I just stumbeld on a vlog post which I feel is interesting and a good view.
This is a blog set up for people to be blessed by your messages or comments put here. It may be messages you heard on tape or on sunday service or a message from God, please feel free to post new messages and to comment on them
More often than I’d care to admit, I find that I am in a hurry. Now, it’s not the typical kind of hurrying—rushing to get into the ten items or less lane at the grocery store, speeding through traffic, or running around juggling four or five tasks at a time. It’s more an inability to be present to my life as it is right now. So often I find that no matter the circumstances, I’m hurrying through them, wondering or worrying what is next.
This pattern of hurrying through life to the “next event” seems fairly typical and engrained from a young age. When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to be a teenager. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to be in college. When I was in college, I couldn’t wait to be a graduate student. When I was a graduate student, I couldn’t wait to be a professional. I look back on those hurried days now and lament that I rushed through them so quickly.
Of course, our efficiency-driven society doesn’t help our propensity towards hurrying through life. We live in an “instant” society, and our increasingly rapid technological developments only add to our impatience when things are not achieved instantaneously. While technology has greatly improved many aspects of our lives and I certainly wouldn’t want to go backwards, I recognize that my own propensity to hurry, coupled with a society that moves at ever-quickening speeds, can be very detrimental for any kind of reflective life. How often I find myself disappointed when my prayers are not answered instantly; how angry I become when the smallest glitch slows my achievement of personal goals; how frustrated and impatient I become with others when their own “improvement” doesn’t move at my break-neck speed.
The lives depicted in the Bible couldn’t be more different from our hurried lives. More importantly, and perhaps to our great frustration, the God revealed in the biblical stories is rarely in a hurry. Abraham and Sarah, for example, received the promise of an heir twenty-five years before they actually laid eyes on Isaac. Joseph had a dream as a seventeen year-old young man that his brothers would one day bow down to him. Yet it was countless years and many difficulties later that his brothers would come and kneel before him, asking for food. Moses was eighty years old—long past his prime of life—when God appeared to him in the burning bush and called him to deliver the children of Israel. David was anointed king by Samuel as a young boy tending his father’s flocks, long before he finally ascended to the throne. And Jesus spent thirty years in relative obscurity, and only three years in publically announcing the kingdom and God’s rule that had come in his life and ministry.
From our perspective, it is difficult to understand why God wasn’t more in a hurry to accomplish the plans for these individual lives as a part of the larger narrative of redemption. The Messiah was prophesied hundreds of years before he actually arrived on the scene. We cannot help but ask why God seems to move so slowly?
In Peter’s second letter, what is considered his last will and testament, he discusses the slowness of God in relation to the second coming of Christ. Many arose even in Peter’s time asking why God was so slow when it came to delivering on his promise of an eternal kingdom. They began to mock God assuming that “as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be.” Not so, Peter argues, for the slowness of God is in fact our salvation. “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance… Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation” (2 Peter 3:9, 14-15).
The long, slow, journey, marked by many Christians in the season of Lent towards Easter morning, can be arduous for those of us who find ourselves constantly racing towards what’s next. These forty days can serve to remind us of God’s great forbearance and patience with us, even as they hearken to us to enter the wild spaces of wilderness waiting with Jesus. These days intentionally slow us and create space—what theologians call liminal space—making room for those of us who rush to wait and rest in the “in-between” and the “not yet” for God to act. Waiting for God in this liminal space gives us more opportunity to be patient, “looking” as Peter says, at the “patience of our Lord to be salvation.”
Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.
