Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Unconditional love

I once had a pet dog - a companion I would rather say. Her name was 'Dolly' and she lived with us for about ten years (the picture on the left is the only one I have of her). She died in September this year, it was a heartbreaking experience for me. When I reflect back on the time spent with Dolly, I realize the wonderful things I learned from God through her.

So why am I writing a blog post about a dog on a website that is supposed to be about Christian messages? And, you may wonder, why should I be so heartbroken about the loss of a mere animal? The answer to the latter is: only pet owners will know the grief of losing an animal. The answer to the former: my dog was a creation of God, and like many things, sent to me to teach me about God's virtues.

God's virtues in a dog! Yes. When I came home from work, the person most excited to see me was my dog. Seeing Dolly wagging her tail was the most familiar sight to me each and every day of my life. Why was she so excited, so happy to see me everyday? You see... Dolly didn't care with whom I argued with, whom I insulted, whom I cursed or what tensions went through my mind, she only cared that I was back home with her. Does this attitude seem familiar to you?

I often got mad at my dog, I regret that deeply. I got mad and hit my dog sometimes. She would yelp and cower in a corner when I got mad. And when I cooled down, I realized what a rotten human being I was. I looked at Dolly in forgiveness and immediately she came to me wagging her tail. Dolly didn't care if I hit her, or if I was a rotten human being, she only cared that I was friends with her again.

That, my dearest friend, is called unconditional love. I'm sure you've experienced it through someone at least once in your life.

When Christ was being crucified on the cross, the whole of humanity was responsible. It is our sins - our inability to blend with God's ways - that drove Jesus to the cross. But Christ saw past all that and.... He loved us. He loved us so much that He died for us.

Paul says,
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)

When Christ was being tormented on the cross, he begged God,
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34 NIV)

The virtues of Christ Jesus are seen in many of God's creations (for more about this read my book 'The Man from Galilee', chapter entitled 'Elements'). And one of the virtues of Jesus is unconditional love which I learned from Dolly.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV)

As I move on in life, I realize that I have many things to learn. I thank God that He has given me the opportunity to learn about one of his most vivid attributes.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Malala's stunning words

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani student who champions the cause of education for girls in tribal Pakistan. She is just sixteen years old; at 14 she was shot in the head by the Taliban. Still carrying the scars of that incident, Malala continues her fight against Taliban oppression of women.

Recently, she spoke in an interview with Jon Stewart. She was faced with the question, 'What would you do if you came face to face with your enemies again?' Her reply stunned the interviewer.

Her reply was (emphasis mine):

I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said 'if he comes, what would you do Malala?' then I would reply to myself, 'Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.' But then I said 'if you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.' Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that 'I even want education for your children as well,' and I will tell him, 'that's what I want to tell you, now do what you want.'

Although she is not a Christian, Malala spoke volumes of the truth of Christ's message of compassion and not giving 'an eye for an eye'.

Jesus says,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." (Matthew 5:38-39 NIV)

The apostle Paul says,

On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." (Romans 12:20 NIV)

In a world filled with cruelty and oppression, a sixteen year old Muslim girl terrifies a warring faction with words of peace and compassion reminiscent of Christ Jesus. How ironic!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My 5 favorite songs: Number 1

Finally, here's number 1:

1. 'More Love, More Power' by Eden's Bridge

The Celtic genre of music is one of my favorites, and Eden's Bridge is one Celtic band I highly admire. With a combination of the most ethereal voice in Sarah Lacy, and bagpipes and flutes, this timeless song is made even more powerful. The soul's thirst for Jesus Christ is unquenchable, and this song rightfully reflects that.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My 5 favorite songs: Number 2

2. '40' by U2

In 1982, four Dubliners were told by their pastor that they couldn't be rockstars and Christians at the same time. In their 1983 album 'War', the Irish rock group U2 sang about religious violence in Ireland, nuclear disarmament and the Polish solidarity movement. With the last song of the album '40' they rightly bring their plead for peace to the Lord. U2 adapted this song from Psalm 40, hence the name '40'. The chorus of the song is a yearning for the Lord to hasten his return and bring peace to His creation:

How long to sing this song
How long to sing this song
How long, how long, how long
How long to sing this song

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My 5 favorite songs: Number 3

3. 'Jesus Was A Carpenter' by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash is an iconic name in the country music genre, but before he became iconic he was first and foremost a gospel singer. Cash's mother instilled in him the gift of music and faith from a very early age. As Cash battled his own personal demons of addiction once he became famous, he never forgot his roots.
'Jesus was a Carpenter' is my favorite song from Johnny Cash. This song asks us the question, 'How would we treat Jesus today if we saw or met Him?' Knowing that He is so different from what men often make Him out to be, would we even allow Him into our homes?

Friday, October 11, 2013

My 5 favorite songs: Number 4

Yesterday, I began a series of posts that shared my personal favorite songs. Today I share with you my number four favorite song.

4. 'Kadosh' by Karen Davis

Messianic tunes have always been a favorite listen of mine, and this song 'Kadosh' (holy in Hebrew) sung straight out of the book of Revelation by Karen Davis is very special.

Stay tuned for number 3...

My 5 favorite songs: Number 5

Music is a form of art, but as an art it is often neglected in Church. Many Christians believe music should only be used to evangelize, that is not true according to Scripture. King David used songs as prayers of anguish, plead and joy. Paul tells us to speak to one another in songs (Ephesians 5:19). Jesus sang with his disciples (Matthew 26:30). To God, music is more than just a tool for evangelizing, music is a mode of communication. We pray in songs, we contemplate in songs and we speak in songs.

Starting with this post, I'll share my five personal favorite songs that touched my life spiritually. These are songs that are reflective, haunting and spiritually engaging.

Let me know whether you think I have good taste ;)

5. 'Revelator' by Josh Garrels

Josh Garrels is one of the many alternatives for those who are fed up with cliché-ridden contemporary worship songs. This song is from the 2011 album 'Love & War & The Sea In Between'. Here, Garrels beautifully renders the visions of apostle John into a haunting melody.

You can visit Josh’s website on joshgarrels.com