should share.

  • This is me two months ago, commenting in someone’s blog.

March 23, 2010

“it’s very disheartening reading some of the comments here. honestly i am beyond tired. if these are comments from christians, i lagi more tired! i don’t want to be pretentious so i will admit that the devil has succeeded in getting people to avoid the church. at least he succeeded with me. i guess that makes me a loser. to hear the constant bashing, especially in recent years, of the church that has been my lifeline in so many ways, is very discouraging and hurtful. when i first got saved, there was this pure and innocent joy to share the good news. i remember inviting a friend of mine to church. she was deeply moved and over the next few years, one after another of her family members came to christ and found new meaning in life. a few years ago she sent me a christmas card with only these words…thank you, thank you, thank you (for bringing me to chruch and introducing me to christ). even now as i am writing this, it brings tears to my eyes. this is what makes life meaningful, to be an agent of change in people’s life. all that was before blogs existed, before i started reading comments and forums and the media. a lot has changed since then. it’s difficult not to be affected by all the criticism and judgment and the spirit behind them. yet it is difficult to avoid them if one doesn’t wish to be a christian living only in her own world. i love to read. i have gained a more balanced view of my faith through reading viewpoints and experiences of other believers. but it has also costs me. fortunately i receive a lot of positive feeding from my church every week. my faith journey might not have lasted this long if not for them. but all the poison has finally caught up with me. my relationship with christ and NCC has become a very private thing. i have no desire to invite anyone to church or mention anything about NCC, church …. or even Jesus. in the eyes of non-believers, they are all the same. with believers, i don’t mention NCC because it makes them run before i have the opportunity to speak. the prejudice is just too great. so i keep silent. i don’t need more people bashing my chruch or my faith. i am done for now. i need time to recover.

many of you ask, how has NCC changed my life? i can’t tell you without telling you how Jesus changed my life because the focus on Christ is central to NCC. yes there are flaws but Jesus is always central. you asked, how has NCC help my faith journey. it is difficult to prove to you in a tangible way. what i can say simply is that the Jesus presented by NCC is the reason why hope is alive even in my bleakest hour. there is an inner buoyancy that sustains my soul when my circumstances are an utter shipwreck. that Jesus is what motivates me to pick myself up and start again when i fail to live up to the christian ideal. when i thought i have completely lost my innocence because i have lost faith in humanity, when there is no one i can trust anymore, that Jesus encourages me to seek beauty in the midst of ugliness. i don’t know if i have personally impacted anyone by these but they sure do keep me from giving up on life.”

but right now, i am really tired. i need to withdraw into my church and behold the Jesus that I know again.

  • This is me having doubts about my calling and loosing passion and direction, writing in an email to M.

April 24, 2010

“….regarding your question about interest and passion, well…I’m afraid I don’t have a definite answer right now. You see, that was the reason why I contacted Seth in the first place – because I feel like my life has lost passion and direction. I thought doing something different and following various impulses might help me see God’s leading clearer. I used to be passionate about seeing people come to see their need for Christ, accept His Grace and be transformed by His love and seeing a new purpose for life. I enjoyed reading up on comparative religion and christian apologetics and enjoyed comparing different worldviews. But all that has faded much. Perhaps I was discouraged by a lack of tangible results and a general attitude of nonchalance among the people here. Eventually I tell myself, why cast precious pearls to people who don’t care.”

rk

coming up next…..my recovery.

This is an ad that appeared in the NY Times and LA Times recently. I am helping to spread the message by posting it here. They plan to reprint it in newspapers in Israel, Lebanon and Palestine and would require more funds. So if you’re able, do send in your donations here.

STOP THE SLAUGHTER IN LEBANON, ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES!