A trend continues to take place in the online world of anonymity. Several websites offer the opportunity to air one’s darkest secrets. Visitors put into words the very thing they have spent a lifetime wanting no one to know about themselves. While visiting, they can also read the long-hidden confessions of others, and recognize a part of humanity that is often as obscured as their own secrets—namely, I am not the only one with a mask, a conflicted heart, a hidden skeleton. “Every single person has at least one secret that would break your heart,” one site reads. ”If we could just remember this, I think there would be a lot more compassion and tolerance in the world.” Elsewhere, one of these sites made news recently when one of its anonymous users posted a cryptic message seemingly confessing to murder, catching the attention of Chicago Police.(1)
So often the world of souls seems to move as if instinctively to the very things asked of us by a sagacious God. The invitation to confess is present in the oldest stories of Scripture. After his defiance of God’s request, Adam is asked two questions that invite an admission of his predicament; first, “Where are you?” and later, “Who told you that you were naked?” God similarly inquires of Cain after the murder of Abel, “Where is your brother?” Through centuries of changing culture and the emerging story of faith, this invitation to confess is given consistently. “Therefore confess your offenses to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed,” writes the author of James 5:16. A similar thought is proclaimed in 1 John 1:7. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” Perhaps the call to transparency is not from a God who delights in the impoverishment of his subjects, but a God who knows our deepest needs.
The hope of an online confessional brings us one step nearer to meeting the need of bringing what is hidden to light, and it is commendable that so many are giving in to the impulse to explore the ancient gift of confession. But perhaps such an impulse to haul the truth from obscurity is worthy of something even greater than anonymity. Light is not meant to be kept in shadows; the benefit of openness is not meant to be experienced alone. The stories and scriptures mentioned above speak of the element of community in confession, the promise of fellowship where there is courage to be honest about our selves and our needs. On websites of nameless visitors, though I tell you my darkest secret, we remain nameless to one another. While it may help significantly to know that I am not the only one with a mask, my mask remains. The anonymity factor offers the glimpse of light while maintaining the security of darkness. But isn’t this undermining the very light we seek? It is akin to lighting a lamp and putting it under a bowl.
Jesus reminded crowds full of secrets and sinners that there was no reason to do this. When a hemorrhaging woman in a swarm of people reached out to touch the fringe of his robe, she did so anonymously. Her condition would have classified her among the unclean, and it was therefore illegal to touch anyone. She probably calculated, “If I could just touch the hem of his robe, I could be healed. The crowd will keep me hidden. He won’t be bothered; he won’t even need to know.” But this was not what happened. Jesus knew he had been touched and immediately called the woman out of her anonymity. Before him, she was not lost in the crowd.
While we may successfully remain shrouded in disguise from the community around us, the Christian story invites the world to see that we stand unobscured before Christ and united with him nonetheless. Such a thought can indeed be terrifying: before him, we are not disguised. But more than this, it is inherently a gift. In his presence, none are kept in obscurity, hidden in mask or shroud; there are no shadows of anonymity that can hide, nor crowd large enough to keep us hidden. We are not disparaged for the flesh and blood and material of our humanity, but shown instead its true and greatest fulfillment.
The invitation to emerge from our darkest failings, lies, and secrets is not an invitation to dwell in our own impoverishment but rather a summons to light, reconciliation, and true humanity. The unique message of Jesus is that there is no reason to hide. Before we came up with plans to improve our images or learned to pretend with masks and swap for better identities, he saw who we were and was determined to approach regardless. Before we found a way to conceal our many failings or even weighed the possibilities of unlocking our darkest secrets, God came near and called us out of obscurity by name.
Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
(1) Gabe Falcon, “It’s creepy and cryptic, but is PostSecret murder confession real?” CNN, September 2, 2013.
The Gospel of Luke begins with two monumental exchanges between the material and the spiritual. A messenger of the Lord appears first to an aging man in the midst of his priestly duties, and later to a young, peasant girl in the midst of anticipating the life ahead of her. In each visit, like a gust of wind that turns an umbrella inside out, the message delivered was the sort of news that moves the lives of all who go near it, let alone the worlds of those who heard it first. Both visits incite fear. Both invoke questions. But in the interchange of the eternal and the temporal, though the promises of God are similarly moving, we find two very different human responses.
Zechariah was chosen by lot amongst the other priests at the temple that day to offer the daily incense to the Lord. While the crowd stood praying outside, Zechariah entered the temple only to find an angel standing on the right side of the altar of incense. “And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him,”imparts Luke. “But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John’” (1:12,13).