Convene an International Middle East Peace Conference to Impose a Final Settlement on All PartiesIn the name of our sisters and brothers suffering and dying in Lebanon, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, we, the undersigned, call upon the Israeli government, the leaderships of Hezbollah and Hamas, the U.S. Government, the international community and the United Nations to immediately take the following steps to stop the war in these countries:

1. We call upon Hezbollah and Hamas to immediately stop shelling or otherwise engaging in violence against Israel. These actions, which have killed numerous Israeli civilians, terrorized the people of Israel and damaged many towns and cities, played a central role in provoking the current crisis, and do nothing but harm the cause of Palestinian and Lebanese independence and democracy. It is this kind of violence which has over the years pushed many decent Israelis into the hands of its most militaristic and insensitive political leaders.

2. We call upon the Israeli government to immediately halt its attacks on Lebanon. We join with the Israeli peace movement and the thousands of Israelis who demonstrated against this war in Tel Aviv on July 22, 2006 in their insistence that these attacks are utterly disproportionate to the initial provocation by Hezbollah, have killed innumerable innocent civilians, displaced one million people, destroyed billions of dollars of Lebanon’s infrastructure, and will not, in the long run, secure peace or security for Israel. We also call on the Israeli government to supply food, electricity, water and funds to repair the humanitarian crisis caused by its invasion of Gaza.

3. We call upon the U.S. and governments around the world to insist that Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas implement a lasting ceasefire, place an immediate embargo on all shipments of weapons to all parties in the war (including Syria and Iran), and join an international conference to provide security on the border between Israel and Lebanon. By endorsing Israel’s attacks, sending it new supplies of weapons, and explicitly giving it time to do more damage to the people of Lebanon, the U.S. government has become a party to this violence, which, together with American military action in Iraq, is sure to create enmity toward the U.S. and Israel in the Muslim world for generations to come.

These are the minimum steps necessary to stop the violence and the humanitarian disaster in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. But these steps alone will not ensure that the region doesn’t return to an untenable status quo which will again eventually break into violence and new rounds of warfare.

We therefore also issue:

A call for Lasting Peace

We call for an International Peace Conference to impose a fair and lasting solution to all aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to the conflict between Israel and other states in the region. Why do we say “impose”? There are too many forces in each country in the region who are committed to continuing this struggle forever. Their provocations will continue until the international community stops the violence once and for all and imposes conditions of security that will allow the peace and reconciliation forces in each country to flourish.

Such a solution would be based on the following conditions:

a. The creation of an economically and politically viable Palestinian state (roughly on the pre-1967 borders with minor border modifications mutually agreed upon between Israel and Palestine); and simultaneously the full and unequivocal recognition by Palestinians and the State of Palestine and all surrounding Arab states of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state offering full and equal rights to all of its non-Jewish citizens;

An international consortium to provide reparations for Palestinians who have lost homes or property from 1947 to the present, and reparations for Jewish refugees from Arab states from 1947–1967;

c. A long-term international peacekeeping force to separate Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon and to protect Israel and Palestine from each other and from other forces in the region who might seek to control or destroy either state; and

d. The quick imposition of robust sanctions against any party that refuses to sign or violates these agreements.

A New Spirit of Open-Heartedness and Reconciliation

We know that no political solution can work without a change of consciousness that minimally includes an open-heartedness and willingness to recognize the humanity of the Other, and repentance and atonement for the long history of insensitivity and cruelty to the other side.

Both sides must take immediate steps to stop the discourse of violence and demeaning of the other in their media, their religious institutions, and their school text books and educational systems. They should implement this by creating a joint authority with each other and with moral leaders in the international community who can supervise, and if necessary, replace those in positions of power in both societies who continue to use the public institutions of the society to spread hatred or nurture anger at the other.

Once the other parts of a lasting peace have been set in place, we call upon the parties to this struggle to launch a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, following the model used in South Africa.

Use This Moment to Challenge the Paranoid and Cynical “Political Realism” That Generates Endless Wars

The self-described “realistic” version of global politics asserts that we live in a world in which our safety can only be achieved through domination, or others will seek to dominate us first. Of course, when we act on this assumption, it becomes self-fulfilling.

We propose, instead, a strategy of generosity—to act on the assumption that people have an enormous capacity for goodness and generosity (without negating the truth that certain conditions promote fear, anger and hatred which sometimes are expressed in horribly destructive ways). For the U.S. and other G8 countries, we call for a Global Marshall Plan: for each of the next twenty years, the U.S. and other G8 countries should dedicate 5% of their Gross Domestic Product to eliminating global (and domestic) hunger, homelessness, poverty, inadequate health care and inadequate education for the peoples of the world. This would have to be carefully monitored and apportioned in ways that ensure the care reaches the people for whom it was intended. But what is critical is the spirit in which it is done.

Similarly, we are aware that eventually the world (plus new and better missiles from the Arab world) will force Israel to accept terms of lasting peace we propose above. But it would be better for Israel, the U.S., and for Jews around the world if Israel were to do so now without being forced, and in a spirit of open-heartedness, generosity and recognition of the Palestinian people’s humanity and equal rights for security and dignity—and it would save countless lives of young Israelis and Arabs alike.

The only protection that we in the advanced industrial countries of the world can ever really have for our lives is to spread a spirit of love so powerful and genuine that it becomes capable of reducing the anger that has understandably developed against the powerful and the wealthy of the world.

The “cynical realists” claim that others are entrenched in their hatefulness, and that war and domination is the only way to battle them. This kind of thinking has led to five thousand years of people fighting wars in order to “end all wars”—and it has not worked. It’s time now to try a new strategy of generosity, both economic generosity and generosity of spirit. As stated above, there will first have to be a transitional period in which real military protections are available to people on all sides of the struggle. But by beginning now to simultaneously commit our economic resources and change the way that we talk about those whom we previously designated as “enemies,” we can begin the long process of thawing out angers that have existed for many generations.

Nothing can redeem the deaths and suffering that all sides have faced in this struggle for the past 120 years. But this very moment could also be the time in which the human race realizes the futility of violence and comes together not only to impose a lasting solution for the Middle East, but to begin a new era and to recognize that our own well-being depends on the well-being of everyone else on the planet. The International Middle East Peace Conference should be structured to achieve this end—which means it should have an explicit psychological and spiritual dimension and a visionary agenda.

We Affirm the Sacredness of All Human Beings.

This may well be the last chance we in the advanced industrial societies have to avoid international catastrophe (either environmental or nuclear) by modeling something else besides brute power, military might and indifference to the well-being of others. If not now, when?

It is time to overcome national chauvinism and arrogance—but also our own personal sense of powerlessness. We need to build ethical and spiritual solidarity among the people of the world—the necessary foundation for effective political and economic cooperation. Our well being depends on the well being of everyone else on the planet. We need to strengthen international institutions that can foster this sense of solidarity, but we also need to support political and spiritual movements that encourage a transformation of the heart away from the excessive focus on our own individual egos, paths to success and “making it” in terms of fame, glory, sexual attractiveness, accumulation of “things” and money, so that we and all the peoples of the world can put our joint attention to building global peace, social and economic justice, ecological sanity, and a new spirit of mutual caring, genuine and lasting love and generosity. It’s too self-indulgent to let depression about the state of the world render you powerless—your participation is indispensable for changing the world.

Unrealistic? Nope. What has proved unrealistic time and again—whether we are talking about U.S. policy in Vietnam and Iraq or Israeli and Arab policies in the Middle East—is the fantasy that one more war will put an end to wars. The path to peace must be a path of peace.

We are joining with The National Council of Churches of Christ and many other religious groups in the call for days of prayer and fasting toward the aim of peace, reconciliation and affirming the message in this ad. Use this ad as a way to start discussions with people in your life. And please sign the ad and donate (www.tikkun.org/PeaceAd) so we can reprint it elsewhere. When you do so, include your email address, and we will alert you to other actions that we can take together.