Now Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth did have any children. The angel’s words confronted a prayer long on his lips, a hope long deferred, a shame daily unforgotten. Zechariah’s response does not seem unreasonable to me. Fearful and uncertain, his wounded heart cried to know that God had been moving in those silent years of childlessness. “How can I be sure?” Zechariah asked. Another translation renders, “How will I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years” (v. 18, ESV).
There is a protective cynicism that runs in the hearts of those who live in the reality of unanswered prayers. Do we really believe that God not only knows the greatest desires of our hearts but is also able to answer them? Do we trust the most weighted areas of our lives, the most tender corners of our hearts in his hands? At such moments of reckoning, Jesus’s words seem much more a commandment than a comfort: “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1).
The angel replied to Zechariah’s question with words reassuring and rebuking at once. “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time” (vv. 19, 20). It seems unfairly ironic. The one who remained upright through years of anguished silence was now silenced himself.
Six months later, this same messenger appeared before a young girl named Mary. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (1:30,31). Like Zechariah, Mary was troubled. And similarly, she responded with a question. But unlike Zechariah, who had diligently prayed for such a miracle, Mary was unwed, a teenager with marriage and children as hopes yet unrealized. And yet this peasant girl responds with faith greater than the priest, with wisdom as sharp as her youth. “How will this be?” she asked.
Whereas Zechariah spoke in fear and uncertainty, Mary spoke with unfathomable faith. In the tenderness of youth and greatness of belief, there was no question in her mind that God would do as God said. Her question was as trusting as it was expectant: “I know this will be so, but how, since I am only a virgin?” In other words, how will God accomplish his plan through me? She was ready for the unfathomable because she saw her days in the hands of the one who sees all things.
The responses of Mary and Zechariah remind us that we live well when we give God room to move sovereignly over our lives, through loss and silence, surrendering even our expectations to the one who sees. Unlike Zechariah, Mary was never introduced to her messenger. Yet to Gabriel she uttered, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (v. 38). Mary’s was a life that seemed both aware and ready for the world to be a place where God is ready and able to break through.
Perhaps for this reason Elizabeth recognized that Mary was blessed among women indeed. For most of us it takes places of loss and mourning to discover the unfathomable places of God’s presence and grace, tears and silence to shape our truest song.
One can only imagine the words welling up inside Zechariah as his child was delivered from the womb of his once-barren wife. Naming his newborn son, his mouth was opened and he declared in song, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel… [who] enables us to serve him without fear.”
Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
The first time I walked through the crowded, pungent streets of Bethlehem, I was struck by the disparity between what I was seeing and “the little town of Bethlehem” I had spent my life imagining in manger scenes and songs. The harsh reality of God becoming a child—not in a sweet and sentimental village somewhere far away, but in the midst of this cold and dark world I knew myself—suddenly seemed a blaring proclamation indeed. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. It is little wonder that some of the most theology-rich hymns are Christmas carols that have at heart the Incarnation. In a darkened world not unlike this one, two thousand years ago, God came in person.
Almost immediately after his Christian conversion, Charles Wesley took to hymn writing as a way to capture the hope of God’s nearness persistently stirring in his mind. Though a few of the words have long since been changed, one of his 6,000 hymns is a widely beloved declaration of this Incarnation. Seeking to convey in pen and ink a Christmas story both familiar to our hearts and startlingly unfamiliar in its wonder, Wesley wrote:
Hark, how all the welkin rings,
“Glory to the King of kings;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
Universal nature say,
“Christ the Lord is born to-day!”
The Christ child in the manger is forever an indication of the great lengths God will go to reconcile his creation, a savior willing to descend that we might be able to ascend with him. “Welkin” is an old English term meaning “the vault of heaven.” In this dramatic word, Wesley illustrates the crux of Christian theology: All of heaven opened up for the birth of a king and the rebirth of humanity. The vault of God was thrown open to make way for the one who was coming and all that would come as a result of it.