This ad is sponsored by:
Tikkun: A Bimonthly Jewish Critique of Politics, Culture and Society
The Network of Spiritual Progressives and
The Shalom Center

“Prayer is a gift from Almighty God that transforms us, whether we bow our heads in solitude, or offer swift and silent prayers in times of trial. Prayer humbles us by reminding us of our place in creation. Prayer strengthens us by reminding us that God loves and cares for each and every soul in His creation. And prayer blesses us by reminding us that there is a divine plan that stands above all human plans.

In the stillness and peace of prayer we surrender our will to God’s will, and we learn to serve His eternal purposes. By opening ourselves to God’s priorities, our hearts are stirred and we are inspired to action — to feed the hungry, to reach out to the poor, to bring aid to a widow or to an orphan or to the less fortunate.”

Here is a list I’ve managed to compile from various sources. They are not in any particular order. Please use them during your own prayer time or as a group. Feel free to modify them as you deem fit.

Please pray for God’s guidance:

  1. That wars and rumors of war are set aside for people to make implements that save life more important that the ability to bring death;
  2. That the voices of peace may be heard over the thunder of clashing armies;
  3. That where no hope for peace seems to exist, that new relationships might bud and” grow to the full flower of a peaceful world.
  4. For Israel, Lebanon, the Palestinians and all nations that seem to be on the brink of aggression and in search of retaliation.
  5. For the leaders of the Middle East that they might find new ways of living together that are not dependent upon military muscle and terrorist raids.
  6. For peace and diplomacy between these two countries and for God to work in the hearts of those most affected by the current situation.
  7. For Lebonan families devastated by the bombing; pray also that humanitarian organizations and local authorities can effectively meet the needs of children and families who have lost their homes, belongings and livelihood.
  8. For an end to the hostilities that have caused serious suffering to the people of Lebanon, Gaza and Israel. T
  9. That political leaders will actively pursue diplomatic solutions and that reconciliation and long-term peace will be the result.
  10. Both Lebanon and Gaza have experienced devastating infrastructure losses with severe shortages of medical services, fuel, food, electricity and water resources. Pray for the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced from their homes and that humanitarian corridors will be opened quickly so that relief supplies can flow effectively to those needing assistance.
  11. For the staff of the various humanitarian organizations being deployed to help with these emergencies, and the leaders and other members of the senior management team as they provide leadership and coordinate their response to this crisis.
  12. A spirit of forgiveness and justice to all sides.
  13. Lebanese Christians (roughly 40 percent of the Lebanese population) would act faithfully, charitably, and boldly, and know that other Christians remember them during this crisis.
  14. Wisdom for political and other leaders to act with wisdom and discernment.
  15. God’s peace and wholeness (shalom) would reign in the region in a way it has not for quite some time
  16. God would be honored in how peace comes

Please see also this list of prayer request from christian leaders in Israel and Lebanon. Feel free to add your own prayer request and links in the comment section.

rk

It is normally easy enough for me to dismiss with a smirk some of the simplistic comments that I constantly read or hear from Christians around the world as pertains to events that are going on in the Middle East. These comments hit much deeper at a time when my country is once again hurting beyond pain, under the murderous aggression of Israeli armed forces for the past five days.

It is striking how normally highly reasonable and spiritually aware people can suddenly lose any sense of ethical, let alone Christian, balance when it comes to Middle East conflicts involving modern political Israel.

“Great. All we need is a nuclear-armed Iran led by a messianic president who hates Israel and believes that apocalyptic destruction is a precursor to global salvation,” writes David P. Gushee in a recent Christianity Today online column, in reference to Iran’s president Ahmadinejad. On the whole, Gushee’s article is fairly balanced from a certain point of view, and I suppose within the limits necessary to avoid being attacked and branded by those in our churches who have but disdain for Arabs.

But how is it that he, like so many others, fails to notice that world events in the last few years—even decades—have had as their main catalyst tens of thousands of evangelical Christians with a “messianic” mentality who believe that apocalyptic destruction of all but their beloved Israel will be “a precursor to global salvation”? —– Evangelical Blindness On Lebanon by Martin Accad.