Hail, the heavenly Prince of Peace,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die;
born to raise the sons of earth;
born to give them second birth.
The Incarnation is the jarring reminder that God speaks and the world is moved. While the Christmas story reports the massive hope that God came near, the ordinary and incredible signs of redemption show that God has chosen to remain. Wesley saw this intimate connection between God’s nearness and the transformed likeness of our humanity. Where God comes near, countenances themselves are changed.
Come, Desire of nations, come,
fix in us thy humble home;
rise, the woman’s conquering Seed,
bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Now display thy saving power,
ruined nature now restore;
now in mystic union join
thine to ours, and ours to thine.
The startling hope and mystery of the Incarnation is that it reorders the world we know—visually, physically, restoratively, eternally. Where there is despair, where there is joy, where there is need, Christ is living in its midst. Where there is a heart that prepares him room, the Spirit has already transformed life in his image. Come, Desire of nations, come; fix in us thy humble home. These cries have been heard. The vault of heaven is open.
I’m sitting at the airport in Bahrain, about to catch a flight to Jakarta. The television screens are full of coverage for a man of courage, conviction, and influence. Every now and then his picture with his winsome smile is shown with the words under it: Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013.
Looking at the dates, I thought first of my mother. She was born just two years before him but passed away nearly four decades before he did. Yes, she had a short life span. She did not make a world impact but it was because of her that I am a free man today. Her life and example were for me, life-defining. Nelson Mandela, by contrast, changed history for millions, if not for the world. A different role, a different call. So it is that each one of us has a part to play, whether of great influence or of small influence, but equally important.
Yet, as I look at his picture and consider his legacy, I mourn the loss of not just a person, but an example for all politicians. While his early years were more aggressive, his veteran years spoke of wisdom gained through steps and missteps. Where are the leaders like him today? Many of those who are eulogizing him have evidently not learned from him. For one, he bore no hatred towards his oppressors. Even his period of violence was short-lived and tempered. When he acquired freedom he did not ask the oppressed to “go and vote for revenge.” After his time in prison, he did not use the microphone to whip up hostility, division, and frenzy or go on diatribes blaming his predecessors for doing everything wrong. He did not use language that some in the media do, some verbiage that is too vulgar to even repeat. He wanted to correct society, not change, penalize, or pollute it. He won supporters to his side with grace and dignity, not by bullying.
On one occasion I nearly met the man. It was my loss when it didn’t come about. I was in Cape Town after having spoken to the framers of the Peace Accord in Johannesburg when I received a call from his office where his staff was trying its best to bring about a meeting between us. But a strong bout of pneumonia, which he had contracted in prison, hit him hard at that time and actually plagued him for the rest of his life. Not meeting him was a loss I felt. I would have loved to have asked him a few questions. One I would like to have asked is, “Deep inside, did you ever feel like giving up?” I suspect I know the answer, but just to be inspired, I would have liked to hear this one-time boxer turned freedom-fighter in his soft voice express his determination to never give up.
The world has become a dangerous place. We need the Mandelas who know when to lead, how to treat their opponents, and when to step down. There is so much hatred in speeches today, such inflammatory rhetoric. There is such an unyielding quest and clinging to power that we shudder at the seduction so evident. What we win the masses with is what we win them to and we are subjecting a generation to ignoble speech and lacerating rhetoric: How will this win them to noble ends?
Two remarkable decisions among many show how Mandela bore no contempt for his adversaries. Journalists have pointed this out. You’d think they themselves would be instructed by it. When he received the Nobel Prize he chose to share it with his predecessor, President F.W. de Klerk. This was an incredible move, truly walking the second mile. He never wanted to play the hero. He knew the fight wasn’t about him. Also, at his inauguration he invited the white jail warden to be present as his personal guest. Mandela cautioned leaders that hatred beguiled the mind and was an emotion leaders could not afford without reaping the whirlwind. He would give no place to mockery that masqueraded as statesmanship.