I can’t hide my growing disappointment and dismay with Israel any longer. I have a pastor who has a special love for Israel and it naturally spills over to the congregation as well. So yes, I too share the same affection. But the recent military offensive in Lebanon has moved beyond what is acceptable and ethical. I understand Dr Accad’s cry against evangelical blindness. I have been guilty of it myself. We have often been overly bias. An alternative voice is much needed, especially from one who is, not only caught in the middle of the conflict, but also our brother-in-Christ. So I encourage you to finish the rest of the article here. Israel still has a special place in my heart, which is why I pray they will do the right thing.

See also, David Gushee’s open letter to Dr Accad and Accad’s follow-up response. Both contain a wealth of lesson for us. You can find more related articles and links within.

rk

I’ve just finished Night, the autobiographical novel of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel. “A slim volume of terrifying power” was how The New York Times described it and rightly so. The original manuscript was written in Yiddish and translated first into French, and then into English. It was first published in France in 1958. This latest translation by his wife Marion was Oprah’s latest pick for her Book Club. Of it she said, she had “a dream of my own too, that the powerful message of this little book would be engraved on every human heart and will never be forgotten again. That you who read this book will feel as I do…..that these 120 pages should be required reading for all humanity.” Indeed, unlike forty-seven years ago when the book had a difficult start, today, students in high schools and colleges in the United States and elsewhere read it as part of their curriculum. The topic of Auschwitz has also become part of mainstream culture with films, plays, novels, international conferences, exhibitions and annual ceremonies with the participation of the nations officialdom. This latest version with the bonus of a preface by Wiesel himself and a foreword by French writer and Nobel laureate, Francois Mauriac, will shake you out of your little paradise and bring you face to face with the absolute evil of man and moves you into action.

There is in the world now a new commandment, proclaims Wiesel, “Thou shall not stand idly by – when such things are happening. One must act. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivity becomes irrelevant. Whenever men or women are presecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself.
Never.

– Night

Click here to visit the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.

rk

I am currently reading Bondage Breaker by Neil Armstrong. It has been sitting on my bookshelf for well over a year. I had purchased it because I thought it would help me deal with certain things that I have been struggling with. Finally, after running out of books to read, I decided to pick it up. I’ve been fore-warned by another author, a medical doctor, that it could be a dangerous book to read because the devil would try to prevent people from reading it. Apparently some of his patients have experienced strange happenings while trying to get started with it. Well, I don’t know about that but I’m approaching the last few chapters (without disturbances thus far, thank God!) and I am mid-way through the most important chapter now. This is the part where I can take practical steps to freedom in Christ by verbally renouncing things and boldly taking my authority in Christ against the devil. Do you think the devil will go raving mad and try to stop me? I do sense a certain hesitation about continuing. It’s such a lengthy chapter with so many issues to work through that I am not sure if I can make it to the end. Is that the devil trying to dissuade me or am I just being lazy?

I am usually not a fan of self-help books especially those 7 steps to this and 9 steps to that. If only life could be that simple, I thought. Besides, most of the stuff they have to say are what we already know. The problem lies between knowing and doing. Bondage Breaker is somewhat different in the sense that it points us to God’s truth and urges us to rely on it for the power to overcome. Although some of the incidents he relates to seems pretty bizarre and has an almost radical bend to it, I can’t help but feel this is worth my time somehow. I might not agree with all his orservations and the way he elevates his “freedom sessions” but I can’t deny he does have some meat to offer, which I think will be of benefit to me. This is my first book focusing on spiritual warfare and I want to handle it with care because I’ve heard there are some ideas out there in the charismatic and pentacostal circle that have gone overboard and I don’t want to get sucked into that.

The author spent a good 2/3 of the book presenting a convincing case for the reality of the spiritual realm and the even greater reality that we are in a world that is constantly at war. By that, I don’t mean wars between nations, tribes and tongues…or even terrorism. I mean war between the forces of darkness and light. And what are they fighting for? The true battle is for our minds it seems. I think a lot of us has forgotten, and I believe some don’t even know, that we are at war, whether we choose to or not. There is really no middle ground. We can either rise from our slumber and go into battle with the full armor of God or we can choose to do nothing about it. If we do, we are already defeated. But the most important part is where he establishes the reader in their identity in Christ. That, I think is one of the most powerful weapon.

I examine my life in light of this battle and I can honestly agree that the battle is indeed for our mind. What we think will eventually affect how we live. What we first perceive as a harmless thought can become a reality if we choose to let it sit in our consciousness, turning it over and over in our minds. The more we think about it, the deeper the root grows and before we know what hits us we find ourselves in bondage. When God gave Adam and Eve the freedom to choose from any tree in the garden except for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, he wasn’t being stingy. He was giving them an opportunity to honor him by choosing to live by his grace and not by self-dependance. Adam and Eve did not have any problem with that until the devil planted the thought in their mind to question God’s goodness. Now they are pondering over the possibility of them being like God themselves so that they can depend on their own wisdom. It eventually led to The Fall. Have you ever had a thought, even a subtle one, where your spirit is trying to say, NO this is not true or right? What started as just a thought soon became a possibility and then one day it became a reality. You see, it works the same with healthy ambitions, dreams and ideas.

The only way to counter the enemy’s deception is by bringing in the truth. Just as light dispels darkness, truth exposes deception. It’s not an issue of salvation but one of victory. The Bondage Breaker covers much more than our thought life but I felt this is particularly important….for me at least.

“…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” – St Paul to the church of Philipi

Anyone in for some mind-washing?

rk

Over the weekend, I decided to take some time off for myself to catch the film, Hotel Rwanda. It’s been showing for a couple of weeks already and I have wanted to catch it since but did not till now. It’s due partly to the movie’s lack of publicity compared to blockbusters like Constantine. Which was why I saw Constantine before Hotel Rwanda even though the latter screened first.

I have always been a fan of films with historical significance. Hotel Rwanda made it to Christianity Today’s 10 most redeeming films of 2004. So this is definitely a film I don’t want to miss.

And I am not one bit disappointed.

It reminded me a lot of Schindler’s List. You can call it an African version of the German hero. It’s a film that leaves you changed. By the time the film ended, I was in a daze, trying to comprehend the evil monstrosity that have occurred within the past 10 years of our history. 10 years is a short time to have history repeats itself ! Have humanity not learned anything? Apparently not. One moment of sobering reality of the hardness of man’s heart was when hero, Paul Rusesabagina, thanked a western photojournalist for showing the footage of the massacre to the world. He thought it would move people into action. The journalist responded saying, the western world would just exclaimed what a horrible thing it is and continue eating their dinner. And that was exactly what happened. All intervention was pulled out and the Rwandan’s were left to fend for themselves.

The thought that the heart of man can be so filled with hatred to the point of committing such genocide, leaves us dejected. Is there no hope for humanity? Are we so depraved that the only possible ending for us is self-destruction? When we witness such atrocity, we couldn’t help but feel hopeless.

Yet…

Yet…. in almost every episode of violence, a hero emerged. In this case, it’s Paul Rusesabagina, a manager at the Hotel des Mille Collines in the Rwanda capital of Kigali. His courage and compassion saved more than 1200 lives including his own family, turning the hotel into a 4-star refugee camp. There were also heros like the Red Cross worker, the priest and nuns who helped transport the children into Paul’s hotel. The sympathetic journalists and UN peacekeepers who were obviously ashamed by their countries heartless apathy. It gives us a glimmer of hope, that man is also capable of selflessness, compassion and heroism in the face of tragedy.

It is a story that needs to be told. This is an important film. A film that cries out for action. It’s a 5/5.

Evil reigns when good man remains silent.

Click here for a full review by Christianity Today.

I’ve also included PBS’s The Truimph of Evil and The History Place’s Genocide In The 20th Century if you want to know more about the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.

rk

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