Our own leaders today would do well to learn from Nelson Mandela rather than just giving grandiose speeches about him. What he began still has a long way to go. I am a Christian and I admire the courage and sacrifice of people such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Even if we are not all on the same page theologically, we are on the same page for the protection of people who are exploited or abused. It is a noble end. But the way our media and political leaders frame the problem actually digs a hole deeper than the one they are trying to fill. They poison the soul but expect healing. When language comes easily for those who have the microphone, it can become fatally fluent.
I spoke once at the Islamic University in Malaysia, one of the oldest such universities of the world. I was asked to present a defense of Christianity to a primarily Muslim audience. It was a nerve-wracking hour, with sophisticated scholars in the audience. I would not compromise my convictions. I needed to build a bridge without surrendering ground. “How does one handle this?” I thought. I did my best and the response was truly gratifying. Even the head of the Islamic Studies department, the professor who was my host, said some of the kindest words afterward in her office.
That evening I was taken out for dinner by a professor who specifically asked if we could have an hour. His name was Professor Living Lee, a geologist by specialty. He told me this story. Some years ago the late vitriolic Muslim apologist Ahmed Deedat was presenting a defense of Islam at the same university. Ironically, he was from South Africa too. He had a bent to abusive language and inflammatory speech, mocking opponents and inciting anger in his supporters towards those of a different view. He provoked all the baser emotions for a supposedly elevated cause. Deedat had delivered his talk at the university in his usual hate-filled style, mocking Christianity and calling it nonsensical and unlivable, among other charges. When Professor Lee, one of the few Christians in the audience, questioned his charge, Deedat called him to come to the front. Professor Lee walked forward. Deedat raised his hand and with a full swing slapped him with a stinging hit to the face. Professor Lee was nearly knocked to his feet. Deedat then barked, “Now turn the other cheek!” It was obvious what he was trying to do. Suddenly he paused and said, “We can do this quicker. Give me your shirt!” Professor Lee unbuttoned and took off his shirt. “According to Jesus, you should now offer your trousers, too, shouldn’t you?” Deedat said. Professor Lee turned to the audience, apologized to his students and faculty colleagues, took off his trousers, and quietly walked out of the room in his underwear. The audience was in a dazed, stunned silence. Outdone by a gentle but equally determined scholar, Deedat looked utterly juvenile and like a man who had just been hoisted on his own petard.
Dr. Lee went back to his office and put his face in his hands, his spirit swirling with indescribable emotions. He wept though he knew he had done the right thing in standing his ground. A few moments later there was a knock on the door, then another, and another, and another. When he opened the door, he saw students and colleagues lined up to apologize to him for the pain and foolishness just displayed.
Deedat was freewheeling in rhetoric but a slave to pride. Quite incredibly, he spent the last few years of his life smitten with a stroke, unable to speak. The only weapon he had was lost to him. But in reality, Deedat could never have attained greatness because he was already too great in his own eyes.
Mandela had a cause greater than himself and is so remembered. He spent the last few years of his life quite unwell. But his example continued to speak for the freedom of all mankind. His spirit fought for the dignity of man, and he never compromised the dignity of anyone in fighting for it.
So when we read 1918-2013 we would do well to remember that though the span of Mandela’s life is finished, the span of our human struggle is not closed. But if our leaders do not know how to use speech supported by character and instead use words only to provoke hostile instincts, we will kill others with hate and the bracket around dignity and freedom will be closed. Not everything that is fatal is immediate. We are near the edge of that precipice. We have a choice. We all have a platform.
I cannot end without mentioning one wound that Mandela probably wished he could have healed: the break-up of his family. The price for him was huge and the pain must have been deep. It was a price my mother would not pay: We five children would have been the cost. It is a sobering reminder for all of us. Our nation and our homes need healing. The national struggle and the heart of a child will shape the future. Politicians and parents play that role. No momentary gain had dare violate eternal truths.
I pray for our leaders. I pray for our families. May God guide and help us